Momma Bears Part 2

polar bear and cubOne of the most precious things to watch is a momma bear with her cubs. Whether polar bears are rolling in the snow or brown bears are climbing trees they are just adorable! Of course, watching them on TV is the safest way to observe bears, but a few times I’ve seen a camera guy get too close. In that moment I watch a cute, carefree momma turn into a fierce, snarling protector. Her cubs are her first priority and she will do anything to protect them.

I’ll admit it, I was VERY protective of my son’s schedule, food, friends and even his toys. I think I found comfort in controlling all those outside elements because I knew I couldn’t control him. Here I am, 12 years later and I’m feeling the same way. I want to protect him from bullies and mean teachers at school. I want to keep …

None of us want to be “that” mom. You know, the one who freaks out if someone sneezes, coughs or something falls on the floor. However, there’s something to be said about watching out for our kids – we’re their mom after all and that’s our most important calling! So here’s the thing. I am turning into a momma bear when it comes to protecting my boys. I’m not interested in sheltering them and sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference.

Sheltering our kids means we withhold knowledge and limit opportunities.

Protecting our kids means we educate them and prepare them for their interactions with the world.

So I’m becoming “that” mom in the sense that I am becoming SUPER protective without sheltering my kids.

Some of the areas I’m currently focused on include (but aren’t totally limited to):

  • Technology – a wonderful, helpful and yet potentially destructive resource. It’s a voice that is constantly available and I have to be intentional about what that voice is saying to my kids. To pretend as though I can see every text, preview every website and keep up with all the online lingo and acronyms is silly. Instead I’ve decided to work hard to keep my voice as present as possible with my kids. I want my voice to remain important, valid and honest. So I’m okay saying I don’t know how to do something and I expect my kids to show me what they know. We have a few rules in our house when it comes to technology and these rules are NOT optional.
  1. Dad and I know your security code but your friends don’t.
  2. Even if it’s free you don’t purchase an app, song or video without checking with us first (this happens because at this point our kids share our itunes account and can’t purchase things without our password).
  3. I can pick up your device at any time and check your texts, web searches, Instagram, pictures, ANYTHING is up for grabs. Sometimes we read their texts, comments, and websites out loud. We don’t do it to embarrass them but to remind them that what happens on their device is REAL and matters to us.
  4. No technology is allowed at the table or during meal times.
  5. Technology is a privilege, not a right.  If you can’t take care of the “musts” in your life (school, chores, respect to others, etc) then you MIGHT lose your phone. Having a phone and any connection to the online world MIGHT happen if you take care of all the MUSTS we’ve agreed upon.
  6. When we are talking to each other we will have eye contact. DO NOT ever, ever, ever look down at your buzzing phone when I’m talking to you. We need eye contact and a verbal response so we know you heard us and you’re responsible for the information.
  • Friends – open communication, genuine interest and consistent interaction are some of the best ways to know who my kids are talking to and who is influencing their life. I will NEVER have the same kind of influence over my boys as their friends but that doesn’t mean I’m letting those outside push me out. I will make noise, keep asking questions and be a part of my boy’s life and that includes knowing their friends. I’m the first one to volunteer our house for a get together. I say hello to their friends at school and at church – those kids will know my face and know I’m a presence that isn’t going away. I’ll treat them respect and keep my distance – but I’m not going anywhere.
  • Balancing life –multiple classes, teachers, sports, church, family, homework, projects, friends…it’s a LOT for kids to manage. I’m going to protect my kids from being completely clueless and helpless. I will help them make a plan, anticipate their needs and I will (even when it’s painful) allow natural consequences to take their toll. When my son has a huge project for school I help him make a plan and ask what he needs from me. He’s in charge – I’m supporting him. If he doesn’t finish his project or chooses to do things in a sub-par manner he will get a bad grade and that will stink – but that’s life. My goal is to slowly pull my support away and leave him still standing – with confidence and the tools to succeed.

Sometimes it is really exhausting being a momma bear – especially when I’m protecting my cubs. But we’re going to have some adventures, explore our world and we’ll learn a lot about each other along the way. Most importantly I want my boys to know that I believe in them. They are older now. They no longer really “need” me to survive. But I would like to be a part of their life. This can only happen when they trust me and know my intentions. When the rest of the world comes against them or tries to push them down they can come to me – their momma bear – and I will do my best to protect them, even if I have to raise my hands and ROAR!!! I will try my best, at all times, to keep my little cubs safe.

Lord, I know I can’t protect my kids from everything and the world will continue to create temptations and issues for them, but I also believe you placed me in their life for this season and for a purpose. Lord, help me to protect without sheltering and please help me remember that You are the best shelter, shield and stronghold they will ever need. Help my children to see Your strength through me. Help them to sense my love for them through my actions. Finally Lord, please help me know when to let go and allow them to defend themselves. It’s going to be difficult to walk away but I trust You Lord – I trust them to YOU!

Your protective momma bear,

Kasey

Check out earlier posts in this series!

INTRO

PART 1

Momma Bears Part 1

mom bearOne of our family’s favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, does this bit about bears and camping. He talks about how campers are told to “play dead” if a bear attacks. The way he spins this strategy really does make you stop and think about the absurdity of such an idea – even if it does work. Gaffigan even suggests the bears came up with this approach and he truly questions the idea of relying on our acting skills in order to survive – so funny!

Here’s what I do know about bears. They aren’t fans of surprises. If you come in their space they’ll do anything in their power to get you OUT! That’s why when I watch the nature shows the host walks through thick woods making lots of noise. I’m more of a hotel/beach girl, but if I was in the woods and I knew bears were around I’d prefer to NOT surprise them and in turn cause them to retaliate.

As a mom I like to be prepared, to have all the information and leave the surprises to a minimum.

However, my children are CONSTANTLY surprising me.

Their understanding of technology, their abilities and interests…right when I think I know them they surprise me and usually it’s a good thing.

As a momma bear I want to be ready for the surprises that are sure to come and my prayer is that I will respond in the right way.

My kids have lied, stolen trinkets from a store, been irresponsible, selfish and downright difficult.

Does that surprise you?

It’s easy to think someone else’s kids are perfect or don’t have issues but that little lie needs to be silenced. We’re dealing with human beings here – they are full of every carnal impulse that comes with living in a fallen and sinful world. Our job is to help our kids identify these potentially harmful and negative aspects of their humanity and keep them from being a surprise.

I’m not suggesting we set our kids up for failure, but how often are we really honest with our family about our own struggles and/or areas of growth?

The other day I looked at my 6th grader and actually said, “I’m so frustrated right now I can’t even think straight! I’m so overwhelmed with this whole thing I don’t want to talk to you because I’m afraid of what I’ll say! I love you. You are MY boy, but right now I can’t be near you. Stay here – I’ll be back in a minute.”

I left him standing (a bit dumbfounded) in the living room – went upstairs and paced in my room. My thoughts were racing, my cheeks were hot and my nerves were fried! How in the world could he have done this!? I was shocked.

So I worked through the shock, the surprise of it all and took 10 deep breaths – literally slowing my heart rate down with each one.

I returned to the living room and I never apologized for needing time, but I thanked him for waiting. We had a discussion – a tough one. We worked through his choices, the consequences and how to NEVER let this happen again.

We didn’t end with a hug (even though we should have) – I was still too hurt by the whole thing.

Later that night I went to his room and reaffirmed that I was not angry with him, I wasn’t even disappointed, I was just baffled by how this could have happened. We agreed to keep the surprises to a minimum and I agreed to try and get to my “calm place” a little faster. We actually laughed with each other. We hugged and I could honestly say “I love you” to my boy and he said the same.

I don’t want my kids to fear me. I know more surprises are in store. Will my kids know that no matter what happens I will be there for them? I won’t prevent the consequence but I’ll try my best to prevent any added drama on my part.

Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her home

but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Ouch. My intentions might be fantastic and my love real – but if I’m not careful, I can bring division and resentment into my home because I’m not prepared for the surprises that are sure to come. We can keep our “claws” from coming out if we are wise and take the time to breathe, pray and think before we respond.

See your family members as investments. People who truly matter. No matter what happens we can be the safe place they land and the secure voice they hear.

Lord, I really don’t need any more surprises in my life but I also acknowledge the reality that I can’t control my children. They have a free will and with that comes the freedom to choose. Help me focus my eyes on you SO MUCH that I see the problem for what it is and I separate that problem form the person standing in front of me. Please help me see them the way YOU see them. Help me extend grace just like You’ve freely given to me.

Your surprise-ready Momma Bear,

Kasey

Meet the Momma Bears

momma bearMomma Bear’s Unite!

I very clearly remember leaving the hospital with our first-born son and wanting to block out the world, the germs and the injuries that were SURE to reach him in his innocence and perfection. That desire lessened a bit as more children joined our family. I acknowledged the presence of these “unknowns” but I had a bit more confidence in myself and in my children to handle the inescapable truth – I can’t protect my children from everything and that’s okay.

One of my favorite lines from the Disney movie, Finding Nemo, is when Nemo’s dad says he will never let ANYTHING happen to Nemo. Dory questions this kind of thinking. To never allow ANYTHING to happen to a child means we keep them from experiencing the good things in the world AND the good that can sometimes come from bad things happening.

So here I am, the mother of a teenager, a preteen and a 3rd grader. Let’s just say the momma bear in me is starting to rare its head in a new and fierce way and this time I’m not dismissing the urgency I feel in my spirit.

Please don’t misread my motivation…I’m not afraid.

The protective bend I’m experiencing is fueled by my keen awareness at how my opinion and my level of influence is constantly being challenged. My ability to remain relevant and connected to them is being threated daily and I am working overtime to stay connected.

I need this connection if I’m going to help them learn how to avoid the sometimes deadly grip the world will try to have on  their lives. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent – I just want to be a mom who is an AWARE parent.

We talk about it all the time: the world is changing.

Technology, education, the job market – my children’s future will look very different from mine but who they are on the inside, the kind of citizen they are to the world, and their impact on others doesn’t have to be limited and it doesn’t have to change.

No matter what kind of technological wonders are strapped to our wrists or held in our hands I believe I have a fairly straightforward, focused role to play in my children’s lives. Sometimes that means turning into a Momma Bear and not apologizing for it.

Will you join me?

You will fight for your kids and your home?

Will you raise up a generation of men and women that show strength without sarcasm, give love without judgment and serve without expectations.

It’s not going to be easy. We’ll be tempted to give in and give up – but we will not! We’ll claim victory, even when it seems we’re losing the battle.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to focus on the big picture while remaining faithful to each other, to our families and to our convictions.

Momma Bears Unite!

Dear Momma,

friendsI meet amazing women all the time. Here in my hometown and across the US I’ve seen mommas who are doing a great job and just trying their absolute best to raise a family without raising their blood pressure. This isn’t an easy job…but somebody’s got to do it and thankfully, it’s all of us.

Dear Momma I met on the running path this weekend –

Thank you for encouraging me to keep trying to become a “real runner” – your words of encouragement meant the world to me. We talked about how your kids are small and things are challenging. You asked if it gets “better” or “easier” as they grow and I said yes. I wasn’t lying but I didn’t want to tell you the truth. The truth is it does get easier concerning the physical exhaustion associated with caring for little people who can’t take care of themselves. But the emotional and mental energy it takes to raise elementary and pre-teen kiddos is truly overwhelming at times. I’m currently in competition with advertisements, trends at school, technology and people forgetting that tone of voice means more than the words coming out of their mouths. I remember being where you and you’ll have more “rough weeks” but hang in there. God is preparing you for the future and every interaction you have with them now will help the tough conversations of the future have an impact because you took time to develop a relationship with your kids now. Everything you do matters. I hope you enjoyed your run and thanks again for sharing your extra bottle of water and offering me some yummy candy :o)

 

Dear Momma I stood behind in the check out line –

I have an honest question for you. That whole “I’ll give you a treat at the end if you’re good” bribe…do you still think that’s a good idea? It must have been a rough shopping trip. I’ve had those too. When people are hungry, tired and super frustrating and all you want to do is get your list of food and get out of there – it’s not fun. I have an idea. Maybe next time your kids would enjoy having a job or responsibility beyond what they SHOULD be doing – being good. I don’t get a reward for being nice to the people at my work but I do it because it’s the right thing to do. Maybe the treat used to work and it was a good idea but after what I saw today I think your kids have you figured out and their working harder at wearing you down instead of bettering themselves. You deserve better – hold your kids accountable and they’ll respect you for it. I promise.

 

Dear Grandma at the park –

I had to smile as you gave that toddler your complete attention. You remind me to enjoy each moment and be fully engaged with my kids. I heard you squeal with excitement when that sweet boy made it down the slide all by himself. I needed our excitement today. Thank you for breathing life into my day by just being you and showing your love.

 

Spring has arrived and I am thrilled to see what God is going to bring into my life…the new, the unknown and the challenging things that will come…the only reason I’ll make it through is because I’m not alone. We’re all in this mothering thing together –

Find a fellow momma and give her a smile – you’ll never know how much it might help her…and you.

You’re amazing!

Kasey

Full Circle Moments

full circleI’m entering into the phase of life when I can see things happen in their complete cycle.

Sometimes those full-circle moments come as a shock while others are anticipated.

A few weeks ago I sat in a crowded gymnasium with hundreds of gawking parents, waiting for our 6th graders to perform in their first music concert of the year.

As I peered through my phone’s camera, it hit me.

Twelve years ago I stood in front of my own choir, students and their parents and announced that we were expecting our first child. Now, here he was singing with his choir and I couldn’t stop smiling.

 

Today I drove to the airport to pick up my parents. They were able to catch an early flight in hopes of seeing my grandmother before she leaves this earth.

I’ve spent hours with my grandparents as they manage this final phase of life.

I’ve listened to my grandpa say “she’s leaving me” and “I just want the Lord to let me go with her”.

We come into this world completely dependent on others and my grandmother is now lying in a bed, completely dependent on her caregivers.

 

75 years ago my grandparents said, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. Their full circle moment has come and the strength of their love is almost tangible.

The hospice nurse delivered the news that grandmother has 3-5 days left on earth. I have a strong feeling their love will ensure they aren’t separated for long. I hope they are dancing in the streets of heaven together soon.  For now, grandmother will get the party started and she’ll have the best full circle moment of all – from the day she gave her heart to the Lord until she sees Him face to face. She has lived a life committed to Christ and God has been faithful.

 

What about you? Are you experiencing a full circle moment? Are you hoping a situation comes to an end?

We’re all at a different point in our journey. Each of us taking the next step and hopefully having time to look back long enough to appreciate where we’ve been and enjoy where we’re going.

My dad said it best this evening as we prayed together: “Sometimes it’s difficult to truly pray ‘Thy will be done'”… but we can trust God and His timing.

His ways are not like ours and that’s a good thing.  God loves us and is with us from beginning to the end – each moment along the way. :o)

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

Ecclesiastes 3

 

We are thankful for you!

mom essentialsLife is crazy and yet we are called to make our spiritual life a priority – but how!?

Here’s how – join with groups across the United States in discovering what it means to focus on the essentials and let go of the extras in your life.

We’ll be starting discussion groups and lots of other cool interactions with all of you in the Spring – so order your books NOW!

Check out the free leader’s guide on the home page and watch the videos in our “resources” tab – join the movement!

Click on the link for more information and fill in the form below! – Mom Essentials November Special

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Along The Path

pathThink back to your high school years. What dreams or plans did you have?

Could you have ever dreamed your life would turn out like it has?

As a high school teacher I was constantly asking my students what their plans were and what was “next” for them.
Some had answers, others just wanted to make it through their high school career and couldn’t think beyond that milestone.
No matter what your “plan” was, it involved choosing a path. Our educational and professional paths can seem pretty clear when we begin, but sometimes the path for our relationships and spiritual life is a bit more involved.

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Awesome night to watch @mattbesler and #kcsporting play an amazing game. I can't stop laughing - just what this momma needs :) #sportingkc #lovetruefriends He just wanted us to leave so he could start having fun. 😜 So of course we hung around longer ☺️#teenagers #ilikekanakuk Camp selfie - I held it together until we were back in the car #floodgatesopened #tearsandprayers #ilikekanakuk #Kanakuk or bust! I'm going to miss these boys so much 😩 but I know they have an amazing week ahead of them 😘 They fuss and fight all day long but at night they cuddle #nofilter #puppylove Yesterday we walked their schedule and opened lockers- the reality of having 2 middle schoolers started to hit me hard. They are growing up too fast! I love them so much! James rode his first roller coaster!!And he loved it! #beatnervous #worldsoffun #thepatriot

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