Love Doesn’t Change.

While the lights of the stadium still blazed at the Super Bowl last night and families in homes across the nation debated the merits of puppymonkeybaby or doritos dogs I had another thought.

A sadder one. A darker one. One that kept me awake for hours as I lay listening to my children’s peaceful breathing.

There are many people near that stadium tonight who would not have been celebrating no matter the outcome. When you are trapped in the sex trafficking industry there is little to celebrate.

This may seem like a strange introduction to the phrase Love Doesn’t Change but that’s exactly what my son reminded me as I hugged him while we chatted this morning.

I tell my children frequently that love doesn’t change. It’s a simple statement that reminds them of a powerful truth we discuss often. My love for them will never change into anything different than love. It can grow of course but it will never change into something else and nothing they do or anyone else does could ever cause it too. Even more importantly God’s love for them will never change either, someday I will explain the types of love to them but for now, the word Love is enough on it’s own.

This simple step; an open, ongoing dialog that reminds them there is absolutely nothing in the world that could make me or their dad stop loving them is the first step in preventing them from ever being one of those people trapped in the trafficking industry.

When children know they will be loved in any circumstance, even unspeakable ones, they become a very difficult target for predators. Predators don’t want to be noticed by the herd, they pick off those they can take most quietly and easily. When a child is too afraid to tell you something because they don’t know it wouldn’t change your feelings they become the quiet prey. Let them know. Tell them. You love them and nothing could ever change that because love doesn’t change, not real love, not the kind a parent has for a child or Christ has for us.

 

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Teaching my Kids Truth AND Tolerance

Our society loves to throw around the word tolerance. It’s become synonomous with “accepting everything as right or true”. Sorry folks, you need to break out the dictionary because tolerance only deals with how much you can put up with an opposing view point, it does not in anyway mean you accept it as valid. [Actual Definition: “The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”]

I want my kids to be tolerant but also not to accept false things in the name of “tolerance”. It’s a tricky path but for the Christian a 100% necessary one. Jesus preached against adultery but still loved the sinners caught in it. I love alot of people I disagree with but that does not change that they are wrong (just like people who love me when i’m wrong). Being tolerant of their views can NOT look the same as agreeing with their views, I can not knowingly support something that is wrong but I CAN knowingly love someone who is wrong. I am called to love my fellow sinners. I am raising my children in a society that hates truth (because truth is offensive to those who live in contradiction to it) and it would be poor parenting on my part to let everyone else’s desire for political correctness overshadow truth.

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from Disney’s Mulan when the emperor says, “No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.” Truth is unchanging, it is not a societal construct that can be changed to suit our moods.

I am raising my children not to speak about things they do not understand (the opposite of our culture which encourages children, and adults for that matter, to speak loudly and frequently regardless of whether they have any actual understanding of a topic). We forget that freedom of speech is not a compulsion to speak! They will not be jumping into the bandwagon with the Argumentum ad Populum crowd and proclaiming they know best because “a whole bunch of other people agree so it must be true!”. I see this far too often but popular does not equal correct.

My children are being taught to think for themselves but to make sure those thoughts are backed by facts before they share them. I was taught to think for myself but also to have deferrence for facts and life experience and wisdom and I am thankful for that, in fact without an open mind AND closed mouth I may have never become a Christian. People can only hear what they understand but they can only understand what they stop to actually hear. I want my children to grow up listening, knowing they can speak up anytime they need, but having the maturity not to always exercise that right.

Our society has created so many false dicotohmies that sometimes it seems like there are only two choices: religion or science, republican or democrat, christian or atheist, pro this, anti that, the list could go a while but there is no actual duel between truth and tolerance, in fact I think they coexist perfectly, you can know and speak truth AND be tolerant of others views. Telling someone you think they are wrong is not actually an act of aggression, in fact, if done for the right reasons, in the right way, it is an act of love!

Disagree, people, stand up for what you believe in but don’t hate those who disagree with you. The hatred in our society is an overwhelming force. Don’t participate simply because it’s popular.

 

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Finding Beauty in the Mess: Week 2

This week my moment of beauty came as I tried to clean blood out of washclothes and off my bathroom counter. I found myself reflecting on my gratitude for my children’s health and safety. Shortly before I had been holding a wet washcloth on my toddler’s mouth trying to slow the flow of blood gushing from her teeth. She had slipped on the bench at our table during dinner and her two top teeth connected with the edge pretty hard. I was upset and worried for a moment but once it was clear there more blood than anything I settled in to grateful. The minor injuries of my children’s lives are just that minor, small, momentary discomforts and for that I am tremendously thankful. It’s beautiful to have a healthy child, even one covered in blood.

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Finding Beauty in the Mess: Week 1

At my Momtourage group (a group for moms of preschoolers) this past week we were challenged to try and find the beauty each day in the mess of life and parenting (because it’s always a little messy but with the right perspective it’s always beautiful too!). I’m better with accountability so for the next 4 weeks I am going to try and reflect on the week to see some beauty that might have otherwise been hidden. Hopefully, this can encourage you to do the same.

My son has become increasingly independent since he turned four, trying to do things on his own he’s never tried. Sometimes it’s great…sometimes it means my husband finds two ziploc baggies containing: playdough, water, pompoms and miscellaneous items in his bedroom…one slightly leaking. He’d helped me make gel writing bags for preschool a few weeks ago and thought he and his sister would like some at home… he would have asked me for help if he hadn’t been so confident he could figure it out himself! He explained his ingredients (playdough, water to make it squishier, pom poms he thought would change the color if they soaked in water and some pretty things since he didn’t have any glitter).

I could have gotten mad at him for the mess and the waste and the sneaking them in his room but I instead looked at his intentions. He truly thought he could surpise me when he made these cool pouches for him and his sister, his heart was in a beautiful place. I laughed at his attempt before throwing them away and promising we would buy more hair gel to make our own next week.  I love this sweet, creative and independent side of him, in fact just writing this made me smile then give him a big hug again.

There is always beauty in the mess. Today of all days I remember that, what happened 14 years ago was ugly and horrible but from the ashes rose so many beautiful acts of love and compassion, they don’t change the damage but they give us hope.

Look for the beauty in the mess this week.  

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Perfect Mom

I thought i’d make blog for you of all the things I do perfectly:

You’re Welcome.

Just a loving reminder to all my fellow moms that shooting for perfection is fool’s folly!

Our perfection is found in our imperfection!!!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Perfection is a lie. Embrace your imperfections and allow God to use them! If we are not honest with the world about who we are they will not be able to see past our lies to Christ living in us.

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Stop Overthinking Kindergarten.

*This blog is a letter about me, to me but it might apply to you too*

I’m a former Kindergarten teacher. I have a 4.5 year old. People started asking me about his school plans when he was 3. I’ve been stressed out everytime I think about it for a full year and a half.

The way i’ve been stressing about this you would think that when you choose a Kindergarten you are signing a contract to remain there for the rest of their school career and it will directly impact all areas of their future.

I went to public school most of my education career. I taught at a Christian school. I have friends who do both, I’m home preschooling. My son would likely qualify for a tuition free gifted school nearby. Then there is full day, half day, affordability, maturity, convenience.

I’ve driven myself crazy…

We’ve thought he’d need an extra year because of his social anxiety..but then I watch him in his classes at church where he loves his peers and teachers and learning and fits in just fine….

I’ve thought about homeschooling his first year and putting him in in first grade but I also think about the experiences he might miss and the relationships he could be building…

I know all about Kindergarten readiness testing, i’ve performed a hundred of them at least.

I know about the pros and cons of public and private and classical and montessori and young fives and older fives…

I’ve looked at the budget and made fearful plans toward homeschooling because the school I feel God leading us too just doesn’t seem to fit in those numbers.. I can’t see the math. But then my husband reminds me that literally every good, God led decision of our marriage has been that way. God knows my weakness and tendency to want to plan and control and handle it all. He grows me by showing me situations I can not figure out, things I see as impossible and then time and time again making it possible. Making it beautiful and glorifying to Him.

So guess what.

I don’t know.

I’m an educator with a 4.5 year old and I think we know what school he’s going to because we feel like God has drawn us there.

But I don’t know when for sure. Will we delay him or homeschool him or just put him in in the fall? I don’t know.

I also have realized that’s ok.

Just like everything else I try to rush God into revealing for me so I can feel in control, I need to let go.

I am letting go.

God will direct out path.

He will make the timing clear.

He will provide the finances we need.

I just have to stop overthinking it and remember that it’s just Kindergarten.

So I am.

 

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Success, Parenting & the Gifted Child

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If you clicked this link hoping to get insight into all the ways to make your gifted child even more awesome or even to hear some parenting tips for those “unique” challenges…you clicked the wrong link.

First, I want you to understand my qualifications for writing this and to do that I need to tell you a little story:

Let me introduce you to two real people and where they were at various life stages:

Elementary School: 

  • He is a good student.
  • She is an excellent student in gifted programs, winning every award under the sun.

High School: 

  • He is now a poor student maintaining a GPA only high enough for athletic eligibility and not much else, his plans include moving from McDonalds to UPS and briefly attending community college before dropping out.
  • She is a 4.0 Valedictorian graduating early and offered numerous scholarships to many schools, including the full ride she will take.

Post Graduation: 

  • He finally tires of menial jobs, joins the USAF and goes to a four year school along the way, surprising himself with the fact that as a more mature adult he is able to maintain a very high GPA and graduate with honors.
  • She lands an internship her freshman year which leads to a job as the youngest paralegal in state history by sophmore year. When she determines it’s not her passion she changes colleges and majors and graduates a few years later with the highest honors wearing enough cords and sashes to look like a Christmas tree.

Career: 

  • After the Air Force, he goes on to write a book for a national publishing agency and become employed by one of the most prestigious organizations in the country.
  • She goes on to become a Kindergarten teacher…before staying home with her kids and occasionally writing an unpaid blog for fun.

Student Loans: 

  • He has none, the few thousand not covered by the USAF has long since been paid off
  • She had no loans those first few years when she was pursuing a degree in something she wasn’t passionate about but transferring to the right school meant no eligibility for incoming freshman scholarships and the tiny transfer ones left most of her tuition unpaid. She will be paying on student loans for years to come.

Which one was the genius? Well she is…or… I am. I have a genius level iq and spent my entire life in gifted programs, told by every teacher and professor what a gifted mind I possess. My husband, the “he” in this story, I contend is actually as smart or smarter but aside from pointless academia there’s rarely a reason to take an iq test so I guess we’ll never know (he is far to humble and claims it not so).

We have two children of our own and I can assure you I don’t plan on commenting on their intelligence levels publically now, if ever. I don’t care if they have iqs off the charts because at the end of the day, intelligence is only one tool. Today “gifted” is thrown around, every parent believes their child to be abnormally intelligent and yet… they can’t all be. But so what if they aren’t? So what if they are? Does a child need to be labeled “gifted” to succeed? By society’s definition my husband is FAR more successful than I am or possibly ever will be. (By my own definition I am successful because I am happy but that’s another story.)

If your child is gifted…don’t make that their defining character trait. Don’t let them get by with murder because you think they are the future Bill Gates. Don’t ride them and pressure them because you want them to win a Nobel prize. Remember that their intelligence level IS a gift, it is part of them but is not them, were a head injury to take that from them tomorrow I can only assume you would still love them the same. If they are gifted that is great but it does not guarantee, or even strongly correlate, to success (check out the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell if you don’t believe me).

If your child is NOT gifted, at least by society’s scholastic standards (and there are so many other ways to be gifted and talented) then take heart, that IQ score, those test grades, honors, awards, even high school and college GPAs…well they tend to come out in the wash. Don’t let them phone it in and purposefully underachieve but don’t stress if they aren’t the “best” either. Success is not measured by those scores or grades. It is something far more complex, but guess what even by the most shallow and superficial of standards your child may still blow those others out of the water (my husband did, and is a good person to boot). I say again to you: success is not caused by or even strongly correlated to iq, if you don’t believe me either just read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)

I want to end by saying: Your children are listening. When you talk about them to others what are they hearing first (i.e. most important)? Are they hearing how smart they are? How successful they are going to be? Or are they hearing about their character? Who they are as people? Your well meaning praise of them may be putting undue pressure on them, your focus on the type of intelligence measured by a test may make them feel like less of a person, more of a number. Is that what you want them to hear? 

 

 

See, looking every bit like the KIND of future success everyone expected from me…

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I’m much happier with the kind of successful I became 😀