August 2019 Newsletter

Thank you to all of our faithful supporters and encouragers through the years. We
appreciate you so much & are excited to discover what direction Mountain
Haven will be heading as we seek answers and direction this next year. We will
be taking another year of 2019-2020 to reset and reorient our future after the last year of this health battle. Thank you for standing with us.

MINISTRY AT A GLANCE

Financials, Monthly Revenue Required: $2700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $750.00 Remaining Need:  $1,950.00

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened: 1.) We spent the day at the state fair with Brandon and Emily as a family. It was a smorgasbord of delight and it’s wonderful to live by them. 2.) Chris officiated a wedding in Maryland for our families dear friend Robyn and her wonderful husband Alejandro. It was priceless. 3.) Kaisha performed in her play “Much Ado About Nothing” and did a live band concert where she had 4 solo roles; it was incredible. 4.) Lilly started school at Duluth Edison Charter School for middle school and it will be a new change and she will need lots of prayer and support.

Top Prayer Requests: Pray that we deal with our stuff

Mountain Haven Newsletter – August 2019

“ Deal With Your Stuff – Parenting in
Today’s World”
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”

Leo Tolstoy

The word apocalypse is generally used in connection with catastrophe, or as in a catastrophic or distinctive annihilating event. I’ve been thinking and meditating a lot on parenting as an apocalyptic art, lately. It is somewhat like an apocalypse of the soul. It is a distinctive event like no other. Since I turned 50 this year it seems to be an integral time to look back and reflect on my almost 30 years as a parent. Some of this reflection has brought many tears. I’ve had my fears and concerns for my children and what the future might look like for them, as we are living n a complex world with the fragile ecosystem. Also as we are facing more access and more information overload, I’m trying to navigate how to support my kids individuation, as well as try to protect them from external forces that they may be exposed to when they’re not ready.

In other words I’m feeling fairly inept and challenged. Raising three kids and having such a huge age span between them is an incredible experience. We have been parents for almost 30 years and it’s amazing to us that through all the different parenting strategies, education, training and books for discipline techniques that we have tried, we keep coming back to one tried and true principle of parenting. The fluffier, less brusque version of this is “deal with your stuff”. As a parent, we bring an incredibly helpless person into a world where there are physiological, psychological, sociological, spiritual, and environmental forces all around. Yet somehow we have been given the role of possibly the strongest, most influential force in our child’s life. 

And so the way we do that is by creating parenting structures, or paradigms of thinking, that we project onto our children in the hopes that they will come out as fairly responsible people. We go through an exorbitant amount of parental guilt, educated guesses, some yelling matches, lots of money, baffling exhausting, and tears and anger; and at times, hopefully we are insightful enough to see our own humanity in parenting and not be afraid to work on ourselves continually.

I think many of us are surprised by outcomes, and sometimes shocked by behaviors our kids exhibit. Or conversely, we are full of joy and exhilaration over accomplishments and choices that our children complete. We somehow see all of this- all of their story- as a reflection of what we did right and what we did wrong. It becomes a constant battle to out run parent guilt and try to make amends or make it right. This just makes parenting a lot like some forms of Christianity, we earn by trying harder and get punished for bad behavior. And the rewards are stacking up for training a child up in the way they should go. But the shame and the resulting stuck patterns continue for not raising them up in the way they should go. It’s the ultimate catch 22.

I think the only way to really judge our parenting is to constantly hold a mirror up to ourselves. How are we doing? How are we acting? How are we treating others? Our spouse? Partner? Child’s other parent? Ourselves? It’s critical to not look at other parents and compare ourselves (that’s a losing battle), to not try to squeeze our kids into the box of what respect and honor means according to the latest biblical book that is out there, to not compare ourselves to the other parent and say “well at least I’m doing better than them, to not look at our own parents and say “well at least I did better than them”, and the worst offender at all just say “well I’m doing the best I can or I did the best I can”.

Sometimes we blindly, without self evaluation, follow cultural and Christian norms that seem right for the time or the generation, and then during parenting we can see our kids struggling or not responding well, and we are stuck because all we know is what we know, and we won’t take the time to then go outside our box. If we are lucky we are given a chance to repent and change the way that we did things and start again but more often than not, we stay stuck. We chalk it up to our kids personality, we say we tried, or we cover our mistakes with God and forgiveness and move on. But moving on does not bring sacrificial change just freedom from shame.Truly dealing with our stuff, and examining our blind spots, our selfishness, and our inadequacies is very difficult for us as parents. More than changing the way that we believed, and behaved, or asking forgiveness and apologizing, we need to listen to the voices of our children and try to engage them in honest but painful dialogue, where we listen more and then ACT differently. We must engage our humanity with their humanity and strive to influence them by using healthy self reflection and then enacting reformed belief systems.

For me this becomes very tiring because with working full-time, managing so many health struggles and surgeries, moving across the country, having a major identity shift, and with both of my children that I have at home being in very critical stages of development; I don’t have a lot of inner reserves for self reflection. I want to lay down the law and put down the rules and not listen to all the chatter or take time to notice behaviors or moods. I don’t desire to see if the mood in the house could be because of my own sadness, or if the chaos is because I’ve been giving in too much, or if the disrespect is because I’m being too demanding and harsh. I don’t want to deal with my grief or anger about my husbands health; but I want my kids to keep their attitudes in line. It’s hard to pause, look inward during times of conflict, or times I see attitudes, or when I hear a theme constantly being told to me by my children. I can honestly say I don’t want to take the time to reflect upon anything other then what I perceive as their own ignorance and age.

Part of me wants to tell them that I know better because I am a parent, and part of me doesn’t want to work any harder than I currently am because I truly am doing the best I can. But then, I hear that voice of wisdom inside of me telling me to deal with my stuff ; to look at some fundamentally flawed ways that I am being selfish, to be gentle with myself, take a day off, forgive someone; or that perhaps I am being a law giver without love, or I am repeating a family of origin belief system, or I am not looking at the individuality of my children, or I am too selfish and too tired to step out of my comfort zone. I believe that it is so fundamentally important to critically engage with our children, to study them, listen to their stories, understand their interests, often to withhold judgement and opinion, ask good questions, and seek follow up, as well as try to love them in a way they will actually receive, and be transformed by, love. Not love on our terms.

By encouraging autonomy and individuality, our kids will be self reflective independent humans capable of asking for what they need, expressing their heart’s desire, but most importantly able to change behaviors in all their relationships that are habitual, lazy, and harmful. The dyadic communication that occurs when a parent and a child “see” the other, I believe, can lead to lasting, transformative adult relationships with our children. Children aren’t our personal idols in which we hope to raise correctly to have the approval of others. They are parts of this human world that we want to invoke to good works, compel to impact positively their little part of the world, and at times antagonize to stand up to systems of oppression and injustice. If this is the goal for them, it seems coherent that this is the goal for us as well. Self realization comes from a series of mistakes, difficult exchanges, meaningful conversation, tears, and even tense and uncomfortable dialogue resulting in changed hearts and changed behaviors. But ends with an ultimately reality that God loves us just as we are. It’s through that pure love, like a parents’ pure love, that transformation occurs. Dealing with our stuff, pausing to look in a mirror, unpacking our own childhood traumas, and disconnecting from unstuck patterns require an extraordinary amount of intense, but open, focus, and ultimately sacrifice.

Comments are closed.