Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Will I Serve Them This Day?

On slow weeks, we end up spending a few evenings outside, the kids and I. Peyton works a lot of evenings these days and it's a perfect way to pass the time between naps and bedtime, the hours that seem so long. It also works out well because it's the only time of day that I'm awake for that's really bearable in the Mississippi heat (I'm just not the kind of gal who rises with the sun and I doubt I ever will be).

Anyway, we have this little routine. I've mentioned before that I love routines. Schedules freak me out. But routines? They are a friend of mine. So this is our Backyard Shoe Routine:
1. Before exiting through the laundry room door, acquire and put on your Crocs (or in AP's case, your knock-off Gymboree San Destin Outlet "crocs" that you've been wearing since the Summer after you turned two).
2. Shed your Crocs within two minutes of entering the backyard
3. On the way back in drop your Crocs off in the laundry room

After we come in, we have another little routine that involves cleaning up. If we're not taking full baths that night, I have them wash their hands and then I basically give them a little spit-bath. As you can imagine, I pay the most attention to their tiny toes.

The other night as I was gently scrubbing the grime of the pads of Annie and Graves's baby feat and removing the sandbox reminents from between their tiny toes, the spiritual metaphor of washing feet, of being a servant, dawned on me. For a minute, I got teary because I was just caught up in seeing the beautiful in the disgusting.

But after I regained my composure, I realized it was the Lord's prompting. I wrote a post awhile back about how I will serve the Lord this day. Well, one of the biggest ways I can serve Him in this season is by serving THEM. I decided to sort of make a little list of ways I want to be intentional about serving my sweet girl and sweet boy...

I serve (and love) Annie well by:

* Validating her emotions
This was huge for me growing up and it still is. When someone who means something to me gives validity to the things I'm feeling, it means everything.

* Putting my heart into educating her
I've realized recently more and more what a great opportunity this is and also what a great undertaking. It gives me such delight to watch Annie learn and I'm so thankful I get to be her primary teacher.

* Engaging her incredible imagination
This is a part of Ann Peyton that I love and adore. I feel like stories are so important and I love hearing the ones she comes up with. They give me insight into her mind and her priorities and the things she holds close that some of our "regular" conversations just don't.

* Joyfully answering her questions
This is HARD. I was the child with a million questions and now AP is. I want to do the good thing and not just dismiss her. To engage her and guide her and help her find knowledge about her little world.

* Praying for her
A new prayer for Annie is that God will help me show her the ways He is at work in our stories. Sometimes, I think it's so easy to show her the way He was at work in Scripture, but it's equally important for her to have a dynamic faith, that she seem Him working in the here and now. I want to point Him out to her in nature, and in beautiful art and literature, and in the ways He is writing our story.

I serve (and love) Graves well by:

* Praising him for small verbal, cognitive, and (this is the most difficult) behavioral accomplishments
Peyton and I recognized recently that positive feedback is HUGE for Graves. Just like validating Annie's emotions helps her become stronger and more self-confident, affirming Graves in the little strides he takes make a big difference in his day.

* Reading to him right up to the difficulty and length that his patience will allow
Whew. There is NO sense in pushing a two year old to sit and listen to more than he can handle and this is doubly true with a wonderful BUSY two year old. But at the same time, sometimes I use his personality and his attention span to justify not doing something that is one of the things I believe is most important in my children's early formation.

* Being a consistent, gentle, graceful, and patient disciplinarian
Two is a hard age and the last few weeks have been pretty difficult for me. It's hard because I'm still at a place where I don't know what does and doesn't work for Graves the way I do for Ann Peyton. But I have to find gentleness, patience, and grace while I figure it out. And I have to be consistent with whatever it is I'm doing. I owe him at least those things.

* Finding the beauty in, and cherishing, the ways he is different from me
I think I'm getting better at this, but it's no easy task. In life in general, we like people who are like us. We gravitate toward them in many ways. Yes, I know opposites attract, but in many ways we get uncomfortable once the initial attraction wears off. But like I said, this little boy is teaching me a new way. He is much responsible for the softening of my rough edges, the loosening of my tight reigns, and the rejoicing of my tired soul on days particularly hard.

* Praying for him
A new prayer for Graves is that the Lord will help me figure his little self out. I realized something very ovbious the other day when I was frustrated with him about something. I was thinking "I know him better than anyone on this Earth, I should be able to figure out how to deal with this". But then, I think God pricked my heart and whispered that there was someone, Himself of course, that knows his little heart and mind still better than I. I took me four years to really, really figure out some things about Annie. And, of course there are still moments where things are messy and ugly and I can't wrap my mind around what she needs. But, by in large, things fit in neat little boxes and when a situation occurs, I know exactly what to do. I don't think this is just because she's her and he's him. I think it's partly four years of experience and partly because the older they get (so far!) the easier it is to figure out how they tick. That said, I wrote one time that seeing her play with her little china tea set makes my heart burst with joy in a natural way, but seeing my sweet boy covered in dirt and filty makes it burst in a supernatural way. If it seems like I'm overspiritualizing it, so be it. But I really feel like that was the Holy Spirit working in me. In a similar way, I wouldn't say Annie was easy to figure out (it took me four years!) but she's a lot like me, so it was kind of natural. With Graves, when I figure him out (and I know I will), it will be because of a supernatural grace and the Spirit's work again.

I truly believe that motherhood is a hard and holy work of the absolute best kind. And part of that is being unafraid to be a servant to them. Whether that means the scrubbing the stubborn grime from between their tiny toes or unearthing the hard places in their tiny hearts. It means becoming a person who loves that hour outside when I used to dread it and it means becoming a person who praises tiny accomplishments and affirms seemingly silly emotions. It means joyfully answering questions of everyone when I'm the tiredest of them all and it means filling our days with beautiful sunsets and beautiful books even when I don't feel like getting outside or reading another word. It means, perhaps most of all, when my head hits the pillow, and I'm just too tired to form a coherent sentence, I still pray for guidance for the teaching of and the learning of the both of them.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony

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