Parenting, Raising Warriors

Speaking My Kids ACTUAL Love Languages (Not Quite As Lovely As Gary Chapman’s!)

I don’t know about you folks, but my kids don’t quite fit the categories often given by authors of well-meaning books for parenting. Now I love to read parenting books because there is ALWAYS something I can take away. Quite often it’s a train of thought that began with their writing, but many times it’s a tool or story that they shared that gets rolling inside of my brain and won’t get out.

The 5 Love Languages is definitely one of those books. I’ve read the original, the marriage version, the parenting version and the kid version. They have certainly shaped the relationships in my life to be more others-focused and SO much more understanding of how people give and receive love. If you haven’t read anything by Gary Chapman, his idea is that people have a universal 5 “languages” that they give and receive love with. Often times we get our wires crossed and express love to others in our own language and therefore are often misunderstood or left feeling unappreciated. The five languages he explains in great detail but the quick list is: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Giving/Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Your mind will present such a lovely picture as you read through Gary’s wise words and stories of success. It really is a great theory, and I do use this information in my every day life… it’s just that things get a little warped in our family… slightly left of the pretty pictures I hear others live. I’m sure it’s just us. There’s no way other people are this wierd, right!?

Ok, so in reality here is what I have discovered with my kiddos: Carter’s love language is physical touch. I could scratch his back allllllll day and when I say goodnight, he needs a full body dog-pile from myself , Collin, AND a dog to feel at rest. Well, somehow I don’t get back scratches when he’s feeling love toward me. And his sisters sure do not get loving hugs with a pat on the back. No way! They get poked and prodded and chased around the kitchen with shoes he stole right off their feet. When I experience love from my boy, it means I get absolutely ZERO personal space and our best conversations happen when we are nose to nose and he is grabbing my hand or stealing MY shoe. Now that’s real love.

Makenna is full of powerful words and powerful thoughts, so words of affirmation would be her love language. One time we made a name acrostic at a mother/daughter bible study. Well she has had it posted on her door for YEARS and loves to read it to me while I’m cooking dinner. (I don’t need to think about measuring, I’ve got brainspace to spare, right!?) Well when she’s got *feelings* for me, more signs appear on her door – and not always happy feelings… Please notice below that I was allowed in her room ONLY for my craft bin (at least I had that!) but after another few hours of stewing, even my name got crossed out. Ouch!

Well my girlie with the words also has unspoken words of affirmation and these hold so much value for her. It took me a while to realize the importance of them, and then even longer to figure them out! Just the other day I had a mind-blowing moment: I looked around for my fave water cup. When I finally found it, it was empty…AGAIN. This {obviously} isn’t a big issue but I knew why it was moved and empty: Makenna. She will choose my water glass over hers any day of the week. If both cups are placed equally *within reach* for her, she will grab mine when she’s thirsty. It irks me. But then I had this thought: Maybe it’s a little way they she feels connected to me. Maybe it’s a way that she feels we have a little something between the two of us that we share even when ALL my attention is going elsewhere. Makenna is not the kid who will ever ask for attention or time or help, she is the one always giving as much or MORE than I am to everyone else! So my water is a connection that she treasures. It’s her own secret love language. And she’s even become to bold as to ask me not to ever put coffee in my new water glass because it “ruins it for the rest of us!”

I love becoming a student of the people I love. Ya’ll know my new year’s resolution to LISTEN. By listening to my family, I get to understand them in such deep, lovely ways that no one else does! The things I hear become a gift that I treasure often – knowing my people and being known by them! It really works both ways.

This practice almost our own family language that only we understand about each other and the meaning of these occurrences becomes so precious. We can communicate in ways others won’t understand unless they live in our house. {Genesis 10 actually says that as Noah’s sons dispersed after the flood, they “developed each in it’s own place by family, each with its own language”. So it’s biblical. How cool!?}

So I just got away for a weekend of refreshing at the Woven Conference (Foster/Adoptive momma’s you have GOT TO KNOW about this! Find Woven By Love on IG or Facebook and FOLLOW‚̧). Well before I took off, I left notes around the house for my people to find. I laughed a lot as I wrote jokes and movie quotes and love notes and stuck them in strange spots hoping someone would discover them soon. Unbeknownst to me, it became a treasure hunt that the whole family got in on! They LoVeD it! And when I returned home, the house was decorated like a birthday party (which is my FAVORITE thing). My stash of streamers had been ransacked and pretty colors were everywhere. Fresh flowers were in all of my water pitchers and the girls had even made me some homemade “Christmas lights” (seriously, Christmas lights are a love language all their own!). I have never felt so welcomed or missed.

Very Christmassy indeed! Wouldn’t you say!?

Now I could go on and on because I’ve got a variety of kids with quirks. (Not me, just them…I’m so normal.) I bet your families have quirks too. But I also know we’ve got limited time here together, so I want to hear from you! What things happen in your house that seem strange or meaningless- even annoying!? And what could they really mean? Do you havce a family love language? What ways do you show love to your family/kiddos that might encourage others to try something new?

Seriously, who else has to share their water glass and overcome a little germ-phobia!?

Community, Love Notes

Wendy Bird

Dear dear Wendy,

Oh my friend! You are so close to my heart. Who else has been through childhood with me and lived to tell the tale? There is no one. I love our silly, sweet and embarrassing memories together! When I think of you I think of a sunflower bedroom, Beanie Baby collections, bird poop (in your hair, not mine!), brothers, mothers, and family devotions, ice cream and horse poop (somewhat together…), Jesus, and endless inspiration for my faith. Who else would I want by my side when I had my first “big” break-up, sang my first solo, and was so burnt out from a sick baby that I couldn’t breathe and my husband bought me a plane ticket?

You, my friend have brought me life and breath and Jesus at all the right moments. Thank you for your strong faith. You simply do not waiver. I know we all have moments of doubt, but when it comes to the end of the line, you love HIM more than anything! There have been times where you have shared with me our Lord’s strength simply by a memory and you don’t even know it.

I have to say, I hate how life brings varying seasons of friendship. Of course, the times of renewed friendship and deep connection are so beautiful, but the times of distance are full of regret. I wish I could say we have never let life come between us. However, I know that when something big comes, good or bad, you’re there. I can pick up the phone and we will start up right where we left off and God will do a mighty work. I can count on that.

My sweet friend, you know we are connected at the heart. i hope you know that when you laugh, I laugh (and snort) and when you cry, I cry. My heart has been so heavy for you in your recent days of grief. Yet honestly, I love to cry for you and intercede on behalf of your awesome family. I love them like my own. This time, however, it was so different. As I cried, I realized I was finally able to cry for myself at the same time. You see, we both experienced a loss. Mine was undefined and strangely incomplete and yours was an age-old tale but excruciating, none-the-less. In my sisterly intercession, I was able to experience my own grief at the same time. I was able to mourn and hear the truths of God in a way I didn’t know I even needed. God is so good. He knew what we both needed! And boy, did He deliver some healing to our hearts…together.

So thank you, dear friend, for allowing me the privilege and gift of being in “the mess” with you! Thanks for sharing with me your pain and joy. Thank you for letting me be a piece of your story. And thanks for being a piece of mine. Thank you for years and years of ridiculous memories. They are the best that I have!

With Papa’s love,

The sister you always wanted but always had