Gospel Parenting

I missed the memo that becoming a parent would 1. be a fiery pit of imposed humility and deep self-reflection. And 2. I would become a servant. I thought it would be playing with my kids, fun activities, some cooking and cleaning, but that my kids would naturally have a healthy fear of me and thus pretty easily fall in line when I calmly corrected their behaviors. I also imagined a lot less sickness. And poop. There was definitely less poop in my naive scenario.

Are you laughing yet?

You guys. I am bossy. I like to be in charge. And yet, that is just not the reality I find myself in.
I spend most of my days reminding my tiny humans to say “please” before they make their next demand.
And you know what? My kids do NOT respond well to me just telling them what they should and shouldn’t do all the time. They listen, kind of, but I just don’t see the type of change I want. It’s basically  “in one ear and out the other”. But you know what they do pick up on? ANYTHING I do wrong. When I lose my temper. When I am angry, or gasp- when I cuss.

Recently Shiloh, mid meltdown, stomped down the hall yelling “I don’t even care dammit”. YEP. I am killing it with this whole parenting gig.

So I’ve decided to change things up a bit. If they pick up so easily on my bad behavior, could the same be true for my good?

I keep thinking about how Jesus, at the last supper, cleans his disciples feet. He is GOD. mmmkay. GOD. And He served them by doing the lowliest task. I hate feet, so the yucky servitude of this task isn’t lost on me.

{Even if you don’t believe in God- Even if Jesus’ isn’t your Jam.   Historically speaking, He was a guy who did relationship pretty darn well and was a natural leader. And anyone who impressively  executes a skill set, I feel like it is    worth looking into how they accomplish their success. So maybe just hang with me a fewmore minutes if you aren’t bored.}

From John 13.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

How transformational might my mothering journey become if I follow this model of serving my children, of believing just because I am older, more experienced I am not necessarily “greater”? How might it change if I take the time to model thankfulness, patience, and apologizing to them when I royally mess up (cause that happens daily)

Jesus had high standards. But he didn’t go around chastising his disciples because they were doing it all wrong. And man did they get it wrong. He didn’t micro-manage his was into leadership of them. He didn’t yell at them when they didn’t listen.

He met them where they were. And invited them to follow him.
Gently guiding them He assertively, but lovingly invited them deeper into relationship with him. He didn’t demand their respect to validate his authority in their lives.
Patiently He invited them to step into relationship, over and over again.

Gospel parenting y’all.
(or maybe just intentionally leading by example)

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Instability, fear, shame come between people when the relationship is broken. And when you are parenting tiny humans the breaking of relationship comes about 100 times a day! We live in a society where shame is such a motivating factor. Where trust has been lost, and fear rules. I refuse to let those things be the prominent experiences for my girls, at least in my interactions with them.
With broken relationship, I have found it vitally importance to reach out to the “guilty party” to invite them back into the relationship. Jesus Modeled this well too. When Peter his nearest and dearest totally bailed on him during a crucial time- claimed to not even know him! And guess what- Jesus didn’t wait around for Peter to come and make things right, Jesus took the LEAD and invited him into relationship once again.

It is so easy for me as their mom to just see the fit being thrown, the bitter words escaping their lips, or the disobedience and punish/correct those things. But they aren’t the PROBLEM!!! They are a symptom of the problem. The root problems I have too- but just react too differently.

What would happen if instead I can have the ability to see their disapointment in a situation, recognize when they are tired, hungry, jealous, their lives feel out of rhythm, or they had too much freedom. And then give them tools to better handle those things.
*I’m not saying the tool won’t be alone time in their room to figure it out (or another punishment). But isn’t that a valuable lesson in itself? To learn to retreat when you feel out of control, step back and figure out what is happening to your emotions?

What if I took on the role of serving my children willingly, dying to my natural tendencies of trying to run the show?

Humbling. Parenting is Humbling. These tiny human sponge children repeat what is modeled to them. And there will be so many things influencing them before they are on their own. I want to make sure what I am modeling speaks loudly.

Anyway- I’m gonna give Gospel Parenting try. I’m sure it will be a humbling try at best.

 

Golden bonds of brokenness

I keep waiting for it to get easier.  For the sting of this disease to ease.

My three year old Shiloh is such a sensitive soul. She feels things deeply. She will skin her knee and just cry so hard about it. (for a day. mmmkay?) And then in the days to come will continue to tell me it hurts, she will wince, guard it, and even weeks later she will point out the mostly healed spot and recount the pain of it (And try to con me into giving her another princess band-aid). I mostly ignore her- count it as drama. Because let’s be honest it partially is, but it is also how she is affected by pain. It really bothers her. And then with the next wound it is the same. Over and over again, she doesn’t seem to get much tougher.

And that is about how I feel about Emmaus having Tuberous Sclerosis. There has been so much grieving with this disease. We have gone from Seizures, to brain surgery, to therapies, to seizures freedom and onset again. Autism joined us, and then the sicknesses. The viral illnesses, the mono, the pneumonias. We have joined the medically complex and ‘somewhat’ fragile club.  And I just keep waiting for the pain to stop coming.  Sometimes I Feel like I am the ‘about healed’, hardly visible skinned knee. (You know when the scab is gone, but the new skin is just a darker shade? Not obvious to those around.) But when I think I should be feeling better, a remembering-pain from the depths of my soul comes rushing forward.

In some ways this hospitalization has felt somewhat therapeutic. Last year when she was sick I felt so helpless and like her care was extremely mis-managed until we got to the ICU. And this year I shared our experience, my expertise of my daughter, and her medical team has been amazing. Pro-active. Kind.

And in other ways it feels hard. Heavy. It makes me realize this might be our new normal. Today I cried thankful tears we unexpectantly got pregnant with Lennon when we did. Because shortly after she was born these hospitalizing illnesses started. And I’m confident we wouldn’t be trying to grow our family in the midst of this.  I cried because Friday is Emmaus’ preschool graduation and she will be in the hospital.  I cried because we spent mothers’ day here.  I cried because trying to wrap my mind about fluxing in and out of this type of acute crisis, on top of our day chronic mini-crisis is TEAR WORTHY. 

I find myself waiting to settle into this being my life. To be content with this reality.  In some ways I have found peace with a lot of things. And in so many other ways the core of my being opposes these struggles head on. It makes me feel conflicted.  I want to walk this out peacefully. To find Joy in the crevices of my broken heart. To let life and love and experience pour out of its cracked places. AND IT IS SOOOO HARD TO ACTUALLY DO THAT!!

Time and time again I come back to this. If God cares about me even half as much as I care about Emmaus. If he feels the pain of the deep wounds like I feel hers. If he mourns with me like I mourn with her. I am not even slightly alone in my pain.  Today standing in the middle of a radiology room, after a failed swallow study, I just bawled for my girl. For the losses in her life. For the struggle. Holding her chest to chest, her lanky legs passing my knees. Her still crying from the swallow study, me crying from it’s result. But neither one of us alone. Tears falling from my face I gently set her in her chair, buckled her up, wiped her face, and kissed her tear stained cheek. Still crying  I stood tall to talk to the radiologist and therapist about “whats next”.  And the nurse with us (that I knew, but not super well-) pulled me in so tight. Giving space for my grief by acknowledging it. Not trying to comfort it, just stepping in and being present in the midst of the pain.

There is no shame in broken places. Brokenness is the thread that connects us all. There is holiness in standing with each other in these moments. 

Recently a friend shared with me a Japanese art from called Kintsugi. It is where value is still seen in brokenness. And broken pottery is fixed with a gold lacquer. kintsugi-crack-method-1

The bowl is not useless because of it’s brokenness. Instead it’s brokenness is highlighted. Seen as a part of it’s history, part of it’s beauty.

Today I was pitiful. My thoughts were full of “this isn’t fair” and I spent time stacking all the things in my head that have been taken from Emmaus, taken from me, from our family because of this disease.  And while I must have grace for myself in this space, I also cannot remain here. Because for me I feel the bitterness rise quickly.

May these broken places in my life not shatter me. Or render me useless. But instead become a golden bond of character. Of strength. And beauty.

Peace and love to you dear friends.

Love, La