Why Can’t We Live in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Day 18: NEIGHBOR

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

This melody rings through my home at least once a day. Netflix just came to Nepal, and all my kids have wanted to watch for the last month is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

I love that my four year old sings, Thank you for everything you do to me while she’s brushing her teeth and has learned to Flush, Wash, and Go. Daniel’s mom and dad always are understanding of his whiny ways and sing sweet songs to teach him how to maneuver around his tiny tigey-centered world. In some ways, I wish I was more like them.

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Or that I was more like the dad of young girl who starred in a recent viral video. He held her, standing on the bathroom sink looking in the mirror reciting some inspiring words before she went off to school. It is super adorable and sweet, and I admire such a hands-on and loving parent. But I stumbled over part of it which kept me from sharing for sake of smiles.

He leads her in saying, ”I am the best. No one is better than me.” She repeats, “I am not better than anyone else,” but the number of time she states, “I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am the best” caused me to just forget about that part completely. I wonder if she did too.

I want my children to be bold and confident and sure that God made them special because it is true. But I also want them to understand that God made them special for service.

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Unfortunately for my fun-loving, self-centered children (and for me too) a Biblical application of the concepts of being a good neighbor is a lot less fun than play-dates and birthday parties in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:2-8).

Oh, boy.

Teaching these truths doesn’t even feel like living the Golden Rule towards my children because my own flesh fights them so fiercely. However, I am confident that one of the best things I can do to ensure lasting joy for my children is to teach them how to treat other people. How to make a snappy new day not for themselves but for others.

Some days living the Golden Rule turns out to bless us in tremendous ways and, on others, our kindness is not rewarded. We have only the satisfaction of having done right.

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We say we want our kids to be like Jesus, but this is one of the million and one ways we don’t. Jesus loved and poured himself out for people who called for His crucifixion. His great love was spat upon by the very people for whom He died. Yet, He still commands us to love every single hot mess person we meet (unfortunately, there is not a friendly face on every street just waiting to greet us!).

We don’t want to stand in front of our mirrors and say, “I was made for Jesus. In this world, I am nothing. I will lift up the needs of others and seek to glorify God with my life.” It goes against our very nature which is nurturing our children in the Word of God is so vital. And we can’t skip the hard parts.

I have to believe that friends who show themselves friendly will find their tribe and be loved in the loving. In the fear of all the ways humility will hurt my children, I am certain the love of Jesus will cover the multitudes of sins against them.

At times, there may be a lot more suffering than singing in our neighborhood, but it is ultimately a joyful place. It’s a place I’m happy to show my kids around even if it has its dark corners.

When my kids want to know why can’t we live in Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood, I’ll remind them,  It’s a land of make believe.

Are you teaching your children to live the Golden Rule?
How can you encourage your children to serve others despite the cost?

Talk to me in the comment section!

linking up: RaRaLinkUp

“Maybe I’ll Miss the Muddle” by a Mom who Hates Craft Time

Day 15, Five Minute Prompt: MUDDLE

*My prompt mix-up has come full-swing, but I think this one is rather fitting and perfectly timed for me!*
Paint. Sidewalk chalk. Legos. Play-doh. If it makes a huge mess and mommy hates it, you can guarantee my kids are all over it and begging to do it every. single. day.

Last week, I couldn’t even say no to the muddling. The entire city was shut down to observe the biggest Hindu holiday of the year. We were stuck in or around the house for 12-14 waking hours. Eventually, I enforced a mandated nap time for the sanity of all involved.

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We did all the messy things, and mom even brought out the secret weapon of sugar cookies with squeezable decorators perfect for chubby little hands (is it weird how much I talk about my kids’ hands?).

It was lots of deep-breaths and squinty surveying of the scene that rivaled my earthquake-wrecked first home abroad. I swept 5 times a day and did dishes more than I care to remember. The kids clothes got changed repeatedly, but I never got around to washing any laundry.

For a Type-A mama with my own to-do-list, the struggle is real. I asked myself at least a dozen times why my kids love most the things that make me cringe. And also, “Who is buying them all these things?” (Looking at you, Grandma and Grandpa).

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I realized something, though. The more mess they made, the more fun they had. And the more I overlooked the things that made me cringe, the happier the overall tone in the house was. Nap time came more quickly, and I was able to restore a little order in the chaos.

That’s all their little hands are trying to do among the legos, chalk, paint, and play-doh. They are learning small-scale life lessons in the middle of the muddle. It sure does feel selfish to rob them of those opportunities. Especially considering what a blast they have together. My daughter’s exclamations that her brother is her buddy have matched the number of outfit changes each day.

She’s back to school tomorrow, and my house will be a little less chaotic. Her brother, a little more lonely. I’ll have a little extra time to sip my coffee and pop some laundry in the machine come nap time.

But I’ll admit, I’ll kind of miss the muddle and the two extra hands to clean it up.

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Do you cringe at all the messy things your kids love, too?
How can you live the Golden Rule towards your little home wreckers 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

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!