Success and Pressure

Let’s talk about success in today’s society, with our children, with ourselves, and with our ability to emulate and imitate the Lord’s merciful acts. 

Technology has become quite my friend, just as easily as it has become my enemy.   While I rely on technology, and more specifically social media, to keep me up to date with the news of the world, I also find it to be quite stressful especially where my children are concerned.  

Podcasts are one of my favorite things to listen to.  I enjoy getting snippets of news via NPR podcasts, or listening to 60 minutes while I’m doing laundry or the dishes.   In a lot of cases, I’m listening to news specifically through my Amazon Echo and Echo Dot while I read and write blogs, pay bills, and finish up any writing projects I’m working on.   It’s a different level of multi-tasking, than what my parents were used to.   One podcast I enjoy listening to is Focus on the Family.   In most cases, they have short little 20 or 25 minute devotionals and/or anecdotes about family and living a Christian life.  Last week, one of the podcasts focused on success and pressure.   They asked the question, “How do you define success?”   And obviously, in today’s society success is defined in a more superficial and at times egotistical way as opposed to a spiritual one.   So, today I wanted to discuss that in this blog. 

Many parents will say their child is successful if he or she gets into a good school.   If he or she wins the MVP trophy in soccer, scores the most goals in basketball, wins the geography bee, the spelling bee, is the valedictorian, or makes the President’s list.   I don’t want to take away from these parents, because they are right…their children are successful, but they’re falling short at times in the way the Lord asks us to be.   The Bible tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, to live for something bigger than what is on the surface.  

So many parents these days have created a thin line between a child doing his or her best and satisfying the egotistical needs and desires of his or her parents.   Ok, ok, friends, I know what you’re saying to me, “let he who doesn’t sin cast the first stone.”   It is not my place to judge or to “preach” because I am just as guilty.  For any of you who follow me on Facebook, you’ll see my often times shameless posts about my children completing tasks, some of those tasks are completed at an earlier age than their peers.   That is my pride shining through and some could call it my gloating, and this is where I state that technology and social media, specifically, are my worst enemy.   They encourage me to not focus on success in a Christian manner.

How many of you out there post photos of your children online?   I’d be willing to bet that every one of you who reads my posts and have children, do this.   You’re proud of your children and you want to share it with the world.   I get it, I do, but does it add too much pressure on us as parents to encourage (and some of you go a few levels above encouragement) our children to succeed?   Are our children becoming an appendage of our own superficial egos?   Think about that for a moment. 

This past Sunday, my pastor discussed “The Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises of God” from 2 Peter 1:5-11 and it correlated a lot with how we determine success, or at least I was able to relate it in my Christian struggles to be a good mom and mold my children into successful adults.   I want to look at two particular passages from 2 Peter 1. 

“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:10-11

Peter wrote a second letter because false teachers were troubling the church and disturbing the faith of some by their heresy, immorality, and greed.   Perhaps I’m seeing a parallel in what Peter found and how we, Christians and non-Christians, are determining what makes our children successful.   We are placing realistic and un-realistic requests and stresses upon our children, and why are we assuming these are the only ways to be successful?  Thanks to social media, the competitive factor amongst parents has increased.   Our children’s success, or lack thereof, becomes a direct reflection upon how well we are raising our children.   We can be seen as failures.   We are labeled as dead beats and disconnected parents.  We allow ourselves to dwell upon a shallow view of success.   I struggle daily to make sure that what I’m conveying to my children as “success” isn’t something that is just defined by our society. 

So, what was my point with the post?   To encourage all of you to relax a bit, to let go, to not pin your child’s goals upon what Nosey Neighbor’s kids down the street are doing.   God created us in His image and He has a higher purpose for us and our children than what society leads us to.   This is not to encourage an indolent nature with our children, but continue to guide them and influence what true success is.   And just like Peter says in 2 Peter 1: 5-8,

                “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, 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.” 

And isn’t that how true success should be defined? 

Country Folks Can Survive

I grew up a country girl, more so than the way my boys are growing up.   My parents built their house in Powdersville back in 1977.  Back then Powdersville was nothing more than the Winn Dixie, an awesome hot dog stand and a dairy farm on a two lane stretch of highway.   Our back yard butted up to a horse pasture and our front yard looked out at a cow pasture.   My parents lived (and still do) on one acre in what was then a very desolate area.

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My boys picking blackberries.

I grew up without the suburban neighborhood feel that my kids have now.   We shucked corn in our backyard, as we fed the horses.   We had cows randomly walk into our front yard, pot bellied pigs, chickens, and even deer.   We didn’t own any of the livestock, it was just part of the scenery of our home.

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Davey did more picking than I thought he would.

We also had a garden, small by normal farm standards, but more than large enough to feed our family for an entire year.  My mama canned 52 quart jars of green beans a year, over a hundred quarts of tomatoes, not to mention the okra, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers we had.   In the fall, my daddy would turn the land and we’d plant rows of turnips, and once again my mama would can and freeze turnip greens like it was no one’s business.   My Saturday mornings during the Spring and Summer consisted of rising well before all the cool rich kids who lived in the burbs, and harvesting the garden before the heat of the day took over.   The afternoons were spent in mama’s kitchen popping beans and helping her can.  This was my childhood, and as a child, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now?   Well, life was simple back then.

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Blackberries!

Dave and I chose to build a house in a subdivision, something he somewhat had and something I NEVER had as a child, but now I’m wishing we had land with the ability to plant and harvest and even raise chickens and goats.   I wish my boys had the childhood I had and so when the occasion allows, I try to encourage that with my kids.

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Davey was a bit unsure if he wanted to taste them or not.

Today, I decided to take them on an adventure so they could at least experience the wonderfully cool outdoor air and even a little bit of work.  Today we decided to ride up to Justus Orchard and pick blackberries.

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Henry was our basket carrier!

I would love to see things through a child’s eyes.  Davey does a good job of at least offering up a description for me.   As we rode north into North Carolina, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains.   Davey was fascinated.   He described how he was sure if he were on those mountains, he’d be able to touch those clouds and “don’t you think they would feel like marshmallows, mom?”  He was fascinated with the mountains, spying something different on each one even through the driving rain.   Every one of them, he wanted to hike up, “to the very top, mom, where I can almost touch God’s hand.”   See?  How great does this sound?   The drive alone was worth it.

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The first time they found the ducks!

When me made it to the orchard, the boys jumped out, rain boots already on (how are we going to jump in mud puddles without rain boots?), and an eagerness to just run between the rows and rows of blackberry bushes.

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Henry had a mishap.

They both helped pick for a while until suddenly a duck bill popped its way between two of the bushes.   There were ducks!  All sorts of ducks, just roaming freely through the orchard.   The boys took chase and quickly left the blackberry picking to me.  Naturally, I stopped periodically to take pictures (I never leave home without my camera).   The boys didn’t put in any hard work, but how wonderful it was just to have them all muddy and covered in blackberry stains.   They were having fun!   It was the kind of fun I had as a kid.

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I just love the view of the rows and rows of orchards and my little Davey running through them.

 

When we were ready to leave, Davey said, “mom, I’d like to live here.”   Yeah me too.   You see, I may not be the smartest lass in the land, but I know what hard work is and I know that there’s nothing like country life…living it, breathing it, and just soaking it in.   On the drive back home, I thought about all those poor kids who are sitting inside, iPads and computers in front of them.   Yeah, they might be geniuses and they might be the next great inventor, but what happens one day should those computers and electronics go away?

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One more chase before we had to leave.

Country folks can survive, to quote Bocephus himself.

Global Warming and It’s Threat to Me

Let me preface this blog post with the following statement.   This is meant to be a satire.  Very few scientific or factual theories will be covered under this post.  It is not meant to be an attack against any group or to be offensive, so for you eco-friendly, tree hugging, mother earth loving individuals…relax.   Go chew on some wood bark but only from a tree that was not destroyed by capitalist pigs in their ongoing effort to stifle our environment.

Global warming.  What is?  Well, let me give you a basic definition.  It is a gradual increase in temperature of the earth’s atmosphere attributed to the greenhouse effects caused by increased levels of pollutants in our air.   A lot of scientific mumbo jumbo, with a lot of credible experiments to back it up.   Me?  Being the Christian I am, I think it’s all part of God’s plan, and this plan is causing serious problems for me, especially in the arena of being a stay at home mom to two boys, with an overly hot summer thereby limiting them to outside usage and increasing my downward spiral into a state of insanity.

This summer has by far been the worst.   A few summers ago we dealt with so much rain that we had our own personal riverview in our back yard, an anomaly for someone with no rivers within a five mile radius.   Last summer I thought it was hot, but at least we had some rain from time to time to cool us off.   This year, as many of you who live in the South are aware, we are desperately lagging in the rain gauge, couple that with days in the upper 90s, a heat index in the 100s, and this mama is about to go code red bonkers.

When I was growing up, my mom just kicked us outside.   We played all day long, sometimes at our neighbors’ houses, but mostly in our own backyard.   We drank from the spigot or the hose, ran around in our bare feet, and caught lightning bugs well past our bedtime.   That was the summer of my youth, but the summer of my boys’ youth?  We’re burning gas (damn us for contributing to the greenhouse effect) as we’re on the road to various museums, water parks, and pools.   We’re inside because by 9 am it’s already so hot and humid that my children are crying about the heat.   Heck, I’m crying about it too.  It’s keeping me from having an enjoyable summer.

I can’t just kick my kids outside, thank you very much, global warming,  because you have made it nearly impossible for my children to be the same outside kids I was.   Some days I feel like we’re living on Mercury, unable to walk outside otherwise we literally melt from the suns radioactive heat.   Global warming is literally ruining my children’s summer and my romantic version of being a stay at home mom.   I loathe it almost as much as I loathe Hillary Clinton, sometimes I see it as just as dangerous to my livelihood as Hillary.   Global warming is forcing my children to be pasty white, much unlike me at their age…golden tanned.  Global warming is also turning my boys into pansies.  They whine at the least little amount of heat.

I do; however, feel genuinely bad for my boys, or maybe it’s just my mom guilt disguised as empathy.   I don’t want to be outside during the day.  I get up at 5:30 to run just so I can beat the heat.   The pool water isn’t refreshing.  We feel like we’re in an oversized communal bath tub, and there’s zero shade.   There’s nothing refreshing.  I feel bad leaving them in front of a television or with an iPad, but hey, there’s only so much entertainment a mom with a business degree and no original desire to have kids, can offer.

Another threat with global warming…we’re all gaining weight.  Why is that?  Because once again it’s just too damned hot to be outside.  We instead veg out inside watching movies and of course eating snacks.   Personally, I don’t need the weight gain.

Global warming is an epidemic of huge proportion.   It must be stopped, it must be reversed.   Me?  I’m too lazy, and it’s much too hot ouside, to really do anything about it other than write this blog post to complain about how much it’s ruining my summer.   Global warming has quickly moved up on my list of enemies, Hillary Clinton still being number one.

Oh, global warming, how I would love to slay thee.

 

Heroes and Bad Guys

At what age do you have this conversation?   No, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees, but the ones where you talk about bad guys.   How do you explain it to a precocious four year old so that he understands, that he empathizes, but that he’s not terrified of every person who is lurking around the corner?  How much is too much to tell?

Davey has always understood the level of respect that goes with a uniform.   When he was two, he saluted and shook the hands of two Army privates as we all waited to board a flight in Baltimore.   He thanked them for their service and was excited to have met two heroes.   My cousin and her husband are both retired Navy Corpsmen.   When Davey met them he was just as excited to know that he has family who are heroes, like Captain America.   He sees heroes on t.v. and we read about them in books, but in those stories, the heroes don’t die.   They may get hurt, but they always come home.  How do you rationalize the difference between the make believe heroes and the real ones who are literally sacrificing their lives to protect ours?   It’s hard, but you find a way.

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It rained hard most of the afternoon and we worried if the rain would hold off so we would light our luminaries. God shined down upon us.

Friday afternoon, we lost one of our finest in Greenville, SC.   A police officer was looking to ask questions of a 17 year old self admitted gang member.   When he and his partner found the gang member, he ran from them.   Both officers took off on foot to pursue the young man.   Without speculation as to what happened or how it happened, Officer Allen Jacobs lost his life when he was shot multiple times by the juvenile.   He was gunned down without ever unholstering his gun.

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Setting up the luminaries.

We didn’t discuss Friday’s events with Davey.  He caught the occasional tidbit of news here and there, but for the most part stayed oblivious until today.   Today, our neighborhood decided to find a way to join together in solidarity, love, and support.  What we came to learn is that the parents of the officer who lost his life, live in our neighborhood.   While we don’t know them personally, this put more of a reality and close to home factor in it for us.   When you know the family of someone who is senselessly killed, it hurts more, you don’t just sympathize, but you feel as if you can almost have a sense of empathy with the family.  So, tonight at sunset, the neighborhood place luminaries along sidewalks, driveways and walkways.

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Setting up the luminaries.

We decided that with the impending luminaries of love, we should perhaps discuss what happened with Davey.   We told him about a police officer who died, how his mom and dad are our neighbors, and how he was a hero.   Davey’s questions mostly loomed around these…”Did a bad guy get him?”  Yes, a bad guy got him.  “Does my daddy need to go get the bad guy?”  No, the bad guy killed himself.  “You mean he took the gun and pointed it at himself?”  And Davey said this with a little bit of concern, his lower lip trembling slightly.   At this point, I wondered if perhaps I had gone too far, but decided to plow through.  Yes, Davey, he pointed the gun at himself.  “At least the bad guy is gone now,” was the response he had.

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Setting up the luminaries.

Later, at the start of sunset, we made a family affair of lining our walkway with paper bags, full of rocks, and votive candles.   Both boys helped, but whenever a police officer would drive by, they both stopped and stood in the front yard to wave.

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Setting up the luminaries.

It’s a horribly senseless tragedy.   My heart breaks every day.  I’ve found myself shedding tears daily as I’ve tried to put myself into the shoes of his widow, who is pregnant with their third child.   I feel inundated with waves of nausea as I “see” her lying down at night, after she’s tucked her two boys into bed, kissing their foreheads and reminding them of how much they were their daddy’s world.   I feel my heart breaking when she lies in the dark  caressing her daughter, still in the womb, as she tries to find ways to stay strong and tell her unborn daughter of how wonderful of a man her daddy was.   Tears stream down my face when I “see” her waking the next morning, from a fitful night of sleep, as she prays that she was just in the midst of a terrible dream and that the love of her life, her best friend, and soul mate, is really just coming home from work.   He did indeed come home, just not to his temporary one here.   Officer Jacobs went home to his Father, and while we all know he is in a better place and this was God’s will, we still hurt for those who lost him and for those of us who didn’t know him other than as a police officer and army veteran.

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Setting up the luminaries.

Heroes don’t always win and heroes don’t always live, but God’s will be done.

 

Rest in peace, Officer Jacobs.   Your brothers and sister will

Officer Jacobs
Officer Allen Jacobs EOW 3/18/16

take over from here.

Being Thankful

As many of you are aware, South Carolina midlands and coastal areas experienced flooding unlike anything that’s ever been seen in our state.   The Upstate, where I live with my family, was originally predicted to see more flooding than what it received.  Fortunately for us, but not so fortunate for the rest of the state, we dodged a bullet.

For days our television has been inundated with images of flood waters, cars submerged, people attempting to drive through the floods, rescuers saving people by boat and air, and total devastation of major roadways.   While we don’t let our boys watch much along the lines of normal television (they get PBS and kids movies), it’s been near impossible for us to keep them away from the news, and truthfully I haven’t wanted to hide it.   I’ve actually encouraged it.

This morning, I sat Davey down alongside me as we watched news reports of the devastation.   I suppose I expected him to ask more questions, but mostly he just thought it was “cool”.   I suppose that’s the normal response for a four year old, and I don’t fault him too much for it.  He’s a kid, but he’s also a fortunate kid, one who is blessed beyond measure.

I should have just let it go.  I should have allowed him to just say, “that’s cool, mom.” but I didn’t.   I wanted him to see what was going on in our state, in some places less than an hour away.   I wanted him to know that there are people who are suffering.  I wanted him to know that there are people who’ve lost everything.   I wanted him to be thankful for what he had.   I guess that’s asking a little too much, but I didn’t just let it go.  I took the opportunity, as heart breaking as it is, to teach my son.

We talked about the weather and how the flood waters came about.   He asked if it was like with Noah, and I said “no”, although some people may have felt differently.   We talked about how it’s our responsibility not just as Christians, but as South Carolinians, to help our neighbors.   I encouraged him to look around and tell me what he should be thankful for.  He said his toys, naturally, but then I implored him to look further.   I asked him if he’s blessed to have a house.  His response, doesn’t everyone have a house?   No, sweetheart, everyone does NOT have a house.   I told him we have food, and once again he was confused, because doesn’t everyone have food?

I’m not ashamed of what we have.   I don’t feel guilty for our blessings, I’m thankful for them.   I’m grateful that the Lord has provided for us, but now it’s our turn to help provide for others.   So, I told Davey that we were going to do a donation drive in our neighborhood.   He didn’t understand, so once again I got down to the level of a four year old and explained that we’re going to collect bottled water, diapers, formula, and individually packaged snacks for the Red Cross.

We posted our donation drive on our neighborhood Facebook page and what a blessing to already have neighbors respond, less than six hours after we posted it.   When our first donation came in, the excitement in Davey’s eyes was wonderfully magical.  He’s genuinely excited to help and while he may not understand completely the ramifications of this horrible storm, he knows he, like so many of us, plays a crucial role in helping our state to rebuild.

If you’re interested in helping out those hit by the floods in South Carolina, then please visit the Red Cross and make a donation.   If you’re interested in contributing to our neighborhood donation drive, then contact me.

We are all God’s children and we all have a responsibility to come to the aid of our neighbors.   Be thankful for what you have in life and give to those who may have lost it all.

We are #scstrong.

Oh, So You’re THAT Mom…

I didn’t hear those words last night, but I most certainly received the looks that conveyed that message.

Last night was Meet the Teacher at Davey’s School.   School is an exciting time for me.  I’m a nerd.  I love school.   I love to learn, and at times I love to teach my sons.   Unfortunately for me, and my sons, my personality has yet to equip me with the capacity to be a home school mom, which means I send them to a Christian school two days a week.

Davey will be four, one month from today, but he is starting into K3 thanks to the State of SC’s lovely cut off.  I have mixed emotions about this which I will address later.

So, Davey will be in a classroom with kids younger than him, some by almost a full year.   At this age, I shouldn’t be too terribly concerned about it, and that’s what I keep telling myself.

When meeting the teachers last night, I was thrilled to see that his TA (Teacher’s Assistant) will actually be the same one he had last year for K2.   It took a load off of me, allowing me to literally wipe the sweat that had started beading up on my forehead.   He loved Mrs. Whaling, and the fact that she knows him AND me, is making this process a little bit easier.   As for his new teacher, I need to warm up to her a bit.

She’s young.  She graduated college seven years after I did.   Her one advantage in my eyes is that she went to Bob Jones University here in Greenville.   It’s a great university, which instills a lot of love and faith in Christ in its students, something I know she’ll bring with her.   Even with that under her belt, her age still bothers me.   Yes, I’m discriminating.   I’m trying to stop, but as my husband says, she’s a little too bubbly for him, but maybe bubbly is what our kids need.

My biggest concern; however, was when I inquired as to what the curriculum would be like for K3.   When she explained it to me, my heart sank.  I nicely explained to her, with a compassionate smile, that Davey is already well ahead of the game.   He already writes his upper case letters.   He’s learning to write his lower case letters now.   He knows how to spell some words.  He can write his numbers, at least all the way up to 10, and he’s even started learning mathematics.   He knows sounds and has begun to sound out words.  He knows more than a lot of current K4 students know.

As I explained this to her, she looked at me and said, “well, I guess when Sue takes the kids to their centers, I could work one on one with Davey.”  That sentence rubbed me the wrong way.  I wanted to say, “you GUESS?”

I gave up my career four years ago.  I gave up a big portion of my dreams to be a stay at home mom.   I chose to stay at home so that I could be hands on with the boys, not so that I could have the cleanest house, or the prettiest yard, or more “me” time.   Those three things suffer A LOT, even with me being at home.   They are not my priorities.   My sons are my priorities.   Their continued growth, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically, are my number one concern.   From my very first day of being home, I started working with Davey.   I took him to story time at the library, made flash cards with colors, bought puzzles, read him books, played music, all of this in an effort to make him better than me and his dad, to encourage him to be more, and at times I feel as if I’ve succeeded.

Five days a week, I find a way to incorporate a minimum of three hours a day of some sort of “schooling” for my boys.   I don’t follow a curriculum and it’s hard on all of us for me to try to create a school type atmosphere, but they learn.   They learn their manners, they learn about God and our creation, they learn their numbers and letters, they learn their shapes and colors.  They either build upon something they already knew or I add something new onto them.   So, maybe I am leading somewhat of a homeschool life after all.

As my husband and I climbed into bed last night, I told him that I had backtracked from my original statement earlier in the evening.   Today is student orientation and while Davey has that, I’m to attend a Sip and Sob with other parents.   My original intent during the Sip and Sob was to find a way to speak with the Headmaster of Davey’s school to convey my concerns about where he is academically and how he’s penalized because of his age.   By the time I’d gotten into bed; however,  I had changed my mind.

I’m going to let Davey go into K3.  I’m going to let him go back to school with some of his friends.   I’m going to let this play out.  If need be, I can have parent teacher conferences on a weekly basis (which I did last year).   I can, and will, continue to help Davey grow and learn every day.   My husband told me last night that truthfully the only reason either one of our boys are going to school right now is because I need a break from them.   He told me, I do more for them than any school could right now, but that their going was really just to give me a few hours a day, two days a week, to recharge.  I suppose he’s right.

So, this morning, I will drop Davey off for his student orientation.  I will begrudgingly sit in Sip and Sob with these other moms and play my role.  I will let him stay where he is because as my mother in law said to me, right now Davey is a big fish in a little pond.   Wouldn’t I rather like that for him than to be a little fish in a big pond?

Allowing My Love to Permeate

We had a wonderful lesson in Sunday School today.  It resonated not only with me, but with the other members in my class.   My husband and I had nursery duty today, so we were unable to attend our Pastor’s sermon, but my understanding is that it followed along with our lesson.   The lesson was about returning to your first love…Jesus Christ.   As Christians, we are taught to always return to a love for Christ that permeates everything we do.   At times, we find ourselves straying.  Perhaps, day-to-day life gets in the way.   Other times, we get settled into our routines and sometimes those routines are not allowing room for Jesus.   I’m definitely guilty of this.

Once upon a time, when I would get frustrated with my boys or life, I would retreat to a chair in another room, whip out my Bible and start reading.   Davey used to say to me, “Mommy, do you need Jesus?” when I would start counting to 10 in order to calm myself down before berating him or his brother for flushing legos down the toilet.   These days I’m afraid that I’ve allowed my relationship with God to start sliding.   One thing I was most proud of was that my boys would see me taking time to read the Bible.  They would see me in quiet prayer or reflection with God.  I hang my head low now as I admit that they haven’t seen that in a while.

So, tonight I made sure to carve out some time, any time I could to read a Bible study and a couple of passages in the Bible.  It’s funny how God always know when you need Him most.  He knows that today is the best day to start back over with me.   He forgives me for my laziness and my sinful nature.  He loves me and He encourages me and today’s Bible study reminded me of that.

It starts with the commandment to Honor Thy Mother and Father and takes me into Ephesians, Chapter 6, verses 1-4.  I want to take this time to share verse 4 with you, more specifically my fellow parents out there who find themselves overwhelmed.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

I reflected on this passage for quite some time and I’ve looked back over the past few weeks as Henry has become more strong-willed and Davey more head strong.   I’ve started developing a lot of gray hair (my stylists calls it glitter) thanks to these two and I feel that lately I’ve been quick to anger and raise my voice.  This isn’t the way the Lord wants me to discipline my children.  I know this, but I haven’t exactly heeded His words or commands.  I haven’t been allowing God’s Love to permeate and I definitely don’t think I’ve been allowing my love to permeate as well.

Being a parent is a hard job.  It’s the toughest, most stressful, and yet most rewarding job you’ll ever have.   If you mess up with your kids, then there’s not really a do-over.   You can’t take a “pay cut” or find another job.   This is it.   But when you get it right, man does it feel like you’ve hit a grand slam in your final ever at bat.

I’ve allowed too many other things to “interfere” with my life and my boys’ lives.   My backsliding from God has hurt us all, but I want to remember what it was like when I first became a Christian and committed my life to God.  I felt relieved.  I was happy.   My stress level plummeted and I felt like for the first time ever things were going right in my life.   It’s time to get that back again and to start letting that permeate through to my boys.

I encourage you all to take that closer look.   To ask yourself how it felt being a Christian for the first time.   Find a way to let the love permeate.

Songbird

I sat in the pew of the sanctuary, much further back than I wanted, but I needed an aisle seat so I could discreetly film the concert. I watched anxiously as other parents shuffled in and I beamed with excitement when my mom and dad entered. They were here to see their first grandchild perform in his first ever school concert. I imagined what it must have been like for them when they were my age, experiencing all the firsts. I smiled at my mother as she frantically looked over heads to try to find Davey.

After a few moments, his grade filtered in. We sat quietly, unlike the obnoxious parents in front of us who were feverishly waving at their little one, thereby preventing us from being able to see Davey. For a moment, I said a prayer that my mother’s claws wouldn’t come out as she began complaining, not so quietly, about not being able to see. Finally, the rude parents took their seat and we were able to see Davey as he stepped on stage and climbed onto the risers. He didn’t see us, which was our purpose since we preferred to have him focus on his concert.

The children were quickly and strategically placed prompting the pianist to begin playing. At that moment, I watched my son, my baby, my first born, in a whole new light. He was on stage, singing, clapping, and going through all of the motions of the songs he was taught. I felt a lump form in my throat, and the tears begin to develop in my eyes. Why was I crying? What was wrong with me? Was I the only parent who was crying? Perhaps, but I’m really ok with that.

With each song and each motion, my heart swelled with pride, but my stomach suffered through the knots of sadness, a sadness from how quickly he’s grown. I was in awe over his ability to flow along with the song and the fact that he would stand on that stage and stay focused. I can’t get him to do that! But really as I continued to watch him, I saw no one else on that stage. There were other bodies around him, but they were blurred out, like droning little bees flitting around him. I never knew it was possible to be so proud of someone in my life.

I wanted to stand up and shout, “the little boy in the yellow oxford shirt? yeah, the one who’s singing perfectly and going through the motions flawlessly, well that’s my boy! I am his mother!” I wanted to shout it from the rooftops so everyone could here.

I sit here now and re-watch the videos I took and I can’t seem to dam up the tears. This child is my child, he is a part of me and my husband. Every day I’m amazed at what the two of us created, but today I have such reverence for this small little being. He is beyond great, he is beyond awesome. He is the most perfect thing God could ever create.

So, I think I’ll sit here and watch him sing and fall in love all over again.

Henry the Toy

I gave up a long time ago at trying to understand the thinking of a three year old’s brain. It was more exhausting than trying to understand why Kanye West chooses to be such a racist! Actually, Kanye is more frustrating to me than my three year old, but they seem to think alike. Hmmm…does that mean my three year old is an extremely intelligent individual, or that Kanye West has the brain of a three year old. I don’t know that I want to give Kanye a bigger head nor insult my own child’s intelligence. Anyways, I’ve diverged from the original reason for this post…Henry the Toy!

That’s correct, you did read that. I often wonder if Davey truly sees his brother as a human being, another living, breathing gift from God, or if he just sees him as a toy placed here for Davey’s entertainment or at times, misery.

Not a day goes by when I’m not saying one of the following phrases:
“Don’t pull your brother by his shirt.”
“Don’t put your brother in a choke hold.”
“Don’t head butt your brother.”
“Don’t push him over.”
“Get off of him.”
“That’s an illegal move…there is no horse collaring in this household.”
“Stop treating your brother like he’s a rag doll.”

Well, actually there doesn’t seem to be five minutes which go by in this house when one of those phrases isn’t said. The only true peace my husband and I get is when one or both of the boys are down for naps. I didn’t do this much refeering between “children” when I was negotiating huge advertising or distribution contracts in the corporate world, and trust me some grown men can behave worse than children. People who tell you or seem to think that being a SAHM is a walk in the park, clearly have been sniffing the glue much too long.

What I’m seeing more and more of lately, in addition to above said phrases, is that Davey truly thinks that Henry’s sole purpose on this earth is to do exactly what Davey says when Davey says. It’s becoming more and more clear every day, but really didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks until today. My three year old thinks that his one year old brother should do nothing more than serve him.

OK, Ok, for all of us out there who had siblings, we all have done this to our younger siblings or were subjected to it by being the younger children. Perhaps it’s a rite of passage, but truthfully I’ve had enough! I’m sick of Davey forcing, yes forcing, his brother to stop what he’s doing in order to play with him. I’m annoyed with hearing, “mommy, make Henry play with me. It’s his job. He must do what I say. I didn’t say he could play dinosaurs. I didn’t give him permission to leave. I am the boss.”

Excuse me? You’re just a little peon in the kingdom of mommy and daddy, who are the supreme rulers. This is not a democracy, this is a dictatorship where you have no rights, least of which is the ability to boss around your brother! These usually start out as my thoughts, but seem to quickly become part of my verbal lexicon, forever thrusted out into the sayings from mommy, never to be removed. Only, I get to boss anyone around, including daddy! Just kidding, honey! You know you’re my equal. 🙂

Seriously, I watched today as Henry picked his brother up out of his chair, and carried his 22 pounds across the room because it was imperative for Henry to play with Davey, only Davey. I know my child is smart, both of my children are, but it’s tearing at the foundation of my patience (what little of it I have) when Davey treats his brother this way. I’m told he’ll grow out of this, but when? Until then, I suppose I must resign myself to the fact that I’ll be spending the better portions of my day protecting Henry at least until he’s old enough to pay it back to Davey. By the way, I’m hoping Henry does end up bigger than Davey and I genuinely hope he dishes it back out to Davey twofold. At that point, I’m just going to toss them both out into the backyard and let them duke it out.

Keep It Shut

Last week I started my first ever Bible Study. I’ve always wanted to participate in one, but trying to coordinate my schedule around everyone else’s was just quite impossible. My cousin turned me on to a ministry who does online Bible Studies, Proverbs 31, and I am officially hooked. So, why am I blogging about participating in a Bible Study? I’m glad you asked because it’s almost as if my cousin knew that right now, at this point in my life, I really needed something like this. She knew because God told her, and He waited until at this point to tell her knowing that I have a huge problem with keeping it shut, my mouth that is.

I’m two weeks into this Bible Study and I wish I had started it sooner. It’s put a whole new perspective on things in my life. It’s made me realize what I was doing, things I was either completely oblivious to or things I was telling myself to forget about. And it’s helped me with my most important role to date…being a mother.

The title of the Bible Study is “Keep it Shut”. It basically helps you to realize what to say, how to say it, and perhaps when it’s best to say nothing at all. All of which I have a severe problem with accomplishing. I just wish I’d had the book a week sooner because it is now opening my eyes to a lot of behavior of which I could use assistance.

You see, two weeks ago, my husband and I got into an argument. It wasn’t just simply a disagreement. No, this was a “yelling at the top of our lungs, stomping off, saying things we regret” kind of argument. What made it worse is that the argument occurred in front of Davey.

I grew up in a house with parents who had disagreements at times. There was the occasional raising of the voice, but there was no hitting below the belt or name calling. Having arguments is a part of human nature and I by no means am interested in candy coating things for either of our boys. I never want to put forth a façade of having the happiest marriage in the world. Am I happy? Absolutely. Do I love my husband? You better believe it, but like most marriages it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies with angels singing in the background. So, having an argument in front of my children isn’t what bothers me, it’s how low my husband and I got in said argument in front of Davey.

Henry was napping and Davey was eating his lunch. I don’t recall how the argument started, but looking back on things I should have “kept it shut”. Instead I chose to ignore that voice deep inside of me who kept saying, “it’s not worth it. think of what you’re doing to your son. think of what you’re doing to your husband. think of what you’re doing to yourself. think of what you’re doing to your God” Nope, I didn’t take a deep breath, reflect for a moment, or pray to God for guidance. I lashed back out at my husband.

Here’s what made things so horrible, though, and what I can’t get out of my head. I caught Davey out of the corner of my eye watching my husband and I volley back and forth. He listened to one insult after another (there were no swear words, my husband and I don’t do that). What could he possibly have been thinking as he saw this vicious attack? Our voices were so loud that I’m surprised Henry was able to nap at all! Then the scenario got worse. As my husband sat down in the recliner, getting in his few last words, I followed him and threw in a few of my own while our three year old stood between the two of us, arms out and said, “no, stop.” And only then did I stop.

A few days later, I brought this up with my husband. I asked if he had paid attention to Davey while we were arguing and he said, “No”. He recalls how Davey jumped between the two of us as if to put the fighters into their own separate corners. We both agreed something like that can’t happen again.

Over the past week and a half, as I’ve started working on my Bible Study, I’ve found myself quick at times to let my temper flare up. It’s hard to have patience with a three year old especially one who is just as hard-headed and strong-willed as myself, but I have to find a way.

Since I’ve begun this Bible Study, things that I once found important have now become trivial. What’s the point in being upset with Davey for spilling paint on the floor? I can clean it up and it’s not wasted any of my time. What’s the point in losing my patience with him when I’m trying to work or read and he just won’t be quiet? The day may come when I beg him to talk to him and he just won’t. Then what? And of course, I’ve learned to take a minute and truly reflect upon my word before it spills out of my mouth, forever a part of the world and the memory of the intended recipient.

I’m not a huge fan of self help books, but I am a huge fan of the Words of our Lord. Perhaps instead of saying that hideous thing to make someone else hurt as bad as me, I should remember this passage from Ecclesiastes 10:12
Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.

Best way to enjoy a good book...fire and a cup of tea.
Best way to enjoy a good book…fire and a cup of tea.