Here is Olivia’s controversial goal.
Watch behind her for the foul.
Here is Olivia’s controversial goal.
Watch behind her for the foul.
I never intended to write this blog post, and I never thought I’d even question this jolly old tradition. My husband and I both grew up believing and what is so wrong with fantasy? Recently I posted a question on facebook about lying being a sin. I will pose this same question to you. Do you believe that all lies are sins?
100% of the people who answered me said even small lies were sins. Why then do we lie to our children about Santa? As I thought about the lie of Santa and contemplated whether or not I was okay with it; I realized I have quite a few problems with Santa.
1. Santa is a lie and lies are sins.
I remember feeling betrayed when I learned the truth. I learned it from my friends not my parents and I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t tell me the truth. It made me question things they had told me were true. I didn’t stray far from their values, but I can see how the lie of Santa could create a pattern. You see if my friends were telling me the truth and my parents were lying what other things might follow that pattern. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and so on; these are big issues we all teach our kids about. However, their friends might have a different view on these things. Santa opens the door and teaches our kids that mom and dad aren’t always honest. Now I know that is an extreme example, but I really think it is valid. I also think we must consider that the lesson we are teaching is all about hypocrisy. Honestly how often do you tell them not to lie, and what are you doing?
2. Santa isn’t at all biblical and goes completely against what we teach about grace.
Santa has a naughty list and kids work really hard to stay off of it. If they are nice enough they will get great presents and if not they will get coal. This is the exact opposite of God and the true meaning of Christmas. Now many of my friends say, think of Santa metaphorically. Well that could make things even more unclear. Santa is a bit like God isn’t he. He is everywhere all the time, sees everything, and knows everything. Presents can be likened to heaven, and coal would then be compared with hell. So basically we are teaching the opposite of grace in a metaphorical manner. The bible teaches that we are all on the naughty list, that no matter what we do we can never through our own good works get off the list, but God sent an amazing gift to help us. This gift, his son, died to put us on the good list. Wouldn’t it be better to spend this season teaching our kids to count their sins. We could add them all up and see just how overwhelmingly flawed we were. Then on Christmas eve we could worship our Lord repenting and praising him that he chose us despite our sins. When we wake up on Christmas Day there all our gifts are not because we were good enough, but because we are forgiven.
3. Santa is all about stuff and not about giving
Honestly I know this is not the intent, but it happens. The list of what you want, the anticipation of what he will bring, and then either joy or disappointment. Santa teaches us ask and you shall receive, or in some cases be very disappointed. When you say no sweetie I don’t think you are getting a life-sized jet for Christmas, and your kid says Santa will bring me one and we will fly it. How do you respond? Most of us aren’t going to buy our kids a jet, and they are too young to be a pilot. If we take Santa out of the mix we can spend more time talking about how Jesus gave to us and who could we give to in memory of him. We can find amazing joy in what we will give, how we will give, and who we will give it to.
4. The pesky elf and all the other jazz
It just keeps getting bigger. The lie is growing. When I was a kid there was no elf watching us. My kids are the only ones in their class who don’t have an elf out and creating mischief this Christmas. It’s that slippery slope again, and one lie leads to another. We spend a lot of time perpetuating a lie that they will eventually discover. One more betrayal, one more chance to show them we are hypocrites, and most of all more work for us in the here and now. What for?
So this is the year we will tell our children Santa just isn’t real. We will teach them to not talk to their friends about it, and we will tell them it’s okay to sing songs about Santa and enjoy movies with him in it. We just won’t lie anymore. We will teach them a lesson in morals, we will teach them that adults mess up, and we will teach them that we are willing to apologize when we are wrong. I never thought I’d say I was wrong to teach them about Santa, but if I could start over again I would have told them from day one. Christmas will still be magical, and they will still be innocent and full of love. It just won’t be overshadowed by our sins.
Recently there was a parenting series at our church. The pastor went over a simple principal teaching that parenting should look a lot like the relationship we have with God. He outlined principals for starting right, and finishing strong. I was struck by both the simplicity of this message and shocked by what I had been doing right and wrong. Then of course I was terrified by what was yet to come.
When you are parenting young children the days feel endless. You are buried in diapers and bottles. The missing binky or blanky can cause a world war III battle. There is no winning with a tired toddler. Some days go well and we can pat ourselves on the back, but others remind us that we could easily become that character from Girls Night Out. Somehow we get through it all, but along the way we make our fair share of mistakes.
So how should we model our parenting after God?
Look to your bible. In the old testament God gave Moses the Law, and in the New Testament God gave us Grace through his son.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
If we model our parenting after these principals we will start with the law:
The law is rules. The law requires obedience, and there are consequences for disobedience. No one can ever truly keep the law we are all sinners, but the law teaches us about sin. The law also teaches us about forgiveness. Consequences teach us about actions and reactions. The law is good and has a purpose when parenting young children.
I often hear people say how could a baby be born sinful? Have you ever caught your toddler doing something bad? When you asked them why they did it, did they lie? It’s so funny because you just watched them do it, but they lie anyway. Some of their implausible crazy stories make us almost want to smile instead of punishing them, but the bottom line is even from a very young age children are capable of sinful behavior. So to combat this sin we create the law. The law is a set of rules that a child must abide by. The law teaches about morality, right and wrong, but most of all creates boundaries that are healthy for a child.
Some rules that I think are necessary:
1. Sleep rules: Bedtime, naptime, etc.
2. Rules about eating: What you will or won’t eat
3. Boundaries, for example, you are not allowed to get in the fridge or pantry, or medicine cabinet
The rest are really up to you. We have a child friendly version of the ten commandments that hangs in our dining area, near the time-out corner. When they are hurting each other we have them read number 6, or when they are mouthing off number 5, or when they lie number 9. Whatever the consequence for their behavior we try to remind them of the sinfulness of that choice. We also talk about forgiveness, prayer, and repentence. Saying I’m sorry and will you forgive me are important, but forgiving is also important. We teach our children to forgive each other as God has forgiven us. All of this amidst the chaos of parenting 4 small children.
Recently I had a friend come and visit with her small children. She is a kind loving mother, and she is a good Christian woman, but her children have no boundaries, no bed time, no rules for meals, and run the show. My husband and I sat back and watched her children not eat anything but candy and juice, climb on tables and chairs, run around screaming at midnight, and throw toys at their parents and each other. We were exhausted from just watching and at the end of the visit we were also shocked that they didn’t see it. It’s hard when you are living in it, but if your life feels like chaos it probably is, and quite possibly you could be doing everything right and your kids are still little monsters. Really my kids are some days. Of course I’ll be the first to say I am not doing everything right.
Your child’s behavior is not always a reflection of what you are doing as a parent. Good parents have bad kids and bad parents have good kids. It’s important to remember neither you nor your children should be defined by one choice. One of the greatest most powerful parts of parenting is reconciliation. However, sometimes nothing we do right will matter. The thing is free will means that you can choose to be the best most Godly parent you can be, but your child will also have choices. As parents it should be our goal to follow God’s plan and do our best, but we must also understand that our children make choices. Our parenting models the relationship he has with us. God set his rules, but he forgives us when we break them.
The greatest mistake we can make in parenting young children is providing too much Grace and not enough law. Young children must be taught that there are rules and consequences. If you or I does not teach them this they will go to school and struggle with rules because they are an unfamiliar thing. Imagine how scary school can be for a child who has never had to share, never experienced boundaries, and never been given consequences. As a parent of children who go to school I have heard these children’s names whispered in PTA meetings. They are that child who isn’t invited to parties, or is invited and tries to steal the presents from the birthday boy or girl. I once tried to integrate just such a child into my daughter’s friend circle. She is easygoing and popular with her peers. I thought her influence would make a difference, but I learned a hard lesson in parenting. What I accomplished was creating a rift for my daughter. Her friend’s parents had told them not to play with said child and so they no longer could play with her. I couldn’t fix what years of parenting had created, and to this day I watch that poor child struggle with peer relations, school rules, and academics. It breaks my heart, but I can’t fix it. However you and I can prevent it from being our children………………………….
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
As I peruse Facebook I am struck daily with varying opinions on Brittany Maynard and the legacy she chose to leave. There are heartrending tales told by those who support her choice and those who don’t.
It’s all quite striking and very thought provoking, and as quickly as I put it out of my mind someone posts another article or picture. After reading yet another reflection, I was in my kitchen roasting pumpkin seeds, something I hate to do. A task that I only do because my children adore them. In that moment I had an epiphany. This is something she will never experience. In fact she will never eat another pumpkin seed, pie, turkey, cake, or anything. She will never experience a selfless moment like this. A moment where you do something not because of how you feel, but because you know that someone else’s feelings matter too. In that moment I realized the legacy she didn’t leave. You see legacies are not left in how we die, but in how we live. As I plan for the holidays, as I prep meals I don’t love, and bake bread for my friends and family I am leaving a different legacy.
It’s a legacy that those who lift her up as a hero refuse to see, because I am busy living. I am too busy living a beautiful life to spend all my time worrying about how I will die. However, the inevitability is there as with each and every person ever born. 100% of all people who are born will die. It’s a fact, a statistic that is irrefutable. However, the missing statistic is how many people really live. Not just going through the motions, but truly enjoying this life. I don’t envy anyone with a terminal illness, and I don’t want to trivialize their pain either. In fact I am often taken aback by the joy, tenacity, and beauty that these sick and dying people live with. But lets face it we all have an expiration date, and the difference between Brittany and you or I is she chose hers.
It’s not the reason she chose it that matters as much as what choosing that meant giving up. Missing that one more Thanksgiving, that one more Christmas, that one more birthday, or quite possibly that one miracle no one expected. Life is about joy, life is about living, but life is also about sorrow and pain. You can’t have one without the other. I know there’s a whole slew of folks out there weighing in on how right or wrong her choice is, but I wonder if they thought about the legacy she would have left in terms of life insurance had she chosen not to commit suicide. It’s little things like life insurance that get me thinking, keep me pondering, and eventually lead to me staying up way to late to blog about it. For me it’s as black and white as some of the childhood legends I grew up with.
There is an old Cherokee legend about a grandfather teaching his grandson. The grandfather says there is a battle going on inside of me.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
There is a battle going on in our society today. It is between two wolves. One is death, choice, sorrow, fear, and a new definition of dignity. The other is life, truth, compassion, faith, and bravery. Which wolf will win? Which wolf will you feed?
I wanted to have a fun painted rug so I laid out a zig-zag chevronish pattern. Then I taped it and with a little paint from Lowes I got to work. What I immediately discovered is that I didn’t have enough paint.
Once I got it in my classroom it looked adorable!
A big bonus was that it cost less than a rug this size at the store. My old stained carpet remnant will brighten my classroom!
Once I put it in the classroom I realized how much work needed to be done to make this classroom look pretty! So I started on a project that took me a week! I called it full classroom overhaul and if you mustache, I think it turned out great!
So here is what I was working with!
The giant cabinet was broken, the black filing cabinet was hideous! No curtains and broken blinds. Bulletin boards were blank and I needed to fit 30 desks into the classroom.
I found a print I loved in wrapping paper and covered all my bulletin boards with it. I also stumbled across cotton duck fabric in the same print for my desk chair which I proceeded to reupholster!
As you can see I had helpers everyday! They were so tired of coming to mommy’s school!
I made giant paper dahlias to hang as decorations around the bulletin boards!
I got a little girly when it came to my table!
It’s a giant tulle tutu and was quite time consuming to put on! Also I had to use my staple gun to firmly secure it!
The mustaches were on sale and are wall cling chalk boards! I love them!
Of course who can resist the if you mustache a question sign! A little modge podge and a little paper and I had a cute one to hang!
It really comes together with a mustache sticker border on the one board!
Modge Podge that same wrapping paper and my desk has a makeover!!! Really much better than before! Plus look how fun the carpet looks with the desk!!! Oh and can you see my pretty chair peeking out from the back!!!
I used wooden dowels and hooks to hang some pretty tutu curtains! These brightened up the windows and coordinate with the table! Also remember that ugly black cabinet! It got a makeover too! Contact Paper and glitter duck tape! I gotta buy one more roll of glitter duck tape because I ran out but it is good enough for now! So much better than before!
The tan file cabinet also got a makeover with contact paper and pink glitter tape! Plus I put together a cute little table for passing in papers! It all turned out pretty as can be and I can’t wait for the first day of school!
1Kings 19: 11-12 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
Sometimes life gets so busy you look up and realize it’s been almost a year. I haven’t been on here, I haven’t blogged, I haven’t had time, and sometimes you are grateful. This year I haven’t been busy being busy. Instead I have been busy being intentional.
Busyness comes in two forms:
1. The stuff you gotta do
2. The stuff you think you gotta do
I know that for a long time I was too tired. I worked all week. My house did not look like Martha Stewart lived in it and in fact most often was messy. I cooked wonderful meals, but then I would exhaustedly fall on the couch. My energy level was gone. Weekends which should have been restful were filled with sports events for my kids. Sundays which are the Lord’s day, a day of rest, meant spending all morning at church, grabbing a quick late lunch, and some days if we were lucky a nap before heading back to evening services.
My body, my mind, and my soul had had enough. I think we have all been there. In fact I think in America this is where many of us spend our lives. In a constant state of rushing. We race through life missing all the little things. For me the little things are 4 wonderful children who will grow up way too fast, my amazing husband who takes such good care of us, and our friends who envelope us in their love. There just wasn’t enough time for us. Family game night was at a soccer field, date night was the rare occasion our bible study couldn’t meet, and having friends over for dinner you can forget it. Honestly what I wanted was a nap.
As I was praying and reflecting on stuff I felt I had to do and stuff I really had to do it hit me; I have one purpose.
It is really simple we are created to Love our God with all our heart and mind and soul. We are not created to be busy. We are not created to be consumed by selfishness, stuff, and most of all the emptiness of being busy. Busyness is a plague that will infect your life from the outside in. It starts out with all the activities you never did as a child and don’t want your kids to miss out on. Then you add in all the time volunteering because you are that parent who gives their time. Of course you have to volunteer at church, and maybe lead a bible study or be a mentor. We all have to eat so you need a job, and pretty soon it hits you like a ton of bricks. You are busy.
Here are some fun facts for you:
1. Your kids won’t miss the activities you didn’t do as a kid. Also if you weren’t an athlete don’t expect them to be. It breaks my heart when I watch parents berate their child over a sport the kid doesn’t want to play. When they say I don’t like it let them stop.
2. A well-balanced child is a great thing, but sleep and free play are necessary for kids. Video games and screen time need to be monitored. I know it’s easy to use the telly as a babysitter and sometimes that’s even okay, but honestly 3-5 hours a day is not. I have a challenge for you. For one week monitor yourself and your kids on screen time. How many hours did you watch? How many hours did they watch/play? I bet you will be mortified. We watch about 7-10 hours a week, we don’t have any video games, and we really would prefer to do less than that.
3. Your child will probably play their last official sports game at age 18. Most kids won’t be college or even professional athletes. Hollywood and Nashville are brutal and very few make it. Along the way though it can be very easy to destroy the character of a child. You see every child wants their parents to be happy. If they believe that what makes you love them is their ability to play, dance, sing, act, or compete when they can’t it will crush them.
So when you sit and reflect you realize that busy lives are not good for anyone. I get a lot of flack but we won’t play summer sports. Instead we go to the pool, go on family vacations, and spend time together. What’s more I realized we were doing too much. We sat down and prayed and God led us to a new church. A church that was not 30 minutes from our house. Then 3 weeks in the pastor preached about seasons of rest and it resonated in my soul. Instead of jumping in and starting to serve we decided to take a season. Amazingly I found time for my bible, for prayer, memorization, and growing closer to God. My house got cleaner, and we said no to lots of activities and events that would have made us busy. I stopped blogging and spent days without turning on my computer. We went to the zoo, museum, and pool. We had lots of play dates and something else happened. Our friends took notice of the change in our lives.
I know we have a lot of busy coming up with school starting this fall. My kids are headed back to their fall sports, and that’s okay with us. We love our kids and we will support them in this, and our children chose to play not the other way around. Someday they might choose not to play, and even though they are talented athletes my husband and I will support them in that too. The pressure to do it all takes away from the one who gives us all. God speaks in a still quiet voice and when we are busy we often don’t stop and listen.
I would encourage you to stop everyday and listen. To put up your computer, phone, day planner, and sit for 15 minutes with his word. I turn on my music and praise him. I write in my prayer journal, and honestly some days I wile away an hour with God. Time well spent. It refreshes my soul and fills my heart with joy.
I can remember 4 years ago around this time having a conversation with a dear friend of mine. I was pregnant, a big surprise. You see I had, had two children and that was a perfect number. Then surprise number 3, a wonderful blessing. I had never planned for 4 and I wasn’t really sure what to think. It was a sort of excitement, fear, frustration, guilt, sadness, hope, joy circle and around and ’round I went. Kind of like an emotional merry go round.
My dear friend said to me, ” This is God’s plan and in time you will know how amazing it is. I am so excited for you because this is an amazing journey.” It sounded trivial, but she hugged me tight and I felt like the ride was slowing down. Of course 9 months later I stared through a NICU window at my husband holding our daughter for the first time and I thought: This Lord, this is too much.
My daughter is amazing, more than I could have ever asked, something I didn’t know I needed, and an answer to prayers I forgot to pray. That’s the thing about God though, he knows what we need when we don’t.
I have learned a lesson over the years that I think has helped me tackle many of these fears. It’s simple: The thing that you see as a trial may be exactly what someone else is praying for.
Think about it:
I could go on and on:
You see I think the big thing is we fear what we don’t know. Sometimes we are so afraid that we don’t act in a certain way, we choose in haste, or we stay in indecision. That fear eventually leads to regret. We regret what might have been, but sometimes much later on in life!
I think it is important to remember that even our struggles are blessings. Just ask the parent whose child dies young, the woman who cannot conceive, the family waiting to adopt, the parents who worked all the time, the grandparents who don’t have any grandchildren yet, and on and on the list could go.
Count your blessings, but don’t discount your trials. Sometimes life is scary. Remember each moment is a thread in a beautiful tapestry. It isn’t until you step back that you can see the masterpiece. Take a step back today.