Friday, April 22, 2011

The One About Grace

"There's only grace. There's only love. There's only mercy and believe me it's enough. Our sins are gone w/out a trace. There's nothing left now, there's only grace."

I woke up with this song running through my head this morning. It struck me that this is the season where SO MUCH grace was given to us! So much grace was poured out on behalf of us... each of us. I keep thinking about how Jesus died ...DIED... on the cross for our sins. Imagine you have 5 children. Imagine 4 of them are so naughty they are constantly causing trouble. Imagine you punish *only* the one who isn't naughty for all the naughtiness the others are doing. Seems so unfair and so wrong.... yet, that's what God did. Ultimately he punished Jesus... the only perfect person to walk this earth... because of the things we do wrong every day. And what thanks does He get? Really?

I'm not claiming to be a perfect Christian (Is there such a thing?) I don't read my Bible daily. I pray daily, but often it's "Lord, help me not to kill my kids today!" I know I've missed opportunities to share the gospel. I certainly don't give God the thanks He deserves in my daily life.

But I am thankful. I am thankful for that grace He chose to give to us. I'm thankful that He saw us worth enough of receiving that grace if we just ask for it. I'm thankful that He chose to bless us and give us such a wonderful gift of life if we choose it. I'm thankful for His grace.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The One About Dancing

When was the last time you danced freely? I don't mean weird dancing that looks like you're having a seizure, but fun dancing. Think of a 2 year old. The other day I was watching my 2 y/o daughter in her "pretty" (a dress), dancing to "More Sunday Morning Songs with Bob & Larry". She was spinning, raising her hands in the hair, jumping, laughing, clapping and looking so happy & full of joy! I decided to join her. We laughed and danced... and to be honest, I was exhausted much more quickly than she was!! But it was fun and freeing. It was joyful and exhilarating. And it was a bonding experience with my little one. It picked up the mood of the day and my 7 y/o and 4 y/o also joined in so we formed a circle and circle danced around the living room. Dancing is fun! Next time you're having a bad day... pop in your favorite music and dance around the house w/ your little ones (or by yourself)... I bet it'll brighten the day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The One With 5 Personalities

I have 5 different personalities that I have to work with daily:

  1. The compliant child
  1. The strong willed child
  1. The sneaky child
  1. The analytical child
  2. The silly child

I have one child who is mostly compliant. He's a people pleaser and thrives on praise and encouragement. He tries to do good most of the time, tho he does tend to be bossy towards his siblings from time to time and a little grumbly when things don't go the way he wants them to be.

Next I have what would be dubbed as "the strong willed child". He can definitely hold his own in arguments and absolutely must get the last word in. He cannot stand it when things don't go the way he expects them to go and can have a bit of a rebellious side. But he's also very determined and focused. He knows the rules and tries to follow them better than any of the other children. He zones in on a projects and follows it to completion. He knows when he hasn't done his best and usually tries to perfect it. I guess he's a bit of a perfectionist as well.

Thirdly, I have the sneaky child. She tends to always be afraid of getting in trouble (so I guess a people pleaser as well) It astounds me that she's afraid of this because she rarely 'gets' in trouble and the consequences when she does get in trouble are really minor compared to what some parents would do, but I guess to her it's not minor. She tends to tell tall tales and live in a 'fantasy' type world from time to time. She's fun loving and joyful. Almost always smiling and happy. She can be a bit 'snotty', but I think that's being a 7 year old girl! The amazing thing is her joy. She's just a happy child. And thoughtful. She made her sick brother a card just because she loves him.

Fourth is my analytical child. He thinks about EVERYTHING. He thinks through everything. He asks a bazillion questions. He loves documentaries and learning new things. He also thinks through everything he is asked to do. "Why do I need to clean up the playroom? It'll just get messy again." He tends to be a bit defiant and is actually very similar to my 'strong willed child' in many, many ways. He's a joy to be around and is usually cheerful. The things he thinks about and the subjects he brings up are pretty amazing and really thought provoking (and he's only 4!)

Last, but certainly not least is my silly child. She loves to be the center of attention. She's always laughing and dancing. She moves to music in her head. She's often persistent in her wants, but so much of her personality is just silly. Laughing, making others laugh, being cute and silly. She's two… so it'll be interesting to see what happens as she grows older.

I've found that parenting each one of them takes thought and changes per child and per season of life. There are times when I need to 'crack down' and times I need to extend more grace. There are things I would be strict w/ one about, but not strict w/ another about. Parenting is the most difficult job because of this. To parent each child to your best ability (and to their needs) you can't use a 'one style fits all' technique. Sure, it'd be easier! Yes, I'll admit… if I just used one form of discipline for each infarction of the 'rule' it would make my life easier. It doesn't work well that way. The moments I do use a form of punitive parenting I realize the reason I do not want to use it. My first retreats into himself, my second becomes angry and sullen, my third is heartbroken/sad as well as withdrawn, my fourth becomes angry and lashes out and my fifth is so hurt you can see it in her eyes. While I think that a sadness at doing wrong is right and the only way we can change, I don't think it needs to be enforced or made worse by my punitive parenting methods.

I've found that if I'm parenting at my best, using the grace that God extends to us my kids thrive. (Tho honestly we use grace on a very tiny, minuscule basis than what God has shown to us. None of us has chosen to give up the life of our child to save people who don't even care that we exist.) Through my extension of grace, the children can see heart issues come to light and when it comes from them it hits them harder. An example: My sneaky child has a tendency to lie to prevent getting into trouble . We've been reading a lot of Aesop's fables and she came to me the other day and said 'Huh. I think I needed to hear that. I'm like the boy who cried wolf. I'm going to try not to do that so people will believe me." My mama heart soared! I have told her that very thing time and time again "If you continue to lie, people won't believe you even if you tell the truth." She would agree, but didn't take it to heart until it came to her on her own. A simple verse, a simple story, a simple heart to heart talk can bring things to their minds that they hadn't thought of, hadn't taken to heart or hadn't realized were an issue. I've found that seizing these moments when not in the heat of a negative moment is the best. Seize a quiet moment alone and talk with them about the heart issue they are struggling with. Really listen and don't offer a lot of advice unless they seem open to it. Grab a hold of moments when you can encourage them.

When I'm parenting at my best and we hit the heat of the moment I usually try to walk away and say "You need to cool down" or "I need to cool down" and then address the situation later. I try to teach them it's best to walk away if you feel too heated. How many marriages and relationships could have been saved if only hurtful things hadn't been said in the heat of the moment, you know? But I also try to teach them to come back and talk when things have cooled off because you can't just ignore problems.

I wish I could always parent at my best… it's not easy and some days I want to throw in the towel on parenting completely. Walk away and just let them raise themselves! I guess that would be permissive parenting. But then how will they learn? They won't learn heart issues by beating it out of them. They won't learn by letting them do whatever they want… there has to be a balance and I guess that balance is grace. That balance is found when we pray and follow God's lead on how to parent each child as they need as the individuals God created them to be. Who are we to try to change what God created? Why not just help Him to shape them to become who He created them to be?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The One With Sickness

Try as I may I cannot keep my family healthy since February. The majority of the family came down w/ a stomach bug/flu in Feb and ever since we've been battling colds and now, another stomach bug. So far just the 4 y/o has it.... but what comes in goes around fast. It drives me crazy to get sick. We go three places consistently: Church, Friday School & the Library. We get together w/ friends once or twice/week as well, but we don't go to any other public places. I don't even take the children to the grocery store with me... and yet we still pick things up. It's discouraging to me. It wouldn't be a big deal if I had one or two children, but since I have 5 it seems to take us FOREVER to get over something.

I chalk them full of echinacea and elderberry syrup. They get over things fairly quickly, but then seem to get something else because their immune systems were lowered by the previous flu/cold/stomach bug. I wish there were a sure-fire way to not get anything.

Awww.... Summer, you cannot come soon enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The One With A Hundred Dollar Giveaway

One of my friends has a blog and is giving away $100 visa gift card. Feel free to stop by and enter!!