Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Grace?

I have so much flowing through my mind but what to share, I do not know.  As time goes on and the kids get older and more and more people seem to come here to read just waiting for the chance to pounce on what I write, I am in a dilemma of what to share.  I want to be honest.  I want to share the trials as much as the smiles but at what cost?   I'd like to think that my sharing helps someone.  I'd like to think that I am discreet enough in what I share as to not embarrass anyone in our family.   Here goes.  Hope it comes out right.

I slept fairly well last night so I don't know why I did not want to get out of bed this morning.  6am. came way too soon.  It was still dark as I rolled the little boys out of bed and helped them to get dressed in the dimly lit hallway so that Nolan could sleep in.  Had I not had trouble getting up myself I probably would have been less tolerant of Dennis and Alex's morning crankiness.  As usual I checked the temperature outside and was thankful to keep the door open and let the cold air in.  A little later in the morning John called to see how we were all doing... something I appreciate so much.

William is doing better with school right now.  He is showing his work in math and what do you know-- his grades have gone up.  He struggles with creative writing but for the life of me I can't figure out why.  He can come up with the most outrageous ideas, poems, songs, you name it.  Right now he likes to memorize his bible verses forward and backward.  He even says them with a little tune.  If I wasn't one to make up silly songs and dances myself I am sure he would have driven me batty by now. :)

Paul is making great strides this year.  I hope it all sticks.  Nouns, pronouns, verbs, contractions, subjects, predicates, cause and effects-- I wonder if he really needs to learn this stuff right now or if we should be focusing more on reading, writing, and math.  Just in case, I am having him read all the directions to me, all the little stories in the workbooks, and all the word problems in math.  Just today I picked up Wrap-ups for division and multiplication so he doesn't have to keep doing the same math fact sheets over and over.

At dinner he came up and gave me the biggest hug for no real reason.  If he is going to do this, it is usually when I am in the kitchen cooking for our family.  I can't help but think it is a big deal to him to have a Mom who day after day cooks for her family.  It is a sweet show of love towards me and I eat it up.  I think he knows this too because I always flirt with him to rub noses or wink at me.  I just want him to know how much he is loved and how proud I am of him.

As some of you may know, two of our daughters adopted through dissolutions have biological siblings still living with their previous family.  It has not been easy staying in touch with them but John and I have always encouraged it since we feel it is part of their healing.  Recently, one of our daughters found her brother on Instagram and asked to follow him.  She was sure he would ignore her request and was pleasantly surprised when he approved her.  Baby steps, but nonetheless, baby steps.  It has been over five years and just now they have connected in this small way.  Of course I am thrilled for my daughter, but I ask her to be cautious and to take things slow.  I know she wants to make up for lost time, and I really do trust that one day they will, but  I remind her that maybe he is not in the same place that she is in.  I remind her that he did friend her and that is huge progress for him.  She smiles and I let her be on cloud 9.  Baby steps.

I got an email asking how I am able to clean slate my children everyday.  To the person who wrote me, I hope you don't mind me answering here.  I think the concept stems from my own insecurity that I might mess up big enough one time that I won't be deserving of love and forgiveness. A lot has happened in my past that I had to learn to forgive myself and I could only do that through Christ's love for me.  I can't stand the idea of  going to bed on angry terms with John or one of the kids.  Even if a situation is not fully resolved we do hug and say goodnight till the next day.  Nothing bothers me more than to pass along the cold shoulder.  I think it sends the wrong message-- I can't stand to look at you.  I think you are nothing but a screw up.
I praise God that John feels the same way and is there to prompt me when I am sinful and need his gentle prodding to do what I know is right and go in and tell them goodnight and hug them.

Kids are going to make poor choices in their lives.  They are going to sin.  They are going to do things to push our buttons.  They will be sneaky at some point.  They will be mean.  I am no different even as an adult.    I remind myself of that all the time.

Just recently I found out one of my boys was hiding towels in the laundry room cupboards so he didn't have to fold them.

A few days before that one of my boys opened up their favorite sweet cereal and hid it so no one else could enjoy it.  By the time I found out, it was gone.

Last week I found out one of my daughters was cheating on her schoolwork by writing down the answers from the solutions manual and then marking some wrong to make it look like she had done them herself.

No matter how much I have addressed the wrapper issue, I found four gum wrappers on the floor in the kitchen and living room. Again.  Seriously-- our house is not a trash can.  You'd think that the older kids would know this by now.

All of these things were poor choices and as a parent I had to address them.

Fold the towels and promise not to do it again.  Thankfully nothing else since he was honest about it when I asked him. 
No more sweet cereal for a while.  Period.
No more privilege of checking your own work.  Struggle in math till you actually go back and learn what you should have learned in the first place.   Get tutoring from Dad.  Stay close to me so I can keep an eye on you.  Early bedtime till I can see that you are acting your age.
All gum confiscated till further notice.

And in the midst of addressing them I found out about three or four more even poorer choices.  And consequences followed and I am pretty certain that my kids are not happy about those consequences, but there is no love lost.   It is not always easy especially when one of the kids are on a roll, but that is when I am reminded of Christ.  How patient is He with me?  How bathed in grace am I?

I can liken it to a bridge.  The kids can do something and do something else and so on and eventually burn that bridge.  I can choose to keep that distance between us or I can choose to rebuild the bridge they burnt one slat at a time by clean slating them with each offense and each new day.  If we are ever going to have a real chance at a loving mother/child relationship then at least one of us has to work at rebuilding the bridge and since I am the adult I think it should be me.   It's called grace.  It's lavished on each and every one of us every single second of our lives.  And yet there are days when I sin and enjoy that distance because of my own anger and frustration, but how wrong am I then?  It is not always easy.  But when I do clean slate them, it builds more than a bridge.  It builds trust, it builds intimacy, it builds our relationship.

Doing this at times seems to yield little fruit, but I trust God that things are going on in the hearts and minds of my children that I cannot see.   Now after many many years, I can see a difference.  It is a blessing to see the  changes.  It is a bigger blessing when our children notice the difference in themselves.

28 comments:

  1. Thank you for being honest despite the trolls. How you blog is a rare thing I see in bloggers and I appreciate it!

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  2. I'm sorry that it seems like people come here just to say negative things. I hope that you don't let it get you down too much and that you continue to blog - I do love reading about your family.

    Best,
    M.
    Oregon

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  3. Thank you for sharing about how you extend grace to your kids. That was exactly what I needed to hear tonight as we struggle with a child and all of her burnt bridges.

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  4. Thank you for the reminder. I have one on a downhill roll right now. It is so much easier to ignore her because of her ugly behavior, but I know I can't do that. Still, the stealing sibling's treats, hiding the healthy food she doesn't want to eat, lying, hiding homework she doesn't want to do, scowling and sneering at everyone etc. is getting really old.

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  5. love this post Christine - it is SO helpful to me and I love your honesty and heart.

    Love,
    Allison

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  6. Beautiful! Thank you and God bless your family.
    Sr. Anna

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  7. Thank you for sharing Christine! Please don't even read the negative comments that you receive, so many of us look to you for encouragement. I know many times I think if you can do it with eleven adopted children I can deal with my three. You are honest about what is going on and it helps me to realize that what we are going through is somewhat normal for families like us. Thank you and God Bless you and your family. Cara (mama to two boys from Ukraine 14 & 9 and a little girl from China 3)

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  8. Well said and thank you for sharing!

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  9. Christine I have been a follower of your blog for a long time and I find your honesty refreshing and a blessing to read. Often when i am struggling with one of my girls I think about you and know that if you can handle things with all of your girls i can too, you are such an inspiration to me on how to be a wife and mother in Christ. Thanks for keeping it real. Blessings, Sarah

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  10. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being real and honest. It is an encouragement that I'm not the only one who struggles. I love reading about your family. I would never come here and criticize your parenting skills, especially when I could vastly improve my own parenting skills. I think you and John are great parents.
    Keep on keeping it real and honest.

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  11. Thank you for the reminder of the WHY with a little HOW rolled in. It is timely for me.

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  12. I too have the same issues. I can not figure out why someone reads my blog for the sole purpose of finding fault. Why bother i say. Thanks for a beautiful post.

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  13. This morning one of mine confessed to pulling his brother's math papers out of the recycle bin so he could get the answers. No punishment for the honesty except I did go shred all of the math papers in the bin ;)...and he still had show his work on his own math paper! LOL

    Some days are easier than others. Some days I can just let things roll off my back and think "kids will be kids" while dishing out appropriate discipline, and some days I lose my temper and behave totally inappropriately. I wish every day could be an easy day, but then I probably wouldn't be grateful for them. :)

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  14. Dear Christine,
    I so appreciate this post. You have a gift of edifying your readers without pounding us over the heads. Your ministry to the community is a beautiful thing.
    Thank you so much.

    Love,
    Jen

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  15. Thank you for that wonderful analogy! I think I might jot it down somewhere to remind me of it as my son grows and tries my patience and understanding. You are such an inspiration.

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  16. Yes, thank you for your insights. I don't blame you for guarding what you share, it is a fine line to walk. I appreciated this post because I seem to struggle a lot with the difference between discipline and grace. I think that my husband feels a lot of times that I am not disciplining the kids enough if I "forget" and move on to easily. He thinks that they won't learn if they think I can move on so easily. I would rather give a punishment and then move on. What I hear you describe here is what I am striving for, I think. Some days it is easier for me to manage than others. Anyway, thanks for describing it from your perspective. It is very helpful to one who struggles.

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  17. Hi Christine !
    You shouldn't even read the bad comments you sometimes get... You're an inspiration for many of us, for parents who are struggling with their children, for parents who just want to learn how to deal with some situations, but also for teens like me who would like to have a big family one day and who looks up at you with admiration and takes mental notes for the future ! :)
    I also was wondering as I read one of the posts you wrote a little after Paul and Anastasia came home. You mentionned that Anastasia had a problem with one of her arm after being outside when it was cold. Is this problem resolved ?
    I think Oliver and Nolan are such cuties !! It must be so refreshing for you to babies in the house again ;)
    How do all the kids get along ? This is something I'm often wondering, as it is sometimes not always easy in some families to get along with your siblings, even if they are biological siblings so I was wondering how it was in your family ? Do "groups" exist or do they get along with each other well ?
    I think that your blog is such an inspiration !! Thank you for sharing some of your experiences with us, I think it helps more people than you could umagine ;)
    I know Dennis, Jonny and Anastasia birthdays are soon, so please tell them happy birthday from me !
    Lots of love !
    E.

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  18. Thanks for this post! :) I don't have children yet but it still encouraged me to be more mindful in some of my relationships.

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  19. Sorry some are malicious. I think a Large family is not easy to comprehend by some, just like it's not possible for some to manage a large family. You and John make yours work, but anyone would be dreaming to think it's perfect or 'easy'.

    You are one of my top 5 favorite blogs! I look forward to your updates! You give me much to think about, and remind me of things I am grateful for in life. Plus, it's just great to keep up with how the kids adapt, learn, develop- like your mention of Paul today- that's huge for him. So great to read about!

    You aren't perfect, neither am I, and we're all a part of the human story.

    Love your blog! Shauna

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  20. I think you did very well with expressing yourself in a most gracious way. If any of the children read it someday, they will certainly be blessed and not at all embarrassed. When they are grown they will praise both their mom and dad on just how wonderful they are and a great example to them.
    I can't imagine negative comments from anyone. They must indeed by "trolls", just trying to discourage.

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  21. I'm an occasional reader, but I add to those who have encouraged you. It must be difficult when readers have negative comments. I, too, have found you to be an encouragement.

    Please trust yourself, YOUR thoughts, and YOUR feelings about what is appropriate to share. Those who are "waiting to pounce" probably have their OWN issues with what you are writing. Those feelings and thoughts really don't say anything about you, but are probably more about them. They are probably in a different place than you right now - take it slow. : )

    Lisa G. in CT

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  22. Great post Christine! I am one who follows the smiles along with the trials!

    On William's sruggles with creative writing, has he ever tried dictating his creative ideas on a microcassette and then transcribing them onto paper or a computer. Sometimes it's easier to speak stories than to put the pen to paper.

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  23. Best way to deal with a troll? Tell them you are praying for them. Then be sure to thank them for their contribution to your sites traffic and hit counts and to please stick around.

    You'll never hear from them again.

    Love you all
    -Cousin Matt

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  24. Oh keep pushing through, friend! You are doing such a great job. Christ will honour your work by giving you the grace you need each day to extend them a similar grace. Oh man, but it's hard! Aargh! Love from your sister in Christ, Sally.

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  25. LOL! I love Cousin Matt's suggestion. I'll have to remember that one for the next time I get a nasty comment.

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  26. thanks for sharing. I love the way you deal with your children and how much love your family seems to have for one another including the kids. Keep sharing it is really encouraging to hear others struggles and how they deal with them in a positive loving way

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I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.