For you, momma, with the Screaming Toddler in Target

I was pushing one of those carts that provides a seat for each of our three kids–you know the ones that kids gravitate toward instantly upon entering Target, and then five minutes later want to only walk beside.  They are as easy to navigate as a semi-truck and occupy nearly the entire aisle regardless of how much you try to sidle to the side.

So, I am pushing one of those smooth moving carts through the main aisle of Target–Audrey, for whom the cart’s wonder had worn off, was walking beside the cart hanging onto it (making it even easier to steer and keep from running into other shoppers). Charlotte perched precariously next to Beckett who had moments before been trying to push her off the seat. He was now preoccupied with sobbing so loudly that the employees doing inventory in the back must have heard him.  The reason for the most recent outburst of tears–after three times of kindly instructing him to stop licking the cart (it’s flu season, people!) I had squeezed his chubby cheeks just enough for him to feel a bit of discomfort with the choice he was making. To really set this scene, I should remind you that I am 28 weeks pregnant and in full waddle mode as I am pushing my three people in the red semi-truck cart.

I waddled past the raised eyebrows and sympathetic looks to the self-check out, because I certainly didn’t want to expose a cashier to my current reality.  Somehow, in the midst of another bout of tears because I refused to let Beckett out of the cart to scan his fruit leather (because I was trying to get our booties out of that store as quickly as possible), I was able to check out and get to the glorious freedom of the parking lot.

No good deed goes unpunished, I whispered to myself as I loaded Beckett into the car followed by the bags filled with birthday gifts for daddy.  Church had gotten out a bit early, Mark was still playing guitar for the second service, and I had thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take all three kid shopping at once for Daddy’s birthday. And yet, there I sat, in the driver’s seat waiting to back out with tears in my eyes.  My happy and playful voice that I’d walked into the store with had become frustrated and militant by the time we left the store.

I was angry–it had not been the fun time I had imagined, it was embarrassing, my coat probably needed to be thrown in the wash because the rush of adrenaline and embarrassment over the multiple fits thrown made me so sweaty. What is more is that over the weekend, I had been given a fresh charge from God to disciple my people intentionally to know and follow Jesus–He had given me fresh insight, motivation, and ideas. And, it only took one Target run to make me want to lock the whole lot of them in the basement for the afternoon.

I know I am not the only momma who goes from inspired to deflated in a matter of minutes.  So, to the other mommas with tired two year olds, or emotional elementary kiddos, or exhausting pre-teens (or a whole mix), don’t stop now. When you get out to that Target parking lot, kiss the head of that fit-throwing toddler; go home (lock yourself in the bathroom or garage for thirty seconds to regroup with the Holy Spirit), and then keep loving them with Jesus-love.

Recently, I heard Jill Briscoe speak at IF: Gathering 2017; she said something that fuels my momma heart–

“You go where you’re sent,

and you stay where you’re put,

and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.”

Mommas, like it or not, we’ve been sent to disciple these little people filling our homes with laughter and bellows–so, we are to keep our feet planted and give, and give, and give.  As we refresh, lead, teach, and love on our people, our faithful Father will refresh us, lead us, teach us, and continue filling us with His big love.

The Real Reason We Should Read with Our Kids

It has nothing to do with those reading logs in their homework folders

Every single momma knows that we should read with our people regularly–teachers tell you beginning in preschool, posters and programs and the public library proclaim it, and for those who actually watch live television, there are even public service announcements about reading to your children.

Reading equips our children to be better communicators and thinkers–I agree, wholeheartedly, with every read to your kiddo campaign–I am an english major after all. But, I’d like to add a reason to your list that the library and your child’s second grade teacher won’t tell you.

You should read with your children because stories are powerful. For generations, Christ followers have struggled with what to do with literature–they have banned it, burned it, and called it a waste of time. Though, these concerns are not often associated with children’s books, I want to assert that as mommas who are raising arrows for the kingdom, it is essential that we create habits of regularly taking in excellent stories at a young age.  My argument, even though I’m an english teacher, has little to do with our children being advanced readers or better writers at school, but rather because I believe that we “…were created in the image of one who expressed his inmost nature from the beginning as the Word” (Donald T. Williams).

Of all the ways our Father could have chosen to reveal Himself to us, He chose words–He chose story.  The Bible is many smaller stories all telling the greater story of God’s love for us and what He would do to preserve the chance at a relationship with us, His beloved.

So, yes, we should fill out our students’ reading logs for school, and participate in summer reading club at the library, but not just so we raise smart kids.  Let us do this so we raise great storytellers. I would agree with Donald T. Williams when he writes, “…for people are most like God the Maker when they create a world and people it with significant characters out of their imagination.”

Imagine what might happen if instead of just proficient students, we were to raise up a generation of storytellers.  What might happen to the music industry? What kinds of truth-filled movies might be produced that are not shallow or filled with mediocre acting, but rather stories so captivating the world can’t ignore them? What blogs might pop up? What kinds of novels and poetry? You may be raising a pastor who will help capture people’s hearts for Jesus by the use of story–Jesus sure loved to use stories.

So, read stories, tell stories, let the Bible be a BIG, glorious story in your home — let us raise up a generation who knows how to tell a good story and captivate those who don’t know our Creator.

Flailing Pillows to Solve Problems

{Repost of a Popular Post}

I have never seen my husband jump out of bed so fast–we had already checked on our three sleeping babies, turned off reading lamps, tucked covers around them.  We had brushed our teeth and put on pjs.  I was just climbing into the bed beside Mark who was laying on his stomach reading a text, in his boxers (because that’s what males call pjs, right?) when he smacked his back and jumped out of bed and into the corner of the room–somehow in one motion of jumping he also turned our bedroom light on to the brightest setting.

What’s wrongI questioned

Something just bit me!

Now, before I continue the story, I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret–my man does not like insects.  He will rid the house of a spider for me if I ask him, but in general, I probably kill more bugs than he does. Let’s be very clear that my man is a man — he is strong, a defender, he can lift every piece of furniture my little heart desires, & he makes chopping 35 year old tree roots with an axe look easy.  But, he’d prefer not to spend time around insects, particularly when he is donned in his undies.

It wasn’t long before we saw the bug that had nipped Mark — it was black and resembled a hornet–definitely not trustworthy in Mark’s book.  And, of course, we couldn’t go to sleep or turn down the lights until we rid the room of this unwelcome intruder.  Mark spent much of the next 15 minutes flailing pillows at the bug, as I worked to control the stomach cramps I was getting from laughing. His work to get the bug was erratic and made little progress. I finally came up with the plan to trap the bug by attracting it to one particular light and frying his bug guts. When the bug was dead, and the flailing had stopped, Mark said something we now quote to each other regularly.

I’m proud of how I handled that situation.

That smug and sarcastic comment was followed by at least five minutes of me laughing.  He and I both knew that he had behaved like a crazy man and made for a great story, but nothing about those moments were proud ones.

The phrase has become a joke around our house when we really botch something.  It is a funny joke, but the reality is there are so many situations in my day that my response is the equivalent of flailing around with pillows in my underwear in the spiritual realm.

Mark responds to me in a way other than what I had imagined and I get hurt, and then I let my brain toss it around for the next few hours, compounding the offense–flailing pillows

Beckett wakes up with a goopy nose and full cough, and my initial thoughts have pity party written all over them–flailing pillows.

Charlotte interrupts me early in the morning when I am spending time in the Word, and in a huff I carry her back up to her room–flailing pillows in my undies.

I would like to actually walk away from these interruptions, unmet expectations, and disappointments and be able to say to myself, I’m proud of how I handled that without any sarcasm in my tone.  Not because I can then walk around puffed up, but because that would mean I handled it the way my Father God has been training me–I handled it with an attitude of gratitude, the truth of the Word, and a deep love for people around me that covers their shortcomings.

Mommas, our enemy is real.  He is sneaky and deceitful; the Bible tells us he prowls around looking for who he may devour (or distract). Ready and waiting to jump out and nip at us just enough to get us flailing our pillows around, accomplishing nothing to resolve the issue and accomplishing nothing for kingdom purposes.

What is it that nips at you, what is it that gets you huffy or your brain reeling in offense? Gird yourself up with the Word & by the Holy Spirit at work in you, next time, walk away saying, I’m proud of how I handled that.