Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lessons from the Monkey Bars

What I’m about to say may sound strange:  I saw the kindness of the Lord through an experience involving monkey bars and a broken nose.  You see, I’m a big believer that God is always speaking…sometimes my husband laughs at me because of my “guess what God said to me today” stories.  But this one was pretty clear.

Most days we have a set routine.  But today I was excited because we were going to blow off the routine and meet a friend with two little ones at a splash park.  Excited…but nervous.  Taking 4 small children to the backyard is a chore, so going to a park is nerve wrecking for me.  A park with water is almost unmentionable.  Especially with a  baby who is exclusively breastfed.  Especially with a toddler with an eye for mischief and innate desire to roam away.  The boys have been asking to get out a little more, but I’ll be honest: I’m scared.  What if I’m feeding the baby and the toddler runs from me? What if the baby has a screaming fit?  What if someone gets hurt?  There are definitely times and places when I need to use wisdom in taking my kids out, but these days, my home bound nature has strictly been motivated by fear…and that just isn’t cool.

So, after breakfast today, I changed all three boys into swim trunks, put sunscreen on them, changed the baby, packed towels, juice boxes, extra diapers, more sunscreen, and all the usual diaper bag necessities.  It took us about an hour to get ready to get into the van.  I sat behind the driver seat, ready to conquer my fear when Micah, my oldest, asked me a question that has been becoming a regular question once in the van.  “Mom, how far away is the nearest hospital from the park we’re going to?” 

Let me back up a bit…

Micah has a tree nut allergy.  If he ingests any kind of tree nut, he’ll become anaphylactic.  We discovered this when he was two, and 3 ½ years later, he’s still very nervous about even the remote possibility of being near a tree nut.  Recently, his “nervousness” has grown into full blown fear.  Last week, he had a dream that he ate a tree nut and he described to me how tight his chest felt and how he started panicking because he couldn’t breathe.   This ugly fear has grown and made him apprehensive about possible injuries, illnesses, and other dangers.

About a month ago, every time we do go somewhere, he asks me how far the nearest hospital is just in case something bad happens.  Needless to say, I have been praying for my little man.  I deal with anxiety and I know how overwhelming it can be!  To see him struggling with the beginnings of it does my heart no good.

Fast forward to today…

In the car, I told him that we need to be careful but not fearful.  We talked about playing safely and being smart about what we eat, but how accidents can still happen.  I looked in the rearview mirror at his fear stricken eyes and knew that this has gotten out of control.  I shared with him how I was afraid too.  I was afraid that something would happen and that I wouldn’t be prepared for it.  We prayed on the way to the park.  We prayed that we would have fun and that God would keep us safe. 

The boys ran into the splash pad and had a blast!  My friend and I were sitting on the sidelines with our babies cheering our big kids on.  Our conversations are usually brief and all over the place because we are interrupted every few minutes!  But in one of our brief exchanges, I told my friend about Micah’s fear and his recurring question every time we go somewhere. 

As the kids were winding down in the splash pad, they decided to play on the playground.  My toddler’s favorite thing to do at a park is walk up a slide.  Three boys in, I have to tell you…I really don’t care if he walks up a slide.  He was safe, and had I told him to get down, a tantrum would have ensued which would cause him to become unsafe.  However, there were other kids around, so I was trying to be cautious and respectful.  I was holding the baby, pleading with my toddler when I heard a blood curdling scream coming from across the playground.  I turned around to see my Micah with blood everywhere.

I ran, of course leaving said toddler, and scooped my oldest baby up.  He had fallen while attempting to conquer the 6 foot high monkey bars.  He fell face first. Flat. Right on his nose.  After examining his entire face, I realized, yup, it’s the nose. 

Let me say here that I am so thankful for friends.  I didn’t even have to think about my other kids because she was right there meeting needs before I even knew about them.  She had ice and a towel for my bleeder, a snack to wrangle the toddler, and kept an eye on the baby for me. 

The bleeding was pretty bad, and Micah was panicking…he said it didn’t hurt, but I had never seen him so upset.  I was trying to talk to my friend about what I should do, when Micah had overheard me and screamed “I am NOT going to the hospital!!!!”  And I thought he was panicking before!  A beach towel, a stack of diaper wipes, and a phone call to the dr. later, we were told to pinch the nose to stop the bleeding and come to his office.  We sat until the bleeding stopped, packed up all of our towels, juice boxes, sunscreen and extra diapers and walked to the van.  After all the fun he had, he said he did not want to come back to this park.

As I backed out the parking spot, I looked into my rearview mirror into his puffy, blackening little eyes.  They were different, I swear.  A few minutes later he said, “Mommy, it’s never fun to bleed.”  “No it isn’t honey, but you were very brave.”  He said, “No I wasn’t.  I was scared.  I was scared for no reason.”  Being the comforting mother, I said “it’s o.k. to be scared Micah.”  To which he said “No it’s not.  We have to be careful not fearful, remember? And you always say that God is with us, so why should we be afraid?”  Wow…right words, but I’m not yet sure we mean them!

The dr. confirmed that the nose was indeed broken, but it was a clean break and there’s nothing we can do but be careful.  As we were driving home, I asked how he was feeling.  The swelling was making it difficult to breathe, and the pain was starting to set in.  His response was “it hurts, but it’s gonna get better. No big deal.  The dr. said I can still play t-ball, so I’m o.k.”  Really?  “But you still don’t want to go back to that park, huh?”  He replied, “Yes I do!  I was just saying that because I was still scared.  The rest of the park was fun, but I probably won’t do the monkey bars until I’m 8.”

Could it really be that simple? Did we just have a lesson in fear today?  In one fell swoop, both Micah and myself realized a pretty big fear, and you know what?  We’re o.k.  Not only that, but I know that I am more confident taking my kids out of the house.  Something bad did happen, but I had everything I needed to take care of the situation.  Micah did get hurt, but it could have been worse, and he realized that needing medical attention might just be part of the life of a little boy.  It is the kindness of the Lord that drives out things in our lives that just don’t belong.  Of course my mother’s heart breaks when one of my kids get hurt, but knowing that something was accomplished in our hearts through it brings a lot of peace.

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…

I John 4:18

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who We Are in a Nutshell

Being a stay at home mom, I find it hard to consistently reflect on all that has happened, be present for what is currently happening, and contemplate for the future.  I had always loved writing, but haven't made it a priority since having children.  However, in recent conversations, women keep telling me that I should, this is my first attempt at sharing my thoughts and experiences.  My aim is to inspire, reflect, share practical tips, and our precious moments.  I run a household with 4 little ones in 1200 square feet, one income, and lots of home made everything.  We never know quite how we do it, but through God's grace, we get by!

I wanted my first blog entry to encapsulate my and my husband’s parenting philosophy.  It can be summed up with the following passage:

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; therefore, your objective in every context must be to set a Biblical worldview before your children.  From their earliest days, they must be taught that they are creatures made in the image of God-made for God.  They must learn that they will only ‘find themselves’ as they find Him.  Your child must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says, ‘Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you’(Psalm 73:25).  If this is what you want for your children, then you must ensure that the content of everyday life fits this objective.” 
-Excerpt from “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp

In 2006, we were pleasantly surprised with the news that we were expecting our first child.  This came after years of tears and prayers, as I was unable to conceive.  The Lord took us on a journey of faith, and our very great reward during this journey was the Lord himself.  He showed us so much of who He is and who He called us to be.  The grand finale of this faith-filled pilgrimage toward parenthood was our Micah Daniel, born on December 14, 2006.  Micah has represented to us God’s faithfulness, but also His compassion.  As such, my Micah, now 5 ½ is a faithful and compassionate little boy, eager to know God.

If that weren’t enough, God has been giving us more than we could ask for or imagine ever since!  We welcomed Noah David in June 2008, Samuel Jonathan in July 2010, and, most recently, Emma Elizabeth in March 2012.  Each pregnancy has had its challenges, some more major than others.  Each one of my children has had a testimony the day he or she was born.  We know that these lives have been entrusted to us for a reason, and it is our privilege to raise them the best way we know how.  That is where Training and Treasuring is now born.  The Lord has led us on a path to home school our children, training them in both character and education.  But the Lord has also been so good and allowing us to pause in the middle of the chaos to treasure these little ones.  I want to share our journey, give Him the glory for our victories, and confess to our failures. 

In this initial post, I should also add some additional information that might help with the lens with which you read this.  It is written by a woman who has been rejected by her mother.  When I was 13, I was taken from my mother’s home, hoping and praying that she would correct her incorrect behavior and take me back into her arms.  Rather than working hard to reunite us, she left the state.  Despite many attempts at a relationship, sadly I have no contact with her.  However, I do hope for her and pray for her regularly.  I say this not for pity, but explanation.  Motherless mothering is really tough.  I have no one to call when I need to talk, when times get hard, when I need a break, or when I have good news to share.  I have no healthy background about how things were when I was a kid, and my kids have no grandma to look forward to seeing.  My husband’s mother passed away when he was a teenager, so there’s no mother-in-law either.  While there have been amazing women who have stepped into my life for a season, they all understandably move on.  I used to really struggle with this, and in all honesty still have my bad days, but I can stand here and say from the depths of my being:

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25)

I have found myself as I found Him, and now I want to provide for my children the ability to find Him while properly being trained in His word and treasured by my husband and I.  The reality is that I am broken and scarred, a sinner with limitations, but I have a Savior who is bigger than all of that.  He will not waste my hurt, but bring glory to Himself through my life and the lives of my children.  He truly is the air I breathe and I could not make it through the day with 4 children 5 and under without His constant leading. 

So here we are, sharing what has worked and what has not.  Sharing what I have learned from watching, playing, and talking with my kids.  I find that my days are filled with natural and supernatural experiences that I could keep to myself, but I’d rather share them so that we can learn more about our Maker together. 

Thanks for reading!