Saturday, May 16, 2009

Giggling Girls and Funny Boys (copy of family letter)

Hi Everyone,

The past two weeks have been really busy but it has been a fun kind of busy. Two weeks ago, Jeff's brother David's family came to visit. We had a really nice time. We stayed up late chatting with David and Kandie. Kandie and I managed to make a Starbucks run one evening. And I love watching my children and their cousins spend time together and establish close friendships. This is something I did not have with my cousins and I am thankful that my children and their cousins will probably be life-long friends. We enjoyed going to Ankeny Baptist that Sunday night and hearing David's presentation.

The Thursday before Jennifer's birthday we had visitors. Christine Scott and her three JEMS (Jacob, Elijah and Moses Scott) came to visit us for the afternoon and evening. I enjoyed the time with Christine so much. She is a kindred spirit. She brought me the neatest book/journal for those who are grieving over the loss of a loved one. It has been very helpful. (Christine is all too familiar with grief herself because her husband died in a car crash a little over three years ago.) Sometimes I feel guilty about how much I am grieving for Barb because she was "only" a friend and not a spouse or child or parent of mine. This book has been very helpful as I work through my sadness and draw closer to the Lord because of it

The next weekend Jennifer had a sleepover for her birthday. She invited four of her little friends. There was a lot of giggling and fun going on. They decorated cupcakes, played dress up, had a scavenger hunt, watched a movie (Gus). Jennifer enjoyed opening her gifts...stuffed animals and dolls...right up her alley. The minor hitch was that the meal was not "little girl friendly" since Jennifer had chosen shepherd pie so we had tons of left overs. They filled up on popcorn while watching the movie so I don't think anyone went to bed hungry. They also actually did some sleeping. I admit I bribed them. I told them if I didn't hear any noise after 11:00pm I would give them all a candybar. Unbelievably, it worked! :-) They were all sound asleep by then.

The next day (May 9) our church had a Mother/Daughter Brunch which was really nice. (Yes, I managed to get six little girls ready!!) The teenage girls modeled wedding dresses that had been worn by some of the ladies in the church.

Mother's Day was extra special this year because it was also Jennifer's eighth birthday. We shared a fun day together. Jeff had the day off so he was able to go to church with us on Sunday morning. We stopped on the way home and picked fried chicken at Walmart so we could accomplish the double goal of me not cooking but also not waiting for ever to be seated at a crowded restaurant. At lunch Jennifer and I opened our gifts and enjoyed the afternoon with the family.

The next Friday (May 15) was Joshua's birthday. (It is always a bit traumatic for me when my firstborn and my "baby" each get a year older, only five days apart from each other.) Josh invited six of his friends. The original plan was that they would go to a nearby park and play Capture the Flag and then come back here for the meal and a movie. However, it rained all day so they ended up staying here and playing Axis and Allies. It was loud and it was funny. This group of boys really "connect" and they feed off each other's jokes and comments. (I kept cracking up in the kitchen as their jokes and funny comments drifted up the stairs from the basement.) After they played A&A, they ate the meal while they watched Flyboys. Josh didn't want to do the singing and opening gifts in front of everything thing (which was Jennifer's favorite part of her party... I guess that is the difference between an extroverted eight year old girl and an introverted seventeen year old boy). He opened his gifts after his friends left and was delighted with what they had chosen. They all obviously know Josh well and know what he likes, which is one step ahead of his mother because I never know what to get him! :-) I should add that at Josh's party we did NOT have leftovers. :-) He chose lasagna and cheesecake for dessert.

Today was the Niche homeschool graduation. We received several invitations and it was special to go see these kids graduate. There were 100 graduates and we probably knew about 1/4 of them (more by name). I admit to tearing up when they marched in. I remember when some of these kids were born!! Tim Newman and Zachary Thompson were two of the graduates that some of you might know. It was also really fun to see old friends after the graduation. I met up with one friend that I had not seen in probably 15+ years (Sara Norris Thompson). It was fun to meet her two little boys, too.

Softball is going fine. It has not been the greatest season as far as winning. Well, Jennifer has won all her games but the other four kids have not won since the first day. But everyone is having a great time. Jeff enjoys coaching, the kids enjoy seeing their friend and I enjoy the adult conversation.

I am including some of you that I do not normally include in my family letters. If you would like to receive them or continue receiving them, let me know. I am making a new list. If you are family or close friends, don't worry about getting back to me. I will assume, rightly or wrongly, :-) that you still want to get these.

I thought some of you might be interested in the blog addresses of Jeff's family members. It is interesting/fun to follow their lives as missionaries in Peru. I compiled them for a friend today and I thought I would paste it here as well. Sarah, I have my in-laws link now.

Steve and Evelyn--
David and Kandie--
Jon and Julie--
Steve and Molly--

My heart is heavy tonight for a man that attends Jeff's brothers families sending church. His wife and two young children died in a fire last night. Please pray for him as the Lord brings him to your mind.

I hope all of you are doing well. Have a good Sunday.


Jeff, Kim, Joshua (17), Joseph (13), Josiah (11), Jessica (10) and Jennifer (8) Stilwell
"Failure is not final; it is merely the opportunity to start over again wiser than before."
Author Unknown
Family blog : Updated last on April 27, 2009
Joshua's website on Godly Young Manhood:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May Niche Article--Gossiping About Our Children

Gossiping about our Children

During the past year or so, I have been very convicted about gossiping about my children. Some of you can probably relate. You are talking with another mom, or group of moms when something someone says makes you think about a struggle you are having with one of your own children and next thing you know you are telling them about Johnny’s anger problem or his inability to tie his shoes at age seven. I have done this often. After all, what Mom doesn’t love talking about her children?

I would be horrified if Jeff went to work and told his co-workers, "Kim has such a gluttony problem. And can you believe she burned supper tonight? Here we have been married for 21 years and she still burns supper sometimes. And you should see how long it takes her to get dressed some mornings! Why, the other day she was still in her PJs at 10:00 in the morning!" (I should hasten to add that Jeff would never dream of talking that way about me to his co-workers.) Yet I have talked like that about my children.

Several things happened in the past few months to convict me that I should not be saying negative things to others about my children. I shared with one friend that I have a child who sometimes has anger issues. I notice that the next time she and her children were at my home, she treated that child differently than she had before. She was not as kind and friendly towards my child. She also seemed to want to keep her children away from this particular child of mine even though my child had never expressed anger towards her children. Since this friend was well liked by all my children, I felt badly that I had put a wedge in their relationship. I have noticed in other situations, as well, that when I say negative things about a particular child, he or she is treated differently.

Another thing that convicted me about gossiping about my children was that a couple of times (that I know of) they have overheard me. I could tell by the look on their faces that they were hurt. In talking to them later, I learned that they felt I had betrayed their trust. Even though I apologized to them and they forgave me, it did not take away from the fact that they knew their mom had shared something very personal about them.

The third thing that convicted me about this was when word “got around” that one of my children was afraid of the dark. I had “only” told a couple of people and the next thing I knew, several people knew and my child was teased about it by other children.

Shortly after these things took place, I was reading in James 3: 5-12 in my private devotions. Verses eight and nine especially spoke to me.

But to the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

That sure was convicting to me. Did I really want my tongue to be “deadly poison” to my children? Did I want to “curse” them, my dear children who made in the image of God.

We are to bless others with our tongue. Our children are not the exception clause. It does not edify either our child or the person we are speaking to when we tell others about our children’s faults and failures.

I try to be very careful not to gossip or speak badly of others. Yet, I was willing to tell even casual acquaintances about sins and struggles in my children’s lives.

There are times when I still visit with other moms, because it is helpful to talk about the not so fun parts of parenting with others who can relate, but I am more vague. Instead of naming a specific child and going into detail about something, I will say things like “I can sure relate, we have had a similar issue at our house” or “Yes, one of my children went through that, too.”

There are a couple of exceptions when I believe it is okay to talk about our children’s struggles. The main one, of course, is our husband. As the head of our family, Jeff should certainly know what is going on in our children’s lives. Since I spend more hours with them, I often see these things before he does and it is important that I keep him abreast of what is going on in our home.

I also have two very dear friends who edify and encourage me and who pray for me regularly. I do share my burdens relating to my children with them and they share theirs with me. I know they will pray for my child and for me and that they will still love my child even if they know of his or her struggles (as I will for their children). I also know they will never tell anyone else about my concerns, except for perhaps their husbands. I have also occasionally needed to talk to Sunday School teachers and others who have been in leadership positions over my children about behavior issues or learning disabilities though I make sure to make it clear that I want it to stay between us.

We want to avoid the opposite extreme as well. While there is nothing wrong with sharing our children’s accomplishments, we need to do it in a humble manner. Most of us have met parents who constantly brag about their children. You came away thinking that their children must be the only children on the earth who could possibly be that intelligent and well behaved. I have been guilty of bragging about my children as well, although, sadly, I usually err on the side of being critical. (Of course there is an exception clause to this and that is Grandparents. You can brag about your children all you want to them and not only will it not bother them. they will love it!)

I would like to close with a verse that has been both convicting and encouraging to me.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

God bless you as you edify your children.