Love Unconditional

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Sometimes Love Hurts December 20, 2009

Filed under: parenting — Beginnings @ 3:08 am
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Two and a half. It’s a fun age. I only mean that slightly sarcastically. Most of the time Grace is charming, funny, and lovable. Sometimes though, she’s not. She is going through a hitting stage and man, that girl is strong. Strong and persistant. Moving out of reach doesn’t work. She’ll come after us, arms out like weapons. We don’t do time-out and we don’t believe in spanking, so it’s a bit of trial and error figuring out what to do when she hits.

I’m learning a lot about myself as I try to handle the hitting fits. I react first and think later. I can see why parents spank and punish. That kind of reaction definately comes naturally to me. Thankfully, I feel strongly enough against spanking not to do it. What’s harder is not using implied punishment. My first response when she won’t stop hitting me has been to say, “I love you but don’t like when you hit me. I am going to step out of the room and come back when you can stop.” I’ve even gone so far as to tell her, “I don’t like to be around you when you hurt me.” Each time, she starts crying and saying, “Mommy I need you. Stay mommy,” but goes back to hitting a few seconds later. One day, when I responded with my threat to leave the room, I saw the hurt in her eyes. I heard it hidden behind anger as she yelled, “Go away Mommy!” I realized that I wasn’t loving unconditionally. I was telling her I only wanted to be around her if she behaved, if it didn’t hurt.

Sometimes though, love hurts. Love hurt a lot for Christ on the cross. Love hurt a lot for God as He watched His Son die for our sins. Love hurts each and every time Gods holds on to us and refuses to let go, even when we hit and kick, trying to get away from Him. Love didn’t feel too good for Hosea, going after his wife time and again, taking her back after she’d been with other men. Love hurts for missionaries as they suffer to share the love of Christ, often with hostile people. Sometimes, love hurts.

Recently, I’ve taken a new approach to Grace’s hitting. I gently catch her hands when she hits. I tell her to give me five instead. Sometimes it works. If not, I keep catching her hands and letting them go. I tell her I love her but she can’t hit me. If she yells at me to go away, I tell her I love her and step a few feet away, telling her I will be right there waiting when she is ready. As she rants, I pray and stay calm. Eventually, her anger subsides and she comes to me and hugs me. She says, “I’m sorry mommy. I love you,” and we cuddle.

By staying present and staying calm, I’m learning. I’m learning that she hits when she is feeling out of control. When things aren’t calm around the house, she gets wound up. If I’m stressed or impatient, she hits. If she’s feeling lonely, she hits. I’m learning to see it coming and step in before that point with a little laughter or a cuddle. I’m learning that I need God, minute by minute, to parent gently and to love even when it hurts. I hope Grace is learning too, learning that I will love her no matter what she says or does, just like her Father in Heaven.


Mirrors September 24, 2009

Filed under: parenting — Beginnings @ 3:28 am

Chubby hands on my face, kisses on my nose. The words “Hi mommy.” gently whispered. This is my life at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night. My two-year isn’t sleeping and neither am I. With each kiss on my nose, my frustration at being up so late watching Sesame Street diminishes.
We have a game we play, my daughter and I. She pulls me towards her, puts her hands on my cheeks, and kisses my nose. She says, in a singsong voice, “Hi mommy, you my best friend.” I tell her she is my darling, she says, “Mommy, you my darling.” She parrots every thing I say back to her, a mirror reflecting my love. Motherhood is a tough job, a great responsibility. Like it or not, she will reflect what she sees. In those quiet late night moments I am thankful that the challenges of the day fade away and Grace is a mirror reflecting only love.


Promise you won’t get mad September 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beginnings @ 2:52 am

Sisters. Best friends. Enemies. A sister sees you at your best and worst. My sister and I live together so we tend to see the best and worst in each other quite frequently. In October she is getting married and my husband, daughter, and I will be moving in with her and her husband. We’ll also be moving two dogs and two cats in with his dog. Fun times! Thankfully we have a long standing tradition of forgiveness and mercy. I can’t even remember when it started but when one of us is going through a tough time, the other will promise not to get mad, no matter what. It’s like a real life representation of salvation- to know you already have forgiveness before a transgression is commited.
This time around, I am the one offering not to get mad. My sister has a lot going on and I know she needs a safety net right now. I know her well enough to know that she needs one person she can’t let down. I stepped up to be that person. Little did I know how much I needed it.
I’ve been hanging on to bitterness lately. Clinging to irritation and unforgiveness. Sin comes naturally and it doesn’t take much effort to let it flow. The anger and frustration feel good at first. The negativity builds, almost imperceptibly, until it is so deeply rooted that seems impossible to break free from. By offering mercy to my sister, I have to let go. I have to breathe. I have to choose peace over turmoil. In the absence of judgement and anger, something has to fill the void. If my heart isn’t hard it must be soft. If I am not filled with anger I must be filled with something- love, peace, joy. Forgiveness and mercy feel good. Choosing ahead of time to be mericiful, removing anger as an option, frees me from making choices in the moment. Each situation that comes up requires only one response. Mercy. Today I will choose mercy before I even get out of bed. Mercy not just for my sister but mercy for me and for a world that desperately needs it.


An Honor September 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beginnings @ 9:01 pm

Sleeping sitting up in a rocking chair with 35 pounds strapped to me, I didn’t expect to find joy and contentment, yet I did.

Every now and then my two-year old daughter gets really watery eyes and an awful runny nose. Last night was one of those times. She went from feeling great to feeling miserable in a few hours. She started the night by waking every fifteen minutes crying. I could hear the gunk in her throat. She was having a hard time swallowing and I could tell she was in pain. I held her as she cried, repeating “I love you” over and over to her. Each time, she’d cry, then lay her head on my chest and fall back to sleep. After waking a few times, I put her in the Ergo and walked until she fell back to sleep, still repeating “I love you.” I couldn’t make her feel better, but I could make her feel loved. I sat in the rocking chair and rocked her while she slept, strapped to me in the Ergo. I drifted in and out of sleep. Every hour or so, she’d wake up crying. I’d get up, tell her I loved her, feed her honey (to soothe her throat), and walk until she was back to sleep. As I sat in the quiet darkness, feeling her breathing and listening to her snore, I prayed. I prayed that she would feel my love. I prayed that God would give me the strength to be loving even when it was hard. I could clearly feel His presence. I could feel Him keeping my heart soft and gentle even though I was exhuasted and desperately wanted to lay stretched out in a bed. I felt Him teaching me to be thankful for my role as mother. At 1am, I was the person God chose bring her comfort, to soothe her, to teach her that she is loved unconditionally. What an honor.


Love Unconditional

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beginnings @ 7:10 pm

Parenting is hard work, life is hard work. My daughter doesn’t sleep. Well, she sleeps, but she doesn’t sleep well. I won’t bore you with the details, but the fact that she is asleep in the bed without me is nothing short of a miracle. Tuesday night was rough. Grace had a short nap and I was hopeful. Hopeful that she would fall asleep in less than an hour. Hopeful that she would sleep well. Hopeful that she would wake up rested and happy. I didn’t cope well when bedtime stretched into a two hour long battle. I got frustrated. I cried. I got mad at myself, my daughter, my husband, and God.

Last night I tried to prepare myself for another rough night. A day of playing outside and the change from summer to fall had left Grace congested and miserable. As we cuddled and got ready for bed, she watched tv. I read blog posts. I started with this post at API speaks. Wow, it blew me away. I felt God speaking, working in my heart. I want my number one goal in parenting to be that Grace knows she’s loved. That sheds a whole new light on everything I do. It’s easy to love her, but not always so easy to act loving. I’m a sinner. I get mad. I get frustrated. More often than not, my response to people isn’t loving. It’s manipulative, sarcastic, cutting. To convey love, well that’s tough.

As I rocked my sick little girl, I thought about love and our broken, screwed up world. We’re so quick to condemn. Anger comes quick. It’s easy. Love, not so much. What if I were to try to make everyone I come in contact with feel loved. Not in a scary I’m going to hug strangers way, but in a way that says “you are important.” As a Christian, I’m supposed to be a representative of Christ to others. What better way to do that than love them. I’m going to try- truly try, to spend every day looking for some way to convey love to someone. I’m sure I will fail, I’m sure I’ll stumble, but maybe, just maybe, I will learn to love the way we’re all meant to love. Unconditionally.