Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Random Wed. part 3: When the world is scary

Today things went to a whole new level in the hood.

We have lived in North Mpls for nine years now. It has had it's quiet seasons, and it's unsettling seasons. The last couple months has seen a rise in activity.

Today while I was talking on the phone outside on the sidewalk and the kids were playing in the front yard, I had 10 SWAT team members running past me quickly telling me to get inside.

I quickly hung up, and ushered my kids inside as we witnessed the SWAT team break down the door of one my kids friends homes. He lives two houses down.

The SWAT team stayed for 15min and then left alone. They took no one with them. A squad car sat outside with officers going in and out for the next half hour.

The kids and I prayed for their friend and his mom hoping that she and he were alright. When I saw the little boy outside later that night, he looked scarred. He was quiet and withdrawn. I can't imagine what goes on in a little boy's head when 10large men break down your door and have guns pointed at your dad, uncle and all their friends.

After devotions and putting the kids in bed, the sound of sirens screeching down our street, lights going, sirens blaring got both the boys up with tears in their eyes.

"Are the SWAT team coming to our house with their guns?"

Ahhhhh....and there it is. I wasn't sure how much of the afternoon sunk into the kids, but they are very well aware of everything that goes on around them.

Middle was really scared, so I laid down with him and we talked for a bit. He had questions about what the SWAT team looks for. What bad things are in his friends house? Where were the bad guys? Why are their uniforms scary? Whey did they have to break the door? Why couldn't they knock? What is the difference between ghosts and spirits? If Fire fighters protect us from fire, and police protect us from bad guys, who protects us from ghosts? (don't ask how we got there, I am still not sure.) Are ghosts real? When I close my eyes, I only see the SWAT team and their guns.

So this was my evening. Having very grown up talks with my four year old. I've never taken care of children before my own, so I don't really know how to handle these kinds of things. I often think I should tone down my honesty, but my kids seem to be able to handle it.

The thing is, there are scary things in the world. When you are a parent you want nothing more than to keep any of those bad things touching your kids. You can shield them and protect them, and try to keep anything "evil" from entering your home or shield devises, but the truth is, its gonna get in. It always does.

My kids were really tired. I was looking forward to getting them to bed early, cleaning up an easy dinner and then setting down to sew or bringing out my favorite fall decorations. I rented a movie and my husband was with the band for the night.

I had a plan.

Then life happened. Real hard things happened.

As a parent I would like nothing more than to pretend that what happened today didn't happen. I want to erase what my kids witnessed.

Or I can invite Christ into what happened. I blend the good and the bad all together and discuss with my kids what it is to be afraid. What do we do when we are scared and saying that Jesus is with me isn't' enough.

So we talked. I listened. I gave answers when I had them and was honest about not knowing everything.

I then went and grabbed a prayer shawl that was given to middle after the tornado from Calvary Lutheran in Golden Valley. I laid his shawl on him, reminded him that he was prayed for, gave him a small cross to hold in his hand, and let him look at his Bible with a flash light to put good stories and pictures in his mind.

I know, lots of people wish and pray we would leave the hood.

The truth is we can't. No matter what happens, we are here at least for awhile.

So what does it look like to live where you are? To bring faith, love and hope into whatever situation you are given. I could wish away and dream of living on a hobby farm, but that is not my reality.

The hood is.

So how do I teach my kids to live in the messy, messy world that is truthfully right outside our door?

I don't really have a plan but to be honest.

Honest about the hard, hateful ways of people and the love that God has for sinners. Most importantly including ourselves.

Today started with middle asking me what a tampon was and how it worked. I should have known.

I should have known the questions wouldn't stop.

I should have known.

Random Wed. part 2: devotions with kids

I wish we as a culture of believers, myself included, would take the truth of starting spiritual education at home with the church supporting what we teach at home, instead of the other way around.

Paul and I are always asking ourselves how we can be imprinting a desire for God and his love into our children. We want them to want to choose Him.

Yesterday I did a lot of cleaning of all of our paperwork, files, mail, to do piles. It appears my one pile has turned into I think I counted seven yesterday. As I was going through pile after pile, I came across the kids Sunday School take home devotion sheet. This is a tool for families to use at home during one of their devotional times together. It talked about what happened in Sunday School, and what they will be learning next week to get the kids prepared. Then it also provided great prayers, questions, and activities to do together throughout the week to reinforce what they are learning at church.

I kept that paper out hoping that I would force myself to do it with my kids. It takes more time than just reading a story and by night time, I am pretty exhausted. But tonight, I was feeling it, so we did it!

We reread the story of Noah and I started asking the boys questions about what would their ark look like? What would be hard about being on the ark? Who has to take care of the animals? Would they pee of the boat into the water? Where does the poop go? It was amazing spiritual conversation, let me tell you.

Then we started talking about promises. We talked about mourning and grieving and what those words meant. What happened to the all the other people not on the boat? How long did it take Noah to build the ark? Do you think people made fun of him? Did he still listen to God instead of listening to the mocking of others? Were they sad that their friends died?

It was amazing having these conversations with the boys. After we talked about all that, we did the rain song. You know the one where you start rubbing your hands together, then you snap, then you clap, then you slap your knees, then you stomp your feet. We talked about all the rain sounds, and then we discussed the tornado.

It always comes back to the tornado.

We talked about what it must have been like for Noah and his family and being scared watching the whole earth disappear. Then we talked about what it means to abide. How God abides in us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is ever watchful and everything that happens has a purpose.

After we prayed that God would open our eyes to see him working in our lives, we went outside and spread bread crumbs on the yard to help take care of the birds and squirrels, just like Noah. We are hoping they are gone by morning.

Working with the church in the spiritual development of our children is an amazing opportunity to the strongest foundation possible. For all the teachers can give our children, we have the opportunity for one on one conversations and questions with our children. Questions that come up when relearning stories the second and third time. It also provides the frame work for real life questions. Reading the story of Noah allowed real life application of the tornado to be discussed again in our home. To remember how God provided for us and took care of us.

It was this really great night of grown up conversation with my boys.

If your church provides take home sheets to further the spiritual development of what they are teaching, I recommend finding one night in the week to do it together.

FYI: This was one great moment, however we are just like every other family (I hope) and have to fight against our kids not wanting to go to church on Sunday, not wanting to the read the bible in the morning, but a fun book, and still trying to remind them that we love each other. This one moment does not make us holy, it makes us desperate for what God offers us.

Random Wed. part 1: Fun fall craft project

I saw this project on a family craft website and really thought it was right up our alley. So middle and I went to the fabric store with our coupon and choose what we thought were some really fantastic, aesthetically stellar fabrics in sight and in touch and we were ready for our fun fall project of making pumpkins.

Tomorrow at Noah's school it's teacher appreciation day and so this project idea lined up perfect. I don't ever know what to get my husband as a gift and I've known him for years. How am I supposed to find something for a woman who is teaching my son everyday, empowering him with knowledge and gracing him with patience as he learns to live in a whole new world? And we've only known each other for three weeks? What the heck do you get a teacher?

A homemade present of the best kind!

So I cleared off the kitchen table.

I gave big and middle each their own set of fabrics. We had fuzzy white, soft bumpy brown, traditional pumpkin orange, fleece green, and a fun random array of fall colors on one single fabric.

I had the boys pick out bowls of varying sizes and gave them markers to start tracing. They delighted and succeeded at the task from the word go.

They took turns with the fabric scissors. One would trace and the other would cut.

After circles were cut, we would get our thread ready and the boys would do a light stitch around the outside of the circle.

Once the outside of the circle was stitched, I took over and started to pull the thread tight. Pulling the thread tight created a fun little pocket and the boys would take our recycled plastic grocery bags and stuff them inside.

Once stuffed, I would tie them closed and vola', a ball!

Well, it was a ball until we stuffed a stick in the top and then, magically it became a pumpkin.

We were having a grand ole time making a huge mess with markers, scissors and fabric all over. We went and hunted sticks outside and collected a large number that means we have many pumpkins to make.

Big picked his favorite and we decided that was the one he would give his teacher to sit on her desk.

We found the perfect size box, found some old green tissue paper and cut it up into strips. We then had lots of fun scrunching up the tissue paper to look like grass.

Here is the final gift.

Here is a small handful of our final product.

This is a really fun project to do with kids and I highly recommend it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

We create our own busy

A few years ago, I was very conscious of people, myself included, always replying to the question, "How are you?" with "Good, but busy."

It was incredible how often that was the response. Busy, busy, busy, busy. We are just so much busier than we used to be. Everyone has so many activities, we are just so busy.

I really hate it. I don't like that phrase, but mostly I don't like how I started to blame busy as if it came into my house and stole time from me. I started treating it like it controlled me and not the other way around.

I didn't like that I was so busy. I didn't like that spur of the moment BBQ with friends could happen the day the idea popped into someones mind. We just had to schedule a BBQ with my husband's band three months out because we were all so busy!

Busy is stealing our lives. Even good busy. Good programs, church programs, school programs, community programs, self serving programs, serving programs, you name it and we just bombarded with options in how to spend our time, except we are a culture that doesn't know how to say no.

My family is no exception. We are busy, except our busy is traveling. We leave a lot. But when me and the kids are home, I try so hard to not be busy. Not that there aren't days where crazy busy happens.

A couple years ago my husband called me out on the fact that I was running our kids out every day to stuff and we weren't creating a space where they could just be. Learn to be bored, learn to think for themselves, create their own games, etc. He knew it was because I had more issues that I didn't want to deal with, and staying busy allowed me to not face my demons. But he was right. And since then, though we fail quite a bit, when we are home, we stay home. We hang out here, create here, fight here, do life here. They are learning chores, and how to manage relationships with each other.

We really like not being so busy anymore. I still need to call my mom and ask her if I should do certain events or what not, and she is my voice of reason, reminding me to slow down.

Until this week, and my old life of crazy busy was here.

This week starting on Sunday, we had our church welcome days, a trip up to a friends cabin, middle started school three times a week this week, I volunteered at big's school one morning, or tried to, we hosted two get together's, I worked one night, had a friend's goodbye dinner, and band practice, and we had a friend's wedding rehearsal and wedding. However amongst all of this is our new life calling of eating almost all raw and nutritional food. So I have to prepare the food we will eat at the wedding, because we can't eat there, make homemade ketchup, cookies, muffins for lunch, eggs and oatmeal every morning for breakfast, and your normal grocery shopping, bank run, laundry, clean the house work. And what's great, is this was the week they started work on our house.

I write that and it feels gross to me. To have commitments every night of the week and some nights, my husband had commitments when I did.

I don't like doing life this way. My life is then consumed with check lists, preparation, clean up, driving, and all of our conversations in the house are how to prepare and get ready for the next thing.

This is not me complaining, because I did this to myself. I didn't get my Bible Study written, so I NEEDED to do it before the deadline. I hosted two parties in a week where we had a wedding. I didn't put anything on my calendar and then said yes to everything.

Everything this week are good things. And some you have to do, but most of it, I could have planned better to say, we only want one commitment a week. We have little kids and we want play time. Down time. Life time.

Some people like being busy. That is fine, because that is how they thrive.

I like living at a slower pace. I have time to pay attention to life, and to my children, and my husband and to my other relationships. Cause this week, I haven't had any time to do the things I love. Bible study, calling friends, bike riding, getting down on the floor and playing with my kids.

When you are busy, your life becomes consumed with getting prepared for the next thing instead of enjoying the moment you are in.

Here's to making better choices and living in the moment you've been given.

I want to choose better next time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A moment to choose

"It's quiet.
It's early.
My coffee is hot.
The sky is still black.
The world is asleep.
The Day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive.
It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun.
The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day.
The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race.
The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made,
and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours, I will be exposed to the day's demands.
It is now that I must make a choice.
Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose.
And so I choose.

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness.
I choose love.
Today, I will love God and what God loves.

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...
the tool of a lazy thinker.
I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings,
created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less
than an opportunity to see God.

I will live forgive.
I will forgive so that I may live.

I will overlook the inconveniences of this world.
Instead of cursing the one who takes my place,
I'll invite him/her to do so.
Rather than complain that the wait is too long,
I will thank God for a moment to pray.
Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments,
I will face them with joy and courage.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.
Kind to the rich, for they are afraid.
And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one.
I will be overlooked before I will boast.
I will confess before I will accuse.
I choose goodness.

Today I will keep my promises.
My debtors will not regret their trust.
My associates will not question my word.
My husband/wife will not question my love.
And my children will never fear that their mother/father will not come home.

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice, may it only be in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it only be of myself.

I am a spiritual being...
after this body is dead, my spirit will soar.
I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal.
I choose self-control.
I will be drunk only by joy.
I will be impassioned only by my faith.
I will be influenced only by God.
I will be taught only by Christ.
I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
To these I commit my day.
If I succeed, I will give thanks.
If I fail, I will seek His grace.
And then, when this day is done,
I will place my head on my pillow and rest."

- Max Lucado
When God Whispers Your Name

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A bit of crazy

It's funny, the last few weeks, even months have been about preparing Big for school. When the day finally came and he left the house, I walked back in to two peaceful kids playing quietly. They played that way for over an hour.

On more than one occasion I stood in the middle of my living room and thought, what do I do with myself? I started to realize that I will have time. Not a ton of time still with two children at home, but more time than I am used to, and I had no idea what to do with myself.

My mind was filled with random thoughts and questions and emotions and fears and excitement. If you called me at any point, my answer was different every time I answered the phone. I have no idea how to do life right now.

Last week was the first time I felt like I could really breathe. Not just for a few moments maybe, but for a whole day. I started to feel like I could do life again.

Now the rules of the game have changed again and I don't know what I'm doing anymore.

We have a strict morning and night time routine. I have lunches I need to prepare and uniforms that have to be clean. A whole new ball game indeed.

Today I felt incomplete without Big.
I was excited to have two kids which is much easier to manage.
I didn't know what to do.
I was hoping Big was good and happy and behaving.
I was sad about having such little time during each day with him.
I thought to myself, I could actually get stuff done!!!
I wandered aimlessly around.
I cried over the fact that my son has started the process he will be in till he leaves my house.
I cried scared that all my fears for his choices will drive him away.
I snuggled and giggled and tickled my daughter who belly laughed the whole time.
I watched a cartoon with middle.
I took my two little ones out to lunch.
I missed my son who has been with me almost every day of life.
Today felt like breaking up with someone.
I was reminded that my children are a HUGE part of my life, but NOT my life.
I remembered that it is the goal of every parent to raise children who will leave the house and develop their own life.
I remembered that as parents you give your best to your children so they can make their own choices and mistakes and find love and grace and forgiveness in you and the Lord.
I was scared that my example of being a Christian won't be enough for Big to choose God in comparison to what else is out there.
I was scared for all the things that will hurt my son.
I was excited for all the fun things my son will discover.
I prayed and hoped for amazing friends.
I desire wisdom and fear doubt.
I was happy.
I was sad.
I was lonely.
I was lost.
I was free.
I was confused.

I'm tired of feeling all these things. I wish being a parent was easier, or my ability to really let go of my issues was complete. I've let them go before and felt peace. But I have found that if I don't continue to lay down my fears, they will come back and control me again.

Step by step, day by day, God will be enough and we will figure this out.

Now time for bed so I can do it all over again, but maybe a little less wandering around my house. My kids might start getting worried.

Big is in Kindergarten!

So we did our rights of passage. (which we are pretty sure had no effect but I digress.)

I stayed up late researching great lunch options for my allergen free child.

We made our checklists for our morning routine to help us succeed in being prepared for school and have a peaceful time together as a family before parting ways.

We did a devotion on the armour of God and how we need to be prepared as children of God.

Then came our first day of school.

Paul brought out the necklace that we got for Big. After he was in his uniform, Paul explained that we wanted to give him a token to be worn each day that will remind Big of who he is. He is a child of God, bought with the blood of Christ. Behind the cross, is a guitar pick with his name on it. He loved it!

So he was armed and ready, and it was time to let him go. I have cried so much over this for the last two years, I didn't cry when he left with Paul. Though periodically throughout the day, truly random things would make me cry. I'm a work in progress I guess.

Noah wasn't sad at all. He was so excited and ready to be in school. We are so proud of him and pray continually that God is watching over him and helping him make choices that will bring Him glory and honor. And when he messes up, that Big will know he can come to his dad and me and he will find love and forgiveness with us. That we will help him figure out whatever hard thing he faces.

I am now a parent of a kindergartner. School will rule my life for the next dozen or so years.

Whew, still not ready for that and school has already started.

Way to go Big!


My husband and I have had lots of choices laid before us lately. At least it feels like more than normal. It's interesting to watch how we make choices and got me thinking about how others make choices.

Here's one choice I have struggled with, been at war with, and has been all consuming for about two years.

Homeschooling vs. traditional school.

Here's what I need you to know. I am not looking for your opinion, guidance, or thoughts on which one is better or which one we should do. I do not need the pros and cons for each side. I don't need to know which one you favor. In truth, it has nothing to do with what you think, the research you have, or how strongly you feel one way or the other. I believe with my whole my heart it has everything to do with how faithful my husband and I are to listening and trusting God with what is right for our family.

It's interesting for me to even be writing about this because I used to have very strong feelings against homeschooling. I am sorry if this statement offends you, but that is where I was at. I thought it was terrible that so many Christian families were pulling their kids out of the schools. The place where we need to be more than ever. I thought it went against God's call for us to live out our faith where we are. To be a light to the lost, etc.

Then two summers ago, I was speaking at a youth camp and when I was out for my morning run I was praying and all of a sudden I felt something very strongly towards homeschooling and started to think about it is a viable option for my kids. To say I was stunned and confused is an understatement. I had no idea what to do with what I was feeling, and the feelings wouldn't go away. Later that week I decided to call my mom. I usually do that if I need to process something and talking to God felt very confusing since I had no idea how to process what I was hearing and feeling.

So the war in my mind, body and soul started. I was terrified of homeschooling and so I kept it my little secret for some time. I couldn't dare say it out loud because then I might actually have to do something with it. I fought it. I prayed about it. I read about it. I cried over it. I obsessed over it. I cried some more about it.

God was changing my heart. My very stubborn, hard, judgmental heart. I had previously judged homeschooling very harshly, and now God was breaking my attitude. He was calling me to obedience to search his truth. He was calling me to let down my walls and see something beautiful. He was calling me to open my heart to see that there is more than one right way to raise your children. God was freeing me of judgment.

I think freedom from judgment is one of the most beautiful gifts to ever be received. It allows us to see people, issues, and life outside of our own preconceived ideas and opinions. It allows for more grace and compassion towards our fellow man kind instead of their misdeeds against the institution we believe in.

Here's one problem with me. I have many, many issues, but for the sake of this already long blog, we will stick to this one main issue. I am the first to admit that I am a person who loves to do what she wants. I want to eat so I will. I want to do this, so I will. I don't want to work out, so I won't.

I live on my will. But my will changes all the time. And my will is based on my feelings.

You should hear my prayers, most of the time I cry out to God to hear his voice above my own, and usually it is where doubt plaques me. I start to doubt if I am doing what I am doing because its what I want, or because I know it is what God wants.

Another thing you should know about me is that when I am pregnant, I am emotionally stunted. It kind of has turned into a joke with those who are close to me. It is also how I knew I was pregnant this last time. My husband was sharing something with me that constituted at least a little bit of feeling from me, and I had nothing. I could care less. He saw my blank expression and at the same time, we both knew. I was pregnant. I live this way for nine months, struggling to stir up any kind of emotion, and then for about a year after the baby is born, I can't stop crying over the littlest of things.

My daughter is now 18months old, and so that means for the last two years of this war within myself, I have been emotionally stunted and emotionally unstable. Most of the time, I just have had no idea how to gauge who I am or what is real or not real inside of me.

So I finally had the courage to tell my husband, who I knew was not a big fan of homeschooling, what I was wrestling with. We talked about it and decided that I should home school the boys for a year and research schools in Mpls to know what our options were. I wanted to check into schools because much like homeschooling before, I was casting lots of judgments on a program and a system I didn't know anything about. I hadn't stepped inside an elementary school since I went to one, and yet, was acting like the devil himself had taken charge of them.

So I went and researched dozens of schools and visited half a dozen. We applied at three just to see what happened and to really get an idea of what our options really were.

About this time is when Big was off the charts crazy angry and I was crying all day every day, calling my mom three times a day begging for help. Desperately seeking prayers and answers and guidance. I was drowning under the pressure of three highly active, determined, passionate, stubborn children. We had no rhythm to our daily lives. I take that back, survival was our goal and what drove all of our decisions. I would strive for some sort of schedule, but discipline, guidance and correction would overtake all else.

It was a rough year. The roughest since my mild depression after my second was born and it was my first year as a stay home mom wrestling with my identity and who I was now that I wasn't working.

I felt lost. I felt like the worse version of myself. I was letting everyone around me down with communication and expectations I had of myself. I didn't know to live very well. And here I wasn't just struggling; I was deeply affected with this decision of homeschooling vs. traditional schooling for my family.

If you spend any significant time with me, you will soon realize that I don't really debate. I don't argue, and I don't take a stand on many issues. Most often, right or wrong, I can see and understand both sides of the issue. If you are going to argue a point, I get it and can agree with you. But often, I can see the other side and understand the reasoning, especially if it is an issue not of right or wrong, but of difference.

Schooling in my opinion is an issue of difference. I do believe with my whole heart that God blesses homeschooling and traditional schooling. I believe it is a matter of what is right for each individual family.

My issue is that I deeply see the benefits of homeschooling and traditional school.

What I love about homeschooling is the slower pace to life. More time with my kiddos to have hands on life experience and "field trips". To continue to guard and protect their hearts. To teach them what they need to know all in the context of God as provider, protector and King. To protect their innocence as long as possible. To move them past so much of the social struggles and instill a deeper maturity. To allow them to be kids longer, play more, and learn at their own pace. I know there is more, my list is long, but right now, the words escape me.

What I love about traditional schooling is allowing my son to grow into himself outside of me and his siblings. To learn things I can't teach him; to learn authority from others and follow more structure. To struggle with the way others do life and then come home and allow us to help him make choices and walk through those issues with him. It allows him the ability to make a choice about his faith on his own. It allows me a bit of time to spend with his siblings and get to know them more intimately. Again, there is more to my list, but not in my head.

There are also cons, but not necessary to discuss right now. I also bring a big set of fears into both issues. Can I be enough to my kids if I'm all they have? What if my child discovers another set of rules, faith, way of living inside school and chooses that instead? Do I want us to live a life that is filled with "busy"? Just because it’s what everyone says you should do, do you do it? What if we've made the wrong choice?

Through the course of the last couple months I have been settled into sending our son to Chinese Immersion School. This is an incredible opportunity for him to learn about the world. To study language and have a mind for language which is a huge gift considering how large his world will be with internet and the global job market. It will aid him in loving, understanding others and keeping judgment on the differences between people at bay. This is a rare gift.

Then I started to struggle with home school again. The first time I deeply prayed over it, I realized I wanted to home school because I thought I could control my children's salvation. I thought I could guarantee they would be saved and they would want a relationship with me and be different than all the teenagers I speak with at youth events.

My desire to home school was solely based on fear and a non-existent trust in God.

Now my desire to home school was for all the benefits that home school offered. This was very different. But I wasn't just looking at traditional schooling vs. homeschooling; I was looking at a rare wonderful opportunity of an immersion school for my son.

It was great option 1 vs. great option2. The need to decide was heavy on my heart. Killing my concentration, and consuming my thoughts. What should I do?

I was terrified to pray about it afraid that God would tell me to home school. If he told me to home school, could I do it? I would be divided against my husband on the issue and that was not tempting to me. What if I failed? What if I heard wrong? What if I took an amazing gift of Chinese immersion away from my son and it was the wrong choice?

So I stepped slowly into praying about it. I tiptoed in. Scared and being honest with God about where I was at, but confident He had an answer for me. Then, I slowly heard, this is your choice right now. For right now, it’s your choice. What do you want to do?

Then I got upset and a little ticked off. How dare He! If he told me to home school or go to immersion school than at least I had him to blame for my choice. I needed a scapegoat, and he wasn't giving me one.

If it was my choice, and the pro and con list was equal on both sides, how does one decide?

How do you make choices in your life? How do you choose between two really good things? How do you know what the right answer is?

For me, I wept. Every night for over a week, I went to bed early to read, journal and pray. Mostly I just wept in honest confession about all my fears, confusion, and tiredness. I confessed I was exhausted from this war. I needed an answer. I couldn't trust myself. I begged and pleaded to God to grant me peace so I could hear his voice and make a decision.

His peace did come. I did find rest. And it didn't come in the pro's and con's list. It didn't come with the knowledge of the benefits or fears for either side. It came in being faithful to listen to God and hear his voice. It came in trusting Him to be enough no matter what the decision.

I also realized that my son will not face the enemy in all the ways I fear in Kindergarten. I realized that now is probably not the time for me to make such a choice, and for now, we keep him in this amazing opportunity of immersion school. This will allow him time to grow into himself. This will allow me time to be with my other two. This will allow me time to breathe, slow down a little, and pray some more. It will allow me time to let go of some of the control I imagine I have over my children's souls and futures.

Mostly it will allow time to bring healing, answers, and hope for our choice. This choice is not for forever. We are taking it year by year, and we choose tradition school for this year. I am usually peaceful about this choice. But the first day of school brought back my fears, sadness and awareness at the weight of how big going to school is.

My son is a kindergartener at Chinese Immersion School in Minneapolis and he loves it. This is apart of his story and God will bless it. I can’t wait to see how he will teach us all, stretch us, guide us, and daily bring us into his grace and mercy. For all my control issues, I will be reminded continuously that there is only one who knows all.

But if I could pick one superhero power, it would be hindsight.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Right of Passage

I had spent the better part of the last few months mourning my son going to school. I have been sad to start this new stage of our life. The stage where he spends more time away from home than at home. The stage where we increasingly get busier and I just become the driver. I'm not ready for this. (cause it's all about me right?)

Then I had a very good friend of mine ask if I was going to have talk with Big about starting school. It got me thinking about rights of passage and how we are one of very few cultures that actually transition their young men and women to the next stage of life.

I know this sounds really early, but my husband and I had been talking for some time about what that looks like for us to create these moments in our children's lives. Moments that they can look back on and say, "On this weekend, my dad took me on a special trip and we talked about what it means to be a man of God." Things along these lines.

We wanted to do a small version of this when our children start school. This is a significant moment of time. A time in their life when everything changes. There become other significant players in our children's lives. We wanted to take the time to remind them who they are. What does it mean to be a Christian in a non christian world? What do you do when something someone else does bothers you? Who do you tell? What do you say? These are just the beginning of the things we wanted to touch on in our special evening with Big.

If you read my previous post, you will know that Big ate candy he isn't supposed to have. We thought yesterday was going to be the day we saw the side effects.

We were wrong.

Today would be the day.

The last time Big ate a whole plate of pasta when he wasn't supposed to, he became a CRAZY angry person. This time he had five jelly beans. I never thought our kid was ADD. Today, I thought, if I didn't know any better, I would medicate him.

Holy Cow. Couldn't sit still, couldn't stop moving, couldn't stop running, couldn't stop touching everything in the store. He just couldn't stop!

So Paul and I started our time with Big taking him to the store to get his backpack for school. A special outing to signify his new adventure.

Here's big with his backpack of choice. He prefers the over the shoulder. We almost walked away with a pink princess one, but he told me I should get it and hold on to it when I missed him. We left it at the store.

After we got Big his spiffy new backpack, we headed to the Co-op for a special treat and took it to the sculpture gardens. It was about 65 degrees outside, not really ice cream weather, so we ate the icr cream in the greenhouse. Big choose green tea ice cream, so he got his own. No one wanted to share with him.

While eating ice cream, Paul and I started to chat with Big about the responsibility of school, being a child of God, what to expect, and how mom and dad were there for him. We also affirmed all the things we love about him and what his gifts are. I am pretty sure all of this was lost on our child who only cared about watching the chipmunk that made his way into the greenhouse. Remember the ADD kid? This was the wrong day to try to implant knowledge into our son.

Paul was trying so hard to turn this afternoon into what we had imagined, and it just wasn't working. We had to keep laughing about it, and keep trying.

After we chatted a little and ate some icrecream, we ventured out to the gardens to walk around. OK, let's be honest, Big ran and climbed everywhere, and Paul just chased him around, trying to wear him out.

This little moment was a rare one today because they are walking.

After we walked for a little bit, and played, Big really had to use the bathroom. The only one we could find was this one.

So we sent our kid over, he did his business and climbed himself over once again. Paul and I had our whole story worked out for the police in case they should happen to arrive.

After our restroom break, we sat our little china man down, Big is going to Chinese Immersion school on Thursday. It was time to pray over Big. I love praying over my kids and them getting an opportunity to hear what is on my heart in regards to them. This was special because Paul prayed first and then I got to pray over our little man. Prayers for wisdom, courage, strength, joy. Prayers for Big, his friends, his teachers. Prayers for Paul and I and God's wisdom in our lives and discernment in raising Big. I felt so good our prayer time.

Before the Amen was even complete, Big was up and starting to run away to play in the sculptures. Paul and I just shook our heads.

We had all sorts of plans for our special time. I clearly had many expectations of how it was going to go, how spiritual it would be, and the wisdom we would pass on to our child. i felt like none of those things happened.

But we did have a good time. We had some great conversation, and before Big starts school he will have a special bracelet to wear everyday to remind to whom he belongs.

Big was reminded that he is a child of God and that God will use him to bless others at his school. That he can be a witness to all those who he encounters.

It was our first rights of passage, and hopefully we get a LOT better at this because this one felt a little ridiculous.

So apparently a plate of gluten makes my son crazy angry. A few sugared candies gives him crazy energy. Both of which happen two days after eating it.

Good to know.

If you've never prayed a heartfelt prayer over your child, I encourage you to do so. It is a very rewarding, riching experience, I would assume for the child as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A little insight

These last few days during my devotion time, God has been putting cracks in my composure and breaking down my sense of control. I have wept this last week confessing to God my fears, doubts, and insecurities as a person, a mother, a wife and a friend. I have confessed to God that I don't even know what to pray but that I am weary of the battle. The battle of mistrust. The battle for control.

Prayer this week has lifted my burden and I have felt peace.

Until today.

Today I worked all day on preparing food for big's birthday party. He turned six today. Tomorrow we celebrate with friends Green Lantern style. We are having BBQ Chicken Bites, corn on the cob, potato salad, green smoothies, guacamole and chips, green fruit Kabobs and Cake balls. All of this will be homemade to adhere to our family diet. The diet that was started because of Big, but followed through because it the best choice for our family. BBQ sauce's main ingredient is ketchup, but to have ketchup without sugar, we make our own. We started with homemade ketchup, moved to BBQ sauce from scratch, cake, frosting, potato salad, and guacamole all from scratch. It was a big day in the kitchen, but I love doing it for my kids. I love what it means for them, I love their help in the kitchen and all around its a good ole time.

Then Middle came in with a treat that his friend from outside gave him. I told him he couldn't have it, but offered him a treat he could have. That is when he informed me that Big did have the treat.

I was a little stunned. Big is so good about saying no, and knowing what he can and can't have.

I went outside and saw the treat in question was jelly beans, and so I asked Big to open his mouth and there I smelled the jelly beans and could see the remains in his teeth.

I was stunned.

I was speechless.

Two weeks ago I accidentally gave Big regular noodles when I thought they were rice noodles. The effects of that lasted for three days. I cried, we yelled, we fought, Big was possessed once again and was screaming and loosing control. He was defiant, disobedient, he would dig his heels in and fight me on every turn.

This is what happens when he eats what he shouldn't.

Now on the day before his party, he ate what he wasn't supposed to. I was heartbroken. I had just spent the whole day cooking and baking and trying new recipes, all to help my son live life to the fullest.

Now he had poisoned himself. I know what's coming and I am weary to think of it. The attitude, the fights, the irrational behavior, and I know he can't help it. It's like something else takes over his body.

I couldn't believe how much I felt broken. How devastated I felt. I have changed everything. EVERYTHING! And still I ultimately can't control what he eats.

It has to be his decision.

And I get it. I truly do. I want things I shouldn't eat, don't we all? I mean come on, most of us don't have discipline when it comes to food we should and shouldn't eat, and here I am asking my son to never give in. Ever. But the problem comes in that eating what he shouldn't, my son changes our whole family dynamic. It is tense, angry, and frustrating. I don't like what it does to my relationship with my him. But I get wanting to eat what everyone else is.

Here is why I ended up weeping on more than one occasion today.

For all that I do to help my child, he has to make the choice himself. What that does mean is that I am looking at years of not knowing when he choose poorly. Our whole family will suffer when he does. My response to him and our interaction is strained and angry and I don't want to live like that. But again, the choice s not mine.

While feeling the weight of those words, God slowly spoke to my heart.

Here he is, investing in us. Giving to us. Blessing us. Teaching, training, correcting, loving and sacrificing for us. Giving us everything he has for our betterment. For us to have fulfilling life. Yet, ultimately we have to choose him every day and what he offers us. When we choose the things in our lives that hurt us, it also hurts Him and our relationship with Him. The things that everyone else has. The stuff we want even when we know its not good for us. And then that stuff, the TV, the addictions, that one relationship, food/drinks, popularity, whatever that thing is that hurts us that takes us from the loving arms of the one who made us.

We hurt him and our relationship with him when we choose things over him.

This road of being allergy free seems longer to me today. I lost more control today. God stripped me of it and reminded me of my place and His place in my son's life. This will happen again, and we will be there to deal with it. Live through it, and hopefully learn from it.

I just need to figure out how to love myself and my son during these times when we will be tested.

God has granted me a small insight into the depth of his love and desire for us.

I am thankful to know a piece of his heart that I did not before.

But truthfully, I wish it didn't demand so much from me. I will wrestle with that next week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Homemade in the city

Today was a great day, and I tried to document in photo's to share the joy.

This morning I took the kids with a friend of mine and her son downtown to the Minneapolis Farmers market. We were in need of some produce that doesn't grow in our garden. A little crazy with wired kids running around downtown.

Here is a look at all the great things we got, and yes that is a lot of fresh ginger, garlic and plantains.

And this was a treat for me. I couldn't resist the deep enticing colors. I split them between three vases and placed them around my house.

After we got home, another friend of mine came over with two little girls that she nanny's. We had planned to walk down to the cemetery to pick crab apples to make homemade sugar free jelly. I have read that crab apples make the best jam. I know what you might be thinking, that I took my kids to the cemetery to pick apples, but the apple trees line the perimeter of the grounds and there are over two dozens trees that are free for picking. Otherwise they would just go to waste.

( going to waste, and so you make the most of it. Sounds like my previous post, and there I was in a place of judgement and now I stand in the same place. Funny how God works those things.)

When you read this it sounds like it was a really great fall day, but I have to be honest, today it hit 95 degrees and because of the humidity if felt more like 115. We walked these kids more than 8 blocks and forgot to bring water. I know. Rock star mama. We stopped at business office, yes of the cemetery to see if we could get a drink of water. The men working were so kind looking at us drenched in our sweat dragging the kids inside. They did want to know why we had a step ladder walking around cemetery. My first thought, was OH CRAP he's gonna tell us we can't pick the apples. I kept thinking, most of the time I live by the philosophy, do now and ask for forgiveness later. This wasn't going to work this time. So I fessed up and told the truth with my most sheepish look and asked if that would be OK. They said of course, that's what their there for.

Then I thought, why have I been dragging my kids down to the apple orchards every year and paying a pretty penny to do this when I can go 8 blocks and do it for free?

Regardless, we had a great time! Here are my boys on the step ladder, working together to get the apples.

Middle was a very hard worker and very slow to find the right apples.

He couldn't reach most of the them, so I stepped in to help.

Little was the one in charge of inspection. She got fired after she kept eating the ones she got.

We thought we should get a photo of all the kids and all the apples they helped pick. One whole bucket full! That's a lot of crab apples.

And no, Big doesn't need the helmet, he just likes it.

Here's a close up of all the kids hard work. And Cassie and helped too!

On our way home, we walked and watched cop car after cop car scream by us, block of roads and patrol our area. We joked about how we were trying to be all farmer like and harvest food and make things homemade, but we totally live in the ghetto. The contrast was very striking today. Live where your planted right?

On our way home, still dripping in sweat, we decided to walk through the park. The park boasts a really great wadding pool. We decided to all jump in with our clothes on and cool off.

Or just stick your head in.

The baby was enjoying playing on the seal!

The best part was dripping wet from the pool and walking home to dry off. Once we got home, we were hot again and refreshed ourselves with cucumber water and fruit Popsicles.

After a rest, the boys manned up and helped seprate the good apples from the bad apples. Considering the kids picked the apples, I was pretty impressed how many good apples there were!

After the apples were sorted, we decided to try our hand at our first batch of jelly. Most jelly uses a 1 to 1 ratio of water/juice to sugar. We don't eat sugar so we decided to try a little honey instead. Instead of using all our apples and trying a new recipe with all of our spoils, we only used four cups of apples. We boiled them up, and then mashed them.

After we boiled four cups of apples, we got about two cups of juice to start our jelly. We added one cup honey and let it boil for another 10 minutes. It seemed to have worked, so we put it in a jar, and stuck in the fridge. We'll let you know how it turned out. We have a huge bowl of apples waiting for a recipe that works. If you have any tips, just let me know. We have no idea what we're doing. We just wanted to have fun.