Today our family celebrates the one year anniversary of Joseph and Luis coming home. In many ways, it’s hard to believe it’s already been one year. As I reflect back I am amazed at all that God has done.
It is very clear that both of the boys have grown. They’ve grown physically taller. They’ve grown tremendously in their language skills. Their vocabulary has multiplied and they’re in the process of catching up on their learning as they make their way through their first year of kindergarten. The boys are growing in their relationships. This hasn’t always been easy, for any of us, but God is on the move and working mightily.
For me, lately I’ve realized the miracles that God is working in my own heart. The attachment process has been more difficult than I would have expected, but God has proven to be so very faithful in the midst of it all.
Lately God has been asking me a very simple question:
Danny, are you willing to give the boys what they need?
Sounds super simple, doesn’t it? And it is, it really is. However, I’ve figured out a way to make this tougher than it should be. I’ve allowed my own needs and my selfish desire to get in the way and cloud my decisions. I’m so grateful that God continues to offer His mercy and grace to me so that I, in turn, can offer it to my boys. The Holy Spirit is coming alive in me more and more and that is what allows me to give the boys what they need…love, laughter, grace, direction, second chances…
We are a family of seven…and we choose to celebrate today!
Yesterday morning my family sat down together at 8 AM, as we regularly do. This is the time of day that we pray together and take a look at the calendar to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands what’s expected of each person for the day’s activities.
I began our short discussion with the statement: “Today is a normal day.”
My wife quickly chimed in and said, “No, I don’t want today to be normal.”
Wow! I quickly perceived what she was really saying. You see, lately the norm around our home has included pesting, complaining, arguing, fighting, lying, and all sorts of other behaviors consistent with selfishness.
To be honest, it’s exhausting for my wife and I to be on our game as parents with this being the norm. We long for the day when normal for our family is seeing our kids choose to be a blessing to each other, encourage one another, choose first time obedience, and pursue peace. We certainly have glimpses of this from each of our children from time to time, but it’s far from being the norm.
As we concluded our time in prayer together, I took a moment to remind us that choosing to move beyond what has become normal for us is not something that we can do on our own. On our own we choose to be selfish. We each desperately need to walk in the Spirit if we want to see the fruit of the Spirit on display. So we began to pray and each of us invited the Spirit to come alive in us and to help us in specific ways.
My youngest and oldest children each asked Jesus to help them to focus. Another asked Jesus to help him listen. The others became aware that they needed Jesus to help them resist fighting and pursue peace.
Here’s to following Jesus into a better than normal day!
Last night, while watching an episode of Parenthood, I was reminded how important it is for me to not only invite my kids to come with me when I’m running errands and help me with various projects around the house, but to choose to join my kids right where they are, doing what they’re doing, expressing excitement when they’re excited.
Sometimes this is easy. When one of my kids saves their money and is able to purchase something they’ve had their eye on for some time, I can quickly join in their excitement and express how proud I am to see them save and patiently wait to make their purchase. When my oldest son uses his imagination to create something totally new from his stock pile of Legos, I can share in his joy and spend time taking in what he has created.
However, I have a much more difficult time getting jazzed when my youngest son takes the time to find me in my office to show me a pair of jeans that his Mom just bought him at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. He was absolutely thrilled to have such a treasure and proceeded to skip his way out of my office with a big smile on his face. Despite his obvious joy and complete happiness, for some reason my first response wasn’t to jump up and down and pass out high-fives and exploding fist bumps.
But I want it to be.
I want to put myself in their shoes, no matter how small they may be, and join them in their excitement. I want to choose to get pumped about whatever it is they bring to me, no matter how big or small it might seem.
When it comes to my kids, it’s not about proving to them that I’m an adult and I’m above these things. They don’t need to be reminded of that. What they need from me is genuine interest in the things that they find important.
And who knows, perhaps I’ll learn to not take myself so seriously and enjoy these moments to become like a child again. I can’t imagine I’ll come to the end of my life wishing I hadn’t taken the time to become the fool with my kids over their new pair of pants or that coloring project that is so very colorful, and yet completely elusive when it comes to knowing what it is.
Here’s to joining our kids right where they are.
My youngest daughter saw the quote below somewhere recently and immediately thought of me. She took the time to create a nice little poster for me to hang in my office. She’s so cute! I’m so glad she can understand how exhausting it is for me to be awesome at following of Jesus, being a great husband, dad, friend, and co-worker.
As a dad, my hope is that she learns how to depend on God as Father and one who doesn’t ever grow weary from being awesome. I pray that every glimpse of God throughout her life adds to her view that our God is an AWESOME GOD!
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9 NLT)
As much as yesterday was very much a day of rest for our family where we enjoyed playing games, laughing, watching football and catching up on some things, it was also a day where my wife and I felt spent due to what seemed like hours and hours encouraging peace among our kids.
I’m amazed, as I look back on the day, how draining it is to work for peace. Believe you me, it’s definitely worth it every time I pursue peace, but it’s no easy task. I’m extremely grateful for the reminder that when I choose to be a peacemaker that I’m called a child of God. I guess it’s kind of like that phrase, “like father, like son.”
To be honest, I’m not sure that peace won the day, but I do know that sleep, which is a form of peace, became a reality in the evening hours. 🙂
I’m so very excited and proud of my oldest daughter for her creativity and desire to encourage people to Walk Home Happy.
In the recent years my wife and I have taken time to intentionally discuss ritesof passage ideas for our kids. There have been lots of books and Internet posts available for us to learn from. As we continue to figure these things out for our kids, one of the ideas we have is for them to start or become a part of some sort of a small business venture that allows them to use their talents to bless and serve others.
In many ways this hardly seems fair to them. I mean, I can’t imagine myself doing the same thing when I was a teen, but times have changed and the Internet has provided so many incredible options. Plus, since our family has embraced home schooling, we are able to massage our schedule a bit to make these kinds of things work.
Walk Home Happy was our daughter’s vision, and with a little help from Mom and Dad, she’s learning tons of valuable lessons about business, economics, customer service, and so much more.
When you have a moment or two, take a look at what she’s created and how she’s helping people to Walk Home Happy.
What rights of passage ideas have you tried with your kids?
As with every family, our family is growing up. The kids are getting taller and taller and soon enough our oldest will become s teen. But more than growing up, I desire to see my kids mature as followers of Jesus who declare a different way to live life wherever they’re lives are stationed.
The image above is from our home and represents many of the lessons that our family is learning together. We do a few of these things well at times, but the majority of them are still very difficult for us.
“We do loud really well” certainly applies to us. Sometimes the loud is because of yelling and sometimes it’s an outburst of laughter.
“We do grace” is not what we’re known for most of the time, but God hasn’t given up on us and continues to be our example by extending huge doses of grace to us every day.
More than anything, we are becoming people who do these kinds of things, and perhaps one day, with God’s help, we’ll do them well.