I Am Not My Children’s Father

fd

I am a single parent and the sole caretaker for my four children. But I am not their father.

There are some who would wish me, or other single mothers, Happy Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. I want to be clear, I do not take that adversely, in fact, I take it as a compliment. But I am not my children’s father.

I am a mother. I am the lone parent. I am the only name on the Emergency Contact line. I alone put to bed, provide, comfort and guide my children. But I am not their father.

But my children are not fatherless.

For over three years I prayed everyday that God would be a father to my children. And He has.

gpopFor over three years my father, my children’s grandfather, has been in my daughters’ lives every single day. He has never stopped being a parent to me and through him, my children see what a father should be.

This post was originally published on June 16, 2014. (Still true, though…) 

Follow me on bloglovin’

Turn It Up!

One of my greatest delights is standing between my children in church and hearing their sweet voices join mine in worship. Now before you get the wrong idea, my two little ones are experts at disturbing these idyllic moments.

The truth is, it’s not unusual for me to lose a child during the worship time. Eventually, I notice one is missing and start glancing around; someone behind me usually catches my searching eye and points under a seat somewhere down the row. I smile my thanks and bend over to remove my child from under the seat and return to singing only to get tapped on the arm by the seven year old asking what does that or this word mean, you know, weird words like “hosanna” and “worthy.” It’s delightful that she wants to know, but this is like the seventh time she’s asked. I once again return to singing and soon realize the five year old is now lying in the middle of the aisle, I whisper loudly to her, “someone’s going to step on your head.” I silently blame myself for forgetting to bring a coloring page and crayon packet once again. At last I hand the little one the pen and “welcome card” from the pocket in the seat in front of her to entertain her.

I wouldn’t change it.

singingNo, mine are most definitely not the perfectly dressed in their Sunday best little girls with white tights and bows in their hair. Mine are the children who look like they dressed themselves (they did) and I am the mom licking my thumb to remove dried icing from the little one’s cheek before she exits for Sunday School – and yes she got it on there by clandestinely licking the icing off her big sister’s cinnamon roll before church. This child seriously needs Jesus.

But it is those brief moments of unified voices in praise with my girls beside me that I cherish. A combined 120 seconds of that? I’ll take it. Joyfully.

Three years ago my daughters and I stepped onto a plane with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We flew across oceans and continents from one country to another. The first six months in the US are still a blur. The girls were not yet in school. The younger two children did not even speak English and the older two were barely bi-lingual. They could not read. They could not write.

But they could listen.

Almost from our first day in the US we listened to a Christian radio station and we learned every song. I consider it the number one most healing influence in our life at that time. Even today, it is all we listen to in the car.

The other day I borrowed my dad’s car to drive my daughter to the dentist. His car’s dial is set to Sports Radio. That, of course, was unacceptable. As I was driving I scanned through the channels, trying to find something a ten year old might like. After about ten minutes of skipping from song to song she said, “Mom, can we put on our regular station?” Gladly.

We might not have a wide variety of songs in our repertoire but there are few things in this life that give me as much pleasure as listening to the sound of my children singing worship songs in the car and hearing them say,

“Turn it up, Mom, this is my favorite one.”

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®.

Not Awesome

Everything is not always awesome. If you’ve been a mother for any amount of time you’ve probably experienced your child being hurt. Not physically hurt, although that happens often enough, but hurt emotionally. Recently my teenage daughter texted me and asked to be picked up early from a school event. Once home she asked me for a hug and cried in my arms for a while.

Feelings were hurt. Kids were mean. My heart breaks.

On those less than awesome days I’ve found that the best thing is to just hug, be there for her, and not try to fix. Can I be real honest here? My flesh urges me to tell her to go upstairs, get a bowl of ice cream and relax in front of the TV, as if that would make it all better. But that is the response of my flesh and the ice cream will provide no real comfort. In these moments, a bowl of ice cream teaches my daughter to find her comfort in something other than the True Comforter.

So while we hug, I pray.

God knows, He saw, His heart breaks too.

I was recently reading the passage in Luke 18 where Jesus told His disciples to let the little children come to Him. How many times have I read that, seen it, heard it? Yet on this particular day I understood something new about our Heavenly Father. Honestly, who among us doesn’t melt at the sight of a newborn or enjoy making a nine month old laugh? Whose heart doesn’t fill with joy while watching the freedom a four year old feels to pirouette through a parking lot or at a ten year old’s excitement and anticipation over the one line she gets to say in the school play?

Our hearts swell with love, often for no other reason than because these precious creatures are children. I forget that God looks at our children and that He also experiences that same warmness and joy that we feel in their presence – but He experiences it in perfection – even better. Then, even so, when our hearts break with our children, it is only natural that we turn to the One whose heart is breaking with us. He is the True Comforter, not just for me in my sorrow, but my child’s Comforter in her own sorrow.

Her sadness is not too insignificant for Him to care.

I must constantly remind myself that my children’s faith journeys are their own to traverse and I am here to guide. The God who comforts the downcast is as much their Father as He is mine. And as I have personally experienced His comfort time and time again, the greatest response I can give to my daughter in her own moment of sorrow is to lead her to The Source of all comfort and The Healer of all wounds, so that when the day comes that I am no longer with her, she can find her way to Him.

Then after a little while, when the tears subside, she and I can share another hug, and maybe a bowl of ice cream.

not awesome

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

The Red Journal

photo 1

Since 1999 my older brother has kept a Christmas journal that contains reflections on Christmas written by members of the family. Each Christmas one family member writes in the journal and then does a reading at the annual party.

journal

I recognize each person’s handwriting. What a special tradition.

2014 was my year. 


I wrap my children’s Christmas gifts early and put them out a couple weeks before Christmas day. If the gifts are out, you may wonder, how do I keep my children from squeezing and shaking and peeking at their packages in the days and weeks before Christmas? Wouldn’t the temptation to take a peak be just a little too strong? And what about the beautiful packaging – doesn’t it get bent and torn and worn away?

Yes and yes.

In fact, in our house there is a lot of movement of the gifts (by the children) – from upstairs in my bedroom, to down under the tree, to back up in the bedroom again. As you can imagine, there are repairs on the paper from holes and rips that, “accidentally” appeared there.photo 1 (3)

None of this bothers me. You see, I know that the majority of the pleasure derived from the gifts is experienced in the anticipation of opening them and seeing what is inside. Once opened, gifts often lose their luster and it doesn’t take long on Christmas day or the days following for the open gifts to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sweet treats from the stocking are found under the couch partially eaten and collecting dust, little makeup boxes lay empty and discarded while the eyeshadow they once contained is caked on my children’s faces or, occasionally, smeared into the sofa. The device they’ve wanted all year is discarded in preference of mom’s iPhone – as usual.

That’s OK too. As much as gifts and even lovely traditions (like this journal) are important and we hope they last for generations to come, gifts and traditions don’t make Christmas – Christmas. And Christmas will certainly not cease to be Christmas if all the gifts and traditions and trappings were taken away. The Whos taught us that.

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:

Grinch: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Narrator: And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So, what does Christmas mean?

I think most of us would agree that Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of a Savior. Everyone here tonight knows that. We come together at this time of year to celebrate the BIRTH of a Savior. Emphasis on the word, Birth.

Now, I am not against Jesus’ birthday, Christmas traditions or gift giving; the Bible encourages traditions and even the wise men gave gifts, but if that is where our Christmas celebration ends, our disappointment is guaranteed. We are left with emptiness, much like the feeling we experience after the gifts are finally opened and we wake up on the morning of the 26th to a house full of discarded wrappings and empty boxes. It’s not enough, it’s never enough – all the amazing and beautiful, best gifts in the world or fun Christmas events and parties can never truly satisfy the longing inside of us. In fact, once Christmas is finally all over, we are often left feeling relieved.

Now let me try to say this again, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a SAVIOR, emphasis on the word, Savior. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The gifts will never satisfy because our hearts are longing for something much greater and more lasting – our forever home – heaven, Eternity with God Himself. A place and a time where the celebration will not be focused on the Savior’s birth but a place and a time where the celebration is focused simply, on the Savior.

Think of the generations of worshipers from the very first; those of old who looked forward with anticipation for a Savior who would one day come, to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, the disciples, the apostles, the early church, the very first believers in nation after nation as the Gospel spread all over the world and even to this present day. Imagine all those who have gone before us, and the true believers who are celebrating Christmas all over the world far and near even this very night. We, every true follower of Christ who has ever lived and is alive today, are invited, not just to celebrate the birth of this precious baby, but, in fact, we are all members of the wedding party in the most glorious wedding supper of all time. Rev. 19:9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” 

This same baby, God in human form, who entered this world in a stable and was laid in a manger grew into manhood and was victorious over death and the grave in order to give us the greatest gift ever given, one that can never be damaged or outdated or unsatisfying; the gift of Grace to save us from our sins.

And this gift, He is still offering it today. At this very moment, he is calling out to the lonely. The sick. The brokenhearted, The imprisoned. The depressed. The hungry. The dying. The lost. The deceived. The fearful. The poor. The proud. The haters. The smallest child and The aged. Those near and those far away.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev. 21:3-7

It’s why we celebrate – it’s what we celebrate – not just the birth of the savior – but what his birth represents – Emmanuel – God with us – our Savior has come.

Thanks for Being Rude…no, really, Thanks.

Untitled

On Saturday I had the opportunity to join with friends and strangers to pack and deliver Thanksgiving food items to five families in a very poor city in NJ. I’ve written about it here, Loving with My Eyes Wide Open. This post is not so much a follow up as it is a reflection on one particular aspect of the day’s deliveries.

Nine of us, three adults and six children, piled into a 12 passenger van with our boxes full of frozen turkey and gravy, cans of green beans and boxes of stuffing and miscellaneous other items, and headed to our first address. It was like the weirdest treasure hunt ever.

It seemed best if everyone stayed in the vehicle and I went alone to knock on doors to make sure someone was at home before opening the van and allowing the children out. Sadly, we struck out at Home #1. Not to be deterred, we plugged another address in to the GPS and off we went with high hopes for better results.

After knocking on the door of Home #2 a few times, I heard a man’s voice call through the broken front window, “Who’s out there?!”

“I’m here from Seeds of Hope. I have a turkey and some Thanksgiving food to deliver.” I shouted back.

I heard some shuffling inside and the door was opened to reveal an older woman. When I told her who I was and why I was there, she broke down and said, “Praise Jesus,” and I called in the children.

The six kids happily spilled out of the van like clowns out of a clowncar and grabbed the frozen turkey, roasting pan and the box of goodies from the back. Everyone needed to carry something to the front door, even the four year old. He walked up to the house carrying a bag of mini-marshmallows in the crooks of his elbows like a Wise Man presenting a box of frankincense to Jesus.

How uplifting! What a wonderful experience!

We piled back into the van and rushed back to the home base for another address. This is great!

Home #3, however, was a somewhat different experience. As we pulled up to the row home there was a woman standing on the porch. Maybe she was waiting for us. Maybe she just recognized a large van full of middle class white people driving around town the weekend before Thanksgiving as most likely being Thanksgiving Meal Deliverers. Whatever the reason, I was just happy someone was home and I stepped out of the van to speak with her. I explained who I was and why I was there and she nodded. I called in the kids. Once again they enthusiastically piled out of the van and elbowed each other out of the way to be the first to carry the goods to the lady on the porch.

She never cracked a smile. Her “thank you” was begrudgingly given and her attitude was anything but friendly. Although she didn’t protest about the food, I sort of felt like I was the delivery guy for the supermarket – Hey Lady, here’s your Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for your order.

This second experience was vastly different than the earlier one. Everyone felt it. We sat silently in the car for a moment after loading back in and seven-year-old Asher finally commented, “She had a lot of beer caps in her yard.” 

As the day went on we were blessed to deliver three more meals and received varying responses to the deliveries, some quietly grateful, others exuberant and heart-wrenching (like the one with the little boy with a medical device inserted in his throat.) But none held a candle to the response of the lady at Home #3. Memorable. Extraordinary. Unforgettable.

In hindsight, as I reflected on the day, I have one thing I’d like to say to the woman in Home #3. Thanks for being rude…no, really, Thanks. 

You see, her attitude reminded me of others who were presented with a much more marvelous gift and responded, not with gratitude, but with rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance. Jesus. On the cross. Making a way for sinful, hopeless humanity to once again be with God. Emmanuel, God With Us. And what has been the response to this most excellent gift over the centuries? Gratitude, yes, thankfully, occasionally, yes; but much more often, the response to this gift is rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance.

So, Ms. Home #3, thank you for being rude. I don’t know what was going on in your heart or your life on Saturday and I am not judging you. I was as blessed (maybe more) to deliver to you as to any other and we were seeking no praise or gratitude anyway. Yet your response impressed our children so deeply that it allowed me to organically and practically speak to my children on the drive home about the truth of God’s love for us, even, and especially, when we don’t deserve it. Thank you also for the opportunity to remind them (and me) of the many who view God’s love with anything but a grateful heart. I think they understand a little better now. Happy Thanksgiving.

I Can’t Delete My Grandchildren

I helped my mother “get the pictures off her phone” and on to her computer the other day. I do this periodically for her – after vacations and holidays especially.

She and my Dad had recently taken a trip to Virginia and she took some pictures of my brother-in-law’s college and wanted to send them to him in Arizona. Making a move into the twenty-first century, Mom decided to email them to him rather than print them out and snail mail them. Baby steps.

After connecting the camera to the computer I saw the first pictures start to upload – 779 of them. Dang it. I hate when the computer forgets that it has already uploaded off this camera in the past and doesn’t start from the most recent pics – just a couple dozen since September.

As I sat there waiting for the hundreds of old pictures to upload, knowing I would have to delete 95% of them, I saw a baby picture of my nephew flash past. He’s six now.

When I mentioned the ancient pictures flashing across the screen to my mother she got a little flustered and exclaimed, “I can’t delete my grandchildren!”

Nope. She can’t.

I, however, can delete my children. I don’t like it, but I do it out of necessity – usually because I’ve run out of space and my phone is freezing up on me. It comes down to immediately deleting pictures of my kids or using my phone.

Phone wins. Every time.

I console myself that the pictures I really like I’ve already posted to Facebook and I can always find them. And, hey, since we’ve moved on to digital we take WAY more pictures than ever before – can you say, “selfie?” I can, and my phone is full of them but they certainly are not of myselfie.

selfie

Alright, you’ve twisted my arm; I admit it, I’ve deleted my children and I feel guilty about it.

***

Random Pictures of My Children from My Phone that I Will Probably Have to Delete at Some Point but at least They Are Now on My Blog for All Eternity – or Until the Internet Dies.

delete 1

Delete 2

Welcome to my life. Follow me on bloglovin’

10 Reasons I Appreciate Teachers or…

Why You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Teach in School

10 teacherz

1. Stinky Children. Have you smelled a child’s breath in the morning? Do you know where those hands have been? I do. I know these smells All. Too. Well, my friends. I live with children. I know what they smell like. It’s not good. If I get 50% of my children to brush their teeth on a given morning – it’s a GOOD day. Poor, poor teachers. I deeply apologize.

2. Interruptions. I’ve taught enough small children over the years to realize that it is nearly impossible to get through anything without being interrupted. In fact, I have my own children to prove this theory. This morning as we were getting ready to leave for school I said, “Ok, everyone be quiet, we’re going to pray.” Just like we do every morning. As I take a deep breath and my lips are forming the “D” in “Dear Jesus,” my seven year old says, “Did you put my water bottle in my bag?” “Yes, close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. D…” “Did you put my snack in my bag?” <deep breath> “Yes. close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. De…” “Is it Halloween today?”

Lord have mercy, she did it FOUR times. In the end I had to have the five year old pray because I was too aggravated to talk to the Lord in that moment.

God bless teachers.

3. Stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where you could just tell a random story of your choosing about an irrelevant incident that happened in your life whenever the spirit moved you? Welcome to Childhoodville. Random. Random stories out of left field, probably when their teacher is trying to explain math or something. You have got to shut them down and move on, or the random storytelling will take over your life, I mean, classroom.

4. Farting. Let’s get real, Everybody farts. This includes the people who claim they don’t fart. They do. However, back in the day when I was in school, no one farted in school– or at least admitted to farting. Once, when I was in 9th grade the kid behind me accidentally farted loudly during class. With a “W” last name I was in the far back, left corner with just one seat behind me. In an instant, every single head in that classroom whipped back to our little corner of the room. In mortal fear that someone might think that I had committed the fart, I quickly turned around and glared at the kid behind me who sheepishly shrugged his shoulders as if to say, whoops. At least he manned up and owned it.

These days farting seems to be the “in” thing. I got on the bus with the 5th Graders to chaperon their class trip and before my buttocks hit the green faux leather bench, I smelled it. Stinky, unmistakable fart smell. On the crowded bus. Really? Sigh.

My five year old is always loaded. And she is unashamed. When I ask her if she does it in school she claims she doesn’t, but I’m not so sure. For a little person, she is super gassy and I don’t even know why. I can’t imagine what I’m feeding them to cause the gas buildup; it’s not like they eat vegetables or anything…

5. Questions. Ridiculous questions. Questions like, “What do you call 100 twins?” And they expect an answer, as if that’s a thing. And they won’t ask you once, they’ll ask you 400 times, apparently forgetting the 399 times they already asked you the same thing.

If teachers haven’t been driven just a little bit insane I’d be very, very surprised.

6. Discipline. Call me crazy, but I just like to work in a world where people are adults and it’s not my job to correct them.

7. Cleaning. God bless them again, but there are some teachers who even clean up their students. Imagine it’s winter and seated before you are twenty sweet and shiny faces; shiny with florescent yellow snot logs hanging just above their upper lip. The remaining log-less students’ nostrils are filled with enormous snot bubbles or crusty boogers. Bring on the tissues. And rubber gloves. And Clorox wipes. And Airborne.

Bless you teachers. Bless you.

8. Whining. Maybe this only happens at home? Somehow I doubt it. Whiners gonna whine.

9. Repeating. As in, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooom, Mom…” Although I suppose in school it is something along the lines of, “Teacher, Teacher, Teacher… or Mrs. Fillintheblank, Mrs…” You get where I’m going with this… (refer back to my insanity comment.)

10. I’m leaving #10 blank for a Fill it in Yourself Competition. There is no prize other than my eternal gratitude for your understanding and empathy; for the teachers – not me, I wouldn’t do that job for a million bucks.

***

It must be a calling. I cannot imagine why someone would willingly submit themselves to the stinks and sounds of a small child classroom environment if they weren’t on a mission of some kind. There just isn’t enough money in the world. All I have left to say is, whatever teachers are being paid, it isn’t nearly enough.

Follow me on bloglovin or social media.

Younger Men

P (age 5): “How old is Grammy?”

Me: “74”

P: “How old is Grandpop?”

Me: “73”

P: “Grammy is bigger than Grandpop?!”

G (age 7, know it all): They love each other. That’s all that matters.

We’re talking 6 months here, people.

younger men

What is it with little girls (especially) desiring that the man in a relationship should be older? Why is that such a big deal?  Are little boys obsessed with this as well?

I’m sure, as a child, I probably assumed that men should be older than the women they married, but I don’t think I lost much sleep over it. In fact, I think I married a younger man (my ex-husband didn’t have a birth certificate, so we really don’t know – really long story about being born in a village.) If I had any age difference issues I suppose I got over them.

All my life I have preferred older men, yet, here in my forties, I think I would be cool with a younger man, if that were meant to be. Not too young, mind you, I have no desire to be with a man who has a significantly smaller amount of life experience than me; that’s bound to turn out bad.

But a little bit younger wouldn’t be too bad – I’d just make sure not to mention his age to my kids…

Follow the ramblings of my mind on bloglovin’

Don’t Mess with the Little Ones, They’re Vicious

In our house the oldest sibling could be called, The Big Boss. She’s not as big as Mom, of course, but, whether the younger three sisters like it or not, they toe her line.

Heaven forbid you mess with The Big Boss (or TBB’s stuff), you see, she will come after you. And once she is after you there is only one place to go, The Biggest (and nicer) Boss of all, i.e. Moi. Somehow, I transform into “base.” TBB can’t touch you if you are attached to the “base,” or at least, she gets in trouble if she does; which is almost as good.

There is usually a lot of chasing around the house and quite a bit of squealing, “Mommy! Mommy!” and then suddenly I am body slammed by a  little person in full retreat from The Big Boss who is on a rampage, usually over somebody touching her stuff.

Horrors. I know.

After an incident this morning consisting of a chase, a squeal and a body slam into “base,” the littlest drew this picture on a napkin moments before leaving for school:

clazy hair

It is a picture of her biggest sister, The Big Boss, with “clazy hair” (sic).

“I x-ed her out,” she said.

There is some vicious emotion expressed on this napkin. You don’t want to mess with this little peanut, she can hold her own. Especially when peaking out from the relative safety of her mother’s knees.

It’s best to keep on her good side, otherwise, she will X You Out.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Big 'n Little

Big ‘n Little

You don’t want to mess with them, they’re very expressive.

 

Follow me on bloglovin’. Just do it!

Longer than the Line for Snow Crab Legs at the Chinese Buffet

I dragged myself out of bed this morning a few minutes late, so while I was still brushing my teeth my daughter came in to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and proceed to tell me her Once Upon A Time (TV show) related dream from the night before. Every. single. detail.

sigh

My children all tend to be long-winded – it may be related to the fact that English is not their first language so the older ones struggle with being concise; however, if I’m honest with myself, I fear they get their long-windedness from me.

I was a long story teller as a child, as my brother likes to remind me. I especially liked relating every plot detail of a movie that I had recently watched to my captive family (usually in the car.)

tarzanWhenever one of my children starts in on a long story I think, this is for all those times I subjected my family to the entire storyline of an ancient Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie or something grotesque I watched on Saturday morning’s Theater Bazaar.

Actually, I think all your bad habits from childhood get rained back down on you when you are a parent. Wet towels on the bed? I can still clearly remember getting punished for leaving wet towels on my bed around age twelve. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV for a week. This was lauraespecially painful because I was watching Little House on the Prairie and my no TV week fell right when Laura and Almanzo were falling in love. Dang it. I was sorely disappointed to miss the best part and I surely learned my lesson. No more wet towels on the bed.

As I walk through my house each day picking up towels from beds and floors and the living room couch, I think, yep, I did this to me.

To my mother and to anyone I ever subjected a long tale of a movie plot (or if I left a wet towel on your bed), you’ll be happy to know, it’s all come back to me. All. come. back. to. me.

And then some.

On the upside, at least the kids are bathing…

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by the word, LONG, and was written alongside of a whole bunch of other bloggers writing for Five Minute Friday. Link up here.

Follow me on bloglovin!