Help for the Little Years Hater

Day 16, Five Minute Prompt: LITTLE

I don’t know if it was raising support all over America with a baby in tow or moving clear across the world with a three month infant that made me have a hard time loving the little years.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the curl of a sleeping baby resting to the sound of my heartbeat. I love tickling tiny toes and receiving bubble smiles in return. Little is cute and sweet with its plump red cheeks and dimply knees. But when it comes to kids, let’s be real, little is a whole lot of work.

Because somehow they know when I sit down with my cup of coffee. Seems they have an internal clock that tells them when mom is relaxed and then to rouse me. Meeting the needs of fickle little dictators is exhausting and overwhelming.

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Yes, she always wears this hat.

I want to tell them, “Get your own juice,” but I know it will end up on the floor. I want them to solve their own problems, wipe their own booties, and brush their teeth without the accompanying toothpaste explosion in my sink.

More so, I want them to be little Jesus lovers who model a life of repentance. I want them to reek of the fruits of the spirit like they just got out of a steaming bubble bath of the stuff. I trust God with all my heart that we will get there, but expecting these behaviors before God gets their hearts is unreasonable and unfair.

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My little ones may be pagans, but they’re people too. With souls, thoughts, and feelings as unique as their outfit choices. A while back I read, Your Child is Your Neighbor and was completely wrecked. I must handle them delicately, trusting the Lord will fill them one day and they will become vessels used for His service.

I must remember, it’s exactly their neediness, dependency, and child-likeness that leads them to the feet of Jesus. And isn’t that exactly where I want them to be?

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein (Luke 18:16-17).

So how do I embrace their littleness and love their wild hearts? I reference my instruction manual which I find to be surprisingly short.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 6:37-39).

I share my home, my kitchen-utensils-turned-toys, and my dinner table with these small people made in the image of God. I’m gonna love them till they don’t need me. Then I’m gonna love them some more.

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Do you need to ask God to help you love the little years?
How can you stoop down to serve tiny wild hearts today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

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!

 

Shouldering the Weight of God-Sized Dreams

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: SKY

We had been carried by cable car 8,000 feet above the city we’ve spent a year and a half falling in love with.   Removed from the startling sounds of city life, we stood in awe of the beauty of our home abroad.

I chased my children around, avoiding falls down the side of a mountain because I’m a good mom like that. I watched my husband from afar as he gazed across the Valley. I sensed what he was up to. He was praying, strategizing how to reach this country with the gospel.

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Up in the clouds, he was dreaming bigger-than-blue-sky dreams. The God who made the peak we stood on made his heart just big enough to hold them. But the thing about God-sized dreams is they can get rather heavy.

I peer across the Valley, and I see smog and earthquake damage, countless people carrying tremendous burdens. I am overwhelmed at the task ahead and shake my head at these far-fetched plans. It can’t be done.

I remember that Jesus asked His followers to evangelize the whole world. They stood looking into heaven, waiting for Christ’s return when two angels rebuked them to get to work on this impossible task (Acts 1:10-11).

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I can stand here, holding my husband’s hand, admiring his God-sized dream and waiting for the Lord to come relieve the weight of its burden. Or I can keep the pace of feet chasing the impossible, shouldering the weight of the burden as we inch closer to completion.

Living the Golden Rule is simple on this one because, being one with my husband, this dream occupies my heart, too. On my end, there is so much fear and insecurity that threatens the success of these dreams. My heart is so frail, and I think it might burst from the burden of this work. I surrender it to the only One who proved on the Cross his ability to carry it. There’s a peace that this is the best way to help.

I rally my kids and sneak a second next to my man whose brow remains furrowed. I squeeze him around the waist and thank God for the super-size dream we share. We take in the magnitude of it all until my toddler gets that look in his eye. He’s about to stray from the protected path and plummet down this mountain. Better stop staring and get back to my job.

*No children were harmed in the making of this dream.

Do you and your husband have God-sized dreams?
What is your role in seeing them through?

Talk to me in the comment section!

linking up: Coffee for Your Heart , Tell His Story

A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

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I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Post-It-Note Your Feelings, Please

Day 9, Five Minute Prompt: POST-IT

Chance.

At the beginning of our fund-raising phase of our missions endeavors, we met with a group of missionaries to talk marriage in the throes of ministry. We were asked to jot down questions and submit them to the leadership to be addressed during our sessions.

Though it was meant to be private who asked each question, the shade of my cheeks was giving it away.

“How can I help my husband through difficult times if he never shares anything with me?”

Concern.

We had little to show for the hours he spent on the phone and the thousands of miles we logged on our minivan visiting each potential supporter. In attempt to protect me, he had not disclosed his fears about the road we continued trucking along despite the overwhelming obstacles we maneuvered along the way.

I admired his care for me, but I felt alone in the work we were doing together. I wished he would just wear a post-it note on his head revealing his feelings.

Challenged.

We were encouraged to share more openly which is what I hoped he he would hear (I was rather in the habit of pouring out my heart). But I was challenged to love him in the silence, ministering to him in the ways I know bless him.

I was urged to trust him and follow him even when it seems I’m clutching his hand in the dark. At the same time, however, I would remain on my knees before the Lord asking Him to guide my man and make known to me how to help him on his mission.

If I expect him to submit to the Lord as he leads our family, living the Golden Rule, I must also submit to the Lord’s work in my family. I must trust that, ultimately, He is the one who leads the way and that He will direct us as we strive to do His will around the world.

Changed.

I learned to minister to my husband even when I’m left out of his world. Our marriage blossomed even in these difficult times, and, eventually, so did our financial support. I thank God for how this has changed our life and ministry on the foreign field.

Even still, the post-it would be helpful.

Do you feel left in the dark in your marriage?
How can you minister to your husband today?

Talk to me in the comment section!