For the love…

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As another holiday passes and the year comes to an end, I have taken a moment to reflect.  This is something that takes some effort as I am NOT one to sit still or relax for more than thirty minutes at a time.

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My wonderfully sincere husband reminds me, daily, that I am an excellent wife and mother- I love him for that!  Not all females are lucky enough to be in a loving and supportive relationship…this I know from past experiences.  God has placed this charming man in my life for a reason and I am truly grateful. Being the wife of a man that takes time to leave a new roll of toilet paper out is something that I will never take for granted…never!  The fact that my husband keeps me in his thoughts (at all times) leaves me feeling so special.  It’s the small things that I notice and that is what matters.  Happy New Year everyone!!

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This Just In: It’s OK To Encourage Growth!

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I grew up in a non practicing Christian home with two parents and one sibling.  We were your typical “mid level” family; my parents worked hard to provide for my brother and I while trying to better their careers.  My mother worked two jobs at times and my father held down a job while finishing college.  We moved around quite a bit and were not all that close.  We had extended family that we kept in touch with and we took a family vacation every year, nothing out of the ordinary but we were content.  Praying at the dinner table was not one of our things but neither was eating AT the dinner table.  My parents got married young and had their fair share of arguments but they remained married.  My brother was my shadow and annoyed me at times but I stuck up for him like no other.   Being only three years apart, we had some things in common and were able to understand concepts on the same level.

Sometimes, as a parent, I forget that my own experiences don’t mean squat to my children.  I have trouble remembering that when I share a story or past experience with them (in hopes of teaching them a lesson) I must do just that- SHARE, not just tell.

My kids struggle with anxiety when it comes to what their peers think or how their peers see them.  I was lucky enough as a youth to not be burdened with this worry.  I realized, early on, that if somebody embarrassed me, made fun of me, or simply made me feel bad for being myself I did not like feeling that unwarranted shame.  I swore to myself, in the fourth grade, that I would never allow another person to make me feel that way- only I could bring on that red-faced, eye-swelling disappointment.  Once I became a practicing Christian I understood that it wasn’t just ME being disappointed in myself at times but it was God allowing me to see the mistake I chose to make.  It’s difficult to convey, to a child, the idea of “a being that you can’t see making you feel remorse for something that you did wrong.”

Many words are said while picking up my children after school and the majority of those words are how they spent their day and the good and bad that went along with it.  The occasional, “so and so said this about me” or “so and so made me upset” slips out exposing the opportunity for emotional growth.  These are the moments that I can’t screw up!  It’s times like these that I have to remind myself to SHARE and really hear my kids when they talk.  Once I’ve spilled the beans on a similar experience from my younger days I like to get my kids’ feedback or thoughts on how I handled the situation.  I fell it gives them a chance to see options of reaction.  After we review their own reaction to the current situation, they usually tell me if they have handled it in an acceptable manner…if they did not then we go over ways they could have handled it better.  I find that doing all of this has cut down on tantrums, tattle-tailing, and the rare screaming match between siblings at home.

Yes, kids are kids…yes, they have to figure things out on their own…yes, kids only think in “the now” but it’s my job to help them and guide them by showing them how they can be a better individual and actually make a positive difference to the people around them.  I like to think that I have tons of patience and that comes in handy when dealing with kids but patience doesn’t play an enormous role in helping my kids grow up to be good-hearted people.  Having the guts to spend that time with my kids is essential.  I’ve witnessed parents “cleaning up” after their kids and fixing their problems for them and that breaks my heart.  As parents, not only as Christians, how are we contributing to the growth of our children by stunting them?  I know that I am not, by any means, perfect…and neither are my children but we can strive for that in God’s eyes.  Doing the best we can and making the right choices along the way will help make a strong base to grow from.

Offense, Defense and The Almighty Playbook

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I have reached that point in my life where I am completely comfortable with asking myself,”What in the world are you doing?”  In my mid thirties, I never thought I would be asking myself that question…that was more of a fiftieth or sixtieth birthday question.  Throughout my primary school years I wanted to know everything, during my teenager years I assumed I knew everything, while in my twenties I did know everything and now I am realizing that I had no clue!  Yes, my life has played like scenes from a Lifetime original flick but have I taken good enough notes?  Yes, I have learned lessons the hard way and even made the same mistakes twice but have I really learned what God intended for me to learn?

Watching my children grow up reminds me of so many episodes of my childhood, some of which I share with my children with the hopes that they will learn from my mistakes.  But for the most part, I share my experiences with them because I want them to understand that I do know what they are going through.  Let’s take “trying to be right” out of the equation becasue that is not what I want to be.  “Being right” can also mean that there is pain involved or disappointment and those are things that I do not want for my children- what parent would?!  I am not so niave to think that my children are immune to the ways of the world and it’s sting but I would like to think that I can lessen that sting some how.

Growing up primarily in the state of Texas isn’t so welcoming to an open-minded, liberal, loud mouth such as myself but it did make for an interesting upbringing.  The state and it’s people are conservative, closed-minded, religious, old-fashioned, kind, open hearted, loyal and grounded.  I was one (ok, ok I still am in some ways) to push the envelope and test the limits, not to say that I wasn’t pushed back and taken down a few notches from time to time but I never gave up.  When I set my sights on something I wanted I fought to get it, one way or another.  I remember, while in the fourth grade, a classmate called me fat and that one comment set in motion my “body image state of mind”.  Before this comment sprung from this kid’s mouth thoughts of myself were “which banana clip to wear”, “which pair of jellies were more comfortable?” and “how many cuts will my lip obtain before getting my braces off?”  I never worried about my weight before and I never cared how people viewed me physically.  I wasn’t one to hesitate with a come back when someone was offensive but this comment left me speechless.  I remember running to the teacher in tears and being told not to tattle tale.  This incident stuck with me, obviously, but did not impact me in a negative way.  I used this to my advantage by replaying that “nany nany boo boo” voice and those words over and over again until it motivated me to be active and eat healthy.  I vowed to work as hard as I could to maintain a healthy self-image and, to this day, I have kept that promise to myself.  Now, getting my teen daughter to do the same, that’s another thing.  I can tell her how to dress, eat, exercise, bathe, and breathe but it won’t do a bit of good if she doesn’t want to.  So, instead, I tell my kids to flip these types of situations and work from the other end…meaning, if someone is being nasty towards them, they should “kill ‘em with kindness”.  Realizing that not every person ALWAYS has something nice to say and that they need prayer can help keep you, your kids or anybody from focusing on the negative of their comment.  Jesus tells us to treat others as we would want to be treated and that is sooooooooo helpful when all you want to do is swing back with witty banter.  With my youngest I must remember to spell out what ever lesson I am trying to instill as he doesn’t quite receive things the same way as my eldest.  For the most part, I like to think that my children “get it” and understand that it’s not right or acceptable to be bully or pick on others but do they understand that it’s not right for others to do it to them?  Keeping tabs on my kids, staying in their business and offering my insight and support eases the pain (on my part) for now.  I would LOVE to dive right in and act like the Berlin wall against any wrong doing that gets hurled their way but I know that I must wait patiently on the sidelines.  I realize that I have left God waiting in wings and that is not ok.  It’s my duty as a wife and mother to make sure that God is behind MY steering wheel daily, speaking through me and guiding my family.  I now have a new promise for myself: making sure that God is known by my children and and they allow Him to steer.

Peace On Earth and Overflowing Stockings

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Sending a letter to Santa Claus may not be on your mind as an adult, but if you are around children during the month of December that may be the only topic discussed when you bring up Christmas.  Having two children has enabled me to play the role of Kris Kringle for many years…and I love it- wouldn’t trade the experience!

I recall looking forward to jotting down my material wants, ranked from most desirable to kinda-can’t-live-without, as a child.  Writing a letter to a mysterious person that eluded me each year seemed exciting but at the same time left me riveted with curiosity every December 25th.  When I questioned the existence of Santa my mother would always tell me, “As long as you believe, he will make a visit”.  I find myself repeating that same line to my elementary age son as my teenage daughter has made it very clear that she no longer believes.  As a parent, trying to keep that innocence alive in my children proves to be more and more difficult as they grow older.  Doing little things like sprinkling powdered sugar on the hearth (snow), stringing cotton ball fuzz on the bricks of the fireplace (Santa’s beard), devouring all of the cookies (carrot sticks and OJ in our house- Santa may be lactose intolerant, who knows!) and milk and scribbling “thank you” onto the letter left informing Santa that the goodies are for him may keep the kids wondering but will one day only receive eye rolls and sighs of embarrassment.

How do I keep the “believing spirit” alive in my children when it comes to God?  It’s tough to tell your kids to trust in something that they can not see or touch during this time of instant proof.  I resort to teaching by example; as long as I SHOW my children that doing the right things are important I may have a better shot at keeping their hearts on the path to Jesus.  It’s more of a challenge when you have a child with disabilities that does not think or comprehend things the same way as you.  I find this very familiar territory when it comes to my youngest.  He is a literal individual and has a hard time understanding concepts of heart.  He tends to trust and follow things and people that he can literally touch.  Explaining to my son that God is the most powerful being and that God’s love is so great always seems to get lost in translation.  My son thinks that Jesus is an actual physical person that resides in the church building and that is perfectly OK with me.  As long as God and Jesus remain on his lips, I’m content but trying to explain empathy and selflessness to my six year old is an entirely different obstacle.  This is where the SHOWING comes in.

I teach my children, throughout the year, that it’s important to recognize those less fortunate than themselves, help people that are struggling, do nice things-helpful things-without being asked, etc. But during the holidays I find myself pushing this lesson a little more than usual.  Each year I decrease the number of gifts given by Santa, by one, for each child and always leave one gift for the kids to share.  My hopes in doing this is that both of my kids will see how unimportant gifts can be in the grand scheme of things.

How do you encourage your children to be more Christ like??