Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Children's Self-Image

There are things my children question that I would have never considered as a child. We've discussed abortion, sex, and gay marriage at ages I would have never believed necessary (9 years old and younger). And my husband and I have only discussed them on the defense...when our children have hurled the topic at us because of what they've heard. I am starting to realize that I better sharpen my defensive line to one of steel!

I am glad that we can be open about discussing these things--giving my children an educated, moral view on topics that scream at us from headlines and t.v. screens. Yet, since I brought my first son into this world, I've struggled with the fact that we are raising our children in a society of subjective truths, compromised morals, choices that toe the edge of right or wrong, and I''ve feared my children would find confusion and pressure to conform.

Tonight, my son--only 8 years old--brought up one of these hot topics, and it wasn't just in a questioning way. He brought it up in a personal way, wondering what would happen if HE dealt with it when he was older. Our children aren't ignorant. When they are exposed to agendas, ideas, and opinions, their self-image--their developing self-image--is bound to shift. I wonder...

What obstacles will he now have to fight inside his head to stay true to his true self? What seed has been planted that must either be nurtured or die for him to become the person of his full potential?

With so much permission out there to choose roads that are certainly not for everyone, how is a tween, teen, young adult to find out who they truly are without making devastating mistakes in the process?

Honestly, I don't know how to parent without Jesus, these days. It is such a blessing to know that my children know Him, and because of that ONE truth, they know themselves. All of our discussions revolve around this central foundation in Romans 8:
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

 My children may be fed the garbage of society, watching things they shouldn't see, hearing things they really aren't sure how to process, but if I can guide them as children of the Living God, Whose grace and love will follow them throughout their lives, then I pray they will know themselves only through Him, and not let the world distract them with agendas and man-made truths.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Family Boot Camp

Appropriately after my last post, my family has taken a turn for boot camp. It's been snowy, we've banned video games/electronics to the weekends, and my husband was in charge of entertaining the boys this Monday. So, with the good ol' effort of a former CT from Texas A&M (ROTC if you're wondering), my hubby gave the boys something to do: push ups, sit ups, any physical activity that could be contained to our living room. It was fun for the first five minutes, and then it became more than became inspiration! They ran around the room, thumping their bare chests like gorillas (well, not really, but it was in the same spirit), and my three boys were spurred on to take it all a step further.
10 push ups?
I can do 11.
25 sit ups?
I can do 30.
How about arm wrestling? Let's see who wins.
What about racing around the kitchen island? I'll beat you by 1.5 seconds.
Yeah, can we say testosterone pumped FREELY through our haven from the wintry elements?

So, I sat back, laughing as my daughter also tried to keep up, and, this was an ingenious way to entertain these VERY energetic children on this VERY cold day....and then, my entertainment took a turn for the better: My 6 year old and 8 year old were raiding the fridge for only HEALTHY stuff. Yep. They munched on carrots, snap peas, blueberries, and apples. They were so excited to get in shape from my husband's impromptu boot camp, they took their hungry selves to the fridge in search for power food! Hilarious and awesome all at once!
The next morning, I even had to explain to them that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their packed lunch weren't all that bad for them since I bought the all natural of each...they insisted it all had too much sugar!!

So, now it's Wednesday, and I sit here typing this while my son is continuing his sit ups with Dad as his spotter. These boys crave energy-releasing activity! And if this is the way they do it, then so be it. My husband may have sore arms from Monday's exercise, but at least sit ups and push ups for my rambunctious boys are better than video games!

 Do I hear an amen??

Friday, February 22, 2013

Big FAT Lies

I've started taking this Bible "study" which has you dissect the things you've been told about yourself since a child that affects your emotional well-being, and flesh out the lies that need to be replaced with actual truth in Christ. Heavy, right? I know! I have been kicking and screaming saying "I don't want to!" but I know I need too...
Because I still fall for the lies every day...and I am a grown up with a big God.
Lately, I have skulked around the house feeling G-U-I-L-T-Y (big indicator of falling for a lie)  because I don't make time to workout. I just really don't care about it. Now, I do care when my clothes get snug or if I am threatened to be in a swimsuit situation, but it certainly isn't on my "favorite things to do" list...and if I have spare time, I'd rather write!
So, I wondered why I feel guilty about something nobody is holding me accountable to? My husband pours out compliments all the time, so I don't feel like I need to shape up to win his affection. There is no reason in the world that I should feel guilty...but I do.
And you know what? It's because I believe the lie of all the things trending in society right now: Extreme weight loss, extreme workouts, cutting inches, depriving oneself of food...looking like you did in high school...even when you're nearing 40!

"If you focus on these, you will be happy with yourself, finally!" -21st century Society Trend

I am not embarking on those techniques to a better I shouldn't be happy with myself, right? I am "less" than I could be...which is ironic, isn't it?;)

Enter GUILT here.

If I can step back and realize where the lies are...the emotions that tell me I'm not good enough right where I am, this side of 100 pounds (there are many other scenarios I am sure...another one for me has been this side of being published...)...then maybe, just maybe I can make room for truth to fill me up.
And here's the truth...that I will tell myself from here on out, especially when I begin to give into guilt in any scenario:

I am loved right where I am. No matter how I look in skinny jeans, no matter if I have only broken a sweat walking up the stairs in the last 24 hours. God cares less about my figure (of course he wants me to be healthy and care for my body aka "temple"). But more about my heart...and I don't mean the one that needs fiber and low cholesterol items to survive...I am talking about the soul here...the one that will spend eternity with Him one day.

Why do I let things less important than this get me down? Sure, I may need to work on a healthy lifestyle, but it isn't worth the emotional garbage I have allowed to fill me up!

So, what lies have you fallen for? Or, how do you keep truth as a guard to your emotional state? Please tell me! I'd love to know!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Organized Sports: Bleh or Yeah?

We moved to a new city about eighteen months ago. It was harder on my oldest than anyone else. He went from being a confident (overly at times), "cool" kid at his tiny school, to the new, reserved kid in a class of peers who had been together for five years.
If you've kept up with my blog or you know me in person, you'll know that we made the big switch from Christian private school (a school of 240 kids Pre-K thru 12th) to public school (750 kids Pre-K thru 5th) this year.
And it has been great! Really, it has. God's hand was all over the transition and besides typical kid stuff, we have had no complaints from the boys.

So I thought the confidence issue with my oldest had fizzled out. But it hasn't. He still says "I think so" to questions he knows the answer to, and most of the time, he'd prefer to not answer at all.

Maybe it's seasonal...because it flared up this time last year. I know I get the blues this time of year with much snow and little sun. But something I realized tonight, is that even if it's seasonal, there is a particular thing that seems to follow up the lack of confidence with a big dose of ego for our son. And perhaps it's just coincidence.

Or not.

Baseball. My son loves the sport and plays it pretty well, and once baseball season came around last the end of the dreary winter...we saw a change in him. Now, it was easy to say, well, that's just because school was almost out...and he really didn't care for his 4th grade classmates that were tight and exclusive. But, tonight--in the heart of winter (here anyway)-- I saw that sudden burst of confidence and the delight in who he is, right where he is at, during his third-ever indoor baseball practice.

My husband and I have been conflicted on organized sports. It pains us to give up our freedom of time and energy to conform to a practice schedule and weekends filled with games. They are just kids right? My baby is ten and a half, and won't be a kid much longer.

I've been reading Go Teens by Jill Savage and Pam Farrel. And when we decided to sign our son up for a competitive baseball team, the next chapter I came to was titled, "Casting Vision: Helping Your Teens Find Their Path."  Total God's timing! The chapter gave me a new perspective on pouring into our son...or rather...allowing him to pour himself into something that he desired. Jill and Pam say:

"From our years of working with teenagers in the school system and in the church, we have found that those students who had a good sense of self, who discovered their talents, skills, and gifts, seemed to sail through their teen years. A tween who feels good about something he or she can do is less likely to be swayed by negative peer pressure."

Tonight affirmed mine and my husband's notion that sacrificing a little bit of our freedom on nights and weekends, might actually be giving our son even more than down time at home would do. We know he is good at something, so why would we hold him back? Why not give him the chance to develop that sense of self through something he loves and is good at?

I am not saying that every kid needs to participate in organized sports to gain this, but I am saying that as a parent, I need to remember that my children are people too, with desires, and dreams, and talents. Just like I hope they encourage me, and allow me TIME to fill my dream on this writing journey to publication, it's not too early to allow them the chance to excel in their own ways.

And how great that they are young and can explore different interests, with all the time in the world to hone into one that gives them the desire to be GREAT!

While I will always treasure family time, and guard it as something necessary and precious, I will no longer complain about my children's desires to get on the field, sit behind the piano, or play in the band...because each time they gain skill, I hope they are adding to a strong foundation of confidence as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Piece of Me

When they were babies, I'd gain a glimpse at my contribution to their traits--the brown eyes, curl in his hair, the dimple in his chin. I sat and stared at my newborns in awe of the Creator's great blessing that was unique to me in so many ways.
Now, as they grow older, I cringe at some of the other traits they've also inherited from their very fallible mother. The worrying, the fear, the antagonizing of younger siblings (yes, I was that annoying child in the back seat on road trips that just couldn't leave her sister alone).
My oldest is certainly me when it comes to emoting. He can't help it sometimes, and I know EXACTLY how he feels.
My third son is the one who just freezes up when life is too much...he'll collapse wherever he is and curl on the floor like a limp noodle. Not that I do this, but man, I feel like doing it sometimes!
And my baby girl, well, she is drama. And she is a girl. Need I say more?

I wanted to share mostly about my second son. From the time he was two, he has been quite the jokester...the clown...the witty one. NOTHING like me. And this was almost to a fault. I remember eating out with some friends when he was this age, and he just couldn't leave his friend alone, so she got up and said, "I don't want to sit next to him!"
It broke my heart.

Not because I could blame her for not wanting to be messed with, but because my baby sat there with big blue eyes (again, nothing like me), and a questioning stare, wondering why his best friend who he was giving a squeeze just a little too tight, so abruptly abandoned him? I saw him get what he deserved, really, but his little face has a way of making you feel sorry for the little culprit!

A week ago, when my now-eight-year-old boy came to the car with a pout, declaring he had a bad day, I asked him what was wrong. Perhaps someone picked on him, or he got in trouble with the teacher. He explained to me how his heart hurt when a "special needs" boy in his class got laughed at by a group of kids.

My mama's heart swelled, and my memory jostled, knowing that this was more than just a teachable moment for him.

When I was a child, I witnessed the same thing, and I have the diary entries to prove how much it hurt my heart. I am not trying to pat myself on the back for being a compassionate person, but to see my son have the exact same reaction as me, assured me that God knew why He poured His grace on me and gave me the privilege to mother. (Believe me, some days I wonder, "What was He thinking??") This small similarity between me and my son gave me a smidge of validity that I could resonate with more than the less desirable qualities I've passed on!

I thank God for letting this one thing come full circle, aside from my drama and my flaws so obviously passed down to my children. I thank Him for that memory long ago, and that even if I made no difference in the life of the child who I had stuck up for, that at least I could share and mother my son with advice that came from a heart cut out of the same mold.