Sep 26, 2011

Grace

9/26/2011 — cori
This past weekend we went somewhere where we knew the kids would probably want to buy things (trinkets). So we told them to be sure and bring their own money with them on the trip. This admonition was repeated several times. Despite our generous reminders, Chloe still "forgot" to bring her money. This goes back to some listening issues we are growing through right now.

You can imagine her breakdown upon realizing she didn't have her money with her when we got to the exciting location. Chuck and I held steadfast in our determination not to cave in and 'loan' her some money. The lesson was much more important for her. She needed to feel the consequences of not listening. It was going to be a one time lesson that she would not soon forget.

But we didn't count on Bennett suddenly feeling compassionate. Once we got to our location, Bennett pulled me aside and said, "Mom, I brought two $5 bills. I can give one to Chloe."

I was taken back. I replied, "Honey, that is very gracious of you. You know you don't have to do this. Mommy and Daddy can't give her money because then we would not be helping her learn this more important lesson. But if you feel God is prompting you to do this, you may."

"Ya Mom. I know Chloe doesn't deserve it. But I kinda feel bad for her. I kinda feel like God wants me to do this."

"Honey, that is exactly what grace is...giving someone something they don't deserve. Thank you for listening to God and doing something very loving. She's going to remember this for a very long time."

When we got home, Chloe wrote Bennett this thank you note:


Gooseberry Falls

9/26/2011 — cori
Nature...can you ever really get enough of it? We certainly can't!




These falls are so fun! You can climb all over them. The rocks go on forever. The kids were in heaven. There were a few slips into the cold, cold water by an unnamed middle child who from then on told us constantly that his feet were wet. His swamp foot was later confirmed by all of us in the car as he later took off his shoes for the ride home.

Sep 22, 2011

Word of the Day

9/22/2011 — cori
EVERYDAY, without fail, Gavin asks me this question, "So Mom, what word do you have stuck in your head today?"

Some of my better answers are, "Well...seeing as I just woke up, I haven't even thought of words yet." And, "My mind is blank right now, Honey."

Ask me if I have a song stuck in my head and I can type up a list for you. But I don't go around with individual, random words floating through my brain. Gavin does. He only asks the question to be polite. What he really wants to do is tell me the word he has stuck in his head...because he ALWAYS has one. I can't even remember what this morning's word was. He'll come home from school and have yet another word to share with me that has been plaguing his over-worked brain again all day.

I guess if I was immersed in words as often as he is (non-stop), I'd probably get a few bouncing around in my brain all day too. But my advice is, if he ever asks you this, just say the first word that pops into your head. It works everytime.

No TV

9/22/2011 — cori
Our tv died 2 weeks ago. Very sad, I know. But amazingly, we've survived. Some of us better than others. The kids have done awesome. Not one complaint. Me on the other hand...I'm having a hard time. Who would have thought? My one tv vice - House Hunters. Everyday. I have not lived vicariously through anyone else and traveled to far countries or even within my own looking at the insides of random houses for two weeks now and I am about ready to have a cow. I need this little 30 minute (20 if you fast forward thru commercials) escape in my day. Just thought I needed to tattle on myself.

Sep 15, 2011

Heaven

9/15/2011 — cori
I think we found it. It's name is Duluth, MN. Sounds kinda silly, I know... but maybe it was because I was with my favorite person in the whole world. Or maybe it was because the weather was perfect and the sun was glorious, the sound of the water soothing, the woods peaceful and the rocks majestic. Whatever it was, it was perfect. A perfect place and time for Chuck and I to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We are very simple. We don't need or want alot. We don't need to be entertained. What we desire most is the gift of time - time together. That is exactly what we got while out in nature, exploring, enjoying and living each day to its fullest.

The gorgeous B&B where we stayed

This just screams: Come relax over here! Doesn't it?

The glorious sunrise over Lake Superior

The rocky shoreline


Living in Love

Fun climbing the rocks along the shore

Split Rock Lighthouse perched atop a 100 foot cliff

Interesting rock formations

A real dress up for dinner night. Enjoying a walk in the harbor
under the brilliant light of the full moon reflecting off the water.

Such smooth rocks and such frigid water

The view we were greeted with when we woke up each morning.

The cliffs protruding out to Lake Superior

Childhood

9/15/2011 — cori
I love this. This is their activity of choice. They each get their target bags filled with books, climb up the tree (affectionately named Bob) to their 'spot' and then commence reading in the afternoon sun. Perfection.



Sep 2, 2011

Grace Based Parenting

9/02/2011 — cori
It is very easy for me to get in a rut; to think I know what I'm doing. And then out of nowhere - bonk - I trip over a tiny rock and get all bent out of shape. I find this especially true in parenting. Just when you think you've 'got it down', your kids up and change the whole game on you. Suddenly you find you're playing a new game that you don't even know the rules to.

Oh how I wanted to do this whole parenting thing right! From the start I read as many books as I could that told me exactly what to do and the correct way to do it. Each book set me up for failure. My sensitivity to do the best thing for my children was overshadowed by getting stuck in the never ending cycle of trying to do the 'right thing' the 'right way'. Who determines what this 'right' is? Who are these authorities? Am I supposed to listen to my child or to a book?

I am forever a first time parent. No matter how many children I have, I've never before experienced the age my oldest is currently at. In other words, I'm always learning. I can't treat him the same way I did when he was 7 now that he's almost 13. That would show that neither one of us has grown. Life is ALWAYS changing. Therefore, I've come to realize that the way we discipline and guide our children has to be flexible and change with age and circumstances. The constant comes in our consistent love and the boundaries we've set as guidelines for living.

I still read parenting how-to books. I think I always will. Simply because I love to read and I love to learn. I want to be sensitive to that rut I often find myself in. I don't want to ever think I know it all. I don't have the right answers. (Which reminds me of my favorite Bible verse, Job 42:3 - "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know".) I seek God constantly to help me guide these living, breathing, beautiful hearts He's placed in my care. Often times He shows me what each child needs through little impressions like, "Chloe's just tired right now, give her a big hug and let this incident go." Other times He teaches me through amazing authors and books at just the exact time I needed to learn something.

One such book is Graced Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. I read this book 7 years ago. It taught me alot then for what I was going through as a parent at that time of our lives. One such tid-bit I learned from that time is expressed best in this quote: "Our fears determine our strategy for parenting. Fear-based parenting is the surest way to create intimidated kids."

However, I recently felt compelled to read it again. Had I been letting fear control me? If truth be told, it wasn't a matter of if, rather, how often have I allowed it to. I knew I needed a refresher course and I knew right where to go. My obvious first reaction is to wince and cringe with guilt over how many times I've messed up...but even there, I trust that God's grace is sufficient in my weakness and is not only changing me but is also growing my children to become more gracious in response to their own and others' weaknesses.

The two things that have jumped off the pages at me are these:

1. "We are to groom our children according to their natural bents. This means coming alongside them with a plan to help them leverage their natural and unique gifts and skills into highly developed assets that they can lean on in the future. But we should also study them enough to know which natural bents they have that push them in the wrong directions. We can't make these liabilities disappear, but we are to raise them in such a way that we account for them and give them tools to help them process them properly."

Why did I somehow think I had to help make these 'liabilities' disappear? Why did I think it was my responsibility to rid them of these personal shortcomings? Don't I often take comfort and hope in II Corinthians 12:9-10- Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." If God gives me freedom to be weak and works in and thru me in my less than perfect self - why can't I give my children the same freedom and grace? Lesson learned.

2. "Raising safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised in an environment that stresses safety are on tract to be evangelical pushovers. They will tend to end up either overly critical of the world system to the point where they won't want anything to do with the people in the world system; or they will become naive about the world system, which ultimately makes them putty in Satan's hands. Those who think that the wisest way to groom a child for spiritual maturity is to isolate him from the evil, corrupted world system or airbrush his childhood environment so much that it exposes him only to the good and never teaches him how to process the bad will set a child up for a life of mediocrity at best and spiritual annihilation at worst."

We're entering the age of adolescence where fear based parenting doesn't seem like such a bad idea. I'm so glad God threw this nice little bit of fresh, cold water on my face to wake me up and remind me of Who's in charge. We've trusted Him with our children since the minute they were born, why should we stop now? I refuse to let a phase of growth define my relationship with my children as anything less than what it has always been. I have loved every minute of every age of my kids. I love being with them. I love playing with, reading with, working with, learning with them. I love who they are. I might need to remind them of this a little more often when they are adolescents and feeling uncomfortable in their own skin, but that is what love does. It reminds you of who you are, who you belong to and stays the course.

This reminds me of one of our all time favorite family quotes by C.S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in reference to Aslan when Lucy asked if He was safe:

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver."Who said anything about safe?
'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

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