Joys in Parenting

We have older-ish children and one of our most beloved past times as parents, is the joy of messing with them. Yes, we feel it is a necessary aspect of our parenting in payment for the things they did to us in their infancy and toddler, three-nager and preschool and now elementary years of life. It’s especially fun when you are aware of the things that bug your kids.

For example, take Test Subject Number One:


Test Subject #1
Test Subject #1

He’s a handsome guy, isn’t he? Yes and he usually has an excellent sense of humor. He has now reached the age where he gets jokes. That’s a fun age. In fact we have to be careful what jokes we tell to one another as parents because he now gets them too. Ahem.

Test Subject #1 greatly enjoys knowing all the things. He wants to know what we are going to do hour-by-hour, day-by-day. In fact, he’d appreciate a written schedule. Once submitted, he’d also probably negotiate each item on said schedule with well-thought rationales of why said items should or should not occur in their designated slots.

Due to this personality trait, we enjoy not telling him anything. In fact, sometimes we just tell him to get in the car, be sure he has shoes on and a coat. We don’t tell him where we are going. We don’t tell him how long we will be there. We refuse to tell him if any of his friends will be wherever we are going. And we even won’t tell him how long it’ll take to get there. GASP!


We just tell him to enjoy being present with your people and you’ll see.

Then he asks if he will be receiving anything during this mystery outing; food, toys, games, will there be candy or soda?

We just shrug our shoulders….”dunno buddy! You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Test Subject #1 hates waiting and seeing. It’s like death to him.

And we relish every second of it.

Oh sure, he’ll try to get you to drop a hint. He’ll try to find out by barraging you with questions. He’ll sigh, stomp his foot, talk in a baby voice in the third person. And we just smile.

Man guys. Being a parent is so fun. Sometimes, I envision the times that he got kicked out of the church nursery for biting kids as a one-year old or the times that he screamed because he didn’t want to go to sleep for the night,…and you know, I feel just a little bit better.

Test Subject #2 however, does not get the jokes yet. In fact, if he tries to tell you a knock-knock joke, best divert his attention with something shiny STAT!

Test Subject #2
Test Subject #2

However, if you have some slap-stick or bodily humor up your sleeve; this guy is your man. He is the kid who really gave us the most passion for messing with our kids. You see he was the toughest in the years of basically birth to age 5. Not much longer and the messing with can begin. I’m pumped. I have such an arsenal….


Test Subject #3 will probably be way less fun. It’s too early to tell really. And so far she’s pretty perfect. Maybe she just won’t be fun to mess with?

Test Subject #3
Test Subject #3

**This post is called “sarcasm”. If you can’t take a joke maybe your parents should have messed with you a little more in your childhood. Or maybe you’re a middle-kid. Either way, move along.

Creating Space for Wonder

I’m not really sure what it is that is making me SO PUMPED about Christmas, but I’m filled with anticipation and joy over the approaching holidays. I know that a lot of people would prefer to focus on one holiday at a time, but I think it is beautiful that the two biggest holidays of the year occur back to back. They perfectly compliment one another!

Merry Christmas from the Nevil Family!
Christmas last year (2014) in our home

Because Thanksgiving comes first, I find it to be a holiday that beats back the commercialization of Christmas.  There is still a gifts-centered, self-focused attitude that can creep in and steal your Christmas joy, especially the way that Black Friday follows Thanksgiving. But by spending time focusing and meditating and celebrating all that we have been given and are grateful for in Thanksgiving, and then by pausing with intentionality in the weeks leading up to Christmas, maybe we can rekindle a sense of wonder for this joyful season? Instead of isolating the two holidays, could we relish the way that they play off one another?

Thanksgiving is next week and my home is always an odd mixture of people I’m related to, whether by blood or by marriage, as well as the occasional smattering of more random guests. I love the traditions in our home of waking up and drinking lots of coffee with our house guests. I love the sounds of the Macy’s Day parade on the television. I love the idea of people coming over to simply be together. There are no gifts, there is no other point than to gather and to be with one another.

We catch up with local news from other States, we get on soap boxes and engage one another in conversations that may stretch us a bit-both in perspective and in patience, we listen to children running around sometimes complaining of being bored and everything points to this feast we are going to partake of all together. Unified in one place for the sake of celebrating, for the sake of gratefulness, for the sake of joy. Everyone is standing around waiting, waiting, waiting; The whole day is preparation for the feast! What a beautiful design. What a way to start the season of Advent. (Psst…Advent means coming!)

And then, have you seen this? Rei’s Opt Outside movement they are promoting? Instead of having some great black Friday deals, they are closing their stores and encouraging people to get outside into nature. I think they are on to something…


…to come together, to celebrate with grateful hearts and then to sit quietly with it…

My friend Ashley recently reminded me of this beautiful Scripture from the Old Testament book Isaiah, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”

I’ve noticed that the years where my heart is lacking in awe and wonder for the season are often the busiest ones-they are the ones where I would have none of the quietness I so longed for. The years where everything cascaded down and I wasn’t ready-I didn’t have a plan for quietness, I didn’t rest in what had been given, what has been done and what is to come.

So this year, with Thanksgiving a week away, with Christmas a mere few weeks away, I’m reaching and planning to compliment each holiday. I’m planning time of thanksgiving and of quiet. I’m planning times of rest and of joyful work. Not that it would be perfect or that I would have such excellent control, but that I would be thoughtful about what is going on and what I’m responsible for. Before I fill my calendar with one party after another (which I really love to do), I’m reminding my heart to plan for space so that wonder can enter in. I’m praying for hope to fill my heart of what is coming…