5 Things Our Kids Need To Know About Sex

5 Things Our Kids Need To Know About Sex

Brock Turner did not change how I talk to my kids about sex.

Kobe Bryant did.

On July 1, 2003, Kobe Bryant had sexual intercourse with a woman he barely knew while staying at the hotel where she worked. She left his room disheveled and in tears, leaving him wearing a shirt marred with her blood.

She filed rape charges and he was arrested.

He appeared to be far more concerned about his reputation, career and marriage than about a woman who felt completely violated by him…

I am using this Sunday morning, to get linked up with the fabulous Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple and her wonderful #FridayFive. This week’s topic is 5 Things I Wish I’d Known…but instead this is 5 things I pray to God we, as a society, will figure out.

BREATHING DOESN’T EQUAL CONSENT

In Bryant’s case the charges were dropped and I am sure he wrote a huge check.

I believe it was inconceivable to Bryant that any woman who kissed him wouldn’t WANT to have sex…they’re breathing, so they must want it.

This is simply untrue. And criminal.

My hubby and I took our teenager to a pepper spray, self defense class. During the class they went over the statistics of sexual assault on college campuses. My daughter and I talked at length about the numbers. I asked her, “Do you believe for every woman who has been raped, there is a boy who feels like he raped her?”

No. She didn’t.

We then talked about boys she knew that she thought might act as though they deserved sex with or without permission. I have to say, she really  got it.

Moms of boys: Tell your sons that sex is not random. It is, at its very essence, relational and bonding. Of course I want it to be only for husbands and wives, but outside of that ideal there are still standards.

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Just because a girl smiles, doesn’t mean she said yes. A woman who is intoxicated can’t ethically consent. Sex matters. It is time we, as a society, started to act like it.

SAVING SEX FOR MARRIAGE SAVES A LOT OF PAIN

I was once lamenting about a TV show that was so, so good–except I hated how they treated the topic of teenagers having sex. A woman looked at me like I was stupid, “But that is real life…” she said.

I was in a church coffee shop. She was married to the pastor’s kid and very active with teenagers. It didn’t seem to bother her that having sex was “normal” for people whose brains and bodies were nowhere near fully developed.

Hear me on this: Just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t make us weep.

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I can tell by the fights a couple has whether or not they are sexually active. I don’t care if they are 14 and in high school or 40 and newly divorced. Why, you ask? Because nothing I have seen brings out the insecurity of a woman like sex outside of marriage.

In the moment it feels like euphoric power…in the morning it feels like vulnerability and inadequacy.

Saving sex for marriage saves you from mountains of pain and heartache.

The Money Flow of the Sex Industry Should Make Us Vomit

Years ago I watched serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy’s final interview with Dr. James Dobson. Bundy emphatically claimed that he became a monster because of his addiction to pornography.

I read somewhere that pornography is a 14 billion dollar a year industry.

I am going to try to break this down as simply and straight forwardly as possible.

  • Google defines pornography as: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
  • Therefore pornography takes the emotion and human relationship out of sexual interaction.
  • One study indicated that 49% of prostitutes were forced to participate in filming pornography by their pimps. The films are crafted in a way that makes it look completely consensual when it is really forced, which means that the very act of buying porn often directly funds sex trafficking.
  • Another study clearly indicates that the vast majority of men who pay for sex are viewers of pornography.
  • Still one more study claimed that 47% of prostitutes were wounded or harmed by men reenacting sexual acts they had seen in pornography.

I believe that pornography comes first. Purchasing sex is next. Then comes the man, who never thought this would be his life, looking for an underage girl to sleep with. It is a disease that grows…Get rid of the pornography and you stop the number one source of food that is feeding the beast.

Will it fix everything? Of course not.

But search your very own life and do whatever you can to stop investing in the sex market.

50 Shades of Grey, I Am Talking To You

It is not a huge surprise that I was WAY behind the curve on this one.

The first time I was in a group of women talking about the book, the look on my face must have been hilarious. I was baffled.

I have never, ever, not once, heard someone say the book was well written.

Yet the author is the fastest selling writer in human history.

Pardon the language but, what the hell?

Why? What was it? If the lead character drove a rusty pinto station wagon and lived in a mobile home, would so many women have read ALL THREE books? I doubt it. What does it say about connection and intimacy when husbands were buying the books for their wives…

Is this what men really want when they make love?

God help us.

I wondered if I should read them, just to be able to have a conversation with Christian women who were reading them also…but I couldn’t stomach the thought. I would never be able to un-read it and the images would be in my mind forever. If you love Jesus or your sons or daughters, throw your books away and repent before the Lord.

I am not joking.

For the record, if you go to church on Sunday, and have Cards Against Humanity in your game closet…throw that away as well, and repent before the Lord. YOU WILL NEVER BENEFIT FROM FILLING YOUR HEAD WITH FILTH. Ever.

SEX IN MARRIAGE MATTERS

I love what Dr. Phil says: “A good sex life is 10% of a marriage. A bad sex life is 90% of a marriage.”

So true.

Most people need to repent of past sexual actions…do it. Wiping a heart clean is a great start. And telling your spouse it matters to you is also a great thing to do.

Every journey is different, but the reality is that a marriage without a healthy sex life is often a marriage that struggles.

While we talk to our kids about purity, we must also talk about the beauty that is in faith-filled, God created marriage unity. It is worth the wait, and it is worth investing in once the wait is over…

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We have lost our minds when it comes to all things sex, and the fallout is brutal on our relationships and our kids…one person at a time, one dollar at a time, perhaps we can make progress.

I Am Not Kidding

I Am Not Kidding

What we need to put into our [kids] minds is often sophisticated, consistently reliable language. What is readily available to us is often unsophisticated, consistently unreliable language.”-Andrew Pudewa

Once again it feels like the nation has exploded.

I hear gut wrenching cries. I watch bullets out of nowhere. I listen to the questions agonizing what do we do?

Today, Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple is discussing books for her Friday Five. Providentially it weaves beautifully into the scenes unfolding around the country and provides an eloquent answer. The way forward is to read.

I am not kidding.

Language is the motor of thinking, which propels behavior, which dictates results. If we want to change the results it is incumbent upon us to change thinking. Arguing and demagoguery rarely (if ever) help. But reading? Reading has the power to change everything.

Here are my five suggested starting points:

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.

You don’t have to be a Bible believing Christian to have your life enriched by Proverbs. There are many Chinese proverbs and Old English proverbs I glean wisdom from. Likewise, the book in the Bible has benefits for anyone who will listen:

  • “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it springs the well of life.” Proverbs 4:23
  • “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with your acquiring, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

What an easy place to start. Pray for wisdom for every single person, side, perspective, hashtag. If you follow that to the book of James, verse 3:17,  hope comes alive: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Isn’t that something everyone could agree on?

A THOMAS JEFFERSON EDUCATION by OLIVER De MILLE.

Only when teachers realize that the principal cause of learning that occurs in a student is the activity of the student’s own mind do they assume the role of cooperative artists. ” Mortimer J. Adler

I am not a fan of the pubic school system. It is not that I don’t love teachers, I do. I believe the system is based on a flawed philosophy. Because the fundamental beliefs dictate direction, to me it is irrelevant how much money is spent in public schools because the money continues to move things in the wrong direction. I believe public schools are built on a myth:

“The myth is that it is possible for one human being to educate another…The fact is that the only person who can fix education is the student…[because] education occurs when students get excited about learning and apply themselves.” page 12.

Although this is not an emotional book, I cried as I read it.  It reframed much of my entire life…why, even though I was above average intelligence, I hated school and nearly flunked out. Why, even though I love God’s word, I struggled for years to get along and engage in Bible Studies. It boiled down to this:

People were trying to teach me what to think, and I was desperate to learn how to think.

According to DeMille, a primary goal of teaching students how to think is “to perpetuate freedom, to prepare people who know what freedom is, what is required to maintain it, and who exert the will to do what is required,” page 23. 

I want to be that kind of a person. I want it for my kids and as many people in this country who also want it. To bring that in context of this week, there is no freedom if the people enforcing the laws are not trustworthy. Likewise, respecting the rule of law is also demanded for freedom to reign. You cannot have one without the other.

THE READ ALOUD HANDBOOK by JIM TRELEASE.

Next to having a healthy, godly marriage, the very best thing we can do for our kids is read to them.

Study after study shows one consistent fact: “No reading outside school, low scores inside school,” page 5.

I believe this emphatically. The way to get kids learning and growing is to gather them around adults with books and to read to them.

I began with my kids as newborns. When my middle was 4 months old our pediatrician was part of a program to encourage literacy in families. He would give away books at well-baby visits. When we were finished with our check up, he grabbed a book and began his spiel about exposure to books.

Reagan lunged forward, grabbed the book out of his hand, opened it and started babbling as she “read” it. He laughed out loud and said, “I guess she knows what a book is.”

I believe teaching and encouraging parents to read good, quality books to their kids would, over time, help to fix many of the struggles in this nation. Some of the benefits to children include:

  • Increasing vocabulary
  • Encouraging growing attention spans
  • Giving a context for history and beauty

Reading Les Miserables, all 1300 pages of it, certainly would have a more positive effect than listening to rap music that says, “F#@!**^ the police” over and over and over again.

THE CLASSICS

These are my current obsession:

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Barnes & Noble has a beautiful, incredibly affordable collection of kids versions of classic books. I read them to my little peanut.

I cry EVERY TIME Gilbert Blythe gives up his teaching job for Anne Shirley, or when Jo comes home and has sold her hair to send money for her father. As Ryan grows, I want to start reading some of the abridged versions to her, finally reading the full length stories.

The classics pour into our hearts themes of family and loyalty. The villains show us how not to be while the heroes model endurance and faith. Studying character traits in third party examples helps to form our own character. We need to be pouring into the character of our nation…beginning with the leaders.

THE DOCUMENTS AND LETTERS OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS.

Recently our teenager was doing a history report and needed original sources for the bibliography. She was getting frustrated because online sources were frowned upon and difficult to site. I started laughing and walked her over to a bookshelf.

“What do you need, kiddo? Here you are.”

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Common Sense by Thomas Paine? We’ve got you covered. Looking for the Declaration of Independence? We have several to choose from.

Members of the House of Representatives and Senate should have to read, out loud, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution once a month for 5 years straight… just to give a little perspective.

Rights are for all people, not some people. Let’s infuse our minds with the truths that set us free from tyranny so many years ago. It may be the only way to prevent tyranny in the years to come.

Yes, I know it may seem simplistic but no, I am not kidding when I say that reading may be the very best chance this nation’s future has.

I Need A Drink

I Need A Drink

I love Lays potato chips. The gentle crisp and the salt on my lips evoke satisfaction in my world.

Chips are a treat. They are often partnered with friends and other delicious foods. They come with good times.

They also must come with good drinks.

The commercials were made about me; I cannot eat just one. And as much as I love the salty satisfaction, chips bring their own kind of thirst. Too much of the seasoning and I am parched.

Which is why I struggle to have a social life.

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I am a potato chip.

Too much of me and people need a drink.

I think I have BACD… Biblical Application Confusion Disorder. It’s a thing, I’m sure.

I want to be salt & light. (Matthew 5:13-16)

I also believe man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)

What happens when I sow seeds of sodium?

My life is an ongoing battle. One moment I know and believe God created me and loves me filled with fiery passion.  Then I swing wildly to deep convictions, mixed with condemnation, and desires to change and be sanctified by Him. Or to be liked–I can’t really tell.

I want to be a cheerleader, rooting people on in victory. I also believe the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) which means I CAN NOT cheer on everything.

If someone I love is drinking poison, I am just not the gal to say, “Gee, that tastes good doesn’t it?” No. Spitting it out and throwing away the glass is the only rational choice.

That is not the best kind of cocktail party small talk.

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I have this really, really watered down prosperity gospel-ish thinking sometimes. I want to believe that if  I answer God’s callings and do what He tells me to do faithfully and with as much excellence as I can, life will be rosy.

Everyone will like me.

I will be invited to everything.

But that is not real life.

In 1 Kings 22, doing things God’s way didn’t work out well, according to the world’s standards, for Micaiah son of Imlah. Nope. He ended up in prison.

I have my already purchased, advanced copy of Lysa Terkeurst’s new book Uninvited highlighted in my head, because life doesn’t always turn out the way I want it to. As soon as it arrives, I am sure I will DEVOUR it.

I want to be salt, without being too-salty. How can I season without ruining the flavors of that which I am seasoning?

These are the things I ask the Lord in the still, small, sleepless hours of the night. I am searching for HIS hand to guide me, confident that is the only way to get the real answers I need. I want to be me, red-hot for God’s word and aflame for a life of sincerity, with out having people walk away from me taking a deep breath and saying, “I need a drink.”

It won’t be an easy journey, I fear…but with God, ALL things are possible.

I am linking up with Suzanne Eller today chatting about all things salty…

In Life, The Choice Is Often Either/Or

In Life, The Choice Is Often Either/Or

I am linking up today with the wonderful Kelly at Mrs. Disciple for her FRIDAY FIVE. This week’s topic is leadership.

In the Academy Award Winning film, Braveheart, there is a scene where the Scottish Rebels are lined up on one side of a field, and the British nobles and their soldiers are lined up on the other side of the field waiting for the impending battle. William Wallace (Braveheart) comes riding up in full battle attire and paint. As he gets ready to ride across the field to talk to the British, one of his men asks him, “What are you doing?”

Wallace, in a thick Scottish accent says, “I am going to pick a fight.”

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Photo from Hollywoodreporter.com

This election season.

It’s hard to even come up with a complete sentence without sighing and shaking my head, but I fully realize to many these words are picking a fight.

Keep in mind that I have a daughter named Reagan and a MacArthur Study Bible, so stereotyping me is not a huge challenge. I am incredibly comfortable in heated discussions smiling and saying, “Well…you know that I am a right-wing, religious nut.”

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I am not actually a nut, but I believe most of the things that the other side associates with the far right. I am not at all ashamed of my beliefs because I am also committed to a life that is filled with grace and service, and spend infinitely more time working the many, many logs in my own eye than searching for other people’s specks.

MY GUY was the first one out of the race. Long before I knew Scott Walker had suspended his campaign, I was getting text messages and Facebook posts asking me who I was for in light of the new facts. RARELY, do people not know where I stand. (Walker/Gowdy 2016 would have been so, so good.) My next choice hung in there for a while, but then also stepped down.

Who is left was my last choice going in, but I am a pragmatist and I am keenly aware that life is often comprised of either/or choices.

I am an ABC gal. Anybody But Clinton. I also concede that is a weak position to take and a sad reason to vote for the leader of the free world. As time has gone on and I have re-examined what I believe and why, I am moving from ambivalence to believing that Trump could be the one for this moment in history. (Look up Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency and see if you find similarities economically.) I will share with you five reasons why.

The Hope Of Getting Rid Of Monopoly Money.

That is what we call it in our home.

Congress and the Executive Branch so easily spend money that is not theirs, it might as well come from a boxed game you buy at Target.

When the current president took office, the national debt stood at 10.6 trillion dollars. With the last budget signed, he will leave with 20 trillion dollars worth of national debt. That number is staggering and, frankly, disgusting. There is no rational reason to believe the trend won’t continue with Hillary Clinton as president.

Over in the Trump camp, however, they seem to see the potential and power of a dollar much differently. As the media and pundits on both sides  say Trump’s chances are slim because he has 1.2 million in his coffers compared to Hillary’s 42 million, you can almost hear Trump and his people laughing in disbelief as they respond: “‘Donald has proven before that he doesn’t need as much money as the other candidates.'”

This graph from NHPR.org is quite telling:

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Seriously, do you see that tiny little Trump slice? If that kind of efficiency were brought to the Federal Government, I would celebrate!

Obamacare.

I hate it.

I have a daughter with special needs and a mother in law with severe dementia and neither of them have anywhere near the quality insurance coverage or medical care  they had before Congress “passed the bill in order to see what was in the bill.”

My daughter has specialists who no longer take insurance because of Obamacare.

We pay a doctor, I would never actually choose if I had other options, $2500 a year just to consider my mother in law a patient. He then bills for all appointments. Why? Obamacare.

Proponents of the monstrosity acknowledge that while my family has been pummeled by the plan, the greater good has been served. I neither agree with that, nor do I actually care.

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I want my daughter and my husband’s mother to have good medical care more than I want the greater good ESPECIALLY since we were willing to work hard to provide it. Those who call me selfish for such thoughts make no difference to me.

Trump is the only hope I have for eliminating Obamacare.

The Way Things Are MUST Change.

The Democrats are against him. The media is against him. Many in the Republican establishment are against him.

That’s good enough for me.

We are numb to the ineptness that rules this country.

There was no budget passed by our leaders for six straight years, including years when the same party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

America’s credit rating was downgraded under this administration. How much more in interest do the American people pay as a result?

I find this all to be untenable. If Trump is a disaster and what is crumbles, okay. If Trump brings a tenacious business mind set to these issues and fixes them, okay! It is difficult to believe that an entrepreneur with phenomenal success in many areas would not desire to also see the country turn a profit under his leadership. He might begin with the basics of making a budget and increasing the credit rating.

I Don’t Think A Wall is Racist.

I am from California. I’ve spent most of my employed hours working in the restaurant business.

My husband works in the housing industry. We both have extensive experience with hard working, family-loving immigrants who also believe that illegal immigration must be dealt with.

Some sort of a border deterrent (like a wall) has been mentioned for years by people from both parties. I think there are sound bites available from both Clintons talking about such things.

Trump is just the first to suggest that Mexico pay for it.

I don’t think putting a fence around my yard means that I’m inhospitable, and I don’t think that putting up a barrier to make it more difficult to enter the country illegally is racist. And I absolutely believe that something  has to be done about illegal immigration.

We Need To Start Understanding Facts.

Trump is not the one I would have suggested for such an endeavor. However, he tells it like it is and it is resonating with people.

If those people get educated and start asking questions and examining information, there could be real hope. We need to encourage thinking citizens.

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The Obama administration claims to have fixed the economy, but how is that possible with national debt doubling? Can you fix your family’s finances by putting everything on a credit card? Why should a nation be any different?

The following numbers are all taken from Factcheck.org.

The Republican party is presented to the world as the party for big business, while the Democrats are supposedly for the middle class. Is that how you understand it?

Compare that paradigm (of Democrats for the middle class and Republicans for the rich) to this: Under this administration, corporate profits are up 166% while real weekly earnings are up 3.4%. Which represents the middle class?

Homicides are down 13% while gun sales are up over 55%. Ownership of firearms is up AND violent crime is down, which party’s belief system lines up with those numbers?

Unemployment is supposedly down by over 600,000 people, while food stamp recipients are up by 42%. Does that seem odd?

If you keep in mind that unemployment reflects the number of people looking for a job, rather than the number of people who are not working, do those two statistics make more sense? (Stop looking for work and just get government aid…)

Trump, if nothing else, knocked a political system out of complacency. Jeb Bush spent $100,000,000 on his failed campaign. I am so, so glad that did not work because we have been bought and paid for, for far too long.

For a while the either/or of candidates this year felt like choosing between Sodom and Gomorrah, but now I believe we are already in Sodom and Gomorrah and the real calling is to run away and not look back.

 

 

It Doesn’t Always Go This Way

It Doesn’t Always Go This Way

School got out two weeks ago tomorrow.

Since then we have thrown parties, gone to the Melodrama, had a few trips to the waterpark and dropped one kiddo off at history-loving camp. There have been some real highs.

There have also been a couple of low, low moments. Meltdowns of epic proportion have ruined large chunks of more than one day.

As much as I hate to admit it, the meltdowns were mostly me.

really did not want to melt down today, so when my peanut was starting to be difficult, I took a deep breath and leaned in.

I am trying to do a series of speech videos with her–if not every day–regularly. She was CLEARLY not interested and started to misbehave. She had to sit on timeout, but rather than fighting it through and making the timeout the issue, once she pulled it together and came back to the table we restarted and actually got a lot done!

YAY.

Then she wanted to watch TV. Now, I’ll be honest. I am actually not a mom who limits screen time with my kids. We are pretty busy as a family. My kids go to a Classical Education private school, which mean they read (or are read to) a lot. There are also sports we do, church and youth group every week, trips to the water park and playing in the pool.

We fill their lives with so much good stuff, I don’t feel the need to battle about TV. We also can only watch things on video or DVD, so there’s not a lot of worry about the influence of commercials or things I don’t approve of.

However, today I just didn’t really want her lounging on the couch and sinking in for a binge-fest. Nor did I want to create a commotion over it. So I tried a new approach.

Without saying a word, I got out her light box and began to set it up. I added a dish of ice, food coloring, salt, a spray bottle of water, and a squirt bottle of oil.

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While I was working on that, she turned off the TV and found some “homework” to do on her own.

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When I finished setting it up, I left it.

Again, I said nothing.

A few minutes later, she began exploring…

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The squeezing and spraying strengthen her hands. The ice is refreshing, as it has been so hot the heat radiating from the blacktop burns my feet walking in flip flops. The salt adds texture. Food coloring is just always fun.

She kept herself happily busy while I got some ironing done.

I didn’t melt down.

She didn’t veg out.

We all won.

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

If the 2015/2016 school year was a marathon, I walked–or limped–the second 13 mile stretch.

tried to keep on the road, but had very little hope of victory.

Then, out of nowhere, I found the will/energy/ability to sprint that last two tenths of a mile of the race. Who knew I had it in me? I never would have guessed that in the 26.2 miles of the journey, I would shine in the last .2?

I am honest about my struggles, but sometimes I do get things right!

It began with Jared’s Prom. A local high school senior, partially paralyzed by a tumor related stroke, was told by his school that he could not attend his senior prom. It was very obvious, very quickly that would not stand. The community came together and Brighten A Corner threw him the prom of a lifetime a few weeks later…

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Then my little family put our heads down and started gunning for the end of the school year.

First, there was HISTORY DAY.

We had costumes put together. They were ready the day BEFORE history day. They were cute! The girls studied their characters. Their characters were interesting! Erasmus and Catherine the Great are now people we are quite familiar with! History is such an important part of learning and character development.

I got the end of the year assignments organized. Ryan completed timeline pieces and Shakespeare puppets.

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Reagan got A’s on a majority of her finals. Jake was across the country developing his ability to work hard. “Just finished my thirteenth day in a row,” he said. Doing construction. Hard to believe that is the same kid who never got out of bed on time and spent centuries hours and hours playing video games. Hard times sometimes redeem themselves.

We have a tradition of hosting a last day of school swimming party. This year the last day of school for Ryan was on a Thursday. Kids were finished at noon then would come here. We keep this gathering simple. BBQ chicken, watermelon and chips are the menu. Before they come here the kids have an ice cream social at school so we don’t need more sugar…

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Two days earlier, on Tuesday night, Reagan came to me asking, “How would you feel about having the graduation party here?”

She knew the answer before she asked. Of course, we’d love to host the party! Thursday night…after the party for the 1st and 2nd graders.

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We sailed right through! Carl and I are getting pretty good at this. We had the second party supplies set aside and organized…so we just picked up trash, washed a load of towels, and viola! Graduation…race home to throw bean dip and chicken wings in the oven and a good time was had by all.

We crossed the finish line, victoriously! (And napped at length the next day.)

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

ISAIAH 40:29-32

 

 

5 Reasons to Thank You on Father’s Day

5 Reasons to Thank You on Father’s Day

Not everyone would want our life. I am certain we are not the envy of many.

But I wouldn’t trade it.

The years together have softened us. Our mid sections are reflections of our souls…a bit gentler to the touch.

The days of our lives in this particular season are indelibly marked by being a parent and having parents; therapies and home schooling of our kids, memory care units and bridge games with our parents define much of our priority list. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. Again I am linking up with the spectacular Kelly at Mrs. Disciple to chat about Father’s Day…

Thank you for living life knowing church wasn’t a question, but a fact. I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade we have missed church for no reason. We may not do as many sappy, devotions around the table, missions trips as a family as I imagine perfect families do, but our life is anchored by faith. Our kids know it. They have spent their entire lives watching us live life with Jesus with imperfect consistency. No matter what they choose as adults, they know what is true for us because they have seen it.

Thank you for believing in stay home moms. We have made enormous financial sacrifices over the years and our non-existent savings account is meager, but life with a special needs child and teenager requires presence. You have given that to us. Your hard work and creativity have served us well. I am so grateful for the hours and hours of quiet and crazy time that have been invested in our kids.

Thank you for being a dreamer. I am so sorry I am not always a great sport about it, but watching our teenager develop a passion for becoming a pilot (like you)–seeing her confidence blossom as she gains this incredible skill–is a direct reflection of you tenaciously holding onto your dreams when the odds (and your wife’s patience) were stacked against you.

Thank you for being the example to your kids. You can fix anything. You can figure it all out. You create solutions from scratch when there are problems to be solved. I ached with pride when our son explained why he was taking a semester off of school to work construction. “I want to be like Dad,” he said. “I want to have rentals someday, and know I can fix anything that goes wrong.” Yep. That is just like your father.

Thank you for helping me keep things simple. I often say I married my boundaries. That is true. Without you, my life would be a chaotic jumble of exhaustion. I would not see the difference between problems I can and cannot fix; nor would I respect as deeply that people make their own choices. You helped me channel that side of me into a productive and thriving ministry. Without you, there would be no Brighten A Corner Ministry.

Don’t ever let the lists I make and plans I write out make you feel as though today isn’t a gift. It is. Our life is sticky and messy and complicated but we are owning this thing together, you and I. We fight less. We hold hands more. When the wheels come off the bus, as they inevitably will, we can get them back on faster…and doggone it if it doesn’t sometimes make things EVEN BETTER than they were before.

Do you know how lucky that makes us?

Yeah. I know. We don’t believe in luck. Even though I run a ministry and teach Bible Study, and you have gone to more Lutheran camps than you can count and make sure we never miss church, we have never become people for whom the word blessed  rolls off our tongues. If we do, indeed, move to the south in a few years, that might need to change. But for now, I’ll just call us lucky.

 

 

Summer 2016

Summer 2016

This is the last week of school.

All the happy sounds and dances I can muster are coming. Last year I finished strong. This year? Not so much. We are limping across the finish line, distracted and unclear about some *^%$&&** stuff.

Last week's History Day for Ryan.

Last week’s History Day for Ryan.

Last week's History Day for Reagan

Last week’s History Day for Reagan

But I have mustered up enough clarity in a number of areas to write the Lee Family Summer 2016 Manifesto. Can you even imagine how EXCITED my hubby is about this? (Insert sarcasm font.) Six pages of how I want our life lived out is apparently far more inspirational and impressive to me than it is to him.

The nerve.

He’ll be happy with the results. I know it.

These are the things that are compelling me:

My middle daughter will be a junior next year. That means our days are NUMBERED with her. Rather than feeling like I am trying to squeeze every last drop of time and memories with her, I want to pour in.

As parents of teenagers, it is incumbent on us to help create the adults we want our kids to become.

I want to invest time and attention to help develop skills and maturity that will make life richer for her in the future.

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As I prayed and thought and made lists, it occurred to me that working on life skills for her will help my youngest with special needs also learn life skills. And it will continue to carve away at the sin of laziness that can plague me. (Exhaustion and laziness can be difficult to differentiate sometimes…)

My youngest still has special needs. Did I think somewhere in my little brain that we would outgrow this someday?

Perhaps.

Don’t judge.

I am convinced that much of life is wishful thinking.

I have tried and tried to assemble a team of people to help us help her. But I have failed at that.

So, I am back to the drawing board assessing and making lists and praying that God would transform my character to be that disciplined, scheduled, routined person who will find the way to do all the things I think about doing. Successfully. And make it enjoyable and magical.

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While making money somehow.

No problem.

Let me throw in getting in shape and losing weight while I am at it. Then I’ll REALLY have something to talk about.

My son is so far away. 

I still hate that.

I miss him.

I want to be creative about ways to connect.

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Our life has stress. And it always will. But that does NOT mean that we can’t eliminate or deal with some of the stress that we have. Purposely living my days the way I want them to feel will automatically reduce stress!

I will never have more time in my days. Twenty-four hours will always be my limit.

What I DO with those twenty four hours will make all the difference.

Keeping that in mind, these will be my mental markers for a successful summer:

  • The number of times my family sits down to a meal together. It won’t be all my cooking. We love the BBQ and plan on having our teenager make one family meal each week. In a perfect world, this will also be evaluated on how many different places we eat. Out by the pool? Let’s do that! On the front porch? I love it. Picnic at the park or beach? Absolutely. The manifesto gives gathering a prime position. IMG_3199
  • How much time is spent outside together. No vitamin D deficiencies allowed. After church on Sundays is a great time for us to make this happen. For a while we loaded up the bikes and took the trail to the beach where we would get lunch then head back. Carl and the girls on wheels and me on my two feet, we would trek the five miles. Exercise and sunshine and great for physical and family health, I want to make this a reality again this summer.
  • Consistent chores I encourage my kids to do well. This falls on me. Will I be calm, ordered, and happy as I teach us to organize and clean with excellence? The manifesto lines up specific times to be set aside to approach these skills as a family. Creating a home which is cleaner with less clutter is the BEST thing I can do for my hubby; and helping my kids be more respectful and responsible about living with other humans? That is a MUST.
  • The number of books read aloud. Audio books are fine. In fact, I am hoping to listen to some as a family while sitting around the table coloring. I am making progress with my precious little peanut’s fine motor skills and this would REALLY help. Also, more and more people are talking about the stress/anxiety reducing benefits of adult coloring which would be fabulous for my hubby AND my teen. We will start on audio with Les Miserables. That is my teen’s reading assignment for the summer, so we can support her by joining the conversation. While she is at camp, I will be reading Harry Potter and the Little House series to Ryan…along with the Illustrated Classics from Barnes & Nobles. They are my current obsession. DSCN6146
  • Cards and letters put in the mail. I want to encourage my kids to be letter writers. And thank you note senders. Me too. This will make all of our lives better and sow seeds of friendship and love.

There you have it. The five things that will anchor my summer. (5? Perfect. I will link up a bit late to the FANTASTIC Kelly at Mrs. Disciple.) There are goals and plans about Bible verse jars for the dinner table and prayers for a fresh fire on my Scripture study, each of which will be more likely if I make the manifesto a reality.

5 Suggestions for Victorious Mothering

Saturday is the best day to get to a Friday Five, don’t you think? I just love Kelly, at Mrs. DiscipleYesterday Today she is encouraging us to celebrate victories in parenting. This is FANTASTIC, because it has been a good week.

Two weeks ago, I probably would have heaved sobs trying to write this. But life constantly fluctuates and this is an “up” moment. We are coming out of a plateau. Last month, in just over 5 weeks time, my precious little peanut and I put 7,000 miles on our car driving to therapies and classes. It was time, energy and money well spent and now we are moving forward again.

My best homeschool days are every other Wednesday. That is most certainly because I get my house cleaned every other Tuesday. While Alma scrubs and vacuums I organize, put away and toss. The breathing room created leaves more room to homeschool the way I REALLY want to. This week was that time. I actually did these 5 Things that make mothering life feel victorious…here are my suggestions for you:

Give Attention To The Areas You Want To Change. Parenting a child with special needs guarantees there are deficits…somewhere. I am reading several books about the brain, and using that information to influence our choices.

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In everyday language, the brain gives extra attention where there is stimulation. We are working on writing and speaking, so before we got our work going I woke her mouth up with various speech tools, and gave her hands a massage with lotion. I am telling her body, neurologically speaking, help me teach her. This is brand new to our routine, so stay tuned to see how it helps!

Start Where You Are Strong. Review. Review. Review. Learning is layered. Trying to build a new concept on top of a failed concept is like building a house on shifting sands. It doesn’t make for long term success.

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We have to repeat things thousands of times for them to stick with Ryan. That is not an exaggeration. So we repeat and praise; repeat and praise. Then we repeat and praise again. There are many times when the number one goal is to NOT get discouraged.

Get Your Wiggles Out. Lazy parenting breeds bad behavior. Recently I had a challenging night with my youngest, and I knew that much of it was because she had too much energy left over at the end of the day.

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(Did you know rolling down a hill is one of the most neurologically stimulating activities?)

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The best mom-days for me are when my kids go to bed wiped out. Brains and hearts full, bodies tired from sunshine and movement and (hopefully) laughter. This is why I love summer.  Water parks, swimming pools, picnics and bbq’d peaches with balsamic vinegar help me be the mom I want to be.

Invest In The Things That Matter To You. We do church every Sunday. We pray before every family meal. Bible Studies are a regular part of our world. Through Brighten A Corner and greeting at church, service is a given.

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For our teen we also invest in her world view. We send her to The Young America’s Foundation because we believe in knowing how the world functions. We read. We clean and cook when family comes to stay, so that they will enjoy being here.

We are being more intentional about inviting her friends to do things with us.

We have access to a good counselor when we need it.

Sometimes the wheels come off the bus in our family–just like every other family out there. But when we have invested in things that matter during the good times, it is easier to get back on track during the bad times.

Grow. We are building a garden.

My mom has a wonderful garden space in her yard that was completely overgrown. California has suffered a record-breaking drought, and so gardening was a luxury no longer necessary.

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Funny thing…weeds don’t seem to care about a drought. The grew anyway.

This is a winning proposition in a million ways. We spend time with my mom. We remind ourselves that life is like a garden…weeds grow, need to be pulled, grow again, and need to be pulled again.

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We have sown seeds and watched them grow.

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We planted plants and watched them get eaten by earwigs. We planted more and protected them from said earwigs.

Now we are maintaining the plants we have by watering and weeding. Next we will turn the garden into an art project. Red and yellow sunflowers, grown from seeds we planted, will color the fence line. Ryan will paint the herb box and paving stones.

All the while we talk about the process and progress.

Sometimes she is fully engaged. Often not so much. Once the food is ready to be picked, however, I KNOW she will be excited about harvesting and cooking.

All in all a good week…

And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1:31

I Am Jonah

I love a good church service; one that makes me look deeply at my own flaws, and at Scripture with fresh eyes.

Sunday was such a day.

We had a guest pastor. A retired senior pastor shared on Jonah, a book I love. I saw myself in the pages. This is not a new thing, but I recognized myself in a new way. Habits. Mistakes. Areas of total lack of generosity.

I am excited! Seeing those things means that I can repent! And with repentance comes hope.

Perhaps part of the reason I could see things clearly is because I am in fairly good spirits. This is a good season of life. I am busy with the things that are important and seeking Him with a renewed zeal. There are times when my introspection is not born of (or with) condemnation, but just flow out of a life walking with Jesus.  Some of the things I learned were review, some were fresh revelations. I LOVE learning about the Bible.

Here were my AHA! moments:

  • Jonah fled from his assignment. Yeah, not new. I do this often. I let fear or finances or exhaustion keep me from what God has assigned. I may not run away from home, but I do sloth my way in the opposite direction of His calling.
  • Jonah was irritated by God’s blessings for those Jonah did not approve of. Well, golly. There I am in the middle of Scripture, yet again. If I were to be completely, vulnerably honest I would have to admit that I kinda don’t want God to bless those on my personal do not bless list. The pastor said, “We all have our pet evil…” Then he pointed out that the answer is ALWAYS love your enemies. Ouch.
  • Jonah’s theology was right but his heart was wrong. This next insight leapt off the page at me! Once God saved Ninevah, Jonah asked God, “Please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” Jonah decided that only the worst, most extreme thing–ending his life–was an option. BOTH my hubby and I have the tendency to do this. I call it catastrophizing. I have made progress in dealing with this by eliminating ALWAYS and NEVER from the narrative in my head; and by trying to remember that I trust God even when I don’t understand His ways.

I don’t ask for my life to end, but I do tell the story of hard things in a way that predicts the end of ideas, or opportunities, or relationships or dreams. I am Jonah.

I noticed more. In chapter 4, when the Ninevites had repented and God forgave them, Jonah went “out from the city and sat east of it. There he made himself a shelter for himself and sat under it until he could see what would happen in the city.” 

I have often wanted the vantage point to see what happens. Mostly so I can point out where I was right, and judge the people I think are wrong, but whatever my thing, it was not my finest moment. To be fair, I am not as demanding as I once was. I am now more willing not to know answers and details, and am often praying for the wisdom to leave the outcomes to God.

But there is still part of me that is Jonah.