Monday, June 27, 2011

How to teach repentance

Many family and friends know that my son is quite the literal child.  Something either is or isn't.

Lately, he has really been motivated by what he is learning at church.  He'll talk about it repeatedly throughout the week, explaining it to his little sister, his classmates (or so I'm told by their parents at birthday parties) and to us.  I think he is at that age when the stories from the Bible are incredibly vivid, and exciting, sometimes adventurous or mysterious.  I'm just happy it rivals his two year obsession with Scooby Doo.  This past Sunday he learned about Jonah and the worm (worm, not whale Jonah 4:5-11).   The lesson from the day taught him about the word "repent" and what it means.  A great start to the week...

Tonight, my little man had a rough night.  It could be that being without Daddy most of the month is really starting to take its toll on all of us.  I know I've not been as patient and all-forgiving as I should be as a mother so why wouldn't it also be the case for this almost six year old little boy of ours?  It doesn't matter what the problem was but the result was that he had a consequence for some repeated behavior tonight.  He had multiple warnings and then I had to lower the boom and he lost one of his three books at bedtime.  The wailing, the tantrum, the screaming commenced and when he finally stopped, we read his two books and began our nighttime prayers. We always follow the prayer outline of "thank you God for...forgive me God me God with...I praise you God for..."  His prayer was first "I'm sorry that I disobeyed" but quickly followed with "please, God, remove my consequence and let me have my third book back" and despite my best efforts to talk with him what repenting means and that it is not about regaining what we lost or want back, it just didn't sink in.  I'm blanking on how best to approach this.  Alongside what I hope is a growing relationship with God, I want him to learn to accept the inevitable possibility of consequences between himself and peers and sometimes teachers without being on full tilt temper tantrum mode for the rest of the day following an incident.  We all mess up sometimes and sometimes we have to have a time out or consequence.  How can I get him to cope with this aspect of life?

So moms out there that may be struggling with the same challenge, any thoughts or words of advice?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Awkward Church Directory Picture

Recently, our church announced that a new church pictorial directory was to be produced. We have been attending our church, Mountain Brook Community Church, for over a year now and recently made the decision to formally join. It seemed fitting that we should make every effort to present ourselves as children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation, Philippians 2:15. Of course, we are full of faults, inside. We are very imperfect, I mean inside and out, and for that reason, desperately need God's saving grace in our lives. And by grace, I mean this mama REALLY needs that grace. For here is story of how our church directory picture might end up on

Our church directory picture appointment was originally scheduled for, Saturday, April 30th. For anyone who watched national news that weekend, you know that the Birmingham area was devastated by a series of tornadoes on Thursday, April 27th. One of those early morning tornadoes severely damaged our church (see post below) so church pictures were cancelled and rescheduled.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Philip and I decided to take the family to our local favorite pizzeria, New York Pizza for dinner. While waiting for our pizza, Helen decided she really wanted a tiger tattoo from the vending machine. Daddy gave in and allowed her to try for it. Instead of a tiger (the tiger propped on a mound of human skulls, by the way), the grim reaper tattoo came out, prompting an all out temper tantrum from Helen who did not understand why she could not be guaranteed the tiger tattoo. At this point I gave in after an exhausting day and walked over to the vending machine, put in two more quarters, said this prayer "Lord, if you will just let the next tattoo be a tiger, it would really help soothe my nerves and make me a patient parent right now and for the rest of this evening." And poof - God was merciful and granted the tiger tattoo.

Once home, Helen and Philip gleefully asked me to put the tattoos on their arms which I did, but not without making it clear that we would have to remove the tattoos prior to our church directory picture three days later. I also removed the mound of human skulls from Helen's tiger tattoo because a tiger by itself as a tattoo is so much classier on a three year old little girl's arm. I decided to let the scythe wielding grim reaper tattoo on Philip's arm remain in its original form. I just couldn't figure out how to remove the gruesome death symbolism from the herald of death himself.

Three days later, five minutes before our church directory picture appointment, I realize I have forgotten the appointment. I toss two kids and a husband in the van, and we make it just in time. And so, charming son in white polo and seersucker pants, beautiful daughter in smocked dress complete with bow in hair, and two smiling parents arrange themselves on the picture stools when to my horror I realize that the children's tattoos are still very visible with no way to hide them. The photographer promises she will digitally remove the tattoos so I remove myself from the ceiling and smile.

Last week the freebie church directory picture was waiting for me in the foyer. To my horror, this is the picture that was enclosed.

Need a closer look at their arms?

Lovely isn't it? However, it should be noted that a quick phone call to the church office was made. A very friendly photographer who remembered me (who wouldn't!) said she will for sure digitally removed those tattoos prior to the printing of the MBCC church directory.

This might go down as one of my top five parenting failures and more proof of why the Junior League just ain't ready for me.