May 30, 2013

Partially Untethered

Our kids think they are devious.  And they ARE definitely smart about some things.  However, they are currently in a "no electronics" mode of their own making.  Some child took our iPad last week and hid it in the not-usual place.  The usual place is under the cushions in the family room sofa.  My husband and I have the "Find My Phone" app that allows us to see where our Apple products are located as long as they are turned on and force it it make noise until it is found.  We got the app because I frequently misplace my phone but it works for any Apple product.  We sounded the alarm through "Find My Phone" and heard.....nothing.  The clever child had turned off the iPad so that the app couldn't locate it.  However, what they didn't know is that the application continues sending out a signal so that, when the device is turned on it will eventually make noise AND it will record the time at which it last found the device.  So we went to bed knowing that the iPad would eventually make a sound.  What we didn't plan for is that we would sleep through the event.  So the unknown child quickly turned off the sound at 9:34 pm (according to the app) and at some point, crept downstairs and put it in the usual hiding spot, where my husband found it the next day.  All while my husband and I slept soundly.  So far, kids 2, parents, 1/2.

However, that little trick has caused us parents to reconsider our electronics habits for the kids and has caused this mom to reconsider her use of electronic devices, since our kids are so good at copying us.  So, until the guilty party/parties confesses their "crime", all electronic devices are confiscated and held for ransom in the parent's room and all electronic activities are terminated.  One child started to "investigate" who committed this dastardly deed until I explained to her that, since she was a suspect, her investigation constituted a conflict of interest, which, because she is argumentative, started a whole legal discussion.  The culprit has yet to confess, though it really is only a matter of time before they crack.  We went camping this weekend, which is usually an electronic free zone (if you don't count posting pictures on Facebook as electronic time) and they don't miss that time as much.  But school is almost out and summer is coming, which in this part of the country means that you stay indoors after 9am unless it involves swimming.  Eventually, they will either learn to live without electronics or, driven mad by their electronic-less lifestyle, they will crack.  Bwahahahaha!

For my part, I decided to take Facebook and Pinterest off of my phone so that I have one less distraction from my surroundings.  While we were camping, I used my phone to make a few texts, check email and to write down some of our camping experiences, but that was it.  And let me tell you, it showed me just how Facebook has become an unhealthy habit. Several times over the three days, I went to my phone to check up on Facebook and realized that I couldn't.  Facebook must have missed me, too, because after two days of inactivity, it sent me an email telling me of all the things I was missing (9 notifications and several big stories among my friends!).  Thanks, Facebook...NOT!  And then I started wondering if Facebook missed me more than my kids.  What a sobering thought, even if it probably isn't true.  So even though I missed Facebook on my phone because of the habits I have developed, I can say that I didn't miss the time I was able to spend with my kids watching them play at the campsite and all the reading I was able to do.  It is one small step for momma which hopefully will lead to one giant step for family time.

May 24, 2013

Parenting: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Parenting is REALLY tough.  In the almost 14 years that I have been a parent, I have experienced and demonstrated the good, the bad, and the ugly in parenting.  My brother and sister (in-law) just embarked on that lifetime job when they gave birth to my beautiful, precious niece two months ago.  I had the joy and privilege to spend alone time with my family, including her for part of this week.   And I will be praying for them to have God's strength in the good, bad and ugly times of parenting.

This week, I listened to Paul Tripp talk about anger and the heart issues behind it.  And, as usually happens when I hear God's word applied in my life, I felt totally convicted.  I repented of all the idols in my life that lead to my outbursts of anger at my kids, at my husband and, even at God.  And there was a certain amount of pride that I had to release, too.  But the change I want to happen won't happen without His Spirit giving me His character and undergoing deep-seated, 40+ year-deep habits doesn't happen overnight or with any consistent progress.  And one day this week with my kids proves it:

Morning:  A child is being disrespectful.  When I quietly ask the child if the tone and wording is respectful, the child sulks and gets more disrespectful.  After four more instances in ten minutes, as I feel God's patience welling up in me and His concern for the child's heart issues behind the attitude, I suggest that the child take a few minutes and give God everything that is causing the poor tone and attitude so that He can help change it.  By the end of the lesson, that child's attitude is changed and we have a great day together.  Score!  In this split second, I am an awesome parent.

Afternoon:  We are preparing for a camping excursion, a karate class and our weekly Bible study fellowship simultaneously.  Too many things to do.  My temper is short as we race around to pull everything together.  I pack meals for everyone to eat on the car ride or during karate class (for those participants)  and some snacks for the fellowship.  I pack a cold case with some hummus that should be eating soon, along with eating utensils for the night.  The same Child-With-An-Attitude goes to the car to retrieve the utensils before karate starts.  After the class is over, I go to the back and find the hummus has been sitting out of its cool case for ninety minutes in a 100+ degree car.  I let out a wail and say, "Why can't you kids EVER put ANYTHING away?"  before I catch myself and realize that this is a teeny-tiny issue that affects my pride more than anything else.  Fail!  At this moment, I am a bad parent, though I did manage to get a grip before it became ugly.

The child starts feeling bad and God reminds me what I must do to make it right.  I take a moment to apologize and remind her that it REALLY is a no big deal and that I over-reacted to it.  Both of us calm down quickly and have a great car ride.  Save!  I am a redeemed parent.

And that is a wonderful picture of how God's grace works to help us love His way and redeem a situation when we "love" our way.  This song by the late Rich Mullins is my all time favorite because it perfectly describes the typical Christian walk and helps me to remember that God's grace is available to me in any and every situation.  May you experience His grace as you listen to it.

May 15, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Nana

My mom visited us from Memphis last week.  She wanted to surprise her brother for his 60th, birthday party.  The day she traveled to see us, he called me and tried to call her to tell her that their mother, my Nana, was starting her final descent into what I hoped would be her new life.

We decided to make the trek to Tuscon to see her sooner rather than later, with all my kids in tow so that they could see her for the last time.  It ended up being a beautiful visit.  She recognized my mom and sang to her.  I didn't get to witness much of her visit because one of the kids had to use the facilities, which are at the entrance for visitors.  My mom said that the "J" kids were wonderful with her, holding her hand and telling her they loved her with little encouragement.  Before she left, my mom told Nana how much she loved her and that she was the best mom any child could hope to have.  Nana replied in something that sounded like "I love you, too."  Considering her speech center had been decimated for at least a year, this was a HUGE blessing to both of us.  After all my kids said their good-byes, my mom took them out and Nana and I had alone time.

First of all, I am completely sure that she recognized me for the first time in a LONG time.  I started out telling Nana how much I loved her and she sang back her reply, which wasn't as clear as what she had said to mom.  I asked her if she believed that Jesus died for her sins so that she was right with God.  She nodded her head (blessing upon blessing!).  Then I told her to follow God where He led her next because it was going to be a really good place.  I told her that we would miss her, but in a very short time, we would be joining her.  I then told her that in this new place, she would be given a new body and new clothes and all the things she had lost would be returned to her so that she could do the things that she used to do.  I spent some time remembering all the things that she and I used to do when I was a little girl.  As I recounted all the things we did, I saw a look of clarity and joy in her eyes as she remembered with me (How He loves us, Oh how He loves us!).  All the while, she would reply in songs that I couldn't quite understand.  I prayed for her and told her that I loved her one last time before letting go of her hand.  It was so hard to say good-bye.

Two days later, my uncle called to tell me that she had died.  I am so glad that God blessed that last visit with clarity for her and closure for all of us.

Nana died at the age of 89.  She survived all of her friends, both siblings, one sister who died as a child and a brother who died flying one of his last missions in WWII, as well as two grandsons and two great-grandbabies. She raised three kids largely on her own, even though she was married, because of severe character defects in her husband.  She owned her own home decorating business called "The Inside Shop" in Green Valley for several years.  In her sixties, she took care of her mother, who had senile dementia for many years, delivering papers in the early morning to make extra money while her mom slept so she could be with her during the day when her mom needed more supervision.  She developed a wicked throw, too.   She is survived by two sons and a daughter, three grand-daughters and a grandson, fourteen(?) great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.  Below are pictures, with thanks to my Uncle Jeff, who has kept them and scanned many of them over the last few years.

Nana as a toddler on the left, with her mother, brother, and grandmother
Nana's high school graduation picture

Nana with her three children.  
Nana with her dad at his 50th Wedding Anniversary

I look forward to seeing her in her new body when I join her in heaven, where there will be no more "good-byes".

May 11, 2013

Bringing back the Tribute Series

A long, long time ago, when I was still living in Chicago and had a lot more grandmas who were living, I decided to dedicate some of my blog to giving tribute to those I love before they die, so that they knew exactly how I felt about them before their funeral.  I focused on my parents, step parents and grandparents and eventually my husband (though I am pretty sure he knows how I feel about him).  Today, I want to celebrate my uncle's 60th birthday by giving him a tribute.

Uncle Jeff has a special place in my heart.  He is the sweetest guy I first knew, besides my Bobba Bab (great-grandpa).  When my mom got a divorce, he was in high school.  She started working and going to school part time.  If she couldn't pick me up at day care, he would, and always greet me with his big, wide grin.  I love that grin!

When my mom remarried and they were both working, I spent a lot of summers in Green Valley with Nana, Gigi and Boppa Bab and, of course, Uncle Jeff.  He would take a day off of work to hang out with me and he was the one who taught me how to swim.  He survived divorce and was hopeful enough and loving enough to have a second successful marriage.  He started his own business with his first wife and managed to keep it afloat through the divorce and other challenges for decades.  He helped Nana run a home decorating business when I was a young girl until she sold the business, which is when he started his own.  When Nana wasn't able to work any other jobs, he hired her as part of his business to work part time as a home decoration consultant.  For the last fifteen years, he has been the one to take care of Nana and make the arrangements for her to go into an assisted living facility and later to a nursing home.  He more than anyone else, saw Nana's decline due to Alzheimer's because he visited her so faithfully.  He has shown and continues to show, so much love and devotion for his family and friends.  He is Jesus's love in action.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jeff!  I love you!