Dear Mama: Your JK will be OK (& so will you)

Hello Friends!

Well…the kids are back in school…and all of the moms and dads breathed a collective sigh of relief…we survived!  We did it!  Actually, truth be told, it wasn’t all that bad…although it definitely had it’s crazy moments, overall, it was a good one for the books…could’ve even been a little longer in fact (and I’m not one to say that usually as I looooooove the Fall….but no Summer humidity = all the heart eyes).

So as I sent my two oldest back to school, with the thought of my youngest heading to Kindergarten next year as a tiny 3-year-old (thank you December birthdays…also I think I’m still in denial that she’ll be going next year…she’s still in diapers! Though we began tackling that one today…potty training Day 1…no toilet tinkles but at least she sat there…though I digress…)… all of this got me to thinking about all of the little people heading to JK this year…and more specifically the mama’s of those little ones…because let’s be real…it’s never the kids that have an issue with this…it’s always us mama’s…I mean…our babies…they’re big enough for school now…what?!

Anyways, with that being said, I thought it might be fitting to share an old post here from when my now-6-year-old started JK two years ago.  So without further ado…

(Originally Published on September 10, 2015)

It’s been forever since I was last on here and life has gotten much busier with an almost 9 month old in the mix but as summer has come to a close things have begun to get back to normal with my son now back to school in the first grade and my daughter to follow tomorrow. Yes, you heard correctly, my sweet little girl of just barely 4 years is beginning Jr Kindergarten tomorrow.

She’s been there often enough in the past two years; to drop off her brother with me, or meet his teacher, to see a Christmas concert, hear about bus safety, and just today to meet her teachers, however it didn’t really sink in that she’d be going herself until tonight. You see, tonight as I went in to give her a kiss after she was asleep, she had her little arm wrapped in a cozy hug around her white, falling-apart sheep pillow… The sheep pillow that had wrapped around her most favorite baby blanket and that she had slept with every night (except when it was in the laundry) until she was three, at which time she had moved into her big girl bed and the sheep pillow and blanket went into hibernation. Not seeing that pillow for over a year made me realize how much a child can grow in a year and how quickly life can pass by and change in that time. It seems like just a heartbeat away that I was laying with her in my hospital bed for our first night together, literally nose-to-nose and lip-to-lip; the first snuggle of many with my affectionate little girl. And now tomorrow she’ll be going off to school with her big brother.
I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not a huge deal and that she’ll do great, but I think that’s part of what makes it so difficult for us mom’s.

We know that our children are resilient, we know that given the opportunity, they will rise to the occasion, we know that these amazing little people will make friends and win hearts, and I think that’s what can scare us, or at least me.

Yes, there is the part of me that worries about her getting hurt or feeling alone, but there is a bigger fear than even those; it is the fear that my children won’t need me, that the voices of friends, teachers, and even scarier, media and society will begin to become more appealing and louder than mine. It’s the fear that snuggling with mom will be old news, and hanging with family a chore, ultimately, it’s the fear that says “your job here is done”; and I’m not anywhere near ready to hand my job off to a big scary, ugly world.

So what do we do as mom’s, as dad’s, as caregivers to these precious children with whom we’ve been entrusted for such a short time? What do we do to battle these fears? How do we cope with the overwhelming desire to white-knuckle parent our children?

For me, I’ll do the only thing I know to do, sometimes only daily, sometimes hourly, but today and tomorrow – by the minute,

I’ll hand these children off…Not to the hands of a hard, calloused world, but into the hands of my loving Heavenly Father Who wants the best for them and Who loves them with a love that is even stronger and fiercer than my own.

I’ll choose to trust Him, sometimes trembling, and when I feel weak, to call out until His hands grasp mine.  I'll choose to trust Him,sometimes trembling & when I'm weak to call until His hands grasp mine Click To Tweet You see, if I don’t do this, the only other option is for my fears to control my actions; and instead of being free to guide, nurture, and teach my children, allowing them to choose and make both good and bad choices, my hands then become closed and clenched around them and the very things I fear may become my reality.

So tonight I take a lesson from my four-year old daughter, the one who conquered her lifelong fear of swimming this summer, who finally let go of the steps and swam into the deep and who will bravely walk into her JK classroom tomorrow – I let go.  I let go of the fear and the control, and I grab onto perfect love, the perfect love of my Saviour.

 

 

 

PS: And in case you were wondering…those JK and SK years went quite swimmingly!  Now if only I can remember this for next September…feel free to refer me back to my own words at that time. 😉

Thank you to Zakkiya at Inkstruck Studio for the pretty Free Watercolor Brushstroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site at http://bydawnnicole.com/2016/12/free-watercolor-brushstroke-graphics.html

Continue Reading

{FDF}: I Let Her Wear the Fancy One

Happy Friday All!

So I feel like all week I’ve been having these little moments that all have been telling me the same thing…okay so maybe only two moments…but still…I was all like “wow!”….so I thought it might be good to share one with you.

The most memorable moment was with my toddler, although in all honesty she likely got this from her older sister who is all-things-girl wrapped up into one creative and quirky little five-year-old.  So my five-year-old is always dressing up in either her princess dresses or her fancy “church” type dresses, her pastimes include watching YouTube beauty tutorials for kids by kids, and then mimicking them with whatever “make-up” she can get her hands on…and I use that term loosely because we’ve had to wash markers and gel crayons…and nail polish and I’m sure many other things that I can’t remember at the moment…out of both of our girls’ hair and off of their faces on more than one occasion (several times this week alone in fact); she also has a flair for the theatrics and I’m pretty much convinced that in her mind her life is one great big musical (I’m serious…she sings all day er’ day…she even walks to the bus stop singing dramatically and moves to the rhythm accordingly…even when the rest of our crew is literally running to the bus stop)  But I digress.

So her younger sister has caught on to this behavior (and I’m ree-e-e-e-e-ally hoping we can curb it before she’s five because I don’t think my poor laundry machine can handle two girls changing outfits 5 times a day) so I had been getting used to her dressing up with her sister in the princess dresses for play, but I was caught off guard a little bit this week when she came to me during the day (while her sister was at school) and grabbed my hand and said “mama dess” and then seeing that I couldn’t understand, led me into her room where her closet was, and pointed up at her fancy purple dress and again said “mama, puple dess”.  Her message was quite clear at that point, but not wanting to dirty one of her good dresses on a regular old home day my answer was a quick “not that one”.  However she was not about to take no for an answer, and again she pointed up and said “mama, puple dess”.  Again I tried to redirect her to the box of princess play dresses but as I pulled each one out of the box and laid it on the floor in front of her she persisted with her request.  In a last-ditch effort I found the purple Sofia the Princess dress and dramatically waved it around trying to convince her that it would be even prettier than the other one…but she wasn’t having any of it…not at all.

It was at that point that the thought crossed my mind, “why not?”,

Continue Reading

When You Feel Like a Hypocrite

“You’re such a hypocrite!” – I can still feel the ring of those words echoing in my mind and the sting behind them piercing my heart.  Were these words spoken by an ill-willed person?  An enemy? Or perhaps by a close friend or family member whom I had hurt?  No not at all.  Once upon a time, those words were the all-too familiar sound of the lies inside my own mind…lies that I had embraced as my own voice…lies I had believed were absolute truths.

All throughout my teen years, that lie would convince me that I was nothing more than a failure every single time that I fell short of the standard that I felt I claimed to live by.  It kept me stuck in a place of wanting to be so much more, but feeling like I couldn’t because what if I failed…it was always two steps forward, one step back.

Fast forward into my adult years as a wife, and mom to three young children.  By this time I had learned a thing or two about that lying voice and in some areas of my life I was able to recognize it for what it was.  But to some degree that voice had somehow found a way to sneak back into my thoughts whenever I would lose my cool with my kids, or selfishly put my own needs before my husband’s.

It was right there waiting for me to mess up…waiting to whisper…”I told you so”….”you’re nothing more than a hypocrite…just look at how you behaved”.

I wanted so badly for nothing more than to be the kind of mom that my kids were happy to be around; the kind of mom that could be that stability for them when their emotions were running amuck; the kind of mom that acted rather than reacted in the heat of the moment; the kind of wife that believed the best in her husband, that made him feel loved and valued.

But it seemed that no matter how hard I tried…I would find myself in the rhythm of that same old dance from my high school days…two steps forward, one step back.

Did I continue to learn new tactics and approaches in my parenting?  Absolutely.  Did I continue growing as an individual; learning how to be quick to own my actions, apologize, and move on?  Definitely.  Was I learning how to accept and love myself, and walk in grace?  Slowly, yes.  However I was still slipping up, still feeling frustrated, and still feeling like a failure for the better part of my time.  I was making progress…but something major still had to change…the recording that was on repeat in my mind had to be replaced.

Now this change didn’t happen overnight, and to be honest, it’s still a work in progress…but the difference now is that I’m learning to reprogram that voice with a new one…one that assures me that a set-back is not a failure…one that reminds me that I may have made a mistake, but I am not a mistake…one that reminds me that I will become what I behold…that I have been given the nature of Christ when I simply received His forgiveness so because of that His nature becomes expressed more and more as I refocus from my problems to His ability.

I’m learning that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or wife and there is no end-date for such a destination to be achieved.

You see, when we allow ourselves to believe that we must be a perfect … {fill-in-the-blank} by a certain time we set a limit on what we can and will do with the abilities that we have been given.  For me, I had allowed that belief to stop me from reaching out and allowing my life to be used to affect those around me….I thought that I had to have things nailed down before I could help another or share encouragement from what I had learned or experienced.  It kept me from opening up to others, and from using my gifts to speak out and do what I loved to do because it convinced me that when I messed up, I would be nothing more than a hypocrite.

And that is exactly how that lie keeps you stuck in a place of frustration and defeat.  You’re passionate about something; you want to make a difference; you want your life to mean something….but then you hear “what if I screw up?”…”I need to wait until I have this figured out”….and so you stop moving forward…you stop the process…and eventually you quit.

Friend, I want to tell you that progress means taking that first step…even though you’re still figuring it out…even though it’s still messy…even though sometimes you may say one thing but then eat your very own words…progress means you keep moving forward.  The end-date is your lifetime.  It’s okay if you are still taking two steps forward and one step back…but just keep going forward.

Progress means taking that first step, even though you're still figuring it out. Click To Tweet

There’s days when I still think…”seriously, how can you write about this when you just did the opposite thing?!”  But friends, I’m learning, and I’m not about to let the one time I failed, or maybe the 20 times I failed convince me that the other 50 times I succeeded didn’t happen.

Maybe you’re feeling that way today.  Maybe you can relate….maybe you realize that you’ve had your life on hold, waiting to attain a perfect-status that is never going to come.  There’s good news for you if that’s the case; you can move forward today with what you do know and are capable of; you don’t have to wait a minute longer because every single day has fresh grace available and a fresh chance to start anew – you don’t have to wait for a New Year, or a new you.

Every single day has fresh grace available and a fresh chance to start anew. Click To Tweet

Your world is waiting, so don’t waste another moment, or another lesson waiting for perfection.  Move forward and use every lesson, every set-back as an opportunity to affect another.

Because for every time you share your one victory, you multiply that victory into countless lives…and that far outweighs any amount of setback you may face.  And that my friend, is not hypocrisy.  That is progress.

Continue Reading

You’re Gonna be Okay

Hey you! Yes you – beautiful mama over there…the one running her fingers through her 2 day old dry-shampooed hair; the one harshly critiquing those stretch marks and that baby belly that bravely held life for 9 months; the mama with the bags under her eyes because she had one too many interruptions in the night to calm scared little ones who awoke from bad dreams; the mom frustrated and overwhelmed with her pre-teens and teens who suddenly think they know everything about life; the mama over there scrambling to get the kids out the door for school so that the bus isn’t waiting on them…again….I’m talking to you….

I know the stress of the mounting pile of laundry, or toys, or dishes, or papers…the never-ending task of picking up and putting away the things…oh the things….again and again and again…so much stuff!

I see the frustration, the weariness, the exhaustion, the anger, the hopelessness, the weight of it all…. the weight of the thoughts, of the expectations, of the hopes, of the disappointments, of the desires, of the dreams…I see it and I feel it too.

I see you struggling to do your best, but at the same time wanting to just quit. I see you wanting to connect genuinely with your children, with your spouse…but also just wanting a few moments to yourself to forget about all of the responsibility, to just relax. I see you patiently listening to each one tell about their day, giving your best to just be in the moment with them…to soak it all up…but simultaneously being so overcome with guilt at your desire to just get it over with so you can get to your “me time”. I see you trying to fall asleep at night, but tossing and turning, replaying all of the moments that you lost your cool…the moments that you could have spent bonding with your children instead of criticizing them, instead of cleaning, instead of answering that text or checking that post….I see the guilt of all that you didn’t do to make your husband feel important and loved today…the missed kisses, hugs, thank you’s…the guilt over the angry and impatient words and tone spoken in haste…I see the comparison to the other mom’s out there that packed their children those home-made healthy lunches instead of the pre-made on-sale cookies. I see the disappointment within yourself for missing yet another day of exercise…and not sticking to those healthy eating habits…I see the undesirability and unattractiveness you feel..and then the guilt that arises yet again for being so focused on yourself instead of everyone else around you. I see it all.

Here’s the thing mama….what you’re feeling…and even what you’re thinking right now…”does it all even matter?” …”do I even really matter?”…..the answer is…

Yes!

an emphatic “YES!”

Yes you do matter.

And Yes, you’re going to be okay.

You matter & you are going to be okay Click To Tweet

You’re not alone.  You wanna know how I know?  Because I’ve experienced it…because I’ve been in that same battle so many times friend….because:

Every. Single. Time. He is right there with me…my Heavenly Father.

He is right there with you too.

He’s right there, smack dab in the middle of it all…in the middle of the mess…in the middle of the thoughts…in the middle of the exhaustion…in the middle of the fears, of the hopes, of the desires…

He is there.

He is the One who sees it all.

And He wants you to know that you’re gonna be okay. You’re going to get through this, and you’re going to succeed. He’s there to quiet your soul with His love…His arms aren’t too tired to hold you…and He’s not too busy to soothe you. In fact…He’s waiting for an invitation from you….so that He can come and carry you…so that He can lift those weights off of your shoulders…His are plenty big enough for them…He’s there to remind you of who you really are…and of Whose you really are.

So just let it all go…and grab onto Him…because He is all you need.

Continue Reading

What Your Family Really Needs

Hello Friends & Happy Family Day to you!

In light of today’s holiday, I wanted to share something on the topic of Family.  I tossed around several ideas, and even wrote half of a blog on one, but it just wasn’t going anywhere really.  So here’s what I want to talk about today: what is the greatest gift I can give to my family?

Now I don’t know what you’re like, but I absolutely love, and I mean LOVE to pick out presents for my family.  I love to think of their personality, their likes, their dislikes and what makes them unique…and then I shop like a madwoman…I’m talking like Indiana Jones-style treasure hunting…at Christmas it gets really bad…like, last year for example the hunt started in October (isn’t there a movie title something like that “The Hunt for Red October” or something?), but truth be told, the first item purchased was actually in August. (yikes)  I just can’t wait to see the expressions of surprise, happiness, and excitement on their faces when they rip into it and have their miiii-i-n-ds bl-o-wn. (I wish you could hear the way that sounded in my head…I tried to spell it out for you to catch but I apologize if it just looks like I’m incompetent…I promise I’m *mostly* not).

Anyways, where was I?  Right…gifts.  So yeah, it’s like a continual hunt when I’m out and about…”oooh…so and so would really like that….wouldn’t that make a lovely Birthday/Christmas/Just Because gift”?  But here’s what I’m finding; while these gifts are always great in the moment – the memories of them don’t tend to last far beyond then.  Take Valentines, for example, when the kids received their little gifts I was the World’s Best Mom, but now that they’ve all been eaten, lost, or broken (yes, sadly it only took less than a week) do they really remember all the “stuff”?  Not so much.

I’m not really sure what goes on in my mind that causes me to believe that because I spent time searching the whatever-it-is out that they will recognize that sacrifice and be honored by it…maybe that’ll change when they’re teenagers but I have a strong feeling that that’s not quite the case.  As I’m sure you’re already aware, our kids don’t really notice the time we spend cooking or cleaning or shopping for them when they’re busy playing; but what they do notice, is the time that we don’t spend with them when they are present, the times that we’re too tired to play dolls, or hockey, or blocks, the times that we’re too busy to sit and read or color, and the times that we seem more interested in our phone than in what they’re trying to show us (more on that here: The Day my Cell Phone Died).

I know it’s a tall order because we’re busy and we’re tired…as parents, I think we’re always tired…secretly I tell myself that there will be a day when that will all change and I’ll catch up on all those years of sleep…I might be delusional, but this I do know…if we really want to give our families a great gift – we’ll give them ourselves…our love…our time…our presence.

If we really want to give our families a great gift - we'll give them ourselves. Click To Tweet

Now before you get ticked off at me for adding yet another “to do” to your long list, or you think I’m here to shame you into being a better parent…just hold on.  Because the truth is;

In order to give of ourselves, we first must give to ourselves. We can’t expect to have enough fuel to give to others if our own tanks are on empty.

So here’s a few questions for you to ponder:

  1. Are you loving yourself and receiving love?
  2. Are you making time for the things that bring you joy and refreshment?
  3. Are you giving yourself the gift of God’s Presence? (more on that here: When Rest Isn’t Enough)

If you can confidently answer yes to those questions, then you will be much better equipped to give of yourself…because you will be giving out of your overflow…not out of frustration and weariness…running on fumes so-to-speak.  I think giving of yourself will at most times be a sacrifice, because by nature, human beings are selfish, but it’s important to remember that,

when you give of yourself, you’re not only meeting an immediate need of another, but you are also making a long-term investment in your family which can yield a good return long into your child’s teen and adult years.

If you feel like you’re already giving yourself time and giving of your time and are still getting frustrated, try a few of these tips to help you get started:

So although that half an hour of playing dolls can sometimes seem like an eternity, or you’d rather scrub toilets than have to play Monopoly one more time, and although the thought of just giving a gift or a treat can often seem so much more appealing; keep in mind the greater goal, and if you need extra incentive, just sneak a peek at the smiles on their faces…and that should help.

 

 

 

PS: While I geared most of this towards connecting with your children, feel free to apply it to your marriage as well! 😉

 

Thank you to Astrid Mueller at astridmueller.com for the pretty Free Watercolor brush stroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site.

Continue Reading

When Rest isn’t Enough

Ironically enough I’m writing this post immediately after returning from an overnight family vacation; however the eye-opener happened a few weeks prior to this trip…in the middle of busyness, mood swings, and what seemed to be a whole lot of inner turmoil and mess in what was really just regular, everyday mama life.

Parent, or not, I’m sure we’ve all been there – that place when life is moving at too fast a pace for you to keep up.  For me, I often don’t realize it until it’s too late and I’ve been on a week-long streak of being miserable and short with my amazing family who have taken the brunt of it and inside I’m in a volatile, volcanic state…ready to erupt at any given moment.  Yeah, sadly you’d think I’d be more in touch with myself by now, but what can I say; I’m still learning and figuring out this business of being a grown-up.

So anyways, being in this state of mind a few weeks back on one particular evening, after reading a new devotional that I had begun on my Bible app entitled How’s Your Soul? (based on the book of the same title by Judah Smith…which I think I may need to read at some point in the near future…again…not getting commission here but dang it…I should be! ha hah!)…I was faced with a few questions on the topic of “rest” to reflect on.  The first question was seemingly quite easy, asking what I do to unwind and rest and how often I do that particular thing.  My answer came almost immediately as I pictured myself relaxing on the couch with my favorite pillow/blanket/tea combo, watching Netflix to nothing but the sound of sweet sleep coming from the children’s bedrooms (after the final bathroom break, water run, injury-of-the-day report, and umpteen trips out of the room for whatever else they could think of had wrapped up).  But before you could say “Nailed it”, and as I tried to move onto the next question, I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite through with that one.  It was then that the real eye opener came when I heard God whisper in my heart…

“but do you feel refreshed?”

Whoa!  Now there was a new thought that had never occurred to me before.  Here I was thinking that I was getting rest on a regular basis once the kids went to sleep, but in reality…I was only getting to step one…unwinding…but never truly entering into the rest that brought refreshment.

So of course, the question begged to be asked…”what do you do to be refreshed?”.  Friends, I can honestly tell you that after searching long and hard for an answer, I came up empty.  It shocked me to realize that the refreshment I was in so desperate need of on a daily basis, was an elusive thing that came and went with the changing of the wind.  It became clear to me all too soon the source of my anger, frustration, weariness and irritability.  I was neglecting my soul – and my body, mind, and emotions were all suffering for it (not to mention my poor family!)

So what was the answer…where was I to go from here?  Take up another activity?  Exercise more?  Eat healthier?  Sleep more?  While those things are definitely all good and necessary in the maintenance of the soul, it was something else entirely that I found to be the solution.  Again as my thoughts began to run amuck searching for the answer, I heard something very different in the midst of all of the chaotic thoughts…a thought that wasn’t my own….”you could get up a bit earlier to spend time with Me“…It was the whisper of God’s heart again.  Inside I could feel of all the excuses forming…”but I’ve tried that and I just waste that time on my phone with a million notices from the night before”…silence on the other end….so I followed up with…”but I nee-e-e-e-e-d my sleep…I give out all day to little one’s and I’m exhausted when my head hits that pillow…I can’t sacrifice any of that time”….this time an answer…again, “but do you wake up feeling refreshed?“. Gah!  Again, I was without a sufficient response…speechless.  As I sat dumbfounded in the silence, the voice continued,

Just a few moments of  time spent with me would refresh your soul more than those 10 minutes of sleep that you think you need.”

I was shocked.  I had no response, no rebuttal, no witty comeback…nothing.  This was it…my answer…my moment of “aha!”…my solution to all that had been weighing me down.  So I decided that I’d try it out…my prayer was simple…”God give me grace!”…and His response just as simple…”it’s for your benefit…refreshment“….that right there was my grace…my ace in the back pocket for when I didn’t want to drag my weary butt out of bed.

The lasting result of rest is refreshment; anything less is artificial & temporal Click To Tweet

It’s been a few weeks since I started this new routine of finding refreshment in the mornings…sometimes it looks like reading a chapter of scripture from the bible, sometimes a devotion with a short bible verse, and sometimes just listening to worship music where the deepest parts of my heart can reach out to my Savior..sometimes it’s just sitting silent and listening for Him to whisper words of encouragement to my tired soul…but always, it’s refreshing, (and always it involves coffee).

For you, refreshment may look different. While I believe that it’s important for believers to read the bible, and pray…when it becomes just another “have to” thing in our life…we’ve reduced it to nothing more than religion…which is man’s attempt to reach God through outward performance and ritual…and friend’s…there is absolutely nothing in that, that will bring refreshment to the soul (rather it will weary you in doing all the “right” things to attempt to reach God…and in vain…we can never “do enough” to reach Him…our reaching Him is only through receiving the gift of His Son Jesus who gave Himself in order to reach us)  I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to do things like watch TV to unwind…but let’s make sure that in our unwinding…we also mix in some refreshing.  My strategy for refreshment might not be the same as yours, and hey…it might not look the same for me in every season of my life either…there’s been other times where it’s came through creating, writing, journaling, quiet walks in the woods, or reflecting by the water (that pun wasn’t lost on me…but if you know me at all you know that there’s just something about the water that inspires me like none other)…but always…the deepest refreshment has come when I’ve invited Jesus into those times to just do life with me.   Really, that’s all that He’s after..just connection with you…in the things that you love…do that…and trust me…you’ll be refreshed.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28 (The Message Bible)

Continue Reading

The Day My Cell Phone Died

Well friends, tis true…my cell phone did die; however before any of you rush out and buy me a new one, I should point out that this happened in December and I have since replaced the ol’ girl.  Thus the story begins…

If you’re anything like me you suffer from a terrible case of the “dropsies” when it comes to the safe handling of your device.  On any given day my phone will fall several times (well, not my new one with the blinged out 24K gold case…yeah I’m cool like that…tbh…totally scored it on sale…but still…its genuine folks…stepping up in the world apparently) ANYWAYS….where was I?  Oh, right…dropsies.  So, unfortunately, (or perhaps it was fortunately? I’ll let you decide later) on this particular occasion in which my phone fell…it was only wearing it’s birthday suit…and when it hit the ground…it hit it hard…it’s poor little face was smashed to smithereens.

Was it coincidence that the day it fell was Christmas Eve – Eve (on a Friday of course) and that any shipping would have – not only the regular wait of the weekend – but an additional two days to make up for the fact that Boxing Day was on the Monday and Christmas (which occurred on the weekend) would be observed by businesses on the Tuesday?  I think not.  Was it also co-incidence that when my warranty replacement arrived on the Thursday I would discover that it also had issues and would need to be sent back immediately if I wanted a refund so that I could end my contract and begin a new one?  I think not – again.  So if we factor in New Years….that left me without a phone for the entire duration of Christmas Eve – Eve (I’m making it a thing now if it isn’t already), right through to New Year’s Day….and more than halfway into the first week of January….so in total: 12.5 days without a phone…unheard of in today’s day and age…but quite ridiculous to make a big deal of only 10 short years ago (might be aging myself now…I care not…30’s are the new 20’s as far as I’m concerned…spread the word.)

Anyways, so here’s the power punch…what I learned from my time in the dark ages so to speak: after almost two weeks without access to a phone and very little access to Facebook (computer’s just aren’t as portable) I realized this:

I didn’t miss much.

I know you’re probably looking at me like I have two heads right about now…but it’s 100% true…and this is coming from a girl who carried her phone in her back pocket and checked it regularly…E-mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…you name it…I checked it (except Snapchat…I just don’t get it….and likely by the time I did..that ship would have sailed).  Now I will admit that the first few days I experienced withdrawal symptoms, but thank the Lord, I had the busyness of Christmas to keep me preoccupied.  However, as the days passed I began to discover that I had a new-found freedom from my constant addiction…I could come and go as I pleased without the pressure of immediately responding to texts, e-mails, or Facebook comments, likes, tags, and messages…after all I had a wonderful excuse with no phone…I could go to bed on time, without the distraction of a phone by my bedside table, and begin my day without checking what I may have missed during those precious few hours of sleep…I began to look up and discover little things that I would’ve been missing had my phone been present.

I discovered that while I had been so busy trying to “keep up” with my social media life…I had been missing out on real life…with the real people who were closest and most important to me…not in huge obvious ways…but in the little things; the cues and clues that we take for granted in daily life.

Sound too good to be true?  T’wasn’t.  But here’s the thing: I knew that my day’s were numbered with this new-found love affair and that when the shiny new device arrived, the lure back into that crazy world would be waiting to pounce on me like a Cheetah would her prey (picture that…it would be exactly like that).  So what did I do about it?  Well, I made some very key decisions there and then; simple and small, but key to keeping this change.  For starters, I decided to purge my personal Instagram account (as that was what could devour most of my time)…I asked myself why I was following so many people whom I only knew of from a distance…musicians, actors, artists…and if the only reason was because I was curious about their personalities and lives…than I deemed that as inadequate and unnecessary time baggage for my screen life…and gave them the axe.  I also changed the amount of notifications I received from various groups and pages on Facebook, and when my new phone did arrive, I chose to keep apps with several notifications (you know – that little number bubble that pops up in the corner to say how many actions have happened since you last checked) off of my home screens so that the temptation was at bay.  I limited my amount of downloaded games, and lastly decided to keep my phone on the counter rather than in my pockets when at home.  In addition to changes involving the amount of time on my phone, I also decided that instead of always reaching for my phone to entertain me…this year I wanted to begin a new habit of reaching for a book…not a Kobo (which I don’t actually own), or any other electronic device…but a real book with real pages.  I also decided to return to an art form that had been pushed to the back burner…keeping a journal…not to write in every day so it becomes just another chore…but a place where I can find inspiration leap off of my pen and onto the pages at will…and I decided to dig out my beloved coloring book and use that as another way to find creative inspiration. 

It’s been about three weeks now since I’ve re-entered the world of cell phones and I’m happy to say that the boundaries I have set in place are definitely helping…although the temptation is still there to keep scrolling until I’ve caught up on everything that happened since I last checked my phone…I’m way more mindful of how easy it is to get sucked back into that place where it becomes an addiction…and when I begin feeling that pull I know it’s time to just put the phone down.  And hey!  I’ve even had more enlightenment since returning to phone land….brace yourself because this may hit home…but Pinterest…that page we all know and love to get “inspiration” from…well…I realized that unless I’m purposefully looking for something on there, it actually does the opposite of inspire me…it entertains, and gift wraps the ideas and inspiration so that instead of looking at the real world for relevant, genuine inspiration, I’m only regurgitating the inspiration of another.  Now that’s not to say that I’ve eliminated it completely from my life…but it’s definitely no longer my main source of inspiration.

Less screen time = heightened awareness, leading to meaningful connection & genuine inspiration. Click To Tweet

Maybe you’re not quite ready to turn back the dial on your screen time…but I’d like to challenge you to put at least one limitation in place…for a week…and see what you discover about yourself, and those around you in that time.  You may discover that you like it.  While technology is a wonderful thing, it’s important to remember that as it continues to advance and we continue to keep up…the real world moves at an even faster pace and if we don’t look up soon…we’ll miss it….and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather miss the screen world than the real world.

 

 

 

PS: I’d love to hear some feedback about your similar experiences!  And if you take me up on my offer, please check back in and share with me how it went!

Continue Reading

When the Real World Hits Home

Please excuse me friends, but I’m having a moment here.  You see tonight I encountered the reality of the harsh world that we live in within the four walls of my home.  Tonight consisted of a very heartbreaking conversation that had to take place with one of my young children about an image that had popped up on the iPad at school during a very innocent search for a related assignment.

Up until this point my children hadn’t really needed any “talks” but tonight, at an age far too ripe for any child, issues had to be discussed that I hoped could have been avoided until they were …. well …forever…or at least 10!  Naive? Maybe – but you carry someone for 9 months, then endure unbearable pain to deliver that person, bring them home knowing that their complete survival is dependent on you, and teach them everything from smiling to walking to riding a bike, not to mention all of the bedtime rituals of hugs, kisses, stories, prayers, more hugs, more kisses, midnight wake-ups and endless nights of rocking chairs, lullaby’s, prayer’s, and tears from both parties…and then tell me that I don’t have a right to feel that way!  But I digress.

It wasn’t the big life talk…we haven’t even made it there yet….but this…tonight…it make’s me angry.  I know, I know…you’re sick of all of the anger going on in the world with world leaders, and policies, and the list goes on and on and on….and yeah…I agree that we need more love in this hate-filled world…but right now I’m angry.  I’m angry that in this sex-driven world in which we live a young child can go on an iPad for a school project and find indecency…I’m angry that what was once private has now become something for public consumption…I’m angry that I can’t go into a grocery store in the checkout line without having to flip magazine covers or avert my eyes…I’m angry that I can’t go on Netflix without having to scroll past disgusting images to get to the shows I want to watch…I’m angry that my children come home asking what “sexy” means because they’ve heard it in school by other children who likely are just as clueless but know enough from the images that are plastered everywhere that it’s now something to be equated with power.  But most of all, I’m angry that the innocence of our children, of my children, is being stolen at every corner and it’s all happening right under our noses.

So what do we do about it?  How do we shield them?  How do we protect these one’s that we have raised with, quite literally, our blood, sweat and tears, from the lust-driven world around them that wait’s to entice them at every turn?  Honestly, right now I’m afraid that neither one of us will like that answer…but if we allow that answer to drive us to fear, we’ll either shame or isolate them and neither of those options are realistic or beneficial.

I don’t pretend for one minute to have all of the answers…as I’m sure you know…parenting manuals are never one-size-fits-all, but what I can tell you is this; open communication and valuing the relationship over the issue will create a safe atmosphere for your child, and in a world of unsafe things bombarding them, they need to know that you are safe.  I definitely have my flaws, but right now despite the heartbreak, I can say that I am so sooo thankful that my child felt safe enough to willingly tell me what they saw without any prompting or foreknowledge on my part so that the door could be opened to have a healthy discussion without shame, anger, or fear.

In a world of unsafe things bombarding your children they need to know that you are safe. Click To Tweet

Maybe for you your children have already crossed this hurdle, and forgive me, as I have no experience raising teenagers or adults, but I’d like to challenge you with the same thing…regardless of what struggle your child is facing…keep the lines open by creating a safe atmosphere where they can come to you and know that you will always value the relationship you have over the issues they are facing.  It may not have immediate results, especially if you have a different history with your child as of now, but keep with it…eventually trust will be restored…and when that happens…your opinions will be invaluable to them.

As far as practical resources, for approaching the subject of internet safety and what to do when our children see inappropriate images, I would highly recommend the book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen A. Jenson M.A. and Gail A. Poyner Ph.D.  It covers this topic from a very scientific point of view looking at how the brain is divided into the thinking and feeling side and how those side’s both work, as well as providing a simple, graphic-free definition of what pornography is, why it’s dangerous (covering addiction and why addiction is harmful), and most importantly, how to reject it.  Straight up guys, I’m (sadly) not receiving any reimbursements for endorsing this book and I wasn’t coerced by anyone into writing anything – I’m just a mama trying to help other mama’s in any way that I can. 😉 And if you don’t need this resource yet, I’d still consider getting it in advance…I bought it around June and it was gathering dust until tonight when I was so thankful to be able to pull it out for our conversation.  (And don’t worry..it’s written from the point of view of a child having a conversation with his mom so it leave’s out much of the gooey cheesiness that other books in this genre tend to ooze of).

So anyways, I guess the light at the end of the tunnel in all of this is that sometimes life sucks…(ha ha…that wasn’t it…wait …for….it…) but you know, after the tears subsided and my mom anger melted away (as I got partway through my blog post…and yes there will be follow-up…not pointing of the finger and blame since I trust and am very grateful for our teacher’s and school…but definitely a working together to continually improve in this ongoing battle) I realized something that brought much comfort to my heart….and that is this: my child trusts me.  It’s a scary world out there guys, but when we’ve invested into the little people in our lives and demonstrated that we’re not going to freak out when they spill the milk everywhere but instead teach them to wipe up their mess with hugs and reassurance to carry on (and sometimes that means leading by example when we spill the milk!)…they’ll trust us with the bigger spills that happen…because they know that above all…we love them…and that relationship is more important than the bumps, spills, and messes that come their way…it’s a safe place in a not-so-safe world.  And after all, isn’t that what we really want for them?  Not to be so sheltered that any ripple in life rocks them…but to empower them to make those good decisions with room to grow, knowing that when mistakes are made – we’re always in their corner to toss them the towel with one hand and help them up with the other.

blog-signature-1
Editor’s Note: This post was written at an earlier time and I’m pleased to report that my child continues to quickly point out signs of immodesty on magazines or TV ads as they appear.  I couldn’t be more proud!

 

Thank you to Astrid Mueller at astridmueller.com for the pretty Free Watercolor brush stroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site.

Continue Reading

Lest We Forget – The Way of Love

lest-we-forget-the-way-of-love

Well friends, I had something entirely different planned and written for today, but in light of recent events and the ridiculous amount of hatred floating around, I felt it was necessary to stop and reflect on Remembrance Day – lest we forget.

As I was reflecting on Remembrance Day this week, the scripture in John 15:13 came to mind, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  As I think about the character traits of the men and women who have served this Great Nation both in the past and still today, love is usually not at the forefront of my mind.  Courage, sacrifice, honor, respect, dignity – all of these readily fill my thoughts, but love…not so much.

Continue Reading

The Illusion of Strength

the-illusion-of-strength-blog-6

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip… Yay…last week’s Thursday adventure!  Not really.  So here’s the lowdown; last week my son came running in to the house crying, as young adventurous boy’s often do, however this time, it was more than the typical trampoline bump or bicycle crash.  My son had unfortunately been on the receiving end of a rather nasty dog bite.  After a quick examination at home we could tell that he would need to see a Dr. and would likely need stitches, and seeing as my husband was unable to take him…and of course because I was in full swing Supermom mode… I volunteered to take him to the Hospital.

Now I had been handling it rather well, all things considered, and was even able to keep the waterworks at bay on the drive there as he asked fearful questions through tear-filled eyes.  During our time in the emergency waiting room I continued to check on the wound and calm his fears (and mine) as we chatted with the other questioning patients as best we could.  And then the time came to finally see the Dr.  I anticipated the typical discussion about stitches, but what I didn’t anticipate was my reaction to said discussion.

Continue Reading