Monday, September 19, 2011

:: WP Challenge Day 14 - Kindness ::

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Isn't that promise beautiful to read in the morning - especially Monday mornings!  New mercy, steadfast love - we belong to a kind King.  I'm struck by the thought that He didn't have to be kind - He could have simply been good.  He could have done the bare minimum to bring us into salvation - a way that may not have cost Him so much.  But, He didn't - He went far and above all of that - sacrificing His Son, giving us good things we don't deserve, listening to our every need, thought, prayer, and loving us into eternity.  Yes, He is good and kind.  Today, our encouragement comes from Sally Clarkson, author of "The Mission of Motherhood" and was first posted at The M.O.B. Society.  It's a little longer read than normal, but I assure you that every word is packed with wisdom and thoughts on "kindness" that can help you this very day...

"When Clay and I moved from California to Texas, I was to take all of my young children from Los Angeles to Dallas by myself.  Flying with three children alone on several flights for a period of 11 hours is never easy.  But with two boys under 5 years of age, it seemed especially long.  My now 22 year old son, Nathan, was a very active, extroverted little boy.  At 18 months, he did not have to pay for a ticket if he sat with me.  However, getting him to sit on my lap through all of the flights proved to be more than I had even imagined.  Just as he was about to fall asleep, I would have to board the plane.  Being awakened in such a sleepy state did not go well for him.  Then, again, just as he was finally falling asleep after wrestling with me for the whole flight, we landed and starting the whole disrupting his sleepiness cycle again.  Finally, we all arrived in Dallas, exhausted, disheveled, and totally drained.  My mother-in-law picked us up at the airport and suggested we stop by a restaurant before we drove the 2 hours to her house.  Nathan had had all he could take!  When we sat down in the restaurant, he laid on the floor and started flailing his arms and screaming and kicking.  No one could get near him.  I was frantic and left him on the floor yelling while my mother-in-law stayed with him and I walked a little bit away from him, pretending to look at some pies in a showcase, so that I could calm down and take a breath away from this little boy that had drained all of my emotional energy and reserve.  An old man was standing next to the counter, looking at Nathan, as everyone else was doing, and commented, 'My goodness, what a walleyed fit!  That little boy needs a strong hand!'  That wizened old man at the pastry counter was right.  Nathan did need a strong hand.  But not the kind he meant.  Nathan was exhausted, pushed, out of his nap cycle and with his strong personality, all he knew to do to tell us his limits had been reached, was to fall on the floor and sob.  As I grew older with my loud and active boy, I got wiser.  I realized that the more I understood Clay as a man -- his need for my respect, for me to be content and thankful for what he provided, that he longed for me to accept his limitations and to love him for who he was -- then I grew in my understanding of how to treat my own 'men in training' -- with respect, affirmation, investing words of life and giving affection.  I gave Nathan (and Joel) the strong hand that they needed to grow up, without feeling guilty or ashamed for who and how God had made him.  I gave him a strong hand that would make him stronger as a boy, a young man, and eventually as a man.  Seems silly to say, but my boys are not girls.  They are as mysterious as men, because they are men.  But moms are girls, and sometimes that can be a problem.  Most boys (not all, but most) will be more active, louder, noisier, less attentive or sensitive, slower to pick up on cues, sometimes clueless and just more 'boisterous' than most girls.  God designed them that way on purpose.  Everything about them -- physiology, biology, brain function, and testosterone -- prepares them for a different role and function in life than girls.  But by God's design, they need to be affirmed in their design by their girl mothers.  God has given you a 'strong hand' in their lives by way of being their mother.  From personal experience and many years of observation, moms often discipline boys for being boys, instead of understanding that God wants them to grow into strong men.  If we want them to be warriors when they are big, they need to be able to practice being little warriors when they are young.  Even as our own husbands want to feel that we are happy and content with what they have provided, so our boys need to know that we are happy to be their moms, and that we are delighted that they are young men in training to accomplish great feats some day.  For my boys, it sometimes meant laughing at silly boy jokes, taking time to listen to them talk or show off - this is the 'glory' of man.  Honoring their wish to provide for me or to have me listen to them, even as very little boys.  That's not to say they don't often need to be disciplined and trained when they stray off the path, but it is to say that boys will be boys and that it's a good thing.  My strong hand in my boys' lives helped shape them into the strong men they have become.  Sure they needed a strong corrective hand many times, but I learned that was only one kind of strong hand.  They needed a strong hand in even more important ways.  A strong loving hand (acceptance and grace)...When I could see that Nathan's larger than life personality was becoming agitated, I would pull him aside, sit him on my lap, softly tickle his back and find out what was wrong.  He loved to talk and when I heard what was going on in his mind, he would obey me, just for having listened.  It took more time, but I came to understand this little darling boy and he responded to my patient love.  both of my boys, Nathan and Joel, melted when I looked at them through a grid of live and chose to respond to the boys that God had made them to be.  I sought to understand both boys and to find ways to communicate love to them and acceptance of their unique personalities.  Joel loved affection and back rubs and I could really teach him a lot and influence him a lot if I rubbed his back -- lots of little boys respond to touch.  Nathan wanted to talk and talk and talk and when I was available to listen or to play, he always became more obedient.  When I understood that in Nathan's and Joel's hearts, that they were not out to thwart me , and that both boys were often in their own little worlds (and with A.D.D. Nate was not even able to respond to my strong demands) I could be more patient.  When I was patient and consistent in my training of them, they were willing to respond to me.  They really always loved their 'mama' so much and had a heart to please me because they knew I was on their team.  I invested words of love, admiration, and encouragement and validation of their 'boyish' feats, and boy of my boys seemed to melt in my hands.  A strong gentle hand (kindness and gentleness)...I noticed that when I treated my boys in a gentle way, with respect and spoke directly to them, at eye level, and touched their little backs or shoulders, they were much more attentive.  'A gentle answer turns away wrath,' from Proverbs became the pattern for my speech to my boys.  Treating the with gentleness and patience created a desire in them to become more civil with me.  I was firm and consistent, but honored their desire for kindness.  A strong patient hand (understanding and long-suffering)...Learning not to reject the noise of my boys, but to understand the 'glory of man' and their need to show off at times, made me a cheerleader for them, and gave me the right to speak into their lives.  Giving them time to mature took years of patience and practice of self-control for me.  I learned to try to see into their hearts and motivations from a boy's point of view before I used harsh words and became frustrated.  Even as men want to be respected, so I learned to respect them as little boys who would grow into find, strong men.  And they responded.  I learned that if I trained them before a situation ('This is the place we need to use our quiet voices.  Mommy wants you to be really strong inside today, because we are taking you to a big boy place.'), then they were much more likely to behave.  I always took them a little bag of their won, to help them learn to be quiet and self-controlled.  Their bags had Legos, paper airplane sheets, puzzle books, colored pencils, car books, etc.  When I planned to take care of their felt needs, they learned early to behave and to control their behavior.  A strong protective hand (teach and telling) and (encouraging and affirming)...Constant teaching and instructing gave them a positive self-image of what they would grow into.  We read all the 'hero' stories in Scripture and acted them out -- David and Goliath, Joseph saving his brothers and father and running away from Potiphar's wife, Moses parting the Red Sea, etc.  'Just think, God made you a little boy who will grow up to do great things just like these men.'  'God made you such a strong boy.  I know you will help many people.'  'You are such a helpful boy.  I couldn't carry in all of these heavy groceries without you.'  'God made men to be leaders who would be brave and courageous to help people follow His ways.  I can just imagine what kind of a man you will be because you are growing so strong inside and you are so helpful to mommy.'  There is so much more to say about this subject, but as I looked to God's design for men and saw the potential of my boys becoming strong, righteous men, I had the heart to become the mother that they needed me to be.  One who had great respect for the holiness of manhood, even in the lives of the sweet boys that lived everyday in my own home.  And I girded my hands with God's strength to support and train them one day at a time."

:: Assignment for Today ::

  • Reading: None
  • Prayers: Kindness
  • Comment:  We've all had those moments that make our heart swell.  We catch our warriors in the act of being kind to a sibling, sharing on the playground - something small, something sweet.  Share about that moment with us!