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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…

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!

He Will Do It

ohio group 2Last night I had a blast hanging out with the amazing women of Westerville Christian. They won a set of my latest Bible Study at #MomCon. I was so excited to meet with them and our time together took a really cool turn – one I hadn’t seen coming. I love when God comes in and decides to speak a word I was NOT expecting – it’s a beautiful moment when I’m reminded that God knows us better than we know ourselves.

We were focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:24…

“The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”

It’s a simple phrase until we take it apart.

“The one who calls you…” Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’ve been CALLED. Being a mom is a calling! Sometimes it’s a really tough calling, but in the end it’s the most important part of our impact on this world. The thing is – we didn’t end up here by luck or because we were bored. Nope. God plucked us out of ALL His creation and allowed us to be called Mother.

“…[He] is faithful…” I can flounder, mess up, fall away and turn my back on God but He is always faithful. His love NEVER ends and He can be the source of anything/everything I need. God’s faithfulness in my life isn’t dependent upon my performance as a mom. Nope. I am going to try my best. I’m going to listen to my Creator and I’m not going to give up because I’m not alone. The Creator of the Universe is on my side and HE IS FAITHFUL.

“…He will do it” During our time last night I asked the ladies to think of their top 3 worries, concerns or fears. The things that are weighing heavily on them. We’re going to call those our own personal “its”. My “it” might be different from yours but it still affects us. It takes our energy and focus and that’s not good because our family needs ALL our resources.  Throughout scripture we read God’s promises to be our strength, hope, joy, rest, and peace. If I pray about a situation in my life I can know that God will take care of it. He’ll do it His way and in His timing but we remember that He’s faithful and He’s called us to this season and time – so HE WILL DO IT!

I don’t know what “it” you’re dealing with today but I hope you can speak our 1 Thessalonians scripture with confidence and find reassurance that God loves you, knows you and cares about the “it” you’re facing.

 While speaking to the group last night God reminded me of a lesson I had taught to my students just 5 hours earlier. In my Newcomer’s class we are learning about pronouns. Yesterday our lesson covered the pronouns I and YOU. My sweet students who are learning English struggle with this concept – I think mothers do too.

Sometimes we think it’s all up to us.

I have to make that snack, talk to that person, lead that activity, clean that room, participate in that ministry……..the list goes on and on.

When it comes to dealing with the struggles in our life and staring down any “it” that might come our way we might need to start using the pronoun “you” a little bit more.

What if we started saying, “Lord, You are my strength. You have my heart. Would You help me decide what to do….” again, the list could go on and on.

I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to win all the battles. I don’t even have to prove anything – all I need to do is trust God and work on having child-like faith in my Heavenly Father – He’s got this.

Double Digits

kid with binocularsWhat is it about the double digits that seems so daunting? When our oldest turned 10 it felt like he was turning 20!

A decade had passed and I could see such growth and remember so many precious moments – I had to wonder what the next 10 years will be like.

Then I REALLY started to think about it and well…that wasn’t a good idea.

Ya see, in the next 10 years (we’re already 2 years into that season) my son will go to middle school and high school. He’ll graduate, hopefully go to college and that means he’ll leave our home {gulp}

This morning I took my boy to the church to leave for camp. He’ll be gone until Friday and this is the first time I’ve been away from him for this long.

I know he’s going to have a blast but it’s just not the same around the house and it’s only been 1 day!

Our kids are constantly growing and changing – that’s part of life.

But I wonder how many of us are truly ready for the next transition while still being able to enjoy the one we’re in – that’s a tough balance to keep!

Along with our children’s transitions, we too are growing and changing and that’s important. Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to have all the answers or be a more “relaxed” parent because I have a kid in double digits – but that’s just not possible.

Today will bring as many “firsts” and “new” issues as I encountered the day I brought him home from the hospital.

When I look forward I find hope in the knowledge that God is already there. He’s preparing my son and ME to accept what is coming.

You see, I can be aware of our future but I need to resist the temptation to worry about it.

I need to put all my energy into TODAY. What my kids need right now, in THIS season.

I’m aware of the future because as I’m teaching them and caring for them I’ll keep in the back of my mind that everything I’m doing and saying is working toward their next transition and mine. Today will impact our future relationship, their choices and my hopes and dreams for them. But still, I don’t have to worry – even if I mess up. I can be certain that God is bigger than my flaws or mistakes.

Joshua 1:9… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is with your children, God is with you. You are not alone and you can be strong and courageous no matter what transition or unknown you are facing!

Hang in there Momma – you’re doing great!

Kasey


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