Teachable Moments, Uncategorized

Introverted Parents

Being an introverted parent is vastly different than being an extroverted parent.  They don’t think alike, dream alike, nor make the same parenting decisions. They definitely don’t have the same internal dialogues; many introverted parents think one response but wisely give another.  Here are a few examples.

“Mom, I know we’ve spent all day together but do you want to come play with me?”
INSIDE ANSWER:  “No – I don’t want to play with you.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD:  “Yes, of course – but see what Dad is doing; I know he’d love to play with you too.”

“Dad, what are you going to ask Santa to get you for Christmas?”
INSIDE ANSWER:  “I want to have total peace and quiet that I KNOW will not be interrupted.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD:  “I have everything I want, sweetheart; I have you.”

“Mommm!!!!!” “Daddddddd!!!”
INSIDE ANSWER:  “I SO want to change my name.”
WHAT THEY SAY OUT LOUD:  “Yes, honey?”

What is an Introvert?  Introverts are characterized with a personality that

  • Turns inward more than outward
  • Prefers low-key environments
  • Regains energy by spending time alone
  • Feels drained from social interactions
  • Prefers a few good friends more than many less-intimate friendships 
  • Focuses more on internal thoughts and moods than external situations

From a 2010 Psychology Today edition entitled, “Revenge of the Introverts”, we learn that scientists are discovering the brain of an introvert does not work like their extravert counterparts.  Introverts actually take in information from their environments and need alone-time to process what they are observing and experiencing. If they don’t have that quiet time or solitude, they will naturally feel overwhelmed.  Introvert brains tend to be very active and therefore, putting themselves in situations which add additional stimulation (i.e. crowds, high-energy, or high-sensory) are by necessity limited.

How does this God-created personality affect a parent’s relationship with their kids?  

  1.  You are not a mistake.  Realize that it is not a mistake how you are made.  Introverted parents will struggle with different things than extroverted parents do and that, my friends, is perfectly OK.
  2. Not their job.  Realize that it is not your child’s responsibility to create an environment that is comfortable to the introverted parent.  Work on not getting frustrated that the child is not meeting your personal needs – it’s not their job.
  3. Be nice.  Kids are naturally loud, inconvenient and exhausting.  Introverted parents are going to feel this more poignantly than extroverted parents; they have a higher chance of feeling anxious, depressed, and inadequate.  So, be careful. Don’t judge yourself too harshly when you really hate your lack of a schedule, the millions of interruptions to your time or the peace and quiet you so desperately need but aren’t going to get.  Bottom line, don’t expect yourself to be someone you’re not – be nice to yourself. If you can accept how God has made you, you have a chance of being a great parent just the way you are.
  4. Give yourself a break.  Figure out a way to create frequent breaks throughout the day.  If you are caring for a toddler, you may not have a long period of time to quietly sit or enjoy solitude, but if you can grab even 5 minutes here and there throughout the day, you’ll tend to do better.  Put in times to quietly think, appreciate and practice thankfulness.
  5. Measure happiness carefully.  Extraverts tend to be happy about everything, but introverts have the advantage of not worrying so much about actually being happy (they worry about other things).  While extroverts want to try everything on the buffet of life, introverts tend to savor meaningful moments. Embrace how you understand happiness and fulfillment, knowing no two parents measure it the same way.
  6. Know what you’re good at.  Introverted parents are good at assessing situations and knowing that change needs to take place.  Introverted parents are good at allowing their children to process life and tend to encourage a slower pace of life.  Introverted parents value relationship over activity and tend to accept their children how they are made more easily than an extroverted parent.  Introverted parents unite – and realize how good you are at this parenting thing.

Dear Friend, parenting is hard enough without us trying to be someone we’re not or we’re judging ourselves harshly for who we wish we were. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)  We need to celebrate how God made us knowing that we are the parent our child needs as God is the architect of our families and builds our families by purposeful design.  Take comfort in His plan, lean on Him for wisdom and seek Him for the strength you need to endure. He is faithful to you.

May this day be a day you celebrate how God is working in you to be the person and parent He desires.  To all my introverted readers, here’s to you! Fondly yours, Elizabeth

And now…introverted thoughts that will make you smile (hopefully). 

Children and Family, Teachable Moments, Uncategorized, Young Adult, Young Adults

Our Stories and Tears

When we put up our Christmas tree it always takes longer than I originally think it will, and that’s because of the number of ornaments we have collected over the years…and the tears that come when putting them up.  Oh, they’re happy tears; I oooh and aaah over each precious ornament, reminiscing over why it’s so beloved. My favorites are definitely the ones my children made or were bought with them in mind as they reached a significant milestone in their life.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m quite sure most of you know exactly what I am talking about.  What’s interesting to consider is why our stories are so important to us. The ornament may be cute or clever, but the story behind it is what makes it important.  

The tiny ballet dancers that are front and center on a prominent branch with their tulle skirts and shy smiles, these little ladies remind me of the hours of dance rehearsal and Nutcracker practice I got to enjoy as a Dance Mom.  One tiny dancer is learning to stand with grace and strength in 3rd position and the other is pointing her toe – my daughter was doing the same thing at that young age and we were so proud of her as she persevered to improve her skills.

The Spider Man ornament holds a memory from the year 2000, while all 5 of us as a family were eating dinner, our boys who were 5 and 2 at the time announced that they were going to grow up and become Spider Man.  They believed he was the best because of how he could swing between tall buildings and they liked the color blue. It totally makes sense because, hey – who wouldn’t want spider webbing spurting out of their palms? And his superhero suit is super cool.

The last ornament I’ll share with you is a pair of angel wings.  In 1997, I had a miscarriage. This little life I was privileged to carry only lasted a few months and was born so prematurely, the sweet baby wasn’t able to survive in this world.  My mother-in-law bought us this ornament to remind us that we have one child already in heaven, singing God’s praises along with the angels. We honor all life and as such, are grateful for this reminder of God’s comfort and provision for us at that difficult time.

God himself has a story to tell of his son; we tell that story every Christmas as we remember the conception and birth of Christ.  Jesus’ best friend John tells God’s story at the beginning of his epistle this way, And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Every Christmas ornament we hang tells not only our stories, but points us back to His story as well.

Dear Reader, what an opportunity we have. As we share our personal stories about how we decorate and celebrate Christmas, we can also remember to share His story which is the reason we are celebrating in the first place. Let’s pray for these divine conversations. Listening to one another’s stories is one of the best ways we can honor one another.  Romans 12:10 says to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself” and James, the brother of Jesus, urges us to be “quick to listen” (James 1:19). The world will know we are truly followers of Christ as we exemplify to them an other-worldly type of love and honor through the gift of listening well to one another.

As always, dear reader, thank you for listening to my stories.  May you have many divine conversations this week to share both the story of God’s son and to listen to other’s cherished Christmas memories.

Children and Family, Teachable Moments, Uncategorized, Young Adult, Young Adults

Learn What We Already Know

I remember as a little girl getting ready for “the event.” We circled it on our calendars, canceled any other activities, made bowls of popcorn and got our pajamas on early.  Every American family basically did these same things. No child balked at eating their vegetables, siblings were on their best behavior and homework was done immediately after school, as no child would dare risk being punished and missing out. Am I talking about Christmas? Halloween? Maybe putting teeth under our pillows for the tooth fairy?  Absolutely not – it was the annual broadcast of the renowned movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Part of the movie magic of the Wizard of Oz is captured when Dorothy’s world goes from black and white to spectacular technicolor once Dorothy lands in Oz, stopped the Wicked Witch no less, and she steps out into a fantastical new world filled with over-sized flowers and under-sized people.  Every time I watched it as a little girl, I was amazed and awed at how radically her life changed in a moment.

Even at a young age, I understood through the visual feast of this movie that Dorothy didn’t learn anything new in her journey on the yellow brick road.  No, the point of Oz was for Dorothy to really know what she already knew.  It wasn’t enough that she was told that her home was where she belonged; she had to live out her fears, face her challenges and embrace new relationships in order to get to her teachable moment in which she learned what she already knew, “there’s no place like home”.

We are all like Dorothy to some degree.  We can say what we believe, but until we work out that truth through life, we are only living a Sepia toned existence. It would be apt to say, until I live out my faith, I really don’t know what I truly believe.

Let me give you a “Dorothy” example from my life.  I had learned from childhood on that prayer was a key Christian discipline.  I studied prayer, I valued prayer and I prayed.  I thought I knew what prayer was.  UNTIL, I entered the teenage years of parenting.  In one of those crucial moments when after having tried everything to get across to my adolescent what needed to change in their attitude, I finally gave up.  I threw my hands in the air and said adamantly, “That’s it!  I am done.  I have tried everything to get you to see what is wrong.  Nothing has worked.  So just, go to your room; while you’re there, pray for God to help you and don’t come down until you’ve met with Him.  While you do that, I’m going to pray that God opens your eyes.”  I angrily turned around and walked away as my teen headed to their room.

I prayed and I cleaned.  And I cleaned and I prayed – for 3 hours.  Just as I was finishing scrubbing the kitchen floor, I heard footsteps coming downstairs.  Having been in concerted prayer, I went much more peacefully toward this next conversation.  When they turned the corner, they were crying and with heartfelt repentance, told me where they had been wrong and sought my forgiveness.  In response, I burst into tears, immediately hugged them and declared all was forgiven.

In this case, there was indeed a happy ending.  However, more than having the problem solved, I learned – I mean, I really learned – about prayer for I had lived it as I had never lived it before.  That was my “Dorothy” teachable moment about prayer and better yet, I have never forgotten it.

Moving from a black and white world of faith to one of living color isn’t easy, but it’s an adventure none of us should miss.  Dear Reader, where is your Oz and are you ready to embrace your inner “Dorothy”?  Until next time, may you be brave and seize your teachable moments by learning what you already know!

Blessings to you always, Elizabeth

Children and Family, Teachable Moments, Uncategorized, Young Adult, Young Adults

I want MUCH MORE for Christmas

I went to a major retailer in the area to pick up some milk the day before Thanksgiving.  As I made a beeline for the dairy department, I noticed a group of women who walked around in circles occasionally talking to themselves or one another…I couldn’t help but wonder if they were practicing a new dance, if they only turned left when they walked, or if they were planning a mission impossible. I covertly stepped into an adjoining aisle to stake out the situation. After just a couple minutes I knew what they were doing. And while I thought what they were doing might actually be helpful, I confess I also thought they were bordering on the obsessive. They were planning their strategy for what they would do at the beginning of Black Friday shopping. They were planning the hunt to make sure they bagged their retail prey the next day. They knew they would be up against fierce opposition and they were going to make sure they were in the best position possible to bring home the prize.

I will confess I love retail therapy and I can do it as well as the next person. But I have never seen so much time and energy going into buying a thermal sweater. Boots, handbags, Christmas pajamas, and new Bluetooth headphones were obviously on their lists as I tracked their strategy meeting throughout the store. I came to the store for milk and left with an appreciation for how people fill their time during the holidays.

This made me reflect that I might not be so different from them.  What random, unique, seemingly-unavoidable activities suck the time and energy out of my calendar and then, out of me?  We all know that during the busyness of the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of travel, volunteering at the food pantry or ringing a bell for those in need,  and worrying about which presents to buy for family members. For others of us, finances are tight and we strain ourselves the extra amount to make ends meet; family relationships are fractured and we have to navigate difficult choices. While I love cooking the turkey and making the cookies, the planning, shopping, serving and clean-up can sometimes feel like I’m crumbling just like the cookie I took out of the oven too early.  The season brings much joy but much stress at the same time. Let’s be honest, the song I’m really singing on Sunday morning could sound more like this:

Joy and stress to the World, yes, my Lord has come. Let earth receive her King (and the gift I just bought you). The glory of Buying the right Gift. Let Heaven and Nature Sing….while I try to get everything done and figured out.

Make up your own hymn with contrasting realities – excitement and worry. Good memories and Nightmares. Christmas brings such a multifaceted array of emotions that sometimes it’s hard to navigate through these emotions and focus on the meaning of the season.

Pause with me and reflect.  Isn’t it true that we can SAY “I put Jesus first” but how often have I spoken platitudes to that effect all day long, but what’s really going on internally is much more raw and disappointing than that.  I am thankful for my precious strategic shoppers who recently reminded me that there is so much more for me to fix my mind and heart upon during Christmas time than the worry and stress of the current calendar and circumstances.

Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” states nicely that “we are never free from the recurring tides of the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in.” Like a flood these distractions will always seek to pull us away from time with our Savior. We shouldn’t be surprised that Christmas comes with life-distractions that will sneak in from every angle during the season to take our hearts and minds off of Christ. We have the greatest opportunity to focus on our Savior all the more during this season. I just need to grab onto this opportunity with both hands and I can’t do that without acknowledging the problem and then reminding myself of the amazing solution that awaits my attention.  My current problem has a remedy that was spoken over 2000 years ago.

Jesus teaches us, If God so beautifully clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:30-33)

But now – I suggest to you this same passage seen through the eyes of the author of The Message,  “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

Dear reader, when the much more of the season’s busyness tries to push out the much more of our Savior, let’s aim to praise Him and remember Him amidst our circumstances. Will you join me in striving to seek first His Kingdom, push away the worry and the stress, and dwell on the much more that He only can give?  Blessings to you dear Reader – I wish for you Much More of Jesus during this blessed season.  

Always His and yours – Elizabeth