Month: October 2018

The Conference

Oh my! I just came off of an author conference that was a lot about books, a lot about leadership and a lot about our creator. At times I felt as if I was attending a revival. I work in a leadership group as a side gig, and their three-day conferences are very similar in many ways. Did God do that? Did He align me with just the right groups and just the right people to fulfill my destiny and fuel my passions? I answer with a resounding “Yes!”Understanding that leaders are servants was just what I needed to be reminded of to take my next step.

Panoramic of conference

So now what? Do I come off of the event all high on life and then simply go back to doing the laundry and the dishes in the sink? How will my life now move forward? Will I really build that great website that will draw thousands of hurting people to my site to purchase my books and coaching services?

Me and Kary
Learned so much from author Kary Oberbrunner!

All I can tell you, readers, is that I will look only to the step that I am stepping up to, and not fret about the whole, overwhelming staircase. I will see a long-term vision and break it down into baby steps that will continually allow me to press on. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Enjoy climbing your staircase too!

 

 

 

Prodigal Son

Most of us know the story of the prodigal son from Luke Chapter 15:11-32. If you don’t, stop right here, get a Bible and read it. Or, you can cheat and listen to the amazing Michelle Tumes song Please Come Back To Me

Now, the son I will describe was not prodigal. Not wasteful or reckless. Not extravagant or imprudent. He was just absent. He had a girlfriend.

When your teenager has a serious relationship, it is exciting and new. it is even better when you like the girl he is dating. Eventually, as the relationship blossomed I saw less and less of said son. That was rough on me in so many ways. I am not what you call a hover parent or helicopter parent, but I wanted my son back. I wanted dinner conversation and breakfast banter. I wanted to sit on the couch and watch a family movie with the last remaining child I had at home. I was sick and tired of him running through the door after work, taking a quick shower, grabbing a snack, then heading back out only to come home long after I went to bed.

When his two-year relationship ended with this lovely girl, I was reminded of the story in Luke. He was back like the prodigal son. And like the father in the story, I wanted to kill the fatted calf and dress him in the finest robe and shoes. But I also silently ached for him. I was once young and know the sting of breaking up.

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If you are a parent faced with a similar situation, the best advice is to be there to listen only. Don’t ask a bunch of questions or find out who was at fault. Don’t say insensitive things like “There are plenty of other girls.” Take yourself out of the equation unless called upon for any advice. This is a time when silence is golden.

For the moment I have my breakfast banter, and fun conversations about school, world events, future goals and anything that he wants to bring up first. It is a joy and pleasure to hear him share with his father and me. I know he will date again. I know he will get serious again, but for now, I bask in the last bit of being the parent of a teenager.

Enjoy your children. it goes by in the blink of an eye.

 

 

For Parents of Young Kids.

I have some wonderful friends that are younger than I and they have amazing, cute, little balls of energy that they are in the thick of raising.  Although my children are grown, I remember vividly the trials and tribulations of little ones. One time my husband had gone to all of the trouble to redecorate our basement so that my job as a homeschool mom would be easier. My darling man created four desks (one was for me) with matching shelves to store all of the books, glue sticks, papers, computer programs, crayons, Science kits, and miscellaneous craft materials.

One evening he was yelling at the two younger kids for making a glitter glue mess on the new desks. I did not understand why they were getting yelled at for using the desks for their intended purpose. I understand that he went to a lot of expense and time to create such a lovely place to study, but children are messy. I often felt like taking care of small children was like weeding a garden after a rain. The weeds keep coming and coming as fast as you can pull them. With young children, the messes, the laundry, the meal preparation, the countless bedtime stories keep coming and coming and coming until you wonder if anything you do matters.

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Today I want to emphatically remind parents of young, messy, loud and active children that the glitter glue desk means they were learning how to be creative. The muddy shoes in the foyer mean that they got to play outside and were not sitting in front of the electronic babysitter (TV-computer-iPad-etc…) The story you have to read for the nineteenth time means that they are learning repetition and that is comforting to them. The laundry you have to do means that they have a clean environment to grow and learn.

 

Stick it out. Take a deep breath. They will only be young for a short period of time. If you do it right, they will grow up to be these amazing adults who are so much fun to be around. They will be your legacy. They will remind you that all of those sticky fingers, half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches, and poopy diapers were just part of the journey.

My Second Rant!

About a year ago I wrote My First Rant! about parents allowing their children to run around the playground with $600.00 phones instead of just playing, and parents that plug their kids into iPads at a restaurant instead of making eye contact with them and teaching social graces.

Well, yesterday I attended a celebration of life service for a distant relative. There was a lovely luncheon afterward, replete with pizza, pasta, fried chicken, chicken parmesan, rolls, and a salad bar to die for. My husband and I sat at a table where we knew no one. As we looked at the photos of the deceased placed on the table for us to remember her by, I saw a rather heavy set girl sit across from me. She must have been no more than 10 years old and I felt bad that she was already having such a struggle with being a healthy size.

When it was time to get in line for the buffet, I noticed that she had come back with nothing green whatsoever. She had a portion of pasta and 2 large pieces of fried chicken. I could hear myself saying, “Stacey, don’t judge. That chicken is really good!” and then “Stacey, stop looking at her. It’s her choice.” We later had an opportunity to go up for seconds, and I cannot turn down a salad if there are fun toppings to adorn it with. Indeed I feasted on nuts, seeds, mushrooms, raisins, cherry tomatoes, and shredded cheese atop of the lettuce and spinach.

Again the young lady sat across from me with her second plate of fried chicken and not a single thing to accompany it. Again, I reminded myself to make no conclusion, until I saw the mother come over and sit down too. She was so large, that I am sure she has a difficult time finding clothing to wear even in the plus size area of a typical department store. It was difficult for me at that point to feel anything but anger that this mother is teaching her child to eat in this way, instead of breaking the cycle of obesity.

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I am not trying to be self-righteous in any way. I too struggle with my weight each and every day. As an adult woman, my weight has fluctuated over 50 pounds up and down, down and up over the last 30 years. While raising my children, however, I always encouraged, forced and bribed my children to eat some vegetables until it became a habit to have a healthy variety. My favorite story is that of my son when he was about 4 years old.  He was crying because his Grandma forgot to buy the ” spare-gus” (asparagus).

We all have our demons that we fight. But when you are raising the next generation of humanity, please consider the multiple ramifications of the choices you make as well as the way you are guiding the people in your care. God bless you and go enjoy that fried chicken. But eat your salad fist!

 

Waiting it out

What a grand vacation my husband and I had last month. We had four days of primitive camping and sunny days that seemed to be made just for us. The day we left, it began to drizzle just as my husband returned from the take out of the river he had been kayaking on. He needed three or four minutes to properly strap the boat to the top of the van before heading into a three-hour drive on the freeway.

Suddenly the drizzle became a deluge. He hopped in the van and we had to wait it out before strapping the kayak down. Things got tense quickly as it was our last day of fun in the sun before returning to jobs and commitments at home. The van was a mess with wet swimsuits, 2 bicycles, a stove, a cooler, all of our clothes that reeked of the campfire,  our sleeping bags, and pillows.

When the rain stopped, my husband stepped out of the van and into a large puddle. He went to turn the kayak upside down and the water it had just taken in from the rain poured down him like a waterfall. Furious now, he mumbled a few expletives and off we went, now noticing every car in front of us that was driving too slow or doing something asinine like putting on the brakes to go up a hill.

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The beauty of the day came moments later when he calmed down and asked if I wanted to stop at the cemetery to pay respects to my Mother’s side of the family that was from that part of the state. I rarely get three hours from home so I readily took him up on the opportunity to stop and pray at the graves of my Grandparents, and one brother who was also buried there.

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The rain had stopped, just for us as we reflected on the fragility of life. Suddenly a puddle stepped in, a rain-soaked shirt or a few swear words meant nothing of consequence. The real marrow of life comes from all of the other moments that create lasting memories. Forgive the tension that arises when we have to wait out the storms of life. Know that the sun does come back and shines abundantly on those that choose to see it. #LettersToTheDeadMen