As I peek my head around the corner and look down to the end of the dark hallway I’m able to see what made the noise. From the bedroom emerges a little girl. She’s got a blanket in one hand and her favourite stuffy gripped tight to her body with the other. Her hair is dishevelled; a mess that only a sleeping toddler could make.
When she spots me, she shuffles down the hallway with purpose. Without making any eye contact, she presses her body up close against my leg while I finish brushing my teeth. She waits for me and doesn’t move.
Stacey has been out of town on a mom getaway-planning-shopping retreat for the past couple of nights. I’m not sure why this particular child is up at this particular point of the night, but I know we’re all a little zapped from the feeling of just not having mom around.
I finish brushing my teeth and begin the inquisition.
‘Why are you up? Are you scared? Did something happen? Do you need to use the toilet? Are you thirsty? Do you feel sick?’
No answer. No eye contact. Just pressing against me and hugging my leg. No words.
It’s been a hard few days for one of my daughters in particular. For whatever reason, she has decided that now is an appropriate time to disregard her parents’ instructions. She is testing. Hard.
The consequences have grown increasingly severe for her and the tears have been many. The prayers by mom and dad have increased. We’ve asked lots of times, ‘How certain are we that we’re doing the right thing?’ as we try to shepherd her little heart.
We trust God to give grace through this season, as he always has when our kids have gone through stretches like this before. Each daughter is different and the disobedience of each one is different, but God’s grace has always carried us through and we believe it will this time too.
But one thing has stuck out to me through these past few days. It’s astounding to me how simple the lesson is that our daughter needs to learn. It’s as easy of a concept as they come. She can repeat it after us: It goes well for you when you obey and it goes poorly for you when you don’t.
Or, as we ask our five-year old, ‘When you disobey are you trying to be happy? Do you end up happier when you obey or when you disobey? ‘
Who Is a Good Parent?
It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? It seems to me that often the people who think they are great parents aren’t, and the parents who are doing a great job (even if imperfect) tend to feel their weakness the most acutely.
As evangelicals in the western world in the 21st century, it seems that there is more pressure than ever to do well at this parenting thing. We have Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram telling us everyday how great everyone else is doing at this parenting thing; the proof is in the nicely edited photos, right? The family lives of so many others around us seem to be smiling faces, happy hearts, and many memorable moments of family fun.
And that’s just the world. Nevermind in the church. Other Christians are doing a great job at family devotions, praying for world missions, and teaching their children to memorize the whole Bible (or so it seems). And doesn’t that make sense? I mean, if the non-Christians in the world are doing well at this family thing, should we be doing better? Isn’t family a Christian thing?
Sadly, many Christian parents end up feeling guilty, over-burdened, and stressed trying to keep up with all the family things that we feel we need to do to be good parents.
My friend, Kevin Dibbley, wrote an excellent note a couple of weeks ago to a new father. Reflecting on his own experience raising his daughters, Kevin offers some sound advice that rebuked me, encouraged me, and moved me to tears of thankfulness.
If you’re a parent (or know one) you should read this post (or get them to read this post).
Here’s a snippet:
Don’t take yourself so seriously. That may sound like a strange thing to say, especially at a time in our culture when there is a great need for serious parenting, and in particular, diligent and faithful fathering. I am not saying that as a Dad you don’t need to give yourself fully to your calling to love and to lead. What I do mean is that you need to recognize that God is big enough for the road ahead. When Moses was in the midst of his journey leading the nation of Israel, he became overwhelmed by the task. Israel was a tough nation. Moses’ fear, however, was not the dread of seeing how messed up Israel was. He was afraid of seeing his own inadequacies and failures. In fact, at one point, he pleads with the Lord that if the Lord has favour upon him, that He should kill Moses, so that Moses wouldn’t have to look at his own “wretchedness” (Numbers 11:15). You are about to get a life long tour of your own inadequacies. Remember then that God did not put this child in your hands because He wanted you to show how competent you are. He put this child in your hands to show you how great His love and goodness are. Your goal is to point your child to Jesus. You don’t have to be the hero of your child’s story.
Read the full post here: “A Note for Josh at the Birth of Grace.”
I’ve Always Hated Summer Reading Lists
I always read other people’s summer reading lists and immediately feel guilty and dumb. Guilty because I don’t read nearly that much (especially not in the summer) and dumb because I don’t read at nearly the same academic level or with the same proficiency as them. Then you throw into the mix the fact that summers have historically been one of the busiest seasons for me, and therefore I don’t have much time to read, and I feel even worse. So typically I respond by refusing to come up with a summer reading list. Mature, right?
Anyway, this year my schedule is a little different through the summer and I’m trying to deal with some of the obvious sin in my heart of wanting to measure up to the intelligence of proficiency of others. So I’ve actually planned some reading to do over the next little while and I thought I’d share what my plans are here. I figure this will give me some accountability and hopefully some benefit to one or two of you who might be looking for something to read. (Or, you might just even be encouraged that there’s someone else out there who is happy to just read simple books.)
The other day Stacey and I had some family friends over. Since the day was hot and the kids had been outside for the whole day we wanted to give them some ‘down time’ in the basement, where it was cool and they could calm down for a little.
I suggested a couple of the DVDs that we had, but there was no consensus among the children. Then one of the kids just said, ‘Let’s watch something on Netflix!’ I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, our own kids watch things on Netflix fairly regularly, but coming from a child in another family it just hit me how quickly kids become familiar with new technology and new opportunities for entertainment.
Apparently kids aren’t alone, either. Last month (June 2012), Netflix streamed over 1 billion hours of programming into households around the world. That is a lot of entertainment. it puts Netflix at the forefront of all entertainment products and providers in our world today.
The Evolution of Entertainment Eliminates Waiting
Remember cassette tapes? Remember how we used to have try to fast forward and rewind to find our songs? Remember the frustration of getting a video from the rental store, only to find out that the last person had not remembered to ‘be kind and please rewind’? How frustrating to have to wait to watch your movie while the tape rewound! Or how about watching TV shows before PVRs? Remember when we used to have to wait for commercials to be done instead of just fast-forwarding through them?
So technology advanced and with the advent of DVDs and CDs there was no more rewinding. No more waiting. And with PVRs, even waiting through those little breaks in the middle of your entertainment is removed.
And Netflix is the next stage in that entertainment evolution that eliminates the ‘weak gene’ of waiting. Any show, any movie, any time, no waiting.
Recently I’ve come across three articles that I find particularly helpful for wives & mothers. Since I often write about being a husband & father or about parenting in general, I thought it might be nice to offer the reflections of some wives & mothers as well.
Here are three posts that I think are worth your time if you’re a wife and / or a mom (or if you’re married to one).