Why I Am A Book Banner

Why I Am A Book Banner

(longer than ususal with some graphic content)

The images almost all seem to be taken at night; the stark contrast of the dark sky with an enormous pile of hard-backed books engulfed in flames. Blond-haired, blue-eyed zealots screaming in victory with their swastika bands and Nazi values literally (pun intended) filling the air around them as the books burn in idea-controlling victory.

Yeah. That’s not me.

I am an advocate for tax dollars not purchasing vulgar or sexually explicit materials.

And rational conversation. I am an advocate to try to bring rational conversations back.

Last year I submitted a Book Reconsideration Form to my local public library for the book Blue Is the Warmest Color by Jul Maroh. My premise was clear: Cartoon depictions of graphic sex acts should be considered pornography.

Simple. Clear. In my opinion, reasonable.

I submitted my request (with attached photocopies of the actual book), and my request was denied.

Now, I am not an expert on pornography or sexually explicit material. It is not a piercing part of my story, nor has it ever been a struggle for me. (Or, to my knowledge, for my husband.) But in my limited experience and talk-show-watching-in-the-90’s knowledge, nearly everyone (of the stories I’ve heard) whose life was ripped apart by pornography addiction said the same thing: The first exposure to sexually explicit material was by accident.

They didn’t seek it out. They didn’t go to the corner liquor store and buy it. It was grandpa’s–hidden under the bed; or a cousin took them out back by the big oak tree and said, “Wanna see something?”

And the body responded without permission. From then on, they wanted more.

I would like to try to make less of that available in society. I think sexually explicit graphic novels tucked safely on library shelves are a risk.

Once my original request was denied, I took the next directed step, which was to present the matter to the library board.

Blue is The Warmest Color is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl discovering she’s a lesbian. The sexual orientation of the story is irrelevant to my plea because in a graphic novel sketch of a teenager writhing in ecstasy as she receives oral sex, the gender of the person performing said act isn’t clear. It’s a back and back of a head.

Coincidence or not, once I submitted the request to make a presentation to library board the librarian chose to move the meeting to a larger public venue and rescheduled it to the first day of PRIDE month.

While I still believe these conversations are better had face to face over coffee, public speaking is in my wheelhouse, so the change of venue and filling the audience with angry people on both sides wasn’t a big deal for me. I was ready to move the conversation forward.

For the first time in my life, I actually put together a slide presentation.

I was clear. I was factual. I provided an alternative–simply ask the publisher to produce a version of the story without the nudity and illustrations of sex. Rap artists often have less explicit lyric versions of their somgs available for public consumption, asking library books to do the same is a viable alternative.

Once I was finished and sat back down, the audience was able to comment and it got a bit dicey. The police removed a woman from the audience. Both sides yelled. Some people made great points. Others screamed louder.

If I had to do it again, I would have stood up front as the speakers came up, so that they could talk (or shout) directly to me. Again, we need more conversations and I am not afraid of being yelled at.

One woman found me in the audience, looked at me and said, “I don’t think this is pornography.” So, at a break, I sat down next to her and what she did think was pornography.

“Why? So, you can be right?” She countered.

“No, because I think that is the next logical question to reach understanding,” I answered.

Less than a minute later she said, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” Okay. I thought we could find common ground. I was wrong.

For clarity’s purposes, and because it is mostly true, this is often presented as a left vs. right issue. I am solidly on the right. People on the “right” are called book banners because they have mounted together and started calling for what they/we believe to be indecent material to be removed from tax-payed for public and school libraries.

The left opposes that.

One of the most often used arguments from citizens on the left is: Why don’t you just do your job as parents and you decide what books your kids can read?

I’m a parent. My kids read…a lot. I honestly never could have read everything they read before they read it unless I only allowed them to read books I’ve read over the course of my life. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to spend $150 in books at the Christian bookstore, and have my kids read every book we bought by the end of the weekend.

Both of my older kids read the 900 page Harry Potter book in two days.

I could do that, too, if I did nothing else which is the difference between being a kiddo and being an adult.

I did parent. In fact, I was one of “those” parents. My kids were always the last in their peer groups to get cell phones. We never had cable TV in the house. We had a timer on our internet that turned off at 11 every night.

But we also carved out areas where they could have freedom and autonomy; the ability to discover and think for themselves in places where their safety could be reasonably assumed.

I think the library should be such a place.

And I said so and was denied. The really fascinating thing to me was that after my brilliant presentation (okay…maybe not brilliant, but clearly effort-filled) not one of the nay-voting library board members, nor the librarian, nor the sour faced city attorney (all women) approached me.

None of them.

Never before in any of my public service or public debate moments has this happened. There has ALWAYS–every single time–been someone with a different vantage point come afterwards and say, “Thanks for sharing.”

That is no longer the world we live in.

But I still think that the battle against sexually explicit or vulgar literature freely available to kids is worth fighting.

So I submitted another BOOK RECONSIDERATION REQUEST for the book ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE by George M. Johnson. I included these quotes directly from the book:

“He reached his hand down and pulled out my dick. He quickly went to giving me head.” Page 268: “I remember the condom was blue and flavored like cotton candy. I put some lube on and got him up to his knees, and I began to slide into him from behind. I tried not to force it because I imagined it might be painful; I didn’t want this moment to be painful.”

And:

“There is a fear, as with most things you are doing for the first time. But this was my ass, and I was struggling to imagine someone inside me. And he was…large.”

That’s not what I want my kids grabbing out of the young adult section of the library. That’s actually not what I want my tax dollars paying for.

Make no mistake, I am also the Bible Study teacher who railed against 50 Shades of Grey. I posited then, loudly and clearly, that Christian women were likely the #1 demographic for getting the book on Kindle because they wanted to read it, but they didn’t want anyone to see them reading it. I thought Christian women should not do that, told them so, and watched many squirm in their seats.

I’m a delight.

ANYHOW…the argument that the librarian uses to defend the denials is that the books are in line with the American Library Association.

I think it is a legitimate to ask: Do you believe the public library should strive to be politically neutral and morally decent?

If you voted for Biden, would you want someone who attended the Trump Rally in Washington DC on January 6, 2021, to be the head of the ALA?

The reality is that the American Library Association is an overwhelmingly left-leaning organization. You can go here to see where they make their political donations. The current head of the ALA is Emily Drabinski. She is a contributing writer at Truthout. This is a quote from her:

I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary. I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity! 

— Emily Drabinski (@edrabinski) April 13, 2022

Whether or not you agree with anything or everything, do you believe that is neutrality?

For a person like me, who moved out of California and to East Texas on purpose, the local librarian using the ALA as a defense is neither neutral, nor an honest reflection of the local demographic.

These topics often lead to in-person and online discussions that are HEATED. While I agree with the goals of people on the right, I find myself going toe to toe with them over approach as often as I go at it with people on the left over decency.

Both sides are too vague for me. The shouting matches often lack specific information that might be helpful. Let me fill in some gaps with MY OPINION. I can not read the future through a crystal ball, but I can articulate my fears and explain why I am scared.

I am afraid the next level on the downward slide is to normalize sexual activity between adults and children. Here are some indications I see:

  • The attempt to change the term “pedophile” to “minor attracted person”
  • The use of cartoons (graphic novels) to illustrate graphic sex
  • The increased use of the term “age of consent” and the number of places where that “age” is getting younger

To be transparent about my concerns, I believe there is a current in the stream of the transgender movement whose real goal is the legalization of sex between adults and kids. It is a lateral move to go from “An 8 year old should be able to choose their sex” (gender) to “An 8 year old should be able to choose sex” (have intercourse).

In 15 years, if that ^^^ has not happened, I will weep tears of joy as I happily admit I was wrong.

The book that solidified that fear and breaks my heart more than any other; the one that kept me up at night praying for the kid I am about to quote; the book that presents an idea without any correction or explanation or shouting from the rooftops “I AM SO SORRY THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU” is the book BEYOND MAGENTA.

It is a collection of stories of transitioning/transitioned transgender teenagers. On page 80 it says:

“I was sexually mature. What I mean by sexually mature is that I knew about sex. From six up, I used to kiss other guys in my neighborhood, make out with them, and perform oral sex on them. I liked it. I used to love oral.”

Oh, you precious little six year old…no one knows about that at 6 unless someone has done something terrible to you. You never deserved it. Someone should be in prison. I am so sorry that ever happened to you.

And as tragic as that was for you, those other kids in your neighborhood will now see you as their abuser, because six year olds are not supposed to have those things happen to them by kids or by adults.

I simply cannot understand why we don’t agree on this.

Picture it in your mind: A man is committed to grooming young kids. He’s dressed in a black outfit with a white collar. He takes an 8 year old by the hand, leaves the church and they walk to the local library together. He pulls the book off the shelf and they sit down at the table.

He turns to page 80 and with his finger goes to the part on the page. “I was sexually mature…I [love] oral.”

He puts his hand on the child’s shoulder and says, “Mature at 6? You are 8. They loved it. Do you think maybe you might, too?”

That is why I am a book banner.

We have a mental health crisis in this country. We are never going to be able to address it effectively if we cannot even agree on what is sick.

Or have a reasonable conversation about it.

Which is why I won’t stop trying.

Dear Portland Moms (And, well, Moms everywhere)

Dear Portland Moms (And, well, Moms everywhere)

My kids will undoubtedly need copious amounts of therapy for being my children.

I am hot-tempered, hard-headed, and horrendously lazy.

My intentions are among the best, most complete, and well thought out in the world. My actions…are not yet up to the mark.

Yet, as crazy as I may be, I think that many mothers out there have lost their ever-loving minds.

I started to consider whether or not I was from a different planet after the last Super Bowl halftime show.

Credit to the Chicago Sun-Times from Google Images

Facebook started blowing up with moms–many Christian moms– who thought it was an awesome performance. Somehow, scantily dressed men pawing and looking up the crotch of an extremely provocatively dressed woman was admirable.

The defense seemed to be that it was a wonderful thing because J Lo was “hot”. So, if I understand correctly if she was not, say, attractive, and was just an average mom of three kids without millions of dollars to spend on her looks, the performance would not have been so great?

Apparently, it was not a problem that she was being portrayed as a piece of meat and doing things that fuel both the pornography and prostitution industry on what some believe is the biggest sex trafficking day of the year? Huh.

There were still moms–Christian moms–raving.

“Is this what you want for your daughters?” I asked over and over and over again.

I got no answers.

I think my daughter is prettier than J Lo. This is not what I want for her.

WHAT DO WE WANT FOR OUR KIDS? WHO DO WE WANT OUR KIDS TO BE?

This week Portland, Oregon moms locked arms and took to the streets. My understanding is that they were “protecting” protestors from federal police forces sent to protect federal property.

This is a screen shot from my computer.

Wearing coordinating t-shirts and bike helmets, People magazine declared they were there to protect the demonstrators.

But where were the moms when this took place?

Another screen shot from my computer.

Seriously. What kind of character do we want our kids to have?

I believe in standing up and speaking out.

But I believe it must be effective. And I believe it needs to be for the right things.

Last night someone posted a video taken in the beautiful college town near where I used to live in California. “Protestors” were walking through public places and shouting in unison, “F*&#$^$%k YOUR COMFORT!” over and over and over again.

What on earth does that have to do with anything?

In an attempt to encourage elevated conversations and clarity, and to try to find like-minded people, I am going to put in writing what I believe and want other people to believe with me:

  • Profanity is not the mark of intelligence. I go through seasons of cussing–and they are all seasons peppered with stress and unhappiness. F-Bombed filled rants rarely get compassion from other people. If you want people on your side, use your nice words.
  • It is wrong to destroy other people’s property. I can’t believe this needs to be elaborated on, but it does. “Property can be replaced, people can’t” seems to be the rationale. Do you know what else can’t be replaced? Time. The time invested to build businesses and believe in dreams. Time spent creating art and memories. Time spent trying to get ahead and create financial stability for family…only to have it destroyed by someone who is angry about something someone else did.
  • Blocking the freeway is illegal. It is not a peaceful protest if you block traffic. (**I am going to define a peaceful protest as something someone else has the choice to engage in or avoid.) Blocking traffic doesn’t give people a choice and–in my opinion–makes you a bully. It is also against the law. Even if local police “give permission”, that doesn’t make it legal. Or smart.
  • It’s time we started speaking out about children being hurt. In my former California community, while blocking freeway traffic, someone smashed a car window. There was a 4-year-old in a car seat in that car. Over the 4th of July weekend, an 8-year-old girl was shot in Atlanta. An 8-year-old boy was shot in a mall in Alabama. An 11-year-old was killed in Washington DC. Add Chicago and San Francisco to the cities where kids were killed. All of them were children of color…let’s protest for those beautiful people.

What is it we really want? For weeks and weeks, violence has filled our cities. Police officers were battered and property destroyed, and there has been silence from the parents of the people doing the damage.

But as soon as the federal government decides enough is enough and takes responsibility for protecting federal property, moms hit the street. Ok.

Do I want them to have that choice and that freedom? Absolutely. I completely support the First Amendment Right to do just that.

But is that who you want your children to be?

If the protests were peaceful, would additional law enforcement be necessary?

Are you proud of your kids when they march through cities wishing ill on other people and cussing? What does “F*#$%K YOUR COMFORT” have to do with any righteous changes that may need to take place?

Have we/you, as parents, worked hard to try to provide a good life for yourself and your family? A comfortable life?

My husband and I have. We are not ashamed of that. We do not feel any obligation to martyr ourselves for the popular socialist mantra of the day.

While we have worked (sometimes effectively, sometimes not as much) for a good life, we have also served and given our time and treasure to causes and people we believe in.

Remember those books that filled our shelves when our kids were preschoolers that taught us all about natural and logical consequences? It is a natural and logical consequence that when people seek to damage and destroy federal property, federal law enforcement will step in. “Protecting” your kids from that consequence might not produce the kind of adults you want your kids to be.

It seems to me that “woke” white people are storming through the streets and social media trying to feel righteous and important by shaming those who see things differently. It seems these Portland moms want to shame the federal officers for showing up to do their jobs. Their job is to keep vandalism and destruction from continuing. I think it’s an admirable goal.

If you want me to join your cause, inspire Me. Wouldn’t we want our kids to be inspirational and informed, rather than loud and ignorant? Do we believe the “woke” protestors can define socialism? Name a successful socialist country? Name several signers of the Declaration of Independence? Know what the Magna Carta, Emancipation Proclamation, or Mayflower Compact is?

Really. That is a serious question. Do you believe the vast majority of people wreaking havoc have accurate historic knowledge and can explain the context of decisions made in the past?

How about us, the parents?

Ignorance should not win the day.

It is possible to have compassion for others without feeling shame for myself, my blessings, or even my privilege. (More on privilege another day…) I would go so far as to say, shame never helps anything, but clarity does.

So again I ask, what do we want for our kids’ lives and character? Let’s build on that.

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.

Clothes Are Good

Clothes Are Good

We have lost our minds.

Reality stars and those who became stars as children (to entertain our children) are vibrant, technicolor reminders this culture has lost its way when it comes to all things sex.

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I wish I didn’t have to talk about these things to my kids, but I do. We must. It is out of control.

When it comes to issues of sexuality, my values fall all the way to the “right”…tucked within the pages of Scripture and protected, when all is well, by the bounds of marriage. But even if that is not you, surely we can find some place, somewhere in this discussion to agree. PLEASE?

Junior high aged girls are sending naked pictures of themselves to boys on their phones.

Junior high aged boys are begging them to do it.

Many of us grew up in the culture of “I’ll show you mine if…” The human body is and always will be a source of tremendous ____________________ fascination; pleasure; shame; connection; distance. There is likely no way to navigate this road without bumps and bruises, but for the love all things pure and precious, can we try harder?

Some statistics say the porn industry is a 13 Billion Dollar a year enterprise.  I am sick to my stomach typing those words.

That amount of money means that LOTS of people are buying in. Lots. More than we want to admit. More than we are facing.

I believe there is a direct correlation between the porn industry and the sex trafficking industry. And I believe there is a direct correlation between the sex trafficking industry and underage girls being taken for prostitutes. I won’t connect all the dots here and now, but a deadening of values must take place before this could ever begin to take root. Billions of dollars of annual revenue means it has not only taken root, it is flourishing.

These are our daughters.

It is easy to weep and wail when ISIS comes into villages and removes all girls nine and older, but are we are allowing a silent rapist to come in and sexually abuse our kids? My daughter’s generation grew up watching Hannah Montana, admiring her and the actress who played her, then watched as she gave up all boundaries, all modesty, all purity. Is it any wonder it is hard to find our way?

When a young girl sends her most private images to a boy, a part of her disappears forever. No matter what the banter; I don’t care how many times the lie “it’s no big deal” is repeated; I don’t give a schmidge of credence to the fact that everyone is doing it. It needs to stop.

Girls have always been desperate for attention.

Boys have always been curious.

Moms, we have to start talking. We have to tell our daughters that their bodies are beautiful and private. Sex is a wonderful part of marriage but a painful part of casual, immature relationships. We have to ask if our girls feel pressure to pose, or have given into that pressure before. If they have…we need to love them with abandon. We have to ask them how to help protect them. And we have to be the adults.

If it is not my daughter, it is her friends. I promise someone she knows has done/is doing this because we have lost our minds and our direction. The writer of 50 Shades of Grey is the fastest selling author in history. Would anyone want their son or daughter to be those characters? Seriously, if Christian Grey drove a beat up Pinto and lived in a mobile home, would millions of moms have read that book?

What is readily available on cable tv was a rated R movie just a few decades ago. I flipped through pornography at a hotel just using the remote control. This was HBO–not the “Adult Channels” you can block.

Thanksgiving weekend, while visiting family, I got home late and started looking for something to watch and came across…Pornucopia, Down In The Valley. That is what the TV Guide called it. My 12 year old son was in the next room, with access to that very channel. Lord, help!

I have never regretted not having cable television in my home. 

I am thrilled that some hotels are changing the way they do things. WE ALL NEED TO.

We need to be talking to our sons. It is not just with the male population that demands this, but boys are certainly in the belly of the beast. Tell your boys not to ask girls to send naked pictures of themselves. I don’t care if it is embarrassing. I don’t care if you don’t think your son would do that. Tell them anyway. And tell their friends.

I am starting to wonder if part of the strategy I want to implement in my life is to purposely gather with my kids’ friends’ parents. If our kids see us all talking; if they know we are in this together; if there is less hope of “getting away with it”, perhaps we can make some inroads? I am starting to think that the solution for more and more issues begins with gathering around the table.

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The conversation has to address the fact that for every-day kids, from every-day families, sending images on cell phones (that were once only available in Playboy magazines hidden under the bed) is happening every day.

Silence won’t end it.

Please know I am on your side. I am on our kids’ side. I believe this sexting, pornographic culture is hardening hearts and breeding dissatisfaction.

But let me be clear. If you will come at me with “kids will be kids” or “this is no big deal,” I don’t care about your opinion.

I just don’t. There is not room in my world for it. ITS TIME FOR THE TRUTH TO BE TOLD.

Men and women who purpose to get aroused by images of people they are not married to are addicts. People who pay to have sex are broken. They need healing and help.

Sexual arousal and activity disconnected from (a marriage) relationship disconnects people even more. Lonely desperation is the guaranteed destination that road offers, and our kids are beginning down that path at a time when family, friends, school activities and grades (and getting to know Jesus) should be their main focus.

I don’t pretend to know what the answers are, but this is what I am going to do:

  • I am going to start talking about it. I am going to talk to my daughter, her friends, and youth group leaders. I am going to talk to other parents, and find a group of people who believe we are in this together.
  • I am going to learn. I will start here: http://endsexualexploitation.org because I have to start somewhere.
  • I am going to pray. I will write notes to remind myself. I will pray for pure hearts and clear eyes for my family and friends; for my pastors and teachers.
  • I will try to spend my money where my mouth is. Carl’s Jr. won’t get my business until they change their advertising. I will support Hilton Hotels and tell them why. I will never, ever spend a dime on anything to do with 50 Shades of Grey.

Will you join me? Together, we can do this. We can teach our kids that naked is not the answer and that clothes are good. Keep them on.

Great Moments

I love summer. I love the changing of seasons; not seasons of nature but seasons of life. The coming of summer and the end of school inherently provide a time to regroup.

I often need time to regroup.

Here is the truth of my life: I think I am getting better at it. 

I am not perfect. Obviously. But I am also not a perfectionist, I am a pragmatist. What I am constantly trying to move toward is a life that works. For me that means my calendar matches my priorities. In quantity of time my family comes first, but in priority of time my faith comes first.

This season is working for me because, as it turns out, I love to learn. In church and Bible Study I am in a fruitful season of learning God’s word and how it applies to life. In parenting, my girls are in a fantastic school–on campus a few days a weeks and at home the others. Reagan is completely in charge of her own learning, and Ryan is homeschooled a few days a week.

After four years, I may be getting the hang of it. I actually finished the school year with momentum…and I am excited about the coming year.

It’s crazy, I know. I was actually…organized.

I want to push pause on a moment. In one of our homeschool days this spring, there was a breakthrough.

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This is an activity we have done many, many times. Baking soda, vinegar, water, corn starch and food coloring have provided hours of entertaining engagement. This day we were using it as our fine motor activity. All of the squeezing and pinching making her little hands stronger on our road to learn to write.

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Mostly I sat back and watched, letting her explore and combine.

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The breakthrough came…for the first time, ever, Ryan did not combine all the colors into one big brownish-greyish gloomy mess.

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Obviously she is still a bit messy. ($3 clear shower curtains get a lot of use as craft-table covers in our home.) But she was more careful than I have ever seen her.

This summer we want to continue to strengthen her foundational skills so that we can embrace the curriculum more thoroughly this fall. We intend to read more and exercise more. In August she and I will head to Connecticut to get a thorough evaluation and several sessions with an expert in Oral Motor Placement Therapy. It is our attempt to progress in teaching her to talk.

We are not ready to give up hope.

Meanwhile, we will do all we can do to enjoy this season, these moments, this child.

“And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

Genesis 1:31

This Is Your Moment

Educating my kids is the hardest part of parenting for me.

The truth is that I ended up hating school, as did my son.  And my heart breaks wanting things to be different for my girls.

Three and a half years ago, as my middle was finishing up fifth grade, my hubby and I set out to look at different education options with only one question in mind: Where will she get the most excellent education?

The choice, within that framework, was very easy. That fall our family became part of the San Luis Classical Academy family. It is a hybrid education, where she was in classes with wonderful teachers two days a week, and home schooled the other three. They guided the home days, and we got to add our own stamp to what we learned.

It was the best educational decision we have ever made.

Now she has started high school. And the school is having its very first CIF teams. Ever. It is our first volleyball season as parents, hers as a player and the schools as a team. We love it.

At the game the other day, the senior member of the team started encouraging the girls by saying, “This is your moment.” We were loving it in the stands…every time momentum was going in the wrong direction, she would call it out.

She was right. These really ARE the moments. Life, an abundant life, certainly has grand gestures and big events, but it is the simple of the everyday that really makes things beautiful.

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Right before my eyes, she is changing. It feels like she grows an inch a week, and if I could I would sweep her back to chubby cheeks and endless days right by my side. But I can’t, so I will do what I can to pay attention today…because there is so much to be awed by.

She loves school because she loves to learn. We are watching and rooting her on, as we wipe away the tears when she’s not looking. Seeing my kids grow up breaks my heart with beauty.

We are transfixed. We are grateful. She has read Chaucer and Shakespeare; The Illiad and Beowolf. She has been wrapped in science and loves geometry. She joined the Writers Club. After volleyball she heads downtown to get dinner and then attends youth group at church with her friends.

My heart is overflowing with gratitude that God has blessed this process so abundantly, and I will breathe it in deeply because this moment will be gone all to soon.