Sunday, October 30, 2005

Marvelous Grace!

What a weekend! Saturday we finally got the garden all cleared out and plowed under. Our veranda is lined with tomatoes (green and red) and we pulled out a few forgotten carrots and lonely little watermelons. It looks like a lot considering that we haven't gotten all that much from our garden this year (which is ok with me, for my goal was small --just get the thing planted!). Saturday night it was so nice to be exhausted from outdoor work :-).

Sunday we went to church and I was so proud of the children, who sang Colossians 1:15-23 perfectly and sat in church quietly coloring during the sermon. Afterwards we were going to go out to eat as a reward for David, who has mastered tying his shoes (we are so proud of you David!). However, they were having a church cookout at the park and he decided he wanted to go to that instead to celebrate. They had the most delicious brats and desserts and we were all stuffed with food and fellowship by the time we headed home.

Tonight I have been pondering the grace of God afresh. Sometimes as parents we can become convinced that our children depend on us alone. We can become proud of the things we have done well, or we can despair and think, "I've ruined my child! How will I ever fix him?" I am mostly talking about our own flaws that are passed down to our kids despite our efforts to the contrary, and sometimes about mistakes that have been made (consistently, to be sure!). But my despair evaporates when I consider my God and the marvelous grace which he bestows upon ME! To quote an earlier blog entry:

"The grace of God is what can take a soul raised in the muck of this world and transform it from the inside-out. It can take a child raised without any moral guidance or training, living in a chaotic, sin-torn environment, loving the world and everything in it, into a holy child of God - and a devoted parent. It travels through the vehicle of our faith in God and His word. It was poured out in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it seeps out of His own in the form of thankfulness and righteous living."

The reason we are able to appreciate the grace of God so fully is because we are such flawed creatures. When our flaws begin showing up in our kids, it's almost enough to make a God-fearing parent want to throw in the towel. It really hurts! But I submit to you this thought: Our children are in the hands of Almighty God, and our God, who is mighty to save, is more than big enough to use our flaws and mistakes for His glory. Halleiluia!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Baby Nightmare

Last night was rough. I went to bed, late, a little after 11pm. Awakened I was, at midnight, by a screaming 2-year-old. I thought he must have a stuffed nose, so I rubbed some Vics salve under his nose. I offered him a drink. I re-covered him. I rubbed his head. Yet every time I began to walk away, back to some much needed rest, he screamed in protest.

7-year-old David woke up (believe me, this testifies to the vehemence of Joshua's crying, for David sleeps like a rock). He was quite upset with the crying and when he told Joshua to "get out!" I knew we had a dilemna. So I carried Joshua to the living room and rocked him in the big green chair. He immediately said "please take me back to my bed Mama". He then said "cover me". Then he said "may I have some more Vics salve?" Then..."get me a drink of water" (Command man, anyone? :-) )

So I stayed by his side awhile and rubbed his head. When he seemed settled I began to go back to my own bed, but he immediately awakened and began to scream. If this wasn't completely out of character for him, I may have felt that he was being willful. But he seemed almost fearful. Eventually I rocked him to sleep in the big green chair (around 1am).

At breakfast he sat down at his stool, as cheerful as ever. Here was our conversation:

:: Joshua, are you feeling sick today? You look pretty well for a sick boy. ::

:: No Mama, I'm not sick. ::

:: Maybe you had a bad dream last night. Do you remember dreaming? ::

without hesitation
:: You were driving away from me Mama. ::

:: Were you afraid? ::

:: Yes. ::

Suddenly, everything clicked into place. Joshua had dreamed that I was driving away from him and leaving him. He was so frightened that he cried out. And when I came to him he wasn't willing to let me out of his sight. Hopefully this will not be a recurring dream :-).

Was a great day, considering the sleep loss. School consisted of shoe-tying class (we are forging through the frustration triumphantly!) for 7yob and 5yog, playdough for the little ones, upper atmosphere artwork (A Child's Geography by Ann Voskamp), Between the Lions, math flashcards and language lessons (First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer) for 7yob. Right now the entire family (minus me, who is currently blogging :-) ) are watching a NOVA special, so we are skipping our read-aloud of Winnie the Pooh. I'd better quit being anti-social and go join them.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reasoning With A Two-Year-Old?

Yesterday morning I won a battle with my two-year-old boy. (I make it sound like sometimes he wins and sometimes I win, but actually I always win :-). Shhhhhh. It's one of the secrets to good parenting...ALWAYS WIN!)

Josh has a job to do every night. He moves the stools away from the island so that David (7yob) can wipe and sweep the countertop without distraction. Generally he is a wonderful example of diligence with his work. However, I was having him move the chairs in the morning; a routine he was not accustomed to. So, I guess it was natural that he chose this opportunity to assert himself.

He continued to throw himself on the floor and cry, saying "I don't want to!" I continued to give negative reinforcement with a small switch and encourage him to obey with calm, firm resolve (I always switch my hand first to make sure I am only using enough force to give a SMALL sting). After quite a few cycles of this the heels of my boy were not dislodging and I knew I didn't want to stay there all morning. However, I told Joshua that I was content to do so.

And then, though I don't normally do this and I assumed it would be fruitless, I began to lecture him. "Now Joshua, do you realize that Mommy does NOT want to do this? It would be so much easier for me to just move the chairs myself and get on with the sweeping. The reason I am doing this is for YOU. Because learning to obey Mommy is the best thing for YOU. Not because I want to." I am not a perfect parent, and even as I spoke, I was kicking myself and saying in my mind.... "being cheerful and consistent is the only are wasting your words on this two-year-old".

So, imagine my surprise when, without further protesting, Joshua rose up and began to do his job. I watched him in amazement, wondering if he really had a breakthrough in his understanding. I guess it's not so surprising (he's a bright little fellow). And certainly my own walk with God always becomes effortless when I have a fresh, deep understanding of His great love for me. Certainly a child is not motivated by one who is perceived to be mean or when the child doesn't understand that their benefit is your primary motivation. Maybe my little guy is growing up, huh? ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Wife of A Visionary

Okay, so my husband is definitely a visionary. He's an idea-man. Near his side of the bed there rapidly accumulates small pieces of paper laced with his unrecognizable scrawls. This testifies to the prolific nature of his ideas :-). Lately his ideas and energies have been devoted to making money, and he is currently engaged in many different endeavors to that end. As advertising is part of that endeavor, I have (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to have ads on my weblog. Our children, who are allowed to watch some cartoons on Saturday morning but have been trained to mute the commercials, will tell you how adamant Mom is about not watching commercials. Just this morning Deborah asked, "Mom, why do they make you want to buy stuff?" When I considered her question, it didn't seem so awful that businesses are trying to promote their product so that people will buy it and they will make money. It's just that some people know how to resist unneeded things and others, well, just plain don't.

The life of the visionary wife! I think I'm just supposed to smile, and enjoy the ride. And if Debi is right, we'll either be very poor, or very rich. Either way, I'll stand by my man :-).

Monday, October 10, 2005


Last night I had a great desire to have time to myself. My pregnant body groaned to rest and read and be a vegetable. Instead I had a great time of fellowship with my husband. I took great delight in him. And the joy and reward which came from God took my breath away. I don't always make the right decision with relationships, but I always aim to ;-).

"Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4

The gifts of God sometimes come unexpectedly. I used to think that if I just had enough Bible study, or enough prayer, or drew near enough to my Lord, then surely I would begin to experience more of him. To feel the warmth of His love everyday. To grow closer to Him with my smiling face turned expectantly toward His rays. And surely these strivings are beneficial in every way, but they are not all there is to it.

I've since learned that "Delighting thyself also in the Lord" extends beyond fellowship with Jesus. If I am not delighting myself in my husband, then I am limiting my Lord's blessing upon me. If I am not delighting myself in my children, then my Lord is not pleased with my attitude. When I consider some great scriptural exhortations to love, it begins to clarify.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. " John 15:13

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: " 1 Peter 1:22

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." 1 John 3:14

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. " 1 John 3:23

The Lord saw fit to repeat this command over and over in the scriptures, especially in the book of John. It is emphasized like nothing else by our Lord, but I believe it is easy to think of "love" like a cliche and gloss over the true meaning. All of the verses I quoted above, except 1 Peter 1:22, which refers to brotherly affection, refer to the same love that God bestows upon us, that of "agapao".?? This is the amazing, unconditional love which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He commands should come forth in His believers. I feel that I should emphasize that He commands it again and again and again!

O mother of young children, have you ever been angry with a little soul who seems bent on thwarting your will? I have certainly been in such a state a time or two; less as time goes by. But nothing stops up the flow of God's love more than a bitter spirit (if we do not forgive others, how will he forgive us?). Try this one on for size: "In the name of Jesus Christ, I reckon myself to be dead indeed to an angry and bitter spirit, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord" -Romans 6:11 There is nothing like the Word of God, spoken with real faith, to unclog the sin-clogged soul.

However, there is more to love than feelings and behavior. We can love our families well through planning. By having the children's day organized and taking the time to plan out activities and meals in advance, we can then focus in on teaching the children without distractions. So planning builds a foundation upon which the rest of parenting can then rest. And lack of planning can become the ultimate distraction. I know, because I struggle in this area. Over and over again I have said, "If only I stayed up and planned all this out! Things would have turned out differently..." (Visit Candy's blog for a list of links to other blogs where mothers have laid out their schedules. It is a great resource.)

So I exhort mothers of young children, including myself, to delight in your husband, in your children and in others with whom you have contact, and to plan out your days with little ones. For in doing so, you are loving our Lord, and obeying His commands. And I can't help but sing this beloved children's song:

This is my commandment that ye love one another, that your joy may be full,
This is my commandment that ye love one another, that your joy may be full,
That your joy may be full!
That your joy may be full!
This is my commandment that ye love one another that your joy may be full.

Monday, October 3, 2005


This morning I woke up at 6:45am, and traipsed into the kitchen to make breakfast and lunch for hubby, who was currently in the shower. As I passed the boys door, I knew something was amiss when I found it closed. It is always open unless I close it on my way through with hopes of having more alone time before the kids arise. Lately Joshua closes it also when he gets up (I guess he is just following Mom's lead :-)). I found him downstairs playing (at 6:45!) and was just a little miffed that I would have no time to myself ;-). It seems that the children wake up earlier and earlier lately.

Yet the kids and I sometimes have special times in the morning. Josh (2yo) and I will have reading time on the couch. He is my only child in the habit of putting a book away on the bookshelf when he is finished reading it! Sometimes he will stir the eggs for me in the kitchen or put the toast in the toaster. Rebekah (3yo) is learning to crack eggs and I absolutely love it when she comes up to me saying "I want to help you Mama". I am finding more and more that fellowship is key in children enjoying work.

And what are the obstacles to fellowship? Generally they are found in me. If I am feeling impatient and lost in my own thoughts, then the children feel excluded and would rather be elsewhere. If I send the kids off to work alone while I turn into a whirlwind in order to "get stuff done" then generally someone will decide to play and my time is frought with interruptions (and I am brought to shame). It is much better to empty my "agenda" and fill up my cup with enjoying the children. Joy ties a child to you like nothing else. But it can be difficult to keep them all tied to you at once. I often find that when I am fellowshipping well with one child, another relationship may be failing in some way.

It's hard to please everyone, but if joy is the focus then a happier and more peaceful house is always the result :-).

And now I must retire. To quote my sister-in-law Veronica: "sleep rocks".