Tuesday, August 16, 2011

For Everything There is a Season

What do you call a person who feels the pressure to do everything people ask them to? Is that a people pleaser? I have to consciously awaken myself to fact that I do just that. Like a thoughtless robot...must...do...what...that...person...wants...me...to. Even when I do clue in to the realization that I have to say "no", I feel the guilt and shame of "letting them down". My mind, body and soul just cannot keep up with the demands of others...even my own. I want to do EVERYTHING! I want to teach 20 subjects to the kids, master the kitchen creations, learn to sew, read stacks of books, start new ministries, renew my relationship with my piano, visit long lost friends, and paint till the cows come home. Then, when I've done all of that, I have priority lists number 2, 3 and 4 to begin!

Sometimes it feels like my head will explode with the speed at which it is thinking, dreaming, planning and wondering what will actually take place. Then some sweet person, with wonderful intentions and dreams of their own, asks me to join them on a new adventure. I stand stunned in their presence, trying to take in this new dream...cramming it in between my own. I can almost hear these sweet dreams fighting over position in my brain. Some dreams get squashed by bigger ones and some get kicked out completely. All waiting for me to actually put one into action. Little do any of them know that the probability of their becoming a reality is slim to none. There is this big monster, a dream quencher called reality that blocks the way...for now.

There are stages of life that we go through that are more or less conducive to these high and good intentions. When you are in the middle of raising children, there truly isn't much time nor energy to do much else. Unless, of course, you don't mind sacrificing some of their training for other things. I just cannot justify using very much of those precious, fleeting, golden moments for anything else. I don't mean making money for them to have more stuff, or killing myself trying to give them every extra curricular activity under the sun either, I mean my presence and their training. I am convinced that kids want, more than anything, to just be with you. Yes...more than a wii...more than clothes...more than ice cream...they want me. Strange, but true. I'm amazed every day at the love that my children have for their father and me...warts and all. It's mind boggling.

I made myself put down my garden basket last night in order to play badminton with one of my boys. My mind was worrying that those beans would be too big if I picked them tomorrow...but my boy would be too big to love this way if I put off playing today. We had such a great time, laughing at each other and improving our game...my reaction time has significantly decreased over the years...too bad my weight hasn't. When we were done, he just cuddled up beside me until bedtime, recalling his best moves of our game and my best misses. Unforgettable, really. It is nice though, that the older the kids get, the more able they are to join us in some of the hobbies and adventures we have tucked away during those diaper and nursing years...and we join them in theirs.

There are many forces in the world that want my kids' hearts. They want to mold them, teach them and prepare them for other, less virtuous purposes than that of a Christian. I used to be a "pie in the sky", "everyone means well" kind of person, but not anymore. I am not unaware of the Devil's schemes and as long as it depends on me, He cannot have my kids. So, it just seems logical that WE train them in every way possible. I know that if something happened to either or both of my husband or me, God is greater than circumstance and He would take care of them, but as long as we are here, we will not hand them over to another teacher...so that we can pursue other dreams. God willing, there will be plenty of time for that once the kids have a different addresses than ours.

For now, I am smack dab in the middle of a busy, time consuming and privileged job...and happy to be here. The other big dreams and ideas that are trying to crowd out this not so impressive or glamorous intention, are going to have to take a number, find a magazine and sit in the waiting room. I'm busy playing badminton with the most important souls in the world :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Teenage Toddlers

When the kids were babies, life was full of diapers, sleep schedules, Veggietales reruns and personal neglect...a bubble bath, one uninterrupted meal and a nap were the content of my daydreams. Those days are gone and are like a dream I once had. Not necessarily a nightmare, but a good dream that leaves you weary when you wake. My 4 babies were extremely hard on my body (the first one weighing in at 10lbs, 4oz) from pregnancy to about age 6 when I stopped limping around behind them cleaning up after, protecting untouchables and chasing them away from the road. Ya...weary, but thrilled. Watching video of those adorable tyrants brings back the thrill without the weariness...MAKE SURE YOU TAKE LOTS OF VIDEO OF YOUR BABIES!!!! There is no better show than these. Even the kids LOVE watching themselves as toddlers, with great laughter. I wish I could have just one day back with each of them.

The middle years, from about 6 to 11 have to be my favorite. They can tie their own shoes, play outside with little supervision, sleep like logs and cuddle with the sweet smell of childhood fresh on their cheeks. They still hold the juvenile innocence and tenderness, yet blessed independence allows Mom a bit of a breather. Their thoughts are absolutely entertaining, their laughter pure (mostly...with the exception of bum joke fixations) and their loyalty is still focused toward Mom and Dad. I would like it if my youngest two, in this age group, could be stalled from aging. May they linger long in this period of time, smothering me with hugs, questions and naive giggles.

By the time 12 or 13 arrives, Mom is unprepared for the tearing of the apron. She knows it is coming, but really doesn't understand what it means, feels like nor how to handle it...exactly. All of a sudden, this thinking for themselves thing gets stronger. Their weird hobbies grow larger. Their fashion choices get funky. Their physical and spiritual appetites grow...and grow. They are becoming who God intended for them to be and I have to let go and allow that to happen...as if I could stop it...or even want to. Those maternal instincts are made strong for a reason and need to be kept on check, so my faith can grow.

These summer days seem to be overrun with keeping the teenagers busy. Youngsters just grab their toys, run out into the yard and play contentedly until snack time. Teenagers want more. More friends, more money, more food, more going places, more...everything. I think I have hit another exhausting phase of raising kids. Again, I have to follow behind them, cleaning up messes, protecting untouchables and chasing them away from the road. How did we end up in THAT place again??! I truly want to make these years wonderful for them, like my parents did for me. I pray that they can have lots of good, clean and safe fun, but at the same time, prepare them for real life. When they leave home, life might not be as cushy as it is at home. If all they do now is play, then life may rudely wake them with ice cold water in their face.

I'm so glad that they have summer jobs to do, and like it, most of the time. This takes care of 3 things...they get to exert overflowing energy, they have money and they learn how to be good, hard workers. I don't mind running them here and there to mow lawns, and pick berries...that's part of my job. It's the wandering of their hearts that make me a little nervous. What is it that they love the most? What are they following? What will they end up giving their allegiance to? Their hormone bathed brains are being pulled in a Kingdom tug of war. Their sweet hearts are pulsing with desires, both good and bad. Mom can't control it nor change it. She just watches it, prays for it and points to Jesus...when they happen to catch a glimpse of me during a lull in their spinning.

The question is, "Will you love Me more than these?". Jesus asked this of Peter, speaking of the fish he was holding, symbolically his life's work. He knew Peter loved him, it was just a matter of total devotion to Him...and Peter was a big boy...already through the teenager stage. We all have things that challenge our loyalty to Jesus and we need to make sure we are loving Him more than these.

I was all about me when I was a teenager, as most of us are. I cared most about what I looked like and my friends. Typical shallow thinking. However, I had a very deep love and respect for my Mom and Dad. I honestly don't remember ever lying to them nor brushing off any advise they gave. Their opinions and lifestyle were of utmost importance to me. When they appeared before my friends, I was proud of them. I showed them off. They might not have been at the center of my daily activities, but they were always at the center of my thoughts, anchoring me as I waded in the shallows. They represented Christ for me and eventually, when I went out on my own, the critical transfer was completed. I saw Jesus as that anchor and took their lifelong advise to continue following Him.

My prayer is that my kids will have that same love and respect for my husband and me and that we will accurately represent Christ for them, so that they will someday put everything in His hands. That I won't lose my head when they look like they may be drowning in worldliness and idolatry. Patience, faith, and many walks in the woods are necessary for me to keep it together...soy protein is a nice little help too for those really bad days :)

I'm back to the toddler stage for awhile, so it appears. Fortunately, they have a few years of training under their belts this time and they really are great kids...I'm very proud of them. Maybe there will be fewer time outs, temper tantrums in the grocery isle and sleepless nights...I'll do my best to control myself, but I can't promise anything :) Thank goodness for soothers.