Thursday, July 28, 2016

You Might Be The Youth Pastor's Kid If......

1- You know where the church secretary hides all the good snacks.

2- The pastor teaches you to throw rocks at church camp.

3- You're the only one to get 12 hours of sleep at youth camp.

4- You can fall asleep despite the rocking worship band playing.

5- You have "church camp sheets" that only get used once a year.

6- You hear your parents talking about camp and you wonder what cousin you get to spend a week with this year.

7- You are potty trained at youth camp.

8- You're first "real" concert is to see Toby Mac.

9- You can sing along to all the songs on the Christian radio station but have no idea the lyrics to the songs you're friends are singing.

10- You know all the VBS songs weeks before VBS.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My 20th High School Reunion

I travelled 400 miles to go to my 20th high school reunion this past weekend. 20 years ago I couldn't wait to graduate and move far away from these people. I've been looking forward to going back and reconnecting for weeks.  How time changes things.

This was not just a high school reunion. It was a reunion of my childhood. I grew up in a one redlight town in the 80's and 90's. We had 43 people in our graduating class and most of use had known each other since 1st  grade. We grew up together. We had slumber parties together. These are the people we talked about our first kisses with. We were cheerleaders together and went to band camp together. As a youth minister's wife I spend a lot of time with teenagers. I listen to a LOT of teenage girl drama. This weekend I smiled, hugged and laughed with lots of those who caused MY teenage girl drama.

Time changes things. Marriage, babies, tradegy changes things. I looked around and didn't see an extra 20 pounds here or extra wrinkles under the eyes there.  I saw the bright faced 18 year olds that used to be.  I saw dreams that worked out and some that didn't. We laughed together because the music was too loud and we were "out past our bedtimes".  We stood in the middle of Main Street for our class picture. The same Main Street that we rode down in floats in the Christmas parade and marched down in the Homecoming parade.

I had a terrific time! These were the friends of my youth. They shaped who I was for better or worse and helped to catapult me into the woman I have become.  It was great to catch up.

There was no pretense or pretending or trying to be better than someone else.  I am who I am and that's it. And even though 20 years ago I didn't feel like that was enough this time it was.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why Legoland is the safest place in Dallas

Two weeks ago when we went to Dallas for a short vacation we spent a morning at Legoland. First up  let me tell you I thought it was a little overpriced. It was $90 when I paid for 4 of us and we probably stayed 3-4 hours. For that much I want something to keep me occupied all day. (To be fair we did not take advantage of the outside water play because I just did not want to take the time to undress and redress 3 children into water gear and then back again)

The two best parts of the place were the 4D movie and the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.  The laser ride cart was built for 5 ( seriously how many attractions can seat a 5 person family all together and everybody gets their own laser gun?) it was great because the 2 year old could operate his own laser gun and thought he was big. The 4D movie was entertaining and short enough to keep even the 2 year old's attention.

There were lots of places to build Legos and see how they work and lots of already built scenes. One of the places my bigger kids wanted to play was the play land with slides, nets, stairs and giant foam Gate is serious. At the entrance to the play land there was a lady, an employee, standing guard. She made sure each child met the required height and she made sure there was a parent present before a child was released. This was GREAT! I knew my children were going no where until I showed up (I never left I was almost constantly trying to track them through the playland). Then there was the tweenager. The exchange went something like this:

Girl: my mom and dad are over there ( indicates somewhere in the crowd around the corner near the cafe)
Keeper of the Gate ( KG): well I can't let you out if they're not here
Girl: I'm just going to walk over there
KG: I can't let you out if they are not here. Please step to the side to these others can get out.
Girl (stomps to the side, crosses her arms, rolls her eyes): I am not a baby! I am 10 years old!
Me: giggles off to the side
KG: I will call my manager and she will take you to your parents. Please put your arms down to your sides.
Me: Those are my kids.(motions to my kids waiting patiently behind Attitude Girl) And thank you for not letting them out without me here. I know they will not be abducted.
KG: (motions at Ms Attitude) See what I have to deal with here?

Just for the record I did see Ms Attitude with her parents a short while later so she was not trapped forever in the playland. BUT, the rigidity with which the Keeper of the Gate guarded those children ensured safety.

So in the end Legoland may be overpriced but the safety factor is pretty high.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reasons not to take a 2 year old on vacation.

We just got back from 4 days in Dallas on a short family vacation. On more than one occasion Hubby and I would look at each other and say "I'm never taking a 2 year old on vacation again!" The list of reasons we will not do this goes a little like this... 1. gas station bathrooms 2. ballpark bathrooms 3. waterpark bathrooms 4. ballpark bathrooms... again. And let's not forget the meltdown at The Melting Pot.

On the way to Dallas we stop to get gas and 2 of us needed a potty break. I got back to the van and checked the toddler's diaper and decided to change him in hopes that he would be asleep when we got to the hotel at 10:30 pm (I'll just pause here while you laugh that I can still be so naive after 3 children). My dear 2 year old who is potty training decided he wanted to "peepee on the rocks" aka the parking lot. No big deal right? He's two. Except there is a police officer who just pulled someone over on the other side of the van. Now I don't know if a 2 year old peeing in the parking lot is illegal but I did not want to find out. So we went in the gas station. My son is too short to stand up and pee in the potty so I had to hold him. And figuring out how to aim someone else's pee in the potty...well let's just say it wasn't easy!

Lackluster Potty Training: The Horrors or potty training and the ridiculous hype of speed training.  Being Momma blog.: I really had intended to take a break from potty training while on vacation but my son is just getting the hang of this thing and has discovered if he says he needs to go potty I will drop everything and take him.So when he got bored at the Rangers ballgame (he's 2, his attention span is about 5 minutes and the game lasted 3 hours) he would yell every 5 seconds that he had to go potty. So it went something like this: look in every potty stall and pick the one you want, wait no not that one let's look again, pick the one with the most pee on the seat (probably left from some other toddler who had trouble with aim), cry when mommy cleans pee off the seat because he wanted to clean pee off the seat, refuse to potty because he did not get to clean pee off the seat and sit down in the dirty floor, then, scream and yell when mommy insists on washing his hands because he touched all manner of disgusting things in the bathroom. I convinced Hubby to take him once. Only once. His words "I can't even tell you the disgusting the things he touched and did. I'm never taking him again. Let him pee in the diaper."

Day 2 at the Rangers game he actually went pee in the potty. And I managed to get him to hurry up by promising nachos when he was done. Of course he had to share his nachos with his brother. Which was unacceptable. Cue another meltdown.

meme | Minute For Mom: The Melting Pot Meltdown was one for the record books. We went to the potty 3 times in 2 hours. We walked outside. My food was over cooked because he insisted on sticking cooked food back in the cooking pot. By the time dessert came and he commandeered the strawberries. Our poor waiter brought 2 more bowls of strawberries because as he said "if this will make him happy I will bring strawberries all night long." He and his wife are expecting their first child this fall. Pretty sure my toddler made him question if that was a good idea. Hubby and I  agreed we were not going back to the hotel until the 2 year old was asleep. We would drive around Arlington for an hour if needed. Fortunately he gave in to sleep quickly and we threatened the other two with all manner of bad consequences if they woke the baby. For the love of all things good in the world DO NOT WAKE THE BABY!

And so it's a good thing this kid is our last because we don't want to take a 2 year old on vacation again!

Check back in the next few days and I'll provide reviews of Legoland, the Dallas World Aquarium and Hurricane Harbor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How I (accidentally) taught my children to pray

I don't remember when my first child began to pray at meals but I remember when we started bed time prayers.  She was almost four and she had stayed with the same sitter since she was 8 weeks old.  We had changed to a daycare and she was having trouble adjusting.  She loved playing with the other kids and learning at class time but nap time was not her favorite. Drop off had become a battle and we had tried everything to get her to stop crying every morning.  One night in a moment of desperation (isn't that how we often come to God) I told her we would pray for God to go with her to daycare so she would not be alone.  After a few days of bedtime prayers the crying stopped.  And a new bedtime routine had begun.  As situations in life came up we would pray about them and slowly added people to our prayer list.  Our 3rd child is beginning to pray at meals and here are a few things I have learned.

  1. Pray in front of your children. Kid watch what you do and they copy what they see.  Our 2 year old has recently started saying "I pay! I pay!" (I pray) at meals. He has watched his brother and sister pray at meals for 2 1/2 years. He knows this is what we do and he wants to participate like any other member of the family.
  2. Keep it simple. We start with "God, thank you for this food. Amen." Or at bedtime "Thank you for this day." These are words toddlers can pronounce and are probably familiar with. It doesn't take much time so you won't lose their attention. As kids get older I try to ask them to think of one thing they are thankful for and to thank God for that person or thing. I hope to instill an attitude of gratefulness. 
  3. Don't force them. We ask " Do you want to pray?" If the answer is " no" it's no big deal. I don't ever want to force my children to pray. 
  4. Praying with your children will change your prayer time. You will find yourself with more things you want to talk to God about and not enough time in the short bedtime prayer time. Plus there are things that you will want to discuss with God that are not appropriate for little ears. Which brings me to...
  5. Keep it age appropriate. When we pray for sick people we discuss basics. Not how serious cancer is or life expectancy. 
  6. Pray for people you know and things that concern your children. Make it personal.  Some days your kids will come up with people they want to pray for on their own. Encourage that. If something or someone has been the subject of your conversation throughout the day pray for that person.  One of my 6 year olds friends had appendicitis and surgery recently. We had been to the hospital to check on him so it made sense to pray for him that night. 
  7. Handling disappointment. I'm not sure if you've experienced this or not but God doesn't answer all my prayers the way I expect. Maybe you are just more in tune with the Holy Spirit and know exactly what you are supposed to be praying for. But in my life things don't always work out the way I expect or sometimes want them to.  So how do you handle this with kids? This is where one of the biggest opportunities to teach your child about trusting God comes into play. We pray and we trust God for the answer. It's not my child's responsibility if things don't work out. (For the record adults, it's not yours either.) 
It's a tough world to raise children who love Jesus.  As parents it's our job to teach them about Jesus and how to pray.  If you have any tips feel free to comment and leave them below!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Broken hearted

As a mother this week my heart has been broken.  As I rocked my son to sleep Monday night I thought of all the parents planning funerals for their 20 something year old children.  Children they rocked and kissed and cuddled as two year olds.  Parents who are trying to remember the smell of their child's hair and the sound of his laugh.

Last night as I fought the bedtime battle (and won for the first time this week) I thought of another set of parents who would give anything for one more bedtime battle.

I can't think on these things too long because it gives me anxiety. I cannot be with my children 24 hours a day.  Even if I could I could not protect them from everything. There are children every day who are diagnosed with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. There is no way to protect them against these things.

In our hyper media driven world, where we see tragedy in real time, that so many people need medication for anxiety. There are days when I wish I had something on hand to take. On those days when a anxiety creeps in and I find it hard to breathe I remember I have a good, loving Father in heaven who loves my babies more than I do. And a Father who loves me just as much. In those moments I pray for peace. Peace for myself, peace for those who are hurting, peace for those who are afraid.

I do not serve a God who is like a fairy in the sky granting wishes.  It doesn't work that way. I have had my share of requests to God answered in a way I did not like. But I pray His will be done in my life. And I pray for the grace to give Him all the praise for everything in my life.

There are still days when I want to buy bubble wrap in bulk and not let my kiddos out of the house. But I take a deep breath and fine a way to send my heart wrapped in the flesh of my babies out the door to live and enjoy life. And I pray again.

Please let me know how I can pray for you and peace in your life.

Don't walk this scary road of motherhood alone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I would say to the bride I was

Twelve years ago this week I married my best friend. If I could travel back in time and give the woman I was a few tips to help her along the way what would I say? Nothing.

If I told her how hard it would be to raise kids hundreds of miles from family she might make different choices. Then she would miss some precious friendships. She would miss the blessing of seeing God use His church to be her family. I certainly wouldn't want her to miss that.

If I told her to enjoy her in laws because they would gone too soon she would worry about when it would happen.  That worry would rob her of the joy she would feel watching her father in law hold his first grandson.

If I told her that her first and only daughter would wrap that smiling groom around her little finger before he left the delivery room it would ruin the gender surprise. Plus there are no words to describe to the feeling of watching that father/daughter bond grow.

How do I describe what it's like to watch her groom teach their children to play catch and ride a bike? Or how hard she will laugh the first time he tries to change a diaper (and the second and third time too). Would she be able to understand that the wonder of a new baby doesn't diminish after the first child is born?

If I warned that glowing bride that there would be days when she and that groom were so tired from the work of living and raising babies that they would barely be able to mumble "I love you" before collapsing into exhausted sleep then she might decide not to have those babies. And I certainly
wouldn't want her to miss that.

How would I tell her that she has get through ER visits, traumatic birth experiences and potty training  to get to the fun of family vacations and cheering on kids at tball games? How do I tell her that after the newlywed glow has faded it will be their commitment to each other and the God they serve that will get them through the bad days? How do I tell her that those bad days when they are clinging to each other will be what makes the good days sweeter?

No, I certainly can't tell her any of that. So if I could go back in time and sit in the back row of that church and watch the bride I was marry the man I waited many years to meet what would I do? I would hug her tightly, squeeze her hand and simply whisper "You chose well."