Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Simple Task, Gone Awry

The task was simple: clean up the playroom. I, in my office adjacent to the playroom, was overhearing Jackson and Lindy work on this task and it was not going well. Lindy, of course, was being perfectly patient with Jackson but he was speaking biligerantly to her. Though I usually let Lindy handle everything (she is, afterall, very good at it), I had to intervene upon hearing such disrespect of his elder.

Up to his room for a timeout, he sat on his bed with these words from me in his ears: "You are in a time out because you were treating Lindy so unkindly. You may not treat people unkindly. When you are ready to treat her with kindness (and apologize!), and when you are ready to clean with a cheerful heart, you may return to the task of cleaning the playroom."

A good number of minutes later, I went back to finish what I started with him. He informed me that he was ready to move on. But he said these words that made me thankful, so thankful, that I intervened: "Yes, I am ready (to treat Lindy kindly and clean with a cheerful heart), but my heart is still black."

So upon HIS prompting, we were praying together for his sins to be forgiven. A real repentance, from my view. And then answering his next question actually brought tears to my eyes, "But what if my heart is ALWAYS black?" Oh, sweet child. That is the beauty of the work of the cross. "That is the best part, Jackson. Our hearts need never stay black. God will ALWAYS forgive us when we ask. THAT'S why Jesus died on the cross for you. We can go to him whenever we need to and ask him to clean our heart and he is GLAD to do it."
"Is God mad?"
"When we sin it makes God's heart very sad. But when we ask him to forgive us, it makes him very, very glad." He wants to forgive you! You just need to ask!

Just yesterday I was reading this post on Angie's blog about her "difficult child" (if you have one of these, I encourage you to read her post. It is so encouraging). This was the comment I left on that blog:

It is discouraging to see little progress in areas all the other children moved past quickly. But how right you are: these (difficult children) are the children who will be leaders, who will be passionate, who will do great things (our other children will do great things, too, of course). But these little guys do need a totally different kind of parenting, don't they!!!

I know the the Lord will do a great work of grace in this child's life. He will understand grace better than your other children. While our other children who are "followers of all rules and laws" struggle with pride and even understanding what the significance of the work of the cross is to them (since they rarely do the wrong thing), these passionate children of ours will have a stronger grip on this area of faith. And while the process to get there puts trepidation in my bones, I know that God will redeem and bless our efforts to properly, faithfully parent them.

What a wonderful grace God offered me today in seeing a deeper piece on my son's heart, like a glimpse of a promise fulfulled. I pray you encounter some encouragement in your parenting like I did today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chaos Eliminator #15 & 16

I love chaos eliminators. Anything that dims life's chaos is a good thing. Last Saturday night we were at a wedding and reception with all three of our boys. It was the 4th reception we had brought the boys to at this particular location and so they all were feeling MUCH TOO COMFORTABLE in the environment. And you KNOW that comfortability in children breeds: trouble. My children are not an exception. Ryan and I hardly knew what hit us, as we were trying to contain the boys to the room we were assigned to, prevent them from dumping the coffee creamer and sugar on the floor, keep their fingers out of the not-yet-cut cake, slam into fellow guests, and wrestle on the middle of the dance floor. The trouble was that they had nothing constructive to do while we all waited "patiently" for the food to be served. And then once the food was served, my children were done eating in approximately 8.7 seconds so the boredom was quick to return. The cutting of the cake (which they literally did laps around) was still 75 minutes away.

I, of course, had nothing to entertain them with, hardly any way to contain them, and was honestly more interested in shoving food in my own mouth than chasing them. No chaos elimination up my sleeve. (I did have a helpful husband who did his best while chatting with old college friends.)

At one point, the people we shared a table with, bless their heart, said, "They are not bad, just 'active.'" Ok, you can't fool this mama: "active" is nothing more than code words for "rambuntious" and "you should have left them at home."

It was at that moment that I felt the embarassment. There were other kids in the room doing much the same things as my kids, but that mattered little to me because I had nothing up my sleeve to prevent things from spinning further out of control. (In all fairness, they were not out of control, but I felt a serious lack of control with my big-pregnant belly and massive fatigue... pregnancy is not known to cause a woman to think more clearly, you know.)

So anyway, my chaos eliminator #15 & 16 comes out of my failure to plan on that night and it is this:
  • Always, always, have a plan, and
  • never, never, go to a wedding and reception with three young boys while you are in your third trimester.
How is that for helpful information?!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the Weekend

Said by Davis, the eldest of my three (almost four) boys:

"Never trust a younger brother... or an older girl. They are always trying to trick you."

Amen, child (at least to that second part)! Words to live by.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Clarity, compared to my 2-year-old

I really enjoy this right-before-two-years-old age that Weston is in. At this blessed age, the true notion of logic is beyond conception. There is a slight understanding of "if-than" logic, but not too much beyond that. And such logic does not hold much water for this age because the overwhelming reasoning brooding in these two-year-old minds is "me, my, mine, I..." Self-satisfacton is of the highest concern and there is no runner up. From this we get everything from belly flops onto carpetted floors to back-of-the-head-slams on the linoleum (and every once in a while, a goose egg from hitting the wall corner on the way down).

Did I say I enjoy this age?

Yes, I did, and yes I do (well, at least in these cerebral moments of reflection I do). Because while my little guy is throwing his share of tantrums, it is in the tantrums that I often get a picture of how God parents us.

Example 1
Two days ago Weston bee-lined for the west end of our creek where there is a great supply of rocks. He loves throwing rocks into the water (what boy doesn't?), but alas, he does not swim. And being by a creek by yourself at the ripe old age of two is not a wise thing. But he doesn't know that. All he knows is that he is having a grand ol' time - or he was, until that meanie Mommy came and scooped him up and carried him kicking and screaming to the upper lawn. There is really no amount of logic that I could pour on him that would calm him down enough to say, "Oh, I see. That is dangerous. And danger is not the best for me. Thank you for saving me from a potentially dreadful situation." No, he will not be saying that any time soon.

Example 2
Today and yesterday he suffered from probably the worst diaper rash of his life so far. I had to carefully, gently wipe every last stubborn smear of poo off his bottom (torture for the both of us) so that I could smear a hefty load of Butt Cream on his swollen, red little cheeks (so the torture continues). You have never heard a child scream such a miserable, distressed cry. And all the time I kept thinking, I know this is so painful. I know you would prefer me to leave it alone and avoid the pain. But if I left it alone the end result would be so much worse... pain that is immeasurably greater and long lasting than you can imagine. I also know that he sees me as the source of his pain, not the ultimate healer of it.

Example 3
Just last week when I decided that he could eat a still-warm chocolate chip cookie (like, the chocolate was still super gooey and messy), I called him over to me for the delicious treat only to use the phrase, "Mommy do," which means that I would be inserting the morsel into his mouth on his behalf. The instant he heard that phrase he opened his mouth wide, but not to submit to my request. He opened wide to yell at me, "ARRRRRG!!" and walk off, not having tasted the good thing I had for him.

In every scenario, I see the bigger picture and he sees barely to the end of his nose. Every time I know what is best for him and he sees me as preventing him from experiencing pleasure. And every time he has the choice to submit his will to mine - whether he understands the reason behind it or not - or push away from me. Though I have proven my faithfulness, care and concern for him since the day he was born, his tendancy and first urge is to assume that this time I will not be faithful, I will not care, and I am not concerned.

You can understand better now why parenting a child this age is so enjoyable. I learn more about how my Lord cares for me and shows his faithfulness. So rich a time I have with the Lord in this season when I have the chance to reflect upon how well my heavenly father parents me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My November 4th "ah ha" Moment

Still stricken with grief over McCain winning the Republican nomination over Mike Huckabee, I have wondered often what a "good prolife voter" ought to do:
  • Abstain from voting (i.e. turn off my brain on this one)
  • Write in Huckabee (would it be throwing away my vote or standing on principle - or both?)
  • Vote for Palin/McCain (I do generally like her politics from top to bottom - experienced or not)
  • Vote for Obama (at least he will end the war and maybe protect us from our country's devastating financial practices, so he says)
Tonight, after reading a very informative and helpful post by Randy Alcorn, I now know what I am going to do. I encourage you to spend a minute looking over this post, especially if you have found yourself, like me, struggling with what is the right thing to do in this election.

And no, I am not going to tell you how I am voting. But jumping over to Randy's blog will be all the hint you need, if curiosity gets the better of you!!

They Grow Up So Fast

Yesterday jackson learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. It was quite an event, as we have attempted a couple of times already and each previous time it ended in frustration and giving up (of the child, not the mother). But for two days in a row he insisted that he could ride his bike without training wheels and was asking me to remove the excess baggage so he could do it. I, being in the stage of my pregnancy where walking is challenging, much less running beside a wobbly biker, was not about to repeat the previous experiences. In comes my hero: my husband. And together they fought through the scrapes, falls and wobbles to come out the other side a two-wheel rider!!

Jackson was not the only one to grow up right in front of my eyes yesterday. While the lesson was in full swing, the phone rang for Davis. His first female caller. His slightly sheepish grin, coupled with the fact that he did not understand a word she said in the 45 second conversation they had took me by surprise. Little love notes from another girl have come home in his backpack this month... back off ladies, he won't be dating until another couple of decades pass... Twenty-seven seems reasonable to me, don't ya think?

And we must also mention little Weston, who doubled his near-two-year-old vocabulary this week with the addition of "plop" and "pop" (distinguishable to the discerning ear only). Oh, and he began jumping off the second step of our staircase, and walking up the stairs without his hands.

They all grow up SO FAST!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"What's For Dinner Tonight, Mom?"

"We are having Tostada Casserole, Jackson."

Without skipping a beat and with a smirk to one side, he replies: "Oh, you mean cotton candy?!?"

"Yes. That is what I mean when I say Tostada Casserole."

I hope he is not too disappointed...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am not a Sitter

When I say I am not a "sitter" I don't mean like "babysitter," I mean like "one who sits." Not only do I always have much, much, much to do, when I find myself with (quite suddenly and shockingly) nothing to do, I go on a desperate search for something to busy me up.

It is a very intentional thing I have to force myself to do when I sit and watch my kids play. And it is even a very forced thing to me when I "play with" my kids. I mean, I read to them and hug them, and teach them, and talk with them and interact with them on all sorts of levels, but I don't often sit and run the cars over the carpet, or stack the blocks, or build the train tracks.

I have marvelled numerous times at how GOOD the woman who takes care of my kids while I work is at playing with my kids. She thoroughly enjoys getting down on the ground and pushing those cars. The woman reached sainthood, as far as I am concerned, when she played Monopoly with my four-year-old who, by the way, understands nothing about money or property or purchases or anything much beyond moving pieces around a board and taking turns at a game. And little Jackson's eyes light up with delight at the notion of playing another round of the never-ending-game-that-he-doesn't-even-understand.

A part of me knows that I am not alone in this: that plenty of moms stink at that part of mothering. And the other part of me wishes that I could be excellent at everything mommy-related to all my kids. I can't, of course. None of us can be everything to every child we bear. We can try and do the things that do not come naturally to us - we must try. We are never excused from doing "the hard work of mothering," but I think it is also worth noting that we are not designed to meet every need our children have and that living in the context of the body of Christ means we can feel the freedom to search out others to come alongside us and help get those needs more fully met. And we can do this without feeling guilty or like a failure.

Librarians, teachers, coaches, grandmas, nannies, aunts, counselors, pastors, friends. No particular order of importance in that list. It is just good to recognize our limitations and our children's needs and seek out others to help. I hope there is some level of encouragement here for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back from Legoland!

I've been up since 3am and am fading FAST!! The trip was great. we stayed with Ryan's folks, who spoiled us in every way possible. I can't hardly form two consecutive sentences so i will just post a few pictures of all the fun and call it good.

Monday, October 6, 2008

46 months

Walking (PREGNANTLY SLOW) to a San Diego 7-11 this evening, Ryan and I were marveling at the fact that our marriage has endured four pregnancies ("How on earth did we do it?" I asked. "You married a man of steel, Jenne"). Ryan did a little bit of math and I was horrified to learn that counting up all miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and live births, I have been pregnant for 46 months of our marriage. When it is all said and done, it will have been 48 months. FORTY-EIGHT MONTHS OF PREGNANCY.

I think I would have been better off not having that realization.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Funny Jackson

Jackson usually pipes up in the car, when Davis is not around to fill the air with his sound-waves. And when he pipes up, it usually is in the form of questions. And the questions are so strange - so bizarre - that I am at a loss to even know how to answer them. You know how some kids will ask questions that may not make sense to anyone else but because you are mom and have so much context and are familiar with so much of their world, you can usually work your way through the maze that is their brain to answer their question.

Not so with Jackson. He is a thinker, I think. And he processes a ton in his head before anything makes it out of his gums. (He gets this from me - poor Ryan suffers in our marriage because of this trait of mine.) For a while now I have been trying to collect a handful of my little Jackson's crazy questions. I had a really nice list of them and then - sadly - lost that list. I only have two now. And of course Jackson seems to be in a phase of asking fewer-than-normal questions so I have not been able to start a new list. But I will treat you to the two I do remember:

"Are cars better than rocks?"

"Can you still walk when you are flat?"

Even if I have a hint of context (which i usually do not), HOW ON EARTH do you go about answering him? I usually say something brilliant like, "I don't know, what do YOU think?" or, "Hummm...GOOD QUESTION."

And then, to change the subject but still focusing on my middlest son, he contracted Shingles this week. After the bumps had shown up, but before the pain was severe he showed me the bumps saying, "I think maybe its leprosy." Leprosy, huh? We laughed about it but then later the pain hit. Poor guy. This is not a fun one to get. We went to the doctor on Tuesday to check it out. Before I go on, i just have to say that I am not one to take my kids to the doctor (I know, I know, we earn a living off the medical field). The last time he was at the doctor was easily a year ago. I pretty much assume that whatever ailment is circulating, it will blow over. "Here, drink a couple glasses of water. That will help. And soak in a hot bath to get your pores to sweat out toxins." That's pretty much my solution to everything. But Jackson - active, playful Jackson - did not unbend his little leg all morning. Did not even attempt to walk, for the pain was too great. After four hours of this non-activity and strict adherence to the no-leg-straightening routine, I figured he was not exaggerating the pain and I took him in.

Thanks Lori and Lindy for encouraging me to do that.

I gave him his first dose of antiviral medicine, he licked his lips, looked up at me and, with his big brown eyes filling with tears, said, "My leg STILL hurts!!" A little earlier in the day he asked if we could pray to God to heal him (I was ashamed that I had not been the one to suggest prayer of some sort). We hugged as we prayed and when we said our Amen's he was TERRIBLY disappointed that his leg was still so painful. What a tough thing to try and explain to a tender and trusting heart.

Today he is finally back to his usual self (only with 500% more energy than usual since he has laid low for so many days). "My shingles are going out of me!! God is healed-ing me!!"

Thank you God, for "healed-ing" Jackson, and for making the people that came up with that marvelous antiviral for my little boy.