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!

 

“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!

 

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!

 

 

Humility: My First Move in the Fight for my Marriage

Day 8, Five Minute Prompt: MOVE

I accidentally mixed up prompts 15 & 8, but in the spirit of giving myself grace and not scrapping a perfectly good post, I’m just swapping them. Anyway, I keep thinking maybe someone needs this like I do…

We are both stubborn. When the words begin to raise the temperature in the room, neither side is quick to concede to cooling it. He is better at sticking to his guns than I am. I usually forget what I wanted in the first place, but I still want to win, so I keep talking in circles.

I have met people who claim they have never had a fight with their spouse which leads me to believe one of two things:

1) They never talk

2) They have a different definition of the word “fight” than I do.

When a disagreement arises, so does an opportunity to show a tremendous level of respect for my husband. I can keep digging a deeper hole of hurt to bury him in, or I can choose humility before we go too far down our lists of grievances and end up knee-deep in regret.

I forget that we are on the same team. We fight for wholeness and happiness in our marriage, of course, but we also fight for the testimony of the work of Jesus in our lives.

Humility is so rarely my first move. Remembering the Christ that moved towards me in complete disregard of Himself, I am convinced it needs to be. I do quite enjoy being right, but I enjoy being right with my husband and portraying a right picture of the One we represent much more.

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it
(1 Peter 3:8-11).
Do you need to make humility your first move?

Let’s get a conversation about the Golden Rule in our marriages going!