Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost ready for a big boy bed...

So I posted this on Facebook. But I wanted to post it here too, so that when I look back I'll remember.

A few mornings ago I was awake, but still in bed and pretty soon I heard Leesi say (through the monitor), "You did it Buddy! Do you wanna come snuggle in bed with me?"

Yes indeed, Jonathan has learned to get out of his crib (and the Pack'n'Play that he naps in too).

At least there was one person in the family who was excited for him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Slowing, part two

In my previous post I wrote out a bunch of excerpts from The Good and Beautiful God about slowing down. I wanted to take time to write a little bit more about my experience of slowing. As you can see, I haven't been in a real big hurry to get around to the second part of this post... I guess that's appropriate. ;-)

As we learn to slow down at first it may feel painful because we are so addicted to productivity, or used to hurrying. But as we physically slow ourselves down our hearts and spirits slow down too. And as I quoted before "The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow.... Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God."

Anyway, so in this book the author gives a lot of ideas for slowing yourself down. Drive in the slowest lane of traffic. Get in the longest line at the grocery store. This one is one of my favorites in a funny way: Take an hour to move like a sloth (I can just imagine someone doing this, walking across the living room with the slowest steps possible, taking 30 seconds to move the fork from the plate to your mouth, etc. It just makes me laugh). Make one day a slow day: linger over breakfast, cut out t.v. and media, go for a leisurely walk, watch the sunset. Plan a meal with friends or family: cook slowly, enjoy the smells of the food, linger over dinner, eat slowly, enjoy the food and company.

So I read all these ideas and then realized that the only thing I needed to do to slow down was to go at the pace of my children. Wow, do they ever go slow! I mean, sure, they have boundless energy and can run really fast, but as far as productivity goes, they go slow. It can take 10 minutes or more to get from the car to the front door, or worse vice versa (insert teeth grinding here). I often find myself telling them, "Hurry. Hurry!"

So a few weeks ago when I determined to slow down (as my homework prescribed) I decided that I would stop hurrying my children. I let them explore every puddle on the way from the car to the front door. I didn't rush them to get ready in the morning so that we could go and "do something better."

Of course, there are times when I needed to go quickly. But I resolved to do it with an unhurried heart, a heart that is not fearful but is fully resting in God's goodness to me regardless of circumstances. "I'll move my legs as fast as I can while my heart is happy and unhurried." (Remember that quote from the book? It's one of my favorites!)

Case in point: Wednesday mornings (Bible Study mornings). We have to be leaving our house with everyone dressed, fed, and presentable at 9:00. For us that usually means a hurried morning of pushing. I'm pushing Elisa to get dressed, pushing Jonathan to eat faster, pushing myself to get the dishwasher loaded and my makeup on. And all this, while trying to stem the tide of chaos which threatens to flood our house each moment. "Elisa, no you can't start an art project now. And didn't I just ask you to use the bathroom." "Jonathan, are you poopy again? I just changed you!" I have to say that we usually have some kind of major meltdown on Wednesday mornings (from a kid, not me, in case you were wondering... although I'm not far behind).

Almost always my hurry is fear related. I worry about what others will think of me if I'm late. I fear rejection, embarrassment, letting others down. My kids see that fear in me and mirror it. Then it builds and consumes us in a huge cycle... worry, fear, hurry, worry, fear, hurry.

One Wednesday morning not long ago, Elisa screamed and cried all the way to church. I was so rattled I missed a turn. And when I finally sat down at Bible Study it took about 10 minutes of deep breathing before I felt like my heart rate was back to normal.
But, on the first Wednesday morning of intentionally slowing my heart while trying to move my legs as fast as possible, there were no meltdowns. I had time for joy. I laughed with my kids. We looked at leaves on the ground on the way to the car. We still moved quickly. In fact I caught my kids telling each other, "Hurry. Hurry!" (The words that I had ingrained in them). But I corrected them, "No, it's okay. We do have to try to go quickly but we're okay. Everything will be okay." And that's what I was telling my heart at the same time. I kept repeating my mantra of "God has everything under control. I have nothing to fear."

I got to Bible Study early. My kids were happier than usual. I was happier than usual. It was wonderful.

Of course, I do have to add that the next time we went to Bible Study with this same unhurried heart philosophy I was quite late and had to walk in awkwardly and find a seat while everyone watched. But you know what? I didn't care. My kids were happy, no deep breathing was needed.

As I learn to go more slowly and stop hurrying my kids, I notice that I am doing less things... there are fewer outings to the library and the park. But I am enjoying the everyday things more. Diaper changes and putting on shoes and socks are not inconveniences on the way to something good. They are the good of the current moment. They are an opportunity to closely interact with my kids in a way that meets their needs. I am beginning to delight in the everyday moments instead of rushing off to the next place.

More on this topic to come... eventually... don't hurry me!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slowing, part one

This week has been... a good week... but an interesting week. A couple weeks ago our car gave out on us. We are a one car family, but luckily we were able to borrow a car for the first week that our car was in the shop. We thought that we were going to get our car back early the next week. But it turned out that it had to go back to be fixed two more times. And so we didn't really get our car back until Friday. So, last week we didn't have a car, it was rainy, and both of my kids have colds. So we mostly stayed home and didn't do much. It was a great lesson in slowing.

Appropriately that was our spiritual discipline assignment for our Sunday school class for the last two weeks. Slowing.

One of Greg's favorite books is The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg. In it he talks about the discipline of slowing. He says that once when he was entering a new ministry he called a spiritual mentor for advice. His mentor told him, "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." Ortberg wrote this down on his paper and then asked, "Okay, what's next?" "There is no next." his mentor replied.

Our Sunday School is going through the book The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith. I can't explain slowing down better than he did, so here are a few excerpts:
Hurry and distraction are nothing new, but in our age we seem to have perfected them. More than at any time in history we have become obsessed with productivity, speed and efficiency.... And while we increasingly move faster, we are enjoying life less.

Our impatience has made life a dizzying blur. And as a result, our spiritual lives are diminished. As we try harder, we are becoming spiritually shallow and deeply disappointed--not exactly a recipe for a robust life.

The mantra of our achievement-oriented world is, "You are only as valuable as what you produce." This leads to the narrative that what we produce determines our value, and therefore the more we produce the more valuable we are. What we did yesterday is old news; what matter is what we are doing today.

Satan does not always appear as a red devil, a ghastly monster or the object of sexual desire. Sometimes he simply inserts a false narrative (achievement equals value) into our minds. Once that narrative gets firmly planted, we are headed toward destruction without realizing it. The narrative can sound almost Christian. That's why it slips in unnoticed.... But one day we wake up and realize that the things most important to us--time with God and our family, our emotional and physical health--were sacrificed on the alter of achievement (or the success of our church). And we have nothing to show for such an amazing sacrifice.

Jesus told Martha, "There is need of only one thing." That one thing is listening to Jesus. Jesus did not say that the "one thing" was to obey his commandments (though that will come.) The first thing, the one needful thing, is to listen to his teachings. The world tries to pull us away from this important thing. Martha's way was good, but Mary's way was better. She looked at the situation and evaluated what was most important. Jesus was in her home, and being with him was the most important things she could do.

The most important aspects of our lives cannot be rushed. We cannot love, think, eat, laugh, or pray in a hurry.

Taking time is especially important in our spiritual lives. In our spiritual life we cannot do anything important in a hurry.

Why is eliminating hurry from our lives so crucial? When we eliminate hurry we become present, or more specifically, present to the present moment in all of its glory. We become aware of our surroundings. We see colors and smell smells; we hear hushed sounds and can actually feel the wind in our faces. In short, we "show up" and experience the fulness of life. And that includes, not least of all, being present to God. If I am to live well as a Christian, I need to be constantly connected to God. Hurry is not part of a well-lived life.

It is possible to act quickly without hurrying. If I have only ten minutes to get from one end of the airport to another, I can move quickly without hurrying. Hurry is an inner condition that is fear-based: "If I don't make my plane everything will be ruined. Life as I know it is over!" But when I walk in step with God I learn to say, "If I don't make that plane I'll be fine. God is with me. Things will work out. Meanwhile, I'll move my legs as fast as I can while my heart is happy and unhurried."

Slowing down is the way our soul works. Robert Barron says, "The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow, since it seeks to savor rather than to accomplish; it wants to rest in and contemplate the good rather than hurry off to another place." ... Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Activities

Just some fun fall things we've been up to lately.

A trip to the pumpkin patch with Grammy.

Finding the perfect pumpkins.

Washing the pumpkins.

Our finished Jack-o-lanterns, an octopus and a smiley face.

A fall art project - trees made by painting with q-tips.
We had so much fun that Leesi asked to do this a second time.

Happy Fall!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Just wanted to post a picture from Halloween. Tigger and Tinkerbell. We had a fun time this year. Leesi is now totally old enough to realize that Halloween means she gets candy. Also, she was excited about her Tinkerbell costume (although she didn't want to wear the wings). Jonathan didn't want to put on a costume at all. But he saw some other kids in costumes, so he was a little more willing to let me put the Tigger costume on him. He started to protest a little as I put his legs in. But once it was on, he was totally fine with it. This was Leesi's costume two years ago.

We went to the school's halloween party. Greg was doing balloon animals for the kids there, which was fun. But he didn't get to go trick or treating with us. So after we were done at the party we just went around to the student apartments on campus and came home with a perfectly reasonable amount of candy.

Earler in the day on Halloween Elisa and I did a Jack-O-lantern sponge painting project. It was super fun, and has made me want to do more sponge painting!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jonathan at two

So, my sweet little boy is now a big 2-year-old.

He is entering a new phase of willfulness... go figure. All of a sudden he is falling apart and screaming when things don't go quite the way he wants them to. It has been a little challenging for me, but at least I've experienced this before with Leesi... so it isn't a huge surprise.

But the willfulness isn't all there is to him. He is still a sweetheart. He loves to snuggle and be held. At night he gives me a hug, a squeeze, and a kiss. He lays his head on one of my shoulders and says "huuuuug", then switches to the other shoulder and says "squeeeeze", then last a kiss complete with smacking sound.

He is beginning to be quite the talker. He has gone about learning to talk in a whole different way than Leesi. He repeats everything. Now, I think he understands everything we say to him. But even before he understood, he would repeat back whatever you said. He strings long sentences together (even like 8 word sentences sometimes!). Leesi didn't repeat things as much. She thought a lot more before saying things. Jonathan has been an experiential learner. He likes to pray. He starts by saying something that sounds sort of like Jesus, and then he says a long string of nonsense words, and then "Amen!"

Jonathan loves to sing. Some of his favorites are Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs (with letters... but not necessarily in the right order!), Jesus Loves Me, My God is So Great, Old MacDonald etc. The last few nights, right before I leave their bedroom, I've been singing "God has smiled on me" which is a song I used to sing to them when they were babies. A couple nights ago they both all of a sudden started singing along. It was a sweet, sweet moment to hear Leesi and Jonathan's little voices singing, "God has smiled on me; He has set me free. God has smiled on me; He's been good to me."

In some ways he is such a boy. He loves trucks, trains, and things that go. When he's riding in the car he is content just to look out the window and watch the cars go by. He comments on any big trucks we see. And he always points out trains or the Max, and then says "Toot, toot!" He loves playing with balls. He has taken a particular interest in basketball, quite apart from anything we have done. My parents sometimes hang a bucket on a nail from a post on their deck and Jonathan goes to town "making baskets". He also has a fairly deep little voice. And is quite pushy (literally), which my mom says is kind of a boy thing.

But in other ways he breaks the gender stereotypes (which I think is fairly normal). He likes to wear little clips in his hair, and he likes to put on bracelets and necklaces. He sees Leesi getting her hair fixed and wearing jewelry and he wants to get in on the action too. Today I took him to Bible study with two little clips in his hair. I'm not quite sure what his teachers thought of that when I dropped him off... but all I can say is that some days I just have to pick my battles, and today that one wasn't worth fighting.

So here are his stats at 2:
Height: 37 1/4 inches (97%)
Weight: 28lbs. 9oz. (59%)