Couch Parenting

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Could you imagine if you were the coach of an NBA team, hired for the sole purpose of coaching your team to a victory, leading ultimately to a national championship and you never even left the bench? My guess is you wouldn’t be a very effective coach. You would most likely be fired for not doing your job. More than that the players wouldn’t respect you, would never feel truly led or encouraged because you’re sitting on the bench merely yelling at them to do their jobs.

Your leadership wouldn’t go very far.

This is where I found myself the other night, this is the image God gave me to teach me a lesson, and it’s a lesson many of us might need to learn. With a mass of technology to occupy our time from smart phones to laptops to tablets, family time is getting less and less and children are becoming more and more unruly, or maybe that’s just in my house? This lesson came to me as I was directing my child to go and get ready for bed. I had been busy all night, helping my oldest with a project, fixing dinner, serving dinner, cleaning up the kitchen and in between doing loads of laundry.

I was tired.

I had just plopped myself down for the first time that evening and pulled out my phone to respond to some messages. “Get up and lead her to the bath.” I knew it in my heart it was the right thing to do, but did I mention I was tired? My daughter continued to lay on the couch, not moving, not doing a single thing I said. I looked over at my husband, and he was working so I was the parent of the moment. My impatience was growing, and I felt my tone getting more and more tense. The Voice got louder, “Get up and take her to the bath!” I argued with that wisdom, “I’m tired. Why can’t she just do what I told her to do and get in the bathtub?!” Then, my heart awoke. I looked at this growing girl beside me and how she was laying up next to me, and I realized that perhaps it wasn’t disobedience keeping her from doing what I asked but a desire to be with me. That’s when God said, “You can’t pour into her from the couch. You can’t help her to know and find me while you are on your phone. You can’t show her my intentional love and attention if she reluctantly gets it from you.”

Ouch. God pinch.

Ironically, or should I say, unsurprisingly, when I reached for her hand and told her, “Come on, I’ll sit with you while you take your bath.” She didn’t hesitate. Immediately she got up, and we went to the bathroom. We had a good chat. She shared about her day, how she had been hurt by her friend, how she was wondering if God saw that moment, and I chastised myself. I could have missed those confessions, failed to have an opportunity to undo that hurt and assure her that indeed God did see that moment… Just as He saw that one.. And the one before that where I sat with my butt on the couch.

Everyday it’s a choice – to couch parent or invest. And I don’t always get it right, but when I do – the reward is a better relationship with my girls and a greater understanding of my Father.

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Choosing Discipline

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do – cycle almost 5 miles in the heat of the day, especially after suffering with side pain, heartburn, and indigestion for over a week. But, at some point I decided that I had to do something for myself, for my health, for my mental well being, and I was tired of giving in to excuses.

I admit my timing could have been better, and it was by the grace of Jesus that I made it all the way back home without A. Passing out, B. Vomiting, C. Cramping up from pain, or D. Passing out while vomiting from cramping up with pain. Literally, in my head because I was afraid if I opened my mouth B. would happen, I begged, “Jesus, get me home. Just get me home.”

I practically tumbled off the bike, groped for the door, clutched my aching body and collapsed in my chair. I needed water, but I was afraid if I moved I would black out and land on our precious dog… For which, I would never forgive myself!

After a few deep breaths and some intense prayers of thankfulness, I thought, “I can’t possibly do that again.”
Then I heard a voice I immediately dismissed, “But you have to.”
Ugh.
So I bartered, “Well, I need to work my way up to that… I didn’t get sick until about the 3rd mile, I’ll just shave down the time.
“Until it’s no time?” Challenged the voice.
Sighh.
The Voice knew me well, and the more it spoke, the better I knew IT. “It’s discipline, Les.”
Oh and now there was no doubt. “Daddy, I think I bit off more than I could feasibly chew. Besides, I’m not sure how well the bike will hold up. It’s only gonna get hotter.”
Excuses.
His response, “I know.”
I stammered back in my heart, “But… But…”
Silence.
What could I say? Another excuse, another one million and ten reasons why I made a commitment and wasn’t going to see it through. I dropped my head in defeat. “I’m gonna fail.”
Then, I felt Him smile. I imagined Him pulling me close and letting me rest my tears on His big, broad shoulders, “It’s not about whether you succeed or fail… It’s that you try again.”
I pouted, “But what if I don’t?”
And the answer came back so tenderly, “Then you let yourself down.”
My lips trembled and my hands went to cover my face in shame.
“Did you hear me, daughter?”
I nodded, “I’ll let you down.”
I swear I heard Him laugh. “Me!? I said you! You will let yourself down! You set this goal for yourself! I want to see you press on and accomplish it because I don’t want you to blame yourself a million days later for failing!”
I stopped, “But you said this was about discipline?”
He pulled me tighter, “It is. Don’t you think, if I wanted to, I could set a passion so deep in your heart for this that to miss even one day would be heartbreaking and unthinkable?”
I really hadn’t thought of that, but nothing with Him was impossible. “Could you?”
Again, I felt Him laugh, “I can. But what satisfaction and accomplishment would you feel?” (Oh this Guy and His riddles.) 🙂 “It boils down to choices, Love. You choose for yourself life or death, blessings or curses.”

And, I got it.

I choose what I do next, and as I challenge myself to move beyond my fears of what is comfortable or what seems possible, my faith grows and my confidence grows and as they grow so does the power He has placed in me! It might seem like no big deal, cycling almost 5 miles, but compared to yesterday my heart is a little stronger, my muscles a little tighter, and my spirit a little lighter. And that is one day… And as for my excuses… They may surface again… And a few days I may succumb, but I will choose to try again. After all, I don’t want to let myself down, and my Daddy has already called my number.

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