Welcome to Day 18 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers.
My heart longs 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
The Welcome Mat
Growing up there was this commercial about Kool Aid and the upshot was that there was a mom in every neighborhood who was called “the Kool Aid Mom.” She was the one who served “Kool” snacks and all the kids flocked to her home for the welcome (and treats) they got there.
So many of us want to be the Kool Aid mom. We long for our children to want to be at home and to invite their friends to our house to play. I have friends who have built an entire playhouse (800 sq ft) in their back yard, complete with air conditioning, a concrete foundation, window boxes, a spiral staircase and a doorbell on the dutch door. “Kids will want to come play here,” my friend told me. Seriously, I wanted to play there – or at least take a personal retreat there for a weekend!
We have to be careful as we extend hospitality to our children’s friends. We need to remain authentic (for one thing kids see right through all pretense). We also need to be sure that we are inviting children into our home and our kids’ lives who are the ones with whom we want them to become closer. With my children I’ve developed a 5:1 rule. Five times with children who have good moral character to every one time with those who are more rough around the edges. I know kids will be kids, but some families don’t prioritize moral values and don’t expect their children to limit exposure to screens, use pleasant words or treat others kindly. As a result, if my boys are around those kids too long or too often, I start to see residue on their hearts. God says, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.” There’s no age limit on that one.
Beyond helping influence their pool of choices for friendships at an early age, we also need to consider the importance friends play in our children’s lives. My older son is more of a one to one person. He enjoys activities spent intimately with a close friend way more than he enjoys being in a group. He holds his own in a group when he needs to and enjoys himself, but given his druthers he’d pick a quiet board game or a bike ride with just one special friend. My second son is Mr. Social. He has never met a stranger and enjoys people so much. He sees the best in others and loves drawing people together and including them in what he enjoys. His personal motto could be, “the more the merrier.” Knowing your children and their social preferences helps you facilitate how you structure social opportunities for them.
Most of all, once your children have chosen friends who mean something to them, I fully encourage you to make friends with their friends. I don’t mean you have to be chummy with them, but it helps if you aren’t aloof and unavailable. I remember being a child and going to various friends’ homes. The moms who stopped what they were doing and sat with us, even played a board game or sat in the yard with us, were the ones I loved most. Those were the homes I wanted to return to and hang out at. With my boys, I get to know their friends by asking questions and listening when they talk. I make jokes with them and then I do bake something or serve a snack of some sort. Boys like food.
But one thing I know is that I could fail to feed their stomach and sit and listen with interest, and they would still keep coming back because we all long to matter to someone. I watch my sons when I am relating to one of their friends. They have a little glint in their eye. They love the fact that they get to share their friend with me and share me with their friend. These days of motherhood are breezing by. Their friends become naturally more important as they age. Befriending their friends allows me to continue to be appropriately connected to their world as it expands.
You don’t have to serve up the Kool Aid. All you have to serve up is old-fashioned hospitality and your caring presence.
Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
Thirsty. You know what it feels like to need water and have none around. The other day we were visiting a friend at the coast for a few days. I had bought lunch for all of us to eat at a park near her home. We opened the water bottle I bought to share with my sons and the whole thing was ice. There was a small amount of water and then nothing. We had been at the park a while so we were thirsty. Suddenly our preoccupation became cracking the ice, melting the ice, shaking the ice – to make water so that we might not thirst.
Sometimes my mothering soul feels just that thirsty. I long for the refreshment of Jesus and His touch. I long to be filled and thirst no more. What I do instead is sometimes harden up what I have by staying busy or saying “yes” to too many things or letting the most important priorities take a back seat rather than being sure I sit still and connect with him. On those days I long for the living water Jesus offers us.
Jesus met a woman in Samaria at Jacob’s well. He asked her for a drink. She asked Him, “why are you asking me, a Samaritan?” to which He tells her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘give me a drink’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” He goes on to describe the water … “whoever drinks of the water I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Never thirst. A well internal springing eternal. This is the gift of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus to us who believe. We can have this living water – life in Him running deep and wide inside our hearts and souls. It is a promise to us that we only need to believe and we will receive this inner life.
I know it can feel abstract and seem we need to run away somewhere cloistered to receive this gift and experience what Jesus calls us to in these statements of His. Yet God is more practical than that. He knows that we must raise our children, fulfill obligations, connect in our community, support our husbands. He knows the demands which are of high value and yet draw and quarter us and threaten to leave us very, very thirsty. He comes to you today, inviting you as He did the woman – telling you to come and drink and be filled.
What does that filling look like for you in this day? Is it sitting still in a quiet place? Is it turning off the internet and turning on soothing music or just taking a walk? Is it taking a nap? Is it calling a friend who will really listen without trying to change you? Is it painting or drawing or writing?
There is the promise of His Spirit alive in us as we turn to Him, make space for Him and find places to open to His touch. How will you hold out your cup to Him in this day? Come, find living water.
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.