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Ty and James

I was cleaning out my Google Drive today and this picture stopped me in my tracks. My eyes filled with tears. This is our middle boy when he was around 2, holding his day-old brother in the hospital. Everything about this picture ruins me. The pudgy fingers, round cheeks, tiny sneakers and closeness…all of it…

This is a snapshot of a season that was so very wonderful and yet so exhausting!

The tears are not because I miss this time of life. Are you kidding!?

Weight gain, pumping, nursing, schedules, strollers, diapers…the list is so very long.

The tears are because back then I was in control. I really was. I set the schedule, I made the meals, I buckled them in, I managed their social calendar and planned their activities – I knew where they were all the time.

And now, well – it’s so very different.

Our boys are now 16, 14, and 11. Is it still awesome? SURE! But control is a slippery concept I can SOMETIMES feel.

People ask me what it’s like to raise teenagers. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Think about riding a roller coaster. That long, slow ride up the first big hill. You know, when you hear every single click of the wheels against the railing and feel the weight of the struggle against gravity. You’re on edge, waiting for the rush – constantly looking over at the people around you. You vacillate between tears, laughter, and absolute fear.

Okay, that feeling on the way up? That’s what it’s like to raise a baby and toddler. A constant battle with physical, mental, emotional exhaustion and keeping things under control.

The journey up feels like it takes FOREVER – but really, the drop at the top is what you remember. You are suddenly completely out of control and surrendered to the loops, twists, and unknowns.

That next part? That’s what it feels like to raise a teenager. To NOT be in control of how they are driving, who they are talking to, and what they are doing at school. We are involved. We ask questions and have great conversations – but the control? Well, the control is shared and slowly moves from me to them.

It. Is. CRAZY!!!!

When they drive away from the house or come home telling you about a girl they are taking to a school dance…you realize that you are along for the ride a little more than you thought. It’s such a great ride – but it is so very different.

I will end with this – I read these words in my devotion this morning:

“Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. Thank Me for everything, though this seems unnatural – even irrational. Gradually you will begin to ascend, recovering your lost ground. When you are back on ground level, you can face your circumstances from a humble perspective. If you choose supernatural responses this time – trusting and thanking Me – you will experience My unfathomable Peace.” – Sarah Young “Jesus Calling”

So wherever you are on the ride of life. Trust Him. He’s with you – every hill, drop, loop, and swerve. You are not alone and this part of the ride doesn’t last forever. Try to take a deep breath and enjoy it – there’s always a reason to ascend above our circumstances as we “ride” on the wings of hope that only our Creator can provide.

Hug your kids because you’ll blink and the ride will be ending. Regardless of how you feel – be thankful.

Kasey

To Be or Not To Be

nature red forest leaves

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We teach our children that life is full of choices. Their choices have consequences.

As moms, we’re no different. I made a choice almost 4 years ago. A choice I made with my family’s support and knowledge. I went back to school. As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to earn my doctorate. This past May I walked across the stage in my funny cap and billowing robe. As I walked, I heard my sweet boys yell, “Yeah Mom!” It was the best moment ever!

I’ve had to learn a new “normal”. No more researching, writing, and reading in my spare time. I finally have TIME!

Now that my closets are cleaned out, drawers organized, and moving boxes unpacked (it only took a year!)…I’ve decided to embark on a new challenge.

I’m making a choice to focus my extra time on God’s Word and how it impacts the  unknown world I’m managing when it comes to raising teenagers. It is NOT easy. Not at all. I’m hoping some of you can relate, reply, and help me redirect my thoughts when things get to be too much.

I’m ready to get real – I hope you are ready too.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while now, it feels good to be back  instead of focusing only on my kids, I want to focus on my Savior and the promises found in Scripture.

I hope you’ll stick around and experiment with me as I approach this month in a new way. I’m choosing my focus. I’m choosing God’s calm over the world’s chaos.

Ready, Set, Go…

What Race Are You Running?

tortoise wallpapers hd (3).jpgThe headlines seem to be littered with people and groups pointing fingers at each other for telling a truth, telling a lie, or not telling enough. So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and air my own grievances with the phrase,

“Slow and steady wins the race”

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s a story I tell my children and my students in order to model the character traits of persistence, humility, and yes – hard work .

We’ve all known our share of “hares”. Those people at the office or play group that seem to effortlessly live life and are so “quick” with their wit, money, looks, or talents that they make everyone else feel like they’re poking along, struggling to make it.

We’ve also known our share of folks who act like a tortoise. They take their time and think before they speak. They see the big picture and are okay waiting for their reward.

Which one are you?

Both have fantastic traits and they have their downfalls.

So here’s my problem with this “tail” (haha, see what I did there? Homophones anyone!? No? Just me – the English nerd? Okay, moving on)…

The truth is – the hares of this world usually win the races. At least the short ones. They win because they are sometimes loud, pushy, and confident. But do they win every race?

No.

I’ve learned to appreciate the tortoise in my life – my husband. Do NOT for a single minute think that he is weak, slow, or clueless. He is my rock, my guide, and I am in awe of who he is as a man and father.

If you haven’t guessed already, I tend to be more like the Hare in this story. And I have to be very careful not to dismiss or overlook the tortoises in my life because they have figured something out that I am still pondering.

They know what race they are running.

I tend to run, all the time, with everything I do. I go all the way. If I’m not careful I won’t stop, look back, or even consider who I might be blowing past and leaving behind. As age as set in my “speed” has slowed and I am so very thankful.

I still love to be challenged, I love feeling the wind from the energy of a team working on a project or the way my intellectual muscles are stretched when I learn a new skill – I LOVE the race of “new”. But here’s the problem – It’s tough for me to feel like I’ve crossed the finish line.

I finish one race and I’m on to the next. I remember it had been a week since my second book had been published and we were driving in the car. I started talking about an idea I had for a center that would serve immigrant families and students while working with local school districts and Universities. He literally pulled the car over, put it in park and with love in his eyes but exhaustion in his voice he said, “I love you, but sometimes it is exhausting being married to you! When will enough be enough?”

He wasn’t scolding me. He was really asking…because he is a tortoise. He sees what really matters and what I’ve accomplished and he appreciates every minute of it. He supports me 100% but he is my compass and my guide when it comes to knowing what I should and shouldn’t put my energy toward.

You see, in my opinion, the “hares” in our society typically DO win the race (and that’s the real rub with this story line). They get the attention and influence decisions, but sometimes I wonder if they are running the RIGHT race.

I guess I’m just coming to a place where I not only appreciate, but I have started to look for the Tortoise on my team, the Tortoise of the group that will help everyone be steady – and MAYBE slow. But sometimes slow is okay.

Do we need to appreciate and think more like the Tortoise in this story, instead of always rewarding the Hares of this world? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE a kid who wants to just jump in and pour their energy into every idea that comes into their mind. That kind of energy keeps the Tortoise from falling asleep and being left behind.

So can we agree that this story is great, but there might be a bigger lesson waiting for us within it’s plot line?

No matter how we run the race – fast or slow, consistent or scattered – we need to first ask, are we running the right race?

If we are – it becomes a little less important to emphasize who wins. It’s more about how we help each other finish.

So if you’re a hare and your child is a tortoise – slow down and soak in their wisdom and perspective – it’s quite refreshing.

If you’re a tortoise and you’re being driven to the edge of your sanity by a hare in your life – I would challenge you to let them energize you. They have a drive and imagination that will cause you to find color in even the most grey days.

We need each other. This race can be EXHAUSTING! Instead of comparing how the other is running the race, maybe we should just shout a word of encouragement or sit and listen to each other’s journey.

To the tortoises out there: Be patient with the hare in your life. They mean well and they need your still, constant presence to bring them back to earth when their heads are in the clouds. You need their energy and they need your calm.

To the hares out there: Take time to recognize and appreciate the tortoise in your world. They are not trying to hold you back or slow you down. You need their perspective and they need your energy.

Now let’s get out there and run the race the best way we know how. Keep your head up and keep going because if you’re raising the next generation, you’re already in the most important race of all – you’re shaping the future. I’m here for you and I appreciate you. Slow and steady might not win all the races, but maybe we can all start to ensure we are running the RIGHT race.

On your mark, get set….GO!

 

The ABCs of Grades

medalsThroughout my years of working with mothers, one topic continues to come up in conversations – when to pay and when not to pay children.

So here are my thoughts, take what works for you and trash the rest – but please know this is not a quick, nor is it an easy, answer.

Here’s the thing about money. It causes an item to have a defined value (or lack thereof). In 2008, Dan Ariely wrote the book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.  It’s a fascinating look at why we do what we do and how we make decisions. He talks about two forms of currency or value. The first is a social norm, where money isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s about relationships and the value or benefit our decision brings to our fellow man. The second is a market norm. This norm focuses on money and the fiscal results of a decision.

Quick example: A plate of cookies are in the office break room. Sign says, “help yourself”. People only took one cookie and the cookies lasted for a while so everyone had an opportunity to enjoy one. Another time a plate of cookies was labeled, “.25 each”. Guess what happened? People put in a dollar and took 4 cookies. The cookies were gone in a short time period and people took more cookies than they did before.

According to Ariely, here’s what happened. A market norm was assigned to an object and therefore the social  norm went away. No one thought about others, they just did the math. I put in a dollar, I get 4 cookies.

It makes sense doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. Ariely (and a bunch of really smart psych people) figured out that once a market norm is assigned, the social norm not only goes away, it can never return. He has so many examples about a daycare charging for watching kids late, lawyers helping the elderly with legal advice, and on it goes. It’s a fascinating book and I think it bears some weight with kids, grades, chores, and a household.

Is it wrong to pay kids for responsibilities or positive marks? I don’t think so.

Is it necessary? I don’t think so.

Before you get upset – hear me out.

Each of my children are unique. Their learning styles and abilities are very different. My oldest can work for 4 hours on math and still only earn a B. My middle child can do the same assignment in 1 hour and earn an A.

Did my middle child work harder? Nope. Is my oldest not giving his best? Nope.

So why would I assign a market norm to their learning and their abilities?

What if my kid has a teacher that is just one of those royal, pain in the rear end, jerks who never gives an A on a test or paper? What if my kid has a learning disability or the unit they are studying in school just doesn’t make sense to them? There are so many variables involved in the learning process and school objectives.

Carol Dweck writes and speaks about how important the PROCESS is and not just the PRODUCT of learning. (CLICK HERE to watch her Ted Talk) She did an experiment with groups of children who were given projects and puzzles to complete. One group was told they were “smart” when they finished and the other group was praised with the words, “you worked so hard” at completion.

Each group was then offered a more difficult puzzle or one at the same level. Wanna guess which group went up a level and invited more challenge?

Yep – the group that was focused on the process. The ones who were told they were smart really were smart kids. In fact, they figured that if this level of doing things constitutes “smart”, why should I push myself?

I’m not suggesting we lose “smart” from our vocabulary, but the minute I add market norms to grades and the learning process, I take away the social norm of enjoying the process of thinking, struggling with answers, and in the end having a result that reflects my efforts – no matter the grading scale being used.

As mothers we are tasked with creating global citizens. People who aren’t afraid to work hard. People who immerse themselves in the process and create a product that is an authentic reflection of our children’s thoughts, dreams, feelings, and abilities.

We can tackle the topic of chores another time. For now, start thinking about what events or tasks need to remain focused on process and social norms instead of focusing so much on the market. The “market” of this world can sometimes limit our kids or misrepresent them.

I truly believe our children are looking to US to provide a market that values them beyond their grades or scores. But instead, values what they bring to our family and our society.

So here’s your mneumonic device for the day concerning grades and performance in children:

Accept each child as unique and wonderful.

Be focused on the process more than the product.

Continue to encourage children to try, even if a “prize” or “medal” doesn’t come in the end.

I value you.

Thank you for caring about the little things and the big things.

You stay up late, wash clothes, clean floors, wipe away tears, and YOU are making this world better. Don’t limit your actions according to the market norm. Your value FAR exceeds such measurements. You and I have a social norm that will come to light as our children grow and treat others as we have treated them – with respect.

Thank you for sharing, liking, and commenting – Spring is coming – hang in there!

Kasey

 

 

Letting Go

pathI’ve never sat down and simply written a post.

God brings topics, burdens, even challenges to my mind at some of the most random times but I know they are from Him. Usually I’ll sit with those thoughts for quite a while, applying them to my life, seeking out scripture and listening to see what else God has to say and THEN I write.

But friends, my heart is about to burst.

I can’t even begin to count how many times this blog, all the moms I’ve met over the years and all the writings I’ve been blessed to put into the Universe have come to my mind over the last 6 months. I find myself praying for all the moms, grandmas, children, and pastors I’ve met over the years.

It’s a kind of yearning I find difficult to describe. I miss writing to you. I miss hearing from you. I miss being with you –

Two years ago I was so excited to see a three-year journey become a reality when Mom Essentials was published. I read the pages today and weep at God’s faithfulness. I could have NEVER come up with those words. I could have NEVER thought up those concepts and applications – NO WAY!

I still believe God called me to write that study and I believe His hand was in it – but here’s the honesty behind it all.

I am constantly at war with Satan as he tries to breathe doubt into my mind, sew feelings of failure into my spirit and burden me with the weight of unmet expectations.

Satan works that way doesn’t he? He knows what is precious to us. He knows what God intended for good and he works so very hard to turn those things into evil.

Here’s the thing. I am NOT interested in selling books – I’m interested in encouraging and connecting with people. I’ve been called to teach and I’ve been blessed to see that calling played out in classrooms, sanctuaries, conventions, even my own home. But somehow I had an expectations for how God would use that study and how it would be an awesome resource for MOPS and Bible Study groups of all ages…

But those were MY expectations and that’s not how ministry works.

So I’m letting go. I’m letting go of all my dreams that this Bible study would reach moms of all ages, bring churches together, and help women reconnect with God.

I’m not giving up, nor am I giving in – I truly believe God ordained that Bible Study to be written, I just don’t know exactly what God has planned for the study or for me – and that is okay.

I DO know that God moves in His own way and in His own time. So I’m letting go of the guilt, fear, and pressure Satan continues to try to place in my life.

I’m doing the best I can – I’m focusing on my essentials and my faith is growing each time I push aside the temptation to think that the essentials in my life aren’t “enough”.

This morning I read these words in Jesus Calling: “A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.” – Sarah Young

I’m continually discovering what it means to get rid of the “extras” in my life and accept that while the “essentials” will change with the stages of life I experience – my one constant, ever-present, life-giving essential is my Jesus.

I’m holding tightly to His hand – everything else I am letting go.

God you are in control. Help me obey you without doubt or fear. I trust You are bigger than my circumstances and You alone know how all of this is working for my good.

Kasey

Anyone else need to let go of something or someone? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on our Facebook page. You bring me such joy – thank you for being so patient and so wonderful!

Thanksgiving 2.0

thankful posterBeing thankful is something we all work on, but what we’re thankful for can change – and that’s okay.

Today I boarded our plane and saw a sweet couple sitting with their 6 month old baby boy. I asked if the seat next to them was taken and they looked shocked that I’d be interested. The dad even said, “You’re awfully brave” as I sat down.

I couldn’t help but smile, because these two had no idea how thankful I was to sit next to them and just be near this precious boy. I miss those days and yet I am so very, very thankful that they had the baby and not me. I love sitting next to, holding and even caring for babies – but I’m THRILLED to not have one of my own. I’m just being honest. My version of thankful has been “updated”.

Don’t get me wrong – having a teenager and a pre-teen in the house isn’t a walk in the park – but it’s a different kind of exhaustion and stress. I’m so thankful to have memories of my boys as they grew up and explored the world. I’m even more thankful to know who I am so I can discover what it means to have a relationship with my children when they have their own thoughts, priorities, and ambitions.

I’ll be writing more about teenagers in future posts, but today I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and reflective. I remember being thankful for 3+ hours of sleep, when their teeth finally broke through their gums and the suffering stopped, when they played together in their own imaginary world I got to watch….such wonderful, precious times of truly being THANKFUL.

Today I’m thankful that my teenager thinks I’m the most strict, controlling mom ever. I’m thankful I can laugh with my teenage boy and appreciate his sense of humor, even when I find it completely ridiculous.

I’m thankful for friends who are ahead of me and behind me in this journey called parenting. They remind me to be thankful for today…for every single bit of today.

I love my yesterdays, but I don’t mourn them.

I love my todays, but I don’t let them overtake me.

I love the thought of tomorrow, but I’d never pretend to know what will happen next.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace and the gifts He has so graciously given me. My scripture for this season in life is from the Message:

Ephesians 2

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Wherever God has you right now is the RIGHT place.

You and I are JOINING God in His work , we don’t have to do it alone – that’s what allows us to be thankful – even when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed.

You are a blessing to me!

Thank you for sharing and following this blog and for being so very patient as I manage this crazy life of mine and rely on God to do the making and the saving – I’ll just keep “doing” the work in front of me – to God be the glory – he is doing GREAT THINGS!!!

Leave a comment and let us know what you are most thankful for these days…

Kasey

Momma Bears Part 3

bear hibernatingMomma bears know how to rest.

I’m not talking about sitting down for a minute and catching our breath – I’m talking about real, true REST.

One of the worst things someone can say to a mother of young children is, “So, what did you do today?”.

You don’t really want to know and sometimes we can’t even articulate what happened – it’s as thought the day happened TO US, instead us making the day happen {can I get an ‘amen’}.

But the difference between “crazy mommas” and being a momma bear is that we know when we need to, and how to truly stop and rest.

Did you know that some bears hibernate for almost 8 months?!

They don’t eat, drink…they even have such a low metabolism that they stop peeing!

Hmmmmm…that sounds a lot like some of my days. I eat when I can, drink the rest of the kids’ pop and I’ve learned to hold my pee for a very long time.

I want to be a momma bear that can let go and rest – this is NOT an easy task for me.

I’ve taken one of those “strengths assessment” things a couple of times and my #2 strength is {drum roll please}

achiever

I don’t accomplish things for accolades. Nope, I just am not satisfied with finishing one thing and then stopping. Before I finish a task I’m already thinking about the next one and planning my approach.

My husband said it best, “It is exhausting being married to you”.

Before you throw angry looks at your screen please know that he supports me 100% and he loves my drive – but I need him. He reminds me to stop, look around and enjoy where I am in stead of always looking ahead.

So, being an achiever, the word “rest” is like a nasty 4-letter word to me..well, it used to be.

Call it age, call it experience, call it parenting for 13 years – I’ve FINALLY begun to appreciate the act of and the necessity of resting. My life is balanced and it has been for some time. I’ve been practicing this technique and putting an emphasis on resting ever since I started writing “Mom Essentials”. God broke me down and showed me just how ugly and broken I really was and THEN He allowed the Bible Study to be completed.

The process took 3 years – I’m a slow learner I guess.

As I’ve been focusing on this “rest-filled” mindset I’ve found comfort in some beautiful words from my devotions and scripture. I hope you’ll read these and find the same encouragement. Sometimes as moms we just have to stop and breathe. Deep breaths in and out and just focus on breathing for a minute.

From Jesus Calling – July 21…

“Rest in My presence when you need refreshment. Resting is not necessarily idleness, as people often perceive it. When you relax in My company, you are demonstrating trust in Me. Trust is a rich word, laden with meaning and direction for your life. I want you to lean on, trust, and be confident in Me. When you lean on Me for support, I delight in your trusting confidence.”

From The Message…

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Wow.

I’d LOVE to live freely and lightly. It doesn’t mean I live without care or concern – I still have to do laundry, make dinner, go to work…the list goes on and on…

But amongst my list…within my crazy day…I can rest.

One minute I’m a momma bear with her roar known and the next I can be them momma bear sitting back, playing with her kids and truly resting.

Resting in the truth that I’m not the only one on my side.

Resting in the truth that God is enough.

Resting in the truth that tomorrow’s worries cannot be remedied today so I might ask well rest in the moments God has given me.

I hope you are able to rest this week and enjoy your cubs. let’s hibernate together and trust that God’s hand is on us – almost creating a cave of protection. Rest momma, He’s got this.

Blessings –

Kasey

Checkout  all the posts in this series…

Meet the Momma Bears

Momma Bears Part 1

Momma Bears Part 2


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