- I am going to be purposeful. I woke up this morning and realized that two days of summer were already gone. I want every day to count. We only have 63 days or so of summer and I already used up two without being purposeful! Days don’t have to be full just be filled with purpose. Purpose to laugh. Purpose to relax. Purpose to engage. Purpose to recharge.
- I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Usually my summers are filled with work. I work from home so summers are not normally relaxing. I spend my summers hiding in my office or yelling at the kids to stop yelling! LOL! I have a treat this year and don’t have to live by a work schedule. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Trips to the fruit stand. Walks to the mailbox. Dinner preparations. Late night movies. This may be my last summer to have my 3 boys home like this.
- I am going to eat as clean and natural as possible and spend more time on meals. I am not a fan of cooking. It isn’t my spiritual gift (Can I get an amen?) but summer time is a great time to enjoy fixing meals for the family. Get the kids involved. (See #2) I am going to look for new recipes and fix meals that might take a little longer than normal. I will eat fresh foods that will give me energy. This is a great way to recharge for the new school year.
- I am going to plan fewer things and spend more time on those things. I tend to go overboard on filling our schedule when I try to be purposeful. (See #1) Being purposeful doesn’t mean busy it means planning things that mean something. I am going to limit myself to 7 things on a list a day. (This is crazy!) This includes cleaning and errands. I want to take each day slower so that I can enjoy the things we are doing.
- I am going to simplify. When I clean I am going to purge our things. I am not going to add to our clutter. I want to have fewer things that mean more.
- I am going to be aware. I want to really listen when my kids are talking to me. I want to smile at strangers and help those around me. (This may get me in trouble. I will keep you posted.) I want to live in the moment and enjoy every event and day of the summer.
- I am going to fill my mind with scripture. I want my mind renewed before next fall. I know that the only way this can happen is if I fill it with scripture. I am going to read the Bible. I am going to listen to the cool English dude from the Bible app read scripture to me while I am working around the house. I am going to listen to uplifting songs. I want to heal the broken places in my heart and mind this summer and the only way to do that is to wrap them in truth, God’s Word.
- I am going to relax. I am going to give myself permission to do some things that I usually don’t make time to do. I am going to read. I am going to get my toes done. I am going to take a bath. (For the record, I do bathe, I just don’t get to soak and enjoy a bath!) I am going to sit by the pool. These things will recharge my mind and body and help me be a better mom.
- I am going to put my inner manager on hold. Things don’t have to be as orderly during the summer as they do during the school year. I am going to put my inner manager on hold and just enjoy events without the spreadsheets. (Yes, I have heard this can be done. I haven’t personally experienced this but it is a possibility.) I don’t always have to take charge. I can just sit under the umbrella and see what happens when I don’t take over.
- I am going to embrace the bumps. Things will not go as planned. I understand this. A crazy person told me that the best vacation they ever took happened because of a canceled flight and all their reservations were lost. Who knows? Maybe that crazy person is on to something? God might be hanging out in the bumps this summer. He might meet me at the intersection where my plan falls apart and His plan takes over.
- I am going to put my expectations on hold. I am going to wake up each morning and give my day to God. I am going to ask Him to fill my day with joy and peace. I am going to relinquish my expectations and live with expectancy. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me this summer! Summer 2016 here I come!
From the first time I can remember being asked this question until today my answer has been the same. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Without a pause or hesitation, I say …. a mom! I love ministry. I enjoy working. However, my highest calling is being a wife and mom. It isn’t that being focused on family is easy, because you know it isn’t easy. We have suffered death and divorce. We have embraced and sometimes just endured change. We have dealt with depression and financial setbacks just like many of you. However, at the end of the day when all the dust settles and I walk from room to room checking on the kids, praying for each one, I am truly content.
These days there are fewer rooms to check. Soon there will only be two rooms filled and the other chickies will have flown the nest. By fall we will be sending one to Gainesville for her final semester in college and a wedding in December. One will be heading to Gainesville for her first semester of college. We will pack another off to seminary. You blink and they are grown.
This time of year is full of lasts, especially this year. The last band and chorus concert. The last day of high school. The last day of elementary school. It is the end of an era for several of our kids and the beginning of the end for several of them as well. (They will be seniors next year.) It begins to feel like an out-of-control train. I find myself longing for the calm of summer. Yet, in the midst of this longing, I remember that in a few weeks things will never be the same. NEVER!
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Don’t wish away these days. Live each moment to the fullest. You blink and they are grown. What a mighty responsibility to be allowed to leave fingerprints of faith on your kids. Each event and interaction with your family allows you to leave a lasting impression on their lives. Don’t allow stress and fatigue to steal the joy of the moment. There may only be a few of these moments left. Does it really matter if the house is perfect? It’s ok if dinner is take-out a few times this month. The tone and atmosphere of the home is more important than the dust on the floors or the lack of a perfect meal. Leave fingerprints of mercy and love on your family this season. Embrace the moment not the perfection of the event. Laugh at the mishaps and love your kids through the stress of this time of year. Show them that they are important not the perception of perfection.
You blink and they are grown.
- Stop focusing on the event and enjoy the people. Activities are overwhelming but don’t we plan and attend these events for the PEOPLE involved?
- Treasure the little things. Take time to hug. Skip a lecture and put their laundry up for them. Pack something strange in their lunch. Have a picnic for dinner. Turn the music up and dance. (Trust me…. the kids love this! LOL!)
- Look for the good in people and events. Nothing is perfect but there is good there if you look. So what if you don’t get the best seat for the concert? What if the final grade wasn’t as high as you hoped? You may have to rush from one event to the next but be grateful your child is still around for these things to be a problem. Embrace the chaos that comes with life and look for the good.
These days I catch myself wishing I had a few hours alone at home to write or maybe just clean the floors without someone tracking dirt on them right away. I woke up a few nights ago anxious and upset from a dream where the house was empty and I was running from one room to another looking for the kids. I know this probably means I need therapy but it did remind me to enjoy these busy days of May and June. You blink and they are grown…. and gone!
Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?
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COURAGE, n. L., – Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution.
With a tender touch, she pulled her mother-in-law close and wrapped her arms around her small frame. The finality of the moment was suffocating. How many more losses could they survive? The feelings of pain and loss were so fresh that it was hard to breathe. Taking a step back, her mother-in-law took one last look at her dead son and turned toward home. Home for now. With the loss of her father-in-law and now both the boys Ruth wasn’t sure what would happen to them. The three widows walked silently along the street. Each woman trying to sort out the recent loss. Ruth and Orpah looked at each other over the top of Naomi’s head. Both girls knew that this may be more than Naomi could bear.
Days later, Naomi emerged from her room with shoulders stooped but a determined look in her eyes. Naomi was going home to Bethlehem. Falling to the floor, Ruth weeps brokenly. Grief is strangling her heart. Preparations are made and Ruth and Orpah walk Naomi out of the city of Moab back toward Israel. Every step reminds Ruth that this is the end. The end of love for her. The end of her marriage. The end of her dream for a baby. The end of a friendship that has sustained her through the death of her husband. Naomi embraces the girls and gently tells them to go back home to their fathers. The death of Elimelek and her boys leaves all three women without a home or land. They must go back to their families. Orpah kisses Naomi and turns back. Ruth clings to Naomi and makes a choice that will change the course of history. This doesn’t have to be the end. Ruth steps out with courage and begs Naomi to allow her to stay by her side. She promises her faith and loyalty to Naomi and ultimately to God. Knowing that this choice will be life-changing and difficult, Naomi tries to persuade Ruth to turn back. The passion and courage that Ruth shows at this moment, perhaps the hardest moment of her life, gives us a glimpse into her soul.
Years later Naomi, who returned home bitter but through the love of a Moabite girl learned to trust God again, cuddles with her little grandson named Obed. Ruth was courageous and obedient and God rewarded her faith through a man named Boaz. A love story for the ages. In little Obed’s eyes Naomi sees not only her own redemption but the redemption of a nation. Obed would be in the line of Christ. Ruth’s courage changed the course of history.
Is courage a character trait that matters? Yes! We must run our race with courage. Through loss and grief we must stand with courage. Through trials and testing we must embrace opportunities. Through joy and suffering we must have the courage to wait on God. Courage is something we need to nurture in ourselves and in our children. Many times our lack of faith and worry restricts our children from becoming courageous. They feel our fear and hide from God’s best. We need to free them to live in the abundant life that God is offering. We need to live with courage and allow our children to walk with courage.
Here are 3 ways we can live with courage and lead our children to live with courage:
- Respond boldly to circumstances and events – For Ruth this meant leaving home. Ruth 1:16
- Wait on God’s timing – For Ruth this meant waiting on the events to play out and not manipulating the situation. Waiting takes deep courage and faith. Ruth 3:18
- Take advantage of opportunities. – For Ruth this meant humbling herself and opening her heart to potential new loss and grief by going to Boaz. Ruth 3: 5
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
What is filling you with fear? Respond boldly! Is God asking you to courageously wait on His timing for an answer? Be of good courage! Embrace the opportunities before you with joy and courage! God is with you wherever you go.
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I have so much to do today.
Parents are crazy lunatics in car line.
Exercising is really hard.
All of these things are true but they are not the story I want to tell. We are in charge of our story. The first person to hear our story is ourselves. Of course I am not going to have a good day if I begin every morning telling myself how much I hate mornings. Instead of focusing on how much I have to do today, I need to reframe my story to focus on how much I am going to get done today. Car line is truly full of lunatics but the drive to school is such a sweet time with Lucas. Exercising is really hard but what else can I do that gives me so much time to myself without feeling guilty…. AND my pants fit better when I exercise. How different my story becomes when I reframe my thoughts.
There are 4 main parts to MINDSET. Let’s talk about the first one today.
Because God chose to make me a boy mom, I have to do things that are not in my comfort zone. Things like camping and outdoor activities are not my cup of tea. However, I know it is important. Last year, Larry and I took two of the three monsters to Colorado for a vacation before a work conference I had in Denver. Everyone wanted to snow ski. Me… not so much. My compromise was snow tubing. I did a lot of reading and research and it seemed fun but much safer. I wasn’t excited about doing it myself but the boys insisted.
As a Florida girl, I am clueless about winter clothing. I bought us all snow shoes, snow overalls and very large puffy jackets. We looked like the Michelin Man’s family. I was especially hideous in a very bright pink coat with a fluffy ruffle around my hinder parts. I had so many layers on that I couldn’t put my arms down. They just kind of stuck out at an angle. The worst part was that it was a beautiful day in Colorado and many folks were just in light jackets and jeans.
After purchasing our tickets, we rode the lift to the top and the boys jumped into their tube and flew down the mountain. I was very anxious. I was stressed out that Lucas was already ahead of me on the trail. I was concerned that they had not given us any directions on steering the tubes (FYI.. you can’t steer them!) and we didn’t have a plan for meeting up at the bottom of the mountain. What was I thinking???? I started backing up and shaking my head. However, I was next in line. They made me sit down in the tube and even with me yelling “no, no, no” they (Larry) pushed me off the edge and down I flew. My “no, no, no” screams became “Yesssssss!” as I felt the exhilaration of the moment. The momentum carried me all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. What a great experience. Skiing is definitely going to be my next adventure.
Here are some things to remember about a Mindset of Momentum:
- Our emotions follow our actions. Don’t let your fear or worries lead. Jump into the tube and go! Once you are flying down the mountain, your emotions catch up.
- Once you get moving things happen. I couldn’t believe how much happened just because I made one movement on the top of the mountain. A mindset of momentum does that for us. One small decision sets off many other wins in our lives.
- There may be “no” moments every time. I went down the mountain 25 times or so that day. I had a “no” moment every time I was at the top. However, the story I kept repeating in my head was that I had done it before and it was fun. Don’t be surprised at the “no” moments but don’t give in. Tell yourself the story you want to be true.
I was recently on a call with a well-known person who was giving me some life coaching. My biggest take-away from our conversation was that I needed to go ahead and take action. He asked me what my plan was and made sure I had thought it through and then recommended that I just go for it. His experience was that there are many things that you can’t figure out or deal with until you are moving in a direction. It takes momentum.
Average lives can accidentally happen. Greatness takes a purposeful mindset. If you want to accomplish great things, be intentional about the story you tell yourself. You are the writer. Tell a great story and jump in the tube today and get some momentum going. You will be amazed at how great the ride will be!
So I realize that the first baby is like the first batch of cookies. Either too crispy or too mushy and really brown on the edges. However, I can’t ignore the huge gift my first Smelly Monster has given me…. TONS of great blog stories! LOL!
There are some things that only church kids understand. We bought Micah a Potato Head toy and he loved it and insisted on calling it Bro. Potato Head rather than Mr. Potato Head. Cliff had a lot of fun with that!
I know that Caleb almost died several times while Micah “baptized” him in our pool.
There was nothing more sacred than the “flippy Bible” around our house. It was the reason the boys were sword drill champions!
Micah was born competitive and raised to win. (My fault!) Recently during dinner, the kids (Frink-Jones Gang) were laughing and telling stories about the cup stacking phase that went through our church. It was a game they played upstairs in the children’s ministry for “fun.” When that phase started, Micah came home and told me about the new game. We went directly to the teacher supply store (Amazon wasn’t really around back then) and bought a set of “official” cups so that he could practice during the week. He watched the training video and practiced for hours each day so that he could win. Hanna loves this part of the story. Micah showed up to junior church ready to take everyone on in cup stacking. Hanna beat him soundly every time. This is amazing since Hanna is not known to be overly athletic or coordinated. (Sorry Hanna but I have seen you try to do a cartwheel!) Losing to Hanna obviously was a big blow to Micah’s emotional psyche and he has challenged Hanna to a rematch. I’ll keep you posted!
Failure is a natural (and needed) part of every child’s life. I didn’t really understand this until I put the boys in school. After home schooling for 7 years, they were very indignant over any red marks on their papers. It was a big adjustment for them to realize that they might miss something and get it marked wrong! Here are 3 ways we can help our kids prepare for big and small failures in their lives:
- Accept responsibility! Own it! We all mess up. That isn’t the issue. How we handle things WHEN we mess up is what matters. Always accept responsibility. Too many people in our society blame everyone else for their issues and keep the “victim mentality.” Life isn’t fair and we can’t control everything. However, the one thing we can control is how we respond. When you own it, you can change it! Once you accept responsibility you can do things differently the next time.
- Be thankful. Even in failure, there are blessings. Take the time to dwell on those before you throw the pity party. Failure gives us context for our next try. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Help your kids to recognize the learning that happens in failure.
- Do something different! Once you own the failure and you put it into context, you HAVE to make changes so that you don’t repeat history and fail again. You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If your child doesn’t get up on time and you have to wake them up, go over what they can do to change the next morning’s results. Maybe they need to get a louder ring tone or move their phone/clock across the room. Whatever the change, they need to take action.
A person is only as successful as their response to their failures. Our kids will fail. Help them learn to fail with grace and learn and grow. I wish that missing points on a math test were the only failures we have had to face but we all know those are small potatoes. Use those small failures to help your kids learn to fail so that they can bring honor to God in ALL they do!
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
There is some controversy over who uses more words in a day. Historically it has been reported that women use around 20,000 words and men use about 13,000. Statistics are all over the place now. What isn’t controversial is that we use A LOT of words in a day. I feel stressed already thinking about 20,000 opportunities to mess up, just today!
Right after Cliff died, I was given a job at Seffner Christian School by my friends Roger and Jody Duncan. They knew I needed help and there was a HS teaching position open. They allowed me to work part-time and all three of the boys were on campus with me. It was such a blessing.
About 3 weeks into school, one of the Smelly Monster’s teacher asked me to stop by during lunch. There was a problem. Uggg. Just what I needed, more problems! I got all worked up and stressed out as I walked to see the teacher. I had prepared a speech for the teacher explaining why the Smelly Monster was having issues adjusting. My Smelly Monster’s first-year teacher asked me to sit down and she took the chair behind the desk and I had to sit in one of the tiny kid seats on the other side of the desk. Not a fun seat to occupy as many of you know. She proceeded to share with me how disappointed she was in my Smelly Monster because of the really bad language he used. I was mortified. We called the offending Smelly Monster into the conversation and I asked him what was going on.
His excuse was that I used that bad word all the time at home! I thought I would die right there. I was so embarrassed and knew the Smelly Monster was just making that up. I didn’t use curse words at home. I was the Pastor’s wife for Heaven’s sake! After further conversation and a lot of coaxing, I was able to get my Smelly Monster to whisper the bad word so we could figure out what was going on. If I thought I was embarrassed earlier, I really wanted to die after he told me the word that has caused him to move his bumble bee all the way down the behavior chart and get sent to the principal’s office!
Crap. The word was crap. The problem was that I really did say that word all the time at home! (Probably still do. Don’t tell my mom!) We both apologized to the indignant first-year teacher and walked out with our heads hung low.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day about my words. Even though crap is only a level 2 bad word, it still caused hurt and held consequences for both me and my Smelly Monster. As a side note, here are the bad word levels created by Smelly Monster #3. He is a trip!
Level 1 – Words that are mean that we can’t say. (Stupid, shut-up, idiot…)
Level 2 – Gross words that we aren’t allowed to say. (Fart, Crap, poop,)
Level 3 – Words that are bad but are used in the Bible. (Hell, damn, ass)
Level 4 – Really bad words that we can’t even list and don’t even spell when someone else says them.
Here are some lessons I have learned due to my propensity to get myself in trouble with my words:
- Take a deep breath. I KNOW that I use that for #1 on every issue. However, it works! It is scientifically proven that deep breathing brings more oxygen into your bloodstream and helps all of your organs function better, especially your brain! Psalm 46:10 reminds us to stop and be still and let God remind us who is in charge.
- Let it go. This is one of my goals this year. I don’t have to have my say. I don’t have to have the last word. I don’t have to share my opinion. I rarely regret NOT saying something. Daily I regret words I did say. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us that sin lives in the midst of many words. The fewer words we say when there is an issue, the better off we will be. (Ecc. 5:3, Prov. 6:2)
- Don’t jump to conclusions. So many times, I don’t hear the entire matter out and jump directly to the conclusion. I allow my emotions to take over and say hurtful and uninformed things that don’t lift up others. One of the Smelly Monsters recently told me that I never let him finish when he is explaining a situation. I felt so bad. This is an area I need to change. Proverbs 18:13 says that those of us that answer a matter before we hear it bring hurt and shame to ourselves and others.
My dad died several years ago but I can still see him in my mind and hear his voice as he would try to get me to think before I would say things. He would say, “Evona, Proverbs 17:28. Even a fool is counted wise when they just keep their mouth closed.” I’m still working on that!
Over this past summer we remodeled our home. Looking back, I would have done things VERY differently for sure. Because we were replacing the carpet and old tile with wood floors, we only had a few spaces to store our furniture. Those small spaces (bathrooms and the laundry room) were not enough to house all our furniture. Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon to come home from being gone and find the kitchen table on the front porch and the refrigerator in the living room. It was a fun game for a few weeks. Dinner was kind of like a picnic, but it got old very fast. One evening they laid the floors between the kitchen and the family room area where the table ended up that day. We had to cook and fix our plates, go out the back door, go through our bedroom and do parkour (graceful jumping) over the fresh floor in front of the stairs to get to the family room area. This wasn’t easy with a dinner plate in your hand. Caleb and Abby were the most graceful jumpers. Our attitudes, productivity and joy were all impacted by the chaos in our setting. For months after we were done with the remodel, we would go searching for the refrigerator in the living room out of habit.
As a former HS English teacher, I used to teach the importance of “setting” in a story. Setting sets the stage. The setting gives the tempo and mood for a story. Imagine a romantic dinner set at McDonalds. Think about a dramatic spiritual moment set in a bar. The setting really matters. It impacts the interpretation and outcome of a story.
We are living a story. What kind of story do we want to tell? Do we want to be average? Make a minimal or average impact on the world? Do we want average kids and an average spouse? Do we want to make an average income and accomplish average things? One area we can use to impact our story is the setting. We have a lot of control over our setting. We can change and arrange things to set ourselves up for above average success.
Here are 4 ways successful people arrange their setting for success:
- They have a personal space. This may be a corner in your room or a closet. This may be the spare bedroom or a home office. The type and amount of space isn’t as important as having a space that is yours. This can be a space to do your devotions or write or work. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that it is yours. You should design this pace to reflect your personal taste and needs. Do you need peace? Go minimal and play calm music. Do you need motivation? Tape pictures of things that energize and motivate you. Do you need inspiration? Hang quotes and impactful images that move you. You get my point. Create a space to escape the emotional vampires and recharge your batteries.
- They simplify. A recent study out of California reveals the connection between depression and clutter. Get rid of the excess. This is a great principle that works in every area of our lives. Creativity and success grow in the margin we provide in our lives. If you are overwhelmed with stuff and activities, you won’t have the energy to succeed.
- They physically set up things to maximize their time and energy. A good example is if you want to learn to play an instrument, set it in a place where you see it and can practice easily. You won’t practice as much if it is a chore to get set up. Put your personal items in the same place every time. Larry’s wallet and keys are ALWAYS in the same spot when he is staging thing for work. Only have useful items in your home. Don’t buy stuff just to decorate. Buy things that have meaning and usefulness. Think about your desk or work space. Is it distracting or is it set up to maximize your time? Do you have all the things in the same place to accomplish your tasks or are you unorganized and spending time looking for things? Think about your kitchen and cooking space. Do you have the right items staged in the right place? Do you clean up things as you go or do you leave it all a mess to be dealt with later?
- They create a safe setting. Our setting needs to be a place of encouragement and safety. A place where we can be ourselves and know we are loved. Surround yourself with encouragers. Not “yes men,” but true encouragers that uplift you and challenge you to be the best possible “you” that you can be. You will have people who want to see you fail. Don’t allow those people to set the mood and setting in your life.
There are many aspects of success that you can’t control but you can control a lot things about your setting. Take a few minutes to use this checklist below to evaluate your setting and see what small changes you can make that will pay big dividends.
Yes = 3 points
Sometimes = 2 points
No = 1 point
_____ 1. I have a personal space that reflects my tastes and needs.
_____ 2. I know what energizes me. (Peace, motivation, inspiration……)
_____ 3. My personal space is clean and organized.
_____ 4. I am usually on time and remember appointments.
_____ 5. My home, personal space and car are free of clutter.
_____ 6. I rarely have to look for things.
_____ 7. I am very organized and plan ahead.
_____ 8. I think ahead and stage things for the next day.
_____ 9. When I cook or do projects around the house I have the items for that task all in the same place.
_____ 8. I have at least one person in my life that provides encouragement and accountability.
____ 10. I take time every day to recharge myself personally.
____ 11. I have extra time in my schedule for creativity.
____ 12. I have margin and don’t have every second booked.
If you scored 26 or lower you should consider reevaluating your setting. You could be limiting your success by not having the right setting.
Next week we are going to talk about mindset. What types of thoughts and attitudes does it take to live a fulfilled and successful life? Let’s chat next week. It all starts in your mind!
The hardest job as a parent is the one you are currently doing. Nursing a baby 4 times a night is exhausting. I remember an unfortunate incident with mistaking the dog howling for Micah crying during that time. Crawling and walking changed the scene right away. Caleb dumped my make-up in the toilet and pulled the Christmas tree down before he could actually walk. Potty training isn’t for wimps. It takes grit and stamina. The rule at our house during potty training days was “NEVER drink from a cup that has been in the car!” I’ll let you think on that one. Cliff’s Grandma Frink told me that if I tickled the babies and made them laugh that they would stutter. I thought she was crazy until Micah started stuttering! I cried for days and then took him to the doctor. Come to find out it was just a stage and his brain was working faster than his mouth could keep up. Not much has changed! LOL. Emergency room trips to patch and sew up the boys were common. Lucas had 2 broken arms by the time he was 6! During one period of time, we were so well known at the urgent care place, that the receptionist noticed that I had a new hair cut! TRUE STORY! You do not want to be so well known to the urgent care folks that they notice when you change your hair!
Every stage is hard but today I want to talk about communicating with teenagers.
I totally believe in aliens. I know for a fact that they exist. God gives you a sweet-smelling, cuddly baby that grows into a loving, fun little person and then ….BAM…… they turn into aliens between 11 and 12. I promise this is the gospel truth. Track with me. These aliens smell different. You pick them up from school or practice and the smell makes your eyes water. You have to ride home with the windows down and Febreze the seats when you get home. These teenage aliens have hands and feet that don’t fit or coordinate with the rest of their body. They knock things over and trip over invisible things. Their ears and noses grow before the rest of them and their teeth fall out and don’t come back in straight. They either run around like crazy people or walk like a slug. “Hurry up” means walk slower and try to look cool even though your mom is screaming at you from the car. I have also noticed that these alien teenagers have a broken volume switch. They are either VERY loud or won’t talk at all! To top it off, they speak their own language. This strange language is accompanied by a lot of eye-rolling and deep sighing.
Today I am going to give you some quick tips to help you learn to communicate with these strange and wonderful creatures we call “teenagers.” These are secrets passed down to me from generations of survivors. I have stalked and annoyed 100’s of successful parents who are now on the other side of the alien experience. Here is what they have to say:
- Take a deep breath. Ok… maybe two deep breaths! This is a stage. Just like sneezing sweet potatoes all over you or eating the dog’s food when you aren’t looking. It will pass.
- Enlist support. There are others who have successfully navigated these waters and they can help. Don’t try to do this alone. There is safety in numbers!
- Engage the strange creature in conversation. Yes, even if you have to talk about Mind Craft, nail polish color, Miranda Sings or rude body sounds. Reach out and see what they want to talk about. You will be VERY surprised at the things you learn when they are just talking.
- Invite the hard questions. A Bible teacher at church reminded me that questioning things is how teenagers develop their reasoning skills. They have to practice. Don’t freak out (trust me.. this is what you will want to do!) when they question things that are fundamental to how you have raised them. Guide them through the process of analyzing their thoughts and give them your reasons for your beliefs. If you don’t invite and allow this kind of conversation, they will go to someone else. You don’t want another teenager or irresponsible adult being the one to shape your teens’ reasoning skills.
- Reinforce your unconditional love for them. During this time of transformation for teens, they need a solid example of love and consistency. Everything around and in them is changing. They need to know you are there no matter what.
- Pick your battles. About 80% of what a teenager says is filler material. They don’t really mean it. They are testing the waters. They are trying to push buttons. They are learning how to communicate using humor. (Heaven help us!) They are practicing. Your job is to sift through what they are saying and identify true character issues that need your attention. You need to focus on things like integrity, thankfulness and accepting responsibility. Don’t get caught up in the 80% and miss the real issues hidden in the 20%. If you don’t pick and choose, you will sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your kids and not have the impact you need.
Ephesians gives us clear direction on how to communicate and interact with our kids. Obedience is the responsibility of the child and communicating with love and nurture is our responsibility as parents. I know God wouldn’t have reminded us not to provoke our children and to nurture them if it was an impossible task. Remember, the hardest parenting job is the one you are doing now. Rest easy my friends, there are survivors!
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
I am the WORST selfie taker of all time. I can’t hold the phone at the right angle AND push the button to take the picture. I have to do the “two-handed selfie” which is a universal embarrassment to teenagers all over the world. I look at the wrong place on the phone, so my eyes look crossed when I take the picture. I inevitably end up with a double chin and a finger in the picture. I am so bad that most of the time, some kind stranger offers to take the picture for me.
I am not sure when kids learn to take selfies but they seem to have it down by the time they are a “tween” for sure. It must be a class in elementary school that I don’t know about!
With all the self-portraits and social media pictures our kids post, you would think they would know about reflections. A selfie is just a snapshot reflection of themselves. Don’t get me started on how damaging social media can be to teens (and even us as parents) because of the false image everyone (including us) posts. None of us are really as together and perfect as we post. However, that topic is for another day. Back to reflections.
One of the BIGGEST if not the BIGGEST keys to success is reflecting on where you are, where you want to be and how you can make it happen. I posted on setting goals last week. I believe that we as parents have a responsibility to help our kids set goals and help them achieve their goals. Check out my goal setting sheet if you need some help with this. Once we have helped our kids set goals, we need to help them achieve those goals. The BEST thing we can do is help our kids know how to reflect on those goals and see what they are doing right and wrong and make changes. Kids tend to find the path of least resistance. They want to fit in and be normal. This is the enemy of greatness. Here are some ways we can help our tween and teen (and even young adult) learn to reflect:
- Write out their goals. I suggest 4 goals. Spiritual, Personal, Relational and Vocational (School). I also like to break the goals into quarters. For example, if they want to run a marathon as their personal goal, they will need to set quarterly mileage goals. This helps them have a plan and see short term success right away as they meet the smaller quarterly goals.
- Go over their goals EVERY day. I have my boys do their devotions and then read over their goals each morning. Good morning habits will help your child succeed faster than any other thing you can teach them. I know that teenagers like to stay up late and sleep until noon. Once in a while this is fine, but start teaching them early on that morning hours are worth more than any other hours in their day.
- Teach them to ask the right questions. When they read over their goals, they need to be asking the right questions so they can determine if they are making progress. You would be surprised how many kids don’t know how to self-evaluate. That is why when they mess up and you ask them “what were you thinking” they really don’t know! Here are a few questions to get you started. You know your kids better than anyone else so you will be able to tweak this list and really help your kids. Download a copy of more reflection questions.
- What went right yesterday? (Example: I made a great grade on my Spanish test.)
- Why did that go right? (Example: I read over my Spanish notes every day before I did my homework)
- How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt great. I felt proud and happy and not worried about having to tell my mom about a bad grade. I felt smart.)
- How can I do the same thing in other areas? (Example: I should read over my notes in all my classes and I would score better and not have to study so much.)
- What went wrong yesterday? (Example: I was late to first period.)
- How did I handle things when they went wrong? (Example: I was rude to the student service lady and ended up in a bad mood all day long.)
- What was the first thing that happened that started the chain that caused things to go wrong. (Example: I didn’t check my planner the night before and set my alarm. Because I didn’t set my alarm, I didn’t get up on time and only had a few minutes to get ready.)
- How did this make me feel? (Example: I felt cranky and bad all day. My friends noticed something was wrong. I had a very bad hair day and I wasn’t happy.)
- What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? (Example: I should go over my planner and make sure to set my alarm so I have plenty of time to get ready for school.)
- Help them answer the questions so that they learn to reflect on their own. Go over and work with them on these questions. Kids are not born with the ability to think critically and analytically. Their brains don’t fully develop until they are around 25! LORD SAVE US! You can’t expect them to know how to reflect. You HAVE to teach them! As critical as it was to potty train them, it is MORE critical to teach them to reflect so that they don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
Reflecting on our goals and CHANGING what we do based on that reflection is the biggest key to success. Do you want your kids to live lives of purpose and joy? Do you want them to succeed? Teach them to reflect! I have found that during the process of teaching, I learn more than the students. This process of reflection will help you begin to reflect more on your own goals if you don’t do this already and it will help you understand your teen more. We could all benefit from being able to understand our teens! LOL!
It was 5 minutes past the time I needed to leave. Larry knows that when I start trying on different outfits and muttering to myself that he should clear the area. I had FINALLY chosen an outfit but was having problems choosing what earrings to wear. I knew I had the perfect pair somewhere but with all my earrings jumbled together I couldn’t find them. I tried on several different pairs and was still unhappy when I saw the earring I was looking for. I did the victory howl and ran out the door. It took me the entire drive to the event to calm back down. Knowing that the message wasn’t going to calm me (I was the speaker), I took deep breaths and tried to focus. After the event, I was signing books at the back table when a trendy teenager came by the table and told me that she really enjoyed the message. She said that she didn’t expect to enjoy things, but after she saw that I was “cool” she ended up having fun. As always, you have to get your decoder ring out to understand teens, so I asked why she thought I was “cool.” (As a side note, I am NEVER considered cool with any group, so I was super excited to finally have reached that status.) She said that any mom-aged person that can pull off wearing two crazy different earrings was cool in her book! LOL. I must have only put one earring in when I found the perfect pair and left the other VERY DIFFERENT earring in the other ear. There are many times that having less will give you much more. I went home that day and went through all my earrings and gave most of them away. On a sad note, that was the last time I have been called “cool!” Here are 4 tips to getting more with less:
- Less stuff and more space. This principle isn’t just about physical space. It is about more space in our schedules because we don’t have as many things to manage. It is about more space in our relationships because we are not working all the time to accumulate things. It is about more space in our closets to use the things we have because we can actually get to them.
- Less time more creativity and focus. It is a weird dynamic that if we are given more time we have a harder time getting things done. If I want the boys to get their rooms cleaned, I set the timer and give them 30 minutes. They will accomplish more in that short time than if I gave them all day. We are the same. Don’t sit around waiting to start that project or to begin that new business until you “have more time.” Do it now! With focus and short periods of time you can get an amazing amount done.
- Less wishful thinking and more purposeful living. Don’t just spend your time dreaming about the new business you want to start or what your life could be like. Dream and then do! Move in a direction. Set aside one hour a day to purposefully move in that direction. Use principle #2 above and focus the short time you have to make progress in reaching your goals. You may need to get up an hour early or give up a TV show to find that hour but you will get so much more in return by spending less time dreaming and more time doing!Check out my blog on setting goals for this year. I share how I move from wishful thinking to purposeful living with a few easy worksheets.
- Less choice more discipline. This is one of my life-hacks that serves me well every day. The fewer decisions I have to make the more disciplined I am. I take away as many choices as possible so that the times I have to make choices I am not overwhelmed or tired. I have a higher chance of still having the discipline to make the right choice. Don’t give yourself the opportunity for failure. It’s like telling a teenager that if they are not feeling well in the morning, they can stay home from school. Of course they won’t be feeling well. You gave them the option! Don’t give yourself options for failure. We will fail enough on our own. Don’t build in additional opportunities. I can get dressed in 20 minutes from 0 to done if I have picked out my clothes the night before. If I have to make a choice on what to wear you can count on another 15 minutes! Eliminate as many choices as possible and then don’t build in opportunities to change your mind.
30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
What do you want to accomplish this year? What are your dreams? You can start TODAY and change your life forever!
I am embracing less this coming year. I want to enjoy what I am doing and the things I have more so, I am going to DO LESS and BE MORE!
What changes are you going to make? What areas will less be more for you this new year?