A day at the beach

Parenting, Uncategorized

 

She is bold. She’s confident. She’s everything and so much more than I’d dreamed she’d be at her age.

I had big dreams. Dreams for her that she wouldn’t be like me, and that she would be like me.

That she would learn to love. Love herself and keep her heart open.

She laughs without hesitation. She loudly gives her opinions. She’s not a wallflower.

I am happy and I am sad. I’m not losing her but I’m losing her.

This is what she’s supposed to do.

Learn from me, learn from her dad, then spread her wings and fly.

Why, then, do I suddenly feel so sad? The emotion came out of nowhere like a tidal wave.

Like a sunny day at the beach, we are frolicking and laughing, then a thunderstorm came without warning.

images-2

Tears welled up but got stuck and stayed in my throat.

I want to stay playing in the sun forever, enjoying the beautiful day.

But reality beckons me, at the corners of my mind it calls me to the light rain that’s beginning to fall.

It’s all going to be ok, I tell myself, as I open my umbrella and walk into the soft sand.

images-1

Have you ever wanted to freeze a moment in time?

Maybe not just a moment, but a sweet season.

Our youngest is going away to college soon. I found myself declaring today how happy I am for her. A little too emphatically, and I realized that I’m really trying to convince myself that I’m not sad. But I am. I’ll miss her so much.

But today, I am thrilled with helping her with a school project. I happily listen to her voice as she does homework with a friend in the kitchen.

These are the moments life is made of.

 

Christine

 

7 minutes with your teenager

Parenting

There is a seven minute time span that I love with my teenager…it’s the car ride to and from school. These are the best power-packed seven minutes of our day! I used to feel as if I were just “taxi mom”, and I used to complain sometimes about driving my teenaged kids around. Let me be brutally honest: There have been times that it’s just been plain exhausting driving to and from activities and I’ve even resented it or dreaded it.

I’m beginning to see it differently. The seven minutes we spend driving together to and from school are times that I now treasure.

Remember when they were little? All kinds of cuddly moments and nap time, tons of car rides, playgroups and crafts abounded. There was no need to look for power-packed moments. In fact, both mom and kiddos got excited about preschool days. Mom ran errands and talked to grownups, and the little ones had fun with their peers.

Since we’ve shifted this school year from home school to public school, I am on the hunt for opportunities to spend with my daughter. Car rides are my favorite!

Strangely, our morning rides are probably good because I’m so groggy that I don’t pepper her with questions. We ride in comfortable silence for a bit, listen to music, and conversation ebbs and flows. She’ll usually tell me about something that’s upcoming that school day. We pray together as she heads to class.

Afternoons are completely different! We’re both awake, and Danielle usually has anecdotes or triumphs or frustrations to tell me. Now I love these driving times. If I can force myself to be quiet and not try to pry information, it can be my favorite seven minutes of the day with my teenager!

How to conquer worry

Christianity, fear, Parenting

Worried? This morning while reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, I had an “A-ha!” moment as I saw the easy process that he lays out.

Here’s the three-step process to conquer worry:

1. Imagine the worst-case scenario. Really. Go there in your mind and pinpoint what you are most afraid of in the scenario that you’re worrying about.

2. Now that you have admitted your worst fear, imagine if that really were to happen. Reject unreasonable fears or accept them as realistic.

3.Accepting that some concerns are realistic, how will you respond in the face of these fears? What will you do? How will you minimize the damage and move forward?

personaldevelopmenttoolbox

My good friend walked me through this process a while back, and it was powerful! I’m not sure if she knew she was following these steps, but it worked. Here’s what happened:

We were planning an overseas mission trip to a city that was experiencing bombings, unrest, and religious fighting with villages being slaughtered.  You can imagine that I had every reason to be afraid, traveling with my husband and our two kids, aged 19 and 13 at the time. On top of that, I had been dealing with excruciating back pain from herniated disks. The idea of a 24-hour overseas flight was causing me such anxiety that the pain and muscle spasms had intensified and I could only experience relief by laying sideways on the ground.

My friend pointedly asked me, “What are you most afraid of?” It’s funny that sometimes when we say our worst fears out loud, we realize that they are ridiculous. I voiced several scenarios that I worried about:

1. What if my back blows out on the plane or over there? It’s a third-world country and I might have to be hospitalized there or flown back in unbearable pain. (Reality: This is very unlikely. However, if it happens, I would take pain medicine and fly home.)

2. What if we were caught up in a riot or religious fighting, or bombing?(Reality: Again, unlikely, since we would be staying outside of the city in a remote village area. However, if this were to happen, I’d be with my husband and kids. This dissolved my intense fear, thinking about the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere without them.)

3. My absolute worst fear: That someone would harm one of my family members. What if someone kidnapped or hurt my children or husband? (Reality: My family probably wouldn’t be targeted for violence. We were not even passing through the crisis area of town so this was a pretty unrealistic fear.)

As I talked through these, I realized that only one of them was a real possibility. If the other things happened, they happened. After going through those scenarios I saw that the mission we were going for was worth the risk. Jesus is worth it even if I was scared to death!

This technique to conquer worry can be used for all kinds of situations that we face: finances, family issues, parenting, health, did I say parenting??? I don’t know about other parents, but the number one thing I struggle not to worry about is my children. That said, worrying is not exclusive to parents.

Jesus commands us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (emphasis mine)

This is a helpful tool to think through how unfruitful worry is. Try it out and let me know what you think~

A week of milestones and red velvet cake

food, Parenting

Here’s a sneak peek!

It’s a bittersweet week of milestones in our family. Our fourteen-year-old daughter had her braces removed.

Here she is happy to show her newly smoooooth teeth

This is a sarcastic “I’m smiling, so hurry up and get the camera out of my face” look. Note that she is much happier and not as sarcastic with her braces off in the first photo.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal?” Well, it’s a milestone. Our baby is entering high school in a few short weeks. She’s too tall at 5’11” to sit on our laps for over five minutes, she doesn’t need her mommy to do ponytails anymore, she makes her own breakfast, does her own laundry, and now has teeth without braces. Which only accentuates to me how beautiful she is. I already knew that, but for some reason when I looked at her without braces the day that we left the orthodontist, I got teary each time. I was suddenly jarred to this reality: She is growing up. Can you tell I’m sad?

It’s a good thing, I know, and I celebrate with her all of the big and little things about growing up. But I’m still a little sad.

Milestone number two: Our son turned twenty years old. How did that happen??? He is passionate and funny. He’s a deep thinking intellectual and philosophical type who loves to debate. He loves people and is very into music. He’s also a good photographer. Unfortunately, because he’s twenty, he isn’t here too much lately. Since our son barely sat still for his birthday pizza lunch today, I only got a picture of the pizza. Again, I’m a little sad!

Christian’s birthday lunch. Sadly, no birthday pic of Christian until we have his celebration dinner in a few weeks when he heads off to college.

However, we took some great pics of the siblings for Father’s Day last month.

Sadique, Christian, and Danielle

Overall, I think having these joyful milestones is cause to celebrate. Knowing that our son is no longer a teenager and going to college soon, coupled with braces removed and high school starting, makes me a little melancholy. I think that’s pretty normal, and I promise to journal all of the really gross sniffly parts in my private journal so you don’t have to see all of that.

Sadique is our son for the summer and holidays. He was classmates with Christian when they were in junior high in Nigeria. He also had a birthday recently, so this week we made a red velvet cake. He was eager to enjoy it because the last time he’d had a cake for his birthday was eleven years ago. (since he’s lived away in boarding schools for the past decade or so)

Happy Birthday Sadique!

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

Sooooo moist!

I give this recipe 5 stars. It’s very moist, rich, and calorie-laden. Here’s the scoop if you want to try it.

Decadent Red Velvet Cake

Yes, I made up the name. Credit goes to our previous neighbor, Lisa Brown, who originally gave me this recipe. I just swapped out red velvet cake mix for chocolate.

Preheat oven to 350.

1 box red velvet cake mix

1 small chocolate instant pudding mix

4 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup water

8 oz sour cream

6 oz mini chocolate chip morsels

Blend dry ingredients in large bowl. Add oil and water to dry ingredients and mix well. Add eggs, stir in sour cream & chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured pan(s), and bake according to times specified on cake mix box. You can use bundt, circle pans, or 9 x 13; use whatever you prefer.

I used 8 inch circular pans & baked for about 35 minutes, then cooled 10 minutes and inverted to remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8oz) blocks cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

In medium bowl, cream together butter & cream cheese. Blend in vanilla and gradually add powdered sugar, then frost cake.

Sports moms

Parenting

Do you have a list of things you promise you will never do?  Here’s a sampling of mine. I will never:

1. Own a minivan

2. Be a sports mom

3. Wear Crocs

4. Have a blinged out baseball cap or flip-flops

Currently, I have done 3 out of 4 of my “I will never’s”. I discovered the practicality of a minivan and I learned to love it. I still think Crocs are hideous, but they serve a great use for lots of things. Watering the grass, walking in rain, etc. I still haven’t worn a sparkly baseball cap or flip-flops, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Yes, they are all shallow. I’m at peace with that.

The end of another kid’s intense sport season has me reflecting on the “I will never _________” list. Are you the type of person who, like me, rolls your eyes at the mention of the sports mom who whines a little about excessive driving or schedule demands of her child’s sport? As if they couldn’t adjust their schedule….I mean, who is the parent here? One of my friends jokes around with me that she hopes our daughter makes it to the Olympics as a result of our insane routine this fall and spring. I chuckle at that, but she’s got a point. What is the purpose of what seems to be a very child-centered lifestyle for a family?

Well, during all of my drive time this sport season, I’ve had time to reflect on this. Another mom from our team asked me once, “Do you think all of this is worthwhile?” I cannot answer for other sports moms. I can only answer to our experience. Our coach for the past year and a half is an amazing woman. There is no other coach I’ve met that I’d want our kid to spend 4 to 10 hours with each week. Wanna know what her motto is for her team? It’s not “Winning is everything” or “Play your hardest”. The thing I’ve heard her repeat over and over is this: “It’s about so much more than volleyball.” She uses the vehicle of sports to teach our girls how to relate to one another, respect and trust their teammates, how to work really hard, and to be disciplined, physically and spiritually.

Coach encourages our girls through sports- last spring

This is an exceptional woman that doesn’t underestimate the influence that an adult can have in a teen’s life. She teaches perseverance when they are discouraged, and she teaches humility when girls get frustrated with each other. It may be impossible to overstate the impact she’s had on our daughter alone. She understands that as adults, our words to a child or teen are very powerful. Do you remember an adult who believed in you and encouraged you as a child? They may have helped change the way you see yourself and helped you to take healthy risks. On the flip side, is there an adult you can remember who spoke destructive words to you that you may still struggle with?

These are just a few reasons that I’m okay with being a sports mom, at least for now. My hat goes off to Coach Brenda Bundrick and her husband Coach Dave. She is a godly and beautiful woman who coaches with her husband. She models love in her marriage, she demonstrates sacrifice, and works hard to disciple and love a group of ten girls every week. I have seen my daughter scribbling notes to her teammates because coach assigned them the responsibility of writing a word of encouragement, or to pray for her teammates on a given week. All that and our kid is exercising and learning physical disciplines? It doesn’t get better.

Coach Brenda and her husband Coach Dave understand and have taught me that any benign activity or discipline can be used to make a lasting impact. Make that a lifelong or eternal impact. Our lives won’t be the same because of them, in a good way.