A Future and A Hope…

Ivan still struggles in school. He will go through periods of successful work habits, but eventually he falls back into his mysterious zone of non-productivity. It’s been a long school year.

I talked to him a little bit ago about home-school. He doesn’t want to leave school, friends, events, and all that goes with the fun of the institution. It’s a great school. He wants to stay, and when I mention home-school, he thinks of it as a punishment. I finally sat him on my lap and we talked about my intentions and his understanding. I told him that not everyone is made for a classroom. Not everyone does well in a setting designed for a group. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him. I told him that God made him the way he is for a reason and that he should never be ashamed of the way he processes information or handles projects, it’s God’s design in him that makes him tick the way he ticks.

He started to cry. I mean really, cry. I waited for him to calm down, he needed to let some of the weight of these stressful months pass on. After a bit we talked some more about how different minds handle information and that God made his mind different than other minds, not to embarrass him, but because there’s something God wants him to do that will require his way of thinking.

I told him to go get his Bible. I told him there was a verse that God kept showing me when I was pregnant with him and then confirmed it as special when Ivan was born on the date of the “call letters” for the verse.

I looked up Jeremiah 29:11 and told him to read it aloud. He did, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” As soon as his shaking voice said the last word he burst into heavy tears. He clung to me as if he couldn’t hold himself up and just shook with loud sobs. I cried with him and just held him until it sank in deep.

How He loves. How He loves and loves and loves.

I had no idea 8 years ago, how much that tiny baby would need to see that God didn’t overlook him. Today, He needed to see that he wasn’t defective, broken or failing and that there’s a reason for all that he’s struggling with in school. Oh, how I despise the way the system fits him. He’s been walking around uncomfortable and weighed down by all of it.

I still don’t know why it’s hard. I don’t know what the process is that separates him from the rest, but I believe his heart and I know he wants to do well, something keeps him from the well worn path, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

100 Days

Tomorrow is Ivan’s 100th day of 1st Grade. To celebrate, each student is supposed to wear 100 of something. 100 buttons, stickers, hair bows, etc.

I bought a 100 pack of post it notes and will be scribbling down 100 words of affirmation for Ivan to wear tomorrow. I started looking for lists on the internet and found a few I could borrow from, but most of them were very humanistic and left out the fact that we humans are flawed and need grace. I did find some Scriptures that worked well, and though this isn’t exhaustive of all that God has for Ivan…here is his list:

1. I cast my cares on Him.
2. I am fearfully and wonderfully made
3. I care about others
4. I am good at math
5. I am a good reader
6. I am a fast learner
7. I am smart
8. I am full of good ideas
9. I am very creative
10. I am unique
11. I am excelling in karate
12. I am a good helper
13. I ask good questions
14. I can do anything God asks me to do
15. God has a plan for my life
16. I am a good brother
17. My mommy loves me
18. My daddy loves me
19. Aron loves me
20. Owen loves me
21. I am loved by God
22. I can find the bright side.
23. I can start over because Jesus died for me
24. I am created for a purpose
25. God listens to my prayers
26. I am blessed
27. I am truthful
28. I know the Way, the Truth, and the Life
29. I am forgiving
30. I can give thanks in everything
31. I can rejoice in any circumstance
32. The joy of the Lord is my strength
33. The Lord is my shepherd
34. I shall not want
35. He leads me beside still waters
36. He restores my soul
37. I am redeemed
38. I have a hope and a future
39. I am secure
40. I am protected
41. God has put His angels around me
42. I am a child of God
43. God works all things for my good because I love Him
44. I can cast all my cares on God
45. My God shall supply ALL my needs
46. God’s grace is sufficient
47. My joyful heart is like good medicine
48. I am transformed by the renewing of my mind
49. I WAS crucified with Christ
50. I am on my way to heaven
51. I am a good friend
52. I am a good listener
53. I express myself well
54. I make friends easily
55. I have lots of friends who love me
56. I play well with others
57. I am healthy
58. I am strong
59. I am in great shape
60. I treat my body well
61. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit
62. I can know the will of God
63. I am forgiven
64. I can give a soft answer
65. I bear the fruit of love
66. I bear the fruit of joy
67. I bear the fruit of peace
68. I bear the fruit of patience
69. I bear the fruit of kindness
70. I bear the fruit of goodness
71. I bear the fruit of faithfulness
72. I bear the fruit of gentleness
73. I bear the fruit of self-control
74. I know how to be full
75. I know how to lack
76. I am content
77. I love Jesus
78. I have nothing to fear
79. I can take every thought captive
80. I am known by my fruit
81. My heart is not troubled
82. I am cleansed from all unrighteousness
83. I can bless those who curse me
84. I am pressing on toward the goal
85. I know the Word of God
86. I am drawing near to God
87. I am justified
88. I am glorified
89. God is for me
90. No one can be against me
91. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world
92. I look toward the things that are unseen
93. I wear the helmet of salvation
94. I wear the breastplate of righteousness
95. I wear the belt of truth
96. I carry the sword of the Spirit
97. I carry the shield of faith
98. I walk in the shoes of peace
99. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living
100. I die daily, that I might live in Christ

Kindergarten Christmas Party

Ivan’s Kindergarten Christmas party was a lot of fun. His teacher makes sure there is something for everyone to do and see and keeps the kids involved and in order the whole time. It’s impressive.

I took the camera along and was able to get a few shots of Ivan enjoying himself. Aron and I were going back and forth between Owen’s party and Ivan’s party, so we missed a few things but they both had a great time and didn’t miss us much.

I watched Ivan in full focus as he cut out the hands for his angel project.

They had traced their own hands and then attached the cut out version onto a strip of tissue paper attached to a plate with a face on it. He loved it, flimsy as it was he took it outside to play with it when we got home.

After the craft, it was time to eat:

The food everyone brought was so pretty and colorful. Ivan filled his plate on his own because I was in Owen’s room and I got there just as he was finishing at the buffet. He cleaned his plate too. He was so happy with himself. The pictures above show his satisfaction.

This picture was taken just five minutes after the others. He looked at me and said, “mom, I think I ate too much.” Later in the afternoon when lunch was eminent, he said, “nothing sweet for me!”

All the kids were asked to buy a book for someone in their class of the same gender. They were asked to wrap the books and then a game was used to exchange the books to a random classmate. The girls went first and then the small group of four boys. Ivan was giddy. He loved the game and when he opened a Sponge Bob book, he squealed and got up and ran across the room to show it to me. The funny thing was I wasn’t across the room, I was standing about four feet away from him taking his picture.

He had a great time. So grateful for the school, teachers and parents who work so hard to make those days happen.

Hurricane Ivan

In September of 2004 a hurricane named Ivan waltzed into the Gulf of Mexico, toppled into Gulf Shores, Alabama and then tip toed across the southern United States and dove off the east coast. Ivan was not through though. He came up for air, headed south and then west across Florida and back into the gulf where he re-acclimated himself with the warm air and twirled himself to Louisiana. He was almost out of gas at that point but it was in Texas where his two step ended and Ivan was no more.

Just over a year later I named my son Ivan.

What was I thinking?

Continue reading Hurricane Ivan

Kindergarten Is Upon Us

It’s time to go buy school supplies and mourn the summer days as gone.

I find it sad to leave summer freedom, while yet so thick into the actual days of summer. Overall the school schedule is great, but I like starting school in September. Actually, I think I would prefer school start in October when it’s getting nice and cool. That would be wonderful.

I don’t get to choose though and school is definitely starting…like soon.

It is a bit harder watching Ivan start than it was when Owen started. Owen having been to pre-school may have been part of it, but I think it has more to do with the fact that seeing Ivan go, means I’m just that much closer to ALL three of them going and wow. That’s a little hard to take.

It’s going to be a good year. Ivan is excited and is changing so much. He is showing his aggressive side much more. Which makes me a little nervous as we start school, but I trust he will try very hard to practice self-control. He is also showing his clever side more and more. Little unexpected jokes pop out of his straight face, followed by smirks and knowing looks.

I call him my “Baby Tiger.” He is softness and cuteness all fuzzy and cuddly but ready to bare teeth and claws at any moment.

The Banana Caper

“You did NOT just do that!” That was my response Sunday morning when Ivan shocked me by throwing his half-eaten, peel still attached, banana at our senior pastor. He hit him on the shoulder and left those little yellow specks of soft banana residue on his wool coat.

I was so embarrassed.

I had packed us each a banana that morning as we left for church at our usual time of 7:00 or a few minutes after. We typically pack granola bars but I only had two left and Kris usually eats two on his own. We leave early so that Kris can get up to the teachers prayer meeting by 7:40. As the nursery and children’s ministry are not ready by that time, I take the boys to the church coffee shop and feed them a quick breakfast there. As mentioned, bananas were on the menu. I also purchased two muffins, a large hot chocolate to share and a coffee for myself. We split the muffins up so we each ate half and the sweet girls in the coffee shop divided our hot chocolate up into three cups, each with their own whipped topping and chocolate swirl and a swig of cold milk so they won’t burn their tongues. The boys love going to the coffee shop, as you can imagine, and I am usually busy keeping the crumbs, spills and conversation from getting out of hand. They are good boys, but they are children and as children they have to be watched carefully. This is especially true in a predominately adult setting.

Sometimes though, no matter how closely I am watching, I cannot prevent bananas from flying through the air.

This Sunday, I saw Pastor Davis come into the coffee shop. This happens fairly frequently and he has on occasion come to our table to say hello. Not often though. In fact, this Sunday, I was hoping he wouldn’t. It just seems that my boys find a way to act crazy when they see him. I don’t like crazy…I like calm and control. Pastor likes kids though, and when he saw Ivan, who was the last of my boys to be at the table, finishing up his banana he took interest. He approached with a twinkle in his eye and said something like, “I’m gonna get that banana!”

I had been trying to get Ivan to finish so I took the opportunity to say teasingly, “Ivan, you better eat that banana or Pastor Davis is going to get it.”

Ivan got excited. He doesn’t usually handle excitement well, and this was no exception. His adoration of Pastor Davis and the fact that he was now getting attention from him was just too much for him to remain sane. He drew his shoulders in a little, as if he were scared, and then with a nervous giggle he threw that banana as hard as he could at Pastor Davis. My jaw hit the floor just seconds before the banana did. I saw it coming but there was no time to keep it from happening.

I cupped my hand over my mouth in utter shock. “You did NOT just do that!” I said. I wanted to yank him from his chair and force the ingested portion of that banana to fly through the air by sheer force of my hand against his rear end. I couldn’t though. I was forced to stand still and assess the unexpected. This was not in the hand-book. “What to do in case your child throws a banana at your pastor” was not in any of the parenting books I’ve read. It’s not even in the Bible.

Thankfully, Pastor Davis was very amused. I tried to remain calm as he bent over and picked up the offending fruit and handed it to me. I used the time it took to take a few steps to the trash receptacle and back to think of how to act. I apologized. I think. I used a serious tone to try to calm Ivan and then watched as Pastor laughed, walked over to Ivan, gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and then shook his head and walked away.

I was sure it was an act. I was sure he believed me to be a terrible parent. Unable to control my rambunctious five year old boy and probably not fit to be in a leadership role at church. What if he thinks Kris is a bad parent too? I wanted to defend myself soooooo bad. I didn’t teach him this. I promise. I knew he was just being nice when he laughed. He’s probably disgusted by us, I thought. I’ve brought shame on our family and I can’t imagine he’ll forget this any time soon.

Oh Ivan! Why did you do that? It was reminiscent of a story my dad loves to tell about when my brother was little. He had found a caterpillar in the church yard and stuffed it in his pocket before going inside for service. Of course caterpillars don’t last long in such conditions and after service when my teasing uncle Moe bent down close to give my little brother a hard time, he reacted by jamming the soft and gooey remains of that prickly little caterpillar into my uncle’s mouth. Yuck. It’s become a funny story about the little guy scoring one on over-bearing adults, but in Ivan’s case I couldn’t laugh much. I was truly embarrassed.

I felt better last night though. We had ministry dinner and after our dinner and large group session, Pastor Davis asked all the adult teachers to meet with him in one of the class rooms. He shared what was on his heart and as things were coming to a close I realized he was going to tell the banana story. I hid my face and he acted surprised that I would be embarrassed.

He told the story as if it were his fault for instigating the flying banana. He blamed himself for causing Ivan to react and actually said he was impressed with Ivan and our parenting because Ivan acted so confident and sure of himself. He said, “he didn’t act like he was going to be in trouble…”

“He WAS in trouble!” I interjected.

Everyone laughed and he continued to say, that Ivan was just reacting to a threat as he should have. “I asked for that banana and he gave it to me.”

I made it clear that I was very embarrassed and that no matter how natural Ivan’s reaction was, it was still inappropriate and was dealt with afterward. I was glad to hear his perspective on it, that his amusement was real and that he didn’t think we were bad parents. And I was REALLY glad that I had the opportunity to respond.

Later he told us about his blender that he got for Christmas. It’s the Will It Blend? blender and he’s going to bring it to church tonight to show it to the congregation just for some fun. I piped up from the back of the room and asked, “Do you want me to bring any bananas?”