Monday, June 25, 2012

Preparing for 5 ~ Getaway for 2!

Someone asked me the other day if it had hit me yet that I was going to have 5 kids soon. :) In fact, I have been smiling over how the Lord has gently, slowly, knowingly been preparing Jake and I for 5 over the past few years….

Albeit we’ve never had 5 under the age of 9 all at once, but certainly in different phases we’ve come to understand the crazy-joyfilled-loud-chaos of caring for a handful of ‘kids’ at the same time in our home. It’s fun. It’s draining. There’s never a dull moment. There is a TON of personality. Much laughter. A hand-full of frustrations and moments of defeat. The bathroom is always dirty. But the conversations always rich. Of course with it all comes that dreaded mirror, just waiting to reveal my yuck, but there in the refinement my Savior awaits to trade my impurities for gold. Most of all, there have never been any other circumstances in which I’ve learned to rely on the Lord as much as I have during the seasons in our life when every bedroom is filled to the brim, with no room to spare. When 5 young faces are depending on me, to not only meet their basic needs, but to do so with a mother’s love, with faithful instruction on my tongue, with clever wisdom, and personal touches - in those seasons I don’t have time to be selfish or lazy with my time. I can’t afford to miss even a day of communing with my Savior, diving into the word, and quieting myself to hear His voice. He is my life-line to make it through the day. If I go without His perspective, I am a mess. Francis Chan says in his book Forgotten God: “I have felt closest to God when nearness to Him was a necessity.” It’s a heightened sense of intimacy with God in those seasons. And I love it and think I might be addicted to it.

Although I can’t wait to get back to that, I also recognize that God gives seasons of rest and renewal. That’s the season I am in now, and although my tendency is to hurry it along to the next thing and the next, I am starting to see the beauty in being still and embracing the wait. There is much to learn during this time as we await ‘mass chaos’ to begin again. :)

For Jake, this ‘season’ has been the hardest he has ever worked in his life. We are ever grateful and thankful that his job allows him to simply work harder and longer and then reap the benefits in pay. Most people aren’t given the luxury of being able to put in as many hours as they want to in general make the salary that they want, and this is the first that we’ve ever experienced this as well. Jake can now stack on individual trainings in between his usual practices/camps, and since these are at high demand, he can fill his days with these sessions and generate more income for our family. This has been great since we needed to cover the costs of our adoption. But of course, all that work has come at a price – he’s been working close to 14 hour days and will continue to do so through the summer. This means that our time together has been sparse.

This had been wearing on us. So, Jake decided to surprise me – with a little getaway for two!!!!!! For the past 4 days we had a little escape to Palm Beach, Florida while the kiddos spent some time with Grandma and Grandpa Sullivan. It. Was. Perfect. We may or may not get to go away like this again, just the two of us, for awhile, so we soaked it in all the more. Some pictures of our fun…

The view from our hotel room balcony (!)…



We had a GREAT time (obviously!). Going into this trip, I also prayed that God would use it purposefully to renew me in certain areas. Specifically, for the past couple months I’ve gotten really lazy with my parenting, and I’ve felt like I needed some ‘time off’ just to rededicate myself to shepherding my kids (after I just typed that I laughed thinking what mom gets time off?). I want to be quicker to listen, slower to speak, and slower to become angry. I want to cease going for the ‘quick fixes’ when my kids need disciplined, but rather take the time it takes to teach and guide them. This takes longer, and more thought. But the things that have been coming out of my mouth have been impatient responses that are not purposeful. What good does it do to say, “You’re pushing my buttons!!!!” in an angry voice? With the right mixture of fear and guilt I can get them to obey by showing them that MOM IS MAD. But clearly this only is addressing the surface. I know enough to know that God gives us situations and times to discipline our kids to show them their need for a Savior, and to speak life and truth to them during a time when their hearts are soft and inquisitive. I have been slacking off in this area, and needed a fresh perspective on how to handle certain situations and heart attitudes that we are dealing with now (especially before we add in two more!). As I was packing for our trip, God led me over to the bookshelf to pack up a book that my Mom had given me for Christmas. The one thing that has gone by the wayside in life’s busyness is the treasure of getting to read a good book. In perfect timing, this would be the one that I would get to dive into on our getaway…

And I got to read a lot of it on the beach nonetheless! No, I didn’t get all the way through it yet, but that’s because I’ve read and re-read and breathed in so many paragraphs over and over again. I’ve also practically underlined the entire book. If there is any book that has convicted me/spoken to where I am at in my parenting right now (like, not where I want to be), it’s this one. For example, this quote pretty much sums it up:

At the deepest level of what we do as parents, we should hear the heartbeat of a loving, grace-giving Father who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message that your children hear from you, if the message that you send them on a daily basis is about being good so that you won’t be disappointed, then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too (pg. 21).

And more of her powerful words that detail the part I bolded:

Certainly the faith that has empowered the persecuted church for two millennia isn’t as thin and boring as “Say you’re sorry,” “Be nice,” and “Don’t be like them.” Why would anyone want to deny himself, lay down his life, or suffer for something as insane as that? ...Let’s face it: most of our children believe that God is happy if they’re “good for goodness sake.” We’ve transformed the holy, terrifying, magnificent, and loving God of the Bible into Santa and his elves. And instead of transmitting the gloriously liberating and life-changing truths of the gospel, we have taught our children that what God wants from them is morality. We have told them that being good (at least outwardly) is the be-all and end-all of their faith. This isn’t the gospel; we’re not handing down Christianity. We need much less of Veggie Tales and Barney and tons more of the radical, bloody, scandalous message of God made man and and crushed by his Father for our sin (pg. 19).

Yep, hers is a fresh, tell-it-like-it-is perspective that the mom in me has been crying out for. I am stopping myself from typing out the many more excerpts that really churned in me in a good way. The small ones above are just the tips of the iceberg. This book is full of the theological insights that I so love and enjoy thinking on, but takes it further and gives PRACTICAL ways to employ them. She gives situations that parents face, and then rich, thoughtful, scripture-based dialogues, and words to speak in response. This is the piece that I have been missing. For example when JJ and Jayla are fighting again for the 3rd or 4th time in the day over JJ picking on her, or Jayla wanting to play with something that JJ has been hogging. My default is to quickly respond in order to end the arguing. But how do I thoughtfully respond in a way that speaks TRUTH into their hearts? Or when JJ and Justice are playing a game and then JJ gets mad and quits and Justice calls him a cheater. What do I say when they come to me with their own versions of the story, both tattling on each other? How can I be purposeful in that scenario? Well, the author dedicates an entire chapter (chap 4) to a situation just like that.

Do I dare say this is my favorite parenting book ever? I think this would be in my top trio, with the other two being Sheparding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, and Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman. I’ve gleaned different things from each, but like I said above, this book is really meeting me where I am at right now in my desire to change.

I am so thankful for this time of renewal, refinement, and preparation, happening in so many ways.

Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. Don’t take your circumstances so seriously. Relax and know that I am God with you. When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening. Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities – things that are beyond your control. Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.

Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places. Your laughter rises to heaven and blends with angelic melodies of praise. Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing My children laugh. I rejoice when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life lightheartedly.

Do not miss the Joy of My Presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Rather, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. My yoke is comfortable and pleasant; My burden is light and easily borne. ~Jesus Calling~

1 comment:

Our life in pictures said...

I was just looking at this book on Amazon trying to decide if I should order it, as we're having some of the same things going on here! Glad I read your blog today...I'm so ordering it!