Jan Roberson: Hurry Sickness

Have you ever heard the phrase “hurry sickness”? This one is fairly new to me. It is quite self-explanatory, isn’t it? We live in a culture that values people who can cram as much as possible into each of the hours of the day. The stress of this time/productivity kind of focus is making us sick as a society.

Time is money. Time is of the essence. Time is running out.

This mentality makes it hard to value time spent with little ones at home, “not getting much done”. The small and mundane and even relational things of our days can seem unimportant in the light of what our culture values, what we value.

J4BK7BI0ZJOnce when I was homeschooling our kids, we happened upon a cocoon on a bush in our yard. We had the gift of watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its shell. We sat in the grass for over an hour to watch this show. When the butterfly was fully out, it slowly walked over to a tree and fanned its wings for another hour. Now that is slow, but what a wonder to be able to see it!

In order to see this, someone had to be looking. The cocoon was not in plain sight, but it was visible. In order to see the butterfly, we had to stop and watch. We had to slow down and take notice.

On another day in summer, I sat with my kids in the hammock and the three of us listened to all the sounds we could possibly hear at that moment. How often do we sit and just listen? How many beautiful things might we miss in our day because we don’t really look or don’t really listen?

On many occasions there would be melt downs in our house (and not just me). When I considered the source of many of them, it could be traced to mom not really paying attention. I was focused on getting something done, I was not listening to the mounting frustration, or I was just plain not listening to the kids.

The good and peaceful times I remember with my kids are times of slowness, of talking and listening. What if we valued taking time to notice, to talk, to listen, to play, and to be very present in the moment? What would that look like? I believe that is one of the many blessings of being with little ones…they notice things that we don’t and they are almost impossible to rush. Kids seem to be naturally observant of their world and slow in order to take things in.

I think I would like to be more like one of these. I would stop and look at the shapes of clouds and the colors in the sky. I would stop and ask questions about how things work and wonder at wonderful things. I would notice the textures…shininess, roughness, sparkliness and marvel. I would be more attuned to the emotional atmosphere around me and wonder if you were happy or sad. I would hug and say “thank you” a lot.

Slowing down and really seeing gives us room to really breathe. It puts things in perspective. Is our time schedule really the center of the universe? Does that frustration really, really matter in the end?

I have been learning to slow down, to give myself margin, to not live my life all the way to the edge. And what have I gained from this slow down? Thankfulness. Really seeing and appreciating what is all around me causes me to be thankful for all that God has put into my life and into this world. What a gift!

 

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.
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Jan Roberson: Love is too Hard

SplitShire_IMG_1143.jpgI have written a very nice blog on marriage to follow up on our great marriage panel from our last MOPS meeting, but you are not going to see my nice blog.

My husband and I have not been spending much time together due to the fact that he has been working on getting a deck finished before the snow flies. And, due to the fact that work plus travel equals 52 hours a week for him. And, due to the fact that my 91 year old mom is living with us for a month as she makes the transition from her own home to a home for seniors. (Having a mom almost 30 years old than I makes me feel downright young!)

In the past week, I have found myself critiquing my husband. Why does he do that? Why does he have to do it that way? Why doesn’t he do this more? Why can’t he choose to spend more time with me? On and on. Little things start to tick me off.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Driving to church this morning we argued. Perfect. The list of offenses against him grows.

Love is not irritable. It keeps no record of wrongs.

I look around in church. Why can’t he be more like him? Why doesn’t he initiate more? Focus on the song, Jan, on the sermon.

Love is not envious, boastful, rude or proud. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

Love is too hard. How can I ever be all of that, especially when I am feeling so crabby?

For me, as a believer in Jesus, this is actually a good news Scripture. It feels like a condemnation at first. I am so very aware of what I am not in regards to my husband or anyone else for that matter. It seems impossible to be and do what love is…as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

This is good news because this is what God’s love is. It certainly doesn’t describe my love in the last week. It describes a powerful, constant, confident, overcoming love. The good news for me is that I get to tap into this powerful love; this love surrounds me, is in me and is mine for the asking. Lord, I am drowning in my own self-centeredness. I am focused on what’s wrong, the offenses…turn my eyes to You and let me soak in Your love. Let Your love move through me.

I cannot change my husband or anyone else. I know from experience that cajoling, nagging, and little jibes don’t work. What does work is a change in my own focus and working to change myself. What works is love.

I also know from experience that when I get negative like this, it usually is because we have not had time together, we have not made time to connect. Talking together and planning for time with each other goes a long way toward fixing the problem.

Again, from experience, my negativity tends to melt when I begin to list-on paper or in my head-all my husband’s good and positive traits (and there are many!). I go through in my mind and see all the things that he has been doing to make a great home. I remind myself how much he accepts and loves me for who I am with all my foibles and I want to do the same for him.

Marriage can be messy, because we are messy. But I have found that God is full of love and God is full of power. He delights to make Himself know in our messy lives and our messy world…if we but ask…

 

For a story of healing in a marriage, go to “Focus on the Family” website, broadcast date 10/8/2015. The recording artist, Plumb, shares her story of restoration in her shattered marriage.

 

If you are struggling in your marriage, the leadership at MOPS can help you find resources and we have a treasure of experience in our Mentors. Please let us know how we can help.

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

A Fierce Flourishing

negativespace-14After several months of company, I am slowing reclaiming my house. I love having company in the summertime and celebrating the family or friendship ties that bring us together. Summer is wonderful (Despite the smoke!).

Recently, I saw a MOPS mom with her kids and she told me she couldn’t wait for MOPS to start. Really? That means summer is almost over and fall is coming. How quickly it all rushes by.

The theme this year at MOPS is “A Fierce Flourishing”. I love that and I hope you will go on MOPS.org to read more about the theme. In our first meeting in September, we will talk about that theme and what it means for our group in Bigfork this year.

As I thought about how I might work that theme out in my life, one word came to mind…intention. To flourish in my life means that I need to live my life intentionally, not just floating along with whatever happens (although that is sometimes good). To purposely choose how to live fully is to flourish.

I can flourish when I decide to choose to spend time in what is most important and not major in the minors. I can spend more time in deepening relationships and less in time-wasters. I can plan fun dates with my husband to celebrate who we are as a couple. I can spend more time being thankful and less being wishful.

Here is how this is stated in the MOPS literature for this year:

Embrace Rest. This is the year to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as a measure of worth. What if one of the most life-giving activities that will contribute to our flourishing is welcoming rhythms of rest and play into our lives?”

Notice goodness. Could it be possible that we don’t need new things, but rather new eyes to see what we already have…Noticing what is good gives us the gift of perspective and reminds us that the sacred is closer than we think.”
Celebrate Lavishly…Could it be that commemorating moments might help us to become more alive, to remember what is good and become masterful at recognizing it?”

“This is a fierce flourishing. It is a deep in your guts experience of gratitude and hope that compels you to raise your hands and dance freer than you ever have before. It is a fierce protection of your most important moments, an invitation to rest and an opportunity to enjoy the people who are right in front of you.” A Fierce Flourishing, pg. 5, 6.

11351492_10152807222557097_4427345129274860055_nThat sounds great, you say, but you don’t have a baby on your hip, a toddler whining on your leg, and work pressing in on you. No, I don’t. And I don’t think this theme is in any way meant to bypass or belittle the struggles of being a pre-school mom. It is hard, it is intense, and it is time-consuming and energy-draining to be a mom of little ones.

But perhaps this noticing, this celebrating, this resting even in small ways will be what infuses you with energy in your days. Being thankful, seeing beauty every day, and learning to rest are intentional choices we can make. We can’t always control all that goes on in our days, but we can choose our attitude and learn to see the good in a situation.

I am looking forward to learning all that I can in this next year, because flourishing is something I really want to do. I am looking forward to getting together to encourage one another to grow and thrive as women and as moms. Let’s make this our best year yet!   Love you, Jan

Jan Roberson: Layer upon Layer

65182826_155a5f7822What effect do the little day-to-day things you do for and with your kids have in the overall scheme of their lives? What does it matter? Do they care that you care? Do the nights spent caring for a sick child or the days on end of being cooped up with sniffling children even count as an important part of mothering? It would seem that much of motherhood is just getting through the tough times, just getting by when you have really had enough. Really, how much of the stuff of these early years do kids even remember?

They don’t remember much in terms of events, surroundings, day-to-day life. But it is in these little seemingly meaningless everyday tasks that we are slowly building a strong bond of trust. Our little ones learn that someone responds when they cry. They repeatedly are cared for by the same people. They learn that they are part of a family, a caring unit. They have a face to bond with: a face of care, a face they can trust.

In those times of sickness, of crabbiness, of tantrums…they learn a little about perseverance, patience, endurance and about a bond that is not easily broken. When their actions, behavior, and sickness causes them to be hard to love, hard to care for, they learn what it is like to be nurtured in spite of it all…they learn about steadfastness.

Little by little, layer upon layer, trust is born and developed between mother and child. It really can only happen this way. The small stuff of life, the hard stuff of life, and the everyday over-and-over-again stuff of life creates bonds that are not easily broken. Little by little, layer upon layer, the family is built; trust and love begin to flourish.

Not only are trust and family bonds built in the small, sometimes hard, stuff of life, but here character is formed–both ours as moms and our children’s. Our children are the recipients of our behavior and also the observers of it. Daily, we model in a hundred little ways how life is lived. In the ways we deal with our sleepless nights, our fears and anxieties, sickness, anger and frustration, we demonstrate our character to our kids. Their character in formed in our interactions in the smallest details of life…layer upon layer.

For many moms, this winter has been one of endless days at home with coughing, sniffling, vomiting, or generally sick kids. Being stuck at home isn’t fun, and it is stressful for any mom to have sick children. But this is part of life with preschoolers; this is your life now, and it is important. Your sacrifices are important. Your time spent with kids who need you is time that they won’t remember, but it is a layer that is part of the solid foundation you are building for and with your kids.

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 7 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

photo credit: Sick Baby 1 via photopin (license)

Jan Roberson: Winter Activities with Little Ones

KidinSnow

Fall is wonderful. We drove to Minnesota recently and got a wonderful dose of fall color. I do love fall, but there is a sense of impending doom that comes with it! The time change brings early darkness; the days get shorter. The weather is greyer and cold…winter is coming. For moms with little ones, that is not always the most fun of seasons. You are all inside together, day after day. They get sick, you get sick, you all are cranky. Fun.

I thought perhaps it would be a good time to throw out some ideas for activities at home in the winter. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Debbie Savik and Chloe Moore speak at our last MOPS meeting. So this is a little addendum to the joys of motherhood with some specific ideas to make it more joyful!

Do you ever notice how kids can have tons of the latest toys and still have “nothing to do”? I often have thought that less is more in regards to the collection of kids’ toys. Usually what children want is to interact with M.O.M. And often, what moms want is for their kids to entertain themselves for a while so they can get a break!

Here are some things that may take a little time on the front end for planning and engaging your kids, but also things that might engross them and stir their little imaginations.

  •  Do you have a wall or a space that you can paint with chalkboard paint and even undercoat with magnetic paint? Then you have a large space where they can use chalk and magnets. This way, they can draw and color and erase (all favorite things of preschoolers) AND push magnetic letters or shapes around.
  • Read some I SPY books from the library and then let them create their own I SPY scenarios.
  • When you have multiple kids (your own or someone else’s), kids love the “hide the object” game. You simply find a small recognizable object and hide it in one room. Then let them look until they are tired and begin to tell them if they are “hot” (close) or “cold” (far away). The one that finds it gets to hide it next.
  • Pillows! Make a nest, fort, house…with as many pillows as possible. Kids seem to like to rearrange these sorts of things, over and over again!
  • Painting. Paint on windows, old furniture, old large maps, a chair from the thrift store, mirrors. Children love the process of painting. Use water color, tempera or even craft acrylics.
  • Have a winter picnic in the living room with summer clothes, summer food, and summer books. Use a big lamp to be the sun, turn the heat up a little and enjoy your lemonade!
  • Go outside and pick up nature’s fall and winter “collections.” Leaves, berries, moss, pine needles, pine cones, whatever catches the eye. You don’t have to do anything with them, the looking and collecting is an adventure in itself for most little ones.
  • Sorting…such a great learning activity. Use an egg carton, several small bowls, boxes, or anything that makes sense to use for sorting. Kids can sort things in their own way…ask them why they sorted them that way. Use buttons (usually at fabric or craft stores in bulk), beads, rocks, shells, coins–anything small even to be held and sorted. (Of course, this is only for those who do not eat buttons and coins, etc.!)
  • Plan a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. Draw pictures for the clues or items to find.
  • Take a walk. How many different sounds can you hear? How many different colors can you see”? How many different shapes can you identify? You could even take photos of the shapes and colors or numbers that you see. For very “littles,” you could ask them if they can hear or see a doggy or a truck-or whatever they could identify.
  • Sit on the floor with your kids in a circle and everyone’s feet spread out and touching. Roll a ball around and maybe introduce a couple more balls to the mix. This seems to be very entertaining (!) and also works hand/eye coordination.
  • Read or listen to a story and have the kids dance or do something silly every time they hear a certain word or phrase. This helps their attentiveness and listening skills.
  • Brighten dull days with little ideas…today we can only wear red socks; for lunch time, we can only whisper; on this walk, let’s tiptoe-skip-hop; let’s run around our house 3 times before lunch; today, teddy or dolly can eat at the table with us.
  • Bring them on over to my house and I will let them climb trees, dig in the dirt, and generally run around. Then they will come in and bang on pots and pans, have tea parties, and play with playmobiles. Have fun with your kids!

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 7 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

photo credit: horizontal.integration via photopin cc