Friday, November 21, 2014

Professional Motherhood - Day 31

I'll always know the touch of my Momma's hands.  They feel different to me than any other hands in the world.  I was surprised to find out as a grown up that they still brought me the same comfort they had when I was little.  When Mom entered the hospital room in which I was laboring for our first baby, she laid her hand on my head and did more for me than any pain reliever.  I didn't need her words or actions for comfort, I just needed the touch of the hands that felt like Mom and carried with them a lifetime of knowledge and connection.

The mother child bond is a pretty exclusive thing.  There's only one of you and only one of them. Forever and always you will be the person they call Mom.  Your connection will outlive you.  Long after you are gone, your sweet children will still be hearing echoes of your voice in their heads and your body language will be mimicked by their muscles.

There is a power just in the name.  Even the Mom who dies giving birth keeps the influence of the title and remains a presence in her child's life.  Her baby will daydream about her and learn from others what she was like.  They will imagine her advice and care. She is where they began.  She is Mom.  Your voice is able to find it's way deeper into their souls than almost any other.

 A Mom has been given the gift of the beginning.  We are there when the shaping happens, when the personality and the character is still soft and shape-able, being formed into the bedrock of who they will become.  Our hands and voices are the ones doing the most touching when the clay is wet.  It's an incredible gift to be given such wide open access into the creative process of a new being becoming.  You get to to watch this flower bloom.  You get to be the one who tends and waters, notices changes imperceptible to the casual observer.  And then you get to be the one who can celebrate with the most intimate knowledge when the bloom breaks free.

The name's power isn't bound by time or minutes, it is magnified by them.  Moment upon moment, a Mom takes the influence bestowed upon her by her title and chooses what it will magnify.

It's powerful Mommas, this name you have been given.

It's like Frodo's ring, it demands to be used, burning in your pocket and begging to be put on. Everything you do is bigger because of it.  Just like Frodo, you can't escape the fact that you have been chosen to wield it's power and so you must find a way.  You can't just fling it away pretending it isn't yours.  You can't wield it on a whim, without thought to anyone's needs but your own, or you risk terrible pain to you and everyone you love.

You must find a way to be worthy of the power you have been given.  There isn't another choice.  You will use it, or it will use you.

It didn't really get easier once Frodo decided to screw up his courage and be the person the ring had chosen.  It actually got more scary and bloody, but it also got more worthy.

 Frodo wasn't perfect, but he was what Middle Earth needed.

You aren't perfect either, but YOU are what your family needs.

So it's time, Mommas, to get serious and screw up our own courage.    We don't need to be overwhelmed in fear, always looking over our shoulders and second guessing ourselves.  Grace covers the fact that you are human, that you make mistakes.  Pray for that covering often over your children and then live strongly and on purpose.

We need to be professional mothers who learn how to wield our power with precision and care. What have you done towards developing your mom skills lately?  Have you read a book, taken a class, gone to a conference?  You should.  Have you spent time developing a professional community of moms you respect and can learn from?  You should.  Do you take the time to think about and plan what you are doing with and teaching to your children, are you proactive in your parenting skills?  You should. be.

Most any job you get out there in the world will expect you to spend time and money on continued professional development.  I promise you, none of those jobs is as important and powerful as this one.  It deserves the highest level of professionalism and skill you've got inside of you.

And let me just get on a soapbox right now and rant for a minute.  You need to figure out how to give your title and job description the respect it deserves inside your own head and with the words that come out of your mouth.  I am sick and tired of hearing women say, "I'm just a mom" when they're asked what they "do."  Stop being shy about it.  You are this on purpose because you know it's important - act like it!

When someone asks you, "Do you work?"  Answer, "Yes, I work at home.  I care for my family and right now I don't have time for another job." or "Yes, my main job is at home with my family but I have another job on the side."

If you are putting other careers on hold right now so you can make your family your career, I know you didn't do it by accident....or because you're not good at anything else.....or because you're lazy and don't want to pull your own weight.  You're doing it because you're strong and you chose it.  Speak like it was a strong, intelligent choice.  Your feelings about yourself and your work will be impacted by how you speak about it.

I'm on the board at the charter school that my children attend.  Recently we were welcoming a new board member and were asked to introduce ourselves explaining our professional experience and how that impacted our decision to serve on this board.  As the introductions turned clockwise around the table I worked through my response in my head.  When my turn came I was ready.

"My name is Lori Florida and I've served on this board for 5 years.  I have a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education that I have chosen to use professionally at home raising our 8 children, 6 of whom have attended this school.  I believe that my experience and insight of being a mother who has guided children through every grade level of this school allows me to offer unique and specific insight into the needs of our students and families.  Being a board member also serves my mission as a mom by allowing me more influence and depth of knowledge into my children's education."

That sounds so much better than, "I'm just a mom..."  It's not blowing smoke or trying to talk yourself up.  It's being honest about the gravity and respect you see in your position, and treating it like it's a valuable way to spend your life.

These are just words, they're important words, but words none the less.  It's your life that really matters the most.  It's the day in, day out "Momming" you do that really makes you a professional.

It's the cool hands on a fevered forehead....
It's the stern words of discipline coupled with the soft words of grace....
It's the high expectations and belief in the best....
It's the heart that's hungry for God and trusts Him implicitly with your kids....
It's the getting a babysitter so you can go to a conference or read a book that refines you....
It's the shoe tying, Candyland playing, peanut butter and jelly making, diaper changing....

It's all of it.

And it's doing all of it like it's your calling, your plan to leave an enduring mark on the world, that makes you a professional.  This is the thing you have chosen to give your life to because it's worthy and because you are the only Mom your kids will ever have. It's a career and it will take all of you to do it well.  Blood, sweat and tears.  Hard work and deep thought.  Learning and development.

Do it well, Mommas.  Refine yourself and give it all you've got.  You won't be sorry you did.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Walk Through the Wilderness and Not Get Stuck - Day 30

When my boys were little I developed a  thing called "Mom's Off Duty."  I would sit down with a book, journal or my Bible and remind the kids of the rules.  When Mommy's "Off Duty" no talking to her until the timer goes off.  None....unless there's danger or blood.  After the first couple times I had to add to the instructions and tell them they couldn't make eye contact with me...or mouth words... or act things out.  "Mommy will not communicate with you in any way unless there is an emergency".  I may or may not have put a blanket over my head so I couldn't see what they were doing a time or two.

 It was really more of a survival skill than a parenting technique.  Once my kids began to talk, I started to feel the ability to focus slipping away.  I knew that if I didn't do something drastic I might never again put two adult thoughts together.  That would mean no reading, no writing and no Bible study.

I felt the stakes on my spiritual life go up exponentially when I became a Mom.  Being responsible for the care and training of fresh, little souls meant I had to have a deep enough well to draw out of.....and meant I had a bigger target on my back to draw the devil's attention.

Despite my best efforts to avoid the spiritual wilderness, I found my feet trudging through the dust there anyway.  My wilderness time didn't come until I had been a mom for almost 15 years.   It was the daily-ness of meeting so many needs and being so tired that finally overwhelmed me.   I felt hungry but too tired to do anything about it.  I felt myself getting crusty and oh so dry.....dry and cracked and hard.  And I started to go numb.  Life felt hard and I just didn't care.  It was easier to feel nothing than to feel what it would take to get better.  I kept moving, let duty be my motivator.  And I also built some serious walls to guard against any more needs that might ask me to care.  My highest walls were to protect me against anything else hard God might ask of me.

Many moms find themselves catapulted into the wilderness by hard circumstances that descend on them out of the blue.  You might have just received a diagnosis that changes everything about your child's future.  You may have just gotten the divorce papers in the mail that leave you doing everything alone.  You might have had to uproot and move your family far away from everything familiar.  Or many of you, just like me, will find yourselves walking into the wilderness little by little.  You'll be surprised one day to find yourself so dry and dusty,

Most of us go there.  If you haven't felt the weight of that hot sun on your back yet, you will.  You either need to hear this because you're there, right now, desperate and tired.....or you need to hear this because it's coming.  Life is hard, sometimes it's especially hard when you're trying the fight back the darkness and follow God into tough places.

There are a few things you need to know about the wilderness in order to find the way out.  I can tell you, because I've wandered and I know how to be free.

*There is a way out, you don't have to live there just because you're there now.  Knowing that what you are going through is normal and survivable is important.  It brings hope.  So let me tell you, there is a way out and you can find it.  There are other moms you know, who are on the other side and can help point the way.  Don't settle in and build a home there.  God is doing something.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust what your eyes can't see.

*Go back to what you know.  Your feelings are screaming at you right now, about all the things you don't know.  They're keeping your attention wrapped up in fears and uncertainty.  You've gotta chose to start focusing on the things that you do know, all the things your mind has learned about God that your heart has forgotten.  And you need to give yourself permission to make it easy.

A wilderness heart just doesn't have what it takes to embark on a 2 hour bible study, and that's really not what it needs anyway.  Your heart needs worship music, and lots of it.  I can't tell you how many hours I sobbed through Tenth Avenue North and Anthony Evans albums while I went through the motions of my day.  The music helped put words to the crying of my heart.  The words turned me around and lifted my chin up so I would look at the Good Father who knows what He's doing in my life.  I made a little playlist of my favorites to help you out!

Try a daily dose of Jesus Calling and just let those words drip over the cracks and fissures the wilderness is drawing upon your heart.  It will speak to your heart the things your head believes.  Little by little, it will heal you.

*Don't believe your feelings.  Feelings often lie to us.  They come and go and they're often not rooted in truth.  W.A. Tozer said that the most important thing about us is what we think about God.  He didn't say anything about what we feel about God.  You are not guilty for feeling bad things, feeling unbelief and fear.  You are guilty if you choose to let those feelings define your actions.  Girls, feelings are the caboose on the train.  Feed your engine with the truth, choose truth-informed actions whether you feel like it or not.....and trust that caboose to catch up sooner or later.  But please don't try to follow the caboose.  You'll be chasing your own tail.

*Sit by your stone pile.  Get a notebook and start making a list.  It's important that you keep records of what you've seen God do in your life.  Your heart needs to be reminded.  We're just like the Israelites, so prone to forget and accuse when circumstances and emotions overwhelm us.  God gave them important advice...

Joshua 4:20-24English Standard Version (ESV)

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”[a]

*Don't run away from your people.  Force yourself to answer the "How are you?" question honestly with trusted friends.  And force yourself to be with them often enough for them to notice something's up.  You have a friend with a 6th sense about these things....she'll catch it if you don't run away.

This is going to be a fight in your heart though.  You're tired....too tired to get dressed and go to church....too tired to look at other people who seem happy and effortless.....and certainly too tired to answer questions.  I don't care if you're so tired that you show up at church, or girlfriend's coffee in your pajamas - GO!  This is an absolutely necessary part of leaving the wilderness.  Satan wants to cut you off from the people who will hold your arms up when they are weary like Moses friends did for him in the wilderness.  He wants you to only hear his lies and stay away from people who will tell you the truth.  He wants you isolated and fearful.  Please don't let yourself get separated from the flock and become easy prey.  Just stay in the group, and let us fight for you.

*Do something that will shock your system.  For me this was a ladies retreat.  I signed up even though I didn't want to because I was desperate and I knew I needed help.  You can read the whole story here.  I left with a dry, weary heart clenched tightly in my fist and came home revived in every sense of the word.  You need to do something drastic.  Do it.  Be brave.

Now listen to me....if we were sitting at my kitchen island together, this is when I would put down my coffee cup and point my finger at you.  I'd probably start getting a little flushed and have to take my sweater off....because that's what happens when I talk about things that I'm really serious about to people I love.  Listen, and believe me....

You are loved, by your Good Father and by your people.
Your feelings are wrong and will eventually change.
You can choose to live differently than how your feelings suggest.
God is working, even though you can't feel it.
He has a plan to lead you out of this dry, dusty place.
The joy of the Lord is your strength, not the other way around.
His mercies ARE new every morning.
Jesus is our high priest who knows the pain you're feeling.
His Word is true.  Every bit of it.
He has already given you everything you need for life and godliness.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve.
Nothing can separate us from His love...not even our feelings.

And you are not alone.

Believe me when I tell you that there is an end to the's a land flowing with milk and honey, where you will enjoy the bounty of crops you didn't plant and the security of houses you didn't build.  Keep walking friend.  Don't set up a tent and make it easier to stay.  

There is hope, hold on, it'll be here soon.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Friday, November 7, 2014

Two Wings Every Kid Needs as They Leave the Nest - Day 29

My parents were professional fans.  My Dad enjoys sports, but more than teams or hobbies, my Mom and he were fans of ME!  If I was doing it, they were interested.  I have countless memories of my Dad, in his suit and tie, having left work early, sitting in the bleachers to watch a JV cheerleader with his last name on her sweater.  I know now and I knew then, my Dad's not into cheerleading.  He didn't schedule his day to be free of late afternoon meetings in order to answer back, "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, how 'bout you??!!"  My parents were, and still are, into me.

Along with the cheering, my parents gave me two juxtaposed confidences.  They seemed in opposition to each other.  If I hadn't lived it, I might not think these two things can happen at the same time, but I know they can, because they did.  I'm not sure how they did it, but I grew up certain of these two things:

1.  My parents were irrationally positive about my abilities. 

All of my life I've felt sure that, given enough work and time, I could accomplish most anything I wanted to.  You know the song, Wind Beneath My Wings??  My parents.  For sure.  They had a lot of confidence in my ability to be really good at the things I did.

2.  My parents were realistic about my limitations.

There were a lot of things I wasn't great at, and that was fine with my parents.  Didn't diminish their shiny view of me at all.  It was ok to try and fail.  It was ok to be average sometimes.  My best, whatever it was, was good enough.  That gave me wings too.

Two memories I have of my Dad paint this picture perfectly.

All through high school I competed in a yearly speaking competition.  My specialty was the dramatic monologue.  I practiced and memorized for months.  My Mom, a "monologuer" herself,  adjusted my timing and emotional intonation.  My Dad played audience and could probably quote my monologue by heart.  All through high school I had placed high in the state competition, usually 2nd or 3rd.  My senior year was my golden moment.  I was prepared with my Mom's favorite piece and nailed it.  It was hands down the best performance of my life....everyone felt confident that the blue ribbon was mine.  At the awards ceremony, my name was called for 2nd, and the crowd gasped!  Well, maybe just my crowd gasped, but I know there was gasping going on.  One of the biggest disappointments of my young life.  I don't think I had ever worked harder towards a goal.

We drove home in stunned silence.  I'm not kidding.  My whole family acted like they were in Dad in particular.  He encouraged me and told me how proud he was of me, but seemed to be churning under the surface.  Now my Dad's a big one for respecting the judges, the refs, any people who's job it is to make the call.  He's calm and in control, doesn't boo or bad-mouth and he's taught me to do the same.

We walked into the house and all began to drift back into normal life.  I sat in the living room for a while, trying to feel satisfied with the 2nd place ribbon I held in my hands.  I could hear Dad clanking around with the dishes in the kitchen, and headed there for a snack.  I walked in, just in time to hear Dad's angry muttering and see him slam the trash bag he was changing into it's wooden holder and break it!  This was the most aggressive display of anger I had ever seen come out of him.  He turned around to see me slack-jawed and sheepishly explained that he was just angry about me "being robbed of what I deserved."

I don't think it's possible for me to convey to you how that made me feel.  It is honestly one the highlights of my childhood.  My Dad's positivity and confidence in my abilities trumped his usual personality.  Feeling like his girl got slighted prompted something intense inside of him....which prompted something extremely warm and fuzzy inside of me.

Every time I throw trash away at my parent's house I think about that day.  The broken trash can was evidence to me of my Dad's evaluation of how I did.....much more precious to me than the blue ribbon I would have earned by the judges evaluation.

I also played softball all throughout high school.  Although he hid it well, I know leaving work early for a softball game was much more exciting to him than the cheerleading was!  There are hours of Dad-narrated slow-pitch softball games on video tape at my parent's house to prove it.

The first time I signed up for softball tryouts was purely because my friends were doing it.  I didn't tell them this, but I didn't even know what softball was....had to go home and ask my dad to find out it was a cousin to baseball.  I had grown up loving to hear the story of my Dad's triple play.....

"....It came down to the championship between our two teams.  As the game progressed we took the lead and held it going into the first half of the 7th (last) inning.  They were coming to bat and were two runs behind.  Things started to go bad for us.  They loaded the bases with no one out.  I was playing my normal position of 2nd base.  The batter hit a line drive high and to the right field side of second base.  It looked like a base hit and the base runners started for their next base.  I ran toward the ball, leapt, and speared it.  The direction I was running was toward second base.  I touched the bag for the second out.  I didn't have a play at third and my back was to first base.  Our shortstop was also running towards second.  He yelled, 'Throw me the ball!' I did and he threw it to first completing a TRIPLE PLAY.  That won the game and the championship.  None of us had ever witnessed a triple play; let alone participated in one.  Our team was jumping up and down, hugging each other and yelling.  The other team stood there stunned.  For a long time I was associated with 'the triple play.'"
-excerpt from Reflections by John M. Smith

By my sophomore year, it was obvious that my hitting needed some serious help.  Which is embarrassing to say since I just told you it was slow pitch softball.  My dad and I would walk a block down the street to the Lutheran church's diamond to practice.  He'd pitch, I'd swing.  He'd adjust my grip and I'd try again.  He'd modify my stance and I'd try again.  He'd tell me to just watch for the stitches on the ball and I would.  He pitched and pitched and pitched.  As the sun began to set we packed up and walked home.  I could tell he was deliberating by his quiet set of the mouth and I was ready to hear the next thing he thought might make my hitting better.  I didn't expect to hear this.

"Lori, you seem to have a decent glove and can handle yourself well on the field.  I think we're going to need to just focus on that.  If you're good enough out there, your team can handle your bad hitting."

Just. Like. That.  No sugar-coating, no hand-holding.  Just the bald truth, that I wasn't very good at batting.  We didn't need to cry about it or pretend.  We just needed to shift our focus and become better at the things I could grow in.  Once again, my Dad's evaluation set me free to feel good about my abilities.

Two very different stories but with the same ending.  A girl who grew up with confidence and a feeling of safety.  

I felt like I could do anything and that it was ok that I couldn't do everything.  Confident of both at the same time.  Those two things were a gift.  They're a gift every child needs.

Thanks Dad!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Following God's Call Costs Your Kids - Day 28

There are a lot of parts of being a Mom that are way harder than I thought they would be.  You can only understand so much until you're actually in the thick of it, experiencing it.  My very hardest life lessons have come connected to some part of parenting.   I know that everything I do affects those around me.  We all understand this to one degree or another and it motivates us.  We love our kids, love them more intensely than we thought could come out of us.

Elizabeth Stone said it perfectly:

There are so many times that I've done the right thing or gone the extra mile, more because I knew it was good for my kids than because it was good for me.  There's this thing that happens inside, a willingness to sacrifice for them like you would for no one else.

Here's the thing though.....sometimes my choices of obedience and sacrifice are a direct benefit to my kids....but other times my choices of obedience and sacrifice force them to join my pain without giving them a chance to say "No!"  It's one thing to chose hardship for yourself.....but, Man! choosing it for your kids is brutal!  I'll be honest.  My biggest fights with God over the paths He's asked me to walk, have come because I thought He wasn't being fair to my kids.

Here's what God has taught me, what I've had to choose to believe about Him when my emotions are screaming at me to run away:

God really is good, not just to me but to my kids.
God says this over and over about himself in his Word.  We say we believe it but we've gotta believe it enough to put our money where our mouths are.  If God really is good and loves my kids more deeply than I do, than what he's asking of me must be good for them.

The problem has to be with my view of the circumstances if I feel like I need to protect my kids from God's plan for their Mom.  It takes practice to take these moments, turn them around, and look at them from the other side....but you can learn to do it.

God's call to Scott and I to spend our lives in ministry has cost our kids a lot.  The statistics out there aren't good for pastor's kids leaving home with their own faith in God in tact.  Their parent's vocation requires them give up a chunk of their privacy, share their parents with the needs of a lot of people, and live a penny pinching lifestyle.....and not blame God for it when it feels hard.  Right from the beginning of our marriage I had a choice to make.  I could either live in fear about what would happen to our kids or trust God that he knows what he's doing and he's doing something FOR THEIR GOOD!  God's call was unmistakable and his character made it unlikely that he was telling us to blindly throw our kids to the wolves for the sake of that call.  So I decided to believe that the good outweighs the bad and made it my job to sound the trumpet when I see those things.

Why did you get to go on this overseas missions trip as an 11 year old?  Pastor's Kid!

Why does that famous speaker know your name and ask you about your soccer season?  Because your dad, the pastor, picked him up from the airport with you in the back seat!

Why do you often see your dad in your high school cafeteria?  It's part of his job!!!

Sometimes, it just takes a little work to see the things that are already happening and are true....the perks that you forgot.  When you look at those, your fight or flight reflex calms down and it makes it easier to trust.  But let me tell you this, sweet Mommas, there are going to be other times when God asks you to do something that will require a harder "Yes."  Sometimes, the only results we'll be able to see of our obedience is pain and loss in our kids lives.

You can still trust him in that "Yes."  You can know that he is doing things you can't understand or see.  You know that pain is not the enemy, sometimes it's the most powerful agent of growth.  You have to be willing to get out of the way of what God is doing, even though you don't understand it, and even though you know it's going to hurt, and even though you don't know how it's going to end.

We need to decide that if God asked our kids to die as martyrs we could step out of the way and let it happen.  We could say "Yes" to that.  It's not melodramatic to say that.  It's right.  Your kids are not your own, they are God's.  You are God's.  He deserves our obedience and trust even when it's hard.

Choose to fear the right things.
Our family size another thing that God and I had to wrestle through.  Adding a large family with a stay-at-home mom to a ministry budget doesn't seem smart.  But each time a new member was added to our family, God mercifully made his call very clear.

The "what-if's" and "How will this happen's" grow loud and can easily drown out the confidence that God had a plan in place before he issued the call to our hearts.  It's not always apparent that it's for our good....all of us.

As my boys entered high school I became increasingly fearful about their college bills.  Before, we always had the future to catch up and get the savings account funded before they graduated.  But my plan kept getting put on hold for God's plan and I found myself completely adrift in a sea of fear.  I cried a lot about it.  I cried to God....and I cried to them.

Looking back, I'm really not sure if this was a good parenting moment, but it ended up giving me one of the best kid moments I've ever experienced.  I talked with the boys a lot....warning them that the decision we were about to make as a family would make it certain that they would be on their own to pay for college.  I was freaking out about it and the fact that they weren't made me even more afraid.  I was certain their calm meant that they were clueless little babes walking into a hornet's nest they didn't see coming.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  They took turns telling me that they were convinced that this was right for our family, even if it would cost them.  With nodding heads, and level voices they told me,

"Mom, if you're going to get something wrong or leave something out....make sure it's not the eternal things.  If you screw up our college accounts, the worst that can happen is that we have to find another way to pay for it.  The stakes are a lot higher if you screw up by not following God's call with our family. Be more afraid of that."

My sons are wise, listen to them.  

All my fears have come true.  They are both in college struggling to pay massive bills that I can't help them with.  Just about every day I have to decide, again, to trust God with this, and with them.  Giving God's call in my life a "Yes" was the best way to parent them....even when it's hard.  Whatever he's doing is right, and it's for their good. 

Your obedience forces them to make their own decision.
When you say "yes" to God, it's going to put your kids in a spot where they have to make their own decision to trust him, or to live in fear.  This is good for them.  This gives them a faith that will walk out of your house with them someday.

Sometimes they will give into the feelings that it's not fair....that not having a say and just getting swept up in your obedience to God really stinks.  They're gonna screw it up sometimes.  Mine did.  I do.  But God still gives us a choice......every. single. time.  Our obedience to him is never forced.

Other times, you are going to get a window into your kids' soul that will take your breath away.  They are going to choose to sweetly surrender to your authority in their lives as clear direction straight from God.  They are going to display a trust in him that puts you to shame.  Then you will cry the tears that matter....tears, not of fearing what your obedience to God might cost your kid, but fearing that you could have missed this!

We have to learn to fear missing the miracles we can't see coming more than we fear the "what if's" we can see.

God IS going to ask things of you that cost your kids....and makes their lives harder.  These moments are going to put your heart through the fire and purify it.  You need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that saying "Yes" to God, really is what's best for your kids.  

Take courage, Mommas.  Your heart may pound, you'll cry bucket-loads of tears.  But say "Yes."  Don't let fear sit down in your living room and pull up a footstool.  Keep your eyes on the most important legacy you can give your kids, a Momma who says "Yes" to God, and fear missing out on that. 

Say "Yes" to God.

No. Matter. What.

You can trust him with your kids.

You really go live like it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lessons Your Kids Need to be Able to Live Outside the Bubble - Day 27

The real world is harsh.  There are people in it who don't care who you are or how you feel.  There are black and white rules about cause and effect that apply to you no matter how much you cry or call foul.  Responsibility and achievement are hard work, for everyone.

I'm worried that the parenting pendulum has swung a little too far into a child-centered magical bubble philosophy.  We think that it's possible to create a bubble around our children durable enough to protect them from hard knocks and bad feelings.  In an effort to avoid pain, we're setting our kids up for some serious pain when they leave our homes.   It takes concentrated thought and planning from parents these days to launch their kids into "The Real World" without the backlash of the bubble burst leaving them with serious welts.

Now let me also say that I am for protecting childhood, stardust and fairy's, daydreams and long summer days.  I want to be serious about sending my kids off into adult-land with some great memories and stories to tell their kids about "the good old days."  But I'm just as concerned about sending them off strong and capable, not duped into thinking that the life they're dreaming of will be handed to them without any pain.

Happy but not handicapped.

That's our challenge as parents....and it's one you're going to constantly wrestle with as you raise your and your husband, talking, praying, trying to figure out what each kid needs most right now.....and then being tough enough to do what's best rather than what's sparkly.

Let me suggest some lessons you need to make sure you intertwine along the way....

How to do Hard Work, otherwise know as, There Ain't No Money Tree  

Our kids can't leave our homes without knowing what hard work feels like.  They need to know that they will survive and that they can accomplish things.  If they are old enough to walk they are old enough to help and have jobs.  Preschoolers can help carry groceries in, they can wipe down the table, little hands are big enough to do a lot of stuff if you're willing for the jobs to take twice as long.
Stand back and let them work....and let their brains work too.  If they come to you with the arms of their jackets inside out and ask for help, the best help you can give is encouragement, clues and time. It's good for their brains to puzzle it out.  Teach them how to work by letting them.

If everything is handed to them now, they'll expect it to be handed to them later.  Entitlement isn't pretty on a toddler, but it's a whole different kind of ugly on an adult.

Responsibility buys Freedom, otherwise known as, If You're Living in you Parent's Basement You're Not Grown Up

Responsibility and freedom are fused at the hip.  This is just a fact of adult life.  Every bit of responsibility shouldered brings with it a corresponding amount of freedom.  The responsibility of paying your own bills gives you the freedom of living in your own place, with your own rules.  The responsibility of putting gas in your car regularly brings you the freedom to go places.

This combo needs to trickle down into our parenting.  The preschooler who picks up her toys has the freedom to play with them more often.  The child who saves his money has the freedom to impulse buy a candy bar at the checkout lane.  Your daughter who walks close to the cart with a smile gets to chose to not be strapped into the cart like a baby.  Kids who replace the borrowed shirt they stain will have the freedom to be trusted to borrow again.  Middle schoolers who start doing their own laundry get to stay up later.  Teenagers who get good grades can enjoy the freedom of doing their homework in front of the tv.  Teenagers who  meet mom where and when they said they would have the freedom to go places.

See how that works?  Our kids need to too.

Dealing with Injustice, otherwise known as, Sometimes the Refs are Gonna Miss the Call and You've Gotta Deal

We've gotta stop fixing things for our kids.  Life is not fair.  Bad, undeserved things will happen to them.  How our kids parents handle these moments in their lives is a profound compass for our kids.

Now I'm not saying that there aren't times to stand up for our kids.  To protect them.  Respectfully get their needs met.  Our kids need to know that no matter what, Mom and Dad are for them.

What I'm saying is that the kids who's parents fuss and manipulate, see an offense around every corner and pull whatever strings they find in their hands teach their kids something powerful.  That child learns that we need to be people who fight for our rights.  We deserve something and we'll do whatever it takes to get it.  We think about ourselves more than we think about what's happening around us.  Our needs are paramount.

Or, we can teach our kids to turn the other cheek, gracefully.  We can teach them that other people deserve grace when they make mistakes, even refs.  We can encourage them to work hard enough to take the power out of the injustice, to rise above.  We can hold them, cry with them and then teach them to pray for the very ones causing our child harm.

The most beautiful thing allowing injustice to remain does in our child's life is to give them confidence in God.  Our children can't build confidence in God to take care of their impossibilities, if Mom and Dad always get there first.  Step out of the way....and let your kid need God.

Attitude Matters, other wise known as, Yes Ma'am, Yes Sir is a Magic Edge

It's really quite sad to see how much a simple "Yes Ma'am" can make a child stand out from his peers.  But it's true.  I got more than one email from high school teachers thanking me for the respectful sons I had sent their way.  The emails started praising their politeness and respect but always continued to describe many other abilities they saw glowing in my sons.

Being a respectful person gets you noticed.  The positive glow respect causes seeps into the way people see your kids in other areas of their lives they give respect, they become worthy of respect.

No child is too little to begin learning this.  Teach your preschoolers how to give a good handshake.  Expect your kids to look adults in the eye and introduce themselves loud enough to be heard.  Demand that a real-life conversation trump a text notification for your teens.

A respectful child demonstrates knowledge that they aren't the center of the universe and produces respectful adults who know how to make other people feel valuable.  This is like giving your child a pouch of magic fairy dust to take into their adult life.  Don't neglect training it.

Your kids' childhood is such a short time.  Do whatever you can to make it magical...there should be unicorns and rainbows in abundance.

Your kids' adulthood is going to be long.  Make sure you've done the front-end work to help them succeed...and be able to do it with a smile on their face.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hormonal - Day 26

There are times when I feel like the whole world has been doused in hot sauce.  Everything looks red.  Doesn't matter what the situation, I'm gritting my teeth and mad.  There are other days when blue is the color of life.  I'm sad, sad, sad.  Nothing feels right and I can't shake the feeling that I just need to go to bed and start over tomorrow.

These days can creep up with a general feeling of unease every four weeks or so.  Other times they rage in unexpected as you're holding a precious newborn.  Remember my freak-out with baby Trevor in my arms?  I had another full blown "moment" as I rocked twin baby girls.  Tears then, defied reason.  Miscarriages, a cancer scare and then early pregnancy trouble had been the path we had just walked.  Here I was, holding two dreams come true dressed in pink.....with tears streaming down my face.  Why??  Because I wasn't pregnant anymore!  I wouldn't feel these babies kicking in my belly ever again!  They were born and they were beautiful!  No reason and every reason for me to be sobbing like a baby.

Momma said there'd be days like this and she was right!  It's called hormomes, girls!  Every now and then your body puts you on drugs and your world goes a little bit off kilter.  It's ok.  It's temporary.  And there are some simple strategies you can learn to manage these feelings more than they manage you.

*Know Thyself
 It's not weird to have a monthly entry on your calendar called "Period!" and another called "Period?"  (Although you might want to think twice about putting it on your family calendar that you publish for everyone, including your teenage boys....that can be a little awkward!)  You do need to learn the rhythms of your body and figure out what "normal" looks like for you.

The ability to predict is the name of the game here.  If you know that your cycle averages 28-30 days and that for about a week before you turn a little bit into Eeyore, you don't ever have to be surprised by it! If you've told yourself to expect a mood dip next week, you won't stop the feelings, but you wills stop the irrational thought that you're turning into a maniac and need to go live in the woods alone.  You'll take the power out of the feelings.  And shut down the crazy.  Take a page from the Boy Scout book and be prepared!

*Take Care of Yourself
 Vitamins, naps, chocolate, & friends are what you need during these periods of your life...(pun intended!)    Vitamins and naps because they are good for you.  Chances are you're not eating as healthy as you should every now and then and a good multi-vitamin with iron will fill in those blanks.  Nothing runs good on empty, including your body.  And I think you all know by now why it's spiritual to take a nap. I really need to explain that one?  A well timed indulgence should be one of your highly honed skills.

The most important way to take care of yourself when your hormones go crazy?  Friends, good girlfriends.  You need to be spending time with a sister who will nod her head while murmuring affirmation and then turn around and stick her finger in your face and tell you to straighten up!  Girlfriends are the canary in your emotional mine....your life preserver.  If you let them see the real you, they will tell you when to worry, when your feelings step over the line of temporary and normal.  And they will drive you to the doctor and hold your hand while you explain.  You need other women to feel normal when you are and be able to see it when you're not.

*Don't Give Yourself a Free Pass but Do Give Yourself a Break
A reason is not an excuse.  Knowing why you feel emotional doesn't make it ok for those emotions to be in charge.  You know this.  You teach it to your children.  No matter why you do something wrong, or how understandable it are responsible for the words that come out of your mouth, the attitudes of your body language and the look on your face.  What you say and do when you feel like crap is on you.  Own it.  Apologize.  And make it a good apology.  One that ends right after "I'm sorry" with no explanations about how bad you were feeling attached.

But goodness sakes, give yourself a break!   When you can possibly afford it, take one day a month to let yourself give-in to down time.  The world will keep spinning if you don't get anything done for one day and baby yourself.  The world will keep spinning if you take more than two days after giving birth to expect yourself the enter the regular world again.  Slow down and just be!  There are days when "being" is hard and it's ok to go slow.....those days are why Little Cesar's and couches were invented.

*Love being a WOMAN!!!
I can't tell you how many times I rolled my teenage eyes at my Mom's response to my complaints about "woman problems."  You could always count on her answer.  Every time.  If you talk to her about this today, I know what she'll say....and now I'm old enough and experienced enough to have traded my eye rolling for head nodding and agreement.

My Mom will get a look of rapture on her face and say, "But isn't it worth it??  Think about what those hormones make it possible for your body to do.  They turn you into God's tool for making new life.  Your body can hold a baby while God knits it together.  Your body can feed it when it's born!  It's amazing so amazing....and feeling emotional sometimes is totally worth what those hormones accomplish...they're magical!"  Faced with the option of a trade, I'm quite sure every one of you would welcome the emotional crazy as a small price to pay for the miraculous potential.

Besides babies, another thing great about the more emotional side of woman-hood is this:  Emotions are one of the key conduits for intuition and that gut feeling you're glad you heeded when you suddenly felt like something wasn't quite right in the quiet house and went to check on the children downstairs.  You know that feeling, and it serves you well.  "Spidey-sense" mom-style is another perk I don't want to trade.

It's time to turn this thing around.  You aren't your feelings but they are a valuable part of you.  You can handle your emotions and be the one in charge.  You know where they come from and why.   Let's teach our daughters to welcome and celebrate the fact that women feel things...and feel them deeply.  Let's not be afraid to walk through a little pain for a worthy goal.  Wave your banner high, fall in love with the things that make being a woman great.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I Wish That I Could Be Like the Cool Moms - Day 25

If you're stuck in preschool land you may not have listened to anything more current than "The Wheels on the Bus" lately, but if you also have teenagers you've probably found yourself humming about wishing you could be like the cool kids courtesy of Echosmith.  Radio stations are giving it lots of play time because everyone remembers that feeling from their school days.....and adults might even secretly admit to themselves that they still feel it....especially Moms.....especially near the days of the Halloween pressure-cooker.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the lyics of the beginning of the song....

She sees them walking in a straight line, that's not really her style.
And they all got the same heartbeat, but hers is falling behind.
Nothing in this world could ever bring them down.
Yeah, they're invincible, and she's just in the background.
And she says,

"I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.
I wish that I could be like the cool kids, like the cool kids."

Us grownup mom's like to think we've grown out of that peer pressure thing.... But we know we haven't.  To our chagrin, what other people think, particularly our kids and other mom's, has a lot of sway on our emotions and our evaluation of what kind of mom we are.

Let me talk to you about that while the "Costuming your Kid" thing is still fresh in your memory.

Can I loudly remind you, on this day after Halloween...

Comparison is the thief of joy!

Some Moms thrive on all things craft and DIY....for some it's their hobby.....more about them than about the kids.  Some Moms don't.

Some Moms' favorite thing about Halloween for their kids is having a ready made reason to put on some cute boots, grab a mug of something hot, and take a long walk with your husband and friends behind your costume-clad kids.  It's an undercover date night.

Still other Moms shine most after the trick-or-treating is done and their analytics can come out.  Sorting, counting and comparing the contents of this year's haul with last years can make you a hero to your left-brained child.....ever heard of a Halloween candy Excel spreadsheet?

If you're Spreadsheet Mom, STOP comparing yourself with DIY costume Mom!!!

It's time we took back the definition of cool.  

Cool is the attitude that comes with figuring out who you are and being it with gusto!

God made you a certain way because you're what the world needs... YOU are what YOUR world needs.  Don't rob your people of the custom-made Mom God gave them by comparing yourself to the "Cool Moms."  You are cool, just be it without apology and unabashed.  That is what will bring your kids the most good being you.

Just look over at your kid right now.....surrounded by candy wrappers in their pajamas, licking chocolate off their fingers while you're busy at the computer.....


And their happiness is much simpler than Pineterst makes it out to be.  They're not stressing out about the costume you didn't make....a little free candy, and a Mom who's happy being who she's enough and it's a beautiful thing.

Stop wishing, and just be the cool Mom you already are.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner