one year

i could tell you how fast one year goes and how so much changes and how much they grow.

i could tell you how weird it is when you think…no, it can’t have been a whole year. but then it has.

or i could just show you this:

what’s the inclination of a child? {parenting: part 2}








Read the premise for and additional notes on this series.


Part 2: What’s the inclination of a child?

Kids are interpreters and worshippers.

  1. Interpreters:  Human beings made in the image of God don’t live life based on the facts of their experience, but based on their interpretation of the facts. We will dig to make sense of our existence. Kids will grow and learn and want to know more about life. They will look to what’s around them to understand purpose and why they’re here. They will ask layers and layers of “why” questions.
  2. Worshippers:  The human identity is to worship. In every moment, we worship something. We worship other’s approval when we lie about something we did or exaggerate a story to make it sound better. We worship ourselves every time we put our own interests over others. Kids worship themselves and their own power when they hit another kid because they feel wronged.

What that looks like for us:

  • Like being a theological community, we have to be in awe of God as parents. When Shilah stops on our way out to the car to smell the herbs growing in the pots outside the front door, I say, “Don’t those smell good? God made those to smell so pretty for you.” 
  • We have to constantly place God in the center of her world so that she doesn’t place herself in the center. My heart has to plead for her, “no, that is not what you want. That will never work. There is a God who loves you.” To show her that she’s not the center of everything, she is not to worship herself, I have to show her that I am not the center of my world. I need to help other people and take my daughter along with me. I need to interact with the world in a way that shows her that this life isn’t all about us. That means getting out of the house and getting involved in the city. That means taking meals to people and having people over to our house. That means effort and time and care and not separating my daughter from all of those things. She needs to see them! For us that means I am at home. I work from home and I take her with me most everywhere I go. We serve in the marriage ministry at church and we constantly have groups of people over to our house – large groups where people hang out and get to know each other and smaller groups for counseling. These people see our daughter and she sees them. She helps me prepare. Right now, that means she stands on a chair so she’s watching at counter-height while I prep dinner, and I give her a rag and she wipes off the coffee table. These are little things but they are important and she is learning.

How it’s going: 

  • This one feels silly at first but I try to do it at least a few times a day. She’s interested most anything I say, so I know I shouldn’t feel silly telling her about God!
  • It’s hard to incorporate your kids, when I have her clean the coffee table, I have to usually clean it again. The process takes twice as long. It’s way easier to have her just watch sesame street while I get done what I need to. But it’s not the same. So, I am constantly reminding myself to have patience and to bring her into whatever I am doing.

Takeaways for this week: Show them that because of God, they have purpose, and integrate them into service for others, so they see that this life isn’t all about them.

the everyday: part 1 {august 19, 2011}

i am using this blog to do a bit more documenting of family happenings.

you can tell, i know.

i have read jen’s blog for a while. years, perhaps. it is refreshing because it’s about her everyday life. most weeks, she publishes a post called, “bits and pieces” and it’s just a list, long or short, of what’s been going on with their family for the week. it’s encouraging because it’s real.

i will call ours “the everyday” and i will start now.

the everyday: part 1 {august 19, 2011}

  • shilah says a lot of words, and is starting to put two-word phrases together, “light on” “elton bone” “coffee hot” etc. lest you be mislead, i should tell you that those phrases don’t sound like the way you just read them in your head, they sound like “ly-eeeee—oohhhn” “el-tee—bo” and “faw-fee—ha”.
  • she eats probably eight servings of fruit a day and no vegetables. i am going to write this one off as a phase.
  • jon is now the financial manager and business manager of a school. the job is as big as it sounds and he is doing wonderfully at it. school started this week.
  • we are missing a chunk of flooring in our house and some areas of drywall from a leak we had this summer. hopefully i can update you when we get this all replaced. have a contractor you love? do let me know.
  • elton lost a bunch of hair on his back about six weeks ago for no real reason. nothing else seemed wrong with him, so we never went to the vet, and now his hair is growing back but thicker and coarser, and way, way darker (like, what was once white is now auburn).
that is a weird list.

what’s the significance of family? {parenting: part one}

hey look, a parenting series.

really, this is just a compilation of my notes and thoughts after lots of emails about disciplining a toddler and a parenting conference we attended by Paul Tripp about getting to the heart of parenting. i have no parenting expertise. to claim so would be quite foolish, however, it’s always helpful for me to hear from others what information they’re basing their actions on, what that looks like in their families, and how it’s going. so i thought i’d use the blog to share my thoughts and experiences. definitely share your experiences in the comments, or email me!

i’ll post a new topic every Monday for the next six weeks or so. no kids? not to worry, there will be all of the regular recipe and craft posts on other days.

The Significance of Family {parenting: part one}

The information:

Families are God’s primary learning community.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

It is not the job of our state or our schools or even our church to be the primary learning arena for our kids. It’s our job as parents to create that environment. The state protects the family, and the church and school equip and support the family. The job of the family is distinctly educational. It is the agent God uses to form the character of and context for the child. Family is intended to be a theological, sociological, and redemptive community.

  1. Theological Community: Because theology is the study of God, theological community is a community of people that studies God. The family must point to the being, character, and plan of God. God is the fact that dictated the earth. God made everything in the world that you and I live in. Teach this in your home!
  2. Sociological Community: The family is relational. God’s design is that we would live in community with willing, self-sacrificing love for one another. There is no better place to have this environment than in the family. In a family, children must live and share with people they didn’t choose. As a parent, you can’t ever look at your child after they lie to you and say they didn’t hit their brother and say, “I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe you lied.” Because you can believe it. You do that same stuff every day. You lie, you manipulate someone to get what you want. You make a bad judgment call. You are that selfish. You ought to have compassion and tenderness when you watch your kids struggle to love!
  3. Redemptive Community: The family should point to the redemption of Christ. Through their struggle to love, your children will see that they can’t do it on their own. That creates a holy frustration. A desire for help. A need for Jesus. If we don’t point toward Christ, we seclude them from having to learn and struggle with love, and we teach them they don’t need anything but themselves. We create self-righteous Pharisees who have no draw to the gospel because they don’t think they need it.

What that looks like for us:

  • To be a theological community, we have to be in awe of God as parents. When Shilah stops on our way out to the car to smell the herbs growing in the pots outside the front door, I say, “Don’t those smell good? God made those to smell so pretty for you.” 
  • To be a sociological community, we can’t over-manage Shilah’s life so that she can avoid hard situations. I can’t skip having Shilah interact with other kids for a few weeks because she’s in a really grouchy stage where she has to be reminded a lot to share. To teach self-sacrificing love, we must have self-sacrificing love. We have to stay up late and get up early and we have to have discipline the same things over and over again. We have to help her struggle to love, which means when she gets in trouble for something, she stays on our lap until she’s emotionally ok. She stays until she acknowledges  that we forgive her, and we love her, and that she can trust us and love us too, even though we have to discipline her.
  • To be a redemptive community, we have to point to Christ. We have to talk about how it is hard to love, and we can’t love well on our own. Jesus loves us and he can help us love other people too. For Shilah, we talk about how it is hard to obey, “Shilah, I know you want to take your shoes off right now but mommy asked you not to. It’s hard to obey, but remember that Jesus loves you, and he can help you love and obey mommy.”

How it’s going:

  • Theological community: This one feels silly at first but I try to do it at least a few times a day. She’s interested most anything I say, so I know I shouldn’t feel silly telling her about God!
  • Sociological community:  This one is hardest for me. When something is hard for me, inter-relationally, I want to avoid it. But by avoiding situations where she could possibly be tired, upset, feisty, etc., I will be avoiding every situation and teaching her that it’s ok to not forgive people or run from someone who is difficult. This will also make her wonder if I will run from her when she is difficult. That makes me so sad to think about, because I never want to run from her! I have to get on the floor and play with her and help her learn what it means to love other kids and endure relationships!
  • Redemptive community: Second hardest for me. Even though she doesn’t understand all of my words, I want to be talking to her about how, when we understand the love of God, it is an overflowing of our hearts to love other people. It’s to hard to love others when we’re not filled and abounding with the love of God, we need Jesus! Again, I feel silly talking to her in multiple full sentences, but that is only my pride.
Takeaways for this week: be in awe of God, help your child love, and point them to Jesus.

temporary things

dear shilah,

just last week, i put you down for a nap at your regular time, with all of the regular conditions in place. you screamed for 20 minutes.

i got you up and put you in the living room. you grabbed your blankie that had been forgotten on the coffee table and proceeded to head back to your crib, “ni-night” you said.

oh dear. perhaps you love that blankie too much.

well today we lost said blankie. at whole foods. downtown. the one that has probably tens of thousands of visitors daily.

and now you are in your crib, screaming. and pleading, “pease? pease? peeee-eeee-eeeease!!!” and the final cry when you really want something “dada? dada? daaaaaaa-daaaaaaaaaaa!” it’s not going that well. dada can’t fix it.

just so you know, and appreciate later in life, i called whole foods, during the rush of the lunch hour and said, “i know this is ridiculous, but…have you found a little 12×12-inch blanket?”

they said no. but they’ll call if they find it.

sorry, bug. today is not your day. today you learn a lesson that i still learn most days. “things” are temporal. they are washed away by floods and burned in house fires and forgotten at giant grocery stores. it is sad, but it is ok. it’s not those “things” that fulfill you and give you hope anyway.


how to discipline a toddler

mainly i am realizing that i need to document some family stuff. so really this is how to discipline our toddler. this month.

so that we have memories. so that i preserve some emotions. and so that my children can know and see the experiences that shaped them. i don’t get super emotional but i plan to hang onto this blog and maybe do something like this with it each year.

so, last month we realized we need a plan for discipline or else our child was going to be that child.

do you think this little lady would ever need discipline?

um. yes.

so that she wouldn’t be the one running away from her parents at the fair and pushing other kids over to steal their balloon, throwing a fit when someone else gets their funnel cake first, and then hitting her mom when she’s swooped up. but, ultimately, so that she would know that her heart is sinful and needs to obey authority and as her parents, God has given us that authority in her life right now. she obeys God by obeying us, and it is our role to teach and train her.

we’ve watched others go before us and spent some time thinking about her age and  what she can understand.

we got a bit of good instruction from wiser, older parents:

  • start with safety issues. for example, a child will be burned by a hot stove. they may not understand burns, and how to know if the stove is off or on, so for now your child must know that they can’t touch the stove. similarly, they may not run into the street.
  • stop giving chances. a child will quickly learn how many warnings you give them before they are punished and push you to the limit. for something they know they are not supposed to do, they can be disciplined on the first offense. if it’s something new that’s just come up, tell them first that it’s not allowed and give them the chance to make the right or wrong decision next time the situation arises.
  • figure out how you are going to discipline. at 18 months, she is easily distracted – punishment needs to take place quickly so that she relates it to the disobedience.
  • explain to them what is going on. when a child is disciplined, they must know it is because mommy or daddy gave them instruction and they didn’t follow it. mommy and daddy love them. mommy and daddy want them to obey. it’s not actually what they did that is so terrible, it’s that they didn’t obey. ultimately it is not their bad or good actions that will condemn or save them, but the overall fact that their life did not obey Jesus when he said, “follow me.”

We started with safety issues and then finished out the list with a few other things we don’t want her doing at our house or at other people’s houses. our list has 8 things on it and i wrote them on the white board in the kitchen so that jon and i can both easily reference them. Here is our “NO” list:

  1. grabbing the oven handle. this prevents her from pulling open a hot oven or getting her fingers up by a hot stove.
  2. touching the powerstrip under the TV. this houses a lot of electricity for the TV, DVD player, router, etc. and it has a tempting lit-up orange button on it.
  3. going past the end of the car in the driveway. toward the street.
  4. hitting. no explanation needed.
  5. screaming when mad. tantrums. no.
  6. taking books off the upper bookshelves. the first two shelves of the bookcase are full of toys. play with anything on them, but don’t reach up to the heavy cookbooks that smash your toes when you pull them down and they fall to the floor.
  7. standing on the couch. the couch is for sitting.
  8. playing with the remote. general courtesy for people’s stuff.

these rules help us to know what to discipline as much as they help her to know what she will be disciplined for. she knows these rules. she couldn’t recite them for you, but if she’s doing something on the list she’s either looking at you to see if you’re watching, or she’s mad and showing it by being openly defiant.

when she disobeys, she is told no, that she may not disobey mama/dada by doing whatever is was that she was doing, quickly but firmly pinched on the back of her leg at the top of her thigh, and then hugged and told that we love her. we then usually put her back down and guide her to or suggest to her one of the million things she is allowed to do.

the pinch is working. it’s quick and snaps her out of whatever it is that she is doing. to spank, we would really need to remove her from a situation and take off her nicely padded cloth diaper. by that time, i don’t know if it would still be clear what the punishment is associated to at her age.

there is a ton of freedom for her outside of those eight rules. with the rules, i don’t feel like i have to be telling her ‘no’ all the time. sure, things come up – like we are outside and she goes to stick the nasty hose in her mouth – and at that point, I tell her to please take the hose out of her mouth. nine times out of ten, she does. because there is some order in her life, and we are consistent, and when we say ‘no’ we mean it, so she obeys when she’s asked.

within 48 hours of disciplining like this, she began to generally obey. she was avoiding the things she knew she wasn’t supposed to do, and she responded if we needed to say ‘no’ in other situations. she is listening to me, so that the rest of the time, our days are fun. we are joyful and loving and we enjoy the things around us. we show her God’s love and creation.

people do things differently, but this is working for us, right now, with this specific child.

man, don’t we sound like fun parents?

bits of joy


sometimes i have those days.

sometimes you have those days.

i set my alarm for 6, to get up early and get a few things done before you wake.

but you wake up crying. it’s only 4:58 and you’re ready for the day. a but sleepy, a bit whiny, but ready nonetheless.

the whininess turns to defiance and you’re driving your parents to discussions about your discipline before the sun even rises.

we read books, we play outside, we water plants. we go for a jog and you fall asleep with your head to the side like only a child can do. a head and a body with no semblance of a functional neck.

we come inside. it is only 8am.

you’re frustrated. threatening to scream or want to cuddle at any minute. I don’t know which is coming and I don’t think you do either.

you bring me your bug costume and we put it on. It helps a little.

you play, alone. you don’t want help and you’ll let me know when you do.



your sweaty curls matted to your forehead. the blocks are on the floor and there’s a bit of regret in your tired eyes about dumping them all on the ground.

but like all hard days, yours and mine, there are bits of joy and sweetness and laughter that remind us of our Hope.

you found a ball. it was funny and i don’t know why. but it was so funny, and i am thankful.

thank you for the bits of sweetness and joy.




a family vacation post

for the fourth of july my dad’s family headed to Missouri. Missouri? you say, What is in Missouri? This, friends. This is in Missouri. On Table Rock Lake.

A house that slept 30+ adults and fed them all in a giant kitchen. Rooms with their own bathrooms and closets that were fully equipped with lights and vents ad plenty large enough to fit a pack-and-play (or an inflatable mattress, for that matter) and everything that goes along with a child. Access to the lake and a dock and a big yard for the littles to play.

We all had a blast. Thanks, dad!

longtime friends:

afternoons on the deck:

basking in never-ending attention:

shilah after eleven hours in the car:

uncle ben!

dada and Shilah in the library room:

sweet lily:

kissing cousins:

the b&w portraits:

and our oklahoma cousin:

happy father’s day!

happy fathers day to my husband.

who is a great dad. you let shilah know you love her and you teach her well. when you are gone during the day, she asks for you. when you come home, she lights up. i look forward to seeing you teach and train and love her for so many more years.

i love you!








happy father’s day!

happy father’s day to my dad.

who has been wonderful to me for twenty-six years.

who taught me how to swim and how to ride a bike and how to remove a splinter and tie a knot and troubleshoot a leaky toilet and understand that a car is not an investment. among other things :)

i love you, dad!

one of my favorite things lately is seeing bits of my early childhood by watching you with shilah: