Blessings

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This is Micaiah…

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And this is Micaiah…

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Aaaand this is Micaiah.

Recently God has shown me how blessed I am through this boy. He is growing so much. Not just physically, he’s growing spiritually too. It’s been almost a year since he confessed faith in grace through Jesus’ work on the cross.

Today he asked if he could hand copy some Bible verses. Um, absolutely!

Yesterday he was drawing with a stick in the sand. Nic thought he was drawing the letter x over and over to mark treasure. To this he said, “No Papa! They’re crosses. Because people have to know about Jesus!”

The day before that he answered a question correctly during Bible study when the teenagers gave Nic blank stares.

Even earlier this week I was looking through a comic book we had bought. Our quick preview had missed a fairly violent image. As I reviewed it, he told me something bad was coming and that I wouldn’t like it. When I saw it, I apologized to him saying that I wished he’d never seen it. He responded, “It’s okay Mama. I didn’t put it in my brain.” This isn’t the first time he’s referred to things as worthy/unworthy of thinking about or “keeping it in his brain.” It’s not in there; he doesn’t have to think about it again. Oh how I pray he continues to be able to throw the garbage out!!

For today, I’m praising God for my blessings (and sharing a couple of mama heart tugs with you). But by His grace, Micaiah’s life will continue to shout exactly what his name means: “Who is like God?!”

On Mothering: My convictions

Disclaimer: As I share some of my parenting philosophies, please understand that I’m not determining that other methods are wrong. I simple have found this to be right for us, for now!

I have said all along that I personally think that I don’t like either end of the parenting spectrum. This is why:

I feel like Attachment Parenting lends toward a lack of healthy independence when children are ready because parents tend to go all the way. I like many things about it but I personally think people miss opportunities to move to the next step. Do you know what I mean? For example, wearing a baby is a beautiful thing and something that people have done for centuries, which matters very much to me. I think many people wear their children to often for to long and their children often miss out on developing some independence and skills. I hope I’m being clear here. I’m just not comfortable with the extent of dependence and pace of skill development in the all-in AP families I know.

On the other hand, I think that detached or cry it out or Ferber (whatever!) methods are convenient so that children fit into our busy Western lifestyle. I personally feel like it’s a little severe to expect infant to quickly adjust to life in this fast-paced culture. What it comes down to is that I feel selfish demanding a rigid schedule and such from my little one. My pastor said it wisely when he described an idol we have in our western culture. It has as face. We hang it on our wall and refer to it frequently. We completely arrange our lives around it. The clock can rule our lives and I tend to want to rebel. In fact, the only clock displayed in my house is the one on my stove. I just refuse to rush around like crazy! While I do try and teach children to respect others by being punctual etc, I feel that a lack of rigidity in our schedule has created more flexible, easy-going children: even little miss screams-a-lot.

Whew! It is so difficult to open myself up for criticism by writing all of this down. But I’m beginning to feel a certain freedom in remembering that it is the Lord and His grace that makes my house stand and the only one I need to please with my parenting!

On Mothering: Part Two

Soaking Cold! As my son would say.

Soaking Cold! As my son would say.

If you missed Part One, you can find it here.

Several months have gone by since I wrote that post. Even after I wrote with such resolution, I still went through huge concerns regarding how I should be doing bed time, nursing and other infancy stage questions. I wanted to share with you some specific things that have come up and how things are turning to be just fine – of course!

The first thing you need to know is that I’m pregnant for the fourth time! This was the root of many of my insecurities. My daughter has pretty much always nursed to sleep. I tried to nurse until I knew she’d be full and then lay her down drowsy. After six or seven times at 3 in the morning, I realized that I was about to become dangerously frustrated with my newborn and I brought her to bed with me.

All along, she could not self-soothe within any reasonable amount of time. I continued to try as she got older, even zonked out she would some times wake up and not go to sleep unless she nursed. I know there are probably some moms (or at least I imagine you’re out there) saying that I just didn’t have the tenacity; she needed to learn to soothe herself and I didn’t give her the chance. Let me help you understand this. It’s the same in the car. If she was tired she would cry scream like she was dying. Sometimes I would stop, but other times we just couldn’t. Knowing that she was fed and changed we would just keep driving. This baby (who fusses for about 3 seconds and goes straight to screaming bloody murder) has screamed for almost an hour and a half. Usually even then she didn’t fall asleep, but when she did she would still be gasping for air as if she was till crying. You know, those quick inhales like she’s sobbing. Talk about heart breaking, not to mention making this very spontaneous, adventurous momma never want to take another road trip again!

I began to wonder if she was ever going to go to sleep without nursing. How was I going to move her from a sidecar-crib to a floor bed of her own. I didn’t mind the idea of tandem nursing, especially for the health benefits. But I did not want her to be so dependent on me with our next blessing comes. Even when I had six months time, I was concerned as to whether everything would work out. I was already a little stressed about the chaos that would be if I didn’t “fix” this.

Our family took a little trip for my husband to take a class at a nearby college (I live in a big state, so nearby is often several hundred miles.) I had the privilege of spending time with a mother whom I respect, possibly more than any other young mom I know. She was complementing me on how “chill” I was with my firstborn. I admitted that I was just to young to know about all the parenting methods and cultural expectations and I just did was I thought was right. Pair that with a super-easy going baby and what’s not to be chill about?! By the time my daughter came around I was aware that there are certain “ways” and she was one of those “high-needs” (oh, how I hate these labels) babies. I admitted to my friend that there were so many things I said I would not do that I caved and did, just because it was what worked. She didn’t know this, but as I used the example of bringing my baby to bed with me, it killed me to admit it to her. She has so much resolve and seems so comfortable in the way her and her husband have chosen to do things. While I know she doesn’t have it all together, I still feared what she thought of me in a number of ways. Even the idea that she may read this and find out that my daughter’s crib is right next to my bed gives me some butterflies in my tummy!

As usual, fear of man led me to stress quite a bit about it all again. My daughter got sick after that trip and so of course then she was waking up several times a night (by that I mean a good six times or more) and nursing. It all seemed kind of hopeless. “If I was only more like her (out of town mommy-buddy), I wouldn’t be in this mess.” I kept telling myself I had done something wrong along the way.

To make a long story shorter, here’s what happened next. My husband and I knew it was time for us to make an adjustment. I tried to ignore how my super-mom friends do things and ask myself what I believe about Biblical parenting. Find the extended version here, but basically I am for healthy independence but I’m all about helping my children make the adjustments at their own pace. Yes, I could sing my son a song and lay him down at one month old and he would sleep all night long. With my daughter, it’s been very different. One day, during my much-needed alone time she got tired early. My husband walked with her until she was pretty much asleep then laid her in the crib and rubbed her back while she fussed herself to sleep. He did this nap and night time for several days and then I took a stab at it. Sometimes with me she still wants to nurse and it takes longer/more fussing than it would for my husband. She has gotten better and better at self-soothing. Very soon we’ll be able to lay her down and leave her with just as little trouble. After our trip I said I would let her cry it out if that’s what she needed to learn, but that it was only fair to try and help her learn. It’s so encouraging to see how far we’ve come!

In the last post I mentioned pleasing the Lord and not being lazy. If I had only followed my own advice. I just need to show my children Christ-like qualities: patience AND discipline, kindness AND healthy boundaries. This Psalm has been so many things in recent months so I’ll share it in closing with you today:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
 In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

Psalm 127

On strong-willed children and the like

Today I was writing in a journal, a luxury I rarely get. Here are some thoughts I thought I’d share concerning the temperaments of my children. People have been classifying them as of late. You know: good, bad, wild, calm, smart, trouble…those kinds of things. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.

The truth is: yes my children are different. But they were both formed by the same loving Creator with unique personalities.

They are both corrupted by the same sin-nature and they are both in need of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.

What saddens me: Because my son demanded less of me, he received less of me. less nursing, less cuddling, less holding – he was easy. But is that really the way babies should be cared for? Just because he played so well by himself, how wish I would have just held him more.

Maybe God made him to be a more introverted soul in order to appreciate deep, meaningful relationships with others. Maybe he will be exceptional at taking the hand of those in need of fellowship or discipleship . Maybe as he grows in wisdom, what little he’ll say will lead many along on the narrow road.

Yes, my daughter pushes the boundaries. She tests the limits and explores every nook and cranny. What if one day she instead pushes the church around her to test what is truly Biblical? What if she tests the limits of what culture says she can do with the Word for instruction and faith, grace and love as her tools? What if she explores every avenue to seek out lost souls to be taken into he heart and home and thereby into His fold.

I feel that her outgoing nature is no more of a weakness than his introverted nature. She may struggle with obvious sings, while he struggles with secret sins…Of course I would hope none of this for my children and this is why I pray for God to grant me the grace to see how to disciple my children.

In a world where raising young ones is about managing behavior (appearances really), I desire that God would use me to cultivate the inward person of the heart to be something beautiful. That all of my children would walk with Him and glorify him with their lives…no matter the cost.

I have an odd sense of peace about all of this…The thought of my children suffering for Jesus’ sake raises a pain I my chest, but also a peace and joy that the Father would be their first love…

Can any of you relate? Do you understand? I want my children’s personalities to be seen as a gift from God that they can offer back to him, not a stumbling block. They will have enough of those in this life.