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The Coach and the Cheerleader

Parenting is one of the best and most difficult roles I have as a woman, created in God’s image, as a coach and cheerleader to my boys. Coaches have a variety of techniques and methods they choose to use with their team. In those clichéd sports movies, like Mighty Ducks, you know the ones I mean, it seems that a bit of positivity goes a long way. A team needs the right person to believe in them and encourage them to achieve their goals. In the beginning, the coach has a lot of power; power to release potential. God places value on our role as parents. It says in one of the wisdom books, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. [Prov 22:6]

Let’s look for a moment at one of my favourite fictional coaches. Coach Taylor’s famous motto: ‘Clear eyes, full hearts… Can’t Lose!’ teaches us that with clearly communicated vision, and encouragement – the kind that really penetrates the soul, the players achieve success, whether they win or lose. I’d like to think God would agree with this. If we teach our kids to see the world as He does, they learn to seek his will. If they know who they are as His child, they seek his will for their lives. It produces in them character worthy of praise.

It can be overwhelming as a coach at times. We often see our kids as miniature versions of ourselves and let's face it, in some ways, they are! But just as we're made in the image of Our Father with potential to be like him, we have weaknesses and fall short of his holiness daily. I know that our role, like our Heavenly Father, is vast and varied. Sometimes, we're co-laboring; we are on the same team, playing alongside our kids. And other times, it's our job to be their biggest cheerleader.

Cheerleaders on the other hand, they rally. It’s their job! They have endless supplies of energy and passion. If we could harness just a little of that energy and passion about who our children will become and seek God’s will for their lives, what a difference we could make! If we encourage them, see their potential, speak words of life and love over them, and then step back and watch them soar. When the game gets tougher, cheerleaders don’t run onto to field to ‘help’ the players, they cheer louder and harder from the sidelines. It’s hard to watch from the sidelines sometimes, isn’t it?

Here are a couple of things that help me to fix my eyes on Jesus in those moments or seasons.

1. Pray. Start by thanking God for this day, your home, your family and in particular your children. Ask him to give you all you need in each moment. Ask him to go before you and prepare the way in your day. Praying specifically into and over your children's lives, brings plentiful bounty. You ensure you & God are on the same page, you gain access to abundant grace, and I find, it focuses my eyes on seeing my kids the way he does. I am a fan of the super succinct and very poignant, Lysa TerKeurst, who recently said,

Today has been one of those really challenging days...

With all I worry about that I do wrong [as a mum], praying is something I know I do right. Praying helps me feel not so alone on this mothering journey. Praying connects me with God’s tender truth and gentle inspiration every time.

2. Look after yourself -. I am just like my toddler. I need sleep and lots of it. I need to prioritise this in order to continually love my kids. They prefer calm, relaxed mummy, not grumpy mummy. She's not fun. I also need food. I need to have less of those quickly-get-them-fed, dressed and out-the-door mornings. Food stops me from becoming easily angered. And at the end of the day, we make dinner a priority for our whole family. We sit at the table and eat and chat together. And also like a toddler I need play time. Whether it's brekky with a girlfriend or a date with my hubby, it too is scheduled in so that when I'm with our boys they get the very best version of their mama.

3. Get to know them – It sounds odd. They’re my kids, of course I know them! But they’re full of surprises. I once heard it said, ‘I don't love my kids equally, I love them uniquely’. I had to think about that. I think the intention was to place significance on the uniqueness of each of our children. For example, my first born is curious, shy, ordered, and a deep thinker. My second child is outgoing, brave, determined, cheeky and hilarious. They both have amazing qualities, but sometimes the nature or 'natural' as they were created, needs to be nurtured. I don't expect my eldest to be bold and enthusiastic about going on adventures, but I would love it if he could smile and say ‘hello’ with confidence as he enters a room. I don't expect my little one to calmly organize his cars and trains in the rainbow spectrum (as his older brother did at his age) because he wants to crash them and drive them in the dirt. One loves creating, the other loves the outdoors. They both love superheroes and imaginary play. We build tents and go on adventures, read stories, play games & watch movies together. We find the common ground and encourage them to see and appreciate each other’s differences. I look forward to our journey ahead seeing them grow in their appreciation of each other too.

I love walking alongside them and being part of the growth they experience as they become the men God wants them to be. This year, Mr 5 started Kindergarten. And I have to admit, I was fearful for him. He doesn't like new things, new places, new people all that much. But, he has started school with enthusiasm and great courage. He loves it! As a teacher and a mum, this is something I had desired but not necessarily expected for him.

And back on my first point, his start at school goes to show how powerful prayer is. How the supernatural God reigns. Never underestimate the groundwork and hours of prayer you put into your kids. We did our best to prepare him for the independence and maturity expected of him at school, and he has surprised and in many ways, surpassed our expectations. The varied personalities in our household bring adventure and lots of opportunities to learn and grow together.

Coach or Cheerleader, no matter the season… Trust God with your kids. He knows them and loves them more than we do. He is the perfect parent and he knows what he’s doing with each of us. Marley Conomy, "grew up as a pastors' daughter with a great desire to know my Creator through his word and to love people. I'm wife to my creative, inspiring man, Bradley, and mama to two little superheroes, Ryder (5) and Franklin (18months). I mostly stay at home being mama and homemaker, but am also privileged to teach Primary students in a local school Part Time, where I am free to share Jesus with the children in my care."

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