Tag Archives: growing up

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?

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Top Really’s for January

Top Really’s for January

Looking back at the first month of 2013, these are the top things that caused me to say my ever popular word… “Really?”  Whether it was said from a happy place of excitement or from shock at an unbelievable situation, or just flatly stating an undeniable fact… the word fit the bill.  Now You decide…

 

My son is engagedengagement ring

My other son is engaged.

I’m going to be an instant “grandma” to 4 amazing kids…

My daughter is talking about pledging a Sorority

The gun control debate…

Politics…

Nicki Minaj is on American Idol…he's driving!

Pop Culture…. Just… pop culture… sigh.

My youngest just got his driver’s permit (!!!)

I feel 25 in my head…most of the time, and can finally admit it.

I named my GPS Marsha… so I can say it 3 times in a row whenever she is “replanning”… (Does anyone even get this? Or am I really lamer than I think)

Fringe ended… forever.

I’m more nervous about my puppy’s training school graduation, then I was about my kids… (How am I going to get her to “stay” for 30 whole seconds??)Good bye Sybil

The Downton Abbey death… (OMGosh!)

Seeing the full moon… (I know… this isn’t a “new” thing, but every time I see one, I can’t help but to be in awe of it and our Creator)

After not really having a sweet tooth my entire life… I now dream about ice cream and milk shakes…

My pants are too tight…

 

What made you say “Really” last month?

Growing then Going…

Growing then Going…

Having a baby right before my sweet sixteen was traumatic at the least.

I remember thinking I could handle anything – even a baby… until labor.   I had to be induced, since I was 3 weeks passed my due date and the baby was already over 8 pounds!  I headed to the hospital, stopping for some McDonalds french-fries and a hot fudge sundae (because they go together), I checked in and was prepped for giving birth… I remember being so embarrassed in that little hospital gown, and having the nurses just poke and prod where they needed to.  I was scared out of my mind.  I ended up going through induction all day, to only have an emergency c-section by dinnertime.  I was lucky to be my doctor’s very first horizontal incision…  15 staples across my abdomen… whoo hoo!  Back then you did not go home after 24 or 48 hours. I was in for over a week.  I also shared a room with 5 other new moms.  Visiting hours were the law, and no one could spend the night with you – not even the baby.

My biggest concerns back then were not about how to raise my beautiful baby boy, but more about how much pain I was in, and how long was it going to last… I worried about the scar it would leave, and if the daddy would still love me.  I had no thoughts about the future of this little boy, just thoughts of love… I loved him more than I could have even imagined.  I just knew that Love was all I needed to be the best mama ever, and with my heart just bursting with it – I knew everything would be ok.  That was over 28 years ago, and I remember it like yesterday…

Well, I wish I could say that just loving your child was that simple.  I soon learned that love was more than a feeling.  It was sacrifice.  It was putting your own desires aside for the sake of another.  It was about protecting and even discipline.  Oh how I hated putting him in time-out!

As he grew, I grew.  We experienced a lot back then.  Some things I would like to forget altogether, but I know that the sum of my life now, is the addition of all the experiences I’ve had, both good, and bad, and I am kind of OK with how that turned out…

I am still considered pretty “young” most of the time. Especially in groups of women who have adult children.  I know I still have much to learn… but I can tell you what the hardest part of parenting as been so far… It’s letting go.  It’s having all of those mommy moments and then letting your kids go and just be who they will be.

I love being a mom, even when my heartbreaks, or I am frustrated beyond words.  Nothing I have ever experienced has brought me closer to God, or more dependent on Him than parenting.

Oh, to parent an infant or a toddler once again…. Sigh.

Don’t rush it folks… it will be gone sooner than you think. Really.

 

Where am I From?

Where am I From?

I went to a blogging conference last weekend. http://www.thesitsgirls.com/ It was a little overwhelming, and exciting hanging out with a hundred other bloggers, and learning about things I didn’t even know existed. I had to really define my goal and reasons behind blabbering to all of you on a regular basis, and I think I did.  I definitely have my work cut out for me if I truly desire to share my life, help others, and point toward God with my stories and experiences.

One of the break out sessions focused on writing.  They gave us a template of the poem by George Ella Lyon, Where am I From.  Wow.  Several of the ladies filled theirs out in no time, and then shared them with us!  I was only on line three by the time we were supposed to be done.  I don’t know what that says about my creativity, but I was truly intimidated.  Being the good mom that I am, I printed a copy of the template and gave it to my son to fill in as a writing assignment.  He did it faster than me too.  Really.

The session leaders suggested that we put our poems in our next blog, so, now that I finally finished mine, I am sharing.  I asked my son if I could share his too, and he said, “I don’t care.” So here you go. A two for one from the Motmob.

From me:

I am from homemade clothes, from gardening, canning and religion.
I am from the single family home with the mattress, blankets & cuddles in front of the fireplace and corelle dishes that really do break.
I am from the strawberries that hide in the weeds, till my fingers ache.
I am from creativeness, sarcasm and the wringing of hands from Mom and Dad and Mommom Ruth.
I am from do it yourselves, the strong willed and the always right.
From Heaven is real and there’s never enough money.
I’m from Philadelphia and Ireland, beanie weenies, PB&J and mashed potatoes.
From the 500 Ford Galaxy that got pushed up the street at midnight for a moon lit drive on the beach and from being grounded for sneaking out and stealing the car.
From the ship yard, the seamstress, the lawyer and sunday school teacher.
I am from memories stored in boxes and albums, of every scrap of paper and photo from the past, that will be moved from attic to attic until there is nowhere left for them to go.  I am Jennifer.

From our 13 year old son:

I am from blenders and cereal bowls from Imacs and Bibles.
I am from every kind of ball there is.
The cinnamon stick in every room.
I am from the 18 rose bushes.  The cherry blossom tree whom long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from 3 gifts on Christmas and going out to lunch after church. I’m from Mom & Dad.
I’m from cleaning up a mess and leaving the dogs outside and from sneaking a cookie.
I’m from not wanting a gift from Santa, but from my parents and never swallowing my greens with water.
I’m from Jesus loves me this I know and from getting a back scratch.
I’m from Atlanta, Italy and Ireland, chicken puffs, green beans and Friday night pizza.
From my Dad getting hit with a high heel by his mom because he broke a china glass.
The bunny ears behind the head, the box of toys under my bed.
I’m from a great family who loves me and I love them, from baseball to ballet, my family is awesome.

After all my thinking about my life, I think this was a fun exercise after all.  If you would like to do one yourself, here’s a link to a blank template: http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm and here’s a good one for your kids: http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/t/Target_I_am_from%20poem.pdf  OR you can share some of yourself on the comment section below…. I would love to see where you are from.

Guest Post – Parenting

Guest Post – Parenting

I have been crazy busy over the past couple of weeks.  Trying to keep a daily exercise program, baseball season for Nick, home-schooling, fulfilling my role as CFO for our company and just taking care of our home, as left sporadic times for writing.  I’ve got a few blogs in the works, and will be posting again soon.  Meanwhile, I do read several other blogs in my morning coffee time, and this one sounded like something I would write.  I always enjoy this blog, and today I thought it was something you would enjoy as well…

Here is a link to it on the Church & Culture site

http://www.churchandculture.org/blog.asp?id=1729

Or you can read it here as well –

Home > Resources > Blog > The Under Protective Parent

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last weekend, I launched a series of talks under the title “The Under Protective Parent.”

 The thesis was simple: there is much talk in our day about avoiding being “over protective,” but little to no talk on being “under protective.”
It’s a significant cultural question.
Let’s go back a few decades.
In the 1930s and 40’s, parents and families were conventional, strict, focused on appearance. Then, in 1946, came a book titled Baby and Child Care by a man named Dr. Benjamin Spock, an American pediatrician.
A book which continues to shape us to this day.
Building off of the field of psychoanalysis, Dr. Spock told parents to loosen up, back off, and let the child go. Be more flexible. Treat them as individuals. While he admirably called for love and affection, he often paired that against discipline and control.
Tell your child they are special, loved and unique.
Don’t ever spank them.
Feed them whenever they are hungry.
Don’t try and put them on a schedule.
By 1998 it had sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 39 languages. Many critics felt that the proof of his advice was in the pudding. They quipped, “What do you get when you raise a generation on the permissive ideas of Dr. Spock, saturate them with rock and roll, introduce them to drugs and alcohol, overshadow them with the threat of nuclear holocaust, and then tell them that God is dead?
The sixties.
Whether that was a result of new parenting styles, or simply the way of the world, the parenting pendulum had swung. From hands on to hands off; from discipline to persuasion; from moral authority to moral influence. And while we may have backed off from some of the more radical ideas Spock put forward that our parents and their parents embraced, here’s what stuck:
The one thing you don’t want to do as a parent is be “over” protective. And we’ve attached all kinds of pejorative words to it.
Hovering.
Smothering.
Babying.
Coddling.
Sheltering.
But it sends a very strong message by insinuation: it’s wrong to be over-protective, but it’s not wrong to be under-protective. If you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake in being loose, in playing fast and free, in not protecting enough.
Because the one big parenting sin is protecting too much.
Really?
In a world of sexting and Facebook, bullying in schools and internet porn, the Jersey Shore and OC, cutting and hooking up, is it time for hands off or hands on? Time for more Spock, or something else?
Nobody wants to raise kids who are so sheltered that they are socially arrested or incapacitated, or have a parenting style that’s so heavy-handed that it invites resentment and rebellion.
But in our fear of being over-protective, we’ve been under-protective.
We let culture dictate what is normal; if “everyone” is doing it, wearing it, seeing it, going to it, or listening to it, then we feel we will be doing our child damage if we don’t go along.
But parenting by “everyone” is madness.
And if we do it, we’re putting our children’s very childhood at risk.
The assumption with parenting is simple: your children are immature and need your maturity. Yet some parents are more eager to be liked, or accepted by their kids, than they are to be parents to their kids.
So instead of being active, they’re passive.
And in so doing, they drop their protective guard.
The very idea of childhood is that there is a time when a young person is sheltered from certain ideas, experiences, practices, expectations and knowledge. They are sheltered from adult secrets, particularly sexual ones. Certain facets of life – its mysteries, its contradictions, its tragedies, its violence – are not considered suitable for children to know. Only as they grow into adulthood are they revealed in ways that they can assimilate psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
This is why for years the books that were read in the fourth grade or seventh grade or ninth grade were chosen not only for their vocabulary and syntax, but because their content was considered to contain fourth, seventh or ninth grade information, ideas and experiences.
But when the line between the adult world and the child’s world becomes blurred, or no longer exists, childhood disappears.
So we let our eight-year-olds watch Modern Family or Glee;
…we let our girls dress provocatively and begin dating at ridiculously early ages;
…we ignore the fact that our kids have lied to get on Facebook (you have to be 13), or even lied for them;
…we let “godaddy” commercials come and go without comment, or even changing the channel, while watching the game with our sons;
…we have no idea what Rhianna, Katy Perry or Lady Gaga is singing to them on their iPod;
…and we don’t screen friends.
So am I saying that children should be naive? With all that is in within me, yes! That is what childhood is for. A time for wonderful, beautiful naivete and innocence.
So what should a properly protective parent do?
It’s not complicated:
Be informed, involved and in charge.
To be informed is to know what is going in your child’s world. You know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
To be involved means that you are part of their world. You are not a spectator, you’re a participant.
To be in charge means you are leading their world, creating their world, shaping their world.
This is the difference between being simply a mother or a father,
…and being a parent.
James Emery White
Sources 
Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care.
Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood.
You can obtain an mp3 file of the first talk in this series on the Message Downloads page.

Revisiting the College Preparation Blog…

Revisiting the College Preparation Blog…

Back in June, I blogged about helping my daughter prepare for college.  I re-visited that post this evening,  to see if I was still feeling the same, and if my Top 10 list held true through-out the summer.  I can testify that it did.  It is all true…every last one.

Tomorrow morning, we will unload my little girl, with a truck full of boxes, in the middle of a big city, and leave her there to start a new chapter in her life.   It will also be a new chapter in mine.

I’m sure I will cry, but that’s OK…Really.

Below is my blog from June… enjoy.

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!

Losing Weight…

Losing Weight…

So. I’ve entered a weight loss competition.  Of course, that naturally must mean I need to lose weight.

I was always a skinny kid.  I ate whatever I wanted, and never, ever thought twice about it.  Soda, french fries, cookies, ice cream…  oh dang. I digress.  Anyway, I never had an issue with my weight.   Even after all of my pregnancies, I would slip my pre-baby jeans right on.  All of that finally came to end, as most good things do, after I had a complete hysterectomy.  I swear, I gained 30 pounds in a month.  I walked and went to the YMCA off and on, but nothing too regimented.  I couldn’t loose a pound!  I’m a very busy lady, so, I just decided that the new added weight wasn’t that bad. It was a better deal than the pre-hysterectomy issues I had suffered with, and I still wasn’t considered obese for heaven sake!  I had only gone up a size or two.

Well, ignoring your body, and keeping busy is not a good idea if you don’t want to gain more weight.  I obviously didn’t get that memo, and my new best friend was Denial, so over the next few years, I grew and grew.  I grew until I stopped changing in front of the mirror.  I stopped hanging out in cute shorts, and I never got out of the shower without a towel already tightly in place.  I even wondered what my husband really thought, and secretly feared that he might not be attracted to me anymore.

I would go through seasons of “trying” to do something about it, but life would always get in the way, and that dear friend, Denial, would remind me how important my responsibilities were. Busy, busy, busy.  Even when my cholesterol hit 400… I got a prescription, grabbed my friend Denial, and went out to dinner… I would usually fix my frustration by shopping for a new outfit.  New clothes can make you feel good, but apparently that only works the first time you wear them… for me anyway.

So here I am.  I’ve got a closet full of clothes, and I’ve sent Denial packin.  I took this opportunity to enter a competition, not only to lose weight, but to do it from the inside out. This is about life change, not another diet.   I am competing against 19 other people from my community, but my toughest competitor will be me.

I do this knowing that I can. I don’t need anymore clothes and my husband adores me no matter what my dress size.  Denial keeps calling, but I’ve changed my number.  I know I can do anything I set my mind to, and the time has come to set my mind to this…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13…Really.

Tough Tuesday…Dating

Tough Tuesday…Dating

Yep. I said it, and I’m pulling out my soapbox to blog about it… Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

I have this dating thing on my mind because it is a hot topic around my house, and has been for some time. With 4 kids, aging from puberty to adult, we have had many conversations on this topic, as well as survived all kinds of situations, either personally, or through close friends…

I dated a lot in my day… I never really saw anything wrong with it either, until I really started noticing how many broken families and broken hearts there are in this world. The stats for divorce, unwanted pregnancies, and STD’s are staggering, and could be blog postings on their own…It’s hard to NOT notice how much the sexual revolution has progressed. Dating has changed, and it’s not for the better…The almighty “me” is reigning and it’s leaving devastation in it’s wake.

What is dating anyway? Webster says, An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest. Most folks would agree with that, although, the definition of “interest” can be defined many different ways. It used to mean that you would be looking towards a possible marriage partner, but most of the dating today doesn’t seem to have that goal in mind. It’s become more and more about satisfying our own lusts and desires, without the thought of consequences or the future.

Our society has lowered the bar to the acceptable dating age, and many parents seem to be OK with it.. Some parents even think it’s harmless and cute. Some can argue that it helps kids in deciding what type of person they like, and, that they need to experience those differences to be well rounded. Quite frankly, I think that is ridiculous. A child in middle school, or younger, does not know what kind of spouse they want. They don’t even know what kind of person they are going to be! Jumping from relationship to relationship is not going to help them figure any of that out.

So what do kids learn from dating? All this “practice” teaches them that people are replaceable. If things get hard, it’s time to quit. If something better comes along, well, it’s time to move on. It’s all about how “I” feel. If I’m not satisfied, then it’s over. How many little pieces of a heart can be passed out before all that’s left is so incomplete that it doesn’t work right anymore. By the time they do get married, they have already learned how to walk away. Broken hearts are the norm, almost a “right of passage”, not the exception. Where is the training in unconditional love and commitments, or better yet, covenants?

As a family with Christian values, I have told my kids time and again, that if God is sovereign over everything, that includes your future spouse. You do not need to “try” out relationships with several different people to see if they are the one. You need to be praying for your future spouse now, and have faith that God will bring you together at the perfect time, and you will know it. Of course, our kids haven’t always listened to us.  The world is constantly screaming just the opposite, through music, television, and the movies. Even Disney thinks kids should be focused on relationships… Poor Zack and Cody were even scripted in elementary school to chase girls.

Teach your kids to just be friends. Teach them to pray for their futures and to seek God’s will for their lives. When those hormones rear their ugly heads, affirm them, and help them take control of it… and not let those hormones take control of them. Communicate.  Healthy relations start with God, then families, and friends. Romance will then have a runway that’s paved accurately.

If you are a parent that has encouraged young dating, STOP IT. Culture is wrong on this one. Look around and see what this out of control sexual desire has gotten us. It all starts somewhere. (1 Thes 4:3-5)

If your kids are older, and are already out in the dating world, or, if you yourself are in it, let me offer some advice. One of the things we had our kids do as they got older, was to prayerfully make a list of the qualities they would want in a spouse. We then told them to strive to BE the person, that person would desire as well… Anyone who fell short to that list, should simply remain a “friend”. God will not only satisfy your list, but he will bless you with someone who has qualities you never even thought of…

The hardest part is waiting. Patience in the world of relationships is almost unheard of. But think about this, it only takes a minute to recall your heartbreaks, no matter how long ago they were. Don’t we want better for our kids? Who they marry is one of the most important decisions they will make in their life.  Shouldn’t we be preparing them for it?  Be pro-active and teach self control. It will be worth it.

If your reading this, and your heart is still in pieces, and you feel you don’t have much left to give, don’t give up! God is a full restorer of hearts. It’s His speciality. Give it all to Him and let your healing begin… (2 Cor.5:17)

There are many resources available for your kids and for you on this topic. One of my favorites is, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, by Chip Ingram. You can find this at www.livingontheedge.org