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.