Thursday, February 24, 2011

Parenting-Reaching Deep into Their heart

I came across the following letter this evening. It left me wanting only further to know the hearts of our children. We desire for them to know how much God loves them and we love them. It is worth reading and I would love to hear your comments.

Saddest Letter I’ve Ever Read
By caryschmidt | February 22, 2011

Parents and Pastors—Please Read!!

I received this letter from a young lady last week—a Bible college student who grew up in a Christian home and Christian school. I believe it’s the saddest letter I’ve ever read and right on the mark for so detailing the experiences of so many young Christians. I asked her permission to post it. Please read. Her words will greatly challenge you as a parent or pastor:

Dear Pastor Schmidt,

A few years ago, I read your books Hook, Line, and Sinker, Discover Your Destiny, and Life Quest. I found them to be extremely encouraging and instructive. These books showed me that not only do you have a real heart for young people, but you also understand us well. I am writing to ask you to consider writing a book to our parents and youth workers. Let me explain.

I am a junior at a well-known Christian college. I grew up in highly respected “fundamental independent Baptist” churches, and went to excellent Christian schools. My father has been a Christian worker since before I was born. One would think that my testimony would go something like this:

“I was saved when I was about 5 and I had dedicated my life to God and I have been growing a lot and serving Him and now I’m studying to serve Him full time.” But that isn’t my story. Actually, though I did make a profession of faith when I was very young, I didn’t get saved until I was 17. Since I was 12 and now on into college I have struggled with “serious” issues. And I found out when I went to college that I am not the only “good kid” who is or has struggled with or is still struggling with serious stuff. We struggle with issues like eating disorders, depression and suicide, cutting, pornography, gender identity, homosexuality, drugs, drinking, immorality, and the list could go on. We listen to “wild” music, we idolize pop culture’s heroes, we watch dirty sitcoms. We have no discrimination in our entertainment, dress, or any aspect of our lifestyle. Obviously, I’m generalizing our problems—you would not find that every Christian young person from a conservative background struggles with all of these issues, and praise God, some of us do not struggle with any of these issues.

My point is that the problems that are supposed to be bad kid’s problems belong to us too. Unfortunately, our parents and youth workers don’t know that we struggle with these things and they don’t know what to do with us when they find out. Quite frankly, I believe that if you grabbed the average Christian school teacher or youth worker and asked them, “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?” they wouldn’t know what to say.

My point is not simply that they don’t know what we struggle with or how to deal with it. I think there is a pretty simple reason why “good” kids struggle with such serious stuff. And that there is a solution. At the risk of being blunt, I’m going to be blunt.

Our parents did not spend time teaching us to love God. Our parents put us in Sunday Schools since K4. Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity. They made sure we went to good Christian colleges. They had us sing in the choir, help in the nursery, be ushers, go soulwinning. We did teen devotionals, and prayed over every meal. We did everything right. And they made sure that we did.

But they forgot about our hearts. They forgot that the Bible never commanded the church to teach children about God and His ways. That responsibility was laid at the feet of our fathers. Unfortunately, our fathers don’t have time for us. They put us where we are surrounded by the Bible. But they didn’t take time to show us that God was important enough to them to tell us personally about Him. So to us, Christianity has become a religion of externals. Do all the right stuff, and you’re a good Christian. So, some of us walk away from church. Some of us stay in church and fill a pew. Many of us struggle with stuff that our parents have no idea about because they hardly know us.

I think these problems stem from first, our detachment from our parents, and second from our misunderstandings about the essence of Christianity—a relationship, not a list of rules. I worry that many young people like me are not even saved because of their misunderstandings about Christianity.

I know that this has not been a well articulated treatise, but it comes from my heart. If you are able to help us and our families, we would be so grateful. I realize that probably, there is no way to fix the fact that kids my age are detached from our parents or to straighten out the crazy stuff that we struggle with. The alienation is fixed, the scars are permanent. I know our situation is not hopeless. God is at work in my life and my generation, among those of us who have struggled and are struggling. But maybe our younger siblings can have some help that we never had. Maybe you can write a book for our parents that will grab their attention and help them see that this is serious—that their kids need them, desperately.

I guess I’ve run out of things to say. I must say I’m a little hesitant to share my name with you because that attaches me with my parents, who are, by the way, good people. Thanks for everything you have already done to help Christian teens and their families. I’m eager to see what else God will do through you.


(Name Removed to Protect Anonymity)

h/t to Cary Schmidt

Yarning and Felting

Here is the link below for you to get instructions and inspiration:
Felt flower tutorial

Felt has taken over our house. A couple of my friends introduced me to felt flower making and now we have all gone bananas. It is easy, fun, and addicting. I have really enjoyed the headbands which has now inspired me to make all sorts of different styles with feathers, pearls, and diamonds.
This wreath isn't finished in the picture, but you get the point.

Youtube has several tutorials for great headband ideas. You can't see in this picture, but I hot glued a pearl at the base of this one. Pretty.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Black Out- A Lenten Proposal

I've been mulling over for sometime now what I want to do for lent. I LOVE lent. I NEED lent. Every year, I always have such grand plans to cleanse my soul and rid my inner being once and for all of something I am struggling with.

I was speaking with some friends last night and we were talking about the intense pull of the computer some time for hours, often times for fifteen or so minutes, but whatever it may be think of what we could be putting into our spiritual lives without this continual distraction.

I read in the Magnificat yesterday the following,

"So I advise you to love nothing except Him. For He is so desirable that if you have him, you will not be able to desire anything else."

Also, I found this gem in Matthew Kelley's book "Rediscovering Catholicism":

"When our children know more about teen pop-idols than they do about Jesus Christ, it is time for us to reassess the place and priority our faith has in our lives."

I translated the following to my life. When I spend more time on-line than I do with Christ, I need to reassess my life. When I spend more time reading different blogs or websites than I spend time reading about Jesus Christ, I need to reassess my life. When I spend time comparing my life to others to see how I am doing over comparing my life to Christ's life, I need to reassess my life. When I have no trouble spending an hour or so on a blog post, but haven't spent an hour with Jesus first, I REALLY need to reassess my life. When I will check my email just "one more time" before going to bed over saying "one more prayer", I need to reassess my life.

My life is out of order. I am not involved in immoral things, but simply put again, my life is out of order. I was telling my friend Kristi today that we are to experience Lent in a way that changes our lives. We are to have a metanoia. What does metanoia mean? The definition is as follows:
a transformative change of heart; especially : a spiritual conversion. Greek, from metanoiein to change one's mind, repent.

I need this. I crave this. I want this. I know the only way possible for this to happen this lent is to step away from the number one thing in my life that is distracting me and keeping me from Christ literally, physically, and spiritually. It is the computer.

I first thought of not doing facebook. Then, I decided to not read other blogs, websites, etc., but would have John check my email and then relay any information that was important. Finally, I decided that I am literally unplugging the computer. It will be a complete black out.

My mind has been occupied all day of what this will entail and the thoughts I had regarding the issue is that we only have goodness to gain. What will we miss?

For several years, my mother and I gave up calling each other all during lent. We talk multiple times every day so this was excruciating. We also had another stipulation. You had to write the other person a hand-written letter every day to tell the other of the events of the day, what we are learning from this phone fast, other thoughts, and just small talk in general. I still have these letter treasures. I loved getting the mail every day.

Just think of the wonderful advantages for this proposal. More letters will be written, more phone calls will be made, more thinking/creating for ourselves will be done instead of turning to certain blogs for inspirational ideas, more sleep will be had, more books will be read, more holy hours will be said, more talking will be done, more playing with children, less comparison, less feeling inadequate, more prayer time which will replace screen time. Tons and tons of reflection. I can honestly not think of one draw back.

Lent only lasts 47 days (technically) so what will be lost? There is nothing so urgent that cannot be put on hold for these 47 days. We have a good 2 1/2 weeks to get organized. Let people know that you will not be on the computer so if they need to tell you something, they must call, come over, or write you a letter. I know several people who do banking on-line, so you might have to make a few visits to your bank to get that months statement, but remember it is only 47 days, this can be done.

I know I do most of my communicating with friends via email so one might think that they don't have the time to call so and so for this or that. Just think of the time saved by not being on-line. I am sure it doesn't compare to a few phone calls here and there. Some might be worried about keeping up their blog and recording certain events. This is were I plan to journal and then transfer the information after Easter and even if I don't get the event down, really was it that crazy important?

We have a Catholic church right across the street from our home. One would think that one would visit the Son of God every day because He lives across the street. Well, that little diddy is about to change. I want to visit Him every day. I want to replace screen time with getting to know Christ. Shame on me for making the computer a bigger priority than my spiritual life. Shame on me for not walking across the street every night before sitting down to the computer. Shame on me for not picking up a spiritual book and deepening my faith before getting on-line. Shame on me for turning to the computer first when I have a child worry instead of walking over and asking God what to do.

I want to have a conversion. My brother Andrew and I were talking the other day about life's "game changers." You know, the times we look back upon our lives and can say that a certain event, certain book, certain conversation literally changed the course of our lives. I want this lenten experience to be a game changer.

Andrew told me a beautiful story. I called him last week and we were chatting like usual and I asked him if ever worried about losing one of his children to sickness. I had been to the Pediatrician with Clairvaux that day and he (the doctor) wanted to send us on to a Pediatric Pulmonologist to have her throat/lungs looked at. It probably will involve a scope, an MRI, and possibly surgery because of narrowing of the subglottic region of her throat. I cried all week. The thought of my darling baby in surgery just does me in. I do not trust, but I want to trust. Anyway, he said he doesn't worry about losing his children, but he does worry about providing for his family. He said that it consumes him sometimes and even brings him to tears.

So, he then told me his remedy. He said at his holy hour, he literally walks up to the altar and lays his worries on the altar. Physically with his arms, he lays his worries down and says to God, "They are yours." Wow.

Then, he told me that his bills were really tight this past month and they literally didn't have enough money so guess what he did? He said, "Lindsay, I made myself write a big fat tithing check to show God how much I trust Him." That blew me away. THAT was a game changer for me.

I want to have that faith with my children. I want to lay my worries physically on the altar of sacrifice and say to God, "They are yours." I want to be able to say when I am worried about Clairvaux, "Lord, she is yours, not mine." In order to get to this point, I need to spend more time with Christ. I need a conversion of my current way of thinking. I need to pray more. I need to sit more with Him to even have those conversations.

I write to you out there in blog land to take this challenge with me. Let us do this together. Let us see how much we can grow. Let us see how far we can be stretched to show ourselves how much we need Christ and nothing else. So, I return to the beginning of this post.

Are we so full of Him, that we need nothing else?
Do we know more about Christ than we know about anything else in our lives? Do we spend the majority of our time getting to know Him more or other distractions?

Please join me. Won't it be wonderful to read, talk, and write about our experiences after Lent? Won't it be so refreshing at the end? Won't it be worth it?

To me, nothing is more worth it. Let us prepare now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#1 current favorite daily to-do...Get Clairvaux up from a nap

Heart melt every time! She is ALWAYS glad to see me. I apologize, but unless you are a mother only will you understand what I mean. I enjoy getting her up everyday like it is the first time to walk into the room.

There is nothing like the first time walking in to find them sitting or better yet standing. Why do we delight in such things? I hear her often playing so I will crack the door to watch. I tell my mom she just does tri-pods over and over. I see her stand on her head. Sit down. Crawl to the other end. Stand on her head. Sit down. over and over. I wish I could wake up this way. peaceful.

Where is Vianney?

I am grateful for finding funny in the ordinary everyday life with children. They play so cute because usually they are serious about what they are doing that it is so funny. For example, the picture below. I walked into the room and I hear, "Mom, can you find us?" (giggle, giggle) I laughed out loud because this is what I see on the couch. Let's see, I wonder where they are? They would giggle because they really thought they were hiding from me.

Oh Nelly, so shocked I found them.

So, they proceed to have me leave the room so they can hide again. I come into the room and ask, "Where is Rose?" Do you see the pointy finger? Be still, my heart.

Valentine's Day 2011

C-Vo has entered the stage where she allows no one but me to hold her. It drives my sisters completely batty. This is what she does if anyone takes her from me (and then goes into complete hyperventilation mode). Dominic told me that this is his favorite thing she does. "Mom, I love when Clairvaux looks up at me." I love how he delights in her. He usually asks me every day,"Why do we have the cutest baby...I mean...other babies are really cute, but Clairvaux is the cutest."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fancy Nancy

She really did learn to sit up and crawl in one day. I had one other child who conquered such challenges. It really is adorable. First, her little tush goes in the air and then lands promptly on her back feet and before you know it, little ball of baby sitting here and there.

I told John that I love getting her up in the morning because usually I see a little nape of the neck facing the door and she is bent over examining her pajamas or something intricate of the sorts. I closed the door and sat watching her for a while. Try it.

This is her show-off pose. She gets lots of cheering and then she arches like a seal. Smooch to that cuteness.

I said yesterday "Didn't we just have her?" Why is she sitting up in her bed? I felt like pushing her down, but didn't. It all goes way too fast for me.

These are the videos that only the mother of the child and the child's aunts who live in Florida love to watch over and over. Thank you very much.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who told her to strike a pose?

Zellie is currently going through a pose phase. I've noticed in every picture we take of her she is posing. Quite cute.

She started Montessori a couple weeks ago and it has been a riot. At the school, an older woman by the name of Sylvia is the Spanish teacher. I can tell Zellie is really enjoying getting to know Sylvia. She speaks only Spanish to the students. When I am dropping them off, I often hear under Zellie's breath "There's Sylvia." She isn't talking to me, just to herself. I wait everyday for Zellie to run up to the door and I hear the following,
Sylvia: "Hola, Zellie!" (happy to see Zellie)
Zellie: "Hola, Sylvia." (Serious intonation) She won't let on that she likes her.
Yesterday, I heard talk going on in the back seat about Sylvia's yellow shirt. They must have like it.

As one can notice from the pictures, the older three girls started ballet class this past month. Did I really have to do this to myself? 100% for my pure enjoyment. They are precious. Zellie is over the top precious. She loves being with the girls and we have to peel the leotard off her most days because she lives in it. I have noticed a new dance move happening in the living room. Lots and lots of "flying" turns with a certain 3 year old head being dramatically thrown back upon landing. Hmmmmm.

Rose is very concerned about Zellie's leotard every day. We told the girls that a lady doesn't show her shoulders. Of course, Rose would be the one to remind me and Zellie that she shouldn't wear her leotard because her shoulders are showing. I can only imagine Rose's horror at Zellie's above pictured swimwear.

Did you notice whose legs joined them?

Next year, we will have another set of legs when Clairvaux is able.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Emotions of a Mother

I have had so many conversations with women about certain emotional areas of motherhood. We can all agree that so many emotions go into the massive job of raising souls. Of course, we find laughter, contentment, frustrations, joy, growth, and love. I do believe there are many other emotions that women don't talk about much that are normal and part of our "job description." I believe these that are left "untalked about" lead many women to feel inadequate or that they aren't a good mother. I've mentioned so many times before the blessing I've been given of so many holy and experienced mothers. They have shared with many the normalcy of the wide variety of emotions.

Upon further reflection, I believe God lets us experience these emotions so we have yet another opportunity to share in His Calvary and grow deeper into union with him.

1. Loneliness: As my very content mother at home put it, "The loneliness of motherhood is deafening." We are at home with our little ones making life changing, life altering decisions EVERY day. We are the ones to decide what is best for them and pick for them the things that will affect their entire lives. We are the ones watching a child with a raging fever and trying to decide if we should call the doctor now or NOW. We are the ones with a little one pulling at our leg for attention and we are well aware we haven't given them much attention today, but dinner needs to be cooked, laundry needs to be folded, the bathrooms need to be scrubbed, the baby needs to be held, and we are trying to lose that extra 15lbs, so our thoughts are preoccupied with so many different thoughts. We are at home all day with no one above our knee cap to talk to and that lends itself to loneliness. We are directing traffic all day and yearn for a fellow officer to be with us to ease the heaviness of the job.
I recall an incident once when John was away camping with Dominic. At bedtime, I had let the girls talk for a while, but went back to the room to tell them it was time to be quiet. I said, "If I hear one more word, you will have to sleep in another room by yourself." Torture for someone who is use to having siblings to sleep with. So, long and behold, I walk down the hall and hear some chit-chatting. So, I turn right back around and calmly ask the offender to grab her pillow and blanket and escorted her into the other room. I tucked her in, told her I loved her, and said good night. She was devastated and afraid. I knew she was afraid, but I knew that if I didn't stick to my guns, the behavior would repeat and she would know that I didn't mean business. I remember crying that night. I hate those decisions. I didn't want to make her afraid, but I don't want a disrespectful child who doesn't listen to our requests. I remember feeling lonely that night especially since John was gone and not there to affirm or tell me that I was/wasn't doing the right thing by sticking with my decision. I believe Satan tempts mothers at home with thoughts of "Other women are content, why aren't you. Everyone else knows how to handle these situations, why can't you. All women at home are happy, why aren't you? No one has ever lost their patience like you."

2. A deep desire for friendship which is usually accompanied by the feeling of "not having any close friends."
Oh, how I could write forever on this issue. My wise mother again said, "Mothers need other mothers." No matter how close John and I are, I still yearn for friendship with other women and mothers to talk with, share with, bounce ideas with, cry with, figure life out with, go on girl walks with to talk about girl things with. I think most women are tempted with the feeling of "I don't have any close friends, you know like I did in high school." With children, life is sporadic and doesn't lend itself to the time needed to build close, womanly friendship. We are wearing so many different hats, trying to keep our own homes afloat and then to have the time to nurture a relationship usually isn't there, but the desire is there. I believe Satan tempts us with thoughts of "Everybody has friends, but you."

3. Comparison: This one is a real trap for mothers. There is nothing like being with other mothers and your little one just doesn't quite compare. I remember how well Dominic knew his saints and we attended a boy's club. The leader of the club asked the boys which was their favorite saint. I pridefully thought he would belt out some awesome saint and guess what he said. WINNIE THE POOH. Yes, you heard me. Winnie the Pooh. He knew well he wasn't a saint, so why did he say that?? That was awesome!
I recall another incident when the kids entered their first track meet. I was so excited to see them run and compete. Due to the fact that this was our first athletic event with the kids, I didn't expect much, but also knew they would do great because John and I are athletic peeps. Wrong again. ALL of our kids got DEAD last and some even cried while running. Wow. I was so taken aback by my reaction. All the way to the track meet, I am saying the usual "Do your best." Well, they had the time of their lives while running their little hearts out. I remember Dominic thinking he got first place (he really got last). He came up to me smiling and said, "Looks like we bought the right shoes, I won my race." gulp. What is wrong with me? Snap out of it. I am smiling at him, but my stomach wants to throw up. I was so embarrassed. I learned so much about myself that day. It was such a day of growth. Here I was thinking that all we want from them was their best. That is exactly what they gave us. I really had to do some soul searching on that one. Once again, I was Pridefully comparing. So, off to the confessional I went, and began again.
Mothers are CONSTANTLY comparing, sizing up, and gauging their child because really it is reflection upon how well WE are doing as their mother. There is no other gauge of our efforts than to see how they compare to others. What a terrible trap! It stifles so much joy and robs us of seeing the individuality of each child and helping them progress into whom God made them to be not who God made them to be like as in other kids their age. Comparison leads to discontentment and anxiousness. It makes my heart unsettled and needy. One of satan's titles is "The King of Immediacy." Meaning, we must fix it now, do something about it now because our child might be left behind.

4. Boredom:
The monotony of our work leads to boredom. We say the same things over and over, do the same things over and over, clean the same things over and over. I mention this only because I think women begin to feel bored and start looking for fulfillment outside of the home when in reality it is just part of the job description. The more we can be distracted from our homes, the more our home life will start to fall apart. The discipline of the monotony is so good for our souls. It is refining and purifying. God purifies us through motherhood. At times, I am very aware that I really am not a key factor in this relationship only God is using these circumstances of the every day to get my soul to heaven. When I separate the two, I am free. When I realize that it is God who is parenting them, not I, I am free. He is using me in this relationship to work out my bumps and bruises. Boredom is part of the job, but the answer to this emotion is not outside of the home. It is a shifting of the thoughts and passions realizing how good all the emotions are for our soul. We can go deeper into union with Him.

5. Just can't keep up/ Just don't add up
We are usually blessed for our own good and humility with a friend who seemingly "just has it together." The kind that every thing they do from their kids, their dogs, their grass, their soap dispensers, their meals, everything just goes well and has an extra little fairy glimmer to it. We, on the other hand, are so proud of ourselves for making our bed this morning, showering and even applying a layer of eyeshadow. Awesome. They usually arrive at our doorstep by 8:30 dressed, all their housework is completed and were just in the neighborhood "dropping off fresh cinnamon rolls" because, and they "can't stay long" because their yoga class starts in 30 minutes. Most days like this, I see God winking at me. Days like this also make me reflect upon who He made me to be and see my own gifts and not compare. Some things just are. I was tempted for a long time with the thought that if I just stayed up late enough to prepare for our homeschooling days everything would go smoothly. I would then be so hard on myself for wanting time to just be with John, or go to be early, or sleep in later than I should. My Aunt told me to stop that immediately. She told me that we can't forget our humanness. We are not robots and are not made to be robots. Don't fall into the temptations of pushing harder.

Once again, I cheer you on! Nothing is more consoling to know that what we are feeling is normal. After I realize what is normal, I then begin to move forward past the emotion. Isn't that all we are looking for? Here's to the reaching of our full potential as an individual mother designed by God to parent these specific children all in the realm of eternity! What freedom!

I read this quote today that said in perfectly for me:
"I wished to have many children so that I could raise them for Heaven." St. Zelie