Doesn’t Play Well With Girls

I’m sitting on my porch, writing on my laptop, watching and listening to my son play with a friend.  Everything is a virtual peeing contest between the two of them.  Inevitably, their playing turns into smacking and laughing, then harder smacking, soon there’s less laughing, now they’re punching, and finally someone stops the game.  And back to racing the matchbox cars.

And then it dawned on me.  THIS is why he doesn’t play well with girls.  Well, more specifically, his sisters.  His sisters don’t play like this, but he expects them to.  He tries to play like this with them.  I’ll let you imagine how that plays out.

Oftentimes, these incidents end with lessons like this…

Me to the girls: Eli doesn’t have anyone to play with.  You need to find a way to include him and not expect him to play the way you do.

Me to Eli: The girls don’t like the way you’re playing, you can’t walk in and destroy everything.  You can try to join in with what they are doing, or you can do something else.  You cannot be Godzilla all over the place.

And Ada just thinks we should get Eli a brother.  Right, because adding ANOTHER child into the mix would certainly alleviate all of our problems.


Fruits of the Spirit {gentleness}

Moving through the Fruits of the Spirit, we are now at Gentleness.  I’ve recently discovered Chad’s Bible Encyclopedias.  I’m so thankful for his Bible degree…

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Galatians 6:1

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

Babies need to be treated with gentleness, just notice next time you’re around one how often that word is used with a bigger sibling!  But what about toddlers?  Or elementary-age kids?  Or teenagers?  What kind of gentleness do they need?

Galatians suggests that gentleness should be used when someone is caught in a sin.  I heard a pastor say once that “caught” here isn’t so much like “caught red-handed”, but more like they are caught in a trap and can’t get out.  They need to be restored, it says.  Are there consequences?  Sure.  But the consequence shouldn’t be YOU.  “Psychological and negative relational consequences, such as getting angry, sending guilt messages, nagging, and withdrawing love, usually do not motivate people to change.  If they do, the change is short-lived,” (Boundaries With Kids, p. 58).  This I am not so good at.  I have improved, but ooo do I have a ways to go.

1 Peter tells us that gentleness should be used when sharing the hope we have in Christ.  Maybe our most important “mission field” is at home?  It’s our job (not our church’s) to teach our children about God.  We are constantly modeling love to our kids, whether by word or action.  I believe that how we show love to them is their foundation of understanding it.  God IS love…may I represent Him well. 

Correcting and teaching about God.  Those are…two of my main job requirements I would say.  May we continue to grow in gentleness so that we may do these jobs well.


Love Your Failures, and Theirs

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsHow we respond to failure depends greatly on how we define it.  Is it a lack of success (thank you Webster), or is it an opportunity to learn and grow?  Does it label us as “the worst” or does it give us the opportunity to be better?

Love Your Failures

I don’t generally love my failures, because truth be told I have the bar set too high for myself.  I’m guessing most of us do.  I expect to do it well the first time, and then I usually disappoint myself (and no one else, I might add).  I don’t expect other people to do things well the first time though, and thankfully I’ve noticed this discrepancy, so I am working on it!

At a recent Hearts at Home conference, there was much talk about comparing our insides to others’ outsides.  But what if our outsides better matched out insides?  What if we were real and honest about our failures and struggles, and were able to connect with others on a deeper level because of them?  Maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t feel the need to be perfect because we’d realize no one is.  And we can be imperfect together.

Love Your Husband’s Failures

My husband is amazing and wonderful, and not perfect.  Because, again, no one is.  I want to be his biggest fan in the whole world, not the one pushing him down when he fails, or doesn’t meet an expectation.  Sure there are conversations to be had to continue to grow and strengthen our marriage, but that’s far different from pointing out his failures.  I want to love him in spite of them, unconditionally.

Love Your Children’s Failures

This one is not so easy for me, depending on the failure.  If they’re struggling with school or friends, I’m totally fine.  But if they fail at something I’ve shown them what feels like hundreds of times, I get impatient.  Oh Lord, fill me with grace and patience!  I need to treat their failures like I do my husband’s…loving my kids in spite of their failures, lifting them up instead of pushing them down, being their biggest fan in the whole world.  Why is it easier with my husband?  I don’t have an answer, but I need to work on this.  For real, I need to work on this.  I think I let their failures, in some occasions, be a reflection on me.  I should be doing better, I have taught them this already… Then it becomes a pride issue, and is about me rather than about loving and guiding them.  Now we’ve got a bigger problem.  I want to see THEM – how I can love them, encourage them, and help them.


Why DO I Blog?

Really though.  Why do I blog?  I can never succinctly answer this question.  Then I read this post on my friend Erin’s blog and my wheels got turning.  Blogging really is storytelling at its most basic level, isn’t it?

I want to tell the story of my life – of a mom of three kids, who finds this all amazing and challenging and rewarding and overwhelming.  A story that includes postpartum depression, a daughter’s anxiety, a son’s anger.  A story that includes teaching them to ride bikes and tie shoes and venture out on their own.

It’s a story that we’re told is the best job in the world.  We’re told it’s the most rewarding job.  We’re told it’s a gift.  I don’t think we’re told the whole story.  Being a mom IS all of those things, and it is draining, frustrating, crazy, mundane.  It is all the things all the time.

I want to tell the WHOLE story, and encourage you to do the same.  I want my story to give you hope, courage, laughter, perspective.  No matter what you’re feeling, it’s ok.  You’re ok.  We’re all going to be ok.

We are all doing the best we can, one day at a time.  We can help each other, or push each other down.  We can lift each other up, or look down our nose.

I blog so that, hopefully, I can help you, lift you up, or at the very least lay down in the mud with you until the rain subsides.


Patience in Parenting

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Grace: Mom, Eli said, “What the h-e-l-l.”
Me: Did you say it or spell it? (Does it matter?)
Eli: I said it.
Me: OK.  Well you will not be participating in the sleepover tonight with your sisters, and you’re getting pepper in your mouth.
Eli: I’m not putting one grain of that pepper in my mouth.
Me: Would you like to try that again?

And now to summon up all the patience in parenting I can muster….

Eli silently comes over and opens his mouth for the pepper.  He then goes upstairs, yells, and slams his door.  SO, I went up and made him open and close it calmly and quietly ten times, which is the normal consequence for slamming a door at our house.  He hates it.  A little while later he opened his door and yelled, “Don’t even think about coming up for a hug and kiss!!”  And proceeded to throw things around his room.

I’m telling you right now, all of this praying for the fruits of the spirit might be working.  I could not have stayed that patient had it not been for God intervening last night.

I let Eli be, giving him time to calm down and allowing him to have his feelings.  I then went to his room and said good night.  I asked if he wanted a hug and kiss, and since he had calmed down, he said yes.  And he apologized for his behavior.  AND THEN THE HEAVENS OPENED UP AND THE ANGELS SANG HALLELUJAH! :)

I do not have this figured out, this is not a “look at me” post.  This is a “praise God that I didn’t flip out this time” post.  Staying calm in the face of anger and disrespect is not my forte.  So praise God indeed.


The Mom I Want to Be

As I think over the interactions I have with my kids, and the relationship we have, and the mom I am, I have to ask myself, Am I the mom I want to be?  Am I the kind of mom that produces the relationships I want to have with my kids when they are adults?

Today, the answer is probably no.  And that is so very sobering.

As I’ve said, this has been my first summer not working in 8 years.  This has gone better than I had expected, meaning I don’t feel like next summer I need to find a job :)

It has also been a summer of less than stellar interactions with them.  They play outside as much as they can, which I LOVE.  They are all over the block in various neighbors’ yards, having a grand time with their friends.  I just get to sit on the porch with coffee and watch. Until I ruin it all.

It’s time for chores.  It’s time for lunch.  It’s time for supper.  We need to run errands.

I’m the worst.  And I hate all things fun.

I have done fun things with them, mind you.  Movies, swimming, ice cream outings, playdates.  But my worry is that what will linger is that mom isn’t present until she wants to ruin the fun.

The mom I want to be enjoys fun conversations with them, but the mom I am seems to be teaching life lessons or breaking up fights instead.

The mom I want to be enjoys fun activities with them, but the mom I am gets overwhelmed by their constant volume-level-eleven and potty humor.

Maybe right now I’m the mom I have to be, so that later I can be the mom I want to be.  But while I’m being the mom I have to be, I can sprinkle in some of the mom I want to be, so that I’m continuing to build relationship with my children.


Fruits of the Spirit {goodness}

In the list of Fruits of the Spirit, goodness is the one that is giving me the most trouble.  Every time I try to define it, I realize I’m instead defining one of the other fruits.  I should probably look in the Bible and see what help it can offer.

“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge…” 2 Peter 1:5 (NIV)

“Good” seems so relative.  What tastes good, what smells good, what looks good, what’s considered good behavior.  All of this is opinion-based.

According to 2 Peter, goodness is part of a sequence of events, as evidence of spiritual growth.  Faith, then goodness, then knowledge.  Peter goes on to add self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and finally love.  “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:8.  We should always be growing, and in our growth we cannot skip goodness.

A study of “goodness” brought about three means by which it can measured: if it meets an expectation, if it is beneficial, and if it is moral.

Do I measure up as a mom?  Do I meet the expectations of God, and my family?  (Note: I do not need to meet the expectations of anyone else.)  Am I beneficial to my family?  Do I make moral decisions regarding my family?

I certainly want the answer to be yes to all three of these questions, but of course that just isn’t true.  At least not all of the time.  Hopefully I can slowly make improvements, one day at a time.


Another 10-Year-Old. It’s Not Pretty.

It’s been four weeks.  Four weeks since a post about my sweet boy turning ten.  Four weeks, people.  I should have seen it coming.  It happened when my daughter turned ten last summer.  I really should have seen it coming.

I have another 10-year-old in the house, and the climate has drastically shifted.  He yells at me.  All the time.  For everything.  I mean screams.  And then he calms down and bounces around the house looking for food or a toy or a friend.

My son may be the Hulk.

Hey Buddy, we’re not having screen time right now.

Hey Eli, you guys are going to have a little quiet time reading in your bedrooms after all the fighting that’s been going on.

I’ve learned in the past week that I can handle being screamed at up to three times by a person to whom I have given life.  At the fourth time there is a quiet, low voice, your disrespect is done NOW talk.  It’s good to know your limits, right?

It’s also good that I realized he is ten, and this is a phase.  It happened to Grace, and she has greatly improved in the past year.  This will get better, and we will come out on the other side.  I will use my calm voice (and continue to grow its perseverance).  I will fight for the heart of my boy.  I will remind him over and over that I love him all the time, no matter what.

But ten may be the new three around here.


Anything But Ordinary


This month, Hearts at Home is asking us to “love our ordinary.”


That’s not always such a pleasant word, especially when we let it land on our own hearts.  What if we took a good, hard look at what we consider to be “ordinary” in our lives, and relabeled it?  Got a different perspective?  Climbed out of the everyday for a moment, and saw a bigger picture?

This is something that I’ve struggled with throughout my life as a mom.  The laundry basket that is never, ever empty.  The counter that always has dishes.  The people that are always hungry.  The clock that I swear has stopped moving.  And tomorrow will be exactly the same.

When I take a look around and see what other people accomplish in their lives, it’s so easy, and so tempting, to label what I do as ordinary.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter?  The laundry, the dishes, the dusting, the grocery lists, the same gentle reminders issued over and over and OVER.

But when I take a look at my kids…they are anything but ordinary to me, and I am anything but ordinary to them.  What I do is so special in their eyes.  I want to climb out of the everyday-ness of mothering and realize that what I do should be special in my eyes, too.  I am the one who plans, buys, and cooks healthy food for them, to feed them.  I am the one who makes sure they have clean clothes to wear.  I am the one who has taught them to make their beds, clean their rooms (whether or not they do it is a different story), sweep and mop a floor.  I am the one who taught them to use a toilet.  I am the one who takes them to the doctor when they are sick.  I am the one the school calls when something is wrong.  My husband and I are the ones who are modeling the love of God, and what it means to be in relationship with Him.

Ordinary.  If teaching my children how to be responsible, loving, caring, compassionate, faithful people…if this life is ordinary, then I will take it.

Love your ordinary, mommas.  You’re doing a great job.  YOU are anything but ordinary.



When Expectations are Wrong

My oldest was at middle school camp last week with our church youth group.  It was her first time at THIS camp, she has been to elementary camp the three years prior.  While she was away I was pouring through the pictures, searching for one of her smiling face.  I didn’t see her, didn’t see her, didn’t see her.  I finally got one of her in a canoe.

As we picked her up and drove home, she started telling us about her amazing week away – the worship, the messages, her counselors, the friends she had made.  I tried to casually slip into conversation whether or not she had tried any of the more challenging activities – the high ropes course, the rock climbing wall, the giant slip and slide.  Every one of them was answered with a “no”, and her reason why.

Friends, I really struggled listening to her.  She hadn’t tried some of the essential experiences of camp!  But then I really, really thought about her, and what she was saying. She hadn’t missed out on anything.  Our ideas of “essential experiences” were completely different, and it turns out mine were wrong.

When expectations are wrong, it can lead to heaps of trouble – hurt feelings, miscommunication, disappointment, disapproval, and more.  Expectations can be too high, too low, and unrealistic.  I wonder if when they’re just plain wrong, we didn’t really understand the big picture in the first place?

I’m thankful for my girl, that she experienced what she wanted and needed to, that she  shared about her week, and she shared passionately.  I’m thankful I had the opportunity to see her instead of my idea of what camp should be.