Friday, March 22, 2013

Only Human

     Occasionally, I am a fantastic success as a mother.  Occasionally, I am a miserable failure as a mother.  Usually, I am somewhere in between those two extremes.  An old friend and I used to phone each other when we screwed up and say, "Well, I guess I'm not up for Mother of the Year this year."  That's ok.  I want my children to know that I am imperfect, and that I still struggle toward the image of Christ.  I want them to know my imperfection because they are also imperfect.  Children need to know that their humanity, and their failures, are ok.  That they are still amazingly loved.
     Bridget, my oldest, had a bit of the perfectionist in her as a child.  My heart broke when I would see her dissatisfaction with her artwork.  I made up a little game we would play to relax her.  I would say, "Who is perfect?" And she would reply, "God."  Then I would say, "And who makes art?"  To which she would reply, "Humans."  I would say, "So, should art be perfect?"  And she would say, "No, ma'am."  Generally, Bridget would be able to enjoy her artistic experience after that reminder.  
     As parents, we need to evaluate modern trends for ourselves.  When I look at the drive to convince every child that he is perfect, a hero, and an extra-special winner, I believe we are failing to be honest with them.  Most people are blissfully average.  How can a society function if everyone believes he was born to be a leader?  When children fail to live up to our lofty and unrealistic expectations, what can they tell themselves?  In real life, not everyone gets a trophy.  Leadership generally falls to those who stand out as hard workers, not to those who believe that being special is their birthright.  A child can always come to her mother for love and admiration.  However, I want my children to leave my home aware of the fact that normalcy is perfectly acceptable, and even enjoyable.  If they want me to be proud, they can be Godly men and women, and unselfish spouses if they marry.   Anything more is gravy.
     All that said, I still struggle with my seemingly incessant failings as a mother.  As Jerry and I go through our foster parenting classes, I find myself occasionally dwelling on how insufficient I am sure I will be.  Today, God gave me a gentle reminder of how little He has demanded of me in the formation of my three astonishing children.  We have been reading a portion of The Book of Three each morning before school, but today we had rushed out of the house slightly late.  As we piled into the car, with Kevin driving, I said, "Since we didn't have time to read before we left the house, we will subject Michael to our reading time this morning."  Michael is a neighbor boy who rides to school with us.  
     Henry, a bit embarrassed, said, "My mom reads to us in the mornings."  There was a moment of silence.  I wondered if I had made a mistake.  Then I heard Michael's quiet voice in the back.
     Perhaps, just perhaps, I am just good enough.  And that is ok.
*                  *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                                  

How to do Lent (When Your Church Doesn't)

     Although we have never been part of  a church that recognizes the Lenten season, we feel that it is incredibly important for Christians to at least recognize Holy Week.  Why do we devote a month to Christmas, yet only a day to Easter, the holiest day of the year?  In case you would like to make much of this holy time of year, here are some of our practices. 
  • We begin on Ash Wednesday.  Some years, Jerry will anoint our foreheads with oil or ashes, and we will pray together.  Other years, we simply read about Christ's temptation (eg. Luke 4: 1-13) and discuss our lenten sacrifices.  
  • On Sundays, we have special scripture readings.  We choose scriptures which highlight Christ's life and ministry, such as Luke 5:29-32.  This year, we also made a crown of thorns of sorts, using a twig wreath set in the middle of the table with a jar of toothpicks in the middle.  Whenever the Spirit shows us a sin we've committed, we quietly go to the crown and add a thorn.  
  • We make an Easter garden.  I got this idea from Pinterest.  I found two wonderful websites for information:
our garden, pre-sprouts
Ours looks more like the second but is carried out like the first.  We finish with a butterfly and scriptures on the empty (now open) tomb on Easter morn.  

  • Put palm branches on your walkway on Palm Sunday, or just each carry one to church.  Bring some for friends if you'd like!  People love to join a celebration.
  • We have done a family Maundy Thursday celebration for several years now.  Jerry serves us the Lord's Supper (communion), and reads the last supper scriptures to us, where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.  The Lord's Supper is shared as it goes along with the scripture.  We use pita bread and real wine, but you can use Wonder bread and juice if you want!  We share a large glass, and the whole thing is done by candle light.  It all feels so holy...the kids are mesmerized, even as teenagers.  Last year, some dear friends joined us, making the whole thing that much holier.  What a gift!
  • This year, I will be trying some ideas from Get A Sense of the Resurrection, on this website: .  I am especially excited about the diffusers to illustrate the story of the woman anointing Christ's feet with perfume.
  • On Easter, we go to church in the morning, enjoy a meal with the extended family, and settle in for the day.  That evening, we do Resurrection Eggs.  We use a set I made myself, using ideas I collected online from researching several sets.  I suggest you make a personalized set, too.  However, any set is better than none!  
Why do you search for the Living among the dead?  He is not here, He has risen! (Luke 24:5-6)