Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leaving Impairment

What is it about leaving my home for the night (or for longer, I'm not picky) that turns me into an absolute lunatic?

I get it that I like to have the house clean.  Coming home to chaos is no fun.  But what, pray tell, is it that moves my intentions from leaving a tidy house - which is reasonable, over to this craziness?

It's like I feel the need to get every little project I have ever had on my to-do list over and done with.  If this lunacy had a motto is would be: Leave no stone unturned, no closet unorganized, and no crumbs or six month old McDonald french fries under the car seats.

Am I the only one that finds it disturbing that McDonald's food never decays???

What makes me think I should adding blogging about my stupidity on the eve of my insanity to my list of things to do?

I think a reasonable before I leave list should look something like this:

  • Laundry done and put away
  • Bathrooms cleaned
  • Floor washed and or vacuumed
  • Rooms tidied
  • pack your bags, and those of your progeny.
This ensures that I come home to a house that is as welcoming as the hotel or guest-house I just left.  I like that. If I would stop there, I am sure my past week would have been very relaxing. 

Things I have ADDED this week (and mostly completed) to this list include:
  • cutting the kids hair 
  • buying and butchering a beef and pork tenderloin into various cuts for the freezer
  • cleaning and reorganizing the garage
  • assigning essays on the beginnings of Western Civilization to school ages kids
  • eating Reese peanut butter eggs like its my job
  • over-seeding and fertilizing the lawn
  • doing the winter-spring clothes switch for the kids
  • vacuum the van with the little crevice tool that is too small to suck up creepy, withered un-carbon-dateable french fries
Seriously, if this doesn't prove that I don't need alcohol to impair my judgement, I don't know what does.

The thing is, I know from a very recent and scientific (like 10 minutes ago) poll that I took on facebook, that I am not alone.  So why do we do this?

Is it because we can't handle leaving things imperfect?  Is it that we worry that if we were killed in a fiery crash, and people had to come in our houses they would be shocked at the filth and squalor we sometimes live in?  Or do we think that if we don't create enough chaos and work for ourselves and almost have a nervous breakdown in the leaving process that we don't deserve the time away?

My greater concern for myself is what these lists do to my family.  This particular episode has been fairly pain free.  I have gotten a lot of the important and urgent things done. And while doing it,  I have managed to avoid turning into Attila the Mom.  That hasn't always been the case though.  

I just wish I knew why this leaving impairment phenomenon affects so many of us!

What I know for sure  is that there is a garage with my name on it. 

My list is calling.  I better get to work.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grace like an Avalanche

Life lessons come at the most inconvenient times.  Take this weekend for instance.  There was an incident at church; it involved two of my boys breaking out the fisticuffs in the middle of Sunday School.  On Easter Sunday.  At church.  In front of the whole Sunday school class.  The poor teacher was more than a little gobsmacked.  And rightly so.

Seriously - who's is raising these kids? 

I don't know about you, but I find public displays of my kids disobedience to be far more difficult than disobedience on our own turf.  My pride isn't on the line at home - but here, it was laid to shreds.  

What I wanted to do was tear a strip off of one kid and then the other.  I wanted to yell and scream and light my hair on fire, just to make sure the teacher really understood that I knew how inappropriate the whole things was - I was on her side.   

An internal battle had begun the moment I saw those sheepish and angry faces (one of each) staring at me from the classroom that I am sure would have put the scrap in the Sunday School room to shame.  Amazingly, I told the part of me that wanted to act all shocked and angry that my children would be prone to foolishness and childishness to just sit down, shut up and let grace take over for a little while - just to see how it would work.  Shockingly, it did.

I wonder if letting grace take charge is like choosing to take the scenic route.  It's often got more twists and turns, and almost always takes longer, but in the end, the route is more beautiful and rewarding than trying to scream my way to the end...literally.  With and without grace the destination remains the same.  I don't have to throw out raising our kids to have integrity, poise, respect and whatever other life skills and attributes we might be aiming for in order to parent using grace.

Fantastic analogies aside, I apologized sincerely, but calmly to the teacher.  I let her know that this was totally unacceptable behaviour and that we would deal with it at home.  Then we took the long quiet walk back to the van and started for home. I am discovering that long stretches of silence are much more effective than the nattering and lecturing that I am prone to do. 

So far, I hadn't blown up - though I wanted to.   I knew that I had to put aside my pride and deal with their hearts, and mine.  How often has my pride and right to be vindicated gotten in the way of meaningful correction and training with my kids?  Having others think well of my parenting matters far less than actually parenting well.

The boys were sent to their room and Josh and I made a plan.  We both knew what we wanted to do.  However we both realized that lecturing and being really upset wasn't, in the end, going to bring about a good resolution.  They needed to see for themselves that they were wrong, they needed to own up to their actions and decide how to make it right.

We waited, we listened to each of them tell their stories, and then after more waiting and talking we dealt out consequences - and they hurt, and the boys were really and truly repentant.  They have a list of people they will be writing or speaking apologies to.  We have a plan in place to help modify the inappropriate reaction that led to the whole Sunday School fiasco. We didn't have to force confessions and angry submissions out of our kids to do it.  I never expected discipline to feel like a great "Team Loewen" moment. What a difference grace makes.

There is a new song on the Hillsong United Aftermath recording that refers to God's love being like an avalanche of grace.  I love the juxtaposition of something so destructive paired with something so healing.

Grace is destructive.

Grace destroys brokenness and brings healing.  It destroys overgrown pride in my parenting and replaces it with humility and love for my children.  God's grace destroys my self-righteous anger and grows in it's place mercy and loving justice. It destroys the notion that what I reap I will sow, and takes the place I have earned on the cross and saves me.

Hillsong Aftermath - Like an Avalanche

Friday, April 15, 2011

Streams of Sub Conciousness

It must be time for a list of ten post.  I could call it a top ten - except I don't know what it's the top of.  I suppose the top of my mind, which is a frightening place, really.  I am still trying to reconcile with the snow of yesterday and the gorgeous springy-ness of today.  So, I give you the best I have to offer today.  A List of Ten/Confessional/Random Post.

Go Big or Go Lazy
Sometimes I think the "Go Big" way I do things is just an elaborate cover up for how lazy I'd like to be.  Maybe I had five kids just so that I could have five little minions to do my bidding?  I mean, I have a lot of bidding to do - it will probably take five kids just to get it all done while I munch on bonbons and paint my nails.

Maybe I spend one day every couple of  few months creating dozens of meals for my freezer just so I don't have to engage in the 4 o clock debate of "what are we gonna eat today?"   It's not the making that's the problem.  It's the deciding.   Maybe I should make my minions decide...I would eventually get sick of nachos and pancakes though.
Me and my Minions

Quitcher Whinin'
I'm still whining (on the inside) about the time change.  I have yet to drag my sorry butt out of bed to exercise since then.  Blech.  I know I can exercise whenever I jolly well feel like it, but my almost 35 years of experience tells me that if it doesn't happen before my day starts, it doesn't happen at all.  Mostly because I'm, you guessed it, lazy! and can't stand the thought of getting ready twice in a day. 

Bilingualism & Getting Ready
Also, since the upid-stay ime-tay ange-chay, (yes I speak fluent Pig-Latin - it's right up there with my nun-chuck skills) I have put aside my years-long tradition of being being dressed and ready for the day before Josh and I have coffee.  Thankfully the promise of a quiet coffee and a visit with Josh before the kids are allowed up hasn't lost it's allure, but the mornings are less peaceful when I am trying to get ready the same time as my kids.  I may want to drive myself over the cliffs of insanity trying to straighten my hair while also being asked for bazillionth time if someone has to make their bed today or not.  It's time to get back into those routines...starting tomorrow, or maybe Monday.

Sit up to Eat Up
I only exercise because I like to eat.  A lot.  You may have noticed that food comes up a lot in this blog.  You may have also noticed that exercise rarely is mentioned.  That's because I hate it.  The only good reason for exercise, as far as I'm concerned, is it increases the allowable caloric intake in a day.  I never get a rush or feel sooooo great when a workout is done.  It is a means to an end.  Period.

I wonder how many sit ups it takes to equal a cinnamon bun?  

What it's Not
I find it frustrating that grace gets misrepresented a lot of the time.  Grace does not equal living without standards.  If I invited you to play a game of ice hockey and the proceeded to do nothing but  triple salchows in a tutu - you'd all tell me I wasn't playing hockey.  And you'd be right.  Just because someone calls something grace, doesn't mean it is.   
Not a triple salchow - or hockey. Remember when we had Olympic skaters practicing in Abbotsford last year?

Hockey Fever
I should confess that I can neither play ice hockey or do a triple salchow on the ice or off of it.

Go Canucks. Amen.

Our BBQ cover.  I might have a few hockey fans in the house.

Homeschool Uniform
I am going to my first homeschooling conference in a few weeks.  I am trying to decide if I need to buy a denim jumper and buy a big braid hair extension just to fit in.  

Cookie Brilliance
Freezing cookie dough is possibly one of my greatest ideas ever, though I am sure I'm not the first to try it.   Frozen cookie dough balls are maybe even better than cookies.  The key:  Triple Recipe, parchment paper and a Pampered Chef small scoop.  Long-term lazy, I tell ya.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip to be exact
Hands Across the Water
I miss my sister in law a lot.  Botswana is very, very far away from Canada.  If I ever win a lottery, one of the first things I will do is invent a transporter and beam myself over to Gabarone and back at regular intervals.  It's only money and the will to get it done that is preventing the invention of transporters, I am sure. I realize with my lottery winnings I could just buy a plane ticket - but then I'd still have jet lag to deal with.  The transporter idea takes care of both....beam me up!

And That's Ten
Are we here already?  I think my husband is great.  Getting up to have coffee together before he goes to work is one of my favorite times of the day.  It's especially great because he always makes the coffee.  Nothing says love like: "Coffee's ready."  I am thankful for this, and for the fact that caffeine is an acceptable addiction to have. 
Yes, the counter needs wiping.  I'll get to it after I have coffee.  I'm lazy, remember?

Speaking of which, it's ready now.  The caffeine calls.   

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lego and the Bible

I do realize that my post topics (and titles!) are very random or perhaps even willy-nilly.  One week it's laundry, the next philosophy; pancakes followed by psychology.  But that's the way I roll, I guess.  This week, it's theology followed by a post on cookies this weekend :)

To drive the point further - here is a picture of the ISO - Imperial Symphony Orchestra
and some meat marinating...both good, random things.

I was reading through Romans this week and eventually came to chapter 14.*  Seriously, it came right after 13 and just before 15.  

As I was reading I had one of those the Bible really is a living and active book moments. I thought and thought about it all week and today I did something I never have done before: I rewrote/personalized the chapter - in terms of schooling.  I have tried to find a way before to sum up how I feel about the whole topic of educating our kids, and this is the best I have come up with yet...funny I should find it in the bible :)   It's not so much why we are doing what we are doing - but a set of ground rules I'd like to agree to before we start any discussions on the many areas of life:  worship style, family size, housing, food, time-shares, hairstyles, demin jumpers... matters of conscience and conviction, that we might choose differently from each other.   

Writing this gave me a renewed sense that I don't need to apologize for how we do school, and neither should you - instead we should joyfully do what we're doing and support each other to be the best parents and teachers we can be in whatever arena of education we find ourselves in.

I did send a copy of this to our pastor, who is the head of one of the seminaries in our area, to make sure I hadn't committed blasphemy or anything. While he didn't ask me to help him write his sermon for this weekend, he also didn't revoke our membership from the church.  :)

It turns out Mr. Klassen, of grade 12 Bible class fame was right : Romans really is the most exciting book of the bible.   

Here it is - hope it encourages you the same way it did me!

Romans 14

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do.  And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department.  Remember, they have their own history to deal with.  Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might be well convinced that she can homeschool her children, while another, with a different background, might assume that all Christians should send their children to public school, and educate her children accordingly.  But since both are guests at Christ’s schoolhouse, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing the way the other educated their children?  God, after all, invited them both to his schoolroom.  Do you have any business crossing people off the registrar or interfering with God’s welcome letter?  If there are corrections to be made or detentions to be handed out, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that all ways of school are equitable for their family and another thinks that only one way of educating their children will work at all.  There are good reasons either way.  So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

What’s important in all of this is that if you educate in one way, do it for God’s sake; if you choose public school, join the PAC, volunteer in the classroom, and thank God for your wonderful teachers; if you choose to homeschool, homeschool to the glory of God and thank God you have the freedom to educate your kids this way.  None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.  It’s God we are answerable to – all the way from life to death and everything in between – not each other.  That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again:  so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother?  And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister?  I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly – or worse.  Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God.  Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position one bit.  Read it for yourself in the Scripture:

“ As I live and breath,”  God says,
“every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
That I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting.  You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
Forget about deciding what’s right for each other.  Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, or get offended that their passions aren't the same as yours, making life more difficult that it already is.  I’m convinced – Jesus convinced me! – that everything as it is in itself is holy.  We, of course, by the way we treat it, or talk about it, contaminate it.

If you confuse others by making a big issue over where they send their kids to school, or don’t send them, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you?  These, remember, are the persons for whom Christ died.  Would you risk sending them to hell over how they do school?  Don’t you dare let a form of training your children become an occasion for a soul-detention!

God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of how you educate your children, for goodness sake.  It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy.  Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ.  Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone:  pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to people around you.

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.  Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.  You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over whether you think private school is better than public school wreck God’s work among you, are you?  I said it before and I’ll say it again:  all forms of educating are good, but any of them can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it trip others up and send them sprawling.  When you decide on how you are going to educate your children, your primary concern should not be to blindly choose one over the other but to share in the life of Jesus.  So be sensitive and courteous to others who are choosing to educate their children differently from you.  Don’t decide to do a form of schooling that will cause you to interfere with the free exchange of love.

Cultivate your relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others.  You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent.  But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe – some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them – then you know you’re out of line.  If the way you  live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

* I should add, just a point of minor self-deprecation - there are many days when I don't pick up my bible - but this week, when I did - it was awesome, and awesome things should be shared, right?!