Thursday, March 13, 2014

Muscle Memories




My son has been begging for karate lessons for months, and we agreed that it would be better for him to actually learn than just make up his own moves on his sisters. We got the oldest two kidlets signed up, and it only made sense that my husband or I join too since we would have to wait anyway. My husband elected me.
I was secretly excited. I had earned a blue belt in the same system back in my teens and had loved it. But, hello. That was twenty years ago. I had stopped my second year of college because of schedule conflicts and had never gone back.
As we warmed up, I noticed that the sensei was probably half my age. We stretched in ways that my body had not even attempted in decades. Fifty pounds and four kids had altered my center of gravity. At one point, we stood on one foot to stretch and I toppled over. The poor sensei nearly turned purple holding back a laugh. I was beginning to question if I was just too old for this.

Read the rest over at A Deeper Story.  :)



Image credit

Friday, February 28, 2014

Our King's Cake Celebration

I grew up hearing a lot about meaningless traditions and how dead and stifling they are.  If they are meaningless to you, then they aren't worth much.  This year, though, the kidlets and I have been discovering the richness of the liturgical year.  We celebrated Advent together, and it melted my heart when the kids would remind us to pray with shining eyes.  The eldest and I attended Midnight Mass together for the first time, and all of the kids, even the older ones, thought that our celebration of the Reyes Magos (Epiphany) to be a magical time.  We have some very special Easter plans already, and so this week we have been talking about the time leading up to Lent.

Confession Number 1:  I almost never remember to plan things in advance, and then get stuck having to wing it on the actual day after reading someone else's cool post.  So we cheated and had a preview celebration of Mardi Gras today.  We will do the real thing again, but I thought it would be fun to do a trial run in case any of you, dear readers, also tend to wait until a blog post reminds you.

Confession Number 2:  I just said that to sound good.  The real reason is that I did grocery shopping yesterday and they had cream cheese-filled King's cakes on sale, and it sounded too yummy to resist for elevenses today.
The crumbs and fingerprints are from some impatient little kidlets.  Ahem.

First, we talked about all the ways that God makes our lives rich with His love and how the richness of the cake and the sweetness of the sugar reminds us of how sweet His presence is in our lives.  They wanted to know why the sugar was purple, green and gold, so we looked it up.  The purple stands for justice, the green for faith and the gold for power.  The kidlets were already talking about the Wise Men (and the straw filled shoes for the camels) so I told them that the shape of the cake is because of the way the Wise Men went home in a circular way to evade Herod.  Of course, the fun part is finding the baby Jesus doll.  Without any prompting, the kids told me that that was because finding Jesus is the most important thing in our whole lives.  :happymamatears.

Together we prayed and gave thanks for the sweetness and joy of knowing God.  We prayed that there would be justice for all people, especially the poor and oppressed.  We asked for a vibrant, growing faith, that those who have gold would know that all power belongs to Christ, and that most of all we would always seek Jesus in our hearts.

Confession Number 3:  I think that any great spiritual lesson quickly gave way to seeing who had the biggest slice and who would find the plastic Jesus doll.  It was a beautiful moment, but it was also real life with a bunch of kidlets.  That still doesn't keep me from getting all watery-eyed, though.

For the real Mardi Gras, we will do a repeat of this (although in the morning, we will be having pancakes and pancakes races, and watching the Olney/Kansas races on Youtube--yikes, that is a lot of sugar!).  Then on Ash Wednesday, if my courage doesn't fail me, I will take all four little ones to church.  Gulp.

I know that this is just a little thing, but at the risk of being trite (who am I kidding--I wallow in trite!), our lives are made up of these moments.  I can't say for sure how much meaning the kidlets will find in the traditions we are embracing this year, but so far they have loved them and so have I.  Besides, who doesn't enjoy an excuse to eat a cream cheese filled cinnamon roll covered in pretty sprinkles?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Night Terrors

We are so silly sometimes with our death-grip on promises and guarantees that never existed.  My babies were supposed to sleep beautifully, with never a fear, because they were next to us.  Most of the time they did.  But not always.  As long as I kept my mind focused on Scripture and prayer and trusted God, I was never supposed to be crippled by anxiety.  Most of the time I wasn't.  But not always.

"Some nights I start screaming and crying inside to God, my heart hysterically gasping the same prayers over and over and over. Shaking and trembling just like my little ones. Frantically trying to see reality when old nightmares play in my head. Being just awake enough to realize that He is holding me, but not enough to know that I am safe."

I am over at A Deeper Story today.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Super Parenting Library Giveaway ~ Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (Ends February 23, 2014)



Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) 


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Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Over and over on days when I have felt overwhelmed and doubted this whole mothering thing, I would go back and reread Sarah's blog, especially her Practices of Mothering*.  Each time, I would end up with tears streaming down my face and hope rising in my heart.  I was so excited to hear that she had a book coming out, and it did not disappoint.

As a young girl, I was steeped in the writings of Elisabeth Elliot and other Christian authors who argued vehemently against feminism--or at least what they imagined feminism to be.  The primary accusation against feminists that I grew up hearing was that they were rejecting womanhood in an effort to be an (inferior) imitation of men.  All of the condescending platitudes about separate but equal (which in practice was just as "equal" as it was towards people of color) ignored the reality of feminism, which is seeing both men and women as created in the image of God.  God is not a man!  When I grew older, I found myself rereading the Scriptures and seeing a call for mutual submission, not the one sided subservience of woman to man, but both men and women supporting and submitting to each other.  

Sarah Bessey's book is, without question, one of the most refreshing I have ever read on Christian women.  Don't let the title fool you--this isn't a caricature of feminism, strident and shrill, the straw-woman of most Christian books that discuss feminism.  This is a joyful, lovely praise song, joining hands with sisters everywhere and raising a melody of love.  Whether you are a stay at home mom of tinies, a single woman, a pastor, an executive, a kindergarten teacher, or whatever God has called you to be, Sarah's book is a celebration of you and of our freedom to fulfill our destiny together, no matter what that looks like in our individual lives.

I have three daughters and a son, and I hear deep in my soul the call to teach them about what it means to be a child of God, to embrace their destiny in Him and to embrace their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I want them to see that valuing each other lifts all of us up.  I am so glad for voices like Sarah's that sing grace and truth over us.

You can win your own copy of Jesus Feminist To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you have subscribed to Sarah Bessey's post by email, follow her on FB or follow Jesus Feminist on FB, please leave an additional comment for each to increase your chances to win. :) If your comment does not link to a profile with a public email address, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  I will choose a random winner on February 23, 2014.  Also, please check out Sarah's website and the Jesus Feminist FB page--you will find some wonderful things there!
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*I think that there may be some changes on her site.  This link works for the list of posts, but when you try to go to an individual link you will get an error code.  It is worth using the search or archives tab on her site to find the original posts.   

Friday, February 7, 2014

Super Parenting Library Giveaway! ~ Mommy Overwhelm by Laura Schuerwegan of Authentic Parenting (Ends February 15, 2014)



Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) 


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Mommy Overwhelm by Laura Schuerwegan
When I first started blogging, I never expected anyone other than a few friends and family to read it (and not many of them!).  Most of my posts got about 14 views (most of them mine, finding new typos that I had missed) but one day I saw to my shock that a post had a several hundred views.  Authentic Parenting had shared it, and as we chatted, Laura invited me to guest post a three part series.  It was greatly thanks to her (and Hermana Linda, of Why Not Train a Child?) that I decided to start a Facebook page.  Being a faith blogger as well as a gentle parent kind of puts me in a weird category sometimes, and I knew that my religious views could be an obstacle for pages that focus on parenting, so I am especially grateful for Laura's acceptance.

So many wonderful moms get blindsided by depression.  I have always been a genuinely happy person, and with all the challenges of pregnancy and birth never felt particularly depressed.  A couple of years ago, though, the mommy-overwhelm began to creep up on me.  Every day felt like running in sand.  Things seemed to take so much more effort than they should.  My anxiety spiked and I started having panic attacks.   When you are in the middle of that version of normal, all of your energy goes into coping.   One of the hardest things is reaching out to others when you already feel so fragile.   Although the book does not replace a medical professional, Laura has so much empathy, encouragement and practical advice to help you heal.  I particularly loved that there were so many little things that I could do, ideas that I wouldn't have come up with on my own, that were manageable and easy enough not to add to the burden of things that I should do but couldn't.  I recommend this book to any mama who struggles sometimes with Mommy Overwhelm!


You can win your own copy of Mommy Overwhelm To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you comment anonymously, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  For additional entries, if you are following the Authentic Parenting blog or Facebook page, leave an additional comment for each one.  I will choose a random winner on February 15, 2014.  Please check out the Authentic Parenting website and the Authentic Parenting FB page--you will find some wonderful things there!
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Building a Home on Grace and Love ~ Guest Post by Rebecca Eanes

Building a Home on Grace and Love

The good message of the Gospels has reached every corner of the earth! Yet, there are many who reject God.

Those who defy Him and willfully sin know full well the punishment will be Hell, yet even in the face of eternal damnation, they rebel. Why? Because they have no relationship with Him.

They don't know Him. They don't trust Him. They do not know his Love or His Grace.

You see, it isn't the fear of punishment that keeps us on the right path, but a relationship with our Lord, because when we fully understand His mercy, His love, His grace, His heart, we want to follow Him. If fear of punishment alone was enough, everyone would be followers!

And though I fail often, my Father doesn't hurt me. He whispers in my ear, "That's the wrong way, child." He offers me His hand so I can get back up, He forgives me, and I try again.

Img Src: http://appy2bme.wordpress.com/2011/02/

It is this model that I attempt to follow with my children. I have drawn them close to me, formed strong bonds of trust, and shown them my unfailing love and grace. We have had countless conversations where I have revealed my heart to them.

They know me. They trust me. They know of my love and grace.

Because they trust me, they want to follow me. They know I have their best interests at heart. They know I will not lead them astray. This doesn't mean they don't sometimes face the consequences of their actions, as we all do, but that when they do face them, I am right there, arms out, accepting them back into my arms immediately. 

When they stumble, just as I do, I don't hurt them. I lean down and whisper, "That's the wrong way, child." 

I help them up by teaching them, always teaching, gently, consistently, where the right path is. I keep them close and I affirm them often.

Have you noticed how much God affirms us in the Holy Bible? Have you paid attention at all the ways he affirms us? Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 4.4, Romans 15:7, Ephesians 1:3-4, Philippians 4:19 just to name a few.

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Steps for building a home on grace and love:

1. Form a strong bond of trust with each child. Spend time playing, reading, talking, cuddling. Respond promptly when they need you. Do not use harsh words, but always try to be kind. Pray daily for the fruits of the spirit to be evident in your parenting.

2. Teach consistently. Each misbehavior is a chance to teach your child correct behavior. Teaching correct behavior is more fruitful than punishing poor behavior because they need to know what to do, not just what not to do. Punishment pushes them away, teaching pulls them closer. 

3. Be a good role model. The fact is that children will learn more from what you are than from what you say. They learn what they live. Show them what goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, diligence, etc. look like. Would Jesus' followers have followed Him had he not lived what he preached?

4. Discipline gently and with empathy. If after teaching and problem solving, your child chooses to do something that is wrong, a natural consequence will likely follow. Allow the natural consequence to unfold if it is suitable, but convey to your child that you are sorry for his/her choice and the resulting consequence. Always let them know your are for them, not against them. Surely our Lord doesn't like to see us falter, but He still extends grace. If a natural consequence isn't appropriate, a logical consequence may be given with empathy with the purpose of teaching, not to condemn. 

5. Stay close to your children through open communication. Be affectionate. Show interest in what they are interested in. Affirm them daily. Build them up. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

6. Let nothing separate them from your love, for we enjoy that same unconditional love from God. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

7. And always remember the Biblical definition of LOVE. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.



Blessings,
Rebecca Eanes


Rebecca Eanes is a best-selling author, blogger, and the founder of Positive-parents.org. Her books include The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting and a co-authored book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood. She is a homeschooling mama to 2, happy wife of her high school sweetheart, Jesus follower, dreamer, and joy-seeker.

She does not claim to be a parenting "expert" but writes parent-to-parent with the inspiring message of creating peaceful homes through positive parenting.


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Note from Dulce: I have a somewhat different view of Hell than most Christians, probably quite different from Becky's, but I agree with her point that fear of punishment is not a valid deterrent, and it certainly does not change the heart.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Super Parenting Library Giveaway! ~ Grace Based Living by Crystal Lutton (Ends February 5, 2014)


Dear readers, I am so, so thankful for you all.  Really.  I felt so alone early in our parenting journey, but you have helped me to feel understood and supported, and your knowledge and generosity have helped me to grow as a person.  I wanted to give a tangible thank you, and since books are pretty much my favorite things in the whole universe (well, you know--along with chocolate and coffee), I thought about the writers who have given so unreservedly of their experience, wisdom and love.  Their words lodged deep in my heart and have helped me in so many ways.  So, to thank all of you, we are giving away some of my all-time favorites!  Each book will have its own post, and you may enter for any or all of them.  To enter, simply comment and tell me why you would like to have this book.  :) 


*****

Grace Based Living by Crystal Lutton

When I first began questioning corporal punishment, the most important thing to me was finding out what the Bible really teaches about it.  I found the Arms of Love Family Fellowship site and read article after article after article.  It blew me away.   Crystal literally wrote the book on Grace Based Discipline.  Her teachings changed our lives in ways I would never have imagined.  Her book, Biblical Parenting, gave me a brand new paradigm for discipline.  Like many others who start off looking at parenting issues, I found that the grace of Jesus transforms all of our relationships.  Grace Based Living examines all of these, including marriage and parenting, from a foundation of Christ-based love, service and authority.  It is a life changing book in the best way.   Crystal is also a rabbi/pastor, and her ability to share Hebraic perspective has enriched my understanding of the Scriptures.  Along with all of this, she regularly serves as a Titus 2 woman to many, giving practical and loving help to other moms.  In the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know Crystal better, and seeing the wisdom, truth and mercy she shares has been incredible.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  :)  (And a PS--She makes lovely items for sale at Adorned by Crystal.)

You can win your choice of a Kindle version of Grace Based Living or an autographed copy!  To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling why you would like to read it.  If you comment anonymously, please make sure that you either leave your email address (myemail at whatever dot com) or sign up for notifications for replies so that I can notify you if you win.  I will choose a random winner on February 5, 2014.  Also, please check out Crystal's website and FB pages--you will find some wonderful things there!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Most Embarrassing Moment, or To Thine Own Underwear Be True

Honesty and authenticity are important for bloggers, right?  Not sure if that really means letting you all in on some of my most humiliating moments, but my filter has always had a leak.  I offer my deepest empathy to all my friends who have found that sometimes things don't fit the way we expect, and then must walk away.  Head over to A Deeper Story for all the embarrassing details.  :)


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At least they were clean

Sunday, December 22, 2013

To the Mom Who Brought Wonder Woman to Church

Image credit: Cayusa on Flickr

Dear Mama,

I saw you duck your head as you entered, embarrassed that the singing had already begun.  It's OK.  Getting little ones out of the house takes longer than you expect some days.  I was just delighted that you and your little girls made it!

You bit your lip and winced when you realized that all the pews in the back half were full and that you would have to go nearer the front.  You weren't distracting the others.  They smiled as you and your three year old knelt down and were happy to scoot over and give you more room.

When your five year old pulled off her coat, revealing a Wonder Woman dress and purple sweat pants in all their glory, I could see you thinking again that it wasn't appropriate for church.  Oh, mama!  First of all, I have kids with SPD and I know very well what it is like when every single item of clothing they own suddenly doesn't feel right.  Here is the most important thing: she had put on joy, love and a tender and open spirit.  She has plenty of time to adapt to social conventions of what is appropriate.  What I saw was a pure heart that was happy to be there, and that is far more important.  Seriously--if you had pushed the issue, and forced her to change, it would only have meant that you both arrived in a bad mood (if you arrived at all!).  And finally, she was totally rockin' the sparkly shoes with her outfit!

Her eyes lit up when she saw the purple and gold robe the priest was wearing--her favorite color!  When she and your three year old began to pray along with the congregation, my heart melted.  I chuckled inside when the littlest one began to clap, even though no one else was clapping.  Although they can't read yet, they turned the pages in the hymnal and tried to imitate the adults, and it reminded me of a couple of girls about that age who used to close their eyes and raise their hands in worship.  They weren't sure why, but they saw the grown ups doing it and thought it must be important.  During the homily, they looked around, and their eyes sparkled just like the stained glass windows they were admiring.

I could see your shoulders tense up a little at the wriggling, and knew that you were worried about their behavior.  I wasn't.  And that is why I pulled my arms around you and whispered in your ear, "Shame off you!  My house is a place of grace, not shame."

"And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  ~ Matthew 18:3 NIV

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Even when they come dressed as Wonder Woman.

With all my love,

God

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I know that some people will feel uncomfortable that I signed God's name to this.  It is not done in any spirit of irreverence.  You see, I was that frazzled mom this morning, and I believe that this is what He told me.