Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Grandmother/Great-Grandmother's 10 Tips For Mothers

I love children, which is fortunate since I had five, then later added three stepchildren. Now I have over twenty grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Here are my ten tips.

1.      The most important decision you will ever make in life is your choice of a life partner, soul mate, spouse. Choose wisely. This will have the greatest impact on your ability to be the best mother you can possibly be.
2.      Never belittle, criticize, ridicule, undermine or otherwise attack your husband to your children. Your children, especially your daughters will mimic your behavior someday with their own husbands.  The greatest sense of security you can give your children is the bond of love, respect, and trust between you and your husband.
3.      Take the time for one-on-one with your children. I know it’s hard to do in our busy society, especially when most mothers work outside the home. It’s also more difficult for mothers with several children. Even if it’s just five or ten minutes of reading, praying, playing or listening.
·         This is one of my greatest regrets, especially when I cuddle a grandchild or great-grandchild to read or sing and talk with them. My mind invariably travels back to when my kids were small and how I didn’t take, or have, the time to do this with them. I missed something so vital and precious with them that can never be recaptured.
4.      Listen! Listen, even if you’re busy. Listen, even if what your child is saying doesn’t seem important. When you don’t listen, it says to that child that he/she is NOT important enough to you. Take time to ask them how their day was, even if the whole day was spent with you and you already know how it was. It’s usually too late to establish communication when that child becomes a teenager and shuts you out.
5.      Accept all gifts with gratitude and kindness. That child loves you enough to pick that flower, draw, scribble or color that picture, give you a rock or other treasure they found outdoors, or grab you for a hug and kiss with dirty face and hands. Have that refrigerator covered with artwork from your children. Cherish it, save it to give to your adult children someday.
6.      Do NOT compare one child to another. Show no favoritism. Each child is unique, with different personalities, different talents, different sensitivities – each uniquely and wonderfully made. No child wants to feel like they don’t measure up to a sibling’s intelligence or accomplishments. And because of this uniqueness, punishment should be different, but fairly meted out.  What works for one child will not necessarily work for another.
7.      Create wonderful memories. Start family traditions, especially for holidays. Take vacations or staycations (where you stay home or in town) loaded with fun and fellowship – memories. If money is a problem, find freebie or inexpensive things to do. Check your local community events, go camping, camp, do water sports, or other things in your own backyard. Bake, cook and do crafts with your children. Take lots of pictures. Do scrapbooks and journals of your child’s life.
·         Now that I have adult children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, sharing stories and memories, good and bad, is one of the favorite things we do. 
8.      Share family/ancestral history through stories and pictures. Give your children a sense of their roots. Encourage contact and interaction with other family outside of the immediate family: cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I can’t stress enough how important family is. If you have adopted children, do not feel threatened or take it personally when they seek out birth parents. It’s innate in all of us to know our roots. If you feel threatened or violated by their need to discover their birth family, that’s your insecurity.
9.      Allow and encourage your children to pursue their dreams, goals, talents, and desires. If you don’t believe in them, how can they believe in themselves? Encourage, support, but don’t pressure and ramrod them. Also, along with this, please don’t live vicariously through your children. They are not your ticket to recapture or fulfill your own lost dreams and goals.

10.  Snoop!  This is probably the one thing that many people will disagree with me about. IF you suspect that your child is involved in something dangerous, criminal, unhealthy, threatening, immoral, or being bullied or may be suicidal, snoop! For no other reason should you violate their privacy, and certainly not because of your curiosity about their personal life. I dare to say that many parents regret not having done so if a tragedy could have been prevented, or the life of their child spared. It’s better to incur your child’s anger for snooping than to live with this form of regret.

I heard a preacher say one time that one of the greatest things God will hold us accountable for is the nurture and admonition of our children. Your greatest legacy will be the lives you've left behind to carry on.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When God Has To Be Enough

I have a large family – a very large family. I have five children, three stepchildren. Those children have given me eighteen grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Add to that my siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles. You get the picture.

Out of that vast number, 80-90% are normal, ordinary, average dysfunctional (we ALL have dysfunction to some extent – it’s what makes us human). Unfortunately, it is the 10-15% – those who are screwed up, messed up, mentally unbalanced, selfish and self-centered – who exhaust our emotions, drain our well-being, rob us of our peace and joy, and consume our thoughts.

Out of my five children, my son has broken my heart repeatedly. He is a broken individual who has never completely surrendered to the Lord. He thinks he has been 100% sold out to the Lord in the past, but there was always a part of him – a dark, haunted, wounded place – that he withheld.

It has been another heart-wrenching, devastating week for my family with my son.

Most of the fiction I write is based on personal life experiences – mostly mine, or those I know and love. I’m sure these experiences with my son the past several months will be fodder for writing at some point in my life.
Although I thank God for the lessons I’ve learned, the experience of the depth of His mercy and grace that I’ve tasted, because of circumstances I have faced in life, I would gladly forgo some of that to not have suffered some things.

It is daily trusting in God’s sustaining providence. He is my portion, my reward, my hope, my strength, my all. He has to be, or I will not survive.

Because He is, I am! His grace is sufficient. His mercy never fails and endures forever. That’s scriptural. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ahoy, Maties! All Aboard!

I have to share my first-ever-cruise adventure with you. To celebrate my son-in-law, Todd’s, 50th birthday, ten of us family members decided to go on a 5-day Carnival Cruise. I’ve never been on cruise before, have a fear of deep waters, but was excited to go.

We dove to Los Angeles, CA to board the ship on a Monday afternoon. The hype of the revelers already aboard was palpable. We put our luggage in our rooms and journeyed to an area by the pool to load up plates from a buffet. Food served around the clock that I didn’t have to prepare or clean up after sounded like heaven to me. Yum!

The buffets were nothing compared to the evening dining where our choices were mouth-watering and the service fit for royalty. Lobster and prime rib, two of my favorites – no problem!

We’re Christians, and there was still plenty of entertainment that didn’t call for ribaldry or drinking alcohol. It promised to be a fun five days. My husband, Jeff, even won a trophy for the most correct answer in a trivia contest for 60’s, 70’s, 80’s music. Yay, Jeff!

Tuesday we docked at Catalina Island. We disembarked, and rented golf carts to tour the island. Not overly exciting, but still fun. Wednesday we would disembark in Ensenada, Mexico. We planned to walk around the city and shop, maybe grab lunch.

Since we, I, did nothing but eat, eat, eat, I was looking forward to all the walking to burn off some calories. Despite all the offers from locals, “One dollar each. Take you to the ship,” I insisted we walk. Bad choice!

I ended up face first on an asphalt street in Ensenada. A gash on my forehead spilled blood down my face and soaked my blouse. I refused to be taken to the hospital in Mexico, insisting, “Get me back to the ship!”

I received three stitches, a bruised and battered face, bruised and swollen knee, bruised and scraped elbow and shoulder as a result of my refusal to catch “a dollar ride” back to the ship.

There’s definitely a story here, don’t you think? Give me some time and I’ll write it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FaithWriters Book "Trials and Triumphs"

Here's an awesome book if you need encouragement, hope, or just good reading. I am one of the authors, along with other FaithWriters members. .