Thursday, August 21, 2008

the mother I want to be

I recently signed up to receive daily email devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries. I have enjoyed each one, but I had to share this one. I recently shared in a young mothers' prayer group about struggling with selfish impatience and annoyance with my children. It was a little over a month ago and I told them how that very day while I was trying to get some work done I had snapped "WHAT?" at Elijah several times. Through my tears I told them how I knew I'd miss his constant talking, questions and need for my help when he started school. Of course I found I am not alone in this struggle. And one thing I've found since Elijah is in school all day every day - I make sure our time together is sweeter. Today when he got home my Mom was here, so he has been playing with her, but most days when he arrives I drop what I'm doing to ask him about his day, which mostly he says is "all secrets" and we play together or have a snack together. Yesterday he showed me how the bird in the science lab dances when sung to. I love this precious time we have when he comes home and Miles and Ella are napping. God is definitely teaching me to have more patience and sweeter responses to my children through Elijah's being away so much of the time...and as always, I'm a work in progress...

By Glynnis Whitwer

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV)

I should have responded better. Patience and kindness would have been a more appropriate response than the unjustified annoyance that laced my tone of voice. In a regrettable moment of anger, I spoke words that left my son sad, and me wishing I could press the rewind button and keep my mouth zipped.

Unfortunately, I often respond better to the bigger challenges of parenting than the everyday frustrations. If you were a fly on my kitchen wall for a one day, you would wonder why a minor event sparked an annoyed response on my part. If your house is like mine, the answer is because that minor event actually happens frequently. Hence, I fall into the “If-I’ve-told-you-once-I’ve-told-you-a-thousand-times” trap of thinking, which doesn’t lend itself to much mercy.
When my patience wears thin, I find myself strikingly similar to the person spoken about in Ecclesiastes 7:9: a fool with a lap of anger. Unfortunately, when that lap is full, it only takes the slightest spark for frustration and anger to spill over onto some unsuspecting victims.

I know God is calling me to deal with this anger in a healthy and godly way. When my spirit is provoked, my first response should be to hold my tongue. While that doesn’t deal with the heart issue, it does keep me from speaking hurtful words that can never be withdrawn. But I can’t leave it there. I must address ongoing parental frustration as a spiritual issue and bring my concerns to God in prayer. I find that as I honestly confess my sin, the door is opened for God to bring His healing peace into my heart.

Anger over injustice is good. Anger over childish behavior isn’t. When I don’t confess my inappropriate anger to God, it just starts building up, making me a fool with a full lap. I’m so glad God offers me forgiveness when I mess up, and puts me back on the path of developing a sweet spirit of patience and gentleness within me. That’s the kind of mother I want to be.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my weaknesses. Thank You for providing a way for me to deal with anger, and to become the kind and gentle woman we both want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the proudest boy

Yesterday was a rough start to our week. Elijah is quick to let anyone know that he does not like to color, and he came home with six unfinished worksheets. The rule is, you obey your teacher even if you don't like to color. If unfinished work comes home then he has to finish it at home before he can do anything else. So last night he finished all of his work at 8 pm, with a break for dinner, of course. We talked about it, prayed about it and decided to do a sticker chart rewarding 4 days of work completed at school.

Today he came home with a green apple and a report of "an excellent day!" He had a sticker, and was the only kid today who got to pick a prize from the treasure chest. I praised him like crazy and he told me he was "the proudest boy." Here he is with some of his work from today.They are having a color parade this week and are wearing and working with a different color each day.Tonight there was a family literacy night at school. Jonathan had a meeting at church so I had my mom come with me and the kids to school. Mom got to see Elijah's classroom and meet his teacher, who was so proud of Elijah's wonderful day. Here they are doing a rhyming activity during literacy night.
I also have gotten a bit more out of him today. They danced in class this afternoon "but not to the boogie woogie ABCs" that they listen to every morning. And tomorrow is the big day to go to the science lab for the first time and meet a dancing bird.

Maybe we are both starting to adjust. I know he is. Maybe I am.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

missing elijah

We miss Elijah!
We survived our first week of kindergarten. Elijah did very well with four green apples and one orange one (because he didn't complete some of his work). Green is the best, followed by orange, blue, yellow and red. An apple comes home each day to let us know how he behaved. He got a bit tired toward the end of the week and had a little cold, so Friday morning was the only time he teared up a little when I left him. He said he quit crying by "wiping away his tears." Starting Monday, we aren't allowed to walk them in school anymore and will have to drop them off at the door. I'm a bit concerned about how that will go, for him and for me. Another little step in letting go...

Miles really missed Elijah this week. He repeatedly asked me, "where's Lijah?" or told me to "go pick up Lijah." Poor thing didn't know he was making me feel even worse than I already felt. I missed Elijah so much this week. Constantly wondering how he was doing and not being able to know for sure. It was hard, and I cried a lot. I cried by myself, to my mom, to Jonathan, to Anita, and Helen (Isabelle's mom) and my sweet sister-in-law Shannon even cried with me.

Letting your child go to kindergarten is one of the many things you just can't prepare yourself for and you don't know how it will feel until you do it. I have been so proud, worried, sentimental, happy and sad all at once this week. I've also been tired physically and emotionally. But, after all my praying about God's direction in choosing a school and giving Elijah the right teacher, I must have faith that this is where he belongs. I never prayed for a specific school, but for where God wanted him. I never prayed for a specific teacher, but for who he needed to have. A sweet friend from church reminded me earlier this week that God has Elijah right where he wants him. That I have prayed God's will for him, so that is what has I will believe. Believe that He does what He promises. Believe in Elijah's ability to manage without me. Believe that I will be able to manage without him here all the time. Believe that I will be able to send two other babies to kindergarten one day.
Please pray for Elijah and me for next week. Also for sweet Isabelle who is having a pretty tough time being away from her mom. Friday morning she cried for 2 1/2 hours, and that was before school.

Miles' tattoos

Miles recently woke me up by showing me his new tattoos. He found a stamp and ink pad and went to town creating his own version of Daddy's shoulder, Uncle Kevin's arms...and my back (which I thought was cute).
He was very proud of himself. One day I'll have to break it to him that boys don't get lower back tattoos...

Monday, August 11, 2008

day one

Elijah looks ready to conquer the world, well at least the school, in this picture. I felt that he looked so small and the school looked so big, but it is so obvious that's not how he felt. He did very well this morning. Sat at his desk. Listened as I whispered a prayer in his ear. Hugged us both. Said, "I'm a little nervous." Said his goodbyes. Let us go with no problem. I did well, too. Until we got in the car and drove off. Jonathan was very sweet and understanding, while reminding me that Elijah would be coming home this afternoon. And he did. He's home now. He decided that he likes kindergarten. And that he'll go back tomorrow. That's a good start, right?

We started the day off having breakfast together at Cafe Louisa. Just the three of us. We had yummy sausage cheese biscuits.

We then went to school. The teacher made me feel better when I told her we worked on memorizing his lunch number, but I couldn't make any promises. He response was, "If he already knew everything, he wouldn't be in kindergarten." I told her I'd try to remember that...
He's not saying a whole lot about his day. I'm just getting bits and pieces out of him. But he said he'll go back. He seems happy. I'll take it.

And my day? I had to take Ella to the doctor. She has a cold. She had trouble sleeping last night. Her ear tubes have already come out. She may be getting an infection. We'll see the doctor again on Wednesday. And Miles kept asking me "Where's Lijah?" And telling me, "go get Lijah." We had lunch at McDonald's and on the playground he went to the little megaphone toy and said into it, "who's going to play with me?" No one was there. So he settled for Ella. I know he'll be happy when he gets up from his nap and finds his brother is home.

PS To my high school friends: Elijah is going to a science and technology exploration magnet school. David W. and Lori L. from our class both have their oldest starting kindergarten there as well.

Only one week left...

to sponsor a butterfly for Katie's Flight for the Fight. I found out today that there is a deadline to when donations can be registered so they can acquire the butterflies.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Katie's Flight for the Fight

Back in April I had a couple of posts about the story of Katie Smith, a 32 year old wife and mother-to-be who died of pancreatic cancer in November of 2006, two months after she was diagnosed. Her husband, James, was featured on Miami Ink and has thrown himself into raising awareness about pancreatic cancer. On September 6 he will join with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to raise funds for research. They will have a butterfly release and dinner to celebrate Katie's life. Those of us not able to attend, but still wanting to contribute can sponsor one butterfly for $20 or two for $30. If you would like to help, here is the link:

Katie's Fight for the Flight

I recently received word from Katie's sister, Teresa, that pancreatic cancer is considered to be hereditary, at least a predisposition to it is. The gene responsible has been identified, but she says with genetic testing confirming the gene, insurance companies will treat the cancer as a preexisting condition. Nice. She says her plan is to have abdominal scans every couple of years. I imagine I'll also be looking into that and urging my brother to do the same (which will take little to no convincing). I do wonder if Kevin or I will get it. Or our children. My dad's father, Elom, died when Dad was 11 of a brain aneurism. Elom's father's death certificate states his reason of death as stomach cancer. Kevin and I have wondered if it was truly pancreatic but they had no way of knowing back then. All this wondering and worrying amounts to this: I MUST have faith in the sovereignty of God. He didn't heal Dad the way I wanted him to, but he healed him by taking him home. If anyone else in our family has pancreatic cancer in the future, we will have to meet it with this faith. That's all I know to do. And pray, pray, pray.

This cancer is so vicious and hard to detect. Funds are desperately needed for research, as very few government dollars are allocated for pancreatic cancer research.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

kindergarten orientation

The classroom and his new teacher (in red). And that's Elijah's best friend Isabelle. They are in the same class, which we are all very thankful for.

Elijah took this picture of Jonathan outside his new school.

We had kindergarten orientation tonight at Elijah's new school. He was a little nervous when he was first seated in his classroom, but by the end he didn't want to leave. I tried to explain that starting in 4 very. short. days he'd be spending lots of time there. I only started to cry once, and I'd say that's pretty good for me. I have been praying the last several weeks that Elijah would get the teacher he needed. I think Mrs. Jackson is going to be the right combination of loving while expecting obedience from them.

After the teacher was done talking she asked if there were any questions. A few parents asked questions and then Elijah raised his hand. Very quietly and with a little shake in his voice he asked her how far away Michigan is from Montgomery. She laughed and admitted that she did not really know, but she knew you had to go up. I later explained that Elijah has a cousin in Michigan and that she'd be hearing a lot about him. I was proud that he asked his question with 19 other kids and at least one parent per kid in the room. No way would I have done that at his age.

I am truly excited for Elijah to take this huge step. He is so very ready for it. Me? Not so much. This is the time that I have dreaded since he was a newborn. Talking with other moms this seems very normal. It seemed so far away back then. It wasn't far away at all. It's here. I wonder how I am supposed to walk away from him on Monday morning. But I can honestly feel God tugging at my heart, gently prodding me to let go. I was reminded by a sweet friend of mine a few days ago that God loves Elijah even more than I do. That I may have to leave his side Monday morning, and many mornings after that, but God will always be at his side.

This song will have to be my prayer for the next several days...

Prayers for This Child

by Sara Groves

I do not know how I am to pray for this child
as a mother I don't want my baby denied
but in the waiting in the waiting
I learned

every instinct in me wants to shield him from pain
take the arrows of misery heartache and blame
but in the sorrow in the sorrow
I learned to hold on

I only have two eyes - be all seeing
I only have two hands - be everywhere
I do not know enough - be all knowing
I give my baby up into your care

I do not know how, how to pray for this child
I want to guard him from everything wicked and wild
but in the trial, in the trial
I learned to hold on
And in the trial, in the trial
I learned to hold on to the heart of God

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

our beach trip

A couple months back Elijah started saying that "it's just not summer if we don't go to the beach." At first I just let it go by, but after several times I decided we had to take him. So I started making plans and realized that we had not actually ever taken a "just the 5 of us" family vacation. Last Friday we headed to our favorite beach spot and stayed for three nights. We had so much fun playing, digging, splashing. Ella enjoyed the sand but tearfully said "dye, dye" and waved at the crashing waves of the ocean any time we got her too near it. Miles kept very busy excavating and Elijah loved being buried in the sand. Jonathan and I even had a conversation while we lounged on beach chairs, under an umbrella as Ella played quietly between us and the boys were busy digging. We ate at our very favorite place. We really had a great time. We only hope that the people under us who called guest services to complain about "a little one running around all night and all day" had as good of a time being quiet together as we had being with our noisy, fun, rambunctious children. We tried our best to keep them quiet, but they are children. They do run and jump. They get excited and can be loud. Sometimes I think Elijah wouldn't ever make it anywhere if he couldn't hop on his way. We tried. They really couldn't stay quiet. They were happy. I wouldn't have had it any other way.