parenting

Generation X Parents Aren't Latchkey Kids Anymore

So many of us Generation Xers are raising Generation Z kids.  Our oldest is heading off to college next year. Yeah, time does fly and it's crazy how much there is to do their Senior year - and expensive it all is!

Why is it that, as parents, it seems that we have this clock attached to us, especially around this season of life when our kids are getting ready to head off to college?

The questions begin to flood our minds:

Did we raise them right?

Do they know the difference between right and wrong?

Can they make their bed, wash their clothes, or clean a toilet?

These are just some questions I know a few of you ask yourself.

If you were born between 1966 and 1976, you are part of the Generation X generation, in which our parents were less focused on us and more focused on being an adult. Heck, I can remember being dropped off at Grandma’s house as my parents went to Las Vegas every other weekend.

Latchkey Kids

We were “latchkey” kids. Kids whose parents worked and didn’t come home until 5 or 6 at night, meaning we were left at home alone for 3 to 4 hours a day. God-forbid we sat and watched MTV during those hours.

We were known (and still are today) as the hardest working generation since World War II.  And now, we wonder why our own high school kids don’t have jobs because we tell them every day how “I got at job as soon as I turned 16.”

Divorce

Generation X has the highest divorce rate. There are tons of reasons as to why, but growing up in the 70’s only 9 states allowed joint custody.  Seems like our parents knew how to work things out, but we have forgotten how to do that and instead tell ourselves “for the sake of the children.”

So, now, I get to the reason these questions are drawing my attention. The previous Generation Y is being told they are lazy and have no work ethic.  Generation X started the “self-employment” movement therefore, maybe, became narcissistic along the way.  Generation X took God out of schools and Generation Y may put it back, but are not quite sure if they want to do the work it would take to do it.  Generation X wants the Heisman Trophy and Generation Y wants to give a trophy to everyone. But, Generation Y is the most tech-savvy and marketed to.  They know a sales pitch and have heard every reason as why they should “buy now.”  They are looking for a mission, validity, and a purpose for why they are here on this earth.

But, us Generation Xers are raising a group of kids that are part of a new Generation -  Z’s or iGen.  There is something amazing about that. Z to me is final, finished.  I mean, it’s the last letter of the alphabet. There is just something that says “we have crossed the finish line”.

Make a Difference

Parents, now is the time to instill some incredible things into our children. It’s not too late. Compassion, love, hope, a good work ethic, or that nothing comes freely unless you work for it. Teach them how to forgive, how to offer grace, and how to see the light at the end of the tunnel and what it really means.  Teach them disappointment. Teach them how to encourage one another, how to not just love Christ, but to have a relationship with Him.  Teach them to never have regrets but only to learn from them.  Teach them to trust Him more and themselves less.  Teach them to find the good in others. Teach them how to put money away for that rainy day.  Teach your sons how to change the oil in their cars and your daughters to change a tire.  Teach her to laugh more with them instead of at them.  Teach him how to open doors and respect his parents.

Let’s take what we’ve learned and use it.  Remember those times when our parents weren’t around as much. Let’s be around for our kids.

For some, you are on your second or third marriage.  Let’s take today as the first day until forever to give our kids the example they need for a lasting marriage of their own.

Raising kids is one the toughest but one of the most rewarding things you will face in life.  Questions of 'did we do everything we could while they were under our roof?' will always arise, I am convinced. And you know what, that is ok.

It's time to be present, to be purposeful, to be loving as we get ready to cross our finish lines.

Interview with Joanne Kraft

My guest today is a woman who knows what she’s talking about when it comes to mean moms. Joanne Kraft is a phenomenal writer and speaker – but she didn’t get there overnight.  She is a mom of four incredible kids and has spent most of her time learning from them on how to be a mean mom.

She is the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her recent book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.

I can’t wait for you to hear the wisdom Joanne has brought with her today. Let’s do it!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • What a mean-mom looks like.
  • Your child’s independence.
  • How to teach your kids to lean on the Lord.
  • The legacy you want to leave
  • The role dad plays
  • How to rock your husband’s world.
  • How to deal with regret.
  • Why God gives us our children specifically to us.
  • How to forgive ourselves.

PERSPECTIVE

For the mom who wants to throw in the towel.

Joanne shares a story she has never told anyone before.

WEBSITE LINKS

www.joannekraft.com This is Joanne’s website where you will find links to her books, articles, and inspiration.

On Facebook

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

James 1:2-5 “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with disciplining your child? Why/why not?  Do you carry guilt with you for long periods after the discipline was given days, weeks, months ago? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Interview with Lisa Whittle

One minute you are watching your toddler walking and the next, they are teenagers.  Some say its overwhelming and some think it’s the best part of being a mom.  It’s all a matter of perspective. My friend, Lisa Whittle and I talk about parenting our 7 teenagers and share with you our experience.  We talk about the highs and lows, the good and the ugly not just from our kids, but within ourselves.

Lisa is an incredible author and an amazing speaker. When you first hear her you know she is a natural leader and bold thinker. Her refreshing, bottom-line approach appeals to audiences across the nation as she points them to a passionate pursuit of God.

Don’t miss her latest book, I Want God.

Hearing our conversation, I think, will leave you encouraged and inspired to continue being the mom that God has called you to be.

You will not be disappointed!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • The three hardest things with raising teenagers
  • Knowing your kids weaknesses and helping them to build it as a strength
  • Lisa’s light bulb moments
  • Four things you need within yourself while you are raising teenagers
  • How standards are important
  • What you need to have when parenting gets intense

PERSPECTIVE

What to do when you want to throw in the towel and feel like you are not “doing this” right.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

Lisa’s Website

Book: I Want God

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Romans 5:5  “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

"Have a stubborn resolve to parent until the end" - Lisa Whittle

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with keeping a balanced life? Share with us what changes you might make after hearing Linda. I’d love to hear your perspective on ministry, marriage, and family.

Making Lanterns

Guest Post from Mary Kelso I stepped outside the church on a Monday afternoon after getting some papers signed for my kids to go to church camp.  We were under the awning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could run to the car.  A woman was standing there; she had attended a funeral in the building earlier in the day and was trying her best to hide the cigarette in her hand so my boys wouldn’t see her.  I said hello and she immediately explained how bad she felt smoking… at a church… in front of kids… “I’m just so ashamed.”

We talked for a little while, and though I wasn’t concerned about her hiding her cigarette, I was grateful to her for caring what my kids saw.

That doesn’t happen very often.

I am never so tempted to go all “mama bear” on people, as when I see them blatantly and carelessly displaying their filth in front of my kids.  Bumper stickers with obscene profanity, t-shirts with course jokes and gestures, commercials with unsavory and distasteful messages, angry outbursts or frustrated diatribes of strangers in a store littered with words no one should have to hear, let alone kids.  Yet, somehow the shame that the woman with the cigarette was feeling, is nowhere.  I feel angry and helpless at times.

I think I’m not alone.

lanterns
You know what makes me feel better?  Letting my kids know that God loves those people. Teaching my kids that they should pray for the angry girl in the beat up car with the “anti-Christian” bumper sticker, does more for my soul than putting a bigger “fish sticker” on my own vehicle.  It really does.

See this world isn’t getting any healthier to live in.  Even in the sweetest, quietest, towns there are people full of darkness, there always has been, but when I was a kid, more people were ashamed of the darkness, and tried to hide it.  Today we live in a world where darkness is called light and light is more and more considered the bully on the playground.  My kids are growing up in that world and as a parent, it’s my job to give them the right eyes to see with.

I can’t hide them from it, but I can prepare them for it.  I sent them to private school for a while, not because I was shielding them from the world, but because I was filling them with the Word.  I plan to homeschool them this fall, not because I’m hiding, but because private school is expensive and my best subject is their best offense in a world against truth.  The Word.  Prayer.  It’s what we will study first every day.

I have no intention of keeping my kids from being exposed to the darkness; it’s the darkness that should be hiding from what we are producing in our home.  We are making light.  The light is a sign of welcome, of comfort, of escape from the unknown.  I’m making lanterns, not molding hermits.  I am flavoring their character with salt, and brightening their countenance with truth.  I’m not educating them on how the darkness works, because when the true Light comes, it has to flee anyway.

Yes, they will have to navigate some dark paths, among mean spirited people, but they won’t have to fight the people, their battle, and mine, is not in shushing the people.  I have to put my “mama bear” away, silence my roar, and let the Light speak for Himself.  I don’t want to silence the people, I want to shut out the darkness and bring the people into the Light.

I can’t teach my children to be followers of Christ and leaders of men, by out-shouting the opposing view.  I must out-shine it.

My boys love Jesus, that’s the start.  They recognize right and wrong, that’s a step.  They must be FULL of the gospel, FULL of the Holy Spirit, FULL of the Light of Christ, and then they will be able to stand at the edge of a hurting world and with confidence speak the words of welcome to those who desire to come out of the darkness.

The advantage of a world in darkness is the obvious presence of the Light.

I do not have to arm them with arguments, I simply hand them the Word.

I do not have to shield them with law and judgment, I simply educate them with grace.

I do not have to mark them with slogans and symbols, I simply fill them with Light.

We truly do not wrestle with flesh and blood, that’s an unfair battle because we are using a sword on someone who is already broken and bleeding.  We must focus our battle on the darkness that imprisons them.

My kids need my example, more than they need my “mama bear” façade.  They need to see that I am afraid of nothing, and that every darkness is under my feet.  They need to see that I am not leading them from my opinion of right and wrong, but I am completely reliant on the Word made flesh, the Light of Life.

We are encountering a vicious enemy, but that enemy fights in chains and a leash.  Our Lord told us that we would face tribulation, but that He has already overcome the world. The darkness is simply hiding that from those who have not met Christ.  I refuse to hide my children.  I am preparing them to speak the truth, live Christ’s love to all those they meet and speak His truth fearlessly to all the world.

Making Memories

Guest post from Jennifer Deshler. I was planning to write a post about Proverbs 14:1 today.  But I’m not feeling much like a wise woman at the moment. Parenting is hard, ya’ll. #justkeepingitreal

Knowing I’m not the only mama who probably needs to shake it off today instead of reading about how to build the perfect home, let’s talk about having FUN.

memories

I didn’t grow up in a fun home—it was loud, but not a fun kind of loud. In my early elementary years, I remember daydreaming about things I’d do with my kids when I was a parent. Experiences that would tell my little ones I loved them in fun ways.

Have you noticed that humor and levity are often traits we most enjoy in our friends? When we think about the people we want to spend time with, it’s the ones who are easy to get along with. They smile, they laugh, and they have adventurous spirits.

Often we have to fight to make space for fun in our homes.  We’re nursing babies, changing dirty diapers, separating siblings when they fight, navigating the choppy waters of teen hormones, and being a rock when hearts get broken. And there are lunches to pack and dinners to make, laundry to wash, and stories to be read. My muscles tense just thinking about it all.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength- Nehemiah 8:10

Our kids won’t remember the dishes or the laundry or the errands we run. But they will remember that we made them laugh. They’ll hold tight to every late night Dairy Queen run and each spontaneous game of Go Fish, and those after-dinner contests to catch the most fireflies. Because, no doubt, in every one of those memories, we’re smiling. And more concerned with creating a special moment than cleaning the house.

A happy heart is like good medicine. But a broken spirit drains your strength. Prov. 17:22

The best part about making space for laughter and joy in our homes? We all reap the benefits. There’s less tension. We’re willing to offer more grace to each other. And those giggles and smiles raise our serotonin levels (how awesome is God that He created a chemical reaction inside us that makes us feel better when we smile?!) Fun offsets the hard work of parenting.

If you’re having a tough time with motherhood, just leave the dishes and ignore the to-do list, and go have some fun with your family. Listen for deep, happy belly laughs from your kids—tuck those away for the tough days. Pause at a stoplight and cherish the fact that every kid in the car is asleep after long hours of playing together. Let your family see the silly side of you, and remind yourself she’s still in there.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for making fun memories:

Having a hooky day from school for no reason. Eating ice cream for dinner. Announcing surprise vacations upon arrival at the airport. Using an accent at the grocery store to see how people react when they walk by.

What about you? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Interview with Amy Carroll

I am excited for you to meet Amy Carroll.  First meeting her you knew she was amazing gal.  Her smile is contagious and her passion for women is honest and true. Amy Carroll is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries’, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services.  She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund.  You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Today, we talk about what the world says versus what God says motherhood is to look like.  How many of us are just exhausted pursuing perfection? We talk a little about that too.

**You don’t want to miss the incredible offer that Amy gives to all our listeners at the end of the message!!

So grab a cup a coffee, your favorite chair and lean into this encouraging word from Amy!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Her brand new book – Breaking Up with Perfect
  • Lessons learned from failures
  • The world vs. God about motherhood
  • God created us to reflect His image
  • Living in God’s image
  • Pursuing perfection is exhausting
  • Seeking a mentor mom
  • Where are you turning?

PERSPECTIVE

We have a creative God that loves diversity - Amy Carroll

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Next Step Speaker Services

Breaking Up with Perfect book

Amy Carroll website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Psalm 18:32 “the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

Interview with Linda Seidler

I love this woman and I am so excited for you to meet her.  We are one of those friends that met over social media. In 2013, we finally met in real life over Thai here in Nashville.

My beautiful friend, Linda Seidler, will be giving her perspective  about ministry, raising “PK’s”, and marriage. I promise you will love her and her heart. When you are ever in Ohio, make a stop at the Experience Church, where her and her husband, Tim, are Senior Pastors.

She is passionate about seeing people become followers of Jesus and to rise up strong and make a difference in this world.   Linda uses her voice to speak encouragement and confidence into people’s lives by using biblical truths and inspires them to be strong and capable of becoming all that they can be.

Linda is a catalyst for inner change and a champion of today’s women and has spent the last decade energizing women to be confident in who they are and equipping them to lead and serve from wherever they are. She is a messenger of encouragement and hope and helps others emerge and believe that anything is possible.

I can’t wait for you to hear her love for women in ministry. I promise you will not be disappointed!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Four core family values
  • How to make your kids open up to you.
  • How to balance the kids schedule, church, ministry, extra-curricular activities, etc.
  • How to teach your kids to keep their commitments.
  • The price we pay in ministry
  • How to keep mom and dad time a priority
  • Recognize when you have a marriage breakdown
  • How to resolve conflict in marriage
  • Using prayer and scripture to give you strength to get you through

PERSPECTIVE

Three things you can do when you feel overwhelmed in ministry.

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Game – Highs and Lows

Leading & Loving It – For pastors’ wives and women in ministry

Senior Pastor with her husband Tim at The Experience Church

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Philippians 4:13  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

[clickToTweet tweet="If the enemy can't defeat us, he will distract us. - Linda Seidler" quote="If the enemy can't defeat us, he will distract us. - Linda Seidler"]

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with keeping a balanced life? Share with us what changes you might make after hearing Linda. I’d love to hear your perspective on ministry, marriage, and family.

His Masterpiece

The other day I received a text message from one of my best friends. Her oldest graduated from high school and over the summer will be getting ready to move to Chattanooga where her daughter will attend college. I texted her back how excited I was, but I knew deep down she was sad to see her go. Then my cell phone rang.

No more texting. We needed our voices. We cried together and I made her promise that she would walk this very same road with me too, very soon.

It’s moments like these that you remember everything is for a season.

Continue reading at Perspectives: The Mom Experience - His Masterpiece

Join The Launch Of Perspectives : The Mom Experience

Launch website
In April, I did some video interviews with 8 of my closest friends.  I had the idea of recording conversations with them as we talked about being a mom. Interviews of  a friend that just recently adopted, a friend that is in the midst of raising teenagers, a friend that is a pastor of a church, alongside her husband, and raising some incredible “PK’s”, and the list goes on.  The idea was to each day bring an interview on this website leading into Mother’s Day.  But, how many know God’s ideas are always bigger. On June 15, we will launch something that has been dear to my heart. As I have traveled to speak in different parts of the country, I have heard countless stories from mothers. Stories of tragedies and triumphs, stories of faith and perseverance either in a situation raising their toddler or of a circumstance they had no control over.

Hearing these stories changed my outlook. It changed the way I think, at times. It gave me a new perspective.

Just recently, a large church produced a video. They asked the question to several moms, “Describe yourself as a mother.” On screen, one by one, they said words like – perfectionist, doubts about my ability, struggle with my temper, I wish I knew how to, I wish I was more confident, and I want them to know how much I love them.

They asked the moms to come back, sit down and see what their kids had to say about them. With tears down these mothers’ eyes, they heard - my mom is - totally awesome, she’s fun to snuggle with, she’s pretty, funny, unique, and that’s why I love her so much. Words like she’s my heart because she’s the closest to me and my mommy’s my hero.

Perspectives will be a place that allows you to see things differently and the ability to learn from each other as we listen to what others have experienced.

Friends, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Through story, my hope is we can give you a place that shapes your own perspective.  Sometimes the perspective we have over our own situation looks differently when we hear another’s perspective.

Either through a video interview, a podcast, or a blog post, you will hear story after story from real moms about a real God that makes Himself known in all of it.

Perspectives will be a place where stories will dare you to take the next step. Ever thought about adoption, but never knew the faith it entails? Maybe you’re raising teenagers and feel like everything the world says about them scares you or maybe you’re a brand new mom and doubt yourself.

But, what if there was a place where you could go that you could hear from other moms, real moms, which changed all that? A place where your everyday mom had fought a fight yet finished her race. What if real moms, with real stories came and shared what God did in their family, their finances, their whatever, yet you got excited and it grew your Faith in Christ because you left without a shadow of doubt knowing He could do it for you too.

This is the goal for Perspectives: The Mom Experience.

That you would leave differently than the mother you were before.  That you will feel dependent on Christ instead of yourself, because you have a confidence in Him.

The excitement is building because we want to bring you amazing stories of real moms – whether they are wives, professionals, celebrities, and everyday people – who have had life-changing encounters with God.

This is what Perspectives: The Mom Experience will be and it launches on June 15.

Sign up to be a part and get a sneak peek video interview featuring Lisa Whittle and be the first to know details about the launch.

We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story. – Shauna Niequist

[clickToTweet tweet="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview from our experience raising teenagers." quote="Join the launch and receive a sneak peak video interview with our experience raising teenagers."]

How Parenting Is Like High School

I distinctly remember the first time I realized that parenting was a competition. It was in the Mothers of Multiples group. The twins were three months old, one boy and one girl, cute and precious at the very sight of them, and she was just at the beginning of the “rolling over” phase.  All of us mom’s in the same room overjoyed with the opportunity to have multiples, well some of us anyway. There was one particular mom, you know the one, that was pleasantly put all together. Looking as though the word stress or fear was never in her vocabulary. She proudly announced, “Victoria is already walking!”

How Parenting Is Like High School
Sure enough, Victoria stood up, balancing her wobbly feet, standing straight as though to say to the loser-babies who were only rolling over…or still “thinking” about it, I am superior.

Victoria’s mom gladly shared that she was way over the charts for motor skills. That she danced to anything that talked about Jesus. Learning colors were going to be the next thing she teaches her. The pediatrician had noted that she was very advanced for her age and to expect more accomplishments like this before others.

I looked at my twins, who were laying there on the carpet like a, well, baby, and knew we had some work to do. Just wait until I come back next month, not only one, but both, will be rolling over. THEN we’ll see who’s advanced! Let’s do this - as Rocky music played in the background of my head.

The Beginning Of Comparison

In my MOPS group, I found that Pampers wasn't the popular choice, but indeed Huggies had you in the cool kids group. Mothers discussed which strollers were best, which car seats were the safest, and why they decided to go ahead and purchase a van instead of a sedan. They vacation a lot better.

By elementary school, I figured out that the cool moms were the same girls who were cool in high school. DANG IT! They pulled off the "Humble Brag" beautifully: "Shelby hardly had time to finish her science project because we spent Spring Break in Florida." Their kids came by cool naturally: they inherited it.

I didn't fit in with the Smart Moms who were hell-bent on collecting every possible achievement certificate known to man....for their kids, I mean. No, mine were the one’s that received awards for ART and PE. Colleges look at that kind of stuff, so it's important to start early, in case we have a Picasso or a Joe Namuth in the making.

On and on. Ignorantly comparing, competing and trying to fit in. Trying to out-do.

Just like high school. Only now we've added our kids' achievements into the competition.

Of course, no one can ever measure up to the others. No matter how "perfect" your kid is, there is always someone's kid with a higher GPA, someone who skips JV and makes Varsity, someone who models part-time for Nordstrom, someone who wins the cooking contest, someone who signed a full-ride academic or athletic scholarship....and sometimes we cave in to the pressure of adding more activities and pressure on ourselves (and kids) just to try and keep up. We don't want to be left behind having to catch up.

Let’s stop “one-upping” and start enjoying.

I've found that when I don't worry about the Victoria’s of this world, walking a full two months ahead of the 95 percentiles, I can celebrate in my baby rolling over whenever she wanted to. When I stop comparing myself to my kids’ school moms and their kids' amazing achievements, I can relax and enjoy where I'm at - today - with my kids and their achievements within themselves. Acknowledging with them that Middle and High School are rough anyway.

Am I the only crazy one?

[clickToTweet tweet="We tell our kids not to compare themselves to their peers. Yet, we do it our self." quote="We tell our kids not to compare themselves to their peers. Yet, we do it our self."]

We tell them to be their own person and to do things their own way. The way they've learned or to practice what's been preached.

comparison parenting
Maybe we should do the same for ourselves.

Stop comparing our parenting styles, our incomes, our kids' achievements and our own, to those of parents around us. Stop giving ourselves the short end of the measuring stick. Stop thinking that we are behind, or less than, or failures as parents.

Because let’s get honest - High school was way over-rated.

Prayer: Lord, help me to not covet and compare my children with others.  Thank you for giving me my children; entrusting them to me. Thank you for giving me everything I need to parent them, encourage them, love them and lead them.  God, may I continue to walk in humility with my children’s accomplishments and celebrate with others of their own. Amen.

The Did I Question For Moms

Raising Kids

Two of them are mine.

Two of them slept over.

This reminds me of the time when I heard someone say, “You only have 18 summers with them”.

With our oldest son, we only have two summers left before he heads off to college. I would be lying if I didn’t say I hope he stays close to home as we begin to look at colleges soon.

I remember talking to “seasoned” moms or listening to mentor moms at MOPS meetings telling me things like, “enjoy them while they are little, they grow up way to fast, or before you know it they will be leaving the nest”. I remember thinking when they were 1, 2, 2, and 3 that the growing didn’t seem to come fast enough.

How I regret those thoughts. I look back and wonder if I did everything as a mother that God asked me to do for them. Did I give them a good foundation to build their own house upon? Did I instill in them a confidence that they are who God says they are not what the world around them wants them to become?

Did I do this?

Did I say that?

Did I love them enough? Did I show them love enough?

Did I…Did I...Did I…

It scares me to think if the answer is no, yet I see their eyes and hear yes.

Those two girls will be mothers of their own some day and they will have other moms telling them what they told me, that they grow up way to fast or to enjoy every moment when they are little, including their own mother. Then they will look and find their oldest with two summers left before he is an adult and may ask the same questions I ask myself today – Did I?

Our kids are the best things that happen to the hubster and me. Nothing as idols in our life, but an everlasting love for a human life that you carried, birthed, raised and will soon let go. You begin to see God’s goodness and faithfulness in it all.

Our kids mold us and shape us into the human beings we are today. They remind us to ask ourselves – Did I love enough? Did I encourage enough? Did I allow myself to dream big dreams?

They are a big part of who I am as a mother. I am proud of that. No way have I lost who I am or my identity, but if I can give four kids into this world that are bible-believing, Jesus-followers, that do the Word, then we have given the single most important gift we can give back to God – Christ-believers. If that is what I am known for, if that is what God put me on this earth to do, if that is where my identity is found, then so be it.

But God has more.

More for you and more for me. It is time for us to reach beyond ourselves into something greater. God has more for us to do. When much is given, much is required. God knows our hearts; He knows our passions because He put them inside of us.

We never finish the race of being mom or dad. We finish parenting at one point only to find us running a different race. A race we pursue with all our heart and soul only this time we have a team of people supporting us along the way.

Are your kids growing up way too fast?

16 Things I’ve Learned in 16 Years of Parenting

ponder
Yesterday we celebrated our oldest 16th birthday.  So, in honor of his birthday and being our first child where we learned from and made mistakes, I wanted to give you 16 things I've learned so far as a parent:

1. Parenting Sucks – I thought I might go ahead and get your attention. It by no means is horrible, but is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. We don’t get to quit. We don’t get to throw in the towel when it gets too complicated. It’s hard, and if you don’t think it is I want to live in your glass house. To look into our baby's eyes and see their sweetness when they are little, to see them win every softball game and catch every touchdown as they grow older, or to hear them say I love you every day makes you want to stop time and stay in those moments. Those are the moments when you love being a parent. I can do without the hard ones.

2. It’s Expensive – Kids are expensive. That’s it, they just are.

3. Let Them See Your Passion for God – We have to lead by example. I know most people say live, but I say lead. Lead your child on what it looks like to seek after God. Let them hear you pray in your prayer closet. Let them not just seeing you read your Bible, but leading a life from the Bible. Our kids mimic us at such a young age and as they get older they watch us. They watch how we will react to a family hurt, how we talk about our finances, how we talk about others.

4. Tell Them How Proud You Are Of Them – Children need affirmation, period. We don’t need to take a personality test to figure that out. All kids need to hear their parents say how proud they are of them. Proud of the win. Proud how they handled a situation. Whatever it is, tell them before they go looking for approval somewhere else.

5. We Don’t Get Refunds – You don’t get to take your kids back and ask if you can exchange them for another one, or if you can get a refund and try again later. This is where we get to do what God says..Love One Another. Jose and I have been joking lately as the kids are now 13, 14, 14, and 16, “Dang, we are living with people now. Like, we have to like them!” If you have young children, enjoy them while they are shaping their personalities because later those personalities may get a little personal.

6. Gather Around The Table – I’m sad to say I figured this out more this year than ever before. I posted this on Instagram and have still been going strong.

7. Find a MOPS Group – Every time I talk to a new mom, my first words out of my mouth are, “Get involved in a MOPS group. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself and your family.” After being with MOPS for 10 years, I still love what they do and believe in this incredible ministry. If you have a child 5 and under…find a group. You are not alone.

8.  Sorry is a 5-Letter Word – Teach forgiveness by showing it. It’s easy to ignore the past and move on as if our memories have somehow erased it. But let me tell you a secret – they don’t. Apologies move families forward. I learned with my father, you only have so many tomorrows.

9. You Are Who God Says You Are – One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a solid foundation of the Word. I find this more and more as the kids are right smack into their teenage years.

10. Talk About Your Heritage/Culture – Celebrate your culture with them. I’m Hispanic, the hubby is Hispanic and Christmas is coming up and our tradition is to make tamales for Christmas Eve. Celebrate those things that make you unique. God doesn’t ever see a color, He only sees people.

11.  God Gave You Everything You Need – In Romans 12, Paul talks about God allotting each of us a measure of faith. When I speak to MOPS groups, I talk to them about patience and how we as moms pray for patience, when God has given us all the patience we need when He created us. He didn’t say, “Well, now that little Johnny is here, I guess I’m gonna have to give Judy more patience.” He gave you everything you need for these moments. God doesn’t make mistakes or errors, He creates perfection which can only be found in our measure of faith in Him.

12.  Perfect is Impossible – I wanted to be a mom like Mrs. Cleaver or Mrs. Huxtable, then reality set in. Who cares if your house is a mess? Who cares if you didn’t have dinner on the table at 5pm and a scrumptious dessert? Work-Life-Balance, what’s that? There is no such thing as perfect, if there is then read #1 again.

13. We Are All Not The Same Size – I’m sure most of us have read, if not heard, the book - What to Expect When Your Expecting. I followed this book to a tee. When the babies were here it seemed at times what they were doing and what other books were telling me, were completely opposite. I would call my mom for help and get the, “gosh, it was so long ago, I don’t remember.” As if somehow I was 45 and not 25. We are all different, but we can all encourage one another.

14. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Let them see you tithe and give offerings. Let them see you pick from the Angel Tree. Let them see you give to those in need. Talk with them how God met a need, made a way where there seemed to be no way or how the check came in just in time. They need to see this BIG God we serve and a faith that moves mountains.

15. Sex During Marriage with Kids Stinks – Oh, come on, really?? Ok, no, not really, but dang, let’s get honest. As the kids get older, you have to wait until they go to bed, fall asleep and by then you’re crashed yourself. And at 12:30am you’re just not feeling it.

16.  We Are Part Of A Bigger Picture – In the grand scheme of things, we get our kids for 18 years. We get to use everything God put in us to parent our children. We get to give them a solid foundation of who they are in Christ, guide them to become a Christ-follower and to seek Him passionately. We get to see them succeed and pick them up when they stumble. We get to put a band-aid on their boo-boo’s and hold hands as we pray in tears. And when they hit 18, we say, “Here they are God. I hope I used everything you put in me to use as a parent. I pray I did this parenting thing right.” But ultimately, we are part of God’s bigger picture, to love, make disciples, and reunite in Heaven. Isn't that really what its all about?

What have you learned as a parent? I would love to hear!

Our Children are Watching

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What situation will help you grow more? Taking a retreat with your Bible in solitude or taking a trip across country in your car with the kids?

Some might say taking a retreat in a remote area with your Bible.  There’s nothing like being able to sit in peace and quiet hearing the gentle breezes of the wind flowing through the trees and if the location has a lake view it’s as though we’ve hit the jackpot with the perfect location for God to speak to us.

Yet, it’s the trip across country in our car with the kids where we truly grow from.

Why?

Because during tough situations, who we truly are comes forth.

In this situation, our patience may be tested so we find ourselves praying and asking God for more patience not realizing that He gave us all the patience we need.

We have to understand that God uses the process of parenting to shape us.

[quote]2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God[/quote]

Part of the shaping comes out of this one word:

Holiness.

We pray to purify our spouse, the driver that just cut us off, others around us, but we are to purify ourselves.

Why?

To perfect Holiness out of reverence for God.

For God…not to God.

To explain the preposition of To vs. For - when we say the word TO it is used when something is moved or transferred. When we say the word FOR it is when we refer to a purpose or when something is to the benefit of.

What’s the benefit? His promises

We must begin or continue to purify, the Bible says, everything that contaminates body and spirit.  Now everyone has their own convictions of how they treat their body or what they put into their body. I get that.  We also need to purify things like resentment.  Maybe we wish we had a better childhood or better parents only leaving us with the reasons as to why we are the way we are with all the excess baggage of guilt and shame; feeling of inadequacy or doubt.

Why?

So that we can perfect holiness.  We need to strive for this so that our children begin to see what holiness looks like.

Our kids are watching us. What it means to be a mother or a father. What it means to be a husband or a wife.

With marriage we get to choose who we spend life with; when we parent, we don’t get to choose.

So when I deal with things like resentment or shame, I can choose to let sin tear apart my family or I can use my family or experiences to tear apart my sin. - Tweet that!

Purification.

What about negativity?  I hate what this does.  I was raised in a home where it seems that all I heard was negative things.  As I got older I realized my grandparents from both sides were the same way.  It was a learned trait that my parents learned and were teaching me and my siblings. I had to make a conscious effort, and still do today, to speak positive things in my life, over my kids, over my home and over my situations to purify the future.

Our kids will pick up on negativity. It’s time to get serious or our kids will adopt these things.

Purification.

What about relationships with God?

Moms and Dad’s we have to let them see it.  Our kids today need to see us reading our Bibles, praying with our spouses, trusting in our Provider.  Posting the best status on Facebook or retweeting the best scripture has the least long-term effect to the foundation in Christ we give our children.

[quote]1 Timothy 4:16 – Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and hearers.[/quote]

Who listens more to us than our children.

We need to change our attitudes of bitterness or selfishness into grace and love. We need to change our attitudes of regret or shame into forgiveness and mercy.

Acknowledging that we learn more from God in those everyday spills or missed curfews to change and purify us than in the moments on the lake.