Expert’s guide to parenting.

Just kidding. I’m not an expert at anything. Not even remotely!

One of my biggest fears is that I will do/say/be something that will scar my kids for life or cause them to have a negative view of their childhood. I imagine what my children will say about us some day when they sit with friends, reminisce about their childhood, and reflect on the way their parents parented (<—it’s a word if I say it is). I hope they won’t be sitting around telling stories about us in group therapy and I pray only for the good to stand out in their minds, and for the bad to be diminished somehow. I’m sure Jonathan will come up smelling like a rose somehow-he’s always the hero! Maybe I should just shoot for them liking me when they get to be adults.

Today, as River got into the car, I asked him to start learning his Bible verse for next week. Me: River, let’s go ahead and start repeating your verse every day, and by next Wednesday you will know it.                                                                                                   River: Fine, but we aren’t really gonna do it because you will forget. You always forget.

True story. TRUE story, but ouch!  If it’s one things my kids can depend on, it’s that I will forget. It’s the way I’m made! Some call it free-spirited, others call it flaky, and even fun, but my mind wanders and I can’t make it be still and it doesn’t behave and do decent things like remember friends’ birthdays and my kids’ schedules. I have a calendar (okay, fine it’s blank), but I have a trail of sticky notes-a lot of them, and I set alarms and reminders on my phone. But when they go off, sometimes I look down and read them, and sometimes I scratch my head and wonder why I have an alarm going off, as I hurriedly turn it off. If I ever get alzheimer’s, no one will even notice until I get to the point of incontinence.

If forgetting was the only negative thing about me, I’d be in good shape, but it’s not. On top of not being super memory mom, I’ve got many other short comings, too many to list here and it would sound like a sob story anyway. To the point. I’ll never be enough. Jesus is enough and at least I can point to him.That should be what they remember about me. Lord please let that be what they remember about me.

I’ve decided (and I’m not an expert so take this lightly) that the best way to not scar my kids for life is to pray, pray, pray, make the good times really, really good, try to overlook the small stuff, even some of the big stuff, stop nagging and focus on having a relationship with them. I want them to remember that I love them so much, not that I cringed when they ate junk food. I want them to remember me being their biggest cheerleader not the critical comments I thought were helping them be better.

I guess I won’t know if this recipe works until my kids are older, and not members of a group therapy for people with crappy parents. I’ll let you know.

I started writing this in 2015. 2015 y’all and now it’s 2018. Procrastination isn’t even the word.

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Just as easy

It’s just as easy to see the good in people, as the bad. The more I practice this, the easier it gets. When I am tested in this and struggle to find a single kind, and truthful thing to say, I pray The Lord shows me one good thing. Even if I hardly believe it myself, pointing out the good in another person, instead of the negative, doesn’t help them, it helps me. It gets easier with practice.

When I stop allowing negative comments to come out of my mouth, I’m a happier person.

When I repay evil with kindness, I am at peace with myself.

When someone acts in a manner that is hateful, and I do not respond, they get to look bad all by themselves. This one is totally new to me, since I have previously loved a good exchange of witty comebacks.

When I compliment others and say/do things to encourage them, I feel encouraged.

The older i get, the more I realize, how numbered my days are. If I sacrifice on this earth, and worry less about my well-being, it will matter for eternity.

If I feed an earthly desire, even an “acceptable” one, it gets bigger…always…every time. It’s insane to perpetuate a deadly cycle.

When I’m busy with work, school and children, I’m very content. Hard work brings focus to my life and joy.

When I write, and don’t share my blog posts, I’m just as happy as when I share.

She’s just jealous

If you’re a woman, or a girl, chances are, you’ve heard this phrase quoted to you a thousand times.  “Oh honey…they’re just jealous” your sweet, well-meaning mother responds to every single issue you have with a friend in life. This must be the number one answer, given by all mothers, to their daughters every time their daughter is left out, slighted, done wrong, whatever. I even tell my best friends this phrase when I’m not sure what else to say. I  hear my sweet Sunday School girls console one another with these same words.  It gets quoted so often, I don’t even think it even has meaning anymore. It’s more like a convenient excuse or reason for why people don’t behave as nicely as they should. Okay, here’s a newsflash for you…maybe they aren’t jealous, maybe they just don’t like you. Maybe YOU came across as annoying or rude. Maybe you misinterpreted their actions. Maybe they misinterpreted your actions. Maybe you need to wrap your sweet, innocent mind around the fact that everyone in this life isn’t going to like you. Sometimes, they may not even fully know the reason, but they just don’t enjoy your company. It’s okay. Cry it out, get over it and move on. There are billions of people on this planet. Chances are, everyone that doesn’t like you, isn’t actual jealous of you. Chances are, there are millions of other people who will like you.  The other day, I was listening to the problems of one of my children and in an effort to console and make her feel better, the words “they’re just jealous” plowed through my lips, almost without permission. It was like I was saying “hey, how are you” to a passing stranger. It’s a bad habit, and it’s something I want to stop. What kind of children am I raising if they grow up to think that everyone they have a problem with, has a jealousy problem of their own? What about taking ownership or thinking about what part they may have played in whatever altercation went down?

The verse that comes to mind is so simple. It reminds me of how I should focus my thoughts. I know, I know…another overused “life verse” coming your way, but read it. Read it in several different versions, envision what your life would look like if you followed this advice. Philippians 4:8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. What if I quoted this and applied it’s meaning each time I head a rant about girl problems. It would be time consuming, far less lazy than “they’re just jealous” and probably give me a headache since I’m really not smart enough to come up with appropriate life application for every scenario. Still.

In other words, I shouldn’t teach my kids to focus on the problem, be it real or imagined, but on the solution, which is changing the way they view the problem and the way they react to others. If I thought like this every day, I would probably be the happiest person alive, and I also wouldn’t be writing this blog, but I am, so…whatever. Happy Sunday!

A recipe for the wise.

Recently, we were invited to a Halloween party with friends, where we signed up to bring chili. I love to cook and I was so excited about making the first pot of chili of the season!  I seldom go exactly by the recipe. Kind of like rules, I think recipes are great “suggestions” on how to cook, but by all means, I add a little more of this, a little less of that, and make it my own. This method of cooking has always worked out so well for me! Okay, it drives my rule following husband and children insane, but I think it’s great. 🙂

When we got to the party, people started to digging into the chili I made. I had a crock pot full and I was so excited to watch people enjoy the culinary masterpiece (haha) I had worked so hard on perfecting. I started noticing the sweat rolling down the faces of grown men, the red faces and fanning of the tongues hanging out of a few open mouths. Oops. I love spicy food, but I didn’t think it was really that spicy? I walked over and tasted it. Nope. It’s perfect! Finally someone spoke up and said, “this chili is good, but man it’s got some kick to it!” For the first time in my life (I’m a late bloomer) I realized, that the way I like things, may not be the way everyone else likes things. Simple concept, yes. Better late than never, I suppose.

I started thinking about the way we see things through our own eyes. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it’s the way to death”. Proverbs 14:12. According to the world, life is open to interpretation. The world encourages us to follow our hearts and do what we want, in order to be happy. This is a recipe for disaster! Yes, I know that sounds cheesy. God’s Word shows us exactly how to conduct our lives. It shows us the steps to take, when to speak up, when to shut up, who to surround ourselves with, and who to look to for advice.  YES, there is a truth in this world, which is written by the author of humanity. NO, it won’t be found in catchy Facebook articles “The 15 things you should stop doing right now”, “The 15 things you should start doing right now”, “Your parenting is all wrong, here’s how to fix it”. Gag. That kind of advice leaves me depressed and overwhelmed, a stark contrast to the life giving Word of God. I’m so thankful that life isn’t a guessing game of what to add and what to take away. 🙂

Scars

Remember the Papa Roach song from 2005 “Scars”? I love that song! A line from that song reads: “And my scars remind me that the past is real”. This summer at the beach, a friend and I were up late one night sharing our testimonies of what The Lord has  brought us through and the battle scars that have changed our lives. She shared with me a simple analogy about scars that has impacted my life ever since.

In this world, scars are ugly. We do whatever it takes to hide them, cover them up, and disguise them. I’m pretty sure you can get them lasered off too-I mean, they laser everything else, right? Scars can be reminders of painful times, imperfection and things that cause us shame; they also show where healing took place.  We all have scars on our hearts. The enemy likes to remind us of those scars and he likes to try and convince us that they are still gaping wounds that can never be healed.  When we seek The Lord, he heals our wounds. We can be certain of that because His Word says so: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”. Psalm 147:3. I’ve always taken that to apply to those who are brokenhearted over life’s uncontrollable circumstances as well as those who are brokenhearted over their sins. the Lord heals our wounds and the scar left in it’s place is a reminder that healing has taken place!

Someone contacted me several months back about the possibility of doing foster care. She began to tell her story of her desire to foster, but quickly added “I could never foster a child that has been sexually assaulted”. She went on to share her personal story of sexual assault that had taken place over 20 years ago. No one knew. She had covered it up so well that she was completely unwilling to allow The Lord to use it as a testimony and couldn’t risk anyone knowing. She was completely ashamed of her scar. What a terrible waste! No matter what we’ve been through and what we’ve done, The Creator desires to do his job and heal us of our painful wounds. He desires for our scars to be reminders of his divine healing, not something we should hide and be ashamed of. The enemy wants us to hide our scars. He alone wants us to be ashamed of where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Scars are an opportunity. When you see a physical scar on someone’s body, you know they’ve been through something painful. The same applies to spiritual scars. Instead of covering everything up, we can show our scars and help others. I’m always excited to hear another person’s testimony. I don’t judge them because of it, on the contrary, I feel relief that there is someone I can relate to and I admire them for being brave enough to trust The Lord with their testimony.

Often the enemy uses people to hold our pasts against us, and to remind us of where we’ve been. The Bible calls Satan the accuser, so if we are pointing our finger, whose side do you think that puts us on? If you are holding someone’s past against them today, please stop lining yourself up with the enemy; nothing good can come from that.  Now don’t be afraid to share your scars and know that we all have them. 🙂

Small changes add up!

A dear friend sent me this video the other day and I have been thinking about it ever since. http://www.youtube.com/embed/ysa5OBhXz-Q?feature=player_embedded I’ll sum it up, but really, it’s very much worth the watch, especially if you’re in the mood for a Brittish accent. So, I’ll pause and you go watch.

Did you watch? The Gray Wolf was reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park after it had been absent for over 70 years. Efforts to control the deer population had failed and they needed an aggressive natural predator. Please say you’ve watched the video by this point, because I don’t want to ruin it or water it down. My words will not do it justice and did I mention the guy has a Brittish accent? It’s such a beautiful picture of what God does in our lives. Only a few wolves were brought in and this small change triggered a chain of events that ended up leading to many, many changes including the rivers through the park being altered.  How in the world do you change rivers?!

I watched the video and got so excited thinking of how The Lord uses small, seemingly insignificant events/people/things to implement monumental change. I could break this down on so many levels, but take the deer for example. The wolf is a predator, an adversary to the deer, and deer are generally regarded as beautiful peaceful animals. Who would want to kill Bambi?!  I love how the wolf who sought to kill the deer, strengthened the surviving deer by allowing them more food. God uses everything for good. Everything! Every negative event, negative person, positive person, hard time, struggle, damaged relationship, death of a loved one, heartbreak and cupcake he can and will use for good! Yes, I meant cupcake; Cupcake are small, good and I wanted to end on a positive note. Happy Day!

The Walking Dead

In an attempt to spend more time enjoying my husband’s hobbies, I’m attempting to waste my life  spend quality time with my husband watching television.  Sooo…I’ve started watching this zombie show with him on Sunday nights called The Walking Dead. I am withstanding the urge right now to go off on my old lady rant about how tv is filled with nothing but Viagra commercials and other worthless crap- Nothing but worthless crap!  I would seriously rather do math, but I digress…let me catch you up on this visual delight otherwise known as the zombie apocalypse in the Walking Dead. 

Everyone in the entire world is infected with a virus. If you die of natural causes, or are killed, you turn into a mindless, wandering zombie whose sole purpose is to seek out human flesh to devour. Yum. These zombies can make other zombies by biting a living person or they can  just eat you…I think. I’m trying to make this sound interesting, but even as I type I am confused out how such a lame story line has attracted so many viewers. I’ve only watched 3 episodes, but Jonathan has so graciously provided me with a brain full of background information. The living are wandering around the earth, seeking food, shelter and other humans. Occasionally they score a can of pudding or a 4 year old can of Cheese Whiz-sick and they think they’re lucky. They are constantly crossing paths with these flesh eating zombies and they kill them by stabbing them in the brain. Nice. Since the zombies are rotting flesh, stabbing through a skull isn’t so difficult. I was wondering the same thing. 

As I sat there the other night, trying not to fall asleep, marveling at how ridiculous exciting, interesting and entertaining this whole show is, it dawned on me that it’s actually not that far off from reality. We live a broken world, filled with the walking dead. The walking dead wander aimlessly, doing what their impulses tell them to do, following the simplest distractions. How true is that of this world? These zombies don’t even know they’re dead, they’re just wandering.  Psalm 82:5 They have neither knowledge or understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.  Also, Judges 17:6 references a people with no king who do what is right in their own eyes. Check out those verses and read the whole chapter. We call wrong right and right wrong. We are twisting and substituting God’s Word for a much more palatable alternative in which all of our favorite sins aren’t really sins at all! We justify our sinful actions that are in direct defiance of God’s Word, brush them off and pray to the imaginary god that only wants us to be happy and understands our sinful hearts therefore is completely accepting of the lifestyle of our choosing as long as we give him a shout out on FB and pray at the dinner table. We boast life verses like Jeremiah 29:11 which says “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” and we think The Lord just wants us to live a good, prosperous life.  If this if your life verse, that is wonderful. It is a powerful verse, but please, oh please go and read the entire book of Jeremiah and see that he spoke this to his people knowing they would remain in exile for 70 years. Exile is not a happy place, by the way.  He was reminding him that there was a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.  It wasn’t all happy like we like to think. This is why context is so important. The people he spoke this verse to, spent most of their lives, if not all of it, in captivity. People died in captivity, never seeing the end of their exile. Is this still your life verse? Kidding.

Back to the zombie show, if you’re human still and you aren’t fast enough or you get caught off guard…the zombies get you and you turn into one of them! Is this not so true of us today? Be careful what company you keep. Watered down Christianity is easier to follow, but I have to go to God’s Word for the real deal and surround myself with people who challenge me, not high five my every action. The last thing I want to seem like is a Debbie downer. I just want to be light hearted, funny, enjoy life and not care one bit about the sins of myself and those in the body of Christ…but I can’t. The Lord has not called us to that. He has called us to be those sometimes unfun (probably not a word) Christians that sharpen iron, that point to Christ even when we lose friends over it. Are you the walking dead? I was…for years…didn’t have a clue. Thankfully, no one stabbed me in the head. Ha! See! My humor is not completely gone. Thankfully, The Lord used my own sin, exposed, to draw me to himself. Praise Jesus! I am so thankful! I am so thankful! I could say it all day and shout it from the rooftops. Can I get an Amen!