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Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Well, being the highly spiritual family that we are, the Christmas Eve tradition that I am about to share will surely amaze all who read about it.

This family tradition goes back to my hubby’s family, and specifically, with his dad.

Hubby fondly remembers that on Christmas Eve he and his big brother would go to the grocery store with their dad. They would buy whatever staples the family would need for the Christmas feast to be enjoyed the following day.

But, that was not all! Hubby’s father would also treat his boys to some treats that were not regular purchases for their cash strapped family. Things like potato chips, pop and ice cream.

When hubby and I started a family he was confident that this tradition must go on. And it still does. Around mid afternoon, on December 24th, hubby and the kids load into the family vehicle. They head to our local grocery store … with sugar plums dancing in their heads!

When at the store they pick up whatever list of items that I need to prepare the roast beast the next day. And then they pick up their treats. The only way to define their purchases, is to say that they purchase all of the items that I would almost never buy. Things like sugary cereals, ice cream (but not vanilla … a flavor resembling a favorite chocolate bar), pops (sodas, for the American reader), and candy.

Then they come home, hyped up on the anticipation of eating all of the treats that they have purchased.

There are also huge amounts of eagerness to show their treasures to me, since those are treasures that I would never purchase (a bit of gloating is what is happening).

I love that our kids have this special tradition with their dad. I love that it is something that they only share with him. To me that is worth the nutritional emptiness of what they have  bought. Spiritual? No. But definitely memory-creating! And the oral stories that get passed down from year to year will continue on into the future lives of our kids, as they grow and form their own families.

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Oh ya, you decided to read my post today based totally on the title, didn’t you?

Well, all you moms and dads of cute little children, who write the cute little things their kids say, all over social media … look out! Their questions and comments may just go where my kid’s have!

While driving in the van with my daughter, the radio was playing and, as often is the case, my daughter zeroed in on the useless information that they were sharing between songs.

The information was about an article written by psychologist Seth Myers, who wrote that make-up sex ignites similar brain neuron firing to that of cocaine to an addict (I know you are dying to read the whole thing, so here is the article that Mr. Myers wrote).

Before the next song could start the question was flowing from the lips of my daughter:

“Mom, did (notice the past tense) you and Dad have make-up sex?”

Immediately I thought to myself, “why, in heavens name did I think that having an open relationship (complete with ‘ask me anything’) with our kids was a good idea?”

Then I replied, I thought rather brilliantly (yet not too direct), “honey, I think everyone has had make-up sex.”

And I sighed a breath of thankfulness that our Q&A time of testing was over 🙂

… NOT!

She was just warming up!

The next question just about floored me (for so many reasons … none of which I will share here).

“Mom” she then said, face screwed up like she had just taken a bite of a lemon, “do you and Dad s t i l l (draw that one out) have sex?”

The palms started sweating!

My only response to my daughter was (with indignation), “You know that there are couples who are in their eighties who are still having sex?”

Her facial response was a mix of shock and disgust, which (finally) silenced her!

Watch this clip of the Happy Huffmans, aka Bruce and Esther, (they have become famous for their video of them utilizing technology, and their love story as well … worth checking out too) . And if you cannot watch the entire thing, start the video at 1:40 … although shocking to my daughter, I may have been right 😉

Love it!

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Kids today deserve more credit than we give them.24418022950876082_SHVOlNqK_b

We complain that they are lazy, selfish, and directionless. We feel intimidated when we see a group of teens. We look at their appearance, their fashion, their music and critique that they have no taste. We say they do not know how to speak to adults, that they give one word responses, that they do not make eye contact. We complain about them … their attitudes, their behaviors. We look down on them.

Is that the whole story? Is the future in peril because of our teens? Are they really any different than the teens that we were not all that long ago?

Back when I was a kid, a teen, I remember vividly the experience of returning a watch that my grandmother had given me as a high school graduation present because it was not working. Receipt in hand, I took it back to the store where my grandmother had purchased it. I presented myself, and my story, to the lady working at the store. She looked at me suspiciously, spoke very rudely to me, and made it clear to me that she did not believe my story. I was finally able to get my watch exchanged, but I left the store with a feeling of inferiority and of not being believed … heard.

Do we ‘hear’ kids and teens today? Do we look down on them simply because they are young?

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the young are told,

“don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

But how do the young learn how to set a good example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” if it is not modeled to and for them by those of us who have raised them?

We give much to our children, but it is at a cost. Most parents provide many tools and toys for their children, working long hours to pay all that is needed. I read a report last week that said that 38% of children in grade 5 have a cell phone. The number jumps to over 83% just three grades later.

We provide many extracurricular activities for our children, yet from my own parental experience that too can be disappointing. I have observed parents who seem to expect their children to perform as Olympic athletes, yelling and demeaning them, or their coaches, in competitions. Or, parents do not even attend the performances of their children.

As adults we cannot expect mature behavior, passion-filled lives, or desire to help others if we do not love, mentor, lead and (most importantly) spend time with children and teens (ours, or others whose lives cross with our own).

They and the raw material that they are when they are born, are created in the image of their Creator. They and how they grow to develop and mature is in the image of us, the parents who created them.
children-turn-out-well-quote

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

James Baldwin

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When I got married to my hubby, there were two people who wondered aloud about the life (as a pastor’s wife) that I was entering. But I was young, in love, and there was nothing that we could not survive, as long as we were together!

It did not take long to realize that this life had it challenges, but it also had amazing blessings. Our life is designed around the challenge of making the life of Christ one that others want to follow, in a deeper, more sincere way. Along with that, much of our mutual desire is to help those who have been hurt, deceived, or ignored by other Christ followers see that we are not all like that, and that the One we follow is not in the business of hurting, deceiving or ignoring.

Through the years we have added three kids to our family, and as our kids they were born into the title of Pastors Kids PKs). There were negatives like having a busy dad (who has made a commitment to not miss the important events of their lives) and a life where everyone in the church knows you (but often that has meant the blessing of many dear people who pray for them), but I really did not see PK as a negative stereotype for our kids.

Our kids, like their peers (and their parents), have moments when they blow it royally, but they do so not because they are PKs, but because they are fully human.

The reality of our life in the church means that they know things others in the church do not. Things that we sometimes do not want anyone exposed to, especially them. Things like times when their dad has been spoken of derogatorily, or when their mother has been hurt. They have experienced the social ‘shunning’ by peers whose parents do not support the work of their dad. Then there are the times when they have been the center of the negative conversation, and a ‘friend’ has relayed the conversation to them (without any mention of defending them at the time). They know the discouragement and disappointment that ‘serving’ God in ministry can mean.

God has given us such a beautiful life, and we have laid down our lives for the sake of this ministry. But God has given us the beautiful responsibility of introducing His love to two daughters and one son, and that is a responsibility I will never sacrifice.

So, I do what other mothers may shudder to consider. When our children reach high school, I sit them down and explain that I want them to know the freedom of Christ without the confines of the title they were born with. I tell them that we, their parents, have no expectation that they will choose our church as their church. And then, I encourage them to …

GO!
-to a church where they choose
-to a church where they are ‘just’ another believer
-to a church where they can serve simply because they feel compelled
-to a church where the style of worship encourages them to worship
-to a church where the delivery of the message feeds them

“go into the world, and tell everyone the Good News” (Mark 16:15).

That is the most important message I can give them … that, and wings so that they can choose to fly.

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Hubby and I have been married for almost an eternity and we share three children … ages almost twenty, fifteen and a half and almost thirteen (funny … almost and halves are never added to the ages of parents … I, for instance, am thirty-nine … with three four years experience).

Just a few weeks ago we said farewell to our eldest for a semester at an East Coast University. Our youngest daughter entered grade ten, and our youngest is in his last year of Middle School.

For the past couple of summers I have had moments when I can see into the future.

Our home would frequently be vacated by our kids. Dinners in the summer are often just three of us, or, if we are lucky, two. Those times when it is just us two, we feel are treats, and we enjoy the peace and quiet that our kid’s busy social lives allow.

But, peace and quiet, as delightful as it is once in a while, reminds me that it is coming in a more regular fashion, and very soon. These moments of alone time for hubby and I remind me that soon it will be hubby and I more often than not. That the laundry will not take all Saturday. That dinner out will not be Subway. That grocery shopping will be a short stop rather than an evening affair. That my vehicle will not be a minivan, and it will not go through fuel like that of a taxi.

Recently, when the house was empty, except for hubby and I, I just sat and imagined all that extra time to do as I pleased. Hubby was tapping away at his laptop, watching something on television. The beast was having her after-dinner nap. And, I was still and imagined.

I did not like what I was imagining, because it seemed so very … quiet.

As I sat, imagining, I realized that this phase of life is the one I dreamed of most, back when it was just hubby and I, dreaming together of what our future would be. I have never been a ‘baby person,’ although I loved our kids as babies. I always dreamed of having a house full of adolescents and teens, filling our house, and my days, with noise, and laughter and the challenges of growing up. I imagined just what I have, right now.

How blessed I am to have this dream fulfilled. And how blessed I am that God whispered in my ear, to be still, so that I didn’t wish this most desired phase of life to be over without fully immersing my heart into it.

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Two weeks from today summer will really be over. There will be great mourning and gnashing of teeth in our home. It will be with great regret that our alarms will be set, lunches will be made, and the trek to school will be taken.

As I contemplate all that this day means, I also think back …  w  a  y  back  … to when I was school student. I remember the new clothes (brand new fall/winter sweaters when the temperatures are often still reflecting the summer season), the new shoes (which always came home not so white, and feet requiring bandages for the new shoe blisters), the crisp clean lined Hilroy notebooks, the line-up at the pencil sharpener (because we all had new pencils), and the revelation of who would be our classroom teacher for the school year.

Just one month ago I was driving down a highway in Oregon, listening to a radio station, and they started talking about back to school. I just about drove into a light standard! Back to school was not something that I wanted to hear about in late July. But what they were saying about returning to school stopped me from doing anything too radical. They were encouraging people, parents, to print off a teacher appreciation certificate and take it to the school on the first day, as an act of supporting and encouraging the teachers of their children.

Now that I could get into!

I have tried over the years to be supportive to the classroom teachers of my kids. Working within the school system gives me an even more intimate understanding of just how appreciated (and, for those teaching high school, rare) words, acts and gifts of encouragement are to these teachers who spend more time with our kids each day than we do.

I think all of us can think back to at least one teacher who inspired us to live better, think differently, and who encouraged us in who we are.

Immediately I think back to my grade four teacher, Mrs. Kavanaugh, who was so kind … to everyone in the class. The thing I remember most about her is how she treated the ‘underdogs’ of the classroom. She was more patient with them than any other teacher. She gave them extra words of encouragement. She did not favor the smartest, the prettiest, the richest. You know, I do not remember one academic thing she taught us, but I think I took away something better, because she gave me the tools to be a better person.

She was not the only teacher that I think of, but she is the one who comes to my mind first.

How about you? Do you remember a special teacher? How about taking the challenge to encourage a teacher as your children return to classrooms, gymnasiums, and libraries? How about starting the parent-teacher relationship off with an act of  encouragement, of love?

It just might set the stage for a great year for your son or daughter, for their teacher, and for you.

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It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The way to a mother’s heart is quite a different route.

There are so many things that one can do to win the favor of one who is a mother. You can make a meal for her family. You can tell her she looks great (even with bags under her eyes from a sleepless babe, or talkative teen keeping her up at night). You can compliment her home, her work, her husband.

There is only one way to win the heart of a mother … say or do something nice, kind, or generous, for her child.

Just the other day, I got a text from hubby, telling me that a man in our church was gone. He was ninety-one years old, had a beautiful wife (just days from their sixty-sixth anniversary), supportive children, and his body had simply given in to the effects of aging. This man was dearly loved, by all who knew him. He was an amazing support to my hubby, teaching, mentoring and supporting him in a gentle, fatherly way. I always received words of encouragement, and love from him.

The thing I appreciated most about this man was that he told us, many times, that he prayed for our kids. In this act of love, he won the heart of this mother.

In hearing of his death, I felt the loss of the dear man who really knew how to love.

I also feel the weight of the loss of his prayers for my kids.

To know that someone is praying for your kids, is to know of a magical-like experience. There is a sense of other-worldly connection with that person. There is a sense of receiving love that is out of this world amazing.

To hear someone say, “I pray for your children” is to have won the lottery. Not because there is anything ‘magical’ about praying (God is not a sugar daddy who delivers all that we want), but because it is the act of love that cannot be adequately thanked for. It is not an act of love that gets acclaim.

It is an act of love that comes from knowing that growing up is not always easy, being a pastor’s kid is not always easy. The time that goes in to spending it with the God of the universe to lift them up to Him in humble prayer is the best gift there is.

In telling us of his sacrificial act, we were encouraged, as parents. This man knew of the intimacy of prayer, the strength that comes from prayer, and the reliance on God for every thing in life. He knew it, because he lived it.

He knew the way to this mother heart, and our family feels the loss of his love.

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Spring in our house means one constant, consistent thing … pool repairs!

This is our ninth spring in this house, and every year we attempt to open our in ground pool only to discover that another something needs to be replaced, fixed or upgraded … and I begin to contemplate moving … to a home without a pool.

Oh, I know, after the broken parts have been fixed, after the chemicals have done their miracle and changed the waters color (like a mood ring), when the heat of July and August arrives, I will be diving into that pool with great thanks that we live where we do. For now, I anticipate yet another bill, and wonder just how many hours I have to work to pay it off.

If you have been to our home for a cool dip on a hot day, you might not believe my reference to cesspool. Check out the photo to the right … This dastardly pool not only had a part on the pump that needed to be replaced, but it currently more closely resembles the swamp outside of Shrek’s home than a refreshing, crystal clear place of recreation and rest.

This is the way of owning things … they end up owning us.

I remember, years ago, Bill Cosby had a comic sketch about our ‘stuff’, and how it leads to needing places to store our ‘stuff,’ and how we need to get insurance for our ‘stuff’ in case something happens to our ‘stuff’, and on and on. I now am starting to understand what he was talking about.

Most days I feel as though I am owned by my ‘stuff’ and it is controlling every important decision that I have to make.

If we own a vehicle, we need to maintain it, repair it, protect it. All of that takes time and money.

If we own a home, we also need to maintain it, repair it, protect it. All of that takes time and money too.

So then we need to work more (our time) to make enough money to cover the costs of the ‘privilege’ of having ‘stuff’, and we need to use our ‘free’ time to look after this ‘stuff’ (I personally spent over eleven hours, on a delightfully sunny Saturday, working on our yard and pool ‘stuff’).

In the meantime, as we work to pay for, and work to maintain what we have, we need to remember that our ‘stuff” is not as valuable as the people in our lives. In the spring, we slave for as many hours a week as we work our jobs, to maintain the home and pool that we have so that our children can enjoy these things, and so that we can enjoy our time with our kids … in the summer. All the while, we are presently not with our kids.

I wonder what they would choose? Would they choose big yard and pool over time with mom and dad on a more consistent basis?

It makes me wonder … is it worth it?

Even in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, it says, “all things are permissible.

It also says, “but not all things are beneficial.”

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Since my first memories being a wife and mother were the two constant goals of my life. By the age of twenty-three (and a half) I had been married for three years, and was holding our baby daughter. Now, at age forty-three, I have three earthly, and five heavenly children … be careful what you wish for!

As a girl I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to dress my babies in pretty clothes (I guess they were always girl babies), I wanted to feed them, I wanted to take them for a walk and lay them gently in their bed at night …

As a teenager, I had two personalities. The one wanted a good job, and independence. The other wanted to have babies, who I imagined rocking to sleep, and teaching to walk, and sharing giggles, and lay them gently in their bed at night …

… and watch them sleep.

When each of my children were babies, there was no sweeter thing than to hold their sleeping body in my arms and just … watch them sleep (well except for daughter number two, who never slept).

When they were each toddlers, who spent every second that they were awake in motion, there was nothing better than to sneak into their rooms at night, and watch how that child of terrible two (or blood thirsty three) suddenly became a little angel.

When they were each starting kindergarten, all so eager for this step towards independence, I would sneak into their room the night before the big day, and try to remember every last memory of that moment, for it was the last time that they would be mommy’s little girl or boy.

When they had their first fight with a friend, at school or home, with words or fists, I would sit beside their beds at night and wish that I could take the inevitable hurts from their lives.

When I would yell or make a big mistake, and have to apologize that day to them for my error, that night I would kneel by their beds and pray that God would teach me to forgive, as they always forgave me.

When their dreams were coming true, and life was going splendid for them, I would come into their rooms, bend over and whisper, “I always knew you could do it.”

When I cannot sleep at night,
When my heart is aching from a fight,
When I just need to hold you with all my might,
I will watch you when you sleep,
To a mom, it is the sweetest sight.

Thanks to my kids, for making my dream of being Mom a reality.
May your dreams come true too … I’ve always known you could do it!

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As my two week Spring Break comes to a close, I feel refreshed and ready to return to work, and schedules, and earlier mornings (after all there ARE only nine more work days until a four day weekend … but, whose counting? 😉 ). When the break began, all I desired was a weekend away with hubby, regular walks on my favorite trail, and time with each of my kids.

It began slow, well no, it began busy, with a weekend full of activity for both hubby and I (church related). Once hubby’s time off began, four days into mine (really his time off began with him doing a full day of work-related paperwork 😦 ), I finally had time to get much needed groceries. To me, time off is not really time off until we are all off!

I had a delightful luncheon with a dozen lovely ladies, and three coffee dates with some of the sweetest women I know. Moments that refuel and encourage me, as a woman struggling to understand life.

There was the morning (oh yes, the entire morning) of ironing … it had not been done since September … sigh). There was the search for fabric for my daughter, that led to a five hour storage closet cleaning, ten bags of goods to the thrift store, and many giggles by my daughter over the photos of yours truly and hubby way back in the days leading to our wedding. Giggles that led to conversations about life, and hopes, and dreams.

There was a haircut, and lunch with my eldest daughter. There was a lunch and thrift store shopping day with my younger daughter. There was a movie date with my son. Moments with each of my kids, with no other disruptions, refills my momma heart like no other.

There were the deaths of two co-workers moms. There was the death of the fifty year old husband and father of six, two of his daughters are friends of my daughters. Moments that make you thankful for the mercy of another day.

There was more cleaning, and more purging, and more trips to the thrift store to dump another load. Another reminder of how much we have that we do not use, do not need … what I really NEED in my life should last longer than a trend?.

There were walks on my favorite trail. Walks in the sun, the rain, the snow and the hail (and that was just one day!). There were walks with hubby, with our Chinese son, with a daughter, and always with my beastie. Walks that refresh me from the inside out, walks that remind me of my Creator, and how fine His handiwork is.

There was the day of culinary therapy … something that my household was thrilled with the results of! How wonderful to create something(s) that I can watch others take delight in!

Then there was the Passion (Passion 268) concert featuring two great musicians, who led a sold out Rogers Arena in worship to God, and a calling to end human trafficking. Although I am a generation beyond their organizers intended attendee, I was reminded again, that we are all responsible for what we do, or do not do, to end such a horrific thing as use and abuse of fellow human beings.

And then there was my birthday, a delightful day when the sun was bright, and I was celebrated for my thirty-nine (with, now, four years experience) years, by family and friends, near and far.

Somehow, when when hubby and I are busy we function like a well oiled machine, but once the calendar is more cleared, the cracks in our relationship show a need for more oil, more attention, and a going deeper than “what does your day hold?” conversation. This resulted in a beautiful twenty-four hours away, to a beautiful, waterfront Hotel, where we watched the sun set at night, and the horizon lighten in the morning. A good reminder of what we already knew, but life can keep you from if you succumb to it’s demands, that time spent alone, as husband and wife, is the best thing you can do for your kids, for your health, and even for your ability to do your daily work. Lesson learned, and our next getaway is in the planning stages!

It has been a wonderful break. One that has refreshed my body, mind and spirit, refueled me for the days to come, and one that has given me much needed variety and options each and every day.

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