June 25, 2009

Psalm 139 Thursday

My girls spent a chunk of time this afternoon "grumping" at each other - each finding multiple ways to be annoyed by the other and expressing her feelings in a range of unkind ways.

Both must use "noodles" during their swimming lessons even as several classmates have gone noodle-free.

We switched math programs in the spring to better meet their needs...but now some might consider them "behind" in math as we work to solidify their knowledge base.

One can't seem to stand still, even while doing something as mundane as teeth brushing. The other is so sensitive that she cried today at the thought of eating a horse-shaped cookie because it was "too pretty."

If you're at all like me, you likely find it all too easy to hone in on the negative or less-than-perfect qualities exhibited in our children every day. Some of their issues are real matters of character - definitely in need of work - but are also contingent upon maturity (i.e., with instruction, our kids can treat their siblings better, but doing so only happens over time and with practice). In other situations, though, our negative perceptions are simply misguided - influenced by perceived or real "peer pressure" from other parents and/or our own inner competitive spirits. Thus, I perceive that others might feel my girls are "behind" in math, and I'm jealous that other kids can swim better than my own - and, as a result, I focus on my kids' "can'ts" or "not yets." I don't do this consciously, of course, because I love my girls more than my own life. But, sadly - if I'm not careful - I can slip into a negative mindset before I even know it's happened.

Of course - for my children's sake and my own - I want and need to do whatever it takes to guard against that. And one way to do so is by choosing to focus on the positive. Thus, instead of bemoaning my girls' occasional spats, I need to choose to remember that they usually get along very well and even refer to themselves as each other's best friend. I need to remember that they've never had formal swimming lessons before this month and make myself see how much they've learned already. I need to marvel at how quickly they've mastered their math facts now that we've found the right program. And, rather than perseverating on the negative, I need to be thankful for Rachel's boundless energy and Abigail's soft heart.

An online friend of mine, Jasmine Cucuta, has come up with a great antidote to our predilection toward the negative - something she calls "Ability Tuesday." So every Tuesday on her blog and on Facebook, she encourages everyone she knows to post the positive about our kids - to get our minds off the "can'ts and "not yets" by choosing to think about all the things our kids already are and can do.

Of course, we needn't limit this to Tuesdays! But Jasmine has a great idea because following her lead at least once a week allows us to practice being positive. And, as with any kind of training, practice yields progress so that eventually a task can become more automatic.

This concept brings to mind a verse in one of my favorite Bible passages, Psalm 139. There, in verse 14, David says to God, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (New International Version) And, of course, the same is true of each amazing person whom God has created - all wonderfully and uniquely made, each of us brimming with various reflections of His creative power.

With that in mind, I'd like to encourage each of you to post something positive about at least one of your children at least once a week, perhaps on Thursdays. I'll get the ball rolling today and try to remind you of Psalm 139 Thursdays. But don't wait for me! Whenever you are reminded of a way in which your child is wonderfully made, take a second to jot it down here. Your posts will motivate others to do the same. And, in the end, we'll all be encouraged.


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