When a change is (unexpectedly) just what you need…

Last spring our 2 older boys made decisions. After multiple conversations. After months of talking. Stephen decided to stop playing soccer. Caleb decided to stop playing football.

I was devastated. Not being dramatic. Totally honest.

We are a sports’ family. Jeremy coaches. I wear the team shirt. One of us is at every practice. Watching. Enjoying.

Both of our childhoods would cease without organized sports. We both love it. Compete hard. Practice tons.

But both older boys said no. Not now. They wanted a break. And honestly, we had seen it coming. Apathy. Frustration.

Here’s what we didn’t see coming. The joy of being here. The freedom of looking at the calendar and having nothing on it. Oh.My.Word.

We’ve had neighbors over for dinner. We’ve had extended family dinners. We’ve had trips to the museum. We’ve had overnights at Grandparents.

Our life finally has margin and we have loved it.

Y’all…we’ve got basketball starting up in a few weeks. So don’t dismiss me as anti-sports. Far from it!

But I will say that our little break was just what we needed. And we didn’t even know we needed it.

So thankful that God gives us seasons anchored in His unchanging grace.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

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Our Family Date Marathon

The kids had been crazy lately. Mean really. They argued over every thing. Who opens the chili. Who rides the hoverboard. Who takes the dog out. I was full-time referee and done with it.

First, I prayed the desperate prayer of a tired Mama. These are the 2 verses I focused on-

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)–God, give us one, just one, peacemaker among these 5 hoodlums.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)–God, help our kids to unite with You and each other as one not many.

Jeremy and I also wondered if maybe the kids needed a break from each other. Maybe there’d been too much togetherness lately. But how do we get all 5 of them on individual dates at one time?

Here’s what we came up with:

1.We need a sitter to keep those who aren’t “dating.” (For us that was Stephen…how do we have a kid that old?)

2.It has to be a big deal. Unexpected. “Guess what everyone…we’re having our first ever family date marathon tonight.” Followed by blank stares.

3.Every child gets to pick his or her restaurant but it has to be quick and close by.

4.Kids left at home get to pick a Netflix show for everyone else to watch (and to help Stephen).

Then we did it.

I took Kenan to Moe’s while Jeremy took Esther to Wendy’s.

We met back at home and switched dates. I took Jonathan to Wendy’s and Jeremy took Caleb to Moe’s.

Lastly, Jeremy went home and started bedtime while I took Stephen to a local taco truck.

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And for bonus these are the 3 questions we ask our big boys on dates:
1-What is the hardest (worst) thing in your life right now?
2-What is the easiest (best) thing in your life right now?
3-What is God teaching you right now?

In total, our family date marathon took 2 hours, cost less than taking our whole family out, and Jeremy and I ate samplings from different restaurants. And more importantly, our kids went to bed feeling cherished as an individual not a group.

Has the arguing gotten better? Some days yes. And some days no. Our kids fight the same sin nature as me and Jeremy so I’m not expecting a date night to fix that. But we’re still praying and trusting. Knowing that God has good plans for all of us because of His steadfast love and compassion.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

 

 

 

 

 

To Those With “Littles”…I see you!

Mamas of littles…listen…closely…tune out the crying from the other room…I have something to tell you…a little hope to offer…here goes…

It will get easier!

I can barely believe it myself. Nope, I’m not in the stage yet where I’m saying, “It goes by so fast. Enjoy it.” Truthfully, there’s still not a ton of this parenting gig I actually enjoy. But we’ve progressed a little and I’ve realized something huge. I’ll say it again…

It will get easier!

By around 3 and a half, the clouds begin to lift. Your kids will most likely be able to tie their own shoes, pee in the potty, buckle themselves in their carseat, get their own snacks, and even entertain themselves for a little while in the morning (while you….sleep in!).

It’s a breath of fresh air. You can read a book in another room while they’re in quiet time, confident that no one will die. You don’t have to worry about toys in the mouth or falling down steps. You can even take walks without a stroller. And there’s no diaper bag to pack before leaving the house.

Hear me out tired Mamas…3 years. 3 whole years. You can do this. You can do it multiple times.

God will meet you where you are today. He will strengthen you. He will give you patience. He will help you smile. He will wipe away those tears that no one even knows you’re crying. He’ll lift your tired head up from the playroom floor. He’ll redeem those arguments with your spouse because you’re not even sure you really know each other anymore. He is right there with you.

And His strength is perfect in weakness. Today. Tomorrow. For 3 years. For more.

It will get easier!

Believe this. And lean in deeply (so deeply) to Him. He is there!

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

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The Wrestling Match of Parenting

I toggle between two words when it comes to parenting.

Pride and Fear

On good days, I feel pride.
Yes, we’re doing something right.
Yes, our kids will make wise choices.

On bad days, I feel fear.
No, we’re not doing anything right.
No, our kids won’t make wise choices.

It’s a sticky spot. There’s a balance between pride and fear we can rest in. And honestly, our feelings aren’t up for the task of telling us where to land.

When I’m in the wrestling match between pride and fear, our kids get the punches. They get the mood swings. They get the “here’s a little freedom” versus “do what I say” versions of Mom at various, unpredictable moments.

I have the power to create a home in limbo or at peace. And it’s settled by my choice to rest in the stableness of God or the movement of my emotions.

The days will change. The kids will change. But He won’t. It is finished. For my kids and yours.

We fight our pride with prayer and our fear with faith. Because He is listening. He is steadfast. And His mercies are new every morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

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Fortnite…Thoughts From Another Parent

Confession…I LOVE Fortnite! I love playing it (landed in a tree my first jump). Love watching our boys play it (“Mom…chill out.”).

And I’ve learned a couple things lately. Had my eyes opened.

1-Our kids feel a real connection with the real people they play with.
2-Our kids are experiencing moments each time they sign in.

Let me explain why this has to matter to us a parents.

1-Connection

It’s a huge thing for me as an adult. And it’s a “huger” thing for our kids. On Fortnite, they are playing with real people in real time. That’s a gift and a curse.

In response, we’ve got to guard them. Set up boundaries. Our family rule is you can’t play duos or squads with someone unless you know them. It’s been tricky. They’ve played “a man down” at times. But they’ve survived (not in Fortnite terms, however).

I’ve also seen our boys minister through this online connection. Not like preaching or praying for people. But I’ve seen them love on someone who’s hurting through a game. Through a partnership. And for a brief moment in time, I’ve seen the hurt forgotten in the laughter spilling out of their headsets.

It makes me want to cry.

2-Moments

I just finished the book The Power of Moments. It’s amazing how moments change us and how we can change moments.

When our kids play Fornite, they are having mini-moments in every game that ultimately accumulate in a big moment of gaming. And when these moments are shared with others, they solidify even more.

It only makes sense then that our kids want to play more and more because they are connecting with people in moments that we can’t naturally produce in our homes.

So then…what do we do?

I guess we could ban Fornite. Maybe we should ban all video games. (I’m not opposed to it.) But I also want to “weigh my ‘yeses’ so my ‘no’s count’.” And Jeremy and I have decided to give Fornite the yes for now so we’ve had to think outside the box.

Here’s where we’ve landed…

-We spend time playing Fortnite with our boys every day (or at least watching them). It’s not “the boys play Fornite.” It’s “we play Fornite.”
-We engage with them when “game time is over.” For now the boys want to be with us and we don’t want that to change.
-We talk about battles and dances and guns even when it’s the last thing we want to talk about.

I know. I know. We may be overthinking this. I also know that some of you think it is heinous that we even let them play a “killing game.” And it’s all fine. Really. I’ve learned that I’m responsible for raising my kids not yours. So we can all simmer down a little and be faithful to who God has given us.

I’m writing today mainly as someone who’s had a wake up call to the world of gaming. I’ve realized I can’t compete and I need God’s wisdom and help way more than I thought. And honestly, I’ve learned that our kids are still kids and they still love God even when AR’s and “new skins” are their main topics of conversation.

Breathe. Sit and watch. Maybe play a little yourself.

God has given us these kids and these moments. Let’s not miss them!

“…But that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.” (II Corinthians 13:7b,9)

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(Love these boys and their silly Fortnite ways…Side note-Stephen and I finally won duo’s last night…and I burnt the chocolate chip cookies because of it!)