Friday, October 03, 2008

The kids hung out with Aunt Jodie for the Young Life banquet on Tuesday night and as ever, she took some awesome pictures... Thanks Jo!

Tearing Off the Grumps

Look, there’s no way around it and no other way of saying it, so I’m just gonna say it: Lately Norah has been Mrs. Grumpy Gills. I don’t know if it’s because of the fact that we moved into a new house, the fact that she just started pre-school, the fact that she’s learning to go on the potty or the fact that she realizes that a baby is about to come, dethroning her from that position in our house. It’s probably some combination of all of the aforementioned major life changes, but whatever it is, she’s just grumpy. If anything (and I mean anything) happens to her, she loses control and we have had the hardest time turning off the fount of tears that erupts every time this girl stubs a toe or is asked to share. What are you supposed to do? When she goes down for a nap, she’s inconsolable. When she wakes up, she’s inconsolable. From seeing bugs to not liking her food and even thinking that she might possibly have seen a bug, she’s inconsolable.

At first we thought, “Well she is just in a time of great transition in her life right now which accounts for the increased fussiness, so let’s just comfort her and hold her.” Now, you would think that this would cure all ills, but the more we would snuggle and hold this girl, the more wound up she would get! We were at a total loss and didn’t know what to do when I had this little idea… I didn’t know if it would work, but I decided to give it a try thinking that if I just distracted Norah from whatever was making her sad, she would get happy again. I mean, she’s two years old, you know? She probably just needs a little distraction. So in the middle of her next fit I just asked her, “Hey Norah, what’s your favorite… cartoons or play doh?” And though the tears were still falling, she stopped bawling long enough to say, “Umm… play doh.” I immediately followed up with, “Norah, what’s your favorite… shorts or dresses?” She smiled a bit and said, “Dresses.” So I said, “Norah, what’s your favorite… ice cream or cookies?” She laughed and said, “Cookies.” “What’s your favorite… rocks or mud?” She cracked up and said, “Mud!”

Over the past week I have been developing an arsenal of fuss-fighting techniques based on the principal that all I really have to do to break the sadness is distract her. Yesterday I came up with this thing where I make the fussiest, grumpiest looking face I can, and then tear off the grumps with my hand, exposing a joyful smile and then pretend to throw away the old curmudgeon-ish countenance. Norah thinks this is hilarious and she has actually started ‘tearing off the grumps’ and exposing that one-in-a-million smile that sets my heart ablaze.

I was thinking this morning that maybe these tactics are wrong… am I just putting a band-aid on something that is much deeper than mere distraction can solve? Is it really a valid joy if all I had to do to produce it was to ask her to think about her favorite things and talk about them? Is it so simple to just ‘tear off the grumps’ like that? Then I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4. He said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Then, a few verses later he says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” You see!? According to God’s word, joy is our choice! I think that as crazy as it sounds, we can decide to tear off the grumps and be joyful. I think it’s totally legitimate to break our melancholy by turning our thoughts off of the sad stuff and filling our minds and hearts with the things that bring us the most joy! So, what’s your favorite… the free forgiveness or the never-ending love? What’s your favorite… the new power in you, or the assured place in heaven? Doesn’t that make you want to un-grump?!

Also, back in May i turned 29 years old, and for my birthday, Christy said she wanted to take me to see one of my favorite symphonies... so we looked around at different concert schedules and I saw that the Nashville Symphony Orchestra was playing Dvorak's 9th symphony which is definitely in my top five favorites, and definitely my favorite composer. Well, the concert was last Friday and it was amazing... what's more, Tom painted me a portrait of Antonin Dvorak which is awesome and will now hang in our house until we go to our true home! Thanks Tom and Trusty, and Mom for keeping the kids!

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