Sunday, June 15, 2014

i need some help here!

Parenting is tough. It's not like a recipe where you just add the right amount of ingredients and your food turns out great each time. In parenting you can do all the right things and your kids can turn out totally opposite of what you were hoping.

I just finished a book by the hilarious Kathi Lipp and it is an encouragement to all those parents who are struggling with how things are going with their kids. She offers grace to moms who are discouraged and feeling guilty. She enables us to look at the bright side and see the spiritual gifts that result when your kids don't go according to your plan. She steeps each chapter in scripture and offers sample prayers for your child and for yourself.

I've heard a lot of people say, "I was such a good parent before I had children." Kathi offers a similar saying for judgmental people and how to determine other 'safe' people you can be real with...or rather who not to seek sympathy from. She says, "There are some people who feel that if only you had done everything right, your child wouldn't have problems. These people usually fall into three categories: those who have never had kids and think they could do better, parents who have one child under the age of three and think that the same principles of discipline apply to teens, and parents of children over age thirty who have blocked out all the bad years."

She offers a quote from Rob Teigen as instruction for us, "I think as parents we take way too much credit when things go right with our kids and take way too much blame when things go wrong." She helps parents see that we are not the only ones who are dealing with issues and gives encouragement and practical steps for a variety of different situations. The last chapters are broken into headings-'when my child is....different, overwhelmed, making poor choices, struggling' etc.

From the cover (loved it!) it seemed like a book for parents of young children but as I started reading it I worried that it would only deal with teens and young adults. But I found plenty to apply to parenting young children as well and it also gives me plenty to chew on and a good foundation as we head into the teenage years in a few years (eek!)

I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

As I write this I am packing up to go out of town. I barely have time to sit down and write a review as our babysitter gets here in 15 ....oops, 12 minutes. I'm answering questions in between typing. 'Do we need this?' 'Where are the sunglasses?' 'Where is the suitcase?'

I live life so fragmented, so out to the edge. I can't do things as well as I want to because I want to do everything and there's just not time. I rush around trying to get out of the house then drop something and have to stop to clean it up, so in the end I would have gotten ready faster if had I gone slower. It doesn't make sense to me, go slow in order to move forward faster. It doesn't make sense in my day to day life and it doesn't make sense in my relationship with God. But time is one of God's creations and I'm living in it and have to abide by the rules he made it with, not the 'rules' that make sense to me.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace is one woman's journey to find space in her life for rest. But it doesn't come easy for her. She wrote 10 chapters of the book before breaking down, her past coming back as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and halting her efforts. "Sometimes we can't rest until we look at why our hearts feel torn." She didn't want to work through her past, she wanted to ignore it. She found that she couldn't write the book as she originally planned so what results is a picture of how God takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

Each chapter allows for reflection and discussion questions if a group was going through this together. I found it difficult to pause at each chapter because I was so curious about the details of her story. She had a 'cliffhanger' of sorts on many chapters and it made me want to skip the reflection and see what happened next.

I found her suggestions for carving out spiritual whitespace to be so important for a busy woman today. We have to force ourselves to go against the cultural current that says our worth is based what we do and how much we can get done. We have to intentionally stop and be 'unproductive' so that we can have a more balanced and healthy life. We have to go slower in order to move forward or else we will have to go back and do things over again.

Some quotes from the book really stuck with me:

"In art, whitespace is often referred to as 'negative space.' It's the space on the page absent of marks or images...It is the key element of design that gives balance to a composition, transforming a cluttered collection of objects into an aesthetic expression of what we do see."

"Finding spiritual whitespace isn't about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It's the opposite. It's getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces-in order to nurture our soul. It's getting away from the lie that spiritual rest is something we have to work hard at in order to get closer to God."

"We've been taught our feelings are not reliable, so we throw them to the wayside. Trouble is, there is a part of ourselves we throw to the side too. Sometimes the harder path to rest is following your heart and holding on to nothing but Jesus."


So after reading this book and the journey that I'm going on right now in my life, I am trying to loosen the grip of my control on situations and hold on to Jesus instead. I am learning to trust him more deeply and with my heart and my mind. I'm enjoying things more and stressing about things less. I am listening to and following my feelings and trying to stop being so strong and competent. I'm admitting my faults and trusting that Jesus can take the broken parts of me and make me beautiful.

I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.