Time Flies: Parent with an Eye on the Prize

My 21-year old who's serving in Afghanistan, and my (then) 4-month-old triplet. Time flies!

My 21-year old who’s serving in Afghanistan, and my (then) 4-month-old triplet. Time flies!

My triplets turn five in less than a month, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how fast time flies.

I’m one of those crazy moms who loved getting up in the middle of the night to feed my infants. I loved it so much that for years, long after they actually woke up on their own, I’d get them out of bed in the middle of the night just to cuddle. Granted, all six of my kids slept through the night from 6-8 weeks old, even the preemies. So it wasn’t like I’d been fighting with them for months to get them to stay in bed. They loved their beds and they loved their sleep. So I could just lift them gently and slide into the rocker, hold them for a while, then lay them back down. They rarely actually woke up. In fact I’ve even done it with kids as old as four! In a few weeks, that will probably rise to five.

But by the simple nature of how fast times flies, one of these days it’s gonna be the last time I do that. Oh, we’ve already had lots of “lasts.” The last first day of school. The last diaper change. The last bottle. But one of these days the entire baby stage will be a far distant memory, much more than it is now.

Time goes so fast. 

In Ecclesiastes 3 we’re told that there’s a season for everything. God gives us that overwhelming love we need to parent our infants, even in the middle of the night. He gives us the grace and the wisdom we need to nurture those babies in the way that they are needed at each stage of their development. Then He ushers in the season of school-age children: T-ball, birthday parties, sleepovers, and everything else that comes with the childhood years, including scraped up knees and broken bones.

Next, He holds our hands as He walks us into the teen years. Dating, peer pressure, choices, mood swings, hormones… Thankfully He goes before us and prepares the way with grace and patience. Just imagine if He didn’t.

Next comes the season of letting go. College, moving out, empty-nesting, marriage, grandchildren…it’s an endless cycle of letting go and trusting.

What if we parented through each stage with an eye on the end prize? What if we could look into the future and see that soon we’ll be called to let go? We could make choices as a parent now with our eyes firmly locked on the finish line.

If you envision your grandchildren, might you parent your children differently now? If you envision your kid’s wedding day, maybe you’ll make different parenting choices when it comes to dating. If you imagine the dating years, maybe you’ll make different choices as your young children flirt with early relationships and Facebook statuses.

We have to learn from the people who have gone before us and look ahead to the future. God gave us a beautiful roadmap of guidance towards the decisions parenting requires. It’s up to us now to use that roadmap wisely.

Time goes so fast. Everything has a season. Look ahead to the finish line and set your mind on winning the race.

Much love,
Nicole O’Dell
Choose NOW Ministries
Choose NOW Publishing

Are you a better summer mom?

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Are you a better mom in the winter or the spring? The fall or the summer? I feel like a better mom in the summer. Here’s why:

In the winter, I tend to hide out. I love the cold. I love the snow. But I find it excruciating to search for 47 gloves, socks, scarves, and hats to pile my littles outside when someone will invariably have to go to the bathroom almost immediately. It’s so much easier to stay in and put on a movie…and 10 pounds.

Another reason why I feel like a better mom in the summer is that, while the spring is lovely, rain brings me back to point number one. There’s nothing worse than having to pick up the kids from preschool when it’s pouring rain. Not only do I have to walk a mile to the door to grab them (okay, not a mile, but it feels like it when the rain is beating down) and then back to the car, but then I get to load them into their seats while my backside gets drenched. And this always happens about an hour after I washed my hair and gave it a nice blow out.

Fall is my second favorite, but the hard part about fall is that school has started and we’re easing into the blend of multiple over-full schedules again.

Summer. There’s something freeing about those months. Reduced schedules. No major early-morning requirements. Kids can go from pajamas to bathing suits and back to jammies again with no mommy guilt. In fact, I feel quite proud when they have spent the entire day outside playing, when the TV has stayed cold all day long, and when everyone has sun-kissed cheeks and noses.

But along with the settling of the routine, and the lightning of the load, there can tend to come a misplacement of other priorities. For us, morning devotions are a big priority. This is something I do with my kids, most commonly led by the teenagers, on a daily basis. It will take strict intentionality to make sure the daily devotions continue through the summer months when everyone is waking at different hours and heading in different directions.

Another concern is mealtimes. Do we relax the guidelines and the schedule so much that we let go of things like family dinners or family breakfasts? It takes intentional commitment to those family times to make sure they happen even in the relaxed schedules of the summer.

The third thing is communication. Without the extra time in the car going from place to place and with the lightning are some of the stringent requirements like meals and sporting events and things like that, when do we make up for the lost time for communication? Maybe a month before we’d have spent 40 minutes in a car chatting with the kids on the way to this or that, but now that time is gone.

It all comes back to that intentionality. Plan ahead for the coming summer months. Be intentional about Bible study, meal times, and communication. I guarantee you’ll feel like an even Better Summer Mom!

What are some of the tips you have for really making it work in the summer?

Blessings,

Nicole O’Dell

 

Photo by Ian Kahn, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Motherhood Through the Years: Same Game Different Name & Better Mom Monday’s Link-Up!

In motherhood, some things don’t exactly change with time, they just begin to look a bit different. I wrote the following portion of a post on my blog back in February of 2010 when my triplets were very young toddlers.

Today is one of those days for me. I like to get up a bit early and write my blog post while I have my coffee. Today, I got up at 2am, though. Yeah, that’s a tad earlier than I like to rise. I was awakened by a screaming toddler. And then another one started in. They had high fevers and were pulling on their ears. I got them up, gave them medicine and fluids and cuddled with them on the couch. Megan slept through it all until about 5am. Then it started all over again.

We’re headed in to the doctor’s office this afternoon.

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My plans for the day had once included:

  • Laundry
  • Cleaning up the kitchen
  • Changing crib sheets
  • Writing 4,000 words
  • Answering emails
  • Did I mention Laundry?
  • A phone call or two
  • Preparing some packages to mail
  • Running to the post office

I’m sure I would have added to that list as the day went on. But…guess how many of those things I managed to accomplish.

ZERO.

But guess what.

I’m doing exactly what God has before me for THIS day. No matter what my plans were, they had nothing to do with His plans for me. It’s a gentle reminder that it’s okay to set goals and make a loose plan as long as we’re ready to shift when He calls.

It occurs to me that not a whole lot has changed since then. I might set my alarm clock for 5:30 or 6:00 am, but usually a triplet or two decides I’m needed before then. I might make plans with a friend to meet for coffee while the kids are at preschool, but invariably that ends up being a snow day and school is cancelled. I might schedule a hair cut or make an eye doctor’s appointment for myself, but that’s a sure way to find myself in the pediatrician’s office with a preschooler, or even a teenager, instead.

I guess that’s what happens when you’re the go-to person for the little people we call our children. It’s not always easy to lay aside our own agendas, and sometimes it can even conjure up feelings of despair when it seems like it will never end. From one stage to the next, the interruptions might look different, but the cost is the same. The sacrifices we’re called to make as moms is the same. We have to step aside and let their needs set the schedule.

In the heat of those moments, trust me, I often feel like throwing my hands up in the air. I wonder why I ever bother agreeing to anything or ever dare to dream for a few moments to myself.

But then…a feverish pair of arms snake around my neck and a child whispers, “I love you, Mommy.”

In that moment I feel equal parts grateful, loved, and blessed, mingled with touches of regret for ever wishing those moments would fade sooner rather than later.

On second thought, coffee with the girls can wait.

Nicole O’Dell, author of 21 books since 2007, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, and a national Christian event speaker, is dedicated to speaking messages of hope to women, families, teens, and parents. It’s all about choices!
Photo by Phaitoon, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.com

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Comfort Food for the Soul {Turning to God in Your Trouble}

Comfort Food: That big bowl of salty goodness that marks the end of a long day, or that decadent, gooey, caramel concoction that seems to soak up tears as it melts in the mouth.

ID-10054003My daughter, Natalie, recently went through something really big and painful. To protect her privacy, I won’t share more details than that—but suffice it to say that it has nothing to do with a boy, and it’s something I’d never want anyone to face.

The day after this trauma occurred, she wandered around the house kind of aimlessly. She didn’t want to sleep, didn’t want to read, didn’t want to watch TV. She had no idea what to do to calm her spirit. We prayed and we talked until there were no words left to say, then she asked me to make my homemade chicken soup. She said, “When nothing else seems to help, I know that will make me feel better.”

I rolled out the dough for the noodles, seasoned it just right, added the chicken and chunks of carrots and celery—perfection. Soon, Natalie wandered into the kitchen and raised the lid to take a big whiff from the pot. She lifted her face and let the steamy aroma envelop her. Then she sipped a taste from a spoon and slumped against the counter in mock ecstasy. “Well. This will forever be my ultimate comfort food. I will never be able to smell chicken soup without thinking about what happened. But on the plus side, I’ll always want your homemade soup whenever I need comfort.”

Food is only one source of counterfeit comfort. Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sleeping, and anything else that distracts the mind from troubles and gives the body a sense of pleasure or escape for even a brief moment. You’ll notice that none of the things on that list offer nourishment for the spirit.

Do you nourish yourself with God’s word?

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

Scriptures are comfort food for the soul. God means for us to soak up the truth and guidance from His word like Natalie soaked up the smell and taste of that chicken soup. Worldly pleasures bring a temporary comfort, but the problem still remains when the pleasure or comfort fades.  However, the words of God are soothing and provide permanent hope and peace. When you consume God’s word, you’ll be changed ,and your troubles will dim in the bright light of Christ.

As a mom, you can trust that there will be challenges, hardships, and pain on a regular basis. Turning to food or another source for comfort will always leave you longing for more. But the nourishment you’ll find in the Word will heal you from the inside out.

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22 (NLT)

Blessings,

Nicole O’Dell, Choose NOW Ministries

 

***Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net, by Stuart Miles

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