Raising Children During Chaos

Raising children in the midst of chaos can seem like a task of responsibility and accountability because our hearts are filled with thoughts of logistics, plans, & overwhelmed by circumstances. 
Pressing into Jesus while I admonish our children has made me the most aware and humbled by the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
While their behavior is filled with selfishness, tantrums, questions, and the need for training, it isn’t abnormal. It can feel like the greatest inconvenience, though, when my heart is reeling and my thoughts aren’t captive to Christ. 
I’m overwhelmed by the grace and wisdom the Spirit speaks into me and through me when I’m gently talking through life with my children. When a directive, a calm answer, or wise training comes from the depths of my innermost heart. I’m overwhelmed because Jesus speaks to me even more than whatever I’m speaking to my children. 
When I’m speaking hope and understanding to them (through the Spirit’s leadership), it’s actually me He’s speaking to…filling up my heart and mind to prompt me towards steadfastness. I’ll never stop growing, and the inconveniences of nurturing and training my children insure this and though I don’t always thank God for it, I am today. 
So today when my heart is very aware of the circumstances today holds, as we travel to another town to meet with an oncologist to hear pet scan results and chemo treatment plans, I’m asking the Lord to calm my anxious heart with moments of truth shared with my children that are ultimately for us all. 
Grace so free, washes over me. 

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a year measures more than time

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One of our college students (who is graduating and I can’t even believe we’ve watched her and her sister graduate college since starting at FBCWF) took one year pictures of Holt and our Christmas family pictures. Photo Credit: Allie Saville

The last year has been a blur AND memorable. I don’t know how both can occur, but it’s true. You can read about Holt’s birth story here. (From my previous blog). It was the fourth most incredible moment of my life! Salvation, Marrying Brady, Drake’s birth, and really, all of them make my every day the more incredible.

A few beautiful memories and characteristics of Holt::

He loves to dance *bop up and down.

He loves to crawl….FAST!

He is starting to walk! Taking about 10 steps at a time.

He climbs. So much! I looked at him today and turned away. When I looked back, he was on the train table, sitting on his knees! He also climbs in our window seat. He is pretty agile and can get down by himself.

Like all babies, he grabs for everything and I sometimes think he has go go gadget arms!

He loves to eat fruit! Just like his brother. We go through A LOT of fruit around here (and sometimes, internally, I’m proud of myself and wonder where the ability to prepare toddler food comes from? I would have never imagined myself doing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for littles had you asked me 5 years ago).

He loves his Drake. He calls us out “day day” and it’s hard to distinguish between that and dadda!

He HATES his carseat carrier. He has from day one. In the hospital…screams every time! THANKFULLY he goes into a big carseat now!

He HATES laying down to get a diaper change. Sometimes I give him a bottle so he’ll be occupied for the 5 seconds it takes to whip out diapers!

He enjoys putting things into containers.

He can use a fork pretty impressively!

He loves books! Not sitting down to read (or anything else) but he’ll flip through one on his own and then move on.

He crawls around with toys in his mouth making noises.

He likes to sleep with a blanket over his head (and I’ve give up freaking out over it). I’ve watched him in the middle of the night take his blanket from the side of the crib and wrap himself up. Pretty coordinated!

Did I mention he despises naps? Not a long napper. At all.

He loves water! (again, pretty impressed with our parenting skills to get children to like water!)

His birthday was a whale theme and we had more fun than I expected with friends and family! He did NOT like the smash cake but really LOVED the ice cream.

 

You can imagine with all the intricacies of a little person’s preferences and dislikes, the sanctification that comes with that for the one seeking to shepherd his heart. It has been a joy to watch his brother desire to help him (so much so that he gets into trouble for trying to stop us from disciplining his little brother sometimes). They wrestle. I had no idea what was coming with boys. Watching them wrestle is incredible and always teaches me. Boys were meant for something so much greater than what this world is speaking into their tiny minds and hearts. God put it in the male to be bold and fierce. My husband has taught me how to manifest that, encourage it, and train our boys in the way.

I never knew or spent much time contemplating what parenting would be like and I’m fairly confident that was exactly how the Lord intended my decision to go about having children. I probably wouldn’t have had any….and if you’re a parent I think you’ll understand what I mean by that comment. There are hard times. Staying with my boys all day is for the most part INCREDIBLE. But there are times I question my patience, abilities, decisions, sanity, etc. When they’re both screaming, when they won’t nap and I selfishly need 10 minutes alone, when they don’t like what I’ve made to eat (which, thankfully, is rare), when they ask hard questions, when they reveal sin in my heart….I could go on. But it pales in comparison to the joy they bring me! This is my one glimpse into how Christ sees me and loves me. My sin paled in comparison to His love so much that He died a gruesome death in order that His perfect blood be shed to pay the price for my eternity. Oh what grace. That’s what floods my parenting thoughts and momma heart. Oh what grace.

Now, onto my post about my precious Drake turning 3!

Sifting Sandpaper

Sometimes the sanctification and brokenness feels as though we’re being stripped of all that is us, but He’s replacing it all with all that is of Him. That’s much more valuable and beneficial than our flesh. -me

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I love my husband. More than any person in my life and second most to my Savior. He has had chronic pain for 15 months now. It started with a 9 day hospital stay, more tests than I can re-cap, and finally a diagnosis that has, so far, only resulted in medication as a fix (for now, hopefully).

The first 3 months I was on pure adrenaline and desperation to find out what was wrong with him and to keep him comfortable. During that time, I became pregnant and was staying home with our 14 month old son. (What a HUGE blessing and provision that I had already been a SAHM! I was able to take care of the most important people in my life without worry of losing my job. Although, they may have wanted to fire me!)

He progressively got better, I progressively got more pregnant and miserable, and our toddler got progressively more busy! Our second son was born in November of the same year that my husband was diagnosed with a thoracic condition.

In January 2013, it had been a year since he first began hurting. Like all seasons ebb and flow, I hit a wall with being a care-giver. I wish I could sugar coat my emotions, but the reality is my meager attempts at managing my emotions revealed my true attempts were just out of my flesh. I needed help and I needed someone to reveal grace and mercy and speak Truth to me. I needed someone to remind me that Jesus doesn’t tell us to “pull yourself up by the boot straps” (that had become my motto). Jesus doesn’t tell us “well, this is just your lot so deal with it.” Truth be told, I knew my life wasn’t hard. I knew my life was pretty spectacular! I was just tired. I was weary. I felt alone. So, I made a call (ok, I made a text!). To a staff wife at our church that I have known and trusted since I was in high school. Her husband, too, deals with chronic pain. I needed some wisdom. I needed some guidance. I knew if I didn’t get some light shed on my heart soon it was going to become bitter.

So we went to get a soda and talked. She is a discerning counselor and had prayed specifically for what the Lord would have her say to me. (By the way, don’t ever seek someone’s counsel who isn’t praying and sensitive to the Spirit-my two cents).

I began to share with her the nitty gritty of my ugly heart right now. I’m tired. I feel selfish. I want to do the things that interest, energize, and refresh me. But there’s no time for it. (This was smack in the middle of a week where my husband was in bed due to a spell of debilitating pain). But the flip side to these emotions::At least my husband is still with me! My husband is still able to work and provide for us! My husband still loves me and our sons with his whole being and ministers to us with an overflowing Jesus love that few people have these days! My husband loves people so much that he wants to burst sometimes and ministers out of the overflow of who Christ is in him! Those are some pretty gigantic positives! The reality of my emotions and truth were waging war in my being. So, here comes her questions and what the Lord led her to ask and speak.

“Melissa, what’s your picture for you life? What do you see, what do you want? Now, what do you think God’s big picture is for you? What does He want? Do those line up?”

Absolutely not. They don’t. I shared with her that I had already been convicted for two weeks before meeting with her that I needed to say no to a lot of things and people, including myself. That is one of the most painful pieces of sandpaper I have ever felt scratch across the surface of my very delicate flesh and selfishness. So I had already started saying no to others and myself. It was hard. It hurt. It felt unfair. Now I could realize the real reason I started realizing my selfishness was coming to the surface was an unfortunate collision of the conviction to say no and now my husband was needing me totally and I didn’t even have the choice to say no now, I had to in order to be available to him. How wretched am I that I’m struggling with selfishness when my family needs me? Well, I can just see it now. We’re all wretched and deceived by our hearts. Thankfully, Jesus can redeem that!

I will give you a few examples. I was having a get together at my home. I LOVE to decorate and make themes. I’m not really good at it, but I enjoy it. I enjoy others’ enjoying my decorations. For this get together, I promised myself my home would be clean, but no extras. I stuck to it. I didn’t like it, but I stuck to it.

I’ve wanted to decorate Drake’s room for a while. And I want to do it on the cheap, but that requires a lot of hand making and creativity. I’ve put that to the side. He doesn’t care. He’s a boy. He loves his bed and that’s all he wants in there. It’s about me and feeling accomplished and impressed with myself (let’s call it what it is) and that’s not worth the time away from my family, the money, or the chance of not meeting their needs.

It was all a bunch of sifting. It still is. That dross that He’s refining out of His gold (me) hasn’t all completely come to the top yet. But He says I’m worth the time it takes to refine. He says I’m so worth it, that He sent His Son to die on the Cross and His Son left us the Holy Spirit to continue working in this sinful heart. He won’t ever be done working on me until I’m in heaven. So this is just one more chapter in the book of my sanctification.

His big picture for me right now?

Wife. My husband came first and comes first out of all of my relationships on earth.

Mom. We prayerfully added little humans into our family and they are our responsibility. The number one priority for our marriage under glorifying the Lord (which covers everything else to come under here) is to provide for and disciple our children. We are and will be held accountable for this area.

Then some. I was called to college ministry before I married my husband. That calling has expanded to ministering to women in all seasons. College, marriage, mommyhood, adult mothers who have college students….this is my calling and I enjoy the moments shared with ladies.

My lot isn’t a place where He resides to give me everything hard. My lot is the place where I come to see who I am in relation to Christ, secure my identity, and walk with Him to continue in ministry and laboring for Him.

Web places that encourage me in these areas::

Finding Joy

Focus on the Family

Dr. James Dobson

Jen Hatmaker

Family Matters

Lysa TerKeurst