Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Play Catch

Splish! Splash! My kids were trying to see who could make the biggest kaboom by doing cannonballs in our neighborhood pool.  A few parents and I lounged around the pool growing tired as the day came to a close.  Dusk is one of my favorite parts of the day.  All of the neighborhood kids were having a great time playing in the pool together.

One family particularly caught my attention.  A mom and her 6 year old boy entered the pool gate together.  As soon as they found a patio table and chairs to set down their belongings, the boy leaped into the pool, jumping in as far as he could.  As soon the boy came up out of the water, the mom threw a hand ball to him.  The boy instinctively caught the ball in the air and threw it right back to his mom.  Without one word spoken, the mom and boy began to play catch.  I could tell that they do this a lot - they were catching some tough throws.  It reminded me of a golden retriever and his master playing catch in the park.

I realized that the mom had found a point of connection with her son.

He was an active boy, but maybe not a social one.  Not talkative.  He thrived on physical activity.  I have seen some 6 year olds who are still conjuring up the courage to swim alone.  They want to stay close to their parents.  I've seen other kids who don't care to go swimming at all.  They prefer to play with their ipod or their game boy.  Other kids are loud - you always know where they are because they are the loudest voice of the group.

This mom had paid attention to the unique personality and make up of her son, and she had learned to adapt to what his needs were.  I don't know if this mom was just without her husband, or if she was divorced.  I don't know if the boy had a good relationship with his dad.  I don't even know if the boy had even met his dad before.  What I did see were smiles on their faces and a sense of enjoyment and peace between them.  The mom had learned what made her son tick, and she connected with him on that level.

This touched me deeply.  

Every child is different - uniquely formed by God - for a unique purpose for Him.  Children need love. They need acceptance.  Before they need coaching and correction, they first need to feel secure.  They find that through intimate connection with their parents.  Most of us who are parents struggle to find that connection with our kids.  Many times, it is hit or miss.  We think that if we make Christmas and birthday huge, that we have met all of their desires.  After all, when we ask them what they want, they tell us TOYS! (Actually now, it's ipods and expensive stuff :))

However, what they are looking for is a way to communicate and connect with us on a deeper, more instinctive level.  For some, it's playing sports and games together.  For others, it's trips with you to the mall or the hardware store - they learn from you as they are with you.  For some, it's time with mom cooking in the kitchen or time with dad out mowing the lawn (to you it's work - to them, it's a joy.) Most kids LOVE when you put them to bed and tell them a story, ask them about their day, and share some kind words of affirmation and encouragement.  (My kids STILL like me to lay by them every night!)

Your child has a certain way they connect - based on their unique personality.  They NEED connection with you.  The best gift you can give your children is your time and your undivided attention.

Start playing catch with your child.  If you find they are not interested in that, try other things.  You will soon find something that you can do with them that builds a connection and puts a smile on their face - and your face :)


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reach Higher

Most people stop dreaming, stop growing and stop reaching at some point in their life.  It may be that they reached a certain point of success and grew comfortable with what became familiar to them.  Or, it may be that they tried something new and failed miserably.  So, they lost the will or confidence to try again.  There are some who have never even dared to think beyond their current reality.  It could be that they were discouraged or intimidated by family or friends early in life.  Tragically, they have accepted their life to be reduced to surviving and enduring.

Whatever group you associate with, you may be at a place where you have plateaued.  You are  managing the same routine.  Everything in your week is predictable.  No surprises. You look forward to when the day ends and you can go home to a hot dinner.  The most exciting event in your week is when the new tv series comes on Thursdays at 8 PM.  This is NOT all that life has to offer.

Real living begins with the chase.  Adventure is found on the journey.  Boundaries are discovered by testing the limits.

Are you living?

If you feel uncomfortable by this challenge, then I am glad.  :)

For me, I know that I need a gentle jolt and a tender tug from others every once in a while to help me break out of a rut and think riskier.  Most of the time, I don't self-initiate this kind of thinking for myself.-and I definitely don't naturally want to push myself to "attack" life in this manner.  Self discipline can be hard for me, especially in the weak areas of my life.

I need a coach.

When I was in school, I had all kinds of coaches.  School teachers, athletic coaches, piano teachers, youth pastors, parents, guidance counselors.  I had role models that I looked up to.  I had older people who took an interest in me.  Some of these coaches I loved.  Some I did not like.  At the time, I thought that they pushed me too hard, or demanded too much.  All of them shaped my life.  From some, I learned character, commitment, and how to treat people.  From others, I learned that I had more in me than I thought.  From some, I learned WHAT NOT TO DO - these were invaluable lessons for me, as I would learn to avoid their mistakes and weaknesses.

In my current stage of life, I have assumed the role of coach and mentor for so many.  However, I am so keenly aware of the need for continual coaching in my own life.  The more I learn, the more I realize  I DO NOT know.  I see the need to find others who will coach me.  Those who will encourage me and also (and more importantly) correct me, challenge me, evaluate me, and hold me accountable to my mission and objectives.

One discipline that I have developed is self-coaching: reading and studying every day.  Taking classes and being in growth programs.  I have learned to journal, to reflect, to ask good questions.  I have learned to pray differently and to memorize scripture and good quotes.  I have learned to dedicate more time to preparing for every event, meeting, and speaking engagement I have scheduled.  However, there is nothing that replaces having a coach who will speak truth and will give you honest observations from their perspective.

If you are at a plateau, and you want to reach higher for your dreams, start with inviting a few trusted people to speak into your life.  Before you meet with them, develop a few honest questions to ask them about yourself.  Prepare yourself emotionally to be open and receptive.  Humble yourself...but also encourage yourself.  Believe me - you're going to need it!  Let me in encourage you - the process is worth it! Embrace it.  Thank the people for their investment.  Give yourself permission to process through all of these new thoughts and perspectives.  Be pliable and unguarded.  Admit that you have some things that are broken or unfinshed.  Know that God wants to do something fresh and beautiful in your life.

Your best days are not behind you! Your future is bright!

Reach Higher -