Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Your Best Is Good Enough

Pressure cookers, do you remember those, does anybody even still use them? I feel like this is the world we live in. A big vat of stresses, bubbling and boiling, adding more and more pressure until there is nothing left of us but a big pot of mushed stew.

Sadly I don't believe this is just our world anymore but the place our children are finding themselves in as well. As the public school system becomes less about education and more about preparation for a standardized test there is very nearly a demand for high scores. Outside of the classroom, in all of their extra curricular activities, and sometimes even within our homes, it is quite literally all around them. Whether it is perceived on our children's part or not they think they have to perform perfectly for coaches and teachers. They feel the need to outshine the competition, best a friend, prove their worth to an enemy. 

I hope my own children learn soon to be comfortable with one very important thing, something they will always have at their disposal and the one thing I do expect from them, their absolute best...that there is honor in this, that they can take pride in this, that nobody, no matter the end result, can take this from them!

Your best, is a rule in our home! It is also our mantra, one our kids may even tire of hearing, but I feel, cannot be repeated enough. When one of our children comes home disappointed after an athletic competition or with test results they are not pleased with (or a teacher is not pleased with) whether it is a 45 or a 95, we always ask, "did you try your best?" If their answer is yes we assure them that that is good enough and we are very proud. I have recently realized the importance of taking this same course when they are excited about their accomplishments. I want them to understand, our pride is not wrapped up in their success but in them committing all they can to whatever they do. That, is all any of us can do and it should always be good enough!

Your Children's best is good enough. Your best as a parent, is good enough. Your best as an employee, is good enough. Your best as a wife or husband, is good enough. Your best as a daughter or son, is good enough. Your best is all you have got, once you have given that there is no need for more. Have you done your best? Then that is good enough!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When Strengths Hide It's Time To Go Seek

My Elyse is  absolutely precious. If you have met her you likely know this already. We got lucky with this one for sure.

She is always so very helpful, and when she goes above and beyond I have been known to throw a little cash her way.

This spring break was such a time. She went out of her way to help out around the house and so I gave her a little bit of spending money. This led to a slightly uncomfortable conversation with her, not so much younger brother.

Isaiah wanted to know why the money, and then why her and not him, and then how she was any more helpful than he was... Oy vey, and a slew of other interjections!

How to explain in careful words how very unhelpful your son is?! How when I ask you to do something (that isn't an order just a, "hey would  you mind") you readily say, "no thanks!" How I don't count that as favorably obliging. How your standard of the absolute bare minimum is not what I look at and think, "wow...well done!"

But I tried, I had that difficult conversation. I think he caught on. He reminded me a very few instances where he did indeed lend a hand (all of which, on my mental calculator, added up to about a dimes worth). I could tell that, though he got what I was saying, and maybe even agreed somewhat, he was feeling kind of worthless and I was feeling kind of shamed. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how he was worth less because he did less yet still manage to be my same amazing kid! He wasn't bad! He wasn't doing anything wrong, wasn't breaking any rules, ignoring any orders. Elyse deserved her money, no doubt, it was well earned. But then again, it is her strength. She has a servants heart and she is compassionate to the bone. If she can sense I am not feeling well she will do anything she can to make life easier for me. If I am tied up with one chore, she will run to take care of another one for me. I love this about her. It is her gift, her calling even, and it is so in my face all the time, smoothing my way, taking a load off my shoulders. It can't be missed. Isaiah has amazing strengths as well. So does Elijah, and also Hannah. I could burn up my key board listing them all.

Because Isaiah's gifts don't always lend themselves to relieving my stress, they sometimes go unnoticed, under appreciated. I decided right then and there to take a few moments to encourage him in those very things, to praise him and tell him what a blessing he is. I am not sure if money is the way to go. Monetary compensation for hard work is an age old practice, that makes sense. Money just for being cool... I am not so sure about. But I can certainly find ways honor this little man's pursuit of the talents God has given him.

He is courageous, more so than any young man I know. Though he struggles with embarrassment over his Tourette's and compulsions, he strives to make others comfortable with it. He chooses to believe the very best about people. Where some would feel mocked and bullied he gives the benefit of the doubt, and calls it curious. He possesses a quiet and watchful spirit. He listens, observes, is slow to react.

Isaiah's strengths may not stand out and force me to take notice. Often times our children's (or husband's) gifts may need to be sought out, brought out, and had their time in the spot light. Sometimes they are hidden away, other times they may be messy and even a little less convenient, like with my Elijah, the relentless inventor. But they are all deserving of our recognition and praise, and maybe some creative form of compensation if you think it is fitting. In any case please learn from my mistakes, be careful not to let the strengths that bolster your own life over shadow those that don't. They will be somebody else's pillar one day and the less cracks the better.