Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Any Suggestions?

The last few nights, bedtime has been accompanied by the words "I'm scared" coming from the three-year-old's mouth. My boys have been talking about/watching Beauty and the Beast and the beast is our new scary thing. During the day it's funny-scary. But the last few nights the three-year-old has said he's scared of the beast and doesn't want to stay in his room alone. Of course, not wanting to stay in his room alone isn't new, so this momma is trying to balance a desire to respond compassionately to real fear with a knowledge that this little boy will use many tricks to get a sleeping companion or to be transported to a different room to sleep. The last two nights fear has been solved by either falling asleep in our room or in his brother's room. I'm not sure either is a longterm solution. Neither am I sure that I have to force him to stay in his room crying. So, what are you suggestions? How would you handle it? How do you respond to your children's fear? How do you tell if there is some real fear you need to respond to or if your child is working the system? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Here's what I know...

Sometimes my body aches in ways that make me feel old before my time. Perhaps it's that extra 15 pounds that I carry around with me. My legs are thick; my shape is that of a pear...always has been, always will be.

And yet, I'm happy with my body.

My marriage isn't perfect. We are sometimes short with each other, sometimes don't listen, sometimes fight over the dumbest things. I have been known to watch other couples who seem so in tune with each other and wonder why we aren't more so.

And yet, I'm happy to be married to my husband.

My children are sometimes too loud, too messy, too wild, too violent. Brothers hit each other. Toys are strewn about the house. Spills are common.

And yet, I'm happy to be their mommy, so happy.

Ministry can be demanding and exhausting. Often I feel like neither my children nor my congregation get the best of me. I sometimes run from deadline to deadline. I sometime struggle to keep grounded in God rather than just to do the tasks before me.

And yet, I'm happy that this is my calling.

Life is sometimes hard. Sometimes boring. Sometimes frustrating. There are all sorts of things that can discourage...all sorts of things to be lamented. The grass can always look greener somewhere else depending on the lens through which we look.

But, here is what I know...I am happy. I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bigger Picture Moments: Companions on the Journey

Many are celebrating St. Patrick's Day today.

I, however, am celebrating that six years ago today I met my midwife, the woman who would deliver both of my children.

For many people the one who delivers their child is simply a competent medical professional. But, for me (although she was a competent medical professional) she was so much more.

She was the one who not only shared her medical knowledge, but shared her personal story.

She was the one who not only listened to my questions about pregnancy and birth, but who got to know me, my husband, our family, who wanted to hear our story.

She's the one who cared enough about us to ask what we wanted at the birth of our child.

And she's the one who remembered and gifted us with the closest possible experience even when the birth became difficult.

She's the one who remained so calm when the baby was in distress that this mommy didn't know how distressed he was until he wasn't any longer.

She's the one who never risked myself or my child, but in the midst of handling some challenges still helped our birth be what we wanted.

She's the one who had me come in two weeks after delivery, not to check my body, but to check my heart.

She's the one who helped me see that a second delivery could be much easier than the first.

She's the one who was right and was there for that easy second delivery.

She's the one whose schedule helped determine my children's birthdates...after all, since they were both induced, it was according to her schedule that we chose the day.

She's the one who is a wonderful medical professional, the one who delivered our children, but more than that the one who shared her heart, who entered our lives, who became a companion on the journey.

It's amazing the difference the people around us make. And she made a difference!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Big and The Small

I suspect that if I asked how many of you were thinking about/praying for/hoping for/concerned with the situation in Japan right now, everyone would raise their hand. It seems to me it's part of the human condition - to care about other people, even if we don't know them. It seems it's something we want for our children - to be able to empathize with others even when they themselves haven't endured such circumstances.

When we face situations of the magnitude of what has happened in Japan we are unable - as people and as people of faith - to pretend it away, to live as if it doesn't matter. Even when we aren't sure what we can do, still it consumes part of us, still it has an effect on us. Big things do that to us.

But meanwhile small things get our attention, too. While an entire country is suffering and I care about that, it's not the only thing that gets my attention or energy. Today I've put energy into worrying about my three-year-old who won't be able to eat all day in a couple weeks when he is scheduled for simple procedure (yes, at this point I'm more concerned with 8 waking hours of not eating than with the procedure itself). Today I've put energy into wondering if I'm doing the best job I can teaching my children about being kind to each other and others. Today I've even put energy into wondering if I'll ever get my overdue haircut scheduled.

When things like what happened in Japan happen, we are given perspective. We are reminded about how precious and how fleeting life can be. We are reminded about what really matters. We are also reminded about how precious our "usual" routine is.

And when pictures of the destruction in Japan flash before my eyes, I find that I feel somewhat guilty about the way I go on with my life, mostly as usual, even giving attention to worries like haircuts.

Yet, even as I recognize that guilt, I guess I also need to continue to be concerned with the usual, the routine, the mundane. I need to continue to believe in a future that means facing a day when my child can't eat in preparation for a simple surgery...a future that means that teaching kindness to my children is important...a future that even allows me to tend to my hair...a future than also means that I will find ways for myself and my children to respond to Japan, that we will hold the people of Japan in our hearts and prayers...a future that is hopeful for those children as well as for my own.

I guess this is what life is...big things and small things mingling together, getting our attention, coexisting, and all mattering.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent Begins...

I had plans to write a post about the beginning of Lent...

to talk about the gifts of this season...

to challenge each of us to live into it in ways that draw us closer to God...

to talk about how we might help our children connect to this season.

I didn't write that post because my energy was needed somewhere else. I spent last night and part of the last two days in the ICU with my dear friend and her 7-week-0ld who has RSV. I didn't write because I was away from the computer. I didn't write because I'm tired - an ICU is a hard place to sleep. I didn't write because all I can write is to ask for prayers of this virtual community.

So, please pray for her.

And welcome to Lent...we'll talk about it another day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Casting Out Fear

A few weeks ago I was reading 1 John and when I read these words, I heard them differently:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

1 John 4:18

I know this will surprise those of you who have read my blog before, but I couldn't help but think about parenting. Even though I know that wasn't what was originally being addressed, I think it applies.

I am a big advocate that we need to understand the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is about guidance and instruction; punishment tends to be reactionary and is often about control. Discipline is about hoping better for someone; punishment is about wanting someone to hurt in response to their misbehavior/bad choice.

There are many ways that we can explain this difference, but I tend to think that if we are paying attention we really know the difference between the times we are disciplining our children and the times we are punishing them. And I (again, this won't surprise anyone) am an advocate of discipline, not punishment.

When I read this scripture, I was struck by what it said. Fear and punishment are connected and love casts out fear (which would seem to indicate it casts out punishment as well).

I read that thinking of punishing children and I had to wonder...

What is it that we fear when we punish?

Do we fear the impression our obnoxious children are leaving on others?

Do we fear losing control of these little people for whom we have responsibility?

Do we fear the judgment of others regarding our parenting?

Discipline is necessary and I believe it walks hand in hand with love. But when we are loving well, perfectly as scripture says, fear will not be part of our relationships. And when fear is gone, the journey from punishment to discipline is far shorter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes We Just Have to Listen

My children both went to the dentist today. The five-year-old who is a lover of all types of doctors has been a big fan of dental visits since his first one. The three-year-old had his first visit today and I was a little concerned because he's never been as eager with doctors as his big brother. But it went great.

Yes, there were some differences. For example, when my oldest went for the first time at three, I didn't even go back with him. When they called his name, he just went and I figured that was best. My baby...well, he needed his mommy...and I went. But once we were back there, he was so big. He talked to the hygenist, climbed in the chair, opened wide, had xrays, got his teeth cleaned...well the uppers anyway.

He was doing great. Then something happened - I'm still not sure what - she was spraying water in his mouth to rinse the polish and I suspect it hit him wrong and startled him. There he was doing so much better than I ever expected when he suddenly started to cry. He pretty quickly got over it and when the dentist came in he still let him look in his mouth. But he never did get his lower teeth cleaned.

And this is why...because he said no and they listened.

And I have to admit part of me thought maybe we should try a little harder. I don't want to hold him down or anything, but he calmed down for the dentist, so he might have been talked into finishing his cleaning. But that isn't their approach with little ones.

No, instead, they listen to the child.

And, even with my first instinct to talk him into it, I appreciate that.

I appreciate that my three-year-old can go to the dentist and help shape his experience.

I appreciate that he knows that the dentist's office is a place where if he's uncomfortable, then whatever makes him uncomfortable will stop.

I appreciate that he knows that at the dentist's office his voice will be heard.

I was reminded of something today at the dentist...sometimes we just have to listen to each other...sometimes we just have to listen to our children.