"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, November 27, 2014

7 Years Old

Joshua Gebeyehu Chad turned 7 on Thanksgiving Day.


Since the menu for Thanksgiving Day is pretty much non-negotiable, we celebrated Joshua the night before - with pizza, of course.  Pepperoni pizza.  He chose peanut butter, oatmeal, M & M cookies in lieu of birthday cake.  

And for the first time since he joined our family, he had a BLAST on his birthday!

He was funny and enthusiastic and joyful the entire day.

He wore a Birthday crown at school and loved it.

He went with his Dad after school to pick out his gift - a .22 rifle.  He can hardly wait for spring so he can try gofer hunting.

He enjoyed every minute of his party.

And best of all. . . he slept peacefully the entire night after his big day.

We celebrate the healing that has gone on in his heart and soul with deep gratitude.

At 7, Joshua is in Kindergarten.  He tolerates rather than loves school.   He loves working with his dad.  He insists on sleeping on the floor rather than on his bed, every night.  He likes to have his head sticking out his door - but as long as we allow him to sleep that way, he sleeps great.  He does a wonderful job getting ready each morning.  He has stopped sucking his thumb!  He still wets the bed though.  (Sigh.)  His favorite toys all have wheels.  He loves to wrestle with Jamison. He is the best big brother in the universe.  He misses Krissy like crazy.  He is as addicted to TV and IPad games as we allow.  He is funny.  Really funny.  He has the exact same sense of humor as his dad.  It is crazy really.  He talks. . . a lot!  He notices and remembers every detail.  He still gives killer hugs, but snuggles less and less every day.  He hates to have his hair brushed, so we keep it very short.  He is increasingly reasonable.  Cause and effect make sense to him.  For instance if we let him stay up an hour later than usual, he understands why we expect him to stay in bed an hour longer in the morning.  He is a kind and caring friend.

I am so thankful for the "sweet spot" he is in right now.  I plan to savor every minute! 

Joshua Gubs - happy birthday!  I am so thankful that God chose me to be your momma.  I am also so thankful for the momma you have in heaven.  I can not wait to meet her someday and hear all about the day you entered this world.  You are a gift my sweet son.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

15 Years and 8 Months

 Sierra Faith turned 15 today.


At 15 she is simply amazing.  She is beautiful inside and out.  She exemplifies her name in all things.  Sierra Faith means "beautiful majestic mountains of faith."  That is my girl.  She loves big and deep and loud.  She stands up for what and who she believes in.  She shares her heart and hopes.  She inspires me daily to be bold, kind, and faithful.  We have a very special relationship this year as we have had extra time together (thanks to PT) and have bonded deeply over coffee and shopping and heart to heart talks.

Sierra loves coffee.

She loves Jesus.

She loves Africa and still dreams of being a missionary some day.

She loves real - which is a struggle when you are in high school.  Fake is much easier to find.

She loves music and singing and leading worship.

She thinks deeply about how to encourage others.  She is a true cheerleader at heart.

She does not like to be the center of attention.

She loves time with friends - but has an absolute need for time locked up alone in her room as well.

Her room is a MESS.

Brenna and I call her "Cinderella" because if the shoe is cute enough it fits no matter the size!  The three of us have a lot of fun sharing shoes these days.

She longs for deep relationships, justice and more sleep.

We call her "Rah Rah" lately because that is easy for Mataya to say.  (And she does try to mimic it already!)

She is an incredible, patient, gentle and thoughtful sister.

She has a bit of a temper yet knows how and when to apologize.

I am so, so , so thankful for this incredible girl.  Being her mom and becoming her friend is an amazing privilege.

I adore you Berra-girl. 

Totally adore you.
 And this little peanut turned 8 months today!

 (nope.  not crawling. just practicing.)
At 8 mo. Mataya Hope has 3 teeth, all on the bottom. She loves table food - baby food is a thing of the past.  Her favorites are blueberries, yogurt, grilled cheese, pancakes, mango, peas, and pasta with red sauce.  She claps her hands.  Mataya loves to copy sounds.  She likes to read books.  She loves to snuggle.  She adores bath time. She loves music. . . especially LOUD rock music.  (Daddy and the teens love that.)  She is a great dancer already, bouncing on her butt and clapping to the tunes.  She takes 2 naps a day.  She sleeps 12 hours at night, waking once to eat.  Her hair gets thicker, longer, and straighter every day.  She has just started wearing 12 mo clothes. She says: Mama, Da, done, and ba (bath).  She does not crawl or roll.  She is happy sitting surrounded by toys or jumping in the baby circus or snuggled on my hip.  She is starting to push herself backwards when placed on her tummy - which only causes frustration as her toys get farther away rather than closer, but it is also the first step toward movement! She still loves the ring sling and her pacifier.  She is almost always happy.

Miss Mataya, you are precious.  We all enjoy you so very much.  Your sweet, silly, relaxed little self is exactly what this crazy family needed.  We thank God for the gift of YOU daily.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lessons I am (working toward) Learning as I (struggle through) Parenting Teens

I have been reading this (above) book, and to be honest, every time I sit down to read it I feel frustrated!  While I am really enjoying the book. . . I HATE that I sought it out.  You see, I wish everything went according to my plan.

I like my plan.

(I know, really mature. . . )

For many, many reasons parenting young adults is the hardest thing I have ever done.  My kids ARE struggling.  (Who isn't? Right?) There is constant conversation in our home about things like peer pressure, failed or troubled friendships, drugs, alcohol, sex, "nudes", injuries, lies, dating relationships, curfew, etc. . .  Some conversations cause me much pride.  Others cause me to feel so hopeful.  And others are just plain old alarming, disheartening, disappointing, or frustrating.

At this point in the oldest kids' development I have battled fear to a greater degree than I have ever battled fear.  I fear for them in so many ways.

And if I am totally honest, I also fear for me.  In my deepest darkest recesses of honest thought I fear that if they do not "perform" as I would wish that I have failed. . . failed at what I have wanted to do well more than anything I have ever wanted to do well. . . parenting.

I have realized these last weeks that I have made a bit of an idol out of parenting well.

OK. . . so maybe, just maybe. . . I have turned something wonderful (parenting) into a big ole huge idol that I want to hang proudly above my mantle in a frame (the perfect family.)


Parenting teens is so different than parenting little kids.  For me the biggest difference is that when kids are little mommas are honest.  You see FB posts all the time that say, "I am so tired.  Baby was up all night teething."  After which you see 7 comments saying things like "Hang in there!" and "Praying for you!  So thankful baby has a wonderful momma like you."

When moms of little kids talk they say things like, "My son has been so hard to potty train.  Do you have any suggestions?"  And they receive (too many) suggestions of things to try.

Somewhere along the line we as moms stop being real.  Now I fully realize some of this is necessary!  It is not appropriate to blast the issues of our teens all over the place.  We must respect them and their privacy.  A FB post stating "I am so tired, my teenager was 2 hours late for curfew. . . again!" is not appropriate at all.  At the same time, when we stop being real, life gets really lonely!  And problems can seem much larger (or much smaller) than they really are.

I am so very thankful for the moms in my life with whom I can be fully honest.  They bring perspective and hope when my head is stuck in the sand. They give clarity through their fresh, honest, and less emotional vantage point.  They pour love and grace over me when I am doubting myself and my abilities.

God used one "mom talk" this week to deeply speak to my heart. (He also used one blog post.)

I was visiting with a young mom.  She was telling me how terrible she felt because one of her kids had gotten in a bit of trouble at school.  She confided that she was feeling terribly guilty and embarrassed.

I then asked her, "Have you ever told your child that the behavior she did at school was acceptable?  If she did that same thing at home, how would you respond?"

The mom sort of gasped and responded, "Well, no!  I would never tell her that was OK!  If she behaved like that at home there would be immediate consequences!"

I then kindly lectured, "Well then, why do you feel responsible?  If you have taught your child NOT to behave this way, then let it go!  It is not about you!  She makes her own decisions and chooses her own behaviors.  Keep loving her and guiding her - but let go of the idea that you are personally responsible for each of her decisions."

If you had ANY idea of the guilt and self-doubt battle that has been going on in my own head and heart these last months you would laugh out loud at my advice!

I have always claimed to LOVE natural consequences.  When Jamison was sent to detention for oversleeping and missing a day of Middle School, I was thrilled.  When Joshua's teacher explained that she was working hard with him at focusing on the task at hand, I giggled with glee.  (And thought - GOOD LUCK!)  I could go on. . .

But - somewhere along the line I started to fear natural consequences for my oldest children.  They seemed to big and too scary. Adult consequences are not quite as cute and funny as pre-school ones.  Sure I could laugh when Joshua snuck out his window when he was 4 - but it is just not as funny at 16. . .  At 16 it is a sign of parental failure. . . right?!?

I have been stuck in this cycle of believing that if my children do not perform just as I had hoped and dreamed when they were "grown" I had failed.

I am beginning to realize just how unfair that is to both myself and my kids.

I have not raised my kids to be mindless clones.  I have raised them to be free-thinking adults.  I have always given my kids permission to think for themselves, to try things, and failure has been an option. (If you can not fail, you can not try - in my estimation.)

I have raised my kids to know my values and beliefs.  They know how I feel about modesty, sex, drugs, alcohol, friendship, speeding, lies, cheating, and most importantly, Jesus.  We talk about everything around here, and the kids know my heart inside and out.  They know my expectations, hopes and dreams for them.  They know right from wrong.

BUT - what they do with all of that information is up to them.

That is a major break through for me.

How my kids. . . little or big. . . decide to behave is UP TO THEM.  (Caps for my benefit.)  I never have been and never will be responsible of their actions.  Their "misbehavior" is not about me.

Now hear me here - what I do and how I parent matters.  Always and forever.  How I respond to my kids matters.  How I advise my kids matters.  How I discipline my kids matters.  I need to do well all that I can do well.  At the same time, I need to only claim guilt or blame or shame or pride for that which I can control - my own behavior.

That is really hard people.

Really, really hard.

It is ripping my heart out.

It is also the most beautiful news ever.  For me and for my kids.

To my amazing children - I love you!  I am so thankful for each of you.  You are a huge chunk of my heart.  I am so sorry for the times I hold on too tight.  I am sorry for the times I expect too much, push too hard, and over-control.  I am learning.

To my momma friends - Thank you for providing a safe place to be real.  I need each of you so very much.

And Jesus, precious Jesus - Thank you for the gift of my children.  Thank you for entrusting them to me.  Thank you for speaking to my heart and teaching me through them day after day.  Thank you for reminding me, this week, that they are Yours.  I entrust each of them to You.  You will lead them and guide them and discipline them as only a perfect Father can.  Thank you for being The Source of strength, wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness. . . The Source of ALL we need.  Your plan is the only plan that matters.

***My kids are struggling. Growing up is a struggle!  #thestruggleisreal  They are also soaring in many, many ways.  Please do not feel alarmed as you read this!  It is really much more about me and what God is teaching me than it is about them!