faith, Inspiration, Marriage, Self-Image, women

Do It Afraid

This past week, I spoke at one of our Women’s Events at church along with three amazing friends. Even writing that sentence makes me laugh, because I am not a speaker nor have I ever thought I would do something like this. I’m a writer. I write words on paper, and people read them. That’s my comfort zone, wheelhouse, niche….whatever you want to call it, that’s it.

So when I was approached by my dear friend and mentor to share my story at this event, my first thought was a big, fat NOPE. I think I may have laughed. Or thrown up. I don’t even know.

But what I said was….yes. And I am still shaking my head, because I’ve questioned myself many times how that happened. The people-pleaser in me probably just didn’t want to disappoint her, but I was scared to death. And I know my friends were too.

You know, fear does some crazy things to us. It puts us in a box, locks the door, and throws away the key. It makes us hide behind the things we do best and never venture out into the unknown. It builds walls, shuts people out, and isolates us from those who care. It keeps us from sharing our true selves, scars and all.

And it is a liar.

Three years ago almost to the day, I created this blog, and I even wrote my first blog post. But other than showing it to a few close friends, I never told anyone else about it for a long time. A year, to be exact.

I was terrified. I knew that by sharing my work, I was opening myself up to being vulnerable, not only about my writing but also about what I would inevitably share. And it paralyzed me.

But throughout that year, God worked on me and brought me to a place of surrender. He reminded me that He does not call the equipped, He equips the called. He reminded me that fear is not of Him, it is a skilled liar, but lies flee in the presence of truth.

So I shared my blog with the world; and with it, a post on Fear. And after some time, encouragement, and support, I was ok with it. Comfortable. Or at least, more comfortable than I was. The introvert in me will never be completely comfortable with vulnerability; but at least, it no longer crippled me.

Then this.

Public speaking.

You’ve got to be kidding me, God.

And there it was again. The fear I thought I’d left behind was back and more powerful than before. It told me I am not a speaker. It told me my mess is ugly, un-sharable, and full of shame. It told me people would look at me differently. It told me to let someone else do it. It told me to quit.

But I didn’t.

Not because I’m brave. Not because I had conquered my fear. Nothing as grand as that. I wish!

No, it’s because of the promise God made to us in Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And it just so happens, this passage was the one we were using as our key scripture for the night, so fancy that.

He promises that nothing will be wasted. No sin, no pain, no dark day, or sleepless night. He promises to bring beauty from ashes, and we believed that sharing our stories was part of fulfilling that promise.

But I was still afraid. Terrified, really. I didn’t sleep for weeks and could think of little else. I was beginning to worry that I really couldn’t do it. If I was this afraid, then maybe I shouldn’t.

However, the night before our event, a sweet friend saw my fear and said these words to me, “Sometimes you just have to do it afraid.”

Why is it that sometimes the simplest of words can stop us in our tracks and somehow change us…

Do it afraid.

She reminded me that when God asked Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, Moses gave every excuse in the book of why he couldn’t. But God promised him that he could. And he did. Even afraid.

We tell our kids to do it all the time. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” And “Just Do It.” So why don’t we listen to ourselves?

Our youngest son plays football, and he loves playing defense. Ok, he loves to tackle. That’s his favorite. So when the Quarterback was injured at the beginning of the season, his coaches decided to try Hayes in the position. The thing is, Hayes didn’t want to play Quarterback. It scared him. Too much responsibility. Too much room for error. Too much – no, thank you.

It somewhat surprised me though. It’s an important role, and this is the same kid who told me my next tattoo should be “Hayes is the GOAT.”  So it didn’t add up. But he was mad about it. For the next week, we heard how much he did NOT want this and had to do our best to change that.

But he was scared. He had never played that position before, and he didn’t think he could do it. He was afraid to fail.

On some level, we are all afraid to fail.

But no guts no glory, right? So he finally just went out there and gave it his best shot, and he did it afraid. Turns out, he wasn’t half bad at it. In fact, he was pretty good. And better yet, he even liked it!

And the same happened when my friends and I stepped out in faith & fear and did what we felt God calling us to do. Share our stories in front of over 500 women. Now I wouldn’t say I loved it or that it was even great. My hand was shaking the entire 9.2 minutes I was talking. But I walked away knowing I had been obedient. And the testimonies that have been shared as a result of that evening have been incredible. To God be the glory.

What would happen if we would stop letting fear dictate our path? What if we stopped letting it cripple us and keep us from our God-given purpose and calling? God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He’s not going to call us to do something we can’t. If He is leading us to take a leap of faith, He’s going to equip us to carry it out.

“Now may the God of peace…equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen.” – Hebrews 13:21

How many blessings have we missed because of fear? How many opportunities lost because we are afraid?

I think I’d rather not know.

But the best part of our story is that it isn’t over, and we don’t have to let it happen again. We can stop letting fear bully us and keep us from all God has in store for our lives. And we can start doing it now.

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Photo: Megan Holland//Opendoor Church

Devotional, Encouragement, health, Inspiration, Motherhood

Created to Crave

For those of us who live in the Carolinas, we just came through a hurricane. And anyone who has ever been housebound for days on end due to weather-related issues knows that this is a recipe for caloric disaster.

First, we stockpile all of the snacks. All of them. All the things you save for trips and vacations, birthdays, and Christmas. If it has carbohydrates and sugar, we buy them. If it was something we ate when we were 12, it’s a must. Nothing is off limits.

It’s like it’s the end times and calories don’t count during natural disasters. Except they do. But we can’t worry about that, because we’ve got cookies to bake.

And I did bake. Mind you, I don’t even like baking. I literally baked two pans of brownies and 4 dozen cookies which were all inhaled within a 4-day window. It was impressive, to say the least.

But have you ever noticed that the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave? I’m hypoglycemic, so I try not to eat a lot of sugar on a regular basis. Don’t pat me on the back just yet. Aside from the fact that I like to eat a fairly healthy diet, eating sugar simply makes me feel awful. Anyone who experiences it knows what I mean. It’s not fun, so most of the time it’s just not worth it.

However, sometimes I succumb to the temptation, and brownies are usually to blame. Crunchy on the corners and soft and gooey on the inside. As my youngest would say, they are manna from heaven.

The interesting thing about eating junk food is that no matter how lousy it makes me feel, I find myself craving it more than usual after I’ve eaten it. I can go months on end without one morsel of sweet, then a single bite is like a shot of crack in my veins and I’m suddenly a junkie looking for my next fix. (I don’t even know if you shoot crack..but it sounded good.)

And I learned a long time ago that our minds work the same way. When we feed our minds trash by what we watch, read, or listen to, we end up feeling yuck. Negative thoughts bombard our minds, toward ourselves and toward others. We become insecure and angry, often lashing out at those we love. We suddenly question our values and beliefs. We think maybe some things aren’t so bad after all…even though they very clearly go against everything we know is true. And we are well aware of the fact that it is happening.

But the crazy thing is that we end up wanting more of it. More trash breeding more negativity and confusion.

And the cycle goes on.

But have you ever noticed what happens after you go on a fast or clean out your system? Just about everyone I know experiences this at least once a year in January. You know the drill. The new year rolls around, so you clean out the pantry and hit the gym.

It’s like the clouds lift. We can think more clearly. Our bodies suddenly have energy. We sleep better. And the sugar cravings are gone.

It’s miraculous, and we vow to never let it happen again. Until we do.

But our mind works the exact same way.

When we feed our mind good things – healthy things that cultivate a positive thought life, we crave more of it and less of the trash.

So what do we do? Most of us are busy moms that are constantly on the go. Maybe the last book you read was before you gave birth for the first time…or for that dreadful college Lit class. We don’t always have time to sit down and read a book that isn’t on a 2nd-grade reading level or doesn’t qualify for AR points. And worship music is great…but sometimes it can only go so far.

So what do we do?

What we can.

That’s it. We do what we can in this season of life, but we have to do something. Filling our minds with nothing is almost as dangerous as filling them with the wrong things. Satan can have a field day in an empty head.

The great thing about the times in which we live is that we have so many resources at our fingertips. Resources that our moms will be the first to tell us they didn’t have. In fact, I could have used some of them myself when the boys were little.

For example, I recently jumped on the podcast train. I know I’m late to the party, but I finally gave it a try because I needed something on-the-go. And honestly, I don’t know what has taken me so long to do it. They’re fantastically easy and good. We moms spend so much time in the car that it just makes sense to utilize that time for something more than zoning out or yelling at the traffic. (even though that’s fun too)

So whatever it is that works for you in this season, do it. Read or listen to good books that build your faith, strengthen your marriage, make you a better mom or friend. Stream a podcast or watch an online Bible Study that does the same. Play worship music as you fold laundry or run errands. Join a small group or meet for coffee with an encouraging friend. And the list goes on.

But what I’m trying to say is this. Our days and minds are already filled with random (but important) clutter. Things that zap our energy and stress us out. We can’t afford to fill our heads with negative things when we have so very little room to spare. So find what encourages you, ask others for ideas, and share yours with them. We’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out.

“What you feed  your mind determines your appetite.” – Tim Ziglar

What are you feeding your mind right now? What works for you in this season? What podcasts do you love? I’d love to hear it all, so feel free to share!

Here are a few podcasts my friends & I love that target various seasons of life:

Havilah Cunnington (Havilah’s Podcast) – She covers all things related to women, family, being a wife and mom, & spiritual growth, etc.

Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke (The Real Life) – A husband-wife team that talks about marriage, family, young children, and God.

Sadie Roberson (Whoa That’s Good) – She may be young and target teens and young adults, but she’s got some good stuff to say for all ages.

Sally Clarkson (At Home With Sally) – She is a veteran mother with four grown children and has so much godly wisdom to share.

Janet Lansbury (Respectful Parenting: Unruffled) – She covers parenting and behavioral issues.

John Rosemond – He is a parenting guru that covers all things parents encounter with children of all ages.

David Ramsey – He is full of financial advice and tips to motivate you to reach your financial goals.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.                      Phillippians 4:8-9

Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, Letters, Life Lessons, Mom of Boys, preteens, realtalk, teens, transparency

An Open Letter To My Teenage Self…

Dear Preteen/Teenage Me,

First things first…

I know that this may come as a complete surprise to you, but you do not become rich and famous, marry Bret Michaels, or live in Beverly Hills. You finally meet him one day, but that’s as close as it gets.

It is for the best.

And contrary to what you may think at this moment, 42 is not one foot in the grave. I know it’s hard to believe; but you are actually going to love your late 30’s & early 40’s, and I mean that with all my heart. The confidence you gain through experience and maturity will help you grow more comfortable in your own skin, and it is liberating. There is a freedom with age that cannot be duplicated in youth.

That being said, you are living some of the best days of your life, and you don’t even know it. Hindsight is 20/20, so here are a few thoughts I’d like to share with you on your teenage years…

1. Enjoy school. While it may seem hard at the time, it’s the easiest thing you will ever endure. Yes, it’s boring. Yes, you have tons of homework. No, you will never need to know the hypotenuse of a triangle to change a diaper or land that dream job, but it’s a rite of passage so suck it up and endure. A roof over your head, good food in your belly, and no bills to pay. Stop wishing those days away. You will have the “opportunity” to work the rest of your life. Good grief, don’t rush it!!

2. Appreciate the skin that you are in. Be thankful your parents won’t let you wear makeup at 12. You don’t need it!! Your skin is glowing and without wrinkle. Why cover it up? There will be plenty of time and money spent on beauty products in the years to come, not to mention, tutorials galore on which makeup is best and how to contour until you are unrecognizable.

Stop trying to look like the girls on TV. Your body is going through numerous changes right now. Give it time. You will grow into those curves you hate so much, and freckles are not a curse. You are beautiful just the way you are.

But please, for the love, use sunscreen!!!

3. Wear what is flattering not just what is fashionable. All fashion trends do not look good on all people, and this is true no matter the decade. If it doesn’t look or feel fantastic, just don’t…or you will look back on pictures one day and wonder why you did.

That.is.all.

4. Quit worrying about boys. There will be plenty of time for boyfriends and relationships someday. Your worth is not measured by what a boy thinks of you. Jesus thinks you are precious and beautiful, and that’s all that matters. Spend these days making memories with family and friends, and stop wasting emotions and tears on boys who are hormonal and lack maturity and common sense.

It’s a proven fact that the brain of preteen/teen (sometimes older) boys goes through an enormous amount of change during these years causing them to say and do stupid things. (I know, I have two of them right now) So bypass this stage and catch them on the upswing! It will save you a lot of heartache.

5. Cherish your friendshipsRecognize good, healthy friendships and hold them close. Nurture those relationships and make the effort to keep in touch even when life takes you separate ways. If not, you will reconnect years from now and mourn the time you’ve lost and the memories you could have made.

And while we are talking about relationships, learn to extend grace to struggling friends but cut ties with toxic people. Neither of those becomes any easier as you grow older, but both are extremely important. Knowing the difference is key.

Find your tribe and love them hard. 

6. Be kind. Popularity is fleeting and matters very little in the grand scheme of things, so don’t waste your time, money, or energy trying to keep up with that crowd.

Instead of dwelling on your own problems, look for those who are sitting by themselves and join them. Let them know that someone sees them and that you care. You have no idea how far a kind word can go to lift the aching spirit of a lonely soul, so open your eyes to those around you and listen with your heart. It could significantly impact a life. Not only theirs but yours.

7. Listen to your parents. They actually do know what they are talking about and don’t say “no” just to make you miserable. Believe it or not, they love you more than life itself and desperately want to protect you. Let them.

Someday you will thank them. Someday you will want to talk to them every day even though you live 13 hours apart. Someday you will want your mom by your side when you are sick or having your first…second…and third baby. Someday they will be the first people you call when you need a listening ear, a comforting word, sound advice, or prayer. Someday you will realize they were right.

And you know that list in the back of your journal? The list of things you will “never say or do to your own children”?

You say and do them all. 

8. Chase your dreams. Don’t settle for what is practical or makes sense. Most successful people don’t follow the safe route. They find what sets their souls on fire and pursue it with every ounce of their being. So do that. Don’t wait. Start now.

If you are passionate about what you do, you will never work a day in your life.

9. Seek Jesus. Every day. Don’t just go to church and check boxes. It’s not about following a list of rules. Dive into His Word, and seek Him daily. Build a relationship with Him stronger than any other relationship in your life, and you will never regret it.

Will it always be easy? No. Will life be perfect? No, God’s not a genie in a bottle. But no matter what happens, you will always have Jesus and the peace and comfort that only He can give. He will see you through whatever you may face…and that’s a promise.

And lastly, but certainly not least….

10. Be thankful you don’t have social media!!! You have the wonderful opportunity of screwing up without the whole world watching. Don’t take that for granted! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The bottom line is this. Life is hard no matter how old you are. Pros and cons accompany any age, but the key lies in what you do with them. Embrace every stage and live it to the fullest or you will look back and wish you had.

We get one chance at this thing called life, and we need to make it count.

So buckle up, buttercup, and enjoy the ride.

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” ~ Emerson

boymom, Boys, Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, Kids, Life Lessons, Life With Boys, Mom of Boys, Mornings, realtalk, Scripture, transparency

I’d Rather Be A Real Mom Than A Super Mom

What if we as mom’s, parents, guardians, and caregivers gave ourselves a break? What would that look like? How would that feel?

When you figure it out, let me know…

Because I majorly sucked at the mom thing this week.

That’s what happens when we try to do it all. We hold ourselves to these ridiculous expectations and then feel like a failure when we don’t meet them.

Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman, it will make me a worn out woman.” – Lisa Terkeurst

Show me a perfect mom, and…well, you can’t.

It all started with a major work project.

Suddenly, roles were reversed, and I was leaving the house at the crack of dawn while the hubs was playing Mr. Mom. Sounds like a vacation, right?!

Wrong.

In comes the guilt.

  • Missing the first Awards Program in forever….
  • Receiving that dreaded “sick call” when I’m an hour away and can do nothing about it…
  • Missing an important birthday party invite until the last minute….

You name it, it happened.

And I stressed.

But guess what. We made it. We all made it to the end of the week in one piece. Nobody died. Nobody needs therapy. (As far as I know) And nobody hates me.

In fact, we all learned how to pull together and do our part. Because that’s what we do as families. We’re a team. We work together and make it all happen.

And when one person changes positions, we adjust. We cover for each other. Fill in the gaps.

It doesn’t make us bad parents. It makes us good parents.

We are teaching our children that life doesn’t always go as planned. It’s not the same every day. Just because mom usually does the morning thing, school drop off, and daily emergencies doesn’t mean dad can’t do it too! And apparently, he’s not terrible at it, because they made it to school even earlier than usual. I have no idea what they were wearing or if their hair was combed…but who even cares?!

They need to know that they may walk into a college class that will rock their world. They need to know a boss may throw things at them they weren’t expecting and ask them to do the “impossible.” They need to know that they have to stay flexible and go with the flow. Because that.is.life.

The bottom line is this. We have to stop beating ourselves up over this stuff. We are not teaching our children anything by being there at their every beck and call.

That missed awards program? The boys loved having their dad there for a change. It was special. He was able to meet friends and experience the crazy. And bless him for sending me pictures!

That sick phone call that made me feel like the worst mom ever? Let’s just say “miraculous recovery” when he realized nobody was coming to get him. Lunch sitting next to his sweet teacher certainly helped. Praise!

That missed birthday party invite? It was ok! The mom understood. She showed grace! He made it to the party. It was fun!

So instead of trying to do it all, be the perfect parent, and win at everything…let’s try being “real.” Because “real” is going to teach our kids the most about life. “Real” is going to keep them grounded. “Real” is going to make them awesome.

And because “real” is really all we can do and survive.

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

What do my reactions say to my children?
boymom, Boys, Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life With Boys, Mom of Boys, realtalk, transparency

What Do My Reactions Say To My Children?

He met me at the door, eyes wide and brow furrowed. I immediately knew something was up, because the only one who meets me at the door these days is our 7 pound, 4-year-old toy poodle. Not our 8-year-old who typically has his eyes glued to a computer screen watching cats jump three feet in the air at the sight of a cucumber, painful football injuries…or people opening Christmas presents. (I didn’t even know that was a thing.)

No, it couldn’t be good.

As I opened the door, he launched into the horrific tale of walking into our master bathroom to use the restroom only to find a wet spot on the wall by the toilet. (gasp)

Right.

His delivery needs work, but it was good for an amateur.

So I began my usual line of questioning. What kind of wet spot? What color is it? Did you smell it? Are you sure it was already there and not just bad aim?!?

He quickly assured me that it was already there and that he had no idea how it happened…but that I should see for myself. So I went to investigate the crime scene with him trailing close behind.

Sure enough, there it was. A wet spot, still dripping, directly next to the toilet. So I did what any seasoned mom would do and bent down on hands and knees to smell it.

Perplexed that my keen supermom-senses did not detect any bodily fluids, I sat back on my heels and began to survey the room around me while Hayes stood there anxiously wringing his hands and repeating, “I have no idea what happened…it’s just weird.”

Right.

That’s when I caught sight of faint specks of red on the floor underneath the wet spot and a wad of wet toilet paper by the sink.

“Did you try to wash something off of the wall?”

You’d have thought I had accused him of grand theft, and he was getting 10-20 in the slammer.

Denial, tears, blame (it had to be the brothers…or the dog…or BOTH) ensued while I tried not to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

I wasn’t even mad, at least not about whatever had happened there. I just wanted him to tell me the truth, and I told him so. But the more I prodded him to come clean, the more the frenzy escalated until I finally just sent him to his room before I lost what little patience I had left and said something I would regret. (been there done that…too many times to count)

After a few minutes in the think tank (he does not like to be alone), he came out, sat at the kitchen island, and stared at me.

“Yes?”

Then came the tears, “But I don’t want you to be mad at me.” 

“I’m not.”

“But you are! You have the mad face!”

Sigh….“Ok, a little…but not because of the wet spot or whatever happened with the wet spot. I’m upset about the lying. The wet spot can be fixed easily; the lying is the real problem. That’s harder to fix.”

And that’s when the dam broke…and through the tears and the sniffing (lots of tears and lots of sniffing), I pieced together the sad tale of an 8-year-old who had a bloody nose, ran to the closest bathroom, made a mess on the wall, then tried to clean it up before anyone knew what had happened. How nobody else in the house knew all of this was going on, I will never know.

But in that moment, my heart broke a little.

Don’t get me wrong. He was still in trouble for lying and had to listen to my “Why it’s always better to tell the truth” speech. After 15 years of parenting, it has been fine-tuned and well-rehearsed, so I wasn’t about to waste it.

But what broke my heart was the fact that he was afraid to tell me the truth. Not because it was horrendous. Believe me, all three boys have done worse. Not because of the punishment. He knew he deserved whatever happened. I didn’t even play the “I’m disappointed in you” card, so it couldn’t have been that.

No, he was afraid of my reaction.

How many times have I completely flipped out over a spilled cup, a scratch on the car, a rip in a new pair of pants? How many times have I lost my mind over something little just because I was having a bad day? How many times have I made my children feel like something material, something replaceable, was more important than they are?

Like an arrow to the heart, I realized that I had failed in creating a safe space for them to come and share their mistakes and failures.

Oh sure, they talk to me about all kinds of things. They tell me all about their friends at school, what’s going on in their lives, who is doing what; and I pride myself on being the kind of mom who has an open line of communication with my children.

But when it comes to things like this, things they’ve done wrong and mistakes they’ve made….let’s just say my reaction has been less than inviting.

If they can’t come to me with the little things, how can I expect them to come to me with the big things?! It doesn’t mean there won’t ever be consequences or punishment. Those are part of life, and we have a responsibility as parents to see those through. They know that and expect it, but sometimes they just need a soft place to land when they mess up regardless of the consequences.

I want to be that soft place. I want to be approachable in the little things so they will feel safe enough to come to me with the big things too.

It’s not easy when life is hard, and busy, and stressful. Our nerves are frayed and our tempers are short. The last thing we need is one.more.thing. 

But in the grand scheme of things, what is really more important? Fixing a broken door or fixing a broken spirit?  We all know the answer, but simply asking the question puts it into perspective.

And it doesn’t become easier as they grow older, only harder. So it’s time to create that safe space for my family, that soft place to land. It’s time to show them that their feelings are important, and I love them more than things.

It’s time.

And…

It starts with me. It starts with my reaction. It starts now.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” – James 1:19, 20

 

2016, Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, New Year, writer, writing

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

As we near the end of each year, we typically begin to reflect upon the past 365 days and contemplate what we would like to change in the year ahead.

Looking back on 2016, it has been an eventful year to say the least. I’ve seen countless memes and posts with the general theme of “2016 sucked.” And I get it. It’s been turbulent with the Presidential Election, racial tension, police attacks & bathroom wars. We’ve lost countless beloved celebrities from our youth. I mean, these people entertained us in our living rooms and cars like they were part of the family! There has been sickness and death in our families and communities. Jobs lost. Marriages broken. So.much.heartache.

And while it is easy to focus on the bad, there is just as much good…if we look for it. My dad reminded me of this on Christmas Day. He sat beside the Christmas tree, Bible in hand, reading the story of Jesus’ birth just as his father had done before him many years ago. And just like Grandpa, he can never make it through the reading without stopping, tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice. We often tease him about this, the fact that he can’t finish a prayer or a Bible reading without tears; but the fact of the matter is, it’s the most precious thing in the world to us. Because he gets it. He looks past the fact that their car broke down on the way to visit us and sees God’s provision throughout the frustrating ordeal. He looks past the turbulent events of the past year and sees the abundant blessings…and he sat there and reminded us of those blessings.

Yes, 2016 was rough in many ways for many people. But in spite of it all, God is so good. The evidence is all around us. We just have to refocus our mind and heart to look for it.

So what about the new year…? How are we going to make 2017 “better”?

I’ve always loved the start of a new year just as I always looked forward to a new school year both as a student and as a teacher. It’s a fresh slate, a new start. A time to drop old habits, start new ones, and to awaken the dormant motivation within us if only for a short time. It’s an exciting time full of endless possibilities.

I’m not a resolutions girl myself. I feel like resolutions were made to be broken. Nothing makes me want to rebel more than if you tell me I can’t do it…or that I have to do it. Most resolutions are usually toast by Valentine’s Day, and then we all feel like failures because of it. My fragile self-esteem can’t take it. 

So I opt for goals. Goals that are just beyond realistic so that I have something to work towards, but I don’t feel like a loser if I don’t make it. I know, I know...it’s cheating. But it works for me.

I usually try to find a word or verse to carry with me into the new year, something to guide me in the goals that I set for myself. But this year is a little different. This year I chose a quote by a woman I had the pleasure of meeting at a writer’s conference back when I was fresh out of high school. She was hilariously funny and such an encouragement, so I have followed her ever since. And it’s like God just dropped this in my lap. This was it. This was what He wanted me to use.

“Pray continually. Wait expectantly. Trust fearlessly.” – Liz Curtis Higgs

This quote captures my heart and soul during this particular season of my life. I don’t know what 2017 holds. Heck, I don’t even know what tomorrow holds. But there is one thing I know and that is that God has a plan for my life and yours. He knows why He gave me a passion for writing and where it will take me. He knows why He gave you the gifts that you possess and how you will use them. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He doesn’t do anything without a purpose.

My goal for 2017 is to find His purpose.

What is His purpose for your life? It can be big or small. It can be public or private.

But whatever it is, may we all enter 2017 praying continually, waiting expectantly, and trusting in God fearlessly. 

He promises to lead the way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

How does birth order affect me as a parent?
boymom, Boys, Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, Kids, Life Lessons, Life With Boys, Mom of Boys, realtalk

How Does Birth Order Affect Me As A Parent?

It never ceases to amaze me that we have three children, all the same gender, with vastly different personalities. I mean, completely different. Not even on the same planet different. We wonder if they were switched at birth different.

It’s baffling.

And while I don’t buy into the whole birth order thing 100%, I do think there is some validity to this theory (originally formed by the Austrian psychiatrist, Alfred Adler ). It makes sense….and somewhat explains why our youngest child thinks the world revolves around him. Because in his mind, it does.

But these very differences are what makes them special and unique…what makes life interesting and fun. Each child plays a part in our family and respecting their differences helps them grown into healthy young men.

For instance, take the first born…

  • reliable
  • conscientious
  • organized
  • cautious
  • controlling
  • achieving
  • high self-esteem

In other words, our 15-year-old son.

He was practically born into this world a miniature adult, and that was reinforced by the fact that the early years of his life were spent around grownups. (Most of our friends were still single…and hungry. So they came where they knew there would be food.) Because of this, he has never known a stranger and can talk to adults even more comfortably than he can his own age. Firstborns may seem to mature faster because of this.

True to his birth order, he’s smart, a natural born leader, hard worker,  an over-achiever…and I totally expect him to make the big bucks and take care of his parents someday. (it’s the least he could do)

Now…sometimes his leadership skills could use some work. Barking orders at his younger brothers and clothes-lining them when they pass will not take him far in life. However, he wants to be an entrepreneur…so maybe it will work for him.

His cautious nature weighs the consequences of his actions; and if he says he’s going to do something, you can count on the fact that he will. He’s an all-around good kid who is going to go far in life.

“Hey! Did you know you can start a snapchat streak with yourself? It’s awesome. I’m smart…I’m funny…I’m super handsome…and I respond pretty fast!” – Xander

And then we have the second born (middle child)….

  • people pleasing
  • somewhat rebellious
  • good friend
  • peacemaker
  • social
  • lower self-esteem

This one gets a little tricky. Our 12-year-old son is not necessarily rebellious…or social. However, he is also an introvert, so personality traits definitely play into this theory. But the rest is spot on. I even worried about him being a middle child when he was born, so we gave him my husband’s first name to make him feel special. (My textbook middle child brother-in-law had me paranoid.) 

Because he is also an introvert, he doesn’t have a large number of friends like his brothers, but the ones he has are treasured. Loyal to a fault, he will stand by his buddies even if he doesn’t see them very often

A peacemaker and people pleaser, he hates conflict and will even allow his brothers to have the object of dispute if it means avoiding a fight. (most of the time) And rest assured he will remind us all of such slights and use it to further confirm that we are all against him.

The middle child often gets a bum rap; but, in my opinion, the most wonderful thing about the middle child is the fact that they are, in every way, the middle child. His sweet disposition and quiet charm are the perfect balance to my ambitious firstborn and the last wild one. And let me tell you, we need the break.

Cade: Everyone drinks my drinks. Nothing is sacred.
Hayes: I didn’t see your name on it.
Cade: (writes name on new bottle)
Hayes: I’m still drinking it.
Cade: You suck. I’m sleeping with this tonight.

Finally…last, but certainly not least, we have the third born or baby…

  • fun-loving
  • manipulative
  • outgoing
  • attention seeking
  • self-centered
  • risk taker

This could not more accurately describe our 8-year-old if I had formulated the list myself. He’s the life of the party, the class clown, the star athlete.

With lofty goals of becoming an NFL wide receiver, he hasn’t even considered the fact that it may not happen. He wants to see his name in lights, all eyes on him as he runs his victory lap in this thing called life.

Quick-witted and funny, he often manipulates his way out of trouble, an art his brothers both detest and admire. It’s everything I can do sometimes to suppress a grin…and it completely derails my stern intentions. And.he.knows.it. 

As frustrating as all this may be at times, I love his passion, his fire. He’s a dreamer and puts feet to those dreams. He makes me believe, and I love that.

When the Pastor is telling a story about Abraham and the “good son” (the chosen one with promise), and Hayes gets a big grin on his face…points to himself…and says in a loud whisper, “The other two were mistakes.” 

So what does this all mean to me as a parent?

For a long time, I tried to steer them all in the same direction…treat them all the same. They were all boys, right? That in itself was a mystery to me. Throw in a variety of personalities, temperaments, and interests…and it’s like interpreting hieroglyphics.

But once I started responding to them in a language they understood, motivated them in a way that spoke to their personalities…they started thriving like never before. And, believe me, I’m still learning.

What works for one child (regardless of gender) may not work for another. We know that. But knowing it and applying it are two different things. It takes constant effort, consistency, and prayer.

May I be more mindful as they grow older not only to respond to them in a language they understand but to stay engaged in their lives so that my language shifts with their ever-changing seasons.