A Timetable for Grief

jim and grandma

It’s been three and a half years since Jim died.  I haven’t really talked about it much because, well, what would I even say.  It’s all so tender and fragile and holy.  It’s been three and a half years since we all stood around his bed and said goodbye.  None of us wanted to, but we had no choice. So we did. I stood in the back of the room because I didn’t think I had a right to stand closer. He was my uncle.  Not my brother.  Not my partner.  My uncle.  I didn’t have a right to be up close as he took his last breaths so I stood in the back and held mine.  In that cold hospital room, with the stupid blue chair and the horrible view of the roof and the air conditioning units I watched him die.  And some of me died there too.

Parts of me that believed that life was good and right and real died that day when the most real person I ever knew stopped living and left us all there to figure out why the hell it happened.  Even now as I write these words I still have no idea.  You know how sometimes you look back on things that have happened and say, “so THAT’S why that happened.  I understand now.”  Three and a half years later I still can’t make sense of it.  And maybe that’s just it.  There isn’t a reason.  He died because he got sick.  That’s it.  End of story.  Maybe there’s no lesson there at all.

I don’t think I’ve taken a deep breath since that day.  I’ve been shallow breathing for nearly four years.  Filled with so much sadness and grief and anxiety that I can’t catch my breath.  I got an up close and personal view of how fragile life actually is and it wrecked me.  Jenny Simmons writes, “Life is so deathy.”  She’s right.  It is.  But here’s the thing…the deathy-ness of life can keep us from the living.  It’s kept me from living.  It just feels so horribly wrong that the sense of wrongness takes up residence inside us and prevents us from taking deep breaths and seeing the fleshy colors of life all around us.  The weight of death wrapped itself around my shoulders, refused to let me go, and I’ve been sinking underneath the heaviness of it.

I couldn’t accept it, so I didn’t.  My heart has stayed there in that room, frozen in time, because I haven’t been able to deal with it yet.  And I’m terribly embarrassed about that.  I feel ashamed that I’m still grieving.  Like, why can’t I just get over it already?  Everyone expected me to get over it years ago, so I put on my happy face and pretended.  But really, inside I’m just numb and angry and devastated.

I keep feeling the need to explain why I loved him the way I did, why his death has me so messed up.  I feel the need to validate my grief.  But I can’t figure out why.  Is there some rule about who we are allowed to grieve for and whose death we have to move right past?  I don’t feel like I have a right to be this sad.  But I am.  So where does that leave me?  Not only am I still, nearly four years later, filled with red hot grief – I’m also ashamed to admit it so I’m keeping it entirely to myself.  So add to the red hot grief a paralyzing loneliness that I didn’t even realize was there.

I was pregnant with my fifth child, our first boy, when my uncle died.  I was terrified I would lose that baby as I had lost one many years before. So as we buried Jim, I buried my feelings along with him.  I became numb, the feeling parts of me closed off as tightly as I could manage while still being able to hug and hold all of my sweet babies. Bittersweet living. A new baby came and new friends and opportunities and all along the way I showed up just enough to take a ton of pictures, laugh a little and then crawl back into my hidy hole.

As I begin to emerge from my little cocoon, I realize that I am certainly not the only one who’s been here. There are so many of us who struggle with sadness, depression, anxiety or grief and we never really talk about it. For me, it was mostly because I wouldn’t have known what to say. And I’m usually pretty in touch with my feelings. I generally understand myself pretty well. Grief changes all that self-awareness though, I think. At least it did for me. I suddenly had no idea how to deal, or even what exactly I was dealing with. I heard someone say once that sin takes you further than you want to go and keeps you longer than you want to stay.  Well, I wonder if the same is true of grief – although I would never compare grief to sin.  Grief takes you hostage. It pulls you away from the living. And it cannot be interrupted, ignored or avoided no matter how hard you try. Grief has its own timetable and it will not be determined by those who grieve, we are simply along for the ride.

I wish that someone had told me that grief is different for every person. The timing will be different. The feelings will be different. The intensity and effects will be different. None of that means that anyone’s grief is more or less significant than anyone else’s – it simply means that grief (like anxiety and depression) is different for all of us. I wonder if we have to actually be present within the grief to ever come back out of it? I wonder if grief isn’t something to just get through, but rather something to experience freely and fully so that we can take from it even more memories of the people that we lost. I have memories of my grief that are entwined with my memories of and with my uncle. This may sound strange, but they are as precious to me as the memories I have with him living. They feel tender to me and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.

I’m grateful for my season of grief and for however long it decides to last. I will fully participate in it. I will not try to push it down or away, but will listen to whatever it has to teach me.

I pray now for each of you who are traveling your own grief journey. Let us not be ashamed or discouraged. Let us be willing and ready to remember and be thankful that we have had the beautiful and enduring privilege of loving someone so deeply. May God bless you in your grief and me in mine. 

kim

How Gilmore Girls Changed My Relationship With My Daughter

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My oldest daughter was born less than two months before the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls aired in the year 2000.  I held my newborn daughter in my arms while I watched that first episode.  I was nineteen years old.

As a new mom who had zero idea what I was doing, I remember thinking how beautiful the relationship was between Lorelai (the mom) and Rory (the daughter) on the show.  Every week, while holding my little girl in my arms, I tuned in to watch these two young women and their incredible friendship.  Along with the rest of the world, I fell in love with the mother/daughter duo and dreamed that someday my daughter and I could have that kind of relationship.  I remember praying that I could somehow make that happen.

Fast forward about eight years.  Gilmore Girls is over – sad – but luckily, my sweet husband bought me all seven seasons on DVD so that I could continue watching my very favorite show whenever I wanted to. In 2008, my 3rd daughter was born.  At this point I had an eight year old, an 18-month old and a newborn – all girls.  I was struggling with understanding my eight year old.  She was independent, smart, stubborn and very much had her own way of doing things – just like her daddy.  They are both pretty much the opposite of me.  I really didn’t have any idea how to relate to her and remember thinking that there was no way we’d ever have that beautiful mother/daughter relationship that I’d always dreamed of.  Our relationship was filled with tension, frustration and a lot of misunderstanding.

One day, while I was watching Gilmore Girls, I had a weird little revelation.  My daughter IS Rory.  And I AM Lorelai.

I knew my daughter was more like her dad then me, but I didn’t understand how his personality translated into a little girl.  I didn’t know how to communicate with her.  I couldn’t figure out what she was thinking or feeling.  I was thoroughly confused.  So I started studying Rory.  I paid attention to the things that were most important to her and started asking questions of my girl to look for similarities.  My daughter was very reserved, quiet, studious and hard-working.  It was important to her to finish projects – she hated stopping mid-stride  She loved learning and reading and often disappeared into books the same way that Rory did. She loves to write – and is immensely talented.  There were so many more similarities that it was almost eerie.

Little by little I began to appreciate her uniqueness in a way that I hadn’t before.  I studied her and began celebrating the amazing ways she was different than me – praising her for the things that mattered most to her.  I became a student of my daughter and I cannot express how much that changed our relationship.

By the time she was about 12 we started watching Gilmore Girls together.  Over and over again she would see something Lorelai would do and mentioned that I was just like her.  She began to understand me through watching Lorelai.  It really sounds crazy, but Lorelai and Rory taught us about each other.  They showed us how to talk to each other and gave us common love for the town and the characters.  We have more inside jokes with each other than with anyone else on earth – and we are so much closer than mother and daughter.  We’re friends – the best of friends.

When the revival came back to Netflix, we sent the rest of the family away so that we could watch it together – just her and me.  We ordered Chinese, drank massive amounts of coffee and laughed and cried as our favorite people came back into our lives again.  It was a memory I’ll never forget.

My girl is about to be 17.  She has one more year of high school and then she’ll go off to college.  I am so in love with the woman she is becoming and couldn’t be prouder of her if I tried for a thousand years.

By the way, if you’d like to read her version of how GG changed our relationship, you can read her blog here.

kim

 

Punderdome (A Card Game for Pun Lovers) – Review

My family loves games.  We play a ton of HeadsUp (a free app for iPhone created by Ellen Degeneres) and LOVE to be silly and laugh together.  It’s really the best part about our little family is how much fun we have together.  So, I was thrilled to try out this new game called Punderdome.  It’s a card game for people who love silly puns – well, that’s SO us.  It started as a live game show in Brooklyn, NY (which still goes on today) and then the creators of the game show, Jo & Rodney Firestone (daughter and father) turned it into a card game.

A couple of first impressions..

  1. It’s easy to travel with.  It’s a small box and could go on any long road trip or vacation with you (or even a long doctor’s office visit).  I’m keeping the cards in my car so we can play during the 2 hours I spend dropping off and picking up kids from school every day.
  2. It’s made for a certain kind of person (a weird one).  The box says for 12 and up and I think that’s probably about right.  However, you will not be good at this game simply because you’re older. I think it takes a certain kind of brain – the super creative (maybe even a little wacky) person will love this game.  You have to take two unrelated words and put them together in a cheesy way.  My eight year old is fabulous at this because she’s as nutty as the game is.  I’m sure there are adults that would be terrible at it.  It’s not so much an intellectual game as a wacky one. (Although you would think the opposite would be true).
  3. You can play this game forever and it would still feel fresh.  There are TONS of cards and even if you ran through them all, there are unlimited combinations.  I can’t imagine this game ever getting stale or repetitive simply because of the way it’s set up.  You draw one white card and one green card and put them together with a pun.  There are 100 of each color.  I’m no math whiz, but I assume that makes for a ton of different combos

You need a timer (there’s one on your phone), a pen (who doesn’t have a pen), and mystery envelope prizes.  The mystery prize thing was a little weird in my opinion – I hate when my games have prep work, like they are some fancy lasagna or something.  However, I figure that you can just write out weird prizes – like a hug.  Or getting to make another player sing the national anthem a cappella (or some other embarrassing thing that will make you giggle).

Overall, I was really impressed by Punderdome.  It’s not really a family game for us (all but one of my kids is under ten), but it’ll be fun for the rest of us.  It’s also really inexpensive on Amazon as far as games go.  If your family is as wacky as mine, you’ll love this game!

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this game from BloggingforBooks.com for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own

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We Belong to Each Other

I have to admit that I’ve been really grumpy lately. Grumpy and sad. It seems like every day I hear about or read about some hugely controvertial event that everybody in the whole world is either entirely for or vehemently against. Story after story pops up on my Facebook feed – guns, gorillas, bathrooms, babies – and on and on it goes. Take a quick scroll through the comments of any of these news stories and you’ll feel like there is no end to what we will fight about. And everyone is an expert. On everything. Blech. So I’m grumpy. And weary. And ready for all the fighting to end.

But I’m not three. So I know better. The fighting will never end. It will continue on and on until Jesus returns and completes what He began at the manger.

In her book, Carry On Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton writes, “I love God, whoever he is, and I’d really like to get closer to him.  I’ve been thinking about how one of the simplest ways to get close to a woman is to be good  to her children.  To be kind and gentle and to pay close attention to the things that make them special.  To try to see her children the way she sees her children.  And how God made us in his image.  How he is the mother and father of all of us.  So I wonder if that would be the best way to get closer to him too.  By being kind and gentle to his children and noticing all of the things that make them special.  So many of us spend our time trying to find God in books, but maybe the simplest way to God is directly through the hearts of his children.”

Man, that’s good.

The best way to get to know the heart of an artist is to study his art.  The best way to understand the heart of an author is to study the books they’ve created.  The best way to understand a songwriter is to listen to the songs they’ve written.  So it would make sense that the best way to get to know the heart of the Father is to study his creation.  Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image.  In the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

I’ve recently been reading a book called The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper.  At the beginning of her fabulous book, she talks about what God meant when he said that his creation was “very good”.  She says this:

At the end of the sixth day, the writers declare, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good [tov me’od].  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

Tov is the Hebrew word for “good,” but the word does not refer only to the goodness of the object itself; it also refers to the ties between things.  In the Hebrew conception of the world, all of creation is connected.  The well-being of the whole depends on the well-being of each individual part.

– The Very Good Gospel, Lisa Sharon Harper, pg 30-31

Our connectedness is what makes us whole and healthy and “very good” in the eyes of our Creator.  This connectedness brings peace and love and happiness.  It helps us to remember our worthiness and our sense of belonging.  It helps us to remember that we are not the center of the universe, but rather an integral part of a beautiful whole that includes everyone.  When we remember that we’re connected no one gets left out or left behind.  Mother Teresa once said that “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  I believe this is THE reason that we can’t stop fighting.  We’ve forgotten that everyone belongs, everyone is worthy, everyone matters.  Not just me.  Not just you.  But everyone.

%22If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.%22

What if we lived as though everyone mattered?  The person in the car we just cut off, the lady in front of us in line at the grocery store who has eight bazillion coupons, the teenaged kid who is bullying other kids because he feels so worthless that he’s afraid someone else might think he’s worthless too, your kid’s teachers – who are doing the very best that they can, your pastor, your in-laws, your kids, your spouse – they all matter.  And everyone else that makes you mad, pushes your buttons, wastes your time or makes you feel rotten – they all matter too.  And so do you.  Not more than everyone else, but just as much.

Can you imagine how the world might change if we thought that way and then let that thinking influence our actions?  We might learn to seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood.  We might be able to look across the table and find common ground.  We might even turn our attention to more important things to fight against – like hunger, sex trafficking or racism.

“I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God.  I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On Warrior

Looking at each other as equals requires both humility AND confidence.  We can no longer see ourselves as less important, but we can’t see ourselves as more important either.  Everyone gets the same score on the scale of value.  We all make the cut.  In fact, we all hit the bullseye in terms of worth and value.  No one misses the mark.  

Once we understand all of that, we can learn to build bridges, cross divides and discover new common ground.  We may have to build that common ground, but once we see everyone as equally worthy we can begin to mend the hurt and create a new future together.  Sounds idealistic, and it is, but I also believe it’s the stuff of the Gospel.  Bridge-building, peace making, worthiness, grace, common ground – it’s the stuff of Jesus.  

by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you

 

 

Enough

Today I dropped all of my five children off at schools.  Five kids.  Three schools.  Five hours all by myself.  At the beginning of the morning I felt like I could conquer the world.  I just knew that by the end of my five hours I’d have cured cancer, brokered world peace and found Waldo.  Or at least just the Waldo part.

I did get quite a bit done, but here it is the end of the day and I’m feeling that oh-so-familiar feeling of failure.  My first instinct was to feel shame and regret over all the things I didn’t finish (laundry, dishes, floors, meal planning, bill paying, and on and on it goes).  I know I’m not the only one who gets to the end of the day only to feel frustrated that I can’t ever seem to fit it all in.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  We get to decide, you know.  I know this.  I’ve been quoting Chuck Swindoll for more years than I can count: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  We get to choose how we react.  We do.  I know this.  I do.

I’m not sure we necessarily get to choose how we feel, but we can certainly choose how we react to it.  And I, for one, am so weary of feeling like I’m failing a test I created for myself.  I’m not sure what the solution is, other than to create new self talk. Brené Brown says that we should “talk to ourselves the way that we would talk to someone we love” and I think that’s amazing advice.  However, it’s definitely not a natural thing for me.

I think the best I can do is try to do better so I’m talking more nicely to myself tonight.

I’m running through the list of things I DID get done and celebrating how hard I worked today.

I’m remembering the moments that I let go of the busiwork in order to hold a crying baby and I’m thanking God that I get to hold babies.

I’m thinking about the things I was able to do today that I never would have been able to if my sweet babies hadn’t been at school, and I’m grateful for that time.

I’m already making a list of things to do tomorrow and then I’m cutting at least three things off that list so that I can actually accomplish it.

Tonight I give myself grace.  Tonight I remember that I’m doing the best I can and that it’s entirely enough.  I am enough.  

And so are you.

kim

3 Things Your Littles do that are Entirely Normal

I hear a lot from parents (usually other moms) about something their kid does that makes them completely crazy.  They often feel like their kid is the ONLY one who does whatever it is that’s making them nutty.  With five kids, I know the feeling and I know it well.  When my oldest was about eight years old she went through a phase of blaming me for everything – she yelled, she screamed, she told me I was the worst mother in the history of the world and that she hated me.  I cried buckets of tears over it.  I thought my kid was broken and that I was the only mom on the planet whose child hated them.  This phase went on for about a year.  I had no idea what to do about it.  I cried, I ignored, I yelled back – nothing seemed to work.  Then I ended up in a parenting class where other moms talked about this “phase” as if it was no big deal.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was not a failure as a mother.  I was not alone in this.  Other parents had suffered through the same thing!  I cried more buckets that day – not buckets of sad tears, but tears of relief.  Of peace.

Knowing that you’re not alone is a great first step in believing that you’ll make it through.  The assurance that you have people who understand your situation and have walked through it (and survived it) plants little seedlings of hope in your heart.  Hope that you will also survive it.  I hope that this list will plant little seedlings of hope in your heart.  Mommying is hard – but you are not alone.  There is a community of women all around us who have gone before and whose wisdom we can learn from.  It’s time for us all to step up and encourage each other – to band together in a confidence that declares that we can make it – to fight for our collective sanity – to make this mom journey just a little easier because we know that we all have allies.

This list may not be true for every single kid, and there are definitely other things not included in this list.  These are the things I hear most often from friends about their own little ones and these are the things I have the most experience with from my own kids.  I should also note that since my oldest child is only fifteen and my other four are all under ten, this list really only covers issues I’ve seen during the younger ages.  I hope it helps you feel less crazy – or that it assures you that your kids aren’t crazy – they’re just normal kids.

LYING.


Every single one of my kids (with the exception of the youngest – who is only 2) went through a lying phase.  For some it lasted longer than others, but they all went through it around the age of 3-4.  My oldest child went through it when she was about three and it lasted for well over a year.  My youngest child (who is about 4 1/2) is just now coming out of this phase, which for her lasted only about six months or so.  Every child is different.  But every child experiments with lying.  I read this in an article in Parenting magazine that was published several years ago:

“Victoria Talwar, Ph.D., a leading researcher on the subject at McGill University, in Montreal, says that the act of manipulating the truth for personal gain “is a developmental milestone, much like learning to get dressed by yourself or to take turns. Indeed, studies show that bright kids (who are capable of making up a story and getting others to believe it) can pick up the skill as early as age 2 or 3. And their peers catch up quickly: By age 4, Dr. Talwar says, it’s game on — all children stretch the truth at times.” 

Just because your child is experimenting with truth (and that’s what it is – an experiment) doesn’t mean that they’ll grow up to be a sociopath.  I promise.  They are just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  They are starting to understand the power of words.  It’s a wonderful thing for them to learn that our words have power.  We need to teach our kids that words have weight – even our own words.  One of the best ways to help your child learn a better way of acting is to model it.  Instead of telling them how bad they are, remind them of how good they are.  “I know its so hard sometimes to tell the truth – especially when you’re scared of getting in trouble – but you are a very brave and wonderful girl and I know that you can do it.” 

PUBLIC TANTRUMS.


Ooh boy – this one is F.U.N.  Right?  Nothing could make me show my crazy quicker than a toddler on the floor of Target throwing a royal tantrum.  And why does it always happen right when all the other shoppers are in the same aisle as I am watching and waiting to see how I handle it?  Public entertainment at its finest.  Not.  I have so much experience with public tantrums that I sometimes feel like we could have our own reality show.

This one is all about testing boundaries.  Kids need to know what their limits are to feel safe.  Have you ever noticed how kids play differently on a playground with a fence than they do on a playground without one?  On playgrounds that have no fence or protective barrier, kids tend to stay close to the middle.  They play mostly on the playground and don’t venture out very far.  But on a playground with a protective fence, they’ll play all the way out to the edge.  The fence makes them feel safe so they venture out farther.  Without the fence, they stay closer to the middle where they feel safe.  Kids play best in an environment where they know that they have boundaries and they know where those boundaries are.  Adults are the same way.  We spend more responsibly when we have a budget or plan for spending.  We work more creatively when we know what the parameters of our job are.  Our kiddos are acting out in public mostly because they want to see how we react.  They need to know what’s ok and what’s not.  The most important thing we can do in a public tantrum situation is to remain calm (I’m convinced that toddlers can smell fear!)  and clearly establish those boundaries. If the fit is a small one I usually ignore it and keep walking.  This communicates that I won’t give attention to their behavior. When they don’t get the attention they want, they often switch to a different tactic.  If it’s a big one I almost always pick the kid up and leave the store.  I’ve left grocery baskets hugely full in the middle of an aisle before in order to remove a hysterical kid from a store.  It’s so much easier to discipline when I don’t have an audience.  Note: we don’t spank our kids, but we do use lots of time outs which are easier to do in a less public place (my kids love to perform for an audience).  In both of these situations, I’m clearly communicating to the kid that tantrums aren’t okay. Giving in to tantrums by giving the kid what they want doesn’t solve the problem – it just delays it for another time. Eventually you’ll have to set clear boundaries – might as well bite the bullet and do it right away because the longer you put it off the battle, the harder it is to actually win.

Testing the boundaries isn’t the only reason for fit throwing, though. They also partly just want what they want and don’t know how to express their deepest desires without emotional outbursts.  Sometimes just acknowledging how cool something is and that you understand why they would want it so badly is a great first step in preventing a total melt down.  We often say things like, “Wow!  What a cool toy!  I think I’d like to have one too!  Maybe we should add that to our Christmas wish list!”  or “that would be a great thing to ask for on your next birthday!”  We’ve used lines like this so often that my now eight year old once replied, “No!  Not for my birthday!  I’m not kidding!  I want that!”  She’s the only one who ever called our bluff!  We still laugh about it.

With both lying and tantrums, it’s easy to freak out or feel like there is something wrong with our kid.  Instead, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t Freak Out!  This is huge.  The more you freak out, the more your little darling will carry on with the lying, the tantrums, and the screaming.  This is why my oldest stayed in the lying phase for what felt like an eternity.  I was so scared that this was a character flaw in her.  I punished her and shamed her and yelled at her and cried at her.  Nothing worked.  Until I stopped freaking out.  All of those other things I did (which are all horrible, by the way!) were enormous overreactions to something that is simply normal experimentation and development in an innocent little child.  There is no malicious intent here on the part of the child in any of these situations.  They are not trying to make you crazy.  They are simply trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Don’t Test Them!  I did this a lot with my oldest.  I would find something broken and ask her “do you know who broke this?” knowing full well that she did, only to have her lie and say it wasn’t her.  And then I got mad.  I knew she was going to lie, but I tested her anyway just to give her the opportunity to tell the truth.  Yes, they should learn to tell the truth – and they will – but we need to make allowance for the fact that they are really, really small and sometimes temptation is just too big for such a little one.  Instead, why not let them see that you know the truth from the very beginning and encourage them to affirm that truth.  “I noticed that you accidentally broke that toy.  Can I help you try to fix it?”  or “I saw that you ate your sister’s cookie.  Do you think you owe her an apology?”  Sometimes we forget how young they actually are. Can you imagine how hard it would be for a tiny little kid with very little impulse control to not freak out over all the dumb stuff at the checkout stand at Walmart?  I have a hard time not buying all those pretty magazines and the yummy, shiny candy bars – I can only imagine how hard it would be for a two year old.  I bring lots of distractions to the grocery store with me (phone, keys, books, toys, paper and crayons).  Try to distract them before they see the stuff – not after.  Avoid taking them to the toy area – don’t even walk past it if you can avoid it.  We want to set them up for success in every area instead of giving them opportunities to fail.
  3. Don’t Shame Them!  I feel really passionately about this one.  And it could really apply to absolutely every situation with kids.  Just because your child is testing out the truth, it doesn’t mean that they are a liar or a terrible kid.  Before we even get out of the car at the grocery store we remind our kids that they are awesome and responsible and well-behaved and that we expect them to act that way.  When a child believes that you believe in them to do the right thing or to act the right way – they will rise to the occasion.  They want more than anything in the world to please you and to know that you love and support them.  Your support and love should never be dependent on their actions and they need to know that.  The only way they’ll know that is if you tell them and tell them often.  Kids will only behave as well as they believe they can. Your words to them – your belief in them is the fuel they need to do the right things – to behave well – to believe that they can do better.
  4. Don’t Give Up!  Continuing to encourage your child to tell the truth, to act kindly or to think about their actions is an important task – don’t give up.  Praise them every time you notice them telling the truth.  Remind them of the importance of truth telling and being well-behaved (not as a lecture – those never work – but just in regular situations).  Teach them some of the consequences of lying (loss of trust, losing friends, feeling sad, etc) or tantrums (having to leave the store, time out).  One of the things I say to my kids is “you always get in more trouble when you lie than when you tell the truth.”  I also say often, “the truth is the only thing accepted here.”  (this is especially helpful when they are fighting and I’m trying to decipher the true story of what happened.)  I also model it with them as often as I think about it.  I am a serial confessor (more about my confession obsession here) and my kids know this about me.  If I overreact to a situation or yell at them when I shouldn’t I confess to them that it was wrong and ask them for forgiveness.  This may not seem like a huge thing, but it models integrity – which is the root of truthfulness.  Teaching them to always do the right thing (especially when it’s hard) is a great way to encourage truthfulness and better behavior in your children.

SCREAMING.


I have to first admit that I am the mom that judged all the other moms with screaming kids.  I was all, “what is wrong with your kids?!” and “why can’t that mother control her child?!” and “she must be a terrible mother because her kid screams all the time!”  I would like to just say that what goes around, comes around and man, oh man, am I sorry for my dumb and wrong opinions and judgments.  I am now on my second screamer.  And this one is fierce.  It is probably THE most embarrassing thing as a mother to have a kid who screams all the time.  At home. At the grocery store. At the park. At church.  My youngest screams everywhere.  Mad. Sad. Happy. Scared. All of his emotions are expressed through blood-curdling screams.  It’s hard. And stressful. Here are my thoughts on dealing with a screamer:

  1. Find out why they’re screaming.  Even though it may seem really random, every scream has a cause.  Are they wanting something?  Are they trying to tell you or someone else something? Are they scared?  Ask them.  Give them the words they need but don’t have quite yet. They’ll often stop screaming when they are able to tell you what they’re wanting to tell you. Ask questions like, “are you scared?” Or “are you mad at sister?” Or “does something hurt?”  Little ones can often understand far more words than they can actually say. Sometimes they don’t know the words for what they want but they can take your hand and show you.
  2. Resist the urge to fight back. I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to scream back (and I have once or twice). Those little lungs are powerful. I have had more headaches caused by screaming kids than I can count. It is so very hard to stay calm while a toddler screams in your face. To solve the problem and stop the screaming, the child needs to feel heard and understood. You can’t hear or understand them when you’re not thinking clearly. When that kiddo starts screaming: I take a deep breath, look at their little fingers or little toes to remind me how tiny they actually are, then I calmly remind them to stop screaming and to use their words instead.
  3. Remind them it’s not okay. When my boy screams, I walk over to him, get as close to his face as possible and calmly say, “No screaming. When you scream, you sit.” And then I sit him on his bottom right then and there. This seems to be working for us. At least for now. Find what works for you. But whatever you do, stay calm, speak clearly and respond right away. 
  4. Don’t model it. If your toddler watches you or someone else in your home scream or yell on a regular basis, you’d better believe they are gonna follow suit. You can’t expect them not to act in a way that you are acting. They want to be just like you. Make sure you aren’t modeling bad behavior. 


 In all of these scenarios, make sure that you consistently make clear to their kids that they are loved, safe, and accepted just as they are. Even the littlest people can pick up on the idea that they have to somehow earn your acceptance or love. Help them understand that just as we are all accepted and loved by God just as we are, they are accepted and loved by you just as they are. Remember that they are tiny. Look at their little fingers and their little toes and remember how small they are. They are doing the best they can. You are doing the best you can. You’re both gonna make it. Don’t give up. 

Love you guys. 

Kim

 

Writing in the Margins

I’ve been re-reading a book lately called, “Writing in the Margins” by Lisa Nichols Hickman (which I cannot recommend highly enough!).  It is a book about learning to write in the margins of our Bibles to study, to connect with God and to also connect our story to God’s story.  All throughout the book are stories about people who wrote in the margins of their Bibles.  One of them is the great musician, Johann Sebastian Bach.  Here is a bit of what I read:

In the Bible, next to 1 Chronicles 25, Bach penned, “This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing church music.” 
Beside 2 Chronicles 5:12-13 he wrote, “In devotional music, God is always present with his Grace.”
 
Exodus 15:20 is marked, “First prelude for two choirs to be sung to the glory of God.” 
Next to Psalm 119:158, he wrote a “nota bene” or a “good word” to himself to take note so that he would truly hear and absorb the truth of the text, “I see the despiser and it grieves me that they do not keep your word.”  
And he noted 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV), “Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
 
Bach also wrote in his Bible: “My hymn sounds like this: Give to God the glory which is due to the one true living God, the only glory, praise and honor in heaven and on earth.”  In these annotations we see Bach looked to the sacred word of the text, in his scriptural disciplines, to find both inspiration and a sold foundation for all his life’s work.
In Bach’s annotations we see the markings of a great mind and musician at work.  For this, Bach looked to the sacred word of text in his scriptural practice to find direction for his anger, momentum for his music, absolution for his sin and dictums to guide his life.
 
What we see in Bach’s Bible is that back-and-forth between insight and life work, the verse of the Bible, and the vocation of our lives.
 
What beautiful words. I pray that today we will all be able to look to Scripture the way that Bach did – to find: perspective in our emotions, encouragement for our life’s work, forgiveness for our sins and direction for our every day life.

Here’s a bit of my own margin writing/doodling:
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Love you guys,
Kim