This morning didn’t go as smoothly as I like, but this exchange made it all seem better.
I love the confidence my girls gain while they are away for a week at Y Camp Ernst in Burlington, KY. They learn to do things on their own or with a group, choose activities daily that interest them, challenge themselves in ropes courses, swim with their cabins. Most importantly, they are put into cabins with girls they don’t know, they learn to build a small community, deal with conflict, and encourage one another throughout the week.
Though they come home exhausted, they come out of Camp Ernst nicer and more caring than when they left. They are more confident about themselves and offer grace to those around them. I love that it’s the same magic-packed week I experienced when I was a camper, counselor and staff member at Phantom Lake Y Camp.
In one of our finer parenting moments, Paul answered a phone call as the Middle Gingers antagonized one another in the backseat of the car. Crying ensued, frustrations mounted, and Paul did what dads sometimes do– he pulled the car into an empty church parking lot to instill a healthy bit of fear about what will happen next. A lot of shushing and finally he was able to finish his conversation. As he hung up the phone, we all waited quietly for the direction Paul’s parenting would take us. What he said next caught us all by surprise… “I’m over this! From here on out, if someone antagonizes you, you have my permission to unleash on him/her.” I gasped, holding back the laughter (and wondering if the kids even know what “unleash” means). The Littlest Ginger innocently leans forward in his seat and asks, “What does ‘I’m over this mean’? Because if it means you don’t love us anymore, that isn’t what God would want.” While the gingers may have missed the point on Paul’s sarcastic suggestion on ways to resolve conflict (or not), Ginger4 struggled on a different level. His commentary made us all forget the tension and realigned us with the basic truth about God and parenting– love wins.
At Crossroads, I have been participating in a journey to discover who God says I am. The I am ____ journey can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, the overall message, spurred by a Beth Moore study I am also doing, is this: I am ENTRUSTED. This has been scary. I have been keeping this blog for quite some time now, on and off for many years, actually, but I haven’t taken the step to advertise it. First and foremost, I am worried about the backlash. I am worried what advertising my spiritual thoughts about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit might do to my friendships, or even open me up to some ridicule from family and friends. Those who know the “Facebook me,” have encouraged me to write a book or a blog about my kids’ antics and the day-in-the-life of the Vernons. That’s all funny, it really is, but there is a lot more to me, to us, than the funny stuff. On a daily basis, my kids teach me about God’s love, about endurance, about patience, about faith and about purpose. They do this in their seriousness, craziness, and funniness. They are smarter than me on this daily walk, which makes them an inspiration to me and maybe perhaps others.
So, welcome to my journey!! Hang tight as I figure out the ins-and-outs of blogging, and sharing the funnies, the mysteries, and the miracles as God continues to show up in the lives of the Vernonsix with our sprinkles of ginger.
My inner Momma Bear needs some taming quite often, and usually it doesn’t go beyond my husband’s ears, but there have been times when I feel like coming to bat for my kid is the only way. As a past teacher, prior to having kids, it was easy to categorize “those parents” as the looney ones. Don’t they trust that I know what is best for their child educationally? Come on people, I have a masters degree! I know what I am talking about. In retrospect, I wasn’t able to put myself in their parenting shoes. I wasn’t able to understand their perspective. Try as I might, it was easier to rely on my knowledge than to understand the emotional pleas of a well- meaning parent. I failed my hero, Atticus Finch, who told me at a young age: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (To Kill A Mockingbird). And now I find myself on the other side of the desk– I am the mother, I know what is better for my child than any teacher or administrator out there… Or so my pride says…the truth is, God is behind the scenes doing what is best for my family, making things happen that are supposed to happen. He nudges us along, giving us perspective through the Holy Spirit. I know that the current situation with my child will work out whichever way the dice roll. I have given my input, been honest and vulnerable, and now need to trust God in how it turns out. All will be fine.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
1 Corinthians 1: 10
My kids have entered into the world practice of manipulation. If they ask for something from me, and they don’t like the answer, they go to Paul and ask the same thing in hopes of a response they are looking for. We do the same thing– when we read something in the bible or hear something in church, we either embrace or reject it. Most often we reject the things that make us feel guilty or convicted, and then we may even categorize it in our personal inventory of files labeled “that’s too evangelical” or “that’s not God’s intention” or “that message is perfect for ‘so-and-so’ but not me.” We don’t like sitting in a puddle of discomfort– not even for a minute. We like to be the ones pulling the punches, not waiting for the Holy Spirit to work in us or bring clarity when it’s most needed.
I think sometimes it’s too easy for us to find a way out of someone’s direction or instruction. For my kids, it’s probably because they know Paul and I aren’t always on the same page about things. And for us adults, it’s because we see a huge gap in our spiritual and secular world. It’s easy to pick and choose the ideas or concepts or ways of living that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Remaining focused on God’s vision for us might help us settle on the right decision or answer. Knowing that even in the uncomfortable spaces, God will walk us through and grow us.
God’s hope for us is that instead of turning to someone or something else, we remain focussed on Him. This, He says, will prevent “divisions among you.” By staying focussed on Him, we mitigate the chances of us shifting our loyalty to other people or secular practices. Wow– this, in itself, is convicting.
Similarly, if Paul and I are on the same page all the time, or even allow the other to take over without our own intercession, our kids will know that bouncing between us with the same questions is out of bounds. They’ll know that we’re leading them with the same goal in mind– Jesus’ will for them.
The Littlest Ginger has been pestering us to build a lego set with him all morning. The problem is, he’s not pestering nicely; instead he is bullying, threatening, and manipulating.
As a result, his demands are not being met… so now he has changed his approach… with a sweet, baby voice: “Daddy, do you want to fill my bucket? It means doing nice things for me.”
Mrs. Kolks, thanks for teaching him to demand we fill his bucket.