Archive | September 2013

Always & Never

92391611aWords and mothers.  Mothers and words.

There are some words moms should never say … and there are some words moms should always say.

Words hold such life-altering power and yet often moms like me carelessly speak with little consideration for long term impact.

Few mothers would throw a child’s entire wardrobe in the trash and yet that is what I have done to my child’s self-esteem when I have spoken in anger or in outrage.

Not many mothers would destroy a year’s supply of vitamins in response to a moment of childish forgetfulness yet that is what I have done to his or her future emotional health when my words have not fit the crime.

As a mother of 5 grown children, I have learned a lot about words over the years.  I have learned what to say .. and more importantly … what not to say.

I would like to leave a deposit of “Never and Always” in the lives of all of my precious mom friends today.  You are the ones who are raising the next generation of dynamic people who will make an impact on the world.  These people will be a reflection of the words spoken into their lives when they were in their formative years.  Speak well, my friends.  Speak well.

HERE ARE THE WORDS THAT I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY

AND THEN THE WORDS THAT I  BELIEVE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SAY.

—                               ♥                               —

Never say, “You drive me crazy!” 

Remind yourself who is the parent and who is the child.  Never accuse your child of having a negative influence or power in your life.  Children are a blessing … a rare and valuable gift … from heaven’s bounty into your life.  Take responsibility for your own emotional turmoil and never blame it on your child.

There will be days when parenting pushes you to the brink of emotional stability but it is not the child who owns the power in the situation.  It is you, the mom, who owns the power to choose, to determine and to guide.  It is you, the mom, who owns the power to rely on God for emotional strength and lucidity.

Always say, “If God gave me a catalogue of all the little boys (girls) in the world, yours is the face I would have chosen.”

Acceptance, genuine approval and heartfelt love are among the three greatest gifts a parent can give to a child.  It is more important that your children hear you declare  words of affirmation and unconditional love than it is that you take them to Disney World, send them to private school, or buy them designer clothes.

In the Bible, God says that He is delighted with us and that He literally sings over us!  If God responds that way to us, as His children, I think that it is time that as parents we began to act and talk like God.

             “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all My delight.” – Psalm 16:3

            “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” – Zephaniah 3:17

 Never say, “I love you but I don’t like you very much right now.” 

As parents, regardless of how our child is acting, we must affirm our wholehearted acceptance of their personhood and value.  It’s one thing not to like what they are choosing to do … it’s another thing altogether to verbalize the lie that you don’t like “them” in that moment.  In every moment of life, whether they are obedient or disobedient … charming or frustrating … sweet or acting obnoxious … as a mother you must affirm the value that you have placed on who they are as human beings.

 Always say, “You are the greatest gift I have ever been given.”

Children are great observers of people and situations; children hear what is not spoken and often don’t hear what is actually verbally rehearsed.  As your child sees you give your heart, time and attention to things and people other than him, your little one will begin to wonder where he or she lands on your list of priorities.

Let’s face it … there are things that a mother needs to do that are going to often divert her attention away from the little lives under her care.  That is why it is imperative that often you remind your children of their value to you.

            “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:7

Never say, “I don’t want to be with you!”

To a child, being with mom and dad is the greatest gift imaginable.   Love is spelled T-I-M-E to the little ones under your feet.  Treasure every single moment you are given  with your child regardless of how they are acting.  Know that in these difficult moments of disobedience and embarrassment that you are called to disciple them to healthy behavior.  Change your emotional reaction to your child’s behavior with an unbreakable resolve that you will love them, train them and value them regardless of of how  they act or speak.

Always say, “You have been created by God for greatness at this moment in history.  You are a Daniel, a David, an Esther, a Ruth, a Peter, a Mary.  You have the fingerprint of God on your soul!”

Declare greatness and purpose over your children with the words that you speak.  When your children feel like a failure, let them know that their feelings do not tell the truth but that the Word of God is the source of all truth.

Dream big dreams with your children in every age and every stage of life.  Never belittle their desire to be an astronaut, play the piano at Carnegie Hall or discover the cure  for cancer.  Why not your child?!

Pray that God will lead your little man and your miniature lady into the grandness of His plan and design for their lives!

            “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord: plans for welfare and not for calamity; to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

            “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul                        knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:13 & 14

Never say, “I wish that I had never had you!” 

Have any of you ever used these words?  I hope not … but the reason that I have included them in my list is that I have heard many frustrated mothers in public places say these words, or words similar to them, in violent anger.  I have often wondered, if a mom says things like this in public, what does she say in private?  Destructive words such as these penetrate deeply into a child’s heart and do significant damage that may never be repaired.

Always say, “You are a good girl (boy)!”

One of my children was a very active, mischievous, independent 2 year old.  Every day when he woke up, I would tell him while he was still in his crib, “You are mama’s good boy!”  When we were out with other parents and children, rather than rehearse all that he had done wrong that day, I would always say so that he could hear me, “He is such a good little boy.”  When I was tucking him in at night, I would always remind him, “You are growing into such a good boy.”

If he was naughty, I disciplined him and talked to him about his behavior.  However, my daily and constant declaration over him was, “You are good.”  Heaven has placed the power of creation in our words and I was determined to raise a good boy.  And you know what?  He is a good man today because I declared over him the possibility and potential of goodness.

Our children will become whom they believe themselves to be.  Your words lay the foundation for the men and women they will grow into tomorrow.

             “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” – Proverbs 18:21

             “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

 Never say, “Wait till your father gets home!” 

The arrival of daddy at the front door after a long day at work should not be dreaded but should be highly and enthusiastically anticipated.  Discipline should never wait until daddy gets home but should be taken care of swiftly and effectively at the time of infraction.  Daddy’s arrival at home should be the highlight of the day for everyone including mom, the children and the dad himself!  If there is an event or a behavior that dad needs to be made aware of, it should happen after dinner hour in a private and safe setting.

Always say, “I love you because you are mine.  There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any less.  There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any more.  I love you because you are mine.”

Don’t make the mistake of merely “thinking” about how much you love your children but verbalize it on a daily and hourly basis.  Saying it once a day is good but it is not enough.  Assure them of your love time after time after time.  Hour after hour after hour.

Look in their little eyes and tell them “I love you” when they are fresh from heaven and you are holding them in your arms for the very first time.

Kneel beside them when they are toddlers, hold their little faces in your hands and tell them, “I love you today and I love you forever.”

When they go off to school every morning, the last words they should hear as they dash off to catch the bus are, “Don’t ever forget that I love you more than words can say!”

And when they are difficult teenagers with minds of their own and try to ignore your involvement in their lives, say, “I love you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

Write “I love you” in lipstick in the bathroom mirror when they are learning to read.

Place notes beside their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunch boxes that remind them, “I love you all day today!”

Hide notes under their pillows … inside their tennis shoes … and in their jacket pockets that say, “You are my treasure and I love you!”

Your perpetual and auditory proclamation of love will help your child navigate treacherous waters and horrific storms.  Declared love over a young person’s life fights demons of fear, self-destruction and doubt.  The love that you decree over your little ones is the fertilizer of the soul that will produce healthy young men and women who have the emotional and spiritual tools to change the world!

             “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” – Mark 10: 14 & 16

MOPS International is giving away a free one year membership! ($23.95 value)  MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is an incredible group that connects moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods, who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood.  We will announce the winner on October 2, 2013 on our facebook page, so be sure to “Like” the Carol McLeod, Bible Teacher and Author page! 

If you would like to enter to win this membership (you can give it to a sister/friend/daughter/etc) just send us your name & email address in the form below.  We would love to hear from you in the comment section!  Let us know your ideas for a future blog post!  (not required for MOPS membership give-away)  

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Always & Never pic 2

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The Scrapbook of My Heart

time shadowTime … where does it go?

The most valuable commodity that we have been given as human beings is the gift of time: … of minutes … of hours … of days.

It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to my senior year of high school and now I am a grandmother.  When did that happen?!

When did I graduate from playing with Barbie dolls and practicing piano to being a wife … and then a mother … and now a grandmother?  When did that happen?!

When did my raucous, noisy, messy nest get so empty?  When did that happen … tell me when.

It happened in a thousand yesterdays that are filled with the memories of cherished friendships … bittersweet good-byes … the echoes of laughter … and the daily reminders of what is truly important in life.

The scrapbook of my heart is filled with a collage of moments too precious to verbalize and too valuable to calculate by earthly economic currency.

As I flip through the intangible pages of the days that have been given to me, I realize that some days were wasted with impatience and disappointment.  When the endowment of an ordinary day is shadowed by human frustration or disillusionment it becomes refuse and leaves a putrid odor rather than a glorious fragrance.

I have wasted time being angry at a person made in the image of God. I have thrown away days being depressed due to situations and events over which I had absolutely no control.  Who do I think I am?!

I have frittered away days spent in the worry of an unpredictable tragedy that never  actually happened and in the fear of the shadow ghosts of weakness.  What a colossal waste!

I have misused the treasure of an extraordinary day by spewing the venom of my heart on the lives of people whom I love dearly.  I am ashamed.

The untold wealth in this cherished peek into the past thankfully also holds the abundance of all that has been meaningful in my life.

I am amazed that I was given the delight of raising 5 little lives for the Kingdom of God!  After so many years of barrenness and infertility … of standing in faith and begging God for more … He opened the windows of heaven and blew joy in my direction.

I loved every minute of peanut butter and jelly kisses … of paper dolls and birthday cakes … of choo-choo trains and baseball games.  Those were the best days … the days that mattered eternally … the pieces of gold in my life.

little heart

Is there a gift this side of heaven so priceless as the moment when two little arms are wrapped around your neck … or your legs … or your heart?!  Career promotions, enormous retirement accounts and academic pedigree become tawdry and bargain basement exchanges for the heavenly inheritance of the living human beings given to our parental charge.

carol and mom
Carol Engagement pic

I have loved being best friends with my mom. How I wish that you could know her!  A woman of excellence and humor!  A woman who prays and believes and prays some more.  A woman who celebrates life with gusto and grace!

I loved falling in love with Craig and realizing that he was “the one”.  I’ll never forget our first kiss that came with a marriage proposal.  He has always been a man of honor … a man whom I could trust … and a man after God’s own heart.  What have I ever done to deserve this man whose heart is pure gold?

And then … the gift of girlfriends.  Truly a fortune so rare and precious that it could fill the vaults of banks too numerous to count!

Time … where does it go?  Oh!  How I want to live well the rest of the days that have been given to me by the calendar of heaven’s bounty.

There are days in the photo album of my mind and heart that are as yet blank … unfilled.  They are waiting for memories … for moments … for people … and for blessings.

It is up to me how I fill these quickly turning pages of life.  It is up to me whether the photos are taken in the brilliance of a technicolor and vibrant existence … or from the only gray and black perspective of blame, discontent and frustration.

I determine to spend my days encouraging people and writing thank you notes.

I determine to invest the rest of my days believing for the best and not giving in to disillusionment or despair.  A very wise man once told me, “It’s more fun to believe!”

I determine to lavish in the laughter of children, to wade in the gift of extraordinary friends and to drown in the beauty of creation.

I determine to be kind to cantankerous and fractious people.  When I have been loving and generous in the face of personal cruelty and gossip, I have created a day that God Himself would applaud!

Life is too dear and much too fleeting to waste the glory of one ordinary day. I will not waste this life.  Not one day.  Not one hour.  Not one minute.

I will pray for miracles and I will also look for the opportunity to be someone else’s miracle.

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I now understand that tomorrow’s memories are being created today.  The choices and memories that I craft today will fill the pages of the scrapbook of my life in all the tomorrows yet to come.

And so, I resolve, this day, to splash extravagantly in the joy of His presence.  I resolve, this day, to be heaven’s gift to the world in which I have been placed for only a moment.Scrapbook of my heart blog pic 2Scrapbook of my heart blog pic 3

The Light in the Hallway is Always On

I rschool conceptemember that late afternoon and evening so well …

My grandmother came over to see the outfits that we would be wearing to school the next day … mine was a dark purple jumper with a violet blouse to go under it. I was most proud of my new shoes: they were plum patent leather with lighter purple grosgrain ribbon to be used as shoelaces.

Grandma exclaimed and oohed and aahed at all the right times and told us how proud she was of us. She said that she couldn’t wait to hear all about it and would be back tomorrow afternoon to get a full report.

After she left, we ate a hurried dinner of vegetables from our family garden.  There were fresh, ripe tomatoes marinating in oil and vinegar … corn on the cob dripping with butter … snapped green beans … and a whole pot of summer squash that had been simmering in onions and green peppers for hours. During the bountiful month of August, we rarely had a piece of meat grace our dinner table due to the richness and abundance found in the soil of our backyard.

After dinner, I set to work sharpening #2 pencils and writing my name in 5 notebooks of different colors. I counted and recounted the spiral bound notebooks that we had purchased at the Big N. I couldn’t stand the thought of starting the first day of 7th grade ill-prepared.

My sister and I talked about who our homeroom teachers would be and what it would be like for me to start junior high school.  In those days of the late 1960’s, there were no backpacks but there were book bags in all sizes, shapes and fabrics.  My purple and gold paisley book bag, complete with a purple leather handle, felt light with only pencils and notebooks in it. I knew that before long it would be too heavy for me to lift over my shoulder.

Mom and Dad came in my room and prayed for me that night. They prayed that I would make good choices, that I would study hard and develop healthy friendships. They prayed that I would be a blessing to my teachers and to my friends.

As they each gently kissed me and walked out the door of my pink and white bedroom, they left the light in the hallway shining for me.  I couldn’t sleep. Where had the summer gone? Why couldn’t I return to the security of the elementary school? I wanted to go back to Mr. Werth’s classroom and sit between Patti and Ellen. I wanted to park at the lunchroom table with my familiar 6th grade class and know how to get to the library without following a map on the wall.

There was a circus of nauseous butterflies ricocheting off the walls of my stomach. I knew that I would never sleep … or at least not sleep for very long that endless night. I didn’t know whether I was excited … or needed to throw up.

A shudder went through my body from top to bottom. Tomorrow was the first day of school.

The first day of 7th grade was wonderful … and so were the days that followed. I grew in ways that would never have happened in the safety of the elementary building.

I read books by Shakespeare, Alcott and Dickens. I learned about teachers who loved their students, teachers who tolerated their students and teachers who should get a job at McDonald’s. For the most part, I had life-changing teachers.

I learned two new languages: French and Latin. Parlez -vous francais? Veni … Vedi … Vici!

I learned that life is not always fair and that people are not always kind. I also began to understand that I was the only one who was in charge of my words and my reactions. I couldn’t blame my emotions on anyone but me.

I dissected worms and pigs. Yuck!

I learned about the danger of cliques and the value of life-time friends.

I traveled to the storming of the Bastille … the shores of Normandy … and survived the Dust Bowl.

I learned that people didn’t have to act like me or think like me to be my friend.

I played the oboe in the All-County Band … won congresswoman of the year in Model Congress and played “Romance” by Sibelius at my high school graduation.

I survived.

In the years since that auspicious first day of the seventh grade, I have completed high school, graduated from college, homeschooled for 23 years, sent 5 kids to high school, watched all 5 of my children graduate from high school and then sent them to university 1,000’s of miles away.

What is it about the first day of school?

What is it about the first day of anything?!

The Light in the hallway is always on blog pic 1What is it about change?

What is it about the years flying by with no way to hold them back?

Often, I still encounter that circus of nauseous butterflies ricocheting off the walls of my stomach.

When change comes and summers end, I often remind myself the lessons that I learned in my plum shoes with #2 pencils in hand.

Change is often the very best thing that can happen in an individual’s life.

There is invariably more to look forward to than there is to remember.

Family always makes everything easier.

The butterflies have no lasting power.

Prayer brings a comfort and a sweetness that nothing else does.

The light in the hallway is always on.