Thursday, November 12, 2015

The F Word.

Photo Cred: My Spouse. 
While watching a movie, I heard a word that caused me to cringe and look at my girls. You know. I wanted to see if they'd heard the word.
They did.
And they know how I feel about it.

"What did he say?", I asked.
"Nothing.", the Little Sister responded.
"What did he say?"
"The F word."
"What was it? Why won't you say it?" I was grinning. I knew she wouldn't say it.
She struggles with it a little bit.
If I'm honest, I do, too. I struggle with the thought of it paralyzing my girls.
But, we pray against it.

The quote?
"Fear will be your enemy."
-Pabble in Disney's Frozen.

The F word: Fear.
Fear, specifically being frozen by it,  is a major theme of that movie.

I don't know if "fear will be your enemy" but it is certainly of your enemy.
Fear is also a major theme of many of our lives.
I see too many people living in fear and they don't even know it.

Honestly, we don't have to look far to find something to fear:

The ocean
Driving in the rain
Driving on the interstate

Then there are those social fears, the ones on another level:

Missing out
Our kids getting hurt
Not measuring up
What other people think
Not being enough
Our kids failing
Our kids hating us

I'm pretty sure I have a fear of my kids having a fear.
Is there a name for that? I want to feel justified in this one, though?
Is that allowed?

Here's why I'm justified:
Fear is contagious.
Parents, we can pass that junk right on to our kids.
We have to get that.
We can pass our fear of snakes on to our kids.
We can pass our fear of dogs on to our kids.
We can pass fear of embarrassment on to our kids.

If we aren't guarding against it, we can leave an eye color, a few quirks, and a heritage of fear.

Listen. For a while, I had this thing about horses. I could reason through it, it hadn't reached the irrational point, but I was so super nervous around horses. I just knew I was going to be kicked. I'd not had an episode that I know of or anything like that. I just had this fear I was going to get kicked square in the ribs by a horse. So, ya know what I did? I put my girls in horse lessons. I had to sit in the car for the grooming & care part of the lesson, because Meghan would get right up in a horse's private business. Wrecked my nerves. I couldn't be in the barn with my child nose to business-end of that 1500 pound animal. I had to sit in the car. One time, I happened to be in the barn while a horse was on the cross-ties and reared back and came down full-force on Maddy's 7 year-old foot, then kicked her instructor in the head. No joke.
After knowing Maddy and teacher were okay, I told them,
"I have to go now or I'm going to snatch my kids out of here and never come back."
And, for whatever reason, that was the end of it.
Victory in Jesus.
I've since been nose to business-end of a horse and been just fine-- after a shower. Because gross. We've gone on many rides as a family and I'm totally good. Win.

<<Side story that is so true and indicative of my exponential crazy level: When my girls were little, I wouldn't let them watch Veggie Tales: Where's God When I'm Scared?. I swear to Cher. They had never been afraid of the dark?! I didn't want them to get it in their heads that was even a thing! End of crazy-but-true story.>>

That being said, where other people would never have a second thought about their kids on a horse, I've never had a second thought about my kids and the water. I die a little when I see "big kids"- whatever that even means- wearing flotation devices in the pool. Or when I hear people talk to a child under 36 inches about not going to the "deep end". Good grief! At that size, it's all the deep end! I don't think a thing about my girls on the paddle boards or scuba diving or snorkeling. Meghan got to see her first shark on her check out dive when she finished her scuba certification! It was the coolest!

This week, we made a major decision to allow Meghan to come back to homeschooling after beginning the year at a local (wonderful) Christian high school. She had enough school to know that home's cool. Heh. She was succeeding in all the ways, academically and otherwise. She lettered in Varsity Swim. Still, she was able to recognize how efficient she could be at home, leaving her free to pursue her interests. Once she made the final decision, she was steadfast. She owned it, telling her little friends, some of her teachers and administration. She never wavered. Fearless. And, I don't fear for her future. God's got her back more than I do. And His is the power in her. She's gonna be alright. She's gonna be more than alright. Victorious.

If fear is allowed to grow, we could live defeated.

We would still be loved and cherished.

Loved and cherished and defeated.
Loved and cherished and paralyzed.
Loved and cherished and frozen.

Let's not do that.

I'm going for 
loved and cherished and victorious.

Another Spouse photo.

**This is an updated post.**

Thursday, October 1, 2015

En Vogue and Homecoming Proposals

It's Homecoming Season for high schools and colleges across America.

I loved Homecoming as a high schooler. I think I went to one dance with a group of friends and then all the rest were with Spouse and our crew. I don't remember a whole lot about them. I imagine there was plenty of En Vogue and Snap! and, Lord help us, Billy Ray Cyrus to burn a calorie or seven we didn't need to burn.
Go ahead, take a dance break. Free your mind. The rest will follow.
Also, I know every single word to that song and don't remember it being so racial! Ha!

Anyway, I've always loved homecoming and dances.
After Meghan was born, Spouse & I took our first date night to chaperone the 8th grade dance at the school I had been working as a substitute teacher. That crew still remains to be my favorite graduating class and to this day I am distraught I can't find the video of all of them singing "Something Like That". (Their 10 Year Reunion is this weekend and I'm dying.)
In 2008, while working for a non-profit focused on promoting healthy lifestyles for teens by delaying sexual activity, my super friend and I chaperoned the high school homecoming dance and ended up being invited by 25+ students to go to dinner with them and take photos.
Is this the cutest bunch you have ever even seen?
Look here. I'm not saying we were celebrities or anything,
but our cheeks hurt from all the paparazzi. I kid.

Yes. We did this. Truly. You have to know that to pull this off,
we had a fantastic relationship with the school
and the students and were welcomed.
It was truly the favor of the Lord.

Just for fun, I had to include these.
These two couples are married now. Good gracious.

All that to say that I have always loved the HoCo Season.

Until my child is now in high school and there is
homecoming and dresses (she doesn't love dresses)
and hair (she wears her hair down or pony only)
and plans (um, who's in charge here)
and boys (and a dad, let's not forget).

But, that's not what gives me pause for Homecoming.
She's going with a good friend and she'll rock a cutesy dress.
I'll have someone else do her hair and she won't argue and she will love it.

I've seen this trend building for the last few years and it makes me concerned for our young men! Listen. There are so many areas in which I support raising the standard for young men.
We need to see more young men with a strong work ethic, ambition, and integrity.
Yes, let's raise the standard! (Moms of girls, who's with me?!)

This, though, just makes me nervous for these boys!
I blame the Pinterest.

Who's smellin' what I'm steppin' in?

It's the Homecoming Proposals

Granted, some of these are just so cute. Whoever did the first maybe 1,000 of these personalized proposals were probably thoughtful, romantic little pioneers and I want to hear all the cool stories! Of course, these aren't just limited to Homecoming, so let's hear them.

But, beyond that, I'd like some thoughtful dialogue about it because here's what I see:

A product of the "text generation". 
Is this further reducing the amount of real voice to voice communication for young people?
There is something to be said for the actual nerves and sick stomach that come with looking
 someone in her eyes and using words from your mouth
and asking her for a date or a seat or help with homework problem 13.

More pressure.
As if that's not enough pressure, this could add to it.
It takes so much for a guy to ask a girl out. They are risking a hard blow to the gut.
For these guys to have to get artsy and creative and make a sign for social media's sake is just too much. People will know you are friends (recommended) or dating because you will show up at the dance together. There will be pictures then. Does it all have to be a dadgum production?

The moms are doing it for them. 
I know this is true at least some times. The moms are doing the Googling ideas and buying poster board and stencils and candy and bears. Now, I love it when a young man goes to his mom for help with sort of thing. It's sweet. It shows he knows he's out of his pay grade and he needs an expert. Sure, go help him gather supplies. I'm talking about the helicopter mom who's orchestrating the whole thing and driving the Sharpies. He needs to drive the Sharpies, Mom. Or at the very least enlist a good artsy friend to help him out.

Y'all, we haven't even gotten into the Homecoming Mums in Texas.
That was an education. Hashtag Texas Forever.

I know Anne Shirley wasn't talking about Homecoming when she said,
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
but this is just fun.
It just doesn't have to be so much everything to be fun.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School Countdown: 9 Days to 9th Grade.

This back to school season has been especially big around here. 
Our little homeschool is in a MAJOR transition.
In fact, we are planning to have our official homeschool door open only two days a week this year. The Little Sister is going to a homeschool/hybrid school three days a week and The Big Sister at high school. If someone would have told me last year that I would barely be considered a homeschooler this year, I would've spit Diet Coke.

Still, it happened. The Big Sister started her first day of high school today! I am so excited for her! Just like kindergarten, she walked right on in with confidence, even though I know she was a little nervous. Who wouldn't be!?
Different than kindergarten, though, she didn't tell me, "Mom, you're talking too long." Ha! True dadgum story. I only had a quick second in the drop off line today, though. 

Anyway, like I said in my last post- SUNDAY, cause I'm all feast or famine on this blog- 
this is our first First Day in seven years. 

This means it's a Big Dog Deal! 

Traditionally, we don't do traditions well in this house. We aren't big on doing much on a repeat. Not for any reason other than spazzy parenting. I'm not a Pinterest Mom or the mom who makes a celebration of things. I mean, we are good for an ice cream to celebrate or "Hey! Let's make cookies!" 
But, this is a really big deal, and I wanted to commemorate it for her. 
So I got this idea for a "9 Days Before 9th Grade Countdown". 
First Day of High School.
I made her take her pic at the boat dock.
Here's what you have to know about me: I'm pretty ENFJ/ENFP. Translation: I love my people. I love the idea of doing super cool things for them. I have the troubles when it comes to the execution. I mean, really. I'm an idea person. Big picture. Not so much on the details. 

So, I lowered the bar. 
Melissa go unda the limbo stick. 
For real. Like crawled.

There's this other thing: I like to make gifts out of things we would normally buy. Parents miss out opportunities to cultivate gratitude by not getting "credit" for certain purchases. It also makes the purchase of school supplies a little more pleasant and it becomes a gift! 

Anyway, I did this Countdown and I'm posting it here for you, Reader With Bad Handwriting; for you, Mom Who Doesn't Know What Mod Podge Is; and for you, The Budget-Conscious-Gift-Giver.
This is for the "blogger" (I use this term loosely when talking about myself) who doesn't know how to set up dramatic, pinnable photos. 
The Pinterest-Challenged Mom who loves her kid. That's who this is for. 

I'm here to show you how it doesn't have to be perfect to be meaningful and appreciated! It really doesn't!

Here's the Countdown. 
Nine Days Before Ninth Grade:

9. Warrior Princess embroidered pocket-tee.  
"Daughter of the King= Princess
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 
And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1"
This is a pinnable photo if I ever saw one!
The blurred out part is the name of the school. My friend over at Sew Dazzlin' Designs made this custom tee. I just love it and so does the Big Sister. I have to confess to you: I got a little prideful about this purchase. I ordered it like three weeks ahead of time like a responsible grown up. Shut up, YES, I DID! It was sitting in the packaging box for about two weeks before this little fun thing started! Unprecedented!
I can be a PREcrastinator! Obviously.
This is the picture of my whole table with spilled salt on it.
Slightly less pinnable than the photo above.
8. School supplies. 
"Best School Supply Wisdom:
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.' Proverbs 3:5-6 
You may forget what goes on these pages, but never forget these words: Trust the Lord!"
You'll notice that I used the same gift bag for 9 straight days.

7. Tide Pen.

"Sister, You will make mistakes. But your mistakes won't break you. 
Here's a Tide Pen for some of them...for all others, there's Jesus...and your mom."

Tide Pens are all the rage for high school. You can Google it.
This is not even a sponsored post. Ha.
Also, this is probably the truest of all the notes. 
Mistakes are inevitable. Amen?!

6. Warrior Shirts (Uniform requirement.)
"'The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior.' Judges 6:12
An angel delivered these words to Gideon 
and I am delivering these words to you. 
You ARE a Warrior Princess! And the Lord is definitely with you!"
I'm a photographer, but you probably can't afford me.
5. #DoWork: A few more supplies
"You are such a diligent student! I am so proud of the hard worker you are!
'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.'  Colossians 3:23-24
Also, some sweet friends got in on some of the note-writing.

4. Taste.
The one when I'm obviously not a Bible Scholar.
"'Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.' Psalm 34:8
This is totally out of context & has nothing to do with lunch! But enjoy it! Ha!"

I'm not even sure if this is funny or pathetical. (I made that up.)
But, I got her this lunch box with a bird on it. 
So I still consider that a major win. (I don't love the birds.)

3. Beauty Supplies
"'Let the King be enthralled by your beauty honor him, 
for he is your Lord.' Psalm 45:10
You are beautiful and He is your Lord."
This is not up for discussion.
Listen, I'm not pushing these extraordinary standards on my girls, 
but we like our special hair products and mascara.  

2. A Little Chocolate Goodness to Think About...
Yah. I had a moment. Sorry to the coaches.
"'Whatever is true, 
whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable- 
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- 
think about such things.' Philippians 4:8"

I think chocolate is all those things, yes? 
Hashtag theology. Hashtag hermeneutics.
Protein bars & Butterfingers. We diversify.

1. The Last Day Before 9th Grade.

"I pray you love Jesus and His Word.
'In the beginning was the Word 
and the Word was with God 
and the Word was God.' John 1:1"
Do you know how hard it is to get a Bible to stand up vertically?
Just curious.
This was really so easy and doable. 
It's true because I did it. 

Bottom line is I wanted to do two things: 
Get "credit" for buying school supplies -I'm not really sure what this says about me- 
and make a fuss over her first First Day in a long time. 
We won't be doing this each year, I can assure you! 

Her first day was just grand and she said, "I felt like I had always been there."
It felt familiar to her. Love that. 
That's the Body of Christ becoming more evident to her. 

The 7th Grader will get one, too, but she doesn't start school for a couple of weeks. 

Do you do anything special for "Back to School"?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On Doing a New Thing or Three

Hello? Hello? *tap, tap*
Testing. 1, 2, 3.

Oh, yay. You're there. Thank you for your patience. 
I contemplated telling you we've been experiencing technical difficulties, but then I might as well put accelerant right in the yoga pants I'm wearing.  

So, I'm glad you're here. 
I've got a few things to bring you up to speed on. I know it isn't gonna happen in one post, so I'll just tell you a few *new* things I did these past few weeks. Doing new things is something I mostly love. I mean, not the new thing of a mammogram, but meeting new people, going new get the idea. 
Honeymoon Island.
The End.

A New Thing
Since we moved back to Florida, an EXACT YEAR AGO, (For the love of Jack Johnson, I can not believe it's been a year!) Spouse and I have really enjoyed Instagramming our little town and the beachy loveliness all around us. Through social media hashtags and our photog friend, Stephanie, I connected with a group of creatives through the Cleargram community. This past week, there was a "meet up" in my little downtown. So fun! So, I went! It was so fun walking around, chatting with an amazingly diverse group of people, and getting creative tips.
The evening began and ended at a fun little local spot with my Spouse, excellent wings, a drum circle and great strangers I "met" online, and I only got one great picture. Just one. (Like that's not good enough.) That's what the group is about!
Of course, Spouse got a cool one, too. Whatever. Anyway.
Talk about a new thing. Strangers from the inter webs.
And a few of them, I would have taken home in a heart beat. For sure. Love.

Another New Thing. 
In a total impulsive move, I bought a treadmill on Craigslist last month. It had rained for 40 days and 40 nights here (OK, maybe like 3 weeks, but whatever) and I needed something. So, I bought a treadmill for $85. Then, a few weeks later, I remembered that I don't really love a treadmill. Plus, I really would love a foosball table for my downstairs big room. So I listed it back on Craigslist. For $125. And I got it. Ha! I Googled the potential buyer, and found him on Linked In. I determined he wasn't a WhackaDoo and gave him my cell. Plus, my sweet neighbors agreed to be my Security Team. They came over and secured me and fixed the treadmill I thought I broke. I made $40 on a Craiglist purchase. Total new thing! Yay me! And yay! Spouse for driving me to pick it up to begin with! Hashtag marriage.
The two in the front here are my neighbors
that I wish the whole world could meet. 

The Biggest New Thing
Well. This is a dadgum doozie. I went to my first high school orientation as a parent. Well, not exactly. We had a little unconventional adoption back in '98 that I'll have to tell you about at another time. This was my first high school orientation as a parent of a biologically born child. We have homeschooled since 2009. 
'"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace."'
Numbers 6:24-26
Tomorrow TOMORROW!!! will be our first First Day of School in 7 years. (We started January '09.) We love homeschooling. No doubt. But, ya know what? We loved our public school! LOVED IT! There was not a single reason to leave except for a specific calling from Jesus. We knew it. And I was scared/sad/excited/ etc. I loved my little community of that elementary school and I left it! And we have loved homeschooling. Loved it. Home education is not broken in our home. Know that, precious reader. Not broken. We might do it again. But, for the Big Sister, attending a local Christian High School is a new adventure. It is something that we have prayed over  and decided for her and WITH her for this season. It may be a year or two or four. We don't know. 

I just need you people to understand one thing:

I'm so excited for her. She is filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I have assurance of that. She is an excellent student. And this will be hard. Hard academically, physically (early mornings!!), and even spiritually (she's gonna be tested a bit). This kid is up for the challenge. And her Jesus is BIG.

There you have it.
A few NEW THINGS I've done.

"The past events have indeed happened.
Now I declare new events;
I announce them to you before they occur."
Isaiah 42:9

Did you do anything new this week?

PS: I'll update more on this high school biz asap. We've celebrated & counted down pretty big. :))

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rainy Days and Littles

This is right now.
Central Florida is on about day 8 (or 100, what's the difference!?) of her Sun Rebellion
While there have been moments in which she has teased us with a break in the clouds, it has rained much more than those afternoon showers she's famous for. 
See? A little tease of color?!

If I seem a little blah, it's because I'm Vitamin D deficient. And by deficient, I mean pale. 
Enough about me. 

I'm really thinking about our local moms of Littles right now. 
The ones who have been on lock-down because you just can't see it's worth it to load up in the rain to go anywhere. 

I know you are worried about too much screen time, too much fighting, too many Cheez-Its, and Lord knows there's been too much Candyland. (For you, not them.) You've done that crafts, the dance parties, and read all.the.books.

You don't really want go to Chick-Fil-A playground every day or the mall, because budget. I get it. The free movies are great, but when one needs to go to the bathroom, you have to load everybody up.

I remember. 

This is when the Band of Sisters is so important, and I do pray you have one. Even if you can just go to one another's homes it breaks the monotony. Or go to the free movie together so you can divide and conquer. Maybe swing by and pick up a tweenie or teen to be a "Mother's Helper"? 

(Updated: I just saw this list of indoor activities today on Tampa Bay Moms Blog.)

But, what if that's even too much? 
What if your road is flooded & you couldn't get out if you wanted to?

Throw away screen time rules for a few days. Embrace the movie day. Build a fort. Make it a whole thing. 
Yes, I know you're worried that the violence of the Serengeti cheetah killings will be desensitizing, but it won't, it's educational. Circle of life and whatnot. I know Jeff Corwin drives you bat crazy, but go ahead, press play. Then, give yourself permission to stick an earbud in your phone and watch a little Gilmore Girls on the side. We won't tell. 

By God's great grace, this rain will eventually stop (Soon, please!) and you can hit the pool again, go to the library, and the even the grocery. 

The point is, give yourself a little grace. And maybe a little stash of chocolate wouldn't hurt. 

Praying for special blessings for you today. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

14 Truths on her 14th Birthday.

Another birthday in the house. Big Sister is 14.
I'm so excited for her future. This kid is the real deal.

I'm not the mom that cried at kindergarten or cries as my girls get older,
although all these baby teeth pics are killing me.

I do, however, get a sense of urgency.
I am keenly aware that, while I hope to always be a sounding board, my in-house influential days are numbered. I'll never not be their momma, but ya know. There are so many things I want my girls to leave the nest with: good flossing habits, a healthy body image, a solid foundation of the Word, and knowing that their parents are flawed people in pursuit of Jesus. I want them to know how to cook some basic meals and keep a house and make it a  home. I want them to know how to speak up for themselves, to call "Bull" when necessary, to know their worth, and to write notes. I want them to live well and love well, to value people over things.
So many things. So little time.

I have a general rule about making promises to my kids (I don't love it); I like to keep us all flexible, but for such an occasion, I thought I'd list {updated} fourteen promises she can be sure of today, tomorrow, and most days...

1. The more you know the Truth, the more you'll recognize a lie.
Plaster your memory with the Word. 
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word. 
I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 
Psalm 119:9-11

2. The issue that you have the hardest time with today will be the very thing that will bring forth your victory in Jesus.
Your weakness is His strength. It's His specialty. Ask me how I know.
"My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."- Jesus
2 Corinthians 12:9

3. You will never regret being classy.

4. You will not immediately understand every decision I make over these next few years.

5. Most of your regrets will be the things you didn't do, rather than the things you did.
Be brave. Cheer for the underdog. Dance. Go for broke. Big risks yield big rewards.

6. Jesus in you will always shine brighter than the lipstick on you.
But, I'm not opposed to lipstick. :)

7. It is possible to love your body and want to improve it.
Be strong, be healthy, and be ready to GO when the Lord calls you!

8. Encouraging others (especially girls) doesn't mean that you are less than,
it means you are strong enough to lift them up.
Be a cheerleader for your people. 

9. The second mile is the best mile.
Go the distance. Even when you don't have to.

Member that time you ran a triathlon!?
10. Your heart will lie to you.
Your gut is usually right. The Word is always right.

11. Confidence is not the same as arrogance.
Confidence is an attractive quality, wear it well.

12. When in doubt, overdress.
Cause, ya know, mud.
13. You can never out love me nor out sin me. 
This is not a challenge. Please don't try.

14. Your best days are coming.
Keep a good pair of shoes handy cause you are going places. 

Happy birthday, Sister. I love you more than strawberries.