Key Factors in Aligning Values & Actions

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
~William Shakespeare

Worldly pressures, images and persuasions can be confusing and often misleading. If we are not careful, we can quickly stray from our original goals. We are continually exposed to media, social ideals and various other forms of information and unsolicited feedback, but thankfully, we have some insight and knowledge of these pressure pits which can help us thwart the mass of it…unfortunately, our children are still young and not as well prepared…but we are here to help them along their way!

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

This transitional time of year is a perfect opportunity to help remind ourselves – and our children – of what our values and priorities are, and take a closer look at our goals…in order to reevaluate our cause. Learning more about who we are wonderfully made to be will help navigate this wide open space. Discovering more about who we *want* to be and less about what the world is *pressuring* us to be can be the key to true happiness.

So, how do we help our families achieve these ideals?

It helps to start with a list of values. Prioritize your top ten values and have your children do the same. The below list can be used to generate ideas, but choose your list according to what is most important to you.

Family
Spiritual Growth
Social Interactions
Sports
Education
Money
Health
Service
Career Advancement
Hobbies

There are no wrong answers on the values assessment list because every person is a unique individual! If we all shared exactly the same values and strengths, we wouldn’t be nearly as effective in working together.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. Romans 12:4-6

Do your actions match your values?

Once you’ve determined your priorities, it’s helpful to check that you are appropriating your time accordingly. I like to do this using percentages, but you can simply rearrange your above list according to your current schedule. Now, compare the two lists and see where adjustments need to be made. Being aware of what we are doing and the reasons why can help in setting positive long-term goals.

Now that we know our values and can see where we are spending our time, we can use the information to set new goals and align our daily lives to reflect our beliefs. It’s not uncommon to slip into a bad habit of doing too much of that in which we would rather not…a whole lot less of that in which we should.

Goal Setting

One of the best ways to get back on track and moving toward the original goal is to set a main long-term goal with several, reachable short-term goals along the way.

All goals should be SMART:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

Your goal setting sheet should look something like this:

Main Goal = _____________ (keep it positive)

Short-term Goal #1 (include specifics and an achievable date)
Short-term Goal #2 (cross s-t goals off as they are accomplished!)
Short-term Goal #3 (almost there…stay on track)

Motivators: (I like to put encouraging words and helpful reminders here – something to keep the focus. Sticky notes on mirrors, in the car or somewhere they will be viewed daily can help too!)

I think you might be surprised at the many things you can learn about your children and their amazing, loving hearts as you help them set and keep their goals. They may be surprised to learn some pretty cool things about you too (and gain some wisdom into the reasons *why* you do the things you do!) …so in whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

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Loving Our Children as Christ Loves Us

“Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.” ~Tim Keller

How do we raise strong, confident children, preparing them with the tools and values to achieve God’s will in their own lives? Simply by loving them as Christ loves us. To accept, love and reassure our children for exactly who they are – not for who we wish them to be – is at the essence of healthy of parenting. Forgiveness, grace and abundant love.

Concepts from Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel:

Sometimes our love is incomplete because…
Our children feel they have to COMPETE for it.
Or they feel they have to EARN it.

Making love secure…
We can ACCEPT our children for who they are.
Provide them with AFFILIATION with a loving and honoring family (without an idealistic view of what that must look like).
Give them regular, generous amounts of AFFECTION (from both parents/all family members – pretty much until they’re 120 yrs-old!).

It’s not always easy to accept the quirks and rebellions of our children, but a biblical view of right and wrong tempered with graceful lessons in repentance and freedom from guilt will allow our children the power to confront the challenges of a sinful human nature. It’s all too easy to be tempted to punish harshly for innocent annoyances (especially when overdrawn and underslept) but it’s vital to the success of our children’s personal/spiritual growth that we allow them to be the silly, sometimes obnoxious individuals they were made to be…and one day, all that crazy energy will be alloted to the very purpose they were sent here to serve. So, as you attempt to prepare a healthy meal to the beat of wooden spoons on metal pots and pans – paper airplanes whizzing past your head in a near miss to the hot burner and boiling water – just remember that your little musician and your future pilot will thank you for loving them as Christ has loved you.

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

A Glimpse of Mortality and Reflections upon Motherhood

Profound, precious moments along the journey of life possess the power to leave impressions upon the human heart. It seems to me that these impacting variances to the general trend often occur unexpectedly, with impeccable timing and often host an unusual twist to what might otherwise have been an ordinary event. In awe, I appreciate the unforeseen greatness and provision of insight as I wonder along in my personal journey…enlightened…embraced…in motherhood.

It is no surprise to me that my plight in life, as deemed prominent in my paternal line, includes a mushy, gushy – sometimes overly sentimental – side…often to my dismay.  My grandmother has it, my aunt suffers and while it would be profusely denied, my brother has some tendencies as well. The worst case, however, belongs to my father, and after years of witnessing his “allergies” (as he has termed it) I have concluded that he is quite allergic to the script inside birthday cards and the finale of sentimental movies. Bearing all that in mind, I stuffed a few tissues into my pockets as we headed out to visit my great-grandma in her new placement at the care center.

After making our way through a series of locks, knobs, buttons, ID badges and security, I received an endearing, heartfelt compliment. It came from a middle-aged man wearing a tuxedo t-shirt playing a lone game of checkers in a quiet corner of the entryway. His curious stare and innocently gaping grin left me with no doubt that he was a patient in the center. Eyes wide and with carefree excitability, he paused from his game to verbalize the very thought that had come to his mind. He admired my hair, saying that it was “sunshiny” …and that he liked it. He repeated it twice more before I left, each time with genuine sincerity, but that was not the moment that would leave a forever print upon my heart.

The breath taking, tear welling, utterly impacting moment occurred suddenly as my children and I passed through a gathering room in the home. Several gracefully aged patients sat about in wheel chairs as visitors came and went. Placed between a resident staring intently at the bird-filled vivarium and a slouched gentleman snoring rhythmically in his chair, was a delicately fragile woman adorned in softly loosened skin. Her dainty pink gown tented her frail frame and her eyes gazed blankly off into the distance…in her arms, with the gentle, loving heart of a long-time mother, she clung to an oversized baby doll.

My eyes gravitated quickly to the dark beige twills of the berber carpet but the image remained. I took a couple of slow, deep breaths. Pangs of emotion crept into my stomach and up to my throat. We rounded the corner, and as I thought I had handled my surge of emotion with a bit of diplomacy, one of my children whispered the inevitable, heart-wrenching question, “Mommy, why was that old lady holding a doll?”

It was the answer to such a question that evoked the physically emotional response. The aching in my stomach had made its way to my heart, making it difficult to communicate my answer. I reached into my pocket to retrieve a tissue, and in the strongest, most composed whisper I could voice, I explained to my four-year-old, “She was probably a mommy for lots of years.” The understanding was apparent with the uncharacteristically silent response from both of my children.

We continued through the halls toward our intended destination to great-grandma’s room. With each passing door, my injured heartstrings were further tugged. Being that this was a small Colorado town and one of the few retirement homes in the community, the names on the doors were all too familiar. As I contemplated a quick dash to the bathroom for an emergency weeping, I had a realization. This generation had spent an entire lifetime together. They had made their journey, each along an individual path but intertwined with all the others and now preparing to depart. It was a beautiful thing.

Great-grandma was as spunky as ever, still healing from injuries incurred while attempting things best left to those in their early nineties, but enough of a hopeful spirit to recover from and move on to her next strong-willed attempt at independence. She was a roommate to the grandmother of a childhood friend of mine. That little fact was surprisingly comforting to me.

I left that day wondering about the life grandma had lived, her years as a young mother, a widow and her amazing faith that had impacted generations, providing me personally with encouragement through the years – particularly in my own experiences as a mother.

Images of motherhood continued to dance through my mind as I made my trip back to the city…those of an imagined, perfectly intended devise…as well as ones witnessed that day in the unrelinquishing frailty of humanity. The thoughts were not haunting, heart rendering, yes…but certainly not without hope. In that brief moment on that single day, I saw something – the most important thing. It was remembered by that mother’s heart, embedded deeply enough to surpass the need for conscious recollection in a failing human mind – an emotion harnessing a power untouchable even to mortality. I saw a physical expression, a window into the dearness of a human soul – a sight to forever live in my own heart. I witnessed pure, true, insurmountable love for another human being. That kind of love – a mother’s love – triumphs and continues to live on…long after the journey of life is complete.