The End of the World?

If you haven’t already heard, the world may come to an end this coming weekend. If it does, I guess this may be my last post.

I’m not one to buy into prophesies and panics. I mean, remember the scare of New Year’s Eve 1999? Yeah, well, we all saw how that turned out. No computers crashed, or nuclear sites went rogue. We just partied like it was 1999, thanks to Prince.

Now there are plenty of religious teachers proclaiming this to be “the End,” and who am I to contradict them? I am not a Bible scholar by any means. I just finished reading a very well thought out argument for the planets aligning, and the world ending by a well-read Bible teacher. And it was convincing. But I do know that these teachers are “men” and not God, and only God knows the time and place.

But here’s my main point: I wouldn’t blame Him one bit if He did decide that this weekend is going to be the time and place.

I mean, look at what we’ve done to His plan.

From the beginning, we’ve done nothing but deny Him over and over. He’s got to be getting awfully tired of it.

And I’ve never been witness to so much hate within the human race in all my 48 years on this earth. It’s downright embarrassing what we’ve become. Brother against brother, sister against sister, parent against child.

We’ve made ourselves judge and jury, usually over things we know nothing about. The loudest voices are the ones that get heard the most, whether they are speaking Truth or not.

If the trumpets don’t blare, and the sun doesn’t turn dark this weekend, then maybe we should look at it as a second, third, fourth, or billionth, chance to start over, and thank God for this life that we have.

Maybe we should take this weekend to be introspective. And for those who are believers, then it’s time to look Up. Find out what God wants us to be doing with this life.

Spread some love where there is hate. Share some mercy where there is judgement. Speak the Truth where there are lies. Show some kindness when it isn’t deserved.

God bless, and best wishes. That’s just my two cents.

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“Returning the Favor” by Mike Rowe…Have you seen it?

If you haven’t seen Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”  on Facebook yet, you need to check it out! It’s one of the few, if not only, inspiring things you will find on Facebook these days.

You might remember Mike Rowe from a show called “Dirty Jobs” that aired on Discovery Channel a few years ago (2005-2012). I’ve always thought that Mike was an upstanding guy, though I’ve never met him, and this show only does more to improve my impression of him.

“Returning the Favor” airs on Facebook, and seems to come out about one episode per week. The show features stories from around the country of average people doing extraordinary things for others. Get your hanky ready, because the show will tug at your heartstrings, in a good way.

There have been four episodes so far, and I’ve watched every one.

If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s to see fellow human beings helping one another because it’s the passion of their heart. Finally, something to make you feel good about the world.

Every episode, they surprise the designated “Do-Gooder” by giving something back to them. Thus, the name of the show, “Returning the Favor.”

The first episode, “Operation Combat Bikesaver,” profiles a former army engineer who runs a therapeutic bike building program for veterans. His name is Jason, and he gives his talents, and his time to inspire other vets, some of whom are suffering from PTSD, to be part of something bigger. You’ll have to watch it to see how they return the favor.

In Episode 2, “Donovan Discovers,” they profile a young boy, Donovan, who was at one time homeless, but now makes soap to donate to shelters. Its heartwarming to see a young kid use what he’s been through to reach others. No one told him to do it, he just does. Again, I’m not going to give away the ending.

Episode 3 is called “Girls Build.” It’s about a woman named Katie who runs a trade skills camp for girls. Katie is a carpenter, and saw the discrepancy in the carpentry workforce and how it was missing women. She inspires the girls to believe that they can build anything and gets them excited about creating things. They return the favor to her by…well, you’ll just have to watch it.

I just finished watching Episode 4, “Raising the Roughriders.” It’s about Brian, a retired Lieutenant in the police department and Vietnam Vet, who coaches a sled hockey team for intellectually and physically disabled athletes. The best part of his story is that his athletes never have to pay for a thing. He fundraises to get everything they need. Again, watch it to see how they return the favor.

I’m so glad to finally see something positive on social media for a change. Keep it up, Mike Rowe!

QUICK UPDATE: THE EPISODES AIR ON TUESDAYS.

 

Who Knew I Was A Cool Parent?

Most of the time, I feel like a dinosaur.

I still own a flip phone (my friend tells me I should donate it to the Smithsonian), I prefer talking rather than texting, I don’t drive a car (they won’t let epileptics have a license – with good reason), I’m always at least one season behind in styles and technology.

I even parent in an old-fashioned style: my kids don’t have cell phones (ages 11 & 15 – though the 15 yr old will probably get one this year), they don’t have ipads, or the latest in fashions either.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we live in a relatively wealthy area, but we aren’t wealthy. My husband and I joke all the time that we’re bring the property values down. My kids probably won’t go to Ivy League schools, like many of their classmates, unless they get a full ride scholarship. They don’t get to join every club and every sport around…it just isn’t affordable. And I’ve always felt a little guilty about that…not enough to keep me awake at night, but enough for it to bother me.

I am not the definition of a “cool mom.”

So, when my daughter had a friend spend the night this weekend, she “allowed” me to hang out with them. Actually, I told her that she could have a friend over, but that I wasn’t going to go hide in the bedroom, and be pushed out of the living room, so that she and her friend could take over the TV and the living room.

It was one of the few chances I got to talk to her and her friend. Since I don’t drive, I miss out on eaves-dropping on their conversations while running them from place to place. As we sat on the couch, channel surfing, I tried not to insert myself into their conversation, unless I was invited. I even waited until the next day for my daughter to explain some of the slang they were using, including one term that in my generation (GenX) meant something completely different than it does now.

My daughter has told her father and I that she tells her friends that her parents are “cool.” Truthfully, I thought she was just giving us lip-service for the next time she screws up. But even her friend mentioned that she heard we were “cool.” (Unless her friend is in on the scheme – but I’m choosing to believe that’s not the case).

Apparently, my husband and I have decent taste in music, and that scores big points. And I guess it helps that my husband is a gamer, and the two of them can talk for hours about RPGs and stuff like that. I have always been a little jealous of that.

I guess it’s nice to be “cool” in your kids’ eyes. I mean, we all say it doesn’t matter, and we’re the parent and not their friend. But I think it does matter to us that they like us. Hopefully, they’ll like us enough to come to us with the hard questions, and the hard problems of life.

Who knows how much longer I’ll be “cool.” I’d better enjoy it while I can.

What Happened to Life Skills?

I worry about my kids’ generation’s life skills.

Because of technology, our kids are far more advanced technologically speaking than we were at their age, it’s true. AND KUDOS TO THEM. Where we had to show our mom’s how to program the VCR, they are downloading apps, and writing code by the time they’re 10 years old.

But it’s the basic “life skills” that worry me.

I was the generation of “latch key kids.” Basic “life skills” were, at least, a matter of necessity, and at most, a matter of survival.

My husband was getting dinner prepped and could de-bone a chicken by the time he was 10 years old. We could use knives, and the toaster, even the stove at a much younger age than many of our children do.

We used the phone (landline, that is) and called our friend’s houses to arrange our OWN “playdates” (we didn’t have a name for it back then). I had probably a dozen phone numbers memorized in my head, not programmed into the phone, by the time I was 7. I can still remember a few of them to this day. And we had to talk to their parents when we called and ask politely to speak with our friends.

We also knew how to take a proper message and write it down, and to screen a call to be able to tell if it was stranger or friend calling. We didn’t have “caller ID” to screen our calls. The only thing “programmed” was our ability to ALWAYS tell whoever was calling that our parent(s) was “busy” and NEVER tell the person calling that our parent(s) wasn’t home.

My generation was handling money (of the paper and coin persuasion) at a very early age too. I lived in the boondocks, but my husband lived where he could walk to the nearest liquor store with a friend and buy candy or bubble gum or a comic book, give the clerk the right money and get back the right change.

We all had jobs by the time we were 16, some of us were even younger. If we didn’t work at the mall or a fast food restaurant, we pulled weeds for neighbors, or mowed the lawn for the old lady down the street. We learned responsibility.

Some of us had paper routes, much to our parent’s chagrin, where we folded and banded the papers, and on rainy days stuffed them in plastic bags. And we were responsible if someone didn’t get their paper, because WE got a call telling us so. But that rarely happened, because we didn’t want to get back on our bike or incur the wrath of mom or dad who had to drive us to go back out to deliver the lone paper, especially in the rain.

I worry that this generation doesn’t have those skills, just as I’m sure my parent’s generation said the same thing about us. I know it’s our responsibility to teach them, but here’s the thing: Unless they get a chance to PRACTICE THEM OVER AND OVER ON A REGULAR BASIS, they will always be a little bit hesitant, or worse, over-confidant, and THINK they know what they’re doing when in actuality they only know a fraction of what they should.

The thing is I don’t know where this mindset comes from that we tend to shield our kids from the world. We want to do everything for them, and it isn’t helping them at all. I’m guilty of it too.

This summer, is the summer of “Do It Yourself” at my house: your laundry, your lunch, your social arrangements with your friends (with permission of course), your dishes, your hygiene (I can’t even believe this one is an issue), your money management, and your time management.

So far, it’s going well. They feel more empowered. Of course, there’s still whining at times, but it’s working…I hope.

Please feel free to leave any suggestions for encouraging “life skills?”

As a side note: I had a hard time finding stock photos of kids doing any of the things I listed above.

Letter to my teenage children

 

It’s a precarious tightrope that parents walk: wanting to keep you safe and needing to let you go.

I need to give you enough rope to wander away, but not lose sight of home, yet still enough to pull yourself back home without getting tangled up in the process.

I want to guide you and help you with the circumstances that cross your paths, but I want you to use the tools we’ve given you to try to solve your own problems.

I want to give you freedom to experience things in your young life that will help form your opinions, your relationships and your joy. I want them to be your opinions and not mine, even if they are different from mine.

I can’t be there all the time. The world is a big place. It’s a place of wonder, a place of amazing sights and sounds, and, unfortunately, a place of danger too.

So how do I protect you without smothering you? How do I wait patiently by while you may not make the choices I would choose for you? How do I let you go and hope that you remember everything we’ve taught you? How do I know that you will come home when you get in over your head? How do I know you’ll seek wise counsel, even if it isn’t mine? I have to have faith.

I know you’ll try things you shouldn’t because, like you, I was young and curious once too. I know you’ll make mistakes, because I have, and still do. I pray those mistake can be reversed.

I hope that you find love, but not at the expense of your self. I hope you find success, but not at the expense of love.

So here’s where I have to trust. Here’s where I have to let you make your own decisions, and hope that I’ve equipped you well.

Here’s where I begin to set you free into the world, and hope you remember that you can always come back home.

The door will ALWAYS be open, the table will ALWAYS be set, and I will ALWAYS have the time.

Love,

Mom

When competition is too competitive

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I’m a mom who believes in healthy competition. I believe in 1st, 2nd & 3rd place trophies. In the right context competition can spur you on to want to do better. Some people even thrive in that environment. But not everyone.

Somewhere along the way, my kids have managed to surround themselves with really smart kids, to which I’m thankful. I consider it a blessing to have them being influenced by kids who want the most out of their education (or at least, the kids’ parents want the most for their education).

But it comes with its disadvantages too.

The wrong kind of competition.

It can be horribly damaging to a person’s ego and self-confidence, especially when you find yourself comparing your abilities to those of others who seem smarter than you are, or who feel the need to remind you they’re smarter every chance they get.

When my kids get down on themselves for not “measuring up” to their peers (according to their own eyes, because of course I think they’re geniuses), I have to remind them that first and foremost, the only person they need to compare themselves to is…well…themselves.

And second, if they want to be “smarter,” they have to work for it.

They forget that their “smart” friends probably weren’t born that way. They work to be that way. I can bet that their friends’ parents are much stricter than we are, and their friends’ lives are probably filled with many more extracurricular academic activities. “Minecraft” is probably not first on their list.

But my kids, like the rest of us, want it both ways. They want unlimited computer time AND they want to be at the top of their class.

They also need to remember that many “smart” and successful people failed numerous times. But they got “smart” and successful from learning from their mistakes, and learning to ignore the nay-sayers and others who tried to keep them back.

So I’ll keep encouraging my kids to strive for 1st place, as long as they remember what it takes to get there, and to remember that if they reach 1st place, not to lord it over others. It’s okay to be proud of your self, but it’s a whole different animal to be arrogant about it.

The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday.

Teaching My Son About Beauty

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So often we hear about “body image” and what is true beauty. It’s usually directed towards our young girls.

One night, while watching TV with my son, there seemed to be countless commercials for Victoria’s Secret, and Macy’s Bra Sale…you get the idea. The advertisers seemed to be focused on ONE audience…or maybe not, depending on how you look at it.

That led to a conversation on “beauty.” My son commented how the women were all so skinny and pretty. My inner alarm went off.

I realized that, though I’ve talked to my daughter about realistic beauty, I haven’t really talked to my son about his expectations of women. #letsgetreal

For my daughter, I showed her something Dove did regarding how models are “created.” The video has since been taken off of their website, but I found it on YouTube. You can watch it here. I highly recommend showing it to your children.

But I realized that maybe I had been remiss in not showing it to my son.

We are NOT a very “high maintenance” family, meaning “beauty” is not really a focus. I don’t get my hair done, I never wear makeup (much to my husband’s chagrin), my husband doesn’t wear Lucky jeans (unless I find them at Marshall’s) or have a designer watch, and I don’t buy name brands for my kids (again, unless I can find them at Marshall’s). “Beauty” doesn’t really cross my mind much. I don’t feel pressure to compete with the women around me, or the women in magazines, and I don’t want my kids to either.

I want my son to choose a mate the same way that I want my daughter to…based on personality and friendship first. Attraction is of course necessary, but I also want them to have realistic expectations. I want them to find the beauty within, the kind of beauty that lasts. #realbeautylasts

When it comes time for them to get married, I want them to picture their future mate with the opposite physical qualities that attracted them in the first place and ask themselves, “If this person lost those qualities, would I still be attracted?”

If the answer is “yes” then they’ve chosen that person for their inner beauty and not for what they see on the outside.

Most importantly, I want my son to understand what goes into creating the models he sees on TV or in magazines. I want him to know they don’t wake up that way, and they don’t go to sleep at night that way. And they don’t live their everyday life that way.

It’s never too early to start…they pick up on way more than we think they do.