Saturday, August 29, 2009

Something to Believe In

We've been losing teeth like crazy lately. Our kids don't really believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy but they want to. They go between trying to prove it's real to poking holes in the arguments. Mike's kind of a self-proclaimed expert because, well, he has actually met the tooth fairy.

Years ago when Mike's nephew Ethan was 8 or 9 we stayed at their house the very day he had lost a tooth. We were slated to sleep in his room and he was very concerned how the tooth fairy would find him. It seems unreliable tooth fairies run in the family because his tooth fairy forgot. In the morning the poor boy was devastated that the tooth fairy didn't come. Mike had put the change from his pocket on the dresser the night before and told him the tooth fairy came and tried to find his tooth but found Mike instead so he wrestled with her and the money went flying onto the dresser. I don't know if he actually believed him but he sure wanted to.

Jenna came running out of the bathroom the other day with a bloody mouth yelling, "I pulled my own tooth out!" The trouble is we have a very forgetful and lazy tooth fairy. She just doesn't do the best job. So as the kids put a tooth under their pillow they say things like, "I sure hope the tooth fairy doesn't forget again!" At that very moment, the tooth fairy makes a mental note to be sure to remember to put a dollar under the pillow when it's time for bed. But fairies have a lot on their minds sometimes or are too busy eating ice cream to remember. To make up for forgetting, the price doubles the next night.

Sometimes the male tooth fairy is better. The other night when he went in to collect the tooth (because the girl fairy remembered as she was falling asleep) he found a note that went like this:

Dear Tooth Fairy,
I yanked out my own tooth. Do I get double?

So the tooth fairy left this note:

Dear Miss Jenna,
I am sorry to inform you that I cannot pay you double for pulling your own teeth. In fact, according to section 5072 of the tooth pulling manual, that job is reserved for Dentists and Dads. By the way, you have a very handsome Dad. Thanks for the tooth; here's your dollar.

The Tooth Fairy

Isn't the make-believe world fun?

Road Rage

I've been doing a lot of running around with the kids: school shopping, appointments, end of summer outings. No one would consider me a good driver. And even more so now that I drive a beast of a van. Last night as our family was heading off to a back to school swimming party the kids started telling Dad about our car adventures. In my defense, every single road in the Duluth area is under construction.

The kids commentary came in rapid fire style:

"Mom was honking at a guy because he wouldn't go even though the light had been green forever."

"Then we turned on this road and someone was honking at us. Mom called him a jerk."

"Some car pulled out right in front of us even though there was plenty of room behind us."

"Mom told the lady in front of her to quit playing with her hair and drive but sometimes Mom does that too."

"When we got to the doctor's office we couldn't fit in any parking spaces and Mom yelled 'I hate this stupid car!'"

All of this is unfortunately true. And even though I couldn't help but chuckle as they were relaying all this information to Mike, it was pretty telling: sometimes I get angry.

Most people think I'm very patient and calm. And I really am, when I have an audience. In reality, I tend to get quickly annoyed and frustrated when things aren't going the way I want them to which as a parent happens basically every day. It's not something I want to talk about. It's so much nicer to portray myself as the parent I hope to be or know I should be.

And it's not just when I'm driving: when we were school shopping at Target we had some drinks that kept getting spilled, at the doctors office they wouldn't keep their hands off all the fascinating models of the human ear, at home they are constantly fighting and tattling or destroying the house.

Oftentimes I fly off the handle and use harsh words then I feel terrible and seek their forgiveness. It's been a constant battle for balance over my years as a parent. I want to be calm and loving. I keep on trying and trying. But it doesn't seem to work. I don't think I can do it.

The crazy thing is that all of this is happening as I'm trying to teach my kids to speak kindly and lovingly to each other. I do not want them to get angry and yell. Obviously I've got a problem here. I know some moms who always use calm voices but it does not seem to have an impact of the screaming in their homes. I do think it's important to be calm. There are times that call for a stern word or a raised voice but that's different from an angry lashing out.

I've prayed for patience a lot which there's no doubt I need, but I think it might be a little deeper than that. There's ugliness in my heart that comes pouring out of my mouth.
Matthew 12:34-37 says:

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

Pride is at the root of many of my problems. My way is better and you'd better fall in line whether your in front of me at an intersection or sitting in a car seat in my van. Unfortunately my passengers actually hear what I say and can't drive away.

Another culprit is what I fill my heart with. Are the things I listen to, watch and read filling my heart with Jesus? Not so much.

Instead of continually trying and failing to control my tongue, God wants to change my heart. I do not want to say angry words to my kids. I want what comes out of my mouth to be loving and faith-building. Until I trust Jesus to wash the sin and pride out of my heart, my words will stay ugly. I don't need to try harder, I need to trust Him more. I need Jesus to wash away the sin in my heart and replace it with His love and gentleness. If I can get that flowing out of my mouth we'll be in good shape.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Ecclesiastes 5:2
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.