Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Four Months and a Lifetime

In some place in my heart, I knew this day would come. 
Way back when we received the referral for Guo FuZhi, I knew I would have this moment. 
I've BTDT with adoption, so I knew.

Our first night together, July 31, 2011. Peter teaching Maylin we were a jiah, family.

Yet, it snuck up on me.
And I was surprised.

Today, I was just Maylin's mom. 
Not her new mom. 
Not her second mom.
Not the lady trying to be her mom.
Holiday Inn Shifu, Guangzhou

It happened sometime when I calmly told her to go to her room for hitting her brother with a drumstick.
It was when she looked at me with sad, but angry, eyes and sulkily obeyed.
It happened 3 minutes later when I got down at eye level and told her I would not let Beth or Matthew hit her. Ever.
It was when I reminded her, I would not allow her to hit Beth or Matthew. Ever.
It was when I took her hand and brought her to the kitchen to help me finish making supper by mixing the orange and grapefruit salad that didn't need to be stirred.

That's when I forgot I did not have this daughter in my home for the past 6 years.
She was just that.

I don't know how to explain to non-adoptive parents what this adoption thing is like.
At first, my child wasn't connected to me in anyway.
Even when I saw her, and touched her, and bathed her, and brushed her teeth.

I loved her fiercely, but we had no history together outside of each of our dreams.
And then, we did.

I never forget that my children who came to us through adoption have first parents;
not while I comb that stick straight hair, or smooth the wrinkles on the school shorts, or remind him to turn the shirt right-side-out, or swell with pride as I watch her performance, or kiss his sweaty neck as he sleeps.

Yet I feel like I am their first parent.
I didn't create them; yet I create them every day.

It isn't all that different than the kids who joined our family through our genetics.
Each of the 8 were hand-picked when God wove their DNA together. He selected each variable from the strands...and created the child He planned for His Glory. Then He gave them to us.

And I'm just his Mom.
I'm just her Mom.

What has Maylin experienced in her four months and a lifetime as a Dersch?

She's driven in a car everyday. She's eaten ice cream regularly. She has her own baby doll. She loves to swim. She differentiates between Grandma and Papa, Grandma, and Grammy. She wraps the Bigs around her finger. She eats 2 fried eggs a day (nearly always.) She still refuses to teach me Chinese, but agrees with a head nod and a "yah" when I "google translate" it. She participates in 4H Club. She enjoys petting Lucy and giving her treats. She survived the pediatrician and enjoyed the dentist. She's been on a boat, and she's gotten wet in the ocean. She's seen waterfalls in NC, and a wedding in OK. She waits impatiently for her Baba to come home each night. She knows the days of the week and what happens each of those days. She lavishes me with hugs and sweet kisses. 

Her Chenglish is adorable.

"Moot a wah Hee?"  (Go ahead, say it out'll laugh at the sound itself, even if you don't visualize Maylin's head cocked to the side, with a DVD next to her sweet smile. Say it again and compare the sounds to "watch a movie?" I'm not fixing that phrase...yet.)

Her friend Mackenzie is "Mahg kee gee." We count her friends by name several times a week.

I can't even begin to phonetically show you how she says "oranges." Just let me tell you it has NOTHING to do with the letters that are in that word.

Maylin gave a full story to our friend, Debbie, on Sunday regarding our returning a coat to Debbie's son. Debbie got the whole thing. 

Maylin is sassy and confident in most situations where she feels secure. She still takes emotional cues by watching my face when she isn't certain how to navigate.

I've witnessed a stunning performance of her screaming at a sibling, while she thought I was still out of the house. When I walked in on the sound, I was sure it was a "blood or fire" issue. As I watched briefly from the doorway, she was angry for not getting her (unreasonable) request. The noise ceased in an amazing heartbeat when she saw me, and a "I'm so busted" smile lit her face. I've seen great kitchen performances before (a special shout-out to my niece Stephanie) but none so refined. Maylin quietly disappeared for about 5 minutes, then returned as if nothing happened.

I personally think her ability to "reign it all in"quickly when I show up is a survival technique I would deem "orphanage behavior." I might be wrong.

She can now stay home without me (yes, with other appropriate supervision!) and not make everyone miserable while I'm gone (because wherever I go must be the most fun ever!) Her "I go cahr, Mommy" does make me change my mind about taking her sometimes, although she asked to "Shtay. Home." from this morning's school run because Matt was home sick. Thought that would never happen. She loves the trips to "Shkoo" to deliver or pick up the sibs. She still hates to miss the "shtore."

I occasionally still find her with a thumb in her mouth. It's usually at night. We laugh about it during the day, but she isn't quite ready to give it up yet.

She picks random things about which to be a little compulsive--like brushing her teeth at the left bathroom sink tonight. It's a coin toss as to whether it's a need in her mind, or manipulation because Beth was brushing there. I try to let the sibling keep their space, while encouraging Maylin to be patient in order to get what she wants.

She is attending her age-appropriate Sunday School class as well as Children's Church where she loves being with the kids. Soooo proud of her papers when she shows me them. I can usually get enough of her story to know what they taught that day! The highlight of the week is practicing for the Christmas Musical. 

She is getting more consistent with naming colors. She can copy letters and words, but doesn't recognize any of them yet. We work on right/left, up/down, first/second, etc. as we work and play together.

Food is a non-issue. She can consume anything without complaint although she often tries to tell us she doesn't like something just because. She's very fickle on likes and dislikes...She often looks at me in surprise when she's tasted something and grins, "My like!"

We regularly look at the photos from her orphanage, which I've begun to call "her first home," and she tells me more and more about it. She has no sadness as she talks and she doesn't seem to miss the people there. They did a great job in caring for my daughter until we found each other. She must have had loving attachment to caretakers because her attachment here has been flawless. 

She is as normal as any 6 year old I know.

She is a Flower From My Father that brings me Flowers from Him every day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Martha might be my Hero

I don't want to plug a book that I haven't read, but the title itself intrigues me:

It's by the same author (Joanne Weaver) as
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. 

The basis of the book is, presumably, the history of a dinner event that was recorded in Luke 10:38-42. Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus and the pack that traveled with Him. 

Jesus had become a man with a controversial reputation. He'd already lived a radical lifestyle, preached the fulfillment of the traditional religion, raised a child from the dead, cast demons out of people, and fed more people in one sitting than I have in my entire life (which is sayin' somethin')
He had become a pop culture icon, in a way. He had certainly polarized the culture He lived in. 

If you were to tell a crib note version of Luke 10:38-42, without reading it again, most of us would condense it into a couple concise sentences: Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha was in the kitchen getting the meal ready, Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet. Martha complained that her sister wasn't helping in the kitchen. Jesus scolded Martha for being such a worry wart, thereby praising Mary for choosing wisely.

Pretty much it, right?
The obvious application is usually something along the line of
our being with Jesus more. Worry about stuff less.
Be Mary. Squash your inner Martha.

Like two stories (which are not related to the topic of this blog at all)
I read to my kids 
and another, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,
don't assume the way you perceive something is always correct.

Let's first reexamine Martha's request.

The NLT says, But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here, while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

One translation says Martha was cumbered about much servingCumbered means having a troublesome or useless weight or load; burdened or oppressed. 

Martha had a guest she admired, she may have already loved, and she might have already embraced His teaching. She might have settled it in her heart that this Man was her Messiah. We don't know the timing of her transformation into a Jesus Follower, but we do know from the rest of her story that she was at least headed that way. I understand her wanting to open her home for His use.

As she slammed pots and pans and slung hash, so to speak, to make her meal a success, she did it ostensibly alone. She may have had other kitchen help, but she wanted to have her sister's help. 

Maybe it was because she knew Mary would "share her glory" at meal time and she wanted her to also share the sweat.  Maybe she desperately wanted to be at Jesus' feet also, but serving His meal had become her primary objective. Martha's love language may have been acts of service. Since I am trying to focus on what the scripture says, not on what I want to assume, the maybe's don't count.

Her words tell us a little about how she was feeling (...for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Matthew 12:34b) "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here..." STOP!

Words that catch my attention:
just sits

and the rest of her statement: "Tell her to come and help me."

1. She let Jesus know how he should feel about the situation.
2. She told Jesus what he should do about it.

Is that me, or what?!
Alright, Lord. I know that (this situation) must be breaking your heart. I am in quite a stir about it myself. I mean, the nerve of her to say those things about my friend! And she pretends to be godly in saying them. I am available to do Your will. If You bring her to this grocery store right now, I will willingly allow you to speak through me and straighten her out. 

(I do hope you don't think that was a real life example of how I would speak to God...if perchance someone had said something that I know wasn't true...and I was itching to set someone right...and it was last week...and I think I'm okay now that God and I had more time to talk it out...)

Maybe you don't have moments of knowing how life should be going down, and you don't get your panties in a wad over what others are saying or doing.
Well, I do.

In looking at Jesus' reply to Martha, see what He addresses. 
Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (KJV)

Other translations use the words distracted, worried, upset, anxious, disquieted to describe what Jesus saw as the problem.
1. Martha, your body, your brain and your heart are feeling a weight God did not put there.
2. Look at me, not those around you.

He asked Martha to make her decisions about her attitude
based on her heart, based on her relationship with Him.

Think of a few of the women in the Bible that we admire. We know that some were very industrious in mind and body: The woman described in Proverbs 31 was a busy gal. She held a resume I doubt I'll ever have. Ruth worked in the fields as a minimum wage laborer. Lydia was a small business owner--and the few business owners I know stay VERY busy. And God blessed their faith and work.

I, for one, love the tasks involved in serving. I enjoy being hospitable. I like to hear the gang cackling in the other room while I cut the pie, and finish up the dishes. I like the final swoop across the house to throw toys into their bins and swipe the dust from the top of the piano. I like the door swinging open and welcoming new and old friends into our space, and our hearts. I am a Martha, to the core.

I am glad that Jesus didn't reprimanded Martha for being Martha.

He didn't tell her that He and His followers didn't need to eat.
He didn't even belittle the many things that were chasing themselves through her head as she prepared for her guests (and if they stay tonight, Lazarus can sleep in the living room with the disciples while Jesus takes L's room with one or two of Jesus' besties. I can get the additional eggs needed for breakfast from Sarah since her hens are doing so well, and the figs were plentiful this year, so I think that's covered. Good thing we made those extra loaves of bread yesterday! Aw, I could use another hand in here cutting the fruit. I wonder if they'll like the date cakes or the halvah better. I think I might need to....)

 He didn't ask Martha to BE Mary, because Mary WAS better.
 Jesus Himself was "that good part" who Martha is encouraged to seek.
Martha gets a bad rap from us as if busy is bad, and service is selfish.
I don't hear Jesus say that. He simply puts the choice before her: 
Truly serving Jesus starts with just loving Jesus.

I'm glad God documented this bit of history for me. He tells me to
Be Dorothy.
Be who I made you to be, then choose wisely.
Be intentional in where you put your energy. Put it into eternal things.
Put your energy into longing for Me, and into loving people.
Those are better than only being fretful that your Martha Stewart Holiday isn't going to be as perfect as the one in the magazine. Take the time to plan with Jesus first, and the rest will prioritize itself on most days. It's okay that you can't do the parade, the lights, the gift exchange, the cookie recipe swap, the hand-made wreaths and the matchy-matchy outfits for everyone.

I had this post partially written and set aside but I was mulling the idea one morning this week while getting kids ready for school. I was considering how to put it into words; how to examine our idea of what Jesus said, and understand what Jesus meant...

The thought made me giggle out loud--That's it, my book title:

How to Take Your Martha Heart in a Martha World. 

Go be who He made you to be...with a great heart attitude.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

P.e.r.f.e.c.t! Just perfect!

I hate to put it into writing. 
It sounds

But hear me out.

I am the perfect parent.

Actually, a more accurate statement is that 
I am the perfect parent for 8 specific children.
(I still shake my head in wonder when I think that I am the Blessed Mama to 8!)

But oddly enough, I don't think I am. Perfect, that is.

I think my inability to do math accurately, 
even when I'm not working on it upside-down from the other side of the table, 
hinders my SuperMom status.

You see, my forgetting that she can't take that particular lunch box to her particular school makes me a failure in the Mom Department.

My short temper when one of the kids makes some minor mistake 
disqualifies me for the Mother-of-the-Year Award...again.

I didn't remember to have them memorize their verse this week. Fail.
We didn't review the multiplication tables while driving to the grocery. Fail.
I didn't bring my camera to this once-in-a-lifetime event. Fail.
I forgot to text him after his exam. Fail.
I asked Daddy to take care of a discipline issue instead of just dealing with it. Fail.
I proactively bought her a favorite candy...but that's not the one she likes. Fail.

The fact that I didn't realize this one has laziness issues, and that one had self-esteem issues, and their sibling has an underlying critical attitude, on...and so on...until it busts me in the chops and now, it's ingrained in their personality, and how am I going to work on that when I should have dealt with it when they were much younger, but I didn't recognize it since I was so busy with...

I thought I was supposed to be the perfect mother???

It really all goes back to whether or not I believe that 
God, the Creator of All Things in Derschdom and Elsewhere, 
was in charge when He put me in charge of our small herd. 

Did He realize that the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was going to be very difficult, and I wasn't going to be a very good Mommy, back when He chose Beth to join us? Did He know that I wasn't going to be very much help in the Algebra Department when He put an extra dose of Brains in some of our kids? And that I am not excessively tolerant of noise when He slid a ChatterBox in our midst? Did He think it was a great joke to know I would be overwhelmed with what He asked me to do some days, and I would be overwhelmed by what I thought He was asking me to accomplish (even when He wasn't) most other days? 

Each of our kids have traits that "clash" with my being a perfect parent. 
As I have fondly said before, "There wasn't any chlorine in the gene pools any of our kids came from."

But God knew all that when He chose Mark and I to be the stewards of these particular kids.
He knew what cranked my buttons, and snapped my head the wrong way, and He knew where I could excel on my own, and where I'd have to be so.very.dependent on Him in others. 

He set me up to be the perfect parent, because it was His design;
He only does perfect. 

Do I believe that today
with all it's great memories, 
and all it's difficult news, 
with all the troubles,
as well as the joys,
the mind-boggling messes,
and the sink-to-my-knees grateful moments

Is in His Hands?

Can I live like I know that?
Can I be assured that as I mature as a parent, as a spouse, as a friend, as (you name it)...that 
He not only planned for this moment in my life, but He also prepared me for it?

What about the stuff you don't feel prepared for? 
Hmmm. There's that word that makes itself seem so very real, when it truly isn't: feel
Just because I feel like a good mom today, it doesn't mean I was. 
Just because I might feel like a not-so-good mom tomorrow, won't make it true.

You truly are the perfect parent as you follow God, imitate His parenting, and believe He relegated today's parenting tasks to the exact parent He wanted in your kids' lives.

Realizing simply my one weakness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Load 'em Up and Drag Me 500 Miles Away?

I want it to be made known that I do not care for "Camp" in the 
youth camp junior camp teen camp family camp kind of way.

Never have.
Doubt I ever will.

Never wanted to be a camp counselor.
Never wanted to even GO to camp, despite the fact that my whole set of peers was thrilled to go.
The jump-in-the-lake, make-another-pen holder for mom, wear damp clothes thing. Ick.
Never loved the whole share-a-bathroom, share-a-cabin, share-team-enthusiasm thing.

At all.

Did I go to camp as a kid? 
Did I live to tell about it?
Did I hate it while I was there?
Did I want to go the next year?

It was a weird little set up, I guess. I enjoyed myself every year, but I never liked it.

So, when you tell me the E.x.t.e.n.d.e.d Family is getting together at camp...
I have a few things to wrap my brain around.

I loved the whole thing.
Well, not the 9 hour drive with the kids in the big van.
But, I did love the camp thing.

Someone else did the cooking
(and it was not typical camp food. It was good stuff.)
There were great activities for the kids to be involved in.
The arts and crafts room held cool things like leather working, 
jewelry making and ping pong ball guns.
The fall colors were a feast for this Florida girl's eyes.
The time at The Ladies Meeting was sweet and genuine.
The hike was strenuous  enough to make me talk is gasps, but not be achy the next day.

And the Crown Jewel:

We were celebrating Mom and Dad Dersch's 50th Wedding Anniversary. 
They had no idea what they were starting 50 years ago...Goodness! 

A pastor/military chaplain, three doctors, a speech therapist, an artist or two, mothers, fathers, engineers, musicians, writers, counselors, gardeners,  and a host of unknown surprises as the grandkids (and soon-to-arrive great-grand) continue to grow...

The 9 hours in the van is certainly a deterrent from us hanging out with that side of the family as often as we'd like. But, both Mark and I agree (as do our 8 kids) that the bonds forged with cousins is worth the hassle of getting to the cousins. The time spent with an aunt or an uncle who is interested in what you're doing and where you're headed is invaluable. The same story (in a new version, possibly) from a grandparent creates connections that don't form so readily over the phone or email.

Yup. Camp has redeemed itself.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Embrace It

Do you happen to have 

one of those things

 hanging out behind you, or maybe hanging over your head, 
or dragging on your shoulder...or your heart? 

I certainly can sympathize with you. 
(and you thought I was heartless, didn't you?)

I have had my fair share of Those Things suck the vitality right out of my day/week.
But not this time.

I had a task ahead of me that I was not ready to accomplish. 
I had no energy to accomplish it the way it deserved to be accomplished.
I plain old Didn't Want To. 
But, I had to.

I made a choice, that by God's grace, I would 
 the less-than-desirable task and do it with the knowledge that He had set It before me.

He had Grace to spare for the occasion.
He had plans and purposes in it.
He would be sufficient, especially if I wasn't.

I had to "put down" the angst that wanted to rear it's head, 
and just trust He was running the details of this particular show.
I prayed myself through the "Are you kidding me?" moments and simply asked that His grace touch those around me in gentle ways, not the backhand-to-the-jaw way I wanted to touch them at times. 
I reminded myself that I didn't need to live in turmoil of the soul since He did that already.

I would be fine--possibly, even more than fine--when it was all said and done.

Well, it's all said and done, and I am, and He was. 
I am fine.
He was sufficient.
He was gracious.
He worked things out in surprising ways.

I hope I remember this the next time I have an opportunity guised as an annoyance. 
Or as trouble. 
Or as more than I can handle. 
(Wait...that's like, everyday!)

It was nice to choose to put on my big girl panties first, and not find them soiled by my attitude.
I've decided to Embrace It, whatever It may be, as long as I know It is His plan for me.

Which It always is.
Remind me of that if you see me baulking at those Big Girl Panties, 'kay?
You just love photos, so I added these from our recent trip to the Wilds in NC.

Yes, the doctor is painting a pink and purple sword with his sister. 

Mark's folks with two of their favorite 21 grandkids.

The Love of my Life

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Of course, My Kids Will Need Therapy

I gotta love my time at MOPS.

As my sidebar states, 

One of my passions is coming alongside young moms on the road of life 
and sharing what's in my suitcase.

I admit that there are days that I feel "a little light in the suitcase" with nothing to give. And there are days that I'm certain women think I should pack up some of that stuff oozing out of the suitcase and move on down the road, thank you. But most of the time, I know God brings women into my life when we both need each other. 

We need to talk about the kids, our relationships, complicated adult stuff, physical ailments, other stuff (read: sex), our belief systems, our in-laws, our husband or our lack of one, weight gain, child training, surgical procedures, laundry stains, life, death and backyard science experiments gone wrong. We just do. Men need it in a different form (usually) than women, but they need it just as much as we do.

How can I put this bluntly without calling for a Formal Intervention?


I am becoming a solid believer in the fact that personal growth demands therapy.

(eyebrows lifted in skepticism)
Define that, please:

the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial,rehabilitating, or curative process: speech therapy.
a curative power or quality.
3.      any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

Come to the front of the line if you know you have some disorder and 
could use something to relieve tension

I have been privileged to have received the truest types of therapy at various times of my suitcase-carrying life. I have stuck my emotional straw into another woman's psyche and shamelessly drained her dry  because of my need. My list of therapists includes
  • L...O...N...G phone conversations when my kids were small and I was somewhat immobile 
  • walks in the park or around the block, alone or with a friend, sometimes at 2am with a screaming baby
  • 2 friends from college and days stolen away to be just us again (interpret: giggly and sleep-deprived!)
  • debriefing my hard-working husband in a torrent of words as he puts his car into park
  • calling out to God, sometimes with words
  • a sister (did I mention she's older? just saying')
  • digging in the back yard...not to hide the bodies, but to say I was gardening
  • coming alongside another friend to listen (listening helps me process where I am as I process where you are)
  • Bible study groups
  • blogging 
  • texting things to people who actually understand I don't mean it
  • cooking/baking
  • telling our dog Lucy what is wrong with everyone, including me
  • telling our dog Lucy what is right with everyone, rarely including me
  • Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
  • saying sarcastic things to children too young (or too new to America) to understand
  • poetry (yeah, you wait. I may post it on a bad day...)
  • journaling prayers
  • you name it...I've probably used it for therapy...uh, wait. I take that back. I might not have.
A chance encounter, or a planned event, or a paid therapy session becomes personal growth as our goal is to BE PRESENT for each other. I am striving to be aware of my family and making sure that I'm not just here, but truly PRESENT with each one, each day (with the exception of the University kids who might get one text a week. Give me a break, there's a lot of them youngin's!) I'm striving to BE THERE for my friends, and sometimes I fail. 

So, yes, I expect my kids will need therapy.

Not just to talk about how weird I was or how embarrassed they were, but because I pray they will be healthy, growing adults that will carry their own suitcases, and sometimes need someone to help them unpack, and sometimes need someone to help them lug it, and sometimes need to share what they gathered on their way through this wonderful world.

...the type of things that I am beginning to recognize as 
Flowers From My Father.

 Enjoying them might be my one weakness. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

12 weeks in the beginning of Forever

October 22nd marks 12 weeks since our Mayin Li joined her Forever Family.
She has photos of the first people she knew as jia, her family. She tells me about the children around her in the photos and names two of the adults. When I asked Maylin if her heart hurt because she wants to see them again, she cocked her head to the right, lifted her eyes toward the top left in thought,
and didn't answer me.

When I asked if she knew she would stay with us, this jia, her forever family, for always, she broke into a big grin and flung her lanky arms around my neck and buried her face into my shoulder. "Shtay," she proclaimed. Oh yes, girlie, you will shtay. You are part of our hearts, just like the rest.

In 12 very full, very fast weeks, we've gone
from a family of 9 to a full house of 10. 

We've seen Maylin go 

From a screaming bundle of petrified girl to nose-to-nose kisses
with a Golden Doodle.

From blink-blink-blink when spoken to in English to calling out,
 "schutt dee dough-uh!" and bowing her head over her plate as she says,
 "Pway ferse."

From wearing shoes everywhere except her bed
to nonchalantly walking through the airport scanner in her socks.

From defiance and meltdowns over seat belt restraint
to clicking it herself with a "see-bell on."

From a child without true family ties
to meeting 45 of her close relatives (only 33 more to go!)

From dressing and feeding babies in her orphanage
to playing dress up and baby dolls in her own room.

From a reserved girlie that watched my face for emotional clues in any new situation
to a confident, sassy thing that enjoys drawing the attention back to herself.

From the model child who folded her clothing and put her shoes in the shoe bench
to a regular Dersch kid that requires gentle reminders to take care of her stuff.

From a kid who consumes vast amounts of fruits, vegetables and noodles
to a squirrel who mysteriously produces her stash of candy at will.

From a photo and a tug and a longing in our hearts
to lifetime commitment that just makes herself a part of us each minute we're together.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Purposeful Parenting

I don’t know when I was able to first articulate 
my goals in parenting into words. 

Like many moms, I had vague concepts of desiring to “turn out good kids.” 
I recall the era that I formed my first “opinion” regarding it into a statement. Our boys were about 3 and 5 which also means First Born Daughter was newly born. We had spent time with friends who had children the same ages as our kids and the kids were not fun to be around. They were whiney, and insistent, and all-around annoying to more than just my husband and I. We watched the parents take 10 minutes to eventually cajole one child to go do for the other child what a mama or baba ought to have done in 30 seconds, but they were too engroassed in a conversation or an activity to do it themselves. It made everyone around them a little miserable, including themselves.  Because of the character of the parents, I was actually pretty sure that the kids would turn into good adults, but I didn’t relish spending much time with them until they were. 
(If we knew you and your kids at that time, assume it was NOT you. 
I don't think the person of whom I am writing reads this blog.)

So, I decided the Arrows in my quiver (Psalm 127:4-5) were worth shooting toward a more refined goal than “A Good Christian Citizen” later in life. My desired product became 

"a kid that was pleasant to be around while he/she grew into a man/woman 
that loved God with his/her whole heart.” 

I still think that is a succinct, if not detailed, statement of my general aim with my Arrows. With that statement, I began my journey to Purposeful Parenting.

Please remember that I strongly feel that you (yes, you with the coffee cup beside your computer) are God’s gift to your children. Your home (with the water ring on the side table) is exactly the place God wanted your particular (and possibly peculiar) child/children to be. He is not calling you to create my home (for which you have my permission to thank Him) and I am not called to be you (for which, I may or may not have already thanked Him.) Each of us (including you in the new blouse reading this at work) has been made to be suited for the job He’s given. I am also convinced that He changes me (ouch! growth!) to become more of what He intends me to be, so that I can function even better at the tasks He sets before me (whether they be Teething Nights and Peanut Butter and Jelly Days, or Prom Nights and Graduation Days.)

In my attempts toward Purposeful Parenting, I look at 
my expectations and long-range goals, 
then attempt to recognize the steps needed to get to that outcome. A previous post, Launch Dates, talked about preparing my kids for adulthood. I look at their spiritual, physical, emotional components. I look at where they are, and which things from today will contribute to their overall success in that area. 

I must say I am passionate that my children have been given a purpose by God EACH MINUTE of EACH DAY that He desires for them to accomplish. 
Sometimes, that purpose is learning to be kind when it isn’t fun. 
Sometimes that purpose is learning to survive when life is hard. 
Sometimes it is creating music from their soul, whether it be on their violin, from their fingertips to paper, or in the laughter on the playground. 

I do not want to focus my kids (or myself) on their future to the exclusion on their present! 
Each one of my Dear Ones has an agenda from God today...and it fits perfectly into the agenda He has for their life. I have yet to live my’s still ahead of me, so I need to focus on what I have: today.

By nature, this is where I would give you some examples from my family's life to help you understand the idea of what I am trying to say...but I am hesitant to give you that “out.” This is the Mom- (and Dad-) work through which you need the Holy Spirit to lead you. I might be sad about it, but I don’t get to be you...and you don’t get to be me. But, I will attempt to give some direction.

1. Expectations
  A. Decide what your expectations are for your child. Do not shoot too low. They will only aim for what you do. (Most kids will aim just slightly lower than you do, with the exception of that first born personality!)
  B. Decide how tasks from today build the overall character you want to see tomorrow/in the future.
  C. Decide if you’re child is ready to hear why this thing matters (washing their brother’s dog in itself isn’t going to make them a good CEO of a business, but it may contribute to the self-discipline needed to handle other people’s money responsibly.)

2. Implementation
  A. Model it. If you wear the same pair of shorts 4 days straight and haven’t combed your hair in a week, don’t think they will be motivated to do otherwise. If your bedroom has clothing on every horizontal surface, careful consider how you’ll request them to send clothing to the laundry room each Tuesday.
  B. Teach it. Even if I model safe driving, I don't expect my 15 year old to get behind the wheel of our vehicle and understand the full dynamics of what needs to occur. If I say, "Fold the towels in the dryer," but never show them how I want them folded, I can't really go back and hold them responsible for something I've never shown them. They may be folded, but will they even fit in the space you usually put them? Once I've folded them with the kid, I feel like they are responsible for the lesson.
  C. Make expectations non-negotiable (we consider blood and fire to be adequate reasons for interrupting adult conversations or for not following through with assigned tasks. Mark and I would have to discuss if we’d consider hospitalization as an adequate reason, also.)
  D. Declare consequences for any misdemeanors. I desperately attempt to have the consequence be an “natural” as possible: 

(Here I go with personal examples...Ugh!!) 
~~If the dish isn’t cleared from the table after you used it, your next meal will be served on it. (really. It usually only takes one tearful meal to "remember" the once difficult task of clearing the table.)
~~If the dog is repeatedly not fed without a reminder, you will go a day with 3 plain meals, and no snacks AT ALL. It doesn’t feel good to be hungry. (I borrowed that one from a mean friend who is a great mommy, but never have used it myself...) 
~~Potty mouth gets to clean toilets.
~~A helpful hint from my cupboard: I have a 3x5 on the inside of a cupboard door with a list of tasks that are yucky. When a consequence is needed, I often refer to that list. Simple, but necessary, things like weeding, cleaning outside trash cans, sorting the game closet) It seems my mind goes blank at crucial parenting times, and the list helps me through those moments.


Oh, and did I mention, FOLLOW THROUGH. This truly is the most difficult part since we are humans in tired bodies with blurry eyes from the sleepless night or allergies. We have spent ourselves on these (occasionally ungrateful) Darlings with little reward. We have seen others do this without looking like they even put effort into it. We have all the "reasons" why being consistent is just not easy for us...But you must FOLLOW THROUGH. If we don’t, then we’re apt to raise the kid we read about in the wrong section of the paper (and my heart goes out to those mamas) We want the delightful human interest story, or the change-the-world story written about our kids!! Front page is best but we’ll take the sports page if the paper spells her name right.

As the Brits said in The Second World War, 

(Which just is Queen-speak for Follow Through)

Enjoying a quiet house and a cup of tea from the Czech's my one weakness.