Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Bad Days

Most of the time I feel like someone who doesn't quite know how to juggle but is performing in a circus juggling act every day anyway (Did I just call myself a clown? :shudder  I am NOT that scary! Clowns are evil.  :shiver).  Four kidlets means that at any given moment at least a couple of them are in disequilibrium, and there are always a myriad of other things--teething (it doesn't stop at toddlerhood, folks!  Molars hurt, and they come in around 6 and 12), an ear infection, a tummy bug, developmental jumps, friend issues, anxiety, fill in the blanks and take your pick.  It is a struggle to meet all the needs when resources (energy, time, money for starters) don't always seem to stretch.
A Juggler that juggles
I won't even tell you about all the creepy pics I looked though to find one that wasn't a clown.

Early on, I kept hoping that our parenting choices would mean that everything was easy.  Our kids trust us, you know.  They want to please us because our relationship is good.  They are learning internal motivation and discipline. 

And it is true.  But.  BUT.

There is no easy button.  Our kids do trust us and want to please us and they are developing internal motivation and all those other things that we desperately (but sometimes a little smugly) repeat to ourselves early in the whole gentle discipline journey.  That makes it easiER, but not easy.

We have had some really rough days lately.  I have found myself more than once turning to my husband in exasperation and saying, "They should have outgrown that by now!"  I hear the doubts that maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it to trade relationship for compliance, just a bit.  I can say all the things about this being different from permissiveness and I believe them, but the truth is that I feel tired sometimes and permissiveness doesn't seem all that bad, until I really, really need compliance and where is the line exactly, anyway?

Gentle discipline isn't a pre-cut pattern.  Applying it to real life is hard, and I am often afraid that I have made it the wrong size.  All of our kids are strong-willed, but two are particularly intense (I suspect borderline special needs) and just as one seems to be making progress and I think I can catch my breath, all heck breaks loose with the other one. 

So I am reminding myself today that even on the bad days, I am not doing this because of a guarantee.  I am doing this because it is what God has called me to do.  It is about being the kind of person that I am meant to be, not just who my children are meant to be.  Even though it is still hard, I do see the fruit.  It isn't all perfectly ripe yet (they are still kids, and I am only nine years old as a mom), but it is growing.  And while I was typing, the one who has been having the roughest time came over to me to snuggle and smooch my cheek and say how much she loves me.  I look at the trust in her eyes and imagine how much more difficult the last couple of days would be if that were broken, if she knew I would just bully her into compliance.

Gentle discipline doesn't mean there won't be bad days.  It just gives me better tools and a stronger foundation to work through them.

Image credit: Mike Fernwood/Don Fulano on Flickr

Friday, July 26, 2013

Storm Season

Croatia Storm Clouds
Image credit: Mathew Knott

 “Thank you, Jesus, alleluia, thank you, Jesus, alleluia, thank you, Jesus, alleluia, thank you, Jesus, alleluia…”  Curled up next to her in the double bed we shared, I sighed just a little louder, hoping to muffle the sound of Grandma’s prayers.   I couldn’t even get away with telling my little sister to shut up, so there was no way I could use those words on Gram, but I thought them in the same repetitious rhythm as her chant.   OK, “shut up” was too disrespectful, but wasn’t there a Bible verse somewhere criticizing the Gentiles who repeated the same words over and over?   Probably wouldn’t go over much better, though.  Perhaps sensing my growing irritation, she switched to song.  “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know.  Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.”  My thought about Jesus keeping her singing verged on the profane.

I am over at A Deeper Family today sharing about my panic attacks, Grandma's insomnia and growing in understanding.  I actually wrote this post a month ago, and although the stress from this last month has been even higher, my anxiety has been much better.  My midwife suggested Peace and Calming essential oils from Young Living, and although I am not a distributor and have no incentive for promoting them, that oil has been amazing!  It has stopped several panic attacks within seconds for me, and I have felt so much more balanced and in control when I use it.  I know that different things work for different people, and I am looking at several options to deal with anxiety, but this has been the most helpful for me so far.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Memory Verses for a Mother's Heart: Guest Post by Becky Eanes of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond

I thought I would share with you today my collection of memory verses which set my heart and mind for a day of parenting God's precious gifts in my life. We are called to be gentle, humble, patient, and meek, yet many of us find this challenging in  our daily lives with our children. By spending time each day reviewing these verses and praying for wisdom and strength, we are better able to parent our children with the Love and Grace of God.

1. She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Prov 31:26

2. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1

3. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing in love with one another. Eph 4:2

4. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Phil 4:5

5. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved. compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Col 3:12-13

6. But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4

7. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4

8. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8

9. To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2

10. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

11. Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Prov 14:29

12. Let no corrupting talk come out of  your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29

13. Love is patient and kind; loves does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13:4-7

14. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col. 3:14

15. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Prov 17:22

Rebecca Eanes Rebecca Eanes is a best-selling author, blogger, and the founder of The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting and a co-authored book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood. She is the mother of two and married for 11 years to her high school sweetheart and best friend.  She is also one of my heroes.  My family and I have been incredibly blessed by the grace and truth in her writings, and I am so very honored to have her share this post.  Please check out her incredibly inspiring and powerful post on speaking Biblical blessings over our children, and my review of her book, Positive Parenting in Action, and her website, Peace at Home Books.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Under His Wings

We love going to Puerto Rico every summer. Except it always happens that some of us--usually all of us--get sick.  It started early this time. The weekend before we were supposed to leave I got very sick, then our just turned three year old started running a fever between 101-103.  And threw up.   We were able to squeeze in a doctor's appointment and they said that it was just a virus. Her ears were clear, strep test was negative, her fever went down, and we left on schedule.

The first flight went pretty well. She was fine during the descent, but while we were taxiing to the gate, the mother of all meltdowns began. This fierce little one goes from utter calm to hysterical screaming in a heartbeat when she doesn't feel well, and at that point every attempt to console her usually makes it worse. This was one of those times. As we exited the plane, she was shrieking, hitting me about the head and generally doing an amazingly impressive and enthusiastic imitation of a rabid octopus.

We were changing planes at DFW, and naturally our connecting flight was in another quadrant of the galaxy.  We heard more comments on her meltdown than I have heard in her entire three years before, and the lady next to us on the tram was shooting daggers the whole ride, even after she ostentatiously moved two feet away. (I was kind of waiting for her to actually say something, because for the first time ever, I had a comeback ready.  I was going to smile as sweet as Texas tea and say, "She is still a baby and hasn't had as many years as you have had to practice being considerate of others when she is feeling miserable."  Usually I don't think of those things till the middle of the night, and I thought it was just pointed enough without being too bitchy. But I didn't actually say it, which was probably just as well. I am better at blurting than at passive aggression.)

Something distracted me, though. I remembered Jesus' words about longing to gather Jerusalem under His wings, and I had the clearest picture of us. How many times have I flailed and screamed and yelled because I was overwhelmed and hurting?  I could hear Jesus whisper that it would be so much easier if I would just rest my head on His shoulder and let Him carry me and comfort me.

It was so clear that I didn't care anymore about the cloud of witnesses. I could feel some of the same tenderness and compassion that God feels for us.  It was the coolest thing of feeling so in tune.  God's presence was so strong and powerful.  I felt like He clearly spoke to me that He was going to do some special things during this trip.

Then we boarded the next plane. Thankfully, our three year old was perfectly calm again. However, our five year old rested her head on my arm and it was burning up. She kept up a 103 fever for the full five hour flight to San Juan.  She had the sick look and said she felt like throwing up.

We landed amid all kinds of warnings about Tropical Storm Chantal. None of us had eaten much since breakfast and we were all exhausted. My five year old felt too sick to want to walk, so I put her in my wrap and we exited the plane.  In the little tunnel between the plan and the airport some people tried to hurry past us, so I moved towards the side.  I couldn't see that the middle of the walk way was a couple of inches higher than the sides, for some reason and fell and twisted my foot.  Badly.  I couldn't stand on it.

They grabbed a wheelchair and eventually paramedics came. By that time it was terribly swollen, hard and purple.  The paramedics thought it was likely a sprain, although they noted that my blood pressure was 90/70.  I really didn't feel as much pain as I would expect, though it hurt a lot. I felt a little weird. Shock maybe?  They wrapped it and suggested I go to the hotel and take some Tylenol and ice it, and then go to the ER for X-rays in the morning.

This was what it looked like about five days later.

I had on impulse (?) made a special trip to get a new bottle of arnica before the trip, and I also had Tylenol (yay for overpacking!) so I popped Tylenol snd arnica every few hours during the night while touching Elena's cheek (fever gone!) and trying to keep my foot elevated without bumping any kidlet in the hotel bed.  I couldn't hear any wind or rain (and the storm didn't seem that spectacular compared to Oklahoma), but the lightening was regular throughout the night.

I can barely walk now, and can't put my full weight on it. I have to give a lecture this evening to our class, and it looks like I will definitely have to miss some of our excursions (no way to hike the rainforest, or explore El Morro and Old San Juan or do the hike to the bioluminescent bays).   My husband has done a phenomenal job of coping with the details of leading a group of nineteen  students on a study abroad trip and coordinating everything solo as well as taking care of the four kidlets. He has been incredibly tender and patient with them, as well as organized and on top of all the class details, and thoughtful of me (and he brought back mofongo after the class outing this afternoon, then took all the kidlets to the pool so I could rest).

I would be tempted to lightly mock all that I thought God spoke between the flights about doing good things on this trip (in a way not to bring fire on my head, of course). But I know it was real. I don't know what the rest of the trip will look like, but I can't shake the residue of peace and His presence. So I am trying to keep from flailing and screaming and just rest and let Him carry me. I suspect there will be more to this story, even if I don't hear it for awhile.

About Benjamin he said: "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders."~ Deut 32:12

So we are home now.  It has been more than two weeks and my foot is still swollen and has purple and green splotches.  I did go back to the hospital in Puerto Rico.  One doctor thought she saw a fissure on the x ray, but another said it was just soft tissue damage.  The rest of our trip was mostly uneventful, except for one day when the street and the ground floor of our hotel were knee deep in water (I was so glad that we had a fridge and snacks in our room, and that the kids had Minecraft on their phones, since there was no TV and we were trapped in our room all day).  I don't have any dramatic ending about what happened.  No special moment where it all fell into place and I could see some miraculous result.  Except.  Except the peace that I felt then and still feel.  Maybe that was the special thing, right there?  Because I still feel like He is carrying me, and it is so nice to rest on Him. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why I Burned My Newsboys CDs

When I first saw that the Newsboys, a Christian band that has been around for over half my life, had tweeted in support of corporal punishment, I was bemused.  Without even getting into the fact that they didn't even use a real translation, but a paraphrase that gets that verse all wrong, why on earth would they feel a need to tweet about corporal punishment of children?  What's next, a catchy song about spanking?

Then I looked at their Facebook page, and saw that they had liked Chanel Campbell.  That rang a bell with some bits and pieces I had heard before I knew enough about Campbells to put it all together.  Turns out that maybe the spanking thing isn't as bizarre as I had originally thought.  Chanel, who sang back up on one of the Newsboys' recent CDs, is the granddaughter* of Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies, and the band is partially owned by Wes Campbell, Nancy's son.  I seem to remember the Campbell sisters Serene and Pearl opening for the Newsboys or at least being marketed as having a connection back before Serene's marriage, but I am fuzzy and don't have links to prove it.  However, from Nancy's about page, it sounds as if the whole family is pretty closely connected to the band.

Above Rubies is one of the key outreaches to women by the whole extreme patriarchy/Quiverfull/stay at home daughters movement.  If you are familiar with the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl, Vision Forum, Doug Phillips and the rest of that ilk, you know that they have some innocuous stuff that just looks like "old fashioned family values" on the surface, promoted far and wide by many Christian homeschoolers.  The Campbells and Pearls even reach out to the neo-hippy/crunchy crowd with many of their practices, including natural remedies/alternative health views and elimination communication.  I am not going to get into their whole stay at home daughters thing which sounds creepily incestuous when you start reading how they equate husbands and fathers, or their extreme views on wifely submission and abuse, but they merit investigation.

However, their view of corporal punishment goes far beyond a couple of swats on a padded diaper to keep a child from touching an electric outlet.  This article by Kathryn Joyce contains many incredibly disturbing things about the Campbell family, including this graphic description of "discipline" of their adopted children/grandchildren:
"Discipline included being hit with rubber hosing or something resembling a riding crop if the children disrespected Serene, rejected her meals, or failed to fill the reservoir. For other infractions, they were made to sleep on the porch without blankets. Engedi, the toddler, was disciplined for her attachment to CeCe. To encourage her bond with Serene, the Allisons would place the child on the floor between them and CeCe and call her. If Engedi went to CeCe instead, the children recalled, the Allisons would spank her until she wet herself."

The rubber hosing sounds exactly like the plumbing line that the Pearls recommend, which has resulted in the deaths of at least three adopted children, most recently Hana Williams.  This article from Why Not Train a Child mentions some of the other parallels.

I am trying very hard not to think too much about that paragraph, or the rest of the article, because I have already been sick this week and the idea of a terrified toddler being hit until she wets herself makes me want to puke.  Yet, I think we owe it to these children to consider what we are supporting when we purchase CDs or concert tickets.  My own little toddler was singing along to one of their songs in the van last week.  I imagine her sweet face, streaked with tears, cringing from plumbing line, and I can't even... There really aren't adequate words.

I keep hearing that people like the Pearls and the Campbells are fringe, that they don't represent mainstream Christianity, and I want so much to believe it.  But look at people like the Duggars, who are fully steeped in this (yes, the ones from all the kids and counting shows.  Yes, I know that Michelle sounds sweet and doesn't yell and the kids look happy).  Look at the popularity of author Lori Wick.  Look at how widely accepted the Newsboys and some of Wes Campbell's other artists are.  Now that I know, I can't enjoy them as wholesome entertainment.

When I was a teenager, my family followed Gothard, another one of the quiverfull/patriocentrist leaders who also promotes dangerous corporal punishment and the Pearls, although he condemns all forms of Christian rock.  Gothard advocated burning CDs of Christian rock music as repentance and to break any spiritual ick connected to it.  I've rejected most of what he teaches, but the irony appeals to me.  It might be the only enjoyment that is left for me in them.

*I originally was under the misapprehension that Chanel was Nancy's daughter.  Thanks to a couple of alert commenters who caught that mistake.

The title was misleading, since I haven't burned them yet.  I wonder if it is close enough to the 4th to do a bonfire?