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she looked up at me, stunned

8 Jun

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Sitting next to my eighth grade lab partner, we attempted to conquer the day’s assignment. The frog was placed before us.  Our job was to dissect the unlucky creature. How we had ended up as partners, I don’t remember. What I do know is that I was glad she got along with me. I had seen how she treated her enemies, and it wasn’t pretty.

During the course of our science experiment, we chatted together about our classes, people, likes and dislikes… I have no remembrance of what I may have said, but at one point she looked up at me stunned. “Becky, I have never heard you speak poorly of someone else before!”

At this point, I was stunned.

First of all, I was amazed that she would have even noticed or cared. After I processed her comment, I was ashamed that I had been guilty of the accusation!

This fellow student, who was known for treating others harshly, left a lasting impression in my mind.

The words we speak are powerful, possible of tearing down or building up. As a family, our goal is to always speak well of each other. Even when criticism is necessary, it should be given in love, never spoken of behind another’s back.

A family is a great place to begin the process of learning to treat each other with respect. What a delight to hear a wife carrying on about her wonderful husband or a brother speaking highly of his sister. It takes making a deliberate effort to change our habits – to relearn, but it is worth the effort as harsh words should never be allowed!

Since that day in the science lab, I wish I could say I have never made the same mistake again. Unfortunately I have, but I am thankful my “friend” took notice and confronted me. Because of her, I guard my words more closely.

mercy triumphs over judgement

1 Jun

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Listening to an audio version of a book while I scrubbed my bathroom, I was struck by these words, “mercy triumphs over judgement.” I played the section again… “mercy triumphs over judgment.”

The thought has lingered in my mind as I have gone through the day. How does that play out in our marriage? How about in our relationships with our children?

Judgement always drives a wedge between, killing intimacy – showing a lack of understanding, a lack of forgiveness, a desire to withdraw.

Mercy, unmerited favor, reveals an unconditional love – strengthening a transparent, secure relationship where honesty is encouraged.

May our household be filled with mercy!

mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13)

My second podcast with Shara: Respecting Your Husband

26 May

Sitting here in the waiting room of the dentist office (with my new ipad in hand – of course), I have the luxury of reading, thinking, writing, and reflecting. Part of the process of deliberately encouraging others in marriage and family life is how it causes me to reflect on my own life.

How did I do this morning in sending off my hubby with kind words? Did I take time to encourage him? Did I focus on his strengths or pick apart his weaknesses? Did I take time to draw him close or drive a wedge between us?

A month ago I had the privilege of doing another podcast with my friend, Shara. The last interview was on the adventure of going from 5 – 14 children. This time, as you might guess, it was on marriage. The focus is on my journey of learning to treat my husband with respect and how that continues to affect the rest of our family. Shara has some great insights as she also endeavors to continue building on the strong foundation she and her husband have laid for a healthy marriage and family.

As a result of a few technical difficulties, like my Internet speed for one, the sound is a little soft. Be prepared to have a quiet place to listen.

Please take a moment to visit Notes at Naptime … with Shara and be encouraged!

http://blogging-mama.com/family/respecting-your-husband-podcast-with-becky/</

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one of the best gifts you can give your children…

17 May

It didn’t take much time of being married to figure out that my husband was very different than my dad. He looked, reasoned, and acted differently than my father had. What I didn’t realize was how much my father had shaped what I thought was the “right” model. No, my dad wasn’t perfect, but he was the example that had formed my thinking.

Being married has given me the chance to realize the uniqueness of each and every relationship. Our marriage is worth every ounce of effort to nurture, preserve and enjoy. My dad used to say, “Marriage isn’t about a 50/50% giving relationship, if a marriage is going to work, you need to be willing to be the one that gives 150%!”

One of the best gifts you can give your children is to learn to love and respect your spouse. Be tenacious! Never give up! Your marriage and children are worth the effort!

a contagious love for family

11 Oct

My daughter came home with an all too common description of an attitude about family life.  It wasn’t her view, rather it is one often heard at ones’ work place, waiting in the grocery line,  or talking with a friend.

“My kids are brats!”

“Unfortunately, I have to take care of my kid this weekend.”

“I can’t wait until they grow up and move out!”

Likely, if this is what is spoken of the children, what is said about the spouse is probably just as bad. This kind of comment comes near to guaranteeing an unhappy home!  They are a reflection of the parents bad attitudes and have life long affects on the children and marriage.  Word’s are powerful. They can be used to tear down or build up.Take time to reflect…

What do my words say to  those I love?

What have I said about my spouse to others?

What damage have I done to my family?

How can I begin to rebuild relationships?

~~~~~~

As the sun rises with each day, we are each given a new beginning, a choice.

Like Anne of Green Gables  says, “today is a new day without any mistakes in it!”

~~~~~~

 I choose to not only bear with each person’s  idiosyncrasies, but to take delight in them.

I will take time to whisper words of  appreciation into their ears.

I will let them know I believe in them and encourage them.

I will tell them of my unconditional love.

I will speak highly of them in the presence of others.

I will teach them to measure their own words…

How do they talk to each other?

How do they speak to us, as parents?

How do they portray their siblings to others?

How can they rebuild those fragile relationships they may have damaged?

~~~~~~~~~~

We highly value family life.  

Whether in the work place, in the grocery line,

or talking with a friend may our words portray a contagious love for our family.

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 10)

31 Jul

Struggling with Grace

Taking care of Great Aunt brought an increased awareness to my own personal lack of grace. If I thought I had gained strides through being a wife and mother; this period of my life took the ongoing refining of my character to a whole new level.  The daily struggle to patiently love and selflessly serve, tested me far beyond where I been.  This was 24 hour, 7 day a week care.

…it was a somewhat typical busy day for our young large family.  I had a very new baby, the children had chicken  pox, Mark’s back was out and he was limited to bed rest. The day was cut out for me;  meals needed to be made, sick children tended, laundry done, baby fed and changed…  Great Aunt had eaten her breakfast and was appearing to enjoy the sunny sitting area in her room.

She beckoned me to bring her a glass of cold water. In between the continuous needs and questions of the children, I came back with a glass of cold water. Her response was less than happy. I had failed to put ice in the glass. Walking back to the kitchen meant being available to the children; their questions and needs quickly resumed. I was distracted. One had itchy pox, another’s fever was on the rise, baby was crying… when suddenly I remembered, Great Aunt wanted ice water!

Quickly I filled her glass with many chunks of ice and attempted again to cheerfully serve her.   With a sharp angry voice she replied, “Well, what took you so long?” I tried to defend myself, “Please be patient with me. Mark’s back is out, the kids are all sick, and I just had a baby and need to move slowly.” The response I received literally did me in. “Humph!” she crossly stated, “It’s not my fault you had a baby!” In a knee jerk reaction, I threw the ice water all over Great Aunt.

I quickly went outside and sat on the front step. What had I done!? I was ashamed and in tears.

Humbly I called my mother-in-law (Great Aunt’s niece) and confessed.

The unexpected grace I experienced that day, is one I will never forget.

“Becky, Great Aunt is living and breathing.  You have given her years of life she would not have had.  She hangs laundry, she plays with the children.  She has relationships with all of you. That is what relationships are – laughing, loving, and even getting angry, and making up.”

I regained my composure and faced Great Aunt again, with a fresh glass of ice water. Carefully, I handed it to her, apologizing for my behavior.  If she even remembered the incident, she never let on, but her disposition remained much sweeter for the rest of that day.

I want to treat others – I want to treat my family with the grace I received from my mother-in-law that day.

Does your Family- Love your Government?

14 Jul

When your daughter thinks she wants her ears pierced, your 7-18 year old wants to go out running alone, or your vulnerable youth is pressing you for his or her personal autonomy, what happens in your home? What is your response? What is their reaction to your response?

Kudos to you if your children are even asking you, as opposed to just telling you their intentions or showing you their decision, after-the-fact. If you’ve had the benefit to discuss, consult, advise and examine these interests of your children, are they/you encouraged with the exchange, as it takes place? Or, are you frustrated by having blown your cool, at the first mention of the “absurd” desire?Furthermore, are you indignant believing you never had the opportunity to come alongside your child, because these things are beyond your control?

I have experienced these emotions, among many varied exchanges, while dealing with our children’s expressed desires.  I confess to having reacted poorly, as in, “how could you even contemplate such a stupid notion! Absolutely NOT, under no circumstances- my answer is NO! In fact- our discussion is ENDED!” My fears expressed accordingly- that my progeny would even think long enough to have the poor sense to ask, I and they leave each other knowing this was no conversation. Thus, I have reinforced the setting up of a cycle or culture not at all conducive to better and more constructive opportunities on another subject/day.

How do we get to the place where we are renewing daily our opportunity to speak into each others lives? How do we and they want to be spoken and listened to? I have without exaggeration dozens of opportunities, from just the last few days, as examples to share.  I’ll describe just a few.  But first, I have dozens of examples because I spend a delightful amount of time with my kiddos! We are devoted to spending time together.  This environment has been erected over a lifetime of loving to be together. Household culture #1- devoting ourselves to each other, with time, over time, all the time. This is now a universal cornerstone for our family because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It takes a lot of time together to build re-pore. If we are never together, we have an impossibly hard time gaining this essential family commodity of re-pore.

An adult daughter of mine, asked just this morning- “dad, what would you think of my getting my ears pierced?”  This was not the first time we had talked this over… why, as an adult is she even asking me? My reply was- “of course, if this is what you want”.  I had many years previously asked her to consider waiting awhile to see if she still had the desire, after the passage of time. I didn’t think it would be six plus years between asking. I had simply stated previously that “these days a girl with out pierced ears sure stands out”. My daughter will always stand out because she show’s a lot of respect to her dad, family, and others. Secondly, she governs herself well in self discipline and accountability. This would be household culture#2– governing of ones-self according to Godly principles, by knowing we are all for one and one for all! Understanding that we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves according to that good instruction and example.

If the first order of government is self government by the individual, it behooves us to, by the earliest of ages, to train with example by instruction, counsel, and consequence. Meaning, when the children are very small, after …counsel comes their decision and the consequence. Let them fall …and rise. For while young, they don’t fall as hard and far. They get up, gain insight, greater trust, and responsibility. Another of my teenage children was allowed the opportunity to remain at home, with the older siblings, when we were away for a short trip. During a hike he, against counsel of the older siblings, decided to separate himself from the group.  This caused consternation, along with potential danger, for the older crew left in charge. For too long, they were left looking for him. When we arrived home we did not let this slide but had extensive conversation over the group’s predicament. Consequences for the attitude leading to this decision and for his poor choice and lack of understanding, in leaving the group, were discussed by me and a few of the others involved. To his credit, he did not want to remain ignorant to the effect of separating from the group.  Life lessons like these are good opportunities for growth and incentive to change course, in the future.  There’s always a risk with giving autonomy but the greater risk may be having no breadth of occasion for children to experience, grow, and make decisions, good and bad. I have noticed more good judgment through many experiences over time.

We have another principle that is bedrock to our family.  As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord (Jesus Christ). Leading to household culture #3- Dad is in Charge, and mom is his number one backer (and btw- mom has a lot of responsibility and the authority to wield it). The Caveat which brings this full circle is dad answers to God, which seems to bring some humility to the whole family paradigm, in living alongside each other in peace and harmony. First and foremost Dad loves Mom- the kids see it all the time. Secondly, Mom respects Dad A LOT (more than is deserved), btw- this makes it really quite easy for me to love her, because I have great joy and confidence. Mom even respects dad when it’s hard, and says that this is made easier for her, knowing all she does is for her Lord (Jesus Christ) anyway. So the glue that holds it all together is~ …our youngest daughter just came in with an iced coffee and handed it to mommy saying “here- this is from God, I mean Yetta…” giggling. ~What we do is serve one another. The family is the perfect place for practice. Principles guide us- not our feelings. But our feelings have grown for each other over the years. We are devoted to one other out of  love for Christ. We have benefited beyond explanation.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.