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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

It was a miracle! It was a weekend AND it was sunny and beautiful!

With hubby and all three of our kids gone, and with our two from China opting for retail therapy, the beast and I were free to do whatever we desired on that gorgeous day. So we chose a brisk walk on the trail.

People were out in droves. There were the young teenage couples who couldn’t keep their tonsils eyes off each other, and the older couples who walked arm in arm for both physical and emotional support. There were the single walkers, with or without a beast, briskly marching along, and the families with little ones, walking at a snails pace to take in every bit of wonder around them.

I am never really sure of the real reason that beast loves to go for walks. Oh, she loves the actual walk, but deep down the thing I think she likes most is the people we meet. There is nothing like a comment like, “oh what a pretty dog” to make her ears soar, and then she will prance down the path … head swelling bigger by the moment! If the passing compliment is not enough to excite her, there is also the adoring “puppy!” from a small child! Often we will stop, and allow her adoring little admirer touch and see her up close. If there is a child’s cry or screech within earshot of our beast, I am at risk of shoulder dislocation! She immediately wants to fly into action in the direction of the cry.

For me the walks encompass so much more than just the exercise, which is beneficial, of course. It is the opportunity to be still (I rarely ‘plug in’ on my walks, but I have been known to stop and quickly email a blog post idea to myself) mentally. It allows all of the cells in my body to inhale fresh, oxygen-rich air, that can clear my mind like nothing else. I am enabled by the combination of fresh air, beauty of creation, and physical activity to become more creative, and despite that fact that I have walked this path frequently, these walks “still take my breath away and offers so much scope for imagination!” (Anne of Green Gables)

What a gift the exercise, the fresh air, the sun shining brightly in the sky were to the beasty and I … cheaper and more effective than any other therapy!

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When I got married to my hubby, there were two people who wondered aloud about the life (as a pastor’s wife) that I was entering. But I was young, in love, and there was nothing that we could not survive, as long as we were together!

It did not take long to realize that this life had it challenges, but it also had amazing blessings. Our life is designed around the challenge of making the life of Christ one that others want to follow, in a deeper, more sincere way. Along with that, much of our mutual desire is to help those who have been hurt, deceived, or ignored by other Christ followers see that we are not all like that, and that the One we follow is not in the business of hurting, deceiving or ignoring.

Through the years we have added three kids to our family, and as our kids they were born into the title of Pastors Kids PKs). There were negatives like having a busy dad (who has made a commitment to not miss the important events of their lives) and a life where everyone in the church knows you (but often that has meant the blessing of many dear people who pray for them), but I really did not see PK as a negative stereotype for our kids.

Our kids, like their peers (and their parents), have moments when they blow it royally, but they do so not because they are PKs, but because they are fully human.

The reality of our life in the church means that they know things others in the church do not. Things that we sometimes do not want anyone exposed to, especially them. Things like times when their dad has been spoken of derogatorily, or when their mother has been hurt. They have experienced the social ‘shunning’ by peers whose parents do not support the work of their dad. Then there are the times when they have been the center of the negative conversation, and a ‘friend’ has relayed the conversation to them (without any mention of defending them at the time). They know the discouragement and disappointment that ‘serving’ God in ministry can mean.

God has given us such a beautiful life, and we have laid down our lives for the sake of this ministry. But God has given us the beautiful responsibility of introducing His love to two daughters and one son, and that is a responsibility I will never sacrifice.

So, I do what other mothers may shudder to consider. When our children reach high school, I sit them down and explain that I want them to know the freedom of Christ without the confines of the title they were born with. I tell them that we, their parents, have no expectation that they will choose our church as their church. And then, I encourage them to …

GO!
-to a church where they choose
-to a church where they are ‘just’ another believer
-to a church where they can serve simply because they feel compelled
-to a church where the style of worship encourages them to worship
-to a church where the delivery of the message feeds them

“go into the world, and tell everyone the Good News” (Mark 16:15).

That is the most important message I can give them … that, and wings so that they can choose to fly.

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I was first introduced to Thom Schultz back in the day when hubby was still working in youth ministry. Hubby was very influenced by Mr. Schultz, and he was foundational in how hubby saw youth, their families and the church. This rubbed off on me, and I have appreciated his wit, wisdom and resources over the years in everything from Sunday nursery to ladies groups. Even now, working as an Educational Assistant in a high school, I am eager for newsletters from Thom, as they never fail to educate me, and make me think.

Thom is a writer of at least a dozen books, books about children, youth, teens and the christian church. He is founder of Group Publishing (resources for children, youth and teen church ministry), as well as the more newly founded Lifestyle Cafe (to quote their website “it’s a “conversation café”-a place and time for people to gather weekly to experience stories and talk about thought-provoking topics relating to life and faith”).

He also has a great blog HolySoup and this particular post was one that I thought worth sharing with my readers.

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A few years back singer, songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman invited us into his heart with his song Cinderella, inspired by his daughters. The song wooed all of us with daughters, into thoughts of our own little girls growing up so quickly, stepping from one stage of life to the next so very quickly, and reminding us all to take the time and opportunities when they are young to dance with our little girls.

But what about our boys, our sons? I know of one, almost thirteen year old son who would NOT have any interest in dancing around the room with his mother, to a song about Cinderella!

So, as I drove down the road, listening to the Cinderella song, I wondered what is the male equivalent of dancing with Cinderella, for my son? So, I looked at the lyrics to the song, and did some personalized editing 😉 …

He spins and he sways
To each play his coach says
Giving all to the football world
And I’m sitting here fretting
With the fear of him being hurt, on my shoulders

It’s been a long day
And there’s still laundry to do
He’s pulling at me
Saying “Mom, I need you

There’s a game at the field
And I’ve been practicing
And I need to know that you’re in the stands
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

He says they’re all nice guys they just fake the frowns
He tells me his improved tackles mean more touchdowns
He says, “Mom, the game is just one week away
And I need you to make more pasta
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

He will be gone

Well, he came home today with a dream in his head
Just glowing and telling us the CFL is where he will head
He says, “Mom, the league is still years away
But I need to practice my hitting
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

So, that is my ode to Cinderella, for my son, because soon he’ll be gone …

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As I write this post I am sitting outside, in the shade of the trees behind our house, as the sun is crawling up into the late morning sky.

I am also being entertained by the four individuals in our pool. Their ages are five, eight, almost thirteen 🙂 and fifteen.

Our youngest daughter and son are playing with abandon, with their younger friends. There is no biology shared between them, but their relationship is akin to cousins. The younger pair trailing behind the older, keeping up because they so want to be together, because they so want to do what their older friends do.

They have a relationship that means every greeting and farewell includes a hug. They each get an instant smile on their faces when they see each other. There is total and complete confidence in the love and affection that they have for each other. Together they are like one unit, with no divisions.

The littler ones presence also seems to bring the older ones together in a manner normally unseen in these two VERY normal siblings (aka. fighting, disagreeing, arguing). For all the hours they were together there was none of that ‘normal’ behavior, and I relaxed in my temporary utopia.

The littler girl loves to be paired with the older one, and the littler boy (aka Little Ben) loves to be with the older (Big Ben). That said, they all play together, and when one is missing, their twosome or threesome continue on.

What refreshment they bring to our home and to our day. They provide instant smiles and laughter.

When we see them, I am immediately reminded that the stage of childhood that they are now at (elementary school aged) is completed in our home, and I am immediately satisfied with the return of the joy that their presence brings.

They remind me that washing faces and hands is a must after eating (especially enormous waffles with whipped cream and blueberries). They remind me that half an hour is enough time for any one activity, and don’t try stretching it our too long. They remind me that fights erupt quickly, and are settled and forgotten about just as quickly. They remind me that please and thank you are the most used words in a day. And that when they are with someone they love, their little eyes and hearts and minds are fully attentive to the object of that affection.

This is a privilege, and an honor. To spend time looking at the world through the eyes of children. How much more beautiful, more large, more wonderfilled it is.

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Today our ‘kids,’ who are not, will go home to their parents, who are, for the summer.

It has been just over ten months since the brother and sister pair moved into our home, our family, our hearts. Even after all that time, I struggle to ‘name’ our relationship.

Hubby and I house them, feed them, drive them here and there. We assist them with homework, with filling out forms, and with understanding life. We sign permission forms and make appointments. We assign chores to them, and speak to them in our firm parent voices. We applaud their successes, we hug them and hear their tales of woe. We attend their school events and sports games. We host their friends, and take them shopping.

But, we are not their parents.

We are a homestay family.

I really struggle to know what our relationship should be called. I really struggle to know how to be a parenting, non-parent.

As a woman who is a mom, I believe they need a daily mom to care for them. I do not just mean to care for their basic physical needs, like food, and shelter. I mean to care for their hearts, their souls and their minds. I believe they need a middle aged woman to say good morning to them, to drive them to school, to scold them when they take too long to get ready in the morning, to ask how their English test was, to watch them play basketball, and drive them to the mall (and shake in my boots as they enter the mall without an adult with them). I believe they need someone to sit on the sofa and watch a movie with, and one to applaud their piano playing, and their math award, and their homemade sushi, and someone to tell them to clean their room. I believe they need a pat on the back, that unimpressed mother ‘look’, and someone to pray with when life just sucks.

Today, as my two children, who are not, head across the world to their mother, who is, I will bid them adieu. In french, a dieu, meaning ‘to God’, commonly translated, I command you to God.

It is in that word, adieu, that I get an understanding of parenting that goes far beyond just my role as a homestay mom. In that one word, I am reminded that whoever God places in our care, whether they be our biological, adopted or ‘borrowed’ children, we are required, and our children benefit most from our giving them back to God.

And, whatever I am to them, and they to me, today my mother heart will bid them a dieu.

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Back to once upon a time land, and castles, and roads paved with gold, and pearly gates, and a king who rules justly and loves mercy. Ah …. I almost can dream myself right into the middle of it all!

Throughout the ‘kingdom’ verses in Matthew, Jesus uses children over and over again in his description of the kingdom of heaven. As with every teaching of Jesus, he did not use children as illustration by chance, but because of what they are, and because of what they are not.

Children are innocent, pure, powerless, uneducated. They are the least of society, because they contribute so little to society, from the perspective of power. In their state of powerlessness, they exemplify that the best (heaven) was created and intended for those who are the least deserving, the least powerful the least able to give anything back.

Last week I wrote about the kingdom when Jesus was asked who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus replied that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:4-5).

But Jesus child talk didn’t end there.

 In the next verse (v. 6) he says, of children, “if anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Wow! I think he meant business. His statement strongly says that he is serious about the value of children.

Jesus then goes on (v. 10-14) to compare a wandering sheep to “one of these little ones.” He compares God to a shepherd who, if one sheep was lost, would leave the others to go in search for the lost one. This would have been unbelievable to the people listening, because a sheep was valuable to a shepherd’s livelihood, a child was … just a child.

With all of this kid talk, people started to bring their children to Jesus, so that he could place his hands on their head, to pray for and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). This was really getting on the nerves of the disciples, who wanted the kids to head to the nursery so that the important people … like them, could be close to, and hear Jesus as he taught. But Jesus was quick and decisive in his response, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

There it was. Jesus wanted so badly for them, and for us, to understand, that power in the kingdom of heaven came from a different source than it did/does on Earth. In the kingdom of heaven, the Father provides membership to those who, like children, have no knowledge of, and no desire to seek power.

Later on in Matthew 25:34, Jesus speaks of the King, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Those who he is speaking to are those who, like children, the kingdom of heaven was created for. That is my kind of kingdom!

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It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The way to a mother’s heart is quite a different route.

There are so many things that one can do to win the favor of one who is a mother. You can make a meal for her family. You can tell her she looks great (even with bags under her eyes from a sleepless babe, or talkative teen keeping her up at night). You can compliment her home, her work, her husband.

There is only one way to win the heart of a mother … say or do something nice, kind, or generous, for her child.

Just the other day, I got a text from hubby, telling me that a man in our church was gone. He was ninety-one years old, had a beautiful wife (just days from their sixty-sixth anniversary), supportive children, and his body had simply given in to the effects of aging. This man was dearly loved, by all who knew him. He was an amazing support to my hubby, teaching, mentoring and supporting him in a gentle, fatherly way. I always received words of encouragement, and love from him.

The thing I appreciated most about this man was that he told us, many times, that he prayed for our kids. In this act of love, he won the heart of this mother.

In hearing of his death, I felt the loss of the dear man who really knew how to love.

I also feel the weight of the loss of his prayers for my kids.

To know that someone is praying for your kids, is to know of a magical-like experience. There is a sense of other-worldly connection with that person. There is a sense of receiving love that is out of this world amazing.

To hear someone say, “I pray for your children” is to have won the lottery. Not because there is anything ‘magical’ about praying (God is not a sugar daddy who delivers all that we want), but because it is the act of love that cannot be adequately thanked for. It is not an act of love that gets acclaim.

It is an act of love that comes from knowing that growing up is not always easy, being a pastor’s kid is not always easy. The time that goes in to spending it with the God of the universe to lift them up to Him in humble prayer is the best gift there is.

In telling us of his sacrificial act, we were encouraged, as parents. This man knew of the intimacy of prayer, the strength that comes from prayer, and the reliance on God for every thing in life. He knew it, because he lived it.

He knew the way to this mother heart, and our family feels the loss of his love.

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Within twenty-four hours I had been deeply moved, deeply honored, deeply grieved.

The source of my experience were my three children, and each had communicated the same desire of me … to spend more time with me.

I felt one main feeling … guilt. Guilt that they felt that they had been lacking in time with me, guilt that I had not made more effort. Guilt that there simply are no more hours in my day. This one heavily weighted me down as a mom, as I laid my head on my pillow that night.

For all three to actually come to me meant that this feeling of not having time together has been percolating in their minds for more than a few days, more than a few weeks. I felt awful.

The worst of this whole thing was that I knew they were right in saying so. For weeks, I have been thinking to myself, I feel like I need to be more intentional at spending time with my kids. The problem is, I only thought it, and, although good intentions are good, they are not good enough.

My mother heart was torn.

When, as a mother, you have failed, and you know it, it hurts. When you know others know it, it hurts even more. When your own kids know it, and express it … sigh … it feels as though you have failed at your most important reason for being.

Now that it has been a number of days since my three communicated this to me, and I feel a bit better able to see things in a more balanced, less pained way. My kids messages to me were not all bad, they were an … announcement, a wake up call, and it was one I plan to answer!

The first realization was one of success … my kids TOLD me what they were missing. How many times I have asked them to tell me their thoughts, their needs, and they did this.

The next was one of wake up. When our first daughter was born, I wondered, as I looked around at families, how a parent could evolve from the newness of baby love to not talking with their teen. I had made it a goal way back then, to not lose the baby love phase with my kids, and this goal needed to be revived … now!

The final realization was that I am human. This is something I know, but not something that my expectations of myself allow when it comes to my kids. But, I get caught up in the immediate of life. I get tired. I say yes to too many things. All that to say, I need my kids help in meeting the expectations that they have of me, and I have of myself in regards to how I love them. So, I have asked each of them to help me find a way to meet this mutual need. This is still in progress, but I expect that they will each send me a note, leave a post it on my mirror, send me a text, email or a FaceBook message to let me know when they need my time. And, I will make time for them.

In the meantime, I awoke on Mother’s Day with the iron in my soul that they would not go to bed feeling that they were lacking in time with me. So, after church, I informed them that they would be having lunch with me. We left church, and headed to the grocery store deli where we chose sandwiches and snacks. Then we four (no dad, and no one else … not even the beast) drove to a beautifully shaded park, ate our lunch, took pictures and laughed together.

It was so good to spend this time together, just us four. My heart felt full!

I am so glad that they each told me what they were missing, and that I had the unusual wisdom to hear their hearts with my own. Perhaps their outward cries, came from what my own heart was missing too.

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Since my first memories being a wife and mother were the two constant goals of my life. By the age of twenty-three (and a half) I had been married for three years, and was holding our baby daughter. Now, at age forty-three, I have three earthly, and five heavenly children … be careful what you wish for!

As a girl I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to dress my babies in pretty clothes (I guess they were always girl babies), I wanted to feed them, I wanted to take them for a walk and lay them gently in their bed at night …

As a teenager, I had two personalities. The one wanted a good job, and independence. The other wanted to have babies, who I imagined rocking to sleep, and teaching to walk, and sharing giggles, and lay them gently in their bed at night …

… and watch them sleep.

When each of my children were babies, there was no sweeter thing than to hold their sleeping body in my arms and just … watch them sleep (well except for daughter number two, who never slept).

When they were each toddlers, who spent every second that they were awake in motion, there was nothing better than to sneak into their rooms at night, and watch how that child of terrible two (or blood thirsty three) suddenly became a little angel.

When they were each starting kindergarten, all so eager for this step towards independence, I would sneak into their room the night before the big day, and try to remember every last memory of that moment, for it was the last time that they would be mommy’s little girl or boy.

When they had their first fight with a friend, at school or home, with words or fists, I would sit beside their beds at night and wish that I could take the inevitable hurts from their lives.

When I would yell or make a big mistake, and have to apologize that day to them for my error, that night I would kneel by their beds and pray that God would teach me to forgive, as they always forgave me.

When their dreams were coming true, and life was going splendid for them, I would come into their rooms, bend over and whisper, “I always knew you could do it.”

When I cannot sleep at night,
When my heart is aching from a fight,
When I just need to hold you with all my might,
I will watch you when you sleep,
To a mom, it is the sweetest sight.

Thanks to my kids, for making my dream of being Mom a reality.
May your dreams come true too … I’ve always known you could do it!

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