Becoming Purified by Tantrummy Flames

Recently, (and hopefully not currently) we went through a really hard time with Sketch.  He started having longer and more frequent tantrums, and more intense and aggressive ones as well.  A developing tactic he began to form was throwing heavier things such as furniture, if he could.

One time he became upset with some Math-U-See bricks (of various sizes) and took the whole bucket and threw it–pieces flew all through the air in various directions.  They came dangerously close to hitting Princess Buttercup in the face, as she sat obliviously reading her book.

And, to add to the intensity and unpredictability, Sketch would flail, pull hair and hit, scratch, kick, etc. and became more intentional about it with each tantrum.  He would target my face, hair or worst of all…my stomach with a growing baby inside.

Because of baby, I am not able to remove him from an area, as I could do before.  I am not able to calm him with tight squeezes, or be near him in that state.  I had to separate him from us with a baby gate–the only option with our house layout at this time.  The problem was, that he is good enough with problem solving now, at the ripe old age of 5, that he would pile blankets and cushions at the gate on either side, to step on and climb over to a soft landing, so he could continue his attack.

This is NOT like my sweet, cuddly boy!  The last time he was like this, he was on steroids most of the time, due to asthma and undiagnosed food allergies!

I don’t think I have ever been so stressed out or overcome with despair at a situation with my kids before.  I had prayed for help, for God to calm my little boy, for sanity to return to our house.  I desperately pleaded before his throne of grace for help in my time of need, but I didn’t seem to be getting the results I wanted. Day after day this continued…sometimes several grandiose tantrums a day. I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t understand why this was suddenly happening. And worst of all, I was sure I would NOT be finding any “treasures” in these tantrums!!!

But, God does redeem e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

As some of you know from my previous posts, I really like Beth Moore’s Bible Studies, and I am currently going through one with my wonderful church called, “A Womans Heart:  God’s Dwelling Place”

In the first few weeks of the study, Beth says this:  “…we offer God something more precious than gold when we joyfully lay our sufferings on His altar and agree to be purified by the flames that threaten to consume us.” (p.58)  She was commenting on this verse from 1Peter 4:19 “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”

Hard advice, I must say, especially when the ONLY thing you want, is to get out of the situation. The. End.

She continues, “No one can make you surrender your suffering to God.  Only you can decide how your fires will affect you.  Will you be sanctified or scarred?  Listen as He says to you, “My precious child, I bore My scars so that you would not have to!”  He has suffered enough for both of you”

That night, I realized the only thing I could do is to lay down this “suffering” with Sketch, entrusting it and it’s consequences to the God who desires to do more for me than I can ever imagine or comprehend.  Even if the situation didn’t change quickly, I needed to be willing to allow God to purify me in this situation, instead of becoming scarred by it.  I woke up the next morning with the song, “Refiners Fire” playing in my dreams.

Tough lesson, but a treasure worth learning.

I guess there was a treasure in that after all.

And, for the follow up… God has guided us as parents and we ended up re-arranging our childrens bedrooms so Sketch had a room downstairs where I could put him to calm down, and not harm anyone.  He always wanted me to take him to his room upstairs (carry him) when he was out of control, but that is no longer safe.  Being able to take him to his room again has worked wonderfully to calm him down quicker!  Also, we suspected that his medicine for ADHD may have been contributing to this behavior, although not following the typical pattern of side effects.  We changed the medicine and the tantrums have reduced back to more normal and manageable levels!!!

In the midst of learning this lesson, a friend of mine pointed me to a song on youtube that wonderfully addresses this.  Here it is:

Conquering the Rain!

A few weeks ago, I watched one of the most beautiful sights unfold before my eyes.

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, not really, but it was a rainy afternoon, which in our house can turn into a dark and stormy night pretty quick!  If you are new to my blog, you can catch up on the rain posts here and here.

On this rainy afternoon though, Sketch blew me away… and it wasn’t even windy!  I had to meet him at the bus at the end of our long driveway.  So he had much farther to travel to get into the house, than when I was homeschooling him.  Plus, now I am expecting our fourth child (a surprise treasure from God, for sure!), and I simply am not able to carry him all the way in, as I had before.

So I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to make this work.  I decided to walk up to the bus with Sketch’s frog umbrella.  He loves that frog umbrella when it is dry, and he’s inside!  Not once has he used it in the rain. He always rejects it and while terrified of getting wet, he asks, “Carry?”.  So I thought if he saw me use it in the rain, he’d understand that it will keep him dry too.

When he stepped off the bus, he looked at the umbrella with a smile.  I handed it to him but he didn’t reach for it so I took his two hands and had him hold it.  When he seemed steady with it, I slowly released my hands.

Bigger Smile!

And he was soooo proud of himself!  He held it very tightly, and just seemed amazed at how it was keeping him dry.  He didn’t go in the house when we got to our door, he kept walking around in the backyard, cute as can be…soaking up his victory!

From our back window, this is what I saw:

Isn’t it beautiful?  There he is holding that umbrella as if it were the Flag, as if he were marching!  Maybe it was his victory march for conquering his rain fears 🙂  When I saw him walking around like that, tears came to my eyes…and granted, I am pregnant so maybe it was just the horrormones (as my friend, Kay, would call them), but really, what I was thinking about that made this picture so beautiful to me is what has happened to to get him to this place.

After the post Short, Sweet, and Silly was written, I had to take Sketch in the rain to OT.  He surprisingly didn’t object to leaving the house!  He didn’t want to get wet or deal with rain, but he didn’t let his fears stop him! (Lesson #1) and he asked to “Carry?” which I did.  He didn’t just have me simply carry him though.  When I picked him up, he wrapped his little long legs all around my waist and his little long arms all the way around my neck (almost twice!) and he clinged to me so tightly that I didn’t even have to hold him!  If I let go, he was just there, unbudged!  (Lesson #2)

The next time it rained, he did the same thing. Just accepted the rain and clung to me as if his life depended on it.

And the next time, it was a Sunday and we were at church.  Mr. Incredible got to carry him this time and I got to watch Sketch cling to him in the same adorable way.

It’s just intensely beautiful…because this is just what God wants us to do with our fears.  He does not want us to be held back by them, but to cling to Him through them!

Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God must have been holding up Sketch under that umbrella, making the safety of His presence known to him.

And he’ll do it for you too!  Do not be afraid!  And as my favorite potty training card says, “You go girl!”

Merry Christmas everyone!

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

I’ve just got this vision playing in my mind, that takes place about 20 years from now.  I am 60 years old, carrying my 25 year old Sketch,who won’t step foot in the rain.  I’m wondering how that is going to work?

I am sure he’ll come to tolerate the rain a bit better by then than he does now, but at this point, his total disgust and fear of the rain is getting worse, not better!

Today I was coming home from taking him to OT, and the darkened skies opened wide, spilling it’s heavy rains to the earth.

When we got home, Sketch wanted just one thing:  to be in the house where it was dry.  There was just one problem with this what-should-be easily solved problem. He has to get though the torrential downpour that is blocking his way between the car and the house.

At first he wouldn’t even come near the car door.  When I opened it, with the umbrella in hand, he backed up away from the open-to-the-dreaded-rain door.  He was not ready to face his fear head-on….or, head under, as the case may be!

“Come on, Sketch, I’ll carry you!  See?  I have an umbrella to keep you dry. It will be ok!”

“Are you all done? AHHHHH!”

“Sketch, it’s ok, I’ll carry you in and keep you dry!  Then you can get your blue blanket (his favorite thing)”

“Ahhh!  All Done!” Sketch screams and cries in objection.

It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that it is safe, and worth it, to let me carry him in.  He screamed all the way… I’m sure the 4 steps to the porch and 4 stair-steps up to the door seemed to be more like 4 miles long, with each inch looming with the potential disaster of getting wet…of having “spots” on his shirt…of his shoes having a darker shade of leather than they did before…or…here’s the worst…wet hair!

But, it didn’t happen.  I kept him dry, just as I promised…all the while getting my own feet wet from walking in puddles since I couldn’t see the way while carrying him…my back was spotted with rain drop stains, my shoulders sore from attempting to coordinate the umbrella and Sketch at the same time.  But Sketch, he was ok.

Except, he didn’t think he was.

If I thought he was screaming before, it was just a minor whimper in comparison to what came next.  Now that he’s in the house and dry & safe, he lets loose with the high pitch alarm sounding scream…the one usually reserved for severe pain or terror!

Ignoring his screams, I sit with him by the fire place to get warm and dry.  I grab a extra-comfortable quilted blanket with a rainbow colored sunburst in the center, and wrap it around us both.

He giggles.

I squeeze, and he giggles in relief, again.

I just hold him and warm him and give him squeezes of pressure & hugs that make him feel safe.  (I really don’t mind this part at all!)

We cuddle by the fire, feeling safe from the dangers outdoors.

Sometimes we have a storm in our lives, or a dreaded event, or something we just don’t like.  And we have to endure it to get to the promised land of comfort & safety. And just like I carried Sketch in the house, God offers to guide and protect us as well, while we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”  We don’t need to fear any evil, for “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

And even though we may be absolutely dreading the path we have to take, and it takes all we have to make that first step out of the door into the arms of God (who’s holding us under a really big umbrella), God is there and He carefully takes us to the other side.  God takes the rain on his own shoes and back.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

And once we are safe… we may still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing.  We may still want to throw our fit and scream:  “Did it really have to happen THAT way God???  Couldn’t you magically get me here from the car while avoiding the rain???”

And God comes, and takes us by the warm fire of his presence, re-assures us with his Word, and wraps us with the Holy Spirit like a blanket, and comforts us.  And we relax. And we may giggle at how silly we were about the magic tricks, or the situation we dreaded so much but just turned out to be no big deal in comparison to God. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Often at the point of finally relaxing, we want to just move on. To get up and start doing things that need to be done.  But I encourage you to follow Sketch’s example and to not do that.  Treasure the moment. Stop by the fire place and rest, soak in the love of our incredible Savior.  Rest in the presence of God, absorb the Words of God and soak in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

It’s still raining outside here in Maine, and maybe it is still raining where you are too. Maybe you are about to take that first step out of the car to make the journey to the other side, and to you I say:

Fear not, the God of the universe is waiting to take you safely over, hand-in-hand, or perhaps by carrying you all the way.

Misplaced Car Seats

On Saturday we went to a really cool kids-carnival at our really cool church.  There were bounce houses and volcanoes exploding with candy.  There was mini-golf, pony rides, face painting, food, etc.  It was really fun!

There is no way I would go to something like this alone with the three kids, but Sketch’s pre-school teacher just really missed Sketch and so she wanted to come that day and help.

Rachel, the teacher  (not her real name) happens to drive a silver car.

Daddy, or Mr. Incredible, also drives a silver car.  Mr. Incredible used to drive Sketch to school in the “silver car” every day and Sketch would sit in his car seat behind the drivers seat.

On this day, Rachel drove all 3 kids in her car to the kids carnival at the church, and I drove the empty Red Van (yes, I’m smiling and remembering the silence of that drive!)

Mr. Incredible was planning to meet us at the carnival (he had to work.  The “smile” is now upside down) and help with the kids but it turned out he had to stay at work (note the tears streaming down my face!)

So, we had fun at the carnival for about an hour & a half (pretty good, considering!), and the only reason we made it that long was because of  Rachel’s help and the help of the awesome people at our awesome church!  One person took Princess Buttercup on the pony ride, that she desperately wanted, another helped watch Dash, and I am sure there were countless eyes watching out for my reputable run-aways.

But, about 90 minutes into it, Sketch seemed a bit “edgy”.  The tell-tale signs of  a melt down were appearing…such as wanting to go to the Red Van, wanting me to enter all the bounce-houses with him, wanting to lay down on the floor of the bounce house instead of jumping around, and wanted to go to “church” or wanting to go to “sunday school”, etc.  Pretty much wanting to do anything but what we actually were doing. So, I gave the 5 minute warning that we would be going to the Red Van to go home.

“In 5 more minutes, we are going to go to the Red Van, and we are going home!” I make sure each child hears and acknowledges they understand.

I thought that was pretty clear.

Once the 5 minutes were up, Mr. “Wanting To Do Something Different” decided he didn’t want to leave after all.  (I smell a power struggle brewing!) and down he flops to the ground.  “All done, No Thanks!”

“Sketch, it is time to go to the Red Van, it is time to go home” (Note the sweat starting to drop on my forehead as I imagine Sketch digging in his heels and letting loose one of his incredible high-pitched screams that I am sure would even be heard over the sound of the airplanes taking off and arriving next door to us.)

But, thankfully, Sketch just got up and walked out with us.  Phew!  (note the premature relief in my “phew”!)

We walk by the church building, and Sketch again says “Church? Sunday School?”  and I tell him there is no church, that it is Saturday, and church is tomorrow, on Sunday.  Sketch attempts to pull me to the building in the off-chance that maybe that would sway my decision.

But no, we went to the typically beloved Red Van, just like I said.

“Silver car!” Sketch screams as he sees the car seats being moved from Rachel’s car to the Red Van.

“Sketch, we are going home in the Red Van.  Rachel is driving the silver car.”

“Daddy?  Silver car?  All done Red Van, no thanks!” He cries.

We take Sketch to the Red Van in hopes to persuade him to sit in his car seat. All attempts fail!

“Sketch doesn’t want to go in the Red Van” Dash starts fussing.  “Sketch is too loud! Sketch is screaming!”

Princess Buttercup starts complaining too, and pretty much we have 3 meltdowns instead of one, all winding eachother up a little bit more.

It seemed like several never-ending hours, but it was really only about 30 minutes, that Sketch threw his tantrum and refused to get in the van or car seat.  He kept asking for Daddy, and silver car, and sometimes even white car, which I think was the car on the other side of the van.  I tried explaining that Sunday School is tomorrow, and today is Saturday, and Daddy’s at work, etc.  Finally, I called Mr. Incredible and told him what was going on, and that I think he’s waiting for him to come to church and he won’t get in the van.

He talks to Sketch on the phone and Sketch relaxed a little.  (This is the appropriate time for that “PHEW!”)  He hadn’t seen his Daddy in a while because he had to work Friday night late, and left early Saturday morning.  Sketch agreed to get in the van and to go see Daddy at his office.

Now, we have another problem.  Mr. Incredible’s office JUST moved, which is why he was working all weekend!  So I get Sketch in the car and try to explain that we are going to his NEW office.  The poor kid just can’t get a break.

But, we make it, with only a little confusion and when Mr. Incredible walked out of the New Office, Sketch painted his face with a big flappy smile!

Once we got home and started unloading the Red Van, I look back and notice that Sketch’s car seat is in the WRONG spot!  In the Red Van he sits to the right of the drivers seat. In the Silver Car he sits on the drivers side!  Probably reminding him of  his confusion of where Daddy has been.

“Oh my goodness, look at that!  I bet Sketch was upset because his car seat was on the wong side of the van!”

Princess Buttercup replies with words of wisdom of a child of God, “Really?  Sketch just worries about things he doesn’t even need to worry about!” (Notice the surprised and proud look on my face for my 7 year old daughter!)

And there we have it… the tie in to the scriptures yet again.  I mean, is there really anything that we need to worry about?  I know that we will worry about many things, but I am thinking that ultimately, they either won’t matter, won’t happen or will be taken care of (as always) by our ever-loving, all knowing, always there, Provider.

1 Peter 5:7  “Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you”

Matt 6:25-26  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”

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