Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankfulisms.

I've enjoyed reading some of my friends' post of thankfulness this month on Facebook. I'm learning that writing those sort of daily posts are too lofty a goal for me, so I don't even want to act like I might keep up with that jazz. So, thank you, for reading all mine in one post! 

I am, of course, thankful for Jesus and family and friends, they are invaluable and of immeasurable worth and will certainly make the list. But, let's face it, I'm thankful for a few things that can be bought. No shame up in here.

Here's this year's Thankfulisms:

~Fuzzy socks.

~Cold weather for Christmas decorating. 
I'm obviously out of my mind.

~Road trips.
Our little family does them well.
(This post is brought to you on the quiet stretch of US-82 between Fort Worth and Amarillo.)

~LASIK.
Last year I was thankful for new specs. 
Those were cute.

~Soul-stirring blogs, songs, movies, books, etc.
You don't have to agree with everything (or anything) someone 
writes for the words to prick you.

~These Uni•Ball pens. 

~Coffee & Hot Chocolate
Cause it's dang cold in Texas right now, y'all!

~That my heater was fixed in my car today for $50 
at an auto shop I found on a drive by, saying, 
"Lord, show me if these people are sketch!" 

~For this girl:
She has taken care of my girls & now she's on Maverick-watch. 

~The flat-iron.

~The distance from the East to West.

~The phone on which I type. 

~Fleeting moments of scandalous courage 
in which the Holy Spirit is front and center in me. 

~Social media.
For all its faults, encouragement and ministry happens there. 
Plus, there's some funny, thought-provoking people I would've never heard of without Twitter.

~Tweenie Dates.

~That minty-fresh feeling just after a brushin'!

~A Spouse who is willing to try new things with me. 
Settle down. (More on this in a week or so.)


What are your thankfulisms?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Word in the Dictionary.

{1828 Webster Dictionary}
What is the best word in the dictionary?

Hint: It may just be the answer to these questions:

"Hey! I've been meaning to ask you, would you be interested in _______? You would be perfect!"
"Mom, can I have another cookie?"
"Will you be able to run by ______ and _______?"
"We'd love to have you on the _________ team? Are you interested?"
"You would be the one to _______".
"Are you planning on _________ again?"

Yep, the best word in the dictionary might just be "No".

Committees committed before you.
Associations associated without you.
Nurseries nursed without you.
Classes will be taught post-you.
Blogs will be blogged.
Songs will be sung.
Instruments will play.

I assure you: the show will go on.
At school, at church, at the non-profit, at work...

"Good is the enemy of great."-  Jim Collins

That has certainly been true in this house.
Sometimes, the best way to make room for the best thing is to use the tool of "No".

That's it. Just "No."
Period. No explanation. No excuse. Just "No."

Let's see...
Good is to Great as Yes is to No?

To what do you say "No" in order to SAY YES TO THE BEST?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

King-Sized Bed- Not Needed.


The last time my Spouse was out of town, my girls slept over with me in my room for maybe the fourth time ever.

Ever.

There are 4 beds in this house.
I ended up on the couch.
The likelihood of a fifth time is slim. I can't even deal.
I'm just not a co-sleeping parent.
I have respect for those who do. It's just never been my thing.
I have friends that are or were co-sleepers and they are great parents. 
Some even have very well-adjusted grown kids. *grinning* 

Remember, my goal is "World's Okayest Mom", so co-sleeping is not a requirement for that title.

Let's be clear: we are a snuggling family. We do well with the early morning snuggles in the bed and on the couch, and until they get to the point they think they are too big to snuggle, I'm in. Just not sleeping the whole night.

Co-sleeping is not good for us and I have the stats to prove it.

So, you're welcome in advance. Feel free to use these when necessary.

Here's why our kids sleep in their own beds:

Ribs. Co-sleeping increases your odds of cracked ribs by .01234%.
Listen. I've got work to do as a mom, I can't gamble with these odds.

Sleep Quality. Children sleep 123% better in the parents' bed, while the parents' sleep quality is decreased by 98.765%. You know it's true. Even a small one just can't argue with these numbers.

Future Generations. If there are always children in your bed, you can't use your bed in the way God intended. This effects your number of offspring, which effects the number of grandchildren you have. See? Co-sleeping could very well be the leading cause of what has been referred to as Demographic Winter.

 Stink. A child's body temperature is approximately 98.Eleventy┬║. They have the morning sweat to prove it.
Precious angel from heaven sweats +mom sweats+ dad sweats= stink.
First thing in the morning.
Nope.

Failure to Launch. Co-sleeping is a slippery slope, people. You let those little pillow-snatchers in your bed once, they'll prey on weakness every night at 2:48am for the rest of your natural born life. Then, when he's grown, he'll prey again. I read somewhere that .321% of adult children living at home were co-sleepers as babies.

Sacred Bed. Really. If you ask my girls at any time, "Why doesn't your mom let your sleep in her bed?" They will answer, without hesitation, "My daddy would let me, but mom says the marriage bed is sacred." And, then they'll likely add some smartie-tartie hilarity to go along with it. Whatever. They need to read up on their prescriptures.

So, there ya go. These are the facts.

Thoughts? Co-sleeping or not?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Insta-conversation for Parents & Kids.

Moms and Dads, you and I are parenting little digital natives. Outside of living on the compound, we cannot escape this. Eventually, these little digitally-savvy crumb-snatchers gifts from the Lord are going to want an iPod and/or a tablet of some sort and/or a phone.

I am not going to tell you how to parent your kids, or tell you when/if I think it is appropriate or necessary to allow kids to have a smart phone. You know your kids way better than I do and there is no biblical mandate on it so I'm not going there.

Today, we are going to focus on Instagram. Instagram seems to be the gateway to social media. Playing the "I'm just not a social media person" card is just not going to cut it if you are going to allow your kids to have access. Ok, so maybe I am telling you how to parent. *grin* But, really. If your kid has social media access, you should, too.
{Image belongs to Instagram}
So much of this comes down to teaching. We don't have to avoid social media outlets just because there are some sketchy aspects of it. You can, if you want. That doesn't make you a bad parent. Nor does allowing your kids to use them.

When navigating into the Insta-world, there is one thing for parents to consider first: Age of Usage.

This is a biggie for a lot of folks and for good reason. Below is the Children's Privacy portion of the Instagram Privacy Policy. A lot of folks read this to say the minimum age for usage is 13. That's not what this says. This policy is in effect to protect Instagram. It does say that the content of Instagram is "not directed at children under the age of 13",  I see that. This does not prohibit use. Those are two different things. "Parental consent" is a big phrase here. You are the parent. You get to decide. 
{From Instagram Privacy Policy}

Once we made the decision to 'go there', the dialogue (not lecture) began.
These are some things we discussed in our house:

1. Purpose- What is the purpose of Instagram? Why are we using it? For us, it's a photo sharing site. It's for fun and connection with friends. We understand that we don't use Instagram for meeting people or being popular or whatnot. You have to decide in your house what is an acceptable purpose for Instagram.

2. Privacy- Set that profile to private for the love of Mark Zuckerberg. There really is no reason to have your full name. First name, last initial is enough for your friends to know you.  Also, your 'single' status at age 12 is of no significance. Honestly. 

3. Following- We have an agreement about a few things. 1.) I follow who they follow. 2.) I follow who follows them. 3.) They do not grant any request for a follow without checking with me first. 4.) They don't follow anyone without checking with me first.
Let me be clear: my girls understand that we do this because we love them and are for them. They also understand that they have an enemy who hates them and is against them. This enemy will use any scheme necessary to bring destruction, including fun little Instagram. These little "rules" are not a battleground for us. We are together on it.

4. Popularity- This is hot issue for me. Not the popularity, per se, but begging for popularity. This business about "like for like" and "follow for follow" is so ridiculous of a thing it should not even be a thing. So, we talk about it. (This is the notion of liking other photos just so someone will like your photos, same for following.) What does it mean for a person to have a lot of "likes" or "followers"? Why would a person want to have a lot of followers?

In addition, just as a "social media etiquette" issue, I have told my girls, "You do not ever 'like' your own photo and liking every picture your friend posts is unnecessary." It's just cheesy. And, since I'm getting fired up, let's put a max on hashtags, shall we, for Jimmy Fallon's sake? Maybe 3 or 4 maximum per photo?

5. Pics-  We discuss what photos are appropriate to post. This may seem silly at first, but I don't think so. We just encourage our girls to be intentional with social media. We don't want to see any unflattering pictures of other people posted. (This came up when we saw a sister post up an unflattering picture of her sister as a joke. No.) We also don't want to see blessed selfie after selfie! I don't know where I got it from, but someone suggested a 1:20 ratio for selfies. I love it! So, the day I read it, we made it our 'rule of thumb'! We had a good laugh and thought it sounded like a great idea. So, for every selfie, you should post 20 photos of other things or people.

6. Porn- My girls understand that pornography means sexually implicit photos. (They've not seen any, give sketchy junk at a mall or commercial. Ugh.) They understand that porn is addictive and that most kids ages 9-13 see pornography by accident while searching online. They understand that pornography contributes to the buying and selling of humans. Because of this, they are careful not to just go perusing the popular page of Instagram.

The world of social media changes our world as parents. These are just parts of discussions that we've had as a family over time related to Instagram usage. This was not one conversation.

What would you add to this discussion?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

When the Pastor Says, "Greet the people around you..."

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
"Let us go to the House of the Lord!".
Psalm 122:1

We've learned a few things in the past year and a half about being the newbies. Not the least of which is how to better handle the greeting time at church. When the pastor says, "Let's all take a moment to greet the people around you and tell them you are glad they are here today", I handle this much differently than I did before.

A simple "Good morning." doesn't cut it, Church Member.
That's what you say to people you never expect to see again.
Say, "Good morning", by all means, but there needs to be more.

Introduce yourself. "Good morning, I'm Melissa." Hopefully, the other person will say his or her name. If not, ask.
{pinterest pic}
Repeat the person's name. This is key. Say it back to them. "Mark and Melissa? I'm so glad to meet you."

Ask if he or she is a member of your church. If you have multiple services or a large church, you may not know if this person is a regular. So ask. Plus, this gives you another opportunity to say her name back to her. "Melissa, is this your first time at BCF or is this home to you?"
I did this to people even when it was my first time to visit. I would ask them if this was their home church, if it was, they would inquire the same of me. When I would say, "No, this is our first time here", it usually created a lightbulb moment for them to step up the game and be a little more welcoming. *smiling*

One of my favorite couples at one of our favorite churches ever, walked right up to us and said, "Are y'all new here or do you come here every week?" I was in love. In. love.

Keep talking. I am serious. This is not just for the sanguines. Ask some questions. If the person or family is new, ask "Do you know any one here? Are you familiar with the building? Do y'all know where the bathroom is and whatnot? Did you get a cup of coffee?" It doesn't have to be formal, just think of the questions you have when you walk in to a new building and help them find the nearest exit just in case there is a guest speaker that goes a little whackadoo. I kid. But, really. Help them out.
If they aren't new, you can still get to know them. "Now, Melissa, are you involved in a community group? Which one? How long have y'all been at BCF?" That sort of thing. Be genuinely interested.

Write their names down. When you turn around, type those names in your phone or write them in your little notepad or on the bulletin or something. Then, at the end of the service, provided they didn't bolt out the nearest exit-which you told them about, you super-cool church goer!- you can say, "Mark, Melissa, I am so glad y'all came today! I hope I'll get to see y'all again."

For Extra Credit- Walk with them to pick up kids in the Kid's Area or Student Area for more chat time. Take them over to the ministry tables or personally introduce the family to the pastor. Dang, invite them to go get chips & salsa with you! There's not really extra credit. It's just an idea.

What are some ways you handle the greeting time?

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Confessional.

We have enjoyed a super cool weekend over here. A coworker of Spouse's- turned- friend has been with us for a few days. Mercy is from Manila, Philippines and is working in the States for a couple of weeks. While she is in Houston, we claimed guardianship of her. Yay, us!

In the spirit of Texas, we took her to eat Mexican food.

We went to a cool corn maze...

We took her to Bayou City Fellowship (No pic, boo) and got a little worldview training with The Truth Project. (If you aren't familiar, click here. It's a fantastic DVD-based study of Christian Worldview.)

There was some exercise...


And, we ate some more...

You know how we thought other cultures tend to view Americans as gluttonous? Yah. We definitely perpetuated that little stereotype. I confess. It was our fault.
We even made Coca-Cola Cake, cause 'Merica.

I've got a few other confessions that some of you will consider borderline sacrilege. Grace, People.
I let some of your junk go, let me tell you! *Grinning* *Eyebrows raised*

Entering the Confessional:

~~I have never seen The Princess Bride. I am not proud of this.

~~I can quote nearly all of Orange County. (Jack Black, Colin Hanks, 2002) I am proud of this. Judge all you want.

~~We were never co-sleepers with our girls. We are co -sleepers with the pup. This is on the Spouse. Since the draft of this post, Maverick has been exhibiting some dominant behaviors (not THAT one), and has been banished to the floor until he remembers that he is the "lowest" in the house.

~~You know how people say, "I don't usually like to be political on Facebook..."? Well, I do! I like political  posts. Political posts are [mostly] intelligent and thought provoking. Giraffes, pink, & bitstrips, not so much. 

~~Follow up to previous: I have a love/hate for Facebook. I love the connection to people, even the ones who refuse Instagram & Twitter (which are 85,648 times better). I think I need to just come off FB each  October (avoiding the Pink, sketchy Halloween costumes, etc). Yah, clearly it's October's issue and not just me being cranky-pants about it. Obviously. I didn't even mention that "Better safe than sorry, I saw this on the Fox News last night..." No, you did not.

~~Speaking of, Fox News is not usually my first news source, Dear Christian Conservative Readers. Mainly because they aren't the first to report breaking news and when they are, they have to correct the information! Bless. I even follow NPR on Twitter. Gasp.

Settling down...

~~I outed someone's secret on Instagram the other day. A precious couple I had met in person just 27 hours earlier. Awesome.

~~I came off Diet Coke for three solid months. With no cheating & eating good. I gained weight. Significantly. Thyroid issues aside, that is ridiculous. I'm now enjoying the nectar again, mostly guilt-free.

~~I've never read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I don't know why.

~~I read nearly every word that David Platt writes. Same goes for Voddie Baucham & Francis Chan.

~~I want to play the drums. Not just air drums or with chop sticks at PF Changs. Real drums. I can't read a lick of music. Is this a problem?

~~I have to extend grace to every pregnant couple who has a Gender Reveal Party. Grace because I have been given grace and because I live in a world where we have gender reveal parties. 

~~People who are super-internally disciplined impress me. Hard work trumps talent or intelligence every time.

~~Spouse and I have a little bit of gypsy in us. Lil bit.