Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Need the Thing. The Thing on the Thing?

The title represents a conversation I participated in on Tuesday. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings a kind of choreographed dance goes on at the home where I nanny. Big sister goes to preschool on those mornings and when I arrive, children are finishing (or in the midst of, or playing with) breakfast. Mom runs out to remove three car seats from her car, install them in my car and then comes back inside.

We either dress the boys or simply wipe down hands and face, brush sister's hair, put on coats (which the boys insist on zipping themselves, often ending in one or more boys crying on the way to the car because we usually don't have time to allow them to use this newly-acquired skill). Then all three children are installed in their carseats. Inevitibaly, I forget to get the garage door opener (the first "thing") to put in the car so I can pull into the garage when I get back from dropping sister off. Mom leaves for work while we're en route to school.

The garage door opener lives on top of the freezer they keep in the garage (the other "thing"). After our conversation, the mom and I both laughed, acknowledging that only two moms could have that conversation and know exactly what the other one meant!

Well . . . sometimes I talk that way to God. There are times when I really don't know exactly what to say to Him. Fortunately, God knows our thoughts even when we can't express them coherently. He knows the desires of our hearts and sees the yearning of our souls. He hears the words I don't know how to speak.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26)

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Socks Don't Match My Shirt

An attention-getting headline, right? Well, the four-year old little girl I care for is very conscious of colors and matching her clothes. So of course, she checks out what everyone is wearing so she can gather data (no doubt!) on what really does look good together and what doesn't.

I'm not a fashion plate by anyone's definition. My daughter, now 24, managed to educate me pretty well over the years about what was and was not acceptable for any given event, locale, season, etc. I'm not an embarassment to anyone - at least not that they've told me!

I'm sorry, I nanny for three toddlers . . . I don't usually worry whether my socks match whatever shirt I happen to wear on any given day--or even each other! It is frankly the least of my concerns on those days:-) I never really thought about it making a difference until I got called on it one day by . . . you guessed it!

When you're four years old, things like that really matter. When your mom has told you that something you have just picked out and put on doesn't go together, it bugs you when others in your life don't have to match all the time. I get it. Really I do.

I can't help but think of all the times I judged others, not whether their socks matched their shirt, but by other standards that are just as petty. Those types of things are insignificant in God's eyes. We are not to use the wisdom of this world to form our opinions of others. And yet I do. Often. More often than I care to admit.

I'm growing in my faith development, though. I'm really trying to see others through the eyes of the One who created me and all the other people in this world with me. I really do attempt to view others as God would. It's not easy. It's really hard work. But to do otherwise gives power to the evil one. It also diminishes me as a person.

As Christians, we are to build each other up. We are to spread the Good News. We are not to conform to earthly standards. Our standard should be the Cross. And then we need to remember that the One who hung there did so for me and my sins.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. [Romans 12:2 NIV]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Pharisee in Me

The boys turned 2 years old on Monday (Jan. 19)! Wow! It seems like just the other day they were tiny little bundles happily swinging in their baby swings and sleeping all the time (well . . . one of the boys--the other one still barely sleeps at all).

I was reminded today of a habit the boys have. It makes me chuckle every time it happens, but I dare not laugh because they are so serious. Whenever one of the boys is corrected by an adult (or big sister) the other one will then furrow his brow and in a very deep voice begin to chastise his brother. For instance, if I tell one of the boys, "don't throw your cup on the floor" the other one will turn to his brother, shake his finger and tell his brother, "NO! (followed by several unintelligible words)" very loudly.

The offense can be anything from throwing a sippy cup off the tray onto the floor, hitting sister, talking 'sassy' to someone, standing up on a chair . . . I think you get the picture. It doesn't matter what the offense is, the other brother seizes upon the opportunity to assert his (presumed) authority. The thing that makes me chuckle? Besides the fact that it's a riot to see the physical transformation when the boys assume the authoritative role, is the fact that each of the boys is equally as guilty of whatever offense is being highlighted!

Well . . . I'm guilty of that myself. Only it's not that cute when I do it. Yes, I accuse others of being selfish, short-sighted, insincere, etc. Remember when we were kids and someone called us a name? We would respond, "takes one to know one." Well, it's true when you're an adult too.

All too often I am guilty of the same fault/character flaw/shortcoming/sin I point out in others. Like the Pharisees in the New Testament, I build myself up by putting others down. When we see ourselves reflected in others in a less than attractive light, why are we so quick to cast aspersions on them, and let ourselves off the hook? Hmm . . . this is one for God and me to work on together.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [Luke 18:11-12]

Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have erred.
[Job 6:24]

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he knows from afar. [Psalm 138:6]

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rejoining The Divine Conversation

This evening I "babysat" for the children I nanny for during the week so mom and dad could go out to dinner alone. I've done this before, but it has been a while. It was odd to show up as the children were eating dinner versus breakfast.

As the mom and dad were leaving they told big sister to 'help Mary.' She nodded, looked at me and asked, "Do you know which bed the boys sleep in?" The adults all chuckled a little because I've been caring for the children for almost 2 years and they have been in their current house (with current sleeping arrangements) for a little less than 2 years. Her mom suggested she may want to help me figure out the toothbrushes at bedtime and she was pleased to have that responsibility.

Sister was disoriented because they most often have a "real" babysitter on the rare weekend evenings her mom and dad go out. The babysitters might not know which bed belonged to which boy (except for the fact that they now have their names hanging over their beds). Mary comes during the day and knows how everything works in the day time (and even has the same rules as mom) but not at night. All of her points of reference were out of whack.

Mine get out of whack sometimes too. If I have not been intentional about my prayer life and/or I don't make a point to spend time in bible study I can get off track as well. It's so easy to get out of those habits if we miss one opportunity. The next time, it becomes a little less pressing, then before long, we realize it's been days (weeks? ) since we spent time with God.

When we realize that, we usually also realize why our life has been so out of sync. Fortunately, God welcomes us back into the divine conversation with gladness and rejoicing.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. [Joshua 1:7 NIV]

Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. [Proverbs 4:26-27 NIV]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

God' s Arms

You may want to stop by Divinely Designed and read about God's heartbreak. I couldn't decide where to post it and decided the issue was really a bigger one than how I in the world I was supposed to rub the back of one child, hold the other one in my lap, and make room for the third one without disrupting (or dropping!) either of the other two!

I'm glad God's arms are longer than mine:-) There's my post! God is big enough to handle all the problems and struggles in the world. I'm just sad that sometimes--more often than I care to admit--I add to His burden.

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. [Hebrews 2:1 NIV]

Friday, January 9, 2009

Relying Upon a Firm Foundation

The other day the children's mom told me that the boys had made quite a mess in their room. Apparently they had opened their two bottom dresser drawers and emptied them of all their contents. Clothes were everywhere on the floor and it was obvious the boys had enjoyed flinging the clothes as far as they could.

Their mom told me that when she walked into the room and saw the mess she started fussing at them and told them they were going to have to help her "clean up this big mess." To which they responded by breaking into the song I taught them early on, "Clean Up, Clean Up . . ." I hope it provided a moment of comic relief for her! It's very hard work being a mom to three toddlers and she works very hard at being a good mom.

This morning I told the boys we needed to clean up the blocks they were playing with and they again began to sing that same song--that's what reminded me of the antecdote their mom shared with me.

I hope I have taught them even more important lessons than cleaning up our own messes. I hope I have at least reinforced the lessons and guidance their very diligent parents are working to instill in them. Sister already initiates conversations about God and Jesus and tries to make sense of it all. She has a good faith foundation that I know her brothers will have as well.

For my life, I cling to scripture for the "way I should go." It's so important to rely upon the foundation of my knowledge of the Bible, gleaned from personal study, bible study and Sunday school classes and other readings. Without that foundation, I don't know how I would even function in the world with all it's competing messages and enticements.

It's so important to lay a good foundation for our lives so that when the storms come, we know where to go to find shelter. I'm happy the boys remembered the song and don't think of cleaning up after themselves as an unpleasant chore, but rather as a part of life, and as just "what you do."

I hope I can be as cheerful the next time I'm called upon to do something others might consider tedious or unpleasant.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6 NKJ]

Monday, January 5, 2009


I was back with my little buddies this morning, bright and early after almost a full week off. I have enjoyed the respite and certainly feel I took good advantage of the time off but it was good to see them!

I found out that one of the twins has developed quite a few new skills in the past week. He has learned to climb out of his crib (his brother has been doing this for about 2 months). He is quite pleased with himself too. He also demonstrated that he not only looks taller, but actually is taller.

My initial observation of his slimming down and looking a little longer in his formerly rather stubby (and oh so dimpled and adorable) legs played out like this: potty seat has been moved to the family room as both boys have been expressing interest in going on the big potty like sister. Today the recently taller twin firmly grasped the potty seat by the handles, slid it across the family room floor into the foyer and up against the front door. Then he reached up and turned the deadbolt lock - to the unlocked position. Yikes!

There were plenty of other antics today - some of which took me a great deal of time to undo. Needless to say, no naps were had today because the twin with all these newly acquired skills is the one who sleeps! And he sleeps through anything. His brother actually tried to sleep today - a rare event worth mentioning in the twin annals.

Finally brother gave up - and so did I after about the fifth trip upstairs to tell the boys to get back into bed, go to sleep, stop playing, etc. Of course I knew they were secretly laughing at me and saying disparaging things about me in their secret twin language:-)

The last straw was when I heard a banging that got louder and louder. At first I thought it was the noise from the house construction going on next door. But then I realized it was coming from the boys' room. The blinds were being used to signal for help I guess - or at least to be rescued from the prison of the bedroom. By the time I wrested the blinds from twin who can now climb out of his bed, several slats hung precariously by a single cord. Brother number 2 had managed to open the bedroom door and go down the hall to sister's room and wake her up in the meantime.

Before long all three children were crying, yelling, running down the hall. OK... I won't say I didn't get aggravated at all, but gosh those children are adorable! Big sister is a real trooper, too. Those boys are into everything and she complains relatively little. Oh, she has her moments - even days, but overall she is a tough little customer. (Even though she does teach her brothers some "tricks of the trade.")

So I got to thinking about how much more trouble the boys will be getting into now that the newly-skilled twin has caught up to his brother. The more they learn, the more chaos they create. The more skills they master, the more trouble they get into. Time outs will increase. After each sentence is served, though the offending boy will come walking to me, head hung down, and wait for me hug him. (And of course I will!)

The application for my own life is that the more I study and grow in my faith, I more clearly see my capacity for sin. It's just that plain and simple. As I grasp more and more of what it means to be a Christian, I recognize more acutely how far I am from the mark. The more masterfully I can preach on theology, the more intensely I feel the sting of disappointing my Father on a regular basis.

I am so very humbled and filled with awe at how loving and gracious is our God. Then I think about how many times I tried not to laugh out loud at the mischief and chaos three little children created in my life today and how they are so darned cute and smart and precious. I'm pretty sure God thinks of me that way most of the time. He knows my heart and how ardently I desire nothing more than to live a life pleasing to Him.

It gives me comfort to think that God sees me through eyes of love, even when I create chaos and mischief.

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Colossians 2:2-3 NIV]