Over the past 6 days, I have dealt with the following:
* 3 public temper tantrums
* 3 nights of interrupted sleep
* 2 loads of laundry directly related to vomit and diarrhea
* 2 instances that resulted in the doling out of "whining medicine"
* 1 toothbrush stuffed down the sink pipes
* 1 bottle of fingernail polish on the carpet
* 1 child caught in a bold lie
In the midst of all this, I have found myself face to face with:
* my own self-centeredness
* my own whining
* my own form of temper tantrums
* my own SIN
The children's higher-than-usual rate of discipline-producing moments is somewhat tied to the fact that Ted has been gone for 11 days. (He's on his way home even as I write this--praise God!) However, whether one or both of us are here, the fact is, our children are sinners, just like we are. We have no excuse for our behavior, other than the fact that we are human and will always struggle with our sin nature until Jesus takes us home to heaven. How I thank God for His grace and mercy, His love and forgiveness! Even though I often feel like a failure as a mother (such as when I'm yelling back at my kids, trying to get them to stop yelling at one another--how effective is that?!), I can claim forgiveness through Christ and receive His mercies, new every morning.
So, on the positive side, I have had some marvelous teaching moments with the children! For example, last night as I was putting the children to bed, I found myself butting heads with Charis, who refused to don her nightclothes because her favorite nightshirt was in the laundry. She expected me to dig it out of the laundry chute and let her wear it! After we sorted all this out and she was in bed, I began talking to her about her attitude and speech.
I asked her, "Charis, do you know what the Bible says makes us beautiful?"
She shook her head.
"Our good deeds [1 Peter 3:3-4]. Do you know what good deeds are?"
She shook her head again.
"Good deeds are the good things we do and say, the things that please and honor Jesus. Did you know that when we choose to do the right thing and say nice, kind words, it makes us beautiful?"
She gave me a slight smile.
I continued. "It's kind of like this: every time we do or say something that makes Jesus happy, we get to put on a beautiful princess gown, pretty jewelry, a crown, and sparkly shoes."
Her eyes lit up. "Mackenzie has sparkly shoes!"
"Yes! Kind of like that! And when we do or say something that is wrong, when we sin, it's like we have to put on yucky, old, dirty clothes. We get to choose what we 'wear.' Of course, we don't really put on princess clothes every time we do nice things, but when Jesus looks at us, He sees us looking like a princess when we choose to honor Him."
By the end of our conversation, Charis' "mad face" was gone, and she was smiling again. I think I was speaking her language! I look forward to gently reminding her in the days to come (and probably years to come) that we need to live pure and reverent lives, with our beauty that doesn't come from "outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Today, I choose to wear princess clothes!