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Dulce de leche





Updated: 2018-04-19T04:50:51.222-07:00

 



Beyond Birth Control: Quiverfull vs. Catholicism

2015-05-25T12:49:50.647-07:00

In the wake of the tragic Duggar molestation news, I have seen several articles that essentially reduce the Quiverfull movement to being anti-birth control.  Yes, they are, and yes, they use that as a weapon against women.  However, I can imagine many well-meaning Catholics and others who do not use artificial birth control scratching their heads or even wanting to defend Quiverfull.  I can also imagine those who do use birth control wanting to lump Quiverfull and Catholic beliefs together.  Growing up Quiverfull sent me screaming away from the oppression and misogyny inherent in its system.  Before converting to Catholicism, I wanted to make sure I wasn't just trading names.  Here are some of the differences I see:Image creditFamily Planning:Since birth control is the obvious parallel, let's go ahead and tackle that one.  In the Quiverfull movement, the goal is always more children.  Anything that could possibly prevent that, either natural or artificial, is condemned.  This leaves no place for infertility (a sign of God's judgment against probable sin in the family), the mother's health (God won't allow more than you can handle, and if you die, then you are a martyr), or common sense (having more children will mean that you cannot provide for your family).  Children are your army, and the goal is to always have more soldiers than your enemies.In Catholicism, while openness to life is important, the goal is not to create as many children as possible.  Infertility is not a punishment, and the health of the mother and common sense matter.  The difference here is a mutual call to unselfishness.   All Catholics find that their sexuality offers opportunities to live generously and to sacrifice.  Couples can practice NFP (Natural Family Planning) and abstain during fertile times.  Infertility is not punishment, but another way to offer up our own desires.  Health issues with the mother bring their own forms of sacrifice.  Choosing to have children also brings opportunities for self-control.  Many Catholic families will follow the Church and not have many children, because children in and of themselves are not the goal.  Rather, our goal is to draw closer to God in whatever way is best for our individual families. Gender Roles:Quiverfull followers abide by incredibly strict gender roles.  Men are the absolute authority (theoretically under God, but since God calls you to follow your man or suffer the consequences, it amounts to the same thing).  The hierarchy is extreme, far more than outsiders can imagine.  If you are a woman, everything you do, from the choice of hairstyle to entertainment to employment must revolve around the preferences of the husband/father.  He may be a benevolent dictator, but even if he isn't, you must obey and look happy while you do, since allowing anyone to see possible unhappiness means that you are ungrateful to God, deliberately shaming your head, and practicing witchcraft (rebellion) in your heart.   Sure, men are encouraged to listen to their wives, much the same way that most parenting articles would advocate listening to your toddler: let them choose the red shirt instead of the blue shirt if it doesn't really matter, but the man is the one in charge, and ultimately, it comes down to what he wants.  Since any church authority ranks below the family authority, the role of women there is moot, but it generally means that women can cook and clean for the church and perhaps teach Sunday School (for girls, and possibly little boys).The Catechism of the Catholic Church does NOT establish a hierarchy between husbands and wives, but instead emphasizes mutuality.  Husbands and wives are called to serve each other.  In terms of the Church, I can see how it looks as though men are above women.  I honestly don't have a simple answer for that one.  However, women are encouraged to teach, to preach, and to exercise all of their spiritual gifts, including in positi[...]



Muscle Memories

2014-03-13T05:00:05.223-07:00


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My son has been begging for karate lessons for months, and we agreed that it would be better for him to actually learn than just make up his own moves on his sisters. We got the oldest two kidlets signed up, and it only made sense that my husband or I join too since we would have to wait anyway. My husband elected me.
I was secretly excited. I had earned a blue belt in the same system back in my teens and had loved it. But, hello. That was twenty years ago. I had stopped my second year of college because of schedule conflicts and had never gone back.
As we warmed up, I noticed that the sensei was probably half my age. We stretched in ways that my body had not even attempted in decades. Fifty pounds and four kids had altered my center of gravity. At one point, we stood on one foot to stretch and I toppled over. The poor sensei nearly turned purple holding back a laugh. I was beginning to question if I was just too old for this.

Read the rest over at A Deeper Story.  :)



Image credit



Our King's Cake Celebration

2014-02-28T18:31:18.450-08:00

I grew up hearing a lot about meaningless traditions and how dead and stifling they are.  If they are meaningless to you, then they aren't worth much.  This year, though, the kidlets and I have been discovering the richness of the liturgical year.  We celebrated Advent together, and it melted my heart when the kids would remind us to pray with shining eyes.  The eldest and I attended Midnight Mass together for the first time, and all of the kids, even the older ones, thought that our celebration of the Reyes Magos (Epiphany) to be a magical time.  We have some very special Easter plans already, and so this week we have been talking about the time leading up to Lent.Confession Number 1:  I almost never remember to plan things in advance, and then get stuck having to wing it on the actual day after reading someone else's cool post.  So we cheated and had a preview celebration of Mardi Gras today.  We will do the real thing again, but I thought it would be fun to do a trial run in case any of you, dear readers, also tend to wait until a blog post reminds you.Confession Number 2:  I just said that to sound good.  The real reason is that I did grocery shopping yesterday and they had cream cheese-filled King's cakes on sale, and it sounded too yummy to resist for elevenses today.The crumbs and fingerprints are from some impatient little kidlets.  Ahem.First, we talked about all the ways that God makes our lives rich with His love and how the richness of the cake and the sweetness of the sugar reminds us of how sweet His presence is in our lives.  They wanted to know why the sugar was purple, green and gold, so we looked it up.  The purple stands for justice, the green for faith and the gold for power.  The kidlets were already talking about the Wise Men (and the straw filled shoes for the camels) so I told them that the shape of the cake is because of the way the Wise Men went home in a circular way to evade Herod.  Of course, the fun part is finding the baby Jesus doll.  Without any prompting, the kids told me that that was because finding Jesus is the most important thing in our whole lives.  :happymamatears.Together we prayed and gave thanks for the sweetness and joy of knowing God.  We prayed that there would be justice for all people, especially the poor and oppressed.  We asked for a vibrant, growing faith, that those who have gold would know that all power belongs to Christ, and that most of all we would always seek Jesus in our hearts. Confession Number 3:  I think that any great spiritual lesson quickly gave way to seeing who had the biggest slice and who would find the plastic Jesus doll.  It was a beautiful moment, but it was also real life with a bunch of kidlets.  That still doesn't keep me from getting all watery-eyed, though.For the real Mardi Gras, we will do a repeat of this (although in the morning, we will be having pancakes and pancakes races, and watching the Olney/Kansas races on Youtube--yikes, that is a lot of sugar!).  Then on Ash Wednesday, if my courage doesn't fail me, I will take all four little ones to church.  Gulp. I know that this is just a little thing, but at the risk of being trite (who am I kidding--I wallow in trite!), our lives are made up of these moments.  I can't say for sure how much meaning the kidlets will find in the traditions we are embracing this year, but so far they have loved them and so have I.  Besides, who doesn't enjoy an excuse to eat a cream cheese filled cinnamon roll covered in pretty sprinkles?[...]



Love Our Kids

2014-02-21T14:40:52.452-08:00




Night Terrors

2014-02-20T09:45:46.967-08:00

We are so silly sometimes with our death-grip on promises and guarantees that never existed.  My babies were supposed to sleep beautifully, with never a fear, because they were next to us.  Most of the time they did.  But not always.  As long as I kept my mind focused on Scripture and prayer and trusted God, I was never supposed to be crippled by anxiety.  Most of the time I wasn't.  But not always.

"Some nights I start screaming and crying inside to God, my heart hysterically gasping the same prayers over and over and over. Shaking and trembling just like my little ones. Frantically trying to see reality when old nightmares play in my head. Being just awake enough to realize that He is holding me, but not enough to know that I am safe."

I am over at A Deeper Story today.





Super Parenting Library Giveaway ~ Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (Ends February 23, 2014)

2014-02-16T08:08:25.638-08:00

Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) *****Jesus Feminist by Sarah BesseyOver and over on days when I have felt overwhelmed and doubted this whole mothering thing, I would go back and reread Sarah's blog, especially her Practices of Mothering*.  Each time, I would end up with tears streaming down my face and hope rising in my heart.  I was so excited to hear that she had a book coming out, and it did not disappoint.As a young girl, I was steeped in the writings of Elisabeth Elliot and other Christian authors who argued vehemently against feminism--or at least what they imagined feminism to be.  The primary accusation against feminists that I grew up hearing was that they were rejecting womanhood in an effort to be an (inferior) imitation of men.  All of the condescending platitudes about separate but equal (which in practice was just as "equal" as it was towards people of color) ignored the reality of feminism, which is seeing both men and women as created in the image of God.  God is not a man!  When I grew older, I found myself rereading the Scriptures and seeing a call for mutual submission, not the one sided subservience of woman to man, but both men and women supporting and submitting to each other.   Sarah Bessey's book is, without question, one of the most refreshing I have ever read on Christian women.  Don't let the title fool you--this isn't a caricature of feminism, strident and shrill, the straw-woman of most Christian books that discuss feminism.  This is a joyful, lovely praise song, joining hands with sisters everywhere and raising a melody of love.  Whether you are a stay at home mom of tinies, a single woman, a pastor, an executive, a kindergarten teacher, or whatever God has called you to be, Sarah's book is a celebration of you and of our freedom to fulfill our destiny together, no matter what that looks like in our individual lives.I have three daughters and a son, and I hear deep in my soul the call to teach them about what it means to be a child of God, to embrace their destiny in Him and to embrace their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I want them to see that valuing each other lifts all of us up.  I am so glad for voices like Sarah's that sing grace and truth over us.You can win your own copy of Jesus Feminist!  To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you have subscribed to Sarah Bessey's post by email, follow her on FB or follow Jesus Feminist on FB, please leave an additional comment for each to increase your chances to win. :) If your comment does not link to a profile with a public email address, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  I will choose a random winner on February 23, 2014.  Also, please check out Sarah's website and the Jesus Feminist FB page--you will find some wonderful things there!.*I think that there may be some changes on her site.  This link works for the list of post[...]



Super Parenting Library Giveaway! ~ Mommy Overwhelm by Laura Schuerwegan of Authentic Parenting (Ends February 15, 2014)

2014-02-07T11:45:59.972-08:00

Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) *****.Mommy Overwhelm by Laura SchuerweganWhen I first started blogging, I never expected anyone other than a few friends and family to read it (and not many of them!).  Most of my posts got about 14 views (most of them mine, finding new typos that I had missed) but one day I saw to my shock that a post had a several hundred views.  Authentic Parenting had shared it, and as we chatted, Laura invited me to guest post a three part series.  It was greatly thanks to her (and Hermana Linda, of Why Not Train a Child?) that I decided to start a Facebook page.  Being a faith blogger as well as a gentle parent kind of puts me in a weird category sometimes, and I knew that my religious views could be an obstacle for pages that focus on parenting, so I am especially grateful for Laura's acceptance.So many wonderful moms get blindsided by depression.  I have always been a genuinely happy person, and with all the challenges of pregnancy and birth never felt particularly depressed.  A couple of years ago, though, the mommy-overwhelm began to creep up on me.  Every day felt like running in sand.  Things seemed to take so much more effort than they should.  My anxiety spiked and I started having panic attacks.   When you are in the middle of that version of normal, all of your energy goes into coping.   One of the hardest things is reaching out to others when you already feel so fragile.   Although the book does not replace a medical professional, Laura has so much empathy, encouragement and practical advice to help you heal.  I particularly loved that there were so many little things that I could do, ideas that I wouldn't have come up with on my own, that were manageable and easy enough not to add to the burden of things that I should do but couldn't.  I recommend this book to any mama who struggles sometimes with Mommy Overwhelm!You can win your own copy of Mommy Overwhelm!  To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you comment anonymously, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  For additional entries, if you are following the Authentic Parenting blog or Facebook page, leave an additional comment for each one.  I will choose a random winner on February 15, 2014.  Please check out the Authentic Parenting website and the Authentic Parenting FB page--you will find some wonderful things there!.[...]



Building a Home on Grace and Love ~ Guest Post by Rebecca Eanes

2014-01-29T13:53:18.394-08:00

Building a Home on Grace and LoveThe good message of the Gospels has reached every corner of the earth! Yet, there are many who reject God.Those who defy Him and willfully sin know full well the punishment will be Hell, yet even in the face of eternal damnation, they rebel. Why? Because they have no relationship with Him.They don't know Him. They don't trust Him. They do not know his Love or His Grace.You see, it isn't the fear of punishment that keeps us on the right path, but a relationship with our Lord, because when we fully understand His mercy, His love, His grace, His heart, we want to follow Him. If fear of punishment alone was enough, everyone would be followers!And though I fail often, my Father doesn't hurt me. He whispers in my ear, "That's the wrong way, child." He offers me His hand so I can get back up, He forgives me, and I try again.Img Src: http://appy2bme.wordpress.com/2011/02/It is this model that I attempt to follow with my children. I have drawn them close to me, formed strong bonds of trust, and shown them my unfailing love and grace. We have had countless conversations where I have revealed my heart to them.They know me. They trust me. They know of my love and grace.Because they trust me, they want to follow me. They know I have their best interests at heart. They know I will not lead them astray. This doesn't mean they don't sometimes face the consequences of their actions, as we all do, but that when they do face them, I am right there, arms out, accepting them back into my arms immediately. When they stumble, just as I do, I don't hurt them. I lean down and whisper, "That's the wrong way, child." I help them up by teaching them, always teaching, gently, consistently, where the right path is. I keep them close and I affirm them often.Have you noticed how much God affirms us in the Holy Bible? Have you paid attention at all the ways he affirms us? Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 4.4, Romans 15:7, Ephesians 1:3-4, Philippians 4:19 just to name a few.Pin It!Steps for building a home on grace and love:1. Form a strong bond of trust with each child. Spend time playing, reading, talking, cuddling. Respond promptly when they need you. Do not use harsh words, but always try to be kind. Pray daily for the fruits of the spirit to be evident in your parenting.2. Teach consistently. Each misbehavior is a chance to teach your child correct behavior. Teaching correct behavior is more fruitful than punishing poor behavior because they need to know what to do, not just what not to do. Punishment pushes them away, teaching pulls them closer. 3. Be a good role model. The fact is that children will learn more from what you are than from what you say. They learn what they live. Show them what goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, diligence, etc. look like. Would Jesus' followers have followed Him had he not lived what he preached?4. Discipline gently and with empathy. If after teaching and problem solving, your child chooses to do something that is wrong, a natural consequence will likely follow. Allow the natural consequence to unfold if it is suitable, but convey to your child that you are sorry for his/her choice and the resulting consequence. Always let them know your are for them, not against them. Surely our Lord doesn't like to see us falter, but He still extends grace. If a natural consequence isn't appropriate, a logical consequence may be given with empathy with the purpose of teaching, not to condemn. 5. Stay close to your children through open communication. Be affectionate. Show interest in what they are interested in. Affirm them daily. Build them up. 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. Ephesians 4:296. Let nothing separate them from your love, for we enjoy that sa[...]



Super Parenting Library Giveaway! ~ Grace Based Living by Crystal Lutton (Ends February 5, 2014)

2014-02-06T17:30:01.597-08:00

Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) *****Grace Based Living by Crystal LuttonWhen I first began questioning corporal punishment, the most important thing to me was finding out what the Bible really teaches about it.  I found the Arms of Love Family Fellowship site and read article after article after article.  It blew me away.   Crystal literally wrote the book on Grace Based Discipline.  Her teachings changed our lives in ways I would never have imagined.  Her book, Biblical Parenting, gave me a brand new paradigm for discipline.  Like many others who start off looking at parenting issues, I found that the grace of Jesus transforms all of our relationships.  Grace Based Living examines all of these, including marriage and parenting, from a foundation of Christ-based love, service and authority.  It is a life changing book in the best way.   Crystal is also a rabbi/pastor, and her ability to share Hebraic perspective has enriched my understanding of the Scriptures.  Along with all of this, she regularly serves as a Titus 2 woman to many, giving practical and loving help to other moms.  In the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know Crystal better, and seeing the wisdom, truth and mercy she shares has been incredible.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  :)  (And a PS--She makes lovely items for sale at Adorned by Crystal.)You can win your choice of a Kindle version of Grace Based Living or an autographed copy!  To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you comment anonymously, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  I will choose a random winner on February 5, 2014.  Also, please check out Crystal's website and FB pages--you will find some wonderful things there![...]



A Most Embarrassing Moment, or To Thine Own Underwear Be True

2014-01-06T12:42:46.669-08:00

Honesty and authenticity are important for bloggers, right?  Not sure if that really means letting you all in on some of my most humiliating moments, but my filter has always had a leak.  I offer my deepest empathy to all my friends who have found that sometimes things don't fit the way we expect, and then must walk away.  Head over to A Deeper Story for all the embarrassing details.  :)


(image)
At least they were clean




To the Mom Who Brought Wonder Woman to Church

2013-12-22T12:17:01.538-08:00

Image credit: Cayusa on FlickrDear Mama,I saw you duck your head as you entered, embarrassed that the singing had already begun.  It's OK.  Getting little ones out of the house takes longer than you expect some days.  I was just delighted that you and your little girls made it!You bit your lip and winced when you realized that all the pews in the back half were full and that you would have to go nearer the front.  You weren't distracting the others.  They smiled as you and your three year old knelt down and were happy to scoot over and give you more room.When your five year old pulled off her coat, revealing a Wonder Woman dress and purple sweat pants in all their glory, I could see you thinking again that it wasn't appropriate for church.  Oh, mama!  First of all, I have kids with SPD and I know very well what it is like when every single item of clothing they own suddenly doesn't feel right.  Here is the most important thing: she had put on joy, love and a tender and open spirit.  She has plenty of time to adapt to social conventions of what is appropriate.  What I saw was a pure heart that was happy to be there, and that is far more important.  Seriously--if you had pushed the issue, and forced her to change, it would only have meant that you both arrived in a bad mood (if you arrived at all!).  And finally, she was totally rockin' the sparkly shoes with her outfit!Her eyes lit up when she saw the purple and gold robe the priest was wearing--her favorite color!  When she and your three year old began to pray along with the congregation, my heart melted.  I chuckled inside when the littlest one began to clap, even though no one else was clapping.  Although they can't read yet, they turned the pages in the hymnal and tried to imitate the adults, and it reminded me of a couple of girls about that age who used to close their eyes and raise their hands in worship.  They weren't sure why, but they saw the grown ups doing it and thought it must be important.  During the homily, they looked around, and their eyes sparkled just like the stained glass windows they were admiring.I could see your shoulders tense up a little at the wriggling, and knew that you were worried about their behavior.  I wasn't.  And that is why I pulled my arms around you and whispered in your ear, "Shame off you!  My house is a place of grace, not shame.""And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  ~ Matthew 18:3 NIVJesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Even when they come dressed as Wonder Woman.With all my love,God*************************************I know that some people will feel uncomfortable that I signed God's name to this.  It is not done in any spirit of irreverence.  You see, I was that frazzled mom this morning, and I believe that this is what He told me.[...]



Prepper-ish: A List for Those Who Are Not Too Worried, but Want to Skip the Stores (Bonus Cookie Recipe!)

2014-03-01T16:45:14.671-08:00

Image credit: Paul martin on FlickrAs a winter storm barreled our way this morning, one of my favorite writers, SortaCrunchy, asked what we were doing to prepare.  I mentioned that we didn't do much beyond baking a double batch of our favorite dark chocolate walnut oatmeal cookies, because we are prepper-ish.  In other words, you will never see us on a reality TV show, and we would be in deep doodoo if a disaster lasted beyond a couple of weeks, but we also get to avoid the panicked crowds at the store before the occasional ice storm.  So, if you want to be reasonably prepared in case of a minor emergency, but have no interest in Youtube videos about the coming apocalypse, this post is for you.Our pantry staples:Several cases of bottled water (enough to last our family of six and pets for several days)Several bags of chocolate chips (seriously, we do not want to endure stress without chocolate)Plenty of coffee (ditto)Several cans of sweetened condensed milk for the aforementioned coffeeToilet paperTrash bagsSalsaFlourHoneySugarBaking powderVanillaOatmealCandlesLighters and matches, flashlights and batteriesAny medsBeans and rice, because we like themCocoa and teaDish soapCanned goods that we actually like, mainly tomatoes Pet foodApplesaucePastaParmesan cheeseprecooked shelf stable baconchicken brothFolex (a miracle worker for cleaning anything, especially if you can't do laundry for a few days)plain bleachchilessaltOur freezer staples:ground beefchicken creamfrozen fruitbutter (I have a Paula Deen streak, y'all, and I also stock up on pastured butter during the spring and summer and then stick it in the freezer so that I have it year round) breadMost of these are pretty self-explanatory, but you likely noticed the prevalence of comfort foods.  I know that there is the idea that if you are starving, you will eat anything, but it isn't true, and we have kids, and honestly--if I am already stressed out and in an emergency situation, I need my coffee and chocolate.   Similarly, I am not optimistic enough to think that that will be a great time to try to convince my children that canned spinach is going to be delicious.  So I only stock things that we already enjoy and would use, which means we are limited on the veggies, but most spaghetti sauces have veggies, or you can do some V-8 or something.  And though I know how gross Velveeta is, it lasts forever and makes really good cheese dip, so I keep a box or two and some Rotel on hand as a special treat.  Think of your favorite foods and plan from there.Although water is the biggie, I also want plenty of flavored beverages in case we need to boil water later on.  In Haiti, we added a few drops of bleach to the water and boiled it to make it safe for drinking, then disguised the taste by making it into strong coffee with lovely Haitian vanilla.  Tea or cocoa can be used if you aren't into coffee or just want a variety.Since we have dealt with egg and dairy allergies in the past, I am not too worried about eggs and milk (and applesauce can make a good egg substitute for baking).   We also keep an extra can of propane for our grill in case we need to use it for cooking.For any minor medical emergencies, having four kidlets means that we are pretty well stocked, but I try to make sure we have plenty of the basics: essential oils, bandaids, pain reliever, allergy meds, burn ointment, etc. Make sure that all phones, etc, are fully charged, and there are even some neat solar chargers and other fun things if you are worried about being without electricity for a considerable period.Books, of course.Our little ones are now weaned, and out of diapers (praise Him!), but you would obviously want to have extra diapers in their sizes, w[...]



How I Lost My Voice, and Got it Back ~ Anonymous Post (Sensitive)

2013-11-26T16:45:24.000-08:00

It started innocuously enough.  I loved to read, and my favorite heroes were self-reliant and uncomplaining, even in the face of adversity and mistreatment.There was a universal scorn against tattling among my friends.My exasperated mother told me over and over to stop trying to justify my actions and accept just punishment and show contrition. I was six. **************************Image credit: Katie Tegtmeyer on FlickrHe was a wealthy professional.  My eyes wide at his luxurious home, I also noticed that my parents were extra-polite to him.  They respected him for his knowledge, experience and reputation. I was frozen with shame as he pulled down my underwear.  I looked at the ceiling and tried to convince myself to believe his lies as he touched me.  I was eight.I didn't want to say anything.  Trying to get the right tone of voice and not sure if I should be casual or outraged, I told my parents what had happened. My mom was upset.  My dad was uncomfortable.  There were some careful questions as to exactly what had taken place.  They argued.  And then...nothing.  It was ignored.  No police report, no confrontation with him, not even the trouble to keep me from being alone with him again.Each time, I held my breath, afraid he would try again.  The nightmares were always connected to his place, though never to his act.  I was afraid to go to sleep.  Months passed, and just when I started to think it would never happen again, it did. The second time, I didn't bring it up.  I was nine.*************************Deep in the patriarchy/courtship movement, there was an agreement:  I would keep my heart and body pure, and following the tenets of courtship would keep me safe.  Going through my father would mean that I was respected and valued.Brushing my arm.  My shoulder.  A squeeze.  Always little things, but always finding a way to touch me.  I squirmed, blushed and ignored it.  Finally, after weeks, I went to my dad and told him, feeling awkward beyond words.  I had a suspicion as to his response, but this was only a teenage guy.  Maybe it would be different?  I had to force out the words, asking if he would tell him to back off and stop touching me.  I could see the humiliation in my dad's face at the idea as he asked how important it was.  And I mumbled "not very," because it clearly wasn't.  I was fourteen.*************************His pastor praised him as the most upstanding young man in his whole youth group, one who was committed to sexual purity and had a heart that was devoted to God.  The first time I met the guy, we were crowded into the back seat of a carload of people.  Of course he was pressing against me--there wasn't any room.  Except later that afternoon, there was plenty of room, and he stood behind me and began to rub my butt.  I was mortified, and took a second before I could work up the courage to move away.  I knew better than to bring it up to anyone else, but I wrote him a letter expressing how much it bothered me.  He responded with a very nice apology.  We wound up spending quite a bit of time together and he was always very respectful and polite, and never again initiated any physical contact.  I was sixteen.*************************I was working a volunteer position with an international company.  Every single time I or any of my female coworkers passed a particular employee, he would make lewd suggestions in reference to our jobs.  I rolled my eyes and ignored it, but a friend insisted that we needed to file a report, if not just for ourselves then out of consideration of the repercus[...]



The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline (Book Review and Giveaway!)

2013-11-07T10:42:06.929-08:00

For the last nine years, I have immersed myself in the world of gentle parenting, and LR Knost's books represent some of the best info I have ever found.  The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline not only covers the background of why gentle parenting is so important for healthy families, but it also includes the how.  How do you make this work?  What does it look like in a busy family with several kidlets and many needs?Some of the things that I loved about the book: (Does it sound too schoolgirly to shriek, "Everything!"?  OK, well, here are some of the things that I super-de-doopery loved about it.)Bite sized chapters.  The 30 chapters are informative, but also short and easy to read, which is especially helpful when your reading time some days is just a few minutes on the toilet.  Chapters for all ages.  So many gentle parenting books focus on babyhood, which is--admit it--relatively easy.  No matter how curious, a one year old doesn't push nearly as many buttons as a sassy four year old or a six year old in the throes of disequilibrium.  The Gentle Parent gives specific chapters for toddlers and preschoolers while still devoting a full third of the book to middle childhood, the teens and beyond.  It's truly gentle.  I have been disappointed in several books that talk about positive parenting but are really just punishement lite--more sophisticated ways to shame and punish our children than brute physical force.  We recognize that childish bullying can take many forms, whether through punching a child on the playground, shunning them at the lunch table or humiliating them online.  Parenting bullying is still bullying whether through spanking, forced isolation or shaming.  The techniques here are focused on the three Cs: Connection, Communication and Cooperation.It's truly practical.  Many books focus on vague rainbow-flower-sparkly-unicorn principles that sound good (and maybe even are) but in the moment of dealing with a child who bites or hits or is melting down, most of us don't need lofty sounding ideas--we need targeted, rational and compassionate steps.  This book has individual chapters on tantrums, hitting/kicking/throwing/biting, lying, backtalk, parenting in public and strong-willed, highly sensitive children.  Over and over I found new ideas and tools to improve my relationship with my children and ways to help them cope. It's fun.  The chapter Sandbox Soapbox: Toddler Insights had me laughing out loud.  It was so insightful and so entertaining.  Ideas like the Calm Me jars and the scripts for silliness were great, because those things just don't come naturally to me.  And even when dealing with parental hurts and establishing firm boundaries for how parents need to act, LR Knost is never belittling or discouraging.  Chapters like Hurting Parents, Hurting Children, The Butterfly Effect and The Color of Change, and All the 'Right' Parenting Moves shower parents with the same loving wisdom that she approaches children.It's effective.  I have applied many of the concepts that The Gentle Parent covers with my own four kidlets.  LR Knost has used them with her own six children, two of whom have sensory issues, one with Sensory Processing Disorder, two with ADD, one with Auditory Processing Disorder and two who are very intense/high-needs, as well as with the other families she has helped.  I can always tell a difference when I have been spending some time reading her books--I am more patient and centered, my children are more connected and cooperative, and there is more harmony in our lives.  With my review[...]



A Response to John Piper's "Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children"

2013-10-30T09:18:10.781-07:00

This post has been all over my newsfeed today.  There are some good points in it, for sure, but there was also much that left me either shuddering or rolling my eyes.  Our world is already saturated with adversarial, fear-based parenting that tries to mix with common sense, and I would much rather see more Gospel that is truly good news for our children and families.Piper's article starts off lamenting permissive parenting where parents repeatedly give a child instructions that the child ignores, and then resort to bribes.OK, I can agree that that is not necessarily effective parenting.  We are teaching children that our words don't matter if we toss them out there willy-nilly and they know that we don't mean them.  However, he doesn't clarify whether or not the children heard the instructions, which actually is rather important.  My children, just like me, often become so engrossed in whatever they are doing that it doesn't always register that someone is talking to them.  In that case, yes, I repeat myself.  I also try to get close enough to my child to gently touch a shoulder and make eye contact so that I know they are aware of what I am saying.As for the bribery, it is just the flip side of his own form of motivation.  He advocates punishment and fear-based coercion, some parents prefer to rely on bribery as a more positive version.  The thing is, though, that both punishment and rewards are external motivation.  Neither encourage children to do the right thing because of love and desire for righteousness--it is all about what is in it for them and how to keep themselves most comfortable.  I want my children to go beyond self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness.Then the ick starts to ramp up: he essentially says that if parents don't enforce immediate compliance every time, they are training their children to be shot by the police.   Really?  The fear-mongering here is a bit over the top.  Fear clouds good judgement.  When you encourage parents to operate from a place of fear, almost anything can be justified.  It's the "spank-them-so-they-don't-run-in-the-street" argument on steroids.  After all, if you are convinced that your children will be killed, or go to hell, or whatever other dire outcome, lesser violence seems acceptable and even desirable.  And if you are scared enough, you just might not realize that there are better ways. My own worst parenting moments have always come from fear.Piper claims that "requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents." Where does he find this in Scripture? The commandment is not, "Parents, demand honor for yourselves."  Read the Gospels and look at Jesus' response to the disciples when they started trying to grasp honor and position for themselves.  Arrogantly demanding that others honor us goes entirely against the nature of Christ.Consider this other example of Biblical family relationships.  Husbands and wives are commanded to submit to each other, but they are certainly not commanded to coerce the other into submission.  Knowing that Piper believes wives must obey their husbands, if he is going to be consistent with this idea, then he would believe that husbands must force their wives to submit.  That is a recipe for abuse.  For a Reformed pastor to teach that we must coerce others into obeying God seems awfully Inquisition-like.We are responsible to God for following His commands to us.  We are not responsible for exacting revenge against those who do not soothe our pride. Another important consideration is[...]



The Lonely Little Pony

2013-10-23T09:46:10.880-07:00

"Mami!  Play ponies wif me!"  I winced inwardly.  This little girl is the delight of my eyes, but I hate playing.  Confession time: one of the best things about having four kids is that they have built-in playmates.  At the moment, however, her older siblings were all engrossed in a group video game, and I sensed that she really needed this.  "OK."I reached into the pile of ponies and randomly chose one. "NO!  Not dat one pony!  Dat one pony's mine!  Get anudder one pony!"  I meekly reached for a different one.  "NO!  Not dat one eider!  Use DIS one pony wif no tail."  I accepted the mangy-looking pony, which had suffered from an unfortunate encounter with a pair of scissors and was also missing chunks of mane.  "Look at my pony!  She's fwying!"  I held my balding pony up in the air to fly alongside hers.  "NO!  Dat pony can't fwy!  She's too little.  She has to stay on da gwound."  Yeeeep, I could tell this was going to be a fun game.I trotted my pony around listlessly for a few minutes, resisting the urge to peek at my phone.  "Fluttashy is leabing.  Dey are all leabing in da van for icecweam.  You stay heah.  You aw too little."  The phone won out for a split second, but apparently I was more crucial to the scene than I thought.  Before the Facebook app had opened, she shrieked again.  "Mami!  Play ponies!"Each attempt to engage was ruthlessly squashed.  "No!  You can't do dat!  Her wings don't work!  Stop, mami!  Your pony is too little!  She doesn't know how to do dat!  No!  She can't come.  Stay heah by yoursewf."  A nice little lecture on reciprocity in play was on the tip of my tongue, when it hit me.  The theme to the whole game was powerlessness and loneliness.   Suddenly, I found myself much more invested in this game.I began to give her words.  "I feel lonely when I am left behind."  "Yes!  Your pony feels sad, Mami."  "I want to do things, too!  Even though I am small, I can do a lot."  "Yeah, mami!  Be her!"  I was clearly on the right track.  We spent the next hour playing empowering themes.  I let her ponies take the lead, admired her skills and resourcefulness, and gave words to my own little pony.  By the end of the hour, we were both having fun, and I had heard something incredibly important from this little baby girl of mine.If you had asked me how often she hears that she is too little or that she can't do something, I would have told you that it was extremely rare (and she has never been left behind or excluded from icecream!).  In fact, my concern would have been closer to the spoiling end of things--her brother and sisters dote on her, and even the nine year old will stop and play ponies or anything else with her.  She is the apple of our eye.Although my girls have never been discouraged from playing princess themes (the eldest actually wore elaborate princess gowns every single day for over a year around age four), and we regularly tell them that they are lovely, we deliberately tell them just as often that they are strong, smart, kind, capable and brave. The thing is, though, that all of us have times when it is easy to focus on our lack of capabilities, and sometimes we struggle to find the words.  When you are three years old, no matter how beloved you are, you get slapped in the face daily with all the things that you cannot do: you are too small to reach what you want, your videogame skills are not as develope[...]



Let Me Hold Them For You

2013-09-27T09:19:52.843-07:00

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My warrior princess had been going through a period where the warrior was very much in evidence.  Her rages were a terrible thing to behold.  She would yell, stomp, knock things down and throw things.  If someone was too close, it was certainly within the realm of possibility that she would hit or kick.

And I was mad.  Mad at this tiny little girl whose feelings were so, so much bigger than she was.  Mad because she was adding a burden that I didn’t want to bear.  I resented interrupting other activities whenever she got upset to help her calm down and make sure that she didn’t hurt someone or something.  Each outburst added a few more pounds to my load of mommy guilt as I fought to hold on to patience, peace and self control, and often dropped the ball.

Could we have punished or ignored it out of her?  I asked myself that several times.  Honesty compelled me to admit, though, that all punishment would have accomplished is to turn that fearsome rage inward, and the thought of that seething inside of her was far worse than dealing with the outward expressions.

“Use your words.”  Except words don’t matter to this one they way they do to her older sister and me.  This mighty girl has always been a tornado. Walking earlier than any of her siblings, always jumping, always running, perpetual motion, breath-taking hugs, bouncing from delight, shuddering under sadness–her language has always been more physical than verbal.
“I don’t love you.  And (her voice caught here) I don’t love God.”  Oooow.  Words aren’t the release for her that they are to me, but she knew how to use them to kick my mama gut."

What do you do when the weight of big emotions is too strong for your little one, and you are cracking under the load of mommy guilt?

What if "use your words" doesn't work for your child whose language is much more physical than verbal?

What does it look like to bear one anothers' burdens?

I am over at A Deeper Story today sharing how my mighty girl and I are learning together.  Come join us! 

Image credit: woodleywonderworks



Watch and Pray *Sensitive*

2013-09-25T08:15:19.273-07:00

Her eyes are blank and there is a pool of blood spreading around her face on the floor.  I wake up wanting to vomit and check her Facebook page repeatedly until I see a post.  The relief is incomplete because she and I both know that one day it might not be a dream.  Her children's faces--so close in ages to mine--rise in my heart, and I pray.**************************Something in her voice was off.  "Well, it couldn't really be rape.  After all, they were married.  She knew when she married him that sex was part of it."  It seemed like we were discussing a newspaper case at the time.  But years later I can still remember the oddness in her voice and I wonder.***************************It's the kids, you see.  She can protect them just a bit right now, deflect his rages, and watch that he doesn't go too far with them.  If she left, who would be there to get between them?***************************"God hates divorce."  Heaviness and resignation in her voice, she asks what the church congregation would think if the pastor's wife left.  "It would be like a slap in the face to God.  I just need to be more submissive and try harder.  If I can just praise and affirm him more, and show him that I respect him...men need that, you know..."***************************Everyone else at the table shifts uncomfortably at his "joke" that is yet another jab at her.  She doesn't seem to notice and gets up to refill his drink again.****************************Enthusiasm dies down to quiet disappointment.  "Oh, I would love to!  But I better not.  He wouldn't like it."  In her world, it is clear that activities--everything--must be planned around whether or not he likes it, even if it doesn't affect him in any way.  It's second nature to her to try to placate him, but even after all these years she doesn't seem to see that it is a constantly moving target.  He will always, always find something else to be upset about, another way to control her.  Her life revolves around trying to make him happy.  ***************************I take a deep breath and quietly say, "This is abuse.  The way he treats you isn't right."  For a moment, her eyes flash with fear, anger, surprise, relief, uncertainty and thankfulness.  I'm not sure which will win out.  Then she smiles and brushes it off.  "You're exaggerating.  It isn't abuse.  He would never hit me.  He just...well, I think sometimes he didn't get enough nurturing as a kid and is still hurting."**************************He controls the money.  He controls everything.  She scrapes to find ways to stretch what he gives her to pay for the doctors visits and new shoes for the kids.  She puts off the doctor or dentist visit for herself again, forgoes the new shoes that she needs.  He goes out to eat and gets a new computer.  "Well, but the money is really his, you know.  He is the one who works.  I'm just home with the kids." (She works more in a day than he does in a week, but he is still "too tired" to help with the kids when he gets home.  He "needs to unwind", even though she hasn't had a break in weeks.  So he spends another night playing videogames.)**************************They tried counseling.  Well, she tried and he went along.  It didn't help.  The church counselor told her to affirm him more and build him up more.  Praise him a lot.  He said all the right things. Showed enough regret for his mistakes (although he wa[...]



You Are Not a Failure

2013-12-31T09:07:23.108-08:00

This isn't what I thought it would look like.  When I imagined my life with children before actually having kids, I expected it to look more polished and less challenging.  I thought it would be easier.  Not the physical stuff--I was fine with lack of sleep and changing diapers and dealing with tummy bugs and all that.  But this emotional work of being a parent?  It's hard, y'all.  As Shrek would say, there are so many layers.  And we are definitely talking onions instead of parfaits. This has been a challenging last few months, and I am so, so glad that it didn't happen earlier in our parenting journey.  When we first made the transition to gentle parenting, I was still looking for guarantees.  You know--if you breastfeed, your kids won't have allergies or get sick.  If you parent gently, your kids will always be gentle and compassionate and well-behaved because they will always want to follow your instructions.  If you do this, if you do that, if you check all the Good Parenting boxes, if you follow this manual...  I never would have said that, of course.  I would have told you that just because certain outcomes are more likely doesn't mean that it will happen in every case.  Deep down, though, the residue of growing up a Gothardite means that it is my default programming to believe that if I just try harder and do it right, then everything will be perfect.Of course, that means that when it doesn't turn out that way, I start to panic.  It is all my fault!  If only I had done this.  Maybe I was wrong about that.  I should have tried harder and been more consistent and...Those thoughts are tricky little zombies.  Reeking death and decay, and ready to suck out our brains.  No matter how many times I try to kill them, they seem to rise again.  Honestly, I haven't yet figured out how to keep them from coming back.  The best I can do is resist the deadly lies.  Because the truth is, I don't think I can try harder right now, and I am starting to believe--really believe--that I am not supposed to.  I am not a failure.  Neither are you. As messy as this life looks some days, there is still beauty in it.  There is love.  There is growth.  It gets better.  You aren't meant to do it all.  You wouldn't put a crushing weight on your children and tell them not to ask for help--show them what it looks like to allow others the blessing of helping your family.  Most of all, know that these days come to everyone in real life.  You can listen to the zombies, or show your children how to fight the lying, shaming soul suckers.You are lovely.  You are.  Your children have God's fingerprints all over them, even if you have to look hard to see them.  Breathe and let grace wash over you and refresh your spirit.  [...]



Because I'm the Grown Up, That's Why!

2013-08-27T13:41:43.795-07:00

Today has been full of whining.  Me, not so much the kids.  Some days it sucks to be the grown up.  I'd much rather indulge in selfishness.  But what is discipline, really?  It isn't punishment.  Discipline in an adult should look like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, humility and grace.  What is the point of trying to discipline our children (NOT punish them--I am talking about helping them grow as disciples of Christ) if we haven't learned to discipline ourselves yet?  That isn't exactly a rhetorical question, because for me, at least, it is an ongoing process that I have not yet fully achieved.  My answer is that there has to be grace for all of us, and reliance on the Holy Spirit to help us.  And while being a grown up isn't always beautiful, growth truly is a beautiful thing.





Pierced and Proud--My Little Girl Got Earrings

2013-08-24T10:28:20.435-07:00

Of all of our parenting choices that have been outside the mainstream, the one that has actually gotten the most comments was our refusal to pierce our daughters' ears when they were born.  This shocked some dear little abuelitas (not our kids' abuelitas, though) to their core.  (Of course, neither did we shave their heads when they were infants so that their hair would grow in thicker, either.  :shrug).  For us, this was easy compared to so many decisions that we researched and weighed--as new parents, the last thing we wanted was to deal with an unnecessary wound on a tiny baby!  Even more importantly, they weren't our bodies to modify. One of our greatest responsibilities as parents is to teach our children that their bodies belong to them.  No one else is allowed to do things to their bodies without permission.  Sure, there may be medical emergencies that override that, but seriously, getting ear jewelry isn't one.  We do all that we can to keep our children safe, but we know that there are predators out there.  Children who are confident in telling others, even adults in positions of authority, not to touch their bodies are less likely to become prey, and more likely to tell us if it should happen.  And as they grow older, sometimes the lines get a little blurry.  We live in a rape culture where it is assumed that guys are supposed to pressure girls, and girls will eventually give in.  I want their body boundaries to be such a part of them that they will never feel uncertain of their right to control what happens to their bodies.Since my ears are pierced (and I am very thankful that my parents also bucked tradition and let me choose for myself), my kidlets have watched me wear different earrings and asked questions about it.  We talked about different options, including waiting to get her ears pierced as a celebration of menarche, but this summer my nine year old decided that she wanted to go ahead.  She kept asking how much it would hurt (she is very sensitive to needles), and was clearly nervous.  However, she was also adamant that she wanted to do it.  I was honest that it would hurt some, but also that if this was what she wanted that I believed she was strong enough to go through it whenever she decided she was ready.Mine were done with a gun at the mall, but after researching I decided to use a professional piercer for my kids.  There are many reasons, but think of the difference between a hole from a hole punch versus the ragged edges from pushing a sharp pencil through a piece of paper and how that could effect healing, for starters.  I asked for recommendations, and my midwife shared the place where her daughters got their ears pierce, and several other friends recommended the same place.Like any professional tattoo/piercing parlor, the decor was geared more for adults (my kidlets were simultaneously fascinated and horrified by the Native American sculptures of warriors who had been pierced through the chest and were hanging from a tether).  We didn't look closely at the tattoo designs or magazines.  (Also, like most other piercing places I have researched, they only pierce lobes on children, and we were required to bring her birth certificate and photo ID).The guy who was going to pierce her came out.  He was probably 6'4 and around 260 lbs.  His head was shaved and covered in ink, and the rest of him that was visible was likewise covered with piercings, gauges [...]



Missing Sunday Dinner

2013-08-23T09:21:24.306-07:00

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There are so many important conversations going on right now about including others at the table.  My family in Christ is challenging the pharisaical, dismissive attitudes toward women, the poor, our LGBT brothers and sisters, and all who are denigrated and ignored.  The Church talks a lot about loving children, and shows it with prizes and programs and playgrounds. The thing is, I see the harsh attitude toward children that labels them as selfish, lazy manipulative sinners, and I have to cry out.  We are missing Sunday dinner with our church family because the food at the kids' table makes my family sick.

The post is over at A Deeper Family

Image Credit: Keoki Seu on Flickr



Punishment VS Discipline

2013-08-18T09:18:01.909-07:00




Trying Church...Again

2013-08-06T18:58:04.063-07:00

Disclaimer:  this is going to be one of those long, messy, rambly, processing-out-loud, blahgy posts.I went to church again today.  Growing up, one mild area of friction between my parents was about how many times a week we should participate in a church service.  My dad was content with a Sunday morning service, and my mom wanted Sunday morning, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, and possibly a prayer meeting in there somewhere.  I sided firmly with my dad.  I also suffered the burnout that comes from many years of being part of a tiny church where your parents are pastors.  Every Sunday meant work, not rest.  Cleaning the church, preparing communion, teaching Sunday school, helping in the worship service, interpreting, working in the nursery--there were always several jobs that needed to be done, and even those that I started out feeling excited about eventually became a chore.  As an extreme introvert, the idea of making small talk after the service and greeting everyone was excruciating.  I eventually reached the point that unless God writes something in burning letters on a wall, I will NOT volunteer or accept any special responsibility for many years.Before our children were born, we seemed to have found the perfect fit for us in a church.  I loved the worship time, loved the pastor and his family and always came away from the services refreshed and looking for God in a new way.  Then.  Then we had kids and God changed some things in me.  Then the pastor preached on spanking and how if we love God and our children, then we will hit them.  And I couldn't let that go, and my husband and I wrote a letter, which eventually resulted in this blog.  At first, I just figured we could agree to disagree, but the convictions in my heart about how we treat the smallest of these grew until I couldn't sit under a pastor who preaches that we have to spank any longer.When you have four very young children and are committed not to leaving them to cry in church with people that you probably don't know well enough to let them babysit outside of church, going seems like an exercise in futility.  I spent most of my time walking the kidlets in the halls or hanging out in a nursery with germy toys and crying little ones.  I never came away feeling spiritually fed, that is for sure.  So we just stopped going.Every now and then we would try different ones, but they all preached about spanking on the very day we decided to visit, which is almost funny--really, it seemed like a bizarre coincidence, but it saved us time.  After the last fiasco, I couldn't even work up the desire to try anymore.  It felt so awkward answering questions about where we go to church.  I felt like our kids were missing out on something important, and I missed it for myself.  Although, when we visited any church, I was always tense, waiting for the ick to start.  I also found my emotions going haywire with all kinds of little things, and it was generally exhausting and stressful.But this morning, I worked up the courage to try again.  After reading the encouraging statement from the United Methodist Church regarding corporal punishment, I decided to go there.  Their only service is at 9:00 AM, which is a little earlier than I am used to, but my nine year old and I managed to go, and my husband graciously took over the younger[...]



The Bad Days

2013-07-31T15:57:15.925-07:00

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.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[...]