Thursday, July 22, 2010
A few days ago the kids and I met a couple of friends at the playground. It was still early enough in the day when it wasn't too hot and there was a giant shade tree covering most of the playground. But in Texas, even the shade can't hold back the heat. Soon we were all sweating! Josiah was the oldest kid in the group by a couple of years so he quickly became bored. When you are a seven and a half year old boy, playing with "little" kids, including your five and a half year old sister and three and a half year old brother is not always fun. Several times he walked over to the bench where me and the other two moms were conversing in the shade and made known how hot and bored he was. I showed no sympathy. Instead I a told him to go on and play, never really listening to what he was saying. Then he tried to make conversation with one of the other Moms and again I told him to go play. Later in the afternoon when we were home and settled in to our daily afternoon routines, I began to feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart regarding Josiah. I realized what a gift it is to have a child who is comfortable conversing with adults. He is confident and secure and loves to make conversation with those older than him. He's good at it! Then I thought about how I had "shushed" him several times and discounted how he was feeling in the heat and how being the oldest child may have made him feel a bit left out and alone. The more and more I thought about it, the more I grieved. My attitude towards him that morning was based on how I was worried about what the other Moms would think of him or my parenting. I reacted out of fear, not love. As a result, I rejected my son.
Supper time has been a time of training and discipline lately. Josiah and Ezekiel have a very hard time sitting still at the supper table. Like any brothers, they feed off of each other. They make battle noises, bodily function noises and wiggle so much that I sometimes feel like shouting. So the past two weeks Jeremy and I have made a conscience decision to get these boys in line and teach them serious manners for sitting at a table to eat. Any table! For too long I have let it slide and just chalked it up to having boys but now we need order and I really want the boys to know and learn how to act in all eating situations, including restaurants and someone Else's home. The last few nights at the table have been hard for Josiah. The constant reminding I have given him while eating has worn him down. I could sense it each night when putting him to bed. His countenance seemed defeated. i knew it was due to the constant "Josiah, sit up. Josiah, eat. Josiah, no noises at the table." As necessary as it is to make sure they know how to behave at the table, this morning as I sat praying and journaling about my kids, I felt another tug at my heart from the Holy Spirit. Josiah needed encouragement. Sitting still is hard for me so I can only imagine what it must be like for my seven and a half year old son.
Jesus constantly encouraged his disciples. In the book of John, Jesus tells his disciples to not allow their hearts to be troubled, to trust Him. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus in the flesh encouraging me! WOW! But I do know what it feels like to have one of my parents encourage me. It means everything and it gives me hope to keep going. My children need encouraging every single day. Encouraging in all situations, especially when I see they are struggling. Josiah needed encouragement at the supper table. But I had not given it to him.
Sitting in the quiet this morning (except for my classical hymns on Pandora), I heard my Father loud and clear through the power of the Holy Spirit. The more I think about it, the bigger my smile gets. Just last night our Family devotion was on the Holy Spirit and at the end Jeremy prayed for all of us and said something that brings chill bumps. "Lord, we ask you to use the Holy Spirit to show us the areas in our attitude that need changing. Show us how we can love you and each other more." I can't wait to tell Jeremy that what he prayed was quickly answered (this is a good topic for another post because it is so powerful when our husbands pray)! As I asked for the Lord's forgiveness for my attitude towards Josiah at the playground and I wondered how I could encourage Josiah from all of the training he is getting at the supper table, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly. "Make Josiah pancakes and eat breakfast with him. Talk to him and ask for his forgiveness. Then encourage him." My Lord knows Josiah well. Josiah loves pancakes and really loves MY pancakes. I knew he would be excited to have homemade pancakes and because I know how much he needs to be affirmed, I wrote him a note. I even used his favorite color in my choosing of the marker for the note. I told him how much he meant to me and what a gift he was and then told him how I knew it was hard to learn manners at the table but that he was doing a great job. I encouraged him to keep trying. Then I set his place setting, made the pancakes and woke him up. It was only 7am so I knew the other two kids would sleep while Josiah and I talked.
I am learning my childrens' love languages and I think one that is universal for all kids, especially those in larger families, is quality time. Not only quality time but one on one time with his or her parents. It's hard to do sometimes but this was a perfect time to make it happen. As I woke Josiah up and explained I had a surprise for him in the kitchen, he instantly began to smile. He sat down at the table and began to read my note and thanked me. He dig into the pancakes and took the time to affirm me. "Mommy, your pancakes rock. No one makes them like you!" That made my day! I don't really care for pancakes but I sat down and joined him for a few and told him how proud I was of him. I then mentioned the park and talked about how I did not treat him how God would have wanted me to. I told him how the Holy Spirit had showed me that and how I wanted him to know that next time I would listen to him. I had to make sure I explained the process of the Holy Spirit speaking to me because it was a part of our devotion last night. I wanted him to know that His Daddy's prayers were answered!
We laughed and talked. We talked about what it would be like when Baby Jude got here. He seemed excited as he thought about having another brother and a baby in the house. He then asked if I wanted to color and of course I said yes. He told me several times how much he loved spending time with just me and the house being quiet. I agreed.
My purpose in sharing this story "fresh off the press" is not to make you think I am the perfect mother. I share it with you because it is a VICTORY! Being a Mother is the most difficult thing I have ever done with my life and I have to rely on God daily for the renewing of my strength. The more I give to these precious children, my friends, the more I see and feel how much I am loved by my Heavenly Father. The more I give to these babies, the more I feel given to. With all three of my children, soon to be four children, there will always be one of them that I am working through something with. They always need my attention, my affirmation, my encouragement, my energy, my time. The more I give that to them, the more I am showing them the love of Christ. The more I bind their hearts to me, the more their hearts are being drawn to Christ. It's not a part time job. It's not something that gets done just because I homeschool or just because we spend time as a family. It is a CONSTANT decision to serve them and be a part of their world. It's taking the time to infuse confidence in them and show them how incredible they are. The closer I become to my children, the closer I feel to my Lord, Jesus Christ.
My heart is full this morning. I pray that this pancake breakfast with Josiah will be etched in his mind forever. I look forward to the day when he is my age and says "Mom, remember when you would wake me up for a pancake date with just me and you? Thank you for that. It always made me feel special." That's what I pray for!
What happened this morning reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures in Psalm. Psalm 37:23 says that the Lord directs the footsteps of the Godly. He takes part in every detail of their lives. I love that! I could not have come up with all of this on my own. He walks for me. He knows what I need, He knows what Josiah needs. He does the work for me, IF I am walking with Him. When we are available and we allow Him to use us, HE WILL. He used me for pancakes this morning and those pancakes showed my son LOVE! Amen!!
Thank you FATHER for a renewed spirit and for the gift of parenting. Thank you for the incredible people I live with! Thank you for speaking to me and thank you for allowing me to feel your love. I know you are proud of me.