Monthly Archives: May 2009

On Holiness in Parenting

Yesterday I went to Target and saw a display that most mothers can relate to even if they have never acted on this kind of frustration.  As I pulled in the parking lot, looking for a place to park I happened upon a woman loading her car in preparation to leave.  I sat and waited while another woman walked briskly to her car parked next to the first car, with one daughter in her cart and one daughter backwards over her shoulder, with flailing arms and legs in a frantic attempt to escape.  The mother half lowered/half dropped her daughter to the ground and held her there with her knees while she unloaded her purchases into the cart. 

At this point I saw another, already open space so I parked, so as not to make this mother think I mistakenly thought I was sitting in a drive-in watching the dramatics that her daughter (probably about 4 years old, by the way) was unashamedly displaying.  I could not help but continue to watch, though, as the scene unfolded.  The mother threw her daughter in the car and began to scream at her in such a way that I can only assume meant that she had lost all control over herself.  She was beyond the point of simply yelling at her kids, but on the verge of sounding psychotic.  I imagine that, from the display the little girl was putting on in the parking lot, the mother was past the point of no return in exhaustion, embarassment and anger.  I got my kids out of the car, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mother sprinting through the parking lot.  The girl had finally made her escape.  The mother forcefully grabbed her, threw her, once again, into the car, screamed at the top of her lungs again, and I made my way into Target so that I would not have to witness anymore.  As I did, (my pregnancy hormones took over) and my eyes filled with tears in empathy for this mother. 

I know that some moms would say, “my kids never act that way”, “I’ve trained my kids to not act like that in public”, “I don’t lose my cool like that”.  I thought about that with my easy going son, and my very strong willed daughter in my cart.  I don’t think I’ve lost my cool like that with my kids, especially in public.  I may have lost it at home, but I’m sure I have tried very hard to not show that in front of them and especially not to take it out on them.  As I walked away, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the mother and praying for her. 

We can do everything right in raising our children, but that doesn’t take away their God-given free will. We touched on this in my sunday school class last week.  The Bible say to “train up a child in the way he should go, and in the end he will not depart from it.”   Is this a promise?  Does this mean that every Christian parent is going to have all Christian kids?  I’m still wrestling with that in my own mind.  Another point that was brought up was how God is working in my life as a parent.  Yes, God wants to do a work on my child’s heart, but he also is working on me.  Am I willing to follow God’s word in raising my child for the 18 years (give or take) only to have them completely rebel and turn their back on God?  Am I more worried about appearances or am I concerned with how God can make my child a true reflection of Him? 

I don’t know what life is like at home for the little girl and her mother.  Maybe something tramatic just happened in their lives.  Maybe she doesn’t get much support from her husband at home.  Maybe she is a single mom.  I have no way of knowing, but it made me stop and think about how I tend to pass judgement on people because their kids at that moment are not as well behaved as mine… or maybe because their kids are so much better behaved than mine.  “We can’t all be perfect parents or have perfect kids”, is usually what I think to myself.  But, God doesn’t call us to perfection he calls us to Holiness, with however much grace and mercy that might entail… for my kids or for someone else’s.

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5am Alarms

Today was one of those mornings.  I could feel it coming on as soon as I hit the snooze.  That deep feeling of dread that encompasses my waking moments about once a week or so.  I’m so exhausted the night before that I don’t do everything that I know I should before bedtime.  So, upon waking the next morning it hits me like a ton of bricks, all that I need to do just to be able to start my day.  Wash the dishes, do at least one load of laundry before Christian goes to school, mop the kitchen floor…and, there are people coming over today.  At least I don’t have to fix dinner tonight.  Its like a frost that starts when the alarm goes off and as I move about the house that morning it seems to spread to everything that I touch until pretty soon, I am so overwhelmed I can’t seem to remember why I even bothered to get out of bed, and I start to feel paralysed.  I can’t function except to do the bare necessities and maybe cry a little.  I know what it is.  I’ve heard that admitting the problem is half the battle.  Celebrities have recently made it all but popular to suffer from postpardum depression.  I’m not to the “postpardum” part yet, but depression is something that has reared its ugly head periodically in my life.  I guess now, for me, it would be labled as prenatal.  Its a hormonal imbalance, mostly, and I am aware of that, although it doesn’t make it easy.

Most of my life, I have gone through periods where I guess I would be labled as depressed.  I couldn’t even tell you why.  Different things happened in my life, things that every teenager or young adult goes through.  But, for some reason, I just had a hard time dealing with these things.  When I was going through my divorce, I had a counselor for a short time that wanted to put me on medication.  It was easy to refuse then, because I knew the source of my pain was the divorce and that was not just in my head.  I know now that part of my problem is the changes that my body is going through, and I sometimes think it would be better for my family if I was medicated, just until the baby is born and life goes back to normal.  But, I’m not, so I just do my best to spend those extra minutes in God’s Word, in prayer, and blogging about my life for all 5 of my readers.  🙂  That probably sounds really cliche to some of my Christian readers, but I have to tell ya that it helps tremendously!

Anyone who knows me, knows that my house is generally a disaster.  I don’t mind having company when I know the person, because most likely they have seen it before.  (Or, if its my grandma, she says, “I raised kids too, once!”)  But, that seems to be one of the biggest triggers of this overwhelming feeling of self-loathing. Even though I know the feelings are made so intense by this life growing inside of me, I also have figured out what I can do to help calm myself. 

1.  Clean the kitchen…everyday.  (Really I would feel better if it was deep cleaned everyday and sparkling fresh, but I will settle for the floor swept, the table and counters cleared and the dishes washed before I go to bed.)

2.  The bathroom clean.  Normally this seems like a big job, but I ordered some cleaning wipes from a company called Melaleuca, and while the kids are in the tub, I toss all of their dirty clothes into the hall to be picked up later and then I wipe down the sink and the toilet.  That does wonders for my sanity.  And, I have been trying to make the kids pick up after themselves in there. 

3.  If I have clean clothes to wear in the morning and clean towels and washclothes to use for my shower when I wake up.  As, I read over this one, it sounds silly, but laundry is one of my biggest vices.  Even on the days when I have time to do it, its an impossible task because I have a terrible time folding clothes and keeping them folded with Allyn around, so I generally give up.  So, if I can do a load of clothes early enough in the evening that it is drying when I go to bed and ready for me in the morning, that helps. 

4.  If I can spend 1-2 hours in the morning, before the kids get up, showering, drinking coffee, reading my Bible, praying and blogging, this one probably helps the most.  The problem is that if #3 isn’t done, then #4 probably is gonna get overlooked because then I have to do #3 before I can start #4 so that I have clean towels and clothes for after my shower.  This means getting up at about 5am, but believe me, as much as I dread a 5am alarm, I’m a much nicer person if I don’t hit the snooze and just get up, and yes, even on the weekends.

5.  The last thing is to make sure the checkbook is balanced and the bills are getting paid.  This is already my responsibility so I’m not ever nagging Derick about it.  But I feel totally irresponsible if I neglect it for any length of time. 

I know this seems like a typical to do list for most stay-at-home moms, but I can’t explain how worthless I feel if I don’t get those things done.  And, I can almost forget about doing much beyond that.  I simply don’t have the energy or the desire.  Today was not one of those mornings.  The laundry got done this morning, although, I did find a few clean things to use after my shower.  The dishes are mostly loaded in the dishwasher, but not all, therefore it didn’t get run last night.  The bathroom was pretty good, but I hit the snooze until 5:30 and Allyn has been awake, talking to himself for the last 40 minutes.  *Sigh*  The only thing I can do is remember that the extremity of my emotions right now is temporary.  A couple of months after the baby is born things will calm down and I can go back to being (semi)normal, (whatever that is…)

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Just another Tuesday Morning

Yesterday Derick sent an email to his Chief to tell him that he would like to be considered to be on the second team to be deployed to South America.   His Chief emailed him back and said he would forward it on to the XO (I think that means executive officer) with the highest recommendations.  Wow!  This doesn’t mean that he will definitely go, but it excites me to think that he has earned that much respect from his Chief in such a short time. 

So, it has begun.  I’m excited for him!  I may not be as excited on the day (or the week) that he leaves.  It is a huge adjustment.  It only took him being gone once for me to realize that.  People asked me all the time, “How do you do it with 3 little kids??”  I think when you know that you have to do something and you don’t have a choice, your mindset changes.  Its not an attitude of, “How will I survive?”  Its an attitude of, “I chose this and God will get me through everyday.”   Actually, to be honest I don’t think about it in terms of survival.  I just did what I had to do and I didn’t think about how hard it was or how I wish someone (Derick) was here to help me.  If I had to go to the store, I loaded up the kids and went.  If they were all asleep when we got home at night and I had to carry them all inside, I just did it, one at a time, until it was done.  And, I even intentionally took them out to eat on occasion, just because I needed to get out of the house and I couldn’t just leave them at home! 🙂

I do have an update, though.  Turns out Derick would have to be active duty for at least one year consecutively to get his college 100% paid for.  While that is a dissappointment (I thought it was 6 months), I know that it is still his desire to serve his country.  But there are plenty of benefits besides just the schooling.  So, he’s excited, so I’m excited too!  I wish I had something more exciting to write about (for all 5 of my readers) but unfortunately, I don’t.  Since Derick just came back from drill on Sunday night, all of this is fresh on our minds so its easy to write about. 

I often wonder how the kids will handle it.  I know they say kids are resiliant, but I still think about it.  I think a lot depends on me and my attitude.  Will I be pining away over his return or will I be glad that he is away protecting our freedom?  How will I portray that to my kids?  I don’t remember if I mentioned this before but it does mean that Derick and I, once again, will not be able to go on the Midwest Camp Bike Trip together.  Someday we will but it looks like this year is definitely out and possibly next year too.  I may cry in front of my kids about that. 🙂  Anyway, that’s a different subject for a different day.

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Picking and Choosing Christians

Derick comes home from drill today.  It wasn’t as tramatic of a weekend as some may think it would be.  We really fared quite well.  I was only really emotional on the day that he left, and that was just from feeling lonely, fresh after his departure.  Other than that, the weekend went fine. 

Christian went last night to Ron and Angie’s house.  They are his grandparents from my previous marriage.  I actually get along quite well with them.  I think I have a better relationship with them now than I did when I was married to their son.  I actually haven’t heard from my exhusband in a few months.  It makes me wonder what’s going on.  I am torn as to how I should feel about him.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I want him to change his life.  I believe that Jesus can give him the power to do just that.  I think he can be a strong and very influential man of God.  I think that he has an endless amount of potential with all of the artistic talents that God gave him. 

But, on the other hand, as the mother of a child who’s father has addiction issues, I would just as soon, he drop out of our lives all together and let Derick adopt Christian.  I know that is the wrong attitude, but from a human perspective it is so easy to just ignore the obvious will of God for someone to accept Jesus.  (2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.)  I feel like Jonah.  God told him to preach to Ninevah.  First he ran away.  Then when he finally did preach to them, they repented.  They changed their lives… and Jonah got angry and bitter.  He took it upon himself to decide that they didn’t deserve mercy.  Its easy to read that story in the Bible and think that Jonah is so dense.  Can’t he see God’s bigger picture?  Can’t he see how much God loved them too?  But is it really any different with any of us (with me and my ex)?  Am I so much better than he, that God would choose me over him?  Yet, I still feel tempted to sit here and rationalize my feelings.  Its ok, I might say… I’m only human.  God understands why I feel that way.  Its only natural, after all, I’m Christian’s mother.

No, God calls us to a higher standard than that.  We, as Christian’s need to own our actions and take responsibility not just for that but for our attitudes too.  I was reading Galatians 2 today when Paul confronted Peter about making the Gentiles live like Jews, when he himself was not.  And suddenly I wondered if Peter ever questioned why God would save a man like Paul.  Surely the disciples had first hand encounters with Paul before his conversion.  They knew how ruthless and unmerciful he was tward Christians.  Did Peter ever think, “Who is this man that God should save him?  I have been a follower of Christ from the beginning and now this sinner is telling me what to do??  Who does he think he is?!”  Did he ever think, “I may have denied Jesus, but that’s nothing compared to torturing and killing his followers!”  If he did I’m guessing he didn’t dwell on it because the Bible doesn’t talk about it.  I have to wonder if those thoughts crossed his mind simply because he was human just like me.  And I have to keep reminding myself that Joe is just as worthy of salvation as Paul was.  And, certainly, just as worthy as I. 

Lord, Jesus, I need to take a minute to pray specifically for Joe.  I pray for his sincere salvation.  I pray that you would make the path straight before him so that he could allow you to change his life.  He is not a lost cause, as you have continuously shown me.  He still has a calling on his life and it is not your will for him to perish.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness.  Thank you for your neverending mercy and grace.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Another Drill Weekend

Its raining again this morning, and Derick is in Wisconsin.  That means I had to make my own coffee.  (Actually, he started swimming in the mornings a couple of weeks ago, so I make it for myself most mornings.)  This weekend was supposed to be the Navy Seabee Ball, but it was cancelled.  I was pretty bummed about that.  So instead, I’m home doing hair all weekend.  Derick’s drill is longer than normal this weekend.  He left yesterday afternoon on a bus to northern Wisconsin (FT. McCoy) and won’t be back until late Sunday night.  I don’t mind being alone for the weekend, but I do miss him a lot!!  And, he is getting promoted this weekend.  He is being promoted from a Constructionman to a 3rd class Petty Officer.  I’m not exactly sure what that means but I know its exciting for him.  He wants so much to really be involved with the Navy, not just to show up for drill once a month.  I’m so proud of his accomplishments like this. 

I think the kids have a harder time with him being gone, especially Aida.  I asked them last night what they would think if Dad went away for a few months again.  I told them he would be going to South America to drill wells so that people down there can have clean drinking water.  And I tried to explain to them that he does this not only for the protection of our family but for the protection of everyone in our country.  That’s why he enlisted, to serve.  I think Christian understood, but Aida was too close to dreamland to really comprehend what I was telling her.  Christian will really miss his Dad, and Aida too.  Fortunately, this time I will be able to explain it a little better to them, and they will understand better what is coming, since we have been through this before (sort of).  I think last time, especially Aida, had no idea that she wasn’t going to see her Daddy, except for one time, in 5 months.  She used to stand at the top of the stairs and call down to him, thinking that he was just downstairs working like normal.  It made me very sad!  I think I will know a little better how to prepare as well.  Last time I had a photo album of pictures of Derick for her.  I made it after he left, and it has since been destroyed (over use).  This time I think I will ask for Derick’s help and make it before he leaves.  Maybe I can make one for each of the kids.  I also have pictures of him in uniform hanging around the house now, so he’s not leaving with no sign of where he is and what he is doing.  (I’m not very good at decorating my house, so getting those pictures on the wall was a big deal!)

Well this is my problem with blogs, I guess… I don’t know how to close.  Is this an essay, and am I supposed to have a conclusion?  Is this just a journal that happens to be public so I can end it however I want?  I’m not sure, so I guess… until next time…

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New Opportunities for Petty Officer Uhler

There never seems to be anything too exciting to write about.  Nothing that other people would care to read anyway.  And when there is something to write about, I’m not sure I always want it publicly proclaimed on the world wide web.  But, I guess at this point I really don’t have that many readers so here goes…

Derick found out a couple of months ago that he has the opportunity to volunteer to be deployed to South America… well… anywhere south of America, technically, starting as early as July but hopefully for him it would start in January.  Here’s the deal.  He would be digging wells and doing some kind of guard duty, not going to war.  They are looking for 2 groups of 85 US Navy Seabees from the midwest to voluntarily be deployed in 2 consectutive 6 month time spans.  It would be 6 months overseas plus 3 months of training previous to that.  If Derick were deployed he would be opting for the second of the 2 6-months.  And if that were the case we would figure on him leaving for training in January and for South America in April. 

There are pros and cons to leaving and to staying.  Of course, I don’t want to be without my wonderful husband for 9 months.  And I will have a baby to take care of as well.  And he doesn’t really want to miss that much of his new son’s life.  But if he goes, he will be fulfilling his duty as an enlisted sailor in the United States Navy.  (I think that is something that men will understand better than women.)  And if he is gone for that long, the Navy will pay for all of his remaining college when he returns.  That means when he gets home, there will be nothing to stop him from signing up for classes and finishing his degree in secondary education and getting a job that he really wants not just keeping one that will get us by.  Plus, once he is done with his bachelors degree, he can start working tward becoming an officer, something that he has talked about on and off since he enlisted.  Then he would have 2 jobs that he really wanted and the potential to have a third of sorts.  1.)  High School math teacher  2.) Officer in the US Navy Seabees and 3.) high school baseball coach – well, if he is teaching he would have a better chance at coaching.

I guess the only downside would be the time spent away from his family and all the things that he would miss that go along with that.  He would miss 4 of our birthdays. (Christian, Feb. 9; Aida, June 22; Mine, July 26; baby Uhler, August ?).  He would miss our anniversary.  (I guess I would have to go to a Cubs game without him… maybe me and Christian could go.)  And he would miss going on the biketrip.  I would, once again, have to go without him, but I definitely would go anyway.  First, to have a weekend to myself, and second because it will always be my goal to be in the best shape of my life when he comes home from deployment. 

I suppose any sane wife would be crying her eyes out and begging him to stay and wait until his scheduled depoyment in 2012.  Then I would have older children and not babies to take care of.  Instead, I find myself encouraging him to take this opportunity and run with it.  This one trip south of the boarder could provide so much opportunity for him and, thus, for our family.  I don’t want him to miss any of that, and then come to regret it all later. 

To be honest, I believe God has been preparing me for this over the last few months.  It has been weighing heavy on my heart, the possibility of Derick going active duty.  I have talked with him about that, but just deciding to be active really wasn’t an option because of how many kids we have vs. the amount of pay available at his level of service.  Plus, at this point in time we are not able to move out of Illinois and take Christian with us (long story) and if he were active we would most likely be moving to California or Mississippi.   Anyway, to me it seemed very similar to when God showed me that he initially wanted Derick in the Navy.  I feel passionate about the Navy, just like I have seen missionaries from other countries feel passionate about their mission field.  I believe 100% that this is the mission field that God has given to us, (no matter who the president is, and what happens in our country over the next several years).    But, ultimately this deployment is Derick’s decision and I don’t want him to feel forced by me one way or another to leave.  I know that while God will give me peace and strength to stay, Derick also needs to feel that same peace and strength to go.  It is much easier, I think, to feel called to stay (even to stay and be a single mom of 4) than it is to feel called to go and be without any of one’s family.   

So, if you are reading this, please pray for direction for my family and mostly for my husband.  Just because I feel one way about this doesn’t mean he feels the same way.  And I know that God has placed him as the head of our family.

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