The Lesson I Learned When My Son Wouldn’t Fall Asleep

last night was supposed to be a night where i got caught up. or, at the very least, it was supposed to be a night where several items on my “get it done or you’re screwed” list got checked off.
a little background: bedtime routines for us have been a tad difficult lately. they seem to last longer than they should and the stall techniques coming out of our 3 year old right now are impressive. i swear sometimes it feels like she’s collaborating with her little 3-year-old friends at MOPS on how to outsmart me after 8pm.
but for some reason… and we’re still trying to figure this out… adelina decided to put herself to bed last night. and quite a bit earlier at that. once we discovered that she was already out and sound asleep, and after we got over the shock of it all, shanna and i agreed i’d put cooper down while she went to Starbucks to enjoy some downtime without the kids. he’s the easy one at bedtime right now. piece of cake.

this was a very rare night, and i was very excited.

[now hold on – don’t judge…]
if you have little kids in your house, you know that you can love them to infinity and back and enjoy spending hours upon hours upon hours with them. in fact when you’re at work away from them you crave that time with them more than anything. but at the same time, stuff has to still get done. the reality is that having little kids means there’s MORE to do and LESS time to do it in. so, on those rare nights when the kids happen to go to bed early, there’s a party happening inside you.
[thanks for letting me clear that up.]
as i was saying, this was supposed to be the night to get crap done.

except it wasn’t.

he wasn’t going down. it was like someone slipped about 54 coffee beans in his apple juice. i sang. i rocked him. i cranked the sound machine up. but the stinkin kid just wanted to smile, laugh, and show me how many things he could climb.

i should have seen this time with him as an opportunity.

an opportunity…
…to connect together with no one else to distract
…to play legos
…to listen to him jabber and watch him learn
…to shape his character
…to influence his heart
…to love more deeply
but i didn’t see it that way in the moment.

i saw him as an obstacle, not an opportunity.

i didn’t engage or interact with him; i kept him from getting into my stuff. i didn’t sit on his level; i sat on mine. i didn’t see it as an opportunity to connect deeper than normal, but as an obstacle to get around.
finally, about an hour and a half later, as i’m finally rocking him to sleep for real, it all hit me.

i don’t want to treat people like obstacles.

i definitely don’t want to treat my family as obstacles.
i want to see every person i interact with, whether it’s planned or whether it’s spontaneous, as an opportunity. if they’re on my calendar, it’s certainly easier to do this… but what about the people that just “drop by”?
i guess the thing i’m thinking today is this: maybe God allows certain people to interrupt our plans because he knew we wouldn’t ever “plan” to connect with them on our own. will we see them as a person to love on and build into simply because they’re there, or will we see them as an obstacle to get around so we can get back to our list?
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The One Thing I (Almost) Always Pray For Each Night

with 2 kids under age 4, every evening is an ordeal getting the packages securely into bed. we would love to be the parents with always-consistent-routines and self-discipline that never allows for deviations, but those kinds of nights rarely happen for us. most nights, shanna and i look at each other and without words say “i don’t care how you do it, just get this one into bed, and get them into bed quick.” to be honest, many nights we feel like a struggling high school football team just trying to get something on the scoreboard… it doesn’t have to be pretty, just get the ball across the goal line.

whether they brushed their teeth or not, whether i remembered to change his diaper or get her in pajamas, whether they got  2 songs and a story or neither… i try really hard to be consistent with one thing: i try to always pray in front of them before they go to sleep.

the prayer changes from day to day. often we thank God for something we got to experience during the day, or someone we got to share some time with. we sometimes pray for the people we plan to interact with tomorrow, and we even include knock-knock jokes from time to time to see if Jesus will laugh. most everything we pray about changes from one night to the next, but there’s one thing that almost always stays the same. 

with rare exceptions, i pray every night that my kids grow up walking closely with Jesus.

Watch-and-pray

here’s what i know: as parents, we all have dreams for our kids.

and none of them are bad…

  • we want them to be successful,
  • and athletic,
  • and musical,
  • and good looking,
  • with good people skills,
  • and a hard work-ethic.
  • we want them to have just enough self-esteem,
  • but not too much arrogance.
  • we want them to have good jobs,
  • have good friends,
  • be good friends,
  • have a sense of humor,
  • get good grades,
  • go to a good college,
  • and go there with a full scholarship.
  • we want them to not be interested in dating until they’re 30,
  • and eventually marry the right person (that we select ourselves),
  • avoiding every form of pain and hardship,
  • and be self-sufficient enough to support us in our later years.

but to me, the most important thing – more important than anything on the list above – is simply that they get to a point where they understand that life only makes sense through an authentic relationship with Jesus, and that that relationship isn’t the side show in their life, or the thing they do on the weekend, but that it is the life-blood of everything they are.

maybe it’s because pastor’s kids get it rough, and many times come out the other end jaded by the church. and maybe i’m paranoid that my own kids will someday interpret what i do for a living as a job rather than a calling. but i just want them to know the Jesus i know, not because they “inherited” this faith or because they want to please their parents, but because they honestly searched it out themselves and came to the same conclusion that i did one day.

there are many things down the road that will affect this dream, for better or for worse, and more of it is out of my control than i’d like to admit. but i can pray about it. and i can pray about it every night.

5 Powerful Questions To Ask Your Kids At Bedtime

adelina recently learned how to climb out of her crib, so this week has been a week of transitions and new routines. as i was putting her down tonight, i remembered a list of questions i jotted down in my moleskine that andy stanley noted in his must-read choosing to cheat. my daughter is not quite old enough for these yet, but i plan to ask them to her on a regular basis in a few years. powerful and transformative conversations can happen right before a kid’s eyes close for the night.

bedtime-storytime

5 Powerful Questions

1. Is everything ok in your heart?

2. Did anyone hurt your feelings today?

3. Are you mad at anyone?

4. Did anyone break a promise to you?

5. Is there anything i can do for you?

what are other good questions to ask your kids at bedtime?