Study Your Students

As our children get older, they change. Go figure!  Let’s take the time to study them.  Let’s sit with them as they watch movies, allow them to cook a meal (and make a mess), and plan time with just them to ask questions.  Take some time to think about your child’s languages.  

How do they express frustration?   My older son tends to argue.  My younger son shouts, punches, and throws things.  My daughter stomps off to her room and shuts the door.  

How do they express love?  My older son plays with my hair and gives me a kiss on my nose.  My younger son asks me to lay with him at bedtime and says, at random times, “Mom, I love you.”   My daughter barely speaks to me at all.  She disappears into her room to do homework, only comes out for dinner, and gives me one word answers about her day. BUT she asks me to braid her hair, she asks for a granola bar in her lunch, and she asks me to help her study science.  Right now, these are her expressions of love.  Asking.  

So I say, “YES.”  Sometimes it’s not easy.  I don’t REALLY want to braid wet hair at 10:15 at night, or study Earth Science (which I already passed!) on a Thursday night when I need to prepare to teach my co-op class. But I challenge you, as the Lord has challenged me…Keep studying!  

I will do my best to keep studying my children to see what they need from me, what they no longer need, and what they need from God.  Then I can show them love by meeting needs, coaching them, and pointing them to God who can fulfill their deepest spiritual, emotional, and physical deficits.  All my studying leads me to notice the empty spots in their lives that Jesus can fill.  I pray that by HIS grace, they will see their need for Jesus and ask Him to fill them, too.

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Crow Is Nasty

Yesterday I ate crow. Not the way most people do. No one but me knew it, but I ate it just the same. I watched a funny Facebook conversation turn sour when someone ignored another person who said they didn’t want to debate, then proceeded to correct the person who tried to call them out on it. I made a comment that I deeply believe. “Honor should come before your need to be right.” The problem is, though I believe it, I don’t often live it in my home.

Why do we insist people listen to us when we think we are right? Why can’t we just let it go when, though we might be right, the situation isn’t the right setting to spout off our beliefs or opinions? I had to contemplate that yesterday. Here’s what I came up with. Maybe it just applies to me, but I think you’ll be able to relate.

I want to be right when I’m emotionally involved. I might be emotionally involved because I have a deep relationship with the person and want them to see my side of things.  I also want to be right when something touches my emotions. In my house, it’s usually that someone has set off a bad emotion in me, I blow up, correct the other person, then play the blame game, because I want to be justified in my actions and words. Though I completely lost it and handled it the wrong way, I feel a little justified because I also corrected the other person where they were wrong.

What makes me react this way? It’s usually unmet expectations, because I have a control issue. (Time for me to learn from Ginger’s post.) Perhaps it’s because my to-do list is not going to be completed because of the needs of one or more of the other people in my household. Or maybe my children’s behavior doesn’t live up to my ideals. I mean, they’re my kids. I expect them to think and act just like me, right? Actually, I expect more from them than I do from myself. I often expect perfection, as if they are robots made to do my bidding, rather than complex and extremely valuable individuals.

My kids see the real me, the me I don’t hide from others. They see me when I’m tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, stressed, angry, etc. Then they hear me nag, correct, yell, and make excuses for my words and actions. So after posting, “honor should come before your need to be right,” I have a few questions for myself. When did it become ok to not practice this with my own family? If I can’t lead by example, how can I train my kids to honor people more than they love opinions and beliefs?

I honestly haven’t figured out a solution. The only answer I’ve come up with is this prayer. I’d like to pray it daily for awhile and see if some changes are made around here. If you’d like to join me, here’s King and Country’s song Proof of Your Love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgqYYk-0wDs

 

skipping Valentine’s Day

We were both pretty weary. It has been one of those weeks (please tell me you have them, too…just do it) when I was pretty much at the end of myself. I looked at my hubby and asked, “Can we just be this Valentine’s Day? Let’s just take a break this year.” I just didn’t have it in me to make the effort and I knew it would be a relief to him to take off any pressure, as well.

I am a big celebrator. I LOVE LOVE LOVE parties, get togethers, holidays, celebrations of most kinds. Matt is usually so wonderful with them (and he teaches my boys how to do them well,too! ) except for his own birthday which we are not allowed to party for…such a stinker!

Sitting together in a little diner, I looked at my husband of almost 22 years and thought back to all the celebrations where he has made me feel special. But, I realized that the real show of love isn’t in the cards, flowers, gifts, or chocolate (well, maybe chocolate…it is quite possibly one of my love languages). It’s in the every day ways that he lays his life down for our family.

It’s how he works so hard for so that I can stay home with the children and homeschool. It’s when he comes home just as tired as I am, but puts the littles to bed and sends me off for some quiet, or when he cooks whenever he can,sometimes getting a whole meal ready for the evening before the coffee has even hit my brain….

It’s in his patience with my shortcomings,his love that covers my crabbiness, his laughter and humor that brings me out of a bad mood, his listening to my heart, even as so many other things are pulling for his attention….

It’s in his spider killing, animal disgustingness cleaning up (that is a real thing), not complaining about frozen toes on his warm legs…

It’s in his love for our boys, the way he raises them to love and honor the Lord.

I want to remember to tell him often, to thank him and honor him for who he is for us. I need to remember when he lets me down or makes me so mad that it’s hard to see the good…I want to see it-to choose to see it.  I don’t want to take for granted the day to day showings of love from him. Because sometimes, when he puts that oh,so perfect cup of coffee in front of me, it’s just as good as a bouquet of flowers.:)

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Expectations

I have learned that it’s easier to not expect things in life and then be pleasantly surprised when things work out great.  Like my wedding, for example.  I had not planned to get married right out of college and had only attended the wedding of one cousin prior to my own.  So I knew very little about weddings, wedding planning, or even cultural norms.  My mom educated me (and my fiancé) on a few things. For example, she informed us that she would “not have a picnic for her friends” and “I can’t handle outdoor weddings…what if it rains?”  As it turned out it poured all day on our wedding day, so it was a good thing it wasn’t outside.  But whose wedding was this, anyway?  We had wanted to make it possible to invite every person we knew in the hopes that they would somehow see Jesus through us at the wedding.  It’s about glorifying God isn’t it?  It’s about being married to someone you can serve Jesus with, right? No matter what happened on that day, rain or shine, cake topper or no cake topper, late to the airport or on time…we would still be married.  That was our great expectation.  And here we are.

Now on to children.  How many could we handle?  One, two, ten?  How many should I expect to have?  I had no plans.  My friends were nervous for me.  They wondered if I would make it since I had no expectations.  Come what may, I did want to have kids…more than one and less than ten.  Boys, girls…it didn’t matter.  I can’t control that anyway.  Why fret about things I can’t control?  There are plenty of things to worry about that I can control.  So after our first, we settled into the routine of diapers, crying, feeding, loving, and sharing responsibilities…well, not quite.  I pretty much did everything for our first, while my husband enjoyed her when she was “fun” and “not hungry,” i.e. not crying.  Whenever she would cry he would hand her to me and say, “She’s hungry.”  So we made it through the first, and when the second came along things REALLY changed.  All of sudden he HAD to do something. Our first night home from the hospital was a real dose of reality.  Our two year old cried for mommy through her entire bath and bedtime.  Nice!  It got better from there, and we ended up with three lovely little munchkins, all about two years apart.  Such blessings!  I am not in control, God is.  We exercise wisdom, trust, discernment and pray, pray, pray. But ultimately God is in control.

So it seems to be a good thing to have less expectations, and more trust.  But when my husband announced that we were done after three I must admit, I struggled.  How did we know three was the right amount?  What if we stood before God and he said, “You should have had four.”  I was worried. But my husband was not.  He said three was good, and there you go.  I wasn’t into having another without his support, so there it was.  Three little beauties and I WAS GRATEFUL, SO GRATEFUL for God’s blessing.  I could trust God and my husband that this was it. Praise God for his wisdom and provision!

I expected to move on and raise these three little rascals in all their creativity.  After a few years, however, my thoughts and prayers turned to all the kids who needed a home.  We had room for more, didn’t we?  I never planned to adopt or expected to make it our mission, but suddenly I felt God tugging at my heart for all those precious orphans.  The kids were totally on board.  My eldest would pray for a sister and ask how things were coming.  My sons said they would share their room and toys.  But my husband, on the other hand, was not.  He did not seem too keen on the idea.  So we prayed.  And we prayed. And we trusted God.

In the winter of 2015 I reached a point of desire, interest, and spiritual connection that I could not deny. I felt God was speaking to me to start the adoption process and see where it led.  My husband agreed.  Wow!  Amazing!  He was on board.  So we met with Catholic Family Center.  The social worker presented all the options.  Many were not very expensive, and the child would fit into our birth order by being the youngest.  Maybe we could adopt a 5-7 year old who would only be a year or two younger than my youngest son.  Great!  Things seemed to be going so smoothly!  All the kids were excited.  But my husband was not.  He did not see how he could handle moving forward, taking classes, pouring over folders of potential kids, and paying for the adoption.  The kids and I were disappointed, but it was in God’s hands.  We expected God to work however HE wanted to, and we trusted Him. So we realized that if God wanted us to adopt, then he would make it possible. He would potentially put a child on our doorstep and my husband would be on board.  So we prayed.  And we trusted.  I shared with my small group that if God wanted us to adopt, then he would make it fall into our lap.  They laughed and giggled, and they all prayed the same prayer.

AND IT HAPPENED.  Wow.  Our son literally showed up on our porch in need of a place to stay, just a few months ago.  Wow again.  Here it was, our chance to meet his needs and have son number three.  We don’t really know how long he will stay, and we don’t really know if this is permanent.  We just expect God to be glorified.  We give God the glory for answering prayer and making our family of five a family of six.  We expected God to work and He did.