Sunday, January 30, 2011

dear emily,

i asked my friend dawn to write a guest post, because she is
chock full of wisdom, wit, and encouragement.  she graciously
agreed, and so will you!

I have no idea anymore why my husband's shirt was hanging there. But it was, completing the picture for me of the family we had just become. This little clothing family was the view to my left after my son took much of my blood with him when he left the confines of my body and the doctor confined me to the bed. If I had been feeling up to it, I would have been scared of that little package of DNA.  After all, those eight pounds three ounces would, in fifteen short years, become a 185-pound teenager whom I would have to look up to when I said yet again, "Is that understood, Young Man?!"

He still doesn't know my two little secrets. He won't, can't, until the moment he lays eyes on his own little bundle of great adventure someday. One disqualifies parents from parenting completely. The other overrides the first, and the job falls to moms and dads the world over.

1. We parents have no idea what we are doing. Little do our offspring know, we continually wonder if all we're doing will pay off in the end. We hold our breath with a straight, poker face, compare notes with friends, and remember how our parents handled us, then bluff our whole way through.

2. Secret number two that cancels out secret number one: Love. Only a parent's patience can overlook flaws and shortcomings to see a mature, responsible, amazing adult in the making. Growing up can be messy business, and nobody in the world loves your teenager more than you do. So trust your instincts and never underestimate the power of your love. It gives you more influence over your teenager than (s)he lets on.

And a word of advice? Don't get used to seeing clothes hung in closets. They will most assuredly be thrown on the floor.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you [ think (s)he] may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing . James 1:4

Dawn C. Gonzalez

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

my friend annie and i try to walk every week, and while we do,
we have some lively conversations.  it's really too bad that the
four presidents inaugurated in our walking lifetime have never
sought our sagacious advice.

here's what we would say to :

george bush . . . excellent wife!

bill clinton . . . tsk, tsk

george W bush . . . we adore your wife!

obama . . . lovely wife . . . and those amazing arms!

we think that the man is only as esteemed as the woman beside
him.  we believe that our husbands should be able to trust us to
speak the truth to them in grace.  we hope that they will only
find happiness in OUR arms.

as to matters of state, we emphatically agree with the psalmist.

"my heart is not proud, o Lord.
my eyes are not haughty;

i do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

but i have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

o israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore."
psalm 131


Monday, January 24, 2011

monday's mommy mentoring moment-guest post by janette!

one of my favorite treasures in blogland is janette's sage.  her
deeply inspiring spiritual saga frequently collides with hilarious
anecdotes that make my day.  enjoy!

Bubbles - What Works for One Doesn't for Another

google image

After 27 years of parenting six children and absorbing countless parenting seminars and books, the one thing I can say that has held true is, “what works for one doesn’t work for another.”

Each of my children went through what I call the “potty mouth” stage of early childhood.  To discourage this talk, I would march them to the bathroom, while instructing on what should and should not come from their mouths. Each time, I would put a dot of soap on their tongue.  They were not allowed to spit it out and I would explain, “if you are going to  have dirty words come out of your mouth then we need to wash your mouth out.”  This was very effective on the first two....but I must add one of those is in his twenties now and probably could use a trip back to the bathroom.

Our third child entered the world quiet, gentle and passive, yet wanting the admiration of his two older brothers.   He had an eager audience when he entered the “potty mouth” stage, who would encourage him with giggles and applauds for his new vocabulary.  I, again, started down the hall, marching him to the bathroom, repeating the same past instructions given to his siblings.  The siblings followed, anticipating the nasty taste in his mouth that they had experienced AND delighting in the correction of their sibling. (I know THEY had heart issues also...we live in a fallen world.)

Instead of the repentance of a lesson learned, my mild-mannered, non-strong-willed son (most of my kids are), stepped out of the bathroom to put on a show...which was very uncharacteristic of him.  
HE STARTED BLOWING BUBBLES OUT OF HIS MOUTH!!!  His older brothers hit the floor, rolling in laughter....and I have to admit I joined them.  He learned his lesson, but it wasn’t from my method of teaching... it was from a change in his heart.  He still at times will shock us all by doing something so out of character to bring his family a smile.

Lesson learned - What works for one doesn’t always work for the others.

“Train up a child in the way HE should go....” - learning what is right for each child is a challenge, but God made them individuals and He will instruct the parents on the way to train each one.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the pioneer man

my 26 year old son has poked fun at our fascination with the
pioneer  woman.  he just doesn't get how we could be so taken
with this 'luci' in 'green acres' persona but last week called to
tell me that he was the pioneer man.  ?

after his friend's mom had a major surgery, my SON made them
spaghetti using the pioneer woman's recipe.  my mouth fell open
in wonder.  this basketball playin', law school attendin', pioneer
woman deridin' son of mine?

i thought i might have a little fun with this . . .

"dear pioneer man,

my biscuits never turn out light and fluffy as my husband likes
them.   could you please tell me what in the world i'm doing

-an ardent fan"

google image

he responded . . .

"Dear fan,

Thanks for your trust.   Since I don't know exactly what you are
doing,  I cannot provide precise instructions.  But make sure to
use lots of butter and even a little dab of honey.

Remember, great cooks are not born----they are made.  Whatever
you do, keep on cooking!

Best of luck,
Pioneer Man"

now here's my final question.  why is he using the pioneer
woman's recipe and not mine?


" . . . but man does not live on bread alone but on every word that
comes from the mouth of the Lord."  deuteronomy 8:3

Sunday, January 16, 2011

guest post by sonja!

dear emily,

i am so delighted to introduce you to one of my favorite blog
friends, sonja at bits and pieces.  her engaging humor and
deep love for the Lord have been an inspiration for only a
few months, but i feel like i've known her my whole life.
soak it up!!!

I love Lea!
Being a guest on her post is both fun and humbling... especially humbling, as the subject is 'raising our children'... I told Lea it would easier to write a book than to write a blog!
My mom always used to say 'we have 3 children and they keep us happy, humble and poor!'... I am far enough down the road of life that I know all 3 of those things have been true for us as well, with our 3.
Here are a few points I would highlight...
1. Begin when they are small... a teenager who has not been taught from birth and up, is NOT going to listen and obey as you think they should when they hit those years.
2. Be honest with your children... when you have been wrong, tell them, and ask for their forgiveness. They learn from what we do much more than what we say. Just like God's love forgives us, we are to forgive them. 'It's His kindness that leads us to repentance.'
3. Keep the communication going... even when they are at the age when mom & dad are 'uncool'... let them know they can talk about anything and that they have an honest, and safe place to vent. I remember when ours were growing up and we were in a tough financial place, my husband called one of our 'family meetings' and shared his concerns with them. We felt we might need to relocate, and our kids needed to know and share in those concerns, as it also affected their lives. We opened it up to their thoughts and they blew off steam and told us what they were feeling. It was a hard session, but the talking and sharing helped us all.
4.  Have fun with your kids!... most of you probably already know the value of that. Humor is one of the most valuable gifts we have been given. I can't tell you how many times one or another of us were upset, angry, down in the dumps or flat out depressed, and somehow our sense of humor came through and we ended up laughing till our sides hurt. It is so healing.
I share this story with embarrasment and hesitation, when I tell you that I tried to give our 18 year old daughter a spanking when she was a freshman in college! I know, I know...  She had said some REALLY disrepectful things and was in my face when she said them. Before I had time to think it through, I instinctively tried to put her over my knee and give her a good wallop! Of course it didn't happen... She went out the door in a huff and I called my busy husband at work and bawled... told him 'I have really blown it... Carole may have run away from home', and told him what I had done. He calmed me down, and I sat in the rocking chair and cried and prayed until she came through the door after class. I heard her cheerful little voice that she used when she was being funny, she said 'I don't know about you, but I feel pretty silly!'... We laughed and hugged and to this day, it's one of those stories we still laugh about, and all 3 of HER girls LOVE to hear me tell it!!
5. Hold your ground when you know you are right, and stay united with your husband... kids can almost 'look like the enemy' at times, and they can SENSE when we begin to falter or show signs of retreat... they come on strong and jump right into that vulnerable place they detect in us, IF we allow it. I was the one who 'caved' sometimes, not my hubby, and our kids appealed to me on lots of things that they wouldn't dare try with their dad! I learned that one the hard way.
6. Final thought... keep Jesus in everything! Make it a priority to read God's Word with your kids and to pray, about everything. When we do that in our homes, it becomes the most natural thing for them to do the same in their own lives. There are going to be hurts and heartaches along the way, and they need to know that Jesus is their friend and will always be there. Teach them by making Him the priority in your home. Our children watch we do... much more than they listen to what we say!!
One more 'final thought'... in everything that comes our way as parents, NONE of it is wasted in OUR lives. As God is shaping our children through our instruction... He is also shaping US, many times in ways we didn't even know we needed.
Our 3 are grown and now they are raising our 6 grandkids... I know they have learned from our mistakes, and I also trust they have learned from our love for them, which never changes.
Love them, pray for them, love them and keep praying!...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

the year in review

dear emily,

it made my heart sing to hear (wow, i just saw that 'hear' is the
root of 'heart') that matt called hans to talk about our 'year in
review.'  my children have the wisest father, who is more given
to them than any father i have ever known.

the year in review is a great example of that.  every january, he
spends time with each of the kids talking about the milestones of
the year before.  they all groan about it, but once the memories
start flowing, it becomes a valuable way to say, "look what the
Lord has done."  the groans yield to tears and laughter.

it is also a time to show how He has knit our hearts together
through the difficult and happy moments.  even though each of
our children has unique gifts and dreams and live miles away
from us and each other, we want their hearts to remain linked.

we have seen how time and miles have unraveled families, and
we want to oppose that.  when i am a great-grandmother, and i
plan to be a GREAT grandmother, i hope to hear my children
and their children laughing and roughhousing in the background
as their father takes them one by one to remember the goodness
of the Lord in the previous year.


"the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with
joy!"  psalm 126:3

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a united front

dear emily,

i know very little about the art of war but, having seen some great
war movies, understand that a united front is essential to victory.
my experience in battle was for the lives of my teenagers, and a 
reason for our success was hans' and my arms linked side by side
as a kryptonite shield.

one of my favorite sayings during those 14 years was, "it's a great
thing that hans and i still love each other, because sometimes, we
are the only ones in our house who do!"

those adolescents were slippery and stealthy.  they could turn our
words back on us with greater skill than the wiliest  defense
attorney.  they had the ability to slip through windows, leap tall
buildings, hear through walls,  and exert superhuman control
over facial muscles.  they also exhibited enhanced speed (only
in automobiles), endurance, and stamina to stay up all night.

google image

AND they discovered our greatest weakness.  we cared.  we
actually cared for those teenage earthlings.

which, of course, was one of our secret weapons.


"there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear . . ."
1 john 4:18

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

raising teenagers

dear emily,

i have touched briefly, because NO one wants to spend much
time here, on the teenage years.   when my crew were little,
people used to say, "oh, enjoy them while they're so precious.
when they turn 13, you won't like them anymore."

how terrifying is that?  and untrue . . . mostly.

if you have established a foundation of respect and love with
your youngsters, you will survive their rough patches at 15.   if,
however, you allow disrespectful, selfish behavior when they are
young and compliant, they will most likely turn into two-headed
monsters.  at this point, you will be forced to hire an exorcist.

google images

just kidding . . . mostly.  

so, the moral of the story is to plan for the future.  you cannot
control the unfolding events , but your relationship with your
future teenager begins right now.

1.  from the age of two, your child should be able to look you
     in the eye when you speak to him.

2.  there is no need to yell at him.  speak as respectfully to him,
     as you would your husband.   (ahem, are you speaking
     respectfully to your husband?)

3.  do NOT ask your toddler to do anything, unless you are
     willing to back up the request.   if you let these requests
      slip by without response,  your darling will quickly tune
      you out.

4.  spend more time snuggling, reading, and playing, than
      bossing and disciplining.  "all work and no play, makes
      mom a big BORE."

5.  keep pappy, happy.

this is just the beginning, and after much prayer and reflection,
i have lots more to share.


"so in everything, do to others what you would have them do
to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets."  mt. 7:12