Tag Archives: life

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?

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and things that go bump in the night.

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and things that go bump in the night.

I wrote this post last year – and for the record, I still hold to it… BUT, I will add, that my youngest son is named after Saint Nicholas Day, and we have always told the kids the actual truth about who the man really was – a wonderful saint of a man, that loved and cared for children, in the name of Christ… you can keep your traditions, with out lying or trying to convince your children to believe in the lie… the truth really is fun… I swear.

* Spoiler Alert (if you believe the above are real, do not read this post)

There are many “acceptable” lies that some parents tell their children.  The 3 biggies are: Santa, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

I honestly never gave these things much thought, except the Easter Bunny… As a Christian, I always had trouble making the leap from Christ’s resurrection to a giant egg- leaving rabbit, but that’s not my point today.

 It seems that many parents in America don’t have a problem telling their kids that a big fat man, a giant bunny, and a fairy, will sneak into their homes, in the dark of night, and leave surprises.  Some parents even drag their kids to the mall, stand in line, and put them on a strange person’s lap for a picture….  When I put it that way, it sounds kinda creepy, doesn’t it?  I’ve had parents tell me that it’s fun!  It’s tradition! It’s harmless and kids love it. Seriously?

I used to leave reindeer snacks, cookies, and carrots out for our annual intruders.  I never even really minded that my kids didn’t have to thank me for their gifts cause they were from Santa, and he wasn’t there on Christmas morning.  If you are a parent that has had your kids write thank you letters to Santa – kudos!  I tried… but then forgot, and my kids didn’t remind me.  Those dang kids.

It all changed one day back in 1997, when my darling daughter had just turned 5. My second child told her that all of these American icons, where not real.  She came to me, and asked if it was true.  I sat down and confirmed what her stinker brother had said.  She looked right at me, with big blue, tear filled eyes, and said, “Mommy, why did you lie to me?”  Really.  My heart broke.  I told her all of those great reasons, and she said, “but mommy, it’s not fun. it always scared me”.  After that, we had a family meeting and we found out that all of our kids found it a little scary, and they never really understood thesanta sees you when your sleeping connections… Santa/Birth of Christ, Bunny/Christ resurrection or Teeth/Fairies… At the time, I was expecting my fourth child and the kids informed me that, if we planned on “lying” to the baby, they would not participate.

That was the end of the mystical characters in our home.

It has served us well, even though some of my friends have been annoyed with us.  Especially when my kids told their kids the “truth”…(sorry)  Through all of that though, it was probably one of the best changes for our family.  Christmas is now 3 gifts, a “myrrh” is something for their bodies, a “frankincense” is for their minds and a “gold” is a treasure that they have wanted.  We still do the stocking for our country tradition, and we fill them with small fun things.  Easter is focused just on Christ, but we still will participate in a good egg hunt on occasion, and we have had a photo or 2 with the Bunny…just for fun.  When the kids lost a tooth, they just handed to me…and I handed them some cash…lame. I know.  You can judge me all you want next time you are waiting for your kid to fall asleep, and then spend 15 minutes digging under their pillow looking for a tooth…

We are always honest with our kids, even in the name of fun.  We leave the make-believe to their imaginations…. If you are a die hard traditionalist, good for you.  But if you ever want to come over to the less stressful side.. I’ll be waiting. 😀

I have also written a post about the, “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”… if your interested, read it HERE.

I would love to hear how YOU handle the holiday!

Old Habits Die Hard

Old Habits Die Hard


Today I had an OCD day squared.  I haven’t had one of those in a long time.  My day consisted of paying both company and personal bills, going to the bank, getting my car serviced, taking one son to baseball practice, and lunching with another.  Then I vacuumed my house, dusted, windexed, straightened, mopped, did all the laundry, shopped, and cooked.

I call that an OCD day because I was totally anal about all of it.  My ADD kicked in as I flitted from task to task and even re-did a few things that needed it. (in my mind, anyway)  I really got a lot done.  Now I’m all tucked in my corner of the sofa with my laptop and remote control, waiting for Alcatraz to start.  I was reflecting on my day, and I am surprised at how obsessively productive I was, since I haven’t had such a full day like this in a long time…

I used to be intense about lots of things.  I guess you could say I was tightly wound, and had strong ideas and routines for everything.  I spent hours cleaning grout and hanging baby clothes on tiny hangers… I had to have the lines just right in the carpet when I vacuumed.  Everything had to have a box, or place… with a label.  Disorder and conflict were strictly forbidden.  Everyone thought my house was beautiful and clean. I had schedules, charts and lists.  It was a great front.  I worked so hard on things I had control over, because I couldn’t control so many other things that weren’t as obvious.  The insecurities were overwhelming but the appearance was close to perfect.

Those days are long gone, as I have submitted to the authority who really has control over everything.  It was an easy,
spiritual, and emotional experience to accept the One who has saved my soul, but letting go of the “control” that I thought I had, or didn’t have, is a different story.  It is a slow, painful development, which continues today.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this whole Christian walk is a process.  Thank God.

So how does that translate into a clean house?  I was productive, after all.  I guess it just reminded me of how psycho I used to be.  Have I regressed into my insecurities? Sure! Every now and then!  But now, instead of dwelling, stressing, and dusting 3 times, I say a prayer, praise my Lord and I let it go.  And it works…Really.

Do any of your old habits ever rear their heads in your new life?  What do you do?

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.

Gratitude

Gratitude

Most folks have heard the term “gratitude list”.  Usually when things are a total mess in ones life, someone will suggest making that list.  That’s how I learned about it anyway.

It was many years ago, and I really didn’t have much hope, to say the least.  I got a notebook, and tried to list the things I was grateful for.  It was hard at first, since I really didn’t have anything at the time.  I was freshly single, with 3 kids, no job, no savings and I was in a new state, without any family or friends.  I didn’t even have my salvation.  I found that notebook recently and this is a few of the things I wrote:

My daughter’s eyes. My son’s eyes. My children’s giggles. My mom & brother. Birds. Fall. My friend Lees’ laugh. The Bible. White clouds against a blue sky.

That was it for my first list.  The short list did grow and eventually I had a whole book of lists from that season in my life. There were a few more seasons that came, where I had to go back and just read those lists to remind me what my blessings were.

Today my list is miles and miles long.  I am Job before Satan messed with him… well, maybe not as wealthy.

The top of my list is my salvation.  I know that no matter what happens in this life, I will be with my God for eternity.  I didn’t deserve it, and I am always in awe that it’s mine.  Second, is my husband.  He’s the bomb.  Really.  My kids are always on my list, even when they are driving me nuts and my mom and family are permanent happy sighs as well.  My friends are like whipped cream and chocolate syrup on my ice-cream.  Some days, when I am noticing,  I will thank God for a green light or even a red one.  There’s that perfect cup of coffee and humming birds hanging out by the window.  A song, a word, a prayer, a hug or a smile.  Laughing to tears and making someone’s day are some all time favorites. There’s lots of food on my list and books, my health and even my occasional sanity. Recently, I added a puppy to our house… she is close to the top of my list, even when she wants to play at 4 in the morning…

So, do you have a list?  What is your silver lining in this messy world we live in?  If you have never made a list, I suggest that you do.  It will open your eyes and your heart to all that you are blessed with, and it will be there for you in those times that you might forget.

Serious Sunday…Accountability

Serious Sunday…Accountability

I’ve been thinking about accountability a lot lately.  I’ve been thinking that it’s probably something most people don’t think that much about, but it’s something everyone needs.

When you’re growing up, you have your parents, who, in their best efforts, keep you accountable.  Then, throughout life, we have teachers, coaches, employers and maybe even co-workers that will hold us accountable, at least to the responsibilities we hold in their presence.  If we marry, we have our spouse to hold us accountable, and that’s always fun… So fun, that many marriages end in divorce.

Any recovery or improvement program worth its weight, has an accountability plan.  Everyone knows that to overcome something, you have to have someone you trust, that you can be completely transparent with.  Someone who knows your weaknesses and will speak truth to you, even when you don’t want to hear it.  Better yet, someone who will commit to pray for you.

So, why don’t more people have accountability partners?  I think it’s because most of us don’t like to admit that we have issues.  Fear and pride are pretty big obstacles.  It’s hard to tell someone that you over eat, and the reasons why, or that you look forward to a glass a wine too much, or you loose your temper on your kids, or you like your computer screen more than your spouse.  It’s the same reasons most folks think they don’t need a Savior.  It’s the ultimate deception.

If you are serious about your personal growth and justification, you need to get transparent with someone.  We were created for relationship, and that includes accountability.  It’s not always fun, but it’s real…and worth it.

If you think you don’t have any reason for an accountability relationship, you’re in denial. Really.

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!

Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

I started home schooling out of desperation, but I have continued out of conviction.

Right before I took my 7th grader out of public school all those years ago,  I had been substituting at a couple of middle schools.  My experiences in those schools were not pleasant. Things had changed drastically since my days of puberty, and it was not for the better.

I home-school because I want my son to learn without distraction.  I want his ears to be  sensitive to profanity and his heart to be soft to injustice.  I want to teach him that it’s God’s Word that matters most, not the most popular kids word…I want my son to know that God is in every single thing in his life, and it’s his very ability to learn that comes from Him.

I home school because I believe that all children deserve to learn in the way they were created and at the pace that their brains can keep up with.  I don’t teach to a test, and we don’t move on until there’s complete understanding.  The time will come soon enough when meeting the status quo will matter, but it’s not in adolescence.

I have learned that when you teach to a child’s heart, knowledge and understanding will follow.  Grades are just a way to see what we still need to learn.  They are not the defining mark of any child.  Their character is.

I have totally selfish reasons for home-schooling as well.  I love the schedule of it.  I love planning activities with my son, and going on field trips.  I love implementing life responsibilities in our education, and I just love being a part of the whole process… We rarely run out of time for the things that matter, because it all matters.

I believe that the public school systems do have the children’s best interest at heart.  I also believe, unfortunately, that their interest can only be diluted when you have the increased population in the classroom, and the varying, ever changing, opinions of those in control.  It is a government entity that has taken too big of an influence in our lives, in places where it has no business.

I choose to home school.  I take it seriously.  I don’t judge you if you choose not to, but I do admonish you to talk to your child about their day at school.  I implore you to be pro-active with your child’s studies. Get to know your child’s teacher.  They would probably appreciate your support!  Know what they are learning and be involved.   It’s your right as a parent.  You are your child’s best advocate, and their character development is up to you.

When all is said and done, and the diploma is hanging on the wall, the adult that your child becomes is really up to them.  We can only do what we can.  As I have said before…faith, hope, love and prayer will always be yours long after control and influence have expired.  Take comfort in those and know that God loves your kids more than you do. Really.

Yep… I’m a home-school mom… Part 1

Yep… I’m a home-school mom… Part 1

I haven’t always been.  My oldest son went through public school, and then he even went to a boarding school… My second son went through public school until the 7th grade…then we home-schooled through 12th.  My daughter was in public through 5th, then home, then back to public for 9th through 12th…and then our youngest… he has been in public, private and home…  I have been room-mom, PTA officer, substitute teacher and tutor.  I’ve home-schooled with the help of a couple **home-school “schools” and I’ve created a curriculum all by myself… I like to think I am well rounded in the area of educational options.

I used to think that home-schoolers were “weird”.  At the least, they were crazy!  I always thought I would end up in prison for beating my children if I ever even tried it… I was one of those moms that counted down summer vacation and never, ever thought to challenge a teacher, a specialist or a curriculum…

My second child had always struggled in school.  He had all of the extra help the public schools could provide.  He even spent every summer in summer school.  By 6th grade he had figured out how to divert the attention from his lack of understanding by becoming the class clown.  He was popular with the kids, but no so much with the teachers.  He technically failed 6th grade, but, against our wishes, was placed in 7th grade.  Things got worse.  After 1st semester progress reports, I knew we had to do something drastic.  After extensive independent testing, we found out that after all of his education, our son was on a 4th grade level…but in the 7th grade.  How did this happen?  We had to do something, and quick.

We found out that he has Dyslexia.  His reading skills were minimal, and he had mastered the art of diversion.  We got him a tutor that specialized in dyslexia, and the Wilson Program, and then we enrolled him in a home-school “school” that focused on the children’s hearts and their spirits.  With the specialized focus, and lots of one on one teaching, he was on grade level in just over a year.

We opted to continue  home schooling through his high school years.  We enrolled him in The American School, which is an established correspondence school.  We were able to continue using the dyslexia tutor and exercises, as well as one on one lessons and group activities.  He received his diploma with a 3.4 GPA in just under 4 years.  It was not always easy, but when your routine changes, everything changes, including attitudes.

So, my motivation for home-schooling, began out of desperation to help my son, who had slipped though the cracks of the public school system.  They did their best, and it just wasn’t good enough, and that’s OK.  It’s not their responsibility anyway.  It’s mine.  Parents know their kids better than anyone, or at least, they should.  It’s the parents job to be the advocate for their kids, to make sure they are getting the services they need, even if that means to be in a different environment all together.  It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.  Really.

So, that is how I started… it’s not really why I still do it though….

stay tuned for part 2…

** A home-school “school” is a program that offers classroom teaching, with pre-packaged curriculum.  Most of these schools offer classes once a week in a block schedule.  The assignments are completed at home, with the help of the parents, then turned back in to the class teacher the following week.

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