Sunday, May 15, 2016

Why I Love Patch the Pirate For Children

We all know how difficult it can be to find quality anything for children. From toys that break in a day to mindless shows like My Little Pony (which, unfortunately, my daughter loves), it seems that we have just dumbed down life for our children compared to generations past. Instead of tackling normal issues in a realistic but age-appropriate way, we have decided that being ridiculous and superficial is the way to go as long as we try to tack on a general moral at the end of the story. And the pickin's are even more slim if you are a parent trying to teach your kids how much Jesus loves them, and you are fervently praying every day for them to choose His best plan for each of their lives. 

So when you find a gem, it's just gotta be shared. When the musically talented Ron Hamilton was in his 20s, doctors discovered cancer in his left eye. He went into surgery and woke up with his eye removed. Tough break for a guy so young. The hospital staff told him he was going to get to wear a pirate patch, and according to his own testimony, all the kids nicknamed him "Patch the Pirate" once he got back to church. What came from this trial was a yearly stream of character building stories and songs for children dating all the way back to the 1980s.

My own history with Patch the Pirate comes from being in the same generation as his children and growing up listening to and loving the stories myself (on cassette tape, of course). It was amazing when I bought Patch Goes to the Jungle for Cora when she was two. She didn't really give me much feedback, but I'm telling you all those songs came right back to me. I'm sure I enjoyed it more than she did. Most nights I still sing "My God is a Righteous God" to the kids while they are falling asleep.

In the beginning, we got the ones I had listened to as a child, but we have since branched out to the latest Patch the Pirate adventures, which include Alberta Einstein with her "Ein-phone" and all sorts of culturally relevant references. The older ones are a little less PC, much like everything from 20+ years ago when people weren't offended by everything imaginable. For instance, in Camp Kookawacka Woods, the Native American chief has a deep voice and says, "mmmm." But he is also representative of Jesus at His return, so you know there is nothing truly negative to be inferred by that. 

I'm not sure why more people have not heard of the Patch the Pirate stories. Maybe because they aren't marketed a ton. Or maybe because he identifies more with the musically traditional denominations and has spoken openly about not wanting to embrace contemporary Christian music in the children's songs he writes. Fine with me. His convictions are his convictions. I love me some contemporary worship music, but I actually prefer the songs like they are. There is obviously talent behind every song, and you can hear and understand the words, which are pure gold for your children to be hearing. 

Absolute treasures. 

From silly songs, to songs teaching kids about hygiene, to theologically rich songs about the gospel and the Christian walk, your kids will truly be "setting their minds on things above" (Col 3:2) and learning basic truths.

Some of the earlier songs are even Scripture taken from a KJV Bible version, since that also was more prevalent back in the day. But again it really is ok to want to lift our children to a higher understanding and knowledge and widen their vocabulary a little. Coming from someone who appreciates the older hymns still, throwing in a "thee," an "abide" or a "shall" every once in a while never hurt anyone.

I love these stories more all the time, and I have heard them A LOT. I'm telling you. A lot. My kids listen to them in the car, in quiet time every day, and sometimes just when we are doing things around the house. They are always asking me, "Mom, can we listen to Captain Patch?" I love having something they are interested in that doesn't involved a screen, so I barely limit it at all. 

I highly encourage you to check it out. Even if you are not completely blown away listening for the first time, just wait a few more times. You will probably be just as blessed as your kids. 
I'll leave you with the words to just one of so many awesome songs. Cora's latest fave is The Custard's Last Stand, during which the silly, fainting, language-challenged Sissy Seagull (Shelley Hamilton, Ron's wife) sings "Thank You, Lord" along with a choir of children. As I was listening to the song to write out the words (there is no Google for most of these lyrics), Jack said, "Hey, Mom, you wuv this song!" Yes, I do, Little Man.

Loving Shepherd of my soul
Keep me close, I love you so
Lead me where the waters flow
In Your rich, green pasture
Be my Guide, I'm in Your care
Keep my feet from every snare
I will follow anywhere 
You call me to go

Thank You Lord; Thank You, Lord
I will thank You Lord
In Your will I'm content
I'll not wish for more
I will seek Your Kingdom first
I will trust all that You do
Thank You, Lord; Thank You, Lord
I rejoice in You

Shepherd of eternity
All my future You can see
Show me what is best for me
I trust in Your goodness
In the valley I'll not fear
Through the storm 
Your voice I hear
Your strong hand is always near
I rest in Your love

I don't know about you, but I want my kids listening to words like this every day! 

Find the Patch the Pirate stories at or on iTunes. And feel free to ask me for any recommendations for newbies to the Patch world!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mourning Miscarriage

I've cried a lot in the past two days. Controlled crying. Not the really hard kind. The kind you do when you aren't in an acute stage of grief, but you reach inside and pull it out on purpose when you are alone and the kids are sleeping. A song plays that you cherished during that sad time, and you let the words and music fill your heart until the tears spill down your cheeks. The kind of crying that is quiet and short and gives a sense of relief afterwards. 

A sweet friend just lost her baby at 9 weeks. The past three years have brought with them so many friends experiencing this loss. So many. Too many. 

I grieve with her. I grieve for her and her family. It makes me think about my own experience. It makes me think about all the others. What can I do? What do we do for each other during times like this? I didn't really want people around me much. I appreciated the words from afar in the beginning, when it was so hard. Later was when hugs were ok; and even then hugs were draining because they brought tears and increased emotion. So I am trying to honor that part, thinking that she probably feels the same as I did. 

I haven't done enough in the past. I'm not even sure how to do enough now.

"I am praying for you."
Important words and actions, but I didn't follow up as I should. 

"Whatever you need, let me know." 
I meant it, but it's just such a shallow offering. It's hard to take someone up on that.

After a month goes by and then two, it seems like we are all just supposed to go back to normal. 

Don't let anyone tell you--even yourself--that you shouldn't still be sad. If someone hurts your feelings and you don't feel understood, just remember that not everyone is supposed to understand. Be happy for them that they don't. And even those who should may just grieve differently than you. If they don't seem to be hurting for as long, it's because they are not you. 

Even people who have miscarried have said insensitive things to me. It doesn't matter. They didn't mean it. If they did, that is another issue, but I bet 99% of people don't mean to be inconsiderate. Let's give them some grace and return to grief instead of resorting to anger.

Does it often seem like it would be weird to bring up the topic again after a few months, and say, "How are you really doing with that now"? A lot of times the weirdness even comes from the woman at the end of that question. She feels like she should not be suffering anymore like she was.

"Oh fine, I guess. It was hard, but I'm feeling better now." 

There's just a heaviness in the air that screams that's not enough.

I just wish there was more. I want more. Maybe not discussion all the time, but a hug, a card, something. I don't know. Things I have not done for my friends, but I wish I had. Just something more intimate. That's it. Intimacy. Connection.

I read an article recently that keeps coming back to me. How abortion has changed the discussion of miscarriage. It seems like we are just supposed to get over it. 

But I'm still not over it. 

I felt a great amount of healing when Jack was born. I would have had my babies in February, and he was born in June. He would not be here if they had survived. That is a bittersweet thought that is hard to wrap my mind around. I feel a little strange saying that he is my 4th child, so usually I just don't. But why? He is. 

Even discussions with others who have miscarried can often become a game of minimizing. I know I do it.

"Oh, yes I have miscarried, but mine was really early. So it wasn't as hard as so-and-so who lost a baby further along."

"Oh, I had to have a D&C, so it wasn't as hard as so-and-so who had to go through the physical pain of a natural miscarriage." 

Who wins the "least hard" miscarriage story? It's like we think we might hurt someone's feelings who seems to have a more difficult story. Maybe her story is harder, but that doesn't minimize yours. We have all lost here. Let's stop acting like we didn't. There was life, and then there wasn't. That is significant.

Fellow moms of sweet children lost: I love you. I am sad for you. Even years later. The grief changes, but it's still there. Just different. Friends, when you have a moment of quiet, I want you to listen to the words of this song by Selah. And be ok crying a little if you are a crier, like me. It's never been too long for you to give that notable loss a moment of attention. And it makes us all just a little bit closer to look back and feel, especially the next time we hear that a new mother has joined our ranks. We connect with her in our souls, because we remember.

There were photographs I wanted to take

Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?
People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness

But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
I will praise the One Who's chosen Me

To carry you

--I WIll Carry You--

Here is the link in case you are unable to view this video on your device.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jack at 12 months

Jack had his 1-year check up today. He's my brave little man, and he barely even cried when he got his shots and his finger pricked. Cora had a low enough hemoglobin that we had to treat it a little. Jack's was 11.0, so nothing needed. 

He is tall - 32.4 inches, which is the 99th percentile. He weighed in at 21lbs, 5oz (44th%). He army crawls really fast, and has figured out how to crawl on his knees but sometimes just reverts back to the army crawl since he is so good at it. He pulls himself up to standing but doesn't walk along anything yet. He is the most easy-going little guy, but he does get mad at Cora now when she is unkind and/or takes things from him. 

He says, Mama, Dada, hi, uh-oh, and just started saying ball. He waves hi and still loves to smile at anyone and everyone. And he is into EVERY-thing.