Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Favorite Child

So I do this thing that I’m pretty sure parenting experts would say is bad.

I have a favorite child. Or at least that’s what I tell my kids.

Sometimes it’s clear that I’m being silly with them. If ThingOne makes a pot of coffee for me, I proclaim, “You’re my favorite!” Or if ThingFive clears my plate after dinner, I’ll hug him and loudly say, “Now, you’re my favorite!” An offer of chocolate always results in my exuberant pronouncement of a new favorite!

Sometimes, though, I’ll just quietly hug a child, kiss his cheek and whisper into his ear, “You are my favorite. Shhhh, don’t tell the others.” And then we share a conspiratorial grin.

The five older children know I tell each of them this. They know I don’t really have a favorite. But I like to think that for those few seconds when I’m hugging a child and whispering in her ear, she feels how special she really is, she believes my love for her is unique and different than my love for her siblings.

Because it’s true. I love my children collectively, of course. But I love them each individually. I love the group dynamics of our family, and I love that they feel a part of this large-ish family. But I work hard to form individual, one-on-one relationships with my children. And I want them to feel individually loved and known.

However, BabyThing, who recently turned six, truly and honestly believes he is the favorite. Once he overheard my secret whispering with ThingFour. After ThingFour walked away, BabyThing whispered, “I heard you tell him that, but I know I really AM the favorite.” And he winked at me. Actually, it was more of a blink with one-half his face scrunched up a little more than the other, but he meant it as a wink.

A few days ago, BabyThing and I were discussing this Favored Child topic. He said to me, “The other kids all think they are the favorite, but I know I am!”

And you know what? I like that he thinks that. I hope that deep-down inside each of the other five also feel that way. I hope each one secretly thinks, “I know I really am the favorite.”

It probably goes against all the rules of good parenting. But I’m going to continue the secret whispers and the loud, silly FavoredChild proclamations. I want each of them to feel special and individually loved.

Do you have a favorite child? A way to make each child feel favored? Or maybe you ARE the favorite child! Tell us how that feels! 

Name Them One By One

Counting My Blessings

  • black coffee in a pretty mug
  • my children’s laughter
  • friends who always seem happy to see me
  • sunshine glistening on water
  • machines to wash my clothes and dishes
  • toenail polish
  • music that sinks deep into my soul
  • those moments when all my children are content and at peace *deep sigh*
  • book discussions with my daughters
  • sharing day-to-day life with long-distance family through the internet

What are your blessings today?

Living in Limbo

My sister-in-law called this evening and asked about our plans for Christmas. I laughed. I don’t even have plans for Halloween yet, and that’s six days away!

I don’t know where we’ll celebrate Christmas because I don’t know where we’ll be living in December. Will my husband have a new job by then? Where will the job be?

If we’re still 700 miles away from our extended families, then we won’t be traveling home for Christmas. We’ll celebrate Christmas here in our apartment, just the eight of us. And I’ll try to convince my children that Stouffer’s lasagna is the best Christmas dinner, just as I did last year. After all, Momma doesn’t want to spend all of Christmas Day in the kitchen, and they don’t really love turkey all that much anyway.

This living in limbo is not fun. Oh, I know there are important lessons to learn in the waiting. I know that God knows our future, even though we do not. I know that He is working good in us, molding us as we wait, vulnerable and helpless. I know all of that. But it’s still not fun.

In the meantime, I try to do the next thing, not thinking too far into the future. I wash the next load of laundry; I teach the next reading lesson; I make the next meal; I give the next hug. We aren’t making plans for next week because I might be dropping everything and packing boxes next week. We aren’t making plans for next month because we might be unpacking boxes in a new home next month. We are living today -right here, right now, trying to be content.

And my brain reminds the gnawing in my stomach and the stress-pains in my shoulders (Why must I always feel the weight of stress across my body as if I were carrying a physical, literal backpack of boulder-heavy anxiety?) — and my brain reminds the gnawing in my stomach and the stress-pains in my shoulders that God knows, even though I do not. And He has good plans, even better than what my finite mind could dream up. And this waiting will not last forever.

Maybe even tomorrow, we will know something . . .

How about you? Are you waiting on something or someone? Where will you celebrate Christmas? Can you feel stress as a physical weight? Do you think my kids will go for the Stouffer’s Christmas meal plan? 

Second Chances

A few months ago, I started reading some stories over at People of the Second Chance. Have you seen that blog?

No? Seriously?! Ok, then, stop reading me right now and go read some redemption stories over there! Really, I mean it! (But please remember sometime later today or tomorrow to come back here.)

Alrighty then — Welcome back.

So, as I was saying — a few months ago, I clicked on a link to People of the Second Chance. Wow! What powerful stories of forgiveness, redemption, love, and — well, and of second chances.

There are stories of men addicted to porn, missionaries with bulimia, teenagers addicted to drugs. There are stories of boys who were abused by neighbors, girls who got into witchcraft, wives whose husbands are in jail. You read them, right? Did you see the stories about former klansmen, people who attempted suicide, the guy who hit his girlfriend?

These are stories of radical forgiveness. Powerful, abundant grace.

But you know what I realized a couple weeks ago? I realized that we love these stories because, for the most part, they already have a happy ending or at least some closure. They are packaged up with a tidy bow called Grace.

We don’t really love the People of the Second Chance sort of stories while they’re happening. Right in the middle of the messy-ness of sin and broken hearts and betrayals, we don’t always see the forgiveness and redemption and love. And we’re not immediately ready to think about offering a second chance.

When a pastor’s sins finally catch up with him and his entire church is reeling from betrayal and disappointment, we’re angry and hurt. When a wife walks out, hoping for greener grass on the other side, we’re shocked and upset. When an adolescent boldly and brazenly walks into bad choices, we’re terrified and heartbroken.

It seems so easy to applaud the tagline Overthrow Judgment. Liberate Love. when we’re a safe distance away. But when it hits home, it’s not a touching blog post about someone else’s road to redemption.

And so I have been challenged. Do I really believe in this extravagant forgiveness and lavish grace? Do I really want to overthrow judgment and liberate love? Do I really believe in second chances? Or third chances? Or fourth chances?

Or does it just make for a poignant blog?

How about you? Have you experienced this lavish grace? Have you extended it? Are you a person of the second chance? 

In Media Res

In Media Res. Do you remember this term from your high school literature class? It literally means “in the middle or midst of things.” In literature, it refers to the writing technique of beginning a story right in the middle of a crucial situation or action.

Yeah, I’m that geeky English girl. And I’ve been thinking about In Media Res lately in terms of friendship. I’ve decided that real friends are the friends you can have over In Media Res. Right smack-dab in the middle of life.

Several weeks ago, my friend Sarah texted to ask if she could come over to use my landline phone. She promised she wouldn’t interrupt our homeschooling. I texted her back, “Sure, but go before you come because I haven’t looked at the bathroom today, and the boys have been using it!” Sarah is an In Media Res friend. She understands.

Last week, I went over to another friend’s house for coffee. She didn’t clean for me. She was in the middle of life, and I showed up. In Media Res. We were talking about this very thing, and she commented that if a friend is coming over to judge your home, she’s not a real friend. I heartily agreed.

When I lived in another state, one of my favorite friends invited me to bring my kids over to play. While the kids played in the back yard, I hung out in her kitchen chatting with her while she made pear butter. She didn’t invite me over to entertain me. She invited me over because we were friends. In Media Res friends.

I haven’t always been good at this sort of friendship. Actually, I’m still not great at it. But I’m learning. I’m learning the difference between entertaining and hospitality. I’m learning that my good friends won’t care if there’s a pile of laundry on the end of the couch or some dirty dishes in the sink. My good friends won’t even care if the entire piano is covered in homeschool books and papers.

Real friends show up right in the middle of life and understand that real life sometimes isn’t company-ready.

How about you? Do you have In Media Res friends? Do you feel like your home has to be perfect before anyone comes over? Does a pile of laundry on the couch bother you?