Parent Cue: Surviving Ezzy by Holly Crawshaw


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I was the perfect mother. I mean, anyone could be—if they just read the books like I did and maintained a schedule like I did. If they had boundaries with their children. If they stood their ground . . . If they would just work the system, they could be perfect like me, too.

I had the parenting thing all figured out.

That’s what I thought after I had my first child, Lilah. She was, by all accounts, perfection. She slept through the night at six weeks. She took several long naps throughout the day. She would smile at strangers. Use her manners. Perform on cue.

I was the perfect mother.

Until I had my second child, Ezzy.

Ezzy has lived most of her life in a state of constant need.
Ezzy was never full.
Ezzy loathed sleep.
Ezzy shoved her face in my neck if anyone tried to talk to her.
Ezzy would permanently affix herself to my hip, if possible.
Ezzy was the complete opposite of her sister.

Ezzy made a liar out of me. The truth was out: I was a terrible mother.

When Ezzy turned two, she started crawling out of her crib and running around our house in the middle of the night. We spanked. We redirected. We locked doors. We cried. We begged. We pleaded.

But nothing worked. She didn’t sleep and we didn’t sleep. And it made everyone miserable.

I remember one night about three months into Ezzy’s sleepless season, I had just put her back to bed for the third or fourth time that night, and I was at a breaking point. I felt raw and empty. I had read about a hundred blogs, consulted books, called and texted friends, but no one had the magic password that would make my child SLEEP.

As I listened to my baby cry for me in her room, tears slipped down my face. Why won’t she sleep? I screamed internally. What am I doing wrong, here? Why can’t I get this right?

And somewhere in between sobs as I paced in front of her door, it hit me.

I was going about this all wrong. Not just the sleeping issue, but parenting in general. Because the truth is, parenting isn’t something you get right or wrong. Parenting isn’t a math problem or an English essay. Parenting isn’t a popularity contest or a war of wills.

Parenting is a relationship.

As I sat in the dark hallway crying, all the wonderful things about our Ezzy flooded my mind.

Ezzy has an incredible sense of humor.
Ezzy is truly brilliant.
Ezzy’s voice is so precious and sweet—it melts everyone who hears it.
Ezzy has charm for days and days and days.
Ezzy is passionate.
Ezzy is loving, tucking in her babies every night, and kissing them on the cheek.
And, after a painful miscarriage, Ezzy is the baby I had prayed and prayed for.

It’s easy to get on Instagram and Facebook, and start handing out grades.

Another vacation without kids? F.
Dressing your kids in matching Easter dresses? B+.
An elaborate Pinterest project? A.
Dinner out again? C.

And, in turn, we grade ourselves, too—each challenge we face with our kids deducting points from some cosmic parenting score.

This way of thinking is so destructive. We are not any other parent. If our child needed another parent more than they needed us, God would have given our children that parent.

You are uniquely wired to meet your child’s needs. And those needs you can’t meet? Those needs are reserved for their heavenly Father.

Does Ezzy sleep? Some nights. Some nights she doesn’t. But it doesn’t feel like failure anymore—it feels like a phase. A phase in the most important relationship your child will ever have.

Soul Fuel – Pixar and The Apostle Paul


Pixar and The Apostle Paul

By all accounts, Pixar has done it again…

If you haven’t seen it yet, Inside Out is truly a brilliant film that (ironically) will take you through just about every emotion you have inside your “control tower” as well. I found myself laughing hysterically and struggling emotionally all within a few moments of each other, definitely a filmmaking craft that Pixar has mastered well over the years.

And the premise is fascinating. What if we all had these little emotions sitting inside a room, holding a complete mastery over our thoughts, attitudes, and even actions?

there-is-a-control-center-of-sortsOf course, this begs the question—are there also little emotions inside the heads of the little emotions we saw in the movie? Then of course, are there emotions inside their emotions too? Lather, rinse, repeat, until we have an infinite regression of little dudes and dudettes…

Anyway, I found it interesting that even though this “emotional control” theory is loosely based on Darwinian theory, it surprisingly reflects the sentiments of the Apostle Paul as we get insight into his “inside out”:

Listen, I can’t explain my actions. Here’s why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise…I’ve lost control—sin has taken up residence in me I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do.

If I end up doing the exact thing I pledged not to do, I am no longer doing it because sin has taken up residence in me. Here’s an important principle I’ve discovered: regardless of my desire to do the right thing, it is clear that evil is never far away. For deep down I am in happy agreement with God’s law; but the rest of me does not concur. I see a very different principle at work in my bodily members, and it is at war with my mind; I have become a prisoner in this war to the rule of sin in my body. 

I am absolutely miserable! Is there anyone who can free me from this body where sin and death reign so supremely? I am thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! (Romans 7:15-25, The Voice)

I think we all would agree with Inside Out’s premise that there is a “control center,” of sorts, where our emotions reside and exercise great power in our daily lives, but what the movie missed entirely was the supremely important principle of our spiritual lives!

I get why, of course. Pixar isn’t a Christian film production company, and it is owned by the almighty Mouse. That’s why I’m so glad that God’s Word brings clarity to what the movie missed. We are all like Riley in the movie, but at a deeper level, we are all like Paul in that there is a spiritual battle going on that ultimately controls our emotions.

The problem is that until we trust in Jesus for salvation, there is a dark and sinful entity at the controls that drives us to destructive choices. We may think, feel and do the right things some of the time, but overall, our lives are dominated by separation from God.

the-holy-spirit-seeks-toBut then at the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our control center, and if we allow, He directs our paths and takes charge over our emotions. He seeks to speak truth, peace and forgiveness over our raging emotions and conflicting feelings.

And best of all, He reminds us that no matter who we have been or what we have done, the Father forgives us, loves us, and accepts us as His beloved children, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

So if you find yourself wondering what is going on inside your head and why you continue to fail again and again, it’s not because your “joy” fell down into a pit and you are ruled by anger or bitterness. The truth is that we are dominated by sin until we accept Jesus as our Savior, then He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to come in and create a new destiny for our “inside out”!

Inside Out reminds us that we have a complicated inside world that can only be redeemed through Jesus, so let’s get out and talk to our friends about the One who can help our past, present and future make sense!

PRAY: Father, thank You that You have delivered us from the curse of sin and the dominance of our sin nature. Help us to give our control rooms to the Holy Spirit and be empowered to share the gospel with everyone.
READ: Galatians 5:17.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
GET: Fearless…Unleashing God’s Fierce Love In Your World. To learn more about the armor of God in Ephesians 6, check out this powerful student devotional from Greg Stier based on the book of Ephesians.

Live THE Cause

Want to use this Soul Fuel as a bible study with your students this week? Copy and text them the following: “Emotions got you like a hurricane storm on the inside? Check out this week’s Soul Fuel for some peace :

LEADERS: Be sure to check out the Discussion Guide for this week’s Soul Fuel – Pixar and The Apostle Paul!