My Inspiration

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I hate my life

I hate my life. I hate my life. I. Hate. My. Life. At this moment, I really do hate aspects of my life. My mind is in a bad place. I awake feeling this way and as the day progresses the feelings intensify.

I hate my house and dread returning there each night. The minute I walk through the door it’s like a cloak of discontentment, anger and frustration envelop me and I can’t shake it off. I physically feel weighted down, sick and drained. I find no comfort in any space in the house. I just want to be out of there; away from it all, the physical house and yes, even the occupants that reside there.
There is so much that needs to be done and we lack the financial resources and manpower to do most of it. There are projects in various stages of completion but nothing is done, finished, complete; and it’s about to drive me crazy. The tile in the downstairs bathroom needs to be finished up and then grouted. Our shower doesn’t work you have to turn the water on/off in the closet every day to take a shower, the sink has a hole beside the drain, the toilet needs to be flushed 2 times to make a complete flush and then it runs forever, there’s mold in the bathroom that multiplies over night and drives my allergies crazy and two people cannot be in there at the same time it’s too small. The garage is a complete mess. Stuff is everywhere. The office has become the dumping ground for everything that doesn’t have a place. The basement is still incomplete. I’d prefer to have the wood walls back than to continue to go down there every day and see it sheet rocked but an incomplete mess. I don’t want to see unfinished this and that. I just want something in my life to be complete.

I’m frustrated at the constant state of messiness that seems to prevail no matter how much I clean. I vacuum and a couple of hours later you can’t tell. I fold the clothes, put them in their rooms and ask them to put them away and then I see clothes everywhere; hanging out of drawers, stuffed in closets but not where they need to be and not neat. The kitchen is a perpetual mess and repeated attempts to show how it should be cleaned and threats on what will be done if it’s not are useless. They just don’t care. The hall bathroom is a breeding ground for all things unhealthy and gross. I can wipe it down and come back in a matter of minutes and find toothpaste, snot or something else smeared on a wall, a seat or the floor. The mirror is covered with toothpaste spittle and fingerprints. Lotion and hair detangler puddles litter the counter tops. The ring in the bathtub smiles at me daily and no one knows what a toilet brush is for and if they do, they consider it an annual event not a weekly one. Their rooms are a mess and weekly cleanings are a joke. They mess it up daily and if we didn't say anything it would stay that way. It's like they are oblivious to any kind of a mess.

Right now I don’t feel like a very good mother. In fact, I feel like I don’t want to be a mother at all. I am so frustrated with them that I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to see them, talk to them and definitely don’t want to hear them call my name. I cringe and ball up my fist every time one of them approaches me for anything which is constantly. I don’t want to do it. I just don’t want to be there with them. It’s too hard. Right now I’m in a place where I can’t separate how I’m feeling from what I need to be doing. I want to pull the plug and say I’ve had enough. Never have I felt so much like a failure but these girls have certainly worked me into a state that has made me feel that way.
Everyone looks at them and comments on how beautiful they are, how healthy and happy they look and what great girls they are but no one knows the hell that goes on in our home on a daily basis. They constantly fight with one another; they are selfish, they lack respect for self and others. I can’t take it. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life and I’m drained from it all. The lies, the crying, the lack of motivation, the lack of self-discipline, the “me, me, me” factor, it’s enough to make you want to shoot yourself. Every day we have drama. Every day we have tears. Every day someone is not happy about something and wants everyone else to feel their discontentment. Every day. I’ve had enough of every days. I’ve talked, I’ve prayed, I’ve yelled, threatened and even spanked. Nothing is changing, nothing is getting better. They are all piggy backing off of one another and I don’t have the energy, the mindset, the stamina to deal with them. I’m done; truly, utterly spent. I want to walk away and not look back.

Yet each day I get up, get dressed and go to work for them. I fret and worry about how I’m going to take care of them. I lay awake thinking about keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their back, food on the table for them to eat and take to school for lunch. I rob Peter to pay Paul for their activities, their basic daily needs and wants and have to ask myself why? They don’t care. They are the most ungrateful bunch of kids you ever want to meet. They want, they need and if they don’t get they cry, they whine and they try to make everyone around them miserable. It is just not right but I don’t know what to do to make it right.

I love them but I don’t like them. Not one of them. And that makes me not like myself and who I’ve become. The one thing that used to bring me so much joy is now the bane of my existence. Motherhood is now a dirty word. I don’t want to be a mom anymore. I don’t want to go through this, to feel like this, so utterly defeated by these children. They are like leeches and have sucked every ounce of love, energy, compassion, and life right out of me. No amount of discipline seems to work, no amount of talking, charting behaviors, rewarding good and ignoring bad has had an impact.

How did things get like this and how do we change them? How can I stop feeling this way? How can I gain a sense of control and regain the love, compassion and joy I felt about being a mother?

I called my counselor today and she assured me that what I’m feeling is normal, even typical and were she in my shoes she would have jumped off a cliff a long time ago. She reassured me that I was not crazy or losing my mind and that yes, “this too shall pass”. She also applauded me for my honesty. She said too often we walk around with these feelings bottled up and they push us to the limit but that I am acknowledging them, releasing them and trying to understand them and that is important. That if more women shared what they felt, experienced and lived through that we would be a better world because of it. No one wants to feel like this and think they are alone. No one wants the added weight of “is this normal, am I ok” wafting over them while dealing with the every day drama of life. She told me I had graduated and didn’t need to come in for a session because I knew what the issues were and would find my way through them. She has faith and confidence in me that I will win this war but in the process I might lose a battle or two and that is ok.

Five girls bring a lot of hormones in the mix and some of the issues they have that we deal with on a daily basis are fuel to the fire. They are in essence feeding off of each other’s issues and thus we have a snowball effect. Her advice: Take a break, get away as often as you can and don’t let them drag you into their mess. State your rules and consequences and stick with them no matter how they react. Eventually, they will come around but not all at the same time. So in essence, this will continue until the last one leaves home. Sigh.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come. Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV)

And yes, this includes my children!

What I need are a few good prayer warriors who will pray with me and for me and these girls on a daily basis. Pray that they start to control their emotions, that they have listening ears and loving hearts. That they will not only do as I say, but do as I do. Put God first, start each day with thanks to Him, love unconditionally, share, be their sisters’ best friends and stop all the “hating” that they keep heaping on each other. Pray for peace and harmony in my home and in my heart and mind and pray that God keeps me through this time in my life. I know that greater things are in store and that I will look back on these days and be able to laugh about them especially when they have kids of their own and are complaining to me but right here, right now, it’s not fun.

I will be praying for wisdom, knowledge and understanding of these “aliens” who have invaded my children’s bodies. I know that we did not give my mom a 10th of the drama that I get from these girls, partly out of fear for our lives but also because we respected ourselves and our home. But I am also mindful of their issues and the circumstances of their lives that have made part of this dilemma what it is and I am praying that they can be healed of these issues as well. I know that prayer is the greatest thing I can do at this point and I will be on my face daily about this situation. I know the changes won’t happen over night but I do know that they can and will over time.

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness.” Psalm 143:1 (NKJV)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feelings vs. Action gives the following definitions for feeling and action:

Action –noun: the process or state of acting or of being active: something done or performed; act; deed. An act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity.

Feeling –noun: the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc. ;a consciousness or vague awareness; an emotion or emotional perception or attitude; capacity for emotion, esp. compassion; a sentiment; attitude; opinion; feelings, sensibilities; susceptibilities; fine emotional endowment.

I feel like crying, tossing in the towel and giving up. Instead I read my scriptures, pull up my britches, put a smile on my face and go out and do what needs to be done.

I feel like screaming and breaking things, I choose to take a walk around the neighborhood until I feel calm enough to return to the house.

I feel like staying home from work today and calling in sick, I choose to get up, take a shower, get dressed and go to work and make it a good day.

I feel, I feel, and I feel. Sound familiar? How often do we feel one way but have to choose to act just the opposite? Daily, is my response. I battle between my feelings and my actions every single day. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose but in the end the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. If I let my feelings get the best of me I know it is because I chose to let that happen. Thankfully I can repent and through God’s grace and mercy I am blessed to live to see another day wherein I can control better the feelings and allow my actions to govern the day.

Not everyone does this though. Thousand of people get up each day feeling sad, depressed, angry, and out of sorts. They walk around taking their feelings out on the unsuspecting stranger that crosses their path at the wrong time, or the one who switches lanes without a signal light, or who can’t find their wallet and is holding up the line at the grocery store. You get the gist. We have been on both sides of the equation, the feeling and the acting.

How do we keep ourselves from crossing that line? For me, I have to pray, constantly and continuously. I have a running dialogue in my head telling myself that just because I feel one way doesn’t mean I get to act it out. I have to choose the right, the best, and the most appropriate action based on my godly principles not my fleshy feelings.

In God's lap

I've had a very difficult week. Every day so far has brought it's fair share of challenges whether they be financial, physical or emotional. They have been enough to bring me down into the pit of anger, frustration, sorrow, self-pity and plain old emotional despair. During it all, I've been asking God for the answer to each of the situations and in my impatience and blindness due to the flesh being stronger than the spirit I've felt alone, lost and forgotten.

Often times when I look to God for answers, I find myself expecting His response to come in a particular way; overlooking what is right before me, whether it be in the Word, in the people he surrounds me with and even within myself. In my longing for answers, in my desire to get over the hurdles or out of the pit of despair, I have failed to take stock in the situation and appreciate it for what it is... an opportunity to get closer to Him. To allow Him to minister to me; to take me right here at my weakest point and make me strong in Him through my complete surrender to Him. It is during this time that I need to run towards him throwing my arms around his legs and embracing him. Feeling his presence and allowing his comfort and peace to soak into my wounds and soothe my fears. It is during this time that I need to crawl up into his lap and allow his arms to embrace me, stroke me and hold me until my cup is full and I can face the world and whatever it throws at me knowing I will not face it alone.

Three times this week He has revealed this to me and I have been blind to it. But when I received this devotional the light bulb went on and I got it! Truly got it. These words were spoken to me and I received them just as they were presented. No second guessing, no doubting and not in haste. I read it, re-read it and then went to her blog to further explore what else she was revealing and I was mightily blessed.

Have the situations of the week changed, disappeared or gotten better? No.

Do I have the answers or know what tomorrow will bring? No.

But I don't have to worry because the Father knows and He will take care of it. As for me, I'm going to continue sitting in His lap this weekend basking in the joy of Him and all He has to offer me.

I pray you are blessed in whatever you do and that these words will speak to your heart too.

For additional comments hop over to Lynn's blog.

Climb Up in His Lap
19 May 2010
Lynn Cowell

"..Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure, in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12 (NIV)

I thought I lost it!

I thought I lost one of the only things on this planet that is important to me: a delicate necklace that my husband gave me for our twentieth wedding anniversary. I looked on my necktie-turned-necklace rack. Not there. I unpacked my makeshift jewelry bag from my last trip. Not there. Was it stolen from our hotel room? I pulled out all my earrings. Not there. My heart was trying so hard to panic, but I knew I didn't want to go there. Still, I could never replace this necklace. I prayed. Even though it is an earthly possession, I knew Jesus would care about me.I had the thought...go back and check again. There, hidden behind a bulky set of baubles, I caught a twinkle. My small jewel.

Some days, I feel like I have lost things much greater to me than my pendant. I miss my father who went to be home with Jesus. I miss dear friendships from my old town that just aren't the same on FaceBook. I miss times when life was simpler - little children laughing and playing. I miss my old body and energy level!Do you have days when you mourn the loss of something important to you? A marriage that is no longer? A friend who moved away? A child gone astray? A parent who passed?

The writer of Psalm 73 certainly felt loss. Starting in verse 2 he says, "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold." He goes on speaking of the struggle he feels as he looks at those around him who seemed to have it all together. Then in verse 23 his heart comes back around to the truth about God: "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

The writer says, "I almost lost it! But then I remembered who I am; like a child with his father, you take my hand. I remembered who You are. You are all that I need." He laid aside his pain as God's strength came in with comfort and strength. Fear and frustration became faith.Sometimes, pain or uncomfortable circumstances try to block us from seeing our treasured thing. It is hard to see God at work. We may think that we won't experience love again or that a relationship we treasured can never be restored. That is when we need our faith to help us to keep believing that God is in our situation and He will help us to find His treasures again.

Maybe you have experienced a loss, or maybe like my delicate necklace behind the hefty beads, you just can't see the good because of the bigger-than-life things that surround you. Breathe deep and take a moment to pray. Deuteronomy 33:12 says we are to rest between his shoulders. You know what is right between his shoulders? His heart! That is a place of peace, warmth and love. He wants to pull you into His lap so you can find the rest and peace you need for today.

Dear Lord, sometimes my sense of loss is a dull ache, other days it threatens to engulf me and I feel like I can hardly breathe. Today, Lord, I choose to climb in Your lap and lean against Your heart and find comfort in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bring what you have

The responses for sponsorship to the She Speaks! conference in July have been good. I'm truly humbled by those that have offered to assist in raising the money needed to attend this conference. I approached this assignment with much fear and trepidation because it has never been easy for me to ask for help. I have always preferred to be the one giving it. However, I knew that the only way I could make this journey would be to step out on faith, put it out there and let it reach the masses. It was my time to offer other's the opportunity to sow into something so much greater than I, His Kingdom. I know that this is His will for my life and the opportunity is now. I have to be obedient to His call.

The one common thread in every one's response has been. "I don't have much, but I will send what I can."

These words have pricked the deepest recesses of my heart for I know how it feels to want to do something but felt that what little I had to offer couldn't make a difference and so I did nothing at all which led to me feeling even worse because of my lack of action. I must tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

The God we serve is an awesome God and nothing is impossible for our God according to his word.

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37(NIV)

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27(NIV)

Our God parted the Red Sea, saved Daniel in the lions den, healed the lepers and raised Lazarus from the dead. He blessed the widows oil to fill all the vessels and not run out.

If he could do all of that for them then why can't he take what little you have to offer me and not bless it to be what it needs to be? I know that He can and He will.

Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 broke it down in this devotional in such a way that put it into perspective for me. I have linked her blog to this so you can read the entire devotional but this piece was what stirred things up for me.

'"How many loaves do you have?' he asked. 'Go and see.' When they found out, they said, 'Five—and two fish.'" Mark 6:38 (NIV)

In Mark 6:35-44, Jesus performs the miracle of feeding the 5000 men. The disciples told Him that they didn't have enough to feed the crowd. They were ready to give up. I love the question that He asks them in our verse today: "Well, what do you have? Go and see." When they turned over what they did have to Him, He was able to multiply it beyond what they could have imagined.

So many times I come to Him and say the same: "I just have this little tiny bit...of money, of time, of resources, of energy."

And He says, "Bring what you have to me. That's all I ask. Let me take care of it from here."

So I ask what little you might have to give? You might not be able to give $1000. But you could give $10. You might not be able to pledge hours and hours to serve at church. But you can serve once a month for one hour. You might not feel comfortable speaking to crowds. But you're great at sharing what God's doing in your life one-on-one. You might not be able to lead a prayer ministry. But you can pray for a friend who needs it, even if it seems like you're too late.

Let God take your little and make it much.

Thank you for your little. I am watching Him make it much!

God bless.

So Amazing

We serve an awesome God. He is truly amazing. I marvel daily at all the ways in which He chooses to interact in my life. I awake each morning to a new day, a new chance to walk a little closer to Him and fulfill my purpose here. Mercy and grace anew each day is his promise to us and I bask in that knowledge. Some days I've used my quota before getting to work and others I feel that I've done pretty good at the end of the day by way of purposing my life, my thoughts and my actions to be mindful of His mercy and grace throughout the day.

As I take my morning walks and soak in all He has given us it leaves me amazed. This morning was a glorious morning for a walk. Nice breeze blowing, birds chirping, sun peeking through the clouds and me and God communing as I huffed and puffed around the neighborhood. I constantly wonder at how He uses times like these to reveal himself and all his wisdom and glory to one so unworthy as I. The understanding I get when I just allow the holy spirit to minister to me and stop trying to reason it all out for myself. Letting go and letting God is hard but boy are the blessings that flow from it worth it.

She Speaks, She Writes, She Obeys

Proverbs 31 Ministries through Cecil Murphey have one last scholarship to give away to the She Speaks conference and we were asked to write two paragraphs about why we want to attend the conference and what it means to us.

This was my entry.

We are all on a journey. We all have a story and that story can be used to help one another if we use it as He intends. My words, written or spoken can reach the lost, the broken-hearted and downtrodden soul. They can be used to find the one who cowers in the dark, who despises her own face, voice and body; it can seek out the one who has been beaten physically, mentally and spiritually and feels that nobody understands… nobody knows the depth of pain that she carries and no one could ever love her because of all she has endured, the choices she’s made or the way that she looks. I know how these women feel for I too have felt that way. My journey has taught me and continues to teach me that there is hope in the midst of the storm. That joy waits on the other side of the darkness and that God will give us beauty for our ashes.

When I said, "Use me Lord to share your message of love, your Words of wisdom, knowledge and guidance; let my story, my triumph through You give you the glory you deserve and help the lost find their way back home”; when I finally surrendered myself and said, “Lord, here am I send me”; I was led to Proverbs 31 Ministries. For three years I have struggled with the prompting to attend the She Speaks conference. The first year I held back due to financial reasons, the second year, I wasn’t sure I wanted to accept the call that I knew was on my life, and this year, I can no longer deny that He has chosen to use my written and my spoken word. The way the spirit rises up in me when I put fingers to keyboard, pen to paper or lips to microphone are overwhelming, scary and exhilarating. I feel alive and so full. It is during those moments that I know that He has brought me through the storms of my life for a purpose such as this.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Every day is...

In less than 48 hours millions of women all over the world will be receiving breakfast in bed, flowers, home-made cards, bathrobes, body wash, jewelry and an assortment of brunches, dinners, desserts, etc. in celebration of Mother’s Day.

I appreciate the fact that we take time out each year to celebrate mom’s, dad’s and now even grandparents but feel conflicting emotions about why we do it.

In my book it ranks up there with Valentine’s Day. A day I don’t see any real value to. I don’t really get into it because I don’t feel that we should be told to show our love on any given day, in any particular way. Love is not something that can be brought by giving someone a box of chocolates or a dozen roses no more than you can say thanks to your mom, dad or grandparents with a card, a bouquet of flowers or a nice dinner somewhere.

If you have children then you know that every day is Mother’s, Father’s or Grandparent’s day. Parenthood is one of the greatest gifts God could bestow upon us, after the gift of mercy and grace brought to us through his son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to be a parent and nor does everyone desire that blessing. But when it happens to you and you embrace it for what it is, the blessings you receive from it outweigh any gift anyone could possibly give you as way of thanks.

I have never felt that a thank you was ever needed for the gift of my children. In fact, I feel that I am the one who should be thanking God for these blessings that He has allowed me to have in my life for however long He chooses to share them with me. They are not mine forever but merely on loan. It is an awesome responsibility; one that I take very seriously. It is my job to instill in them a solid foundation of God and his truth so that they can carry out the plan He has designed for each of their lives.

We were taught in the Bible to “honor our parents” as one of the original Ten Commandments. This is not a one time thing but a continuous act throughout our lives. It is what we do when we take what they have instilled in us and use it for the greater good. It is what we do when we sift the good from the bad and focus on the good. It is the inheritance we leave to our children. They will mirror our patterns. How we treat our parents will show them how to treat us when we get older. The love, respect and reverence we place upon our parents will flow down to our children and when we are gone they will know what to do not just from our words but most especially from our actions.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

We are also taught in the Word how to raise our children. Parenting is not an easy job.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

You will make mistakes; you will have trials and tribulation. Some will bring deep, gut wrenching heartbreak and others joy so overwhelming you won’t know how to contain it. There are no manuals, road maps or detailed instructions that will make your job any easier than what you will find in the Bible. The principles laid out in there will get you through the toughest of times and help you enjoy the good times even more.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

God holds children in the highest esteem and so should we. Yes, there are times when you would rather deny the existence of your children, long for your single days or declare war on the world should someone call you “mommy” for the gazillionth time but those moments are fleeting as is the time that we have with our children. I have learned much from them. They keep me humble. I have learned how to love unconditionally, to put off the selfish part of me in sacrifice for their needs, wants and desires. I have become stronger yet weaker and evolved into a totally different person as a result of having these children in my life. They are not burdens; they are not the reason for our failures. They should not carry our shame, bear the brunt of our anger or frustration. They are innocent in His eyes. They did not ask to be here and surely if they bring such joy to God they can bring some joy to you.

I understand that not all children are alike. Some have issues physically, mentally and psychologically that require a great deal of patience and restraint but with God, friends and family we can still have times of great delight with these children. They are blessings from God. Wonderful, marvelous blessings that can carry on our legacy for generations to come when we do what is required of us. Love them unconditionally, without malice, without prejudice, without restraint. Treating each one as the individual that he/she is. No preconceived notions just accepting them for who they are. Take time to listen to them, to "hear" them, to understand their needs. Each one is different but each one is special.

Psalms 144:12 Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.

Proverbs 14:26 He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Luke 18:15-17 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."

Matthew 18:1-5 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, " Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among the, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

So while my kids, my gifts from God, spend the next 48 hours attempting to shower me with love, gifts and platitudes of thanks I will be giving God thanks, praise and honor for allowing me to enjoy them for such a time as this. Knowing that thanks from them is not necessary but hearing the words from His mouth on my day of judgement, "well done, thy good and faithful servant" will be all the thanks I could ever hope for.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kindergarten Sex

My six year old had a very interesting day at school yesterday. It seems she was approached by two boys in her class to have sex. She knew right away that this "sex" thing was inappropriate so she went to the teacher.

She was embarrassed and a confused. A couple of other kids tried to make a bigger deal out of it so we told her not to discuss it with anyone else.

I'm blown away because there was a lot more to it than the let's play doctor scenario kids usually try. Each one kept telling her that the other wanted to have sex or kiss her and then they threw another boy in the mix and it was just a big confusing mess.

Did you ever get propositioned at 6 years old? I don't remember even thinking or knowing anything about sex back at that age!

Flash forward a couple of days...

What has been really interesting has been the parents reaction to this. The teacher felt the behavior was inappropriate and of course school guidelines are very stringent about touching, etc. but the parents didn't think it was a big deal. It' s normal and something they see every day on TV so it is to be expected was the general gist of things. I don't believe that. I don't think that it is something that should be considered normal in the every day life of a six year old. At least not my six year old.

Of course this brought up the issue of how much things have changed over the years and how our parenting styles are different.

I am from the old school generation and very proud of it. My kids already know if they come to me what I'm going to say: Who - are you going with, who will be there; What - are you going to do, When - will you be back, when is this taking place, Where - is this taking place, where are the parents; Why - do you want to go and How - will you get there or back home, how much does it cost. If they don't have the answers, they don't get to go, do or have. I must "meet the parents" and establish a rapport. I want to make sure we share the same values and that they will not allow my child to be exposed to things I don't feel are appropriate. If that doesn't happen then my kids don't participate. To date, none have felt that they have missed out or that I've ruined their lives. In fact, they thank me for being how I am even though it is not considered cool. They relish in the fact that I care enough about them to ask the tough questions and if I don't get the right answers to hold to my rules and not buckle under the pressure.

They know if what they are watching is appropriate or not and they will come to me if they are undecided or if someone is trying to break the rule. They enjoy being kids and not learning about stuff faster than necessary. I feel blessed that they still have a bit of innocence and am saddened with each passing day knowing that it could all be shattered in a heartbeat. But I will remain vigilant in trying to keep them children for as long as possible. Once they cross that line and the world's view and tentacles of attraction get hold of them it is hard to maintain what little control we as parents do have.

My older kids are quick to tell me how much they miss their life before leaving home; the way things were and how they we allowed to just be themselves without having to search for acceptance in the outside in the world. Now that they are out there they long for the safety and security of home; the innocence that we allow to exist there.

Our heads aren't in the sand. We know the latest trends, the names of the newest drugs for fun and those being used to commit rape. We know about sexting, cyber bullying, friends w/benefits, in rise in teenage suicide, huffing, etc. but we don't make it a big deal in our home. We don't let them watch shows that are too provocative, or that offer too much information too soon. We try to keep it real and on their level. We read their Facebook and My Space pages, check their text messages on their phones and limit their access and time on the computer, TV and video games. We try to instill in them a love for God, family, themselves and their peers. We challenge them to challenge themselves. To pick up a book and read, to draw, to engage each other in meaningful conversations and to listen and interact with everyone, especially the elderly who have a lot of great wisdom to impart.

We live in a evil world that will only getting worse over time. But we don't have to let that evil permeate and sully our homes, our minds or our kids. We can have a good life keeping that which is good, righteous, just, and pure first and foremost in our world. Just because we are surrounded by it doesn't mean we have to succumb to it. It is a daily struggle but one I am willing to gird my family and myself up against to fight off.

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesian 6:13-15 (NKJV)

Sex in kindergarten is NOT an option. It's not even up for discussion in this home.

A Generation of Subpar Kids

That is what we are raising today and it frustrates me. Totally, completely frustrates me. I have one who is working at becoming one and I know lots of other children who are totally entrenched in that lifestyle. Not having been one, I cannot fathom where it comes from and why they have chosen to be this way. But I know that society has played a big part in this mentality. defines subpar as “Not measuring up to traditional standards of performance, value, or production.”

Although I know my child is not alone in this attitude or mindset the fact that she is even trying to be there causes me great anxiety. I don’t expect her to be like me 100% but I do expect her to have some of the same characteristics that I have and am proud of. I want her to have a good work ethic; to take pride in what she does and how she does it and to give her best in everything she attempts to do.

My daughter is smart. Very smart, but very lazy or unmotivated. She will settle for a B or C instead of doing what she needs to for the A just because she can. She will do just enough to get by unless I push and challenge her to do her best. Why? I don’t know. I’ve asked her a million times and she can’t give me an answer. I get a shrug of the shoulders, some nonsense verbiage but no concrete answer. She says why should she when she knows that she can get by on doing less; besides everyone does it like that.

The teachers are letting them know what they have to do to get a certain grade on papers, projects and tests which to me sets them up to do subpar work. They tell you to get a D you must do this, if you want a C do this and this, a B add this and this and for an A we want thus and so. Wow, with that kind of breakdown you can pretty much choose your grade through school.

I understand that things were different 30 years ago when I was in high school but not so different that you don’t give it your best. We never had that. We were given the assignment and did it. Doing our best and hoping for the best possible result. I remember being bored at school because it wasn’t challenging enough for me. It was truly a waste for me. We didn’t have the advanced curriculums that the kids have today nor did we have the vast array of technology. Typewriters were the hottest thing going when I was in school. Granted I was voted “least likely to be paying attention” and I wasn’t paying attention when they announced my award but I did measure up, even excel at the traditional standards of performance, value and production. And still do, even today.

So where did we get off track? When did we start accommodating for our kids shortcomings and weaknesses to the point that they don’t have to put forth any effort to get by? I have ADHD but it has not stopped me. I didn’t take medication, I didn’t have an IEP, and I didn’t even know I had it until I was an adult. What did I miss out on, sleep. That I existed on 3 - 5 hours a night of sleep for most of my life was my biggest drawback. My drive is what caused me to excel in life. I took what some call a weakness and made it my strength. If I couldn’t do it the traditional way I learned it another way but I didn’t give up or settle. I didn’t let the system dictate where I should be or what my level of ability was. I have always pushed the envelope and wanted more for myself.

But today’s kids don’t want to do more; they want to be given more. They don’t want to work for it; they want a hand out and we are steadily giving it to them. It’s not so much us keeping up with the Joneses as it is about our kids keeping up with their peers. I’ve had enough. No more. I won’t do it and I won’t let my child stay in the world of subpar. Not when I know she can do better. While she is at home with me I will push her, I will work with her showing her that there is more out there than “settling” just because she can.

I don’t want my child to be the one lumped into the subpar category or like the movie “Failure to Launch.” I’ve seen too many do that and at 25, 28, even 32 still living at home because they can – settling for the subpar life because society has deemed it acceptable.

It’s time to take back our children and not let society (school, peers, Hollywood) dictate who they will be or not be just because.

Hebrews 12:14

“Pursue peace with all people,...(NKJV)

“You need to create every (don't miss even one!) way or mean, exerting all of your physical and mental power to the point of making a strenuous attempt to live in peace with ALL men."

Wow this is just what I needed to read today. To ponder this verse and to get the wisdom that is packed into it was an answer to a prayer. Not a prayer that I spoke out loud but one that I’ve been carrying around in my mind for a few days based on the next couple of posts that will follow this one.

Lynn Cowell did such a great job of working it out word by word and although it may not apply to your exact situation the way she worked it out I’m sure you can change the words to fit whatever it is you are going through to help make it more like He would have it to be.

If you want to read some really great advice on parenting or teens in general check in with her on Wednesday’s when she does these wonderful posts about “In the know”. As a parent it truly is our job to be in the know so that we can stay one step ahead of the world and our kids.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Job

I am in a new job, surrounded by new people who don’t know me or my capabilities. At times it is a little unsettling. This job is a step up but also a step back at the same time and that has also left me at a loss. I remember asking for a job that gave me more money but less work and God blessed me with that, but I am miserable.

I have two of the greatest bosses in the world but my work load is almost nil in comparison to what I have been used to. I have gone from supporting 8 or 9 people to supporting two. As the new kid on the block, there are not a lot of places for me to go and get more work until people get used to me and are made more aware of my skills. I have tried to hawk my services all over the floor and the response has been sparse. This is someone’s dream come true but certainly not mine.

In the past, I have always been the Queen B at work with my hands in lots of pots but that is not the case here. Although my bosses are head of 4 key divisions within our organization we are structured so that this truly is corporate headquarters and we push the papers but the plants do the work. With what little paperwork they do generate I can only push it around a certain number of times before I have to put it away and then what?

I also believe in an honest days work for my money so sitting and reading books or surfing the web are not an option. So what is a girl to do besides looking out the window at the river and watching the hands on the clock tick by?

Flash forward to this past week -- I found our training site. I'm now taking classes from the company's elearning website which makes the time go faster and I don't feel guilty about learning new things that will enhance my abilities at work and beyond.

I've learned a couple of lessons with this job. First, be careful what you ask for because you just might get it!!! Second, God truly is in control and has a plan. You just have to be patient and let Him reveal it in his own way and in His own time. And finally, there is more than one way to look at things. What may not look like a blessing could truly be one if you just look beyond what you're used to. I believe we call it "thinking outside the box."