The Macs

Monday, March 19, 2012

growing grateful kids {it starts with me!}

Last week the weather was gorgeous. I was so ready to feel the warmth of the sunshine and say hello to spring. The boys and I took advantage of the beautiful days and spent as much time outside as we could. We went on walks, built sandcastles, and even had a picnic. It was great. I was feeling excited for spring and anticipating the fun of summer...then I woke up to Thursday. It seemed like all at once my sunshiny-bliss came crashing down. Two sick kids (one that already doesn't sleep at night anyway) and a sick mama. Yuck. 

I usually feel like I have a pretty good perspective on sickness and sleepless nights and I really don't like to complain on my blog. I know there could be much worse things. I can be thankful for the fact that my kids are here for me to hold and comfort. I can be thankful for doctors and medicine that is so readily available. I know that the sickness and sleeplessness soon will pass. And after fighting cancer with our daughter, I can even be thankful for a little sickness that is treatable and will go away after a few days of antibiotics. We are blessed.

I know all of those things in my head and it is easy for me to type those words out, but when I was stuck inside for several days with two grouchy sick boys and I was not feeling well myself, I could tell I was losing perspective by the things I said and the way I acted. The words that I just typed didn't match the condition of my heart. Just ask my husband. He would tell you that my perspective went out the door...and it went out fast. I quickly started feeling sorry for myself and even found other things to add to my list of complaints. I found myself having to seek forgiveness and focus on Truth to reclaim perspective...and it took me a couple days to even figure that out.

I recently started reading Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson. It is so good and challenging to me as a mom...especially after these last few days with my boys. Susie's words couldn't have come at a better time:

Every mother, at some point or another, feels overwhelmed, out numbered, and insufficient to meet the needs before her. In ourselves, we aren't enough for the lofty task of motherhood. Jesus understands our predicaments. His disciples faced impossible situations regularly. But it's in our places of desperate need that Jesus makes Himself known. When our strength is unequal to the task, we see the strength of God come to bear in our lives. And when what we hold in our hand falls short of the need before us, we can keep perspective because we have a place to go with our need. We have a God who makes up where we lack. We have an engaged Father who lovingly provides for us. We have reason to be thankful (p28).

That was totally me. I was feeling overwhelmed, out numbered, and insufficient to take care of my boys...and myself. I felt like I didn't have the strength to do it. And I didn't. But instead of relying on the strength of my God to fill in my insufficiencies, I just tried to survive on my own and threw myself one big pity party along the way. Nice. You would think I would know better.

And as my boys are getting older and Levi starts mimicking so many of the things I say and do, I am realizing more and more the ugliness in my heart that I don't want him to imitate. Susie says,

Cultivating a heart of gratitude in our children is impossible unless we ourselves are grateful. We can't impart something we do not possess. Always as moms, first and foremost, we have to keep close watch on our own attitude, which is fueled by our perspective.

In good seasons and in difficult ones, we are under God's care, and he has promised to meet our needs. Therefore, we are called to give thanks (p30).

My attitude at the end of last week was definitely fueled by my perspective...and it wasn't a perspective full of God's truth. I want to cultivate a heart of gratitude in the lives of my children and I know that needs to start right here with my own heart.

The last few days were definitely not my most shining moments as a wife or mother. But I am thankful for these difficult days as a mom (I can say that now, right?) because I know God is using my kids to mold me into a woman after His own heart. There is lots of work to be done in this heart of mine.

This lesson on gratitude is one I have learned before, but one that I obviously needed to be reminded of...and will probably need to be reminded of again and again. I am praying that next time I sense my perspective going out the door that I remember to
first go to my loving Heavenly Father with my needs and allow Him to make up for my many, many insufficiencies. And that I would be a mama who models a truly grateful heart to my children.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Blogger Katie B said...

Wow! Is God's time perfect or what?! I'm so glad you shared this on your blog because I am having the same kind of day today. I'm embarrassed with my own actions and words. But this reminder to be grateful is just what I needed to hear! I think I'm going to go look for that book too, sounds like a great one. :)

March 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Mum2twopreciousgifts said...

My daughter had an accident on 10 March and smashed her front teeth. Due to her disabilities, she wasn't able to have the repair done by our Dentist. She needed to go to hospital and have a general anaesthetic. I rarely allow myself a pity party. But last Monday 12 March, I did. I cried, complained etc. And then I moved on. And now her teeth are fixed and she's fine. But it is ok to be human. God understands.

Thinking of you.

Michelle x

March 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Alyssa Hollis said...

Tonight I thought to myself I wander what the macs have been up too. JUST what I needed to read. You inspire me all the time. thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us.

March 19, 2012 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Aja said...

So true. Thank you for sharing. I can totally relate and need to read that book!

March 19, 2012 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Such a well written post and reminder to be grateful.

March 19, 2012 at 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Aby Gittings said...

Thank you so much for this. I desperately needed it!! I admire you so much. Your strength and your faithfulness inspires me. Thank you!!

March 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger meg said...

I have those days too, and in the worst of weeks they are multiple days in a row like yours just were. I totally understand and when I look back on how I acted or reacted on situations involving my kids I feel so embarrassed and pray and ask to learn how to be better next time and how to keep perspective. Just wanted you to know I've been there!!!

March 19, 2012 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Chey-Anne Smart said...

I love/read your blog daily, but have never left a comment. I've been wanting to write every time I read your comments about sweet Griffin not sleeping. I also have a nonsleeping baby and I feel for you every time you mention it. My baby, who is also my third child, is now 16 months and he only started sleeping all night at 14 months after screaming and crying at night, naptime, etc. He just simply doesn't like to sleep! He still usually wakes up around midnight and cries a little while, but it just lasts a few minutes now. I thought it was something I did wrong, but I have come to find that some just don't sleep(well, in my opinion anyways!) I had friends who had babies the same age and would say theirs slept through the night at 6 weeks, etc. I would actually find myself being angry at those friends! Ha! I was mentally and physically exhausted the first year of his life so much that I felt that I had to really work on "enjoying" his first year because I was just so sleepy! I spent lots of days in tears with heavy eyelids. I just look at him and have to laugh at my sweet nonsleeping nightowl! It's a good thing his sweet face is so precious is what I tell him! Anyways, just wanted you to know that I feel your interrupted nights pain! And thank you for your wonderful blogs each day-your sweet words help me try to be a better mom each time I read! You truly have a servants heart. Blessings from Texas! P.S. I think Griffin's face looks just like Cora's!

March 19, 2012 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Thanks so much for your honesty! I often find myself displaying the traits I try to teach my daughter not to have. Glad to know I'm not the only one and glad to get a book recommendation that seems so appropriate!

March 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger The Sieberts said...

LOVE that book. so encouraging. Can't wait to hear you speak in April :o)

March 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger The Sieberts said...

LOVE that book. so encouraging. Can't wait to hear you speak in April :o)

March 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger The Schilling's from Cimarron said...

Wow Jess..... your honesty speaks volumes! Thank you once again for bringing me back to what is most important. I pray daily to be a better person and mom. So glad we have you all in our lives even if it is from a distance!
Hope you are feeling much better :) give the boys a hug!
Love to you all!!!

March 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger the zipfs said...

Hi, Jess!
As always, thank you for sharing the ups and downs of your life as a mother. So challenging! When I was reading your post, I immediately thought of one of my epiphany moments as a mom. When Ivy was little and I first started staying at home full time with her, I noticed that when I finally was still enough to listen to her and to not worry about and be stressed out over getting this chore or that done, I noticed she was yellling as she talked (which is really not her personality). As I was talking to her about how we shouldn't be yelling to talk to each other and the kind of voice we should use, I felt the Holy Spirit's conviction in my heart simply telling me to examine how I talk - and, I was YELLING at her. She was only modeling the behavior I was showing her! I wish I could say that from that point on, I learned my lesson and everything is just glorious and wonderful and perfect in our home, but then I would be lying. The truth is, there are tough days. We as moms truly need the Lord to give us the power and strength as we definitely cannot do it on our own. Thanks for the reminder of that!

Sounds like a great book! I think that may have to go on my birthday or Christmas wish list!

Have a great day, Jess!

March 20, 2012 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger Chelsa said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and being so honest. It's nice to not feel alone!

March 20, 2012 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Bekah said...

wow that first quote really hit me pretty hard. thank you

March 20, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

i need to read that book. there have been way to many times that i've felt exactly that way - overwhelmed and insufficient. somedays i think "gee, i'm really lousy at staying home with my kids", but i know there is SO much more to it. i just need to dig a little deeper within myself.

March 20, 2012 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I have highlighted so much in that book... including both of those passages you used. I need to remind myself of that this rainy spring break week...

March 20, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Nicole @ Nicole Clark blog said...

Great post! I agree with everything. THank you fo rthe reminder.

March 20, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger The Buchanan Family said...

Love this post-thanks for sharing. I needed to be reminded of this.

March 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

you have no idea how much i needed to read this today! so ... thanks. :)

March 21, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Rob and Andrea said...

This post couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me, Jess. My husband and I have been dealing with some difficult decisions regarding possible relocation and job changes to be closer to family. Because of these stressful decisions, I have been quite crabby at times and not the patient, loving wife (or teacher, or mama) I strive to be. Time to give myself a little kick in the butt and reality check. That book sounds amazing Thanks!

March 21, 2012 at 8:51 PM  

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