The Parenting Battles We Should Choose To Fight

 

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Tonight I made a parenting decision that I’m not sure would score high on the “How To Do Parenting” scale (where can I find that by the way?).  Yet, I am glad of the decision.

I forced my thirteen-year old daughter and fourteen-year old son to watch the movie Little Women.

Yup, forced. Laid down the law.  Made butts sit on couch next to mine.

This typically isn’t my parenting style, but I had just reached my limit of You Tube “Tutorials” and “Epic Fails.”

It is actually a compromise on my part as I see it, since I have been completely unsuccessful at convincing my children that reading classics is well worth their time.

So a movie it was.

There was dissension and moaning, which my realistic mind realizes is normal for this age group when asked to do something mature and good for the intellect.  That they would desire to be well versed in the romantic story line of Meg and her courting of Laurie’s tutor or to be excited to understand the historical significance of children trading “limes” at school and the family’s struggle to make ends meet during war times is just too much to expect…but I still do!

Virtue over wealth! Pushing against confining gender roles—oh the themes!

And then I am disappointed when my two teens keep calling to the dog in a high pitched squeal over Jo’s soliloquy of her newly written manuscript.

But wait, during the final minutes of Beth’s life a question is asked by my daughter with hushed silence in the room,”Why didn’t the other sisters who got Scarlet Fever as young children die of it then?”

And somehow I feel like I have won, this little tiny victory. My children will be able to speak of with some knowledge when met with future commentary or reference about Scarlet Fever and Mary Louise Alcott’s classic.  Possibly with a little scarring. But they will remember it.

And all the other battles I fight or choose not to this week will be okay because of this small champion. History, family, modesty, poverty, love, pain, perseverance, joy—all in a story.  It’s worth it.

Often in parenting we feel like we are fighting our children, when really we are fighting FOR what is good for them.  It feels like a battle we choose against them because their natural tendency in the teen years is to push back.  We must remember that the battle is not about us winning and them losing, but about the things that are good and virtuous and right winning over in their lives.

And for you, what will you put your stake in the ground this week as your parenting non-negotiable?  That is the battle you must choose.

Roll the credits.

 

Summer Mornings–Something For Your Inbox

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Hello! It is certainly summer around here–I know because on my to do list which has multiple tasks (including posting here) there are only four each day that seem to be accomplished–writing a new to-do list in hopes to accomplish more than yesterday, waiting for my kids to wake up so I can know who I am driving where and why, grocery shopping (again! where does all the food go in the summer!), and packing or unpacking from latest camping trip or summer outing.

The 30 other items on the to-do list continue to wait-not so patiently-for me.

One thing I do love about summer, however, is the mornings.  They are relaxed and lazy (for my kids) which means I have total choice in when I wake up and how I spend the quiet moments before sleepy bodies come down the stairs looking for sustenance.

This morning, for example, I am sitting at about 10,000 feet in the mountains of Breckenridge, CO, on the couch of a beautiful home that we are staying in for the week with some dear family friends.  In front of me is a large picture window with this view:

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The sliding glass door is cracked a bit and the cool mountain morning air is drifting in.  It is a little slice of heaven.

On these mornings, I have my routine.  Eat a bowl of Wheat Chex, and then snuggle under a throw with my bible and devotional.  When I am finished with those, I lift the top to my computer and begin my routine there–deleting spammy emails, and then opening the two devotionals that appear in my inbox every morning.  One of them is a daily marriage prayer…I love it because it is short and sweet, but gives me great perspective to enter the day.  I am posting today’s prayer below, and if you would like to see it in your inbox each morning also, click the link I posted at the bottom.

Blessings!

~Amy

 MARRIAGE PRAYER–WHEN WE FEEL HELPLESS

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Some days we feel helpless–helpless over the state of our marriage, our finances, our employment, our health, our family, and our friendships.

It’s during those times that we realize we can’t control our surroundings. It’s also then that we realize our need for Christ and the power of Your Holy Spirit working within us.

Without You we are helpless, but with You we’re triumphant!

You give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Empty us of our sorrow, our fear, and our doubt, so that we might be filled with power and praise.

In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. – Isaiah 61:1-3

 Written By Darlene Schacht

To subscribe to the Marriage Prayer of the Day, click here.

 

Father’s Day DIY for Your Kids

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This weekend Maddie had a friend over for the day, and they decided to have a “Pinterest” craft afternoon, creating gifts for their Dads for Father’s Day.  I put it into a video for my YouTube channel, HairstylesandHallways* (see below).  I have a couple of special guests on the video, plus bloopers which are somewhat entertaining and humiliating all at the same time–but apparently people like them.

*HairstylesandHallways is a new YouTube channel for tween and teen girls that I recently started.  My hope is to encourage girls during this identity-seeking, friendship-changing, stressful time of life for them with videos on Confidence, Faith, and Friendship.  You can watch the PROMO video when you first click on the channel to get a more in-depth description.

If you or your daughter would like to subscribe, just search HairstylesandHallways on YouTube and then click the RED SUBSCRIBE BUTTON.

Also, you can follow me on INSTAGRAM (HairstylesandHallways) where I post (almost) daily inspirational quotes, fun hairstyles and outfits for teens, and information about videos I post.

xoxo,

Amy

Who Are You Trying To Please?

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.                                                        ~Galatians 1:10

When I was a teenager, I was often consumed with comparing myself to how others looked.  The hallways of my school seemed to teem with beautiful girls–the right clothes (ya know, those skinny zip at the ankle guess jeans?) or the perfect blonde curly hair–if I could only look a little more like them….then I would fit in.  The culture of my high school was a little cut-throat at times. When I flew 1000 miles away to college to escape the pressure, I landed myself in a sorority that precipitated this ideal even farther–and I found myself in a great battle with an eating disorder.

Later, when I became a teacher, a career I poured every piece of myself into, I compared myself to other teachers-whose class was the most composed walking down the hall, which teachers had students with highest test scores, etc.  As educational consultants, “the experts,” came in and out of our staff development room, teaching us about the latest and greatest, I would sit in admiration of their knowledge and authority.  So much so that I became one a few short years later.

Later, when I became a mom, I completely stopped comparing myself to others.  Except in a couple of areas…like every one.  As I sat in a mess of toys and dried oatmeal, at least two crying kids at all times, feeling defeated by how hard this new role in my life was, I couldn’t hear one more story about moms who just loved playing with their happy and well-behaved children for hours on end on the living room floor.  Would my kids rise up and praise me one day?  Would others ever ask me for parenting advice? I struggled with insecurity like I had never had before.

These days, I compare myself to other bloggers–we are a dime a dozen right now–what do I possibly have to offer that is anything special?  And, since I have started a new YouTube channel for tween and teen girls I am back to comparing myself to other teenage girls (go figure!).  Not that I want to be a teenage girl again, but my peers in this new world of media are very successful teen YouTubers with audiences in the millions-and I can’t help comparing myself to their success since at the moment I have an audience of 40.

All of this comparison has brought me to my knees over and over and over again in my life.  And God has the same message for me again, today.

His voice is gentle but prodding.

He tells me to look up, not around.

He is to be my audience of one.

One.

One.

One.

Not stats that spike with followers or likes or subscribers. Not admirers of my knowledge as an educator. Not children that act perfectly and grocery store shoppers that nod their heads in approval of my magnificent parenting skills-ha! Not the world that I want to see me as an attractive-ish, fashionable-ish, forty-something. None. Of. That.

Just God.

When we serve our Creator, we do not disappoint.  He subscribes, follows, likes, cheers, listens, and approves of anything we do in His name with a pure and willing heart.

It is the echo of His two clapping hands in an empty room that I long to hear.

He is our audience of One.

 

If You Want To Be Moved Today, Read On…

I am honored to share my Aunt’s beautiful account of her mission experience with Healing Haiti this spring.  If you want to be moved today, read on…

 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor…

We made our way back to City Soleil to bring water, one of life’s most precious resources, and good will, to the people that live there.

As we maneuver the creaky Tap Tap and sister water truck into place, the residents of the city gather. Children smile and reach up and out, toddlers wait, for something–they don’t seem to know just what; and grown-ups are all business.  They line up their buckets quickly, looking for any hole in the line to slip into (we call it butting)–some succeed; others are reprimanded by the water truck driver, or our Haitian translators.

There is an energy circulating within the gathering–not upbeat as it was earlier in the week.  More unsettling, as if a storm was far off but brewing.

Our group begun to help;  carrying buckets, hoisting gallons of water to impossible positions on top of small heads; holding small children and babies, praying to infuse everything good thing that we held in our souls into these lovely beings as if for storage when needed.

Two young ladies shielded my team mate and me as we sat  in the hot sun, with a rag just big enough to cover our heads and the young children we were holding. They reminded me of sentinels; their sole duty to give back something to these strange white people whom they trust are here to help.

Later, a man vehemently slaps a young boy about the ears and on his head repeatedly.  I stand between them, helpless–to do much of anything else.  The man leaves; the boy begins to whimper, then sob.  I try to comfort him, to no avail.  He is distant–perhaps anticipating further unrest when finally he must go home sometime today for shelter.

Shelter.  4 by 5 feet, perhaps.  A couch. No bed. Dirt on the floor.  A chicken pacing in front of the towel hung in an opening to constitute a doorway.

 

The morning grows chaotic as the water begins to run out.  The people quicken their pace to retrieve water that they pray will get them through to the next delivery.

The water runs out.  Our group makes their way to the pier, as our driver tends to a flat tire.

When we return to the tap tap, we find waiting an injured woman, her head gashed and bleeding.  As our team mate,who is a nurse practitioner, and one of our leaders tend to her injuries, our translator explains that a man has intruded into her house and attempted to rape her 12-year-old daughter.  When the mother fended the man off to protect her daughter, he beat her severely. Our skilled nurse patched her up with with what tools we had from the tap tap first aid kit.  The woman would go back to her house.  No hospital–no money.  No police–there are none.

Love thy neighbor…

I stand by the tap tap. Lost. Where is God today, I’m wondering?

I feel like crying, and then I do. Stuck. Helpless. Saddened.

A little girl in a dirty white dress sees me from the other side of the tap tap.  She makes her way over to me, looks up at my tears with genuine, adult–looking concern.

Beautiful, deep brown eyes, furrowed brow.

Genuinely concerned.

She takes the hem of her dress and lifts it to my face to dab at my tears.

I hug her close, wanting to savor the utter, simple humanity of this moment.

The injured leaves, the crowd begins to thin.  we board the tap tap.

A morning of tension, a morning of violence, a questioning of faith–redeemed by a small child reaching out–an act as large as God–an act of loving thy neighbor.

After all…

 Marj Hellweg
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