I've heard it said and know it to be true that we tend to be most vulnerable to "temptation" or a "spiritual attack" when we are in a "sweet spot". We subconsciously begin to let down our spiritual guards and begin coasting on feel-good-vibes and Bible passages we read last week.
The whole morning wasn't a total loss, but rather a particular moment stands out -- a failing on my part as a mama. I had originally planned to dissect this event in a play-by-play run down of my failings, but after a little sleep and a little prayer I don't believe that would be helpful to anyone. I desire to cultivate a heart of grace within myself and within my family, and I am finding that giving grace to oneself can often be the hardest.
It can also be hard to remember that 3 is still so exploratory - exploring limits, exploring environments, exploring attitudes and feelings. It can be hard not to take my 3-year-old's behavior personally -- like a reflection of my parenting skills -- his disobedience shouting to the world that I have trouble setting boundaries, while his good manners say that I have invested my time in teaching him "to mind his P's and Q's". Of course, this is no standard by which I would judge another parent because I know that a child's behavior does not a good or bad parent make. Again, giving grace to oneself is hard. It's also hard to reconcile the way I was parented with the way I parent. I feel like this is totally new territory. This is in no way a dig at my precious Grandparents, just an observation that we have very different styles of parenting that stem from various backgrounds, personal situations, and generational differences. Also, given the sudden addition of a 3 year old into their later years of life, I think they did a great job of "grandparenting" me; I am beyond thankful for God's wisdom and mercy in giving me these two wise and God-fearing influences.
So, in light of all of this there are 3 key lessons that we are working toward with Bowen. They are obedience, respect, and self control. I have begun teaching him Bible verses to help us both in the middle of a difficult situation. Yes, I am teaching my 3 year old Bible verses. Not something I ever imagined myself doing, but this is one way I was parented and it is the best reference for teaching character. If I want my children to know and follow after the heart of the Father I must teach and model what God says in His love story to us -
- Obedience -- this is a given for our family. We believe that our children must learn to obey their authority/parents in order to learn to be successful in society and in order to learn to have a heart of obedience toward our Heavenly Father. While I do not expect immediate obedience, I do expect obedience. Ephesians 6:1 "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
- Respect -- especially in the way he speaks to me. He has less trouble speaking to Josh respectfully. I do not expect him to be happy all the time. In fact, I *want* him to express a healthy range of feelings and emotions. What I do expect is that he express those emotions respectfully. Ephesians 6:2, "Honor your Father and your Mother - which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth."
- Self Control -- this is an area that we really struggle with. Young children are naturally exuberant and kinetic. Bowen does everything with gusto! But we want to teach him to express that energy in appropriate ways. We try to build in periods of time during our day for movement and energy use - walks, riding bikes, time at the playground, etc. Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
I am struggling a little here in Louisville. That's not to say that we don't have wonderful days. We go for walks, to parks, to the library. We read books and make meals and attend church and playgroups. We spend as much time as we can with Josh, but his hours are varied and long and, through no fault of his own, he has very little left to give when he finally returns home. The tragedies and heart-break he is dealing with at work make me so grateful for the life we have. I do my best to relieve him of too much pressure or commitment to me but it's harder with Bowen. Right now all Bowen has is me and his Daddy, and he doesn't understand the other commitments that occupy our hearts and minds. I have a lot of guilt because all Bowen has is "me". He constantly wants me to play with him, to occupy the time we spend at home... in the middle of my life and stress and loneliness I just don't always have the desire or energy to engage in "play". I struggle with wanting him to be more independent (because I know he will need some independence when his baby sister comes) and wanting him to stay my little boy. I'm struggling to find that balance and a little terrified of what's to come with two...
On a happier note we are praising God for several things!
- After 5 weeks here our insurance *finally* came through and I was able to make an appointment with a local midwife/OB group. My 35 week check-up went really well. I had been having some deep and uncomfortable cramping which I believe to be changes in my cervix, but I was assured that this was not uncommon for a second-time mom and normal. I wouldn't be surprised if Little L comes a bit earlier than her brother -- although I am planning on hanging on until Grammie gets here on August 21 :)
- Our house in Greenville has been rented! An older couple showed interest and signed the lease on Friday. They are paying a year's lease up front and are also interested in buying at the end of the year's lease. The man is ill and wants his wife to be provided for in the event that he is unable to do so.
- We have attended 2 Preschool Play Dates with Ninth and O Baptist Church (which is where we have attended church for the past 3 Sundays) and plan to attend another one this week. It's nice to have something to look forward to during the week. All the mama's have been very kind and welcoming and I know Bowen enjoys the change in routine :)
- Josh is gaining confidence in his job! Although he is dealing with some of the most difficult issues (socially and medically) he is really fitting in well with his co-workers and beginning to make management decisions on his own. We continue to pray that he will be a light in the darkness around him.
Love from Louisville,