Monthly Archives: June 2011

My Birthday

My Birthday

My birthday was last week.  Let’s just sit on that for a second and think about your own birthday.  Are you one of those who lie about their age or never wants to tell anyone?  Or do you just smile and blurt it out to anyone who asks?  My mother-in-law is 39, even though she lived though the depression and has great grand-children. (I’ve been advised by my counsel the ramifications of that sentence. I’m hoping her sense of humor has grown with age)

I must admit that I have always been shy about my age.  Not because I’m old, but because I’m young.  Crazy huh?  I think it comes from having children so young, and having that “you’re tooooo young” response.  The 2 weeks between my son’s birthday and mine was always the time I prayed that no one would ask my age, because if they did the math, they would figure out that I was 15 when I gave birth, instead of 16…like 16 is so much better? Anyway, I’m 43 and you’d think I’d be over it by now.  I am for the most part. But I still have my days.

I wanted to add a top ten list to this post about birthdays.  I thought the funniest list I could come up with would be “top ten worst gifts from your husband” but then I thought that wouldn’t be fair, because my husband has only given me a few really bad ones and this year, with the help of my daughter and friends, he outdid himself. So, given the awesomeness of this year’s celebration, even if I know the helpers did all the work, I don’t want to throw my man under the bus, so I will go with the “top ten ways you know you’re getting older”…

  1. You can’t focus on conversations in the car if the radio is too loud. (or even on in some cases)
  2. The radio is always too loud, unless you’re alone, and you’re trying to stay awake or you’re really in a praise and worship mood, and then you don’t care who sees you singing your heart out at a red light.
  3. Dinner and a movie are rare date nights, because after the dinner, you’re full and ready for bed.
  4. Eating fast food really does make you feel like crap.
  5. Jumping out of bed in the morning is a thing of the past.  Now you stretch, snap, crackle and pop before you roll on out.
  6. Your friends are not all getting married and having babies, now your friends kids are graduating, getting married, and having babies.
  7. You’ve realized that recreational and school sports are just games.  The outcome will not permanently affect anyone’s life.
  8. You realize that PBS & the History Channel do have some good programming.
  9. You check the weather forecast regularly. (although I still don’t know why)
  10. You’ve realize the importance of listening, sharing and patience, and that time really does fly, and you don’t want to waste any of it.

So there you have it.  I know this list could really be a top 100, but I can’t sit here all day.  I love growing up. I don’t even mind the gray hair coming in.  God was so sweet to put these verses in His Word for us;

Proverbs 16:31 (NIV) “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”

Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Isaiah 46:3b-4a LB I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime, Yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you.”

If you have something to add to this list, please do!  Thank you for reading and may you be blessed, whatever age you are…

Serious Saturday…Are you really where you are?

Serious Saturday…Are you really where you are?

Are you really where you are?

Are you always  100% present where ever you go?  I’m not. I hadn’t even really noticed till recently.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I am referring to the ever present “cell phone” internet technology.

It has swept our nation at the speed of light and it is totally accepted.  Anyone who doesn’t jump on this rocket is considered old school and behind the times.  Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that modern technology offers a vast array of information, connections and progress that have never been seen before.  But how good is it?  Or, should I say, how responsible are we with it?

We have always been “those” parents when it comes to technology.  Our kids could not even have one till they were old enough to help pay for it.  They had to sign a “Responsible Cellular Phone Usage Agreement” and they didn’t get internet on the things till they turned 18.  We also made them turn their phones in every night by 11PM.  If they missed the turn in, they lost the phone for the entire next day.  I have made a 17 year old cry enforcing this rule… Really. We always stressed that cell phones were a privilege and not a “right”…

Today, everyone treats this technology as a “right” and a necessity. Myself included.  I have gone back home to get my phone if I’ve left it behind.  Spending a day without it is a withdraw process for crying out loud.  How did this happen?  How did we become a society that spends time with family and friends, while we chat, text and update the rest of the world.  When did we get to the point of thinking it’s OK to look at our email and facebook while driving on the interstate?  Seriously?  We complain about customer service, but how many times have you blown off a sales associate or check out clerk because you were on the phone or looking at it.

The other problem this age of information has presented, is the familiarity issue.  We share so much on facebook and twitter, that “friends” or “followers” think they really know us, which they just might, but do we know them?  We have all become little movie stars of our own social media and we don’t even realize it.  I remember when Twitter first made it’s debut and I laughed!  I thought, “who really would care?”… apparently, I do and so do millions of others.

As I step down from my soapbox, I will admit that our family are proud owners of every “i” product that is available.  We do not manage our screen time as well as we should at times, which as been the root of my rant. It’s funny how what annoys us the most about others, is usually what annoys us the most about ourselves.

If you take anything from this post, my prayer is it will cause you to pause, and leave your phone home now and again.  Turn it off when you get in the car and never bring it to the dinner table.  Maybe you will dust off a board game on a Friday night and LOL with your loved ones and realize there’s no substitute for the real face time that is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  Chit chat with the sales clerk and smile in the check out line.  What if, just what if, we looked at our Bible’s as often as our screens? What if we guarded our hearts, like we regarded our phones and what if we cared more about our relationship with our Creator then how many “friends” or “followers” we have.

Do you have balance?  Please share how you do it, I would LOVE to hear your story…

Top 10 Day… College Preparation

Top 10 Day… College Preparation

Yesterday, I took my only daughter shopping for dorm supplies.  She will be heading to college in August.  She is not my oldest, but she’s my first to go, and live on campus at a university, so this is new territory for me.

We had the 10 hour orientation last week – It was brutal.  I didn’t cry, and she didn’t pretend not to know me, so I think it was a win win.  It did however, make this all a tad bit more real for me.  She seemed totally chill with everything. She told me she wasn’t nervous at all!  It was all just too exciting for her.

I know she’s a great student.  She’s pretty responsible with things that matter… to her anyway. She has a relationship with Christ, and a heart to help others.  She knows what she wants, and she’s never been afraid to go for it.  She’s a leader, and knows how to follow when she has to – something that took her mama a while to learn… I know she will be OK, and I know she will miss me, eventually.  I must admit though, I will be anxiously awaiting that first phone call.  The one where she calls just to chat and hear my voice.  When my role as Mom will start to morph, and she will also call me friend.

Here is my top 10 for the week –

Top ten ways you know you have a kid about to go off to college

  1. You cry randomly…
  2. You have more bad dreams then normal
  3. You find yourself saying, “If you can’t blah blah blah here, how will you when you’re on your own?”
  4. You notice the “eye roll” has now been replaced with the “blank stare of don’t care”
  5. You will find anyway to bring up the fact that your child is leaving, in every conversation, even if it doesn’t fit, like when you order your lunch, (Waiter) “Are you ready to order ma’am?” (You) “well, I guess, ya know… I guess I need to get used to eating out more now that my child is going off to college”. (you will get a strange look and fake chuckle with this one)
  6. You will bring it up in every prayer group too… Try not to be to trigger happy with your request.. let other’s go first if you can.
  7. You will hear your child say “I love you mommy” and “leave me alone” several times in the same week.
  8. The intensity of your lectures about sex and drugs will escalate to un-godly proportions.
  9. Your personal prayer life will also intensify.
  10. You will decide that you have done the best you can do, and you will trust in your kid, and more in the God that created them, knowing that they will make mistakes, and you can’t fix everything for them… and that is OK… Really.

If you have any words of advice or would like to share your story or can add to this list, please do!

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever thought about what’s in a name?  I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I’ve found myself missing mine sometimes.  Not that I have felt a void, or a longing, but I noticed that when I hear it, I get one of those “oh! hey! that’s me!” kinda feelings.  If you’re not sure what I mean by this, let me explain…

We all come into this world nameless. Then our parents dub us something that they have either pondered and prayed over, really like or has some special meaning to them.  Sometimes it makes me wonder though, when I see kids named Apple or Blanket…  Anyway, my name is Jennifer.  It is of Welsh origin and it means, “fair and smooth”.  It’s ranked #6 in popularity, which should annoy my mom, as she named me this thinking it was unique. Although, maybe she was the trend setter, as it hit it’s peak in 1970, taking the #1 spot, just a few years after I was born.

By the age of 5 I had decided that the playful shorter version of my name, Jenny, which I had been called regularly, had reached it’s limit.  Since I was headed to Kindergarten, I was too old for such a cute identity and I was to be known as Jennifer from that day forward.  And so it was.

Fast forward 10 years and a new name had been bestowed.  I am now also know as Mom.  It was a pretty awesome day to say the least.  I loved it.  I could hear it all day long!  I think I cried the first time my son actually said it.  Those emotions were just as strong when I birthed the next three.  The name Mom is the bomb.

Marriage brings a new name into the mix as well.  I must say though, the first time I was called “Mrs. Mottola”  I looked for my mother-in-law, then realized it was me.. and I liked it.  I am proud to be my husband’s Mrs.

I have several other names now too.  My husband calls me “Honey” a lot.  I answer to “Hey” and “Ma’am”  although I prefer “Miss”.. the kids in the neighborhood call me Miss. Jennifer.  My friends usually call me “Jen” or “Hey Girlfriend”.  I like these names, and the identities that accompany them.   I’m sure there are other things I have been called, some nice and some not-so-nice.  The point is, names are not just names.  They are titles. Identities. There is power and emotion behind them.

Lately when I hear, “Jennifer”, it has reminded me that I am me.  It’s the title of my identity.  I am a child of God, a sinful human whose been rescued from herself, who loves deeply and cares too much, who’s passionate and strong willed and has a mix of gifts and talents that God has given me. No one ever had or ever will have the exact DNA as me.. or as you.

Sometimes I think having so many titles can keep us so busy fulfilling them, that we can forget who’s at the core.  Have you forgotten who you really are? My name is Jennifer.  It’s nice to meet you.  Who are you?

A Serious Saturday Post… Discipline.

A Serious Saturday Post… Discipline.

Reader beware: This a Serious Saturday Posting.. Stay tuned for more light-heartedness later in the week..

Discipline.  Wow. That’s not even fun to type.

I’m motivated to write about discipline today, for two reasons.  First, I had to punish my youngest son recently, which doesn’t happen very often, and second, I just watched Toddler’s and Tiaras.. I know. I swear to you, I watch it with an open mouth and I even pray for those kids sometimes.

The word Discipline, by Webster’s definition is; 1. Punishment 2. Instruction 3. training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. 5. Self control.. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  At least it doesn’t  sound bad for you.

It is summer break right now and being so, my kids are not jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, which is fine by me, but.. they are pushing 10:30-11:30 on some mornings.  Besides the new chill approach to the morning schedule, there has not been much reading or calculating or even music practicing going on.. Our poor canines have even been left to the way side, as their normal 6:30AM breakfast and outing is now a no-frill brunch to lunch with not even a scratch behind the ear.  Laundry has spent more time in the baskets and I don’t think the beds have been made more than once or twice.  What’s wrong with that?  It’s SUMMER for crying out loud!  It’s time for all school-aged children to relax. chill. take a much needed vacation from the daily grind of learning…  Not anymore in my house. A new morning routine has been implemented.  Complete with a chart.  Yes. I am one of those mom’s…

I haven’t found in any parenting books, or in scripture where it is a suggested practice to have your kids work hard to the best of their ability, be responsible, seek knowledge and discipline and develop good habits,  but then stop. Take 2-3 months off.  If anything, all of the parenting books I have read have preached “consistency” and stressed the importance of learning to be responsible through loving discipline.  A big part of parenting, from day one, is preparing them to leave.  I know that sounds harsh, but it is reality.   They are going to leave and have to be responsible for themselves someday.  How ready are they (and you) going to be? 26 is the new 18, as personal responsibility and self discipline are traits now avoided… These traits are missing so much in today’s culture, like the cult of pageants and team sports, Disney sit-coms and MTV.  When did parents start thinking that athletic, social and beauty “discipline” trumped character discipline?  When did kids start telling parents what to do and when to do it?  And when did kids start knowing what was best for them? Really?  Seriously?

It builds character to seek knowledge and serve others.  Education is a privilege in this world, but taken for granted in this country.  It builds character to take care of an animal and have chores that you don’t get paid for.  It builds character to do something you know is good, even if you don’t have to do it.  It builds character to be told no or to do it again.  It builds character to loose gracefully and to win with humility.  How is this implemented? It is taught and caught by the most influential people in your life, that love enough to discipline.

So, what’s the point and what do we do?  If we really want the best for our kids, we need to seriously look at what we hope for them.  One of my favorite pastors, Chip Ingram, says to make a “to be” list instead of a “to do” list.  Whatever you want for your kids (or they want for themselves) you have to make opportunities for. I don’t mean, “be the best baseball player”, I’m talking about character goals, like “I want to be a good friend”… Parenting should be deliberate and pro-active, not just re-active.  You also need to pray for your kids. I highly recommend the book by Stormie Omartian – The Power of a Praying Parent.  She gives my prayers words when I have none.  Then you need to sit back and relax in the hand of God and know He’s on it.  The outcome is not up to the parent.  Control is a fleeting thing, influence you will have most of the time, but prayer, faith and love are yours forever.

Now go make your kids clean something and read a book.

Birthday Time

Birthday Time

We recently celebrated the birthday of my first born. He’s almost thirty now. Seriously.

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard, “You don’t look old enough to have a child that old!” I would definitely have an iPad by now…. I must say, the compliment is great, but the truth is, technically, I am not old enough to have a child that age, according to most standards anyway. I used to get a sick feeling in my stomach, and hold back the words, “I know! but when you have a baby in high school, you can look this young too!” I tested that once or twice, and the response is never good, unless you like making people uncomfortable. So, I smile and say thank you. For the record, I do not feel old enough to have a child his age. It does kinda freak me out… Anyway, celebrating a birthday of one of your children seems to always be a time of reflection, no matter what age you were at their birth…

I fondly remember being 4 weeks past my due date and having to be induced… On the way to the hospital, blaring Ozzy on the radio, we stopped at McDonald’s so I could get some fries and a hot fudge sundae.. (they go together ya know.) Upon arrival to the hospital, I was hooked up to all the appropriate medications and set to cook… After 10 hours of contractions without dilation, I had an emergency C-section. I can proudly say I was my doctor’s very first horizontal incision. In recovery, I was visited by a representative from the county’s program for teen mom’s. What a blessing that turned out to be. The program included a mentor, a visiting nurse, a visiting counselor and lots of group activities to teach and equip new moms. I received a nice certificate of completion and a mentor for years… I did have lots of family support as well… which was huge considering I am a poster child for stubborn, strong willed and determined…

I had countless people say, “oh! you’re just a baby with a baby!” or something really close. Man, I hated that. I think I still get a little riled when someone says I’m just a babe, or young. It’s an issue I’m working on. There’s this thing called pride, that rears it’s head and I want to prove myself. silly. I know.

How did this all work out? Well. He is still alive, but that would be by God’s grace and I cannot take any credit for that. Did I know what I was doing? Heck no! Did we grow up together? Yes. Do I regret any of it? No. Am I proud of the man he has become? Heck yes.

I can tell you that I learned to listen to all the advice. It’s polite and sometimes even helpful. Then I pray and try what I think would work best. Everyone is different, and some things just don’t work for every child. I watch my children with an open mind. They might not be who you think they should be, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing… every time you say, “that’s just the way he/she is”, you’ve put an expectation on them that defeats the point of growing, which is, in fact, the point. I have also learned that the mistakes they make are for their own good. Consequences are always a learning experience that you cannot simulate or explain, no matter how hard you try. When difficult seasons come, and they will come, I find peace in the fact that God loves them even more than I do. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and children are a gift from God. I am but a steward of an amazing creation and I try to behave that way. Parenting is a pretty cool thing. I’m grateful that I get to be one even for almost 30 years.. Really.

Really… About me.

Really… About me.

Contemplating a blog.. What has gone through my mind has been quite amusing.

I must say, i do have a deep desire to connect with others and to help where I can. I thrive on hearing peoples stories and being a friend.  I seriously love to pray for people too.. something in my heart and spirit aches for those in pain and truly rejoices for those in victory.. so. What do I write about?

I will begin with my relate-ability.. so when I do blog about day to day, you will know where I am coming from and you will hopefully share with me as well..

..If you have parents that are divorced, I relate.  If you got the fast pass to responsibility in your young life, I got your back.  If you had a child in high school and was extremely independent about it – oh girl, we can chat.. Where I can really connect with the masses is in my history of looking for love in all the wrong places.. the text book, “bad relations with my daddy, so self-esteem issues etc. etc..” to that end I can share with those who have been date raped and beaten by someone they trusted.  I can commiserate  with those who have been divorced – twice. but then giggle with those who actually found their soul mate, on a blind date, and it’s still great – i can re-late..:) (my Dr. Seuss nod)

If you have children – boys or girls.. we can talk all day long.  If you’ve had a C-section, went all natural, induced or had an epidural, I can share in your stories.. If any of your children have learning disabilities, physical disabilities, are crazy smart and sensitive and a joy to your heart, I know how you feel! if you have a child that has a drug problem, has been in jail, has been molested, has lost a parent in the mist of puberty, and has lead a pretty destructive lifestyle, I can be here for you too..

If you have had several heath issues yourself, including cancer scares, and a hysterectomy in your 30’s, I can chat about hormones and hot flashes all day long.

Finally, if you are even a tad bit OCD and feel the need to be a leader most of the time, as in scouts, classrooms, team sports and church, even to the point of home-schooling.. I would love to sit on a swing and listen to how you handled it.. I don’t know if the jury is back from reviewing my history just yet.

My only real accomplishment and the force that has brought me to where I am today, is my realization that God is in control.  He always has been and always will be.  He has allowed even the darkest of days to pass through my life and I can honestly give him praise for all of it.  The good, bad and ugly.  The good witnesses his favor and desire for me to smile, the bad is to bring me into a stronger relationship with Him, to rely on Him and Him alone for my peace and to soften my heart for the hurting, the lost and the least in this world.  For the ugly. Well. The ugly is to keep my eyes on His beauty.  Creation screams when the ugly is roaring.. It is meant to keep my focus on the eternal.. this life is but temporary.  This too shall pass. Praise the Lord.

If you will let me, I will share my life with you – from the perspective of this girl.. daughter, sister, wife, and mother who has experienced much and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.