Tag Archive | moms

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)  

Always & Never pic 1

Always & Never pic 2

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100TH BLOG POST! – A Note to the 12 Year Old Me…and You

100th postThis is my 100th blog! Who knew that my thoughts, opinions, feelings and prayers were significant enough to fill 100 blogs?! God knew … He knows everything that is in my heart. I believe that He is actually in the process of going for the treasure in me and you … after all … He is the One Who put it there in the first place.

In honor of my 100th blog … I wanted to share something significant and impactful. I have pondered many possible topics … a few inconsequential meanderings … and several themes that you would quickly forget. And so … this is where I have landed … If I could talk to the 12 year old in you … and in me … this is what I wish someone would have told me when I was 12. I want to save you from some of my ridiculous mistakes and to challenge you to be more than you are.

And so … to the 12 year old Carol …

1 – It really is more important to be kind than to be pretty.  People will forget how you dressed for a certain occasion, what color eye shadow you wear and how often you get your hair cut. But they will never forget your heart. They will long remember and be impacted by your genuine kindness and friendship.

2 – Don’t date in high school … it is a total waste of time. Focus on things in high school other than the opposite sex. Develop Godly relationships with other girls. Reach out to girls who are being bullied and be their friend. Go on missions trips. Teach Sunday School. But please don’t give your heart to a string of hormonally charged males who care more about how you look than who you are. Wait for the right man at the right time. He is worth the wait … trust me … I know.

3 – Practice the piano or take gymnastics lessons... Keep playing soccer and writing in your journal. Take ballet and learn to give speeches. So often when the teenage years and hormones hit, girls become distracted from their childhood dreams.  Don’t allow your dreams or the disciplines of your little girl years to become lost in the foolishness of parties, social media and dating.

4 – Keep in touch with your childhood and high school friends. That sweet Girl Scout song holds a lifetime of truth in it, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” There is absolutely nothing like going out for lunch with someone who has known you since you were 8 or 10 or 12.

5 – Hold your babies … they grow up so quickly. Someday you really will meet the man of your dreams … and you really will have babies together … and you really will be a mom. When that day comes, remember that the bonding process that takes place during the newborn days is more valuable than a beautiful nursery, designer clothes or a full night’s sleep. Rock your babies … sing to them … hold them … snuggle them …pray over them. These really are the most precious moments of your entire life.

6 – Increase your vocabulary. Listen to the words that other people use and make a list of the words that are unfamiliar to you. Look up the meanings of the words and try to incorporate them into your daily speech. Sign up for “Word of the Day” from dictionary.com and challenge yourself to use that word in a conversation. There is nothing quite as captivating as a vocabulary that is not peppered with slang but is filled with the beauty of interesting words and enriching phrases.

7 – Don’t just read the twaddle of the day. Travel to England between the pages of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Experience other times and places through the magic of great literature. Go to the Civil War in “Gone with the Wind” and through the pages of “Little Women”. The passport of your mind is too valuable to stay merely in one country and in one time period. Linger over a cup of tea with Ruth Graham in her biography, “A Portrait of Ruth” and travel to China with Amy Carmichael in “God’s Missionary”.  The world is so much bigger than your little corner of it … so envelop yourself in meaningful literature that will enlarge your capacity to dream. Trust me … I know.

8 – Listen more than you talk.  Women have a horrible habit of talking more than listening. Don’t be that girl. Ask questions of others and then truly care about their answers. Don’t feel that you have to say everything you think, feel and believe but be someone else’s safe place.

9 – Don’t always drive on the interstate … take back roads as often as you can.  Arriving at your chosen destination in the shortest possible time is not nearly as important as seeing the beauty along the way. Stop at an old bookstore … buy lemonade from a child … walk through an old cemetery and read the tombstones … linger over a well-tended garden.

10 – Respect your parents in every season of life. Listen to their wisdom and never discount their input. You really don’t know better than your parents. The world and your peers will tell you to mock them, tolerate them, disobey them, ignore them and sass them. God calls girls from every generation and every historical juncture to honor them. I don’t think that you have a better idea than God.

11 – Please dress modestly. Please!! Your body is not a show and tell stage for the world to gawk at! Your body was not meant to be paraded for every boy to see what you have been given. Pieces of your underwear should never be easily seen under your shirt, skirt, or shorts. You may think that jeans with rips around your private areas are stylish … they are not. They are seductive. You can be stylish without being sexy. I dare you! Try to do it! Be a young woman of virtue who refuses to cave into the culture. Have a backbone when it comes to how you dress … be lovely and not lascivious. (This is a word that you are going to have to look up! See #6 and follow the instructions there! You can do it … this is a word that you do not want used to describe you!)

12 – And please … don’t gossip! Don’t be a drama queen! The circumstances and events that you are going through today will quickly pass. Pray your way through every situation and allow God to give you peace. When you talk about others … let it always be in a kind and encouraging way. When others are gossiping … think of something good to say about the victim of their verbal abuse. Your words hold power and with your words you either wound someone or encourage someone.  Who do you want to be?

13 – Remind yourself on a daily basis that it really does pay to serve God. He has better plans for you than you can even imagine.

14 – Choose Godly friends who dress modestly, obey their parents and refuse to gossip or be drama queens. Your life will be better for it.

15 – Read your Bible every day.  Connect your soul to eternity through this one simple, yet life-altering, choice. You can never underestimate the power of reading a Psalm a day … a Proverb a day … or about the life of Jesus Christ every day. If you desire to be the very best version of “you” imaginable … you will read your Bible.

There are days that I wish I could be 12 years old again and anchor myself to these solid principles that somehow alluded me the first time around. However, we all only get to do life one time. We all only have one chance to be 12 … and 16 … and 23 … and 37 … and 45 … and 58. And so today I will hunker down once again into the important stuff in life and be the very best version of “me” possible. While my feet yet remain on the soil of planet earth, of worldly culture and of a civilization that touts compromise, I will maintain my focus on all that is glorious and eternal.

Happy 100th blog to me and to you! And to all of us … who are no longer 12 … let’s fill the rest of our days with all of our hearts set on that which is noble and pure.

“Finally, sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,  if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

100th post Girls Rule

If I Could Do It All Over Again

sarah and famOne of my dearest life-time friends, Sarah, is about to give birth this week to her third baby. Three world changing children known as Emma, Ethan and little no-name boy. (Sarah and Mike have sworn this new little baby boy’s name to great secrecy.  She won’t even tell me! Imagine that!!) Three new little lives in just barely over 4 years.

emma and ethan

Sarah is one of my heroines.

Because of Sarah, I have been thinking about those years when my house was an absolute mess and yet my heart was filled to overflowing with gratitude and love. I have been remembering the years when the laundry never ended, dirty dishes filled the sink and peanut butter and jelly crusts were all I ever ate for lunch.

Do you remember those days?  After my third baby was born, I counted it a successful day if I was out of my pajamas by 4 p.m.  I realized during those never-ending, noisy years that a long soak in a bubble bath was in some ways better than a trip to Hawaii.

In honor of Sarah and all of those other brave young moms who have chosen to walk the very brave road of large families, here is some advice from the heart of a mom who gave birth to 5 and wishes that she could do it all over again!

1 – Read books to your children.

pretty baby and mother read the booksStart reading to them from the day you bring them home from the hospital. Read “Pat the Bunny”, “I’ll Love You Forever”, “Good Night, Moon”, and the Bible.  Even though they may not understand the meaning of the words … they will understand the love and cadence in your voice.   As they grow into toddlers and pre-schoolers, read “The Little Engine that Could”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, “Amelia Bedelia” and the Bible.

When they are school age and beginning to read on their own, continue to make family story time a well-loved tradition and read to them. Read “Caddie Woodlawn”, “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “Tom Sawyer” and the Bible.

At every age and every stage, read them biographies of men and women who weren’t afraid to dream big dreams and to live a life of resounding importance. Read them the biographies of missionaries, athletes, scientists and musicians.

And … at every age and every stage … read them the Bible.  A child can never read too many books.

 2 – Play music in your home.

Photoxpress_2259741

Start playing music to them from the day that you bring them home from the hospital.  Play the classics of Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin.  Play the great hymns of the faith that thousands have sung before this little life ever began.  Play worship music that is impacting this generation. Play the worship music that impacted your early years. Play the worship music that impacted your parents and grandparents.  Play Broadway Show tunes and musicals.  Play your favorite music.  A child can never listen to too much music.


3 – Hold your babies.

You never spoil a baby with love.  Rock them and sing to them.  Quote the word over them as you quiet them in the middle of the night.  It is no small thing to be given a gift from heaven … treat your tiny blessing with heavenly care.  Also … may I just say … never underestimate the impact that holding and rocking our babies will have during the teen-age years. But I will get to that later.  Trust me when I say you can never hold a baby too much.

baby hand

4 – Make a list of priorities. What matters the most to you?

A clean house or 3 home-cooked, gourmet meals every day?  Going for a jog or reading a book all by yourself in the evening?  Laundry that is done timely and folded when it comes out of the dryer or a beautiful garden outside your windows?

You can’t do it all … so set your priorities and stick to them.

Don’t ever feel guilty about everything that you aren’t able to do during this season but know that you are doing the most important things in life.

I remember one day when my highly successful, beautifully dressed mother walked into my zoo of a house filled with children. There were toys everywhere, the floor was sticky and the dishes hadn’t been done in days. That’s right … I said, “days”.  I was sitting in the middle of the family room floor reading books to my three boys when she walked in. I looked at her and said, “Mom, I am so sorry that my house looks like this.” She sat down on the couch, started folding the mountain of laundry and said, “That’s o.k., honey, you are doing the important things in life.”

At the end of every long, busy day, remind yourself, “That’s o.k., Sarah, you are doing the important things in life.”

Your children can never have too much of you. You are all that matters to them.

5 – Make sure that there is a lot of laughter in your home.

Serve green mashed potatoes on St. Patricks Day.  Serve hamburgers for breakfast and french toast for supper on April Fool’s Day. Read a joke every night at the dinner table. Bennet Cerf’s Book of Riddles was always our favorite.

Blow bubbles in the summertime and catch them on the tip of your nose.  Giggle together over the simple, delightful things in life. Don’t make your home such a serious place that it lacks the healing power of joy and gladness.  There can never be too much laughter in a home!

6 – Teach your children to pray.

child-prayingTeach your little ones that God really does listen when one of His children talks to Him.   Teach your babies that there is nothing too small to talk to God about. You can ask Him to heal your pets, give you a friend, help Daddy at work and help sister with her homework.

When you teach your children to pray, also teach them to trust God with the outcome. Let them know that God is loving and good and kind and we can trust our frail lives in His trust-worthy hands.  Teach your children that sometimes God says, “No,” … sometimes He says,  “Yes,” … and sometimes He says, “Have patience.”

A child can never pray too much, ask God for too much or trust enough!

7 – Teach your children to dream.

Teach your children to imagine and to dream!  Encourage their little imaginations to go vagabond as they conjure up days of safaris and castles and expeditions into outer space.  Talk to their imaginary friends as if they were truly a part of your family. What fun!  If you can cultivate a culture of dreams when they are little … then … when they are grown … they will refuse to limit themselves with mediocrity.  Say things to them like,

“If you can’t do it … no one can do it!”

“I believe in you!”

“God has great plans for your life!”

“You are here for purpose and destiny!”

“You are an Esther … a David … a Paul … a Moses … a Deborah!”

When they are grown, your children will know that they had a mom who believed in them then … and now.  A child can never have too many dreams.

8 – Know that the investment you are making today will reap a harvest of blessings and solid relationship in the future.

Do you want to know what I believe, Sarah?

I believe that when you hold your babies during these busy, frazzled, too-muchto-do, I-need-some-time-to-myself, would-everybody-please-leave-me-alone-and-let-mesleep-years … that you are planting a lovely garden of relationship with this little one that will be harvested during the teen and young adult years.

When a mom holds a baby, it layers the baby’s life with a security that can be developed in no other way.  When a mom holds a toddler, it chases away unreasonable fears and builds a foundation of trust that no teen-age hormones can erode.  When a mom snuggles with an infant, for no other reason than just because I love you and want you, it builds a garrison of strength around that baby’s heart that no weapon of the culture can penetrate.

So as you hold little “what’s his name”, Sarah, know that someday he will grow up. You only have 18 short years with him.

18 summers … 18 birthday cakes … 18 Christmas Eves that will fly away in a mere blink of time.  Read to him … sing to him … prioritize him … laugh with him … pray with Him … dream with him … hold him.

Sarah … read him the Bible and … please … give him a great name!  🙂

 

UPDATE – July 28, 2013

sarah and babySarah delivered a beautiful, healthy 8 lbs. 1 oz. little boy on July 28th!  And she gave him a GREAT name…  Everett Patrick (Everett means – “Courageous and unending praise!”)