The Rumley Family

Loving Jesus, Loving Life

Appeal, For Love’s Sake

Philemon is a little, one-chapter letter nestled in between Titus and Hebrews in the New Testament. The apostle Paul (champion of New Testament letter-writing) wrote it during his imprisonment. He sought to reconcile a believer named Philemon with his runaway slave, Onesimus, who had come to faith in Jesus after his escape.

As I was reading this letter this morning (on Day #4 of Snowpocalypse 2019), verses 8 and 9 jumped out at me.

“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you…”

Do you ever have Scripture SLAP you across the face? That’s what these verses did for me this morning.

I can’t help but think that I need to apply this to my parenting.

I am certainly bold enough to COMMAND my children to do what is required. In fact, every day is a series of commands. I have six children at home 24/7 (ish), and it’s my job to structure their days. “Don’t forget your chore! Do your devos! Stop hitting/screaming/kicking/insulting/annoying/etc/etc/etc your sibling!” And on and on it goes.

For my babies, it’s true that I hold great control over their lives. I must control their lives; otherwise, they wouldn’t survive. Malachi might be able to rummage through cupboards enough to survive on crackers and chocolate chips, I suppose, but Lilah…nope. She’s not even toilet trained. I control almost everything about her life – what she wears, what she eats, when she goes to bed, and on and on.

As they age, however, there must be a natural transition from exerting CONTROL over my children to exerting INFLUENCE over them. And I think much of the time I’m floundering around in this area. My natural bent is to control. Control is much easier (well, it’s easier IF the children comply, that is…a big if). But influence requires a healthy relationship between parent and child. It requires understanding and patience and kindness.

Paul said, “…for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you…” In other words, it’s better for our relationship if I appeal rather than command. What am I doing to my relationship with my pre-teens and teens if I always command (demand) instead of appeal?

I think back to the wildly crazy and exhausting days when my first four were all small (3 in diapers at a time – twice!). It was so satisfying to my pride when I would take my 4 little ducklings to a store and have them behave so beautifully that we’d receive compliments from strangers. I exerted much control over their outward behavior back then. It felt like constant correction much of the time, but it was rewarding when others noticed their good behavior.

Oh, my. The ugly pride. I was blissfully ignorant of the coming reality.

Don’t get me wrong. Laying a good foundation is SO important. I’m glad we worked hard in those young years to stay on top of correction and discipline, so that our kids would know that we expect obedience. I’m glad that our kids were required to obey. I’m glad they had a strict upbringing.

What I didn’t anticipate is the idea that my control over them is incredibly finite. As their brains developed reasoning skills, they also started questioning if compliance was worthwhile.

And isn’t this why Biblical-based parenting, focused on heart change instead of outward behavioral change, is SO important? Because let’s be honest – compliance with Mom’s rules just to please Mom is NOT always worth it. But compliance with Mom’s rules to please the Almighty God? Well, hopefully that is a more obvious YES.

We spend our days around here in close quarters. A small house + a big family + homeschooling = lots of family interactions. And when I say “interactions,” I mean, talking, laughing, discussing, arguing, screaming, studying, debating…We run the gamut. We try (OH DO WE TRY) to keep Jesus at the center of it all.

Can you see that I’m processing as I write? I want so badly to be a good, godly mother. I want to have the kind of relationships with my kids that allow me to influence their decisions in a good way. I want them to love Jesus above all.

But, oh, is this parenting thing impossible much of the time. I am so inadequate on my own. Only God can make it happen. Only Him.

For love’s sake, we press on.

Break the Rules

My college education prepared me for an elementary classroom, where lots of little boys and girls would sit in desks and raise their hands and walk down the halls in straight, quiet lines.

While that education has not gone to waste, the Rumley Academy doesn’t exactly look like a typical classroom.

And that is one beautiful thing about homeschooling.

Early on, I thought I needed to provide “school at home,” mimicking a classroom setting. I didn’t realize at the time how much freedom and flexibility I was relinquishing by trying to give my child a classroom experience at home.

Here we are, nearly 10 years in, and I want to encourage any mamas who are newer at this…It’s NOT going to look like a classroom, and that is a beautiful thing.

You have the freedom to make your home an environment of learning, tailored to each of your kids’ needs.

My oldest is currently a freshman, and (PRAISE GOD!) she is quite independent this year. She does the vast majority of her schoolwork in her bedroom or the dining room table. She’s very self-motivated. Like me, she likes words. She’s a great writer.

My youngest school age child is completely different. I just love to see how his brain works. Truly, he thinks SO differently than I do, and it’s so cool.

These images were taken during his math quiz today.

It took me a while to realize this…but it’s absolutely fine if he writes his answers in the shape of a cartoon rather than numbered 1-24 down the left margin of a notebook paper. Why not?

He hates writing. Abhors it. Says it hurts his hand.

But he likes drawing, and he’s super creative and good at it. So, why not let him write his math quiz answers inside a silly drawing? In my opinion, it’s a win-win. He does math (which he doesn’t love) while practicing drawing (which he does love).

It’s these little things that I have come to love about homeschooling. Even if my child had a classroom teacher who recognized his strengths and weaknesses, she couldn’t possibly allow this sort of thing! (Can you imagine the nightmare of grading 25 math quizzes, with the answers hidden in different drawings?) But here at home, he can thrive. Learning can be fun.

Mamas, look for ways to give your kiddos freedoms that allow them to maximize their strengths. Try to break out of the box of typical classroom instruction. Breaking the rules of classroom etiquette can give your homeschool days extra life and freedom!

Tell me – have you experienced something similar in your homeschool journey?

Beautiful Brown

It started off as a weird conversation with a 3-year-old about how Jesus has skin.

And then he threw a quick curveball I wasn’t expecting.

“When my skin gonna be white, Mama?”

Oh, darling.

“Your skin isn’t going to be white, sweetheart. God made your skin brown. It’s beautiful brown. I love it that way!”

His face was sad again.

“But I want my skin to be white.”

“Why? Because Mommy’s skin is white?”

He nodded. “And Daddy’s.”

Hugs and kisses and reassurances did nothing to make him stop asking for white skin. Over and over he said, “I want to have white skin.” Over and over I told him that he will always have brown skin, and it’s so good, because God made him that way.

I love his chocolate skin. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

It’s my prayer that in time God will help him understand the beauty of the color of his skin, and the beauty of our family with its mis-matched skintones. I see God’s grace in the shades of our skin. He made all of it, on purpose. And beautiful.

Kai-isms

Kai on Bedtime
“I hate going to bed. It sca-wee in my woom.”
“I cried in my room today. Because it bery sca-wee in my woom. You turned da light off on me.”

Kai on Names
Mama: What is your name?
Kai: Kai Charles Rumley
Mama: What is my name?
Kai: Mama Charles Rumley

Kai on Sports
Kai tosses a football across the living room, and it crashes into the ground.
He shouts, “Good catch!”

Stay tuned for more 3-year-old wisdom yet to come…

Baby Belly

I knew someday the questions would come, but I didn’t expect them so soon.

He’s only a smidge over three years old.

But here we are.

“Mama, was I in your belly?”

“No, sweetheart, you weren’t in Mama’s belly. You grew in another mama’s belly, but she couldn’t care for you, so God let me be your mama.”

His face was so sad in that moment. How could a 3-year-old even begin to comprehend the implications of having another mama? How will he reconcile the knowledge that the one he kisses and declares “I love you, Mama” isn’t his only mama?

Of course, to look at him and then look at Luke and me, you’d think that it’s obvious that we’re not his biological parents. It would be extremely rare for two white parents to birth a black baby. (Let alone two in a row.)

But to Kai, we’re the only parents he knows.

So of course he should have grown in my belly. And of course he’s sad that he didn’t.

So it begins.

The joys of adoption mingle closely with the sorrows.

But we press on, because it’s worth it. God redeems sorrowful situations. And maybe they don’t stop hurting altogether, but we see His glory shining through the brokenness.

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