Archive for the 'accepting our reality' Category

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

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

Phone, Keys, The Mall…Humility

keysIt really is only fair that I wrote a book about living an ordered, organized life and years later find myself in one of the most chaotic, random, frustrating, anxiety-producing evenings I’ve ever had.

My mom was in town, she had taken my nieces to the mall and we were meeting them there to hang out. Mom wanted to take my oldest son to find a couple of things for school so I agreed to watch the girls in the play place.

A while later the girls and I met up with my mom and shopped some more. Mom took the girls home while Matthew and I left the mall and headed to another store. After our last stop we were exhausted and finally able to head home.

I started looking for my phone and that’s when the adventure started…

My phone was missing.

We made a U-Turn and checked the last store…nothing.

The mall was closing in 10 minutes.

We retraced our steps, literally running through the mall.

We were trying to use “Find My iPhone” only to discover my phone was “offline” – ugh!!

We were five minutes from the mall closing and suddenly my phone came back online.

That’s when we saw it moving across the mall!

We began running, certain we’d find the phone in someone’s hands. My emotions were racing. All the pictures I would lose, the contact information…how could I have been so careless!?

We finally found the phone…thankfully someone had turned it in (God bless honest people!)

We made it out of the mall as they locked the doors behind us.

As we walked across the parking lot I began searching for my keys.

You guessed it – no keys.

I felt completely overwhelmed as I looked at my 12-year-old and said, “I can’t find my keys.”

His response… “Are you serious?”

Within 3 hours I had lost my phone, and now my keys.

As I called my husband to bring us the spare keys I felt the tears welling up. My emotional and physical energy was zapped.

Throughout this whole ordeal my son never looked at me with shame, frustration or anger. He just helped me.

I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’d grown frustrated with my children for losing things for causing me delays.

How often had I asked my children, “How can you lose something you just had in your hands!?”

I was humbled and I was reminded that I am human too.

Why is it that I expect grace from my children when I mess up but I struggle to extend the same amount of understanding and patience to my family?

I’m certain I will continue to grow frustrated when my children make silly mistakes…and they will grow frustrated with me…

But wouldn’t life be better if we all took a deep breath, remembered our own shortcomings and THEN responded to the people around us?

That night my son was able to watch my husband show me compassion and support.

I found my keys two days later. I had left them at a Kiosk in the mall.

So now I have my keys, my phone, and yes – a refreshed, humble spirit.

Have you ever experienced a humbling moment?

Would you share it with us so we can all feel a bit more normal?

I hope you have a wonderful day full of keys, phones and finding everything you need the FIRST time you look for them.

Kasey

 

 

 

When Their Brains Turn Off

onoff2It happens more than I’d like to admit.

First my boys will do something truly stupid or completely against how we raised them (like licking the table, shooting each other with rubber bands, etc…).

Next, I will look at them and say, “I think your brain turned off for a minute – let’s think about this for a minute.”

I only use this line because if I didn’t I would say something like, “Quit that!”, “What were you thinking!?” or “Stop it now!”

{side note: asking a boy WHY he did something is like asking a dog why it peed on the rug – they don’ t know, they really don’t}

Tonight was one of those nights.

Matt took the older two boys to football and I dragged our youngest through his older brother’s Open House. It’s our first year with a middle-schooler and I was anxious to hear from all his teachers and make sure I was in the know.

I stopped by the counselor’s office and as we were talking I noticed the counselor’s eyes kept drifting past mine to look behind me. When I finally turned around I saw my 2nd grader jumping up and down on the chair sitting in her office.

I was mortified.

We don’t jump on furniture! I don’t even let them jump on their beds! What. Was. Happening!?!?!

I apologized, he got down and we went to the next class.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was embarrassed and amazed all at the same time. Where did he get the idea that jumping on the furniture of a workplace was okay?

As the science teacher walked us through his power point I started to think about why I was so bothered.

Then I figured it out…His brain turned off and even though I had stopped the behavior I wasn’t certain it wouldn’t happen again.

As we left science he asked what room we now needed (his job was to locate room numbers throughout the night).

I pulled him aside and said we were going to skip the next class. Here’s our conversation:

M: Buddy, do you remember a little while ago when you were jumping on the chair in that lady’s office?

J: Yeah (as he picks his nose and tries to wipe it on the wall behind him)

M: Do you think that was a good or bad choice?

J: (lengthy pause) Bad.

M: I’m wondering if your brain just kind of turned off for a little bit.

J: Yeah, maybe.

M: Do we jump on furniture? Especially other people’s furniture!?

J: No.

M: So, how are we gonna remind your brain not to that again?

J: I don’t know.

M: We’re gonna need to go back into her office and apologize for jumping on her furniture.

{his face reflects the sentiment, “things just got real”}

J: I really don’t want to do that.

M: I know, but when we make choices that go against what we KNOW is right, we have to apologize – it’s not easy.

J: I REALLY don’t want to do that. {tears are beginning to form}

M: Well, we’re going to do it and I’ll be with you. Let’s not make a big deal about it. Just walk in and say, “I’m sorry for jumping on your furniture” and I know she’ll say it’s okay.

As we walk to the office his fists are clenched and he’s moving from sadness to pure anger.

M: Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s just again. James had a quick thing he wanted to say to you.

J: I’m sorry I jumped on your furniture.

She was very forgiving and it was over in 30 seconds. But as we left her office the tears truly began to flow. At the end of the night I told him I was SO PROUD of him. He owned his choice and he made it right.

I asked him if he thought he’d ever jump on furniture again.

His response?

“No way mom! My brain isn’t gonna turn off about this again!”

I am fairly certain I’ll have to pull him off another piece of furniture very soon – but I’m hoping the act of apologizing will influence his desire to keep his brain turned ON, not OFF.

What are some of your kids’ “off” moments?

How do you help their brains turn back on?

Leave a comment – we want to hear from you!

Kasey


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