Listening to God is Sometimes Like Drivers Ed Rules

I was terrified to start drivers ed in high school. I’d turned a corner too sharp after driving for 2.5 seconds and put my mom’s giant station wagon into a ditch a couple years before. I wasn’t sure I could do this thing. Driving. That all my friends seemed to love.

Listining to God is sometimes like Drivers Ed Rules

The drivers ed coach was so relaxed and his one rule when we started the actual driving portion of the class {assuming we all knew the textbook rules of the road} was go straight unless I tell you different. I constantly wanted to double check that I was still doing what I was supposed to. Being the only teary eyed newby, I refrained from asking over and over again. I was overly cautious to the point the coach had to tell me I was allowed to speed up a bit during one of my first drives.

I’ve learned my kids are so much like me. Whether out of caution for fear of not doing the right thing or not trusting that I’m paying attention and know when and what is coming.

Mags is in constant need of my reminders to “do the next workbox” for school. Keep working. The plan hasn’t changed. Trust me.
Iz finishes part of a chore and wants to move on to the next thing with while leaving the first ½ done. Complete each step. There’s reason behind my logic. Trust me.
J worries if maybe I’ve forgotten him and wonders if it’s time for a movie yet because surely it is and I just didn’t know. Trust me.
El nags about her cup, even if I’m in the process of filling it, until she’s got it in her hand. Trust me.

As frustrating as it is, I’m glad God doesn’t have the same responses I do toward my children in these situations. REALLY! Finish already. CHICKA!  Don’t be lazy. DUDE! Maybe we don’t need a movie. GIRLFRIEND. I’m Holding The Cup.

God is constant. Unlike us as earthly parents who get distracted and are lethargic at times, God is steadfast in his patience with us as we show our distrust for Him and His all-knowing, grand-planning, goodness, provider-ship. We quite when we think he’s not looking and it gets hard. We cut corners thinking it won’t make a difference. We remind him of His promises hoping He remembers. We beg for Him to take care of us as if He needs our assistance in that.

Often when we're trying to hear God in what He wants us to do during a season of our lives, we forget our drivers ed rules. God gives us simple, generic, across-the-board direction for Christian living. Sometimes we're hoping for specific rather than just driving straight until he tells us to turn again. For a couple years now, I've had to take a page out of the Abraham play book and remind myself that, sometimes, God doesn't speak often. God expects us to go back to the last thing He told us and keep on in that direction until further notice. 

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Our Special Snow Globe

I stepped outside to help Matt with Christmas lights only to be found minutes later by a wailing child.

The Broken Globe

This in and of itself wasn’t an abnormal occurrence but the trail of four other children behind him indicated this wasn’t a boy-called-wolf moment. Through everyone’s yelling, crying, and tattling I heard, “He broke the globe!”

Yep. I know it was coming. The Veggie Tale globe I got back in high school had made it nearly 15 years, seven of which with children around only to be shattered this year by a boy playing santa. After a week of “Don’t shake it violently like that” and “Please be gentle” and “That is GLASS, it will break if you drop it” and “No, it doesn’t need to be taken off that table” reminders, my little man decided toting it in a Christmas throw blanket taking it’s debut as santa's “sake” was TOTALLY alright.

I waited outside for awhile while Matt headed inside to assess the damage and begin the clean up. From the uproar he gave when seeing it, I knew I had made the right chose by not walking in just yet. I could hear the chaos and panic of everyone running around inside to get away from glass or grab towels and clean up tools. I could hear my sweet husband angry for me that this had happened as he lectured J the man about the “accident”.

Although frustrated that I’d managed not to break it myself thus far and now it was gone, I was more upset over the fact that dude was weeping but more over fear of consequences than remorse that he’d destroyed a special globe of his mommy’s.

I went in and sat down. I ask Jamin to come to me and I scooped him in my lap. He shook and tears streamed down his face. I told him I was glad he was okay and that I was less upset about the broken globe and more upset that he didn’t trust me enough to head my warnings about how to play with it. I snuggled him and he quickly stopped crying. I rubbed his back and shook my head in dismay joking that it was time to get new carpet because I wasn’t sure we’d get all the glass out of it. Then J sniffles and as he still clings to my shoulder asks, “Can we watch the grinch?”

~WHAT The Crap?!? You have Got to be kidding me. ~

I took a deep breath and let out a big sigh before I gently put him down and ask him to go to time out.

We finished getting ready for dinner, ate, and tried not to think about it. Next thing I know, J says “Mamma, I’ll just BUY you a new one.” Ugg. I thought this round and round was almost over. I cleared by plate and explained that even IF they still made them, buying a replacement doesn’t fix the problem.

I decided I needed to teach him how to try to “fix” things in a situation like this. Feeling as though I’d failed him. Why was he being so selfish and slow to just express remorse.

Lil man and I dug through the garage in our tub of glass recyclables hoping to find a tall baby food jar. No such luck. We did find a mason jar with a candy cain painted on it that wasn’t gonna come off easily. I ask for Jamin to put on his coat and shoes. I’m not sure if he was prompted by a defensive daddy but he looked up and me and finally said, “I’m sorry I broke your globe mamma.”

pieces to our old and new veggie tale snow globe

We ran round the corner to Fred’s and found a handled mason jar. We made it home with just enough time for him to help clean up the playroom while I finished ripping off the remaining glass from the old snow globe. I showed him my plan and after bath he sat down with me and we “fixed” the sentimentally old Christmas decoration. the way it went together so easily, you would have thought I knew what I was doing or something. LOL

working with my lil man on our special globe working on our special globe1st attempt at fixing out special globe making memories with our special globe

When we were finally finished we decided it was no longer “Mommy’s special snow globe,” now it was “Our Special Snow Globe”. And I like that a lot better! Plus, now it has a handle for easy, [hopefully] child-friendly, shakage.

Jamin and Mamma's Special Snow GlobeMommy's Special Snow Globe VS Our Special Snow Globe

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I WANT ANIMAL CRACKERS!

She gathered their personal belongings and headed for the door with a quiet, "I'm gonna load these and then its time to go." to which he growled under his breath, "I want Animal Crackers!"

I gently snuggled next to him and reassured him I wanted animal crackers, too. Trying not to cry we gave our last snuggles and were strong as we loaded them in their carseats, gave kisses and I love yous, then waved through sniffles as they pulled away in that white van.

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4 days earlier, we'd gotten a call. Matt's been fielding them for a couple weeks now. After our first placement for a child that fell through after days of preparing and lots of tears, our house was "officially" open so the calls came pouring in. Our counting is over run with kids in the foster care system needing placements but for the most part can get them housed. Out of county placements have been the main phone calls we've received. With us being a last resort they're more willing to sign age wavers and such to make sure the kids at least stay in the state and in a home with a family rather than a shelter. The call we received Monday as we drove to meet my in-loves for dinner was for an out-of-county placement. Due to the age of the child we had to turn them away and reminded them the age range we were open for. She offhandedly said, "Well, I might call you back."

Sure enough, around bedtime she called us back. They still had 2 small boys needing placement of the sibling group in need. They wrote us a waver and gave us basic information then told us they would be to our home around midnight. Matt and I scurried around finishing nightly chores, tiding what would be their room,  set up a crib, changed bedding, and tried to breath. We put on a movie in an attempt to stay awake. Midnight came and went. I finally closed my eyes on the couch and Matt woke me around 1:30 am on Tuesday morning to let me know they'd just pulled in the driveway.

I took a deep breath and followed him out into the dark, cold morning air to help scoop the little sleeping guys out of carseats and into our home. I held one boy as I signed papers and Matt  tucked the little brother into his crib before returning to tuck big brother into bed. That was the easiest bedtime of the 4 we would have with little man. We washed their belongings and tried to go to bed ourselves.

They slept off the stress of the day before and stirred around 10:30 Tuesday morning. Our bright-eyed and bushy-tailed crew was chopping at the bit to meet them. Matt and I went in to get them ready for the day with fit-throwing "Pudding" and non-talking "Peanut". It was a jam-packed day with mandatory physicals and shopping at our local CALL Mall for clothes in the right sizes for our new friends and school, naps, dance and gymnastic classes for our girls, and grocery shopping somewhere in the middle of all that. We pulled it off working as a team with lots of flexibility and grace- and not the elegant ballet kind but the unjustly forgiving kind. Screaming commenced as bedtime rolled around and we fought it out for over an hour with "Pudding" but won as "Peanut" slept through the entire thing.

Wednesday was our first [close to] routine day we had. Everyone woke around the same time, we did breakfast, school {with our new friends}, daddy left for  short time to get some work done, and best of all I didn't kill anyone during a 30 minute toddler-showdown that included kicking, screaming, and gnashing of teeth. We ate lunch, conquered protested naps, and then survived yet another new adventure with an afternoon full of movie time, dinner, and our new friends' first valley experience. This day the cutting eyes and icy glares lessened from "Pudding" and he began to become more snugly. "Peanut" fell right into place as if we were running a preK program and we got giggles, smiles, and even a few words {mainly spoken to our children}.

Thursday was hard with more mandatory team work between "Pudding" pulled his temporary cast off {meaning an orthopedic specialist appointment was added to the docket} and me already committed to working a consignment event an hour away. THIS is why DCSF is so insistent on foster families having a support system. You need extra arms and legs to love on children! With the help of my in-loves sitting with babies, Matt and I met up as we passed one another to switch vehicles for the evening. He

That brings us to today. Friday. This is our built-in catch up day for school and pretty much life. We'd completed everyone's school for the week so that means MOVIE DAY! The kids finished their chores, played with their new friends, and popped n a movie. Matt went to pickup our grown-buddy to take him to work and "Pudding ask to go along for the ride. No sooner than Matt has buckled him into the seat, we came back in because he'd gotten anther call. The court decided this morning that a relative was able to take the entire sibling group, including our 2 new little friends. Not only that but they would be here to pick the boys up in less than 2 hours.

I quickly reevaluated our picnic at the park plan as I secretly packed all their belongings into the bags they came with. I tried to hold it together while I put their art-work we'd made this week in their medical passports. I decided the park was happening and would be a good end to our fun week knowing it was going to be so hard. I packed a simple snack-lunch and had the kids scurry around cleaning up their toys and putting shoes on. Matt returned home and we all headed to the city park with our picnic in-tow.

It was beautiful weather and the kids got up and down from the the blanket in the shade over and over again. Different kids squabbled here and there about which part of the lunch they didn't like but all seemed to understand that was lunch. lol Towards the end, negotiations started and I compromised with "eat 1/2 of that and you can have more of this." Then it hit. "I don't want to eat [the minuscule piece of] cheese. I just want animal crackers!" Wow. Where did that come from timid, obedient, compliant, no-tears, brave "Peanut"?! The fit grew bigger and bigger as each kids got up from the blanket to play. From across the playground, Matt shrugged with a did-you-already-tell-him look as dude yelled and kicked. He would calm down and listen as I gave him his options, "eat the cheese and get the animal crackers OR don't eat the cheese and just go play with everyone else." Neither one of those sounded okay and the built up emotion inside of his tiny little body just kept overflowing disguised as rage flung in my direction.

I shook my head a Matt as I cleaned up our picnic spot and helped "Peanut" walk toward the playground with his angry face on. He stomped around the playground still confused about the real reason behind his hurt. Strangers had shown up as soon as we sat everyone down for lunch when we planned to tell everyone about the boys leaving so time was thinning as we gathered the kids on the opposite side of the toy to tell them. Arms crossed, lips puckered out, and brown nearly touching said lips, he sat as we tried to tell them that he "got" to go back and live with his relatives. The kids scattered and played for awhile, we gave to complementary 5-minute-warning, and then started to load. "Peanut" began SCREECHING as we walked to the car, stopping and mad.

In the car we laid out the timeout consequence if the temper-tantrum didn't stop. He listened and then started back up with even more passion. At home he went and stat on his bed to hopefully finish his fit. I went in a few minutes later. First I sat next to him as he cried. Then I scooped him into my lap and let him yell and cry on my chest. Then God told my heart to tell him, "You so brave. Monday was hard. Tuesday you woke up to strangers, Wednesday and Thursday you learned a new routine and family. And today all that sadness, fear, and anger came out when you weren't in charge of your lunch and ultimately not in charge of life right now. It's okay to be sad. Cry. and to be angry. I will hold you while your upset. It's not okay to turn those feeling onto other people. I love you. Jesus Loves You! And God has big plans for your life even though its hard right now." He sniffled a bit more and then let me rock him a bit longer. Then Grace.

Grace overlooked the well-earned timeout he was supposed to have and we sat on the couch, snuggling and watching a movie until his eyes caught the white van pull into the driveway. He breathed deep on my chest as he watched her walk to the door through the front window, anticipating the doorbell ringing. He walked with me as we answered the door then pouted as we gathered his new toys he's picked out at the CALL Mall Tuesday. I brought out backpacks and reassured him his cool new shirts and undies were all in there. Matt played with "Pudding" getting newly-found laughter and giant smiles out of him and "Peanut" couldn't decide how he felt about any of this.

She gathered their personal belongings and headed for the door with a quiet, "I'm gonna load these and then its time to go." As we found the remaining pieces of his toy he growled under his breath over and over again, "I want Animal Crackers!" to which I replied, "I want animal crackers, too!"

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Sickness and Sin

He cleaned her up after her second puking episode in this 2015 Puke-a-Palooza season. She looked up at him grossed out and sad to say, "Daddy, I hate that sickness is part of our world because of sin."

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I don't do puke. Chop open the back of your head and gush with blood, I'm your girl but the smell of sickness is what I can't handle. My hubs has always been sweet enough to handle that nastiness but I'm sad I missed this beautiful recognition of how literally sin affects our daily lives.

The consequences of sin are all around us if we are willing to identify it. As Christ-followers, sometimes we like to pretend our 'silent' sins don't have any reactions in our world like those that are loud in the secular world. We somehow act as though gossip and unforgiveness are less harmful than homosexuality and idol worship. All those are self-serving perversions of God's original plan.

Sin is and will always be part of our world until all the nations have heard the gospel and Christ returns for His followers. It sucks but that's the truth. So what do we do with that?

Live.

We live in community with believers and non-believers in love while chasing after the heart of Jesus and eagerly awaiting his return that will end the madness that our sin started.  God didn't ask us to hide, build walls, and protect ourselves.

I was taught growing up that you didn't hang out with "bad kids". You know, you might catch their sin. My prayer, as I surround my children with ALL those Christ died for, wither they have accepted that free gift yet or not, is that my children's lives are so overrun with the health of God's love that they don't catch too many sins. We're all gonna screw up and will never be sinless but if we are chasing hard after the heart of Jesus then we will totally sin less.

Are you scared of catching your own versions of the valley plague from doing life so closely with your local body of believers? Do you fear hanging out with non-Christians and catching their sin? What skewed view of God do we have that maybe needs to be realigned with the Bible so we can more fully love all those around us?

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Missional Living with Littles

My kids are much better about choosing action over good intentions!

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They know there is a small window of time between the school bus dropping off neighbor-friends after school and evening activities each separate family has every night of the week but that doesn't stop them.

They understand that quality, meaningful, authentic time with their friends is better than the great intention of spending mass quantities of time with them somewhere down the road. The "it looks like it's about to rain", "I'm not sure if they're home", "they might not want to", "there's only __ amount of time" excuses just don't cut it in their God-given love for people.

I'm learning to put aside all my excuses and let them live in the moment, not wait for the perfectly planned playdate, greatly fashioned gift-wrapped treat, or ideal weather. Loving people should be natural. Loving is what we are called to do as we are living not a detailed ministry opportunity we suck all the life our of.

 

Love is dependability.

Love is bonfire-smoke-induced-tears.

Love is forgetting who's toys belongs to who.

Love is bandaging skinned knees from other homes.

Love is sale Easter candy oozing out of children as they laugh.

Love is hearing hurts from a once-stranger child under hushed shame.

Love is splintered bare-feet from racing flying actions figures in hand.

Love is stale hotdog buns with gobs of compensation ketchup.

Love is street ball with dog-slobber-coated basketballs.

Love is side-walk-chalk-covered-dresses.

Love is a guaranteed hug.

Love is availability.

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