Friday, November 28, 2008

Parenting: Bearing With Your Children

Cute picture right? I've decided that teething is like the thorn in every infant's side! Cutting teeth is painful for both adult and child: child in that they physically hurt, their nose runs, they get diaper rash and don't get any rest (except for those 5 seconds that Chase stares at the grape Tylenol convinced that it's a miracle solution or if not, it tastes so good that time stops for those few seconds).

The only thing I know to do is to:
- expect that this will be ongoing his whole infancy
- bear with him ( I can try holding him, singing to him, distracting him, numbing his pain, giving him a teething ring, putting him to bed, etc.) Ultimately it has been a test of long-suffering for me. Am I a good long-sufferer? If I went to the doctor and asked what could be done and they said,"nothing." "You will just have to bear with your child in their pain. Just give them-- yourself," would I be able to do that and do it well?

I always thought myself more on the compassionate end than the "oh, well. Suck it up end." But I'm realizing it takes more than compassion to be long-suffering. It takes patience, it takes trust that it is God who is in control and no matter what I do to try and minimize Chase's pain, teething is inevitable.

I wonder if there are trials in my life that cause God's heart to ache with mine? Sometimes I feel God is so distant how can He possibly be long-suffering? Is He not the one who brings both calamity and good things? (Lamentations 3: 38) But my friend Bonker reminded me that Lamentations also says that "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men" (Lamentations 3: 32-33 NIV). I like how simply the NLT puts it "For He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow."

Communion for me has been a good "physical" reminder of Christ's suffering on our behalf. How cool that God knew that we as humans would need that tangible reminder that He is with us and that He has suffered in ways deeper than we can imagine. Just when I thought that no one could understand how long I've suffered; "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin."(Hebrews 4:15)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Parenting: God's Leading Is Two-fold

I read recently in Instructing a Child's Heart (Tedd & Margy Tripp) how instructing your child doesn't just mean correcting bad behavior but using other moments to teach and praise your child. I knew this all along, but never realized what a negative impact it could have on a child to only "teach" them through disciplining bad behavior. It's no wonder that some kids thrive on negative attention. That may be all the attention they get.

I certainly do not claim to be an expert. In fact, my inconsistency with my bulldog proves my lack of "parenting" skills. It does make sense that a child would associate any instruction with punishment if that was the only time you gave it.

Psalm 23 speaks to this: God's rod and staff comforting us. His rod being His authority, knowing what is best and rebuking us when we are in the wrong, but also His staff that supports us. I think part of God's rod and staff comforting us has to do with His mysterious mixture of grace and justice. There are instances that He withholds judgment or gives blessing but also times when He sends us to our knees in repentance. I don't know about you, but I'd surely take God's instruction in the form of a praise for the good I've done than a conviction that leads me to repent of the evil in my heart.

How is it that I should be as comforted by His discipline of my screw-ups as I should be concerning His affirmation of my obedience? Sure feels better to receive praise for obedience if you ask me!

I have noticed with my own son that setting "no limits" is not a form of love or even safe. Chase plays and learns much more when I keep him in the bounds of my pasture (aka on his blanket and not scooching over to the computer cords or towards the scary bulldog). He will, however, cry if I move him back on his blanket when he'd rather explore crawling on our hardwood floors (yeah, letting him do that has backfired on me one too many times) It's sad to see him so upset over desiring something that seems so harmless, but I know that my letting him explore on his own is doing him a disservice. To an extent, just setting that boundary for him, even if he dislikes it, sets some kind of consistency that mom is going to snatch him up and place him back on the blanket. He doesn't appreciate it in the moment, but can you blame him? When God snatches me away from the edge of his pasture, I'm not exactly ecstatic.

But a friend mentioned to me that there is comfort even in that part of God's instruction. We come to learn our boundaries and feel security in them.

Psalm 23: 4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Parenting: God's Rod of Discipline

As a parent (Krisha talking), I see more and more analogies to my role as a mom and the Christian life. My son is at that age where I think he shows hints of rebellion (like shrieking for no reason other than to hear his voice and biting people to test out his new chompers). God's discipline is always something I've struggled to understand.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says: "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in." I never understood how God disciplines us for a "greater good" than now -when I feel grieved to have to discipline my child at such a young age. Chase is like me, unaware of his dad's (or mom's) ultimate purpose in the discipline but learning that he must change his behavior (which I pray becomes heart obedience and not just modified actions).

Sounds all simple as a child right? But what about God's discipline to us as adults? Do we truly believe it is for our good and because He loves us? In that moment when our hand was smacked our our cheek is stinging, when we do not feel like he has comforted us or given us our hearts desires; perhaps He's withheld something or even allowed us to experience suffering; do we truly receive God's rebuke without resentment?

I never realized how much I flee from discipline (as well as suffering). Our culture tells us to minimize pain (and that that is happiness), but I didn't realize that I'm just as weak as my son, wanting to avoid any pain that comes with discipline and rebelling in the moment due to not fully understanding the reasoning. I came across this quote that made me think of God's discipline in a different light.

"To be left uncorrected would be a fatal sign: it would prove that the LORD had said, 'He is given unto idols, let him alone.' God grant that such may never be our portion! Uninterrupted prosperity is a thing to cause fear and trembling. As many as God tenderly loves He rebukes and chastens: those for whom He has no esteem He allows to fatten themselves without fear, like bullocks for the slaughter. It is in love that our heavenly Father uses the rod upon His children. Yet see, the correction is in measure": He gives us love without measure but chastisement "in measure." As under the old law no Israelite could receive more than the "forty stripes save one," which ensured careful counting and limited suffering; so is it with each afflicted member of the household of faith-every stroke is counted. It is the measure of wisdom, the measure of sympathy, the measure of love, by which our chastisement is regulated. Far be it from us to rebel against appointments so divine. LORD, if Thou standest by to measure the bitter drops into my cup, it is for me cheerfully to take that cup from Thy hand and drink according to Thy directions, saying, "Thy will be done."- Charles Spurgeon

I'm sure you've come across those kids in public that go crazy! No discipline at all by the parent standing by watching them run loose in the store. We probably have moments at home where we let offenses slide because we simply feel like we do not have the energy to instruct or correct. But our kids? Never! They would never carry on like those undisciplined hoodlums!

But how many of us actually see ourselves as those kids? We assume we are the opposite kind of parents; we desire well-mannered kids even if it demands consistency and applying some form of discipline. But in our relationship with God, He is the parent and we are the children. Now that I am the child, do I crave God's discipline or would I rather He "let [me] alone?" I confess there are many days that I'd rather run through the store knocking things off the shelves and being left to "fatten myself" with all the ice cream I could eat than receive His discipline knowing it hurts, but it's because He loves me.

Anyone who knows me know I am somewhat of a melancholy person. But I can be encouraged, as Spurgeon points out, that God's love is given without measure! His discipline is limited... but His love endless. So I guess a parent who understands God's discipline is one who still grieves having to use the rod but also one who knows the ultimate goal is to discipline in measure so that love can be given without measure.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parenting : God's Ferberization

An observation I (Krisha) made several months ago is that my relationship with my son is analogous to my relationship as God's child. I remember the age when Chase started sleeping through the night. I had debated on whether the "cry method" (aka Ferberization) actually made sense or just sounded cruel. Books esteemed it as the sleep method in which you allow your child to cry for a specific amount of time before you respond. This is supposed to allow your child to learn to settle himself although I had heard that in some cases, your child could grow to distrust that the parent will meet his needs.

Chase has actually done really well with the sleep boundaries we've set. If he cried for an extended amount of time I would go in, check his diaper, make sure there was no obvious discomfort and put him back down. I aimed to meet his basic needs while still hoping that he would learn to settle himself. Once he did, it proved very helpful in measuring his cries. I could gage whether his cries were simply "I don't wanna go to sleep mommy" or "something is terribly wrong! Could it be my diaper!?" All in all, Chase is a success story to my variation of the sleep method.

Myself, however... I am a different story. I feel like lately.... no... that is an understatement... for the past 7 months or so, God has used the cry method with me. I am at that stage (eyes rubbed red, puddled in my own drool, pained by my inability to escape His confines, arms outstretched, and countenance distressed that no one is coming to scoop me up out of my misery). How long O Lord?! How long?!

It's amazing that my child still smiles at me each morning when I wake him up, even if I let him whine a little before falling asleep. If only I could trust that God's mercies are new each morning... I have a lot to learn from Chase.

Psalm 28
"To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place." (Psalm 28:1-2)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm an aunty! and Brian's an uncle!

We are proud to announce that Jen & Tyler (Brian's sister and brother-in-law) just had their first baby. Welcome Colin James Robinson! He arrived yesterday 11/17/08 weighing in at 8lb. 9 oz. and 21 inches long. Jen was in her 37th week; yeah big Whited babies! Or maybe I should say big Robinson babies? (Chase also in his 37th week was 7 lb. 4 oz... I cannot picture how big he would have been if I had been in my 40th week or even past.)

We are so excited to be aunt and uncle to this cute little guy; Chase is officially a cousin! (Soccer team of 2 and counting....)

For now, here are some pics of Jen & Tyler. I think Chase actually resembles Jen is his cute profile. We are looking forward to seeing this new family of 3 at Christmas!

Jen & Tyler (Congrats to the new parents!)

Brian & Jen at her wedding

Brian, Chase, and Jen

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nostalgic fall...

Brian, my mom and I recently took Chase on a hike to capture the peak foliage on our camera and remind ourselves why we call this home. I got so excited scrolling through these pictures that I can't decide which ones to post. They are all too beautiful.

I feel that part of my identity(Krisha talking) is growing up in these beautiful mountains. As a teen, my favorite memories were during fall because it was cross-country season and it was the one sport where it took all of my mental discipline to be able to endure those miles and yet it was so enjoyable and rewarding because you could get lost in nature's beauty. A run along the parkway, though tiresome and painful on my knees, was easily justified in just the first 5 minutes of forgetting my wordly worries and basking in the colors that are only here for a season.
Growing up, I had fond memories of driving on the parkway with my family to the Peaks of Otter (just outside of Roanoke). There are so many colors for the eyes to see that it is overwhelming!
You feel like you are drowning in God's beauty.

There are reds that burn brighter than the sun,
yellows that are pure as gold, and the sea of orange so rich- that you can taste it!
When I think of autumn here in the Roanoke Valley, I think of stepping onto our porch and feeling embraced by the mountains all around us. I picture the fall leaves whirling around as you go down the street; I envision hiking trails that are so covered with leaves that you hear nothing but their crunch under your feet and you feel like you have escaped civilization and entered into a secret wonderland.

I can taste the warm spiced cider and I yearn to roll down the windows, feel the cool breeze, and listen to the Appalachian music (with the dulcimer) and the folksy bluegrass music; they are rooted in the simplicities of life, the love of family, and the faith in Christ that brings meaning to it all. It makes me proud to be a Virginian.