Category Archives: Parenting

Soundtracks: Changing the World in Humility

Sometimes I am pretty sure the only reason our lives are so dull is because we don’t have the appropriate music playing in the background constantly. I am convinced my life would be amazing as any Oscar-winning movie if some D.J. in the sky always had a perfect soundtrack going for me.

This evening, I was sitting here feeling slightly melancholy. It was one of those rare days when it hit me that my kids are growing up right before my eyes; the moment is precious and yet it will slip away. I know in my mind that these are the moments I want to remember forever. I am often told how cute my kids are. I remember what it was like before I had kids, finding myself momentarily impressed with the beauty, life, and adorableness of a child I would be watching. But I struggle with the infamous disease all parents seem to battle, just knowing this rather than experiencing it. You see, I wish I could typically feel these sweet moments for my own kids. They are like drops of water that I hold on a leaf, but will soon stream off, rushing into the river with countless other drops. Coldplay, Fix You.

I won’t say I was sad tonight. Just pensive and melancholy. And the amazing Pandora has been creating my soundtrack, playing in the background.  All at once I wanted to capture the moment: my children, this night, this day, the urge to read sacred ancient text, wanting to discover who God is. Mainly just for time to be penetrated in the depth of me. So I heavily drank down my coffee just to feel the warmth spreading to the inside of my body, imagining its heat to be the moment becoming unforgettably one with me. The music in the background seemed appropriate, creating the soundtrack I craved. Album Leaf, Red Eye.

I am still young, beautiful and sharp. I am blessed in my marriage and with my children. I am as rich as can be in every way.  I have a wonderful life. And then often I feel pride. I struggle to believe I am not the end-all, as if I matter so much that the world as a whole would be sad without me. All I can see is things through my own perspective. I guess I know that I will die trying to change the world, and so somehow I begin to think that I am important. David Crowder, Alleluia Sing!

I sat in a room today with other people who are also trying to change the world. It was energizing. If you could feel electric without it hurting, that is what this room full of hopeful world-changers felt like. It was that same feeling you might have gotten the first time as a young teenager when someone told you that you mattered to them. Or that you could be anything you wanted to be, back when you might actually believe them. I then glanced over at one woman, and I realized she just might be feeling the same way I often feel- important in her own right. I then remembered the awkward moments I’ve had with so many other people who have my same interests. Maybe its just that we are so used to no one else caring that we think of ourselves as better, or maybe its just too hard to get on the same page as someone else. Regardless, those focused on one cause or another seem to want to find others like-minded, yet when they do it might be hard to practice humility and work as a team. Florence and the Machine, Between Two Lungs.

And then I remembered I am just one person, whom God is called, amongst the millions. It doesn’t mean that I am not important. It just means that I am an essential part something more important. I am part of a group of people who is God’s own, His instrument of change within this world. Citizen Cope, Let the Drummer Kick.

My pastor mentioned The Beatitudes today, in a message focusing on the teaching of Jesus. When was the last time I read those? God is an Astronaut, Fall From Stars.

The Beatitudes

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Matthew 5:3-10 NLT

I look at that and I think “There I am!” or “That is so not me!” And yet, although I feel like each verse has a right to be given special attention, especially in light of international or social issues, the one that is speaking the purest to me now is that the humble are blessed. They will inherit the earth. Jesus taught about humility while living an example of humility I can’t even begin to comprehend. Mute Math, Break the Same.

I feel like it is wisdom who speaks, reminding us world changers that in the height (or lows) in our hopes of affecting this world for good, we will make no difference and have no lasting change without humility. Yet, when our pride melts away, the promise is that we will inherit the world. How’s that for being a world changer?  The Kooks, Seaside.

If my life had a soundtrack it would have  music with a strong beat to keep me pushing forward, to make a difference. It would have a lot of happy, busy and excited music. And it would also have music to express my roadblocks and sorrow. But my soundtrack would also have a lot of melancholy music, although not in order to depress. Instead its purpose would be to assist me to stop and think. To remind me of what I have been given, and whom I am in debited to for marvelous love. The music might move me to slide off my bed, humbly curl up on my knees besides it, and ponder how life is just so much bigger than me. It turns out am lucky to have a part in it. Feist, The Water.

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Conversations with Avi: Delighting, Remembering, Doing Good

Image by Laura Wolfgang

Today, I spent about twenty minutes just listening to Avi talk as she walk around our living room, playing. I was laughing hysterically almost the whole time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Avi walked up to me, pointing at the picture she drew on her doodle pad).

“See it mom? Korean girl.”

(I look at the triangle she drew on the pad, trying to remember if I ever taught her the word ‘Korean.’ And thinking it would be pretty cool if she actually had a clue of what that word means).

Me: “Oh, it’s a Korean girl.”

Avi: “Say it.”

Me: “Say what?”

Avi: “Say Korean girl.”

Me: “Um, okay, Korean girl.”

Avi: “No, say it!”

Me: “Say what?”

Avi: “Say it!”

Me: “Sing it?”

Avi: “Ya, sing it?”

Me: “Sing what?”

Avi: “Sing Korean girl.”

Me: “Um, Korean girl?”

Avi: “Ya. I myself did it.”

Me: “Okay. . . that was weird.”

(While I try to comprehend our conversation, Avi walks back over to baby doll, babbling about drawing a picture of “him” [her] and putting “him” to bed. For the next 15 minutes she alternates between having other typically nonsensical conversations with me, and going “night night” on a chair with her baby doll).

Avi: “Em, gonna give baby the toy”

(She picks up some stacking pegs, then goes about dropping them in specific locations on the floor. This must either be creative art or she is practicing war tactics again. If the latter, these landmine-like devices will cause pain in one foot and hopping up and down on the opposite leg. I choose to presume this is an artistic expression, while make a mental note not to step on them).

Avi: “Here mom.”

Me: “Thanks”

Avi: “Your welcome” “Here, three, six, seben. . . . I’m gonna get em mom on my chair on my my my  head.”

(She goes under a chair, pulls out more pegs, and brings them to me as Josh comes up the stairs).

Avi: “Uh oh, a hurry daddy”

Me: “Where are you hurrying to?”

Avi: “Oh look at her [him], its dan its sue . . . What are you doing dad? What’s your hands doing? I hab Toys. I want to have more grandma.”

(drops pegs on me).

Avi: “Oh, Sorry mom, sorry.”

(I think, “Thanks Avi,” as we move on to the next activity- which would be a zip-line in poison ivy. And, you should know I’m not kidding).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My daughter is a delight. She makes me crazy, grating on my impatience or shocking me with her callous little girl evil. But, its impossible to not love her. It is thrilling to see her discover everything from gravity, to social graces, to language- her ability to soak up the world around her mesmerizes me.

I love enjoying my daughter. Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I know I am blessed. There are many parents who don’t get to enjoy their children. Some parents die, leaving their children orphaned. Some are separated by war or poverty. Others only have languid children, not happy and experiencing life like my daughter is. Their children are sick, thirsty, and hungry. Some other three-year-old children are hurt by the most gruesome forms of oppression. I encourage you to read this story, which gives a glimpse of other stories kids the same age as Avilynne’s experience.

I know I am being a kill joy, but as the radio sings, “. . . you don’t know what you got ’til its gone . . .”‘ I am reminded to try to be grateful before it is too late. I am sure I just lost some of you; I did not just change subject to trees and parking lots. I am still on the subject of being thankful for my little girl. I guess I just want to be so grateful for what I have been blessed and entrusted with, rather than take it for granted. And I don’t want to forget the truth that there are so many whose children suffer.

In the Old Testament God directed the Israelites to do all sorts of things to remember what He had done for them, bringing them out of oppression as slaves in Egypt.  God prescribed holidays and memorials. He wanted them to sing about it, read about it, slap reminders on their foreheads, door frames, and tell their kids over, and over, and over, and over again of what He had done.  It was like God was putting post-in-notes all over their lives, getting them to see the obvious- He is good! God saved! God heard them! God cared!

I have a few post-in-notes in my life, as well. I am overwhelmingly blessed, and sometimes its good for me to remember that. So, thank you God for Avi, “The Father’s delight!” (as her name means).  Just like the Israelites were directed to do, I want to tell Avi as she grows up of how good God has been, and how she is a reminder to me of that. And every time I tell her this, I hope to be spurred on to remember the other children whose lives are anything but full of hope. I have no doubt God sees them, hearing their cries, just like I hear my daughter’s when she has a nightmare. I wish I could see all the stories of how God has intervened on their behalf already. But even more than that, I hope my thankfulness for God’s goodness in my life, overflows as action to change the lives of these hurting children. After all, I have been blessed to bless others. God might have used Moses, plagues, fiery pillars, and a wall of water to save the Israelites. I am sure He can do so again, if He wanted to. But, I am also pretty sure He can use little me.

“So be careful how you live, not as fools, but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT

Manifesto of the idle parent

Manifesto of the idle parent

  • We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
  • We pledge to leave our children alone
  • That should mean that they leave us alone, too
  • We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
  • We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
  • We drink alcohol without guilt
  • We reject the inner Puritan
  • We fill the house with music and laughter
  • We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
  • We lie in bed for as long as possible
  • We try not to interfere
  • We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
  • We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
  • Time is more important than money
  • Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
  • Down with school
  • We fill the house with music and merriment

Hodgkinson, T. (2008, February 16). Idle parenting means happy children. Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/familyadvice/3355719/Idle-parenting-means-happy-children.html

Josiah’s Head Wagging

Cute kid (and man)!

Avi’s Phraseology

Her new phrase of the past couple days has been “Where is kitty? Where did kitty go? I don’t know!” and says it over and over again in her cute, hard to understand way.

Today when leaving Josh’s friends’ home, Josh asked me a question. I said “Oh, I don’t care.” In the backseat Avi pipped up “I care. I CARE. I CARE!!!” It was so funny; we had no clue she was even listening, why she said that, or that she even knew those words! She regularly comes up with phrases like this that send us reeling. Or, depending, we must attempt to hide our laughter so she won’t be offended, confused, or be commended for something bad.

Here is another one: We had a fire going which made a popping noise, as fires do. She looked at us and declared “Fire burped! Fire, it burped!” (Please note, she also calls farting “burping.” So I guess that would be a ‘butt burp’? Or as she calls it, a bum. So, a ‘bum burp’!).

She often jumps up and down declaring “I did it!” and “I made it!” when accomplishing minor or major, good, or not so good, feats. I credit this to my dad, her ‘grampy,’ who taught her how to play her fun, beloved, “mawn-key” (monkey) game on his iPhone.

When she wants to show us herself, she says “I’m me!” which she then repeats over and over again. Tonight she wrapped a towel around her waist, which I can only guess made her feel like a little princess. Either that, or she was reminiscent of the glories of taking a bath. Whatever it made her feel, she wanted us to take part in her excitement. Josh kept trying to teach her to add in “look at” but she just didn’t really get it. So, if you her a little voice saying “I’m me” over and over, it really is a statement of more than just self-awareness. Its more of a ‘everybody else be aware of me.’

When my parents came to visit at Thanksgiving, Avi could only say “tanks” for “thank you.” We were content with that, as it was a major step-up to actually be vocalizing anything when she previously only would use baby-sign language to communicate this phrase. Yet, my dad quickly got her to say “thank you.” So now she makes us melt by saying “Tank-you daddy” and “Tank-you mommy.” Its one of those amazingly precious phrases that makes me think of the Grinch that Stole Christmas. How? Well, “The Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day . . .” and the picture that accompanies this quote must be exactly what happens to my heart each time I hear her speak her gratitude. Is this why I am a parent?

As the parental units, I am generally referred to as “mom-mom” or “mommy” while Josh is “Daddy.” Sometimes we are loved and needed. Yet, other times she likes us to go away. Her “Moove mommy” has been a new one (which needs to be tempered). But we secretly laugh when she tries to push us away, saying this, so she can resume hiding under her blanket, or in the cupboard so she can secretly suck on Josiah’s “pass”(pacifier) or take care of her business. The other day she didn’t want to go home, so I tried to bribe her with being able to see Josh. Although this normally works, this time she replied with “no, no daddy” and a few minutes later she added to this with “no, no titol” (tickle) multiple times.

She rarely outright says “no!” anymore. I am so grateful for this as when she previously did so it made me crazy. Now she always says “no, no” as if she is wagging a finger at her students in her one-room school house.

She continues to call Josiah “buddy” though she also refers to him as “Boder” (brother). Others are generally “People.” A few weeks back she used her classic phrase, as she does countless times throughout the day, “wat is TAT?” while pointing to a group of kids in a parking lot. I told her that those were teenagers, that they were “people.” Since then she refers to most others as either a “fwind” (friend) or a people. So, its not uncommon to here “Its a people!”

These are some of her phrases, mannerisms and words. Of course, this barely scratches the surface of Avi-speak, but it will have to do for tonight. So, in Avi-speak I bid you “nitenite, fwind,” while offering you a kiss with smacking lips and protruding tongue.