Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Can I help?

I am one of those people who like things to be a certain way. This is not to say that everything has to be my way, but if it's one of my things then it does. For instance, I am not overly bossy toward Greg in general, but when he's in the kitchen I will give him all kinds of unsolicited "advice" about how things are done best. (So helpful, right?)

I've noticed it with my kids too. An often asked question is, "Can I help?" Which you would think would make a mother's heart leap with joy, but usually makes mine sink. I can let them help in certain scenarios, but when it's one of my things, it's really hard to let go of how I want it done and let them participate with me in it.

Take, for instance, Jonathan's birthday party. Now, Jonathan's birthday party was a small affair. It was just us and my parents celebrating at home. The agenda was: eat pizza, eat cake, open gifts, and play pin the dirt on the dump truck/bulldozer. So, in the afternoon before party time I started drawing a dump truck and bulldozer and getting ready to color them in so that they would be ready for the game. The kids saw me and wanted to help… they wanted to color them. Now, mind you, I am doing this FOR Jonathan. It is HIS birthday, HIS party, and he wants to color the bulldozer. But I don't want to let him, because then it won't look as good. And of course, it looking good is more important than my son participating in getting ready for his party. Hmmm… So I let them paint the bulldozer and the dump truck. They loved it. It was really hard for me to let go, and even as they started painting I found myself giving "helpful" little tips. But it turned out to be one of their favorite parts of the day. And I was so glad I let them do it. And honestly, their pictures turned out kind of cute. In fact, I think Elisa's turned out better than if I had done it myself.

I've thought about this as it pertains to God and us. Have you ever thought about the fact that God lets us participate with Him in His work? He lets us work with Him on things that actually matter. He doesn't set things up for us to do just so that we can feel important. (Sometimes I do that with my kids… you know, make special jobs for them, that aren't really that important but will make them feel important). He's not threatened by our mistakes, He's big enough. We poorly represent Him and even misrepresent Him, and yet He's big enough for that too.

"The gushing pleasure of small children as they help their parents comes from the expansion of the child's little self through the immersion in the life of a larger self to which the child is lovingly abandoned." (Dallas Willard)

God's Kingdom (where what He wants done is done) is all around us. In each moment we are either working to further our own kingdom, or His Kingdom. And let me tell you, my own kingdom, when it comes right down to it, is a pretty pitiful little affair. It's all about my comfort, my happiness, my reputation. How much better it is to find myself part of something larger than me.

His Kingdom is here! Right now!
Can I help?

Nora at 15 months

Two things I had sort of forgotten about 15-month-olds:
1) They are so stinkin' cute!
2) They are so stinkin' messy!

Nora is 15 months old and she is on the go. All day, every day she is about her business, doing the serious work of babies: emptying the recycle bin, emptying the cupboards and drawers, pulling books off the bookshelf, drawing on the walls with markers.

But the cuteness makes up for the messes. Don't you think?

She can be quite outgoing. Tonight we went out to eat, and she made friends with the people in the booth directly across from us, both of the booths kitty-corner from us, and the booth on either side of us. Not an easy feat considering the tall booth backs. But she won them over with her smile, her wave, and in one case some vigorous head nodding.

She hadn't liked reading books at all. I was feeling a little panicky, because how can one of MY children not like reading? But she's turned a corner and all of a sudden will bring me books to read to her and object loudly when the book is closed. Her favorites right now are Goodnight Moon; Bedtime Peekaboo; and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. 

She packs away the food and is not picky at all. I can usually count on her to eat dinner even when the other kids are turning up their noses at it. Even so, she is still a bit of a peanut, small in both height and weight categories. She's still in her infant car seat (and hating it) while we wait for her to hit that 20 pound mark so she can move up to the next one.

She says a few words. Her first word was "uh-oh."
Now she also says:
Mama (though sometimes I'm not quite sure if she's just saying it or if she knows it refers to me),
nose (this may explain why she likes Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes so much),
she also makes a few animal sounds (moo, meow, woof, and the cutest little roar ever).

She can navigate the few stairs we have around our house. But I wouldn't trust her by herself with a full flight of stairs. She walks (started right at a year) and is somewhat enamored with walking backwards, which I find quite funny at times. She is turning into a climber, which I do not find funny at all.

Right around 4:00 most days she gets extremely fussy (and hungry) and this makes getting dinner ready challenging. But I've gotten good at listening to crying kids, so I can deal with it. :-) Of course, she is probably the loudest of the three, because she has to be to have any chance of attention at all. Ah… the life of the third-born.

She is mostly happy, loves a good adventure, and tries to keep up with the big kids. As you can tell, we're pretty smitten with her.