miles to go…

snippets from the zellner family

Having a party… February 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 11:25 pm
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We have been partying like it is 1999 in our house.  Emma turned 8 on Sunday and we have enjoyed it all week 🙂

   

Lucy and I ate with Emma at her school on Friday. We took doughnuts to the class. That was the day that they announced her birthday over the intercom.  She was super excited about it being her turn for that.

  

After school, Emma had her birthday party.  We took two friends and Olivia to paint pottery.  They had a great time; however, their clumsy mother broke a piece of pottery and had to pay an extra $15 for this event 🙂

We ate at Mellow Mushroom after that and had a great time.  Since it was a traveling art party, I made the girls rainbow cake in a jar. They were very easy to carry and fun to look at.

  

The next day, Grammy and Bill came to see us!

  

Lots of great visiting time and adults to pay attention to each little one.

Sunday was her actual birthday.  Emma was talking to a relative on the phone that day and I could tell that she had asked her what her favorite part of the day had been so far.  She answered,”Going to church. I love getting to go to church.” How thankful I am for a place that my children love and for people who welcome them and love them.

Eric’s brother and his family happened to be in town and came by to see us that afternoon and we had another little party.

Today she went to school and came home to find my dad and Marian here! It was a beautiful day outside so we watched the kids ride bikes and play.  We ate out together and she received lots of cool “crafting” presents.  She will be busy for a long time with those.  Tomorrow Eric’s parents are coming and we will wrap up this party palooza that we have going on. Thankful to be near enough to celebrate with our families. Thankful to have families that want to see us. Thankful for my spunky, passionate, independent, creative child who makes me look hard at my own heart, who tears up when her heart is touched, who pushes the boundaries only to learn that they will not move and she must grow and mature to survive, who is inspired to act when she has a thought.  Happy Birthday Emma Frances.

 

Are children really a blessing? February 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 12:58 pm
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According to God’s word, they are. Psalm 127:3 says,”Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

We see it in the Old Testament.  Esau sees his brother Jacob and notes how many women and children are with him. “And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
(Genesis 33:5 ESV)

We see Jesus commend them in the New Testament to the Scribes and Pharisees who are outraged that the children are calling out truth about Jesus. “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
(Matthew 21:15-16 ESV)

We see Jesus welcome them to his presence and bless them. “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

What does it look like to welcome children in our lives? How do we show that they are a blessing to us as the Lord has said they are? They can be messy. They argue. They can be disrespectful. They can cause huge messes.  They can disobey (often). They can refuse authority and not submit. They can need our attention so much that we can’t focus on other things.  They require much.

So much of this teaching is about our mindset about children.  Do we welcome them as blessings? Do we include them in the fabric of our time with the Lord.  Or do we see them as a hinderance to our time? Do we see them as interrupting our work or interrupting our nice grown up  environment.  Do we easily grow frustrated with what they require? Do we find ourselves wondering when someone will teach those kids to act better, to behave better, to be quieter?

We all have heard of eateries that have banned children 6 and under, allowing for enjoyment for the other patrons.  We must be very careful how we see these rules.  We can start to think that they apply to every area of our lives- even our covenant communities that we worship in.

Maybe the very fact that they require much is a blessing too.  My heart is revealed to me more in parenting and my relationship with my children than any other area of my life.  They show me my selfishness, they are used by God to help me see my idols, they cause me to rely on Him and His sovereignty when I fear for them or their futures, they make me evaluate what I want for them truly- just good behavior? or do I want tender hearts to God’s word?  Do I want children who obey perfectly the first time? or do I want children who see their need for a Savior and who know how to repent and forgive?  Do I want to not be embarrassed by how they act? or do I want to walk the road beside them leading them in truth and grace?

Oh, children are a blessing.  I remember that I am a CHILD of God.  With all that implies- I behave just as they do and I am thankful for a Father who welcomes children (messy, argumentative, restless, rebellious) children to him and TEACHES us patiently and faithfully to grow in knowledge and truth.  Thank heaven that our Father doesn’t “ban” messy children from his table.

 

How we win (and lose) February 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 11:50 am
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I had the joy of taking my oldest to a dance competition a couple of weeks ago.  I truly mean joy because it was a wonderful time of focusing on her, spending time with other mothers that I love, watching fantastic routines, and learning more and more about how people tick. I was very thankful for the dance company that we go to- modesty is celebrated, age-appropriate moves and costumes are so noticeable, and technique is emphasized.  Olivia could see what a difference it makes to have teachers that lead with that kind of vision.

What did strike me was how we respond to our children during competitions.  We have fertile ground during these times to work on their worldviews (and our own!) by processing these events in light of who God is, who we are in Christ, and where we live.

What I mean is that when we win, we give God the glory for allowing us the chance to go, for providing the funds for it, for the ability to dance.  We remember that everyone worked hard on their dances and we are grateful that we were able to do our best. We remember that awards are fun to have, but they are temporary.  Next week’s competition could have a different outcome. There is no room for pride, only gratitude.

When we lose, there is also tough ground to walk on- we must help our children process this too in light of those very same things.  We were not cheated out of a victory, we were not wrongly beaten by our opponent, we don’t tear down the other competitors to make our children feel better.  We must help them accept the outcome without fostering a victim mentality.  If they did their best, we are thankful for their work. We praise what we see in them.  We acknowledge God’s sovereignty and we appreciate what our competitors can do too.

My child did not “deserve” to win and some other child only won because of some huge moral failure on the part of a judge.  Judging is subjective and we are at the mercy of the judges that day.  Another competition may have other results and you grow and practice what you can, but you do not foster in them the idea that they were “robbed” or that the competition is “fixed”.  The Olympics came to mind- A track star who trains for YEARS and has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete pulls a hamstring and can’t race.  An amazingly difficult blow to a competitor. How we respond to that kind of challenge is developed all along the way in these little competitions. We learn how to compete- how to process loss and winning. These weekends matter and so do our words during them.

I am thankful to say that the ladies I was around all weekend celebrated their daughters’ experience, built up their daughters and were grateful for their teachers and their studio.  It made me thank God for His goodness to me to give me such genuine ladies to walk with in this life.

 

same thought, different words February 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 11:15 pm
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I just finished watching a very good interview that Oprah conducted with Viola Davis, the Oscar nominee from the movie The Help. It was a beautiful discussion about her background, her history, and how it has made her so grateful for her life as it is right now. Of course one of the most famous lines in The Help is the quote that Viola repeats to the little girl that she takes care of as she plays the maid in this little girl’s home. Concerned about the little girl’s heart and seeing the lack of attention and care that she receives, Viola repeats,”You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” The little girl says it with her as Viola seeks to implant truth in her heart through the use of repeated phrases.
I have a true desire for my children to know certain truths about themselves and about their God. Repeated phrases help us do that all throughout the day. At first, it seems a little awkward or forced to tell your children certain things and to answer what you have asked them. But the rewards are great as they begin to refer to these mantras in our conversations.
For example, one that I repeat to them often is,” I love you forever, always, no matter what and to pieces.” I say it to each of them at bed time and special snuggle times. But its usefulness comes into play when one of them hears of a very tragic story in which a child is responsible for a terrible accident in a family’s life. Emma looks at me and says,”Mom, I bet if I did that, you could never forgive me.” And so begins a beautiful discussion about accidents, forgiveness, repentance, and love. I ask her,”How do I love you?” and she answers,”You love me forever. You love me always. You love me to pieces.”
“And…”, I say.
“You love me NO MATTER WHAT.”
It is true and she needs to know it- to not doubt it- to be able to count on it. I will not show her that love perfectly, but I will love her no matter what.
There are certain things I want to be like records playing in their minds. I am going to spend a little more time making sure they know what those are.

 

What goes around… February 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 5:06 pm

certainly does come around.  I have had an ideal situation the past couple of years.  Lucy and Cord both take naps in the afternoon, and I spend that time resting, organizing, calling, emailing, or finishing things that require thinking 🙂

Cord has been growing in his restlessness about nap time. If I hold him just right and sing just the right song at just the right pace, he will fall asleep. But after the back trouble at Thanksgiving, I have given that habit up and encouraged him to hop into bed and stay there. Some days are more successful than others.  But as he gets older, he sleeps less and plays more.  Every day there seems to be a little trouble that has occurred during “nap time”.  Walls have been written on, books have been destroyed, toys have been dumped.  I have given him consequences and he will be repentant.  But the desire to get up and do something wins out often.

Today was no exception.  I could hear him moving around. I have allowed him to have two cars in the bed with him to play as long as he STAYS IN BED.  This was obviously not happening.  I called out,”If someone is in the hallway, they better get back in their bed right now so they don’t get in trouble.” 🙂 No sounds of returning to the bed- it is just silent.

I think,”Maybe I misheard him.  Maybe that was house noise and not Cord noise.” Why do I ever doubt my instincts? 🙂

When it was time to pick the girls up from school, I headed upstairs to “wake up” the kids.  Cord’s door to his room is open, but the lights are off.  His bed is empty. His room is empty.  The girls’ room lights are on.  I look around.  No one is there either.  I see the bathroom door closed- I open it. No one is around.  I start to think,”Did he sneak past me and go outside?!!” I recheck his room and the girls’ room.  I call out his name a couple of times.  Nothing.

I reenter the bathroom:

    

I cannot believe he was in there the whole time. And Why? I ask him and he says,”I didn’t want to be in my bed.” That makes sense.  A thought flashes in my mind…This picture. Of me. In the tub. Hiding from my parents. When I should have been sleeping.

I tell him to hop out. I look him in the eyes and tell him that I expect him to obey me and he heads down the stairs.  I know I should have followed through and given a consequence, but I am amazed at the cycle of life. I am caught by the wonder of little minds that, even after all these years of raising little ones, still surprise me. And I give him a little grace because I think that 3 year old little Susan was hoping for the same thing 30 something years ago 🙂