Friday, August 14, 2015

A Prayer for My Son

Today has been one of those days. From the moment he woke up my three year old was unsatisfied and disobedient. He didn't want anything I suggested for breakfast, slow and distracted when picking up toys so we could go to Mother's Day Out, followed by kicking and screaming in his car seat.

After school I took him to Target to get a birthday present with his gift card and he cried and yelled at me the majority of the time. On the way to the car he hit his baby sister for no reason and then melted down when he got scolded. I knew he needed some positive attention but if we could just make it home first...

Then comes the biggest battle of all, nap time. Yelling and crying and demanding of longer cuddles and more stories... My skin was crawling to get out of there before I let my frustration get the best of me. So I did what has to happen sometimes, I kissed him and told him I loved him then tucked him in before leaving the room. I could tell he wanted me to stay longer and was still a little upset, but I had already used up all my parenting energy.

I went to my own room and sat down on my bed and started venting to the Lord about how hard being a mom is sometimes. I feel like I'm constantly failing, constantly needing to be better, more patient, more fun. But in the midst of my pity-party I realized that I'm focusing on the wrong things. My kids won't remember the times I snapped at them or the tone in my voice when they weren't listening, they'll remember the moments I loved them, which is a majority of our moments. They'll remember how I laid in bed with them and sang hymns before they went to sleep. Or the times I bought him popcorn at Target and let him share my drink. And the countless silly faces I made at him in the rear view mirror to try and make him giggle. In the long run, it will be our shared joy, not my weak moments of impatience, that will become his best memories.

So I went back in his room where he was still somewhat tearful and I climbed into my big three year old's bed with a renewed energy. He looked up at me and in his sweet little voice said, "mama, hold me like a baby." So I did. And I fell in love with my baby all over again. I held him and gently brushed the hair out of his face with my fingers. He held my hand and I watched his eyes start to flutter as he fought the inevitable heaviness of sleep. I took his hand in my hand and when his fingers curled around mine I let my prayers wash over his sweet little body. Teach him to be truly loving to those around him. Let him stand up for others and never make anyone feel small. Allow him to be patient instead of angry. Grow him into a man of character. But most importantly, teach him to love YOU, Jesus. Share with him Your irresistible grace.

And then it was time for my own prayers. Please make me more gracious. Make me patient and forgiving. Remind me of his tender spirit when the anger and frustration starts to rise up inside of me. Make me kinder, overwhelmed by my love for him and not my frustration. Allow me to soak in these moments, take advantage of this closing window where he still wants to fall asleep wrapped in my arms. And most of all, remind me to be forgiving of myself; his memories of childhood will not be my sigh of exasperation or my snappiness when he disobeyed for the hundredth time, but it will be moments like this where I loved him when he needed it most.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Kids updates- Summer 2015

Now that Haddie is over a year I will just be doing a few updates on the kids every year. Although I feel like they still change every month!

Dear Haddie,
At 1 year and 3 months you...

  • You weigh 21 pounds, since you started walking you seem a little taller and leaner. I am already missing that chubby baby!
  • You wear size 4 diapers and 12-18 month clothes (they are still a little big sometimes). You also have very tiny feet!
  • You sleep from about 7:30pm-6:45am and are transitioning from 2 naps (usually at 10 and 2:30) to one nap (at 1pm). If you take one nap it's usually 2-2.5 hours long.
  • You love the bath, but you HATE the bath if it's too close to your bedtime. Mostly because you freak out when we take you out of the bath.
  • Are just coming out of a SUPER clingy phase. You are still pretty shy around new people, but for a little bit there you would cry if the greeter at Walmart even said hi to you.
  • When you go to sleep at night or for naps you insist on taking random objects with you, like a rubber duck, shoes, a toothbrush, a shirt you found on the ground...
  • You love both baby dolls and dirt equally. You play with your tulle skirts and put bows in your own hair, but you also won't hesitate to go and roll around in the yard with big brother.
  • You are obsessed with books, way more than Titus ever was. You follow me around the house carrying books and screaming at me until I sit down and read it to you.
  • You definitely have the music in you! Anytime you hear a song (or even Daddy playing the piano from the other room) you start bobbing and dancing.
  • Every morning when I pull you out of your crib, you insist on going over and picking out a pair of shoes. I can't even change your diaper or jammies until we have selected your shoes for the day.
  • Your favorite toys are really just whatever you see Titus playing with, his etch-a-sketch, the ipad, a helicopter with flashing lights. But you also love baby dolls and stuffed animals.
  • Speaking of pacifiers, you still love them and we always have a couple with us at all times.
  • You are generally very easy and happy UNLESS you don't get your way, like when I have to close the fridge so you don't pull all the food out. You will lay on the floor and SOB like someone ran over you.
  • You love waving bye-bye but still don't talk much. You say cat, dog, ball, mama and a few other random words, but those aren't always consistent. You can sign for "more" and "all done" and are very proud of yourself when you do.
  • You want to be outside all the time
  • You love clapping for yourself when you do something well
  • Your favorite activity is making a mess :) But really, you love pulling all the food out of the shelves or fridge, books and toys out of their storage, and throwing out all the kleenex or toilet paper when given the chance (you also like to put your hands in the toilet, yuck)
  • You still hate vegetables and only get good nutrients through baby veggie pouches
  • You will sit and cuddle and watch tv with me which I love, Titus would never do that as a baby!

Dear Titus,
At 3 year and 3 months you...

  • You weigh 29 pounds and wear 2T clothes (although the pants can still be a little long and big around the waist)
  • You sleep from about 9pm-6:45am with one nap in the afternoon (usually around 1:30-2) and nap for about 1.5 hours.
  • Speaking of sleep... You hate it! No matter what time we put you down for the night, it typically we put you down around 8:30 and it takes you about an hour to stop coming out of your room and actually stay in bed and go to sleep.
  • We potty trained right after your 3rd birthday and it was scary easy! I think because we didn't rush it you were way more ready, and so you basically potty trained yourself. It took about a month for you to get the hang of going #2 in the potty, but now you never have an accident!
  • You are FUNNY. You tell the funniest stories and Daddy and I laugh at all the little thoughts you share with us.
  • You are still very cautious, even more cautious than Haddie.
  • You don't like loud noises and you sometimes get overwhelmed by large groups if it's chaotic. But a little alone time fixes you right up!
  • You love your sister and you are very protective over her. If she is crying you start crying and you yell at me to help Haddie.
  • But sometimes she also drives you crazy, especially when she is trying to play with what you're playing with. This usually ends in her getting pushed to the floor and you going to time out.
  • Speaking of time out... Discipline has been a bit of a challenge lately. You are incredibly strong willed and stubborn, and not much affects you. Time out doesn't seem to phase you and spankings don't always work either. Lately the best thing has been to make you go to your room for 10-15 minutes, really making you miss out on all the family fun seems to be the only thing that gets your attention.
  • Your favorite game to play with Haddie is to throw her paci across the room and have her go get it, basically fetch but with your baby sister instead of a dog :)
  • You like to say, "You're the guy" anytime you are giving out orders. For example, I'll say, "I think Haddie needs a new diaper" and you will say, "you're the guy," meaning it's MY job to do it.
  • You love watching almost any sport on tv with daddy
  • Your favorite shows are Team Umizoomi and Curious George
  • You are currently in a phase where you don't want to take a bath almost ever
  • We have started working on reading and spelling because that is your favorite activity (you like to spell all kinds of words on your magnetic writing board)
  • Your favorite book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and we've read it enough that you have memorized it and you now "read it" to yourself

Just this week I was telling Daddy how much fun it can be to play with both of you during the day. Not every day is easy, in fact most are probably more effort than they are reward by 5pm. BUT it's all worth it for the days when you are both behaving and making me laugh and loving on each other. Being your mommy is so fun! You will just look at each other in the backseat of the car and start laughing, it's like you have a secret sibling inside joke that only the two of you know. You really are best friends and play together much more often than you get upset with each other. I hope you are always this close and bring each other more joy than you can keep inside. I love you to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond, forever and ever.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Humbled Heart

I have been quite a bit about my own pride over the past few weeks. Really, it's more a lesson in humility than anything, but the two are irrevocably tied together. I feel like so often I know I need to work on this area or that, I read scripture and sing songs and pray that I can be more like Jesus and less like myself. But this, THIS is different. Because this has been one of those rare times when without seeking it, the Lord has just demanded a heart change. Not that this probably wasn't a long time coming, but when Jesus decides that you need to be sharpened (and softened) there is no resisting. 

So here are my lessons in humility, in only as much detail as necessary so as to keep the focus on God's journey in repurposing me instead of my individual story. 

1) Humility through Under Appreciation
I have been faced with a few interactions over the last couple of months that left me feeling greatly under appreciated, and because Satan would love to justify my sin of relying on the approval of others, I initially masked my pride with anger. "How dare you?! Look at all I've done for you, and all you want is to ask for more? What gives you the right? If anything, you should be THANKING me for what I've done. I'm not going to do anything else for you until you acknowledge how much you need me and how great I am."

Pride demands recognition and awards. 
Humility serves quietly in the background. 

2) Humility through Forgiveness
You ever have an argument with someone you really care about and even though it's not easy for you, you hold your temper and apologize? Pride demands a pat on the back for that. And if that apology or kind words aren't reciprocated? Pride tells you to cut the relationship off, let them come to you if they want to make things right! You did your part, you offered the olive branch. For heaven's sake, don't GROVEL. 
But humility sees things differently. Humility says to forgive, to empathize, to think of others instead of yourself. Humility says it's not good enough to just be the "bigger person" and apologize first, but instead to seek reconciliation to its completion. Humility says to forgive without expectations of receiving forgiveness or an attitude of humility in return. 

Pride insists on everything being equal. 
Humility is never interested in winners and losers. 

3) Humility through Immaturity
Recently, I have been lucky enough to have my path intersect with some wonderful women who are older and wiser than me, and for the purpose of this post, much MUCH more humble. Women who truly have very little interest in self-promotion. Women who seek the Lord's counsel in everything, even something as small as posting an Instagram pic (or publishing a blog post). Women who are quick to admit they are still a work in progress and imperfect in many ways.  

The more time I spend with them the more I recognize that I am a closet know-it-all, feigning the passion for growth but always ready to prove how grown I already am. This is especially hard for me as a pastor's wife, because sometimes I feel that there is a higher expectation of "holiness" that I am required to meet. And that expectation allows for pride to take root in my heart with the need to prove to everyone that I won't let them down, that I AM super holy. But in the end, this doesn't prove anything except that the Cross is the only holy thing about me, without it I am incredibly broken and in need of saving. 

Pride doesn't care about age or life experience, it already knows everything and is always right. 
Humility is insatiably teachable, always looking for an opportunity to learn and look more like Christ. 

The thing is, I like being right. And I like winning, oh my GOODNESS how much I like winning. Which is exactly why I know that this lesson in humility would have never been my idea. To be completely honest, there have been many, many tears shed on this journey. Why am I not being treated the way I feel I deserve? Why do I keep having to be the bigger person all the time? Why does it feel like I'm the ONLY person choosing to be humble? It's just NOT FAIR (and I really, really like things to be fair. I'm a middle child, justice is my domain). But there is no scale in God's book measuring the goodness of me verses other people. The only scale He is using measures my character against the character of Jesus and I am sorely off balance. 

In the end, this painful lesson in humility is God's way of evening the scales, His way of nudging my side a little closer to Jesus; narrowing not only the gap between his character and mine, but also between who I thought I was and who I really am. 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Titus: 3 Years!

Dear Titus,
At 3 years...
  • You weigh 28 pounds and are just shy of 3ft tall 
  • You wear 2T shirts and still wear mostly 24 month pants because your legs are short and your waist is small
  • You are still in diapers (you have yet to seem very interested in potty training) but we are planning on potty training this month
  • You have been in your big boy bed for a couple of months now and you love it! You've only fallen out a couple of times and you have never crawled out in the middle of the night (I think you are too scared to get out of bed in the dark)
  • You love to pretend. We do a lot of pretending to blow bubbles, or throw balls, or eat pretend food.
  • You are generally very sweet and kind to your baby sister, but when you take a toy from her or hit her I often come back in the room to see her crying and you in timeout, where you PUT YOURSELF for hurting her.
  • Your favorite foods are stir fry veggies, cheeseburgers (with LOTS of pickles), yogurt, "special tweats" (usually a hershey's kiss), sandwiches, hot dogs, most berries, mandarin oranges, carrots, pizza, popsicles...
  • You don't want to try new foods ("I DON'T WIKE IT!!!") but our rule is you have to have one bite, and then you usually end up eating all of it anyway
  • You are in a phase where you love to tell stories and are always asking everyone else to tell you a story. All of your stories involve throwing fireballs.
  • You respond to almost everything with, "why?"
  • You are obsessed with patterns, measuring, counting, and spelling
  • You are always spelling "words" on your etch-a-sketch pad and then ask me what it spells (which really means you just want me to say, "I don't know Titus, what does it spell?" and then you tell me the gibberish word you spelled)
  • Calculators are one of your favorite "toys"
  • You are also on a geography kick, so you want to look at maps and talk about countries all the time. Your favorite country is Turkey, you can find it on almost any map along with about 10 other countries
  • You love the solar system and reading books about planets
  • You have learned a little about flags and now anytime you see the American flag you say, "Wook! It's our flag! U S A! U S A!" (your Daddy taught you that chant). The other day you saw the USA flag and said, "it is big and it is stwong!"
  • You still go down crying for most of your naps and frequently wake up from your nap crying. Naps are not your favorite thing.
  • You are so very, very dramatic. You throw yourself on the floor in a fit at least 3 times a day. When you get sent to timeout I can often hear you wailing and saying, "Whhhhyyyyyy??? Whhhyyyyyy I throw the boooooook??" Like you are bemoaning yourself for disobeying
  • You have become so independent. You let yourself in and out of the backyard screen door, you climb into the car and in your carseat by yourself, and you often get your own food out of the fridge.
  • When daddy goes to take a shower you have a meltdown if you can't go with him and shower too
  • On the weekends you LOVE waking daddy up at nine "way-ro- way-ro" (zero zero). You love clocks and telling time in general!
Titus James, you are my firstborn and I will always love you in such a special way because of that! No one will ever be able to make me feel like you do when you look in my eyes and smile at me and give me a big hug. You are sweet to other kids (especially babies) but you definitely don't want them in your space bubble. If you start to feel upset you often need to take some quiet time in your room by yourself and get out of a crowded area. Once you cool off you are so much better!We are also laughing at you ALL THE TIME! You are so funny and you KNOW you are funny. The more people laugh at you the sillier you act. You also think a lot of nerdy things are funny, like when we ask you to point to what country you live in on the globe you will point to Mexico and then laugh so hard, knowing that you intentionally picked the wrong country. Not only are you smart, but you are definitely an energetic little boy! You love jumping, running, yelling, and generally being a little spastic. Not a day goes by that I don't feel so lucky to have you in my life. Even when you are throwing fits or disobeying, I am grateful (sometimes only after you've gone to bed, ha!) that I have you as my son. We love you to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond, forever and ever.

Haddie Mae: 12 Months (ONE YEAR!)

Dear Haddie,
At 12 months you...
  • You weigh 21 pounds.
  • You wear size 4 diapers and 12 month clothes.
  • You sleep from about 7-7:30pm to 6:45am. You take two naps around 9:30 and 2:30.
  • You love to feed yourself (if I try to feed you then you spit the food out)
  • You can say "mama" and "cat"
  • You moved to a convertible carseat last month and don't love the car, but you seem pretty content still facing backward
  • You still don't have much of a passion for food in general, but you keep putting on weight and have some cute thigh rolls so I guess it's ok!
  • You LOVE your bottle, you get so demanding when you see me making it
  • You love going to the store and riding around looking at everything. You actually love anything you can ride in- the wagon, stroller, shopping cart, etc. You don't ever try to climb out, you just sit back and enjoy it. I don't think I've even had to strap you into a shopping cart yet, come to think of it!
  • You love bath time so much that you scream and cry almost every time we take you out, even if you've been in there for 20+ minutes.
  • You try to put EVERYTHING in your mouth. When we go outside I often zip you into the trampoline so that you can't crawl on the dirt and put rocks and weeds in your mouth. We also watch big brother play outside a lot while you stand and watch from inside the screened door, you love doing that!
  • You are loving to crawl around and explore. You go from room to room just looking at everything.
  • You make a lot of screeching and screaming noises, but you aren't trying to talk much. You do say "mama" and "cat cat cat cat."
  • You are so very sensitive. The fews times I've had to tell you "no" (usually because you are trying to eat a cord or mess with the DVR) you immediately cover your ears, your bottom lip starts trembling, and out come the big, fat crocodile tears.
  • Speaking of covering your ears, this is a big thing for you. You do it when a stranger tries to talk to you and you're feeling bashful, you do it when you are sleepy and want to go to bed, you do it if you are physically hurt, and you do it when your feelings are hurt. It's like your security blanket!
  • You have the prettiest little dimples starting to show when you smile! Especially the one on the right side
  • You and Titus will often crawl into his room and play by yourselves. I'll here him saying, "Here go Baybee Hahdee, take dis toy. You wike blocks!" He is so sweet to you, he is always giving you things and saying, "it otay Baybee Hahdee" if you start crying (while he pats you on the head). 
  • You still love to sleep and I am thankful for that!
  • Every time you get in your crib you grab the extra paci in your crib and switch it out for the one in mouth. Then you hold the other paci in your hand while you sleep.
  • You like to try and put your bows on yourself. Also sunglasses and scarves, so apparently you may have a thing for accessories!
  • You LOVE to cuddle. It is my favorite thing about you! You will just sit still and lay on me (or almost anyone after you warm up to them, for that matter) and wrap your chubby arm around my shoulder
  • Your favorite game is "put my paci in mommy's mouth" which is exactly like how it sounds
  • Your favorite toy is the cozy coupe car. You like being pushed but even if no one is there to push you, you just love sitting in it and not even moving.
  • You got 6 baby dolls for your birthday and you love
  • You love bouncing, dancing, and bobbing. Pretty much anything that looks like squats.
Baby love, we just adore you! Everyone is constantly commenting on your red hair and your pleasant disposition. You are constantly smiling and trying to make eye contact with everyone around you, even though you will immediately duck your head and act bashful when people smile and talk back to you. I don't think I've ever reached the point where I just want to put you down and need a moment to myself, I genuinely love each second that you want to cuddle with me because you are just so gentle and sweet! We have so many friends and family that are praying that you keep your gentle and kind personality, and I know that God made you with these characteristics for a reason. I pray that you will grow up to love everyone as openly and warmly as you love your mommy, daddy, and big brother. I pray that you will view everyone as important just like you do each of your baby dolls (and stuffed animals and basically anything with a face, including the dog picture on the dog treat box!) But more than anything, I pray that you would know that we love because He first loved us (1 John 1:19). You are so incredibly special to us, Haddie Mae. Happy first birthday!