Sunday, February 28, 2010

Advice to Grandma

Real Gil and I are outta here. We're going to this beach. And we're going to watch Westmont College whollop Azusa Pacific. See you all in a week. I'll be full of fresh writing ideas and blog posts in seven days...maybe.

If you live near us and you want to offer condolences support to my mother-in-law and mother, they're the innocent victims optimistic grandmas holding down the fort.

I've done my part. The sheets are fresh, the fridge is stocked, and all marbles are in storage. Oh, and of course, there's a bag of jelly beans for bribery. It's all in the jelly beans.

What pertinent information would you leave a grandma if you were going out of town? (I can't wait to read your comments!)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wedding Gifts

When I married Real Gil, it was the happiest day of my life. Of course. Duh. Not only was he the love of my life, but the running joke in his family was that the newest newlyweds received this as their wedding gift:

What? I'm shocked, you can't see clearly what this is? Is my photography lacking? Hmm. Well, to be honest, if you saw it in person, it wouldn't be much better. This is a really old picture that is worth a million dollars. Maybe more. Just because the woman looks like a man in drag and there is no meadow for said picture "The Meadow" does not mean it lacks value. No, not sentimental value. I could care less about the lady or her pooping animals. Nor could the family I married into. They gave it to me as a white elephant gift and I've proudly hung it in every home we've ever lived in. Because it is worth a million dollars. For sure. And I don't care who gets married next, they are not getting The Meadow. It could be my own child for all I care, and I'll happily pack them a hope chest full of goodies. But not my lady/man meadow print. She/he stays with Gil and I. Her sepia tones grace our wall, love in artform from my dear in-laws.

But that's not all they gave me! I tell you, I hit the mother lode in that family. And it all boils down to one word: [imagine me leaning in close and stretching out the 's' in this word so it tickles your ear.] RECIPES.

Oh yeah, baby, you want it, I got it. What are you looking for? Pork chops, whole wheat waffles, danish pastries, homemade hamburger buns, chicken tortilla soup, ham crepes, chicken apricot pasta...the list goes on and on. And although The Meadow isn't going anywhere in the near (or distant) future, her man-hands just might be out the door if I had to choose between them or the RECIPES-s-s-s-s.

Just thinking about my mother-in-law's kitchen makes me gain weight, it's that delightful of a place. An innocent peek into the refrigerator is a very quick gauge on whether I'm walking in the Spirit or lacking all self-control. Yes, Sugs, you want some'm getting it. It's just right here behind the chocolate mousse cake...snarfle, snarfle (What is that? "Snarfle"?!!)

How, then, do they look like this?

Obviously, I married into the family, those genes didn't come anywhere near my vicinity. But it's cool. I can take the heat. Especially if it means I get to eat this.

Kettle corn.

We have no routine in this house other than naptime and bedtime. And kettle corn time.

When Real Gil's sporadic schedule lands him at home in the evening, we stir and pop with the best of them. (By the way, bad guy, if you think this house is empty of a big, hulking man at nighttime, the key word is sporadic. But I have a history with any bat (I prefer a Louisville Slugger), my children can scream loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood, and all you're going to find is a lot of children's toys and hand-me-down furniture. But let me tell you about my loaded neighbor, that guy is r-i-c-h...)

We all pile into the TV room and we watch America's Funniest Home Videos with a big bowl of homemade crunchiness. The recipe below is sure to be a hit at your house, and a guarantee to vacuum the next day.

Heat about 1/3 cup of oil in the bottom of your largest pot on about medium heat. To test the heat, add two kernels of corn and put the lid back on. When they have popped, pour in about 1 and 1/2 cups of unpopped popcorn. Return the lid (KEY!!!), shake periodically until completely popped. Then, pour into the biggest bowl you own, and salt to taste.

In a small saucepan, mix the following ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar

Stir this on medium heat for about 8-9 minutes, or until it changes colors from creamy white to light brown.

Pour over the popcorn and toss to spread evenly. Be careful - it's hot. And doggone good. Especially if you one-and-a-half the topping (yes, didn't you know one-and-a-half is a verb?). Yes, mother-in-love, I do that. [shrug.] And no, you can't have The Meadow back. Even if I did share your recipe on my blog. But you can come over for popcorn any time you want.

May your weekend be full of family recipes, laughter, and Rest.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chubby, Busy Fingers

Here's the evidence...

Found on one chubby's door:

With these three smug mugs peeking out:

They felt a little bad about excluding me. So, they posted their compromise on my bedroom door.
I had to laugh. Following their trail is like following the pig to the pancake...the evidence continued to pile up. Literally.

to which I nodded satisfactorily. Nice placement, well-rolled.

to which I called Real Gil in to share the laugh.
Every girl deserves a crown and a boa.

Hope you are enjoying evidences of chubby fingers today!


Friday, February 19, 2010

My dilemma

Apparently, it is time to wash the windows around here.

During dinner yesterday, Real Gil noticed this:

Yes, I know this picture does very little to explain. In fact, this post might be better off without my shots. James Glover I am not.

It's bird fluff. And it's so sweetly stuck to our kitchen window. When the wind blew last night, we watched it flutter. I was shocked it was still stuck to the window this morning - and promptly took a picture of it for your reading pleasure. (The worst part of this story is that I took close-up pictures and then walked away without cleaning the nastiness.)

Every once in a while, we hear the telltale thump of an unsuspecting bird smacking the window. The dustpan has gently scooped more than one pane-flattened victim. One received emergency medical care and heartfelt prayers from Punkin; to our great relief, the little sparrow flittered away on weak wings (perhaps to die in peace?).

Here's my dilemma: do I clean the windows like the domestic control freak that I can be and traumatize little eyes with the natural influx in innocent bird smack-downs? Or do I leave the windows unwashed and hope no one notices the slobber, handprints, and occasional bird fluff?

Resting (with bird fluff still fluttering bravely),

Why the Dust Bunnies Did Not Matter

Church community group was underway, those dust bunnies happily forgotten. Friends, of both the big and the little classifications, greeted one another giddily. Coffee ready to be brewed, my appetizers coming together nicely.

Then, a familiar scream from the toy room. How is it that a room full of mothers hear a scream and one goes running, knowing instinctively that pitch and tone?

Appetizers? What appetizers?

I ran to the noise. Little panicked voices could not drown out the loud whirr of our treadmill. And scooping up the two-year old marble-eater, I squealed like the little ones. His God-woven, milky skin was shredded by the man-made machine. Kids tried to explain, to defend themselves, knowing the damage was great. Real Gil and I took turns holding him carefully, doing our best not to disturb the heated patches.

And how our hearts broke at his pain. Mother-guilt lambasted me - I had been so busy with details that I had not folded up the treadmill. The childrens' guilt was great to - knowing what off-limits means.

Doses of medicine, reassurances from medical folks, gentle hands comforted while Curious George did his best to entertain the little wounded fellow, his hiccup-sobs peppering the dialogue periodically.

Somehow, Biblestudy even followed. Small talk and deep talk, parents and friends together drinking the cup of fellowship. It was sweet, and precious. But my heart was downstairs, with something else sweet and precious, more so now that his invincibility was yet again challenged.

Marching around the house this morning in nothing but a diaper, the red patch on his back catches the light. He jumps into the sisters' pillow nest, seemingly recovered from last night's drama.

Mothers are not so fast to recover though. At least not this one.

All I can think is, Never.

Never, ever could I have watched while my only son's back bore red patches for someone else's crimes. Even with modern medicine, his pain is my own.

How could a Father let His Son suffer so? It's either heartless or all-heart. But the crimes were mine, and even marble-eater's, and Real Gil's. And the all-heart allowance of a Father to forsake His Son in the midst of shredded, red patches, this supernatural love is what I was made for.

Gratefulness abounds, floating around our hearts like unswept dust bunnies.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

Resting Supernaturally,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Frantic Antics

Tonight is community group. It is at our home because 1) we have a bonus room for all the parents (while the monopolizing children run-a-muck downstairs); and 2) it forces me to clean my house.

The frantic antics of a former perfectionist were in full power today. If you would have liked to observe the scramblings for self-effort, they were well underway right around 2:00. They usually are on the first and third Thursdays of the month.

Pastor John is coming to observe our group announces the answering machine as we pile in the back door from morning Biblestudy. It makes perfect sense, then, that I had to climb into our bathtub and scrub the porcelain this afternoon. Never mind that my dear children might have been bathing with small particles of sand rubbing their cute, angelic rears lately, or that the washrags used as doll blankets might have been begging for replacements two days ago. Of course, it's all about rest. (ah-hem) Rest time, that is. For the two-year old. So I can get back to this focus on me cleaning.

As I turn on the battery-powered candles and throw simple food at my family tonight, I'm wondering if I need medication. Or just a simple turning.

Deep breath. And a turn back to He who desires the glory in this house. I'm gladly giving it to Him, and trusting Him with the not-so-fresh hand towels in the bathroom (Oh yes, I just flipped them...Granny taught me that trick.). And here we are at three 0'clock. I'm laugh-blogging about it all. I made that word up. Laugh-blogging. It's different than laugh-out-loud-blogging. I'm far too refined for that. More of a smirk-blog which is not a sin if you're smirking at yourself.

Smiling genuinely now, resting with the dust bunnies still under my bed (as if our pastor is going to get down on his stomach and look under my bed.), and off to cook real dinner.

Can you relate to this Martha moment?

Hoping to Choose the Better Tonight,

P.S. Is it still okay to mop before 5:30? I'm going for it. But with no ulterior motives now. The supermom cape is happily stowed away until next Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peace-Filled Parenting, Part 3

Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

This verse is an old favorite around this goofy blog. You'll find it neatly "tucked in" to various posts.

Today, as I read it again in my Bible, I remembered that salvation is a gift only given from God. It is not a gift my husband and I can give to our children. If it were, they would have it unwrapped and comfortably sitting smack dab in the middle of their hearts. Most every other Christian parent would do the same with their own children, I imagine.

Being an avid reader of biographies and autobiographies, I must admit that I have never, ever read about a devout Christian hero of the faith attributing their salvation to their parents. Never have I listened to a moving testimony only to hear the confession that the born again Christian turned to Jesus because of his or her parents. And in my own life, the moment of rebirth happened completely apart from my parents, they were probably not even a passing thought at the time. (Sorry, Mom and Dad, but that's the truth!)

So, then, why do we as parents burden ourselves with the lie that it is our job to save our own children?

Many years ago, I was a camp counselor at a Christian high school summer camp. We were under the strict orders to always encourage children to wait for their parents to pick them up before they made any commitment to Jesus Christ! Although I understand a parent's desire to be instrumental during this monumental moment in their child's life, I speak as a former teenager when I say, what a way to rain on that parade! Does God truly need a group of controlling parents to save His chosen ones? Is He really that small?

But I, too, have fallen under this deception. Every time I think that I can change my kids spiritually, I move into a controlling mode of parenting. My ammunition is vast - manipulation, coercion, shame, provocation, nagging, impatience... Sometimes, these methods do appear to work, and the child seems to "see the light." But deep down, if I have not asked heart-probing questions and sought to gently guide towards the Author of all faith, in essence, if I have not chosen to abide in Christ at that moment (John 15:5), any outward performance by my child is just that - an outward performance. In Christ's words, these are "like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead peoples' bones." (Matthew 23:27, NLT) As I mentioned last time, there is nothing wrong with outward performance...when it's about getting your children to brush their teeth or get their homework done...when it's about producing "Christian" fruit by their own effort (or yours!), it's nothing but stinky corpses.

I love that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, doesn't end with saying that salvation is by faith, a gift from God. He adds that this gift of God, salvation, is "not of works, lest anyone should boast." Though I know the context suggests this is for the saved person specifically, perhaps this might also be a gentle nudge from Paul to Christian parents. We cannot save our children, not by our own works (and they can be many in the religious realm today). Their choices are their own, "lest anyone should boast," including any "successful" parents.

This begs the question, then. What is our role as Christian parents? Those of you patient enough to still be reading this have probably been asking this question for the last twelve paragraphs...

Hooray for Paul who tells us!

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

Spirit-filled parents have a huge job: to walk in the good works God has prepared for them. In some areas, this will look similar for all of us. We are to not provoke our children, but to "bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). No matter what our situation, all Christian parents will have this same "good work" to do. In other areas, usually what I would term non-Biblical issues, different Christian families may have different "god works" to do which will fit with our spiritual gifts and God-given passions. You may be called to homeschool your children, or to adopt, to be very politically active or to go to another country as a missionary family. These are where our God-given passions and spiritual gifts come in, and we get to walk in them as God prepares the way.

Such rest in this! YOU are specifically called to parent your child. I know this because you have been given your child and no one else has. THAT is a calling! And God prepares your good works beforehand that you should walk in them.

If you are struggling with knowing the exact ways to walk in these good works...welcome to the club! But might I suggest that we all look at the perfect parent, God the Father, for some direction: He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:10-13, my emphasis)

Peace, like a lazy morning mist, has melted into our home as we allow Him to prepare the works of the day. That moment-by-moment faith allows us to be Spirit-filled, obedient, and compassionate to our children. It has also allowed us to let go of undue guilt or defensiveness as we listen to all of the questions - Why are you doing AWANA? Why are you not doing AWANA? Are they always this loud/quiet/energetic/lethargic? I find myself just smiling and nodding, shrugging my shoulders and just wanting to hug Gil and the children a lot.

I loved this quote by Leslie Leyland Fields in a recent Christianity Today article: It is faith rather than formula, grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts and what, by God's grace, our children grow up to become."

As safe as formulas, guarantees, and the idea of "success" may be to us all, we are called to faith, grace, and steadfastness, both in life and in parenting. There is much less predictability this way, and perhaps even a bit more agony, but abiding in Christ is never without reward (and controlling wiles are never without their damage).

As my dear mother-in-law said to me only last week, "I do not want to change things...but I want things to change."

May this be true of us all as we parent our children. When we see areas of the heart that need addressing in our children, may we desire and even seek change, but may we also rest in the Only One who does the actual changing.

Imagine me with my right hand up. I do solemnly swear to make this more practical. I do solemnly swear to throw the soapbox into the attic at least until next week.

Resting in His Power to Change (even if it's me, not the kids He changes!),


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Email

Sent via email this afternoon to the Real Gil:

I'm sorry I'm such a jerk. I DO like that new TV but I absolutely LOVE you. So I'm not sure why I took my anger for the TV out on you. Next time I cannot turn it on, I will not take my anger out on you. I'll smash the TV. :) or walk in the Spirit and avoid this whole mess.

Thanks for the over-the-phone directions. PBS is happily on. Forgive me.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Peace-filled Parenting, Part 2

I reread my own post, part 1, and thought to myself, "C'mon, Karen. Every parent produces results in their kids."

And I realize before going any further, I must qualify my stance: I believe that as parents, we can NOT produce spiritual results in our children. But of course, parenting involves results galore.

For example...

Our children hopefully do not dart off of the sidewalk into oncoming traffic. This is because we have given them enough incentives not to do so. (that is, if you want more than three pages in your baby book, do not run into the street.) In a manner of speaking, we have produced results in our children.

Our kids are homeschooled. I would be a terrible homeschooling mother - still debatable, at this point - if I did not produce some kind of results in my children when it comes to their education.

One of our kids recently became obsessed with calling people "poopy pants." Sorry to the lady at WalMart who was called this very loudly by an extremely verbal two-year old. This may or may not have had anything to do with a marble and a mother jokingly calling him that. Whether I like it or not, I contributed to this outcome.

So, can we produce results in our children? Of course! Sometimes, that's our job. It's why my children are paranoid about plastic bags suffocating everyone. Because I've produced that result. (Thank you for the paranoia, say my adult children in twenty years. You're very welcome.) Because it's my job. Other times, producing results in our children is a blessing. When my six-year old finally finishes that chapter book she's been fighting through, it's an exciting moment to see the results of our labor. Sometimes, it's a real bummer. I'll never forget a friend cussing under her breath when a drink spilled in the car and her three-year old went around saying, "Dimmit" for weeks afterwards. Whether it is our job, a blessing, or a real bummer, parents are influential and do indeed produce results in their children.

That's why parents are so important! Duh. I can't believe how gracious you are if you are still reading this. My genius mind is just on fire today. Of course we produce results! Today, in my house, it's why I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. One of my jobs is producing the meals. The results were less than I had hoped for: half-eaten sandwiches and a lot of complaining about crust and crunchy peanut butter. Grrr. But it is a result that I produced. It's also why most of us Christians understand that adoption is a worthwhile calling. Or why many of us women choose to be home with our children. Because we realize that we have something to give. It might not be perfect, but family and life together does produce some results, some benefits, and many, many blessings.

Not all of these are positive. The alcoholic mother will, by her behavior, produce certain results in her children. The verbally abusive father will get results - outward compliance and defeated children. Even Pavlov's dogs produced the desired results that Pavlov was seeking. I'm stating the obvious: parents are productive, influential, and can indeed produce behavior in their children.

BUT, and it's a huge but (Hee-hee, call me an adolescent.), we can not produce spiritual results in our children. I do not believe we were ever called to produce godly children. Their choices are their own, their hearts are their own. As much as I would like to throw Free Will out the window, it's here to stay. And so are our children (not that we want to throw them out a window. Never.). But "being confident of this very thing: that He who has begun a good work in us will be faithful to complete it," (Phil. 1:6), I rest in full confidence that God's work in my children will be completed. I may or may not be used in this work, but it is God's work. As the Apostle Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

And no matter what the results are, God in Heaven is faithful. And His work in my childrens' hearts is complete, all-knowing, and perfect. Their response to that work is their own.

Such peace has come into our home as I have finally let go of the burden of producing spiritual giants! My childrens' disobedience, which used to trigger personal guilt and shame at my obvious parenting failure, is now my cue to speak, to guide, to question, to gently lead, to discipline. Their obedience, which used to trigger pride and self-congratulations at my obvious parenting success, is now my cue to encourage, to praise God for His work in that child's life. As reactionary as it appears to be, I believe this is the way God parents us. He deals with the heart, He woos us with His love, and He allows us to make our own choices and live with the consequences. Similarly, we were not meant to pioneer our childrens' faith. It is not a family-driven faith, it is a Spirit-driven faith. We are meant to lead them as a shepherd guides the sheep to water. Whether they drink or not is up to them and the Spirit who seeks them.

For Part 3, I'll provide my humble ideas on the obvious question then: what is the role of Christian parents in the spiritual formation of children? I'll give you a hint: I'm not a defeatist, our role is huge!


Peace-filled Parenting, Part 1

Does that title sound like an oxymoron?

Our house is anything but quiet. And for many years, it was not peace-filled either. Until the past few years. Now, and with utmost humility, I can boast in Christ who has made our home peace-filled. More particularly, He has made our hearts peace-filled.

If you will indulge me so, let me explain a bit...

As if it were only yesterday, I remember my first pregnancy. We were so excited for the huge changes - both to my belly and to our budding family. However, it wasn't long into my pregnancy before I started to get questions. And not innocent, "how are you?" questions. They went something like this:
  • Do you plan to breastfeed?
  • Will you use formula?
  • An all-natural birth?
  • An epidural? Inducement?
  • Home birth? Hospital delivery?
  • Circumcision or not?
  • Are you finding out what you are having? Or not?
  • Are you going to immunize? Or not?
  • Are you sticking to a specific diet? exercising?

I started dreading the grocery store for fear of a mini-Inquisition starting on the produce aisle. Are you really going to eat tofu while you're pregnant? No. You're not? Well, you really should consider it... sheesh, I was just reaching for the bean sprouts, Peoples.

The questions continued throughout the pregnancy, and I'm sure if you have been on the pregnancy end of things, you might have experienced this phenomenon. Many people have very strong opinions about certain things - immunizations, homeschooling, natural versus modern medicine, organic eating, environmental protection, saving money, breastfeeding...the list goes on and on and on. What I found, though, was that these were not just opinions, they were passions. That was easy to discern - opinions are easy to hear, but passionate people - when they state their cause - can sometimes leave you feeling remiss, or at the very least, in the dark about an obviously important topic. I am this way when I talk about Jesus. People are usually offended or at the very least, leave feeling in the dark (or that I'm in the dark). Passion is not a bad thing. Sometimes, however, it can get a little intense to those who listen. I remember one lady telling me how terrible sliced deli meat was because all of the nitrates in them could hurt me and the baby. I was so desperately hungry for a turkey sandwich! But to her, it was obviously the wrong choice to make. I made it anyways, and as far as I know, Punkin survived the nitrates.

The doctor did little to ease my fears. With many generalizations and rules of thumb, but no sure formulas or guarantees, the repeated words, "Every woman is different," did little to calm my anxieties.

Little did I know, this was just the tip of the iceberg. We weren't out of the hospital with the awkward wheelchair and carseat before someone was recommending that we homeschool. Again, an admirable venture for those who are called to it. But at the time, it only added to my anxiety. How could I possibly do it all right?!! As we loaded the baby into our 1994 Toyota Camry with the Mercedes emblem on the front hood, the humor of our little life wasn't so funny any more. We couldn't just eat cold cereal for dinner any more. We were parents. There were rules to this game. And if we were lucky, there might be a formula we could plug her into and watch a good outcome pop out on the other side of the equal sign.

It was up to us to decide her health, education, character formation, how many siblings she would have, what she would eat, how she would sleep, where we would live, if she would throw tantrums or not...the weight of it all was mind-boggling, especially for a sleep-deprived couple.

Peace was far from us. Both spiritual and physical.

I had heard Proverbs 22:6 growing up but it took on new meaning as I became a parent: train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In some ways, this comforted me. If we could only train this little puking, pooping, cooing, sweet unpredictable bundle in "the way she should go," well, then, all our prayers would be answered. It was a guarantee, right?!! Here was the formula we were looking for!

In other ways, this verse brought me great distress. If Gil and I did not train her up in the way she should go, we were going to have a spiritual rebel on our hand, right? Isn't that what the verse was saying? She would rebel, walk away from the Lord, because we did not train her up in the way she should go.

Suddenly, all of those moments when I inwardly rolled my eyes at somebody who had a passion for their issue (when those issues were not areas I was passionate about) were moments I needed to retrieve, find the right answer, and shove it down Punkin's throat with the all-organic rice cereal.

And then, of course, the floaty phrase "the way she should go" did very little to calm my anxieties. What was the way she should go????!!! All those grocery store ambushes came rushing back to haunt me...
  • Did successful moms breastfeed or formula-feed?! Oh the dilemma!
  • Did successful moms homeschool or private school or public school?! Oh the sheer terror of making a mistake!
  • Never mind a Bradley method. What do you do with a tantrum?! Did successful moms spank or give time outs or have some other amazingly creative trick up their sleeve?
The truth of the matter is, I believed a big lie: that there are "successful" parents that produce "successful" children, who love God and never rebel. The worst part, I believe, about this lie is that it immediately dismisses the otherwise useful wisdom of great parents simply because they did not have great results. In other words, loving, faithful parents whose children rebelled were somehow faulty in their parenting, and therefore, their advice wasn't as valuable. Unless they wanted to admit what they did wrong. Of course, I was far too good of a Christian to admit this in words, but I was definitely thinking it. I apologize if you were one of those mothers. Because I'm one now, too. I'm not a "successful" parent. If success is producing born again Christian children, I can claim no success. Only God does this work, not me. And even then, it's really up to our children to make those daily choices to abide in Him.

It was here, in a surrendered place of giving up on "doing our kids right," that I entered REST. I don't understand it all completely, I feel like I'm at the very beginning of a long growth process (duh.). But Proverbs 22:6 has brought up a crossroads for me. For that reason, I'm very thankful for an otherwise bothersome verse. It brought out a lot of hidden pride in my own life. (for details, see the paragraph above.)

Now, I have four options in looking at this verse, train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
  1. All successful parents will produce God-fearing, born-again children. Conversely, all unsuccessful parents will produce rebellious, non-Christian children.
  2. If #1 is not necessarily true, my second route is to cut out this Bible verse. If great parents have rebellious children and non-Christian parents have godly children, this verse is wrong. It's not true.
  3. If I don't want to throw out Bible verses, I must consider, then, that God doesn't keep His promises. He promised Proverbs 22:6 and it doesn't seem to be maintained.
  4. If I believe God to be the Perfect Promise-Keeper, I must consider that Proverbs 22:6, albeit all of Proverbs, was never intended to be a promise. It was never a promise of God. God keeps His promises, the Bible is true, this is not a promise.
I am placing all of my confidence on Door #4. This is an easy one for me now. I know Door #1 is not true. And because I know Jesus and His Word, I easily dismiss #2 and #3.

This is not some earth-shattering new realization (except to me, perhaps). Most biblical scholars understand and agree that the book of Proverbs is one of general guidelines, definitely not "If...then..." statements to plug in names and circumstances for our comfort as promises.

Real rest has come to our home in realizing that "train up a child and when he is old, he will not depart from it" is a general rule of thumb, a great maxim for all parents. As all of Proverbs is, it is a generalization, never a formula to follow. Like the doctor's guidelines when we were pregnant, we all follow his or her advice but we understood that there are no promises for labor, delivery, and baby, even if we followed all of his or her instructions. That's just life. Every woman in the world who is pregnant understands that no matter how many thousands of women have had babies before them, there are no promises when it comes to childbirth. There are only lots of patterns, and general rules of thumb.

Similarly, there are no promises when it comes to child-rearing. Except that perhaps, they all will eventually bring us to our knees time and time again.

But I think most Christian parents stress out far more than they would admit about how their children will "turn out." Will they do it right? Will they not do it right? And the evidence will either pat them on the back or slap them in the face with every mention of grown children.

Such freedom in my house, in my heart, as I have let all of those questions and doubts about my own inadequacy fall away! Gil and I press toward the goal of the upward prize, forgetting what is behind. I approach the throne of grace with confidence, on my knees for my children and their hearts. I am a Peace-filled parent when I choose to walk in His strength, and I am praying for Peace-filled children.

I will end for now. But of course, since this blog is of my own volition, you all are stuck with more talk next time.

I'll try to make this much more practical in part two. Until then,

Resting in Him,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Links I Love

Real Gil is working, which he might prefer since I'm watching Cranford tonight. A delightful BBC series, if I might review prematurely after two hours of a 9-hour series.

In the meantime, these articles have brought me to my knees this weekend. Mercy, grace, and thankfulness wrapped in words.

Praying for our sons, after reading this.

Thanking God for our daughters, after reading this.

Fearfully and wonderfully made, they all are. As are you.

Happy Valentine's Day.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Simple Toys

Like many American families, we have too many toys in our house. I am constantly tripping on them, organizing them, passing them off to other families, and just when I think I've got the chaos under control (key words: I think), we have a holiday or birthday, and I start the process all over again. This week, I was tempted to throw all the toys into a huge ceremonial melting pot in the backyard.

For three reasons.

Red plastic disposable cups.

A three-foot long wooden board.

A ladder.

Forget the beautiful baby dolls or mechanical bulldozer. All my children have played with today were these three items. If you are suffering a rainy day in the near future, might I humbly recommend you pull out one or all of these things.

The disposable cups have been stacked repeatedly, loaded into a dump truck, stacked repeatedly, filled with jewelry, used as trumpets and megaphones, stacked repeatedly, then finally, smashed with feet jumping from a couch. Wasted? I think not.

The three-foot long, one-foot wide wooden board was leftover from a set of shelves dear Gil made me. This piece of plywood has more love in it than Shel Silversteins Giving Tree. Today, it was a ramp for Hot Wheels, a bridge across twin beds, and a slide. It was also a stage for Sleeping Beauty to dance on, and a dog bed for stuffed animals who were sick.

The folding ladder. Sigh. I know I am not supposed to let my children play on a ladder. But this is a sturdy one. And it only goes up about six feet. That's what I'm telling DCS. It is the perfect place to sing, dangle strings, sit under, play pirate, and...well, just hang out. We don't have great trees around here, but doggone, I have a ladder. Do you? Don't tell anyone I recommended it. Especially for three-year olds. My only rule: you must take your princess dresses off before you attempt the climb. Because that's reasonable ladder safety, right?

Resting Tonight,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Would you drink it?

Life was drastically simple today. Leftovers, lots of school books, some Biblestudy. Snuggled in with Real Gil and three kids, our lives are "sweet and small, but hopefully not narrow," as I'm inclined to say to anyone who will chuckle at my dumb repeat jokes.

But I guess I am a bit narrow-minded.

Gil brought this to my attention tonight, when he brought out one of the momentos he hauled across the Pacific Ocean.

It was this.

It required a quick Google search. And with little onlookers watching my every reaction, I tried to remain neutral. Until I read this part on wikipedia:

[Weasel Coffee] is made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civets. The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested.

Six-year old Punkin scrunched up her face and shouted, "Blech!!"

Gil loved it. He says he's going to try it. Of course, his stomach's been acting up since he got home. What's the harm in a cup full of hot E-Coli?

Next time, I'm specifying that any Asian country will have good silk underwear. I'll take a pair of those. In the meantime, if you've ever wanted to come over and have a good cup o' Joe at our house, you might want to least until I can sneak this pound of pebbles off the premises.

Dear Gil. I love that man. And I love his humor. But doesn't he understand, we've had our fair share of poop in this house lately?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From Tokyo to Macaroni and Cheese

The Real Gil is home! I may or may not have pushed my children out of the way to give him a hug. In a matter of twelve hours, he went from a beautiful Tokyo airport to stirring macaroni and cheese while I helped with a photo shoot for our favorite family photographer.

He is tired and in desperate need of a bathroom every thirty minutes or so. And he has already signed us up for a Superbowl party tomorrow. If you're in the neighborhood, follow the noise. And hopefully the aromas of edible food (maybe???).

I'm cooking following the directions on the sides of cans and pretending I'm Ree Drummond. If an apron falls on my head in the forest and no one is around to see it, does that make me a cook? Come tomorrow and we'll see. Dear Gil is ready for anything at this point, and with the Immodium still on hand, I figure I can't hurt his belly much.

I've been working on a post about Glory - God's glory - but I'm too much of a wimp to post it yet. Until then, you're stuck with Superbowl recipes and toddler mischief.

I'm off to happily trip over my husband's shoes. Hooray for his return!

Resting in Him (even during SuperBowl party preparations!),

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The Haz-mat suit is all put away. Considering it all, I'm counting our losses as surprisingly minimal: one package of baby wipes, one breakfast, and of course, one marble (I wasn't ABOUT to wash it and keep it, thank you very much.).

Someone asked us if we wanted to try geocaching and I don't know...hunting for treasure just doesn't seem to hold the appeal it used to. I sorta feel like we've been there, done that. And we didn't even need a GPS.

On another note, one panicked email to Real Gil was finally replied to this morning. After telling me how hilarious the marble story was - Humph. Hilarious?! Really?! I was going more for disgusting. Revolting. Oh you poor thing, let me jump on a plane and rescue you...- he gave me a welcomed update.

The facts are that he's glad he packed the Immodium, he's seen the Taj Mahal, and bartered on the streets of India. He wishes he had toilet paper.

And I'm happy sorry to say he's miserably homesick.

Monday, February 1, 2010

How 'bout them apples?

Call me the poop patrol. The Dooky Duty. The loaf liaison. The fudge force. The stool squad. The sewage sentinel.1

Why? you ask so sweetly.

Hmmmm...I daresay, this is becoming a pattern around here...

The gleam is still there, isn't it?

Only now, does it seem to have a bit of glassy glimmer in there?

Oh silly me, that's just the marble he swallowed last night.

With Real Gil currently eating Indian food somewhere not within Skype range, is it any surprise this is where our Sunday evening headed?

"No, you did not," I spouted confidently.

He nodded and repeated, "I fwallowed it."

"No, you did not?" I pleaded, mentally scrambling to change courses from bedtime to chaos-time.

He just smiled, loving the attention. Minutes later, as I hung up the phone with a nurse hotline, he jumped with delight, announcing to his worried sisters, "I'na go to ho-pital." His elation disturbed the quickly recruited Gramma who tried her best not to smile as I buckled him in to the carseat.

"I goin' to ho-pital and make new fwiends."

As my two-year old terror ran around the waiting room in his footsie pajamas, at least one stranger looked my direction, wondering what contagious ailment I could possibly have that would incite me to bring my toddler to the ER. It had to be me that was sick, because of course, it couldn't be the healthy, energetic ball of innocence in the zip-up jammies.

Nah, we're just here to collect all the unsightly germs from the pencaps and doorknobs before we head home to spread them
, said my sarcastic double.

Makes me want to swim in Purell just thinking about it.

The guy with a clipboard called our name and Jedd skipped through the double doors.

And about twenty minutes later, he skipped back through those double doors.

One negative about having a perfectly positive ER visit: there are no negatives (for the two-year old, that is). Charming strangers? Getting your picture taken under a cool X-ray machine? Staying up late with Mama and no sisters?

In my mind, I was pulling on the back of the doctor's white coat, begging for the infliction of some pain - not too much to traumatize the kid, just enough to make the point. No needles? No IVs? Nothing?!!

Jedd loved it.

Want to know how I know, other than the sheer jubilation on his face last night? Two big clues.

The last two marbles to be found in my house.

Where did I find them?

Oh, just in his mouth this morning.

Thankfully, my shriek did not cause the child's swallow response to kick into gear. He spit them out and looked out me with confusion. Like a toddler racing towards mischief, I scrambled after the two marbles of madness. Then, I carried his wiggling, screaming mass into the time out chair for loving (kinda) discipline.

As the Real Gil returns home in 118 117 hours and thirty minutes, I am planning my response to his next year's epic world expedition: I understand there are great rates on flights to Timbuktu and the hotels are phenomenally cheap. Just keep in mind, my Love, that the ER visits will run you at least another $500, not counting x-rays and the subsequent germs we fight for weeks afterwards. (Sweet smile to soften the blow.)

Other than writing weird poop posts, I'm busy trying to track down the chest x-ray the medical professionals took. My dearest thirdborn, stripped to nothing but white bones with gray clouds on black...and one mysterious, glowing circle sitting proudly in his stomach. I could have saved myself all of this time writing and just posted the x-ray, you'd get the point just as well (if not better!).

The first question is, where is it now?

Naturally, the second question is, what gear other than goggles and gloves should I use when bobbing for these apples?

Footnote 1: In "mother-time," it took me exactly twenty, Nap minutes* to come up with this list of disgusting poop synonyms (try googling THAT!), and another ten minutes to figure out how to do footnotes on Blogger. This was a very wise use of my time today. *Nap minutes are worth double as they are quiet, peaceful, precious moments in an otherwise not-quiet-nor-peaceful, but definitely precious day...except for the Tatertot Treasure Hunt (that one was a freebie.).