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grace

Let Them Be

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Let Them Be

“Is she potty trained?”

**SIGH**

“Because we do require that all of our students are able to use the restroom on their own.”

As if I needed one more reason to panic over my daughters refusal to use the potty. And how in the world did pre-school registration time come around so fast! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was celebrating her move to size 1 diapers. Seriously… Where does the time go?!

Now, full disclosure: There are a lot of days that I have spent counting down to the two and half hours…150 minutes…9,000 seconds…that I will get to spend by myself while she’s in preschool. Actually, double that, because preschool is two days a week! I don’t think I’ve had five hours to myself since before my Bella was born. That’s two years and ten months of being constantly needed, constantly touched, constantly giving, constantly taking care of a sticky, sometimes smelly, always stubborn little princess.

And BOY is she a princess.

She’s not your typical high maintenance princess type, though. Some days she's a Merida in Brave type princess; running around outside in the mud collecting sticks, rocks and bugs and jumping in puddles. Then other days she’s more like Amber from Sophia the First; wants to wear a pretty dress with fancy shoes and acts like she is allergic to dirt. However, the part of both princess types that comes with the expectation of being listened to without question, getting everything that you want, and only doing what you want when you want to do it… That part she’s mastered.

Especially when it comes to the potty.

When my little was only eighteen months old, she had me convinced she was going to potty train early: She was watching a friends little one potty train and decided that she wanted to sit on the potty too. Well, that turned into a decision to only poop on the potty, because she didn’t want it in her diaper. So, for a solid three months she would poop on the potty, while my husband and I continually tried to get her to pee on the potty too.

Turns out the joke was on us! Just as quickly as she decided that she wanted to use the potty, she decided she didn’t want to anymore. So, I got desperate and started reading every article I could find on potty training methods…and tried them all. I rearranged my house, I bought her big girl undies, I made her run around naked, I set an alarm and made her sit on the potty every 15 minutes, I bribed her with snacks and toys and activities… The more methods I tried, the more frustrated we both got and the harder she dug in and insisted on not doing it.

That’s when I came across an article that basically said I had done everything wrong.

I felt discouraged, guilty, frustrated, completely defeated… The little voice in my head was whispering that I had ruined my daughters confidence and permanently set her development back. I spent days beating myself up over the mother I had become in the weeks that I was neurotically trying every potty training method I could find. Then, when the whispers reached the point of convincing me that I had failed as a mom and that my daughter would hate me forever for all the moments I raised my voice at her over something as silly as not peeing on the potty… I remembered that my baby was still a baby. And I made the decision to simply let her be.

For better or worse, that’s the decision that has left me in the position of telling the preschool registrar that, no, my now almost three year old is not using the potty on her own. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the conversation; or the pressure that it’s made me feel that my daughter needs to be potty trained in less than seven months. I mean, I can’t be the only mom that has had this conversation…can I??

I seriously doubt it.

The temptation to jump right into it and start making my super active little princess sit on the potty every fifteen minutes until she pees is strong, I’m not going to lie! I know, though, that my babe is very strong willed, independent, stubborn and intelligent. Everything in her entire life has happened in her timing and on her terms: eating, rolling, crawling, walking, talking. In my heart, I know that this not going to happen any differently. She is going to have to decide that she wants to do it.

I’ve been realizing in the past several weeks that my baby is no longer a baby. She no longer needs me in quite the same way; and when she does need me, it’s not nearly as often. And when I look back at the decision I made to not push her toward potty training, letting her simply live her life and experience the joy of being a kid without the pressure of big expectations; I wouldn’t change my choice for all the world.

Is changing pull-ups (or as she calls them: “special undies”) getting old? and really disgusting at times? Absolutely, yes! No question. Yet, the time I’ve given her to grow into herself and learn to relate to people rather than to people’s expectations of her, is something I will never regret. No matter what the negative whispers say when they come, I believe in my heart that I made the right choice.

Because when my beautiful girl is excited or talkative or curious or lonely or hurting- I am the one that she comes to. I am the shoulder she cries on, the lap she sits on and the chest she lays on. And if I’m not around, she has developed a confidence and a boldness to communicate exactly what she is feeling and why she is feeling that way.

I know that I am no where even close to figuring out this whole mom thing. I also know that it’s only by the grace of God that my little is growing into the best parts of me and the best parts of my husband, in spite of the innumerable mistakes that we make. But if I can be so bold as to give one piece of advice to my fellow moms…

Let your babies be babies.

They won’t be so little forever. The eating solid food, rolling, crawling, walking, talking and using the potty on their own will happen in spite of your attempts to make it and simply because of who your babies are. Babies will grow up no matter what, so why not let it be at their own pace and in their own time so that when they step into the next stage, they step with boldness and confidence in who they are and what they know they are ready to accomplish?

Just a thought from a mom in the thick of navigating toddlerhood with a little who is growing up awesome.

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Charisma

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Charisma

Charisma (pl. charismata

I’ve always loved learning the origin and history of words. I’m a nerd! I know it.

What I love about learning how words started, what they meant at the beginning, is how it often challenges the present use of the word. In present english, charisma is a word that we assign to a person or character that we revere; a person that has a certain compelling attractiveness or charm that inspires devotion and admiration. Most often, it’s a word that we attribute to a seemingly divine power or talent. I have used this word within this present definition for the entirety of my life! 

It wasn’t until I was reading a book regarding the markers of a healthy Christian church that I even stopped to think that this word, charisma, may have a history of different meaning. I’ve fallen into the habit lately of using words without forethought; without pausing to really consider if I am using the words I truly intend to say. Words, after all, are just words until we place them in a context that assigns them a tone and a definition. And I must admit that I am often guilty of placing otherwise innocent words within a negative context when it comes to communicating with the people I love most; Namely my husband. Anyone else?

Whether we want to admit it or not, words have power. The words we say, and the tone with which we say them, can either build someone up or tear them down. Words have the power to encourage growth or to inhibit it. And no matter how cliche it is; the tone and manner with which we use words often speaks louder than the words themselves.

Confession: This is the seemingly never ending struggle that I find myself in with my husband.

I never saw my husband coming. I was confident in the calling I believed was on my life: I was going to be single, serving in ministry as a speaker/teacher/mentor. I had finally reached a peace in my heart about not getting married (especially considering I was 25 and had never dated!), believing that the plan for my life was something bigger than I could ever imagine. I was so independent and so used to living my life unattached, that it took me about two hours to realize that my husband had asked me out on a date!

Fast forward to today…

Had someone, anyone, been honest enough with me to tell me then that marrying someone who loves in an entirely different love language than me was going to be the biggest challenge of my life…I may have never done it, and totally missed the blessings God had planned! You see, I love with gifts and quality time. So, buy me a coffee and sit with me chatting for an hour and my tank is full!

I married a words of affirmation and physical touch lover…  My weakest points.

Needless to say, I wake up every day and make the choice to fight for my marriage: to fight for my husband. It has taken me all five years (plus a few months!) of being married to get to the place in my marriage that I don’t beat myself up every day, because I’ve allowed the darkness to convince my heart that my husband loves me SO well and I am terrible at loving him back.

I even went through a season of questioning the “rightness” of my marriage altogether.

I learned in that season that the darkness really is very adept at twisting our reality to fit the narrative that has the greatest potential to defeat us; to push us away from the path of goodness we are struggling to walk on. It was a conversation with my amazing sister-in-law that shook me out of the dark and forced me to see the reality of my life: The reality that I was a new mom, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, I was isolated as a result of losing my church family, I was battling a loneliness that I had never experienced before as a result of the decision to be a “stay-at-home-mom”, and I had stopped chasing after my dreams and my calling as the result of listening more often to the darkness than the light.

BUT SO WAS MY HUSBAND.

A new dad. Physically and emotionally exhausted. Isolated. Lonely. Listening to dark whispers devaluing his efforts to love and provide and support and parent.

As a result of that season, we were stuck in a cycle of absolute miscommunication, that led to lots of hurt feelings. Our words had power and our tone was too often confusing the intended definition of even the simplest of statements. Our marriage had become more about surviving the day with our baby than spending time really talking and dreaming and just being together; growing together toward a common purpose.

We had lost sight of our greatest charisma.

Learning the origin of this commonly used word reminded me this week of that season in my marriage, and also made me extremely thankful that my husband had the wisdom to force the much needed confrontation that has renewed our desire for, trust in and fight for each other and our marriage. My husband has the patience of a saint! Yet, even he can reach the point of frustration with my internal struggle to exert my independence, while at the same time surrendering in respect so that I can truly love him well.

I now understand that what we have been doing in this past season of renewal is reclaiming our charisma.

Charisma (charis, charismata), from Greek origin, was used in reference to spiritual things; more specifically spiritual gifts.

Charisma and charismata are used by the Apostle Paul in the scriptures explaining the Spiritual gifts that God, in his grace, gives to those who truly believe in salvation through his Son. The purpose of these gifts is to build up the church and to be an example of goodness, of righteousness. Therefore, when put into historical context:

CHARISMA is a GRACE GIFT.

Marriage is a charisma. (1 Corinthians 7:7) MY marriage is a grace gift, not only to me and my husband for the purpose of building up our house and our church, but to show others that they too can be built up and encouraged and chase after and receive goodness.

My prayer for you, no matter what kind of season you find yourself in, whether in marriage or in some other context of life, is that you will remember and reclaim your charisma! If you’re not a Christ follower and do not believe in such gifts being given by God, then I pray that you will make the decision (especially in your marriage relationship!) to chase after the love that you started with always! May we all reclaim our grace gifts in this new year, and may God be glorified all the more for it.

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