Parenting

“Hit it!”

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We ended the Northern California part of our journey in the best possible way: water skiing on Lake Tahoe.

Jar Skiing

Davey grew up skiing on the lake, and 21 years ago he taught me to ski there. Now it was time for the kidlets to learn.

Although the boys gave a valiant effort, and loved rocking the wetsuits, it was The Girl who was the most determined to make it happen.

Chica Ski

And I loved watching her determination.

The persistence, the strong will, the absolute refusal to quit.

It isn’t an easy skill to learn, and it isn’t an easy place to learn, either. The water is so cold, and that feeling of floating there in the enormous lake, shivering, as the boat circles around to once again pass you the rope is not exactly a fun feeling.

But I knew by the look in her eyes that she would not quit.

IMG_0938

And then finally the time came. She was ready.

Her sweet little voice yelled out, “Hit it!”

Davey took off, and she popped up. For two whole seconds, she was skiing.

We all cheered and yelled.

I was so proud of her and happy for her. Not because it was the best ski run ever, and not because I have visions of her being a professional water athlete.

But because she saw what it was like to stick it out, even when it isn’t exactly fun anymore, and have it pay off.

She saw that grit and guts are very, very good things to have. It’s a lesson I hope she  never forgets.

Ever.

As we went back to get her, all three of her brothers were smiling and happy for her, and as we reviewed the highlights of the day, watching their sister get up definitely made the cut.

Brothers Watching

I love this more than they will ever know.

All of our time wasn’t spent on the water. We also visited the Bay Area and Sacramento, taking in all of the sights. Sea Lions, Cable Cars, Boats, and Bridges filled our days.

Throughout this Northern California time we ate great food, drank great coffee, and reconnected with more friends and family. We also met up with wonderful people who had been in our youth group years ago, and got in quality time with two girls who think nothing of spending hours talking with the kidlets and their stuffed animals.

Debbies

All in all, it was awesome.

We are three weeks into the journey. 3900 miles, 65 hours in the car.

And now we head east.

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not About the Phone

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Today I watched a very powerful, artistic, and convicting video on Facebook. It featured a spoken word performance about the negative effect that social media has had on our lives, referring to them as the “unsocial networks” and the “pageantry of vanity” that we can all get sucked into.

And I agree whole-heartedly that too often I miss out on things because I am glued to my phone. That too often I get caught up in presenting a whole lot of frosting without considering the cake.

With my eyes full of tears I decided to set my phone down, unplug from the interwebs, and just be present here in my house, here in my town.

But then the red circle caught my eye.

A little number 1 to let me know that someone had something to say, something to communicate, something I needed to know.

And I postponed my technology fast for just a second to see what was there for me.  What I found made me stop and rethink everything.

Seven words.

Seven little words that have been on my mind all day:

“Thank you, Jane. I love you too.”

You see, today a dear friend of mine was heading to the doctor for some tests. Tests that no woman ever wants to have, the outcome of which would produce unspeakable joy, or unspeakable heartache.

So this morning I wrote a quick note to let her know I was thinking of her and praying for her, and that I loved her.

And she wrote me back.

As I thought about this I thought about the good that comes from social media and through the little text box happy face thing on my phone.

Last night I connected with another dear friend, just a simple chat and way to say, “Hey, you matter. We’re a thousand miles away from each other, but you are still a vital part of our lives.”

Throughout the day I can check in on other friends just to say, “Hey. I’m thinking of you. How about those Giants?”

My kids can connect with those who have helped shaped their lives and who continue to shape their lives, even though we don’t live across the street from each other anymore.

I agree that communicating face to face would be better than in messages, but the geography of our country and the choices we’ve made in life do not permit that at this moment.

So while the issues presented in the video are very real, is the problem with social media? Is the problem with my phone?

No.

The problem is with me.

The problem is when I put my wants, needs, and comfort above the wants, needs, and comfort of others. When I would rather serve myself than connect with those around me.

And this happens with or without my phone, with or without social media.

When I choose Facebook over my children, Facebook isn’t the problem. When I choose television over my children, television isn’t the problem. When I choose a book over my children, the book isn’t the problem.

The problem is me.

When I choose to tune my husband out while I scan Pinterest, Pinterest isn’t the problem. When I choose to read the seedy gossip about celebrities, TMZ isn’t the problem. When I choose to look at Instagram and covet the lives my friends are living, Instagram isn’t the problem.

Again, the problem is me.

The problem is my heart, the constant struggle of Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

But the good news is that I don’t have to face that struggle alone.

As I sat across from another friend tonight, I realized that I need that type of interaction too. I need in-person community. I need to build new relationships.

Sharing our lives over a cup of coffee, eye contact, and the awkward silences as we get to know each other are all very good.

But the goodness of in-person relationships does not mean that the long distance relationships are bad.

And it does not mean that the technology that keeps those long distance relationships going is bad.

It means that I have a choice. I have a choice to do the right thing. I have a choice to use the incredible technology available to me as a way to reach out to people, and let them know that my heart is with them even when I am not.

And I have a choice to resist the negative aspects of technology. I don’t have to visit certain sites. I don’t have to get sucked into petty arguments and meaningless debates.

I have a choice to put down my phone when my husband wants to talk, or my kids want to show me their latest Lego creation.

The choice is mine.

And I’m not alone.

I have a community of friends, both here in my small town and around the world, to help me make the right choices.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24

See you soon.

More Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

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This morning it started.

David’s phone rang at 6:00 AM. (Yeah, um… not an effective marketing technique. Sure, maybe we did want to further our education with your fine establishment, but at 6:00 in the morning I don’t want to further a thing, homeboy. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, once that happened my mind started working overtime:

It’s December 1st! You need to start the countdown today. How are you going to make Christmas memorable for your kids if you spend December 1st in Las Vegas, New Mexico, eating free nachos? I mean, where’s the Baby Jesus in the gooey cheese sauce?

The cheerleaders are competing in State this Saturday! The chants. The baskets! The signs!! The bows!!! Oh, the bows. Do they all have their bows?

I have bills to pay, the house to clean, cookies to bake, presents to buy, and Gilder to frame for it.

In the middle of this epic freakout, a beautiful face came to mind, and I was instantly calmed:

grinch

Before you think that I’ve completely lost it, let me explain. (No, let there is no time. Let me sum up.)

About a year ago I wrote a post about the Noise of Christmas. And in the post I gave myself – and all of you – a wonderful gift.

As the year went by I forgot about this, but thankfully I was reminded this morning. So I want to share it with you, again:

All the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise (Originally posted December 23, 2013)

Today is Christmas Eve Eve. I know that it might seem silly to acknowledge the eve of Christmas Eve, but in our house we have been acknowledging eves since Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve…Eve…Eve.

Eve.

We have been doing a fun advent calendar where every day we do a Christmas activity. We’ve strung popcorn, made snowflakes, had baking days, and the kidlets even took some time to ring the bell at the Salvation Army kettle and hand out candy.

One of the most common activities, though, is family movie night. The reason should be obvious… it’s cheap (thank you, Netflix) and everyone loves it.

Do you know how many interpretations of A Christmas Carol are out there? I wonder what Charles Dickens would have done if someone told him that 170 years after he published his story, cartoon ducks would be learning the same lesson as Ebenezer Scrooge. (The other night my daughter said, “Wow, ducks sure don’t have the Christmas spirit. Donald didn’t. Daffy didn’t. What’s wrong with the ducks?”)

Another one of our favorites is The Grinch. I prefer the live action one, but this is mainly because I have a panic attack every time the cartoon Grinch gets stuck in the chimney. Seriously. My heart starts pounding and I have to look away. I know he’ll get unstuck – he always does – but still. I just can’t take it. What if this time it’s different?

My favorite line in both versions of that movie is when the Grinch is airing his grievances with Christmas and he complains about all the noise (noise, noise, noise).

grinch noise

If I had a complaint about Christmas, that would be mine as well.

All the noise. (Noise, noise, noise.)

Now, I’m a homeschooling mother of four, a youth pastor’s wife, and a former teacher. I am used to noise. Especially Christmas noise. I’m used to the giggles, the squeals, the drums (pa rum pum pum pum), the questions, the toys, and the sound of glass ornaments shattering on the ground.

Those aren’t the noises that bother me.

The noise (noise, noise, noise) that bothers me most is actually noise that no one else can hear. And unfortunately it isn’t just limited to Christmas time.

It’s the noise inside my head, the constant battle I have with myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

“I’m not doing enough for my kids.”

“I’m spoiling my kids.”

“We’re focusing too much on the secular aspects of Christmas.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun.”

“I should do that elf thing.”

“There’s no way I’m doing that creepy elf thing.”

“What is wrong with those moms who put so much effort into that creepy elf thing?”

“I really admire those moms who go the extra mile to give their kids incredible Christmas memories.”

“She looks really pretty today.”

“Why didn’t I wear my nice clothes? I look frumpy next to her.”

“My kids are running all around the church. I’m a terrible mother.”

“I hope someone notices I curled my daughter’s hair. At least I put some effort into getting her ready today.”

“I should bake cookies with the kids.”

“The last thing I need to eat is another cookie.”

And on, and on, and on.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.

So you know what I am giving myself this Christmas? And the gift I want to give to all of you out there who are tired of the noise?

Silence.

Contentment.

Peace.

The realization that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and His works are wonderful.

The knowledge that yes, parenting is hard. Yes, life is hard. But we are not alone. Our God is with us, the Mighty Warrior who saves. And He delights in us, and He sings over us.

Yes, us.

So enjoy the silence, and let it last beyond the Christmas season.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas!

See you soon.

I’m Here…

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This morning David and I woke up with an extra little one in our bed.  Yesterday it was an extra little two.  And you know what? I love it.

Okay, so I don’t necessarily love getting kicked in the ribs all night long or the intense heat that comes from four bodies squished into a bed, but I love the fact that I still have little ones who want to cuddle.

My youngest comes in several nights a week, usually after he has a middle of the night potty trip. And yes, I’ve read the articles about sleep training, and I’ve read the books about developing independence. I’ve also read the articles and books about co-sleeping and the wonders of the family bed.  

Truth? I don’t really care what the experts have to say, especially when my little guy is standing there at 3:00 AM whispering, “Mama! Mama! I’m here.”  I throw back the covers, he climbs in, and it’s a good night.

When he was little he used to come in when he’d have a bad dream, crying and sniffling. I’d comfort him, and he’d fall asleep.

As he got a bit older, he would just come in and whine a bit, saying, “I had a bad dream.”

But then something started to change. He would come running into the room, giggling. I’d look at him and as he would jump into the bed he’d say, “Had a bad dream!”

Now he just skips the excuse and cuts straight to saying one of two things: “Mama! Mama! I’m here,” or my favorite, “Hey, can I get in there?”

This morning as I looked at him sleeping, I was thinking about how he just comes in with confidence now, knowing that he is welcome. He finds comfort and warmth in our bed, and he feels secure.

I also thought about Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We don’t need an excuse to come to the Lord. We don’t need an elaborate plan, ritual, or recitation.

We can simply approach the throne with confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy and grace, and help in our time of need.

“Lord, Lord, I’m here.”

And He welcomes us in, giving us comfort, security, warmth, and whatever we need.

See you soon! 

Back In Our Element

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For the last few months, David and I have both been completely out of our element: We have been coaching sports. Okay, so coaching’s not out of our element… we’ve been coaching for years and we love it. But the strange part of our life right now is what we’ve been coaching.

David’s been coaching track, and I’ve been coaching football and soccer.

Now, David’s an athletic guy, but he never ran track. Ever. He knew nothing about track when the season started. In fact, there were times when he’d leave for practice and I’d go on to the computer and find YouTube videos open about starting blocks, sprinting form, and other track-y stuff.

But the school needed a track coach, so he’s doing it.

While he’s been at the school every day imparting his YouTube wisdom to the youth of the community, I’ve been down at the rec league soccer and football fields, imparting wisdom to the children of the community. Now, I haven’t utilized YouTube, but my PE for Elementary Students textbook from college has come in handy. Very, very handy.

Soccer with the little ones hasn’t been too difficult. I know enough of the basics to handle the 5, 6, and 7 year olds. Yesterday we had a helicopter fly overhead during practice, so that brought us a whole new series of challenges, but we made it.

But moving up just one level, to the 8 and 9 year olds? Oh. Boy.

Yesterday before practice my assistant coach told me his ideas for working with the goalies, complete with several specific and technical descriptions… I just smiled and said, “Great!” and sent him off with my two best goalies.

(Yes, he should be the head coach. I know that, he knows that, and anyone who is around my team for more than 3 seconds knows that. But he runs a restaurant in town and couldn’t commit to being a head coach. So there’s that.)

Anyway, while he went with the goalies and did the soccery stuff, I worked with the rest of the kids. We dribbled, we passed, we ran. Then I told one of my defenders (see, I’m not totally clueless) that she should pass the ball up to her teammate who will then try and score.

The little girl nodded in earnest and said, “Okay, Coach! I will! I’ll make sure he’s not offsides though.”

I just looked at her and nodded, “Okay, (little 8 year old girl), good call.”

Later, in the privacy of my own home, I said to David, “Um, so what does it mean to be offsides in soccer?”

Yeah. I’m that coach.

And football? Thankfully I have a very wise and capable assistant there, too. He and his freshman in high school self has answered many a question, made many helpful suggestions, and graciously hid his laughter.

I mean, I know football. I know the rules, I know the plays and positions, and I do know what offsides means in football… but knowing the sport and knowing how to coach the sport are two totally different things.

Plus – flag football and tackle football are two totally different things.

But the rec league desperately needed coaches, so I’m doing it.

But last night something pretty great happened – David started coaching baseball, and I started coaching cheer.

I left soccer practice and walked up to the high school gym, heading for cheer. David passed me on the way, leaving track and heading for the baseball fields. We high fived as we passed, and we each knew that the other was going, well, home.

I walked into the gym and within 30 seconds I knew where I was. Stunt pods, cinnamon rolls, 5-6-7-8, bows, and toe touches – that’s my language. That I know. I was comfortable, I was happy, I was home.

After practice I walked back to the fields for the end of baseball, and yes, that is home for David and the kidlets, and home for me too. (So I have two homes… work with me here.) Watching the pitching coach, listening to the base running coach, seeing the kids working on their swings, calling for pop flies, and charging the ball and tossing it to first – again, the language of home.

When we got back to the house after our marathon day, David and I couldn’t stop smiling. He with a baseball in his hand, me with the cheer catalogues, finally where we wanted to be.

But you know what? Today there is no baseball, and today there is only a little bit of cheer. But today there is track, and today there is football, and we need to give all that we can give while we are there. The kids deserve our best. And while the sports are different, the underlying lessons we want to instill – sportsmanship, commitment, striving for excellence – are all the same. And that is the reason we got into coaching in the first place.

While we were talking about all of this, I was reminded of the verse that talks about the fact that this world is not our true home.

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Hebrews 13:14

So while we are here, we are out of our element. Sure, we will have glimpses of Home – when we worship, spend time with the Lord, and spend time in fellowship with other believers – but we are not Home yet.

We have work to do here still. We have to go into the world and teach others about the saving grace of Jesus. We have to shine the light into the darkness.

We have to be uncomfortable at times, awkward at times, and yes, even be laughed at at times – but that’s okay. That’s why we are here.

There’s a need, and so we must do it.

And eventually we’ll be Home. We’ll be comfortable. We’ll be at rest.

But until then, let’s give our best. Let’s go where we’re needed, shine the light, and bring others the Hope of one day finally going Home.

See you soon!

Oxygen – Stat

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Last week my friend posted a status on Facebook that really resonated with me. I could paraphrase it, but she has graciously allowed me to copy it word for word, so here it is:

Years ago I went to a really pivotal leadership training event that was preceded by lots of self-testing. I learned about my “oxygen” – the things that make life beautiful to me, the things I have to stop and drink in every once in a while. They are not luxuries, they are necessities – they are the things that keep us sane. My oxygen includes art, poetry, music, and looking at the wide open sky. Growing up, I used to stand on a stump in my backyard and just look at the sky every single night. I didn’t know why I did it, but now I get it. What is your oxygen? I know you love your family, but this question is about OTHER stuff. Please don’t say your family. We all love our families. Maybe nature, or canoeing, or cooking or ???

That night I thought about it a lot, trying to determine what my “oxygen” was.   I had actually been feeling like I was missing something, that I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, reacting to situations as I normally would, or even interacting with people the way I wanted to. Kind of like how a person would feel if they weren’t getting enough literal oxygen.

I feel asleep without coming to any real conclusion.

The next day was an absolutely beautiful day. It was warm, there was not a cloud in the sky, and there was no wind. (The no wind is a huge thing where we live, because sometimes the wind is so intense that it shakes the whole house and makes it feel like we’re having an earthquake.)  Anyway, that day I was outside all day. I played with the kidlets, went for bike rides, walks, and just sat outside reading.

That day we also had a very long Skype conversation with two of our dear friends. (I won’t say how long because you will judge me. I judge me. But let’s just say my daughter read several books over Skype, all four kidlets showed off their bike riding skills, several parts of the movie Frozen were acted out, and we watched Giants Baseball together.)

After that I felt back to normal.

Now, you would think that I would have realized immediately what had happened, recognized that I had received a healthy dose of much-needed “oxygen”.

Nope. I’m not that quick. I just knew that I was happy. I was back to me. I was much more productive and things just sailed along.

But two days later, it finally hit me. So I told David that I found my oxygen, I needed more of it, and he needed to read my friend’s post about oxygen.  Now, we live at 7500 feet above sea level, so it is very understandable that he thought I meant real oxygen. And that he was a little confused when he first started reading the post. And also confused about why I said I’d found my oxygen.

But now he gets it.

And so do I.

From now on I am going to make it a priority to truly connect with those who know and love me and my family, and who are willing to sit and listen to “Let It Go” being sung by every stuffed animal in the house. That kind of friendship is rare, and I treasure it.

I am also going to make more of an effort to get outside. I don’t just want to be there, I need to be there. My kids need me to be there. David needs me to be there. Okay, fine. Everyone needs me to be there.

So what’s your oxygen?

While you think that through, I’ll be outside.

See you soon.

No One Told Me…

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When I had my first child, everyone told me to enjoy it because it goes too fast.  So I did. And it did.

Everyone told me to write down the cute stuff he said, to take as many pictures as I could, and to cherish the handprints on the windows because before I knew what was happening they would be gone.

And so I did.

And then I had three more, and I cherished that time with all three of the other kidlets too. In fact, with my youngest, I knew just how fast the baby months flew by, so one day I did absolutely nothing but hold him. All day long. From 6 AM to after 11 PM he was in my arms.

That was a good day.

But just this week something happened that no one warned me about.

My oldest, Jeremy, just turned 12. And I know you may be thinking, “Ah, yes. The middle school years.”

But that’s not it. I’m totally familiar with the middle school years. And I love them. It’s a bit odd to have them under my roof 24/7, but I love them just the same.

And I had more than my share of warnings about the middle school years.

But what I wasn’t prepared for happened last  Monday. I am coaching soccer for my youngest two, and I needed an assistant. I asked Jeremy if he’d be willing to help, and he said sure.

So on Monday I was out at the field, and I sent half of my little players over to work on kicking goals with Coach Jeremy.

I looked over there, and I was completely caught off guard.

Here this kid – my son – my heart – was leading a group of little kids and doing a great job. He was encouraging them, instructing them, and keeping them fully engaged.

Jeremy has grown up with pre-teens and teens who have poured their lives into him… and now he is doing the same for others.

The feeling when this all hit me – that’s what no one warned me about.

Never once in these past twelve years did anyone ever say, “Oh, and one day you’ll look at your child and see it all clicking. You’ll see him giving back to others, taking on responsibility, and doing an amazing job. And you’ll feel so proud of him, so encouraged, and so thankful for everyone who has helped shape him into who he is.” 

And so our family is entering into a new stage. My youngest is about to be a 1st grader, and my oldest is a regular at our youth group, rocking the Algebra, and asking the tough questions. 

And it’s different. And the time went too fast.

But this stage? It’s pretty awesome. And I plan on cherishing it.

See you soon. 

It’s Tougher than It Seems

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Yesterday I was at the dentist with my two younger ones, and I had something happen that has never happened before. The dental assistant was asking the kidlets what grade they were in and where they go to school, and they answered that they were homeschooled.

She looked at me and said, “Wow. You homeschool two at once?”

I told her that it was actually four. She just nodded and was quiet for a while. Then she asked the question that completely surprised me: “Homeschooling is probably tougher than it seems, huh?”

Yeah… that’s not the usual reaction that I get.

I just laughed a bit and then said, “It can be.”

But I absolutely loved her honesty. She had some idea of what she thought homeschooling looked like but then realized that maybe there was more to it than she thought.

And – just keeping it real here – sometimes homeschooling is really easy. I don’t have to rush to beat a clock in the morning; clothes don’t have to match; we have a whole lot of freedom; and parent-teacher conferences are ridiculously simple.

But yes, sometimes it is tougher than it seems.

I loved her whole attitude though, and I think it is one that we all should try and have.

(Okay– keeping it real again – this is mostly an issue for women. I mean men don’t seem to be as snarky or just strange about this type of thing as women are. They have their own issues, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them – usually.)

Anyway, how about looking at other women and instead of judging their life choices and thinking they took the “easy way out”, figuring that their choice in life is probably tougher than it seems. 

Choosing to be single? Tougher than it seems. 

Choosing to get married? Tougher than it seems.

No children? Ten children? Adopting? Foster kids? Four-legged children? Tougher than it seems. 

Working full time? Tougher than it seems. 

Stay at home mom? Tougher than it seems. 

Working part time? Work at home mom? Tougher than it seems.

Strong marriage? Struggling marriage? Divorce? Tougher than it seems. 

Pregnancy? Tougher than it seems. 

Pregnancy loss? Tougher than it seems. 

Difficulty conceiving? Tougher than it seems. 

All organic cooking? Fast food every night? Personal chef? Tougher than it seems. 

Homeschooling? Tougher than it seems.

Public schooling? Tougher than it seems. 

Unschooling? Tougher than it seems. 

Strict parent? Permissive parent? Tougher than it seems.

Let’s treat other women with compassion, rather than judgment. Let’s know that beyond what we see on the surface are hidden struggles, thoughts, worries, and doubts that we don’t even know.

Let’s realize that if someone is making choices that make no sense to us, there is most likely a lot going on behind those choices that we don’t understand. And it isn’t our place to say how they should live, unless they have specifically asked us for advice.

But even then, let’s have compassion and be gentle. 

And just so you know – I am not good at this.

Just yesterday, after seeing how great it is to be given the benefit of the doubt, I was snarky about other moms and their choices. 

And for that I am sorry. 

But you know what? This whole being gracious, loving, and supportive thing? It is tougher than it seems. 

But I’ll keep trying. 

See you soon.

A Tale of Two Friends

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I have a very diverse group of friends, both “real friends” and “Facebook friends”, as my son likes to refer to them. (One time I mentioned that I have friends who live in Africa. He asked, “Real friends, or Facebook friends?” I could go on about the distinction between the two, but I won’t. Plenty of other blog posts and inspirational pictures with pretty fonts have tackled the subject.)

Today I want to talk about two of my friends who are very, very different. I’ll call them Hippie and Fox News Anchor (FNA). In case their names don’t make it clear, Hippie is, well, a hippie, and FNA makes Sarah Palin seem liberal.

But they are both my friends, and they are both awesome.

The other day FNA posted a link to an article about parenting. I read it and the first thing I thought was, “Wow. There’s some good stuff here, but it would make Hippie’s brain explode.”

I thought about sending it to her just to get a reaction, but the admonition to live at peace with everyone as long as it depends on me has been echoing in my thoughts lately, so I didn’t. It might amuse me to get her riled up, but it definitely would not promote peace.

The next day, Hippie posted a link to an article about parenting. I read it, and the first thing I thought was, “Wow. There’s some good stuff here, but it would make FNA’s brain explode.”

This time I wasn’t even tempted to send it on. (Look at me – growing up.)

What struck me though was that as different as these two ladies may be, and as polar opposite as the articles were, both of my friends have the same desire: To do the very best for their precious children.  And they have a few other things in common as well – They both love Jesus, they both love their husbands, and they both encourage and inspire me.

Sometimes I am much more hippie than Fox News (don’t tell my dad), and other times I am closer to Fox News than people might think (don’t tell Jon Stewart). But it’s funny to me how people see a sliver of my life and automatically assume they know where I stand on every issue.

  • You homeschool, so you must believe… (Nope.)
  • You don’t spank your children, you so obviously feel… (Wrong.)
  • You’re a pastor’s wife, so this must speak to your very soul… (Gag.)
  • You avoid processed foods, so please join me in my crusade to… (No.)
  • You like rap music, so you must hate children… (What?)

But as amusing – and obnoxious – as this can be, I realize that I do the same thing. If I agree with someone, then I’m all sunshine and flowers, believing that what they said came from the truest and purest of motives. If I don’t agree with someone, then they are clearly misguided and really need to get their priorities in order.

Really Jane? Don’t be a jerk. Come on.

So that’s my challenge to myself – to treat others the way I want to be treated. To try to live at peace with people. And to realize that just because someone has a different point of view than I have, it doesn’t mean that they hate puppies.

Anyone else up for the challenge?

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

See you soon.

All the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise…

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Today is Christmas Eve Eve. I know that it might seem silly to acknowledge the eve of Christmas Eve, but in our house we have been acknowledging eves since Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve…Eve…Eve.

Eve.

We have been doing a fun advent calendar where every day we do a Christmas activity. We’ve strung popcorn, made snowflakes, had baking days, and the kidlets even took some time to ring the bell at the Salvation Army kettle and hand out candy.

One of the most common activities, though, is family movie night. The reason should be obvious… it’s cheap (thank you, Netflix) and everyone loves it.

Do you know how many interpretations of A Christmas Carol are out there? I wonder what Charles Dickens would have done if someone told him that 170 years after he published his story, cartoon ducks would be learning the same lesson as Ebenezer Scrooge. (The other night my daughter said, “Wow, ducks sure don’t have the Christmas spirit. Donald didn’t. Daffy didn’t. What’s wrong with the ducks?”)

Another one of our favorites is The Grinch. I prefer the live action one, but this is mainly because I have a panic attack every time the cartoon Grinch gets stuck in the chimney. Seriously. My heart starts pounding and I have to look away. I know he’ll get unstuck – he always does – but still. I just can’t take it. What if this time it’s different?

My favorite line in both versions of that movie is when the Grinch is airing his grievances with Christmas and he complains about all the noise (noise, noise, noise).

Noise

If I had a complaint about Christmas, that would be mine as well.

All the noise. (Noise, noise, noise.)

Now, I’m a homeschooling mother of four, a youth pastor’s wife, and a former teacher. I am used to noise. Especially Christmas noise. I’m used to the giggles, the squeals, the drums (pa rum pum pum pum), the questions, the toys, and the sound of glass ornaments shattering on the ground.

Those aren’t the noises that bother me.

The noise (noise, noise, noise) that bothers me most is actually noise that no one else can hear. And unfortunately it isn’t just limited to Christmas time.

It’s the noise inside my head, the constant battle I have with myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

“I’m not doing enough for my kids.”

“I’m spoiling my kids.”

“We’re focusing too much on the secular aspects of Christmas.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun.”

“I should do that elf thing.”

“There’s no way I’m doing that creepy elf thing.”

“What is wrong with those moms who put so much effort into that creepy elf thing?”

“I really admire those moms who go the extra mile to give their kids incredible Christmas memories.”

“She looks really pretty today.”

“Why didn’t I wear my nice clothes? I look frumpy next to her.”

“My kids are running all around the church. I’m a terrible mother.”

“I hope someone notices I curled my daughter’s hair. At least I put some effort into getting her ready today.”

“I should bake cookies with the kids.”

“The last thing I need to eat is another cookie.”

And on, and on, and on.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.

So you know what I am giving myself this Christmas? And the gift I want to give to all of you out there who are tired of the noise?

Silence.

Contentment.

Peace.

The realization that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and His works are wonderful.

The knowledge that yes, parenting is hard. Yes, life is hard. But we are not alone. Our God is with us, the Mighty Warrior who saves. And He delights in us, and He sings over us.

Yes, us.

So enjoy the silence, and let it last beyond the Christmas season.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas!

See you soon.