Sunday, January 10, 2010

Faithful Parenting...

I struggled with whether to retain the title of the blog as such, because I did not want to convey a sense of "this is what I am"... but, instead to communicate that this is what I desire to be... faithful. Faithful to God, to His Word and to His teaching in every area of my life - particularly as a parent. I am a 'work in progess'...
(Sunday after church the kids happily posed for a picture for Mamaw to see their outfits they received for Christmas)

My heart has been increasingly burdened this weekend for my children, (perhaps because they've been out of school and with only us), as they continue to grow before our very eyes. There are no words to convey the blessing they are to us and the privilege to bear the responsibility to raise them.

I look at James and see a boy still grieving his former life from time to time. During our lunch conversation today he randomly interjected, "My Ukrainian momma's name was Lidiya and my papa was Yasha." Sometimes he shares stories about helping his Ukrainian papa milk a cow or perform outdoor projects. He does not miss the orphanage, except occasionally an uncharacteristically nice teacher he had who taught him how to "stitch" (or sew). He is doing so much better with his English. Most of the time he is a thoughtful older brother and helpful around the house. He is, however, struggling in the area of "taking responsibility for his actions". He tends to want to blame anyone or anything else - ha. We asked him what he learned at church today. He responded, "We need new life. New life is in Jesus only." Simple truths we pray form deep roots...

I look at Angela and see a beautiful girl who was starved of attention in her earlier years. Her longing for approval and recognition from me especially can often be frustrating while absolutely heartbreaking. She was the first to want to forget Ukraine and everything about it. Before we even left the country she would smile and say, "Bye-bye Ukraine!" When we were putting up the Christmas tree she came down the stairs and said, "Yay! We're staying!" To which my heart broke a little as I thought about what may go on in her head... "Is this really forever?" I often swallow her up in an engulfing hug to say, "You are ours forever - my precious daughter!" She is a sweet big sister (most of the time - ha) and is doing well in her classes.

I look at Jana who I was most concerned about initially. She did not attach to me at first as quickly as her sisters. She would have self-inflicting temper tantrums when she did not get her way or was frustrated with her siblings. For example, she would be dressed up in play clothes in the back yard and start screaming and stripping her toy jewelry off as well as shoes and throw them to the far corners of the yard in a fit. Once her tantrum was over, she would then cry over where all her costume items had ended up. However, she has blossomed as she has settled in as the resident sweetheart. She is the first to respond with "Yes, Ma'am" and the first to repent with, "I'm sorry, mommy." She is doing much better in school now and, like her big sister in particular, showing a great desire to learn.

I look at Victoria, my child with much personality, and often think about the longest day of our lives flying home from Ukraine. As a young, traumatized, not to mention sleepy, child she had multiple "meltdowns" making our way to Mississippi. One in the Kiev airport, followed by two much more notable ones in Amsterdam and Memphis. I had to hold her down until she passed out on the plane from Amsterdam to Memphis. When we arrived in Memphis and attempted to make our way to the customs' line, I had to hold Vica in a body hold in a corner as she kicked, screamed and attempted to claw at my face. She would have an enraged look come over her eyes, one exemplifying a loss of control... coping from earlier abuse and neglect no doubt. Today it brings tears of sadness from her earlier plight (and of those still enduring today), as well as tears of joy to see the grace of God in the continual healing process. She had one meltdown only half the energy level the first week we were home, and has since shown incredible receptivity to nurture. She is blossoming in so many ways, as each of her older siblings are. The absolute credit goes to the grace of our Abba Father... May HE continue to grow us each up in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

This weekend, I also received an interesting article you may enjoy...

The Myth of the Perfect Parent: Why the best parenting techniques don't produce Christian children, an article by Leslie Leyland Fields recently posted on Christianity Today. Which, I'd encourage you to read, perhaps with a fresh cup of coffee, and be encouraged by the reality that there are no perfect parents nor perfect parenting techniques. We all stand in need of the grace of God - the God who alone is sovereign over us and our children.

The author writes of our need as parents to ask the right questions:

"The question we ask of ourselves must be reframed. We need to quit asking, "Am I parenting successfully?" And we most certainly need to quit asking, "Are others parenting successfully?" Instead, we need to ask, "Am I parenting faithfully?" Faithfulness, after all, is God's highest requirement for us.

Later Fields writes,
"If we are graded instead on an absolute scale—as I believe we are—we fail even more miserably. But this is why a Savior was provided, and gifted to us through grace, through faith—"and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). If even our ability to believe in God is given to us by God, then how much of parenting can we perform on our own? We must proceed, then, on our knees first, beggars before the throne, if we are to parent well."

One of Fields' concluding comments:
"We will parent imperfectly, our children will make their own choices, and God will mysteriously and wondrously use it all to advance his kingdom."

8 comments:

SUNSHINE said...

That was beautiful. Love you ALL.

momma B said...

Beautiful, my tears are flowing, they are so precious.

Bridget said...

Beautifully written. Your journey is amazing and inspiring. Keep up the wonderful work!

MamaPoRuski said...

What a blessing to still see clearly in the midst of the struggles. God knew what he was doing when placing these children into your home! May God continue to bless all of you!

mrstater72 said...

Thank you for posting that update. We have been praying for those precious children as they transition. So thankful you are making such a difference in their lives!

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

Beautiful reflection!! We, too, had a moment when it finally "clicked" with our daughter that she was "ours"/part of our family/forever with us. At that moment, it seems the world began revolving a different way for her. Coming upon a year home and look at all the magnifigance that these precious ones have bestowed upon your lives, all their changes and developments. I believe each child will exceed all expectations for you. Blessings!!

Scott said...

James and Angela are in sunday school classes with two of my children and share what enthusiasm and smiles the Merida kids bring with them.

Erica H said...

This was a beautifully written post about each of the children, thank you for sharing. It is amazing what having a loving,Christian family will do to help them heal from past painful memories.

Your doing a great Faithful job!

erica h