I could not ask for a better father for my son. I few things I just love about my husband when it comes to fathering Matthew......
1. He gives him LOTS of affection. Tons of hugs and kisses and cuddles. Just tons. This is HUGE for me. In our society boys are typically left high and dry when it comes to appropriate physical touch from their fathers and they are starving for it. It is vital to their masculine security as boys, young men, and men. I am so thankful that Matthew is getting this from his dad. It is such an important way for Michael to show that he loves and accepts our son and his boyhood. =)
2. "Matthew, it's OK if you cry. It won't take away from your masculinity." THANK YOU husband. THANK YOU. The last thing I want is for our kids have to bottle up their emotions and then have it come out in unhealthy ways later on in life. Plus, isn't the home suppose to be the safe place to let things like that out, especially as they get older? Michael sure is making home a safe place for Matthew already.
All four of us sisters have been back together this week. Even though we live apart, the best part is seeing how much closer we are then the years that we would fall asleep cuddled on the couch or fight over clothes.
The other big thing, I give major props to our husbands. Like most families, there is always a bit of a filter when you are around other people, just for respect. But when my sisters and/or parents are together or with maybe a very intimate friend, there is no filter and it gets a bit wild. So as our husbands get to be in the "in", it is funny to hear them say to each other, "she does that too?", or be in complete awkward shock with the amount of openness four close sisters can really have. They really have bonded together, walked into the role of being our husbands and stick it out. It's nice to have other people that you feel a bit ok around when you laugh so hard you don't make it to the bathroom on time. It has been great.
Oh and p.s. Last night Emily and I were doing a few minor beauty surgeries on each other when we found the exact same mark on our body. We measured, and it is exactly 8.5 inches down from the inside of our left elbow. How cool is that, right?
And a few of my favorite moments this week.
* Nicole and Matthews dance party in the mall (where all the kiddos got new Converse from their Uncle Jon and Aunt Emily)
* Emily's determination to spend every second she can being wild and cuddly with our kiddos.
* Zechariah (3), telling me "my underwear is deep, in my butt" (aka, he had a wedgie.)
I would die for this child. A nephew and a niece are part of you except you can send them home at night. However, we are planning on this little man having a sleepover with us in the next few weeks. I love him like woah! He's a bit of a goof and my buddy. And he is so kind to my son. Quite the little man of God.
And he got to see his little man of God of a brother get baptized today. I'm not too hot on the infant vs.adult baptism thing because I think God knows our motives and he can work like crazy outside of our minds trying to figure it all out. As my dad said, "I think I will never grasp baptism. It is just too big." He can work in any age. He is just that BIG. And even though we haven't decided what we are doing yet with Matthew, I can tell you, this baptism for a little 6 week old was POWERFUL. Oh was it powerful!
Speaking of God working outside our minds. I love how he talks about that the kingdom of God is in children. I fully believe Matthew knows things about Jesus that I don't. Outside of our complete understanding he can work in these kids. Today my mom told Matthew how much Jesus loved him. Plain as day, Matthew said, "Jesus is daddy." My mom as witness. He said it three times. My ONE year old. He then folded his hands like he was praying. Which is funny because we don't have a fold your hands and bow your heads prayer routine in our home. But he can worship however he chooses. It almost brought Mike to joyful tears. I love our God, that he would show himself to my little son.
My sisters and I had a million interests growing up. I played pick up tackle football, soccer, roller hockey, and liked to climb trees. But in the middle of that, we were the most old fashioned little girls you'd ever meet. We always wanted to bake our own bread, wear prairie dresses, live in the attic without electricity, write stories, build our own little home forts outside, and mix everything by hand. We even tried to get our parents to let us live without electricity for a week so we could walk around in nightgowns with candles just like on "Little House on the Prairie."
Well, yesterday, the originals were all together. My parents and all four sisters. Best day ever by the way. We played lots of sports, now at the level of a 3 year old, and really just had some great quality time with our kids.
Well we all walked to the park yesterday and this is what we talked about.
NICOLE: "You guys should have raised us Amish. We would have loved it. Making our own bread, carriage rides with horses, dresses, no electricity."
EMILY: " I mean, really, you guys! We would have been the perfect Amish family. Dad working the fields, mom sewing and baking bread with the four little girls.
MOM: "No way you guys. I COULD NOT live without my makeup."
I have lots to do today before lots of company. And Matthew is very distracting when his little face and little feet are just ever so kissable, and kissing him is all I want to be doing today. Oh, I love him.
I think I should mention that Matthew is walking. It's not his main form of transportation, but he will walk across the room intentionally at times. He enjoyed a few good conversations with grandma and papa before the Bickel bunch takes over this week, and Beth from New York is coming. =) I am pretty sure Matthew will sleep for 3 days straight after the Aunt Emily storm blows through. I think she has our schedules planned by the minute for the next week. SHE DOESN'T STOP! She is already planning on taking the kids for runs with my running stroller and she is already hauling us over to Ohio tomorrow. I'm also pretty sure she will even want to change all the diapers. "this is her time with the kids." Matthews extra wild and crazy side better come out or he won't survive the storm. =) so excited.
Well, I just finished the Beth Moore bible study on the book of James. We studied the book and the life of James very in depth. We looked at the context of the day, the origin and root of words, historical documents, how it connected to other parts of scripture. This helped tremendously in searching for truth. I have left this series hardly able to breath. It has dramatically changed my life and I am beyond myself in the heart twisting effect it has had on me. I am just in awe and still in shock with the truth of the bible that I did not know. I always believed in God, often with pure trust that what he says is true. But once you really become a student of the word and dive in the scriptures there is no doubt that these words could not be written without the inspiration of a living God. NO WAY. I have no words. I am just humbled and itching for more. I love you Jesus. Thank you, for what you have done.
Some of my favorite things that she said tonight. Some exact quotes, some paraphrased.
- Make yourself vulnerable to the Word of God. He will always lift you up, and never tear you down.
- You will never have it all together. And if you do have it all together...have children. Then you will never have it together again, for the rest of your life. NEVER. NEVER- (haha, i just thought that was cute. and true)
- Stop looking for the perfect church, you won't find it. And if you do find a perfect church, the second you walk in, you'll wreck it. (again. haha. soooo true)
- Cover people in love, so they do not feel ashamed around you
- immunity from community means no ministry
- Just when you think something is dead and over, Jesus resurrects it from the grave.
My sister Emily is coming to visit from California. We are just going nuts over it. Her and Matthew talk on the phone all the time. It is pretty adorable. They have actually conversations. And since Emily understands child babble, it goes pretty well. But as I had my normal chat with Emily today and we started talking about plans with all the kids, she says to me. "I can't talk about your kids right now. Every time I do, I start to cry." Man, my boy is blessed to have her as an aunt. I can't wait to see her. My heart is going wild being about ready to see my dear sister. AH!
Matthew and I had one of the best days as mom and son.
The past few weeks I have been so obsessive about cleaning and keeping things organized that I try to fit in floor time with him; instead of fitting in cleaning. He is constantly holding books up to me, or a toy, or throwing the ball at me while I'm picking up. Ill go sit with him for a few and when he seems content Ill stand up to go finish what I am doing while I hear little cries in the background. Since he started throwing little tantrums yesterday I stopped in my cleaning tracks and decided he has had enough of my crap. I cleaned everything last night so I would have no excuse, and I dedicated this day to Matthew only. I put away half of his toys and made no plans with anyone. And wow, was today a 180. I was in shock. After breakfast I played with him the entire morning. I did not stop playing with him but to go to the bathroom or when he seemed to want to play alone. He kissed me more today than normal and he laughed so much. We both got the patience to practice communicating with each other. Since he got more focused quality time with me he sat so still while I thought him more sign language and he used sign language with me more today than ever before. It was like he knew I was actually here to listen. He told me stories, and he worked diligently at figuring out a fairly complicated toy for his age, and he had the patience to figure it out. He even pulled my weeds growing on the side of the house. No joke! All his idea too. And when I sat for more than 5 minutes to read him books, he would actually look up at me and smile and give me a kiss. like, "hey mom, I appreciate this." And when he did decide to play alone, he was so content and calm and happy to be playing by himself.
All this to say, it was such a relaxing day. We really worked well together and I he was so happy. Just so happy. And there was not any more cleaning at the end of the day as usual. I think this should be more the norm.
I love my Matthew so much it hurts! (In a good way)
I am noticing that Matthew is experiencing new feelings such as frustration and maybe a little bit of anger, and he has completely normal child reactions to these feelings. Reactions like yelling at a cousin when they take his food. Or pushing another kids hand away from the book he is reading. Or maybe screaming when he can't get his big toy over the step. There could have possibly been some flailing and kicking the floor after a way too short of a nap, a totally inconsolable child, face first in the floor, sobbing.
And by the Grace of God, all I could think of in that moment was how totally amazing it is that God is letting me be here for him through all of this. He has given me about 18 years to teach a child how to one day react to his feelings in a responsible and healthy way for when he is an adult. But all I could think about was something my friend told me and what we have been talking about in my mom's group. --It takes time to teach children. And we cannot expect them to act like adults right away. They WILL act and react like children. We as adults, must stay calm, and react the way we want them to react when they are frustrated and angry--- So as I rubbed his little back as he was kicking and sobbing into the floor, I pray with everything in me, that the first time he hits me (if it even happens), I will have the strength to discipline in wisdom, as a very calm and loving adult. I really pray that my reaction to any disobedience is with the motive that I am there to teach him loving behavior for HIS good, not to make a point of MY authority. Man is it hard. But I just could not believe what God showed me today. Matthew is very very sweet with other children, but as he is starting to have the not wanting to share syndrome, God has shown me it is not the end of the world, he is a wonderful child, and it will take time to teach him. And I am relaxed with it all (in this moment), and ready to raise this wonderful little boy, speaking positive of him through the rough moments.
On a fun note:
Matthew can walk. He just won't.
He now does sign language for "eat" "all done" "more" "milk" and "book"
He likes to bear crawl, which is even more hilarious with a naked but after bath time.
He is learning to gently close the cupboards. It is very cute to see him try to not slam them. He really only slams them when I won't pick him up when I'm putting dinner on the stove. Just to prove a point maybe?
Matthew knows the names of some of his books and will go grab the book you ask him to grab.
He loves hide and seek and chasing games.
He likes sitting in chairs.
He loves his mom and dad!
And I will read this post over and over again. What a beautiful reminder.
The morning started way earlier than usual around here so Matthew and I are practicing smiling even though we don't feel like it. Maybe we will just start to feel smiley if we do it enough. Ok, so it's not that bad. But he is a bit of a cheese ball.
How he knows to smile when I take a picture.
I still don't understand how he has picked up on that concept.
Yesterday at bible study I was really really challenged to change. Beth Moore spoke a ton on taking God seriously, and she gave a few examples of how we can just brush off what he says. But he is very serious when he says it. She also talked about having a critical spirit is so dangerous. "once you become cynical about the body of Christ you have moved to the other side and it is a dangerous place."
James 4:11 says how we should not speak against a fellow believer.
Beth Moore went on to say that her daughter brought up the appalling truth about how believers are using places like twitter and facebook to "call out" fellow believers. And I was so challenged about how this is so not biblical. How there are rare cases we need to even be debating one another. And if it is that needed, we need to confront another believer, it must be done one on one, and then if not dealt with, it must be brought to leadership. But how easy it is to make our Christian community look like a bunch of fools by just bashing each others thoughts and opinions out in the public Internet. I pray for Grace as I have done this before. I am called to uplift my brothers and sisters and if confrontation needs to happen, it must be done in private. The the group or the person. May Grace fill the Christian community. I hope to be that. And I hope to take God seriously. We all have minor theological differences and we all do ministry different and we all have different gifting, but we are ONE. ONE. I love my Christian family and I pray for an increase in encouragement and unity instead of "calling out" in the public Internet. God is so good.
And this is not a calling out blog. It is just something I am needing to change for myself, for sure.
I have a few people that gave me some pictures from Matthews birthday party, so I will just randomly post them. Oh it was such sweet time. But how much do you love this picture of him that my talented friend stefanie took?