Friday, February 22, 2013

Cabin Fever

So, many of you have had a little (cough!) snow lately.  I have been reading about your days "stuck" in the house. It's been very, very interesting.

Some of you parents love it.  Some of you parents hate it. At the end of the day, all of the parents love their it's all good.

I love snow. But, my husband says that's because I never had to milk cows in two feet of it.  He also says it's because I grew up in a place where school was cancelled for two inches of it. He's actually onto something here.

But, I truly love snow for the same reason about half of you love it...the potential of a "snow day." Sitting around the house with my young, eating stuff, playing games, constructing "quilt & dining room chair" tents, thawing out by the fire after building a snowman.

However, I want to bolster those of you who get a little stir crazy at the thought of being cooped up all day with your beloved.  I get this, too.  Remember, I stayed home for a decade.  A DECADE, people.  I have played more games of Candy Land and Go to the Head of the Class than I can count.  I have sung, "Old Blue" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" more times than Beyonce has belted out "All the Single Ladies."

I have broken up more fights over the "red" bouncy-ball than you can imagine.  I have cleaned up more messes off the kitchen floor than I care to really dwell on right now.  I have said, "Guys! I'm not kidding! You will take a nap and you will not get up out of bed again!" so many times that I should have it embroidered on a pillow.

I, too, have had Cabin Fever.  Or...Cave Fever.

I actually, no offense, chuckle when I see statements such as, "Perfect day with my kiddos!  We baked, we built snowmen, we read our Bibles, we cuddled, we drew pictures of butterflies..."  You know what I'm talking about.  Hey, I don't doubt anyone does all of that...I have had many a day with my boys where I could write a very similar scenario. But, it would have also had to include...

"...put someone in time-out, tweezed a Lego piece out of an ear, plunged the toilet - twice, wiped crusty snot out of someone's hair (snot noticed while "cuddling"), had a talk about not drawing anatomically correct pictures of our brothers..."

Something like that.

I'm not picking on the lovers.  I would actually be more on your end of the parenting rainbow than not.  However, I just felt a huge need to encourage those of you out there struggling with not always "loving" every minute of cooped-upedness. (I made that term up.)

I mean, I could tell you how much you're going to miss your kids when they're grown, like mine, and that you will kick yourself for not being Mary Poppins on those snow days.  But, most of you already know that you're going to miss your kids...someday. :)

Before my rhetoric gets as deep as the snow in Kansas City today, let me wrap things up.

Enjoy as many minutes as you can with your family.  Those you can't enjoy - appreciate.  Appreciate the minutes in which we are tools in God's hands to teach our kids patience, kindness, long-suffering, love...and all that Fruit of the Spirit we grown-ups are still working to cultivate.

Fever isn't always a bad thing.  Sometimes it's just a sign that your body is fighting off an infection.

Dealing with not so perfect moments is kind of the same thing.  We do battle every day.  We fight for our kids to become the people that God has made them to be.

And sometimes, that means somebody doesn't get the red bouncy-ball.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When "Those Kids" are Your Kids...

Well, not all of the kids in the chaos portion of this picture are mine...but, I do have to admit to birthing a couple of them. And I have to say that I'm pretty much related-by-blood to all of them. I am not related to the small child with the "floaties" on...way in the background.  His parents, possibly the folk in the water below, are probably saying something like, "Don't let 'those kids' scare you, Sweetie.  Hopefully, their parents will get control of them soon, and they'll be gone."

Yep, to the strangers around our clan that day...I was a parent to some of "those kids."

You know "those kids."  They are the ones who run through the mall unattended, or the ones who kick the back of your seat on the airplane. Grrr.  "Those kids" drive most of us nuts.  Even when they're "our kids."

My hubby and I have done are darnedest to not raise anything resembling "those kids." And for the most part, thanks be to God on High, "our kids" have typically not been "those kids."  But, trust me...there have been "times."

For instance, the demon-possessed-like fit the middle one threw in front of the Baskin-Robbins' display case, because that particular store wasn't carrying his favorite flavor.  He was two...but, still! The older brother...actually the oldest brother...all four-years-old of him...just stood there, dumbfounded.  Staring at me and telepathically screaming, "Are you kidding me?!  Parent-up!"

There was the time all three boys started crying, for some random reason, while crammed in a shopping cart in the middle of Safeway. Loudly. Hysterically. Maybe they all started crying because they were all three crammed in a shopping cart in the middle of Safeway.  I never got a real answer, and though 1.5 of them were old enough to actually speak in full sentences, I still got nothing. Regardless, no one could deny the fact that at that moment, they were "those kids."

A point?  Well, I have a few.

1)  We've not only had "those kids" before, we've most likely been "those kids" before.
2)  We have to differentiate between "those kids" and those "kids."  Meaning...sometimes kids are just being kids.  Joyfully so, I might add. Like in my picture.  Don't go to the family pool if you don't want a little, friendly, family chicken fight!  Also, don't go to McDonald's for a romantic dinner.  There will be kids there, most likely being kids.  Just sayin'.
3)  When kids are being the annoying or disrespectful kind of "those kids," well, we have to be brave enough to be "those adults."  Wise adults.  Brave and wise enough to confront behaviors that may be harmful to our children...not to mention those around them.

I have been a kid. I have had kids. I teach kids.  A total lack of respect amongst the young is on the an alarming rate.  I have found myself, for years, praying for God to help me know when kids need loving correction, and when kids need me to simply chill out.

I'm still praying.

Are you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can't Touch This!

You know what time it is...just looking at the picture! I came into my heyday as a mama during that historic era known as "Hammer Time."

Whenever I see the image of this poor kid in his salmon-colored shirt and gecko-printed "Hammer Pants," that crazy song goes off in my head.  If your time was before "Hammer Time," simply take a few bars from troubled rocker Rick James' most well-known tune, then add the warning: "U Can't Touch This!!"

You know my mind marches to the varying beats of its own, large, drum line. Still, I'm guessing you're wondering how I'm going to go from Rick James to life encouragement.

Well, it's all about the things I can and can't control.  Things I can and can't touch.

When my guys were little, I could control stuff like what they ate and watched.  I couldn't control when they were going to throw-up or wet through training pants.

As they grew, I could control who they spent the night with or went to a ballgame with.  I couldn't control those darned, little girls who wanted to smile at them.

Now?  Well, it's pretty much down to controlling what I cook and what kind of toilet paper I buy...for when they visit home.

Most days, I can't even control my own emotions.

As I've grappled for years with the things I can and cannot "touch,"  I always go back to two things that give me the comfort I so desperately need:

1)  God is in control.
2)  God decides who or what can or cannot touch lives.

Sometimes I want to jump in front of my boys, daughter-in-law, grandson, husband...and shout, "You can't touch this!!"

Then I am reminded that God's ways are much, much higher than my ways.  I am reminded of the times my life has been "touched" by things that were completely out of my control. And sometimes, these things seemed all-bad.

But, I know 

Some of my biggest moments of despair and heartbreak led me exactly where God wanted and needed me to be.  Some of my hugest disappointments have caused me to evaluate things that needed evaluated.  Brought me to a place where I made a change.

My misguided, crazy instincts have me puttin' on the "Hammer Pants," diggin' out some huge, car-ornament for a necklace, and dustin' off the boom box.  I want to dance all around my kids, my grandkid, my husband, my friends, my life, and the top of my lungs,  "Can't touch this!!"

God must be chuckling a good bit before He whispers in my ear, "You're going to throw something terribly out of whack there, Sis. Better let Me get this."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Hate to Practice

Don't I look like a piano player? Sittin' on the bench, rockin' my outfit and sportin' some confidence?

From a young age - in large part due to the fact that I had an older, ivory-tinkling brother - I was fascinated with the large, brown piece of furniture in the "front room" of our house.

When I was four, I banged on it so much, my mom enrolled me in piano lessons.  She figured if she couldn't keep me away from the noisemaker, she might as well get someone to help me learn how to make is sound a little nicer when I did pound on it.

There was one, colossal problem.  I just wanted to play.  PLAY.  Do you hear me, people?  I wanted to play! And I wanted to play what I wanted to play! And practicing and playing what other people wanted me to play was not playing!

But, here's a bigger, more colossal problem.  Without practice and without listening to the instruction of my teacher...well, my piano pounding was still just noise.  And really annoying noise at that.

In grade school, I wanted to play "Nadia's Theme" from the 1976 Olympics, but my teacher made me play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."  Gag. In junior high, I wanted to play from the Carpenter's anthology of love songs, but she made me play a Franz Listz "Hungarian Rhapsody." Double gag.  In high school, I wanted to play anything from my Michael Jackson "Thriller" cassette, but she made me play Bach Inventions Nos 4 & 13. Eye roll.  In college, I wanted to play Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is," but she made me play Debussy's "Clair de Lune."  By this time, I had surrendered.  Cue the Debussy.

You know what was a bigger, more colossal, colossal problem?  The fact that when she did let me attempt to perform what I wanted...I had to practice that, too!  I just wanted to sit down and rock out!
Wasn't gonna' happen.

Scales, arpeggios, scales and more arpeggios.  Some Mozart, some Jackson, some hymns...they all required practice.  All of 'em.

Forget "good to great" - most of us, not just our kids, want to go from nothing to great.  In 60 seconds.

We're always harping on our kids to practice. To work. To study.  What about us?  I want to show up with a slammin' lesson for each of my classes every day.  But, I don't want to go up to my classroom on Saturday afternoon and work on one.

I want to write, speak and encourage those around me - in a big way.  I don't always want to actually, physically sit down and type something up.  I don't always want to pray, fast and study to have something encouraging to speak.  I don't always want to turn off my Hallmark movie and call that friend I know could use a kind word. Sigh.

I hate to practice.  I hate forming good habits. It takes a lot of work.

But, you know what? I've loved, and still love, being able to make music.  I got to watch three, little boys march around the living room as I played, "Old Blue" and "Happy and You Know It." I can entertain school classes with my very own, "I'm Not Gonna' Write You a Hall Pass."  I can plop down in my family room on our rickety bench, at the end of a stressful day, and play and sing, "10,000 Reasons." Sing, pray, worship, cry and eventually, feel God's presence envelop me.

You know what else I love?  My relationship with God. I love when He swoops in to save my day, or makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I love the victories He gives me and all of the good times.

I just don't always like to get up and read my Bible.  I sometimes say, "I'll just have to talk to You later, Lord. Because, being the silly girl that I am, I'm too super busy right now trying to do some incredible stuff for You, without any preparation or consultation whatsoever."

In other words...I hate to practice.  But, I think I'd better go do it anyway.

How about you?