Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful Hearts

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with our family. A couple of weeks ago, we made a "Thankful Tree" to help us be more intentional about being thankful for God's blessings. I got the idea from a family that I am helping with an adoption. They have five children ages five and under ( plus one more soon from Uganda!) and every night they asked each of their children what they were thankful for and they put it on the tree. It was so fun to see what the boys would say; I think I am going to leave it up until Christmas so it will help us stay in a thankful frame of mind! Some highlights from the Thankful Tree are:

Briggs- family, God, school, food, cousins
Max- cookies (his #1), toys, leaves, colors, trees, mommy, daddy, and Briggs
We went to Dothan for Thanksgiving, as always. I helped mom cook more than usual since she has very little use of her thumb right now, due to the parade mishap. We had Thanksgiving at Brooke and Tim's house and it was so much fun. Everyone ate too much turkey, dressing, rice, peas and butter beans, yeast rolls, and casseroles (chicken, sweet potato, vegetable, and broccoli) plus pecan, chocolate, and pumpkin pie! My cousins Blake and his wife Megan came with their three girls and my other cousin, Clint, came later with his wife Angie and their two girls, which made 9 children ages 7 and under running around everywhere!

Friday, we went to Uncle Scott and Aunt Sue's house to watch the Iron Bowl, where there were more Auburn fans than Alabama, but it all worked out in the end! After the game, everyone ate chili and turkey sandwiches and then we went on a hayride! I hope it will be the first annual Brown's Crossroads hayride because it was so much fun and I think we should do it every year! It was the longest hayride ever on the trails through the woods on Uncle Scott's land. There were lots of tree branches to duck under (one large one that broke off as we pulled out that nearly killed us all if Rod had not saved the day! haha) The boys howled at the moon like wolves and recited lines from their favorite movies. At one point Max (for unknown reasons) yelled, "we're all gonna die." It must also be from a movie but it was so funny coming from him. I have no idea what the little girls were doing in the back, because all I could hear were the loud boys around me. I think everyone enjoyed the hayride and were grateful to Uncle Scott and Clint ( and Blake for the idea) for taking us.

That night, Hudson and Eli spent the night with us at Granny and Papa's house and all the boys slept on the floor in their bedroom, except for Max who got in the bed with them as soon as the lights were out.
Saturday, Rod and Brooke took all the boys to the movies to see Astro Boy and then the boys played at Brooke and Tim's house until supper and bedtime.
Sunday we got to go to church and eat lunch with everyone before it was time to go home. It was a great weekend.
As I look back over Thanksgiving, here are some things I am thankful for:
That everyone is healthy
That all of the family was together at Thanksgiving
The fun, late night talks that my sister and I have every time we go home
The relationships that I have with each of my family members
That Alabama beat Auburn (just kidding)
That Rod, my parents, my sister and her husband and my extended family are all Christ followers
That God is sovereign over all.
It truly was a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Cosmic Birthday

What a difference a year and some better planning make for a birthday party. Last year at this time we were all freezing our tails off at a park with some unseasonsably cold rain, wind, and near freezing temperatures. This year we decided to go indoors and what a great decision that was. Briggs chose to go to the bowling alley and it was really one of the best parties ever. He had six kids from his class come, his cousin Brayden, as well as some of the siblings. The bowling alley was setup all "Cosmic" style and the kids loved it. The alley prepared the food and drinks and took care of pretty much everything. Leslie the super-mom made a bowling ball and pin shaped cake into the wee hours of the morning because we had some oven issues that delayed her a bit. She did all this despite me telling her to just go buy a plastic pin to go along with the cake ball. At midnight she insisted that she press on and that I apparently don't "get it". Big cake turn out great as far as me neanderthal brain know.
The only difficulty was holding Max back from trying to tote around a 10 pound bowling ball with a broken collar bone whilst insisting "!".
Several parents commented on what a great host our little seven year old was. Completely unsolicited, Briggs, the future politician, spent a large portion of the party going around making sure everyone was having fun and telling everyone thank you. Happy Birthday Briggs, what a fine young man you are growing up to be, too quickly I might add :-(

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Everyone Needs A Redeemer, Even on Their Birthday

I (Leslie) had intentions of writing about Briggs turning 7 with words describing how sweet, loving, and wonderful our first-born son is. And he is all of those things that I wanted to say. But after a very long day on the day marking his birth, I was also reminded that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.

When I picked him up from school Thursday, he was so excited about the treats I had brought him for his special "Birthday in a Bag" snack to school. I had filled it with a Spider man cupcake, a balloon on a stick, and some animal bracelets. He was so excited, until Max asked to look at the green ones. He refused to share and then started begging me to make Max take a nap when we got home because he wanted to "relax and watch TV alone." I informed him that if he wanted to be alone he was welcome to go in his room and close the door, since that is his space, but that I would not forbid Max to go in the playroom. Of course, he did not want to do that because there is no TV in his room. Briggs kept on complaining until Max got very upset and started crying, "Briggs is not my brother anymore." His little feelings were so hurt that I think he meant, "Briggs does not want to be my brother because he is being so mean to me." I told Briggs that he was hurting Max's feelings and that all day Max asks when we can go get him from school because he misses him during the day. Briggs continued on saying that it was his birthday, not ours, and he wanted to watch TV alone. So when we got home, I gave him one more chance to be kind, give Max a chance to play with him nicely, and share. Briggs refused and even became more determined to get his way. So, I gave him what he asked for (sort of). I sent him to his room to be alone. For nearly an hour, I would not let him come out of his room. He cried, he screamed, he stomped on the floor. He was so upset, I thought he was going to give himself an asthma attack. As much as I wanted to go in and make him calm down, I refrained. Finally, I knew his stubborn will was broken and I went in to see if he was ready to be with the rest of the family. He was very contrite and repentant. We talked about how God created us to live together in families and we have to share our space. I told him that it is okay to want to be alone sometimes, but that it is not okay to hurt others in the process. We talked about sinful hearts and forgiveness. We talked about our Redeemer who loves us through our rebellion and brings us back into fellowship with Himself through our repentance.

But, for the rest of the day, I dwelled on the fact that I was so disappointed that his birthday had turned out so badly. I just wanted him to have a good day, without any problems or concerns. And then God changed my perspective. He reminded me that, this very day, I had said that my goals for my son are not for him to be happy and successful with an easy life free from difficulty. My goals for him are for him to love and follow Christ with his whole being and to glorify Him with his life. This "bad day" was in fact an opportunity to point him to the cross. To help him understand his sinfulness and his need for redemption, for forgiveness, for Jesus. Although I do this frequently in disciplining him, for some reason this time was different for me. I have to admit, usually when I discipline him, I am angry. I know you are not supposed to let your emotions take over and never "spank" out of anger, but honestly, I am nearly always angry when I have to discipline him. It is something that I have struggled with for a while ("why else would I want to spank him unless I was mad at him?" was my honest feeling.) I feel like the worst social worker in the world! I could tell other people what to do, but when it came to my own child, I struggled to do it. I needed a Savior too.

That day, God changed my heart and genuinely gave me a different perspective. I was not angry with Briggs. My heart grieved for him. I even cried because of the sadness I felt for the way he was acting. But I also saw it as a "good thing"- an opportunity that I was given to disciple my son. Although I knew that this is what disciplining should be, after all, they are basically the same word, I finally really "got it." It was not about punishment, as it has been many times in the past, but rather about teaching. Discipling. Sharing Christ. I am so glad that God forgave me for so many times of disciplining the wrong way and for teaching me His way.

We are all just sinners in need of a Savior. I don't want to miss His grace, or for my children to either.

"But God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Heb. 12:10b-11

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Halloween, The Peanut Festival, and Broken Collarbones 2009

Wow where does the time go!? I've been on the road a lot (for me anyway) lately and it seems life is going by entirely too fast. I do my best to slow it down, but despite my efforts this year is flying by. I'll throw a lot into this post just to document recent months. I am very much looking forward to a little holiday break this year.

Let's see...we finished fall baseball with Briggs. It was a lot of fun b/c they play pretty much normal baseball and it's a little more laid back in the fall. Briggs did fine as always. Max during each practice would take the tee into the batting cage, hit a ball, tell you to tell him to "Run Max! Run!", he would proceed to mock run bases, go get the ball, and the do it all over again. Good times. We're skipping basketball this season to try to slow things down a little bit and spend some quality family time together before spring ball picks back up.

For Halloween we decided to go to a neighborhood not far from here with a lot more houses than ours. Briggs wore his Obi Wan Kenobi costume and Max was a frog (hand-me-down from Briggs that Max wanted to wear). The boys had a good time going from house to house and seeing the other kids in their costumes. They racked up on candy but the only one that ended up eating any of it was Leslie, the rest eventually was thrown away. I guess they inherited my non-sweet tooth...

We were excited to finally get to go back to the Peanut Festival this year after being home-bound last year with Briggs being sick. Unfortunately however things didn't go exactly the way we planned. On the morning of the parade we were walking toward our seats (myself, Briggs, Leslie, Max, and Grannie). We had to park a couple of blocks away and took a shortcut across some rail-road tracks to get to the next street over. I thought that would be the "dangerous" part of the trek, little did I know that the next street over actually had it in for us. While walking down the street, Grannie was walking and holding Max's hand, at some point she tripped, fell, and took Max down with her. Long story short, she's going to need some surgery on her thumb area after the swelling goes down and Max has a broken left collarbone. He's been a real trooper through all of this though. The first day he was understandably pretty pitiful just wanting to be held all day, but by the next morning once he realized he could still get around without too much pain, we couldn't slow him down. The good news is that it'll heal up just fine in a few weeks and all he has to do is wear a sling (easier said than done) and stay out of the trampoline. Briggs was able to enjoy the whole parade and got to go to the fair to ride rides with his cousins Jessica, Samantha, Hudson, and Eli; they had a blast. I really hate Max had to miss it but he'll be plenty big next year to enjoy pretty much everything that he would have had to skip this year. Sue and Samantha (along with some graciousness of the carnie after hearing of Max's untimely disability) won Max a monkey that he has loved playing with.

Last couple of notes. Briggs has started wanted to take showers instead of baths lately. The other night he told me "Dad, I can do it all by myself, you just go sit down and relax." NICE. Max and Briggs have been playing great together and yet also getting on each others nerves a lot lately too, a sign of things to come I'm sure. Tonight they were playing some pretend rocket type scenario and when it was time to "go to bed", Briggs laid Max down on the couch, then told him it was time to read him his Bible verse, and then proceeded to read him all of Psalm 79 which he had randomly selected. I'm proud and yet am at the same time hoping Max doesn't have nightmares from it :-).