Saturday, November 23, 2013

Potty Training Progress

To spare those on Facebook from hearing about Gordon Lee's latest adventures in pottying, I decided to come here to share his success.  I know that I find myself searching out blogs, Facebook posts, articles, etc. on the road to potty training as we go through it here.  So, I felt I would share my own experience for that same reason.

When Gordon Lee was almost 2 years old, it appeared that he was almost potty trained.  Our method then had been to take him to the potty at set times until he became accustomed to learning when he had to go on his own.  He was doing very well until he simply decided one day that he did not want anything to do with it anymore.  At the time, he had not been telling us when he needed to go, we were just taking him as a preventative measure.  So, I took the advice of many who have done this before me and I left him alone so as not to stress him out.

After leaving him alone, he started slowly showing signs of readiness again.  About 2 weeks ago, he started rebelling against diapers.  Getting one on him was a battle, and I told him that if he didn't want to wear a diaper, he would have to wear underwear and go potty.  I waited until last weekend when I felt I really had time to dedicate to getting him potty trained.  I simply switched him straight to underwear.  A friend of mine gave me a tip that she used with her son.  She gave him a temporary tattoo when he went potty (as a physical reminder on him that he did a good job), but when he didn't go on the potty, she would take it off.  Well, taking the tattoo off didn't work with Gordon Lee.  He didn't care.  He did, however, enjoy having the tattoo put on.  So, every time he went, we gave him a temporary tattoo.  He was very excited about this and started showing off his tattoos.

  The first day, he had about 2 accidents.  However, those were only because he did not catch it in enough time to get on the potty, but he had tried.  The second day was better with only 1 small accident.  My memory is getting a bit fuzzy after that, but I am pretty sure day 3 was completely accident-free.  Since then, he has not had 1 single accident and tells us every single time he has to go. 

Today, in fact (one week after the start of this), he had several firsts! 
1.) First time holding his pee until the morning! Stating over the monitor "I have to pee!" I took him to the potty and he went!
2.) I took his special superhero potty seat out with us today when we went shopping (after having him go before we left the house).  At two places we visited, he said he had to go potty, but when I took him in the bathroom, he became afraid of the toilet--even with his own potty seat on it.  I tried to show him it wasn't scary by allowing him to flush it, but he wasn't convinced.  Finally, we were about 5 minutes away from home when he exclaimed he had to pee.  We went into Taco Bell. I took him in the bathroom, but he was still scared.  I decided to ignore his fears and plop him on his potty seat on the toilet and then say, "See? It's not scary at all!" I think, due to the fact that he had to go so much, he went with it.  Then, after getting off of the potty, he said, "That not scary at all!" while walking tall and proud as if he was never afraid. I gave him the biggest tattoo we had for being a "big boy" and going on a "big potty." He was extremely excited about this!
3.) He did his first #2 on the toilet today! This one has been an ordeal for awhile as he has been afraid of it.  Yet, he conquered his fears once again and found himself much happier than going in a diaper.

I am so proud of him and I would highly recommend temporary tattoos as a potty training tool.  It really has worked for Gordon Lee!  In fact, he is at the point now where he doesn't want one every time he goes.  He just goes because he has to go.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Looking Inwardly

Sometimes we do the worst things with the best of intentions. When I say this, I don't mean "they" or "those people." I mean "we." I mean LOOK inwardly. And it will quiet us instantly. It's not as fun as pointing the finger at others, but it is what is right.

It is so easy to do wrong in the name of what we feel is right.  I see it in myself far too often. Growing up, whenever I wanted to say something bad about somebody else, my father would always stop me. He would remind me that all of those things I see in the other person were, to some extent, true of me.  What he meant was that when we see others doing things we don't like, we should realize we are no picture of perfection ourselves. Thinking that way really shuts you up.

And I didn't like that.  I wanted to talk about this other person.  I wanted to focus on everything that was wrong with this other person.  And why? Because of the one truth that is common to most of us. We would rather feel better about ourselves by tearing apart, criticizing, and focusing on all of those who are "much worse off" than we are.  This is why reality shows that magnify that faults of all of the "screwed up" people are so popular. 

Several years ago, I was wronged very badly by some people.  My entire reputation, personal sense of pride, and security were all being mercilessly attacked over a lie. The other people were wrong. They were wronging me. Why? I am not entirely sure. I believe I may have upset them by doing something that I felt was right and they did not like it.  

However, I was humiliated. I wanted to PROVE myself.  I wanted so badly to prove I had done nothing wrong and that these were bad people.  I wanted everyone to know how bad these people were.  I wanted to prove how wrong they were. I wanted them to face the consequences for what they had done wrong.  But none of that happened.

As I continued to  try to save my reputation, I only made matters worse.  And  I was faced with the truth that I needed to LET GO of my pride and quietly move on with life.  If I was doing right and I KNEW I was doing right, what did it matter what others said of me and what case they tried to prove about me? It didn't. It was only my pride I was desperately trying to scramble back together.  And God didn't want my pride in tact.  He wanted me to embrace my hardship quietly and confidently.
Keep your mouth closed.  Don't worry about what others think of you. And continue to do what is right KNOWING and TRUSTING that you have someone much greater to vouch for you--Jesus Christ. 

Humiliation is a part of life.  I believe we are all humiliated at some point in our lives.  The difference is in how we handle it.  I think of how Christ handled humiliation at the cross when insults were slung at him.

He said nothing even when the worst people were publicly humiliating him-- KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED

He continued to carry the cross-- DO WHAT IS RIGHT 

And he quietly and confidently defeated sin and death to rise victorious.

I think that having faith that I have someone else to be my mouthpiece makes it easier to look inwardly.  I think it helps me to admit I am a sinner.  I do wrong.  And I am beyond thankful that I have Jesus Christ to forgive me for when I am wrong and give me grace and power to become less of myself and more of who he is. Even today, I was thinking about some things I had done wrong, and I had done them so quickly with no thought initially that they were wrong. It was only later when I reflected that I realized I owed somebody a sincere apology from the heart. 

So often, we just point the finger at what is wrong with everyone else going on about how we know what is right when we really just need to be quiet and in awe that God has given us so much grace and love.  And simply be thankful.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If You Plant it, Will it Grow?

I own a dvd called The Merchants of Cool that delves into the details of marketing and how successful companies get teenagers to buy into products.  In the documentary, they talk about two basic approaches to boost the popularity of something.

1.) You go out into the community and you talk to teenagers to find out some of the things most of them have in common.  Then, you take those ideas and capitalize on them to bring the people to you for the source of all the things they like.

2.) You come up with something you want people to like and you simply create hype around it to get them thinking they like it.  Sometimes, they pay people to gather around something and act like it is cool.  This baits other people to follow suit and actually start liking this thing simply because others do.

The more I pay attention to trends, the more I notice these two principals are basically still at play and still working very well for marketers.

Where is this going?

I've noticed this hasn't been too much different with church.  I have been to A LOT of churches.  I have search for a "good" church in different cities and states.  And these experiences have taught me a lot.  Back when I started out on my own, and I was looking for my own church for the first time, I thought I knew what I wanted in a church. 

I wanted something nondenominational with people around my age.  Seriously, that's what I wanted.  And the more I think of it, those were my only two requirements.  I found that, and I quickly learned that I didn't want what I found. I didn't feel connected to the church.  Even though people my age were there, I didn't feel I could relate to them.  So, I kept looking.  I ultimately found a church that matched some of the things I was looking for; however, I had then really wanted a church mostly as a social function.

As I moved on in life, I started finding many churches that met my first two requirements that left me lacking Spiritually.  I didn't feel like my desire to learn and grow as a Christian was being met.  I had to find something else. I had to get past my bias against denominations. I decided to stop judging. I found a great church.  I realized that I didn't know what I was looking for.

Yet, I was still leaning toward that one denomination of that one church because I felt comfortable with it.  I got down to Georgia and I found myself in the deep South with a totally different set of options in the way of churches than what I found around me in Virginia or even North Carolina.  I found a church there by meeting Christian people first who I really respected and finding out where they went to church.  This brought me to a different I had prejudged and ended up finding myself completely wrong about it.

When we came back up to North Carolina, it was time to find a church again.  The last time we were here, the hunt for a church was difficult.  I had come to the conclusion at this point that there were only a few things I wanted.  Yet, my goals had changed. First, I wanted to be in a church where the people truly cared about each other.  Second, I wanted to be in a church where I wanted to go to church! I know that sounds strange, but I felt like certain churches just make you feel at home.  I wanted to feel at home.  Third, I wanted to feel like the messages were solid and the doctrine was sound.  We had to go through several churches to find these things before.  This time, one church just jumped out at me.  We tried it.  We stayed.

We have grown to love the church.  Unfortunately, the church is small. There are only a few people our age attending.  But we feel so LOVED and ENCOURAGED by the people there that we feel it is our church home.  This experience (and one other one in the past) has had me wondering what makes a church grow? It seems that some churches look for what people want, they find a way to relate to the people, and they bring people in that way.  Other churches are popular just because they are popular.  People want somewhere to get connected and the easiest way to do that is to go to the biggest church in town.

But what happens when you have a great church and the people just aren't there because they are at the bigger church down the street? Many haven't even tried the church.  Maybe they are like I was before and they already don't want to try a church because it is attached to a denomination.  Maybe they come in and only see 5 other couples their age and that's just not enough for them.  What will get people to come in? And then after that, what will get them to stay?

I sometimes think you need to have things there to get people there. Some people want youth groups for their kids.  Some people want to see a sea of people their age. But I think that to keep people, you need to care about the people. And to care about the people, you need to reach out to them and be there for them.  I don't know though because I have never really done outreach for a church.

I am wondering these things because our church is about to go through a major change.  Our pastor is retiring and a new one is coming in. I desperately want the change to be good, but I don't think change just for change is good. Many churches are departing from truth found in Scripture because some of it isn't popular anymore. I don't want to lose that just for change. 

And I am also wondering what is growth? Is it numbers? Maybe it is a solid group of people who are committed to each other and to the church. I would rather be part of a congregation of 100 people who are truly loving and devoted Christians than one of 1,000 who attend church just because it is something to do. 

The Lord has taught me so much through different churches, and I hope to learn something amazing through this experience.  I hope to actually have answers to my own questions.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Good Shepherd

According to our pastor, this Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday.  Therefore, his sermon came from John chapter 10 concerning Jesus comparing himself to a shepherd and his sheep. Without quoting the entire passage he was using, the portion of Scripture basically talks about how Jesus is the good shepherd and those who truly are his sheep listen to him and follow him.

I think, in short, that was the entire sermon. If we believe in Jesus, we follow him.  If we know he is our shepherd, we listen to him and find comfort in him. Those who are saved know who their savior is.  In a world full of contradicting theology, there is comfort to be found in the fact that Jesus Christ's voice can be heard today by his own sheep. The more we tune our ears to hear his voice by choosing to listen to him, the more we simply listen to his voice.

There was a part in the sermon where the pastor mentioned that true Christians do not need to be persuaded to do what Christians do.  He was saying that as you come closer to the Lord, you simply want to be with the Lord. If you are his sheep, you want to be in his pasture. That means, you want to go to a church where you feel you can commune with God.  And you want to go there often.  That means you want to freely give to others because that's what your heart wants to do.  If you are a sheep of the good shepherd, you choose to love, you choose to obey.  This is not because that's what you think you ought to do but because you are compelled by the Love of Jesus...the good shepherd. 

He also mentioned that we crucify Christ today.  I thought this was interesting because that was something I was actually thinking about recently.  I was noticing that people seem to sacrifice Christ in exchange for what's common.  If Christ starts to become unpopular, people are quick to move toward what is popular.  I see a lot of controversy rising these days over personal opinions and beliefs. People form beliefs and that is what they stand by, and I feel we are straying from the truth.  If we want to hear the voice of the good shepherd, we need to be silent and willing to listen.  Otherwise, we are simply crucifying him for what makes us happy and comfortable. 

If we are his sheep, we hear his voice.  When we are his sheep, our lives change.  We cannot stay the same. We are compelled by his love to do what is right because he makes us want to.  That is what it means to be a sheep of the good shepherd.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gordon Lee: Mr. Jabber Walky

Gordon Lee is 21 months old today. He is growing and developing so quickly that I can't even list some of the things he has learned to do.  Every day, there is something new.  Sometimes, he really shocks us with the things he can do/say. I am not sure if his speech is typical for a child his age or not.  I am thinking he is probably right where he is supposed to be.  But he seems very interested in examining language and finding the best way to communicate.

He understands the difference between singular and plural language.
He calls diapers "doctors" for some reason. However, when he sees only one, he will say, "A doctor." When he sees more than one, he says "doctors"
He calls one car "a car." When he sees several he says "cars."
The one word that confuses him right now is bus because the singular form ends in an "s." So because he doesn't know what to do, he will just say "bus and bus and bus" or "bus bus bus" when he sees several. Most of the time, he will try to say it for each one he sees.

For example, if he says something and we don't respond in the way he expects, he tries different approaches.  First, he will attempt to say it more than once just to make sure we hear him.  If we continue to not respond, he will try to say it again in a different way.  Still, if that doesn't "work" in his mind, he will then try to physically show us what he wants. He has really been enjoying going for bike rides, and he frequently asks to go.  Since his seat is attached to his daddy's bike right now, he will say, "bike seat, Dada?" asking to get in the seat for a ride.  He will then instruct his Daddy to get on the bike saying, "Sit Dada" and pointing to the seat. Directly after returning from a bike ride yesterday, Gordon Lee decided that he was not done and wanted to go back out.  So, this is how he chose to communicate.
Attempt 1: "Up Mama" "Up Dada" "Bike Seat"
Response from Daddy: "We just went for a bike ride.  We will go for another one tomorrow."
Attempt 2: He walks to the door, puts his hands on the door leaning into it and says, "bike seat bike seat"
Response from  Daddy: Same as before "We just went for a bike ride. We will go for another one tomorrow."
Attempt 3: Still standing at the door, he calls out "Bicycle! Bicycle!" in the plainest, clearest English he can produce.
Finally, after the same answer that we would not be going back out, he resorted to throwing a tantrum...which still didn't get him his way
But he DID get another bike ride the next day as promised.

Gordon Lee is CONSTANTLY jabbering away. And he is frequently asking questions. Some of his language is indiscernible, but you can tell that he is really saying something and trying to communicate based on his tone. And some things, I actually don't understand unless I happen to catch them on camera and play them back. However, there are times in the midst of his chattering where some very clear sentences and statements come out. 
Here are some of the things he has said in the clearest, plainest English.
-Coming into the driveway, he points and says, "That's Daddy's car!"
-This morning in particular he wanted to go see his daddy. When I told him daddy had already left, he said, "Where did Daddy go?" I answered "He went to get the car fixed." I showed him my missing vehicle in the driveway; however, upon seeing that his daddy's car was still sitting there, he determined I must be incorrect. So, he answered, "See Daddy's car. Where Daddy?"
So, then I took him upstairs to show him that his daddy was, in fact, gone. At this point, he responded, "But where Daddy go?" Oh my!
-Every now and then, we have a conversation that doesn't end up so cyclical. A few days ago, he told me he wanted some "nanas" for lunch.  I told him they were all gone.  He went to the kitchen counter pointing up as if they were simply out of sight. I lifted him up to show him that the bananas were all gone saying, "See, the bananas are all gone." He responded, "Oh nanas all gone."

He really shocked us on Easter Sunday when he heard a gun go off in the distance and yelled out "Gun shot!" We have no clue where he got that from.

Sometimes, I have a hard time proving that he does talk like this at times because Gordon Lee is selective about when he talks and what he says.  He is pretty shy, actually, and he usually doesn't talk around people that he doesn't see too often. He has also become very aware of when I am recording him and starts to "turn it off" when he sees me holding the phone up at him.  

Either way, at some point, he will be talking enough for everybody to hear and probably wont "turn it off" when we want him to!

I wonder if he is starting to take after his mommy in his interest and examination of the English language. Only time will tell!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bubble Wrap Painting! A perfect project for toddlers

I saw a great idea the other day for using bubble wrap to paint. I had never even thought of this on my own. However, when I saw it, I then googled it some more and saw what pretty prints bubble wrap can make when used to paint.  This week, we are talking to our toddlers about things we can touch and exploring different textures. So, I thought it would be a great idea for them.

The project is so simple to prepare and so easy for toddlers to do. First, you simply cut bubble wrap into small squares (probably about 5 inches X 5 inches or so). I did not measure it. I just eyeballed it. Then, form it into a ball with the bubbles facing the outside and tape it up.

It is small and easy for a toddler to hold.  Then, you can really use anything nontoxic for paint.  You can make your own edible finger paints; I was fortunate to have enough (safe for toddlers) paint at my disposal.  

Put a small amount in a shallow dish or on a cup. Give the child the bubble wrap ball and allow him/her to dip it in the paint and then press it on the paper.

I had to show Gordon Lee to put it on the paper as his first instinct was to put it in his mouth. However, he had just eaten and found it much more fun to make "bubbles" on his paper.

Gordon Lee had a blast with it and did not want to stop. Here is his final product (complete with a handprint so we know it is his).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A King Yet a Servant

I can hardly believe how long it has been since I last wrote a blog.  Simply put, my brain was void of ideas, so I just didn't write.

Yet, for the last 2 weeks at least, there has been one prominent thought appearing everywhere in my life.  And I feel compelled to share it.   As many people know, I have chosen to work with preschoolers and most people think I'm insane for doing so. 
"Why don't you go back to the school system?"
"Maybe you can teach at a community college."
and then the perfectly blunt question "Why in the world are you doing this?"

And my answer "Because right now it makes the most sense."

And there is so much pressure everywhere for people to look down on me as if I am a nobody.  Or for people to view me as somehow cheating myself. But why?

What is success? It is what the world has deemed it to be. And since the world doesn't view my job as successful it is therefore nothing and should be beneath me. The idea is that just anybody can do it.

But the thing is that I feel like I'm doing the right thing where I am.  How is it nothing to be responsible for shaping the lives of children in their most formative and critical years? 

We had a training last Saturday where one of the teachers who works with me remarked that she is tired of this being such a thankless job.  She shared a story about a parent who saw her purse and asked her how she could afford a purse like that! She was astonished that the parent really looked down on her that much.  But while I think of the job I do, I see it this way.  If I am doing what God wants me to do, then I don't need any worldly praise or recognition of any kind.

I could very well be beyond "successful," admired by all, and not be serving the Lord. I'll take the former.

On top of all of that, I keep thinking about Jesus.  This is the Lord himself, choosing to be a nobody.  CHOOSING to allow people to look down on him. And this is because he wasn't living for here and now. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

And last week in church, we sang a beautiful hymn reminding me of my purpose in this life.
Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbors we have from you.

Kneels at the feet of his friends,
silently washes their feet,
master who acts as a slave to them.

Neighbors are rich and poor,
varied in color and race,
neighbors are near and far away.

These are the ones we should serve,
these are the ones we should love;
all these are neighbors to us and you.

Loving puts us on our knees,
serving as though we are slaves;
this is the way we should live with you.

Kneel at the feet of our friends,
silently washing their feet;
this is the way we should live with you.