March 20, 2015

Lesson 207: An Unexpected Mirror

Today I had a friend articulate my strengths and weaknesses with such pointed accuracy, it kind of caught me off guard ... and left me feeling a bit discouraged in my parenting.

Why would a friend do something so weird as to list such things to me? And why would I immediately make a connection to parenting?

Well, you see, the conversation wasn't about me.

It was about my daughter.

It was her parent-teacher conference.

And as we discussed her progress, her strengths, her weaknesses, I couldn't help but see a picture of my own personality, inclinations, and tendencies emerge.

And it left me feeling a bit discouraged in my parenting.

(Sidenote: Just to be clear, we love her teachers and her school! A whole, whole lot. We cannot speak highly enough or say enough wonderful things about this place, and we cannot wait for Hudson to attend next year.)

Onto the feedback.

She provides a running commentary on life. Aka: She talks too much. Anyone who has ever had the fortune (or misfortune) of watching The Bachelor with me knows exactly where she picked up this little habit. Her teacher couldn't even explain this to me without me interrupting like six times.

She only works hard on tasks that interest her. Aka: She's a little lazy at tasks that don't come naturally to her. There's a reason I was able to be a mom and finish seminary, but have always had difficulty being a mom and doing laundry.

She needs to be set up to succeed with organization. Aka: Her lack of organization isn't actually her fault. This entire post articulated my lack of proficiency in this area. 

Y'all. There were great things said too. She's happy. She loves coming to school. She's a good friend. She understands humor. She tracks along well with stories. She's absorbing so much information.

And honestly, I don't think the Needs Improvement Items would have hit me so hard, if they weren't my exact issues. 

But they are, and so I get discouraged. I get discouraged, because I don't know how to help her learn everything about life that she needs to learn.

We'll be super on top of reading for a few weeks, read her take-home books every night, and send them back in a timely fashion. But then, a week will get crazy with RUF, or with doctors appointments, or whatever else, and the books will sit ignored for days.

We'll remember it's our snack day, return the library books on time, get the laundry all washed, folded and put away, but eat breakfast for dinner all week.

"Does your child brush his teeth twice a day?" said Hudson's well check-up questionnaire on Monday.

Do I even know where his toothbrush is? 

And I can assure you, if there ever is a day where we actually remember everything we're supposed to remember, the probability that I haven't showered for a few days is super high.

We're happy. We're messy. We're healthy. We laugh a whole lot. We play outside, get really dirty, take baths, and forget to brush our teeth. We read a ton of books. We invite friends over and sometimes they stay too late. We watch Fire and Rescue a couple times a week. We talk about Dusty Crophopper a whole lot.

We talk a whole lot. 

We scramble to fill out forms on time. We fill out forms in the car on the way places. We fill out the forms for our wills ... in the office of our lawyer just before discussing our wills.

Six years and three kids into this marriage, we finally have a will.

My mom was sweet and listened to me fret this afternoon. She tried to give me some helpful tips. "Just have some flash cards and work on sight words before she goes bed."

Yes, sight words. Sight words, and changing into pajamas, and combing wet hair, and setting out clothes for the next day, and reading bedtime stories, and reading the Bible, and practicing catechism, and learning to pray, and just enjoying the small moments of cuddling, and nurturing loving moments between siblings, and finding the teddy bear, and finding the right blankets, and finding Dusty Crophopper, and just one more drink, and brushing teeth, yes you too Hudson ... all in the allotted "bedtime routine" time.

Y'all, this is not a bedtime routine. It's an entire bedtime curriculum.

And then you run out of toothpaste.

And you have two options. Rearrange your entire schedule the next day to remedy this problem. No seriously, think of the effort required to purchase toothpaste with a 3-year old and newborn in tow.

Or, you go without for a few days. (Shoulder shrug).

I just wish I was better at organization. I wish all these small details of life didn't stress me out so much. I wish something about normal adulthood came easily to me.

I really have been making an effort to Biblically Counsel myself lately. To look at a situation such as this one and think, what does the gospel have to say here? How does the fact that Jesus loves me and forgives me make a difference? Where can the truth of God's sovereignty shed light?

There are moments of peace and pardon.

But here, all I can think of is the phrase, "the sins of our fathers." Jacob deceived his father, and his children lied to him about their brother Joseph. Jacob was a deceiver and his children were deceivers.

I'm disorganized, so my children will be disorganized. I'm lazy ...

Often, sins are passed down from generation to generation.

Ok, but gasp. There is also gospel hope here.

Because, we believe in a covenantal God, in a God who often works through families. And just as curse is passed down through generations, so is blessing!

My children will be influenced by and will probably pick up many of my sins. Their weaknesses may be my weaknesses. They may struggle with consistency until the day they die.

But I hope, and I pray, that they will also pick up my faith. My hope in grace that I don't deserve. My trust in a God who is worthy of trust. My rest in my circumstances as they are, because they have been ordained by a God who is both good and powerful. My desire to grow in holiness, because through the power of the Holy Spirit change is possible.

And I pray and I hope that they will not live a life of discouragement, but one of hope.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." - John 10:10

In Jesus, there is always hope.

Lesson Learned: Order extra of everything on Amazon.

*Linked up at Living Well Spending Less

March 17, 2015

Lesson 206: What We're Working With

Spring has sprung ... or as Samara continually reminds me, spring has not sprung because "it's actually still winter, mom. It really is."

She may be right, but here in sunny South Carolina, it certainly feels like spring. So, I'm going with my feelings rather than the facts. Not usually a great idea, but it works in this situation.

Spring springing means only one thing for our family. Garden time.

As you know, we were devastated to leave our Clover garden (aka 67 acres of romping property) behind last August. If you forget, I did a nice gardening round-up right here.

All that land. And opportunity. And help in the form of knowledgeable neighbors.

And oh, it was just so wonderful.

(A moment of silence to acknowledge the loss.)

Ok, moving on.

So this year. This year we have some work to do.

Our home's previous homeowners went with the rocks-for-beds-covering route, which looks great when it's first done and terrible as time passes. In these preliminary weeks, we've spent a lot of time throwing away rocks. I don't think I have any before before shots, but regardless, here's what we are working with as of today.

Pretty grim, right?!?!

Occasionally, I want to cry.

But the space is nice. There are points of interest. And we see potential.

We're hopeful.

After filling our entire trash can with rocks and useless plants, this happened as Mark was taking it to the road. It created a priceless opportunity for Mark to interact with our teenage neighbor, as there was no way I was going to be able to help him stand it back up.

It's not perfect. But, it's home.

And perfect or not, it's the place our friends and family will gather to eat and enjoy spring!

 Also, our kids built this and I was super impressed. Thought I'd show it off!

Finally, one more thing. We've received an update about our chickens. Remember our chickens? The ones I worked so hard to save?

They are all dead.


(Another moment of silence please.)

Lesson Learned: Really bad before pictures, make good after pictures look even better!

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