If you have visited here before, you can probably see that I have changed the name of the blog again. I started blogging at 4URuthie to tell the story of our journey to adopt our 1st daughter. I changed it to Mountains for Maggie when we were praying for God to move mountains on behalf of our 2nd daughter. Well now it is no longer just Ruthie’s or Maggie’s stories. It is now our family's story, and the stories of those we share life with, as we Conquer Mountains together. Both ConqueringMountains.net and 4URuthie.blogspot will lead here.

About Me

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I am a pastor's wife, mother of 4 kids (2 adopted and 3 with special needs), physical therapist, and photography junky. This is where it all comes together for me. Feel free to join along as I process life out loud.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Choosing to Enjoy

Life is slowing down around here and I am getting the opportunity to enjoy family activities like watching Sam play basketball.  Reflecting on those moments prompted this post.

Somedays I feel like the word "mom" should be changed to "manager".  Like generations of moms before me, I manage my household.  I also aggressively manage my kids healthcare needs, educations, and spiritual growth.  Those all feel pretty normal, but in this day and age, management goes a step farther.  In order to keep up with our peers, I also have to manage our 9 year old's ability to one day make the school soccer team and the 10 year old's desire to gain musical theater experience between his basketball and piano lessons. I have friends who are managing their child's ability to get into a certain college or land the career of their dreams.  Societal expectations have forced us to turn the role of mom into manager. 

I woke up one morning last week and thought "Holy cow I am doing a whole lot of managing and not near enough enjoying." So I have made it my goal to change my mindset from managing my children back to truly enjoying them.  

I honestly didn't set out to be a manager, it just took over and I wonder if it has taken over for you too.  If so, I have put some thoughts together on enjoying life and parenting.  I am confident you could add something here and feel free to do so in the comment section.


1.  When you ENJOY what your doing, your outcome is better. 
I am a better PT and photographer when I am enjoying my time and not just pursuing an end goal.  Of course, that applies to parenting as well.  I want my kids to remember me laughing with them and enjoying their presence, not just dropping them off, packing their lunch, and talking to their doctor about the next stage of care. That leads me to #2. 

2. My children want to be enjoyed.
I mean don't we all want to be enjoyed? I love eating lunch and catching up with my friend Bernie.  I wonder how she would feel if I called her and said, "Bernie I need to eat lunch with someone my age this week so I can check it off my to do list.  Can you meet at 11:00?"  Bernie would probably have other plans because she wants to be enjoyed not managed. Why would my kids be any different?

3. We are more likely to remember what we enjoy than what we just manage.
Okay folks this is actually proven.  Kevin Leman says in his book, What Your Childhood Memories Say About You, that long term memories are stored through a neurotransmitter that is released when we feel extreme emotion.  If enjoying our children generates emotion in us then it is reasonable, based on Leman's book, to say that we are more likely to remember those occasions. 

4. The return on good management is measured in accomplishments. The return on enjoyment is measured in accomplishments and relationships.
Accomplishments aren't bad but they are better when paired with relationships.

5. I need to make more time to enjoy my spouse.

Trent and I are great managing partners but we fell in love when we enjoyed each other.  It is not enough to manage our family and home well.  We have to continue to pursue enjoyment in our relationship.  

6. Enjoyment is a choice. 
I am trying to intentionally approach our family's activities from a different angle and see how they respond.  When I took Ruthie to her doctor's appointment this week, I made sure we worked in a mother/daughter trip to the ice skating rink.  After Sam's basketball game, we didn't discuss what he could have done better like we normally would have.  Instead I just focused on how much I enjoyed watching him play and support his team mates.  

Another time that I am trying to enjoy more is bedtime.  It is not about the 3 steps necessary to get them to sleep but instead about those few precious moments we have together at the end of the day.  I want those to be sweet and memorable, not just accomplishing an end goal.  

7. Enjoying moments requires that we stop finding our identity in our chaos, achievements, or the achievements of our children. 
God has not called me to raise a thespian, a soccer player, or a future politician.  He has called me to raise good, God fearing people and that happens through relationship.  If I keep chasing their end achievements, I very well may miss the journey and their hearts.   

8. Another thing we are guilty of managing is our spiritual life.
There is so much to this thought that I have to bullet it. :)
  • Growing up Catholic taught me to manage my spiritual life through rituals.  The Baptist church has taught me to manage my spiritual life through church disciplines like prayer and reading my Bible.  How to enjoy God is something that I have learned on my own and am continuing  to learn.  
  • The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."  If I am a believer in Christ, my eternity starts the moment I accept Him so enjoying Him is not meant just for heaven but that forever begins now.  I don't have to wait for heaven to enjoy God. 
  • I found this quote in a puritan sermon, "It is a great matter to enjoy God's ordinances, but to enjoy God's presence in the ordinances is that which a gracious heart aspires after."
  • If you are having a hard time getting the notion of enjoying God, you are not alone.  I asked some friends how they enjoy God and here is what some of them said.  (This may help you realize that you are better at enjoying God than you thought or it may prompt so opportunities for you to pursue that enjoyment more intentionally) : 
    • Reflecting on His faithfulness in the past
    • When I am alone with Him in nature and we are talking.
    • I really like being able to ask Him for wisdom. Whether I am preparing to teach something, write an important note, on and on. And He puts thoughts in my mind that make what I'm doing so much better.
    • I communicate with him all the time sometimes in my heart sometimes out loud, and he talked back at me his own way, it can be by a friend, a family member or a stanger, I just love when he does that...
    • Laughter. Each day I look around for funny things, like God and I are on a scavenger hunt. Best part of my day!
    • I enjoy God every single time I help deliver a baby.. It's almost like looking into His eyes, just to see those precious faces and know that God is love, and that He still performs miracles!

I will bless you and wrap this up, but I hope it prompted you to think, as it has me.  Even more, I pray it prompts you to pursue enjoyment.

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