This weekend, for 24 hours, we got to get away from the busyness of life, and a bit of a messy home, and enjoy some priceless time with friends at a Parenting Conference that our church hosted. We stayed at a very nice Marriott Hotel, ate WONDERFUL food, and spent some great time learning about raising Godly children. What a blessing this was to not only myself, but Aaron, as we are gearing up for the transition of a lifetime!
Friday night, we heard from Todd Wagner, the pastor at Watermark, who gave great insight into:
1. Providing LIFE
2. Providing LOVE
3. Providing LEADERSHIP
He spoke about the importance of providing leadership, and instilling leadership qualities in our kids, so that they will grow up to impact the world in dramatic ways for Christ. One of the most influential things Todd said, that really resounded in my heart, was that we as parents (or soon to be parents) have the opportunity to give our kids either a great burden to overcome, or to disciple them well and give them leadership qualities. Looking back on my childhood, I know how much my mom loved me, and desired for me to have the best life possible, but as always, there were many obstacles that I have had to overcome over the past ten years of my life as an adult. We are imperfect people, and so there will always be obstacles, but I would rather go in to parenting with the mindset that I am going to "...train up my child the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it..." rather than hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Todd also outlined different parenting styles, which I thought was very interesting and wanted to post up here. Here it is:
Also, he encouraged us to make a plan for essential greatness and gave us his vision for his kids...
1. Step Up (Ezekiel 22)
2. Speak Out (Proverbs 24:11-12)
3. Stand Firm (1 Cor. 15:58)
4. Stay Humble (1 Peter 5:5-6)
5. Serve the King (Mark 10:45)
1. Serve first (Mark 10:43)
2. Speak faithfully (Genesis 2:18)
3. Show beauty (Proverbs 31:30)
4. Stay Humble (1 Peter 5:5-6)
5. Seek God (Matthew 6:33)
After Todd spoke, we were GREATLY entertained by the christian comedian, Tim Hawkins. He was also the entertainment for our bi-annual volunteer appreciation night at Watermark back in May, and let me just say, I don't know that I have EVER laughed so hard in my entire life!! He truly is absolutely hilarious and clean as well, which makes the experience so much more enjoyable!! Free plug here: http://www.timhawkins.net/
Saturday, we had the opportunity to choose three breakout sessions before the final session. The first one we chose was Preparing to Parent. This one was so encouraging to my heart because although most couples go through "pre-marital" counseling, there's not really and "pre-children" counseling offered out there! We learned the importance, not just in this session, but in all five sessions, the importance of our own personal relationship with the Lord, and how that is what spills over into our kids lives more than anything else. During this particular session, valuable things were spoken about the roles of the mother and father.
1. Children need both mom and dad, and He has designed us to be different.
2. Fathers parent differently.
3. Fathers play differently. Dads encourage independence. Moms encourage security.
4. Fathers build confidence. Dads encourage pushing the limits. Moms protect.
5. Fathers communicate differently. Dads provide direct communication. Moms are more descriptive and personal.
6. Fathers discipline differently. Dads provide justness, fairness and duty. Moms provide sympathy, care and help. It's more like rules vs. relationships. Both sides are necessary.
7. Fathers relate differently. Dads relate the child to the world. Moms see the rest of the world in relation to their child. Dads prepare and Moms protect.
8. Fathers are different. Dads teach their boys how to relate to women with respect.
The final thoughts from this session that both apply to mom and dad are
1. Pursue Christ Yourself (Col. 1:10)
2. Pursue Your Wife (Eph. 5:25)
3. Pursue Prayer as a Couple (Col. 4:2)
4. Pursue the Word of God (Col. 3:16)
5. Pursue Forgiveness (1 Thes. 5:14-22)
The 2nd session we attended was Early Childhood Discipline. I won't go on and on about this one, just because I know each and every parent has different methods that work specifically for them and their children, and I don't want this to become a debte issue. But just a few highlights that I found encouraging to me was:
1.) take the time to remember the fun times with your kids, whether you journal about it, blog about it, scrapbook about it, whatever way works best for you, take time to remember the little things.
2.) There are no formulas or easy answers!
3.) Our primary responsibility as parents is to mdel a life full of devition to Jesus Christ such that our children will find it easy to believe that God loves them and that His way is teh best way.
4.) Celebrate when your kids are Christlike!!
5.) It will be easier to let them get away with things, but that's not always the right or most beneficial way for them
6.) Commit to consistency & choose your battles carefully.
Our model: The Lord's Discipline...
-Is always motivated by LOVE
-Is proof that we are His children
-Always has our best interest in mind
The last breakout session was Parenting Young Children. This session was particularly insightful for me, as a mom (to-be) because there were many different "home styles" that were explained. This helped me understand better my growing up as well as allowing me to have a visual of what style home I want to provide for our children. I'll go through these quickly, but I do want to share them because what Blake & Rebecca had us do was to think about which one of these each of our own parents did. It was very eye opening to me, just to be able to put the puzzle pieces together between Todd's parenting styles given Friday night, and then these home styles given. It helped me to have a better understanding of some of my own personal struggles growing up, as well as the good and bad things that happened in my childhood. Here are the home styles Blake & Rebecca talked about...
1. An Amusement Park
-Characteristics: Fun times
-"No" is seldom heard
-Lack of discipline
-No appreciation for delayed gratification
2. An Airport
-Characteristics: Complete Busyness, Problem saying "No" to activities
-Preoccupied with what lies ahead
-Anxiety & Stress - watch the pace of each child because they are all different
3. A Zoo
-Characteristis - no clear "chain of command"
-Confusion over roles...You are the parent!
-Little regard for boundaries
4. A Business
-Characteristics - worldly values
-Aiming for Success, no significance
-"Right Schools" and GPAs
5. A Nursery
-Characteristics - constant manipulation of situations in life, tries to keep ALL bad things away
-Tendency to prepare the parth for the child rather than the child for the path
6. An Embassy
-Characteristics - Godly home where the Lord is put first in everything
-Aiming for greatness
The final session was taught by Kyle Kaigler, the pastor of Family Ministry at Watermark. He shared about the Foundation of Family Ministry and what Watermark will be embarking on in the near future with starting a whole ministry focused on families. It was so exciting to hear the vision of what they have planned and I truly feel like Aaron and I are in the best place for this time because by the time everything gets up and rolling, our kids will be old enough to understand family values and what worship really is.
Overall, this was a wonderful weekend, not just to get away, but to be given such encouragement by others who have gone before us, who are seeking out the best from the Lord, who desire to teach what the Lord would have us learn as parents, and the push to grow strong, Godly leaders for this next generation!
Thank you Lord, for the blessing of children, for the blessing of your Word, and how you instruct us to live and grow as parents. Help Aaron and I to constantly run to you with questions, as I do know there will be many of them! Give us your strength to endure the hardships that come with parenting, and the awareness of the blessings in life through parenting!
Be Blessed and Encouraged!