DPP2013/12

DPP2013-011-2

My birthday is tomorrow, and it is a full day (my husband is having outpatient surgery; my daughter has a piano recital).  I was resigned, and not unhappily so, that there wouldn’t be a lot of birthday celebratin’.

My husband asked if we could go out tonight (we could).  I figured we’d go find some gourmet fries.  He informed me we were going out for something a little more upscale (we did).  The scallops were divine.  Thank you, my dear.  We celebrated, in spite of it all.

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Hoar frost and raising older kids. No connection implied.

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A couple of weeks ago we had a frosty fog.  It made for an absolutely breath-taking morning, but you had to get out with your camera while the gettin’ was good.  All the lovely hoar frost melted away quickly after the sun finally broke through the mist.

When not observing lovely weather formations outside, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how to reach the hearts of my kids-still-at-home.  Parenting ain’t over until its over.  Just because they are all (fiercely) independent, doesn’t mean I can check out, even though sometimes they may wish it so.

I generally recoil at guides that make parenting look like it is easy if you just follow These Five Simple Steps.  I relied too heavily on parenting manuals when my children were young, and probably didn’t focus on the right things.   (The good news?  God even offers grace to parenting know-it-alls!)  When my oldest was in junior high, I knew I was in trouble.  The only recommended book I could find about this stage was Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  You know what it said?  It said the relationship you have with your child at this age, and that you continue to develop, was what would help them make wise decisions.  What?  Relationship?  I just wanted obedience.  I thought.

But now that my kids are older, I can definitely see what the book meant.  If I don’t have relationships with my children, why should they listen to me?  When I give them Godly counsel, I want them to trust the deliverer of the good news.

So, relationship.  How?  What if you don’t really like your kids?  Too bad.  You need to try to build a relationship anyway, or at least not lose any ground.  I have a few things I keep in my mind as I do this, and I will set them down for you.  I hope this is helpful, even though I definitely do not guarantee your kids will love you and turn out perfectly if you follow these suggestions.  (This manual doesn’t exist.  Sorry.)

1.  Pray.  Who can change your kids’ hearts?  God.  Not you.  You think you can.  Anxious about them?  Pinpoint why you are anxious, and pray more.

2.  Be there.  I try to get home before my kids get home from school.  This is when some of my kids like to download about their day, and I want to be there to hear it.  Plus, they like it when I am home.  When I am not, they sometimes call and ask, “WHERE ARE YOU?”, kind of accusatory-like.  I understand we can’t all be home when our kids get home.  But make a point of “being there” when you are with them, instead of nodding your head and staring at your computer screen while they are telling you about their exciting (to them only, sometimes) day.  Our actions speak louder than words.

Off the topic – I once read that kids learn a lot more from what they hear us saying on the phone than when we speak directly to them.  Ouch.

3.  Ask.  Sometimes we don’t have chatty kids, or they are going through a non-chatty phase.  Ask them questions that require more than a one-word response.  Sometimes you’ll get something, sometimes not.  But you are taking the time to ask.  I think that is important.  I decided to buy a bike several years ago, and I encouraged my non-chatty kid to buy one, too.  She did, and our discussions and relationship started on the bike trail.  Setting aside time alone with her gave us the right environment for words to flow.  Another daughter wrote me a thank you card for a present, and included that she really liked our time alone in the car on the way to school.  I didn’t think that was important time, but it is to her.

4.  Love your spouse.  Do I want my kids to feel secure?  I don’t do that by putting my kids first.  My kids feel secure when they know I love Dad, and vice versa.  How do I show them this?  I kiss my husband in front of my kids.  I give him a squeeze.  I tell him I love him, even when the kids say “Ewwww.”  We don’t argue about serious issues in front of the kids.  (Yes.  There have been been public disagreements.)  It is better to wait, and discuss the issue later when we have cooled off, anyway.  We go out on dates.  We show our kids our marriage is a priority.  When the kids used to ask us why we had to go out, we told them, “Because we love you.”  So there.

5.  Listen.  A lot.  I want my kids to come to me with problems.  I don’t want to freak out.  Absorb, pray and respond.  Oftentimes I hear a child out.  I think and pray about any issues they bring up that need addressed, then I calmly go back and discuss.  I admit, I will give unwanted advice, and I even get in their face sometimes.  But I do really try to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  Whew.

6.  You are not your kids’ friend.  You are their parent.  You don’t need to make decisions only to please them, or be afraid they won’t like you.  You should respect them and try not to exasperate them, but you aren’t running for a popularity contest.

7.  Responsibilities and freedoms.  If your kid is doing well with their current responsibilities and freedoms, give them more.  If you have no reason to say “no”, say “yes”.  Sometimes I don’t want to say “yes” because it creates discomfort or a hassle for me.  But if my kid has made wise choices, then I give her a little more rope.  She may fail.  But I look at my own life:  what have I learned from failure compared to what I have learned from wise advice?  Gulp.

8.  Repent.  If I mess up, I ask forgiveness.   If I see my husband sin against our kids, I gently and privately encourage him to repent.  It hurts, but in a good way.

9.  Pray with your kids.  This can be difficult.  It is easier to pray with younger children, but as they get older, it can seem kind of awkward.  I am trying to get better at this.  If my children have a need, I try to remember to pray with them about it, as well as counsel them.  Why not show them I am really making an effort in my own life to go to God first, instead of only going to him when I have exhausted my own resources?  Should be so easy.

This is not an exhaustive list, but the items are ones I have been thinking about the most about during these stages of my daughter’s lives (22, 19, 16, 13).

Something else I have been thinking about this week is the counsel I give others, including my kids.  In Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp had made two important points so far.  The first one is that our biggest problem is sin.  Regardless of how people have sinned against us, because we are sinners, we will respond to our hurts sinfully.  We need to repent.  We always need pointed to our Savior.  Secondly, the Bible isn’t an encyclopedia, with topical answers to our problems.  The Bible is a story of redemption.  We can’t take a verse, apply it to our lives as we see fit, and go on our merry, self-absorbed way.  We need to look at the big picture all the time, and see how verses fit into that picture.  We also need to use this picture of redemption in our counsel,  and pray some more.

Loosening the grip.

My father used to ride motorcycles, but sold them a few years ago.  All but one.

I remember the phone call.  My dad told me he would like to offer the bike to Marcus.  He asked me how I felt about that, although he already knew.  I told him to call Marcus and ask him how he felt about it.  You can guess how Marcus felt.

The bike has sat in our garage for 3 years, and Marcus finally took motorcycle school last month.  His maiden voyage was a couple weeks ago.  I have had many people, especially women, ask me how I feel about it, although I think they already know.

In case you don’t know me well, or think I’m going through a midlife crisis and want to be a biker babe, I will state my feelings for the record:  I am not excited about my husband riding a motorcycle.

However, I don’t have to like it.  And God can use this to give me an opportunity to relinquish control.

I recall telling a young wife that her husband needed to wear the pants in the family.  She may think she makes better decisions sometimes, but she really needed to respect him, and not undermine his leadership in small ways she may not even notice.  You know.  Those little sarcastic remarks we make, either alone or in front of a group.  We may think we’re making light of a situation, but everyone looks a bit uncomfortable after we open our mouths.  This does not mean you never offer your opinion; you just don’t offer it 50 times.  When it comes down to the actual decision and it doesn’t go the way you had hoped, you need to let it go.

Why should we strive to love and honor our husband?  Because when we submit to him, we are putting ourselves under God’s authority.  When I was a young wife, an older woman discipled me and taught me this,  and it has been invaluable.  I am not talking about a wife in an abusive situation, but the everyday lives we live with our spouses, and the needs and wants we have that our husbands just don’t seem to be meeting.

Why does he want to to that with our money? 

Why doesn’t he appreciate me? 

Why did he tell the kids they could do that?

As for me, I want as safe and comfortable a life as possible.  God and Marcus don’t seem to think this is always their top priority.  My idea of biking is with a pedal bicycle with a comfort seat, and Marcus’ is with a big Harley.  I have to wonder that if I forced Marcus into my safe and comfortable box all the time, would it emasculate him somehow?  I’m not sure.  But he does seem to be a happier husband and a refreshed man when he gets a dose of hunting or horsepower.

Now this one is going WAY out there.  But I’m going there anyway, because we naturally go there, but we never finish.

During a Beth Moore study of Esther last year, she talked about fear.  She was worried about her husband having an affair, and she was a wreck.  Finally God forced her hand, and she started the “What if” game, but with a twist.  I will give my own example:

The what if:  Marcus has a fatal accident.

Then:  I would be broken.

Then what?  I would have to plan the funeral.  Then I would have to sell off his equipment.  I would sell the house.  I would look for a job.  I would find a place in town.  I would put the kids in school full time.  I would still grieve, but time would bring a lessening of the pain.  This would be an enormous upheaval and trauma for our family, but there would always be one constant:  God would be there,  consoling me, carrying me and guiding me through it.  Anything I may have been going to instead of Him would be stripped away, and it would just be Him and me.

We tend to be controlling when we face fear, because our fears make us face the fact we don’t have control.  Perfect love casts out fear, and no one has perfect love but God.  When we recognize this love for us, it can cast down those fears that grip our hearts.  So although I don’t recommend letting your mind wander when you are faced with a fearful situation, let your mind fix upon the One who loves you perfectly, and how he will continue to be faithful and show his love for you to the end of all things.  What did Corrie Ten boom say in The Hiding Place?

There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.

So even if my opinion of motorcycles remains unchanged, if God can loosen my grip on my own fears and controlling ways…I’m in.

Finishing strong.

I stopped by to see these two after my photography class last week.  I brought over a bit of lunch, since Nancy had knee replacement surgery a short time ago.  My contribution ended there, as Nancy and Rod took over the meal, making sure their guest was comfortable and equipped with plenty of good conversation.

Rod and Nancy joined our church plant two years ago, and we have been so blessed.  And yes, I’ll give you two reasons why, since you were going to ask.

Perspective.  C.S. Lewis said every generation has its blind spots, so it is helpful to have a congregation full of many different ages so we can mix things up, and not surround ourselves with people just like us.

Finishing strong.  Rod and Nancy have been committed to Christ and one another for a very long time.  The Lord has blessed their commitment, and this blesses all those who interact with them.  Seeing believers living out their faith their whole lives, persevering and serving others, helps us all to look forward to finishing strong, too.

Thanks, you two.

Blast.

Pastor Stu already posted a Jurassic Period photo on Facebook of us.  What have I got to lose now?

I was close to Ashley’s age in this picture.  I think the girls look like Marcus!  And yes, that is his real hair, and I thought it looked good.  And yes, my bang height came in at 2 inches.

I found our picture when I was looking up old photos of Gabby for her new adopted mama, Lindsay.

Oh, how I’ve loved this little muffin, and am so very happy for her and her new family.

More backlight.


Some of these Cottonwood leaves are turning yellow.

I am usually excited about the changing of the seasons, and this year is no different.  Summer has been great, but bring on the cool nights and the changing of the garb – especially the leaves!

Marcus is not so excited.  He remorsefully watched the sun go down at the early hour of 7:30 tonight.  He just can’t get enough done outside before the sun sets now.  I say, “Too bad.  You’ll have to sit down longer in the evenings.  By me, preferably.  Tell me again about my eyes, honey.”

Like I said, there is something enchanting about every season.