Sunday, June 26, 2011


For a boatload of reasons, Mike and I wanted Eva to have swimming lessons this summer. Mostly, Mike wants her to be just like him (he's a swimming superstar who still holds the state record for 10 year olds or something like that), and I want her to be safe in the water. Thus began our search for a swim instructor who would teach her and 3 "not-yet-4-year-old-friends-so-can't-do-the-WCU-lessons" to swim at my parents' pool. We wanted a program to help her really swim; not just float or kick while holding a board. SWIM. Finding an instructor to do this proved to be really difficult, but I finally found a KICK-A** instructor who is, well, KICKING A**. Our kids are learning to swim for real! Renata is the teacher's name, and she is totally rad. :)

This, however, has not been an easy-peasy journey. Turns out, the "real-deal" kind of swim lessons are not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle having your toddler RIPPED out of your arms kicking, clawing, and screaming, or swallowing so much water that she vomits on her teacher (several times), or somehow can still cry and scream bloody murder while sinking under the water, or refusing for days to stay on her back, and thus peering at you just under the surface of the water with the most petrified face you could ever imagine because they think they are drowning (and you think for a few seconds that they might be, too)- Well, DON'T DO THESE KIND OF LESSONS.

I'll admit, I cried a few times. Eva did great the first 10 minutes of the first session. The other 3 kids were crying hysterically, and she was sitting on the side, holding her ears to block out the noise. The teacher came to her for her turn, and she went right to her, calmly doing exactly as she was told. I was so proud. But, then something terrible happened. I don't know if her friends' crying just got to her, or what, but she began crying, and she didn't stop. It became more intense, and more hysterical, and more irrational as the lesson went on. When it was all over she announced she was not going to do this again, very matter-of-factly. It was the second lesson, which was even worse than the first, that had me in tears, too. 

I did everything I could think of to help her calm down- praying with her, singing to her, quoting verses to her, telling her that the other kids couldn't hear the teacher, asking her to cheer for her friends, bribing her with candy and cake. The list goes on and on. Nothing worked. On day 3, I was doing flowers for a wedding, so it was Mike's turn to take her. Smart man- he decided to send his mom out with her. The lesson began like the others with all the crazy crying until her very last turn (lessons are 1 hour so this gets REALLY old). She calmly went to Renata and listened AND OBEYED!! She did it. What a relief- I hoped we were over the hump.

Fourth lesson (today): 1st turn, crying. Then, MY GIRL ROCKED! She did it! Swam on her back all by herself. I've never been so proud. We made pink icing for her to dip fruit and graham crackers in for a special treat to celebrate (this is what the princess requested)!

Her buddies- Caleb (cousin), Rowan, and Penny are also doing so great! Rowie and Penny still cry some like Eva, but they ALL can swim without help on their backs. It's awesome! And, my nephew, Caleb, is a superstar! He went off the diving board and is even learning strokes for swimming on his belly. I'm so proud of these kiddos! What an amazing picture of facing a fear, persevering, and having success. This has been a powerful example of "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" None of them thought they could swim alone, but they prayed for God to make them brave and now they KNOW He answers prayer!

Eva crying as Mike passes her off to Renata.

Eva later as she learns she can do it when she listens and obeys!!

Rowan- floater extraordinaire

Eva watching Rowan and feeling proud.

Penny needs a little pep-talk before her turn.

Rowan makes it to the steps all by himself!

Rowan is scared to jump in, but he does it and goes right to his back and swims!

Caleb is learning strokes.

Caleb swimming like a pro.

So proud, and rightfully so!

Eva getting some hugs from a proud papa.

Caleb jumping in- no fear here, folks.

Penny knows her turn is coming and isn't too happy about it!

Show off :)

Rowan- isn't he adorable?!?!

You are doing it, Penny!

Go Eva Go!

Made it all the way to the steps!

Do I have to jump?

Uh, YES!

She swam the entire length of the pool by herself.

Definitely needs a high five for that!

Rowan is a champ!

While in the water, he said to Renata, "Are you going to leave after this one?!?!" 

He's happy- it's over!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Loosen your grip! The challenge of confronting selfishness

There are moments when she SHINES. I mean, really SHINES. She goes so far above and beyond what I think a 3 year old is capable of in their "world revolves around me" thinking (which is developmentally appropriate in some ways). She's had some of those moments recently, and when they happen, I whisper a silent prayer, "Oh God, root this type of generosity deep in her heart! May it become entrenched in who she is as your child and creation."
And then, of course, there are moments when I CRINGE. I absolutely want to crawl into a hole and stay there for long periods of time because I am so mortified. The selfishness of her sinful nature emerges and rears it's ugly head. "Oh Evangeline!! How could you?" The look she gives me after snatching a toy right out of the hands of her happily playing little brother, which leads him to hysterical crying and looking at her like she is some sort of mean and terrible monster, is almost creepy.
I know, I know. There isn't a child in the universe who hasn't done this same thing. We all have selfishness bound up in our hearts to one degree or another. But lately, the past 2 weeks, Eva has really been struggling with this. I have seen her literally, and figuratively, hold so tightly to her material possessions that I know it needs to be addressed. I remember vividly having this same struggle as a child and teen. I was relatively generous with my time- making cookies for someone, helping friends with their homework, editing papers, picking up and dropping off in my car, leading bible studies, and volunteering. But, I was not AT ALL that way with my "stuff"- my money, my clothes, etc. Looking back, I am so bothered by this. Why did I think it was so important? Why did I hold so tightly to it?
I don't want Evangeline to have this struggle. I want to give her opportunities as a 3 year old to know that our stuff isn't important. It doesn't bring us happiness. And, in fact, IT'S NOT OURS. The last few months in church we learned about stewardship- what does God have to say about how we spend our money? I think of the, "It Ain't Yours" sermon often. I remind Eva of it, too. I told her that all of our stuff is a gift from a generous God who allows us to take care of it, but expects us to be generous with our blessings. In the car, we talk A LOT, so I use it to my advantage. Selfishness has been the topic of the last month, at least. Eva pretty much never allows any more than 4 seconds of silence, so she isn't bothered by it :)
We saw tornado coverage on the news recently and she was horrified by all the "broken houses"- she wanted to know what those people were going to do and where all of the kids toys went. I took the opportunity to tell her that most of their things were lost and that many people won't have enough money to buy things to replace all the stuff that was lost and damaged. I asked her if she wanted to give some things to kids who don't have toys. She said yes, so we started in the basement and made our way to the main floor and then upstairs. We went through every single item and I asked her, "Give away or keep?" I didn't MAKE her give away anything- I told her, "Eva, I am not going to make you give anything away. I want you to think about each thing and decide how important it is to you and whether or not you really want or need to keep it." She made quick decisions about many things, but some required further pondering.
Her princess dress collection had me worried- she has 7. She wears them every single day- no exceptions. I spread them in a row on the floor. I said, "which one is your favorite?" We put that one aside to keep. I asked, "Do you think you could give one away?" Her head moved back and forth over the dresses, scanning each one and stopping occasionally to think harder. Finally, she looked up at me and said, "Little girls will really like these 2". She handed me two of the dresses. Then she said with a huge smile on her face, "AND CINDERELLA! A little girl will love Cinderella mom. And let's find the purse, and necklace, and gloves that go with her. Oh my! A little girl like me is going to love this!"
Cinderella is her favorite, and one of 2 dresses that she has all the accessories to match. I have to admit that I teared up at this precious glimpse into her heart.
Eva is learning, and it's a work in progress. I'll keep praying, and keep taking as many opportunities as I can to reinforce this in her. I know it's a long road because she is so much like me. Here goes- I'm going to embrace the journey.


We're the Wells family. We currently consist of Michael (husband and daddy), Lauren (wife and mama), Evangeline (daughter and princess), and Samuel (son and prince). We live a pretty simple life loving the many blessings that God grants us each and every day.
Mike is a genius carpenter/contractor and works throughout neighboring counties. Lauren stays at home with Eva and Sam most of the time, but works a few days a week as a therapist.
More than anything else, we love being together as a family- trips to the gardens, swimming at Grammie and Papa's house, and bike rides & walks are probably our most frequent activities. We're surrounded by our family (siblings and parents); they all live within 30 minutes of us!
That's us in a nut shell.
We're thankful you dropped by our site!