Parenting Spiritual Growth

Day 7: Hands Free Parenting … Drawing Near to God

Welcome  to Day 7 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  
Today’s Parenting Pointer
Hands-Free Parenting
“Mom, put down your phone.”  Have you heard that before?  I have.  I hate to admit it but there have been times I was texting a friend, checking my email or reading a blog on Bloglovin and my son has had to get in my face and ask me to stop to meet his needs. 
I’m starting with true confessions here, because I’m not on a pedestal – the one where “we don’t have screens in our home, my kids don’t even know what a TV looks like and my husband and I use the 1960s hand-dial phone which is attached to the kitchen wall on the rare occasion that we make a phone call.”  No, we are more mainstream than that.  I’m not bashing people who can pull off the quasi-Amish approach to our technological era.  I raise my IPhone to them.  I often wish we leaned more in that direction.  As it is, our family has a TV.  We have Netflix (no, we don’t have cable) and we have computers, an X-Box, a Wii, a few IPods, and two IPhones.  In our day there are many blessings we get from being able to ask Siri where the local sushi restaurant is (as long as she doesn’t answer, “There is no one named Suzy in your contacts.”) or being able to look up a map to get that supper to the needy family in our church.  
Good stuff.  
But, as much as we can use screens to help life be more efficient, we can also get hooked into being in front of a screen the better part of a day if we aren’t careful.  I’ve written before about shutting off our children’s screens and how that benefits them (having a limited number of hours they are allowed to use screens each week and for sure limiting what the content of their screen use is) but this time I’m talking to us moms.  
How can we limit their screen use only to sit for hours getting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and reading blogs and emails … not to mention Candy Crush – you know who you are.  And, we have good reason.  We’re burnt out sometimes and looking at something online gives us a breather.  We’re longing for connection with others, so we go online, make a post and wait for responses or we comment on others’ posts and feel like we’ve spent time with them.  But have we?  I know it is sometimes hard to manage actually visiting with others face to face, especially when we have young kids in the home.  I don’t have to tell you screen time is just not the same as a good chat in the presence of a friend.  
And back to that child who is staring you in the face saying, “Mom, put down the phone.”  What messages are we sending our kids when they see us on our screens more often than not?  We can’t very well limit their use when we aren’t limiting ourselves.  Our children measure their worth to us by the way we invest in them.  If we are constantly putting them off or they have to repeatedly say our name to get our attention while we finish texting some person they have never met, we are telling them they aren’t a priority to us.  Surely we have to sometimes let them wait.  They aren’t the center of the universe.  However, if they have to act up or call an intervention to get us to stop and give them the attention they crave, it’s time for us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are out of balance.  
What I have done when I have found screen use begin to dominate my life, is to fast from screens altogether.  I’ve fasted for a day, for a week and even for 40 days over lent several times.  And, whew, the breeze blows through.  As with any fast, when it is over I feel the self-control return and I am able to easily set aside screens and live within time limits.  
I encourage you to be brave.  Ask yourself if you have been on screens more than you have been pouring into your children and your other skin-on relationships.  If the answer is “yes” then commit to a fast followed by setting limits and living in them.  Your kids will thank you.  
Be Refreshed
Drawing Near to God
I’ve been talking about abiding these past few days.  I hope it has stirred the longing of your heart to just curl up with God and spend time with Him.  I also pray it has given you a feeling of hopeful promise – as you seek more intimacy with Him, you will find Him awaiting you and drawing near as well. 
Sometimes we can feel like life is just too full or too busy or we can’t manage to find enough time alone to really cozy up to Jesus.  I know.  Listen to the cry of the Psalmist {Ps 61:4)} –
Let me dwell in Your tent forever

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings
It has become popular in our modern Christianity to talk about “Quiet Time” or “Devotion Time.”  We block out a bit of time in our schedule (if we are lucky and make it a priority) and we get out our bible, maybe a prayer journal and another devotional book or two.  We sit and fill in the blanks of the questions our Bible study teacher wrote out for us.  We finish, say a prayer, put away the books, get up and go about our life.  Check.  Devotion over, time to get busy living. 
David had a different view of devotion time – he uses the words “forever” and “dwell” … Dwell is like moving in, not visiting.  Forever is like, well, forever.  David didn’t have a morning devotion.  He had a life of devotion.  There wasn’t “time with God” and then the rest of life.  God was in His life and He was in God in everything He did.  No shutting the books and moving out and away.  
God is a shelter to us.  He promises to be a shelter and David even prayed for YOU.  Yep.  He prayed –
Let all who take refuge in You be glad

 Let them ever sing for joy

And may You shelter them

That those who love Your name may rejoice in You
When we take refuge in God we can be glad and find joy as we relax in His shelter over us.  Trust leads us to His caring arms.  How do we stay there?  We invite Jesus into our day.  We don’t leave him in the chair where we sat and prayed.  We don’t put Him on the shelf with our Bible and Notebook.  
God is everywhere.  He will go with us into our day as we mother, as we are pressed to our limits, as we giggle in our innermost heart watching our children do something amazingly precious.  He is there.  Dwell in His presence and then invite Him with you as you go.  Talk to Him in the quiet recesses of your heart today.  Share the moments.  Unload the burdens.  Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.    
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery.  If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here.  Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher.  And, as always, I do love hearing from you.  Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you. 
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  • Reply
    Heather Faria
    October 7, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Oh Patty, both the pointer and the refresher so spoke to my heart today! They go so well together! We avoid true rest and dwelling in His presence when we are addicted to our devices! I have been really convicted lately about the time spend in front of the screen. Especially when I am neglecting my son. Thank you so much for the loving reminder to not let our screens take over but to have balance! I also love how you brought up how David had a life of dwelling with God. I just finished leading Jennie Allen's Chase Bible study with a group of ladies and we discussed that very thing! I love your writing! It's such a breath of fresh air, and I'm so excited to be on this blogging journey with you!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    I am so glad today's writing spoke to your heart, encouraged and challenged you. I am amazed as I write how the devotions and the topics do match despite the fact that I didn't plan them to. I am so glad to be in our mastermind group together and to be walking this writing road together. I'm praying for you – that God would help you find the balance you long for as you set down screens to enjoy your child.

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