Teaching about sin

Can I tell you something exciting that just happened?  One of my huge pet
peeves, and one of the reasons that i get angriest with the kids, is when they
play with the doors.  hiding behind them, slamming them, etc.  i’m always
telling them that they are going to get hurt (and they have) and i get more
gruesome and gruesome, saying “Do you want to keep your fingers?! They’re gonna
get chopped off!”  Anyway, that’s the beginning of the story.  Yesterday, at
discipleship, i was feeling really convicted about how we as parents don’t use
the word “sin” with our kids enough.  i mean, i don’t think i’ve ever heard any
of my girlfriends address behavior issues with the word “sin”.  I think it’s
something about this generation’s desire to protect our kids’ self esteem or
something.  Anyway, I was thinking about how I really want my children to
understand both the love of God our father, but also his fearsomeness and his
wrath.  And that comes down to sin.  So i was thinking about that, and thinking
I’d ask sean to have a conversation about sin and sinners with the girls.  This
morning I tried to address it at breakfast, and I was pretty pleased with their
(well, lulu’s) response.  Fast forward to just now: lulu was brushing her hair
in the bathroom, and then thought it was funny to hide behind the door, while
it’s open.  you know the hinge side of the door, where you can peek through when
the door is open?  dana jean put her entire hand in that gap, which is when i
saw the situation.  and i screamed.  i rattled the pots and pans screamed.  my
throat still feels it.  i SCREAMED!  not pretty.  i could just see lulu opening
that door and crushing poor dana jean’s whole hand.  well, when i screamed, the
girls were scared.  dana jean started crying and bubbie ran to his room and lulu
too.  i turn around, knowing i needed a moment, and dana jean said, “i need….a
hug.”  so i go and hug her and i start talking about how frustrating it is to
want to keep them safe and whole and for them to not listen.  i’m always telling
them not to the play with the door, and they always do.  i explained that its
not because i’m mean or i want them to do their chores, it’s because i want them
safe!  and whole!  because i love them!  well, the conversation continued, and I
calmed down, and God started speaking to my heart, and I ended up having a
really lovely conversation about sin.  about sin in ME..  about how we know what
we should do (we shouldn’t yell at our kids, we shouldn’t put our hands in the
door) and how we keep on doing it anyway.  how we’ll keep on doing it forever.
we’ll never stop sinning.  no matter how hard we try.  no matter if we
understand why we shouldn’t.  and what the good news is!!  because of Jesus,
because he took our sins away, God’s not mad at us anymore.  it was a lovely
teaching moment, for me and them, together, learning about God’s wonderful gift
in Jesus, and our need for it.  I’m so thankful for God’s good gift this
morning.  What a good God we serve.

Advertisements

February 22, 2013. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Pictures update

October 28, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Yo Sweetness is my weakness

(Sean came up with that title. what?)
I wanted to spend a few minutes updating the blogosphere and the interwebs on our lives, specifically, on how our children and growing and learning, so fast.
Dana Jean: Let’s start with her, because she inspired this post, honestly. She is a wonder. She surprises us every day with her capacity to care for her brother and sister, her thoughtful prayer life, and her strong emotions. We just prayed before bed and her sweet little voice prayed for me, her Mama. She said something about asking God to help me to be the best mama I could be, and that I would have (and then she listed all she could remember of the fruit of the Spirit, which I often pray for the girls) peace, patience, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness. (I’ll take them, thanks God!). She never fails to sing to her brother when he’s crying and my initial reaction is to ignore him or ask him to stop whining. She brings him toys when he’s getting his diaper changed and wiggling. She’s just plain thoughtful, and we LOVE that about her. She’s showing us a bit of who God made her to be, and I can see such great things that He will do through her. She’s also a hot mess. She gets frustrated easily, her voice is shrill (which, my parents remind me ruefully, was EXACTLY how I sounded), and she whines a lot. Her sense of style is emerging, and if you look closely enough, you’ll see quite a few pieces of flair on any given day. I’m in love with her, and so is her daddy. Tonight at dinner she put her hand on my arm and whispered, “Congratulations.” and I said, “For what?” and she said, “because you’re wonderful.” oh, be still my heart.
Lowrie- OH! The words are not enough to describe the deliciousness of this toddler! He’s just, adorable and sweet. Delicious!! I smile, here at the keyboard, thinking about him. He’s saying everything he hears, and has been overheard parroting, “chill out”, among many many other things. This morning when Pepa brought us donuts, he saw him walk in the door and shouted “donut!” instead of “pepa!” and proceeded to repeat, in a whisper, the word to his own pastry, whispering “donut” to the one in his hand, which reminded us so much of his Uncie Dave. His little curls break my heart they’re so cute, and his little body is starting to learn big boy moves like jumping and running and climbing. Even though is words are many, he spends a large portion of the day whining, and it’s a challenge to listen to. He’s a cuddler, often approaching me while I stand at the counter, pushing my body to face him and than saying, “hold you” (which means, of course, hold me). He is our little music lover, and my heart swells when he has his head on my shoulder in the dark of his room before bed, singing “trust and obey” with me. Oh, that he would hide those words in his heart!! He sings everything from the Muppets “Mah Na Mah Na” to “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and the whole gamut between. I hope we sing together forever.
Lulu- Well, what can be said about this girl? She’s growing up. This week she read her first book. A book!! She’s taking more responsibility and learning to be a big kid. She’s learning all she can about Christ and is so delighted that He has come to live in her heart. She thinks big, sometimes too big, and worries herself. Her anxiety about everything from balloons to school gives us cause for prayer. She is making real friends, and I am proud of the friend that she is to others. She, too, is thoughtful, praying when she sees an ambulance or fire truck with it’s lights on. She takes lessons seriously and wants to do her best in every way. She takes direction much more easily than Dana Jean and I love to see her growing in love for God, her family and her friends.

October 28, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Still learning to Trust

This morning I gave a talk at a women’s gathering at our church, and several out of towners said they’d like to read it. Here goes!
My story is more or less a common one, and for that reason, sometimes I think it’s not worth hearing, or worse, I try to exaggerate the realities to make myself seem more interesting. So can we pray?
Lord, I pray that you would see fit to use me and my story for the good of your kingdom and for your glory. Amen.
Before I begin with the long story, I was to make two, let’s say, disclaimers. First, I really hope that me sharing my experiences with you wonderful women doesn’t leave you feeling like “poor laura” or “what a horrible experience” or “I could never have done that” or any other feelings that might lead to some sort of pity party competition. I think God has put me in this position for a reason, He has something that I hope I let him share with you, but I am certainly not here to claim that I have the market cornered on tough lives. I don’t. There are many women in this room who have endured much, much worse. My baby is well, he made it, and I really don’t want to come across as trying to convince you how hard I had it so I can win some award. I hope that what comes through is what God has been teaching me about His character.
Second, in no way do I want to give the impression that I have this lesson God was and is trying to teach me all wrapped up. There’s no pretty bow on top or any diploma or certificate of achievement. I have NOT, I repeat, NOT learned this lesson. I need to learn it every single day. I can say now, today, that I’m a little more aware that God is trying to teach me about his trustworthiness, how He’s in control. I think I was shook enough awake through my crisis that at least I know he’s attempting to teach it to me, and oh how I want to learn it. But it’s far from done. I think it’s probably just beginning. Nagging thoughts still settle in my brain, messages from the enemy that say, “If they learn a bad word, or are hurt by another child, or don’t learn their ABCs, it’s your fault for not doing your job.” or “What will happen to these kids if you lose your temper again and yell at them?” “You’re failing at this job, you’re losing control, and your kids are going to grow up to be wicked, rebellious and far from God.” The enemy says to me, “Get it together, you can do this. You know how. You’ve got the skills. You’ve got to do this because everything depends on you getting this right.” I’m learning to trust God, but I have not got it figured out.
Let’s get into it.
In preparing for this talk, God is continuing to teach me. At first glance, I felt like I wanted to communicate how throughout my life I’ve experienced things that act like rehearsals for a big performance of motherhood. I was all set out to the best mother. He has given me a skill set, an education, and developed a passion in me for kids, and there have been many experiences before I became a mom that I am tempted to look at a preparation for my life’s work, my magnum opus. I have always wanted to be a mother, and its easy to think that God has given me these experiences with children to give me practice for the great work of being a mother, so that I can do it better, with a more desirable outcome. I’ve practiced teaching, disciplining, praying. So now I’m ready to perform, right? But what he’s shown me is that this isn’t about rehearsals leading to a performance. It’s the opposite. He’s been whispering all along that no matter my education, skills, passion, desire, that He is the one in control. He was providing all through the years. But what he provided wasn’t skills, know how, and talent in order to be a success later in life, when I had children of my own. What he was providing for me was practice in trusting him. Time after time he was giving me opportunities to realize that He is in control. He is trustworthy, because I am not. He’s in control because I can’t be. He wasn’t preparing me to do the work, but preparing me to realize that He is doing the work. And the outcome, naturally, isn’t about me and my well molded, excellently behaved children and their amazing mom with a shiny medal hanging around her neck, it’s about God, and his character, receiving all the glory and honor and praise.
So, I’m here to talk to you about trusting God. I want to share some of those experiences, that God has used to whisper that He’s doing the work, including my crisis with my baby boy, how they have molded me, and looking back, how I can see the Lord trying to teach me to trust him. Bear with me, you might be anxious to hear about my baby and how God saved him, and I’ll get there, I promise. But it’s been a journey for me, and I’d like to make a few stops on the way.
I accepted Christ as a young girl, and I was very active in our church youth group during high school, choosing to make a stand for Christ because I didn’t fit in at school. God began to light a fire in me for children living in poverty through emotional, eye opening, mountain-top experiences on mission trips to third world countries, and third world situations right down the street. Those experiences, everywhere from Haiti to Indianapolis, gave me a heart connection with kids who I could love and provide a meal for, but could not save, spiritually or physically. God was beginning to whisper into the deepest parts of me that felt the enormity of the problem and my inability to solve it that He is in control, and that He can be trusted.
Going to Taylor University was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had never seen so many smart, Christ-centered young people in one place. During a January term, I spent a month living in a homeless shelter in Chicago, and my passion for the underprivileged was really deepened. I remember the desperation, the frustration, and the hopelessness on the faces of those moms. But mostly I remember falling in love with those kids, shaking my fists at God and telling Him that “they don’t deserve this life!” One morning, I nervously sat at a table with a mom waiting for breakfast with four young kids. She was harried, to say the least, short-tempered, mad at the world. She plopped the baby, maybe 18 months down in the chair, shoved it toward the table, and that baby caught a mouthful of the edge of that hard wood table. The mom didn’t see the injury, just heard the crying, and a string of frustrated words came out of her mouth about that baby’s whining. I winced, and I wince every time I think about it. I felt so helpless, so out of control, so inadequate and unprepared, and I remember thinking “this kid doesn’t have a chance.” I was still far from understanding that I even though I felt called to service in the name of Christ for these children, I couldn’t save them. I don’t have control of this, but God does. And he can be trusted.
My junior year at Taylor I met Sean. He has been such an amazing gift, and sometimes I still can’t believe he picked me. I had never dated anyone until I met Sean. He was the first boy I held hands with, and my first kiss when I was 20 years old. He’s such a good man, a Mr. Steady. He’s kept me steady through so many of these experiences.
My first job out of Taylor really changed my life. Through a contact from my youth group, I took a job at a shelter for homeless women and children here in downtown Indianapolis run by Wheeler Mission, called the Care Center. I was to be the teacher at a free preschool to neighborhood kids and any four or five year olds who’s mothers were living in the shelter. I fell in love with these children. My heart broke for them every single day, and I spent a lot of nights calling out to God on their behalf. Just being able to give them a safe place for six hours a day was such a joy. I was shocked and frustrated and horrified by the things that they had endured. This was another situation in which God was whispering in my ear, “You can’t control this fallen world, you can’t trust these parents. But you can trust me. I have the control. I am adequate. I am prepared.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5 ESV)
. These were tough kids, and I came home bruised several times, but all of those kids needed snuggling every day, and kids, unlike many adults, can be won, and hurts forgotten, with some gentle affection. I knew then that God was calling me to kids, especially forgotten children. When I left that job, I cried for those children, the helplessness I felt, the inadequacy of this world for their needs. I prayed with desperation for protection for them, and God nudged me again, “you can’t trust yourself to take care of these children, you must move on. You can’t trust these parents, you can’t control their decisions. But you can trust me.”
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5 ESV)

I left that job when Sean and I married, almost ten years ago, and we moved to Chicago, where I would encounter many more forgotten children. I went back to school to get my Master’s in Early Childhood Education. I worked in Head Start with the Chicago Public Schools. God continued to provide opportunities for me to learn that this world is full of so much hurt that no matter my commitment, my care, my preparation, my level of education, these situations in which my students lived were uncontrollable. I was, again, inadequate to provide what they needed, sometimes on a very basic level. I knew God was calling me there, to love them and teach them, but the hopelessness of their torn homes called for someone, anyone, who could be trusted. Another reminder, God allowing me to walk those streets in order to teach me about his character. “You can trust ME. You can trust ME. I can handle this. It’s not too big. And being in charge of this, all of this, isn’t your job. It’s mine. I’m in control.”
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5 ESV)

. I remember a little boy who had a hard time napping. These kids were so tough, at four and five that they would be swearing and fighting and have these hard looks on their faces, and I tried to pick a few to just spend my time loving. I was in an administrative position for a little while, so I would come into the classrooms that needed me for extra support. This little boy was in foster care, and he and his brothers walked to school by themselves, and they were tough. I often saw him a block or so behind his brothers in the morning, trudging to school. I went to help him when he was having a hard time napping, and it’s amazing what a little tenderness, a loving touch would do to turn them right back into children. He was laying on this cot, and I was holding his hand, just rubbing my thumb on the back of his hands, and he opened his eyes and looked at me and said, “Miss Laura, you’re my mama.” My heart broke for him, for his brothers. For all that I COULD NOT do for them. I had another little boy, once I had returned to a teaching position, who used to heckle people on the sidewalk when we were out on the playground. If you can imagine what a young angry man sitting on a porch would yell, this little four year old would yell to people as they walked by. I still have scars on my hands from restraining him so he wouldn’t hurt himself, or me, or other children. But he was a child, and he was in a way so easy to love. I had about ten months with that little boy, and after my time was up, I had to let him go. Those feeling revisited me: inadequacy, loss of control.
So then I had lulu. All my life I’ve wanted to be a mama, and it’s just, better than I had hoped. I love her with a feeling that I never experienced, and that deep, deep feeling of connection I have for her is scary. I still, even though she’s four, go into her room just to smell the air around her. She’s so important, and I want so badly to make God proud of me, in the job I do as her mama. I take my job as mother so seriously that my need for control intensified. I must do this right. No one else is the mama. No else can comfort her like me, no one knows what she needs. No one else loves her this painfully much. There’s no one I can trust to do this job. It’s mine and mine alone. Now, you should notice that I clearly had not learned my lesson yet. And, spoiler alert, I’m still learning it. Dana Jean came next, my brown beauty. I really never thought I could love another child (do we all feel that way?) and it’s like, cliché as it may sound, my heart grew. Like it sprouted another chamber just to house the immense love I have for her too. I always would whisper to Lulu that “you are my heart”, and now suddenly, this new little girl, with dark hair and darker skin, like me, is my heart too? I don’t understand it, but it’s true. I love them so much. My third pregnancy was different from the others, and I had a sneaking suspicion that it was a boy. In the secret parts of my heart I wondered how I could love a little boy. I pictured a dirty little toddler with a sweaty brow and big hands, so different and so foreign from my dainty little girls. I was afraid that I wouldn’t love him, if it turned out to be a him. Which it did. My Bubbie, who’s real name is Lowrie, was born about a week early; and surprisingly, no sweaty brow and big hands. He was another little baby born from my belly, and I instantly adored him. I didn’t have any idea how much I would grow to love him, especially in his first month of life. When he was born the girls had been suffering with a nasty cold for about a week, and we hesitated about having them come to visit me and their new brother in the hospital. But the experience was important to me, so they came in, and we tried to shield him from what we thought were the last of those cold germs. I brought him home but noticed, on about his eleventh day, that he was sounding a little congested. When he went into the pediatrician’s office, she did a test for RSV (which is a respiratory illness which in adults and children looks like a bad cold, but can be deadly in infants) which showed up as positive before we even left the office. She predicted we’d be in the ER within 24 hours and gave me symptoms of respiratory distress to look for. It was a long night, but we made it, and returned to the office in the morning. She did a quiet exam, and said, “I recommend we admit him, and I recommend he go by ambulance.” Little bundle, twelve days old, struggling to breathe. He wasn’t getting enough oxygen, and me, the experienced mom, missed the symptoms. I stayed calm, called my husband and my mom. We waited in an emergency room located in the building where my pediatrician’s office is, and they began what would be a terrible journey. They put him on oxygen and poked his little 12 day old hands and feet trying to get an IV in him. I desperately wanted to hold him, and I desperately wanted to run. Remember the words? Inadequate, out of control. Within the first hour of our two week ordeal I was already feeling unable to handle it, wanting to run, and chiding myself that HE was the one being stuck, and struggling to breathe. Get it together. We got to Peyton Manning and snuggled into a room on the Pediatric floor. Doctors visited, my little boy, my seven pound love who was just in my belly, just a few days ago, lay in my arms, working so hard to stay alive that he didn’t open his eyes anymore until they shoved tubes down his nose to suck out the thick mucus already squeezing oxygen out of his lungs. I asked a LOT of questions. I only cried a little. I held him, a lot. I remember thinking I needed to hold him. And I was right, because only too soon I wouldn’t be able to anymore, he would have to fight his battle away from my arms, under a heat lamp, in an isolette. Doctors told me about RSV, citing the dangers being careful not to give false hope. Everyone was careful not to give false hope. Those first few days, I was all positive. I was hanging onto any positive feedback. I was spending long hours watching him cough and sputter. They said he couldn’t nurse anymore. Too dangerous, they didn’t want him aspirating the milk. I said, “But he’s just not going to eat?” And they said, “If we have to choose between eating and breathing, we choose breathing.” Those were long days, and I was scared, but I was positive. With hindsight, my journal entries from those days are almost funny. “Oh, they say this illness will last about four days.” “The nurse put him to sleep on his belly and he sounds much better.” But he was getting worse. Long, long story shorter, he got worse. Then worse. By day three, the pediatrician told me that Bubbie wasn’t getting the oxygen he needed, even wearing it 24 hours a day, and that he needed more care than the Pediatric floor could provide. We were on our way to the ICU. That night was dark. My worst fears were coming true. The ICU is where babies die. Patients DIE down here! There are parents wandering these halls, crying for children who died here! That night I was a mess, and the poor night doc didn’t know what to do with me. Sean didn’t know what to do with me. My positive attitude evaporated. I couldn’t keep it up. I remember feeling like I was physically going to fall apart. I’m going to read you an excerpt from my Caring Bridge Journal during that time. EXCERPT.
After Bubbie was intubated, he made no noise. His coughing was soundless wretching. He was sedated, mouth hanging open, arms spread. He had a central line put in his groin, an IV in each arm, a tube going down his throat. There was a steady hum from the machines. I couldn’t hold him. He didn’t open his eyes. He hadn’t been able to nurse for about two days. All I could do was stand there. And stand there I did. When I wasn’t sitting on the couch, shaking, sobbing, desperate. After about a day or two on the vent, after waiting and waiting, and hearing “it’ll run it’s course” about a million times. I was so tired of waiting. Things were slow. He developed secondary pneumonia. They added antibiotics for threatening infections. They took xrays every morning. Therapists came and pounded his little back to break up his thick secretions. They sucked gunk out of his lungs every few hours by feeding a tube through his ventilator tube all the way down to his lungs and then bringing it up again, and his little body would painfully, soundlessly heave. Busy docs would come in, no good news, look at the xrays, answer my questions medically, remind me that this illness is nasty, that recovery is long. Hours and hours of watching, waiting, praying. Visitors came and I saw the intensity of the situation through their saucer-like eyes, their attempts to swallow tears. My mom and dad came often, told me about the girls at home, struggling to understand why mama wasn’t there. I talked to him a lot. I held his hand a lot. I sang a lot, and I am a BAD singer. I cried a lot. Ugly crying. I remember the morning after he was intubated, I was standing next to his isolette, singing Great is Thy Faithfulness, desperately trying to get the words out so my boy could hear my voice, and the pediatrician from the pediatric floor came into the room. I had my back to the door, and he snuck in while I was singing and stood there with me. He put his arm around me and rested his head on my shoulder, and said, “You know, it looks like we’re trusting these machines and these drugs to heal your baby. But the Lord is the one who’s going to heal him.”
Some trust in chariots and some in horses (and some trust in ventilators),
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
(Psalm 20:7 ESV)
The waiting was so painful. No one would tell me he was going to be okay. And he just lay there. What was I supposed to do? What did trusting God look like that day, in that room, with those machines and that still baby boy? It’s important that you know I never doubted God was there. I never once forgot that Bubbie’s name was written on God’s hands, but I was just desperate for help. I would just sit on that couch, with my head in my hands, and plead. Please, please, please. I remember sitting there, picturing myself laying on the floor, pounding my fists into the hospital linoleum. I felt like I understood when the Bible says that men would tear their clothes, rip their beards out in grief.
With five or six days of intubation, we started to…not feel better, but not cry all day. A friend told me that I would walk back and forth and back and forth from the isolette to the couch, where I’d pick up my knitting, the first sweater I’d ever made, for my baby boy. Watching TV was out of the question, reading took too much mental energy, I could not think about anything else, give any room in my head to anything but pleading with God. We wallpapered the room with verses. He was able to have a GI tube for some pumped breast milk. Those cautious doctors who would not tell me my baby would get better, said, “We think he’s getting better.” The next day they discovered blood in his diaper. After a harrowing day of testing, GI specialists, talk of emergency surgery, we settled on a diagnosis of a dairy allergy, and mama (who still sat in a room by myself, pumping breastmilk every four or five hours, around the clock) was put on a dairy free diet. Imagine being in this situation, and having ice cream taken away. I mean, seriously. But the blood in his diaper went away, and his lungs were clearing. By day nine, we were huddled in his room, ready to take that tube out and praying he would remember how to breathe. I had been waiting and praying for that tube to be gone and now I was terrified that he wouldn’t breathe without it. Remember, he’d only been out of my belly for about three weeks! Me, Sean and my mom stood behind the medical staff, praying, holding hands, waiting for that breath. And he did. He DID!! My big boy! We were so happy! So, so happy. But that night, the night after he was extubated, was probably the worst of our experience. Being on a ventilator requires pretty serious sedatives, because they didn’t want Bubbie accidently moving or dislodging that tube. They would change up the sedative every 48 hours in hopes of avoiding dependence, but that night, the night after he was extubated, I saw what withdrawal looks like. A seven pound baby, with a high fever, shaking, his heart racing with a pulse up to 200, yawning, sneezing and no machine keeping him breathing. Terrified isn’t the word. It was the middle of the night, the lights were off, the nurses showed concern, and I LOST it. I was at the end of my rope, and alone in there with all those machines and my poor baby boy. Here’s another excerpt from my journal.
After that night the docs learned how to best manage his dependence on narcotics, and in a day or two we were on our way up to the Pediatric floor, kissing that ICU goodbye. We were on the road toward home. All Bubbie had to learn how to do was maintain a regular breathing rate, heart rate, and, oh yeah, learn how to eat again. I pestered the docs about letting me nurse him, and I did, finally, after two weeks. I got to feed my baby. I was in heaven. He ate well, no problems. After two days on the regular Pediatric Floor, they were ready to send us home, with Methadone, of course. The only reference I had for methadone was from watching Intervention, when addicts lined up outside a clinic for their methadone, desperate for relief from their withdrawal. And here I was giving it to my baby. I’m the kind of mom who prefers not to give her babies Tylenol unless they really really need it. Whatever, he gets to come home, right? On Valentines Day, Bubbie’s one month birthday, we got to take him home. For a few days I worried, without those beeps letting me know how quickly or slowly his heart or his lungs were working, but it felt so much more natural. A healthy baby, at home? I can handle this.
Remember at the beginning of this talk, when I told you about how I don’t have this “learning to trust God” thing all wrapped up? Well, I don’t. Looking back at that horrible time, I think God allowed me to walk through it to teach me ( a little more forcefully this time) about His character. He’s been trying to teach me all along that I can trust Him. He’s in control. He’s got this. Since then I’ve seen a little bit more clearly when and how he’s trying to teach me. He’s showing me that I want control. I want to be the one who has the power. I want my hands to be the trustworthy ones, providing the way I should, teaching and training with the utmost patience and wisdom and creativity. I want the control. Because if I don’t have it, who does? And those two weeks with Bubbie, God showed me, he shook me, and said,
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
(Psalm 62:8 ESV)
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2 ESV)
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
(Isaiah 26:4 ESV)
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(Psalm 13:5 ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
(Jeremiah 17:7 ESV)
Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalm 93:5 ESV)
And praise God. What a relief.

But here’s the thing; how do I do it? I believe it, how do I do it? What does it look like in my life, in my days, in my role? The answer is, “I don’t know” but I have some ideas, and this is what God is showing me to do right now, these days. I need to pray. Ask Him to help me. Ask him to teach me how to trust him. Ask him to show me that He is trustworthy and that I am not. Which, I might add, he’s doing a great job at. I also need to teach my kids about trust. That God is the one we can count on. Who’ll never let us down. Even at four, my Lulu can gain peace from that, and hopefully learn the lesson before she’s my age. Also, I need to hide His word in my heart. I need to seek out stories and songs of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness and read them. Study them. Memorize. Hide it in my heart so that I might not sin against God. And you know, the biggest thing is that I need to learn and to work on just loving Him back. I mean, think about it this way; I love Sean. I know him, I know he’ll take care of me the best way he can, and I trust him. I need to get to know God and his attributes the same way. Loving him back is learning to trust him. I’m going to share a little excerpt from a book that I’ve been reading. It really gets to the heart of this matter, and says it so beautifully that it’s made its way into my prayers. I think it so beautifully captures the reason I don’t think I can trust God. For all those years I spent six hours a day in a classroom with troubled children, wishing I could control their environments when they leave my care, the decisions their parents make, the dangerous playgrounds they had to play in. And I just imagined that if I had my way, if they could have everything they needed, they would make it. They would have to. There were a lot of days that ended with me saying, “when I have my turn, I’ll do it this way” and I thought that me doing things right, having the ultimate say over every little thing in my babies’ lives, I could be confident the outcome would be good. And then I became a parent, and I read to my children as newborns. I didn’t allow them to drink juice because it has too much sugar. I pray for them constantly. They can’t watch movies or wear tee shirts with unrealistic portrayals of girls on them. In some place of my heart I think that if I can control all these variables, my kids will turn out well. They’ll be beautiful, God fearing, filled with the Spirit. They’ll be teenagers who don’t rebel. They’ll be toddlers who don’t tantrum. They’ll be adolescents who make unending good choices. But the truth is, babies get sick. I can’t control that any more than I can control what kind of teenagers they’ll be. But, I know who can. No matter what I do; how hard I pray, how much I read, how protective I am, God is the one who will decide the future. He’s the one who knows the plans He has for them. Which is a relief because I am a failure in every way. What is it for you? I can’t help but imagine that there is a bit of all of us who grasp at control because we don’t trust God with the outcome. So listen to this quote with that in mind. This is from a sermon called “needless regrets” by John Henry Jowett.

And even supposing we have made mistakes, and we would dearly like to have the choice back again that we might take the other turning, what then? Who is our God? And what are His name and character? Cannot He knit up the unraveled bit of work, and in His own infinitely gracious way make it whole again? With all our mistakes we may throw ourselves upon His inexhaustible goodness, and say with Saint Teresa, “undertake Thou for me, O Lord.” It is the very gospel of His grace that He can repair the things that are broken. He can reset the joints of the bruised reed. He can restore the broken heart. He can deal with the broken vow. And if he can do all this, can He not deal with our mistakes? If unknowingly we went astray and took the wrong turning, will not His infinite love correct our mistakes and make the crooked straight?
I hope that didn’t seem unrelated. Because to me, it’s exactly right. In a way, it says, “no matter what you do, or don’t do, or can do, or can’t do, God can be trusted.” Amen.

April 28, 2012. Uncategorized. 5 comments.

Hot Mess

 

Our pretty girl, our sweet second born, our fiesty little brunette is a hot mess.  She is at such a fun, challenging age.  I have so many things to share about this little bundle of emotion, I hope I can effectively communicate our love for her, her unbelievable uniqueness, and what a gift she is to us.

Just now Sean and I put her to bed, and man, does that girl love to pray.  We love how she talks to God the way we all should; just a running conversation, a stream of consciousness that sounds like He is looking into the window of her little two year old brain.  Lately, she’s been mentioning “the big giant” in each and every night time prayer, and although we have no idea who this giant could be, she certainly is thinking about him a lot.  She prays for her friends, her family, she talks about the book that she read or how she got a owie and needs a “bade-on” (band-aid on).

She loves clothes, shoes, and dressing herself.  She wakes up in the morning and immediately puts on a tutu.  There have been days when she wakes up with a tutu on (maybe she wakes up in the night and finds one to put on and then goes back to sleep?). She loves dresses and skirts and her favorite color is pink.  She likes to wear different shoes around the house, usually on the wrong foot, usually belonging to lulu.  She gets serious about ballet, and needs a skirt as soon as she hears music that might be dance-worthy.  She twirls and kicks her legs, moves slowly and gracefully, and honestly shows a lot of natural talent for rhythm and movement.

Her best friend is still Pepa, although second place is in a state of constant flux.  Usually Daddy comes in second, although friends from church and cousins often make their way onto the list.  Her cousin Jillian made quite an impression and she loves to talk about how much she loves her Jillian.  One of the things I love about two year olds is their new understanding of communicating love.  Hearing your child say, “I love you”, out of the blue, unprompted, is a sweet, sweet gift.  This evening, on our hike through the woods, she and daddy lagged behind, holding hands, and I heard her say (taking her thumb out of her mouth momentarily), “I love you daddy.” Put a fork in me, I’m done.

Her baby brother is a never ending source of entertainment and challenge.  She wants so badly to be close to him, to communicate her love, and to be loved by him, that it usually looks like a mauling.  She is in his face, talking, holding, hugging and occasionally trying to ride him like a horse.  Sadly, he’s learning to whine as she approaches, so the relationship is a learning one.

Dana Jean is at an age where she is learning how to communicate with words, and the victory that comes with that is also a challenge.  When she can get her point across, she’s amazing, and so proud of herself.  But when she’s feeling a strong emotion, and it’s not coming across loud and clear to everyone around her, she’s a screamer.  A wet noodle.  A “I’m walking as slowly as I can to you to receive instruction with a look on my face that says ‘i don’t care'”.  She’s a challenge to this Mama, and I often wish I had the time to embroider a pillow with my Dana Jean motto; “Cute saved you today, kid.”

We love her so much.  We love her huge brown eyes and soulful expressions.  We love how her challenges make her sweet snuggles and unabashed words of love all the sweeter.

March 25, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Here I raise my Ebenezer

Well, Bubbie is seven months old today.  He’s a smiley, healthy, big boy who loves his sisters, snuggles his mama’s neck and smiles whenever daddy enters the room.  Its hard to believe that six months ago we were praying that God would save him.  I can’t believe it was six months ago that he lay in that isolette, drugs fighting for him, lungs full of fluid and gunk, a machine breathing for him.  It doesn’t seem like six months ago that I couldn’t stop crying and desperately asking for one of the doctors to tell me everything would be fine.  But our Lowrie is well.

We’ve shared before about our desire to honor God and remember His faithfulness to our family with an Ebenezer.  Well this week our Ebenezer was delivered, and today, amid hundreds of family and friends, we dedicated our boy to the Lord, acknowledging our roles as stewards of Lowrie’s life, not owners.  We publicly announced that we are dedicated to bringing Bubbie, and our girls, up to know the Lord and his mercies, which are new every morning, as I remember distinctly from February 14th, 2011, the day our little boy came home from his very scary ordeal, still addicted to his sedatives, still working to breathe, but home.

In the book of 1 Samuel, the history of God’s people has much to teach us.  God was faithful to His people, over and over again, as He continues to be to us.  They wanted to remember God’s faithfulness, to speak of it to their children, to physically see it in their world, so they erected monuments.  We, too, want our family and our neighbors and anyone to whom we invite into our home to physically see a reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness to our family.  We got a rock, our Ebenezer, which we hope to engrave with dates, scripture, phrases of the story of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love in our family’s journey.  We can’t wait for our children to climb on that rock and hear the stories, year after year, of the way God keeps His promises to His children, and how thankful we are to be adopted into His family.

August 14, 2011. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Forgiveness

Sean and I are very intentional about using child training and discipline to teach our children about God’s love for us the life-long cycle of sin and forgiveness and grace and restoration.  We talk about it several times a day, each time the girls have to go to time out or get a spanking, we have taught them to apologize and then we say, “I forgive you” and have lots of hugs and cuddles with cheery voices and ask God to help us learn obedience more and more each day.  That said, there have been many times in which I find the necessity of apologizing to the girls for something that I was wrong about, and I give them the opportunity to forgive me, which they always readily do.  Today was a great example.  I was up late last night with Jenni, newly back in town after a long vacation, and Bubbie was up at night, so I was tired and cranky from the get-go.  Then Bubbie didn’t take a morning nap; he decided to cry in his crib for an entire hour.  After an hour, I got him up, fed him and tried again, only to get more screaming.  At my wits end, I decided that we would go for a walk.  I get everyone dressed, holding back tears, put Bubs in the stroller and Lulu on her bike, and we walk/ride to the park.  We get there, I put Bubbie in the shade and begin pushing the girls on the swings.  Well, I started feeling better, and the Holy Spirit started working on me, and we had the following conversation:

Mama: Girls, I’m really sorry that I’ve been so cranky and unkind today.  I was up late, Bubbie isn’t sleeping well, and I’m frustrated and upset.  But it’s not your fault and I’m sorry that I haven’t been nice today.

Lulu: I forgive you.

Mama: Thanks Lu.  I’ll try to do better the rest of the day.  Maybe we should ask God to help me.

Lulu: Or, you could ask God’s son, Jesus.

Mama: Yep, let’s ask him.

So the day goes on, I eventually get Bubbie to sleep and things calm down.  I even get about thirty minutes of nap.  At dinnertime, Lulu decides to tell Daddy all about our day.

Lulu: Daddy, Mama was unkind today.

Daddy: Yes, I heard.  But you know how you have bad days sometimes?  Well, Mama and Daddy do too.  But she said she was sorry and you forgave her, right?

Lulu: Yes.

Daddy: And how did the rest of the day go?  Did Mama do a good job?  Was she more kind?

Lulu: (after a pause) Only a little bit.

Ah, well….

August 1, 2011. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

What would Mrs. March do?

I read the book Little Women over vacation.  I’m ashamed to say that I had never read it before, though I (gasp!) started and gave up a few times.  But with a week to myself and no other books, I was forced to give the classic a real read, and I’m so glad I did.  As a mom of two little girls, I’m constantly thinking about conversations to have, questions to ask, and experiences to offer my girls in order to raise grounded, beautiful, wise, pure women in a world in which women are praised for and lured toward the complete opposite.  It’s always on my mind, and I pray it every night.  This book, a classic which I can’t wait to read with them, was just a balm for this worried mama’s heart.  I loved every minute of it; every conversation and lesson and moral and virtue displayed.  I loved the unabashed faith of the family, the virtuous expectations, the loving, gracious, patient hand of Mrs. March.  She was those girls’ true north on earth as much as God was their true north in heaven.  She epitomized faithfulness and love to her husband, dedication and hard work, and virtue.  I fell in love with her as much as I did each of the four young girls.  I thought constantly of Lulu and Dana Jean and wondered what our conversations would be like and hoped that I could be as steadfast a model as Mrs. March was.  Obviously Mrs. March wasn’t perfect, and God knows neither am I.  But I loved Lousia May Alcott’s dream of the perfect mother.  I literally asked myself a few times that week, when faced with a whining toddler or an endlessly curious three year old, “What would Mrs. March do?”  The Bible gives us all we need to lead lives that are pleasing to God.  But it was wonderful to see what I consider a great example so fleshed out, with such description as Alcott provided.  There were so many conversations that the girls had with their mother that I wanted to bookmark to discuss with my girls at a later date.  I wanted to embroider them (from Marmee’s corner!) on a sampler to hang in their room (and I still might!).  One of my favorites was when Meg went to Vanity Fair, and came back worried about marriage and wealth and position.  Her mother gently gave her perspective:

“I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved and respected.  To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send.  To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience…My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting…Make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not.  One thing remember, my girls. Mother is always ready to be your confidant, Father to be your friend, and both of us hope and trust that our daughters, whether married or single, with be the pride and comfort of our lives.”

 

July 30, 2011. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

House Updates

I told all you (six) readers out there that I would post photos the various house updates that we’ve done as they finish.  Sadly, my camera memory card has been unreadable by our new computer for some time, and I haven’t been able to post.  But, at long last (you can stop holding your breath now), the problem is fixed and I’m able to keep you updated!  Here’s the work we did;  in the playroom we; painted the walls orange, had a built-in made for the corner of the room with shelving and a desk attached, put up a lovely canvas map, made a photo display of our family, and bought a  white canvas chair.  Below are photos.

In the bathroom, we; painted the walls a lovely light celery color, took down and replaced both the light fixture and the vanity mirror, and put up gorgeous Amy Butler wallpaper on the back wall.  It was so fun to tackle (and finish!) this project in almost one weekend! 

May 7, 2011. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

super mom

So…turns out…if all goes well in the next month or so (that’s how long editing will last), the kids and I will be in a commercial!  Well, actually a commercial, a newspaper ad, and an internet video, and possibly a billboard!  What?!  Here’s how it started:

The marketing department for the hospital that my pediatrician is associated with called the pediatrician’s office and asked for the name of a patient to call to be part of a marketing campaign.  They called me to see if they could send my name, I said sure, and pretty soon I was set up with an interview with the marketing people at Witham hospital and the ad agency.  They interviewed me; really just asked about our “story”, how we found Dr. Buroker, about the kids, if I’ve enjoyed the office, etc.  We spent a good hour laughing it up about kids in the doctor’s office and the foibles of being a mom to three under four.  They said they would do their other interviews and get back with me in about two weeks.  Two weeks went by and the marketing director of the hospital called and wanted to set up a time to do the “shoot”.  I asked her what the plan was, and she informed that they’ll be making a commercial, a print ad for newspapers, and using some new technology (there’s a symbol on the print ad that you can take a photo of with your smart phone and it will take you to a website) an internet video.  Wow!  Cool!  So, she informed me of our “call time” (wow, i’m in the biz!) and told me that the producer and the wardrobe person would be calling me (wow, wardrobe!!??)  She was right, and we went over some details with the producer (what to expect the day of) and the wardrobe/makeup person.  She asked for all of our sizes, told me to round up alll our cobalt blue clothing (Witham’s colors) and told me she would shop for us!  soo cool.

Today was the shoot.  We arrived at 11:30am, and I brought my Mom with me at the last minute.  I’m so glad that I did, because it was a crazy day and I don’t know what we would have done without her (or the marketing assistant’s IPad, honestly).  We started by getting the girls dressed.  Lulu ended up in blue tights with polka dots, a blue leotard with a skirt, another tutu underneath, and a little shrug.  Dana Jean wore blue tights, a leotard, and a very full, very cute tutu.  Also a blue flowered tee shirt over the leotard.  It was a super adorable layered look for both girls.  Then it was my turn.  I cringed.  I kept joking with Sean that I wish my five years ago body could have done the commercial.  But…she ended up dressing me in light blue leggings, a button-down denim shirt dress, and a cardigan, with my grey chuck taylors.  Honestly it was a look that is something I would never have chosen.  But, it wasn’t ugly and I felt comfortable. I was still wary, but when i looked at some proofs, i thought, “hey, doesn’t look so bad!”  Next she did my makeup, which was fun because I’ve learned from other experiences that even though I think I look like a clown, it makes me look prettier in pictures.  Lulu asked my mom, “why are they painting mama’s face?”

First we did a still photo shoot, since the commercial will use stop-motion animation.  Basically we just stood out there and the girls danced and I stood there with Lowrie on my hip.  Oh! Lowrie!  He ended up wearing jeans that my dear friend Kristen gave us, a onesie the wardrobe provided, and the sweater I made him.  The sweater started to look bulky, though, so he ended up in the onesie and jeans for most of the day.  After about an hour of still photograhy, the kids left and I did some photography by myself, since the commercial, called “super mom”, introduces me first without the kids.  I even got to strike a superhero pose.  We’ll see how that turns out. 🙂

After my private shoot was over, I joined the kids and mom for lunch that the studio provided.  It was delicious and the kids were making all kinds of friends.  A little detail, when I came into the room where everyone was eating lunch, my box was sitting on the table labeled, “talent”.  I got a good laugh, “I’m the talent?!”  We rested and ate, and got ready for the video shoot in the afternoon.  About 1:30 they started the video shoot, which seemed a lot like the still shoot, since it was very free form, just filming the girls and me interacting.  They were getting less cute, more fussy, and more aware of the fact that naps had been completely ignored.  Still, the agency seemed to have got what they wanted, I think.  We ended the day with a video interview of me, and I think they’ll use my voice for the internet story.

It was such a fun day, and I can’t wait to see the finished product, although secretly I’m hoping they choose someone else for the billboard.  But, whoa, such a fun time, and I’m so glad we got to do it.  They let me know that they’ll tell me when they’re done and I’ll get to review everything before they do anything with it, and that all the kids will get their own DVD of the commercial to save forever.  I thought that was sweet.  I’ll post something here when the internet video is up, and I’ll let everyone know when the commercial will air. 

PS.  It’s a good thing that I love my pediatrician so much.  I really do.  This would stink if i thought she was just so-so.  But she’s great.  The office is wonderful and I’m really honored to support them.

April 26, 2011. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Next Page »