Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Senator Cruz and the Sanctity of Life

The Sanctity of Life
It's the most important issue. I have great respect for Ted Cruz and especially for his stance on life.
This is an excellent video that my sweet friend, Amelia, shared on her blog, and I think it's important to pass it on!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Six Parenting Tips For Teens

Preparing Your Teen For Life

When we first welcome our babies into our arms, we automatically begin teaching them about life as we kiss them, talk to them, snuggle them, and find everything they do amazing.  We teach our kids to talk, walk, be kind, share their toys, clean up their messes, eat, comb their hair, brush their teeth, get dressed, ride a bike, watch out for traffic, read, and a plethora of other important life skills. We execute hundreds of directives throughout each day as we guide our kids through infancy and early childhood. In fact, the “director’s hat” becomes such a commonplace accessory to our role as mothers, that when it’s time to don a different one, we struggle to find one that fits right. We find it hard to set aside such a comfortable fit. It’s been broken in over the years. It is our security, our friend, our link to control. If we replace it, how will our family recognize us?  Will they take us seriously if we suddenly switch styles? How will our kids do without us pointing the way, reminding them of their responsibilities? Will they manage to step up to the plate?
Imagine your relationship with your child as a road trip. You’re cruising along relating to your offspring in the same way you always have. The car is in drive, and you are navigating all of the familiar routes you’ve always taken, when suddenly your kiddo reaches over and thrusts the car into reverse, sending you into a tailspin that you have no idea how to get out of. This seems so sudden and unexpected, but it’s really not. God created our children to separate from their parents at some point, so they can launch into the mission He planned for them when they were created.  The child that needed to be directed through each detail of life, has been prepared and it’s time now for him to take responsibility for his own responsibilities. How do you gracefully switch hats?  What are you supposed to do now?  How do you relate to this sometimes volatile form of the child you thought you knew so well?  What does your child need from you?  What is your new mission as the parent of child who is quickly nearing the launching pad into adult life? How do you let go while remaining engaged?

It’s a tough transition, and can be confusing for both the child and the parent. Although I have experienced raising teens five times now, it’s still easy to wear the director’s hat when it’s completely inappropriate.  Two of our kids have been out of the nest for over ten years. I didn’t handle the transition well at all with our oldest child. It caught me by surprise and I couldn’t get out of the tailspin. As a result, God taught me some important lessons. I still mess up with my teens. I still forget some of these lessons from time to time.  It’s been a three step forward/two step back, process for me, but these are some of the valuable lessons I’ve gleaned along the way.
1.      Let your child fail sometimes. 
If you remind them of their responsibilities too often, you can actually rob them of profitable lessons they could have learned the first time they were challenged in this area. For example:  After being strictly home schooled their entire lives, our kids enrolled in a Christian school this year that meets two days a week.  Most of their classes are taken at the school, but we have to fill in with a couple of subjects at home.  In our first parent/teacher meeting, they were given instructions about keeping track of their hours for these classes, and we purchased a planner for each of them for this purpose.  I constantly reminded them to fill out their planners.  I constantly reminded them that they needed to do their home classes and account for the time.  I was a wreck when we had the first parent/teacher conference because I knew they had failed to embrace these important responsibilities and it would go on their report cards/transcripts.  Sure enough, it was a train wreck at that first meeting.  After that, I planted my “director’s hat” more firmly on my head and pounced on them constantly.  This was completely ineffective. This has been the most challenging and stretching year for my kids. I can certainly empathize with them because they are under a ton of pressure with their classes at school, and found it difficult to wrap their heads around the importance of record keeping and completing deadlines for their classes at home.  I was frustrated, and stressed out in a completely unhealthy way. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went way up.  Suddenly I realized that in an effort to protect them from possible long term consequences, I was taking responsibility for something that wasn’t mine to own.  I was trying to play interference for them so they wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of their choices, and instead, I was sinning against them in the process by my condemning attitude and constant nagging When I did some soul searching, I was able to pinpoint where this was coming from. Fear. Fear for their futures, rather than trust in God for the outcome.

      Proverbs 3:5-7 says:
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
And James 1:5-6 says:
 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
So I went to the Lord seeking wisdom, and then I called my friend, Durenda.  Sometimes we need the perspective of another mom who isn’t in our exact scenario.  Sometimes God uses the freshness of an objective source to provide us with wise counsel, and Durenda is another seasoned mom, who over the years, has spoken into my life and God has allowed me to speak into hers.  We need friends like this who love God, who are in God’s Word and know it well, and who measure everything by the Bible as their standard.
After talking and praying with her, God provided the perfect plan.  It’s simple.
Don’t run interference for your kids. 
Trust them to the Lord. Pray for them.  Encourage them. Counsel them as God leads, and let them experience rewards and consequences for their own choices. So, I backed off and left it up to the kids, praying for them and trusting God for the outcome. At the next meeting, the kids answered to their lead teacher and it was a tough consequence, but an effective one.  They had to do a lot of back tracking to fill in their planners, and they had to knock out some history assignments and tests quickly in order to be where they should have been at that point.  It was stressful. It was painful. It was difficult for me to watch, and at that point, it was also important for me to refrain from saying “I told you so.” Underneath my fear was a deep sense of compassion for them. I knew they were under heavy loads, and yet I was adding to those loads by my constant nagging, rather than bringing them the relief I desired. Since that meeting each of them is taking full responsibility for their home classes and record keeping. Taking a hands off approach is something parents of teens need to do more frequently as they are becoming less dependent on us, and learning to navigate life more independently.


2. Pray for them
Pray for them and take every opportunity for discipleship. Come alongside them, and be available without nagging. Take time to listen, ask questions, show an interest in what they are interested in, and provide opportunities for life experience while they are still under your protection and guidance.  Pray with them, take them to the scriptures, always pointing them back to God and His Word.
      3.Take Swift Action
When discipline is necessary, ask questions to help them search their own hearts and draw their own conclusions.  Use few words, listen a lot, and provide consistent, appropriate consequences when necessary.  I am very verbal and I can tell when my family’s eyes glaze over, that they are no longer hearing my barrage of words. They’re just waiting for me to be quiet so life can move on, and they can go back to the status quo. It’s a tough one to apply, but it’s important to simply take action in love, without a ton of explanation.
4. Enjoy them
Remember they are amazing and created in His image. Watch them. Admire them. Listen to them and enjoy their sense of humor, stories, antics, and their talents. There is nothing more amazing than watching your children as they emerge from childhood into teens with amazing talents and insight. Sometimes the wisdom they share astounds me, and reminds me that God is definitely at work in their hearts and lives.  Be sure you express the beautiful things you see in them and let them know they are loved and cherished.




5. Allow them to ask the tough questions
When your kids question your beliefs, or your opinions it’s easy to feel threatened and respond with a knee jerk reaction, but be prepared ahead of time that it WILL happen and remember that this is a very healthy thing, as long as they are respectful and honoring in their attitudes.  If they question you, remember they will question others, as well and that’s a positive and necessary skill. You can help them learn critical thinking skills if you don’t take this personally, and you can assist them in developing discernment if you handle this objectively, and prayerfully. If you don’t know how to deal with their questions in the moment, tell them they have asked a good question that you can’t answer right now, but that you will get back to them as soon as you have had a chance to think it through. Encourage them by communicating how wonderful it is that they are thinking for themselves, and questioning things.
6. Trust them to God
As moms we tend to worry about our kids, but it’s important to remember that God is sovereign over their lives and he created them for a purpose.  They will not die one day sooner than they are supposed to, and no amount of worry will change that.  “I have suffered many things in my life time, most of which never happened.”  I forget where I heard this quote, but it has stuck with me.
John 14:27 says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wonder Woman Just Hit a Wall

I hit a wall a couple of days ago. Apparently I should pay better attention to where I'm going and the speed at which I'm flying.  I didn't even see the wall until BAM! 
I'm still trying to get back up.
I'm sure you  are familiar with the wall of exhaustion. I am all too familiar with it, but sometimes I forget to use caution.  It can creep up on you with very little warning. You're cruising along doing life. You add in a few extra activities out of necessity, and a few more just for fun.  The next thing you know, you are too tired to make a simple decision about dinner, and the water works have been opened up and won't stop gushing. That's where I found myself this weekend.  The sad truth is that I should know better.  I know the warning signals but I missed them....again.

As moms, we are on call from sun up to sunset.  I've been doing this gig called motherhood for over thirty years, and it's the best career I could have chosen. I LOVE my job! I enjoy my family. I'm grateful that God chose me to be his wife and their mom.  I love being a nama. I love that I have all those gorgeous grandbabies to love and hug on.  I want to do the myriad of activities that are heaped on my plate. I love working up at the school my kids attend two days a week.  I love directing the junior high/high school choir there. I love helping out in the choir my younger boys are involved in.  I love attending church on Wednesday night as a family. I love Gleaners.  I love all of the activities surrounding our home and our kids. I love helping our kids stay on top of their school work, overseeing their piano lessons, taking them to a plethora of activities, and helping them sort out "life." I love spending time with my husband, cooking for him, cleaning for our family, and doing things we enjoy together. I love having our grandblessings over. I love visiting them, and taking one or two of them overnight periodically. I love singing on worship teams and photography, and cooking, and writing, and the Titus Two ministry through out church. I love exercising. I love hospitality. I love people.
Sometimes I think I'm Wonder Woman and can do it all, all the time.....and then reality hits and I found out that yes, people wonder about "that woman," 
So, this week-end life came skidding to a screeching halt. By the time Thursday came to an end, I was fried, as in "put a fork in me I am done" kind of fried.  I couldn't think. I couldn't function. I couldn't even decide what to make for meals although I had carefully created menus and loaded up the refrigerator and freezer with a variety of fresh produce and stocked the cupboards with plenty of ingredients for healthy, delicious meals the day before. Yes, I was that far gone.
Something beautiful happened on Friday. I asked for strength and God provided supernatural fuel for my tank that allowed me to care for my youngest son who had developed a fever and a headache,make it through chores, home schooling, laundry, and driving two of my teens down to take their drivers permit tests. When we arrived home, my knight in shining armor swooped in and whisked me away at exactly 5:15 p.m. He took me to a quaint little town about a half hour away where we held hands, walked along the street, enjoyed some window shopping in the sweet little shops the town is famous for, and after gaining a little momentum from the fresh air and exercise, he guided me back down the street to a sweet little restaurant on the water. Candle light, fresh King Salmon, hot coffee, beautifully prepared vegetables, and time alone with my man. This was the first shot in the arm the Lord provided to help pull me up out of my state of exhaustion. God knew I needed to be pampered and cherished and he prompted my hubby to take care of me in a sweet, wonderful, way.
The next morning, I woke up crying. When I am over tired my body's physical reaction manifests itself in tears. It's so embarrassing. Especially when you have agreed to be the "Titus Two" mom at the table for the lady's breakfast at your church. If that wasn't the case, I probably would have skipped the breakfast and stayed home to rest, but I showered and got myself out the door and to the church, fully dressed, hair done, accessorized with tears and all and I'm so glad I did because God showed up at that breakfast. He met me right there with a cup full of refreshment through the message, worship, and fellowship with other moms and grandmas of all ages. And the best part?  I wasn't the only one with water works going on. That place was flooded! There were eighty women there and we laughed, we cried, we shared, and we listened to God's plan and mission for women as He has mapped out for us in the book of Titus, in chapter two.  Our pastor courageously shared an excellent, balanced, beautiful, encouraging message from Titus Two, to a room packed with women, and a beautiful sister in Christ shared her testimony. It's incredible how you can be so physically wiped out, and somehow find energy to enjoy and even bask in a room full of women, although you thought that what you needed was to simply be alone to rest. Sometimes God uses quiet and sleep to refuel us, but sometimes the fuel He adds to our depleted tanks is something even more powerful.
Sisters, we need each other. We need to encourage, uplift, counsel, listen, and share our gifts, time, and talents with one another. I am so grateful for all of my sisters in Christ. God used them mightily to fill a very, empty, tank. Later on that day, after a much needed nap, my husband and I attended a surprise birthday party for a dear friend. More of my sweet sisters and my second oldest daughter, son-in-law, and our youngest grandson were there as well. We laughed more, we shared memories, we cried some, ate a delicious dinner, and I got to snuggle with my sweet little grandson. Physically, I am still catching up, but God knew the perfect fuel to soothe my soul was fellowship and relaxation with my sisters and my husband. Today has been a beautiful day of rest at home with my family.
We live in these bodies that limit us. God doesn't allow us the capability to do more than He has planned for us. It's important to take the time to ask God for direction each day, and to remember that He created us to need rest, fellowship, healthy food, spiritual food, exercise, and relationship. He created us to serve others as well, but it's easy to drive ourselves too hard without even realizing we are doing it.  Take time to rest. Take time to pray, mediate on scripture, and to share and care with your husband and other women. We fuel the tanks of our children daily, all day long.  It's okay and necessary to make sure you are stopping to gas up on some good fuel for your own tank as well. God created  you to need it!
Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Matthew 11:28-29 “…Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spring Time In February and Friendship

It was a beautiful, spring like day in our area, and after spending the morning cleaning, organizing, doing laundry, and helping the kids with school work, I headed out the door to enjoy coffee and a good chat with a friend. In the process, we managed to select some skits to do with some of the kids at school who are interested in drama.  On the way home, I met up with another friend, Kyla, to enjoy an afternoon walk in the gorgeous sunshine near our home. It was so beautiful and warm out, and very refreshing to be out enjoying the lovely day with a sweet friend.
Over the past few years life has been so full and busy, that I didn't even realize I had stopped nurturing many of my friendships. Recently it's been truly a blessing, to connect with some old friends, as well as a few new friends and enjoy sweet fellowship. Last night we had a great time with some other fun friends and were blessed by their generous hospitality and a great crew to watch the Super Bowl with.
Kyla and I both brought our cameras and periodically we paused to capture the beauty surrounding us. She is that friend, who totally shares my love for photography, and we have discovered how much we think alike on this subject. She stops as often as I do to celebrate the beauty of creation through the lens of her camera, and this makes walking with her especially fun! Between great conversation and shooting great targets, it was very refreshing.

“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


As busy moms, it's so easy to get caught up in our responsibilities, and forget to take time to refresh and refuel.  It's important to nurture friendships and get out of our work environment, and just "be." After an afternoon hanging out with friends, laughing, sharing stories, getting some exercise and fresh air, and enjoying photography, I came home feeling so rested!


“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
Helen Keller

The old buildings on our favorite walking trail, are amazing with so much beautiful, old architecture, and rich history.







We live in such a lovely area with gorgeous mountains, hills, and lush greenery. Today's blue sky and sunshine illuminated the stunning beauty of this valley.











Kyla....isn't she lovely?

This old barn is just so beautiful and interesting.