In just 1 month, we will begin 3 months of summer vacation. My kids have been counting down since before spring break!! The idea of relaxing days by the pool, movies nights, sleeping in and grilling for dinner puts a smile on my face. However, the smile quickly fades when I think back to summers past when we had no plans and no schedules. Chores didn't get done. Kids were irritable from playing too many video games. There was never any food in the pantry because they snacked all day long. This Momma was stressed and ready for school to start again by July 1st!!
About 6 years ago, I came across a book titled "The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival" by Kathy Peel. It was full of fun ideas on how to have a great summer with your kids. The main thing that I realized was that the "best summer ever" wasn't going to just happen. I needed to take time and plan some things. And those things didn't have to be huge events or cost a fortune. I also realized that we still needed to keep up with daily chores. We needed to take some time in the morning to get a few things done before we continued with our day. Here is a list of some things that Kathy Peel recommends to help you plan a fun and sane summer.
A recent survey shows that 60% of US parents of teenagers are okay with monitoring their kid's social accounts without the teen's knowledge. And moms are usually the ones doing the "spying". Even more American parents "stay connected" to their teens on social network sites. However, another survey showed that 35% of teens will ignore their parent's friend requests. With all of the technology and dangers at their fingertips, is it spying or responsible parenting to know what our teens are doing with these gadgets?
We live in an extremely competitive society. Companies compete for our business. Towns compete to be the "best places to work, live or play". Websites compete for the most visitors. Sports teams compete for championships. Charities compete for donors. Schools compete for excellent ratings. Our children compete for our attention. We compete to be the best parents. It's stay at home moms versus working moms. Homeschooling versus public schools. Organic diets versus processed foods. And the list goes on and on.
That is a phrase that is used in hundreds of quotes, sayings and greeting cards. "Life is too short to be alone." "Life is too short to be anything but happy." "Life is too short to waste time worrying about what others think about you." "Life is too short to be too serious" "Life is too short to not party hard, make mistakes and laugh endlessly. You're only young once." "Life is short, so do what you desire." "Life is too short to be miserable, if you're not happy with something, change it."
So many people have a message that they want others to hear. We want to explain why we worship the way they do. We want to explain why we dress a certain way or eat certain foods. We want others to understand why we choose certain types of entertainment. We try to use God's Word to back up our choices and condemn others for not being open minded to our way of thinking.
....it just looks like it sometimes becomes I'm always running. As a mom, there are days when I feel like a super hero. I run from here to there leaping tall buildings in a single bound...of course they're lego buildings but if you've ever stepped on one you'll realize why leaping over them is necessary. I move faster than a speeding bullet...mainly because I get sucked into the land of facebook and twitter and now we're late for school. I spend my days solving crimes...like who ate cookie dough from the package or used all the toilet paper and didn't replace the roll. Who took food upstairs or who turned the air conditioner on when it's only 45 degrees outside? Who drank my tea and why are there 5 empty cereal boxes in the pantry?
I've been a mom for almost 17 years. I have been intentional about preparing my children to become independent, productive self-sustaining adults. I am training them to love God and serve others in a variety of ways. I'm showing them the importance of putting Jesus first in their lives. But am I preparing them to suffer?
Intense. Information overload. Unexplicable. Indescribable. Secret Church 2012 was 7 hours of intense Bible study exploring what the Bible has to say about suffering. Looking at 75 key texts from the Old & New Testament....from Genesis to Revelation. The study was a live simulcast led by David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills. The speed at which information flowed from his mouth was unexplicable. There really are not adequate words to describe this life changing experience. It was like getting an entire seminary course in one night. I am very thankful for the notes that were provided so I'm able to go back and actually in time process the information.
One of the immediate takeaways that jumped out at me is that God uses our suffering to accomplish His purpose. Sometimes suffering in our lives is part of the working of God in our own lives and sometimes our suffering is part of God's working in someone else's lives. As Christians we can be certain that we will suffer and in our suffering we can know that God is sovereign over it all. The starting point for understanding suffering is realizing that God is the center of the universe....not you. J.C. Ryle said "There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think -to wean us from the world-to send us to the Bible-to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing but sickness is far better if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy; but adversity is a greater one if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness and dying in sin."
So the next time a sickness, disaster, struggle, or persecution comes my way, instead of whining "Why me?" "Why now?" I need to embrace the suffering with joy knowing that God is using it for His glory and my good.
I miss the good ole days. You know the days when you were exhausted from chasing toddlers. Being sleep deprived because you were up all hours of the night feeding babies. The days of finding hot wheels cars in the toilet and kitchen utensils in the sandbox. The days of finding your toddler hiding in a kitchen cabinet eating out of the cereal box or on the counter playing in the dog food. Those days when you didn't have a moment to think a complete thought without a child needing something. If you're in the middle of those days right now, you're probably thinking, "She's crazy. I need sleep and privacy and maybe a shower." Before you think I've completely lost my mind, let me explain.
Two of my 3 toddlers are now teenagers, one is a tween and the baby is now 9.....and really I'm thinking 9 is the best age!! He's old enough to do most things for himself but not too old to still give me giant hugs. Plus he still thinks I'm the best mom in the world when I let him have a brownie for breakfast!! It's the older ages that are exhausting me in a whole new way.
Babies & toddlers are exhausting physically for the most part. However, I'm finding that teens & tweens are emotionally & spiritually exhausting. Their issues are much deeper, their emotions are much stronger and their choices have bigger impacts. Training them requires me to constantly be praying for wisdom and guidance. It requires me to be in God's Word listening for His instructions on what choices I need to make as a parent. I need God's strength to make the hard choices that don't make my teen happy. I need God's gentleness and kindness to respond to the bad attitudes displayed by unhappy teens. I need God's assurance that when I take time to train them up in His way that they won't depart from it when they have the freedom to do things their own way. I need God's patience to see parenting as a journey and not a sprint. I have to understand God's uncondtional love for me so that I can then show that kind of love to my kids when they aren't being so lovable. In order for me to know God, I must be diligent in studying His Word and applying it in my own life.
Dr. Dobson was so very right when he said "Parenting is not for cowards". Some of the worst decisions I've made as a parent were to ignore issues or let things slide because I wanted to make things easier on my children or myself. In that moment, I chose not to take the time to train and teach. I chose not to get to the root of the issue....the heart. I can use rules to change the outward behavior but only God's Word & love can change their hearts. And I need to be ready at all times in all circumstances to look past the behavior and see their heart.
This journey of parenting teenagers is showing me everyday just how much I need to be on my knees before God seeking Him. And one day when my kids ae grown , maybe this season will be the "good ole days" that I miss.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.