You Blink and They are Grown

View More: http://annieagarwal.pass.us/frink_jones_familyFrom 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!

James 4:14

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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!)
  3. 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!

Psalm 89:47

Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

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The Scoop on Advanced Placement vs. Dual Enrollment

Inspired Christian Parenting

scoopAs parents, shouldn’t childbirth, potty training and middle school earn us a lifetime pass? No so, my friend! If you are lucky enough to survive the drama and changes of middle school your reward is the joy of figuring out high school and what your kids will need to be ready for college! The pressure is on and the rules have changed since we were navigating these waters. When did kids start getting 5.7 GPAs? I thought 4.0 was perfect? Not. Any. More!

Here are a few tips from a battle-scarred mom who is working on her 4th child’s high school experience and still has one to go! Wow, I’m tired just typing that! LOL! You will find my opinions in pink below. These are just my personal opinions as a parent and my professional experience as an educator. Feel free to take these with a grain of salt!

OBJECTIVE:

Produce a healthy, well-adjusted graduate that is college/work ready.

PATH:

Identify potential directions that fit your child and make sure as many of their options are still open to them by the time they graduate as possible. These paths can include vocational/tech training, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate Programs along with sports, music and other extracurricular activities.

Let’s focus on two choices today: Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment.

What is Advanced Placement (AP)? – Advanced Placement is a national program run by the College Board. Yes, the same nonprofit that administers the SAT.  Believe it or not, it dates back to the 1950’s. Read more on the history. An Advanced Placement or AP class is a college-level course taught at your child’s high school or with an online provider. The goal of an AP course is to expose students to high academic rigor to prepare them for college-level work. The reward for taking these types of classes is a weighted grade in high school (Read more about this in an upcoming post. GPAs are an article of their own!), a college credit if the AP exam is passed and the potential of advanced placement in college because you can skip the lower level courses you took as AP and go on to courses in your chosen field of study. Accepting AP credit is up to the university or higher institution. We have found that they accept (matriculate) the credits but not always for the courses taken. Many times the university counted the credit as a humanities or elective credit. English, math, psychology and history courses were the most widely accepted in our experience. The higher level and more specific the course the greater chance it became an elective or humanities credit.

Who should/can take AP classes?  Most schools offer a select group of AP courses. There are 38 AP courses listed on the College Board site but your child’s school won’t offer all of these courses. It is common for there to be an application process or nomination process at a school to select students who are academically ready for the AP experience. In my opinion, you should evaluate your individual student and place them in classes where they are strong and gifted in that subject area. AP classes are hard and demanding and can stress kids out. Studies are showing that teens rate their stress level at a 5.8 on a 1 to 10 scale. This is actually HIGHER than the average 5.1 adult rating of stress. The trend is to put academically strong students in all AP classes. I believe that this isn’t necessary and many times harmful. Choose courses where your child excels or a subject they enjoy. AP courses are great but your child doesn’t have to take AP Calculus if they are struggling with math. You can pick and choose what courses your child takes so don’t do the shotgun method. Remember your objective is to have a healthy, well-adjusted graduate. 

What is dual enrollment/concurrent enrollment? Dual enrollment, also called concurrent enrollment, is a program usually overseen by the state that allows students to be enrolled in two academically related institutions. So basically they are taking one course that counts for high school and college credit. They would be enrolled in both the high school and college institutions. The goal of a dual enrollment course is to help students transition into college level work. The reward for taking these types of classes is a weighted grade in HS (Read more about this in an upcoming post. GPAs are an article of their own!), a college credit if the class is passed and a greater course selection. There is also a financial incentive to take dual enrollment courses so that you can earn college credits free during high school. If you pass the courses you may not have to take those courses when you transition to full-time college attendance. In our experience, dual enrollment courses are easier to transfer to other colleges because they are coming from an existing higher education institution. It is college to college rather than just an exam grade.

Who should/can take dual enrollment/concurrent enrollment? Students who are showing initiative and high performance in high school level courses and are organized are great candidates for dual enrollment. The biggest struggle when taking dual enrollment courses is getting used to the college work format. Assignments are given in a syllabus and students are expected to keep up with the expectations and requirements without close teacher supervision. This is a new dynamic for many high school students. Many states have a grade level eligibility requirement as well as a GPA requirement. Our experience with dual enrollment has been positive. The structure was a huge adjustment and the transportation was a challenge. We have also struggled with adapting to the different approach some college level teachers take compared to the high school teacher interaction. It was a great learning experience. Online dual enrollment courses are an amazing choice for those who don’t want their younger students on a college campus or for those with schedule or transportation issues.

Advanced Placement Dual Enrollment
Where is it taught? Usually the local HS or an online provider. Usually on a college campus but can be taught by a qualified HS teacher at the local school. Can also be taken online through the college.
How long does it take? Most courses take a year of HS classes to count for a semester of college. One semester for each course
Cost Some states pay for the AP exam but if they don’t the exam costs $85. Free for public school students in states that offer dual enrollment. Home school and private school kids may have to pay for their books.
Who oversees the program? National non-profit College Board Usually a local agreement between a state/county and the local junior or state colleges
Transportation Taught at school so the students don’t have to go off campus Students fit going to the college into their daily schedule. The parent or student are responsible for getting the student to the college campus. Online dual enrollment classes are wonderful if you have a transportation issue or concern about your student being on campus.
Credit Weighted high school GPA credit and college credit if the exam is passed and a college accepts the credit Weighted high school GPA credit and college credit if the class is passed.
Rigor AP classes tend to be very hard and usually have a lot of homework preparing the student for college. However, the teacher is tasked with helping the student to grow academically during the year to learn to perform at a college level. The quality of the teacher seriously impacts the students’ performance on the AP exam. You can ask about a teacher’s pass rate for the exam. This isn’t out of line or rude. There are books written to help students pass the AP exam if they don’t feel prepared by the class experience. Almost all AP courses help students learn to write and answer essay questions well. Students are expected to perform at a college level right off the bat. There are no exceptions or modifications made for dual enrollment students. Many times the teacher doesn’t even know the student is a HS student. Once again, the level and rigor of the class depend on the teacher.
Class Choices 38 approved AP classes available. Hundreds of class choices based on the agreement between the state/county and the colleges
States that offer the program From what I can tell, any student can take an AP class but it may not be offered or paid for by the state. Many online providers offer AP courses that families can pay for on their own. 25 states have funded AP programs. 46 states have active programs.
Greatest Benefits Organization of information and the ability to take a cumulative test. Great writing skills are developed in almost every AP class. Colleges like to see AP courses on a transcript. Autonomy needed to succeed in college. Adjusting to the college format and lower supervision of daily work by the teachers. Shorter time for each course so you can fit in more college credits during high school. Colleges like to see that a student has taken dual enrollment courses.

The bottom line is that I am a fan of both AP and dual enrollment if used correctly. I have found that the school guidance counselor is a great resource. Make friends and reach out to them often. They can help you find the right fit for your child and will know how to sign up for each type of course. Guidance counselors are super busy but love it when parents engage in the process.

Feel free to comment below with any information or questions you may want me to address. I love to learn from you! Please share this article (FB, Twitter buttons below) with other parents dealing with “High School Overwhelm!”

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Mindset: The Story We Tell Ourselves

Momentum

MomentumI am not a morning person.

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.

Momentum

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

3 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for Failure

Mentoring Teens Series

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 heBro Potato head 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Learn to Communicate with your Teenager

The Alien Invasion!

Alien MicahThe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Ephesians 6:4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Teaching Teens to Reflect to Achieve their Goals

Life Coaching for Teens

ISelfies 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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!

 

Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Christmas 2015

Frink_Jones_Family_Christmas_Card_2015Recently there was a very difficult situation that involved one of my kids. It was hurtful and painful for the child involved and excruciating for me as a parent. I had to sit back and watch my baby (not much of a baby anymore) be hurt. It took all my restraint and spiritual maturity to respond with grace. When I get stressed or upset, I get a migraine. I could feel the headache right away. Three days later, I was still fighting the headache and the heartache. My initial reaction was to get involved and change the circumstances so that there wasn’t a chance for any additional hurt. Knowing that wasn’t best, I had to sit back and watch things play out. Parenting isn’t for wimps!

During Christmas I love to read about the birth of Christ. I am humbled by the sacrifice made by God and Jesus to provide a way for us to have a way to Heaven. I also love to read about Mary and Joseph. I feel empathy every time I read the story. I can only imagine how difficult the situation was on both of them. It was a horrible stain on Mary’s character and reflected so badly on Joseph that he could have had Mary stoned. I hurt for Mary as she had to keep all the things she knew in her heart. I love that she was able to find comfort with Elisabeth, her cousin.

We jump to Mary having to take a trip just when she was ready to have the baby. I can remember thinking that even a soft bed was uncomfortable right before I was ready to have the boys. Can you imagine riding on a donkey? I would love to have heard the conversation on that trip! Mary gave birth for the first time in a stable with animals and had to put her son in a manger rather than a clean baby bed. As the shepherds came to see the baby, we all wonder if Mary really understood and knew that she had just given birth to her Savior. I love the song written by Mark Lowry named “Mary, Did You know?” It was just performed by Jordan Smith on the Voice. Pentatonix has a great version as well. David Phelps  is still my favorite version.  Listen to the recording below.  The song asks if Mary knew all that was to come for her baby boy. What an amazing thought. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Years later, after Jesus has been beaten, humiliated and hung on a cross we find Mary right there in agony watching it all play out. What a horrible position for a mother. In John 19:25 it says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother.” Can you even imagine? To stand by as the leadership of the day wrongly accuse your son and watch him beaten and then make the walk to Calvary with the cross on his back must have been terrible. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was witnessed up close and personal by the one who loved him the most on earth. Boy, that makes my experience pale in comparison!

Christmas is tomorrow. A day of celebration but also of grief. A day that started a chain of events that allowed the reconciliation of man to God at a horrible cost. A wonderful day that showed the immense love God has toward us. How sad it would be for such a wonderful gift to be given at such a great cost only to be rejected. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know how much Jesus was going to have to suffer so that we would be able to enter Heaven. Friend, please take time to accept the gift God gave us on Christmas. It will change your life. If you have already accepted the gift, celebrate Christmas and the joy of Jesus’ birth with the shadow of Calvary across your home this year. Keep the focus off of material things and remember what a sacrifice the gift of baby Jesus was for all involved. Remember that we are called to live a life that compels others to want what we have. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I pray you cherish the day together and if you are alone, allow God to comfort you. Oh Mary, I don’t know if you knew, but I am thankful for your Son’s sacrifice for me!

 

Luke (Lucas) I am your Father!

Parenting with Star Wars

I can’t resist, with all the hype goiLucas at the Hospitalng on about the new Star Wars movie, telling a great story. Cliff was a big-time Star Wars fan. He loved the movies and knew them word for word. When we were first married, Cliff had a friend who would come over and they would quote the lines of the movie before the actors could say them. It was VERY annoying! When the Prequel Trilogy came out, Cliff had tiny Micah and baby Caleb sitting for hours watching the movies. Star Wars is very sentimental to all of us. We are excited to see the new movie. I vetoed going opening night but I am dressing up with Lucas when we go this week. I guess that earns me the mother-of-the -week not mother-of-the-year award!

When we found out that we were expecting our third baby, Cliff called the baby “little sister” for the first 20 weeks or so. On the day we found out that “little sister” was going to be “smelly monster #3,” Cliff knew right away what we would name the new baby. He was so excited. All of our boys have Bible names. Micah Daniel, Caleb Nathanael and now we would have Lucas Samuel. Lucas is used as another version of Dr. Luke’s name in Philemon 1:24. Now, I should have been tipped off right away that Cliff was so quick on the name. Warning bells should have gone off, but sadly they didn’t.

Right after Lucas was born, the doctor gave the “fresh from the oven” baby to Cliff. Cliff was a great dad and loved being a dad. He was so tender and emotional about the boys that it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to hold our newest one right away. It was a touching moment until Cliff’s inner performer couldn’t be suppressed, and he turned to me and the doctor and nurses in our room. He used his best Darth Vader voice and the first words said to itty, bitty Lucas were “Luke, I am your father!” LOL! What a character. Not only did Cliff pass on an interest in Star Wars, he passed on a love of life and passionate joy to all three of my boys. I am sorry to all the teachers who have them. It is their dad’s fault!

This story makes me wonder what values and principles I am passing down to the boys. Here are a few principles that I think are major game-changers in raising kids who love God and are successful:

  1. Joy is a choice. This one came from Cliff. He loved life and even when times were difficult, he chose to be joyful. If we link our circumstances to our emotions, we limit what God can do through us. Cliff showed joy in our home, in our church and to our family and friends. He even displayed joy during his battle with cancer. Many of you remember the Look-a-Like contest he had when his hair fell out. You have to check out the graphic he had Angela Cofield make for him. You can find so many hilarious and joyful moments in his blogs captured in our book Choosing Faith against the Odds. It is so important that we teach our kids that joy is a choice. Psalm 16:11
  2. Do right because it is right to do right. This one is from my dad. My dad taught me to make the right choice, not because it felt right or because it gave me the best outcome, but because it was right. So many times, when I have to make hard choices, his voice rings in my ears. If we base our decisions on the situation, we will make wrong choices. We need to teach our kids to do right no matter the circumstances. Proverbs 12:28
  3. Work hard. This one is from Larry. My boys told him the other day that they think he can outwork anyone they know. What an awesome thing for them to think. A good work ethic will help you succeed and stand out among others. If you are going to have to do a job, you might as well do it to the best of your ability. It makes you do better work and you feel better when you are done. We should teach our kids that doing a job well is a principle we admire and model it for our kids. Ecclesiastes 9:10
  4. Be faithful to your commitments. This one I learned from Cliff’s mom, Mrs. Kay. A defining characteristic of Mrs. Kay is that if you ask her to do something, it will be done. I have watched her wake up and go to church even when she was heartbroken. I have seen her treat others with care and love, even when they have hurt her or one of us. She is faithful and acts this way, because she is committed to Jesus. We must teach our kids to follow through and fulfill their commitments even when it isn’t convenient. We serve because of what Jesus did for us. Our level of faithfulness in all areas (home, work and church) is a reflection of our love for Christ. Matthew 25:21

A new Star Wars movie is epic in the Frink household because of the sentiment attached. What an awesome thing it would be to leave an epic legacy for our kids by teaching them life-changing principles that will help them draw closer to God and live a life for others. Make today the day you start! May the Force be with you!

What kinds of things hold a sentimental value to you and your family? I’ll post a picture of the family when we go see the Star Wars movie. Share your memories with us.

Parenting by Reflecting God’s Grace Part II

Larry's Replacement

I hate to admit this, but sometimes I dread summer. Hey, get off your high horse. I am just being honest. I must not be the only one because I saw the “Back to School” commercial for Staples with a mom skipping to the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

I work from home. My kids don’t get that. Being home must mean I am able to run them across town to meet a friend or host an impromptu youth group gathering. This past summer was the worst. We replaced the floors during a month of solid rain. The workers were in our house 7 am to 5 pm for six straight weeks. I begged Larry to share with the workers that I work from home and have conference calls and meetings. He tried his best but their answer was that I wasn’t going to bother them! Uggg!

Part of what Larry does to help during the summer is to take Lucas to work some days. Larry travels around and is an agricultural sales consultant. It is the cutest thing ever when Lucas knows he is going to work with Larry. He will call downstairs and ask what “uniform” shirt they are wearing. Larry will give him a color and Lucas will come down dressed to match Larry in a polo shirt the same color as Larry’s. They travel around and Larry introduces Lucas to all his customers has his future replacement.

Our kids will learn way more about God from watching us than from what we say. We need to reflect God’s grace to them every day! What a gift we can give our kids if we walk in grace and show them God’s love rather than tell them. Here are two more ways we can reflect God’s grace into our kid’s lives:  (Find the first two here at Parenting by Reflecting God’s Grace Part I.)

  1. God seeks us out. Charge forward and make time for each child individually. This gives you a chance to see them as unique and gives them time to bask in your attention. Trust me, I know this is hard but so worth the effort. God didn’t wait until we got our act together to seek us out. This type of grace takes effort but you will reap great rewards. Romans 5:8
  2. God saturates us in His love. Show kindness to your little ones (and bigger ones). Be willing to say you are sorry. Don’t let pride rob you. Don’t have envy over what others have or what their kids are doing. Trust me, you don’t want it! Don’t keep score of wrongs. Give freely and act unselfishly. Protect them and stand up for them but rejoice in truth. Don’t help them avoid consequence when they were wrong. Help them face it head on and respond well. Encourage and motivate them to be God’s best, not what you want but what God wants. I Corinthians 13

I use drive time to spend quality time one on one with my kids. What types of things do you do to build in personal time with your kids? Share with the community and help us all grow in grace

Parenting by Reflecting God’s Grace Part 1

I want to be the flawed tea glass reflecting God's grace into my kids' lives!

I was recently asked to speak on parenting. I was super excited. I walked around smiling and ended up with a cramp in my arm from patting myself on the back for being chosen. Larry, ever the realist, asked me to look up the title to the session again. I read loudly from my phone. “Embrace Grace. No More Perfect Kids.” I trailed off quietly. Oh, wow! What are they saying about MY kids? LOL.

The only reason I can figure I was asked is because I have had quite a bit of diversity in my parenting. I started out by not being able to have kids. I then moved into being a stay-at-home mom with one (very cranky) baby. I then had a second baby which was in itself a miracle after how cranky the first baby came out. I became a working mom with two kids. I was a home school mom for 7 years. After Cliff’s death, I became a single working mom of three boys. I published a book and had a home business as a single mom. I then remarried and ended up with 6 kids in the house at one time and found out how hard it is to be a step-mom.

I would love to say that in all those situations I reflected God’s grace to myFlawed Tea Glass children. The truth is I have fallen very short. Grace is an amazing thing. It covers a multitude of sins. God has shown so much grace to me that I am compelled to reflect that to others. I have a new tea glass that the monsters say has a fatal design flaw. It has a bright gold lid and if I take it in the car it blinds both people in the front seat if the sun is bright. I want to be that flawed tea glass reflecting God’s grace in my kids’ lives. Here are the first two ways we can reflect God’s grace in our children’s lives:

  1. God sees our need. See your child as a unique person. God has already written their story. You were just chosen to enjoy the ride and reflect God’s grace. Don’t set unreasonable expectations that discourage. Instead prayerfully seek to help your child set God honoring goals that inspire them to do great things for God’s glory. Psalm 139:16
  2. God Sacrificed his son. We are called to sacrifice. This doesn’t mean give up one of the kids. (Some days that might be tempting) This means we have to fight the “No Monster.” If you are like me, I can be tempted to say “no” before I even hear the request. I don’t want to have to do more laundry. I don’t want to have to clean up the kitchen. I don’t want to have to drive the friend home after they come over. I don’t want to rearrange my schedule. Ouch…. So many “I don’t wants…” in those sentences. To really reflect God’s grace, we have to sacrifice and not be selfish and allow our children the freedom to grow. Say “yes” more and fight the “No Monster.” John 3:16

 

Reflecting isn’t about what is DOING the reflecting it is all about what is BEING reflected. By allowing God’s grace to shine through us, we can be so much more for our kids than we can on our own. God isn’t interested in our perfection because he knows we can’t be perfect. He is very interested in having us focus on our direction as we head toward a closer relationship with Him!

Have you been able to tame the “No Monster?” Give us some ideas. What about unreasonable expectations? How have you or your kids been impacted by someone setting unreasonable expectations? How can we avoid this with others and our kids?