Patriotism

In which a future Historian rambles…

No, no- not an historian of the Future! :p  An Historian who WILL be….  Oh never mind. I’m going to go to school, for history education.  🙂 I am so darned excited. I am so incredibly terrified. But I digress…

July 4th is a precious holiday for me. It has a lot to do with the Oath I took to serve and defend my country when I enlisted in the U.S. Army- but it was also one of the reasons I enlisted at all. When I sing the hymns and songs and anthems which were written about my Country and its hard-won and burgeoning freedom; I hear the yearning in the authors’ collective Voice.

Maximus and Minimus care about fireworks, and sparklers. I am happy that they care- but I want them to understand WHY we celebrate. I  would lay wagers that many Americans have no idea what was won and how Many were lost in the fight for Independance. I know that a love for U.S.A. is not a popular sentiment in our current cultural climate. It wasn’t when my parents were teenagers, either. I don’t care.

I long to teach them why I care. I long to show them somehow- what Freedom means. I will not tell them what they should think about our country. I refuse. When they ask why we treat the Flag with special respect, I wax poetic. When our National Anthem plays, I sing along, and I often cry. They notice and they wonder why. I try to explain to them why freedom is precious, why it is so amazing to be able to do and say what we wish, here. I try. Much of it goes over their heads.

One of my favorite teachers told me- about teaching children- ‘never be afraid to teach over their heads; you never know how much they are picking up.’ I take this philosophy with my children. When the sun sets, Maximus asks ‘what makes the light turn that funny color?’ and I explain to him the depth of the sky and the weight of the air, and the slowing of the rays of light. When Minimus asks, ‘Mommy why do we not ’till’ ants outside?’ I explain to him that ants are God’s creatures too, and outside is where they belong, so we  need not kill them- they have a job to do. It seems like too much. It seems silly. Then Maximus will notice a rainbow on the floor and ask what has bent the light to make the colors show- and I know it was a message received in its due time. Minimus comes running up outside, ‘mommy I saw a ant- and I did not ’till’ it! Ants awe Dod’s tweatures, too.’ I hug him and whisper, ‘that’s exactly right baby.’

A message received in due time…

How do I teach my kids what it means to love a Country? I explain why I vote. “mommy, what’s an selection?” I try to explain Community. So much of the explanation  is too big for them to compute right now, and yet… We read in the Old Testament. “Mommy what’s a slave?” Oh Lord God- thank you that  my children do not know what slavery is!!  Eventually they must know- or they will enslave others. What does ‘oppression’ mean? May you never know anything more of oppression than the definition, sweet boy.

Our Declaration of Independence says that we believe we are endowed (great word- that- look it up) by our  Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I always wondered why that happiness part was in there. What does that actually mean anyway? Well it doesn’t mean anything unless the first two rights supercede it. Many Christians hold that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Rights- that claiming rights is selfishness, and that no one DESERVES anything. Liberty? Sure- He whom the Son sets free shall be Free indeed!! Jesus was all about Freedom. But Rights? Happiness? That’s a stumper.

But when I focus on God, I realise that His heart sings with mine when I  am happy. Because as long as my happiness does not trample the liberty or rights of others, it honors Him and it glorifies His Creation. Doesn’t your heart also sing with echoed joy when your children are delighted?! Why else do we throw birthday parties, after all? Why else give any gifts?  When I go back to the Old Testament law, and  read- REALLY read, God gave a Law which upheld the rights of vulnerable groups. Why else pay a man for his eye if your ox gouges it out? Why else call foul on anyone who moves the stones that mark a widow’s land boundaries? Why else command them to use standard and accurate weights and measures?  Why???

Our God is a God of Order. Justice. He is the originial Worker. He is the Originator of Happiness and Joy. This is why our Laws were written the way they were written, in the beginning… of U.S.A. I believe this.

I don’t have to look far, or wonder for long, to find how to teach my boys to value Justice, and Freedom, and Mercy, and Order, and Peace. I don’t have to wonder how to hold them all important, and none more or less important than any other. I look back to the Character of God. I look back to how he defined himself to the Hebrew nation and I look forward to how he fulfilled the covenant, and I draw my answers from my reflection on the Nature of God. I teach my boys to look to Him who created them.

I love Freedom. And I love my Country. And if I can reflect the nature of God to my children, perhaps in due time they will love those things, too.

gg

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On this Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I remember my baby.

Many people remember their lost loved ones on Memorial Day. Before now it hasn’t been that big of a deal to me. Most of the people in my extended family who have died in my lifetime, have mostly been older or not close to me, and so it hasn’t impacted me as deeply. This year is different.

Our culture doesn’t talk about about death very much, and too often people don’t know what to say to someone who is grieving. We do have some rituals around death, but for miscarriages and even stillbirths, we do not have any rituals. Many people never tell anyone they’ve lost a baby, and some choose to wait to announce pregnancies until after certain time periods. (I’m not criticizing you if you have chosen to do that <3). I’m a shout-it-out-before-the-pee-is-dry-on-the-stick girl, personally. 😀 It was hard enough telling people who knew we were pregnant, but it was much harder telling people who didn’t know.

The death of a baby is not like any other death. I never got to see my baby laugh. I never got to hear her voice. I never got to see if she looks like Mama or Daddy or Sissy. I do not even know if it was a boy or a girl, tho’ I assume girl since we have two already. She’s a person I am missing getting to know. No one else knows and thinks about a baby daily during pregnancy like Mama does. So often, Mama is the only one who remembers her lost babies–alone. 😦

I do not have the memory of little things that she would have said, or her sisters would have said about her. Instead, I have a 2 year-old who asks “Why our baby is in Heaven?” and “When are we going to get another baby?” 😥

Right now, one of the worst parts is no one else remembers my baby with me. No one even asks how I am. I should be pregnant. I should be getting ready to birth in a few weeks. Instead my womb is empty. My belly isn’t big with a growing child. I am not waiting for life. I am waiting for the day to pass that I would see my baby.

You may be reading this and thinking, “I don’t know what to say! What if I say the wrong thing.” Yes, it can be easy to say something that might hurt someone’s feelings, but if you stick with a simple, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and a hug, you cannot go wrong. Weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh. Yes, some people may not look sad, but I would guess there are very few who do not remember their lost babies with sadness and who would not appreciate a hug or a remembrance.

An aunt gave me a hug and cried with me. A friend sent me a card when she found out. You can send a message and say, “I remember with you.” That means so much to know that on this day, I’m not the only one who knows there’s a person who is missing in my life.

What if you didn’t have a place to go and remember your child? What if you had a D&C and did not get to hold your precious little one? I am sorry. I have a friend who had made her own mourning ritual. Every year she goes to the ocean with a friend. I am making a necklace with my Ella Rayne’s conception month, passing month and due month, along with my other two children’s birthstones.

Please share your story in the comments below, and I will remember your little ones with you. :candle

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Myth busting 9: right away, all the way, with a happy heart – or it’s rebellion!

Part II: Is Disobedience to Parents Rebellion?

To obey is better than sacrifice…for rebellion is as the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry (1 Sam 15:22-23 NIV)

This is a tricky question. After all, we have all known (and many of us have been) ‘rebellious teenagers’. There is no question that rebellion against parents, against upbringing, against traditions all exist. And rebellion is clearly an important issue. None of us want our children to grow up in a sin ‘like divination or idolatry’. But I want to contend that childish disobedience and even teenage ‘rebellion’ is a different phenomenon from rebellion as depicted in the Bible, as in the famous passage quoted above, when God rejected Saul as King of Israel.

Some important differences:

  • Saul was an adult. He had the advantage of at least 20 years (he couldn’t have been in the army if he was any younger) of instruction in Godly living and had reached an age of accountability for his own actions. Our children are given to us immature. They deserve to be given all the time that God has allotted (at least) to grow to the full maturity of acknowledging God’s wisdom.
  • Saul was King of Israel. He represented all Israel before God. His disobedience to God was a bad example to the whole nation. Also, his actions had repercussions far beyond the present, as his omniscient God well knew. Haman, the villain of the story of Esther, appears to have been the descendent of Amalekites who were not killed that day, possibly of King Agag himself, as he is called ‘Haman the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews’ (Est 3:10). God saw all this, and Saul had shown by his rebellious actions and heart that he was not fit to be King of God’s chosen people.
  • Saul’s rebellion was against God. A search on Blue Letter Bible for the word ‘rebellion’ in the KJV and NIV shows that the KJV only uses the word half a dozen times, and the NIV 42 times. What I found most notable in the list of verses, it that ‘rebellion’ is never used about children and parents, or about tribes and their elders, or Christians and their leaders. In the KJV, the term ‘rebellion’ is only used with reference to God. The NIV also uses it in relation to politics, ie Israel in rebellion against the House of David, the city of Jerusalem in rebellion against nations who try to oppress it, Barabbas taking part in a rebellion. Rebellion in the Bible happens on a big scale, against governments and against God. To apply this serious label to a child’s disobedience, or a teen’s assertion of individuality, is, I think, flippant.

I’m not saying that parents should not address our children’s disobedience. What I am saying is that when they don’t obey us it is not a sign of a deep spiritual problem. We do not need to address it as rebellion.

Edited to add: When responding to Katerine’s comment below, I realised ad made made a mistake. I searched ‘rebellion’ but not ‘rebellious’ and so missed the matter in Deuteronomy of a rebellious son:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders … They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” (Deut 21:18-20)

So it is possible to have rebellion on the village scale, so to speak. I was wrong. I apologise for my laziness.

However, I feel that these verses back up my more fundamental point, that subadults cannot be said to rebel. Firstly because the son in the passage is clearly an adult son, to be a glutton and a drunkard. Secondly because it is not until he reaches this level of deep depravity that he is called a rebel. He will have been given many opportunities to change his ways before his parents will ask the town to stone him! Our children’s temporary disobediences do not fall into the same category. It is also important to note that according to the Talmud, no one was ever stoned for rebellion. If an adult cannot be convicted of rebellion, can we really accuse our children of this offense?

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Myth busting 9: Right away, all the way, with a happy heart – or it’s rebellion!

Part I: Delayed or grudging obedience is disobedience?

Scenario: You are a secretary. Your boss walks in and tells you to go check the company’s postbox because she’s expecting something important. Among the possible responses:

  1. You immediately drop everything and run to the post office.
  2. You are too focused on the job you are doing and don’t hear her. She has to walk over and touch you on the shoulder to get your attention. Then you go for the mail.
  3. You finish what you’re working on and leave 5 minutes later.
  4. You point out that if you go now, you won’t have time to finish what you’re doing and let her decide which is more important.
  5. You know that the mail sorting won’t be finished for another hour so you plan the rest of your morning accordingly.
  6. The boss actually gave you the instruction in the lunch room. You finish your tea break and head off to the post office.
  7. By the time you finish your tea break, you’ve forgotten about the important mail and get on with some other work. You remember after an hour or so and head off to the post office before lunch.
  8. You completely forget, and pick up the mail at your usual time. The boss is displeased, but, well, these things happen.
  9. You go to get the mail in a timely manner, but grumble all the way.
  10. You tell your you’re too busy and she can go get it herself if it’s that important.

Of the above, only the last could really be called disobedience. In every other case, you did what you were told – you obeyed. It’s one thing to expect or need swift compliance. It’s another thing to label the lack of swiftness, ‘disobedience’.

In a small child, it may simply be the time it takes to process the instruction. When I’m tired it can take me ten or twenty seconds to process and respond to the simple question, ‘How are you?’ – how much longer might it take a child who is still learning the language? If I need immediate action from my toddlers, I make sure that I’m there with them, helping them as I speak. And if I’m not right there, then I consider their slow compliance to be the result of my failure to get off my butt.

Even in an older child who is able to understand and respond more quickly, expecting immediate compliance every single time is, I think, a violation of personal boundaries. Yes, there are times when something must be done right now, and yes, we as parents have authority over our children. But we don’t own them. Their bodies and their souls are their own, under Christ. To expect immediate compliance to our every whim is to treat them like a slave or a robot, not a person.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a tricky balance, and one I often get wrong. On the one hand, they are members of a family and a household and each member needs to serve the others in love. None of us can selfishly do whatever we want without regard to the whole. BUT within that, I want my children to have the right to negotiate (“I’ll just finish this first”; “After I do that, may I…”; perhaps even “If I do that, will you…”). They can even have the right to procrastinate – and to make mistakes and learn from them (if you procrastinate too long, you will miss out on something) – in the context of a loving family where they are accepted no matter what.

And what about the happy heart? Is it disobedience if the secretary grumbles? Well, no, it’s still compliance. Not true obedience in the sense that God wants us to obey him: wholeheartedly, as an overflow of our love and trust for him. And of course as parents that’s what we want from our kids, too. But a grumpy face or a bad attitude is not disobedience. And if I demand my children act cheerful when they don’t feel cheerful… hmm… whitewashed tombs come to mind…

Stay tuned for Part II: Is Disobedience Rebellion?

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Of Cabbages and Kings…

 Sometimes life is weird and nothing seems real. I’ve gone down a major rabbit-hole in my world, and I’m somewhere deep inside wondering who I am. Yet… I know who I am more definitely now than I ever have. Everything I thought defined me has been stripped away. Not quite everything, I’m still Momma… the context has changed markedly.

 “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
    Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings.”

 It’s time to talk about the change. I don’t want to- but I cannot avoid it if I want to keep blogging- which I do. How to put this…? There was an event, after which my husband was no longer part of our everyday household. SO. After years of near Solo parenting, I am now Single parenting- a distinction which was only recently clarified for me. That’s the rabbit-hole I spoke of. Suddenly things were down, when they should have been up. Everything lost its perspective. Things were big where they should be small, and there were gaping holes everywhere; holes you could lose yourself in.

I worship in a small church and I sing with the team for the song service. As I was singing the past few Sundays, a thought keeps popping up- “This is real. THIS is me, and I am real, singing for my Creator God. Even if nothing else seems real, THIS is real.”

In that- at least- I have an advantage over Alice.

 The Matrix has a rabbit-hole scene in it as well; only in this one the theme is reversed, and when Neo goes down the digital rabbit-hole he is spit out into reality. He didn’t know he had been living in Wonderland. I have been working pretty hard to keep myself in my own personal Wonderland, a land where I was an honorable wife, beloved, and valued. We’ll just say that reality provided a harsher view. I am left, much like Neo and Alice, trying to make sense out of nonsense. Now trying to find rational; and again trying to fit myself to this new reality.

 Through the last almost 8 weeks, I have felt every emotion I think it is possible to feel. I have felt safe, endangered; loved, hated; exalted, betrayed; worthy and worthless. I have felt I would burst with pride, and dissolve in shame. I have felt pity, and anger. I have felt I did many amazing things; I felt as if I did nothing useful. There is an enduring thread running through all of this mess. I am a human being, worthy of treatment as such. Living as an object, living in bondage of any kind, is intolerable. If a life continues in that vein, it reduces the person to something less than what God intended. My goal for my children, before they were named, was to treat them always as the people they are. To treat them as full people is my goal. Now, it is finally time to treat myself as a whole and real person.

Curiouser and curiouser…

gg

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Mother Knows Best

It’s been a long time since I posted. The thing is- I don’t lack ideas, I have too many. Too complicated. I want to write something worth reading. I know most of us don’t have time to spare- I read precious few blogs myself, because of this.

Christmas was amazing and crazy. Not bad really… but things happened that on the surface seemed insignificant. Little light bulbs have gone off here and there, however….

See, my mom apparently holds more influence over me than I thought. It seemed like she wasn’t asking much, each time, but it threw me for a loop- and I was right back where I had been all of my childhood- 3 steps behind and no clue what was going on. My mom is just used to getting her way. All the time. We HAD to put all of the ornaments on the tree. All of them. Ooookayfine. No big deal. We HAD to cook three meals. It’s so hard to talk about this- I keep saying to myself- ‘gg why didn’t you just say, STOP.’ Well…. I’m used to doing what my mom wants. Whatever that may be. Even if it ruins the dish I was preparing (had to do it her way) takes the whole day (clean while running a fever? sure, if that’s what mom wants) leaves me in killer pain (who DOESN’t want to do a 4 hour marathon of clean the kitchen, cook the meal, set the table, serve the meal, clear the table right away, clean the kitchen?) and results in me having a meltdown.

I ended up embarrassed and crying, tired beyond words, and being mean to Maximus. Why? Great question.

Like Claire- I don’t hate this woman- this Mother. She is boundaryless- to be sure. She isn’t intentionally rude. She just quietly taxes everyone to the limit. I wanted to hate her when I was a child. After all, I didn’t start out as a 33 year old woman, mother, wife of 11 years, obeying my mother unquestionably about things I already know how to do and do better. No, I started out as a tiny person. Every time I asked by actions and later, by words, ‘can I do this?’ or ‘do I know this?’ she responded in a way that said ‘No!’

Ever see ‘Tangled’? You know what’s scary about that movie? The Mother Graendal’s song (ok- so I know it’s not Graendal- but it might as well be- she’s that evil.) is real. No? you say? Hyperbole, you say? No. vehemently no. the reason the evil witch mother talks like she does, and sings what she does is because plenty of people have had mothers like mine was. Manipulative. Demeaning. Demanding. Intrusive.

Mom had lots of little verbal tricks like the mother in the movie does. “Oh look! It’s a hat that says ‘space cadet’! We should get that for you, GG, you’re always lost in space! …. Oh what are you upset about! It was only a joke! You’re always so hypersensitive!” That example is one of many. It’s hard to explain, if you don’t have a mother like that. She avoids those things, now. Maybe my boundaries with her are not as thick and dark as they should be, I don’t know… you see; I DOUBT myself with her. It is part of my nature, she built it in, always doubt yourself, greenegem, because Mother knows best.

I ignored my boundaries, though. But I honestly didn’t even realize I was ignoring them. I KNEW that if she cooked the chicken that hot it would be overcooked. ‘Oh, no- you don’t know how to use these pans!” she said. She turned it up. I didn’t fight her. (they WERE my grandmother’s pans… I’d only had them for a while, Mom had cooked on them for years…right? ) The chicken was terribly dry. The whole dish was… flavorless. I said so. But by that point there was no point I arguing. I knew I didn’t feel good- but see, when I was a kid and didn’t feel good I was complaining or being overly dramatic, or trying to get out of things. So I pushed myself, way beyond what I knew I could do. I cleaned the toy room. Because my mother was cleaning. I KNEW we couldn’t eat that much food. I knew I shouldn’t be eating bread, but we cooked it and I… ate it… (later- I’ll write about my mom and food. Oy vey) Everything we did while they were here- we had to do her way. Always phrased as a suggestions, subtle- but just as clearly said, ‘oh no, dear stupid girl, you do it THIS way!’ you mean to tell me you’ve been doing it this way all along?!!”

There is a reason Disney wrote the mother the way they did. She is all too real. Alive and well today. Mother knows best.

This is one more aspect of my reason for choosing to find a way to guide my children into reasonable and respectful and responsible behavior in a gentle way. One more reason to always try to remember that my children are tiny whole and legitimate people FIRST, and my children second; That they are souls who belong to the Father first, and my babies second. I do NOT know best- and I won’t pretend I do. Not even to require obedience in them now.

I will not pretend.

gg


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Myth Busting 8: Breaking a lamb’s leg

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

It is well-known in Christian circles that before the shepherd placed the lamb on his shoulders, he broke its leg, so it could not run away again. By the time the leg has healed the lamb has learned to stay near the shepherd. This was common practice in Jesus’ day, and so is implied in this and other shepherding texts. Because the shepherd uses this cruel-to-be-kind tactic, we can expect that there will be times when Jesus, our Good Shepherd, will do the same to us. And we, as shepherds of our children, will need to use corporal punishment to teach them not to stray.

However, the whole ‘broken leg’ story is untrue. No one as found any historical evidence to support it. According to the sheep experts at Sheep 101,

There is no such story in the Bible. To do so would be cruel and impractical.

It is in essence a Christian urban legend. The earliest source appears to be a sermon of Brother William Marrion Branham, called ‘The Good Shepherd Of The Sheep’, delivered on Friday, 8th March 1957.

“I guess you’ve heard the story of the shepherd that broke his sheep’s leg one time. Many little stories has been told about it. And was asked this shepherd, “Did the sheep fall off of a mountain and do this?”
He said, “No.”
Said, “What happened?”
He said, “I broke its leg.”
Said, “Why did you break its leg? Are you a cruel shepherd?”
He said, “No, I love the sheep. But the sheep got to running away from me. And he kept straying out to itself. And I know the nature of sheep. And I know if they stray too far away, the wolf will get them. So I had to break the sheep’s leg to keep it with me, to draw it to my bosom, to give it a little special food. And I’ll be so kind to it, that when its leg gets well, it’ll never leave me any more.”

Brother Branham may have heard the story elsewhere or he may have made it up himself. Either way, there is no reason to believe the story is true.

Breaking a lamb’s leg is a dangerous and potentially fatal thing to do. If the sheep lives but ends up lame, it becomes a liability to the shepherd, slowing down the rest of the flock. He might as well just kill it and be done with it! The sheep are the shepherd’s livelihood, he will treat them with the same care you would expect a fine china dealer to show to his wares. Also, far from endearing the sheep to the shepherd, harming it may well have the opposite effect. Again, from Sheep 101:

It is known that animals can instantly recognize the voice of a familiar trusted person. Sheep have excellent memories for faces. They remember their handler. They also remember people who inflict abuse upon them. (emphasis added)

But, even if a shepherd did try this tactic once in desperation, or even if it were common amongst a group of shepherds, that would not mean that we should follow their example. That would be like saying: ‘God calls himself our Father. Many fathers abandon their children, so I can expect God to abandon me, and I should do the same to my own kids.’ Yes, God gives us these metaphors to help us understand him better, but we cannot take the metaphors beyond what the Bible actually says. Instead of painting God in human terms, we need to ‘be holy as he is holy.’

So what does the Bible actually say about sheep and shepherds?

Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. Ps 28:9

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteouness for is name’s sake… I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps 23:1-4
He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in is arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Is 40:11

I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ez 34:16

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasturelands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago. Mic 7:14

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Jn 10:11,14-15

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Heb 13:20-21

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Rev 7:17

Perhaps the worst thing about the ‘broken leg’ story is the twisted image it gives us of God. The parable of the Lost Sheep, which a quoted in the beginning, is about God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, told in response to the mutterings of the Pharisees. Somehow it becomes a story about punishment. How sad. As the above passages show, God’s shepherding is about a peaceful relationship of love and trust, based on his gentleness. Let us seek to shepherd our children gently and wisely, as our Father leads and guides us.

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More Than One Source

When I am researching and examining something that has challenged my beliefs, I always look for information from multiple sources. We have given our reasoning and research behind the Rod verses in Proverbs, but The Hippie Housewife has done her own research into these verses. Here is her three part series.

The Rod Verses: Taking the rod verses literally

The Rod Verses: Taking other Proverbs literally

The Rod Verses: What are they really saying?

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Myth Busting 7: You must hate your parents!

A while back, someone made the following comment:

How people, who should know better, who where raised in serious christian families, try to construct their life into being a victim of their ‘bad’ or ‘afouled’ parents and their ‘bad’ view on the bible.

My sister once said of people who don’t spank, “Do they hate their parents or something?”

I guess our discipline choices go to the heart of what parenting is, so maybe it’s not so surprising that when people realise we are doing things differently they assume we had an especially brutal  childhood. Or maybe we’re just rebellious and want to do everything different from our parents.

It would probably surprise some readers to know that I would have been defined a ‘compliant’ child. And I had, for the most part, a great childhood. My parents were not overly strict. I rarely ‘needed’ a spanking, never felt that I had been abused, never went through a rebellious teenage stage, never seriously questioned my faith. Why, then would I want to do things differently?

I want to start with a couple of analogies. Firstly, think of that great American ideal, the man who worked his way up to the top, with the aim of giving his children everything he had grown up without. Does his desire to give his children a better life reflect a hatred or contempt for his parents? Probably not. He probably owes much of what he has become to the  lessons he learned from his parents. Would it be honouring his parents to deliberately withhold good things from his children because he didn’t have them when he was young (I’m assuming the things/opportunities in question really are ‘good things’, not just ‘stuff’)? Well, I don’t think so, anyway.

Another example would be our plans for our children’s education. My husband and I were both schooled in the Tasmanian public school system and we both survived. But we intend to home educate our children. Not for especially religious reasons, or because we think the Tasmanian public school system is especially bad, but because we think the entire school-based education system is fundamentally flawed. Does that mean we think our parents made the wrong choice to send us into that system? No, we believe they were doing their best in their circumstances. In fact, I don’t judge anyone who chooses to use the school system. But, having researched and concluded that we can prepare our children for life better ourselves, we have made the decision that we believe is best for our family. It would not honour our parents or teachers to reject the conclusions our brains have reached.

Discipline issues are the same. I actually think our confidence to take a different road is evidence of what a great job our parents did in raising us. They managed to instill their faith without destroying our independence of thought. They taught us to respect authority but not to blindly follow it. I just happen to believe that this was *in spite of* their punitive discipline choices, not because of them. In the end, we should not look to people, even our parents, as the ultimate source of wisdom, but to God and His Word. And I believe parenting my children with grace is most in line with God’s character and Biblical principles.

And I don’t expect my own children to do everything the same way I did, either. I hope they will one day do a much better job of raising my grandchildren than I’m doing now with them ;).

Posted in For the Bible tells me so., Grace-Based Discipline, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My other car is a pterodactyl…

Or- How playful parenting unsticks an insistent 5 yo. And how it doesn’t.

 I have to laugh when people ask me for advice on parenting. I mean- some are my friends- so maybe they just love me and don’t see my failures because of that- but some people aren’t reallyreally close to me and ask advice anyway.

I’m flattered- really. But so much of my parenting success is accidental!!! Maximus gets stuck. He gets stuck a LOT. Totally and completely fixated on something that is NEVER going to happen the way he wants it to, or cannot happen right NOW, even though he firmly believes it MUST. Knowing that 5’s are still working on the whole fantasy/reality separation helps a little. But I’m also dealing with a little boy who is developmentally Atypical- so he’s doing the 3 year old ‘words as magic’ phase AND the 5 year old ‘everything I perceive or imagine is real-but I can decide real things should be different and they are’ phase… at the same time. (gah!!) This is a typical trait of Autistic kids- the stuck-ness, I mean- but it’s gotten much more intense lately. :\

 One day, we had a change of plans- involving Dear Husband needing to take the car into work instead of his bicycle. We’re a one car family-and that’s a VERY long story- and some days Momma and the kiddos have the vehicle and some days, Daddy does. On this particular day WE were supposed to have the vehicle. We were supposed to go to the library. Very often we walk to the library. It’s about 6 ‘blocks’ but it’s a pleasant walk and we take our time. This is also an EXCELLENT way to get Maximus grounded (ok, AND a little tired) and makes for a better library experience. Normally this would have been no problem EXCEPT for the fact that it was raining. L

 Maximus could NOT be made to understand why we were not walking to the library in the drenching rain. Sigh… “Mommy, WHEN are we going to the library?” J {Crap! I was hoping he’d forgotten :} “Baby we are not going to the library today. We can do xyz instead.” There followed a LONG interlude whilst Maximus pondered the implications of what he’d just heard. ……………………………………………………….

“But Mommy, we NEED to go to the Library!!” “Max honey it is raining horribly and Daddy needed the car for work.” “But Mommy, PLEASE!!! We HAVE to go!!!” “Max, we are not walking to the library in 40 degrees and rain.” {The tears started- no, on Max’s end, silly!} Endless variations on the above themes followed.

 “Mooooooommmmyyyyyy!!!!! We NEEEEEEED to GOOO!!!!! We need to call Daddy on his cell phone and he will come home and give us the car back!!” {reason #562 children should not know about cell phones} “No- daddy’s not allowed to have his phone ring at work- he turns it off.” {score one for Momma, right?} “WE just have to go get the caaaarrrr!!!!” {ok- that would be no} Finally, I had an idea (took me long enough, too). “Hmmmm, well how would we go get the car? Maybe we can take the zebra? Shall we ride the Zebra to Daddy’s work and get the car?” J

 “WE don’t HAVE a Zebra!!!!!” “We don’t?” “No! We don’t have a zebra, Mommy, you KNOW that!!” “Oh dear! Well…. Hrm…….” (Now I put on my very best matter-of-fact-this is the best idea ever voice) “I know!! I know what we can do!!!” Tears stopped momentarily… How was Mommy going to fix this? “We can take the Pterodactyl!!!” 😀

 Stunned silence. Then- the barest crack of a smile. “Mommy!” (now Max is trying not to smile and is not quite done crying) “What??!!! Don’t you think it would be fun to ride our pterodactyl in the rain?” “We don’t have a Pterodactyl!!” “Oh.” “We have to go to K-Mart and BUYYYY one!!!!” By then the tears were ending and the giggles were starting. Success.

What I want to know is- how can I claim something as a success when I was a. grasping at claws :p and b. only succeeded by accident? I really can’t, because it could just as likely have ended like the extended episode (we’re talking DAYS folks) wherein Maximus insisted that his stuffed cat needed to go to the chiropractor because he had ‘stepped on Meow and broke her spine’. There are many many many reasons why we could not visit the chiropractor this past week. No tactic was successful. I offered to help Max play chiropractor. I offered to take Meow along to therapy on Wednesday so Miss K could help her. I tried to playfully remind/convince Max that his stuffed kitty didn’t have a spine… all to no avail. His fixation had to run its course, and it did. Eventually. :}

 These are good examples of why we need a parenting toolbox chock full of tools. Nothing works for everything. Effectiveness of tried and true discipline techniques wear off. Life contains far too many variables for one person to claim he has the inside corner on child rearing! Sometimes- life gets ridiculous, and so must we! So for occasions such as these, it helps to remember that my OTHER car… Is a Pterodactyl. :p

gg

Posted in Figuring it out, Grace-Based Discipline | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments