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Archive for January, 2014

I’ve been dairy-free for about 3 months.

My son has an allergy to milk protein and in order to continue nursing him I had to eliminate all sources of this milk protein in my diet.

It was a little difficult at first to figure out what I could have, it’s in everything. But, it’s necessary for my son to live a healthy life and be a happy {not screaming all day} baby. So, it is what it is.

If I know I’m going somewhere where  there will be food I most likely can’t have, I don’t go with the expectation to be fed. I feed myself before hand and if there is anything to nibble on while I’m there, it’s an exciting treat.

This is now routine for me, and I usually run into these situations once a week or at least a couple times a month. Just this morning I joined a bible study at my church, there was a delicious looking breakfast spread – lots of women telling me to go try this or that- but I knew I could have the fruit and so I stuck to that.

When I’m out at an event with friends or church people, sometimes someone will ask if I am dieting and I’ll just give my little quick explanation which is more often than not met with words of sympathy.

It’s sweet of people to offer a sweet “aw, I’m sorry about that” or “that must be hard!”

But, because I know the benefit to my son since I have made these changes and choices, I’ve taken ownership of it and plan accordingly.

I don’t expect other people to know about or adhere to my modified lifestyle.

I don’t expect people to know what is considered in the best interest of my son.

I am responsible for my son so I have to make the choice in my diet and be consistent with it if I want to see the full potential of his health.

I’m responsible for both of my children, in many ways.

One of our biggest responsibilities for Brooklyn right now is to steer her towards the direction of a life pleasing to the Lord. Just as I can’t expect everywhere I go to understand the dietary choices I make for Timothy, I can’t expect everywhere Brooklyn goes to understand the direction we desire for her life to steer towards.

I have to take ownership of my responsibility to raise Brooklyn, I can’t place that responsibility on a children’s ministry, YMCA classroom, or play dates with friends.

Not everyone can be aware of the way in which you want to raise your children, so you have to make a choice and be consistent in it if you want to see the full potential of their ability.

I don’t fully understand parenting, but since becoming a parent I have had my eyes open up to several things. One of the main things I have learned is that parenting in a way that is easiest to me now, may make life harder on Brooklyn later.

We live in a culture that is very “me” focused, and with a toddler who is pitching a fit in the middle of the grocery store because she wants a cookie, it’s tempting to let the “me” inside of her get her way. But, what does that reinforce in the long run?

Joseph and I have a conviction to lead our children down a road different from the typical childhood life.

Our kids lives are full of fun and exciting things but they are also full of an honest awareness of our sin nature.

The culture around us has been telling us for years that children are defiant, tantrums are normal, and “good luck when you get to the terrible twos”. The advice you are often given from the world is to basically do the best you can and these days will pass, they are only little once.

We’ve seen Brooklyn’s behavior shift, no doubt. But, this mentality that you just kind of wait for it to pass and “that’s the norm” sort of gives parents a pass to be lazy with their children, to not challenge them to rise above these new troubling emotions they face that send them in a tizzy.

These tiny beings are now aware of toys that are “theirs”, food they don’t “like”, and responsibilities they “can’t do”.

If someone takes a toy from Brooklyn, her first response, like most children, is usually “that’s mine!” A typical response to that type of behavior is to explain “well it is your toy, but we need to share it with others”, our response is to try and push through even further than that “toys are a privilege, and it isn’t ‘yours’, we are blessed to have access to it though, it’s not kind of you to take ownership of a blessing and not share it with others.”

When Brooklyn doesn’t want to finish her food, and she isn’t doing it out of fullness but because she wants to have something else (example: she’s eating a sandwich but halfway through the sandwich she decides she would rather have apples and peanut butter), we explain that “hungry people eat what is in front of them”, if she is truly hungry she will learn to eat what is on the table. Now, of course I’m not going to starve my child, I allow her as long as she wants at the table to decide that she is going to eat the food set before her for a meal, I don’t just say “you eat this or you get down” because I know she is hungry, but I’m not just going to say “oh well, sure here you can have this and throw that away”, if she doesn’t want to finish her sandwich then she knows it goes in a ziplock bag and it is the first thing offered to her at the next meal. 98% of the time, she finishes the sandwich, because she is hungry and well… hungry people eat what is in front of them. It’s a privilege to have food, let alone choose the food you want, and we want her to understand there are people countries away and on the streets in downtown charlotte who don’t have the opportunity to get ‘bored’ with a sandwich and ask for something else, so we try and establish a mindset that no matter what we are eating, let’s not take it for granted.

If Brooklyn says she “can’t” clean her playroom and needs me to do it, I will help her by pointing out specific toys and then reminding her of her capabilities “remember you go that out of your toy chest? I bet you can put it back in!”, it’s encouraging but it’s honest, it reminds her: you have the ability to do this, so let’s make the choice to use that ability.

In all of these situations, these are choices we have had to make about the way we will raise our children in the home, because we know we can’t always control what is outside of the home: I don’t know if her sunday school teacher makes sure she uses manners, but we enforce it at home in hopes that it follows her to sunday school, I don’t always see if she is cleaning up her mess with toys at the YMCA but we clean up at home so that when she is in the situation outside of the home it isn’t unfamiliar to her, I’m at all of her playdates now, but there will be a day where she maybe plays at a friends house and I’m not there to remind her that toys are a privilege and we need to share the things we are blessed with so we have to talk about these things first at home. We have to set up this behavior at home, so that when we go into uncharted waters, she is better equipped to share, to be grateful for what is in front of her, and to know her ability (in regards to more than just cleaning up a playroom).

Kids, while not always understanding of these adult sentences, not watered down with baby talk, are still human beings. They will learn and grow at the rate in which we set out for them. It may be more of a challenge as a parent to sit at the table for 30 minutes for them to finish a sandwich, and you may not have the time to do that, I get that – but I challenge you to push yourself to give the exact amount of energy and time you have available for your kids, to your kids.

It may be easier to say “well we need to share this toy” and leave it at that.

It may be easier to just give them something they will eat instead of working with them to eat what you’ve already prepared for them.

It may be easier to clean up the playroom yourself in 5 minutes than wait 20 more minutes for them to slowly pick it up.

But in the long run, giving your child a chance to grow in maturity can bless both of you. It will bless them because as they grow, they will see you as an authority, which means they will know you are a person in their life who can give guidance (whether they come to you or not in times they need guidance is another blog post in and of itself, but this at least sets the tone and puts the idea in their mind of your role) and they will learn that you are willing to set aside time to engage with them which truly can be priceless to a child. It will bless you, maybe you won’t see the results of the blessing until a few years down the road, but when you get the ball rolling early on manners and politeness and selflessness and gratitude, you are already helping to detoxify the “me first” thoughts that the world tells us we should have at the forefront of our minds.

We live in a culture that doesn’t put much weight into the lives and ability of children, after all – have you seen the abortion rates? It reinforces the “me first”. Not convenient for you to have a child? You first, so have an abortion.

Our culture also doesn’t value you until you can “contribute something” to this world. You’re having a baby who they can tell in the womb will have a disability and won’t live a life that society feels will be much of anything? Go ahead and abort that baby, you’re doing ‘him/her’ a favor.

Our culture doesn’t see the potential and value in children, but the Lord did.

Joseph and I know that Jesus referenced children in the scriptures and even made a example through them of how we are to approach him – like children – with nothing to offer, but everything to learn. Having a child-like faith means you won’t always understand things, you won’t always do it the right way, you may even throw a tantrum or five when asked to do something difficult – but God gives us the opportunity, because He knows what He can accomplish through willingness and meekness.

Learning to look at your children the way that God looks at us, as beings who have nothing to offer but that are loved so dearly and have the potential to change the world with a lot of love and a healthy guidance, it really can be the sweetest thing you’ve ever learned.

I’m so proud of Brooklyn’s potential as a human being, she is such a joy in our lives and though I will not get everything, or even half of everything right when it comes to parenting, I’m thankful for the opportunity to steer that potential into a meaningful direction.

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Mean Girls

My freshman and sophomore year of high school I went to a private school.

I hated it for the most part.

Not because of my teachers, I found most of them caring and friendly.

Not because of the curriculum, I enjoyed a biblical world view wedged into all aspects of education.

Mainly because of my peers.

There was that acne phase too, but basically most of my hatred for school at this time was due to my peers.

Mean girls, really.

I had friends at church, sure, but I saw them twice a week – if their parents decided to drive them, 🙂 and they got their homework done.

I had friends in school, actually. Just, most of my friends at school were my sisters age and she was two grades ahead of me, so lunch time was really the only time I saw anyone that would carry on much of a conversation with me.

My peers, though: the ones in all my classes, the ones I was with all day… I didn’t really fit in with any of them. Not for any reason known to me, just sort of the way it was.

Before I continue, I should say that there are a few people that were in my grade that I vividly remember being kind to me always {two happen to be married and in our Sunday School class now and the wife was my nurse the morning after I gave birth to Timothy!}.

Anyways, back to mean girls.

There was a group of girls my freshman and sophomore year that sort of made entertainment out of making fun of me.

The way I looked – whether it was an odd outfit combination, the pounds I put on between freshman and sophomore year, the color I chose to dye my hair, the way my eyes slant… I could go on. I remember a lot of hurtful words said to me, and I really got down about it.

I never opened up to anyone about it very deeply, maybe my mom a little. Just sort of tucked it away, cried in my room from time to time, and started building a wall.

Whether I realized I was doing it or not, I created a wall around me that didn’t let anyone really get past surface level conversation with me.

By the time I switched schools for my junior and senior year, I had built a very sturdy wall,  it was easy for me to make “friends” in my new school because I didn’t have to do much other than talk about something relevant to our age, laugh at a joke, and say “see ya tomorrow!”. I had no expectation and I put forth zero effort.

By building a wall, I don’t remember a single instance of having my feelings hurt at school my junior and senior year. I can think of a handful of people I really enjoyed being around, but memories of most of them involve pretty basic conversations. I didn’t go to school events, not because I feared being bullied but because I had no interest in getting to know anyone well. I didn’t go to prom, wasn’t asked to prom so that may have been why haha, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was just a person amongst a lot of other people with the common goal of getting out of high school and into college, with no real ties to anyone. (I went to my husbands 10 year high school reunion this year and we laughed thinking about going to mine, would anyone even know who I was?? Besides people who knew me from church. 🙂 Probably not.)

I wasn’t being bullied, but I still didn’t have friends, at least beyond much of an acquaintance level friendship.

When I got to college, I was dating people off and on and so I didn’t have much of a reason to develop new friendships with anyone that wasn’t already in my small circle.

Then I got married.

I had a permanent friend who had to listen to me ramble about Lord of the Rings, and ask 17 times if he likes my new hair color, or figure out where we want to go eat.

But, shortly into our marriage, I started feeling lonely for friendships.

My husband has a great core of guy friends as well as brother who lived near by for the first few years of our marriage who he is incredibly close to.

So, before kids, when he would go hang out with one of his friends I was just sort of always at home.

Sometimes I would laugh off my boring nights at home, sometimes I enjoyed them, but sometimes I found myself feeling hurt that no one wanted to hang out with me.

Somewhere along the lines, I thought: maybe it isn’t everyone else, maybe I am my own problem.

I have reflected back over the years several times when I journal about life’s happenings, and one thing was constant – me…being closed off, covering up things with sarcasm, acting like I don’t care to have friends, and never trying to invest in anyone else.

That last one stings a little.

I let myself become a mean girl.

Not by way of ridiculing people, but by way of writing people off as if they weren’t important.

I have thought over the years about how many people maybe needed a friend and interacted with me thought “wow, I must be a loser, she totally isn’t interested in this conversation at all”. I hate that I may have made someone feel that way by having my own pity party for myself instead of fueling these feelings into being a person who pursues friendships with those around her no matter the risk of being rejected. I hate that I didn’t pursue friendships simply to get to know someone else instead of just thinking about myself.

Whenever those things started to come full circle my first year of marriage, I started talking to people more – initiating conversation, inviting people to hang out, and checking in with people if I hadn’t heard from them in awhile.

I started thinking about others instead of myself.

Sure, I still ran into a mean girl or two, I may have gotten cancelled on from time to time, and not all my efforts to befriend someone turned into friendship.

BUT

I started offering grace to people who maybe said something they shouldn’t have about someone, or cancelled on hanging out with me, or didn’t want to me my friend at all.

I let people be who they are, and that was my only expectation: to expect people to be people.

Through my efforts, I began making more friends and now have a dozen friends I can think of that I know beyond a surface level and I love that. I love having someone to text something funny to, or share a recipe with, or meet for lunch.

Beyond that, I can think of half a dozen people that have been there for me in some really great and really tough times over the past few years – people who have cared for my children, cleaned my house, brought my family dinner, called to check on me if it had been awhile since they talked to me. That is a blessing.

It isn’t the biggest blessing though in our friendships. All along I was focused so much on myself that I didn’t understand beyond HAVING a friend, I didn’t understand the joy that comes from BEING a friend.

I am even more blessed to bear my friends burdens and rejoice in their triumphs now. What an honor I was missing out on by being a bitter mean girl.

If you’ve felt lonely, try to assess whether you may be part of the problem and then decide if you will stay motionless and continue to be disappointed or get the ball rolling with change and learn to love people the way you want to be loved.

If you want to start somewhere, I’m always up for a new friend.

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