Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Changing our Cravings


It's possible. To change our cravings.

We can do it by changing habits. Quitting some, beginning others.

We can do it on our own, for a time, too. It's possible.

Mostly, we need Jesus.

He has promised to transform our minds. This is where the decisions are made. It begins with a thought, then we dismiss it or entertain it. We decide what we'll do and what we won't.

God has changed cravings for many people. He has changed something for me. It's a physical thing. There is still work I must do, however.

I've heard people say "Wow, I had a problem with [substance], but when I trusted Jesus, he took my craving away!   I don't doubt that it is possible. I do wonder how long these people made it before having to choose not to indulge in [substance], and whether they blamed Jesus for allowing them to be challenged and giving in.

It's happened with me. I've struggled with my weight for years. I've talked about it here a few times over the past 8 years.

More recently it's been about health rather than vanity. I can't run. I can't walk far without hurting and becoming breathless. I can't read a book, animatedly, without wheezing. It took two weeks to work up from 3 mins to 15 mins on a low impact DVD workout routine.

I have had cellulitis infections in my legs several times in the recent past. Once I had the infection, the fluid in my lymphatic system remained infected, even after taking heavy antibiotics. A year ago, I had been on these antibiotics four times. I spent about 18 mos constantly trying to heal both from infections, and from the cure. I researched how to heal the lymphatic system. It's not that hard, but it is time consuming, and when movement at all has become difficult, then so is healing.

I was tired all of the time because the antibiotics messed up my digestive system. This compounded my problem.

So, I prayed. If I left my lymphatic system a mess, I was going to be in a health crisis. I wanted to hike and run soccer drills with my kids. I wanted to wake up refreshed in the morning, and go to bed tired from doing hard things in the evening.

I realized one day that I had been having major digestive issues for more than a few days. I wasn't able to eat more than a few bite of food at a time, and I was having major pain in my left side when I did eat. One Sunday afternoon, at a pot luck church meeting, I had pain in my chest. There happened to be an EMT sitting at the table with us that asked me a few questions, and gave me a little advice. On Monday, I set an appointment with my doctor to find out what was happening and how to fix it.

She ordered loads of lab tests, and we had results within a couple of days. Everything was in the normal range. There wasn't a single thing that was too high or too low. There was nothing wrong with me. By the end of that week, my digestive issue seemed to just go away.

But something was changed. My appetite has dwindled, and I am unable to eat too much.  Instead of having a meal, and waiting a bit for my stomach and brain to decide whether I'm full, my stomach just tells me.

I'll be eating, and my stomach will send a message of discomfort, telling me not to take another bite. This is after, perhaps, half to three fourths of a meal.

Over the course of parenting, I have learned to bolt my food down quickly, else I might not have the opportunity to eat all. There have been far too many occasions when I've finished my children's plates, though that job usually falls to Mr. TheZoo. And during a period when I was lonely and unfulfilled, food was a friend.

Learning to be fulfilled by God is a thing. And while it is a subject unto it's self, it has applications here.

God is a chain breaker.  He heals our wounds.  He sees us through our challenges.

It doesn't usually look the way we want it to, though.

We take our chains, and we try to attach them to God. We don't have the the capacity to imagine all of the mysterious of the universe. Our minds are more short term.  We have a limited number of scenarios that we know will bring us happiness or comfort. That will eliminate whatever pain or hardship we are currently enduring. God uses those things, when we are open to it, to build character, or to do some good thing that we might never see. God's good things are not the same as our good things. We limit 'goodness' to something that fulfills our flesh during our short stay on the earth.

God's good things are timeless. That messes with us. We know what's best for us, so we pray for that, then we shake our fists when those requests are unfulfilled. We are impatient for the happiness we think we deserve. I wonder how often we miss a miracle because we are focused on whatever looks fulfilling in the moment.

So, God has changed my cravings. He has transformed my thought about some things already, so I wasn't shocked. I was, however, paying attention. I knew it had to be God, because I was sick. My body was not processing things the way it should have. I was going to have major problems unless this issue was resolved. And then it was. Resolved. And my system began to function differently. Or perhaps the way it used to function before.

I still choose. I choose what to eat and when. I can choose to ignore the slight discomfort and push on. I can choose whatever I want. But I was given a boost. A lift, A hand up. Why would I ignore that? I had already chosen the DVD workout, because that was going to help heal the lymphatic system. Eating less, and making better choices about food are things I need to think about daily, but God has given me a pass on obsessing over it.

My mind is full with kid things, appointments, chores, serving my community. It's full with bill paying, grocery shopping and meal planning. It's full with serving and loving my spouse. It's full with prayer and worship.

Now, I can pay attention to my body, because I'm given a clear signal. I suspect the signal has always been there. I suspect that I have long ignored that signal, and God made a way to get me to notice it again, recognize it, and pay attention to it.

This hasn't been going on very long, a little over two months, I suppose. I haven't lost a lot of weight, only about 20 lbs. I haven't lost many dress sizes yet, only two. But it's a change. It's one that I might have been able to do without God, but it wouldn't have lasted, as the past 20 years can attest. I would quit. I would decide I'd done enough, or that  I deserved something else.

I'm quite the expert on what I deserve. It's rarely what I actually need.

Weight loss, and physical fitness is hard in our USA. We've streamlined and leisure-ized our lives. We've filled our schedules, and left very little time for movement that used to be a natural part of living.

I needed a renewing in how I thought about healing myself, and in how I managed my time to do it.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think, then you will get to know God's will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect" Romans 12:2




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Friday, June 23, 2017

Sharp Women


I know some sharp women.

They are strong, joyful, serving, humble, kind people. Those aren't their only descriptors, of course. But they are true ones.

These women, they sharpen me. On occasion, when I remember to listen well, speak with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (or not at all!), and be available, I have the joy of sharpening them.

Being sharp is HOW we remember to listen well, and speak with wisdom. It's how we encourage one another to good things. It's how we raise our kids in love. It's how we press on in our personal relationships.

It isn't coddling, or gossipping. It isn't bad mouthing someone perceived to be in the wrong. It isn't propelling someone to make a decision that our own wisdom gives, or rooting someone on in destructive behavior.

When you meet people that say "I'd like to pray for you", and they do so on the spot, those are people you want to be around.

These are the people that want for you what God wants for you.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, and remind you of scriptures that reveal God's character, those are people you want to be around.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, that remind you of God's character through scripture, and whose council and encouragement points to Jesus, those are the people you want to be around.

When we are around those people, we become more like those people. While being like other people isn't the ultimate goal, if those people are like Jesus, the result is that you become more like Jesus.

When we are surround ourselves regularly with sharp women, we become sharp, too.

That "Iron Sharpens Iron" sentiment is real.

People were created for relationship. Ultimately with God, the Creator of the Universe. But on the earth, we also have one another.

Loneliness is hard. Friendlessness is crushing. Self-reliance is deadening.

Sharp women in our lives is a blessing.

Even sharp women become dull after a time. We work and serve. Life demands things of us, and we give it what it needs. Then we need to be resharpened. And we turn to our posse. The people we trust to speak truth.

Don't have sharp women around you? Become one, first. It's a hard journey. It's demanding. You might even sweat. Okay, you WILL sweat. You'll stretch, and change, and grow. It will be noticeable. You will begin to speak life in others. You will be put a seed on someone else's mind to become sharp.  It's possible.

Do it. Be sharp. Help others cut through the crap so they can help someone else.





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Thursday, June 22, 2017

40 Something, Introverted Mom

Look, Socializing wears me out.

I mean, I like people, I just don't have the energy for 'peopling'. You get me?


Mr. TheZoo, he has a hard time meeting new people, but he draws energy from big social situations. Concerts, carnivals, rallies, car races. The noisier and more chaotic, the better. His smile gets bigger, his voice gets louder, his energy spikes.

Me, not so much.

These situations suck the energy out of me in seconds. If it's something that I truly desire to be involved in, I can prepare myself ahead of time to rally for a longer amount of time. It usually means that I'm not making much conversation, or that I'm holding my arms close to myself. I might cringe at loud close up loudness, or a major change in plan.

I'm depleted pretty quickly. If there's a way to sort of recharge,  and then rejoin, I will do that. If there's a quiet space someplace. Maybe it's not too difficult to go sit in the car for 20 minutes, or maybe the bathroom is nice and not to crowded. Maybe there's a shadowy corner that everyone else is avoiding, I can sit there and scroll through nothing on my phone, just to rebuild the energy that is required to do this crowded, chaotic, loud thing.

Oh, this isn't just rock concerts and Disneyland. This is highschool graduations. This is grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon, This is church on Sunday mornings.

I've been around long enough to recognize what is happening and how to cope. I also know how to rally when I can't leave a situation, for the most part.

I might sit in the back, and appear anti-social. I guess I am, but it's more about having no social energy left.  I will still smile, and speak to anyone that speaks to me, but for the moment, I won't be seeking people out. If I do, I won't have anything to say, because, here's a weird one...small talk hurts my chest.

Meaningless chatter, conversations that last for 20 minutes about nothing but weather. It's painful! I get that we aren't revealing our deepest thoughts to strangers. That would be weird, too. But "Hi! So, how about those *whatever the current local sportsing thing is*?" just isn't my jam.

I don't really understand how to carry on small talk. Sarcasm, puns and humor to displace stress. That I can do. I'll stand there and poke fun at just about anything, rather than review the weather yet again. I'll even make fun of the weather. Or the weather apps, or weather forecasters, or even people that small talk about the weather.

I've been told that I'm fun to be around. I don't always see that. With people I know well, sure. I mean, we have time and familiarity on our side. With new people, though, I'm afraid that most of the time, they walk away shaking their heads, wondering what is wrong with that woman? She's a grown up for heaven's sake, and has kids! How do her children survive?!?!?!

Truth is, they've also learned sarcasm, puns, and humor to displace stress. They are very good at it. You could say it's their first language.

Of course, I've had to 'grow-up'. I hate that phrase in regard to this sort of thing, but it truly is the best way to describe it.

When my children need me to advocate for them, I step up. This means that I need to introduce myself to people, seek people out, ask questions, and have uncomfortable conversations.  I do it.

I take a deep breath, I ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to guide me, because there is no way in Lucifer's Fiery Afterlife that I could do it on my own. And I get to it. I HAVE learned how to do small talk, to some extent. I still don't like it, and it still takes quite a lot out of me.

Have you seen those movies and television shows that depict an empath character? Usually it's some awful tale about fairy tale type characters, or people with super or special powers. The empath feels what everyone around them feels, and often it's overpowering, and the empath character passes out, or lapses into a coma after feeling too much.

That's obviously melodramatic, but it is a decent attempt to depict a real thing.

I have a gift of empathy. That doesn't really mean that I channel the feelings of everyone around me. It means that I can often tell things about people that I am talking to. I can sometimes discern if a person is lying, or hurting, especially.  I can often tell if someone isn't who they are presenting themselves to be. Of course, I do that. I present myself as energetic, perhaps even bubbly. Maybe you've met me as confident.  I am not naturally any of those things. I can be those things temporarily.

It takes a lot of energy to either ignore a discernment, or to hold on to it until later. Depending on the situation, I might not do a thing with a discernment. Probably, I'll never meet that person again. But. What if I do? What then?

The whole discernment about people thing is another topic all together. More on that later, probably.

So, I sit in the back. I find a quiet place. I wait until someone speaks to me.

Or, I find a way to cancel.

Maybe we could just get together for coffee. You know fewer than 10 people that I already know, in a familiar place. That would be nice.

You in?




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Holy Spirit and the Rock Trolls in Frozen



I know we've been done with 'Frozen' for a few years, but my Facebook memories showed me a video of the youngest zooligan singing 'Let it Go' with her pink plastic Dora guitar. Then I thought about the rock trolls, and the King.

I won't christianize the whole movie, although that is one of my favorite pass times. There's just this one part, and the one part, the one decision actually has a huge effect on the rest of the movie.

When Elsa hits Anna with her frost magic, and no one knows what to do, the King runs to the ancient book, where he knows he can find direction. He brings his family with him to seek wisdom and healing for his daughter. The wise rock troll healed Anna, and gave advice to the King in how to proceed. He told him that fear would be the thing worst thing for Elsa and her magic.

The King nodded his understanding and returned to the castle. He was joyous about Anna's healing, but anxious about Elsa's gift. His advice and training of her grew his own fear and planted fear in Elsa's heart.

He had the best advice, from the most ancient, wisest source he knew of, and he chucked it, trusting in his own wisdom instead. His choice shaped the relationship between the sisters, and between the future queen and the citizens of their realm. Fear overshadowed everything.

We do the same thing, Jesus followers.  We look to our ancient book for direction, we hear the urging of the Holy Spirit. We turn and trust our own control, instead.

Our decision to trust our own thoughts instead of the most ancient, wisest one has us missing out on the magic in life.  Trusting that what we know better what it good for us, then The One who is outside of time, rarely results in eternal success.

In the end, there is a nasty prince trying to steal the kingdom, but that's another analogy.

Today, go to you ancient text, seek out the wise Spirit, and trust that the truth you learn is the one you need.


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Friday, June 9, 2017

Take Me Tonight to the River...

A friend has a birthday coming up, so a few of us are going to take a walk out to the river and bring a picnic.

There are some beautiful places to set up out there, varied in vegetation and view.

Mr. TheZoo suggested we go out together in the late evening light and scope out a couple of spots for our mini-celebration. The conversation went something like this:

Mr. TZ: Do you want to go check out spots at the river?
Me: Nnnnnoooo...
Mr. TZ: What? Why not?
Me: Uh, will we get stuck?
Mr. TZ: Of Course not!
Me: Ummm, well...oooookaaaay.

We head out. We get to the river access gate and drive through, then the water filled ruts and holes come into view.
Mr. TZ: Oh! I forgot that it rained!
Me: Uggggghhhhh.

Now everything is a wet, muddy, soft mess.

We make it out to the river. The sun is still setting, our view is spectacular, and we brought the pup, who was enjoying every moment of this piece of heaven.

You can hear the river rushing by, birds settling in for the evening, and occasionally a train whistle, but little else. It's a serene moment. One I'm loath to give up.

Then, the rain drops.

We scuttle back to the truck, and Mr. TheZoo begins to drive out. Wait. Not out. Just drive, and drive and drive and drive. This path is rather narrow. Oh, I think those ruts are deeper than the wheels are tall on here!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnndddd.....We're stuck!

We had a nice walk out of the river access area, and a short trek home. Two of the bigger boys were still awake at the house, they went to help Mr. TheZoo unstick the truck. The biggest boy got to drive the rescue vehicle for a tiny bit in the access area to maneuver it into a helpful angle for truck pulling.

The boys had a little adventure, too, and felt good that Dad needed their help with something.

I was helpful by chortling about it over text with a friend.

Also, Mr. TheZoo called himself an idiot for getting stuck again. I told him that I love him.


We're all idiots sometimes. Hopefully we're idiots with someone around who'll love us anyway.



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Thursday, June 8, 2017

You Don't Know What You've Got...

...Until it's gone.

People say it all the time. Usually in the aftermath of losing someone.

It's painfully true.

We may recognize on some occasions what it is about this person that made life what it was. Moments of reflection on their positive traits, and how, perhaps, we might have benefited from the way they lived.

But when they're gone.

When they're gone, we do it every day. We remember them with tears, and regret. We wish they were back, we recognize all of the ways we may have made their living difficult. We remember things we wish we hadn't said or done.

The problem is that we don't often enough think that we shouldn't say or do things before we say or do them.

We don't regard people as well when they are living with us. When their faults and shortcomings are in full color, so is our irritation and exasperation.

Wonderful moments come between the hard parts of life. The parts that grow us and develop our  character. The parts where we make mistakes, and we're unsure of what to do next.  The parts where we are insecure, or we recognize that we are jerks, those are the hard parts. Then, while we are focused on our own shortcomings, somehow the shortcomings of the people closest to us are magnified. Rather than doing the hard work to fix ourselves, we begin to gripe about how those loved ones could fix themselves.

We want them to do something better, or more, or less. We want them to focus more on us, or less on us. We want them to be what we want them to be.

But they are who they are. They are either becoming better, or they aren't. Just like the rest of us.

But then. Then, sometimes, they are gone. Just, gone.

Then is when we realize that everything that they were, that they worked toward, that they said, and did...we miss. We miss that they left their shoes in the middle of the floor. We miss that they never put the cap on the milk. We miss that they worked so hard for their family. We missed that they served their community so well. We miss that they encouraged us to stay at home and love our family. We miss that they were always up for an adventure.

The things that we loved about someone, often those very things are what irritate us the most after a time. Then, when they're gone, we remember how much we loved those things about them.

We get in our own way too much.

We focus on our own agenda, or right to be right. Our wants and needs.

When the persons that we love the most aren't there any more, that's when we notice how needy we were. How self involved.

We realize that we'd take back every little thing about that person if we could. Every, blessed, irritating thing. And every lovely thing.

And we know that we wouldn't focus on the irritating things. In fact, we know that we'd push aside the luxury of being irritated at all. We'd focus on every lovely thing. We'd encourage every lovely thing.

In fact, perhaps we'd grow every lovely thing in ourselves.

I'm disappointed with myself that it has required grieving the loss of one of the loveliest people I've known, to purposefully look for every lovely thing in the people that I do life with.

I hope to succeed in this. I hope you will, too. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. It doesn't make losing someone easier, but it can make our regrets fewer and our lives together more joyful.



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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Purposeful Excercise


Yuck.

I despise it.

The Workout.

Getting exercise doesn't feel like a chore when I'm doing something that I consider delightful. Gardening, an easy short hike, dancing (okay, not currently, but I used to!).

Doing this stuff on purpose is no fun. I went to a gym for a while. It was okay. The class was available before my kids were awake and before my husband left for work. I could get home just as he was leaving. It was at 4:30 in the morning. The class was called 'Boot Camp'. It felt the way it sounds.

I began feeling good about it after several weeks. Then, an impatient instructor called me out, was less than kind, and that same week, I found out I was pregnant. The doctor said that I had been at the gym long enough to call it 'regular activity', so I cancelled my membership.

A few years later, I came upon a low impact DVD workout that looked good. I used that for a few weeks, too. This time there was noticeable change in my posture, I lost several inches and any pounds. Then my littles became ill one after the other, until I became sick. This went on for a little more than a month. I didn't pick up the DVD again.

Recently, I remembered how well that particular program worked for me. Because it is in my house, I can choose the time. I can turn it off if I can't keep up. I decided to give it a go again. I've only been doing it for 6 days, but instead of doing it 3 day a week, and hoping that I don't forget or make some excuse, I'm going for a 30 day block.

I don't know if that's new psychology. I remember hearing that it takes 21 days to make something a habit, but that must be for things that don't take much effort.

Intentional exercise is awful. It hurts when you have no strength or endurance. You sweat. I know you're supposed to sweat, but ew. I mean, sweating over yard work supposed to happen, but weird jumping jack plies in the living room seem like they should be no big deal.

By the way, I didn't go buy a bunch of 'athletic wear'. I did, way back, purchase appropriate things to wear at the gym, but I ended up sleeping in them over the years. Now I just roll out of bed to the living room and do the routine in whatever I have on, plus sneakers.

Guess what? It works. No one is looking at me. Not that anyone was watching me before, except that one instructor, but because we are sorry humans, we always think we're being judged.   Also, I don't have to drive home with sweat drying on my skin. I can just roll right to the shower. And I know the towels are clean!

I know I've blogged about this before, but it's been a few years. I'm sure I'll blog about it again. And again. Because I always have to start over, or try harder. Again, and again.

What do you have to keep restarting? Reading your bible? Being kind? Eating healthy? Serving others?

I wish that purposeful exercise were the only thing I have to re-start. I'm bad at ending well. I just want to end things. Some things, though, don't end until our bodies do.  I'm always reviving a relationship. Most often with Jesus. We'll be in it to win it for a while, then I drop the ball. I don't read scripture or pray with regularity for a while, then someone will encourage me, and I'll begin again. Even just a few days away from that regular, purposeful exercise causes bad things to happen. I become tempted to do or say things that I've said or done before. Finally I can see it happening, and recognize that I don't want to be that person. I don't want to gossip, or loaf around when there are things to be done. I don't want to make poor food choices, or shout at the children.

All of those issues require purposeful exercise to change. There are things I can do to ensure different choices, and, often, better outcomes. It requires diligence, though. And not on my own. I can do it by myself for some amount of time. Or, I can concentrate on a couple of things and, under my own control, I can make some changes. but not all of them. Only Jesus can help me with that. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide me. And he does.

When I listen, when I make myself open to hearing, and willing to understand, then I am prompted to make wise choices. It's still a choice. I can always choose my own way, or whatever feels better than the whatever the prompting is. I can choose to be purposeful in my excercises, or I can choose to ignore what will help to make me better than I was yesterday.

What are you being prompted to improve? What is the purposeful exercise that you need to work on? because we're humans, currently bound by time, give something a 30 day chance. It's not some magical formula, but it does have a high success rate!

Get to it, and let me know how it goes!



Monday, June 5, 2017

Blogging About the Bigger Zooligans


I read, recently, a mom blogger lamenting that there aren’t a lot of mom bloggers of older kids.

She knew why, though. Privacy, mostly.  Older kids don’t want their parents sharing things that they don’t want shared. I mean, these days, kids share so much, it seems odd that they would have a problem with their parents sharing, but they do. Parents are so embarrassing. We share all of the wrong things!

They want to share the filtered, flawless, polished photos, and the events that are deemed ‘cool’.  We want to share how they were grounded and why. We want to share pics of them napping with their baby sister, or snuggling with the puppy. We want to show them involved in service, and doing hard work. We want to share how they’ve learned important lessons, or not.

They don’t want the world to know these things about them, or to be able to connect them to our posts in any way.  Sometimes I think I’m clever, and I’ll post something without naming anyone. But, people know us. Some people, anyhow. It’s pretty easy to figure out who is currently 12 years old, or who might be likeliest to perpetrate whatever disaster I might have posted about.  They just don’t appreciate it. And so, we don’t.

I can share when I learn about being a parent of older kiddos, though. Those posts are likely to be even shorter than my posts already are, since there won’t be personal accounts without permission.

I have pretty outgoing kiddos. Completely unlike myself. I am happy talking to the world through a blog, while I am snug in my own quiet spaces. They like to be in the world’s face. They want to  absorb it all for themselves, standing in the thick of everything. As long as no one sees them, and I don’t tell anyone.

I’ll tell you this. I currently have one adult child, three older children (two middle school, one high school) and three younger children (ages 7, 8, and 9).  No more babies.

While I can still talk about what I learned and what I missed during the pregnancy through 6 year old stage, I won’t have anything new happening in that area.

The 7, 8, and 9 year olds will still give me a few years of scrapes and pickles to share. But that’s it. Then they’ll be older, and my older group will be grow up. But parenting still happens. And it still needs to be shared.

There are others with older kiddos that need to know their kids changing behaviors aren’t necessarily strange, or overnight. That there is still parenting to be done. That our children still need us during these years, but in different ways.

We aren’t still cutting their sandwiches into hearts and stars (well, maybe sometimes!) We aren’t still wiping their faces and taking pics of chocolate covered smiles (also, maybe sometimes.)

But we are still influencing, and modeling. We are still whispering wisdom and gently guiding. We are moving from the position of hand holding and pushing along, to walking beside.

There is still plenty to say about parenting older kiddos. I hope I can find a way to say it, and still preserve the privacy of my Zooligans.


And perhaps I need to find another group name for my older kiddos. Nah. They’re still Zooligans, no matter their age.



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Friday, June 2, 2017

Talking to our Children about Sex



This could be a  long article. It could include polls and links to charts and data. It could have a table of contents and an appendix, along with quotes by several leading experts in the fields of child development, psychology, and pediatrics.

But it isn’t going to be those things.

It’s going to be rather anecdotal. A big no-no in news writing and professional publications. Fortunately for all of us, this is neither.

My experience? I’m a mom of seven, ages of children range from 6 to 21 years. I spend all day, four days a week at a Parent Partnership Program as the primary educator for my kiddos. While there, I observe and visit with other families, large and small. I sit in some classes with my kids, I research curriculum, and occasionally cobble together a learning plan on my own, if need be.  That’s it, really.  I suppose my title should have been ‘Talking to My Own Children About Sex’, but then you might not have clicked the link. Yeah, tricky. But you’re here now. So, let’s go!

I don’t remember anyone talking to me about sex when I was growing up. Maybe they did, and it was just so terrible that I blocked the memory, I don’t know. I remember occasionally something being said about it, and being made to feel as though there is a lot of shame associated with it. It’s something that’s embarrassing, gross, inconvenient, secret.

In youth group during High School, sex was presented as something so amazing and delightful, but should be reserved for a particular situation. I mean, I see now what they were getting at, but it sounded tantalizing, instead.  

While no adult ever gave me an explanation of parts and functions, I attended public schools where my peers filled in that info for me, however muddled and confused their information might have been.  Guess what I learned?

There truly is a lot of shameful sex. People my age hooking up to get their ‘first time’ over with so that they could, presumably, enjoy every sexual encounter after that. Some friends had this idea that people are supposed to try one another out to find out if they were compatible in a physical way. Why would anyone think that would be the lasting foundation of a relationship? High School kids would have sex with one another to somehow guarantee a commitment of some kind. Some would have sex just to talk about having sex.

I’m not even going talk about the kids who experienced sex violently, as a weapon, abused and controlled with it. That truly is another conversation. A heavy, terrible one.

I talked with my kiddos about their parts, first. My kids were the ones shouting ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ in the grocery store. You’re welcome. I wanted to know if anyone touched my kids, that they could be very clear about what was touched. I didn’t want to hear about any ‘no-no square’ or ‘hoo-ha’ business. I mean, my ‘no-no square' is really a personal bubble. Don’t touch me any place if I haven’t invited you, or we’ll be talking with the police, got it? I’m only sort of kidding. Even church hugs bother me a little. Not always, but, hey, I can read people pretty well, and if I feel like a hug is creepy or slimy, it probably is, and I will tell someone!

You know what’s great about teaching your little ones the correct words for their anatomy?  When you’re changing your baby girl’s diaper in a public changing area, and she’s old enough to say “Don’t wipe my ‘gina! It hurts when you do!” and people stop and give you disapproving stares, so you MUST reply “you didn’t care to use the potty, so now there’s poop in your vagina, and we have to get it out.” Then the gape mouthed stare-ers can only agree and move on. So much better than a child screaming “Don’t touch me there, it always hurts when you touch me there!”. I’m sure you’ll agree that speaking about such things in a frank manner is beneficial.

I’m going to get incredibly controversial right now. One of my girls refused to use the word ‘vagina’ because she is smack between older and younger brothers and was distraught that they have penises, and she doesn’t. She would always say ‘He kicked me in the penis!’ , or ‘mom, my penis hurts!’. She wanted a penis so badly. She would tell me all of the time. Everywhere. The doctor's office, church, school, the public library. It didn’t matter to her. If I were following the current climate, I would have let her have a penis. She would have become a boy at the age of 5. A boy who prefers pink, glitter, trying on eyeshadow. She would have been a boy that wants to be a girl.  Now she is 6, almost 7. She understands that her brothers have a penis and she has a vagina. She doesn’t understand anything beyond that. She knows that there is a difference between a boy and a girl, and that’s all. She doesn’t need, at 6, to understand beyond that. I have not influenced her idea of sex at all, really, because the only thing she knows about it, is that it takes a male and a female to make a baby. This is why our hens don’t hatch chicks, we don’t have a rooster. Age appropriate. I would be horrified if she had to know more about it than that at her age. In fact, society as a whole is still horrified when children are forced to know about sex, physically, so why should we force them to know about it beyond that?


My 8 year old made a darling comment at a birthday party recently. He walked up to me and shook my gut. Super. I just *adore* when he does that. Ugh. I gave him that look, you all parents know what I mean, and he grinned up at me, saying “I love your tummy for making me born! Oh! And your vagina, too!” He isn’t a quiet child. In the least. We left quickly.

My two older boys have been given more information than naming body parts and there must be a male and female for babies. They have been told about sperm and egg, and how the sperm, uh, gets there. They have been scarred for life. One of them said “Stop! If I need to know more I’ll ask, but I don’t think I ever will!”

Things happen with the bodies of young men, and often the result is something I don’t want to have to handle. Like pajamas and bedding. Too personal for you? Yeah, ME TOO! My boys will do their own wash! Gah! Tell your boys that this happens, or they will sleep in crusty things for the ages and you will wonder why everything smells so awful!  Yuck, yuck, yuck! NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THESE THINGS!!!!!!  

So, you lucky ducks, I’m telling you!

Also, don’t tell them that certain, er, personal activity will cause them blindness. I mean, that’s just plain stupid. Look up the info, though, and tell them that repeated self gratification can result in difficulty later. It’s real. Check it out.

And really, the point of abstinence teaching for our kids is this: putting pleasure before commitment is self serving and temporary.

The only way for anyone to understand that truth is, you guessed it...JESUS! Sunday School answer wins again!  

When we are teaching our children to love Jesus, and they grow in a culture of love, they will understand patience, goodness, and self control. They will know the why.

Don’t expect that people who don’t follow Jesus will understand, let alone want to see these results in their lives. They are going to want instant gratification. That’s what the world teaches, and that’s what looks the most appealing.


Teach your youngsters, teach your middlers, and teach your olders. Model Jesus. And make your boys wash their own bedding.



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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Having Adult Children


I have one . A child that is officially, and legally an adult.

Done with school.
Over 21.
Able to vote.

You must wonder if it’s the relief we all think it is. We’ve grown them to adulthood, teen years are over, and out the door they go. *whew*! Right?

Not exactly.

They are (hopefully) prepared to make their own way. We’ve taught them skills. They know how, even if they don’t do it, to keep their spaces clean and tidy. They can cook, and balance their bank account. They can ask for directions, read a map. They can show up to work each day, pay their bills. Maybe.

But will they put on a sweater when it’s cold? Will they wash their bedding at appropriate intervals? Will they be kind to people, choose their company wisely? Will they be a good friend and neighbor? Will they spend their new freedom staying up too late watching Netflix, or will they manage their time well? Will they purchase and eat foods that keep them healthy?

And why aren’t they calling or texting? What are they doing that they don’t want me to know or ask questions about? Who are they with, all of these people that I’ve never met, and likely never will? Who is influencing them right now? Who is introducing nefarious ideals?

We know it’s happening. But we have no control. Do we still have influence? God, I hope so. That is an actual prayer, you know.

You don’t stop being a parent. Ever. No matter if your children are grown. They are still our children. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Haven’t most of us quoted that?

The way our children think of us changes over the years. I’m sure you all know that. They adore us, then they question us, then, and then. Then they learn something that perhaps we’ve never spoken of. Maybe they bring up the subject with us, and we know little about it, or, more probably, we don’t agree with the point of view that they present. They realize that there are other viewpoints. Other ideas.

Our children are supposed to separate from us. To some degree. Hopefully, we are learning to know God, and His love, and we are sharing that with our children. That will keeps us connected always. Always, always.


Parents aren’t infallible. Didn’t you know that? We don’t always know best. Sometimes we need advice from others. Sometimes we have a bad day, and perhaps we deal with the people around us in a less than loving manner. Maybe. Did we hide these things from our kiddos, or did we let them watch us mess up, then figure out how to make things right. Even, at times, admitting that there is no way to make things right, but maybe watching us begin again with someone that we’ve crushed, or restore a relationship that we destroyed with our pride.

We can be anxious about our adult kids forging their way in the wide world, or we can be confident that we taught the valuable lessons. The things that are truly the most important. That they will, if not yet, return to the wisdom of those early life lessons. That they will be the citizens in their communities that produce good fruit.


We can continue to pray over our adult babies. And of course, we will continue to ask why don’t they ever call?




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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lack of American Maturity (one small point)

(a bit of continued conversation from the previous post)

Americans are, in general, immature. It’s spreading, too. Countries that embrace western culture are experiencing a rise in in childishness in their adults.

I know people aren’t fond of generalities. Everyone thinks that their own story sets them apart from everyone else in any circumstance. It does, to a degree. No one else is me, and no one else is you. We were created (agree or don’t, whatever) individually, and are loved individually. We have individual circumstances, and we have group circumstances. Telling our individual stories is a way for others, who have experienced similar things, to find community support regarding some specific thing. Your individual experiences, then, help you find niches, commonalities with others, therefore putting you into a group. It’s a thing.

What is it that perpetuates this immaturity? Lack of Jesus. Yep, I said it again. Religion of Self. Yep, I said that again, too. When there isn’t anything more important that self-righteousness, there’s a lot of immaturity.

People choose not to have kids. I know we just talked about that, but look, there’s a thing about parenting that most people don’t realize until they’re halfway through their kid’s growing up years. We repeat ourselves. Alot! Parent’s teach kids lessons that we learned growing up, that we wish we learned growing up, and altering what we wish we hadn’t learned growing up.  

But there’s more.

The repeating grows the parent.

You read that right. Sure the kids will learn stuff that’s important, it just won’t look like it’s taking for a while. I mean, if your kids are, uh, like most kids.  When we repeat ourselves to our children, (hopefully) altering our messages as the children grow, we learn, too. How many times can you tell your kiddos to speak with kindness, to be gentle, to serve, to have compassion, without, at some point, realizing that the lesson is your own? There’s always something. Stop reading for a moment, and think about it. Haven’t you ever been correcting your kid, explaining why whatever they did was, perhaps epic, but not right, and helped them to understand what to do in future, similar situations? (I really hope you have. If you have NEVER done this, please message me, because ohmygoodnessweneedtotalk!) Sometimes what happens is you suddenly hear your own words in your ears, as though someone else is saying them. And they make sense for you. Somehow, even though your kid is right there, listening, your message is more for you, then for them. You continue speaking, and everything makes absolute, perfect sense. You are encouraged to do something differently, or more, or less. You are energized in this pursuit. Do you even know what that was? It was THE HOLY SPIRIT speaking through you, to you! Please, please, oh please tell me this has happened for you! Good, golly, gosh! It’s exciting! Your words are so on point, so faultless, and perfect that you know they aren’t your own. You listen,  because this isn’t coming from your own fount of wisdom. Except now it IS part of your wisdom. And you have matured a little bit more.

People who lead and teach, those are the ones that grow in wisdom and stature. That doesn’t mean someone who runs a business, or publishes a magazine, or is the President of the Unites States (obvi, right?)

People who teach children, especially. People create disciples. Yeah, that’s churchy, but get this, you can create disciples of anything. How many kiddos are walking around with hunched shoulders staring at flipping cat videos on their handheld devices? They are disciples, sadly, of self indulgence.


Create disciple of good things. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. Do these things! Teach these to kids! Teach them to adults that aren’t aware! People gain wisdom, and good character when these things are taught and practiced. Do it! Jump in!




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Monday, May 22, 2017

People Don't Want Kids Anymore


Why is having kids an unappealing thought to a majority of Americans these days? Besides the selfish (yes, I said it) reasons. There ARE other reasons. Listen, I’m not talking about unable to have them, can’t afford adoption, knowing absolutely that a child can not be supported in current circumstances. This isn’t what I’m getting at. I mean that abhorrence of children. The attitude that has many decrying the very existence of youngsters and their appearance in public spaces.


The ‘news’ articles (those are snark marks) are all over the internet. People angry that someone’s child ruined their dining out experience, or caused their airline flight to be unbearable. People that see children learning how to become adults horrified with their failures and setbacks, unwilling to allow a learning curve.


Do people still read history? Have they forgotten that children used to have to be grown up by the time they were seven? Children were employed, for goodness’ sake! They were expected to be little adults, learning trades, running households, and shaping their communities.


They used to marry and raise families before kids today can even drive.


Now we protect kids, and rightly so! But to what end? We’ve taken the protection of our youngsters and thrown that ball clear to the other end of the spectrum. We seem to believe that too much responsibility and learning at too young an age will damage our children. We can’t give them space and responsibility, because they are clearly too fragile.


Have you met children? They are amazing, resilient, strong willed, sponge minded, super heroes! Children are amazing! Why WOULDN’T someone want to have kids? The things they can learn are amazing. Kids can learn multiple languages while their minds are able to absorb and categorize such information. Adults can, too, but with a much slower rate of success.


Children can follow directions, because they have to. They don’t know anything about the world yet. They have to be able to rely on people older than them to show the way.  Adults can follow directions, we just don’t really want to. We know what’s better, and we certainly don’t need any older people showing us crap that we already know, and we certainly don’t need any little ones slowing us down on our super speed trajectory toward amazing success, or whatever.


Children are loud. Well, some children are loud. Excessively, amazingly, sharing the same decibel level as a jet plane taking off loud.  I know plenty of adults that fit the same description. While I would be terribly upset about a screeching, shouting, loud singing, obnoxious adult ruining my flight or dining experience, I’d likely offer the child grace, and the adult a disapproving single raised eyebrow. The child is still learning, and with guidance, loving correction, will learn. The adult hasn’t learned, and the truth is, probably won’t. Why would that person be more welcome in most situations that a little one that needs to learn, isn’t?


Is it that people detest the idea of children existing? I present the unpopular idea that people don’t like the idea of responsibility and self-control. Patience, kindness, and gentleness are virtues, to be sure. Virtues that everyone wants to find others practicing, but not themselves.


When children are around, our patience is tried. We are confronted with our own behaviors, and perhaps with some niggling feeling in the back of our minds that, as part of society, we all have a responsibility to teach our youth to grow into citizens that are trustworthy, kind, productive, giving, patient. And we don’t like it. We’d rather indulge our impulses. We’d rather entertain ourselves without giving any thought as to whether our entertainment is worthy of anything but momentary gratification. And we know, inherently, that isn’t what children should be learning.


What’s the answer, then? Jesus. Really. The Sunday School response is the right one.
When people live in God’s will, reading scripture, praying at all times (We’ll talk about that one later), loving God, loving others, etc. FOR REAL, now, not just pew sitters that do whatever they feel like later, we pave the way for maturity in our communities. Being a Christ follower has so many benefits, why wouldn’t everyone want to be one?


Because self-indulgence feels better. Because we think that doing whatever we want, without restriction is the opposite of religion, and religion is constricting.


Guess what, folks? Constant self indulgence is a religion. It’s worshipping the self. You are your own god. How’s that working for you? It never works out for me. I trade God for self often. Several times a day, some days. It’s so easy to please the flesh. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I do it.  I reach for fulfillment in places like movies, tv, shopping, and food. Where do you find your fulfillment? Working more and more hours? Having a big bank account? Whatever it is, if our fulfillment is sought after in things other than God, we won’t find lasting fulfillment.

We’ll continue to demand that anything that distracts us from pleasure is removed. Including the people that are learning how to care for us when we are old.



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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Being Bold



I thought boldness was a hallmark of brash, brazen personalities. It is for people that are loud, forward, unintimidated. 
Turns out, boldness is for everyone. Boldness doesn't always mean sticking it to someone, or getting in people's faces. It usually means courage, strength, assuredness.
Am I bold enough to believe that I am purchasing the groceries that my family can use? That I am creating meals that will nourish and fill my children's bellies? Am I bold enought to know that I am putting the right amount of fuel in my gas tank? Am I boldly deciding that the laundry should be washed, dried and put away? Did I boldly choose what book to read, or what blogs to look at? Did I make a major decision about who to smile at and speak to this week?  
Do we agonize over these choices? Besides during times when finances are so tight that we must watch each penny. Even then, are we asking God, in every instance, that he might show us the right path? Are we prostrate before our Lord begging him to confirm that the gala apples are the right choice? No? Why not? Why would any one of us think that our small, every day, mundane choices would be less important than accepting a new job title, or moving to another city? 
Every choice that we make, each little, mundane thing, will pave the way for the how we make the big choices. 
Do we trust that we are walking in the will of God when we feed our families? When we care for our lawns? When we chat with neighbors? When we commute to and from work? Are we certain that we are living God's will when we build relationships, dress for the day, have a coffee?
Why, then, would we act like we are about to jump off a cliff when we make any other decision? If we are confident in our mundane about living in the will of God, then making that 'big' decision won't be agonizing. Exciting, big, unknown, probably, but not angst ridden. 
If we are living in the will of God every day, then it doesn't matter if we take the promotion or not. It doesn't matter if we move to another city, or not. It doesn't matter if we buy the car or not. We will still be walking in the will of God. 
What is the will of God? 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says it is giving thanks in everything.  1 Peter 2:15 says it is doing good.  There are several verses that talk about just doing the will of God Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:17, 1 John 2: 16-17, John 7:17, Romans 8:28.
It looks like the will of God is no mystery.
If we abide (fancy for 'stay') in Him, we'll know it. Do you need to sweat blood in fervent prayer over whether to take the job? Then sweat blood in fervent prayer over whether to eat that donut, or buy those shoes. Such agonizing is for life and death! Would that we all took the eternity of the people around us so seriously as we do the purchase of a new home! 
What earthly thing matters so much that a misstep on my part is going to thwart the will of GOD?
As much as I want to know that I am walking in his will, I want to know it in every moment, not only the ones I deem big enough to require his intervention. 
Every moment. 
I want this badly. Not badly enough to sweat blood. I don't even like sweating sweat. It's gross, and hard. 
Am I good at this walking constantly in God's will thing?  I wish I could say 'absolutley'! But I mess up so much. I ate that donut. And the second one, too. I didn't even stop to consider whether that was the will of God. I'm so glad God is bigger than the donut. I won't agonize over it. I will think about it next time, though. Maybe.
I desire to be confident, not in myself and my own decision making prowess (ha!), but in the truth of the holy, unchanging Creator of the Universe.  I want to know that I am calling on God every day, so that when the things that my mind deems as BIG, are not obstacles, but just another part of life that I can enter into continuing in God's will.
I want to be bold in the every day because God is going to give me every chance to stay in him. His will is going to be done, and I have the opportunity to be part of it!








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