Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Never a dull moment...

Korben and the RULES

1) I heard an urgent "Mommaaaaa" from the kids bathroom and hurried in (because nothing urgent is ever positive in the bathroom).  I found KJ, sitting on the toilet, with the hand soap in his hands.  "Mom, read right here. What does this say? This says 'keep out of reach of children.' what do you think that means? Is this safe?" He was very concerned that I would just leave something so dangerous lying around in the kids' bathroom.

2) KJ came home from school on Friday after TWELVE kids had been at our house for a playdate.  He looked around at the mess and informed me "Mom, if there are going to be a lot of kids here, I think its a good idea if they practice the 'only get one toy out a time' rule, don't you?"  yeah, that might have been wise.

3) While a friend was visiting, KJ was showing her his kite.  The kite he got for his birthday. In May. That his parents still haven't let him take out of the package (in our defense WE WERE MOVING).  I thought bemoaning that he hadn't gotten to fly it would be the extent of the conversation, but he had something more urgent to talk about.  He read her the kite safety instructions.  Like "don't retrieve from power lines".  After going through the list with her, he commented "don't you think they are forgetting a few things.  They should have put 'don't fly kites in the house' and maybe should have said 'don't fly kites in fire'. Those would be good rules to add."  I think I see a future for him in this!

           CBUG makes us LAUGH.
1) Cbug got in the van after school one day as the "interrupting robot".  Only we didn't know it.  While some of my children would have announced "I'm an interrupting robot." and cracked themselves up at the idea, not Cbug.  He just climbed into his seat, took out a book and started looking at the pages.  UNTIL.  Lou tried to tell me something.  Midway through each of her sentences, Cbug (while not looking up and still turning pages) would blurt out "IN-TUH-RUP-TING." in his best robot voice. She'd try to tattle and he'd just say "IN-TUH-RUP-TING".  I'd try to correct him, but he'd interrupt me, too. I was laughing so hard, I nearly had to pull the van over.  His delivery was impeccable.  I don't know where he comes up with these things.

2) On the way to Church on Sunday, we were talking about Harvest Sunday- an
annual event to raise money for missionaries.  We talked about how some people go on short term trips to tell people about Jesus, but some people choose to move away to another country for a long time, just like Uncle L and Aunt S.  KJ asked "How do some people decide to be a missionary?"  That question, (coupled with a talk I'd had the night before on helping our kids identify what they were created to do) launched me into one of my best parenting monologues ever.  It was about how every person is created differently and we are all created to use our gifts to teach others about Jesus, wherever we are.  And Daddy and I want to help each of them discover what THEY were created to do.  It was compassionate, it was sincere, it was biblical, it was empowering.  OR so I thought.  Until, Cbug called me back to a humbled parental state by responding "Ya know those big trucks?  Not the regular big trucks but the big trucks that have something attached to the back?  I'd like to ride in one of those."  
crickets. crickets. crickets.

Lou and her Successes
1) Our little Lou is getting pretty smart when it comes to working people. At her preschool each semester they do a little assessment for each kid, just showing the parents wheat we can work on at home, what they have learned, etc.  Last time Lou did one they asked her to count and she said she could only make it to 9 and then "forgot anything after that".  This time, she apparently couldn't remember some of her letters.  When I got the sheet, I didn't make a big deal out of it, but I pointed to a couple of the letters and said "Lou, what is this letter" and she told me.  So I said "when your teacher asked about that letter, did you tell her what it was?"  She grabbed the paper out of my hand, studied it up one side and down the other and then with a wave of her little princess hand declared "I do NOT know WHAT this is talking about!" and went back to playing. 

2) We went to KJ's school carnival on Saturday.  I was already cracking up at Lou because she was wearing polka dot flats that were two sizes two big.  But then she decided she REALLY wanted to do the cake walk.  It was mostly bigger kids and grown-ups and there were doing about 35-40 people in the circle at a time, the line was long, and I told her she'd have to wait in it by herself because i couldn't take the stroller over there.  i was certain she would pass.  But, nope.  She carried her little ticket, through the line, found herself a number to stand on and paraded around the circle like she BELONGED THERE.  And guess what, she WON herself a cake. AN ENTIRE cake.  Now, I'm not entirely sure if she won because she was a full 2 feet shorter than all of the other contestants, because she looked so cute in her polka dot flats, because she nearly came UNGLUED when she saw that it was a pink cake with sprinkles up for grabs in her round, or because the lady running the game actually drew number 31.  Regardless, she was THRILLED .  I thanked the lady in charge by saying 'This made her whole day" and Lou told me later "Momma, this made my WHOLE day SOOOO excited."

Little Bear
He's six months old and I've finally chosen a blog name for baby C, Little Bear.  (which you might see as "bear" or "lb" or "little b". who knows.)  It is a tribute to his playful baby bear throaty growl with which he pleasantly communicates.  Its also a discrete shout-out to the middle name that our oldest two wanted to give him- Robin.  And because he's snuggly bear adorable, of course. Except in the middle of the night.  Around September he decided sleeping through the night was overrated. Which might have to do with the fact that he just cut his first tooth.  I hope that's what it was, but if so, it took 2 months for him to get that tooth through.  He's started eating more foods and loving anything we give him, so maybe he was just hungry.  He really likes to pull hair and eat jewelry.  He loves for his siblings to play with him and their current favorite game is to sing "trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat" until he laughs so hard he nearly chokes.  He's learning to go with the flow, but really prefers to be in his bed for naptime.  His happy place, though, is being outside either in the stroller or sitting in the grass (trying to eat it, of course).  Fun times for our littlest man!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Responding. Reflecting.

I was up much of the night on Saturday night.
Partly thanks to the cutest 6 1/2 month old on the planet and his little bear growlings.
But largely thanks to my own brain. The brain that would.not.quit.

It had been a long day.  A day that left me at a crossroads and unsure how to navigate it.  I feel like much is expected of me, but there is little left to give.  Primarily, I feel like my heart will EXPLODE if my intententios are misunderstood one more time.  I try to communicate love and grace. And yet it comes out as self-righteousness. I strive to offer answers and it comes across like I have them all.
And the thing is, it is not entirely "their" fault. 
I've been responding.

And that's what I lay awake praying about.
I've spent my life responding.
Responding to others' expectations.
Responding to others' time constraints.
Responding to others' words.
Responding to others' behaviors.
Responding to others' choices.

The response itself isn't always negative.  It makes sense to respond to compliments with pride, it makes sense to respond to high expecations by thriving, it makes sense to respond to inspiring life choices by living differently.

But what about how I respond to words that are meant to hurt me, how I respond to behaviors that might hurt my husband or children, to choices that are destroying families.  My strong responses to these attacks is likely justified, but that isn't enough for me.  I want to correct it, make it right, undo the hurt, respond to the words in a way that brings clarification. And many times, my response just isn't enough to do any of that.  I was deep in prayer and thought about how I could respond differently, how I could speak diffierently, how I could communicate the love and grace that were keeping me awake.

And driving to church Sunday morning, amidst a van full of children, I thought.
"Don't respond to people.  Respond to their needs."
Honestly, at the time, those two things didn't seem that much different to me.  In the moment I was thinking "that's some clever semantics there, ABL".

So I continued through the day.  Half listening to class (sorry Rick), half listening to the sermon (sorry, other Rick), half heartedly participiating in lunch with my family and guests.  My heart was aching to respond differently to those I encountered, especially those that would rather not encounter me at all.

And again a tug.
Don't respond to people.  Respond to their needs.

Thank you inner-voice-that-won't-shut-up.  Honestly, if I respond to one more person's NEEDS, I think I might come crumbling down.  Ask me to write a check. Ask me to go on a short term mission trip. Ask me to teach a class or deliver a meal.  Great.  But don't ask me to invest in anyone else or to try to meet their needs today. they don't want what I have left to give. I.AM.TAPPED.OUT.

And then I went driving.  Sunday afternoon, I had a long road in front of me.  Both the miles and the difficult destination were looming in front of me.  My passengers fell asleep, it was quiet, and still my brain would not stop.  Suddenly, I looked out at the horizon (which is a strage thing to say considering I was driving straight into it).  It was gorgeous.  The sun beams literally bounced from cloud to cloud, reflecting from the center sphere of the sun and then darting down and out.  The clouds nearly acted like prisms. It was gorgeous, different than anything I've seen before. The power was from the sun, but the beauty came from the clouds reflecting the light..

Oh my.
I had to stop the tears to keep driving.

The trouble with responding is you often end up reflecting what you respond to.
I respond to:
others' expectations.

others' time constraints.
others' words.
others' behaviors.
others' choices.
And as a result I often find myself reflecting their anger, their frustration.  I find myself responding to their choices and behaviors in a way that reflects who they are, not who I want to be.  Its true with my children, its true with my husband, its true with just about anyone I encounter.  Its especially true when my heart is so tied to wanting more for them.

Quit responding to people and respond to their needs.

Ask ME what their needs are.  Respond to ME as I show you their needs.

I don't know what to do with this completely.  But I know I'll be a different mom if I respond to the choices of my children by reflecting their Savior.  I know I'll be a different wife if my expectations for my husband are reflective of my relationship with the Lord.  I know that I'll be different in ministering to others if I respond to their words, to their choices, to their NEEDS by reflecting GRACE and MERCY and LOVE that doesn't come from my cracked and broken self. 

But I also know there was something in the beauty of that sky that was a result of the NUMBER of clouds.  I do learn from others showing me how to respond to needs in a way the reflects our common CREATOR.  I want to stand by friends who are responding to needs in radical ways, ways that reflect the Light of the Lord.  Would the light from a house on a hill have been nearly the word picture of an entire CITY on a hill (Matt 5:14)?

I'm still processing the practicality of what this looks like (I am, afterall, still an accountant), and likely will spend my entire life learning what it means to truly reflect the Lord.  But for now I just wanted to share the Hope it gave me this weekend. The HOPE which is simply-

I can't be the Sun.  I simply don't have enough light to penetrate the places I've been asked to shine.  I just want to be that tiny cloud. A single cloud in a chorus of other clouds.  Clouds which simply by being what they were created to be were able to catch the light and send it darting across the sky.

*i wish the pictures had turned out better.  so weird that they are blurry...from my old ipod, while driving, with birdpoop on the window.  crazy.