Tag Archives: friends

countdown ’til summer!

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Summer can be a wonderful time for lazy, relaxing days full of sunshine, playing outside, enjoying the pool, vacations, family and friends! It can also be a recipe for disaster when there is no structure. If there’s anything I’ve learned so far as a parent, it’s quite simply: kids need structure. It’s amazing to me to hear that kids are bored after only 3 days into their summer vacation. I truly don’t get it! Had we shown the slightest bit of boredom, we were sure to have a mile-long list of chores to help occupy our time.

Among all the fun and enjoyment of the summer season, it’s always a good plan to have activities on the ready to occupy little minds. When I was growing up, we often played outside in the fresh air enabling our Mother to get things done around the house and  have a break from the noise and boundless energy. Riding our bicycles was a must! We used our imaginations to pretend we were bus drivers picking up children at their designated bus stops. We got dirty as we formed steps out of dirt on the steep cliff in our backyard. We used our creativity to put on little plays in our garage for the neighborhood kids. Often my girlfriends and I entertained ourselves by playing school; we were teachers and our younger siblings and neighborhood friends were our students. On rainy days, we played inside; we loved playing restaurant. We girls were the waitresses and we used our beds in our upstairs bedrooms as tables where we took orders and prepared food in our makeshift kitchen.

When I close my eyes and think back to some of my most favorite memories, I’m quickly taken back to these carefree, imaginative days of my childhood. Our imaginations were on overload and we were free to play and enjoy the company of our friends. Sprinkled among the fun were chores to be done both inside and outside. Early on, Mom had us making our beds, cleaning bathrooms, emptying trash, vacuuming, rinsing and loading dishes in the dishwasher, folding and putting away laundry, and clearing the table after meals. We would accompany Mom to the grocery store and other errands. Occasionally, we could have a friend spend the night stretching out our play time; Mom would make homemade pizza for supper and we’d make floats for dessert. We’d talk Mom into setting up a kool-aid stand on really hot days. We helped Dad wash the cars, pick up sticks, rake pine straw, pull weeds, and other activities. We would go to Vacation Bible School (2 weeks long!) at our church every summer, which we loved! Mom would take us to the library weekly to choose and check-out books to take home and read. We loved going to our neighborhood pool! We did have simple video games that we loved to play but were limited to how much and when we could play them, always under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad.

Of course, most of my friends’ Moms didn’t give them chores to do, stating they had the rest of their lives to work. Sure, I thought it was unfair when I couldn’t join my friends outside because I was stuck inside cleaning bathrooms. But, I will say, my sister and I learned the value of hard work, earning our keep, as well as earning a little spending money. As I grew older and moved out on my own, I had the skills needed to do my own laundry, cook simple meals, and clean my apartment. It was then that I was thankful for the chores we were given teaching me to be independent and take care of myself.

Most of my fondest memories involved my Mom. I was and still am thankful to have had a Mom who stayed home with us girls. She made great sacrifices to be a stay-at-home mom rather than working outside the home. Sure, money was tight at times and extras weren’t plentiful, but we made memories with her that to this day stand out as some of the best of my life! You see, I learned that children don’t need more toys, more spending money, fancy vacations (my family didn’t go anywhere for spring or fall break; we went to visit our grandparents), expensive sports and travel teams, or exotic food. What we needed and craved was time with our Mom. We knew we were loved, wanted, and well-cared for. We had rules to follow and respected our parents. We weren’t busily shuffling from one activity to another. Our lives were certainly more simple because our days weren’t scheduled to the minute. Our activities oftentimes didn’t require spending money. We were excited to be able to have a friend (or two, or three) for lunch indulging in peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chips and kool-aid.

I believe that children today are super spoiled with expensive activities, trips, play dates, water/theme parks, movies, sports, and video games; not to mention expensive shoes, clothing and costly meals out. When asked, I would be willing to bet that most of these children would likely prefer time with Mom and Dad over all the expensive whatnot that parents think their kids want, and have to work long hours to be able to provide. My personal belief is that our culture today has its activities out of proportion. Also concerning is the fact that most of these children, once grown and on their own, won’t be able to keep up the lives they have become accustomed to. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. More stuff isn’t where it’s at.

For me, I’ll always be eternally grateful for the upbringing I had with my family. Having my Mom to come home to after a long day at school was more important to me than the things we could have had if she had been working outside the home. Having my Dad home every night at 5:30pm for supper was the norm, rather than the exception. While today’s technology has made life more convenient with skype and such, it doesn’t replace being present at the dinner table or bedtime. I’m thankful my folks put value in being together as a family rather than in attaining more stuff, or a bigger house. Memories of togetherness last a lifetime while stuff comes and goes.

Lest you think I’m against working parents, I’m not. I’m well aware of the single Mommas out there having to earn a living to support their kids. It’s parents working like crazy to keep the big machine of living-in-excess that is troubling. Big houses, fancy cars and over-the-top trips all come with a fat price tag. I challenge you to consider paring down our out-of-control lives in exchange for a fuller, more satisfying, less stressful, more rested, well-adjusted family. I believe the investment of time well spent with family will pay back in spades!

 

 

 

what’s REALLY important?

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Recently, I attended a memorial service for a sweet sixteen year old who was in a horrific car accident. While I’d only interacted with this girl a handful of times, I knew her parents. It was heartbreaking to watch the video put together by one of her besties portraying her friend’s short life through pictures. The testimonies shared by two of her coaches as well as 6+ of her classmates. It was allot to take in. The community honored this sweet sixteen darling in huge ways, showing their love and support to this dear family. Even more, was the fact that her death, along with two others within our county were all killed in car accidents, all sweet sixteen, within 2 weeks. Heart wrenching for sure. I cannot imagine the deep hurt, the loss, the questions, the why’s and what if’s of it all.

What impacted me most of all, however, was when this girl’s father, who’d just lost his daughter days prior, chose to speak at her service. To witness a loving father share about his only daughter’s short life was moving and thought-provoking. He shared that he, along with his wife, had lost sight for awhile of what really matters. He spoke of their desire for not only having a nice home, working hard to achieve nice flower beds and a nice yard, wanting the right carpet and floors, furniture and decor. He then said, all of a sudden, none of that stuff matters anymore. What he shared next was really inspirational: he said that when we’re so busy keeping up with and striving to have all the right stuff in this life, we won’t have the time to focus on family, which is all that really matters.

Of course, it isn’t a crime to want nice things in this life. That wasn’t the point. Rather, it was the temporary loss of focus of what really matters in this life. Not meaning to sound morbid, none of us is promised another minute, hour, or day. My takeaway from this former Sunday school teacher of mine and his tragic loss, is what are we doing with the time we’re given? Are we being kind and loving? Are we selfless? Are we making a difference? Are we intentional in our relationships?

Lastly, this Daddy shared in the midst of emotion, that his daughter’s best friend came to him and said she knew that her friend had accepted Christ and been baptized, securing her a place in heaven. She shared that she wanted desperately to see her friend again. This Daddy and his wife shared how she could be sure she’d spend eternity with Jesus, in heaven, with her dear friend, leading her to salvation in Jesus. It didn’t end there! She brought several boys from their school who also wanted to know how they could know Jesus and live eternally with him after their life here on earth is through. A couple of them also prayed to receive Christ. All 3 will be baptized as a testimony of what transpired within their hearts. This Daddy shared that his daughter’s life wasn’t in vain. Although he desperately misses her and the daily texts he sent to her, “good morning, beautiful,” he knows that others’ lives were touched and impacted through her short life not only this side of heaven, but for eternity.

Let’s live our lives well. Be intentional. Love well. Risk sharing your heart as well as your faith. Smile. Don’t be judgemental. Give of yourself. Look for the good in others. Be selfless. Invest in others.

 

social media (sometimes) makes me feel badly about myself

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social media (sometimes) makes me feel badly about myself

So have you ever felt this way about your favorite social media outlets? I know I have. I don’t want to throw the proverbial ‘baby out with the bath water’ but, I feel like it’s worth talking about, especially for my fellow “Stay-at-home-Mom” (SAHM) pals.

Facebook has been blamed for contributing to many a failing marriage, as has texting, emailing, and numerous other social media mediums. Why? Well for one, since our cellphones allow us the privacy of communicating with whomever we want, whenever we want, it can be risky. A healthy marriage can’t subsist on secrecy.

Probably my biggest beef with Facebook, in particular, is that its posts tend to be well-edited, snapshot moments of our lives. You know what I’m talking about: “look at us on our awesome two-week vacay”, or “we are having the best time on our third trip to Tahiti this month”, or “my college grad son just got an awesome job making $300,000/year straight out of the classroom!” Still yet, we’ve all read posts such as: “I have the best husband/wife ever”, or “my husband is the greatest; he just brought me a dozen red roses for absolutely no reason” , or “look at the new car/house we bought after my husband’s huge bonus!”

While my examples may be a bit exaggerated, oftentimes these type of posts leave us unhappy with our current situation, without us even realizing we weren’t happy in the first place. Sure, we are happy for our friends who are doing this or that; it’s that we find ourselves comparing our current situation in life to their current post. Some have even dubbed this as “Facebook envy”. WHOA! It has a name. Kinda sad, if you ask me.We are all guilty of tweaking our posts to make us look our best whether in pictures or in words. As if that’s not enough, we use flattering filters, cropping, and other such tools to edit and enhance even further.

Just imagine being in a lonely or loveless marriage and reading some of the posts mentioned. Consider a single parent on a fixed income reading such posts who can’t afford to take any sort of trip because it’s just not in the budget. Or someone who is recently divorced or even widowed reading all about your seemingly perfect marriage. Perhaps someone is going through a terrible battle with their health and their feed is full of such inaccurate portrayals of life.

I confess, since being a “SAHM,” my time spent on social media has been drastically cut. No longer do I have the “luxury” to peruse posts portraying the annual “Christmas card” moments of their lives. I have to admit, I have felt better and less bothered in doing so. I have wrestled from time to time with going ‘off the grid’. The only problem with that is that social media has become the prominent way we communicate with the outside world. No longer do we pick up the phone to call someone; we jump on social media and chat away utilizing the very latest in technology to enhance our communication experience. Gone by the wayside are face-to-face conversations where we can read one’s facial expressions rather than analyze the tone of an email or post.

Honestly, I could continue my soapbox rant on and on and on with my opinions and thoughts of the whole social media thing, and they would be just that, opinions. Instead, I feel it a better use of my words to encourage us all to be more mindful of what we post and how we portray ourselves to others. Imagine what it would be like to read more authentic posts. I’m not suggesting loading up our feed with negative babble; rather portray life as it is rather than “photo shop” everything to make our lives appear to be better and more exciting than they actually are. After all, what does this accomplish? We probably wouldn’t continue on this path if we thought we had the capability to make others feel jealous, or even hurt.

In conclusion, no need to ditch social media. Consider living in the real world among your “friends” on social media. Perhaps even weed through those who aren’t truly friends, keeping only those you want to maintain communication with. Life is precious and so are the people who make it, so why not mind your words a little more closely and seek to encourage instead of building yourself up to be someone you’re not. “‘Cause ain’t nobody got time for that!”