Simple Bounty

Finding Beauty, Grace and Sanity in a Busy World

Getting Intentional About Relationships September 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — katieosborne @ 2:47 pm
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I love late summer and early fall. For me, much more than the start of a new calendar year or the first buds of spring, fall is a time of new beginnings – probably because I always loved the start of each new school year. I feel most alive in the fall – the crisp air, the last of the harvest, the knowledge that we will soon be tucked away indoors for quieter days. I am determined this year to become more intentional in my relationships. I say this to myself from time to time, but it is becoming apparent to me lately just how important this undertaking is. I am naturally independent and introverted, and it is therefore easy for me to isolate myself and neglect nurturing my relationships. But that is not how God intends me to live, and to be honest, it is not really how I want to live, though it is in many ways easier.

I do crave relationship and connection, it is just not something that comes naturally to me. God made us relational creatures. I am made for intimacy with others. I desire to know and be known, yet relationship building is hard work – emotional and sometimes uncomfortable work – and sometimes, oftentimes, it’s easier not to. I am not the type to become fast friends with someone. It’s a slow process that, for me, involves shedding self-consciousness, learning to trust, allowing my façade to give way to a willing vulnerability and honesty. I long to be free of those hindrances in my relationships, but getting to that place where I can be comfortable, at ease, my real self, can be intimidating.  And in the day to day of life with toddlers and a home to care for, it is easy to put off my relationships because honestly, the work around here never ends. There’s always more to do. But God does not call me to have a perfectly clean house; he does however call me to be in relationship with others. That is important work – hard work – good work.

I have a hard time finding balance in life. Whether it’s a week long sewing binge that causes me to neglect responsibilities around the house or whether it is striving for a pristine home at the neglect of my kids, it seems I tend toward extremes. I get very involved in one thing. Because I am rather driven by guilt and by the need to be (or at least appear) perfect in order to prove my worth (something I’ve been ruminating on recently – perhaps a post sometime down the road) – anyway, because of those factors, I focus too much on trying to keep up with my house – probably because that is a very tangible measure of how hard I am working. And having a relatively clean home is important, to be sure, but I can become focused on that to a fault (although you probably wouldn’t guess it since if you walk into our home on any given day, you’re likely to find a mess of some sort, likely many sorts). Then I can be irritated if my kids need me too much (whatever that means!) or I can neglect to allow myself any leisure time to refuel and do something enjoyable, all because I have made crossing off tasks on my to-do list my definition of success.

So, the trick is to find the balance between taking care of my home and taking care of my relationships -to take the time and energy to connect with others on a meaningful level. I am getting out my calendar, and I am planning time to cultivate relationships with people who are important to me! What a tragedy it would be for me to get to the end of my life and regret all the missed opportunities to connect, really connect with those I love and those I could have grown to love.

Serving a to-do list is no way to live. God calls us to serve one another, and I can do that best when I am nurturing my relationships and taking the time to appreciate God’s gift of friendship.

 

Humbled and Challenged (Part 1) April 12, 2008

Filed under: Family Life — katieosborne @ 3:00 am
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I am in the process of reading two books; both are challenging my self perception and my attitudes regarding how I relate to my family. I don’t want to be lazy with these books. I want to mull them over, embrace the ideas and apply them to my life. It is so easy to read a book, say, “that was great,” and fail to apply any of it. What a waste. That happens far to often with me.

Our Bible study has been reading Love and Respect. The basic premise is that women desire love above all things and men desire respect. Oftentimes, what causes marital strife is the spouses’ failure to give their partner their love/respect.

I love Ben, and I greatly respect him. I am blessed to have a husband who is easy to respect in so many ways. And yet, I am beginning to realize how much I fall short, and how, though I do respect him, I fail to truly give that respect through my attitudes and actions.

When I step back to look at myself, I realize how easy it is for me to be controlling – to think that my way is best and try to micromanage. And I’ve never really stopped to think about it, but I think I probably get my way a lot of the time. Ben is very gracious about not criticizing me and pointing out my flaws in this area. I know I must drive him nuts at times, yet he bears with me. Ben is the head of the house, but I am coming to see that I don’t really honor him and show him respect and appreciation for his role because I am so busy running my agenda.

It’s not as though I am actively doing this. I am not trying to be manipulative in order to get my way. I don’t actively think about getting my way, but I think I live with the mindset that things should be how I want them. I don’t think I really strive to partner with Ben, and that makes me sad. When one is single, she can have life as she wants it, no compromise necessary. But I’m not single and haven’t been for some time. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t an area of contention in our marriage. We’re both pretty easygoing and adaptable, and I think that smooths a lot of marital bumps. It’s just that I realize for the first time that by wanting things my way, even if I don’t voice this and it’s primarily internal, I’m not respecting Ben. I am sending the message that if my way is best, then his way is not. It’s mostly the little, and often unimportant, daily things. That’s what most of decision making is. It’s not like we sit down nightly to do major decision-making.

Perhaps I don’t usually come across as disrespectful in this manner, but I am certain I could be more respectful. Learning to bite my tongue and resisting the urge to micromanage will go along way to improve our relationship and make Ben feel more respected.

The book talks about 1 Peter 3:1-2 which refers to winning your husband with “chaste and respectful behavior.” The author says “if you’re in conflict [you should] remain respectful and quiet as you distance yourself a bit instead of preaching, lecturing, or criticizing” (p. 220). This will draw your husband to you instead of pushing him further away and will allow you both to work through the situation. I can certainly take a lesson from this advice. I don’t think I ever really learned how to have an arguement, and I think I can be very immature when we have disagreements. I want so much for Ben to understand me, to get what I’m saying, and yes, to see the light and agree with me. This desire motivates me to run my mouth and get a bit pouty in order to get my way. In order, I suppose, to persuade Ben to give in. I am not skilled in coming to a decision through compromise, and I’m certainly not gracious about bending to Ben’s headship when a decision can’t be reached.

I’m afraid I am just foolishly childish sometimes, and I don’t want to be that. I need to see beyond my own little world and really strive to be more than I am.

I guess this is enough for now. I didn’t even touch on the other book I’m reading, The Mission Of Motherhood. I’ll be back with part two, and perhaps three or more as I continue to read and think about what I am learning.

 

Oh Be Careful Little Hands… January 29, 2008

Filed under: Parenting — katieosborne @ 3:41 pm
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Ben and I decided before Jonas was born that we would not spank our children. We just don’t believe that it is productive, and in fact, it can be a detriment to a child’s development. I have spent a lot of time reading about spanking in the context of a Christian home, and despite what many people believe, I am thoroughly convinced that the Bible in no way commands that parents discipline their children by spanking them; and in fact I believe the Bible supports a much more gentle approach to child rearing, but that is a topic for another post.

Lately, I’ve just been thinking about the ways parents interact with their children when correction is needed, and in particular what happens when parents choose to react to misbehavior in a physical manner.

Toddlers hit, push, take toys…They need to be taught how to treat others and learn why it’s not okay to do these things. Adult reaction to these behaviors is often physical. They resort to hand slaps, spankings and being physically rough (ie forcefully grabbing the child by the arm, etc). I understand how frustrating toddlers can be and how they can push your buttons which makes it hard to keep your anger in check, but I think there are much more productive ways to approach children.

I simply cannot get past the fact that there is a complete double standard. We don’t want children to hit and hurt others, and yet, oftentimes parents hit and hurt their children as a response to bad behavior. How this is supposed to extinguish the bad behavior is beyond me. Children learn how to interact with the world by observing their parents. If it’s okay for grownups to be physical when problems arise, why isn’t it okay for toddlers? Parents who resort to this kind of discipline, especially on a regular basis, are teaching their children that problems are solved through anger and violence. Sadly, they miss the opportunity to teach valuable life skills. It certainly is easier to punish, but what does it accomplish? Perhaps immediate compliance, but I venture to say not much more. 

It seems that many people think reason is wasted on toddlers. I find that sad. Of course they may not be able to grasp everything, especially if we don’t keep it simple, but I think more than anything, approaching our children in love and gentleness when they misbehave shows them that problems can be addressed in a reasonable and calm way. They do watch and listen, and our actions make a huge impact on them. How do we teach them to show kindness and gentleness when wronged when we don’t give it to them when they are in the wrong? How do we teach them to empathize without showing them empathy? How do we teach them how to forgive others if we do not have a spirit of forgiveness?

This does not mean we let our kids run wild and overlook their error. On the contrary, they need to be made aware of their wrong, and most importantly, they need to come to understand why they were wrong. It makes sense to me that they would be most open to our correction when they can trust us not to yell or hit or demean – when we try to look at the situation through the eyes of a toddler and show some understanding when we correct them. Kids don’t need to be made to feel bad to learn. I certainly learn many things without feeling bad. It also often takes some time before I master a new skill or come to a full understanding of a new concept. Why should we expect children to learn any quicker? And yet, we do. We are easily frustrated when they throw their food from the highchair repeatedly or lash out when a toy is taken from them again. It is foolish and completely unrealistic to expect more from them than we do ourselves.

It’s not my intent to criticize. Parenting is hard work. Most of us were raised with some degree of punitive discipline, and we do what we know. We love our kids, and we do the best we can. Oftentimes though, our children deserve better.