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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

img_1315For the last three plus years I have surrounded myself with kids. I’ve always enjoyed children, especially my own, but sometimes a few could really get on my nerves. Honest confession: I like kids who behave. But as I’ve grown older, I think I have more grace than when my own children were younger.

Quite a few years ago, when I helped out in a kids’ ministry to 4th-6th graders, I’d get exasperated with the kiddos who enjoyed causing turmoil. I think they felt it was their calling in life. “Let’s get Kris to lose her temper.”  And each Wednesday night, I left irritated. Now I know the Bible says to love everyone, but these little ones got on my very last nerve every week. So much for showing the love to Jesus to the world, right?

img_2090Then came a seven year hiatus, when I basically had no ministry responsibilities. I spent a lot of alone time with Jesus. Through a series of events, I felt a mindset shift in many areas. I made intentional choices to get healthy, ready my Bible, lose weight, reconnect with friends and family, take up running, explore new adventures. Somewhere in the course of that time, I fell in love with kids again…even those that used to irritate me. Of course, I don’t have involvement with those same kids from way back, but I still encounter children whose sole purpose in life is to disrupt whatever environment they are in. They’re really good at it too. But God has given me a supernatural love for them. No way could this be on my own. And on top of that, I love all the other ones too. The ones who are wild and crazy, the one whose smile lights a room, and the ones who are shy and reserved.

img_1567Every child needs to know they are valued and loved, no matter their behavior. The world they live in is turbulent and scary so I want to be a safe place for each one. A place they can go for encouragement, a hug, a prayer, maybe even a little face-to-face “what ARE you doing?” if necessary. I want them to see Jesus in all that I say and do. Occasionally I get in someone’s face to confront behavior that is unacceptable (cheating, lying, bullying are non-negotiables), but mostly I want them to really know they are loved…by me and most importantly, by God. I still make mistakes…many times. But I’m relying on the grace and mercy of God. He loves those kids more than I do!

I am blessed to be a part of the kids’ ministry at our church. We have preschool through high school as part of our Wednesday night program. This week is our last JAM (Jesus and Me) of the school year and though I’m tired, I’m sad too. Once the program is finished, I may not see some of these kids again until September, or maybe not at all.  We have such a small window of time and opportunity…make it a count. These kids are worth it!

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Has anyone seen Fiddler on the Roof? It is a musical set in imperial Russia in 1905. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters. Throughout the production, Tevye attempts to hold true to his Jewish traditions but outside forces creep in and change happens. It’s a longer movie, but so worth it. Tevye’s hold to tradition above all else eventually withers away as he and his family are forced to leave their village by the Tsar’s edict…Change happens…to all of us.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a few customs to hold onto…Traditions within the family can cause a cohesiveness that is hard to duplicate. Traditions can create memories which will last throughout lifetimes. The McGarvey’s have a few traditions of our own…

IMG_3835My husband is a sports lover. Fortunately, he married a sports-loving woman because we really enjoy watching and/or participating in lots of sports. And of course, we raised our two sons to be sports nuts as well. And we were very, very successful. I guess we aren’t as extreme as some families, but we taught our kids how to play all those sports at a young age. Boys_golf_partnersAs homeschoolers, we could take an afternoon and go play 18 holes of golf or start up a quick kickball game in the backyard. And sports watching is a sport in our house. The girls that love my guys have had to get used to this…and I love them for it.

This so happens to be our favorite time of year – when all the stars align, and all our sports are happening at the same time. We are a March Madness family – we’ve filled out brackets for 20 years (David wins most often). We’ve seen the process morph from copying it out of the Monday morning newspaper to multiple online bracket groups. It is also the start of baseball (two Cub fans, two Cardinal fans) and The Masters (golf, for those not sports-minded) is only a few weeks away.Cubs_fans

Our traditions center around activities we enjoy and have enjoyed together. When the kids were younger, we spent our short vacations in the Wisconsin Dells, specifically the Wilderness Resort. We have a loyalty to that location that will keep us from enjoying any other Dells resort. It’s Wilderness or nothing. It’s our tradition.

About six years ago I started listening to the music of a certain band, NEEDTOBREATHE. I bought five tickets to see the band in Chicago (side note: we also took in a Cub game on that trip – we love our sports). The boys and I (with their two girlfriends) attended the concert and we were hooked. It was so much fun – not just the concert, but the whole day spent with family, in a new location, doing fun things, being flexible, enjoying each other. We still tell stories of that first concert in Chicago. We attended two more concerts that year (St. Louis and Iowa City). We’ve tried to attend at least one NTB concert each year, not just because we enjoy their music, but because we enjoy each other. We make the whole trip an experience filled with memories with people we love. Even Don’s gone a couple of times. It’s our tradition.Concert_goers

So, I have 4 small suggestions for beginning any tradition in your family:

  • Make it something all of you enjoy…or at least a large majority. Because we all love baseball, we can handle attending either Cubs or Cardinals games (though two of us will always be less ecstatic than the other two) but since only one of us is a Hawkeye fan, we don’t choose to go to any Iowa sport together.
  • Don’t adhere to too many absolutes. We fill out our brackets each year, but we don’t maintain the method must stay the same. Paper or online – doesn’t matter. We go to our annual NTB concert, but we don’t have to eat the same food every time or only see them in one city. In fact, we like seeing them in lots of different locations. Flexibility within the tradition gives you more great memories.
  • You are never too old to start a tradition. Our concert going idea started when my kids were already grown, and I was in my fifties. I’m looking forward to starting new traditions in the future.
  • Keep it simple. Allow life to happen, and as it does, natural traditions will begin on their own. Forcing traditions onto your family may backfire and cause more stress than joy.

I hope you enjoy a few simple traditions –  Making memories with family is the most important thing.

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Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.

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