Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: February 2011 (page 1 of 3)

burger king knows what sells

 I mentioned before that we’re going through a “big questions” series at church, and today – thanks to 2 well-behaved children – I heard the whole thing. This is its own cause of celebratory activities. And I can now tell you exactly how big of a handful of raisins this feat requires. But I digress.
Today was “Is Jesus the only way?” which is a difficult question for some, even seminary grads (I’d argue that these folk are more inclined to feel troubled by giving a hard answer. Normal people get to answer the question without writing a 10 page exegesis on it). One particular thing the pastor said caught my attention and I’ve been a bit stuck on it for a few hours.
He mentioned that we (Christians) are oft hesitant to agree with Jesus’ “I am the way… no one comes to the Father except through me” verbiage for fear of being exclusive. Thanks to a less-than-flattering history, the Christian heritage hasn’t proven to be the all-aboard invitation we’d like for it to be. So by putting it to a Jesus-only discussion, those “exclusive” labels can again be employed.
I don’t really feel the need to apologize for Jesus’ own exclusive claims. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with exclusivity when it comes to deities. But thanks to our “your way, right away” culture, such exclamations are seen as elitist and unfair. (I can hear the cries of woe… “why does He get to be savior of the universe? I wasn’t even given a chance! It’s not fair the role was picked 2000 years before my existence!”) When it doesn’t fit into our handy framework of how we like our world to work, then let the finger-pointing again.
However. Oh, don’t be shocked, you knew it was coming. However… though I believe strongly in Jesus’ exclusive rights on the “way”, I do think we have to be a bit careful when it comes to application. Jesus is the way (road, path), but our experience walking that road may look very different from someone else. I’m down with an exclusive Jesus; I’m not much for an exclusive experience of Jesus.
How God fits into my life, what it looks like to walk the path with him, the conversations involved, the concerns and cares along the way… all of these things are different for travelers. Some prefer to cut costs and stay at the Motel 6. Others glam it up for good cinnamon rolls at the Holiday Inn Express. A good friend of mine tends to pitch a tent in strangers’ yards. Some travelers move at a snails’ pace and in short spurts. Others treat it like a 100-yard dash. And who doesn’t veer off the path to pick daisies once in a while? But none of this yields an invalid path.
I think the shudders to the “Jesus is the only way” conversation have a lot less to do with Jesus and more to do with the messenger. When we say “Jesus is the only way” perhaps the message is heard “my way of life is the only way” or “my way of worship/patterns of devotion/beliefs about social issues are the only way.” And that’s simply not true.
Perhaps we should follow the series with another series called “the questions behind the questions”. It’s not always about what’s being asked, but what is implied in the answers.

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volume control

I don’t come from a family of yellers. Loud talkers? Most definately. But not yellers. Actually I’d say we’re more inclined to get real quiet and see if you notice that we’re mad. But over the past several days, I’m starting to get the sense of what it’s like to come from a volatile household where everyone walks on eggshells but yet there are still random bombs that go off.
Over the past week, Miss M has progressively given up more and more sleep. We went from a 1am waking that took some effort to nightly pre-bedtime screams with a few middle-of-the-night episodes as well. Yesterday she napped less than one hour in total. And it’s not just a refusal to sleep, but a vocal refusal. You’d think someone just killed her cat (or was in the process of it) by the sounds of the immediate screams when you leave her cribside.
Now, before you go leaving the useful “have you tried…” comments, let me just make a quick list of our efforts: rocking, swaddle, sway, shoosh, hum, song, bounce, jiggle, jiggle while laying in the crib, tush-pat, “let her cry”, sleep with us, sleep on us (neither of which involved sleeping), cry-wait 5 minutes-comfort-cry, humidifier, Tylenol, teething tablets, warm bottle, ginger root (husband found that one online), warm bath, lavender-scented oil in the bath & humidifier, get her up and try again later, blankets, binkie, no binkie. Every once in a while we had an anomaly and the girl would fall asleep, but we haven’t found that “key” to success.
This has resulted in 2 very tired, anxious and frustrated parents. We’re mad at each other because it’s our turn again. We’re upset with her because she we fine a week ago, sleeping 7-7 like a dream; we’d just put her in her crib and she’d saunter off to lala land. But apparently that visa has expired.
The frustration and anxiety evident in the house – and, who are we kidding? It followed me to work yesterday – no doubt compromises any successes we might see. I’m not sure if I’m laughing or crying. Probably both. And this, my friends, because “my baby won’t sleep”. When said aloud, it seems too trivial. I know a woman taking her little girl for clinical trials in an attempt to stop a devastating condition that has prevented the little girl from developing like a “normal” 4-year-old in terms of even walking and talking. I think she’d trade a week of sleep for her situation any day.
But then again, playing the “it could be worse” game only belittles our feelings and experiences. My reality is that when my kid doesn’t sleep – and screams instead – I’m rattled. I get upset and scared and I cry to the point where my face is sore the next day. (Seriously. Did you know you can pull muscles crying?!).
I’m not sure if it’s a parent’s natural desire to want the best for their kid, or my own natural desire to want to resume normal, the patterns of life that I know and understand. But the cause, and the resulting effect, is not a household environment that I would promote to my friends.
So today, after a chiropractor appointment (the last thing I can think of to try to initiate change in this pattern), I’ll be cleaning up my house, looking for a “grip” that I know I just need to get. And hopefully creating a loving, peaceful ambiance so that a certain 10-month-old decides to have a slumber party.

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break downs and break throughs

What a day. Well, really, it wasn’t much activity – church, brunch with friends, naps, a mother-son trip to the library, dinner and bed. It seems relatively uneventful, but it’s in the mundane and the ritual that life seems to develop.
First, Miss M had a rough one. She wasn’t thrilled with being left in the nursery, and I wasn’t excited to leave the lone nursery volunteer with her, needing to be held, among other needy toddlers, so she came to class with us. All was fine and well until she found me hilarious but then fell over while laughing. Either the chair or the floor pushed her only 2 teeth into her upper lip. And there was blood. All three of us were marked. Sheesh. Later, all in good sport, H Boy shut the bathroom door and then tried to reopen it. Both actions took place with her fingers beneath the door. No blood, but marks. I nearly wanted to give her a bowl of ice cream to drown the pain. Am I a bad mom if I refrained simply because I wanted to eat the ice cream myself? (I’m only mostly joking here). The green beans seemed to suffice.
However, among the thrills and spills, we had a few breakthrough moments with H boy. First, we learned that he likes to do his pooping business in solitude. Even an audience of one hinders his performance. More than once he’s ventured into the bathroom alone to complete the task (mostly without telling us first), so we felt confident after the 4th time of saying “potty” but not actually producing, to just send him in alone. In less than 3.2 seconds, there was poop. We can respect a guy that knows his needs.
Later, in conjunction with the door-shutting-and-reopening incident, we sat him down to “think about what happened” as is our custom. I see it as a minute to stop the situation and draw attention to the fact that unacceptable behavior just occurred. We typically ask him, “why are you sitting here?” only to get a programmed “uh huh” agreement, a vain effort of appeasing in order to be done with the sitting. However tonight I showed him Miss M’s hand and said that it really hurt her when he shut the door. He replied, “sister hand… hurt.” Then he took her hand and kissed it, just like he wants his mommy and daddy to do to make things better. For the first time ever, I felt like he had an idea that we weren’t just upset with what he did, but he had hurt someone and needed to not do that something anymore. Of course, I fully expect a stomped finger or pulled hair in the next 24 hours, but it doesn’t quell my excitement for progress. I’m okay with baby steps when they come from babies.
I capped off the evening with some non-fiction reading; at the recommendation of my sister I got Parents, Kids and Power Struggles from the library. Only recently has H boy been showing some signs of non-acquiescence (most commonly about putting on his coat or holding my hand in the parking lot) and I’d like to get a bit of a running start on the adverse behavior. I’d love to think that my kids, with my perfect genes, would just never disagree, but the realist in me says that at some point I will be That Mom dragging a screaming toddler out of Kroger while leaving a cart 3/4 filled with food. Ok, you’re right – not just a screaming toddler, but 2 crying younger ones because they’re not ready to leave yet. Minor details.
So in my recreational but yet educational reading, it was enlightening to learn how to deal effectively with emotions – both my kids’ and my own. Nothing in it is new, but when applied to parenting situations, especially disagreements, it makes complete sense. Something causes my kid to refuse to listen; yes, he’s 2, but he’s feeling something that prompts him to react. So the book is about helping kids become aware of their feelings and finding appropriate ways of dealing with it. But it starts with me… how I deal with my emotions of frustration, anger and disappointment can translate into my kids’ version of acceptable behavior. So, in all, it’s great stuff to draw your attention to and think over for a time. I found myself asking husband “how do I react when…?” and “what are my triggers to…?” It’s also eye-opening to think about it in terms of behaviors you’ve seen in others that you want to replicate or avoid.
So, if you’re thinking that I’m in a bit of a reflective mood, you’d be guessing correctly that yes, my husband has tuned me out to zone in on some Angry Birds. Which is my alarm clock telling me it’s time to hit the hay. We’ve got a big week ahead of us.

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