Saturday, March 27, 2010

Children and a New Dad

There are some wonderful things about having a man around the house again...
Little home projects are getting done,
I have an adult to communicate with,
There is someone else around here to help with the discipleship of the kids,
but, most of all, there is a man at the head of this home once again.

Phil knew that the task would be enormous when he asked me to marry him.
He knew that he was stepping into a potential beehive. But, he chose to take on the challenge because he believed that this is what God had planned for him.
He had waited a long time to find a woman who liked to learn, was a reader,
and had a bit of spunk to her personality.
I happened to fit that description and I had six children as an added bonus!
He had also prayed that the Lord would give him a family someday.
He just had no idea that the family part of his prayer would be answered so soon.

I would not have married Phil if I hadn't believed that he was up to the task. I also consulted many of his friends and my friends to help me discern if this was a good step for the family God had given me.
Here are some reasons why I thought that Phil was qualified to become an instant father:
  • He grew up in a family that took in foster kids. For many years he was able to be a part of this endeavor.
  • His family adopted one child and he has two black brothers who were formerly foster brothers of his who are just growing out of the teens years.
  • He has many nieces and nephews that he has been able to watch his siblings raise. He has purposefully watched what they have done and their approach to parenting.
  • He has purposefully watched one of his best friends raise his children; taking note of their methods and ways of disciplining.
As I got to know Phil, I realized that he subscribed to a very similar method of discipline and training of the heart. His desire is to lead his children to the Throne of grace and remind them of their deep need for a Savior. I am truly grateful to God for giving me such a kind-hearted husband who doesn't want to punish but rather nurture and disciple, using the methods that God has ordained in His Word.

So, how does Phil relate to the kids?
Well, as you can imagine, there are definitely some differences in how he relates to each group of kids. I have two that are adults and have left the home...Becca and Nate see him as my husband but really as a brother in Christ when it comes to their personal relationship with him. They are both happy that Brown Sugar and Foley have a dad around. All of the four, older children call Phil by his first name....Phil. The rest of the kids in his life call him Mr. Phil, Uncle Phil, or Mr. Olsson...this gives my four older children the ability to see their relationship with him as more intimate than what everyone else has.

Miss M and Daisy have a different relationship with Phil. He is not their dad and he recognizes that he will never be able to replace Eric's place in their hearts. But, he does have a place of authority over them as the head of this household. I am the primary disciplinarian for both the girls but if they disrespect me or my decisions, Phil is right there to remind me of my position in their lives. This is probably the hardest of all the relationships for me to deal with.
When you birth your own children you begin a relationships that develop over time. There is a trust and respect that you grow up with. In this case, Phil is coming into a home where these girls do not know him well and have not developed a trust or respect for him as of yet. Add on top of all that the fact that they are watching another man come in and take the position of their father's role and you have some hard feelings to deal with.
Thankfully, as I tell the girls, we have time on our side. We have only been doing this family thing for three months now. Not very long at all!
I wholeheartedly believe that God ordained Eric's death and I believe, as strongly, that God ordained Phil's and my marriage as well. That means that I trust God to work out all the details. I just have to be know, that whole "Trust and Obey" thing!

So, then there is the relationship that Phil has with Brown Sugar and Foley. Both of the younger children call him dad or daddy. Unlike the other four, these two will be adopted by Phil in the near future. We told Brown Sugar that she couldn't call Mr. Phil daddy until we walked back down the aisle. I will never forget her tugging at my dress, as we were waiting for pictures, and asking "can I call him daddy now?". The day we saw her before we headed off to the airport for our honeymoon. She was being carried into the house by my dad when she said "hi daddy". Both Foley and Brown Sugar see Phil as their new daddy. They know that "Daddy Davis" brought them home from Africa. And, we have plenty of pictures to remind them of their Daddy Davis. But, Phil is their new daddy that loves on them, disciples them, wrestles with them, goes to their baseball games, etc.
This relationship is not that hard, really. They just willingly accept Phil as the authority over them. Again, I am grateful. I am so thankful that God decided that Foley needed a daddy. He's lost two now and it seems rather appropriate for this little African boy to grow up watching and learning from a man in the home.

As I was talking with the girls this week about their roles in this home and their relationship with me, Phil and I realized that the balance of relationships is kind of like a circular diagram. Have you ever seen one of those diagrams with two circles that meet in the middle? Think of the girls in one circle and Phil, Foley, and Brown Sugar in the other. I am in the middle section where the two circles meet...and where both circles have something in common.
My job right now is to try and find those things that we all have in common to help build a strong foundation for our family in years to come. There will always be differences between the two "distinct" families in this home but there are as many similarities and that is what I am trying to capitalize on.
Can I just tell you that I am one tired woman right now?
This is the hardest job I have ever worked on.
I have my two older children who need me to cheer them on right now.
I have the two middle girls who are a part of this new family that we are trying to establish and yet still have at least one foot firmly planted in the family they knew and loved.
And, then I have the two little ones and Phil who need to have a stable, loving home that looks as normal as possible.
I am a blessed woman...there is no complaining here!
But, I do sometimes catch myself thinking this is not what I was thinking life would be like. I wasn't necessarily hoping or dreaming about this kind of family life.
Obviously, this is what God had planned for me and He will sustain me and make this family successful in His timing if only we..."Trust and Obey".


Nan said...

Amen sister!

Anna said...

Heather, This was wonderfully observed and beautifully written. The Lord has truly blessed you in many ways.
Reading this brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy for you and your family.
Blessings, Anna

Genealogy Joanie said...

Heather, I love your honesty. You have written this with such respect for each of the members of your family. You haven't glossed over the difficult parts or pretended it's all a piece of cake but you have shown that God is working to build new relationships between all of you. It is exhausting work, being a mom and wife, but so rewarding. I'm blessed to know that my son is in such competent hands - and such loving arms.

E.T.'s Mom said...

What a monumental task you have before you. You bless your family and the rest of us as you find joy in the adventure.

Kim said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm desperately awaiting your post about how to minister to young widows. The woman I wish to bless and come alongside didn't have Christian friends, wasn't plugged into a community of believers (although she did attend church the last several years), and doesn't seem on the surface to have much in common with me. Her husband was everything to her: best friend (his mom told me she never felt the need for other friends--they did everything together), boss (she assisted him in family business), and wonderful father to their 3 girls.

I was friends with him, having played in a Christian band with him in High School and then again many years later in the orchestra at our church up until he died last year. I miss him a lot, especially during worship when I'm playing guitar and sense that he's not there behind me on the drums. I mostly just cry with her and hug her when I see her at church. I can't say that we'd ever really spoken to each other before his death...just smiled and greeted each other in passing.

Thank you for helping me understand what's going on in her heart and mind to some extent. She really seems to respond to my encouragement which I feel I've gleaned from things I've read here...please tell me what else I can do. It's just incredible the ministry you've been given via the internet!

Vanderpolclan said...

Thank you for sharing once again, the difficult part of building this new family of yours. What a blessing it is to hear of your conviction to trust God in this too. I often think of you and pray for your family, praying that the transition is going smoothly, and that the relationships are growing and strengthening. Thanks for sharing the difference in the relationships, and how it all works out in daily life.