Thursday, August 28, 2014

Love

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Today I had some time to journal through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, looking it up in several translations and a bunch of the words using Strongs online, writing it all down and then simplifying it. 

Some of my favorite words:

The words typically translated "love does not seek it's own" or "insist on it's own way" literally mean to strive for/crave/demand + itself so you could translate it "love does not crave itself" or to personalize it:  "I do not crave myself" (convicting!!!!!)

There are two different words both translated as "rejoice" in the phrase "does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth" the first "rejoice" means to greet or be glad to see someone, the second one means to share in the joy of someone. I love the subtlety there and the idea of sharing in the joy of truth the way you share in the joy of a friend getting married or having a baby. It makes me think of having a party.

I was surprised that the word translated "bears" in the phrase "love bears all things" has to do with roofing. It comes from a word meaning a roof or deck and means to cover, to protect like a roof, to keep off something that threatens, to cover with silence. It also means to bear up, endure or forbear. I love this idea that forbearance means that sometimes we cover over the errors of others with silence the way a roof covers a home.

Okay, last one: the word translated "fail" or sometimes "end" in the phrase "love never fails" can mean "to be removed from power by death" and also, and this is my favorite, "dismemberment of a corpse by decay" it's an extreme word. I love it. Love never fails.

A lot of these words say the same thing, over and over these words deal with offense. Don't be quick to take offense, don't burn with anger when treated perniciously (that was in the definition of the word "wrongs" in the phrase "keeps no record of wrongs" and I super big heart eyes love the sound of that word) don't let offenses build up - don't give them weight or let offenses accrue a debt.

Over and over I felt these words were saying:


Love puts up with a lot of crap.


I so love that this passage goes to the heart of what I struggle with in my relationships. I tend to have this expectation that love will make me feel happy, secure, or whatever. This passage reminds me that real love is what happens in the pain of getting hurt, wronged and disappointed. 

This is what I wrote at the end of the exercise and I wanted to share it here:
Love bravely and calmly endures trouble and misfortunes, bearing ill-treatment and offenses without loosing heart or plotting revenge. Love is not sharp, harsh or bitter but gentle, mild, pleasant, sympathetic and helpful.
Love is not friends with injustice and unrighteousness but rather shares in the joy of the truth, free from all falsehood and deceit.
Love covers with silence the errors of others the way a roof covers a home from the rain. Love believes the best about everyone, hopes for the best in every circumstance, trusting God in everything with joyful, confident expectation, without running away or giving up, but holding fast. Believing that love can not ever be lost or ruined and absolutely will not ever fail.

Reading these words I feel two things: 
1) I am so thankful that my God loves me like this. Patiently putting up with my crap. Loving me despite my million flaws. Setting me free to love others. Which leads me to thought 2) that the only way I could ever hope to really love like this is the power if the Holy Spirit inside me. I could try to love like this but I think my default is to get my feelings hurt and go pout about it for a day or two. I find myself turning to God desperate for Him to reveal to me how great is the love that He has already lavished on me so that I can turn to others with a similar kind of love. I need Him desperately.




Friday, August 22, 2014

Potty Training kid #5

Stephanie wrote a blog post recently about potty training her firstborn, which put me in mind to write a post about potty training too... so here we go. This is also not a "how to" blog post. This is just me, writing my story about potty training. Because we need these. We need to see each other's stories. We need to hear each other's struggles. As we struggle along we need to hear the hard bits of our potty training experiences, as well as the success stories. Potty training has never felt easy for me. Even my one that I look back and think "I had to potty train her? I barely remember it." I do vaguely remember the anxiety about it and the frustration about it and I very clearly remember a mountain of frustration with potty training every other one of my kids.

It is a little bit humiliating to admit this here but I honestly thought potty training Eli was going to be easy. I thought "I have done this four times already. I know what I'm doing." I thought I'd do all of the right things and that the results of my expert potty training would be fabulous. Did I just say that out load. How embarrassing.

So yeah, potty training hasn't gone the way I thought it would. I started Eli when he was pretty small, pre-two years old. He showed interest in the potty, so I sat him on the potty. Getting him to "do" anything in the toilet, however, was impossible. In order to preserve one another's sanity and not spent an extravagant amount of time in the bathroom he and I made a deal. I sang him his "potty song" tinkle tinkle in the pot to the tune of "twinkle twinkle little star"  and he had to sit there till the song was done. Once the song was done he was free to go. I was also hoping to create one of those tinkle cues. Eventually Eli started peeing almost every time I put him on the potty. We would sing "Twinkle twinkle" and he'd tinkle right away. Success!! Right? Yeah, no. 


School started right after he turned two and I thought "all right! here we go!!" And we did okay. I put him strait into underwear and he'd stay dry all morning. (I recently found out that this has nothing to do with any skill on my part) I'd put a diaper on him for naps but as soon as the kids got home from school everything fell apart. He usually stayed in his diaper from nap time onwards.  We'd get a little bit potty trained but then the littlest disruption in our routine would derail the whole operation. I'd occasionally attempt a resurrection of potty training, only to give up after the third or fourth accident of the day. 

Eli turned three this July and I said "okay! no more diapers!!" But guess what? While he is doing tons better, he is still not 100% potty trained. He can keep a pull-up or underwear dry for a long period of time, but I recently found out that this is because he has an unusually large bladder. (I'm also guessing that this is also why he'd fight me if I tried to take him too often - he felt no need to go.) I want him to be potty trained, but he is just not there yet. Still. I'm trying to be patient. Keep working at it and not loose my cool but y'all - this is getting old. Seriously.

Anyway, here is my thought, the one that I want to get across:

It's not about me. 

When I make it about me I get frustrated.
I push too hard.
I overreact.
Everyone looses.

Potty training is going to happen when Eli is ready and not before. It's not a reflection of good or bad parenting that he is three and still in diapers. There's no prize for having your kid potty trained early and there's no parenting penalty for having a kid who still wets the bed or waits for nap time to poop. Sometimes it's because of anatomy. Sometimes it's personality. I loved what I read in "The No Cry Sleep Solution" that potty training has zero correlation to how smart or successful your child will or won't be. It's just part of life. 

This afternoon, as I was washing poop out of Eli's underwear, I realized a lot of my desire for Eli to be potty trained is simply because it would be easier for me. It would be easier not to have to do this. It would be easier if he would just potty train quickly instead of stay stuck in this perpetual state of in-between. Old enough to be able to use the toilet but not old enough to care yet. 

With Eli I offer no reward beyond praise and no punishment other than helping me clean up an accident if it is in an appropriate place. If there is one thing I have learned about potty training it is that you dan't discipline or bribe your kid into becoming potty trained. Over the course of my parenting I have tried pretty much every kind of reward and every form of punishment. You can time-out, spank, threaten, take away toys and privileges. For some kids it doesn't make a dent. I've also given balloons, stickers, candy, toys. We even went out for ice cream when my firstborn did her first poop in her training potty. It didn't change a thing. I was beside myself. 

But when I think about the things I have had to deal with since my oldest became potty trained - even though potty training her was one of the hardest things I had done yet as a parent - it pales in comparison to the struggles I have had since then, and my oldest is only 12. In potty training there is one obvious, and pretty much inevitable outcome, it is how to get there and when that is more or less of a struggle. Issues as my kids have grown have become far and away more complicated and and complex. 

So I try to keep my perspective.
I know he is going to get it,
sooner or later.
I try not to make this about me.
I try to stay calm and be gentle.
I know this only lasts a little while. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Katie-Abigail

I wrote this on Katie-Abigail's birthday, but that was last week... I had these pictures sitting on my computer waiting to finish out this post. I'm going to call this a case of better late then never. 

Today is Katie-Abigail's birthday!!

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Today she turns nine yearas old.

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Today I want to try to capture a little snapshot of my Katiebug.

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She just started fourth grade and for the first time ever I think she is really going to like her teacher. This teacher seems creative and high-energy which will match Katie-Abigail quite well. She is generally my least enthusiastic student. She loves to experience the thing she is learning, for instance when her class did a unit on stars and they brought in a mobile solar system experience - she was really motivated. Sitting and reading from a book and filling in the blanks is excruciating for her. Even so she ended last year on the AB honor roll. This year I'm hoping for a really good experience. I'm really watching her diet (hoping that reducing carbs and increasing protein will help regulate her blood sugar etc. and decrease her symptoms of ADD) and we are doing most of her homework in the morning when the house is quiet. We have also started checking out books on CD for her to read along with and that has been excellent and has helped her be more interested in reading longer books. 

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She asked for Barbies for her birthday, a girl barbie and a boy barbie. Daniel bought her the barbies and I bought her some outfits for them. I'm expecting she'll want to spend most of this weekend playing with those Barbies by herself and maybe with Josiah. Over the summer I worked on cleaning out the garage and found her Barbie collection which she played with for days, even though they were pretty worse for wear and only had a couple outfits between them.

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Katie-Abigail is still very dramatic. She's really quiet when she is upset. She can be overly loud when she is mad. She let's everyone know when she is having a good day (which I love) I'd call her my most-likely-to-be-an-actress. Emma and I agreed that while she says she is going to be a cop when she grows up, she is just as likely to play the role of a cop on a TV show when she is older. Or maybe be a professional commedian, or a rock star. She still loves listening to music videos on the computer, usually on Disney channel. Her favorites right now are Cody Simpson (especially "Pretty Brown Eyes") and Ariana Grande (She watches "Baby I" on repeat.) She enjoys reading graphic novels. "Lunch Lady" & "Babymouse" are two of her favorite series.

Katie-Abigail had a great birthday!! She loved her barbies and played with them everywhere. She woke up with the sunshine and rainbows attitude I love best about little girls on their birthday. She was happy just because it was her birthday and not because of anything we gave her or did for her. Daniel took her out the weekend before her birthday and they went roller skating.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Grilled pimento cheese with sriracha

I don't usually post thoughts with recipes other than - this was yummy. You know? I keep recipe posts sperarate from  ramblings which are separate from photography but today I felt like mixing it up a little.


Today I have a recipe for an incredibly yummy sandwich but also a thought that hit me as I was making it.



Today as I was making my not too spicy sandwich I was thinking about what my mom would say to my older sister about mustard. Our normal day would find my mom doing schoolwork with us little girls, often at the sewing desk: I'd read and she'd sew, or we'd go over the math lessons and she'd iron, with my little sister close by. My mom would send my older sister to the kitchen to start on lunch and my mom would ask for a cheese sandwich with just a little mustard. She would say "just show the mustard to the bread" it meant a teeny tiny bit. Just enough so the sandwich wasn't bland but not enough so that it was spicy. My sister liked her sandwiches spicier and would usually use whatever was leftover on the knife from spreading mustard on her own sandwich to wipe onto my mom's bread.

I was thinking about this as I spread my sriracha on my bread, careful not to get too much, wiping the extra on another piece of bread. I was thinking - I do this all the time with my walk with God. I just "show the mustard to the bread" with God. I am satisfied with the second-hand, what was extra on the knife, from my pastor, my small group leader & best friend, books & blogs - it's just a tiny bit. Just enough to make me not bland, not enough to make me spicy. Like in the book of Revelation when it talks about being lukewarm. Yeah, like that.

I thought about this as I made my sandwich - just enough to not be bland. Just enough religion to make me feel comfortable but not so much that I stand out. Just enough Christian culture so that I fit in with my Christian friends but not so much that I run the risk of being misunderstood. 



Not so much that I run the risk of being misunderstood. That bears repeating. It hit me in the gut. I would hate to be misunderstood by my friends, especially my Christian friends. I would hate to be thought of as going too far, as being kind of weird. But I feel like that is exactly what we are all called to be as Christians. If we don't ever live in such a way that we run the risk of being misunderstood then we're walking the wide path. We're lukewarm and bland. That is me, right now. Easy to talk about, not easy to live.

Secondhand Christianity doesn't do me any good. My relationship with God needs to be first hand & life changing.


Recipe 
Mix shredded marble cheddar cheese or mild cheddar cheese (freshly grated is even better or use sharp cheddar if you prefer) with mayonnaise, pimento cheese spread & a few drops of sriracha sauce to taste. Spread on bread. Toast as for grilled cheese. Butter on an electric griddle or a griddle on the stovetop set to medium heat. Toast on both sides. Enjoy!

First day of school

Well, four out of five of my kids have started school!!

Our first day was not as easy as I had hoped, and we struggled with our new bus times/drivers but we made it. (My littles do not get off if the bus until after 4:40! I am not a fan.) But they love their new teachers and their new classes. I love that the first week of school there is zero homework.

Beth started 7th grade!! Her second year of Middle School. She was happy that some of her friends from 6th grade are in her home room this year. She was still nervous about school starting, but it sounded like her day went off with as much grace as you could possibly expect from a seventh grader.

Emma started 6th grade. Wait, what? I have two kids in middle school?! How did that happen? Craziness. I am so happy that my girls have each other again. That they can sit together on the bus and point out each other's friends. That is one of the things I treasure about having kids close in age, especially my first two, they support each other so well. Even if they can't always see it. 

It was so much easier on all of us that this was our second time around with 6th grade. Emma said "Beth didn't tell me everything about 6th grade" and I said "No, but she showed you a lot about sixth grade throughout last year. You saw her have a positive experience and that is the best thing she could do to help you get ready for Middle School" she is still a but anxious. Still struggling with little things like lockers, and where her classes are but she has a few good friends from her previous two schools that both feed into this Middle School, and they are helping her. So I'm not worried.

Katie-Abigail is adorable this year. She is in 4th grade and I have high hopes for her that this is going to be a good year. We are working on her diet, and I'm hoping that this will improve her mood swings. She adores her teacher already (a ver good sign!) and is quickly making friends. So we'll see how it goes!

Josiah starts first grade and I'm pretty sure he has a little crush on his teacher. I was sick during open-house (with this awful 24 hr stomach flu) but I heard that she is young and pretty. Will that give him an insentive to behave extra-well or will this make him act out to get extra attention? We shall have to see.


My day with just one kid at home was so much easier. I had visions of quiet time that I never got, because Eli and I were in full-on one-on-one mode all day long. But we got out of the house and did some grocery shopping calmly and quietly - it was bliss. I could breathe deeply. And I feel a little bit badly that I enjoyed the day so much. Yes, I cried when my kids left for school but I loved the quieter, gentler day with just one kid at home. No bickering, no deciding who gets the iPad now, I actually sat down and ate lunch!
Not only did I eat lunch - I even took a picture of it!! Of course as soon as I'd finished lunch my bigs came home, and Eli was tired but unwilling to nap. So it was craziness for a couple of hours. But it was a good first day.




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