strong-willed

The Gift of A Strong Willed Child? {Yes}

Yesterday, we fought it again until I could take no more. The contractions started up, one on top of another and I fought the fear that I will go into preterm labor at 28 weeks. We fought the daily tantrums from our seven-year old that disrupt the entire household and cause us all to stop and focus solely on her. We fought the wave of bad news from a rental company that crushed our hearts and sought to break our spirits. We fought the urge to yell and scream right back at our very frustrating, out of control child. We fought the urge to scoop up our “good” child and take her away from the yelling and screaming so she could be safe until her sister calmed down. We fought the urge to hate our strong-willed daughter. 

As a mother, that last sentence grips my heart and causes me to hold my breath. I pause, looking at that sentence and consider the implications of typing it out, making it known to the world. We fought the urge to hate our strong-willed daughter. How many of you have been there in the trenches with a strong-willed child that will just not conform? They will not behave and it can be very difficult to settle down a strong-willed child or even to draw out of them what the real issue(s) is/are. We’ve been fighting this battle with our seven-year old for years and I’m grieved to admit…we’ve been losing.

If you had asked me a month ago if I felt that having a strong-willed child was a gift, I would’ve laughed inwardly and called you a nut (silently). The more I observe my strong-willed child, the more I do see my own self in her and her intense desire to be loved and to be free to love others. She’s highly passionate, creative, thoughtful and intelligent.

Strong-willed children require so much more patience and time than other children. They’re not at all a problem, yet we tend to perceive them that way. So often, we try to break their wills (to do evil) but end up breaking their spirit instead. This is such a grievous error, yet so easy to make when we listen to the “wisdom” of the world.

We are so far removed from our primal parenting urges that it feels silly and out of place to start listening to them now, but we must! We must not continue raising a generation of strong-willed, broken-spirited children. They will only grow up to be strong-willed, broken-spirited adults.

The more I embrace my strong-willed child, the more she wants to run away. That will not stop me from loving and embracing her, but that does cause me to stop and remember that I cannot control her, nor should I try. I am called to love, guide, lead, direct her to the right path, but I am not now nor was I ever called to control her. She is not out of control. She is out of love. She is begging for more.

There is nowhere that we can go to escape God’s unconditional love for us, even in our wildest and worst moments. We as parents must model Christ’s love for our children and we must do it now. Today. There is simply no time to waste. Our children are far too precious.

As Anthony and I seek to parent our daughter differently, we’ve found that it really does require an entire village. We’ve relied on the prayers of our faith community, of our families and friends, and we’ve spent countless hours upon our knees praying as well. It’s only recently that we’ve begun to figure out how to effectively pray for our daughter that our hearts have begun to change in the right direction. Instead of praying for a heart for obedience for our daughter (which has its’ own place in parenting, for sure), we’ve learned to pray for our ears to be opened to hear her needs. Kids will tell you what they need, but you might have to be looking for it in unexpected places. Those little whispers, whimpers and quips during car rides after school are a good place to start. Bedtime prayers, notes left on the family bulletin board and even their body language also lead us to their list of needs.

I’m so sad to say that more often than not, I’m left wondering if our daughter truly feels loved. It’s not been our intention to cause to her to feel otherwise, but we’ve simply not been listening intently enough to hear what she really has to say. It’s taken my Mom to draw it out of her. I’m ashamed to admit I was relieved that someone else began the hard job of drawing her out, but that can’t continue. I need to be listening too. I need to be responding. So does Anthony.

God never leaves us, never forsakes us. He is always there in our time of need. We need to model that behavior for our children as well.

strong-willed

The following is a link I’m finding very helpful as I seek to make changes in the way that I parent my strong-willed child. I pray it will be of use to you as well.

The Gift of A Strong-Willed Child

Heavenly Father, I lift up to you all the strong-willed children and their parents. Please help us to love our children unconditionally as you love us. We love because You first loved us. In Jesus’ Name we boldly pray. Amen.

UPDATED 3/6/15: Painfully Honest {Facing Homelessness}

I’m going to preface this with an update, so you can read the update first and then decide whether or not to continue reading. 🙂 

This week, we received an overwhelming number of donations ($2480!) both through our Go Fund Me page and from our local Lions Club. We are now able to afford a new rental and have signed the lease and received the keys already!  

New House

Our crazy family sitting outside the front door to our new home! This the home that the Lord built. All are welcome in!

 

We called the VA, ORCCA and a few other organizations more than twice a week for three weeks solid and have never heard back from any of them, even after leaving messages each time. It’s been a frustrating situation, but in the end, it’s all worked out. 

Throughout this entire (scary) ordeal, God has been so good to us. He’s changed our hearts, taught us some hard lessons (like don’t ever pay more down on debts than you put into your savings account because the unexpected will happen) and to be humble and accept help when it’s needed. I never thought that there were so many people willing to help our family. My philosophy has always been that we help ourselves, help everyone else, but never ask for help. It’s embarrassing, shameful. 

It’s been a rough month, but God has seen us through and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for extending your generosity in prayer, time spent helping us, and for your donations of money. I’m eternally grateful. 

 

This is going to be a hard, hard post to write. My pride tells me to shut the computer now. Whatever I write will be grounds for immediate and complete humiliation both from people who do and do not know me personally.

On Valentine’s Day, my husband checked our mailbox only to find a retaliatory eviction notice from our landlord. I had called her a few days prior to inquire about a maintenance request that had been open for three months. I was forced to leave a message on her answering machine. A few minutes later, she called me back and informed me that she was not only not going to fix the maintenance request, she was asking us to leave because we are (her words, not ours) “not happy” in our current home. I ignored the voice mail at the time because I was so shocked by her words. I didn’t know what to say. Our answer came in the mail three days later, on Valentine’s Day – the eviction notice. We had 30 days to be out of current home.

The rental market is expensive and rentals are sparse during this season. Most rentals available right now are far over our price range or too small. We have two children with our first son, Jackson Henry Aaron due in three short months. This is a terrifying time to receive this news. We tried to peacefully resolve this issue with our landlord, but it doesn’t seem possible. Even when we informed her honestly and gently about our situation, telling her we will likely become homeless because we cannot afford to move at this time, she persisted in telling us firmly to leave or be forced out by law enforcement.

In addition to all of this, our eldest daughter has been having a lot of health issues and we’ve needed to seek a specialist to help her overcome these challenges. We’re still facing over $3000 in medical bills (above what our insurance will pay) for her surgeries needed to fix her broken arm this past autumn. Add to that, we owe the grand old state of Oregon nearly $1000 in taxes, due by my birthday, April 15th. Jackson is due May 27th and we know there will be expenses not covered by our medical insurance there, too. We are overwhelmed! We know God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. We know He is working on these issues from His end, and that we need to pray consistently about this, as we have been doing.

We’ve been working and praying, trying to earn the money needed on our own. We’ve spoken to the VA, to USDA rural housing, to HUD housing, to ORCCA (ORegon Coast Community Action) and to rental company agencies. So far, only the rental companies have been helpful. They’re willing to help us move into a home that meets our needs and our budget, but we still somehow need to raise enough money to pay the deposits down.

What is so frustrating is that Anthony and I have been praying about our finances and knew we’d need to move soon, just not this soon. We’ve been putting most of our extra money into paying down debts so we could get our credit back up and move by the end of this year or beginning of next year. We prayed about nearly every purchase, every bill paid, every debt paid down, trying to be extremely careful with our money…and then this happens.

To top everything off, our county (who my husband works for) is facing a possible shut down at the end of June. My husband may be out of a job by then. He has prospects and has never allowed himself to be out of work for longer than necessary. He’s been sending out applications with law enforcement agencies all over the state, proactively. We’re working very, very hard to avoid homelessness, but…it’s just not enough.

So I turn to you…I humble myself and I turn to you and ask…is it possible for you to help us? We have 12 days until we have to be out of our home and nothing else we’ve tried has worked. We’re at the end of our ropes and don’t know what to do. We don’t have a safe place to take our children. We don’t know what to do. We’re praying and seeking God’s answers, and I just don’t know what He’s saying. I’m listening, I’m being patient, I’m thanking Him every morning for what we do have. I don’t know what else to do. Can you reach out and help at all? Can you at least pray for us? I believe in the power of prayer and I know that somehow…God will help us. I just don’t know how. There’s not even a homeless shelter for families where we are. If we were to go to a homeless shelter, the girls and I would go to one town, and Anthony would be in another, unable to visit us, per the rules of said homeless shelters. I just don’t know what to do!

I don’t know what else to say. I’m willing to answer any and all questions. I’m willing to do anything (within reason) to raise the money and to help my family. Today, I had a very scary few hours where I thought I was in labor 3 months early. I won’t get too graphic, but there were obvious signs of labor (beyond Braxton Hicks) and I was forced to lay down and rest for most of the day before the contractions stopped entirely. I know I wasn’t dehydrated because I’d drank about a gallon of water in the last 36 hours, plus a few glasses of juice. I don’t want to harm our baby, and I don’t want our kids to be scared. They’re so little and so precious. My Mama heart is breaking, thinking I can’t protect them. I keep crying out “Jesus, please help them!”

The following link is to a Go Fund Me page created by my husband last night. He was able to get most of next week off of work to help us move out of our current home. Next week is the last week we’ll have a roof over our heads unless we can raise the money necessary to get into a home. Without further ado, here’s the link because I just don’t know what else to say.

(Link removed due to goal being surpassed! Thank You, Lord!)

NFOB