Xalepa ta kala.
Beautiful things are difficult.
Naught without labor.
(Plato, Republic)

Thanks for reading - Erika

Red Sea

Filed under: MiscErika at 04:13pm on August 14, 2016 printer friendly
I did the Children's Storytime at church again this morning. The lectionary today included the letter to the Hebrews, and opens with "By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned." so I chose to do the story of the parting of the Red Sea with the kids. It's a good one - lots of 'scope for imagination in it (sorry, I'm in the midst of my annual summer re-reading of the Anne of Green Gables books).

I never prep these things. In the moment, it always works out great. Example, today we talked about how the Israelites were really afraid in that moment, trapped between the Sea and Pharaoh's hundreds of chariots, but they trusted Moses and trusted God, and a path was opened up for them to get through - literally.

"When have you been afraid?" I asked, "What did you do?"
We went around in a circle. Everyone answered and listened, often commiserating that thunderstorms and roller-coasters and spiders are, in fact, scary. Everyone dealt with their fear by trusting a friend or trusting their parents, and/or asking for help.

"How did it turn out?" I asked.
Fine. Everyone got through every fear.

"So," I said, "what I'm hearing is everyone has fears, but we all have people we trust and can ask for help, and we've all found a path through that fear. Agree?"

"Who did the Israelites ask for help?" Debate on Moses vs. God commenced - and was it the same thing?

"Maybe God helps us through other people. Maybe when we trust others and ask for help, or when we help others...it's God working through us."

"Yeah, because my dad would be useless at parting the Red Sea by himself!" shouted one of the kids.


I like this sort of "let the conversation go where it goes" way of doing children's story-time. It's less pressure during the week not to "prep" a perfect lesson plan, and inevitably those plans go astray based on the ages and stages and temperaments of the kids who chose to go to story-time that day.
Why not just let God work?

But - this more relaxed thing does make it harder to find volunteers. Until you've seen it work, it's hard to trust that without a printed sheet of paper telling you exactly what to say, that you can do it. Until you've had a conversation with a group of children and realized their experience of the world is often more in line with what bible story you're telling than the adult you left upstairs, you don't believe that you don't have to "teach" anything - they already know.

It's the flip side of the coin - on the one side, I feel gifted in this time with the children, and I enjoy it, and it's not a lot of work for me to do. On the other side, I do like to take a Sunday off now and again, and since the system is currently set up for me and how I do things...hard to find help.

I really hope my church finds a new children and youth minister (or some combination thereof) soon. On our way to church today, Kai said, "when's church school starting? I LOVE church school!" and I was pleased because I made church school happen last year as administrator and apparently he loved it, and was a bit concerned because I don't know who or how it's going to happen next year - I'm not running it. But, the systems currently in place are mine, and I know that's not a good thing - I wing it A LOT because I'm privileged to have the talents to have it all work out in the moment.

Eh. It seems we're in between a rock and a hard place, a Sea and a chariot army...but I know how that story turns out, so I guess I shouldn't worry. To quote my son this morning, "I'm so so scared of the thunder, but I just called out for Daddy and he came!"

We're calling. And trusting. And a path will be there.

Stop. Touching. Me.

Filed under: MiscErika at 11:31pm on July 10, 2016 printer friendly
It is unfortunate that when I am in the early stages of feeling overhwelmed, of needing a break, of having juggled a little too much for a little too long, well, I don't want to be touched.

By anyone.

At all.

It's as if I'm trying to reduce the sensory input coming my way, and since I can't reduce all the noises of my life, and all the visual distractions and e-mails and pings for my attention, I just want not to have to process any touch. Is that too much to ask?

Well, yes, when you live in a home with 3 boys, all of whom are touchy-feely to a degree that would make me seriously uncomfortable were they not my nearest and dearest beloveds.
I'm not a frigid soul. I promise.
I just...so much touch. Gah.

This weekend has been a steady stream of physicality directed at me, and me slightly flinching and pushing away, then feeling terrible at the hurt look in my son's or husband's eyes, me taking a deep breath, and going in for a gentle hug or kiss to try to mend things, and then needing to walk away and regroup and the whole process starting over again with the next Hagan boy who walks down the hall, usually less than 5 minutes later. Our house is cozy.

You'd think I'd have an ally in Isaac, sensory sensitive soul that he is...but he wants EXTRA skin-on-skin deep pressure, thank you very much.

I have to remind myself often that I'm not a freak. This is how I've always been, and until I was living with my boys, it was never a problem. I hug, I hold hands, I give kisses...but I've never been able to sleep with anyone touching me. Sleepovers as a kid to more grown-up sleepovers as an adult - for sleeping, NO TOUCHING.

When Andrew's traveling on business, I have a really hard time falling asleep without him here...but once I'm asleep, it's *glorious* the quality. Deep, deep, happy sleep.

Also of note: his side of the bed is still completely made - 90 degree angles and tucked in - when I wake up when he's not here. I am OUT is what I'm saying. No moving. Just...ahhh...sleeping.

I've often noticed I feel calmer on Mondays than I do over the weekend, and I wonder if this is part of it - when kids go back to school and Andrew goes to work, and I go to my own work and my own body is, well, my own again, I can regroup.

For now, more deep breaths, quiet awareness that this means I am pushing too hard during the week (and who are we kidding, on the weekends too), and a solemn resolve to give some quality snuggles at bedtime so my kids don't think I hate them.

A moment in parenting

Filed under: MiscErika at 06:29pm on June 11, 2016 printer friendly
I bought the boys each a helium balloon for their graduations. Kai's says, "Way to Go, Graduate!" and Isaac's says, "Congratulations!" and has a picture of a graduation cap on it.

Isaac took his, and worked and worked and worked at it, and got the balloon weight off of the bottom.
He went outside.
He let go.
He looked up.
Kai looked at him in horror.
Kai burst into tears.
Isaac looked at Kai confusedly.
"Kai is sad." he informed me.
"Kai," I consoled, "your balloon is fine. Isaac's balloon is gone, but yours is fine."
"I want Isaac's balloon to be HERE!" he wailed.
Isaac tilted his head.
He took a moment.
He looked at me and smiled.
"Outer space." he grinned.
I grinned back - I mean, sure, it was $3.49 he just shot up into the air...but I really wanted to buy him enjoyment, and he sure had it, buddy.

I took Kai inside, gave him some special feel-less-sad oils (I don't care if it's a placebo, it works on him - lemon and lavendar, by the way), and he calmed down.

"I want a new brother," he told me, "I don't like Isaac anymore."
"Listen," I told him, "we have to love Isaac. Isaac is family. Isaac will always be your brother. But he's hard to like sometimes, and it's okay to need an Isaac-break. Okay?"
Kai thought about it for a while.
"How about you have a baby brother for me who won't pinch me or let go of balloons?"
I had lots of things to say in response to this. About how I was all done with having babies but even if I did we come out as we come out and there's no guarantee a new brother wouldn't also pinch when frustrated or enjoy letting go of balloons to outer space. About how he has friends who can be like brothers, and one day he will have cousins that will be like brothers as my cousin Elizabeth is also my sister. About how he also loves Isaac and they have fun too. About how if he would just stop getting up in Isaac's grill when Isaac is obviously upset and volatile, he wouldn't get pinched. About how what one does with one's own balloon is really one's own business. About how we hold Isaac to as high a standard as we can, but we do cut him slack as well, and it's not always fair, but it is always just.
All these words, all at once.
So, instead, I said, "I promise - as you get older and as Isaac gets older, it will get better. I promise."

And then we all watched Wheel of Fortune together, Isaac and Kai snuggling under a blanket on the couch.

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