The Learned Art of Awareness in Parenting

DAY 13, Five Minute Prompt: AWARE

from Flexibility and Feelings of Children [Click to read the full post.]

From any perspective, she has adjusted well. While she doesn’t often mention missing her grandparents or friends in America, she hasn’t been unaffected by boredom and loneliness. She even worries about everyone hating her, noting how the few kids she knows shoo her away with stuck out tongues.

These missionary and mommy worlds often collide, and my daughter is found in the debris. I can shield and protect her, keep her to myself, and never let her experience this country. Or I can allow these experiences, however painful, to shape and mold her into who God wants her to be.

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At that time, I had become aware that what we were doing wasn’t working. This awareness made me able to make some changes that lifted her spirits. I began spending more one-on-one time with her by allowing her to stay up a little later with mommy. We went on more walks around the neighborhood and tried to get out more.

I was able to enroll her in a nearby pre-school where she is the only foreign student. It is a joy to all of us to see her language taking off and her confidence booming as a result. [more on this decision: Pre-School on the Other Side of the Planet: A Mama’s Desperate Act ]

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It hadn’t just been boredom and loneliness. My sweet 3 year old had been hurting in big ways she didn’t understand. She didn’t know that she needed social interaction and sunlight, she just knew she was sad. I got sucked up in my schedule and missed an opportunity to really see her, pour into her, and love her back to life.

As busy moms, it is so easy to just check off the daily to-do-list and just barely make it to bed time and fail to check in with the hearts of our children. Sometimes there is more than just rebellion at the bottom of that explosive toddler tantrum or brooding teenager in the backseat.

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Awareness involves questions, quality time, and constant prayer. It alleviates unfounded worries and causes me to make change in areas where it is really needed.

Just like me, my children want to be known but may not always be able to express complicated emotions. The responsibility falls on me to study them and surrender their needs to Jesus.

My prayer is no different than last year: that we can point her to Christ, and that she will trust Him with her life. I ask God to make me aware to her needs and to give me wisdom to meet them.

Parenting is such an enormous responsibility, and, honestly, one I don’t feel overly qualified for. But there’s so much grace in my inadequacy. God meets me each day, giving me what I need for this most important ministry called motherhood.

My eyes and ears are open. My heart is bowed before the Giver of this most precious gift.

Are you aware of the needs of your children?
How can you open your eyes to see them today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

Defusing the Time-Bomb of an Overstuffed Heart

Day 3, Five Minute Prompt: WARDROBE

I live in a country where closets are not the norm. I count my blessings that my children will not be able to terrorize each other by jumping out and screaming like my brother used to do. In lieu of closets, we have giant eye-sore wardrobes.

My wardrobe contains anything from imported candies to hand-crafted wrapping paper but mainly holds my clothes. I’ve tried adding baskets for storage, but it is a mess despite my best efforts. My husband has all but given up trying to put any clean laundry away for fear of what will fly out when he opens the door.

This is so often the condition of my heart: overstuffed with burdens I haven’t dealt with or put in their proper place (those nail-scarred hands). An explosion of hurts and words blows upon those nearest to me.

I would want someone to prevent me getting my face ripped off, if possible, right?

Living the Golden Rule means getting down to the nitty-gritty with God and dealing with it all before anyone is close enough to be affected by the bomb blast. Some days, it will detonate, and there is clean-up for such messes. But, for now, regular maintenance sounds like a good plan.

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How do you see the condition of your heart affecting those around you?
Do you need to do some maintenance with God?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee (Psalm 51:10-13).

 

Five Year Olds Speak Boldly about Race

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“I know why her name is Nicky Brown, mom,” I stated confidently.

“Oh yeah?” she inquired.

“Yeah, because her skin is brown.”

I thought for sure I was on to something. Of course, I wasn’t. I didn’t understand the complexity of race in American culture or the history that hadn’t yet been covered in my kindergarten classroom. The beauty of five year young innocence is things are really that simple.

This morning, my kids were dancing to Nepali music videos in the living room. Their daddy and I laughed and commented on how they dance just like the heroes in the Youtube clips.

Keeping up the cultural theme, speaking Nepali, Daddy asked our kurtha surwal clad daughter who is running her fifth year if she was Nepali.

She quickly replied, “Yes,” then, “No. Because my face isn’t black!” Raising her arms, she added, “And neither are my hands!” (which were the only parts of her showing in this ethnic outfit).

Simple.

I didn’t care about the color of my little kindergartner friend’s skin. We liked to sit together, color, and giggle. A lot.

My daughter isn’t oblivious to the fact that she is a fluorescent fish in a school of brown swimmers. She knows she’s different and that her classmates think she’s a little goofy. After all, she’s the only one who eats a peanut butter sandwich instead of dal bhat every day.

But she loves her classmates. She comes home babbling about her new best friend every day and the drama of Saisha not loving her anymore, but if she apologizes she can come spend the night.

Simple. And beautiful.

I hope her thoughts on race remain this way. That she will continue seeing different colors, appreciating different cultures, and loving the people represented by each.

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Linking up with:

This post is part of Five Minute Friday where many writers join together each week to write for freely Five Minutes on the same prompt and encourage each other along the way. This week, our prompt is FIVE. Join the fun!

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Key:

*running her fifth year- closer to 5 years old than 4; how Nepalis describe age
*kurtha surwal- traditional dress consisting of shirt dress and what we Americans call hammer pants
*heroes- movie/music video stars
*dal bhat- lentils and rice, generally eaten twice a day by Nepali families
*Saisha- my daughters BFF who actually does love her

Freedom, Fruitfulness, and…Fertilizer

2 days into my first week of “freedom” from language school, and I am laughing at myself.

Reality checks are always fun, right?

I had been feeling pretty anxious about this transition in our life and ministry. I wanted to stay busy. I wanted to keep learning, growing. I wanted to be fruitful.

HAHA. Oh, Amber, you’re too funny.

The first day I succumbed to a sinus infection after a week long battle with a cold the doctor says just comes with the territory of Nepal (thanks for your help, doc, I see why they pay you the big bucks). In true sickly stay-at-home-mom fashion I let my overly healthy toddler climb over my head while watching Baby Einstein on repeat until nap time finally graced us, and I joined the babe in sweet slumber. Judging from the snot+tear accumulation on his face versus the joy/elation/relief/um…drool…on mine, I was way more pumped about it than he was.

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I figured I would get out after our naps, but the beating in my brain and the heat unabated by the drizzle of rain that broke through for a moment breathed a seemingly audible, “Yeah, right.” Maybe that was just my sigh.

I got language practice, sure. I got to talk to plumbers about the septic system that was rather non-skillfully pieced back together after the landslide last year. They assumed I didn’t understand Nepali when I answered their question regarding the location of our main line (in Nepali) with an I don’t know (diddly squat about plumbing). In any language.

Today was immensely better in terms of intensity of pain in my temples but not so much in terms of things accomplished, though I did whine enough to the plumbers that they agreed to come a day earlier than promised, so that’s something. Also something I would NEVER do in English or in America, for that matter.. When in Nepal, I guess.

I’ve collapsed in bed alone at 7:30 after coaxing my children to sleep and watched the videos my husband wouldn’t watch with me on YouTube if he were here in the bed with me. I’m missing him tonight, and feeling like I’m also missing out (he went to India without me, please give him a guilt trip about this. I don’t think I’m allowed).

I’m guessing this feeling won’t be foreign to me as I navigate home and ministry as a helper to my husband here. As I stumble over syllables and mispronounce my neighbor’s name for the 13th time since this morning. Humbled doesn’t even cover what I feel like at the end of these two days where nearly everything in my home was either lost or broken and every family member had something decent to complain about (and they did).

Oh, and the whole house smelled like a day old diaper. Thankfully, my nose is all blocked up. My 4 year old tells me it’s rotten as I search for my last candle which turns up broken. No one will ‘fess up.

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God, you gave me these draining, disappointing days, and I know you will use them to grow me, teach me, and make me fruitful, though I can’t imagine how. My trials are so small when placed on a scale I didn’t forge from my Facebook feed. If I would have been less of a baby about sweat stains and sunburns, I could have glimpsed just how minuscule they are compared to those I decided not to face today.

So, the transition wasn’t smooth, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be redeemed. Fruitful days will follow because that’s just who You are, a good and gracious Master. Working through the sighs of a stressed out servant is not beyond your capabilities. I’ll try to remember that if carrying a cross was not beneath You, humbling at the hands of an overflowing toilet and a champion sleep refuser is something I can certainly deal with. Especially knowing the price paid for the peace that resides within me somewhere beneath the junk I’ve covered it with.

After all, blessed blooms of hard-fought-for fruit is often fertilized by a whole lot of…well…

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How is the Lord humbling you now and preparing you for future fruitfulness?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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Just a Tonka Truck

It was just a Tonka truck. Tucked into a 50 pound duffle bag of garage-sale gathered toddler clothes and toys.

It was thrown under a plane in Cincinnati, in Chicago, and again in Abu-Dabi along with other travelers’ jet-setting necessities and relocating families’ most prized possessions. It arrived in the back of our little Maruti Suzuki bursting with the gifts of doting grandparents finally arriving for a 10 day stay.

The next morning, it spilled out among the spoils spread out upon our marble floor. I nearly gasped at the sight! The previous Christmas, I had placed a Tonka truck on my Amazon wish list, not thinking much how unlikely and inconvenient this request was for a family living in a foreign land.

But leave it to Grandma to fulfill these crazy notions bound by far more than my imagination. She revealed to me that she had searched and even prayed while scavenging yard sales in my home town to find one of these golden vehicles of destructive delight.

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It was just a Tonka truck. But to me, it was so much more. It was a glowing, gleaming expression of an indestructible force- love. Though this tough love is threatened by thousands of miles, it plows and plunders through every obstacle and runs down each hill heaped up by hundreds of hardships.

Its work is HARD, and it is quietly admired by those privileged to behold its wonder. Its work is worth doing. Its work challenges and encourages me, though it is most often done without applause or praise.

Not many volunteer to take part in the cause. Most cringe a little at the mention at such a tedious, difficult task.

It speaks to me of a Savior that gives good gifts, no matter the cost. That toils to soften hard and frozen ground, to love those that are incapable of extending anything worth offering.

And it challenges me to love and give beyond myself. When it’s not quite cute and cozy and capable of being captured in a filtered photograph. I’ll roll up my sleeves and do the hard work of loving other people.

Across seas. Across cultures. Across the dining room table and down the hall.

Across the yellow-tape of my own comfort zone.

So thanks, MiMi, for the Tonka truck. Every time Shep vrooms it around the house or throws it down the stairs, I think of you (usually fondly, less so on the latter act). But mostly, I think of the hard work you’re doing.

And I thank God for a little boy so loved…

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…even if he doesn’t seem to appreciate it like I do.