I’m Sorry – I have been hacked

I’m Sorry – I have been hacked

Dear friends –

thank you for your support and following this blog, even though I have neglected it terribly. I know I need to write again, and I plan to!

Apparently my account has been hacked – I have been working yesterday afternoon and this morning already to try and solve the problem. It’s not as easy as I thought –

Please forgive me – I hope to have it fixed today.

Thank you!
jennifer

I Have a Secret – Part 2

I Have a Secret – Part 2

IAfter my last post, entitled “I Have a Secret” I received messages, calls and texts from people offering prayer and support. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love that I felt and I was covered in a peace that can only be defined as super-natural. It was just the beginning… (Miracle 1)

A week after that post, I received that dreaded, middle-of-the-night phone call. My son had over-dosed and had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

After I got off the phone, I could only lay there in the dark and pray. I prayed till I thought enough time had passed for me to get an accurate update from the hospital, and then I called. He was stable. Praise the Lord. (Miracle 2)

I slept for a few hours, and when the sun rose, so did I. My husband quickly got me booked on the next available flight. We are not rich folk, but we do have some frequent flyer miles – the last minute ticket was going to cost $1,100.00 but with our miles it was only $11.25… (Miracle 3)

By the time I arrived that night, my son had already been taken from the medical hospital to the psychiatric hospital for observation and detox. This hospital required an intake interview and they had to have a bed available…which they did, and he was admitted. (Miracle 4)

When I arrived, I was told I was not allowed to see him without a doctor’s order. I was staying with my mother, so at least I would be able to spend time with her, and we could be support for each other, as she was just as traumatized as I was. We stayed busy researching, and investigating things that just needed to be handled, with surprising success. (Miracle 5)

After two and a half days, I was finally able to see him. He had lost a lot of weight, and was pretty scruffy. He’s normally a body builder, meticulous about personal hygiene, so this was a bit of a shock. Even in the physical changes I was seeing, the one thing that has been the same since he opened them in my arms 32 years ago today, was his eyes. His beautiful windows into his soul. I saw him there and I was overwhelmed with hope.   He was so broken. He was sweet and gentle. He said he was sorry, like he really meant it. This might sound strange to someone who is not used to dealing with an addict, but it’s really huge. (Miracle 6)

He agreed, whole-heartedly, to go into a long-term program. We had found one in another town, that he had even looked into last year. He had always balked at long-term anything, so this was also huge. He called them and did a phone interview. He was accepted, and they had a bed available… (Miracle 7)

I had to fly home the next day, and it was still unknown as to when he would be released. Of course, it was the very next day…

My mother and her husband picked him up and drove him straight to the program, four hours away. We were a little apprehensive that he would change his mind, so I posted on social media to just pray for my son… BLOWN AWAY by the response! Over 200 comments, texts, messages and calls total! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!  They arrived safely, checked in and was ready. (Miracle 8 & 9)

His wife has agreed to hold off on filing for divorce, and she is in regular contact with me too. I don’t know what the future holds for them together, but my prayer is for complete restoration – for them personally and for their marriage.

Through this entire experience, I did not break down. I didn’t loose my temper or my mind. Yes, some tears came, but not heart-wrenching, sobbing or mass confusion. (which is not beneath me) I can only explain it as a super-natural peace, which has enveloped me – and still does. I am OK. (Miracle 10)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

True Story…

I counted 10 BIG miracles, but I am sure there are many more in and through all of this that I have missed… God’s plans are always way bigger than we can see.

Today is his birthday and it’s day 14 in the program and 20 days clean. I know those numbers aren’t that big yet, but I have hope and peace… really.

That birthday miracle has been granted.

Thank you for your prayers. They were heard and felt.

I would love to hear your story – and I would be honored to pray for you too…

 

Hugs

I have a secret

I have a secret

I have a secret. Well, some people know about it, but it’s not something I tell everyone, nor is it something I discuss. Hardly ever. I can’t talk about it without detaching my self first, and sometimes that’s too difficult. It’s a pain that aches within me, and can be the fuel for sadness and anxiety if I let it.

My oldest son is a drug addict.

He’s not in recovery, yet, or in a program, yet. He doesn’t have any “chips” or long-term success stories to inspire you or give you hope. Right now, I don’t even know where he is. I do know that he’s been using again, and doesn’t look healthy. I know the people that have seen him lately, say that he doesn’t make much sense, and is in the worst shape they have ever seen him… I am just happy he is still alive, because as long as he is, there is hope, and that word “yet” is still alive…

He has been an addict since high school, when he took a friends’ prescription to help numb the pain of losing his father to meningitis. He came home from school that day, and told me! He begged me to take him to the doctor and get him that medicine, because he felt so much better! I did call the doctor and took him in, to only find out he not only took someone else’s meds, but he took more than the prescribed amount. He was basically high and hooked on the feeling.

Thus the secret nightmare began. Self-medicating for any issues that were just too dark to deal with became the norm… He has disappeared more than once. We put in a security system to keep him IN the house, not to keep intruders out. He has been in jail, and in programs. He has seen a variety of counselors and doctors. He has been on a plethora of medications as well, and still…

I’ve realized a long time ago, that there is nothing I can do. I can’t love him more, give him more, or say the magic words. I can’t make him listen, or work, or receive the help that has been offered. I can’t even make him remember the good – the happy, and the blessings that have, and still do, abound in his life. The only thing I have in my arsenal is prayer. Nothing else.

Prayer, to a control freak like me, seems so futile sometimes. Especially when I have been doing that – every single day of his life. It feels like no one is listening! Things get worse, not better! I have yelled and screamed at God. (He can handle it) I have laid on my face in puddles of tears, begging the Lord to save my son – from the grip of drugs and from himself, but still…

How do I cope? What do I do in those pits of despair? I read. I read the Word and meditate on God’s promises. I sit at the feet of the King of Kings and I trust. I let my tears fall into God’s hands, and I know he cares for me, and loves my son even more than I do. I remember too. I remember all the good….the smiles and laughs, and all of the good memories. I remember what my son’s sober smile and laugh are like, and I remember all of his many successes – the hugs and the deep talks and even the good tears. I also remember God’s obvious hand in our life over the years. (I have posted about these before)

I don’t know how people do this without God. When all earthly hope is lost, how can people still hold on the power of their own will? Isn’t that what is weak in the first place? I can let God grow my faith, and rest in Him, knowing that He is sovereign. Even over OUR prodigal son.

My oldest son IS a Child of God.  That’s the identity I pray he will walk in…

Drug addiction is a major epidemic in this country. It’s something that people don’t like to talk about, but keeping it in the dark is right where evil grows the best. I don’t want to give evil anymore help.

My son will be 32 next month. I will be praying for a birthday miracle.

Let’s pray together, shall we?

Thank you.

 

 

I’m a Mom

I’m a Mom
I’m a Mom

I’m a Mom. My children are all grown now, except for the baby, but he’s half way to 18, so I am working on letting him go too. I am also finally a grandma! We are even expecting a little boy this month. (I’m just too excited to function sometimes!)

I was praying for my kids this morning, and was overwhelmed by the love I have for them. I was also overwhelmed with gratitude for the honor it has been, and still is, to be their Mom.  I was also reflecting on how blessed I have been to have raised my children, and all of the memories that come with that…. So, I thought I’d share.

Raising kids has been the most challenging, rewarding, heart breaking, joyous, painful, growing process of my life. Just when you think you got it, a new level opens and it’s brand new.

IMG_5851Babies were tuff, but OH so amazing!! Even the long nights, when I thought I was going to pass out (and I did a few times) I just couldn’t get enough of watching them grow. Those “firsts” will always be remembered. I learned pretty quickly to not rush those things. Everything comes in time.

Toddlers were exhausting, but a constant source of smiles, giggles and exhaustion. Even when they were stubborn, it was fabulous watching them grow and figure out what they were capable of. I didn’t have any trouble with my weight when they were in this stage! I think my favorite memories from this time was when they would be so defiant, but then just want to cuddle, and learning new words and trying to express themselves.

Elementary age was more of the same, just on a higher level. I never tired of answering questions and explaining all that peaked their interests. Children are little sponges! That’s a saying for a reason… I homeschooled off and on over the years, and being such a big part of that growth truly inspired me. A child’s mind is a blank slate, where the things they see and hear will be forever written. I always took that very seriously.

Middle School – OK. This is the only time period I really didn’t like. Maybe because I have 3 boys, but even for my girl, this period seems to be the most challenging. Kids in this space are really trying to figure themselves out – and where they fit. They are usually pretty gross too…. At least, mine were. (are – hahaha) If anyone has ever considered home schooling, this is the age. It’s the time where you can have the greatest impact – instead of their peers. They are still yours! They still need you, now more than ever! I think many parents start to pull away during this period, when it’s really the time to pull in. It’s definitely the time to be the keeper of your word – to have clear boundaries and to know what hills you are willing to die on. Prepare for this, and don’t give up – that’s my advice. I’m just glad we all survived.100_9244

High Schoolers…. Well. Honestly, I loved this too. It was probably harder on me than them, as I know parenting is a runway into adulthood… you are near the end of that runway and preparing them is at the highest level. I wanted to do so much more for each of them, when I knew I shouldn’t. I remember my daughter could only have 4 saves a year – that is, 4 times I would run whatever it was she forgot to wherever she was…. After the 4th time, whatever the consequences were to forgetting, she would have to suffer. It killed me!! I think there were a couple of years she got 5 or 6… Now, as a college graduate, she is much better at remembering… but I’ve come to think forgetfulness is in the DNA somewhere…

IMG_7369Consequences. That’s the hardest part of this whole parenting thing – and it becomes even bigger when they are in college and on their own. I think most parents IMG_5635want to protect their kids from unsavory consequences, but in doing so we stunt their growth.

Responsibility is learned, not assimilated. Kids have to see it and experience it in order to do it.

Now, as I “parent” adults, it’s a constant exercise in self-control. Not telling them what to do. Not trying to help – unless asked. It’s not checking on them everyday or expecting them to include me in everything. Agh. It’s about faith, and trusting God, and even just trusting them. It’s easier though, when you have seen it coming and have traveled the “run-way” with your kids. Praying is the biggest influence we have, and it is what can keep you focused on what matters.

Being a Mother-in-Law and a Grandma is also a whole new ballgame! I want them to leave and cleave, and grow together.11061253_10153213821815561_6693171734193154490_n

IMG_7099I did my best to teach my kids dependence on the Lord instead of me. I won’t always be here, but He will be. I will mess up, (and OH have I ever) but He won’t ever leave them or forsake them. He created them. Not me. He sustains them. Not me. He has a plan for their lives and it’s way better than anything I could have come up with.

It’s so cool to see my kids living their lives now. I still remember those “firsts” like they were yesterday, but seeing them launched into the life God has for them, is just A-MAZing.

My top 10 things to remember in parenting? (I wrote a while ago on the Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager)

Set clear boundaries – don’t be wishy-washy

Be proactive not reactive!

Remember it’s a run-way. There’s a process to a launch!

Consequences and trials grow us/them more than anything. Really.

God loves them more than you do.

Responsibility is taught…

Always, always put your spouse first (after God)… it makes the nest a much happier place when it is finally empty. (getting a dog helps too..)

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Pray with them from birth – all the way through. Never stop praying for them and with them when you can. Pray for their challenges, their victories and most importantly, their hearts – pray for their future spouses too! It teaches them that God is in everything – and he hears and answers. That’s the best lesson we can teach them.My kids

I am so far from a perfect parent – I learned the most through the trials though, and for that I am grateful. Really.

What was your favorite time?

Xo

 

 

Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?

Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?
Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?

Two of my sons got married recently… three and a half months apart. Barely time for this mama’s head to stop spinning! Our family has added 2 new daughters as well as 3 new grandchildren and 1 on the way!I do

My boys married very well. Both brides are from years past, and have grown up, drifted apart and reconnected with our family. Both women bring out the absolute best in my sons, and I can see the love they have for each other, as it is as obvious as the grey in my hair! (even with Loreal it’s pretty obvious)

marry meI will admit that this has all been a little overwhelming – in an amazing, fabulous, OH MY GOSH kind of way. To me, getting married is the biggest deal next to accepting Christ as your Savior.  So choosing a life partner has been the focus of many prayers for them, and my prayers have been answered.

So, why write a post about it? A common theme at weddings and showers that I’ve attended, is to offer some marriage advice… Ya know, write it down on a piece ofdate night and advice paper and put it in the jar… or a date night idea. I’m not as good with the creative date night stuff, but advice? I’ve got plenty of that after a couple of failed marriages, years of counseling and a pretty AH-Mazing marriage for the past 18 years. I was also thinking, if I did it in my blog, then I won’t seem like a meddling mother-in-law either… right?

So here’s my top 10 list of advice I would offer any married couple;

1. Never go to bed mad, or in a argument. Agree to disagree if you must, but always kiss good night. (Eph 4:26)
2. Love covers a multitude of sins – it’s a verse for a reason. Remember that you chose and love each other first. Love is verb. (1 Peter 4:8)
3. Your spouse isn’t supposed to complete you, no matter what the movies say. Only Christ gets that job. The sooner you stop putting that expectation on each other, the sooner you can get on to really appreciating what you each bring to the marriage. (Col 2:10)
4. Assuming all of your past relationships have failed, then your experiences haven’t been successful… so remember that. Neither one of you is perfect, or really even know how to have a good marriage. Accepting that in yourself and in your spouse will alleviate some unmet exceptions and keep you humble. You are both on the learning curve – together.
5. Accepting #4 should naturally bring you both to a place of learning – God’s Word says a lot about marriage! Study it together. Look to seemingly happy marriages around you – ask for help – ask for advice. Go to counseling if you feel lost. Just try. There’s no shame in that game! (as my man says, “Never Give Up!”)
6. Even though you are still individuals, you are now joined together. The marriage is a life of it’s own, with 100% of each of you. Dying to self for the marriage covenant is where you really live out the “love is verb” thing. Treat it as the sacred gift that it is.
7. Get in community that’s doing life where you are – and more importantly, where you want to be. If you want a godly marriage, get in a group of people that are working on that same goal.
8. Your spouse should come second only to God. Your marriage should come before your kids. They will grow up and leave, and cleave, and you will be left with each other. If you don’t invest and keep your relationship at the helm, the empty nest will be a very lonely place. Plus, a happy marriage is the best place for nurturing your children.
9. Date! Even if it’s just a walk around the block. Connect weekly if you can’t daily! Have a party and set out a jar and little pieces of paper and ask folks to give you ideas if you’re lost… or just google some great ideas… Whatever you do, just do it!
10. Pray. Pray together even when you’re tired. Pray when you start and end your day, and especially if you’re mad at each other. It’s really hard to hold onto your anger when you are holding on to each other at the throne of God.

wedding funSo, that’s my top 10. There’s many more I could list, but these are the ones that have come to mind for a short post… These are the things that I pray for my children’s marriages. If you would like more advice, feel free to ask. I’m practicing being quiet unless asked these days. I’m a mother-in-law after all. Really.

What would you add to this list?

Youth Sports…

Youth Sports…

Our 17 year old is about to start the spring baseball season. His goal at this point is to prepare for college ball..  We have set some goals and boundaries, and he is well aware that there are no guarantees, but the journey will be fun and rewarding in and of itself.   Having 3 boys and an x-sports reporter husband, we know ALL about sports around here, and we have participated in a few… but baseball is numero uno.

We have had our kids in recreational sports, travel leagues, and on school teams.  My husband has been a team manager, assistant coach, and spectator.  I have even subjected myself to the role of team mom, and, inadvertently learned how to keep a score book, which has resulted in a crippling dent to my sideline sociability.  We all have run score boards, sold BBQ tickets, candy and coupons, and have done our time sweating to death in a concession booth.

Recreational sports programs are a unique, cult like experience.  You have your super stars, and your not so super stars.  The jersey number is sacred, and you know who’s there by the decals on the mini vans and SUV’s in the parking lot.. There’s plenty of nepotism and partiality.  Every good ballpark has their share of screamers and cussers, as well as angry and bad parents.   Over the years, we have been pretty blessed with some awesome families on our teams… for the most part.  I can tell you that many “player drafts” take the parents behavior and support into full consideration.  No one wants the “banned” or trouble parent, even if their kid is a pretty good player.

Last year, our team was delayed for our field time, because a player in the game before ours lost his temper over a tough call.  The player tried to hurt the umpire, then, once ejected from the game, and the park, his father hit him in the head which resulted in the boy returning the favor, but with his cleats – thus, the authorities were called.  Really?   We have seen players purposely trip, hit and push other players, to only be rewarded by their coach.  Years ago, we even witnessed 2 coaches that were on the same team, get into a full blown fist fight in the dugout… in front of about 22 ten year olds and their families.

With all of that being said, having your children play recreational sports can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  Seriously.  Your kids can learn to be a team IMG_9668player and a friend. If your coach is good,  the players will understand the actual game that they are playing.  They may also realize that working hard and setting goals is good, and they can hopefully learn to win with humbleness, and lose with dignity. Unfortunately though, the trend of prideful, out of control parents, kids, and coaches, is becoming more and more common.  That is not fun or rewarding …for anyone.  Good, responsible adults seem to be the minority and bad examples are being set.

We need a reset, and it all starts at home.  First, know that whatever your priorities are as a family, will set the foundation of priorities for your kids… If  sports take precedence over going to Church, don’t be surprised when your kids grow up and keep that standard.  If the sports schedule deems higher importance over the rest of the families schedule, don’t be surprise if your kid thinks they are more important… If parents encourage, and remember that all the players, on both teams, are just young people, the mean trash talk should dissipate… Sports can be awesome, but it’s even better if long term perspective isn’t lost.  Set your boundaries and goals ahead of time. That will save you from reactive parenting and issues later.  Trust me.

There are hundred’s of thousands of kids playing sports all over the world today.  Less than 1% will actually make it to the big leagues.  They are kids.  The shaping of their character is far more important than how far they can hit a ball.  Teach them to play, and give it their best, but let’s put sportsmanship first and skill second.  Remember, it’s just a GAME that begins when the umpire yells, “PLAY ball!” Really.

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

I wrote this a few years back, and while revisiting it this morning, I tried to think of what I would add… I have a 22 year old daughter right now, so it makes it even more of a reality than just a post of reflection.  I think I will add just a couple; 🙂

 

I’ve seen some blog posts lately that were the letters from the authors to themselves at a much younger age… The, “if I knew then, what I know now” wisdom posts.  So, to be a “follower”, and to impart some learned lessons, I thought I would have a go at it too…

At this ripe old age of 44, I can look back at myself at 22, and see a completely different person.  I’m actually amazed at the work God has done in my life thus far! If I could write a letter to myself at 22, I would say;

Dear Jennifer;

I know you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you can handle it.  I know that you think perfection is expected in this life of ours, and I see how you strive for it in almost everything you do. You worry too much, and care too much about things that aren’t going to last…  You clean too much, and expect too much from everyone around you.  The time spent trying to earn approval and love is in vain my friend.  So, to save you a few wrinkles, and a couple of prescriptions, I have some advice…

God loves you. Period.  He created you, and cares for you like no other.  He really is all you need – I know that sounds silly, but when you spend time with Him, you will see… All peace, comfort and joy – as well as acceptance, can be found in Him… So, open that Bible more, and get on those knees… heck, start talking to Him all the time!  HE hears you all the time and He cares… Don’t be too shocked when He answers you either – expect it.

Humans were never meant to be “your everything”… No man, woman, friend, parent or even your children were designed to fulfill you completely.  The only person that will complete you is Jesus Christ.  The sooner you grasp that, the easier the let downs and heart breaks will be.  No one is perfect, and don’t expect them to be.

Marriage isn’t about warm fuzzies and romance all the time.  It’s about commitment. It’s about remembering that the word love is a verb, not a feeling.  Your marriage can be more than warm fuzzies and romance, if you have Christ in the middle of it.  Seriously.  When you can pray with and for your spouse, it takes the marriage to a new level.  When you share the spiritual, as well as everything else – everything rocks…  When conflicts arise – and they will – take it to Christ – It’s pretty difficult to harbour resentment and anger when you hold hands before the Lord together… Really.

The Bible is relevant! Anything and everything is in there!  It really has instructions for life, from the Creator of life!  Don’t ever think you know more than the one who created you… His ways may seem restrictive sometimes, but it’s really for your own protection! You’re greatest blessings will come out of obedience… I promise.

The grass is never greener.  Just water yours and plant some flowers… Then yours will not only be greener, but it will be prettier and smell good too.

Pets are a full time commitment.  Dogs are even a bigger one…if you can’t feed them well, afford the vet or have time to walk them, don’t get one… It’s not fair to them or to you.

Don’t wait till you can afford kids to have kids.  That will NEVER happen.  When you finally have the kids, your priorities will change, and you will be amazed at how you will spend your money.

Enjoy your children when they are little! Don’t rush the walking and talking thing!  (Potty training – you can rush) Don’t hurry your babies through, and wish for them to grow up fast… I know it’s hard in the middle of the night, but try to relax and just ENJOY it.  This all will be gone in a flash – and parenting young adults is WAY harder…

You really don’t know it all.  I promise, you will be embarrassed when you get older and see how much you really didn’t know, but thought you did… Really.

Don’t drink too much.  It’s really a waste of good money and brain cells.  It doesn’t make you cooler or more popular, and it can be pretty dangerous for you, and for others.  Money is better spent on clothes, books, coffee… missions…

Life is short and no one makes it out alive … Try to think ETERNALLY.  What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do those “grown up” things… NO one is promised tomorrow.

Cherish Every Day.  Every single morning is new shot. A do over. A brand new shiny opportunity to try again.  Actually, every minute is new too.  We never get one back – time is the one fleeting thing that can’t be bought, borrowed or stored.  You have been giving this minute right now…

Everything matters.  People matter most – more than jobs, houses, entertainment, technology, sports and even shoes… When the stranger in the coffee isle starts telling you her life story, listen, because she matters.

Self control, patience and humbleness are a few of the greatest qualities you can have, so strive for those… It will bless your life, and be a blessing to others.

Wear sun block.  Just do it. Trust me.

Communication.  This is the key to all relationships. Knowing when to be quiet, or share the truth… Don’t assume someone knows your intent.  They rarely ever do, even those closest to you.  Be clear or be quiet – always.  This issue has never been more prominent than in this age of texting.  A text message doesn’t convey emotion, no matter how may emoji’s you use.

Date Intentionally.  Whether it’s intentional for marriage or for just friendship… those are the only 2 acceptable reasons.  Know someone’s spiritual identity, friends, family, temperament and goals before you even kiss… saves you from kissing too many Mr. Wrongs.  Sounds near impossible in todays culture right? Well, you were made to stand out, not blend in…

Last, but not least, Pray. Pray as often as you can.  The more comfortable you are talking to God, the easier it will be for you to hear Him answer you.

Growing up isn’t that bad.  You’re going to like it. Really.

 

What would say to the 22 year old you?

 

 

 

 

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?
Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

I read plenty of blogs and books about forgiveness and grace and how the Father’s arms are open wide.  I also read posts about hope for children as they grow and how everything will be ok. Really?

But what if you are in the position of the Dad in that story.  (Luke 15:11-23) What if your child is still out there in the pig pen, even though you did the best you could. How do you get to the place of daily living and being ready to open those arms when and IF they return?

I love that picture of love, grace and forgiveness for the returning son.  I am a true recipient of it.  I was in the mud and the muck and my heavenly father lifted me right out of it.  (Ps 40:2) I don’t even remember running to Him – He was just there, pulling me to himself, washing the grime and shame right off my face.  He beckoned me and I went.  Without that daily grace and love in my life I just know I would curl up in a ball and never function.

It’s that unconditional love that I have been given that stirs the desire in me to share it with everyone, especially my children.  I want to be that person, patiently waiting with open arms, filled with love and grace.  But what if that child doesn’t want it and what if they never come?  And what about those times I just don’t think I can?

Nothing in life guarantees that the sweet toddler you can’t get enough of will grow into the adult you have envisioned.  The reality is, they will grow up and be the person they want to be, and God will allow trials and consequences to grow and shape them.  (James 1:2-4) You can love them till it hurts and it might not make a difference for a very long time or seemingly never at all.  How then do you have hope and patience?  How do you get through those times of blaming yourself, fear or regret?

One of my favorite verses is Phil 4:13. “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” We can do all things. We can love when it seems undeserved. We can bite our tongues when all we want to do is scream.  (Col 3:12-13) We can pray continually and feel the flood of God’s peace fill our hearts and minds when all seems lost. (Phil 4:6-7) We can rest in the real hope that God is sovereign, and He can and will take care of everything, either in this world or the next. (Rom 8:28) We can cast our burdens on Him, and He will take it. (Ps 55:22) We can be that person, with open arms, without judgment, when the prodigal returns.  Even if that child doesn’t return, we can cry out in the stillness of pain, and know that God is God and that can still be enough.

Find your peace and hope in the eternal Abba Father that is worthy of it. Love your children and enjoy the moments you have with mother prayingthem. It’s the closest example we have of how God loves us. Just never forget they belong to Him first, last and forever.   We can do our humanly best, and even our worst, and God is still in control.  I believe that’s how the Prodigal Son’s father did it.  His hope was always in the sovereign One who made us all.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” Fernando Sabino

Sometimes the end takes a very long time to get here and sometimes it’s here in a flash. Either way, it’s never quite what we expected.  But, if we’ve spent time dwelling in the awareness of the ever-present God, and we’ve learned to acknowledge Him in all our ways, when that end finally does arrive, we will be ok… And what a celebration it will be!…Really.

 

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?

 

My Blingy Cross

My Blingy Cross

IMG_8859For those who know me, I am kind of famous for my “bling”.  My motto is, “If you can’t lose it, decorate it!”  I am also just drawn to the sparkly and girly.  I just can’t help it.   My most favorite accessory is a pair of earrings that dangle.  They have crosses that are gold with little diamonds in them.  I have had hundreds of compliments on these earrings over the years, so their beauty isn’t restricted to just me.

The thing with those earrings is not so much that they are pretty, but that they are crosses; which can be easily dismissed behind all the glitter and my impeccable fashion sense. (Ha ha ha!)  I see a lot of cross jewelry in my excursions and I, myself have missed the point behind the fashion at times, so I thought I should write about it…

I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate fashion, or compliments.  The reason I actually wear the cross is much deeper than those two reasons.

I grew up in a culture that frowned upon wearing the cross.  It was almost taboo.  I remember when I first became a true Christ follower; I still wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one!  As a new believer, I realized the gift of grace and eternal salvation.  I was amazed and in awe of the Cross and what happened there!  It had always been a part of the salvation process to me, but I hadn’t grasped the reality of Christ’s words, “It is finished.”  (John 19:30) When Christ died on that Cross, He literally took my place for all my sin – what I had already committed and what I would still commit.  When He died, the penalty was complete!

What I deserve for my pride, covetousness, lying, gossiping, theft, fornication, disrespect, slander, and greed is death and complete separation from a holy God.  (Romans 6:23) (Those are just some of the sins I have been guilty of.)  Any sin, as small as you may think it is, keeps us away from God.  The Creator of this earth is perfect and holy.  By His very nature, He cannot commune with us eternally as we live in our sinful state.

So, being the very definition of LOVE, God sent His one and only son – to take all of our sin to the point of punishment and death on a cross.  And it doesn’t even end there!  To fully beat sin, He died, then rose again, for us to have eternal life!  Without death, and removal of sin, there cannot be eternal life in the presence of God.

The Cross isn’t an idol that I worship, pray to, or even just consider a pretty accessory.  It’s the very representation that demands me to remember who I was and who I am now, in Christ.  It reminds me that Christ took my place.  It reminds me of how loved I am, and that I have the power of Christ in me.  “The very power to overcome sin and death and walk humbly with my God.” (Micah 6:8)

I hope that when people see the crosses dangling from my ears, they see Christ in me and not just my bling.  My prayer is for everyone to see the point of the Cross in all of the various fashion statements this world has made out if it.

Becoming a Christ follower doesn’t magically make me perfect, or even less hypocritical,  HA, I wish! But it does make me a new creation from the inside out.  The Holy Spirit has moved into my heart and is transforming me day by day.  I still sin.  The difference is that now I know I am forgiven and I have His Spirit convicting me and working in me.  It can only be by and through Him that this transformation can happen!  Honestly, just the fact that I am forgiven, and my punishment has been taken, gives me peace and fills me with gratitude, that is hard to ignore.  I can testify that my sin isn’t as easy to walk in, and my hearts desire is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, which makes all the difference.

I know God has given me the gift of bling… (stay with me here.) Having an eternal perspective almost demands it! (tongue in cheek) Heaven is described pretty “blingy”:

Revelation 21:18-21 The wall was made of jasper, while the city itself was made of pure gold, yet it was as clear as glass.  The foundation stones of the wall of the city were decorated with every kind of jewel: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate expertly crafted from a single beautiful pearl. And the city street was pure gold, yet it was as transparent as glass.

As long as my outer adornment doesn’t take away from the Spirit of Christ in me – (1 Peter 3:3) then I am just displaying a little piece of heaven! Really. (see what I did there?)

If you have not trusted in Christ to be your Savior, it’s not hard!  He not only died for me, but for you too! If you want forgiveness of your sins and to be filled with the peace that only God can give, then just pray to Him.  Confess your sin, tell Him that you need Him and ask Him to take over your life.  I promise you that He will and it will be worth it.  Really.

What do you think of when you see the cross?