Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The other day a friend brought me a present.  She said, pointing to a cute little pink gift bag, "That's for you.  It's kind of silly.  Just something little."  

Why do we feel the need to apologize for the gifts we give?  Why aren't our offerings enough?  Is it because we are conditioned to believe that the receivers opinion of said gift is somehow superior to the givers?  Is it because we place value on money and size first, and offering of oneself second, and sometimes never.

My little Ellie (don't tell her I called her little), was recently invited to a birthday party.  This friend is often referred to as "My Best Friend".  She immediately knew what she wanted to give.  "I know just what I am going to give her mommy!  My cowgirl dress-up.  She loves horses and being a cowgirl."  In my knee jerk, and worldly conditioned, response I mentioned she might want to buy something instead of giving something she already had. She came over to the dark side for a tiny bit, but ended up back in the same general direction.  Trying to make me happy, she talked of giving her a most prized dress up that she just got for Christmas.

I chose to see the wisdom and grace in her instinctual offering of herself to her friend, and backed off.  We washed the cowgirl dress.  We bought a plain white gift bag, that she decorated beautifully with stickers she had just received from her own birthday.  We added a cowgirl hat and some 'super fancy' tissue paper, tied it with a pretty bow (making sure it was long enough for her to use in her hair because Ellie had seen her wear the colors in the ribbon lots), and headed to the party.  It was a beautiful moment.  My children teach me so much.

This friend of mine, labored in her garden, with her own two hands, in order to bring me something.  She has five young children.  She is a busy lady with large responsibilities resting on her shoulders, both familial and in our church community.  The three daffodil bulbs she shared with me are worth far more than anything she could have purchased.  I understand that she was offering me a part of herself.  She gave of what she had.  I loved it for many reasons.  I am fairly certain that my words were insufficient in convincing her that her gift was enough.  I hope she knows.

We just built a home.  We have a barren yard (except for a few other transplants she brought over last fall, and planted for me!).  I am thrilled that I will be able to see those three daffodils growing and blooming, come next spring.  That 'silly little something' is perfect.

Scurrying around, buying, buying, buying.  Quite possibly a bit less consumerism and a whole lot more giving of self is just what this world needs.  At least, it's what I need.  It's what I thrive on.  I like to thrive.  What do we prove with gift lists longer than Rapunzel's locks?  That we are somehow most awesome and worthy because we can buy a bunch of stuff, wrap it really cute and send it on its merry way.  Maybe we just prove that we can spend money.

Please don't take offense if you have given me something.  I am well aware that there are those that live in a place where love is spending and buying.  I get it.  I am grateful for those offerings.  Not because of the thing that it is, but because I seek to know the giver and understand what their offering meant for them.  

Seeing the giver is what makes presents worth anything at all.  Take the Savior, he offered us each a gift.  This gift is intangible, and yet worth far more than any thing you could purchase in this world.  There is no amount of money that could equal its worth.  There is no thing greater in size.  It is the most perfect, and grandest gift of all.  And yet, His gift does nothing for us, until we first choose to see the giver.

See the giver and accept what is given.  Be the giver and give from the heart.  See the ultimate giver and graciously accept all the He has to offer.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I have been asked to be a voice here

My latest inner-workings are a mere click away!

I will still be posting here and on the family site at

See you everywhere :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What If ...

What if Jesus actually meant it when he said:

"Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."    - Matthew 7:1-2

What if we, really and truly, are each on our own path?  What if it doesn't matter a hill of beans where we are on our path in comparison to another?  What if all that matters is where we are in our own journey?

What if?

Well, I think he did mean it.  Furthermore, I think it applies to judging ourselves as well.  Recognizing improvements we can make is very different than judging ourselves unrighteously.   Have you ever forsaken a sin or misdeed and made a positive correction in your life because you beat yourself up over it?  I haven't.  In fact, the only time I am able to do anything of the sort is when I acknowledge how amazing the Lord knows I am, and choose to see myself through His sight.

What do we communicate to our Lord and Savior when we take on the burdens He already, so graciously and mercifully, took upon himself?  Effectively, we say, "Sorry, your sacrifice was just not good enough for me.  But good job making it work for all the rest of humanity.  High Five!"  It may seem ridiculous, but think about it.

His sight is perfect, and it reaches to the recesses of my soul.  Places that I don't even know exist, He reaches.  He shows me they are there.   He loves me unconditionally.  That is why I can shed the sins of this world and align myself more closely with Him.  It can be a difficult place to find sometimes; that place of peace and assurance, centered in our soul.  Sometimes it takes great effort to get there.  Outside sources can help.

My mom helps me remember how amazing I am.  She doesn't take away my struggles.  She doesn't try to buy my happiness.  She doesn't placate me with recitations of meaningless accomplishments.  She listens.  She allows me to navigate.  She reminds me of truth and where to seek it best.  She says silly things like, "Oh, Amy you are just amazing."  To which I usually chuckle and say, "Well, I guess.  If you say so."  But it gets me thinking.  It gets me going inward and to my center.  It reminds me that there are deeper places, better places.

The scriptures, with their plain and simple truths snap me back to the real reality.  Hymns, with their sweet melodies, entrancing harmonies, and 'no buts about it' lyrics, hymns.  Ahhh.  I choose to stick with tried and true when I am reaching for the best places within me.  Many a worthy enterprise will take my money to provide me with the next best thing.  Books, magazines, gadgets, gizmos, chants, pilgrimages, movements, and what have you; there are millions of ways to make life better, more meaningful, and bring us back to center.  Thanks, but I'm good with the plain old stuff from the good ol' days.

And one more thing, what if it doesn't matter how fast we are running this crazy race of life either.  What if it only matters that we keep putting one foot in front of the other.

What if YOU are amazing and perfect in His sight?  What if?

Up for a Challenge?

How long has it been since you have taken a serious look at the 10 commandments?  I have been conducting an experiment in my little spot of existence.  I take any situation that comes my way and evaluate my thoughts and reactions against those 10 commands.  Mind you, this may not happen until after the fact.  To be quite honest, it's probable, okay, highly probable, that most times, it's after the fact.  Anyhoo!  The lesson is still learned.    

When I am willing to look inside, rather than finding fault or placing blame, I am able to see the error of my ways.  In each case I have ended up back at the Ten Commandments.  Powerful.  God really did think of everything.  We just have to be willing to see it, and use it for our own growth.

Now for part II of the experiment; giving a hoot, and doing something about it!  Yes, indeed I am able to point to myself each and every day and say, "Now Amy, you knew what you were doing and you did it anyway."  Blast!  I think I'll build a time-out room for myself.  And the walls will be covered with encouraging and uplifting scriptures that will help me remember that I never get anywhere by berating myself.  

***(Hmm, sounds like a brilliant new approach to discipline.  You heard it here first folks.  I suppose I can't corner the market on scriptural based parenting.  Oh well, on to the next get rich quick scheme.)*** 

So how about it?  Are you up for the Ten Commandment Challenge?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not In Scope of Work

We built a house last year.  As part of the process we had several opportunities to walk through, noting  progress made and things that needed fixing.  At one of these exciting viewings there were quite a few items that needed to be addressed.  Our builder made notes and lists for the carpenter and we all went about our merry way.  During the next adventure through the shell of our to be home, we were discouraged, greatly so, when we noticed that many of these items had not been taken care of.  Upon checking the lists, we made a discovery, the carpenter had an attitude.  Next to all the unfinished items there was a cute little phrase written, "not in scope of work".  Clever little carpenter.

Several months ago I was going through a bout of self doubt (yes, I am a poet and don't know it).  These are times I have learned to treasure, although at the time they can be excruciating. This particular bout had to do with feeling as though I was depriving my children because they are not 'up' on the latest music trends, fashion icons and brands, tv shows, and movies.  It pains me to even say it now, as I can see clearly how it's just not me to think those types of things, but that self doubt is a pretty sneaky fella.  I felt tumultuous inside to the point of needing to verbally erupt.  My husband is a great listener :)

After erupting quite nicely, I felt better.  Sadly, the relief was only temporary, as I had not made an internal change.  During the next playdate with self doubt, came the thought, "It's not in my scope of work to educate my children in the ways of the world.  That's not my business.  I am not comfortable there and do not belong in that space."  Amazing.  Not in scope of work.  What a relief.  A lasting relief I might add.

I discovered that as a mother I need an attitude.  An attitude that would see me through all the nay sayers of the world, the comments, judgments and criticisms of others, the hushed whispers of gossip that come when you choose to walk your own path and not follow the crowd.  Even more importantly, I would need an attitude that could withstand the self doubt that comes when others question with the intent of  helping me see my ways are just plain goody two-shoes, and I need to lighten up.  You see it's not other people that are the problem.  It is my very own special talent of being able to doubt myself so incredibly soundly, and to the core.  That is the problem.  I have found that many women share this special talent with me, and it is a great hinderance to the rising generation.

There is a force that is hard at work on families today.  This force is especially diligent in efforts to immerse children in things of the world.  These things have no business being in our children's lives.  They have no business in our lives.  They are meant to lead away, to cause straying in the most precise, deliberate, and dangerous ways.  They are subtle, sneaky, and difficult to detect.  The slow and steady steps toward these things are seemingly unnoticeable in our daily lives, and yet they creep us ever closer to the point of destruction.

Children sense fear and indecisiveness from miles away.  We are afraid of the fit, and they know it.  Who among us wants to be the mom with a child (of any age) throwing a tantrum because they missed out?  What would happen if the child was simply allowed the opportunity and invaluable experience of getting over the fit himself.  What if they were actually allowed to learn how to deal with and process their emotions.  What if they are capable of recognizing that the whining and screaming is not helpful for them and they can 'get over it' and move on.  What if we really can't save them from themselves at all.  

Born from good intentions is a desire to reason with them, to help them, to cushion the fall.  What if helping is hurting?  We want to save them from themselves and talk them out of what they are feeling.  What they actually need is to realize, of their own accord, that the result they seek simply does not exist.  Only then are they able to move on, and they do it very beautifully on their own.  

I am not suggesting we don't talk with our children.  I am not suggesting we leave them alone to deal with life.  I am suggesting that we tend to hover and save, rather than teach and lead.  The loving nurturing mother is always there, but not as a punching bag or self help guru.  A loving mother is there to hold a safe space and allow life to be the teacher and self to be the student.  What if we do best, by them and for them, by engulfing them in the things that will center and ground them, and give them the tools to govern their own path.  Rather than indulging them in things that keep the fits at bay, we can have attitude enough to set the boundaries, make the best choices, and ride out the storm when necessary.  

The temporary relief that comes as a result of indulgence, be it food, movie, video game, toy, sporting event, or what have you, is quickly replaced by a desire for more.  Often this desire is so overpowering that reason and judgement cease to be effective tools.  All that matters is that nothing is ever enough.  When we choose to indulge and over-indulge our children, they learn very quickly how good it feels to satisfy the burning desire.  Burning desires can never be satisfied, their very nature is to take over.  This is not joy.  This is not abiding peace and comfort that will encourage them and lift them through all that life will bring their way?

What burning desires are you cultivating within the hearts and souls of your children?  Are they worthy of their time?  Are they worthy of their efforts?  In a world that is obsessed with fame and fortune, the quick fix, something for nothing, in that world, we have an opportunity to raise calm and confident children that know how and where to find their own lasting peace and happiness.  If we choose to be calm confident mothers with attitude to rival all.  

I can't afford to raise my children as though they will step out of my home and onto a pillowy cloud of loveliness that will pour riches upon their heads and all abundance will rain upon them forever.  I don't know that life.  I know a life that has taken, and will continue to take, much hard work, faith beyond what I knew possible, and grace sufficient to make up for all my short comings.  No amount of money, fame, travel, or even education can fill the holes left from the shrapnel of this world.  

Thankfully (that is a serious understatement), there is another force that trumps all.  Thankfully, that force, namely Jesus Christ, offers an attitude with enabling powers beyond measure.  An attitude that is impenetrable against all, even self doubt.  An attitude with an heir of holiness and majesty.  An attitude that feels calm, confident, and assured.  An attitude that even the most wily child can not demolish.  The heavenly and peaceful space provided by this attitude allows us to detect anything, and everything, needful to secure a successful return into His gracious, merciful, and loving arms.  

My scope of work has nothing to do with making sure my children are immersed in popular culture, whatever, or whomever, the latest craze is.  It has everything to do with strengthening of spirit, growth of character, and living a virtuous life.  We are spiritual beings housed within the confines of physical realms and bodies.  I am aiming for a spiritual journey that takes place in this world, but is not of it, not even one little bit.

What is in your scope of work?

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I heard a comment that changed the way I mother while attending a Suzuki String parent workshop a couple of years ago.  One of the teachers on the panel for the question and answer period, who is also a mother, shared her motivation for beginning music lessons at such a young age, and diligently keeping her child in violin lessons, no matter what, until he was out of her home.  "I wanted to give him an identity."  Her sentiment was that if we don't do it for them, who will.

While this mother's goal is certainly a worthy one, I immediately felt the idea lacking for me.  If my child's identity comes from any worldly source, no matter how worthy, how lasting can it possibly be.  Furthermore, can I actually give my child an identity, or does he already have one that he needs to hold true to?  If I nurture the identity he already has, he will find his path.  If I try to give him a new identity I create an identity crisis.  No child needs an identity crisis.

As mothers we nurture, teach, and train.  That has little to do with our deciding for them which worldly pursuits will give them a false identity and sense of self worth.  Whether it's music, sports, social engagements, or even academic achievements, identity does not come from without, it comes from within.  Whatever they do and pursue, does not determine who they are.  More to the point, it has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to create their own lasting peace and happiness.

Not that any of the aforementioned things are bad.  But I have noticed it is far easier to focus on the outward things that prove, to ourselves and others, we are awesome mothers and are doing everything right.  I know amazing mothers that have amazing children that do many things really well.  The key to it all is they are raised with core values, morals, and principles and they are allowed time.

Time to be children, to play outdoors, to experience life, and learn how to navigate emotions and draw upon logic and reason.  They invent, discover, seek, organize, create, problem solve, and share, all unprovoked and without time tables and pressures.  They find joy and peace in the little miracles and joys surrounding each moment.   All by their very own little selves, they find their identity, and upon maturity and growing older, they choose the things to be involved in and pursue that will be beneficial to their life.  They spend none of their time competing and trying to become the next best thing.  They spend all of their time becoming their best.

A while back Zack won some movie tickets from a contest at his orthodontist's office.  He asked me on a date and searched long and hard to find a movie worthy of our time.  We had to drive quite a distance (about 45 minutes) in order to find a theater that was still playing this movie.  Circumstances were favorable to asking one of his friends to accompany us, so he did and off we went.  As we traveled, it was interesting to be a fly on the wall and listen to their conversation.

The focus for Zack's friend was very much on sports and how to be famous and make lots of money and be important because you are able to beat everyone else.  These things are foreign to Zack, but he listened like the good friend that he is.  At one point he was asked the question, "What sport are you going to play when you go to college?  You really need to play sports to be somebody."  Zack went through a monologue that was painful for me to hear.  He fumbled through trying to answer the question and much of what he said was negative.  He was trying to fit himself into another's view point, quite a forceful one too.  After a while he said, "Well it couldn't be basketball.  I am not very good at basketball."  I couldn't stay quiet any longer.  I chose to break in and simply said, "You know Zack you are only 11.  If you choose to play sports I am sure you still have time to work hard and pursue that.  Also remember that comparatively there are very few professional athletes to people in this world and there are lots of ways to be happy besides sports."

The attitude change was immediate and decisive.  He had hope that all wasn't lost because he could not, at the ripe old age of 11, play professional sports and 'be somebody'.  He remembered that he is already 'somebody', and a pretty great somebody at that.  He remembered the core values and principles I try so diligently to focus on.  I am so glad that I was there for that moment.  I have nothing against sports.  Zack has wanted to play soccer on a team ever since he left his team in Louisiana.  Circumstances thus far dictate that it can't be be part of his life right now.  He has learned that sports are fun, but they do not define him.  Maybe he'll be a soccer star.  Maybe he won't.  Maybe he'll be a sanitation worker (garbage man to those of us less politically correct!).  Maybe he won't.  He'll always be Zack and that identity transcends all social norms and expectations.  Beautiful.

Last night, I watched a story of a boy, beginning in childhood and continuing through early adulthood, he was interviewed and his life was followed as he navigated life.  He was the popular kid.  The one everyone wanted to be.  He had the most friends.  He played every sport and excelled in each one.  He had walls full of trophies, medals, and certificates.  And he felt empty.  Completely empty.  He actually said, "I want to quit everything and just have time to live.  Have time to figure out who I am and what I want.  But I can't.  Who would I be without the sports.  What would I have to show people that I am a worthwhile person.  I would disappoint my parents and my teammates.  I can't quit, but I want to."

He was 16 at the time of this statement and had played sports ever since he could remember.  These were thoughts he never shared with anyone around him.  He wrote them in a journal to be discovered by his father when when he was at a treatment center for drug addiction.  The addiction started in 6th grade and I watched as he convincingly spoke of never having anything to do with drugs and being disgusted with the practice.  No one knew until he was 18 years old and his addictions had grown from 'smoking weed' to heroine and 'coke'.  He was happy, friendly, and just like every other kid.  Until he started stealing from his dad to pay for his addiction.  I would have never guessed what was coming, and I am fairly perceptive.  It was heartbreaking.

Years later, after: treatment, relapse, more treatment, and finally coming to a place where he felt he could be authentic and genuine, without needing drugs to numb the pain of not meeting social, familial, and popular norms and expectations, he has finally found himself and his place in the world.  Drug free for 4 years now, he lives in poverty (according to worldly standards) in a remote land, with "a bike, good friends, and a community of people that allow me to be myself and live in an authentic way." He doesn't need anything else and has found tremendous joy and peace.

He does not blame or find fault with any who pushed or coerced him in specific directions.  He knows they meant well.  He also understands that the need for him to fill the "holes in his soul" due to pressures and not being mature enough at the time to voice his own desires, was something he couldn't fix on his own.  He now answers first to God and has made peace with the fact that earthly parents, who mean well, can hurt when they meddle with something so precious as identity at such young ages.

We mean well.  We always mean well.  Meaning well usually means we are poking our nose in someone else's business.  Our children are certainly our business.  But we would do well to navigate our way carefully through their business.  They are first God's children and ours second.  The fundamentals of child rearing have nothing to do with us being able to show them off or write spectacular Christmas letters declaring their awesomeness, which in turn proves our own.  We would do well, and not just mean well, if we would focus first on our identities, and let our children have their own.

I have been through a few things in my lifetime.  I am sure to go through more.  My identity as a daughter of God, a mother in His kingdom, a wife and equal partner to my husband in His priesthood, is what has seen me through.  I can not give the credit to any diploma, academic achievement, trophy, award, or any other such tangible thing with bragging rights.  I seek the Lord and by His grace I am enough.  I have enough.

Our children are not ours.  They are not to be owned as possessions that prove us.  These are not little adults that come into our lives.  They are precious little children that need time to be children.  They are to be free to own their identity.  How are we directing them to that path?  That is the question, not which thing to sign them up for.

Now, if the sentiment would have been to teach and train, diligence, hard work, practicing for progression, patience, and developing talents for the Lord's purposes; that I could buy off on.  Not so much at the early ages some feel strongly about, but certainly there can be much crucial character training that comes from participating in such things as music lessons and sports.  Moderation is key, and knowing the weak spots of our children's souls helps us know how and when to use things to help teach them.    

Baking Life

Friday, as my kitchen was exploding with flour, sugar, butter, and whatnot, while I made brownies and cookies by the hundreds (maybe a slight exaggeration, maybe - you could remove the (s), but it was over 100, just saying.), for my daughters ballet recital and potluck,  - and just when you wonder, "Will she ever be done with this run-on sentence?!"  I had an epiphany.  As mothers, we bake life.

I have had one of those weeks where you wonder moment by moment if you are going to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the next.  Sam's inspection schedule creates an upheaval to say the least.  Add to that: 5 children with strep and an upper-respiratory virus (at the same time), a baby getting 4 molars with an ear infection and enterocolitis, a fever to mock all others on top of the strep/upper respiratory thing, as well as his Hirschprung's complications, ballet dress rehearsal, recital, and potluck food commitments, not forgetting about the absent husband of course, and it seems that the best option would be to promptly find a corner, grab a box of tissue, and sit down and have a good cry.  And never, ever get out of said corner.

We must also give proper credit to the beast named self-doubt, as well as his friend 'must do everything and live up to all outside obligations and expectations, we must!'  Those are some friendly beasts.  Don't ask why I refer to them with a male pronoun.  Just don't.

Strangely, I didn't find said corner, or feel a need to.  I did learn something about baking life.

So Friday comes.  I am knee deep in snot, anti-biotics, whinny, non-compliant children who each want all of me every second, no sleep to speak of, and the cookies and brownies.  I was also elbow deep in hot water and soap suds for all of you that experienced my cookies and brownies!  Things were actually going pretty well for the moment, Malachi was sleeping, the 3 oldest were not contagious anymore and felt well enough to attend their bi-weekly 3 hour science class, and Addie was happy to be mommy's helper from the living room so as to not infect the delicious desserts with bacteria and virus germs, yummy.  And then it happened.

My flour bucket was empty.  Trip to the freezer, refill the bucket, return flour to the freezer.  My baking soda was empty, another trip and back to the freezer.  My sugar container was empty, trip to the basement, fill up the sugar, back to the basement.  My oats container was empty, another trip to the basement, fill up the oats, back to the basement.  Cinnamon, empty, basement.  Salt, empty, search cabinet, find, fill, return.  What?!  Malachi is awake, and not happy.  Time to go pick up the children, what?, it's been 3 hours already.  "Mommy, when are you going to read me this book.  I have been waiting a long time."  Sorry, Addie, I will read it later."  Ugh!  That's is my least favorite mommy mantra.

My time, and more importantly my efforts, were completely wasted in a bunch of needless running around.  Had I ensured my buckets were loaded and ready to go, those treats would have been made in a flash rather than a frustrating process of several hours broken up all through an entire day, rather couple of days as it turned out.  I was able to get it all done.  But boy, it sure wasn't efficient, and I left a lot of the best things undone and pushed aside, due to my lack of proper preparation.

When my buckets are full, I can handle anything.  And by handle I don't mean simply get through it.  I mean bake some of the meanest brownies this side of wherever the meanest brownies are, and have a fabulous time doing it.  And, the best things are never pushed aside.

Life is all about the unsweetened cocoa sometimes.  It doesn't matter a pinch when I have buckets full of sugar.  When I start with buckets fully loaded, ingredients at my fingertips, and peace and joy in my heart, those are some tasty days.  The days when I am constantly in a scramble to find ingredients and fill my buckets, those days; not so tasty.   

It's not difficult to keep my buckets full of the best things.  I simply must choose to do so.  I don't need time away.  I need to fill my time with the things that keep me centered and grounded in what feeds my soul.  I don't need outside endeavors to fill a need for validation, recognition, and a sense of peace.  I need peace.  Peace comes from choosing the best ingredients and keeping my buckets full of them.  Recognition and validation are conditioned responses that never last, and in fact only serve to create a desire for more.  The addictive nature of external rewards and assurance leads to an incredibly unsatisfying and quite harried way of life.  More, bigger, better, see me, see me!  Nothing is ever enough.

I am surrounded by enough each and every minute I choose to be a part of my enough and not be concerned with another's enough, or another's version of what my enough should be.  Be it through the media, envy of a friend or acquaintance, social norms, advice of concerned people that mean well, or any thing else that brings those unfriendly beasts of keeping up and self doubt into my life.  Those things can't touch me when my buckets are full of what I need.  That's enough for me.

What's in your bucket?  More importantly what fills your bucket best?  If it doesn't fill your bucket, is it worth your time?  Are the best things removed from your bucket to make room for good things?  Feed your soul, fill your bucket, and then go forth and bake yummy moments of life!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WARNING! May Contain Peanuts

If your child was allergic to peanuts and the result was possible death, would you give the child peanuts?  It's only possible death, right?  And besides, there's great medical care out there.  Fabulous drugs that can surely pull us out of whatever mess we get ourselves into.  Sure honey, go ahead and have the poison, it's just too hard to live differently than everyone else.  We mustn't deny you the physical pleasure and gratification.  The sacrifice is just too great, it's not fair to you.  Absurd.

We spend so much time protecting the physical well-being of our children.  We strap them into car seats, require them to wear helmets while riding a bike, avoid foods that cause harm and even death.  We teach them to swim so they won't be taken by water.  We make medical decisions in their behalf to hopefully attain the greatest chance for health and well-being.  We sign them up for sports that require protective gear for everything from their teeth to their spines, and we promptly provide said equipment.  We cut their food into tiny bites so they won't choke.  We are vigilant in our desire for their physical bodies.  And yet, they still manage to get in harms way.  They are still taken.  We have no control over the corrupting powers of this world that lurk around every corner.

Never fear!  We have stewardship over something much greater than physical health and well-being; their souls.  It seems we are so focused on the outward that the inward is all but forgotten.  What are we doing for the souls that will remain far after the body doesn't need us anymore?

Are we so focused on fitting in and following another's path that we forget we have our own?  What price are we willing to pay for the souls of our children?  Who's responsibility is it?  The child's?  Our neighbors?  Our amazing friend who does it all?  No, none of the above.  The responsibility for our children is ours.  We respect our children enough to hold them to the best possible standard we know, and we are constantly seeking higher standards to raise the bar.

No athlete will ever tell you they achieved physical greatness by running fewer miles with less hills, removing weights from the bench press, or finding shorter opponents that are easier to shoot over.  Why then, do we think that spiritual greatness will be achieved by lowering standards and doing what everyone else is doing?  

How many black spots can we afford to put on our children's souls.  We are the parents, they are the children.  We get to provide them with the best protection we possibly can.  If we choose to do so.  As mothers we are unique in our ability to know the weak spots and sensitivities of our children's souls.  We can know the things to seek, and the things to avoid, for their best benefit and growth.  

If a portion of your child's soul was compromised by media, would you allow it? If the allergy is to content (tv, books, video games, movies, sports, youtube, facebook, etc.) would you provide it?  If you knew that the physical gratification of addiction would be fostered by a thing, would you participate?  We allow books and media that desensitize by the second.  We enable habits and pleasures that take the place of values and morals.  We comfort ourselves by saying, "Well that's just a part of so and so's nature." And then we wonder 'why' about so many things.  I believe nurture trumps nature, every time

I know people allergic to a whole slew of items from sugar to modified corn starch.  I also know people that stay away from the aforementioned slew, and then some, simply because those things have an adverse affect on their well-being.  Not a diagnosed allergy, but a recognized sensitivity that is much better left unprovoked.  Do we wait until a deathly allergy is upon us, or do we recognize sensitivities and make adjustments?  Do we hope for drugs and remedies to enable us to still partake, or do we accept responsibility and choose differently?

WARNING! Contains content designed to deaden the conscience and bruise the soul; not much, but just enough.  Science has not yet proven any accumulating affect whatsoever!  It'll be fine, don't be silly.  

We buy devices that claim to remove harmful and damaging material from a movie.  Does it remove all harmful and damaging material or just what someone else decided was so?  We employ software to limit Internet and handheld device content.  We rely on rating systems devised by the very people that hope to addict for the benefit of their pocket books.  What about when they fail?  We can't erase what is permanently imprinted because of a technical failure.  Do we get to claim innocence when we choose to outsource our responsibility to a piece of machinery?  Are we doing our children any favors by making sure they have access to the latest and greatest for whatever justifiable reason?

What physical pleasure and gratification are we providing our children and at what cost?  Is it enough to put good in, or do we need to keep harm out as well?    The idea that 1 negative comment is erased by 10 positives could be applied here.  Are you spending time in a 10:1 ratio on the good stuff so that you can afford to dabble in the harmful?  Are there that many hours in the day?  If we are doing that much good, in meaningful ways, is there even a desire for the other anymore anyway?

We can't choose whether or not to sign our children up for the game of life.  We made that choice when we partnered with God and brought them from their spiritual existence into this world.  We choose, each moment, whether or not to provide them with everlasting armor, impenetrable by the weapons of the world.  When we choose to behave as the mothers we are, we provide our children with the best spiritual protection available to them.

Sam and I just read The Harvester, by Gene Stratton-Porter.  Marvelous read.  A true hero with a heart of gold, and the most worthy desires.  Do you know who he credits?  His mother.  She made conscious, deliberate choices that were not popular.  She showed him, even to her early grave, that life is good and clean and pure.  Her confident and unapologetic mothering led directly to his ability to be self assured and confident in his own worthy efforts and desires.  The best and most lasting rewards come as a result of choosing to live up to our own potential, not another's.

What do you think?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A remarkable young woman e-mailed me regarding my post on Privilege vs Entitlement.  After getting permission, I just had to share it.

Okay, she's not really a babe, but compared to me she is!  I tell you what, young people want to be held accountable.  They will rise (or fall) to whatever standard is set for them.  It's time to rise.  It's time to return to those values that led to the founding of this great republic.

 I thought that your post,Privileged vs. Entitlement, was pretty accurate. It's what I see so often at school: the kid who will never have to pay for themselves because thier parents give them huge mounts of allowance and pay for all of their fancy, rather immodest, clothing. But these are also the kids who think that they don't have to do any work to pass geometry, and wonder what was wrong with whatever they did to get suspended. Their parents simply do everything for them, letting them get away with anything, thinking that they are protecting them.Personally, I am glad that I have to pay for most of my college. It will be a powerful motivation to pay very close attention and do my best, since each minute will be money from my own pocket. To have to work for something gives it a value that it will never otherwise have.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Privileged vs Entitled; What's the Difference

Not a lot.

Whether little Johnny is raised to expect helicopter mommy to save the day and cater to his every whim, or the government (big brother) to take responsibility for his daily comforts and pursuit of happiness, it hardly makes a difference in character at all.  The mantra is the same; I want it now and you are responsible for getting it for me.  Right Now! 

Who we blame and hold responsible for our lives is insignificant.  The significance is in the practice itself.  No handout, whatever the source, has ever resulted in lasting success, happiness, or peace.  Nothing of value comes without trial and error, blood sweat and tears, ups and downs.  Nothing.  If we think we are doing our children a service by saving them from the consequences of their choices and actions, we are sorely mistaken.  They will pay the price, and it is a heavy one.  

No baby has ever learned to hold its head up, roll over, crawl, walk, and run because we did it for them, or came up with a device to make it easier on them.  Months and months of hard work.  Repetitive motions, teaching and training thousands of muscles to learn to work together and perform miraculous functions.  How boring.  Can't we skip it mom?  Really, again!  I can't possibly go without, all my friends have it, everyone else is doing it!  And on and on and on go the endless excuses, justifications and whining.

We are all infants in our abilities and understanding compared to our Lord and Maker.  What a blessing that He loves us enough to forget his own desires and allow us the opportunity to pave our own way.  The Lord is secure in his will.  He set the rules and let us go.  The struggles can be difficult to witness, but they are necessary for growth.  Growth brings everlasting peace and happiness.  Ahh, that sounds nice, really nice.

Don't we owe our children the same?  Teach a child in the ways of the Lord.  Seek His word in the holy scriptures.  He knows how to parent.  He gave us the best parenting book in the world.  Clear your shelves of all else and seek His word, then go forth and parent as He would have you, not your neighbor, friend, cousin, aunt, or even your mom.  Many a good thing has kept us from the best thing.  What is best for you?  What is best for your children?  Seek the answers from the best source.

I love my little Johnnys way too much to train them up to believe that their happiness and success rest on the shoulders of anyone else, especially me.  How arrogant, and quite frankly, insane it is to think that as mothers we have the ability to do and provide everything necessary for our children.  We love them unconditionally.  We nurture them and are careful not to cross the line into coddling them.  We train them to think, act, and live for themselves.  

Or do we?

Consequences are as basic a principle as gravity. What goes up must come down.  Reinforce your spines mothers.  It's on!  Think about it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Isn't It Ironic

Did you see my last post?

My 11 year old just called to tell me that he won the raffle at his orthodontist's roller skating party (he's a fantastic orthodontist if you happen to be in need of one).  Take a guess what he won.

Welcome to our home, brand spankin' new iPod Touch.  It is a new day here in this household of a 10 year old iMac as our only link to the outside world.  I suppose you can also count mine and Sam's Tracfones, but they are nothing fancy, at all.  We actually mean it when we say we have cell phones for emergency purposes.

I believe the better term is mobile rather than cell, as the technology has advanced considerably.  I guess it's hard to hide just how 'old fashioned' I am.  People used to tell Sam he was born 100 years too late.  I love that the Lord put us here together so we could have somebody to hang out with being in this very modern and foreign age.

We shall see how my spine holds up and how his character fares.  Thanks again Target lady - a whole heap!

Honest to Pete!

As I was leaving Target with 2 of my favorite children this morning, I was witness to this little tidbit.

Mother: "If you expect me to carry you so you can keep playing your game (handheld gaming device) when you are 8, what are you going to do when you are 18 and in college?"

Son:  "I am not going to college.  I am going to live with you and play video games until I die."

The part that was truly a marvel was that she was carrying him while this conversation took place.  You'll be happy to know she didn't actually make it all the way across the parking lot and into the store while carrying her 8 year old infant.  She veered to the right and came upon a shopping cart return where she was able to deposit him and roll along in style and comfort.  You will be even happier to know that he was able to move from vehicle (BMW), to mothers arms, to shopping cart, without missing a beat in his game.  Rest easy now, junior is going to be just fine.  Maybe next time she will bring a pillow so he can be more comfortable when placed in his portable gaming crib.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the spine was intended for other purposes than to carry a perfectly well child 8 years of age simply because he cannot put his game down.  I may even be so bold as to say that the spine, especially of a mother, was intended to give strength enough to say something like, "I will not be carrying you into the store.  It's time to turn it off and walk like a big boy now."  I might have even left said child in said cart and kept on walking just to see if he would even realize what was going on.  Too bad I'll never have that chance.  I am fairly confident that my children understand what their legs are for.

Hey!  If she has enough cash to be driving a BMW she could probably throw some spare change to a hired hand willing to do this crucial part of her mothering for her.  Now there's an entrepreneurial opportunity waiting to happen.  Somebody corner that market quick!

The sad part is that she probably has no clue exactly how damaging her behavior is, hopefully anyway.  I have found that the Lord will educate me whenever I am willing to look at myself.  Sometimes it takes another's example to spark my interest and then I go all introspective.  Thank you BMW driving, gigantic diamond wearing, big boy carrying, Target lady.  I am now taking a long hard look at the different ways I may be enabling and damaging my children simply because my spine is lacking in some areas of my mothering.  Watch out little kiddies mommy is going to have a spine to rival titanium rods very soon, just you wait and see.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Privileged vs Entitled What's the Difference

Friday, May 4, 2012

Opposable Thumbs

I was thoroughly enjoying watching my children at swimming lessons this evening when it struck me.  I was the only parent, the only parent actually watching my children.  Not only were they not watching, they were all anxiously engaged in an iPhone (or similar device).

I got to thinking, can this really be what God intended our opposable thumbs for?  Can it possibly be that this miraculous gift was meant for frenzied pushing of buttons and screens, sending messages of little importance for the most part, and engaging our brains in such addictive behaviors that we can not even determine the proper time and place for such things in our lives?  Can it be?  

What will you be doing when your child looks for you, across the abyss, with fear and trembling perched at the edge of the unknown depths before her?  Will you see her?  Will you reach out with love, and the most loving smile and wave you can possibly conjure?  Will you have that moment forever locked between you?  Will you be able to recall the joy and feel the excitement that accompanies such an amazing feat?  Will you be able to celebrate and share in the moment?  Where will you be, and what will you be doing, when your child is looking to you for that ever reassuring smile and wave.  That smile and wave say so much; "You can do it, I know you can.  You are amazing."

I had no idea tonight would be the night.  There is often little forewarning, and mostly none at all, in these grand moments that add precious drops in their buckets of self worth.  I am sure glad my thumb was anxiously engaged in waving encouragement, and that my heart and mind were united in purpose tonight as I watched my child's real world unfolding before her.