Raising Children in These Tumultuous Times

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It is probably one of the hardest jobs. You are responsible for a life. It is your job to instill values, morals, teach and instruct, protect, comfort, and discipline. I think most parents have uttered the old phrase, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” But there is also an old saying that we should “practice what we preach”.

Have we lost that as a country? Who have we become?

I can’t scroll through any social media platforms or watch a news channel without feeling completely overwhelmed. We have been bombarded with information and opinions; and quite frankly, none of it is positive. It seems the more negative, opinionated, and hate filled speech, the more air time and likes it gets. What are we teaching our children? What kind of world are we leaving for them and how can they possibly thrive in a society like this?

25 WPBF News
Atlanta Journal
LA Times

Covid and the return to school debate. I have been overloaded with statistics, stories, and conspiracy theories. People who took all precautions and still tested positive. People who refuse to wear a mask and are still negative. Others who tested positive and had a symptom and felt bad for 24 hours. Still some who spent time in the hospital and a few cases in my hometown where others have lost their lives. I am trusting that our teachers and staff are doing everything to help prevent and protect my children from this virus. I am concerned equally for their physical and mental health, and I’m not sure there truly is a wrong answer in what we as parents decide. So, we made the decision to send our sons back to school.

Tampa Bay Times via AP
Star Tribune via AP

John Minchillo AP

Racial and social injustices, inequality, black lives matter, all lives matter, blue lives matter….

We somehow have lost what the real issue is. Instead of listening to those in our black community and their real life experiences, we want to defend ourselves and not believe them. We want to make the excuse that it is all politics and/or the black community needs to stop living in the past. I believe they are living in the present and how even to this day, they still face racism, inequality, and injustices. It’s not the past, it is the present. Why are we not standing united? Americans pride themselves on coming together, why aren’t we now? It is not a matter of supporting the Black Lives Matter organization, it is the simple statement that black lives matter and they are treated on a daily basis that they do not and this is real.

My children have questions that I have a difficult time answering. How do you teach children to not hate others based on differences when all they hear and see is the opposite? I have taught my boys respect, empathy, tolerance, compassion. Yet, those you extend those characteristics are persecuted for it. They are labeled “snowflakes”, “liberals”, “anti-Trump”. I disagree with all of these labels. Why? We are called to stand out by our actions. America…we are not loving each other.

Steve Helber/ AP
LA Times

So, what does God’s word say about how we as Christians should live and act?

A devotional I read the other day asked these questions that we all should ask ourselves, not only during these tumultuous times, but every single day.

  1. Motives- Are they pure?
  2. Thoughts- Are they kind?
  3. Judgments- Are they right and just?
  4. Words- Are they gracious?
  5. Actions- Are they pleasing to God?

This is what we should be teaching our children and modeling for them.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12-15

Let them know we are Christians by our love….

Living by grace,

Misty

A Letter to My Son

I still remember praying for you to enter my life. I waited over a year to see that positive sign letting me know that I was carrying you. I can recall the immeasurable joy I felt the day you came into this world, and I was able to hold you for the first time.

The first few weeks were not easy. I was thankful for your Grandma Ruth who decided to stay that first week. The first night home, you cried the entire night. I will never forget the soft knock on the bedroom door early the next morning. Grandma Ruth was standing there. I was crying and saying how you didn’t sleep at all that night. She replied in a soft and understanding voice, “Give him to me and go sleep.” That is exactly what I did. She showered your dad and I with wisdom that first week and looking back, I believe her calming presence gave me reassurance that I could do this whole mommy thing.

Now here we are, thirteen years later, and I am asking myself, “How has it gone so fast?”

You are a special young man, Noah. From an early age, you exhibited compassion, empathy, and kindness toward others. You have always had this inner wisdom of who God is and have demonstrated through your actions that you do listen to His soft whisper of how you should live your life.

I want to share with you some bits of wisdom as you enter your teenage years. The first being that I know you may find this post embarrassing and may even feel that my wisdom doesn’t apply to you. I know this because I thought the same thing when my parents had this talk. Trust me when I say that there will come a day that you will say, ‘my parents were right’.

The next few are important, so listen up.

  • Seek God. You will be faced with many choices as you navigate your teenage years. Before you make any decision, seek God’s guidance first.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Do not let others define who you are. You were born with your own strengths and weaknesses. You were meant to be different from others around you, and that is absolutely ok. Never squash your uniqueness in order to be like someone else.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10
  • Lead by example. You will be challenged to follow the crowd. Your friends may choose different paths, and deep down you may be torn to follow them or choose to remain true to who you are. Dear Noah, you are a leader and not a follower. Always remember that.

Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you are young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.

1 Timothy 4: 11 (Msg)
  • It is ok that not everyone likes you. That’s right…you will have people who don’t like you. It will seem unfair and it will hurt your feelings. They may not even try to get to know you and you probably won’t understand why. Don’t waste your time on the opinions of others. Stay true to yourself and know that their opinions of you are their issues and not yours.

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God will protect you from that.

Proverbs 29:25 (Msg)
  • Choose your circle wisely. People change and grow. That is a part of life. You may find that you and some friends will grow apart and although that may seem hard, that also allows room to make new friends. My word of caution is to choose wisely, Noah. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. Surround yourself with those you can trust and who encourage you.

Wise friends make you wise. But you hurt yourself by going around with fools.

Proverbs 13:20
  • Talk to your dad and I. This will be the hardest advice to follow. You will feel invincible and that you know more than we do, BUT…. you don’t. I want you to know that no matter the problem you have, even if you feel it is due to a bad choice you make, that you can always come to us. We love you unconditionally, which means that there is NOTHING you can do to make us love you any less. That does not mean that there may not be consequences, but it does mean that we will not leave you to work through it alone. We will encourage you and help guide you back on the right path.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

Romans 8: 38-39 (Msg)

Lastly, Noah… Have fun!! Enjoy this time. Don’t rush these years. Don’t wish them away. These next several years may be some of the best of your lifetime. You will have new experiences, make lasting memories, and learn many lessons. Live each day to the fullest and don’t worry about tomorrow.

I am beyond proud to call you my son. You make each day fun by your many impressions, your talent of acting out scenes from your favorite movies, and your dance moves (that you clearly got from me!) I love you my Noah. You are and will always be…

My Sunshine.

Love, Mom.

Messy blessings,

Misty

I Did Not Sign Up for This

IMG_20200319_213543557

I like a routine. I function at my best when I have a schedule of some sort. My house is more in order, the boys know what is coming next, and on the good days I don’t have to argue with my eight year old that it is shower night.

What I didn’t sign up for was having a schedule that is well..completely blown up. I am trying to navigate through e-learning. I enjoy watching the boys and how they learn and study, but there are some things that leave all of us pulling out our hair! A prime example is 3rd grade math where I find myself saying, “I know what the answer is, but I have no idea how or why you have to find it using that way!” I guess I’m old school.

I have given up trying to stick with a bedtime, and why should it matter anyway? I have no clue what day it is. It feels like a long and never ending weekend. A week(end) where we can’t go and do anything. We are limited to our home or taking a walk. Sounds great and sometimes it works, but have you ever tried getting a teenager to take a walk? I end up wanting to go on my own after that conversation.

It may sound like I am complaining, but stick with me here. There are so many people who are without work right now or laid off (my other half being one of them). There are people who are sick and those who have lost their lives. I hope and pray that healing comes quickly, and one day soon things in our world will get back to normal.

In the mean time, this is what I have learned.. it’s ok to not have a routine. There is freedom in not having control over every detail of your life. I have played more board and card games than I have since I was a child. Watching movies, camp ins in the living room, baking cakes (and eating every slice in 24 hours), video games, wrestling matches, and even science projects. If I had my normal routine, I’m not so sure these things would have happened. It has forced us to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

There is freedom in not having control over every detail of your life..

So although I didn’t sign up for this, I am incredibly thankful for the memories and blessings that have come from this. After all..

..some of the best memories can come from life’s most difficult challenges.

Messy blessings,

Misty