Monday, March 7, 2011

Set Free

There's a lot of catharsis goin' on in them there words that follow this sentence.  It's a lot of introspective navel-gazing, and I give you full permission not to take the time to read it.  I'll post something fun in a couple of days, and it will probably involve food and some pics of my kiddos.  But today, I need a moment. This is a post for me, cause I want to remember. 

I want to be a great Mom.  Not like the "You're so great, cause you're a size two, your house is always clean and you always look fantastic."  Pictures like this, remind me I will never get there :)  And I'm really ok with that.
Caught in the act !  Thanks Josh :)

I don't even want to be a great Mom in the sense of - "look at how your kids snap to attention when you walk in the room, and they immediately obey without a second thought to their own desires."  Ok, I might want that sometimes, but it's not really what I'm shooting for. 

And shockingly, I don't even want to be a great Mom in the sense of "Oh my word, look at all you do, I could NEVER do what you do"  Cause seriously - comparisons are paralyzing.  If I spend my time looking at everything someone else does well in comparison to what I do well - I will always feel lacking.  The reality is - we ALL do some things well and we ALL have areas that need growth.  We only need to be in competition with ourselves, (i think?) .  It's way too tiring and high maintenance to add being in competition with each other.

Like most moms that I know, I struggle to feel like I am enough.  Or that my kids would be so much better off if I was more like: fill in the blank with the name of any of my friends who succeed in areas that I don't.  I'm not under the impression that any of my wonderful friends are perfect, or anything.  Goodness knows we spend enough time pointing out our own faults to each other.  But sometimes it feels so easy to just think there is no way we are going to raise our kids to be all that we want them to be.  They have us for parents after all.

Do you love how I have a paragraph about how I compare myself to others right after stating that comparisons are not all that....ahh the joy of being a woman... I have such double standards to live up to.

Self deprecation aside, I know there are things I do well.  So don't feel like you need to bake me cookies or bring me a coffee or anything, lest I do myself injury.  I'm just sayin' is all.

Actually feel free to bring me cookies.

or coffee.

or snacks.

Off the rabbit trail...

I have been struggling recently trying to understand and effectively relate to a certain one of my kids. I feel like we are butting heads all. the. time.  So after endless weeks of frustration I went looking online for help, and eventually found myself at 

I've been there before. Tim Kimmel's books: Grace Based Parenting and Raising Your Kids for True Greatness have profoundly impacted my thinking. They are books I go back to often when I need a refresher on why I am doing what i am doing.

Rabbit Trail # 2...

I love how counter-intuitive grace is - it doesn't work with the just-act-right-all-the-time-and-you-shall-be-rewarded model of living that I (and so many evangelical Christians, if I may say so) so easily want to enter in to.  I love how God's grace allows us to be so different from one another, and yet, we're still on the same team.

However, the balancing act of grace is something I struggle with.  It's not a cosmic "whatevs" from God, nor is it a set of rules that I have to follow to receive it. When it comes right down to it, I struggle to receive it, I struggle to give it.  I struggle to give it especially when I feel like I'm not receiving it.  But it grows as my understanding of who God is and who He made me to be increases. It calls me to a higher, not a stricter standard of living and relating to God and to each other.  That's life changing stuff.  

And I'm back...

I desperately want grace to be the overriding theme in our home.  I think I'm getting better at it. The more I get to know Jesus, the more I love grace and want to give it freely to my kids, my husband and to everyone we meet.  I am desperate for it and how it transforms me. 

But even knowing all this stuff about grace...I needed a little help in the "how to make it work" department.

or more correctly, enter Family Flag Page kit.

Basically it gives you tools to work through a "passions profile" for you, your spouse, and your kids ages 4 - 15ish.  The idea with it is that it can help you see how God has uniquely created your kids, spouse, and yourself.  It helps to understand what is Right about them - and what is right about you.

Needless to say, I went straight past GO, collected my $200- and bought it. (actually the whole family kit cost less than $70 - but a monopoly reference is always fun, right?)

I have gone through it with a couple of my kids (so far).  It was great.  It didn't take long. It was also great that it didn't take long, because doing things one on one without interruption are a little more than difficult for any length of time in this house.    I do think that I will get Josh to go through it with the kiddo that is causing the most consternation right now, just cause I'm like that.

Doing the flag pages with them lets me see how they are wired and what things are most important to them.  It's like a little window into their hearts that is revealing and changes the way I approach parenting them.  I feel more equipped to understand how to approach correcting and training them.  It makes it easier for me to love them in ways that mean something to them.

When I look at my kids completed flags it overwhelms me with gratitude at the vast differences between each of my kids. I love how positive the characteristics are portrayed.  Now, a lot of this wasn't a shocking revelation in one sense - I know the basic personality types of my kids, but this deals more with what, within those personality types, they are passionate about.  It's worth doing it.   Buy it,  Now.

I'm bossy like that sometimes.  Sorry.

For example, I looked at one of my kids flags and thought how empowering it is to know that God made this child curious so that he can ask questions and find out answers to the many "why's" of life. We need people like him - but it is SO not like me!  Doing these flag pages changes my perspective as a parent. It helps me not get as frustrated that he just asks SO many questions!  That's part of who this child is.  It is as impossible for him to stop asking questions as it would be for me to start questioning everything. My job now is to teach that child how to use that gift with wisdom and make it valuable part of what they will bring to this world.  Sure, I am going to screw up and make mistakes, but I feel a few steps ahead knowing this.  It allows me to apologize more quickly when I realize I have failed to value who God made them.

It helps me parent them the way God leads me!

Isn't this exciting stuff?  

What was really life-changing for me was doing the flag page online for myself. It's similar to the kids version, but far more detailed.   Again, it's was easy and quick, and it was no shock to me that I am from "fun country", it's just I had no idea Fun Country was a valid place to live.  I thought it was a place I loved, but that I should be trying to leave.   Surely God wants everyone to be from Perfect Country, or Peace Country...right?

For the first time in my life, I felt like who I am, or what I am passionate about and love doing- is not a mistake or something to be overcome. It's just something to be used properly, and in concert with the many other wonderful personalities and passions out there.  I have in many ways felt very secure and loved my whole life.   But I have assumed that God/ my parents/ my friends put up with me and that I would really arrive in life when I finally became a demure details oriented kinda girl.  As though they would all like me better if I was different.  I think I get it now - being me is good...period. Just like being you is good.  It wasn't a huge step for me to move from where I was to where I am.  It's sort of like that feeling of being in an airplane, where you're travelling through the clouds, and it's cool and amazing, but then than moment when you break through and you're above the clouds and all you see is glorious sunshine...WOW.

I have been set free by the secure love of God and I'm not letting go. 


  1. THIS was a super enjoyable read. very thought-provoking and i am interested in this family pack thing you mentioned :)
    thanks for sharing all of this...i'm off to think it over as i clean house.
    ps. vacuuming your table cloth? that's a new sight for me!

  2. Well I'm glad to have not turned you off :)
    As far as vacuuming the table - I don't do it THAT often, but when it get's really crummy (as opposed to messy), I hate that wiping usually leads to more sweeping and so that day I just decided to skip a step and get rid of the crumbs faster - I'm an innovator, after all!

  3. I have the flag page game at work and have done it with the kids. I too think it is great and every parent needs to go through it with their kids. Nice to know where they are coming from. Love reading your blog...but doesn't make up for face to face conversation. I'll call you soon to set something up.

  4. Piqued my curiousity... sounds like a really great tool... gotta check the proverbial budget... but if it's as helpful as you suggest, I would be a fool to pass it up. Thanks for the referral!

  5. You are fantastic Karina and I'm thankful that you are ahead of me in this parenting game. It is a game, right? Thanks once again for imparting your wisdom, which, if I'm clear is to seek the advice of other people. Love you!

  6. It is totally a game - as long as I am winning. No - wait. that's not right.

    I think It is wise to seek good counsel - which often times will challenge you and not just make you feel good about yourself. That's the hard part - finding those who will speak the TRUTH in LOVE to you. Those people,are gold - hold on tight to them!

    I am so proud of how you love your boys and Benzi. You make me want to be a better Mom. I am thankful you are someone who has spoken the truth in love into my life and I am blessed to have you for my sister. I love you too!

  7. Well said, as always Karina. I appreciate the effort and energy you put into "being more" for everyone you love. I hope that came out the way it was suppose to. (I don't think you need to be more, blah, blah, blah)

  8. Glad you like it Kyla - I am thankful you are on the Mom journey with me too!

    I love you muchly :)

  9. You continue to astound and teach me! :0

  10. Karina,
    Thanks for this great post about our Kids Flag Page! I really loved how you waxed eloquent about Grace. It never gets old does it?

    From one "Fun Country" resident to another, I really loved what you learned by doing the Flag Page for yourself. I so relate to feeling like who I am isn't enough. That I will be a real mom/woman when I am hyper-organized, ultra-productive and "demure" as you said. I will stop looking at "Fun Country" as a place that I visit as a guilty pleasure, and start flying my country's flag with pride!

    Give us a shout over at the Family Matters Blog, We would be happy to give you a Flag Page Kit to give away on your blog... Your readers might enjoy that!

    As far as vacuuming the tablecloth in your bathrobe...I was super impressed that you had a table cloth on the table! What a novel concept. That might have protected my antique set from having water stains and crayon all over it! I will have to try it...

    The big question is have you vaccumed the dog yet?

    Karis (From Family Matters- Dr. Kimmel's ministry)

  11. Love this post! You are an inspiration to me in so many ways. I love you for you! You are a great friend.

  12. @Karis - I highly recommend plastic tablecloths - they are cheap and easy to vacuum. :) Plus it allows your type A recessive genes to take over for a minute and you can now have "seasonal" table decor. I also sent you an email about the giveaway! yippee skippee

    Moni and Jo - I'm glad you liked this post as well. It's always a comfort to know that anything profound or inspirational doesn't start with me - it's from God!


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