Everyday Stories

The thing about living in God’s big story is that it is made up of our everyday stories. The key is to begin to locate our stories within God’s story – how does what my life, what I’m doing, relate to what God’s life, what God is doing or has done in the world?

Isaiah's Pillar of Mulch

I was reminded of this recently when I took our boys to the local park. It was a mild August morning, and after Ezra awoke from his nap, I took both of them to the “park with the playground.” Isaiah is old enough to entertain himself at the playground, which means I can chill with Ezra as he chills in the stroller. Once Isaiah had tried out most pieces of playground equipment, we began a trek around nature trail in the park. We looked at worms, bees, butterflies, and trees – we even played with the sprinkler (shh, don’t tell).

At one point, we came across a pile of mulch leftover from some recent landscaping. The pile was off the trail a bit, but Isaiah kept going down to it, grabbing it in his hands, and bringing it back to the trail. He enlisted my help as we created a new, smaller pile of mulch on the trail.

Then it occurred to me that we were acting out our own version of the story of Jacob’s ladder (Gn 28:10-22). After Jacob’s dream where he sees angels ascending and descending a heavenly stairway, and God restates the promise that was given to Abraham and Isaac:

I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

When Jacob awakes and remembers his dream, he is awestruck by his encounter with God and sets up a stone as a pillar, a marker to remind himself and all others who pass by that this place is holy ground.

Isaiah’s pile of mulch is a witness to the same thing. Our story that day was the fellowship of a father with his sons, and in the setting of God’s beautiful creation, we were living in the promise that was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – we have been blessed through them, and God is with us. Our story is God’s story.

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Long days… short years

This is my first time to post on our blog. I have been talking to D. and dreaming about starting this blog together as we have had so many thoughts about what it means to be parents and followers of Jesus. We feel called to live a little differently than most, and we feel that following Jesus changes everything, especially the way we parent. We also think some of our ideas about parenting are unique among our Christian friends, so we wanted to write about our thoughts and experiences.

So why has it taken me so long to post? This last month or so has been a very difficult one for me. I have always dreamed of being a mom and thought it would be fun and that I would probably be pretty good at it. But in these days, I have felt like maybe I was wrong. Parenting a 2 1/2-year-old who is quite a handful, and a 5-month-old who is quite needy has sucked me dry. I have really been struggling just to make it each day. Sometimes I feel like a failure–I should be able to do this all by myself, and I should be good at it. But most days I end up doing all that I can to fill the time when D. is gone so that it goes by as quickly as possible. I am so afraid to leave the house with both boys because Isaiah is prone to public melt-downs.

As I’ve been thinking and praying through this difficult time, I have realized a few things:

  • Being a parent is hard for everyone. I am trying to learn to drop the illusion that I have things all together, and acknowledge that this is really hard. I want to acknowledge this for myself, and for the other parents out there who feel pressure to look like they’re great at this job.
  • My husband is wonderful and supportive, and he is a great dad. If I need to call him sometimes and ask him to come home and help me, that is okay. We are blessed because his job is flexible, and it’s okay to embrace that flexibility. This idea of self-sufficiency equaling success is simply a lie.
  • Embracing both of these truths probably makes me a better mom. I want my kids to learn to be transparent, and I want my boys to learn that they can be hands-on fathers one day, so in living into these truths, I am giving my sons a gift.

Hopefully there will be more to come from me as I move through the hard days and onto easier ones.

Trying not to be a McFamily

I remember being in college and watching a video in one of my business classes of the genius of Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald’s the international fast food icon it is today. One of the things I remember about the video is that Ray believed in efficiency. Part of his overall genius was finding ways to streamline the process of providing food to customers. mcdonalds-3One of those was the multi-mixer milkshake machine (which Ray was a salesman for before buying out the McDonald’s brothers), which could mix multiple milkshakes at the same time. And that is what McDonald’s and all fast food restaurants are known for today…efficiency and speed. In fact, these values have seeped into every part of American life – how we work, how we play, how we live at home, and even how we parent!

Something that we’re learning in raising our kids is that trying to be a McFamily doesn’t really work. When I interact with our 2 ½ year old with efficiency and speed in mind, I am usually thwarted. Things such as eating supper, taking a bath, reading books, getting ready for bed, and playing ‘chase me’ are not meant to be efficient and speedy. They are times for me to engage meaningfully with him, and in turn I learn that slow down my pace of life so that I can enjoy the moment we’re in.

The best example is bedtime. Isaiah is now in his big boy bed, but staying his big boy bed is not always easy for him. I would like to just tell him to go to bed, and be done. But that’s not how it works. Bedtime entails stories, prayers, songs, and laying beside him as he gets sleepy. I don’t usually stay until he falls asleep, but taking extra time to be with him, makes a huge difference in how the rest of the night will go. If I rush him into bed with threats of time-outs and spankings, it makes him want to stay up all the more. If I take the time to do it right, focus on being with him, and embrace those moments we get together, then we’re both a lot happier and sleep much better.

This is the Day

isaiah sleepsRight now I’m lying in bed typing this post because I’ve been awake since 3am. First, I put Ezra back to sleep. Then, Isaiah needed someone to lay beside him. And then Ezra woke up again.

These nights don’t happen very often, but when they do, they are hard. How are you supposed to have energy to face the day, energy to take care of these non-sleeping kids if you yourself don’t sleep either?

Around Eastertide, Isaiah and I started singing “This is the Day” at bedtime. It comes from Psalm 118:22 and following, which speaks of the day when salvation comes to God’s people. I like to sing songs with Isaiah that have significance within the church calendar, but as I sing I am reminded of my own salvation and how I am growing deeper into that day by day.

Even when I am sleep deprived. Even when patience is low. “This is the day that Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it…Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.”