Sunday, June 15, 2008

on logic and defiance...

Last night there was a battle of epic proportions in my house. It started out innocently enough: I asked #1 to take a bath with his little brother on returning home from the beach. This is my #1 who will happily skip showers on any given day. Well, it turns out cleanliness is more important to him than I knew before this moment, because he proceeded to give me a very in-depth explanation as to how he could not possibly get clean in a BATH, for goodness' sake, where the sand sits on the bottom, and where, quite possibly, his little brother (the five-year-old, not the baby, mind you,) might choose to pee. (I know, I know, more bodily functions...)
I told him I understood his reluctance, but the sand wasn't really "dirt," and I wanted him to just do it quick so I could get out of my own swimsuit and take a quick shower elsewhere; and besides, his brother promised he doesn't do that in the tub any more!

My just-entering-the-logic-stage-of-learning son proceeded to raise his voice to a higher pitch and louder volume and re-explain his reasoning, adding pleas of unfairness that I would subject him to this torture. (I am not getting my quick shower, am I?)
Once again I explained that I understood his reasoning, adding that in this case, while I normally don't force him to take baths, I just wanted him to submit to my authority as mom and get it over with. This is where the Grace of God definitely took over. For my handsome, intelligent, growing-wiser-with-passing-days oldest son turned into a cross between a toddler and a snarling pit bull, with a bit of howling coyote thrown in. He got into the bath but hollered the whole time, received discipline and continued to fit-pitch, was sent to his bed at the same time as his baby brother and still he carried on so that littlest could not fall asleep. (Yep, still in my wet swimsuit, which is starting to dry, but now I feel the grit in unhappy places.)
Finally with firm response to his fit, I sent him to my room to bed so that at least baby could sleep. God is so awesome, because normally the flesh in me added to my own first-born-ness gives me excuse to make it a battle of wills just because I want to win, and anger easily sets in. I honestly wasn't angry at my sweet boy, though, just amazed at his stamina and the critter he'd become, and sad that a sweet evening at the beach was going south so far. I left him in his misery for a bit (still no shower; now I'm getting itchy from salt water) and went to consult with Dad. I didn't want to leave the night this way, so I headed up into the dark... "Buddy, did you want to talk before you go to sleep?" (Sniffle...) "I'M SORRY I WAS SO STUBBORN...!!!" At which point I dove into bed and wrapped my precious first in my arms. The ensuing conversation was mind-blowing in its depth and revelation of the process we all go through.
We think we know what's best. We assert our "authority." We reason with those in charge, and when that doesn't work we go for all out rebellion. If we've been raised right or God's wisdom has taken our hearts and minds and shaped them, then this is often done without our even noticing - and at least without anyone else's. But when we "reason" with the police officer about how we can drive safely at that speed, or "explain" to the county that we didn't expect to encounter that electrical line while digging in our own back yard, the consequences are more severe than an 11-year-old considers. And if he doesn't consider them now, the circumstances he creates at 30 may be more "natural consequence" than he wants to experience.
My dear one and I had sweet moments of snuggling and remembering again God's grace. Just like He did with the Israelites, He loves us so much that when we choose defiance, He will come against it. Yes, like He has since time began, He may allow us to run for a while with our "logic..." but in the end, when we who are His choose to battle Him, He will oppose us. And He will win, because the prize for which He battles us is our own heart. And He promised us, He will never leave us nor forsake us. He said NOTHING can separate us from His love- NOTHING. Neither height, nor depth, nor any number of things... including our own will.
And when one of my precious ones chooses to "battle" for the sake of battle, I will lovingly and passionately oppose him. I will listen to reason, and I will give freedom to choose one's own path at every opportunity. (I will, Father - give me grace!!!) But when their very souls are at stake (even over the silly tub), I will wrestle them until their hearts know the sweet joy of surrender. Because this is how my Father loves me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rules, rules, shmools...

I saw this sign tonight while I was at the beach doing photos for some good friends:
I've been to this beach a ton of times and never noticed the sign. That's probably because it's right in front of some beautiful, but very steep and SHARP large rocks. I have five little squirts, so I'm usually keeping vigilant eye on them to make sure they don't head into the ocean at the Clearwater Beach intercoastal waterway. But seeing this sign made me realize that there probably are some people who are just daring enough to try the swim - maybe some already have, thus the need to post the warning.
The kids and I have been studying the ancients, and in particular the Israelites during the time of Judah's disobedience and subsequent captivity to various enemies. We've been observing how God warned His people time and again through the prophets and godly kings that disobedience to His commands would result in disaster. You know what? Every time, it did!
I sometimes feel like "going for a swim" in ornery behavior, as my grandma would call it. I want to do things my own way, because of course I always think I know better. My kids are the same way, and unfortunately when they are, the firstborn in me fights them in the flesh and tries to "get control." What I am learning again, though, is that the human spirit is a stubborn one. Despite the warning signs, we are determined to "have it our way" (sound familiar?) and seek the adventure, or the temporary pleasure, that seems right to us at the time. It's no new thing; all the way back to the beginning of man's relationship with God, we've been determined to do things on our own. Every time, He warns us. Often He tells us exactly what the consequences will be. (Think: "Repent or your nation will be destroyed by your enemies!!!") He warns us, not because He doesn't want us to explore, to have fun, to be adventurous, but because His adventures are far greater than what we can concoct. He warns us because when we venture out in His blessing, we are safe under His protection!
When the Israelites ignored God's warnings, He didn't hold back. He swiftly and surely "spanked their bottoms" (metaphorically speaking, of course; their punishments were often much more graphic when their enemies stepped in and took over.) He allowed natural consequences for their behavior to be the hard teachers of the lessons they needed to learn. He did it because He's Papa, and He loved them. He loves us!!!
I am praying that as we pour into our hearts and minds the stories of God's people and how He acted time and again on their behalf, my children and I will have cemented into our brains that His "signs" are there for a reason. Oh, Father, that I may not seek to go it on my own; that I may not try to control my children's actions, but that YOU may speak your lessons to our heart, and that we might heed the signs!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunny, sleepy Sundays...

I LOVE our church family. I love good teaching, sweet fellowship, singing time, and watching good teachers interacting with my children. But today, what I loved even more, was coming home, whipping up bean and couscous tostadas, and racing my husband to bed for a SUNDAY NAP. That's his ritual, and I usually run to the pool for some no-kid-mommy-only time in the sun, while the kids get a rare opportunity to play video games or read or nap with daddy. But last night we partied with our sweet associate pastor's wife for her big three-o, and so today I couldn't wait to crawl into our cold, dark room and our big, comfy bed with fresh clean sheets. The best part? My man, who places "precious supplement" (aka sleep) above all else, let me sleep longer than anyone! When I awoke, he was watching them enjoy ice-cream-truck treats while he put up the basketball hoop. I (lucky me!) stayed put and ate 12 pringles and read "Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit," a super sweet little chapter book my kids all recommended. Life is GOOD.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fishing with Nana and Papa

Memorial Day we decided to go fishing with Nana and Papa. We headed out to a beautiful park near us (For the millionth time I'm thinking how I LOVE where we live...) So nothing was biting. Well, that's not true - the second the line dropped, EVERYTHING was biting - and taking the bait. For keeps. So I decided to offer one of my homemade chocolate chip cookies to the first fisherman to get a catch. You should see the fish Papa brought in! Can you see a fish in this picture?

Well, Isaac liked the the little guy!

It was still a perfect day - kids had a blast (even all us big kids!), Isaac napped, and when we got home we grilled and pigged out on Nana's Death by Chocolate - what a way to go. Brian, sorry buddy - you're looking somewhat off your "cool" here... At least Nana's stylin.

He loves bathtime...

Each one of the kids fights to get bathtime with our Littlest. He giggles and smacks and splashes up the whole bathroom - he lets the "bigs" pour water over his head and can't get enough of it. This is one of the sweetest times of the day - I usually just sit on my little stool and watch and listen and "soak it all in..." What a life.

My sweeties (some...)

Well, I realized that my thinks-he's-a-teenager hasn't posed for me in a while (have to remedy that!) but here are a few from the last couple weeks. Nothing incredibly deep to share tonight (been surfing too long and need to go edit for a client!) but looking at these made me get all mush, so I had to share!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Poop (Sorry, if you're a parent, you'll understand...)

It happens. By the time you’re old enough to be grossed out by it, usually there’s a polite and acceptable way to, er, dispose of it. Well, by baby #5 you’d think I’d have gotten used to the idea that sometimes this natural people thing just doesn’t behave the way it’s supposed to. Somehow I forgot about when they’re new and nursing, and you end up wearing it, and that’s through their very nice new first-day-at-church-after-I’m-born outfit… and YOURS.
You’d think that I’d remember that no matter how comfy they are, no matter how cute they look, no matter HOW tired they are and how they look at you with those beautiful (blue) drowsy, “Mommy-I-Love-You” eyes, you should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER put a baby to bed in just a diaper. NEVER. And if you do, and they wake up, and you hear them on the monitor happily playing in their crib for longer than usual, DO NOT, and I mean DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, leave them happily playing. That’s all I’m sayin’.

The Beauty of Pain

So, I’ve had strep throat. Love that. See, usually when it comes to sickness, denial works for me. I remind myself how healthy I feed my children (minus all the junk…) and how healthy I MEAN to feed myself, and I tell myself I don’t have time to be sick, and besides, lots of people depend on me to be well… and I don’t get sick!
This time, though, when I woke up with razor-blade pain in my throat and saw the telltale white spots, I knew we were in trouble. I couldn’t even swallow spit, much less anything else. And then I remembered THE PRAYER.
A few weeks ago, having HAD IT with my lack of self control in the area of yelling to get the attention of my five little people when they don’t listen, I prayed a prayer God answered. “God, please just cause me physical pain whenever I am tempted to yell. Make it actually hurt when I am raising my voice.” Well, that sure happens when you have strep throat!
In an effort to avoid taking antibiotics while nursing, I decided to try to wait it out a few days (all I read about strep says that it will actually clear up on its own after 5-7 days, if of course, you can survive the pain and avoid infecting anyone else or suffering BAD side effects. ) I holed up in my room for the weekend and came out only to use the restroom and nurse Little. By Monday, though, I decided it was best for all if I just shut up and took the drugs. But having waited so long, I am still in pain today on Wednesday, and do you know what I’ve discovered? When it hurts to yell, you are a lot more patient! And more, when you keep your big mouth shut, (and I’ve told lots of moms this myself) your kids listen a lot better!
So thanks, Lord. I know you don’t cause us to experience bad things – sometimes they happen just because we live in a broken and sinful place. Sometimes they happen because we did something we shouldn’t (ate too much ice cream, perhaps??). But ALWAYS, you use our brokenness to accomplish good. And this time, you used strep throat to make me the gentlest mommy in the world – for a few days- and to give us all a taste of how sweet our home and school can be when Mommy is gentle and quiet! I’m listening – and I’ll take the pain as a reminder.