Raising Obadiah

I choose fiction every time. Give me an adventure tale, a dystopian society, or a historical romance. I will actually finish these books.

Finn had a blast exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

Finn had a blast exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

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When it comes to non-fiction, I’d rather glean advice from a wise friend or interpret Scripture myself instead of trusting the author. Maybe that makes me arrogant.

But these days we are deep in the trenches of newborn craziness and toddler independence. So when I found Devotions for Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas stashed away in my hope chest, I decided it was worth cracking open. I love it; so simple and so profound.

Today’s chapter was about Obadiah, a name that means, “servant of Yahweh.” He discussed the issue of why we choose to have kids and that in some cases we parent them based on that purpose.

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For some, having a baby may have been an accident. So perhaps these children are raised haphazardly, as though they were not exactly part of the plan. Some people fear being alone, so they create children who are dependent, sheltered and needy. Some parents want a redo; another chance at childhood. So they raise their children the opposite of the way they were raised.

If your goal is for your child to be “happy,” you’ll buy them whatever they want instead of teaching them simplicity, self-control and responsibility.

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Happy girl. Photo by Laura.

If you want successful children, you’ll spare no expense to get them into the right schools with the right clothes and the right connections to get the right job. If you desire athletic or achieving children, you’ll provide them with the best coaching, the most exclusive clubs, expensive equipment and ample advice to help them become the athlete that you were–or perhaps the athlete you weren’t.

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Finn loved exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

Christian parents should have a different aim: that their child become an Obadiah. A servant of God. Malachi 2:5-6 sums it up…godly children are in awe of Him, they revere His Word, walk with Yahweh, live peacefully with others and turn from sin. If we realize that there is no higher goal in parenthood than raising children who love Jesus, we are willing to help them face the realities of frustration and disappointment they’ll find in the “world.” We are committed to training, correcting, encouraging and praying for our kids daily. Hourly. Even when they are screaming in the car and the light just won’t. turn. green.

While I still want Finn and Paisley to develop their abilities, find fantastic spouses and land jobs they love, my purpose for them is higher. I want them to become like Christ. I pray often that they will know Him much better and more intimately than I do.

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Thomas concludes the chapter:

May the prayer of our hearts be, “Lord, refine my motivations, purify my actions, and energize my heart so that I do all I can to help my children find their greatest joy and their highest aim in serving you.”

Time to check my motives and realign my goals for my babies.

The Worship Couch

I take lots of deeeeeep breaths these days.

It’s hard being Paisley’s mom. She’s loud. And some days it’s hard being mom to a child in a wheelchair. Nothing’s easy or all that accessible. Soccer fields still make me cry.


On Sunday evening, after a few hours of Paisley’s incessant crying and Finn waking up crying as a result of it, I was certain the Lord had made a mistake. I just don’t have what it takes to be their mom. I’m not patient enough or mature enough or laid back enough. Truthfully, I wanted to get in my car and drive away.

Joey listened so tenderly to my sobbing pity party that evening. Sometimes I just have to verbalize things; like “I can’t be their mom anymore,” to realize how ridiculous I sound. And I needed him to remind me of the truth–that I can and will be their mom.

Monday I had a couple cancellations before it was time to pick the kids up from school. For some reason I didn’t spend the hour cleaning or napping like I usually do. The Lord drew me to the living room. One couch was smothered with clean laundry. I programmed Pandora to play the All Sons and Daughters station and I folded 2T pj’s and newborn pink onesies, stacking them neatly. Once every sock had its partner, I plopped onto the opposite couch, lifted my face to the ceiling and sang along to the music:

I surrender all.

I surrender all.

All to Thee my blessed Savior;

I surrender all.

Tears released the insurmountable stress I’ve been harboring in my spirit the past two months–feelings of  inadequacy, exasperation and sometimes insanity. I hadn’t “worshiped on the couch” since my sophomore year of college. Back then it was a Discman playing Shane Bernard on a couch infused with the smell of burnt popcorn. But the purpose was the same: to sing anthems of praise to my Lord, begging Him to be near me as I navigate my current struggle.

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

EVERY HOUR I need Him. If I need him in other aspects of my life, why wouldn’t I need Him in the most difficult one–as a mom? I keep waiting and praying for Paisley to change. To just be content. But I’m the adult here…I’m the one who needs to become content. I can’t wait until the intense hours to cry out the Lord. I need to be spiritually and mentally prepared for them before they even happen. I need to be in the Word.

Jane reminded me today that He is refining me because He loves me. This isn’t the way I’d choose to be refined, but it’s a good thing I’m not in charge. His ways are higher than my ways.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

Refinement through fire is anything but comfortable. But it produces the purest, most precious metals.

The last song I heard was one about motherhood by Bethany Dillon, “You’re the Best Song.”

Good morning
You and the sun are up before I’m ready
But ready or not, you need me
So here I am

I’m learning that in the long hard days
There is beauty…

And though I’m tired now
You’re worth every sleepless night
You’re worth it all, cause I know…

You’re the best song I’ll ever write
And we’re humming and dancing through the years together
You’re the best song I’ll ever write
And I pray you’ll hear Jesus in it when you’re older


My Beauty

I really love my kids. They’re so worth it. The Lord designed them specifically for Joey and I, and I am exactly the mom Finn and Paisley need. A mom who worships on the couch.

Macarena Mary

Mary Lou is turning 80! The Eitreim family (mom’s side) all convened at my parents’ home in Bella Vista to celebrate. I hadn’t seen my extended family in over 2 years and it was such a blessing to be together. We missed you, Becca Boo.

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We shared meals and air mattresses and lake floaties.


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My kids were so well loved; Finn was on attention overload. One night we worshiped together in the living room while Joey played the guitar.


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The next morning, we surprised Gram with a tea party while the boys went skeet shooting.


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Gram telling wedding stories.

Gram telling wedding stories.


The Man Van.

Grandma Mary requested one thing: a dance party and pizza. So that’s what we did. We rented out their neighborhood clubhouse and danced. We did the chicken dance, the cupid shuffle, some square-dancing, had a hula-hoop contest, and Gram’s favorite, the Macarena.

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I love my family. No one was “too cool;” everyone shook their groove thang. 😉 Just when we thought it was all over, Grandpa Milt announced that it was time for the grand finale. Grandma disappeared. Minutes later, Gramps hit “play” on the boom box. Marching band music and the toot of a whistle sounded in the hallway while Grandma marched in wearing her old majorette uniform. White boots, a red hat, blue whistle and her baton. She flipped that thing around her graceful arthritic fingers like a teenager. She even tossed it and caught it under her legs, brimming with pride. To say we were impressed is an understatement. Jaws dropped as we watched our matriarch perform. The confidence of this woman is beautiful.


4 generations

4 generations

Grandma Mary, you are the life of the party. You’re classy and kind. Strong-willed and resilient. You raised three stellar kids, have been married almost 60 years and fought cancer twice.


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Thank you for teaching me how to be grateful for what I have and generous with it too. You are cherished. Happy Birthday (on the 25th)!