Monday, March 16, 2015

Shift the Focus

At their first game, Carson's basketball coach handed us a notecard. He asked us to fill it out with what we noticed our player doing well.  I thought it was a great idea.  We'd be able to remember all Carson's good plays and praise him for them at the end.  But there was something else Coach Fritz knew we'd do while focusing on our son.  And that was NOT focus on the referees calls, or the other team's fouls.  After the game we had a team huddle and read our index cards aloud.  Had I known we were going to make our comments public, I may not have added, "you look handsome," below Justin's "great job getting back on defense."  Carson turned a little red, but he enjoyed the compliments.

The next game we were handed an index card with another player's name.  At this game we were to write down what we saw one of Carson's teammates doing well. After the game we huddled again to read aloud our observations of the players.

I love this idea for so many reasons.  It's impossible for Coach Fritz to remember each and every great play he sees on the court, so having us divvy up the players made it possible for the them to be recognized for their good defense, shots, and ball skills.  Additionally, every player receives some kind of positive reinforcement after the game, and is called by name.  And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, moms and dads are not sitting in the bleachers, watching and critiquing their own kid.  They are forced to watch the other players, to shift their focus, and take note of what they are doing well.  Through this process I learned Carson's teammates' names, their strengths, and even got to know some of the parents on a deeper level.  

A couple weeks ago we went through a rough spell with sickness in our home.  Carson got sick first, then Jonah, then Camden.  I'll spare you the details, and just say this.  No sleep on Friday night followed by no sleep on Sunday night followed by no sleep on Tuesday night (24 hour incubation period anyone?) makes for a tired and cranky mommy.  And just when I wanted to cry and ask, "why me?" I saw a dear friend's post on FB.  Her son was in the ICU because he had the very same illness my kids had but his little system wasn't handling it very well and he was dehydrated.  She was asking for prayers for him.  I stopped what I was doing, I shifted my focus, and I prayed for Hudson.  Somehow that shift in my mindset, from my troubles to someone else's real, imminent battle, allowed me to separate from the feeling of hopelessness I was having.

I have been reading The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst.  She is so wise.  I highlighted these words of hers, when she was referring to making "best yes" decisions, "Whatever attitude we bring into a situation will be multiplied."  She says, "I can take in a houseguest, but if I don't have love, I will do nothing, accomplish nothing, be nothing but a grumpy landlord with a used-up attitude."  She is keeping with the themes of 1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol."  Have you ever seen that sign, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"?  Horrible grammar, yes, but a slogan that couldn't be more true.  When my kids get home from school, if I am in a bad mood, I am going to project my grumpiness on my kids.  If I go about my chores in an angry, frustrated way, those around me will be affected negatively.  So, this week I set out to be more positive.

As I fold laundry, I pray for the person whose clothes I am folding. I shift the focus from the mundane, monotonous act of doing laundry, to a positive life-giving prayer for my family.

As I prepare a meal, I am thankful that my hands are able, and that I am giving my family nutrition to help them be strong and ready to meet the demands of the day.  I recently asked Jonah what he will look for in a wife, and he told me, "She has to be a good cook."  Further justification that the hard work I do in the kitchen does not go unnoticed.  I shift the focus from the labor involved in preparing a meal, to the outcome: a happy, healthy family.

And when I have mountains of laundry to do, beds to make, and a dishwasher to unload, but Jonah wants to make an army fort with me?  Well, I drop what I'm doing and start building my fort.  This one comes pretty easily most of the time.  Shifting the focus from my housework to play?  Sure, no problem!

I am also reading Real Boys, a book on raising boys.  The author, William Pollack, says that as moms we need to have "connection through action."  By joining our sons in activities they enjoy--playing baseball, constructing Lego houses and army forts--we are building trust.  Some of my deepest conversations with Jonah have been while outside throwing the baseball.  And he was the one who initiated the conversation.  One minute we were making small talk about his last baseball game, and then next, he was telling me about an app some of his friends were talking about that he didn't think was appropriate.  In that moment I was able to give him some pointers on how to change the subject with his friends, and to praise him for knowing in his gut that something wasn't right and steering his focus away.  I am so thankful Jonah will talk to me about tough stuff, and I will encourage these talks by playing with him when he asks.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul goes on to say what love is, verses often heard at weddings, to describe love between a husband and wife.  But these verses also describe a mother's love...

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres." 
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

These verses describe how I want to run my household...

With love, patience, and kindness.  

I want to be a protector and to persevere.  

I have to shift my focus.  

Look outside myself.  

Focus on my other teammates.  

Start breathing life into the mundane and ordinary.  

Go play catch.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13


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