Monday, September 17, 2012

Good Morning Girls

5:07 AM is the time right now.  Allen is up getting ready for an early morning work meeting, and Max is stirring in his bed, but not actually awake.  Why am I up, especially on a day I don't have to go in to work?
Because of Good Morning Girls!
I found it by chance while perusing Pinterest a few weeks back.  GMG is an online outfit where women gather into groups, do a Bible study in the morning, and share their insights electronically (via Twitter, Facebook, email, even Skype).  I signed up because I need to be part of a group for the whole Bible study thing to actually happen, and if there weren't 60-something other pairs of eyes waiting to read my post, I'd still be sleeping right now.  Yay accountability! We are using the SOAP method, which stands for
Scripture
Observation
Application
Prayer.

I thought it would be fun to do some or all of my GMG study on the blog as a way for others to link up.  If you want to get in on the action, why not join up here as part of a little mini sub group, since I think registration is closed for the larger groups?  Hey, I might even open it up to boys if there's interest!
Here is today's Scripture:
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.  We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints" Colossians 1:1-4, NASB
Observation:
Paul is beginning his letter, but he's putting more effort into it than just writing "Dear so-and-so," as we would today.  I looked up some information on Colossae to get a sense of the saints and faithful brethren to whom he wrote.  They were living in a city in Asia minor (now Turkey) that was already becoming a shell of its former grandeur, yet was still wealthy and comfortable.  There was a special kind of wool dyed there that made the town noteworthy and well-to-do.  It was on a major trade route and as such was host to many different ideas, religions, and philosophies.  There was a Jewish enclave and the Christian church there was mostly composed of Gentiles.  Angel worship had apparently become a problem for the believers there, and there was a legend going around that the archangel Michael had visited the city and stopped a flood from destroying it.  So, Paul is taking pains to stress the pre-eminence of Christ over angels, perhaps by calling Jesus by his title of Christ (messiah, chosen one).  I notice that in these verses he takes care to connect the relationship between God as Father of Jesus and Jesus as our Lord, in whom we should be putting our faith.
I also notice and that Paul and Timothy are giving thanks to God and praying always for the Colossian church.  That would be an encouraging thing to hear read aloud from this letter.  I imagine that it would be today like a church receiving a letter from Billy Graham or some other pastor well-known to the American church saying that he was specially grateful for them and praying always for them.
I like how Paul says that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God; for anyone who remembers exactly how Paul received his commission--so to speak--it most definitely was God's will turning Paul's plans upside down and making him do a 180 from his former stance of killing and persecuting Christians.
Application:
I confess that I don't spend much time in prayer, and that's silly and wrong.  I have so much to pray about, and not just in terms of personal supplication (God, please help me with this and that).  I, like Paul, should be thinking of others I know in the family of faith and praying for them.  I should be giving thanks to God for their faith and their love.  I should also be wishing them grace and peace in God, and should act accordingly to bring grace and peace to them.

And the prayer will be between God and me!
Thanks for reading along!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Battle I'm Not Willing to Fight

So, it seemed like Ruby was ready for potty training.  She had started doing tell-tale things like ducking behind shelves or curtains to do her business, and she would occasionally come up and tell me when she was wet or needed a diaper change.  And she's 27 months old, so all the guidebooks say that it's open season on potty training. 
We were armed with dozens of pairs of cute little underpants, "potty treats" (chocolate covered sunflower seeds, bribes for going in the potty), propaganda (Elmo potty books and DVD), and some excitement at the idea of only changing one child's diapers per day, not both.  We were given expert advice (although some of it conflicted, as all expert advice tends to do) from people who had been there, done that, and those who are in the trenches right now. 
That was a week or so ago.  Now, I am a broken shell of the potty trainer I once was. I am retreating from the battle lines.  I do not think she is ready, or at least she's not ready to do it without a fight, and it is not a fight I have the strength for right now. Battling with wearing the eye patch for 4 hours a day is quite enough, thank you. 
Ruby is just not interested in using the potty.  In the past week, she's had--I think--three times where she peed in the potty, and many more times where she peed on the floor.  The times she went in the potty were happy accidents, I think.  We happened to have her on at the right time, and it was a result of obsessively setting timers and taking her every X minutes.  She was not happy about it.  There was much whining, kicking, fussing, etc., and many, many trips where not a drop was squeezed out.  Tonight the last straw was when, after she had not gone for hours and had been drinking a lot of fluids, I had her on the potty for the umpteenth time and she must have let down her guard enough to let a trickle of pee out.  She immediately started fussing and saying, "All done, pants please.  Ruby done."  I tried cheering her on, offering treats, and thinking, "There must be more in her bladder than that.  Seriously."  But she would not let it go.  So, I let her get up, pull up her underwear, and gave her a treat (since she did technically go in the potty).  And then we went into her room where I kept a close eye on her.  She clearly was holding it, but if I said, "Ruby, let's go to the potty," she would start a fight.  Finally she peed on the floor and looked very relieved and then went off to play, apparently unconcerned that she was wet and leaving urine-y footprints everywhere. 
I felt like crying and exploding. I felt really trapped and hopeless, because a friend of ours--who potty trains kids as part of her job as a teacher of toddlers--had told us not to give up for at least two weeks.  "I've seen kids who just have only accidents for two weeks and then they finally get it," she said. I am sure that's true, and so I felt like I couldn't be a quitter.  What do I know?  I thought.
I sent a rather potty-mouthed text to Allen as I cleaned up the floor and prepared Ruby's bath.  He called back since his class hadn't started yet, and we talked about it, and decided that Ruby just doesn't seem to have the interest required, nor is she yet much bothered by being wet. 
So, we're throwing in the towel on this one for now.  I've heard it said to pick your battles wisely and not to pick them over biological functions.  You can't make a kid go to sleep.  You can technically force food down a child's throat, but it's not going to be a good experience.  You can't make a child pee or poop in the toilet without resorting to some really crazy/brutal tactics (like penetrating your child's anus with your finger until they poop?! Are you kidding me, crazy mother on an internet message board?! Pretty sure that's abuse.) 
I've been really down for the past week.  Down like I just lie in bed crying while the kids are napping (or supposedly napping).  I thought it had to do with going back to school.  But after my first week back going really well, I realized this evening that it has been about potty training.  It has been an exercise in trying to control the uncontrollable and perpetuating a horrible cycle.  Ruby acts up because she's two and she's tired of being made to sit on the potty every five to fifteen minutes.  I get frustrated with her and upset that she's not going.  She pees on the floor moments after she leaves the bathroom without being bothered by it; sometimes she stomps in it like it's a puddle on a rainy day!  All this while I'm trying to also watch Max, do laundry, prepare food, etc.  I get furious with Ruby and then furious with myself for being mad at her.  She's a two year old!! This is what they do! She is not out to get me or even trying to annoy me.  Ruby's quite capable of willful rebellion and I've seen plenty of it from her, but I don't think this is it.  My gut has been telling me for the past few days, This is going nowhere fast and dragging everyone down for no reason.  Let it go and try later when the time is right.  I had ignored it, but now I'm going to listen to it. 
But I'm still afraid. Afraid that someone will read this and think, "She's just caving to her child."  Afraid that they might be right.  That fear is fear of man, not fear of the Lord.  People are too big in my life and God is too small.  I worry far more about pleasing people than I do about pleasing Him.  Living in a house full of people makes it even harder, because I hate conflict and just try to avoid it at all costs; and when you live in this house, conflict happens!  Any house full of people, yes, but this house could probably get a reality TV gig (hmmm, money making opportunity?).  And I'm worried about how I'm supposed to please all the people in my life and get everyone to like me and think I'm good at ________. And what about when those people I'm supposed to make happy have different requests of me?

I need to please my mom by moving to STL next spring.
I need to please my husband's relative by staying here.

I need to please my housemates by ignoring/forgiving/turning a blind eye to whatever they are doing that might annoy me.
I need to please my husband by calling housemates out on things.

I need to please myself and my kids by being with my kids all the time.
I need to make money to support the family.

I need to follow the sage advice of person X about potty training who advocates keeping Ruby on the potty until she produces no matter how long it takes.
I need to follow the sage advice of person Y who says of person X's approach, "That's crazy, do it this other way."
And don't forget persons Z, A, and B who have their own advice (solicited, I must add) to throw in the mix.

No wonder I feel overwhelmed!  Talk about a battle.  I'm trying to go to the mat for everyone without really considering what God's voice is in all of this.  And for what? Yes, some of these people genuinely want me to do things their way, but most probably don't really care because how I plan out my life is not going to affect them in the slightest!  They are not going to be hurt if I don't do what they say, and if they are, that is on them, right?  (My people-pleasing nature hates that phrase, because if anyone's not happy, I obviously need to fix it. Because clearly I can fix everything.  Ha ha.)

My self-care has been nonexistent lately, too.  A future blogpost, no doubt.  But for now, it feels good just to say this as a bottom line:
I give up.  I give up trying to be the best parent, the best teacher, the best housemate, the best wife, the best blogger, the best aspiring writer, the best Creative Memories consultant, the best churchgoer, the best friend, the best __________________.  I can't fight that battle any more than I can force my kid to potty train right now, even if her friend who is her age is already potty trained.  Ruby didn't say her first word until she was almost 15 months old; said friend was already talking in phrases at that point.  Maybe Ruby's a slow talker and a slow potty trainer comparatively.  I just need to remember the little song, "In His time, in His time; He makes all things beautiful in HIS time."  Not my time, not Allen's time, not anyone else's time, but in God's time.  Amen!