Speed of the Leader

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Leadership…

Who comes to mind when you hear this word?

Government Officials? Military Generals?  Naval officers? Company Presidents? Corporate Executives?  Local Pastors or maybe even Little League Coaches?

How about Stay-at-home Moms?

Do you think of a Mom when you think of Leadership?

Do you think of yourself?

Why not?

Moms, you ARE all leaders in your home, and your TRIBE is watching you. Not only do you lead them daily as you help guide them through simple routines, but you are modeling for them how they are eventually to lead themselves. Yesterday I was visiting with a close friend, who has three young kids ages 5, 3, and 2.  She didn’t see herself as a leader, and I told her that YES she was.  She was leading those young hearts every day, and she was setting a Godly example to other moms of how to be a faithful wife, a caring friend, and a steadfast mother.  Then my oldest son shared a quote he had just read by Brene Brown, in her  best selling book, Daring Greatly…

“I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in others.” ~Brene Brown

Isn’t this the epitome of motherhood?

John Maxwell says that, “Everything rises and fall on leadership; the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.”

Recently, I was fortunate to be in the company of some amazing moms at a staff meeting for our local Classical Education program.

The director encouraged all of us to begin a personal enrichment plan in order to grow personally, academically, and spiritually.  We were each challenged to identify the types of activities which recharge us and work to implement those activities weekly into our schedule.  In order to grow as a leader, we need to develop ourselves in Body, Mind, and Soul. I recommend scheduling time every weekend to lay out what Stephen Covey teaches as the WEEKLY COMPASS, where instead of focusing on your to do list for the week, you first identify four different areas in your personal life that you can work to improve on, one thing at a time, followed by your 7 keys rolls each week.  (More on that soon).

If mom as leader is working to improve herself on a regular basis, be it running on the treadmill, memorizing scripture, reading good books, working on a political campaign, or even taking online classes, then each of these things communicates to her children that we never “arrive” on the journey, we are always continuing to grow.

It’s called personal development.  School doesn’t end at 12th grade, spiritual growth isn’t over at salvation, and health and wellness are a life style, not a passing phase.

I believe that anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

Including motherhood.

What can you do today that will recharge you?  How do you weekly work on adding value to your own body, mind, and soul?  Your children are watching you.

The speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.

The hand that rocks the cradle…

 

 

 

Sowing in Marriages

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A couple of weeks ago on Valentine’s Day I was at the home of a friend of mine who was entertaining her five young grandkids for a week so that her daughter could travel on a much needed, long overdue anniversary trip with her husband.

This was no ordinary week with Grandma!

Those kids had more fun packed into one week than their mom admittedly can pack into six months. They spent a long day at the Children’s Museum, went to the park, a petting zoo, the movies, played outside all day, and even hosted a massive Valentine’s Party for about 30 young kids ages 12 and under. The party I attended with my five younger kids was loaded with sugar and sunshine, painting, go-carts, pizza making, and cookie decorating.

It was a perfect day, and her grandkids didn’t give a second thought that day to the fact that mom and dad were away at a resort in Mexico. When mom and dad came home, not only were their love tanks full from time away and alone, but their kid’s love tanks were overflowing from an action packed week with the grandparents.

This got me to thinking

If more of us set aside our own personal schedules and routines, and embraced the children of a couple in need of a long overdue get-a-way…

Maybe we wouldn’t see a 60% failure rate in marriages?

If more of us actively sought out a struggling young couple with small children, or teens at home, who might be in need of a long date night…

…maybe we could save just one marriage?

I heard on the radio a few weeks ago a powerful message from Andy Stanley, he was speaking to the Christian church who often have the mindset that we have a greater impact on the world when we host marriage conferences for hundreds of couples, or travel to the foreign mission field and preach to thousands of people, or when we give to causes that put water wells in third world nations and save entire villages, or traveling to orphanages to volunteer  for a couple of weeks sharing God’s love to dozens of orphans?

All these things are wonderful acts of service, but how many of us can (and will) drop everything and do something “BIG” for God?

Andy Stanley made a powerful statement that morning on the radio that I won’t forget,

“DO FOR THE ONE, WHAT YOU WISH YOU COULD DO FOR THE MANY”

Look around you this week.  Somewhere nearby, there may be a couple in need of alone time.

Perhaps a date night, a three or four day retreat, or even a week long get-a-way?

We reap what we sow.

Who’s marriage are YOU helping?

 

When They Leave

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It was a normal Monday.  With the flu in the house, I wasn’t sure which child I would be up with in the early morning hours, but I knew someone would need something for their fever.

Up at 3am.

I had even beat my 20 year old Starbucks-early-morning-barista-daughter up.   She would be leaving the house at 4:30am.  The two year old wasn’t going back to bed.  She was up and didn’t know what she wanted exactly, but she knew it needed to involve momma right next to her.  There was no consoling her other than rocking her and singing softly to her as the Motrin took effect.  As she began to settle down, the kitchen was now calling.  Being up early with the younger kids allowed me a chance to make an early morning breakfast for my college student who was headed out to campus for a full day of summer classes.  As the day unfolded, I knew it was a good time to get into that school room and organize all those school papers and clean out all the backpacks before something started growing in them.  While the house was a flurry, little girls were drawing pictures for their big brother who was off at camp, my 16 year old daughter getting ready to take one of her sisters on that promised trip to the pool.

2pm: I grab a quick nap, my work-from-home hubby is headed to an appointment and we kiss goodbye.

It’s now 2:45 in the afternoon and I need to meet a student I’m tutoring at the library soon.  With the dinner instructions explained to the teen in charge, and the preferred chores requested, I head out to teach.

3:30 at the library, my student has arrived late and I get a text.

Cassidy:  Mom….Abby is being horrible. Will you talk to her?  She has been rude, disobedient, and back talking. She’s told me she hates me over 8 times and counting and she keeps screaming like I’ve been hurting her, when in fact I haven’t touched her.  She’s being SO dramatic!!

Me: Send her to my room and let her lay down. I will call her

Cassidy: I tried to. She won’t listen.

Me: I’m in the library and can’t talk yet. Please call dad. Try another approach with her. Just leave her be. Tell her calmly that her sister is resting and she needs to cooperate.

Cass: I’ve tried EVERYTHING. She won’t listen, when she goes to your room, she wakes up Charis!

Me (to my student), “Will you excuse me a minute?”  I head to the stairwell and proceeded to try and mediate remotely a household that has been recovering from the flu with emotions high.  I knew everyone was on edge and I innocently thought that a two hour trip away from home would be uneventful.  Boy, was I wrong.

The offender had her say, and finally calmed down.

Time to leave the library. I’m now headed to the bank.  So far a normal day.

Then it happened.

My oldest daughter called me.  She’s the one living at home, has just graduated college, soon to be married in one month.  I hadn’t seen her in a couple of days since she had met her fiancé at the airport and spent the day before with him.  She had worked a full shift that morning and was asleep when I left the house.

Beth:  Mom, are you coming home?

Me: Not yet, I have one more student to tutor.

Beth: Mom, he got the job.

Then I knew.

It hadn’t hit me till that moment.

She was leaving.

I knew it would happen, we have been planning a wedding for six months.  But for some reason, today…I wept.  Actually, I couldn’t stop the tears. They were flowing and would not stop.  I wasn’t crying because I needed her to fill some emptiness in me,

…I wept because I will miss her.  I wept just because…

I’m a mom.

Did I hug her enough? Tell her I love her enough?  Did I listen to her when she was excited about a new book she was reading?  Did I really try to make her comfortable in the home?  Were the years she was here a blessing to her, or something else?  Did we pray together enough?  Did I take enough pictures?  Did I tell her enough stories of her childhood?  Did we spend enough time together?

I cry because I am thankful. I weep because God is good.  He allows us to love as He loves…To draw from His well, His height and depth and width and breadth of unending, never failing love.  We love because He first loved us.

It’s true, and now I get it.  God really does just “loan” our children to us for a short season.

Then they leave.

Others have felt this way, my friends all warned me it would come suddenly.

And it did.

She’s my first.  There are seven more to follow.  I am hoping it will get easier.  It is all good.  Things are as they should be.  She’s marrying the right man.  She’s strong, independent, and loves the Lord.  My head knows that everything is good.

I’m just waiting for my heart to get the message.

Suddenly, those early morning Motrin runs, non-stop dishes and laundry, and interrupting text messages don’t seem so bad.

Suddenly, in that moment, I realize that I have one chance to pour into all my children all the time and the love and grace and forgiveness and scripture reading and worship nights and family meetings and coaching and story-telling that I can possibly give them.

I have ONE chance to get it right.

Before it all becomes a memory.

I love you Bethany.  I am so happy for you.  The tears may flow this month, but they are tears of gratitude and love.   You make me want to me a better mom.

To all the mommas out there, holding their babies right now in the middle of the night, one day they will leave, and you will be so glad you loved them deeply like you are doing right now.  One day, you will thank the Lord, for these late nights.   One day, you will look back, smile, and pray over the next generation who will carry the mantle that you have passed on to them.  One day…..

 

Sowing with Siblings

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“It’s not worth it” 

That’s the answer I received when both of my daughters came to me on separate occasions and told me of a minor offense they each had with the other.  I asked them if they had mentioned to their sister how they felt.

“It’s not worth it” was the response I heard from both of them.

I’ve felt the same way before too. Something small is bothering you and it’s easier to just let it go than to risk confronting the other person.

It’s not worth the TIME it will take to talk this out.

It’s not worth the RISK of being misunderstood.

It’s not worth the ENERGY to even bring it up.

It’s just not worth it.

The problem with this attitude is…

…that’s how walls are built up over time, and I was witnessing one being built between my two beautiful daughters brick by brick, day by day: Cutting off intimacy, sowing roots of bitterness, robbing them of love and attention.

Girls, I have noticed the last few weeks that you are not talking to each other much.  Is there something going on that needs to be addressed?”

This was our conversation before church one Sunday.

“No, Mom, everything is fine.”

“Are you both sure?”

“We’re sure.”

“I just don’t think you are being honest with yourselves, or with me because I see how you are treating each other and it doesn’t seem to me that everything is ok.”

Silence

“I’ve heard from both of you about the other person and so I know something is not right.”

Silence

“You know, God made you both very different from one another and that’s a good thing.  The friends you hang around with tend to be like you, because we like people who are like us. Your sister may not be like you, but God put her in your life to teach you how to love and be loved.”

After several minutes passed, finally the dam began to break and the oldest daughter confessed what had been eating at her. The other one followed her lead. The issue was much deeper than how it started weeks ago because the wall had time for the mortar to harden.

Each day the wall was being built brick by brick and I told my girls that if they have the attitude, “It’s just not worth it”, they will miss out on the intimacy God wants them to have now.  If they don’t deal with the pride that separates them and get right with each other while they are living in the same house, then ten years down the road when one of them has morning sickness, and a toddler running around the house and really just needs her sister to come over so she can get a NAP, she won’t have a sister to call for help because the voice in her head will say, “It’s just not worth it”.

Really?

“But, my daughters, it really is worth it.  It is worth bringing the truth to the light, being honest with each other, and humbling yourselves and telling the truth.  Relationships, true and honest and deep, are WORTH it.  Love is worth it. It’s worth it to go through a little discomfort now, for the intimacy you will share as adults. Strong relationships in families don’t just happen. They take love, honesty, and work.” 

I told them that I am confronting them both because I see the wall of separation and I love them enough to take a sledgehammer to it and tear it down. Walls divide, Love unites. Truth sometimes hurts, but the truth of God’s word will bring healing and restoration if it’s said in love and gentleness.

My girls opened up, shared with each other how they felt, and the minor issues bothering them, and experienced what a sledgehammer can do if used with precision and discernment: tear down walls and bring freedom.

If you have teens in the house who aren’t speaking to one another, realize those walls may be thick, but the right sledgehammer, and the power of God’s agape love, can tear down those walls.

I am praying for you today.

Take the time to see what’s going on in your home and tune into the atmosphere and the relationships of those you love around you!

[ I wrote this post four years ago when both my older daughters lived at home.  These two vastly different and fiercely independent ladies are now the very best of friends…texting, laughing, and sharing daily.  Hang in there moms.  It really is worth it! ]

 

 

The Parenting Secret


“Just wait till their teenagers!”

This was the common refrain we heard every weekend at the ballpark while cheering on our six year old athlete and chasing her three younger siblings around the bleachers.

I often think back at how I felt when I would hear those words: overwhelmed, fearful, confused, even sad. It was as if people were communicating to me, “One day you’ll be sorry for having all those kids!”

How sad

Here’s a newsflash

It is 17 years later….and

I’m not sorry

Recently, my husband was asked to give his #1 parenting advice.  If he could tell young parents one thing, what would it be? How does he raise such great kids? Without a second thought he spoke the most profound words…

Wait for it…

joey and cassidy

“NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES

YOU MUST WIN THEIR HEARTS.”

He went on to say that one reason why our family is working, was that when we first were married and starting a family, we made an intentional decision to win their hearts at a very young age. We would hold them as long as they needed to be held, never worrying about “spoiling” them. We would look them in the eye and listen to their side of the story, even if we already knew our answer. Our discipline would be swift and fair, always working to have the punishment fit the crime, followed by a sweet time of love and reconciliation.

We decided to make every effort to be involved in their lives, ask questions, find out how they were processing situations, love them with our lives, and introduce them one day to the source of all love. We decided to love each other in front of them first, always reminding them that daddy and mommy were here first, and love them in such a way, that no matter what they did, or where they went, they would always know the height and depth and width and breadth of our love for them.

Just like the Lord.

My husband said to me that it didn’t really matter if they followed all the rules of the home, obeyed us at home and in public, performed great in school, used nice manners, were star athletes and musicians, or even led worship with their youth group. Raising kids who ONLY follow the rules for the sake of outward appearance means that we are raising them for how they will make US look, how WE are perceived by society.

“OH look at that beautiful family!”

If parents are only concerned with how their kids behave, they may win the early battles, but by the time they turn 18 and are ready to leave on their own,

You will have lost the war.

In our home, we did not want to raise a bunch of rule followers, keepers of the law…Pharisees.

We knew that if we didn’t have their hearts, we didn’t have a thing. If they obeyed outwardly but inwardly resented or even hated us, we would have failed.

Check out the Parenting Secret Part TWO…

https://sowwithvision.com/2016/03/16/the-parenting-secret-part-two/

Let me know your thoughts!  You can follow me on Twitter @sow_with_vision

Come Let Us Worship

COME LET US WORSHIP

Words and music by Joseph P. Lichnovsky ~  © 2016

Come let us worship

Come let us bow down

Come let us seek the Lord

While He may still be found

Come let us adore him

Bow down before Him

For we are an offering

Of Love to our God and King

Come let us worship

The body and the blood

The perfect Son of God

Was broken and poured out

Rejected and despised

My sin was laid on him

Whom Death could not contain

But He would rise again

Unshackle every chain

CHORUS

Now Darkness hovered over

All creation as it cried

He uttered it is Finished

And He bowed His head and died

The earth began to tremble

And the veil was torn apart

The grave released it’s hold

Upon the keeper of my heart

 

The Strong-Willed Child


 

Sitting in my office, I am  listening to my 20 year old son make breakfast for his 4 year old sister.  The two are laughing and giggling and referencing different silly cartoon characters.  My son prepares to begin a day of back to back piano lessons as students and families come in and out of our home all day.  Our son is in his Junior year studying piano performance at Sam Houston State.  Each Monday and Friday I get the blessing of interacting with different moms who love to tell me about how much they enjoy the lessons, while I also listen to him teach his young students about discipline and control on the keys.  The value of doing something WELL…over doing something FAST, and I have to smile.  Mommas….he was my strong-willed child.  Enjoy the read

The Strong-willed Child

 

Are you raising a strong-willed child?  If you are not quite sure, think about it like this.  Strong-willed children are a lot like active labor.  For weeks leading up to childbirth you experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions.  There’s always that nagging question as you feel those pains, no matter how many babies you’ve had,

“Could this be it?”

I’ve given birth eight times, and I still have those questions and I still time those contractions, to no avail, it’s not real labor.  But, when REAL HARD ACTIVE LABOR finally does hit you, there’s no more ‘guess-work’, you KNOW you are in LABOR, and dad had better hurry up and get momma to the hospital PRONTO!

A strong willed child is like that.  If you HAVE one in your home, you KNOW it.  If you are ‘guessing’, you probably don’t have one.

Here’s the deal with the strong-willed ones, and I am speaking to mom.

HEAR me momma:

This child needs you to stand strong in your authority as his parent.

This child needs you to always WIN.  This child needs you to NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP.  They need you to have vision for their future, because they can’t see.  They need you stand firm.  They will test every single ounce of your patience, and squeeze out every bit of your resolve until you feel like you have nothing left to give.

KEEP GIVING.

This child will be the one who needs to be disciplined every single day, possibly for years, while all the other kids watch in disbelief at the fact he is messing up YET AGAIN.  They will scratch their heads and think, “DUDE!  Just do what mom says!”

He just can’t.

It’s his iron will, and yours needs to be stronger.  Love him deeply, hold him often, praise him in the non-conflict times, and always discipline with a vision of righteousness.  Do it over and over and over.  Don’t quit.  They grow up fast and every day is another brick in the wall of his character.  You are helping to forge his character every single day you keep standing.

Each day will seem like a power-struggle.  It is.  You will notice that the house is calmer when that child is not home, and you’ll be tempted to let him play all the time at his friend’s house just to get him out.  Don’t send him.  He’s not ready.  You are in a battle.  God will grant you rest one day, but for now, keep standing.

Do not let this child win the battle.  He will fight to win every time.

You win

You fight

His soul is the prize

His future hangs in the balance.

You will say to yourself, “I must be doing something wrong, he keeps getting in trouble, always needing to be disciplined”

Yes he does, keep doing it.

You may be thinking…How do I reach him?  How do I train him? Nothing is working. 

Find what works and do THAT. Ask other moms, go to your elders and ask them for help.   Sometimes corporal punishment works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes time-outs work, rarely ever do they work on the strong-willed child. There are countless other disciplining techniques.   Mix it up.   Make every action he does that is willful disobedience, counter-productive to what he is after.  Allow him to get the OPPOSITE of what he’s going for.

He throws his toys up against the wall when he’s mad? Go buy garbage bags and put every SINGLE one of his toys in them and get them out of the house.  When my son was six years old we did just that.  I bagged up every item in his room and left him with a bed only.  He slowly earned back one toy at a time, over several months.

Teach him, “He who is faithful in little, will be faithful in much”. Luke 16:10

He slams the door to his room? Take the door off the hinges and put it in the garage.  Teach him that privacy is a privilege, not a right.

He pitches a fit in the grocery store because you won’t buy him the item he is demanding?  Instead of giving in to the tiny terrorist, leave the groceries at the store, and GO HOME.  Yes, it’s more hassle for you now, but you are buying your time back in the future and making sure it will NEVER happen again.  When you get home, look him in the eye and tell him that he will NOT be allowed to come with you to the store if he EVER pulls that again. Teach him that self-control is a fruit of the spirit. (Gal. 5:23) Then try it again.  If he doesn’t get the message, take his sisters to the store when dad is home and leave him home.  He’ll get it eventually.

Think ‘counter-productive’ when bad behavior arises.  What does he WANT?  What is the opposite that I can give him?

He won’t fold that basket of laundry? Give him two baskets to fold.

He won’t stop pestering his sister in the car?  Stop the car, and tell him to, “drop and give me twenty push-ups!”  One day, my son was bothering his sister over and over in the car. Nothing was working: screaming over my shoulder, empty threats, nothing.  It was raining outside and everyone’s “feeler” was “on ten” from the conflict.  I stopped the car, and made the offender get out in the pouring rain on the side of the road where there was only gravel.  He was nine at the time.  I told him, “drop and give me 20!”  Right there on the side of the road in the rain. I think he thought it was a joke at first, then, he realized all the siblings were watching him and he was going to have to deliver.  Nothing shocks a child into a sound mind quicker than the element of surprise, and sitting in wet clothes.

He continually bickers with his sister?  Set up a meeting with him and a church elder and let another man reprove him.  He won’t forget it.

He plays with matches when you have repeatedly told him not to?  Take him to the fire department and let the firemen lecture him.  I promise you he will NEVER forget that moment.  They are dead serious about fire safety, and have attended many funerals.

REMEMBER dear mothers: Do not give up on your precious child, no matter how strong their will.  They will be the ones to change the world, because they will NEVER let the world change them.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9

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