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We can work it out

If you have been following my blog or my Facebook page, you will have noticed that my boys are going through a very demanding stage. I have felt like, for this past week, that I have had crying one-year olds hanging from my pant legs from morning until night. I struggle to get them out of the house, only to have meltdowns and leave shortly after arriving. My three-year old is not a self-entertainer and feels the need to always be in the same room, participating in every small thing that I am doing. (Check out the blog: One Day I Will Go Potty All By Myself.) All of this has started getting me down. I miss my old friends. I feel housebound. I feel like I'm barely accomplishing anything during the day. I've developed a facial tick... (just kidding). And so the idea of writing a blog about those "hard phases" started taking root. The point of that blog would be to let mommas know that things are not always sunny and Pintrest-y.

But as I was sitting and doing my devotional this morning to the sound of my three-year old banging on his Melissa and Doug instrument set and steel drum, I started realizing that I am dealing with this phase with the wrong attitude.
"You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say, 'It is hopeless.' You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint." -Isaiah 57:10
God is speaking to a rebellious group of idol worshipers in those verses, who refuse to turn to God and instead keep chugging along in their evil ways, finding the strength to continue down their chosen paths day after day. As I read those verses, my one-year olds had finally stopped fussing in their room, quieting down and--hopefully--napping. It was around this time that the steel drum came out of the cupboard and my three-year old starting banging away, proudly yelling, "I'm on the beach!" I banished him to the sunroom, feeling frustrated that he didn't understand that Momma just needs a few minutes of peace and quiet. And that if he wakes the babies up, I may just climb back into bed and call it a day.

Jumping over to my next reading (I use the One Year Book of Praying Through the Bible by Cheri Fuller), I was in Ephesians 6. The note in my Bible for Ephesians 6:4 says:
The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement (see also Colossians 3:21). Parenting is not easy-- it takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ-honoring manner. But parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to children's development and to their understanding of what Christ is like.
Pair that with Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord," and you have some seriously convicting thoughts. Do I focus on parenting with respect and love or I am parenting like a basketball game, reacting to what my children do? I think that this past week has put me in a sour mood and allowed the day-to-day stress exhaust me. This morning when my husband left to study, I joked, "Don't feel guilty leaving me here!" as D sat crying in my lap for some unknown reason and the babies screamed loudly from their cribs (I think their screams translate loosely to: "You can't make me nap").

I read on to Ephesians 6:7:
"Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does..."
Wow. Was my attitude this morning as if I was serving the Lord and not the needs of my family? Most definitely no. I watched my husband pack up his backpack and spent the time internalizing the day ahead of me, calculating how many hours until he will get home, and figuring out what we could do to make the day go easier than previous days. As I read the closing verses in Ephesians out loud to my three-year old, he reenacted putting on the full armor of God. He used our cat's round bed as his shield of faith, his Melissa and Doug pirate sword as his sword of the Spirit, his favorite slip-ons fitted his feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. He banged his chest like Tarzan to demonstrate his breastplate of righteousness, pretended to snap on a belt of truth and put on the helmet of salvation. He stood, sword out, in a miniature version of the warrior pose and declared, "I'm ready for adventure!" He asked where my sword of the Spirit was and I quoted, "Mine is the word of God." But how heavily have I been relying on my sword of the Spirit? Have I been putting "on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:11)? No. I have been exhausted, wearied by all my ways. I did not put on the armor of God this morning so that I could jump out of bed declaring I'm ready for adventure. Instead, I heard the babies crying in their room and pulled the pillow over my face, hoping that it was at least 8:30 am. "Today," I thought, "will be like yesterday. And the day before." Wrong attitude.

And so, my blog on going through the hard phases with children took a different turn than I had anticipated. Yes, my children are each going through a demanding phase right now. But I can rise to the occasion by praying "in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."

Psalm 121:1-3 says:
"I lift my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber."

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