As the summer was approaching it’s end- The feels were out of control- Feelings of sadness, excitement, wonder, nervousness, worry, and so many others. We had made the decision to send Chandler to a private school here in Columbia City. The school is a small, Christian based school, and we felt this was going to be the best fit for us. As the days grew closer and closer, so did my questions- What was this going to look like? Why were we sending him to school? Was this going to be a good fit?
For us when I think of school – these people become your village. Teachers, students, staff, and other parents become your village- They are spending 8 plus hours a day with your child/children! Wow! That is a long time-
Think about this-
In a weeks time, our children spend more time with school personnel and students than they do with you. 5 out of the 7 days are spent at school about 8 hours a day at school – 5-7 hours sleeping, 2-8 hours in activities… It’s all adding up. My fear was that when he got home from school he wouldn’t want to do any activities- The first day we got home and he just wanted to sit on the couch like a bump on a log. He was tired. So tired! For us that didn’t feel good. At 5 they shouldn’t feel that tired and unable to do life or want to do life outside of school.
Plus, I have a passion for learning- Why I never got my teaching degree is beside me- I am sure I have enough credit hours for a teaching degree, but hmmmmm
Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be told what to teach and how to teach. After all I have been teaching from the time I was a teenager- I taught Sunday school, then Bible school, and Jacob (he’s now 14) When he was little I learned real quick that he was not going to learn the “traditional way” I had to get creative-
Learning shapes, colors, and numbers became a game on the stairs- construction paper, scissors, and markers and I was able to cut out shapes in different colors with different numbers on them. He learned those things so fast! Then with letters- He had a love for football at such an early age- I bought water proof books that were the size of flashcards and taped them to the cement far enough a part that would play catch- He said the letter and we read the book if he while playing catch.
About 4 years ago we home schooled the big kids for a while. Ashley did Connections and Academy, and we used “unit studies” for Jacob and well, with Chandler learning has been happening since he was born- We have been doing “school” his whole life without even realizing it. My idea of school is – fun, creative, hands on, child lead learning.
Children want to learn, they are curious, and want to be taught, however, they don’t always want to sit still, and they don’t always want to be inside, and maybe they need to take a break.
Kids want to be involved and heard, and a lot of times people / teachers / staff talk at children instead of to them. I just witnessed it at the school. Chandlers teacher was asking me things about Chandler- I just smiled and said he can answer your questions. Our tiny humans are extraordinary, they are smart and want to be heard.
What does homeschooling look like for us?
SIMPLE – He’s 5
We will do the calendar every day- (We already do this).
An all about me book – This a notebook that Chandler will answer a simple question each day, then draw a picture of said questions (I.E – Day 1 – What is your name? Then he can write his name upper and lower case and draw a picture of himself (this book is only for him to write in and he can only use colored pencil’s. By week 2 we will focus on senses and each day will be centered around that.
One bible verse each week- He has a bible verse book that he will write the verse in and draw a picture of what that verse means to him. Then throughout the week we will do sidewalk chalk, painting, and other creative ways to practice it.
Math everyday- might be a worksheet, might be a dice game, maybe going on a nature hunt and collecting leaves and adding and subtracting them. Math is a wonderful subject and should be fun!
Pen pal- Each week he will pick one person to write a letter to and send it in the mail (this is reinforcing words and adding punctuation, and brings in real life – post office and how mail works. We will physically go to the post office and he will pay for a stamp each time.
Sight Word practice- This will be with note cards, flash light, maybe a worksheet, maybe dry erase book, maybe sidewalk chalk, paint, or stickers.
Reading- We purchased the Usborne Books
We will meet once a month at the:
Merry Lea environmental center for a home school group
Science Central and Botanical Gardens, Children’s museum, and more.
If you are interested in following our Homeschool adventure you can follow @secureandstrong on Instagram
Plus I will be posting lesson plans each week after the week with pictures and instructions.
Happy Schooling is really what’s important- If you are happy with your child’s school whether that is homeschool, public, private, montessori or online… As long as you are happy and your child is happy that is all that matters.
Today marks the first day of my “Birthday Month.” A Birthday Month, I mean what is this? Late teens early 20’s this looked like: new outfits, dancing lots of nights away, minimal responsibilities and new whatever I wanted. What does this look like now? Over the past few years it has changed to “Experiences” for my 34th birthday: I just wanted to hike a mountain, paddleboard, and eat somewhere new. I had a couple of things that I wanted a pair of rainboots and a pair of scrunch butt swim bottoms… But you get the idea.
34- will for sure be a tough act to follow: Bucket list was checked a few times this year! It was a year of endless adventuring that’s for sure! It was this year that I married my best friend, published a book! You can purchase on Amazon! Wheew that took a lot of courage to actually push the publish button. I hiked a couple of mountains, and visited a few new beaches, flew to Dallas Texas, took a trip to Tybee Island (this is where we got married). We then, moved from North Carolina to Indiana. I got to see Pink in concert! Our daughter graduated high school! We had our hearts broke- We had to put our sweet Lady girl to sleep. 🙁 She is in a much better place now. We bought a house, visited the Michigan Dunes, took a trip to St. Louis, took a trip to Niagara Falls, and took a trip to Cedar Point. I have been able to Embrace my family and friends, Experience moments of complete awesome! Honestly, I have Enjoyed all of it. It has been such a beautiful year!
For my 34th birthday I had a few wishes for myself that I wanted to happen throughout the year: Those included being able to see myself the way that my loved ones see me, embarking on new challenges, spend more time helping in the community, embracing our new hometown, I wanted to learn to talk to myself with positive words, I wanted to show my kids how to love themselves, I wanted to try each day to be a little better than the day before, I wanted to display more patience… The question is did I accomplish these things? I believe that I am improving in these areas, and I believe that I will continue to improve in these areas. I know that each day I put my participation pants on- does that mean that they are always on the correct way, or that they are always zipped, maybe they aren’t clean? I dunno but I know that I am trying and that my friends feels good.
Wheew about to be 35! This is insane! I remember as a teen I would talk with my friends about when we turned 35 and what that would look like and I can tell you that I never even imagined that this is where I could have been. It was not in my realm of thoughts that this is the life that I could be living. For a long time in my life I felt like I didn’t know who I was. God was always there trying to show me who I was and for a short amount of time I would believe him, but then I would basically tell him he was crazy and follow my own path- Woah! What a path that was each time. Life always felt impossible, hard, and confusing. I would feel scared, worried, and stressed most days. I would hide those feelings well or I thought well with a fake smile on my face and basically float through life not feeling like it was my life. It’s funny for my whole life everyone I know including myself have put so much emphasis on who we are when really the emphasis should be on “who’s” we are.
Not anymore, I don’t feel like a scared little girl, I don’t feel stressed, or confused. I know “who’s” I am! I now have faith in my day to day. I have learned and am continuing to learn each day. That is the key. I am learning to fall in love with my body and all of it’s imperfections. I can say that I know my truth- I no longer feel the need to explain myself for my decisions. I no longer feel like I need to gain approval to continue or start a path of my choosing. I know who’s I am- I am a daughter, I am a Wife, I am a Mom. I am a student of life, and I am Secure and Strong in who I am, and I am a mess. 🙂
Here’s to the 30’s and being half way through!
I can run faster, longer, and harder, I am physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger , I am so much wiser today than I was at the age of 25. I am still me and that will remain I am just a better version of me. I pray that with each day, week, month, and year that I am a better version of me.
I am excited for 35- I am looking forward to adventures to new places, making memories, and enjoying the life that I get to live.
At almost 35 – I choose to live! I choose to love! I choose to Embrace! I choose to Experience! I chose to Enjoy every moment that I get to experience this coming year! This life is mine and I am thankful to be me!
Have you ever been in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you has a cart full of groceries that you could only dream to buy, and then they pay with food stamps… Then you get this entitled feeling- Maybe you whisper something under your breath like “Must be nice to get free stuff” or “I work really hard and I can’t buy that stuff.” Whatever it is- I am guilty of this too. For years I believed that I was deserving of these things and I always had a negative mindset towards government help, maybe this is because throughout my life I have witnessed a few people “abuse” the system. Also, throughout my entire life I have heard people downgrade people that are on it… using the same words that I used.
AHA Moment- First I am just so thankful that I have a thirst for knowledge and a need to understand and change my point of view because I for one am saddened at my point of view that I had for years of my life and frankly a little embarrassed that I could judge so harshly.
Let me explain to you my mindset change- I spent sometime with a group of people that live a very different life than I live- Let me be clear it’s not better or worse just different. They had a few children and were doing what they could with what they had, but at the end of the day very different. The neighborhood was a little scary, the amount of things that we watched happen in the short span of time that we were there just got me thinking… The day to day that these kids are living is so completely different from the day to day that my kids are living. After leaving there I was driving with music up loud and I just started thinking and praying- I started asking God to open my eyes, open my heart, and open my mind. God can you just show me what you see. Lord please help me to understand this world just a little bit better. It was in that moment that I just started crying and it was like God had just lit up an abandoned warehouse. He just showed me that it’s not about what we don’t have or can’t provide for our families that the next person is getting, instead it’s this:
Think about your day to day that you show your children. What are constants in your children’s lives? Don’t all children deserve a constant something. Well, these kids the constant that they are getting is this food that is being provided and that my friends is a beautiful thing. Why do we get so upset when we see someone getting something that we think we aren’t getting? When we are already receiving daily grace. Aren’t we supposed to be Christians? Isn’t it our job to emulate the same love that our Heavenly Father gives us. We have all needed a helping hand in life maybe from a parent, relative, friend, or even a complete stranger. I bet we were over joyed at the thought and action being taken to help us.
Government resources are there for a reason, they are there too help and it is not up to us to judge or point blame to people that are in need in whatever capacity that is. Instead we should be focused on living the best life that we possibly can. If we all started focusing a little more on our own homes and own children I bet the world could be an even better place. I promise it is not these resources that is bankrupting our country-
There are people and I used to be one of them- Drug test before you give them help. Does that child not deserve to eat? Who are we to decide that? Also, prescription drugs are a real problem and they aren’t going to show up on a drug screen, so is it just people that smoke pot? They don’t get help? Those children should get the one constant taken away from them? They don’t deserve to eat because they have parents that make choices that are illegal?
We have bigger fish to fry in our country than worrying about whether or not these people are getting “free aid” it’s not about them it’s about the children. Take a moment and think about that for a second.
Focus on what is happening in your four walls- What would you do if you lost everything tomorrow and had to be the one asking for help? What would you do if you were standing there in line with your name brand clothes and fancy car and someone pointed and laughed or downgraded you? How would it feel? I promise there has been a time that someone somewhere has helped you without judgement. You didn’t wake up where you are on your own.
Be a bright shining light in this dark world- Instead of pointing and casting judgement- because as we all know the picture isn’t up or down it’s a mess. The picture is messy! There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but instead just answers that come from opinions that have been ingrained in your head from the time you were little. Are you willing to change your thoughts? Are you willing to turn the page and see deeper into a situation because we just start throwing stones that will break us too?
We are all sinners, we are all broken, and we are all in need of help. Thankfully, we all have a Father that loves us unconditionally even when we mess up and always welcomes us home no matter what! Can we start emulating that type of love to the people around us. Can we stop pointing in judgement?
Woah! 7 hours in the car, 4 states, and memories for a life time! For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see Niagara Falls up close and personal. We are so blessed that we were able to experience that this weekend. After hours of research and hundreds of blogs read everything pointed to The Maid of Mist being a must do activity. Building up to our trip and really most of my life I have built the falls up in my head and part of me was a little nervous that maybe they wouldn’t meet my expectations…
Note to self- next time we will wear sandals and not tennis shoes- our feet got soaked, but even with soaked feet we had so much fun! The poncho’s that they give out are awesome and we plan on keeping ours to as a momento. They definitely tried to upsell us on other activities, but we stayed strong and just went with the Mist, it was the most up close and personal activity. After “The Maid of the Mist” we walked over to #goatisland which was incredible! The views were spectacular, and the atmosphere was perfect. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.
The best part with #themaidofmist is that you ge to see both sides of the falls from the bottom up. The sheer power and mightiness of the falls was unlike anything I have ever seen. After climbing to the top of a mountain, walking on the beach, seeing and hearing ocean waves crashing in, walking through a forest, and everything in between- Our God is such a GREAT GOD! Such a perfect Father! He is constantly providing the tools we need to succeed! He has given us so much awesome. He just wants us to have it all. We just have to be willing to walk the path that he has cleared for us.
I feel so incredibly blessed that we are able to Embrace adventures together, Experience moments like this that engulf us, and that we choose to Enjoy this life that we choose to live. I love that we have shifted our mindsets- from a place of having so many things, to a place of EXPERIENCING so many places.
After visiting The Maid of Mist, and Goats island we were able to walk over and experience Free Saturday Funday! It was a blast! They had a petting zoo, life sized games, and more fun than we imagined! It was a blast! After a couple games of connect 4, which Chandler beat me, and a serious life sized game of Checkers- I still remain the champion. We loved on the goats, cows, llamas, oh and a little turtle. Niagara Falls downtown didn’t disappoint, oh and followed up the day with a swim in the pool! Felt good to relax after a 7 hour drive and over 12 thousand steps for the day 🙂 Ended the trip with a little shopping!
After all of this- Get up and go after what you want! Take chances, and explore your surroundings. There is so much beauty and awesome wonder around us. Embrace people not things, Experience moments, not things, Enjoy the life that you live and if you don’t then take steps to change is so that you can Enjoy it. You are in the driver seat. Take a knee and ask for help.
At Church on Sunday during worship there was a sweet little family sitting in front of us. They had a toddler boy and girl. As worship is happening the little girl is watching her Dad’s phone and she is focused- “All the earth will shout your praises, our hearts will cry, these bones will sing Great are you Lord” This little tiny girl hears these words and stretches her arms up high with palms facing up, she looks up as high as her little head and eyes will let her and keeps her arms raised!
Talk about powerful! This sweet girl was so focused on her phone and out of nowhere hears these words and opens herself up in such a way to just receive the Lord. It was precious, uplifting, and humbling all at the same time.
I equate this to us in this way: We as a people are “busy.” Aren’t we? Don’t we all say it all the time. We are constantly telling people “We are busy”, sorry I didn’t call you back- “I was busy.” Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry…. People ask us how we are and we say, “busy.” hmmmm Think about that for a minute-
How are you?
What is busy? What does this mean? What are we busy doing? Hmmmm I have heard people say I’ve been busy, “sorry I couldn’t call you” Then you look at social media and you see that they posted something a few minutes ago and then responded to different comments…. Maybe you told someone you were busy and you did the same thing. I think sometimes we say that we are busy out of habit. It becomes second nature. Busy is relative- because if it is something that you really want to do or a place you want to be you will make time. If it is a movie or show you want to watch you will make time. If there is a game on tv that you want to see you will make time. People- if there are people that you want to spend time with you will make time! Think about that- Oh the dating phase…. Working 2 jobs, going to school raising a child, and yet still making time to spend moments with that special someone. hmmmm
Does any of this make you or me bad people? No, the answer is no, but how can we improve our response from “busy” which isn’t always the case to something a little more honest- Maybe instead of saying I got “busy” and that’s why I didn’t call you back- Be honest and say that it slipped your mind- You got side tracked.
Maybe instead of saying that you are to busy to hang out with someone use the truth- I already have plans or I kind of want to just stay in. I promise your relationships will improve if you take these simple steps in being more forth coming with your responses.
In the same way that that little girl stopped what she was doing to receive the Lord we could maybe sometimes stop what we are doing and take in the stuff that is around us- I see this all the time and I am guilty too.
You are sitting on the couch scrolling through social media and your child is saying, hey! Look at me! We respond with one second- because you know that status that we are reading or uploading is of so much importance.
We get so caught up in our own selfishness that we can’t even get through the grocery line without pulling our phones out and disregarding the cashier all together. We live in such a fast paced world that we feel bad if we have a day of no plans- I know that I am guilty of this! I feel pressure from I don’t even know where to have something planned whether it be an activity or an outing… I struggle with just being when it comes to the kids… I find myself constantly trying to plan stuff for them. I guess I just want them to experience so much-
It was in the last year that I learned to really love quiet time. I yearn for it now. When we lived in North Carolina I would take my board out on the water early in the morning before everyone woke up. The water would be quiet and calm. The sunrise filled with colors and shapes. The air thick with a perfect chill. It’s in this time that I would feel the most at peace. The first couple of times felt a little awkward and scary-
Once I got over the need to hear noise or create noise- I was able to just be. When you give yourself a chance to just be it allows you to be able to connect. It was in those moments that I would be filled with ideas, thoughts, and just understanding. It was in those moments that I was able to reflect and experience those aha moments. It was in those moments that I was able to hear God, feel God, and yearn for more of that connection. Now, I pride myself in taking those alone moments.
I guess what I am trying to say is it’s okay to not be “busy” all the time. It’s okay to tell people that you just can’t make it because you are choosing not to. It’s okay to just be. We don’t have to stay busy, we don’t have to keep our kids busy. Taking time to just be allows our inner creative parts to shine through without all the noise.
Sometimes we need those moments of quiet to reflect on where we are at in life, where we want to go, and choosing the path that we are going to take to get there. Sometimes we need those alone moments to acknowledge those inner thoughts and feelings because allowing ourselves to feel those feelings it may enable us to make a change that we have been trying to make.
I challenge you- one way to clear out your schedule is to block off time for social media… Maybe you say on Sunday night after the kids go to bed I will scroll though social media- I guarantee you will find yourself with hours of free time during the week. Maybe fill that time with a phone call to someone that you haven’t spoke to in real life. Maybe use that time to use for reading, maybe use that time for writing, taking a walk, or going on a bike ride. Clear your mind, body, and soul. Get rid of the need to always be present in everyone else’s life and start focusing more on your life and WHO’S you are-
We all need to do a better job at this.
Friends / boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife
More than these titles I think it’s important to put more emphasis on “Partner in Life.”
I remember at an early age my brothers and sisters, mom and dad, and others would say things like oh is that your boyfriend? You know in a joking manor, but looking back it’s funny to me because there is so much emphasis put on getting a boyfriend, and getting married.
Being in a broken relationship for 5 years – 2 of that being engaged… I was never asked if I thought he was going to be a good partner in life or if I could be a good partner to him. I just had the same mentality that most people have, you know this one… if we get married things will change. Aren’t we all under that impression that if we get married things will change. Like some how some way standing there in front of the pastor, judge, or clergy that it will some how fix the issues?
It doesn’t, all it does is add to the issues because now there are more expectations without the tools necessary to meet those expectations, or maybe the tools are there, but one or both parties aren’t willing to pick up the tools. It’s very important to have clear expectations of what your idea of marriage looks like. You should also be willing to listen to your partner and hear what expectations they have in marriage. I think when joining together, understanding what you “love” about that person, and understanding how they love you will only help your relationship grow.
Marriage is hard, but it’s also awesome and amazing! The road of marriage will have many curves, many road blocks, many stops. Take them in strides, understand that there are seasons. Those seasons will reflect many different pictures. There is a difference between seasons that you can come out of stronger, and seasons that are just darkness…
Take a look at your relationship- Do you have clear expectations? Are you and your partner equipped to reach those expectations? Are you hearing your partner? Is your partner hearing you? What gives your relationship strength?
One more thing to think about: Are you emulating to your children and the people around you the kind of relationship that you want for them? Are you showing them how to love? Are you showing them how to receive love?
7 years together, almost a year of marriage, 3 kids, 3 states, 3 homes, 2 rentals, and a dog….
Talk about seasons! We have taken some huge leaps of faith in this beautiful thing we call life. We have made a choice to work together, more than that we made a choice to put God at the center of our relationship- This has been the key.
What is at the center of your relationship? Is it finding someone to share your “dream” wedding with? You know the one that you had dreams about as a child (before you even knew who or when you would be getting married?) This to me is a little comical because little girls and boys are out there being taught that they should be planning this ideal wedding, but they have no idea who they will marry, even better they have no interest in even considering where said partner might want in a wedding. They get engaged and then starts the planning for the “dream’ wedding… maybe just maybe you should talk to your future partner and focus a little less on all the bells and whistles and a little more on the future of your relationship.
As parents we all want the same thing. We all want our kids to be accepted by the people around them, yet we also want our kids to be firm in who they are. Now understand that this comes easier for some parents than others. Maybe your little boy loves trucks and sports and your little girl loves princesses and everything pink. In these circumstances this is much more accepting than not.
For us we are blessed with 3 children, and each child is very different from the other. with our two older kids we have been a back bone to them in allowing them to express themselves freely with hair styles and clothing choices. We aren’t any different with Chandler.
Our sweet Chan is a spirited 4 year old (he will be 5 in 3 short days) As a four year old he swims, rides a bike without training wheels, snorkels, swings on his own, and he loves gymnastics. His favorite color is purple and he loves rainbow everything. He can write his name, knows the alphabet by sight and sound, and he can count to 40 with few mix ups, he plays well with other kid and calls everyone his boyfriend and girlfriend…. Listen at me just go on and on about all the awesome that escapes him on a daily.
Chandler prefers what is labeled as “girl clothes over boy clothes.” He likes how they fit, he likes all the sparkles, he likes the colors, and styles. He also prefers girl shoes. In today’s world it is much more accepting than it used to be, but the looks and comments still flow.
The hard part isn’t what people think- instead the hard part is having to have a conversation with your four year old when he picks out something new, for instance today he picked out purple sparkle jelly shoes. I had to bend down on his level and have the following conversation with him: Hey buddy do you really like these shoes? Yes Mom! Look at them they are perfect, sparkly, and purple with a little bit of blue, and I don’t even have to wear socks with them. Okay buddy look at Mom- I love that you like them! I want you to understand that there will be some people that will not like them and they might say stuff that isn’t nice to you, what do you think about that? Mom, but my friend Jamyia and Delainy will like them. Hey Jacob do you like them? Jacob responds yeah! They are awesome! Oh and Mom, Dad is gonna like them too! Alright bud looks like we are getting Jelly shoes.
The point is: This is probably not a conversation that you have to have with your child, this is probably not a conversation that you and your husband have to talk about at night. You have probably never sat down and even had to think twice about getting your child something that they love because of fear of bullies breaking your child’s spirit at such an early age. Not just kid bullies, but adult bullies. I know even in our circle there are people that ask me “Why is he wearing that?” As a parent my response is the same every time because he likes it. Should he be allowed to like what he likes? Oh he shouldn’t because it affects you in some way shape or form? Oh, but it’s completely fine for you and your kid to wear what you all like because it’s more “socially acceptable.”
Well, news flash I am not raising my children so that we will be socially acceptable people! I am raising my kids to be leaders not followers. I am raising my kids to be who they are not who the world or anyone else says they should be.
As parents support your children no matter what the world says- We shouldn’t prepare our children for the world we should prepare the world for our children. My children will leave our home feeling secure and strong in who they are as people! They will know that they don’t have to change who they are because of the thoughts, ideas, and mindsets of people that are too close minded to see the beauty that is right in front of them.
Next time you are out and about and you see a child dressed completely awesome because they like it send a smile or a kind word. Teach your children, friends, and everyone in between that we are all just humans and we can like what we like. We don’t have to live in a gender stereotype world. I am very thankful that we have a good village around us that show absolute support and encouragement towards Chandler and they embrace his rainbow heart.
This year is an interesting year in our house, we have a daughter graduating high school, a son graduating 8th grade, and our tiny guy graduated pre school. That being said there are a lot of emotions that just engulf every aspect of my existence at this point. Anytime a graduation occurs it brings back a flood of memories that you have been buried for how ever long. It kind of forces your brain to slow down and take a walk down memory lane.
Throughout our lives we are kind of taught that the norm is that you attend the same school your entire life, you graduate, then you move back to your homes town, then you start your family and the process repeats. This is a beautiful thing, well in some cases. Let’s face it in this world it is who you know that does kind of help you get that foot in the door to certain places.
Our story is a little bit different- our children have attended a few different schools, lived in three different states, and been involved in activities in each of those states. They have done a bit of traveling. We have had many people say things: this must be so hard on the kids and kind of question what we are doing, but at the same time we have had people completely praise what we are doing… This sort of thing happens in every aspect of our lives. The fact is that we all just have to figure out what works in our house and embrace it.
Starting Over- Having a conversation with our middle son Jacob today and we were chatting about school and I was asking him how he was feeling about the end of his 8th grade year and what he was feeling about becoming a high school student, and what he felt like that was going to look like…
He had a big smile on his face and said that he was feeling pretty good. He talked about how ending 8th grade felt really good because he felt like he was in a good place- socially and academically. He talked about the fact that he was a little nervous about entering into 9th grade and being the little guy again. He said he felt like being a 9th grader was going to bring on more responsibility, this meant that he had to work harder at staying on top of grades and school work. He then started talking about sports and he said that he just felt good, he knew he had to work hard and stay focused.
This conversation pulled at my heart strings as I am listening to my not so little boy talk and sound like such a grown up. It was a beautiful thing- Once he finished, I said, “Starting Over.” He giggled a little and said, “Yeah, I’ve done that a few times.”
This was a sort of AHA moment for me- This was my chance to remind him what that meant. Our lives are nothing but a serious of “starting overs.” We as humans are constantly starting over. As children, we are starting a new grade each year, we are entering new phases each year, as adults we are starting new jobs, starting new relationships, starting over with new vehicles or houses, we are starting over when it comes to phone plans or phones in general. We are constantly starting over. It’s normal and healthy to start over. How did I apply this to him- Buddy, with all the moves and new schools and new sports teams that you have been a part of- use these things as fuel for your fire. Fuel to tell yourself that you have already proven to yourself that you can be in a new state, with new coaches, a new team, and a new school, and excel! You can excel at anything you put your mind to. This is true for each of my children. This is true for really any and everyone.
As a people we tend to get so caught up in what we know that we forget to embrace that that we don’t know because of fear of failing, let go of that fear! Grab on to faith, faith of exceling. These conversations with my children are such perfectly imperfect moments. I love having one on one moments with them that allows us to just speak freely about what’s really going on… Instead of the normal everyday questions “how was school.” It’s these conversations that tug at my heart strings and humble me. These conversations help us to grow as people.
Take time out to allow the series of “starting overs” that occur in our everyday lives to happen. Accept them. I know that right now as a Mom, I am going through a series of starting overs- i am entering new territory. I am transitioning to having an adult child, a big kid, and a school aged kid. This is scary and tough, but also beautiful in it’s own right. I am excited for my children to find themselves, and figure out where they want to go and what they want to do.
I pray that they continue to put themselves in uncomfortable situations- I pray that they embrace the series of “starting overs”, because this will enable them to experience the new possibilities, and enjoy the moments that will engulf them.
I am a huge fan of people watching, I enjoy watching how people interact with one another. I like watching facial expressions and interactions between people.
During worship at Church I tend to scan the space and watch people with there interactions. I especially love watching children during worship. Children have this perfect innocence and absolute peace within them. Sunday was like any other Sunday and there I was just scanning the sanctuary… until I saw 2 little girls, sweet as pie. They were dressed in floral dresses and they were smiling and dancing just having a time. The mom was sitting behind the girls holding a tiny baby girl, she looked exhausted and you could tell she just wanted to worship without a worry. Let’s face is she is a busy Mama. As her little girls were laughing, singing, and dancing she kept leaning down, saying something like “stop it.” She kept touching them on the back or arm. A lot of back and forth between them. As I scan the other way I see this same sort of thing happening and it hit me!
I am guilty of this! Why? Why do we feel like we have to “hush” our children during worship? The fact is that from a child’s perspective they are watching adults with hands in the air, dancing, and just worshiping in a loud visual way. Little kids just express themselves differently. Let’s face is there is no right or wrong way to worship our heavenly father. He is just so happy that you have brought your children to a space that they can be fed from the holy spirit.
When our sweet Chan was younger he was loud and proud and didn’t so much like going to “story time” at the library. It was always a stressful situation for me. The library attendants would always give me looks or ask me to take him out and so I did. The problem with this is- We are taught that if our children can’t follow the “normal” we should take them out so not to disrupt the “class.” Well, we were also in search of a home church, and after several attempts… of being told to go to a seperate nursing area, a cry room, leaving him in the nursery…
None of those felt like good options for me. I was at Church with my family to be with my family and love on the Lord with my baby. We found a perfect home church that let him just be little. They didn’t turn a nose up to me nursing, they didn’t shhhh him during the service. I was told multiple times what a blessing our family was to the congregation because children are the sign of growth. We then moved to Florida and we started going to story time at the library and the sweetest librarian came up to me and said, “You don’t need to worry Mom, he can hear everything that is going on, he is little.”
What a relief, I went there feeling scared and overwhelmed about how it was going to be, I went there nervous and unsure of myself as a mom. Miss Pam was quick to put those worries aside. Really the whole staff at the Cape Coral Public Library, they would remind me that a library is a place of wonder and amazement and should be fun for kids. You don’t have to teach them to be quiet, teach them to read- that requires words to flow. It was a breath o fresh air.
As a parent it’s overwhelming because everyone around you has different expectations of what your child should act like. When the fact is why do we start grooming our children at the age of infancy to be a 9-5 worker. We groom them to learn real quick that they should be quiet, sit still, and only move about in a cubical sized area. Isn’t this true…. Play pens? Gates?
Then pre school at the age of 3 they are taught to sit still, and listen, then at the age of 5 they go to Kindergarten and they are expected to sit in a desk 8-3…. 5 days a week, and as the years go forward not much changes. So from the age of 5 -18 they are in a desk 5 days a week, then college or straight to work the average 8-5 Monday through Friday in a cubical. This is what we are taught life is about? So for the first 4 years of your life we prepare our children for school, then for the next 13 years we prepare them for college or an 8-5, until they are about 70… Then we are told that’s when we get to enjoy life.
I have issues with this mindset or rather this idea of success. The fact is that we live on this big beautiful world and there is much to see and do. There is more to life than just being told to be quiet. When you are at Church with your sweet babies let them be little! Encourage them to worship and instead of shhhing them teach them the proper way to worship, take them to the library and don’t let a librarian make you feel like a bad parent because your child laughs and talks a little at the library. They are little, let them be little! Teach them that books are funny and books are fun and the library is a great place. We as parents have enough pressure on us don’t let society make you feel bad about stuff that you shouldn’t feel bad about. Children are a sign of growth. Maybe you don’t have children, in that case you should be an encouraging stranger. Be that person that offers a smile instead of a judgemental stair, be the person that says to a parent you are doing a great job even if that child is screaming in the store.
I never understood these struggles until I had a spirited child. This boy from the time he was born knew what he wanted and when he wanted it. There were lots of fits at the store, lots of corralling him at the library, nursing while pushing a grocery cart, and a little crying and wanting to crawl around at church… Through all of those things I tried to remain and remind myself that this to shall pass. There were lots of tears on my part and lots of strange looks, mean comments, but a few helping hands and soothing words that came in the perfect moments.
It’s okay Mama! It’s okay Dad! It’s okay that your baby, child, kid, is laughing or goofing a little in Church is okay! God wants your children there! They are hearing what is being said! It’s okay if your child isn’t a quiet little mouse in the library, we are humans we are designed to interact! We aren’t designed to sit in a cubical from birth- ————-
Please let them be little! Take a breath! You are doing a good job. There is no normal! Your child doesn’t have to be “Normal.” Nobody that has ever done anything great was “NORMAL”
My entire life Church has been a norm for me. As far back as I can remember there was Sunday school, vacation bible school, church camps, outings, and dinners. You can say church has always been a staple, however, as much as I loved Church and what it stood for I still became a little rebellious. I remember being read parables and verses and singing songs and everything made sense to me except, The parable of the lost son or Prodigal son.
I would read this or hear it talked about and always feel a little mad or confused or a little discombobulated over it.
Basically this parable is about a father that has 2 sons. One of the sons takes his inheritance and basically squanders it away, while the other son stays and follows the rules. Once the son that squandered his stuff away he comes home and says to the dad that he had sinned and asked if he could work as a servant, but the Dad is just happy to see his son and he throws a party for him. Meanwhile the son that had stayed back and followed the rules is mad asking questions like where’s my party?? The dad just tells him that everything that is his Dad’s was always his and that they should celebrate his brother coming home because he was dead and now he’s alive.
It’s a good story, but my entire life I have acted like the “good son” if you will asking the questions why is it that if I follow the rules and do what I am supposed to do where is my party or where is my recognition. It wasn’t until Sunday during Church the pastor was talking about this parable, and I’m not sure how to explain it, but I felt like I was kind of having an out of body experience. I could hear her talking, but I felt like God was saying this is important you need to hear this and he just laid it out for me in a way that I could understand. In those moments I was able to breathe a breath of fresh air that I hadn’t been able to do before.
Here’s what I got: The parable was never about the son persay. The parable is about our heavenly father! He is saying to us no matter what we do he will love us, he will welcome us back every time we wander off. He will throw us a party when we come back because he is so happy that we are alive! For those of you that don’t vere from the path he is saying everyday is a party for you because you get all of me all the time. Maybe you lose sight of that party because it has become your normal, but take a step back and know that I am rejoicing with you on a daily basis. I am so happy that you are here with me.
In the world that we live as far as having social media at the forefront of everything we do. We often times get these unrealistic glimpses into peoples lives and we might find ourselves saying why do they deserve that… Here I am over here working hard following the rules and doing what I am “supposed” to do. We do not know the ins and outs of that situation. It’s very easy to look on the outside and think that people have it all, but I bet after taking a better look there is a lot of brokenness. We have to learn to stop comparing our “party or welcome home” to everyone else’s.
There are situations in my personal life that this really hits home… I have found myself my whole life saying things like “Why do they get to just live life worry free, why do they get to make awful choices for x amount of years and then get to reap the benefits or get told they are doing a good job over situations that I have worked so hard for. I’m the one that has went through the sleepless nights, I’m the one that has shown up to events, I’m the one that has …. You get the picture. What benefits does said person get to reap? I’m the one that got to experience all of those moments, I am the one that has gotten to stock pile all the memories, I’m the one that had the privilege of getting though those sleepless nights. I am the one that got to experience what was always there for me.
I know it’s easy to hear and story and say something like “they don’t deserve (xyz)” but who are we to determine what someone deserves. Take a look back at the parable- The son that was given his inheritance early he squandered it away he was living an awful life not knowing when he would receive his next meal, not knowing where he would sleep, meanwhile the son that stayed, he got to enjoy great meals, good times, and he always knew where he would sleep. Everyday his life was a party without him realizing it. Life is like this sometimes, we tend to see a grand gesture and wonder where ours is at. It’s right in front of you.
Understand that this has taken me 34 years to understand this parable for it’s true meaning, so I am still a work in progress. I am just thankful that The Lord has welcomed me back everytime I went and squandered away his inheritance for me. I guarantee you he is there with his arms wide open waiting for you. He doesn’t think that you deserve anything but his love.
As life happens we can never be perfect, but the one thing we can do is be open to learning from our mistakes, be open to hearing perspectives, and trying to understand situations.
Next time you look at a situation and thing something along the lines “Wow, must be nice to get all that attention or free stuff or that grand gesture” Three is more to the story, and that persons day to day may be very different from yours. Focus on being the best you that you can be and understand that it takes a village and it takes our Heavenly father on our team. Invite him to be on your team.