Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

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You know that thing where people attempt things they’ve seen on Pinterest and fail miserably and hashtag “nail it” on Instagram? Well I had 2 such moments this weekend as I attempted to embrace Easter mom awesomeness.

I’ve got these two friends. We’ll call them Shmannon and Shmulia. And they are awesome. And lest you think I’m doing that thing where I play up another’s strengths but am secretly making fun of it, let me assure you, I genuinely mean they are awesome. From the birth of my first child I have gone to these 2 friends for much advice as I’ve attempted to figure out how one does this mom thing.

These friends are pretty different from one another, and from me, but one thing they have in common is that they are both super intentional with traditions and memory-making with their families. They do it in different ways, but both place a ton of value on making lasting and meaningful memories with their kids as they raise them into adulthood.

I want to be more like this and so I often watch what they do and attempt to emulate their memory making efforts. So this Easter weekend found me deciding to make Easter magical and meaningful for goodness sake, and these two lovely ladies provided my source material. Each year I have watched them do the following with their big families:

From one family, it’s the Easter egg decorating. With 5 kids ranging from 19 to 9, you’d think the egg decorating would have subsided, but no, it’s still a thing, and all their kids love it. And each year I think, gosh, we should do this. Look at how much fun those kids are still having. My kids need these memories!!

From the other family, it’s the Resurrection rolls. You know, those rolls you bake marshmallows into and they magically disappear when you bake them so that the insides of the rolls are empty, like the empty tomb.  And every year I think, surely this can’t be too hard…and it seems like fodder for such meaningful  conversations with one’s children about what the resurrection means and why it’s important. Let’s do this kids!

Every year I think it, but I don’t follow through. But this year, for some perplexing reason, I decided it was the year I would stop being lame and start doing fun things with my kids. These kids need some memories, gosh darn it, and I’m providing them. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN.

There was also the fact that I’ve been a little grumpy with them lately and was possibly a bit motivated by guilt. Let’s replace the grumpy mommy memories with some fun mommy memories, guys.

Now let me just pause and remind everyone that because my husband is a pastor, I do a lot of solo parenting on Easter weekend, which I don’t mind, but it does maybe mean I shouldn’t try to tackle large “fun” activities by myself on Sunday morning at 9:30am. Just maybe.

But I wasn’t really thinking and so I forged ahead with this plan to do awesome fun things this year.

Hence last night’s egg decorating…adventure.  The eggs got decorated. And only one cracked. But at one point I growled “STOP TOUCHING THE CUPS OF EGG DYE PLEASE” in a scary voice and all kids looked at me with terror in their eyes. And I was still removing glitter from Titus’ hair this morning. And certain eggs turned out like this…

…Which is less than impressive. What is even happening here.

And then this morning, though I hadn’t yet done my hair and I knew I was pushing it on time, I decided we HAD to make these resurrection rolls. I won’t go into the grizzly details, but let’s just say one child was fake crying the entire time and I led my kids in a deep conversation about the empty tomb that ended with the question “Ok, but can I eat this marshmallow that’s covered in cinnamon sugar, please?”

Also, these are the ugliest rolls you’ve ever seen (And that cookie sheet is in rough shape. Yikes).

Guys. I seriously nailed it.

But, you know, the funny thing is that my kids, in spite of how messy I felt everything was, LOVED that we did these things. One even prayed that she was so glad we decorated eggs. They were thrilled to open the rolls (ugly though they were), and find that, indeed, the tomb was empty. And I know that next year as Easter approaches, they will be begging to do it all again.

And, to get a bit more serious for a minute, doing fun things with kids just is a lot of work, and the reason I avoid it isn’t because I’m “just not that type of mom,” although I’ll say that sometimes. Usually it’s just because I don’t want to make the effort it takes to pull it off.

But it’s during these memory making moments that the good stuff generally happens. There’s room for questions and chatting and building closeness. Even though it doesn’t always feel like it in the moment, these activities all strung together make for a childhood of family togetherness, something worth fighting for.

And particularly this weekend, with the celebration of the resurrection, these conversations we have, as chaotic as they feel, are really important. It’s vital that these kids not be only hearing these things in the church classroom. The home is where they find out how that theology mingles with every day messy life.

So even though I’m exhausted from all of these Easter shenanigans, I’m glad we made room for them, and I intend to do it all again next year. But maybe not an hour before we go to church.

Small Miracles

Nov
2016
30

posted by on Adoption, Faith, Joy, Parenting, Prayer

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This morning one of my children woke me up before everyone else and the two of us went downstairs and settled on the couch to stare at the Christmas tree, me with all my coffee, her with all her words.

She wanted to read to me from a book she had finished the night before (Mercy Watson, in case you’re wondering, and kids go nuts for these books…I recommend). I asked her what the book was about and she told me.

This doesn’t sound interesting or remarkable, but in fact, this little moment was huge in our home. Because this little one was adopted at age 5 and has huge mountains to climb in order to catch up. Thus far she has shown little excitement about reading, and I’ve never been able to get her to tell me about what she’s read.

So when she tells me that Mercy is a pig who gets scared and searches for buttered toast and all the hijinks that ensue, my heart swells and I praise the Lord. Here is an answer to prayer, seemingly small, but gigantic in my eyes.

But here’s the thing, this progress wasn’t made in some dramatic, miraculous way. It’s been the slow and steady work of three years. Evaluations, adjustments, making mistakes, trying again. God’s guiding us on the slow journey through all of this.

It’s easy to dismiss these moments as just the product of a lot of hard work. As a Christian, even though I profess trust in a sovereign and working and planning God, I often forget to see His hand weaving these small moments together.

I think it’s also tempting to ONLY see God when He does the big impossible things. He cures cancer or provides the money at just the right time or changes the hard heart or restores the broken marriage.

He certainly works like this. I’ve personally witnessed all of the above and stood in awe of His hand at work to do what man could never do. But I’ve felt the frustration of Him not moving in all other areas in this same way.

Why doesn’t He just fix everything all at once? Why do I still battle sin? Why the sickness and the struggle and the pain?

The answer to the above is essentially I don’t know because I’m not God, and there’s a big theological answer to the whole thing but it essentially boils down to us trusting that He knows what He’s doing and can do it better than we can. This is what it means to believe.

As I’ve grown in my faith and gotten older, I’ve learned to rest and wait on his grace to show up in the small and surprising moments instead of constantly searching for the miracle. The miracles come, but the little moments come much more frequently, and they are so sweet.

Talking to my 8 year old about a fictional pig this morning, I remembered that He’s caring for all the little concerns in my life, that I oughtn’t give up on Him working, and that His goodness and beauty can be seen everywhere and at all times, if I’m just willing to look.

 

 

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About 8 years ago, when I was pregnant with Reagan, I was told that I needed to choose a pediatrician. I realize I should have assumed as much, but I remember thinking, “I do?” As though I were going to magically have a doctor for my kids without actually doing anything about it.

I don’t remember specifics, but I know I made that decision as I make many decisions, somewhat haphazardly and distractedly. I think I chose our pediatrician mostly because my friend Carey, whose kids I had babysat, loved him. And I’m a lot like Carey so I figured he was probably my cup of tea.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in the waiting room with baby Reagan a few months later that I realized people actually take this decision very seriously. There was a pregnant woman sitting across from me, and after a few minutes of chatting I realized she was essentially there to interview this office and this doctor. And that she was doing so with multiple pediatricians before making her decision.

Oh. Should I have done that??

This is how I feel much of the time. As though I missed a mom memo that tells me how to be super dialed into my kids’ health. Instead, I am the person who only goes to the doctor if it’s absolutely, 100% necessary. Like there needs to be blood or a very high fever or difficulty breathing. And I am the person who is often completely clueless about what I should be doing for my kids health-wise.

So, a couple of weeks ago (we’re getting to the good part of this story, people), I took Charlotte and Titus in for their yearly check up (which I feel is a huge accomplishment, btw).

Oh, and just in case you are at the beginning of having children, you should know that the best thing you can do is schedule as many of these checkups as possible simultaneously so as to avoid multiple trips to the doctor. Yes, I know they will schedule your kid’s checkups near their birthday, but you don’t have to keep them at that time of year. Instead, just take them all in in April, or June, or whatever. But not August, when every single child in your city needs a checkup before school starts. Never. August.

Anyhow, Charlie and Titus had theirs together, which was great for the aforementioned reasons. It was also great because Charlotte and Titus are best friends and really laid back and easy going about the doctor so it’s not stressful in the least.

They happily stood on the scale and had their heights measured and sat like statues while their blood pressure was taken. They did their vision screenings and I was so proud of Titus for knowing his letters I didn’t really care how well he could or couldn’t see.

And then we waited and waited and waited for our Doctor. Guys, in order to know how amazing our pediatrician is (as luck would have it, since, as I already mentioned, I thought very little about how or why I chose him), you need to know that I almost always wait at least 45 minutes, if not more, to see him, and I don’t even care.

This man sat on the cold tile floor with Charlotte for 20 minutes when she was 18 months old. He gently walked me through the medical aspects of our adoption, like getting tested for every kind of disease and overcoming malnutrition. He extensively researched epilepsy in developing countries when we thought Eva may be having seizures (she wasn’t). Basically, he wins at being a pediatrician.

Aside from all of the awesome things he’s done for us, he is the father of 3, 2 of whom are twins, so he just gets parenting. So when I, say, don’t follow the back-sleeping rule or the harness-carseat-until-they-are-adults rule, he’s understanding about it.

So whatever, take as long as you need Doctor. You’re probably being awesome for someone else while I’m sitting here waiting for you.

He did finally come, and started by going over the kids growth charts with me. He was marveling at how much good nutrition has changed Titus in the last 3 years (20th weight percentile! Up from <1% when we got him!) I said something about clean water and then this conversation happened:

Doctor: I can’t remember…did either of them have giardia when they got here?

Me: Yeah, Eva had a parasite…but we just waited for it to pass through her system.

Doctor: Did you see it? When she, you know…

Me, horrified: What?? Ew. No. Uh, I’m not really one to check my kids poop every day. I’m not that kind of mom.

Doctor, thankfully, laughs.

A few minutes later he is checking Charlotte first, and we’re talking about a few skin issues. Mild dry skin, and a kind of rash called moluscum. He starts telling me about how it’s fine to just leave it alone but if it bothers me, I can use this or that product on it…then grins at me and says, “But as we’ve already established, you’re not that kind of mom.”

He gets me!

THEN, a few minutes after that, he started Titus’s check up. Titus, by the way, cackles through the whole thing because he’s ticklish. Which I love. Anyway, the Doc is chatting with me as he tests reflexes and looks in his mouth and so on. Then stops abruptly when he shines his otoscope in Titus’s ear.

“Hmmm…is that…there’s something in there…I think it’s…I think it might be a bead??”

What?!

Uh, yeah, it’s definitely a bead. A necklace bead. From one of those WRETCHED necklace making sets your girls become obsessed with.

Doctor: Has he been complaining about his ear hurting?

Me: No! Well…I guess he said something about his ear a few weeks ago but I thought he was being dramatic because Charlie was getting attention for her sore throat!

Doctor: Barely containing laughter.

Me: TITUS! Did you put that in there?

Titus, proudly, grinning: Yeah.

Me: How long as it been in there??

Titus: Um…I think 100 days.

Me: Don’t listen to him. 100 is his favorite number.

And then I just didn’t stop laughing for the rest of the visit.

Except to stop and tell Titus he could explain to daddy the $35 copay it would take to have it removed at an ENT because they couldn’t get it out at the pediatrician’s office. Titus didn’t seem phased by this one bit.

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I am really REALLY not that kind of mom.

Y’all, I’m just NOT the kind of mom to pay close attention to my kids’ health issues. Every day someone has a new bruise or cut or tooth falling out or coming in or mild tummy ache from holding it too long or sniffle or cough or whatever. And honestly if I worried about it all I’d go insane. So I kiss it and say it will be fine or give them a wet paper towel (the cure of almost every boo-boo) or just plain ignore.

And let me just say that some moms ARE that kind of mom and I need those moms. They are the ones who make me take my kid to the doctor when it’s necessary or say, “hey, it might be this,” and I reply “You’re right! I never would have considered that!” They’re the ones I call when I have that deep down sense that I should probably be more worried than I am. There’s no correct type of mommying here. But I’m really really ok with the kind of mom I am. Or am not.

However, the next time someone’s ear hurts, I will probably take them to the doctor immediately, no questions asked.

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This Easter season our children brought home an Easter Devotional Kit created by our wonderful Children’s Ministries staff. In it there was a grapevine wreath, meant to represent the crown of thorns worn by our Suffering Savior, and a stack of little blank cards. The purpose? To teach our children about what to do with their sin.

It was pretty remarkable to see this great news from my little children’s eyes. It’s rare that all four of these crazy kids is fully engaged in what we are discussing around our messy dinner table. Typically, there is at least one who is hanging upside down in his/her chair or talking about unicorns while Josh and I try to redirect back to the subject at hand. But these words brought these kids to attention.

We read 1 John 1:5-9 and talked about what it means to be in the light, what it means to be in the darkness, and what we do when we sin even though we’ve said we believe. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

As we talked about the darkness and the light, that the one who says he has no sin deceives himself, and the one who professes the truth but walks in darkness is a liar, our kids grew increasingly nervous. Hands were popping up (thank you, school) with questions about what we’re supposed to do. What if we sin?? What happens? Are we in darkness? Our kids immediately recognized this for what is is: really bad news.

But then that good news of confession and you could see the relief. Ok, so we sin, but we can tell God and He loves us and forgives us and changes us! He, through His son’s death, has given us something to do with all of this yucky sin.

To make the process a little more tangible for the kids, there was the simple act of writing (or drawing a picture of) your sin on a little notecard and pinning it to that “crown of thorns.” I told the kids I was sorry I had gotten angry with them before gymnastics, wrote it down, and pinned it to the wreath. They eagerly followed suit (well, one had gone back to his/her dinner with gusto but that’s ok). They all had immediate examples of things they’d done wrong, little sins they’d been carrying around with guilt.

What struck me in that moment is that the gospel is so simple a little child can understand it. But interestingly, I think they often understand it better than we do because of it’s simplicity. It made complete sense to them. “I feel guilty about sin. But you’re telling me I can bring it to Jesus and be free? Yay!”

We adults have a harder time with this truth. Of course, as a new believer, it often has that blissful ring to it, but the longer I’ve walked in the faith, the more difficult this simple transaction – our sin exchanged for His holiness – seems to become. I believe this is one of the main ways our enemy, Satan, targets us to derail our faith and effectiveness. He complicates our simple understanding of what we are to do with our sin, and teaches us to converse in the language of regret and shame, the very thing we left behind when we believe.

Add to this a culture that has glorified the pursuit of personal happiness above all else and we are left with no room for confession and humility. But, of course, we all go on sinning. And if we have imbibed this message from the enemy, from the culture, we will feel paralyzed by the weight of our own sin and we’ll look anywhere but the gospel to try and absolve ourselves and get rid of that feeling.

Thursday morning – just days after going through that very devotional – found me sitting on the couch at 5:30 in the morning with Bible in hand, but heart in complete turmoil. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t pray. I was wallowing. I was overwhelmed with all of the ways I’d failed and sinned this week and that language of regret and shame had crept in.

A missed evangelism opportunity, anxiety over counsel I’d given, frustration with my children – all came rushing in and I felt burdened under the weight of it all. After almost an hour of this I gave up, threw on some work out clothes and went for a walk, choosing a worship playlist over my current workout music of choice (the Hamilton soundtrack, in case your curious, which is surprisingly good running music).

As I made the mile loop around my street I began to pray. I let words of truth (through song) penetrate my guilt-ridden fog. I remembered this is Easter week. I remembered the gospel. God made flesh, death to life. I remembered that we do NOT believe in a God who asks us to come cleaned up with our many good works to lay at His feet. Instead we come messed up and He does the cleaning and willing and working for His good pleasure.

And as I neared the end of my walk and the sun was coming up over the horizon there were these words coming through my earbuds and reaching my heart:

Oh, death, where is your sting?

Oh, hell, where is your victory?

Oh, church, come stand in the light!

The glory of God has defeated the night!

 On that dark day a Savior died, and three days later He arose with the sun, and His light penetrated the darkness. Our sin, that great darkness in our hearts, exposed to the light and made powerless with His victory. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Resurrection. Life.

If you, like me, feel weighed down by your sin, your failure, your weakness, I encourage you to go back and read those words from 1 John with the eyes of a child. Do not forget that, in fact, He told us to come to Him like little children. Weak, needy, desperately grateful that He has taken our punishment for us.  Stop trying to clean yourself up. Stop replaying it all in your head and walking in condemnation and shame. Confess your sins to the one who is faithful and just to forgive, and walk in newness of life.