it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: parenting

Speaking of Titus

While saying goodbye to Titus at his school this morning he said something interesting. I had glanced in to the room to see what the other kids were doing and I saw a few boys had lined every green army guy they could find in formation. I said to Titus, “Look, dude! Army guys!” He’s been playing with army guys a lot at home so I thought for sure he would be excited too. But instead he glanced over at them, turned back towards me, and calmly said, “Dad, those are for the Czech boys.”

Kids (4/22/15)

I didn’t quite understand it until Bethany and I talked this afternoon after she had picked him up. In a broken Czech/English conversation, Bethany had discussed both our kids with Titus’ teacher today. First, they had to talk about some paperwork needed for Avery when she starts preschool in the fall, and then just some quick things about Titus. Bethany understood a really simple Czech sentence from his teacher when she said, “Titus is better.” The context of that conversation was regarding his understanding Czech and we assume she’s just really saying, “Titus is getting better at understanding Czech.” W’re thankful, but that’s just language. A little later at home Bethany was asking Titus about his day and said, “What did you do at school?” He said, “I did nothing” in kind of a down tone. “Did you play outside?” “Yeah” he said, and added “but that big boy wanted to push me.” Hhmmm… I wonder if Titus’ comment in the morning is related to the one in the afternoon?

What’s interesting is this is the first time Titus has really expressed any kind relational issue at school (that I’m aware of). As in any kind of community environment there are going to be little things like this, but our biggest desire in it is to shepherd Titus through it. First we want to make sure he’s acting in an appropriate way towards his classmates and secondly we want to help him understand how he should respond to those who might sin against him. In the case of the army men, I wonder if it’s something related to him not being able to speak Czech? Maybe the kids feel that distance and separation from Titus (and likewise Titus towards them) as they can’t always communicate. I know I feel that tension every day as I go the gas station or get groceries! And in the case of the boy pushing him, this sounds like a classic schoolyard moment. I’m not saying the other kid is a bully or anything, but I know I had my share of mean moments at recess (in fact, one time I deliberately kicked a soccer ball at another kid I didn’t like and we both were sent to the principal’s office). Nevertheless, even in these “little” things I want to be able to help my son think, and think rightly about situations. As his fifth birthday approaches in just two days it’s a reminder that he’s only getting older. I would do well to remember Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Work and Parenting

The other morning Titus came up to Bethany and I and showed us something on the iPad. Apparently he saw something in the App Store that looked interesting to him, so he told us that he “wanted to buy it.” We kind of chuckled and said, “Do you have any money?” Quickly Titus replied, “In my piggy bank!” and ran towards his room. When he returned with his blue piggy bank we opened it up and found 14 Czech crowns inside. It’s not enough to buy a $0.99 app, but it’s about halfway. Bethany explained to Titus that he would need to save his money up. I don’t remember the specifics, but he was a little confused. So we explained to him further about earning money and saving it in his bank. Bethany had the idea that he could do jobs around the house and earn more money–extra tasks outside of normal responsibilities. Titus, of course, got really excited and that’s when I knew we had opened up a can of worms.

Titus and Work (1/22/15)

All day yesterday he couldn’t help but talking about doing “jobs” and making money. At one point I got a call on my phone and it was Titus telling me, “Daddy! I made enough money to buy something!” He was really enthusiastic and it was fun to hear him get excited. Today Bethany let him and Avery take out the recycling which allowed them both to earn a few more crowns each. And apparently in-between jobs Titus is doing a little shopping because he already has his heart set on another purchase.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this for Titus, but I feel like I’m the one learning the most. It’s weird as a parent to engage in this kind of discussion because I have this strange fear of teaching Titus something wrong about money. I keep thinking, “I don’t want Titus to think just because he made some money that he can buy whatever he wants.” I also think, “I don’t want Titus to be a consumer and not be wise with his money” and “I want Titus to be a good steward of what God has provided!” We want him to learn how to work and how to save. We want him to be thankful for what God has given him and make good decisions. I know he’s only four but I feel a pressure to not mess these lessons up. That’s probably a good pressure. It’s reminding me that as Titus grows older he will need more and more help in learning to be wise and he’ll need our instruction to guide. That might sound elementary but it’s what I’ve been thinking about today.

Pray for us as we engage our kids. Parenting requires great balance, patience, and wisdom. Even in these little discussions about money there is a lot to be learned and taught and I just really want to do a good job.

Saint Nicholas Day (Mikuláš) and Making Hard Parenting Decisions

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)

“Parenting requires a lot of discernment…and wisdom.” That was what Bethany said over breakfast this morning. No doubt, she’s absolutely right.

We were discussing whether or not to take Titus to school today. He’s not sick or anything, it’s just today in Czech they are celebrating Saint Nicholas Day (Mikuláš). The best description I have found of the holiday is on a Czech tourism site that describes it this way,

The charming tradition of St. Nicholas falls on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 5th. If you find yourself walking the streets on that evening, you may run into a group of strange characters: St. Nicholas (Mikuláš), the Angel (anděl) who represents the Good, and the Devil (čert) representing the Evil. All wear costumes. Mikuláš looks a bit like Santa Claus whose origin was supposedly inspired by St. Nicholas. All three characters walk the streets, stopping children and asking them if they were good in the past year. Most kids say yes and sing a song or recite a short poem. They are then rewarded with sweets, candy or other treats, which are handed out by the Angel. Bad kids would be put in the Devil’s sack and taken to hell, or would only get a sack of potatoes or coal instead of candy – of course it does not really happen!

Bethany tried speaking with other missionary families and just get their insight to the holiday, especially in regards to letting Titus go to school where they were going to have Mikuláš, the angel, and devil in class today. It’s not easy, to be quite honest. We’re trying to think about your Christian witness. We’re trying to think through Titus’ emotions and age. We’re trying to think through the cultural aspect and things we need to adjust to versus things we need to refrain from. I don’t know if there’s a specific right or wrong answer, but mostly it’s just discernment and what’s best for our family, for Titus, and what we believe honors Christ the most.

In the end we decided not to send Titus to school today. We both felt like Titus’ age was a big factor and he’s already scared of other things. This would be like through him into the fire of fear and that didn’t seem best for him right now. However, we did make it out to a festival this evening in our town which was a helpful intro to our first St. Mikuláš holiday in Czech. I took some photos of the goings-on, so here’s a little taste of what we saw (captions below each).

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
We walked to the town square where the festival is and we have to cross the road that goes into Poland. They have new lights up across the street and on the lamp posts. It looks great. Basically, as you look down that street you can see Poland.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
They had a huge stage and an even bigger Christmas tree setup in the town square. On stage you can see Mikuláš, the devil, and the angel giving out treats to kids. They were calling kids up on the stage, but I don’t know how you get your kid on the list?

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
There were a lot of people out tonight. It was just above freezing outside and they had coal fires burning around the square. The smell was not pleasant and the air quality was worse.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Above is a photo of what I’ll translate as the “Jesus Post Office.” Traditionally, in Czech culture, Jesus brings the presents on Christmas even and St. Mikuláš brings presents December 5. At the place above you could write letters to the baby Jesus in the same way you would write letters to Santa Clause in the States. I wonder where they mail them?

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
I got closer to the stage to get photos of Mikuláš and what was going on. Here you see him and the angel talking to some kids. The devil was off to the side taunting kids (not pictured).

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Almost like Main St. at Disneyland kids had glowing hats, swords, and even light up devil horns. They were being sold in the town square. I got this photo of one such kid on their parents shoulders as they watched the stage.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Another little kid with light up devil horns. Funny, I don’t remember seeing any kids with light up angel halos?

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
We actually got in on the light up toy fun, but only because I thought they looked like light sabers. Here’s Avery and Titus checking out their little light saber things I got for them. They were literally $2 and our kids thought they were great.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Interestingly enough, they did have a pretty large nativity scene to the right of the stage. Our Czech friend Jenny (who is actually a full fledge American citizen now) pointed out that no one is offended her by the origins of Christmas. Even though it’s so atheistic here, they still know the origin but many just believe it to be a fairytale.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Around the outside of the square were vendors selling all kinds of things. Many had trinkets and decorations, especially Christmas decorations. We didn’t buy anything, but it’s always fun to see handmade stuff in another country.

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)

Mikuláš Day (12/5/14)
Other shops included the two you see above which were selling various meats. Both vendors had their own vans which open up to sell from and it’s not uncommon to see these guys parked outside of the grocery store.

Afterwards we had a pizza dinner near the town square with our friend Rachael who had accompanied us during the evening. It was a very interesting thing to see and experience. I’m not sure what I think just yet, but it’s good to continue to be a student of the culture here and get more inside the minds of how Czechs think and what they value. As I prayed for our meal tonight, I prayed for the country of Czech. I was reminded by the things we saw tonight that this place needs Jesus. Pray with us that we would continue to learn the language, the culture, and the people and be a witness for Christ!

Parenting and Doing Church in Czech

Today we enjoyed our fifth Sunday at our new church here in Czech. For the most part the services are very similar to a church service in the States with music, announcements, preaching, prayer and sometimes a testimony or two. Today they did a baby dedication for a little baby named Matthew. It’s the second one we’ve seen and it’s always a joy to watch the care the pastors have for the families here and as we listen through a translator we can tell they truly care about these parents and the children. Even this morning the pastor reminded the parents and the rest of the church that children are a gift from God (see Psalm 127:3-5).

Church Day (7/27/14)

We probably needed that reminder more than the parentings dedication their baby today. For whatever reason our kids just didn’t want to be in church today. Now, granted, it’s different for them right now. Everything is new, they are having to sit with us through the whole 2+ hour services, it’s hot, they’re sweaty, and it’s just generally a little hard. But we really are trying to work hard at teaching and training them to listen, obey, and be respectful of everyone else during the service. They only usually last about an hour (at most) before the “breakdown” as I’ll call it. Today I think it was only 30 minutes before Titus was bursting out crying and Bethany was carrying him out of the building. Avery lasted a little longer with some distraction, but soon she was bolting for the door saying, “Mommy! I want mommy!” For a while we were in and out of the service and just kept switching. It feels like those wrestlers who stand outside the ring waiting for a hand slap and then they’re in and the other one is out.

For the summer months the church doesn’t really have Sunday school classes for the kids. A lot of people are on holiday (vacation) and even though there are still a lot of families around they just don’t do classes for the kids until the fall months begin. So you can imagine the challenge for us as we try keeping our kids behaved while listening to the service through a translator ear piece and hopefully not be a huge distraction from the worship. Thankfully the Czechs seem to be very forgiving of us, but it’s like flying with screaming kids…you just feel the burden of it as a parent. For the last 20 or so minutes of the service Bethany finally resorted to taking both kids outside where a few other families were as well (shown below playing in dirt).

Church Day (7/27/14)

Really what we need right now is prayer specifically for church and Sundays. We need patience, grace, wisdom, and love for our kids. Our desire is to stay calm, be understanding, but also help train them during this process and transition. Sundays are important to us. There’s a lot going in as we learn the culture, meet new people, learn the language, and try to participate in the worship service on Sunday. But today those things were definitely put on the back burner as our kids really just needed us to work with them. Please pray for us as we learn and grow in all of this.

Church Day (7/27/14)

Beyond church afternoon was actually really restful. Chris spent most of the day with us and had to leave for his meetings around 4 o’clock this afternoon. It was such a joy to talk with him and hear his heart for the people of Slovenia. We’re thrilled that God has called the Wick family to they very needy country.

Later Avery and I played a little game of Candy Land and it was fun just spending a little one on one time with her.

Church Day (7/27/14)

Tonight Bethany made home made pizza and we just spent time together as a family. We tried Skyping with Bethany’s parents but there was something wrong with their connection and all of our troubleshooting just didn’t seem to fix it. We try to Skype at least once a week with them and usually Sundays are good time for that. Hopefully we can figure out the technical glitch and get another time in with them this week.

Church Day (7/27/14)

As I was doing the dishes the faucet just kind of came off the pipe (shown above). That has never really happened to me and I genuinely starting laughing out loud when it did. “Bethany!” I yelled from the kitchen. “The faucet just fell off into the sink!” She immediately started laughing too. I don’t know why I was laughing because honestly that would really frustrate me normally. Maybe it’s just because we kind of expect that kind of thing to happen now? Things don’t always work like the way we think they should here in Czech. That’s just life right now.

But God is still in control and He cares as much about how I respond to my faucet as how I respond when my kids are loud and crazy in church. A lot of it is a change in my attitude. I should expect that it’s going to be hard in church and not normal for our kids. That’s OK. With a few cranks of my wrench I was able to get the faucet working again and with a lot grace, patience, discipline, love, and the Lord’s help I hope we’ll be able to sit through a Czech church service as a family. God is in control and that’s enough for us today.

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