What Does Redeeming Love Look Like?

This happened last Saturday…

 

 

 

 

 

The grands, while cleaning the bathroom, managed to pull down the towel bar. They came to me, faces solemn. With a comforting hand on Amari’s shoulder, Victoria rambled a convoluted explanation of something her brother had done. Her story was hard to follow, but I got the gist. Amari got the towel stuck between the bar and the bracket and kept pulling on it. Victoria tried to get him to stop and let her help him, but he ignored her and kept pulling until he pulled it out of the wall.

To say I wasn’t happy is an understatement.

After I could see straight, I went into his room to punish him for refusing to stop and listen to his sister. He lost several privileges and had to clean the bathroom alone, without his sister’s help. Afterward, my husband sent him back to his room for time out.

That’s when he broke. Through the torrent of tears, I heard, “I didn’t do it.”

Until then, he’d accepted his punishment without a whimper or complaint. I called him to my room and asked him, again, what happened in the bathroom. Tear tracks staining his little round cheeks, he looked up at me with the saddest eyes, and said, “I didn’t do it.”

He had accepted his punishment up to this point without complaint, a point I’d wondered about, so I summoned Victoria to my room.

“What happened in the bathroom?” I asked.

Amid tears, Victoria confessed. She’d been standing on the side of the tub (which she’s not supposed to do), lost her balance, and grabbed the bar as she went down.

“Why did you let Amari take the blame?” I asked.

“He wanted to. It’s not the first time. He’s always taking my punishment.”

Amari loves his sister so much that he was willing to take the blame, to let her appear blameless.

Sound like anyone we know?

we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:13-14

Unlike Christ, Amari cracked. He couldn’t go through with it. When he took the blame, he didn’t understand what he’d signed up for.

Christ knew.

And He did it anyway!

What about us? Can we relate to Victoria’s response? Sometimes, I think we take Christ’s grace for granted, failing to acknowledge the true suffering we caused him. When we do confess, we often do it like she did, with tears and sorrow.

This season, as you hustle and bustle through your days, preparing for the holiday, don’t forget that Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. He took our sins upon Him, so we wouldn’t have to pay the price.

Because He loves us.

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Where Is My Father?

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Psalm 27:10

While Amari worked on his homework yesterday, he called to me, “Babbie, will you call my Daddy?”

My heart aches every time he asks me to do this. Why? I can’t call his father. I have a good guess where he is, but in the two years the grands have lived with us, he’s never initiated contact. Not once. I don’t have an address or a phone number. It’s hard for Amari.

His sister’s father does make contact. He’s not the greatest father example in the world, but he does reach out to Victoria. They talk on the phone for a few seconds usually. He buys her birthday and Christmas gifts and tries to get her something every now and then. It’s not much. He’s disabled and on kidney dialysis due to the damage his lifelong drug use did to his body. At least, the kidney situation made him clean up his act. For that, I’m thankful.

Still, it’s more than Amari’s father has ever done. He wants his father. He asks to talk to Victoria’s father when they’re on the phone. Sometimes, he gets to do so, but it’s not what he’s looking for.

I can’t imagine how he feels. I can’t tell him where his dad is or put him in contact with his dad. Even if I could, I’m not sure I would. Not unless he’s willing to change his lifestyle.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

The good news for Amari is that God is his father. He seems to get this in his childlike way. Several times a week, we talk about God and Jesus and heaven. He brings them up on his own. And he seems to understand the idea that God is his father. A few nights ago, he asked us, “Who is the uncle of the world?”

Confused, we told him we weren’t sure.

Then he said, “Who is the father of the world?”

Since I’m posting this in a faith-based blog, the answer seems obvious, but we had been talking about the members of our family moments before he asked this. We didn’t know.

Amari grinned that amazing smile of his and said, “Yes you do! It’s God and Jesus!”

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17

Before You Judge the Parent with the Unruly Child

Image courtesy of freeimages.com/kliverap

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1

Some mornings at our house don’t go well. The grands fight against our routine almost every morning.  It’s the same routine. Every. Single. Morning. So, why is it so hard for them to follow it?

 

This morning, the grands got up and  dressed quickly (miracle of miracles), except for the shoes. With Amari, that’s wear we hit a snag.

“Put your shoes and socks on, Amari.”

“Ok.”

A few minutes later, he’s still sitting in the same place, staring off into space, barefoot.

“Amari, put your shoes on.”

“I need to put on my socks, first.”

“I know. Do it, please.”

After repeating myself three or four times my volume goes up. I try to stay calm, but it’s frustrating especially when I’m busy doing Victoria’s hair at the moment. Her hair takes ten to fifteen minutes every morning. Today, she cooperated, but some mornings, if she’s dragging her feet, she jerks away and yells that it hurts. We take good care of her hair, so it rarely has tangles, but she still acts like it does.

Add that to her brother not putting on his socks and shoes, and it can get crazy quickly.

Then, there’s breakfast.  In my head, I’m hearing the music they play in mysteries when something shocking or revealing occurs…dundun DUN!

Amari would rather talk to Victoria or make some repetitive noise to annoy her. Victoria doesn’t want to talk to him, she’d rather criticize how he’s eating. We tell them to ignore each other, stop tattling, and eat.

Today, I took Amari’s food away before he finished. That’s not unusual.

If there’s anything worse than breakfast, it’s brushing their teeth. How hard can that be? Believe it or not, Amari stands in front of the bathroom mirror forever making faces and messing with his hair. If we forget to check, he may be in there ten minutes without brushing.

If Victoria brushes her teeth at the same time, Amari complains. All it takes is a speck of food in what Victoria spits into the sink, and he’ll probably throw up. He’s an expert on psyching himself out about how gross something is. Then he vomits. We try to keep them from brushing at the same time. Not so easy when you’re running out of time. Today, I made Victoria brush at the kitchen sink. She pushed back but finally did it. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get Amari brushing his teeth.

So, this morning, we left late. As we started down the road, Victoria exclaimed, “I don’t have my red notebook.”

I turned onto a side street to turn around, asking her where it was in the house. Then, I said, “This is why you’re supposed to put everything for school in your book bag  the night before.”

Her answer, “It’s not a school notebook. I use it to draw in during free time.”

Obviously, I didn’t go back to the house. The neighbor whose car was behind me and now was in front of me probably wondered what my problem was.

Before you jump on and give me advice, that’s not the point of today’s post.

We’re raising two children who didn’t have a morning routine before they came to live with us. They never were on time to anything. I know this because when they visited us, they always arrived late, and I’m not saying a few minutes. We’re talking an hour or more

Whether you’re a grandparent raising children or a foster parent, the rhythm of your household will be different from the one the children knew before. Ours is structured and organized. Theirs was not.

This means we struggle every day with little things. Other families do experience some of these things, but this is how 90% of our days start. It’s not fun.

More importantly, this is just an example of the issues we face. For example, there are stores I will not go into if the children are with me. Why? Because I’m still trying to teach them the proper behavior in a store. They don’t get it, and I don’t appreciate the judgmental looks, and comments, I get from the store clerks. Yes, the store clerks. There are two stores near me that I no longer frequent due to this.

When you see a parent with a difficult child, don’t always assume it’s their fault. They may not be the one who created the habits in the children with them. They may be the ones trying to change those habits.

Cut them a little slack.

Oh, and since some of you are itching to tell me what to do differently in the morning, we already do the following:

  • Pack book bags before bedtime
  • Pick school clothes before bedtime
  • Get up with plenty of time for them to dress, eat, and brush their teeth and have time to spare if they do everything on time. Believe me, they have tons of time.
  • Divide responsibilities between my husband and me when he’s home (he was on a business trip this morning)

Other techniques I’ve used:

  • Timers
  • Reward systems
  • Consequences

So, if you have something different to share, go for it. Otherwise, please don’t.

And please be kind to the person with the unruly child. It’s already hard enough.