Thursday, January 9, 2014

9 Days into Embrace

I should have braced myself.

Putting it out there, live on the "internets", that my word for 2014 is Embrace.

I think that's like praying for patience. (Commence opportunities to put this new little verb into action.)

This week. has been a doozy.

We have not had a huge amount of struggle with Natalie, who I fondly call the Sweetness. Up until 18 months of age, she was laid back, just like her daddy. She has always been full of personality, dancing since one of our first sonograms to full-out "dance parties" in our living room, to date. She is our little extrovert.

But even a little ways past 18 months, it was doable.

Now, at 3 years and 7 months, she can give us a run for...the hills? A run for something....anything, but dealing with the concentrated stubbornness of this 3ft-something little girl.

I kid....kind of.

Most days, we're good. She's a lot like myself....particular and indecisive. Sounds like a contradiction, huh?'s just that we don't know what we want until it's right there in front of us, or if we do know what we want, we will fight you for it with everything we have and probably can't fully focus on anything else until that one thing is accomplished.

Anyways, I believe most of our battles stem from our similarities. It's hard to face truth about yourself day in and day out, things that you don't necessarily want published on the front page of your biography. She is definitely a mirror that God has placed in my life to sharpen me. And some days, I don't want to look. Plain and simple.

Moving on to this past week, however. We faced something that quite honestly we didn't know what to do with. It started out with Natalie repeatedly asking to go potty at bedtime. After probably the 3rd trip, we were starting to question the validity of her requests and see more of an attempt at delaying the inevitable.

Flash back to the Lamp incident of '13. (Total meltdown when we removed the lamp from her room that had become her excuse to call us into her room on a nightly basis, to turn on and then turn off and then turn on again. This lasted 2.5 hours until she pretty much screamed herself to sleep.)

Jordan and I looked at each other, and asked if this was 'another lamp.' After 8 trips per hour for about 2 hours, we had had enough. I am not going to go into a lot of details, because honestly I don't want to relive it and also I believe that some things are just for our family. God entrusted us with Natalie for reasons beyond my comprehension (and I am honored to get to steward her life for as long as He allows me to), and I believe built inside of this parenting journey with her are experiences precisely planned and timed to do things in all of us, if we will allow Him access.

Which brings me to my point. We were faced with an intense few days of challenge with Natalie. Challenging our authority. Challenging pretty much anything we had tried thus far concerning discipline techniques.

(And side note for any concerned mommies out there, we did get her checked out at Children's Healthcare to ensure that nothing physical, like a UTI, was the culprit behind the behavior. Tests were clear.)

We felt utterly powerless at times. I honestly think that I have never prayed for and sought after God's wisdom as fervently as I did this past week.


And after the first evening, laying exhausted in bed and already thinking of all that the next day would hold - lack of sleep, two kids at the house, who knows what emotional state Natalie would wake up in - I found myself falling into a really bad habit that I never really identified until that night. I guess this season has sharpened my vision and made me sensitive to the things that hinder me from embracing what is in front of me, good and bad.

I was sitting there, trying my best to figure out how to escape. Not that I was physically going to leave, although that may have crossed my mind in the thick of it earlier that evening, but just trying to figure out who I could call to come help. What I could do to fix the issue. What needed to change. How could I delegate this issue to someone else.

To put it how I saw it with new eyes that night, how can I disengage from my life right now.

I was already declaring defeat for the next day and it hadn't even started yet. And what I was subconsciously doing was rejecting that this very day was the Lord's. He had been with me the whole time. And He still was.

Could it be that He had designed it, allowed it -however you want to say it- to show me something? To tweak something? To break something in me, in Natalie?

(And probably a million other things that I will never see or understand.)

And I was doing my best to try to get out of it.

What blessings have I forfeited because I left the fight too early? That may be a question that haunts me this year.

All this to say, after 3 long days of questioning, praying, crying, conversations with trusted fellow parents, reading other resources, we started to see the pattern break.

We didn't find a formula. I don't know that we implemented some new crafty technique that helped (maybe some of it didn't hurt). I think it was mainly due to that fact that we stood our ground. We put down stakes, so to speak, and decided that we were going to camp out here as long as it takes to get through this together, as a family.

I intentionally decided that night to not fight the situation, but to embrace even this as part of what needed to happen with Natalie. Something had not gone terribly wrong. This was part of it.

Stubborn sin-natures rearing their ugly heads.

Clueless parents that rediscovered how desperately they need a Counselor to guide them in each moment with this amazing blessing of God who needs parents who will direct her in the way she should go.

We found grace in a lot of ways this week. Mostly in that it only lasted 4 days.

But I also feel as though my relationship with Natalie has deepened somehow. Our roles have been more solidified. It's almost as if we can see her as a little bit more secure, knowing that there are some defined boundaries around these parts.

And you know how a relationship feels closer when you've worked through conflict, and you're willing to stick it out. No emotional disengagement. Not wimping out and compromising what seems right to make things work. You find an intimacy there that you can't purchase or manufacture any other way, I believe.

I got a dose of that with the Sweetness this week. The little spirited one still has my heart. Completely.

And I got to learn more about it. Priceless lessons. Things not everyone will get to know about my daughter. What a treasure. We actually joked and laughed with each other after all of this in ways we haven't before. What a sweet reward.

A repeating theme this past week as also been about how there is necessary time between when you plant a seed and when you can reap a harvest. I believe, in God's goodness, He allowed me to catch a glimpse of the truth of this with Nat.

Galatians 6:9, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

I desire to one day reap a sweet, meaningful relationship with Natalie. One of sweet fellowship about our personal walks with the Lord and also about completely meaningless things as well. I want to be able to share as much as we can with each other.

(A neat concept, really. Reaping relationships. Kind of a new perspective on that for me.)

To wrap this up...

I fully expect, although not ready to invite, more challenges like this with her.

(All of you who have been parents longer than we have, you can collectively say 'amen' here.)

I do hope that we have a little bit of a breather, to be completely honest, because like I said. This week was a doozy.

But I am thankful for what I've gained through it, by embracing and not retreating.

The Lord's faithfulness already at work, 9 days in to the year. Thank you, Jesus.

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