Spiritual Parenting ~ Session 4

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This week’s topics especially plucked at my mama heartstrings,
sang in my thoughts,
and a week later, the tune is still playing.

Notes from Spiritual Parenting, Session 4: Service and Out of the Comfort Zone echo in my heart and dance in my everyday decisions.

We’re officially adding it to the compilation of our family’s favorite songs!

Allow me to review, starting with Service.

Michelle Anthony created session 4’s rhythm on Service, pointing out that in every family there are chores that need to be done, which essentially, is an act of service. Point made that if the dishes don’t get cleaned, the clothes laundered, and dog poop picked up, well, we’d have a roach- infested kitchen, full of naked people, with poop on their feet! Instead of calling them chores, the Anthony family refers to them as acts of service. It doesn’t change the fact that dishes, clothes, and poop must be taken care of, but it does change the heart of why they are to be done. As a family, we can focus on looking for what needs to be done, instead of waiting for what has to be done. With service singing at the forefront of our lips, every situation will look different when asked, “What needs to be done?”

Practically speaking, we can model service to our boys in the following ways:
* First, explaining that service is an opportunity to look for ways to pitch in and help as a family. It takes all of us, working together, to serve.

*Ask our boys to share an opportunity they served at home, school, or with their friends. When they share, Bry and I can use their story to give the glory back to God. This keeps our boys accountable for serving, and reflects the focus back on our Heavenly Father.
Just last week, my friend Em, and her sweet, 3 year-old son, Ranon came for a day visit. While the boys played in the backyard, we caught up over paninis. Later that day, she left me a message saying how impressed she was by how well Tanner and Ty shared their toys with her lil’ guy! Immediately, I scooped up my sons, looked them in their blues, and told them how much their acts of service had meant to Ranon. And then we prayed for Em and Ranon, and thanked God that we had the opportunity to share our time and trucks with friends!

*Share how we, as parents, specifically serve. This is not a brag session, but more to let our boys know when and how we serve, an act they wouldn’t otherwise know about, if we didn’t tell them.
Growing up, my folks were huge servers in our church and people’s lives. Often my mom would serve on a committee, and my dad, on the elder board. Their service was valued in church decisions and evident by their commitments. But at a young age, that’s all I understood ~ that they helped at church. Once I became a parent, we had an incredible conversation, in which I voiced my wish to have known more details about their service. How awesome it would have been to sit in an elder meeting with my dad, or watch my mom serve on a church team. What a sweet reminder¬† that our kids don’t know what takes place when we are absent from them. It’s our responsibility to share the details of how we serve! This seems so trivial, but the song of service can leave a monumental legacy.

*Serve OUTSIDE of church.
If we wait for our church to present our only service opportunities, we are dependent on the church. Instead, we can create our own family service days, in which we ask, “How can we serve?”, wait for God’s voice, and then respond. Aside from obvious service needs like picking up trash, we can write our own music notes of Service if we’re willing to sit in the sometimes uncomfortable stillness of God’s Spirit, until we sense His leading. Kids have an astounding faith capacity, but unless they have opportunities to use their faith, it will become like a seldom used muscle ~ flabby and weak! Our kids want to live in the daily story God is writing, so we should give them ample opportunities to grow their faith and challenge them to serve ~ in, and out of church.

Out of the Comfort Zone was the next tune, and I’ll admit, it’s a challenging one for me to hum!

As parents, we are wired to fix the uncomfortable. God, however, is the perfect parent. He sees the eternal, not the temporal full of feelings, challenges and trials! Living Out of the Comfort Zone means, gulp, praying boldly for our kids, in the midst of uncomfortableness.

Again, our daily desire is that our kids realize their supporting role in God’s Story, including being out of their comfort zone. When uncomfortable situations arise {and they do}, instead of teaching them to be victimized, we can use that challenging moment and ask, “What is God doing in this uncomfortable situation?” Praying about it with them, gives them faith ownership. It’s important that our children have their own faith, not ours. In every trial, instead of rushing to fix their problem{my natural instinct} I can encourage them to go to God first. Parenting Out of the Comfort Zone does not mean that I turn a blind eye to the immediate needs of my boys and nonchalantly tell them to pray about it. It’s intentionally asking God how I can get out of the way, and point my boys back to Him, so that He will strengthen their faith in the midst of the uncomfortableness. What a valuable reminder for me! How often do I run to my hubby, or a friend when having a bad day, instead of immediately turning toward my Father, ensuring the day would end on a high note?

A way for me to assess if my kids are too comfortable, is by listening to the song their actions are singing. Is it one of selfishness, laziness, gluttony, and ungratefulness? Unfortunately, I could be the tune that sets that song in motion. Am I constantly asking if they are happy? full? feeling loved? Am I creating a home environment that caters too much to my boys? Again, this is different than the essential parenting responsibilities of clothing, feeding, and providing.

Practical ways we help get our boys out of their comfort zone at home are:

*Tanner, 3 1/2, has a responsibility chart that he completes each day. Earning a check mark for getting dressed, brushing teeth, as well as putting his toys away and making his bed, help remind him to take care of the things he has been given, while encouraging independence and accountability.

*At 1 1/2, silly Ty is in charge of getting plastic plates and bowls for him and his brother at each meal. We love watching him waddle over to the drawer and proudly hand us two Spiderman bowls.

*Other ways our family can intentionally create uncomfortable, growing opportunities include trying cultural foods {or heaven forbid, something beside chicken dinos or pb&j}, visiting the elderly or disabled, and going on a family missions trip {we hope to do this in a couple of years when the boys are older}!

With the rhythm of Spiritual Parenting Class, Session 4 coming to a close, a new friend at our table shared her children’s recent experience on Out of the Comfort Zone…
Her 5-year old came home from school, only to share at dinner, that he’d been bullied by another boy! Blood boiling, her mothering instinct wanted to call the boys mother and have a word with her, but instead, she asked God what He was up to in her son’s uncomfortable school experience. As a family, they discussed that the boy might be hurting or perhaps even getting bullied at home, which manifests into his school bullying. They decided to pray every night for the bully, and also that God would give her son strength in the face of fear, and use this experience to challenge his faith. The bullying became worse, and her daughter was even pushed at recess by the boy! Yet, they continued to pray! Last week, the same morning of our Spiritual Parenting Class, our friend picked up her son and daughter from school, only to see them playing with the boy who had been bullying them! Their prayers and love had won him over! Being out of their comfort zone had given them an opportunity to love someone very unloving, and at their young ages, God was already growing their faith!

You can see why the lyrics of this week’s class continue to swim in my head and heart. What is the song you are singing to your children about Service and Out of the Comfort Zone? Make it a tune worth whistling!

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