What I Want Most for My Kids

My older daughter got home at 11:30 last night. It was 12:15 before she got to bed. And it was a school night.

It’s a rare night that I let my daughter stay up past midnight on a school night. She was exhausted this morning, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Winter Jam

This photo was taken by a friend of mine last night at Winter Jam — a huge Christian concert. That’s my daughter (the one with the long hair next to the guy in the Blackhawks cap). She’s in between two really good friends, and she’s got arms raised worshiping God together with them.

That picture sums up so much of what I want for my kids — to know and worship a great God and to have great friends who also know and worship that great God.

So much of our kids’ lives from middle school on is focused on goals. It’s about getting good grades, playing well in whatever sport they play, deciding where to go to college and what to do with their lives. And in that mix, relationships can get lost. Our kids can form surface relationships with their peers that never really get to the heart of what’s important in life.

Those three kids in that picture are busy. My daughter plays really competitive soccer. The guy on the left plays hockey at an elite level. The girl on the right is a talented ballerina. They commit hours and hours to schoolwork and activities. It would be easy for them to miss out on the gift of friendship with anyone outside their chosen sport or activity.

But these kids and the others on that row that you can’t see have learned that it’s important to have friends who understand not just who you are, but whose you are. They know that when the going gets tough, you need friends who have your back, who will pray for you, who will understand you.

That girl on the right doesn’t know much about soccer, but she knows my daughter. She knows how to make her laugh. She knows how to just be comfortable with her. She knows about my daughter’s heart.

That guy on the left may not play soccer, but he knows all about how difficult it is to play a sport at a high level. He knows how hard it is to be injured and how sometimes you just need a little bit of encouragement when you’ve had a bad practice. He also knows how to make my daughter laugh and sometimes roll her eyes.

There’s another girl just to the right who’s not in the picture that has been my daughter’s friend literally since birth. Even though they’ve changed and grown apart a bit, she still knows more about my daughter than just about anyone else. She knows when it’s OK to push and tease and when she should back off. She knows my daughters favorite things and her fears.

You see, I don’t really care if my daughter ever plays another soccer game. I’m not really concerned about what she’s going to do with her life when she grows up. All those things will take care of themselves in time.

What I am concerned about is that my daughter grows in her relationship with God and that she is surrounded by people who love her and are pursuing that same relationship. Because those are the lessons that are going to stick with her for the rest of her life. Those relationships she forms today — the ones that are based on a mutual love and passion for the things of God — are teaching her how to forge those relationships with others in the future.

And if there’s one thing I want for my kids, it’s that they are learning now how to create meaningful relationships in the future. I want them to have friendships that go beyond the surface and dive into the things that are important. Because grades and sports and plans for the future are important, but having a relationship with God and great friends to support you in that relationship are the most important.

Winter jam2

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When They’re Not Little Anymore

Teens

My older daughter goes to the 8th grade dance tonight, that all-American rite of passage where the girls stand on one side of the gym and the boys stand on the other.

It doesn’t really bother me that she’s going to the dance. I’m not really concerned about the whole boy-girl thing at this point. She’s growing into an amazing, mature young lady who, so far, has shown an incredible ability to make wise decisions.

But I am in a bit of shock that my girls aren’t little any more. Somehow they grew to be 11 and 13 while I blinked. As I ponder the fact that there are no little girls in my house any more, that there are no more days of tea party and dress-up, I find myself wondering how to parent these not so little girls.

As they get older, kids need a different kind of parenting. Oh, they still need rules and boundaries and love and laughter. They just need it in a different form.

Gone are the days of simply telling my kids how everything is going to be — from what they wear to what they eat to what we’re going to do today. Gone are the days of entertaining them with a paper towel roll and a box.

Despite the fact that my girls aren’t little any more, they still need parents. They just need us to parent a little differently. So, here’s what I’m learning about parenting my kids who aren’t little any more:

They need us to listen. More than anything else, our not-so-little kids need us to have open ears. They need us to really hear their hearts and their thoughts. They are forming their own opinions and processing through all the changes that go with growing up, and they need someone to talk to. If we aren’t listening they’ll find someone else.

They need us to offer advice. The older our kids get, the less they need us to tell them what to do, and the more they need us to offer them some advice. Then they can make their own decisions. Here’s the thing about offering advice, though. Sometimes our kid will choose not to take it. They’ll choose a different road than we will, which leads us to the next thing they need from us.

They need us to let them make mistakes. One of the best teachers in life is experience, and sometimes those experiences aren’t necessarily good ones. Our kids need to make mistakes. They need to suffer the consequences for poor decisions. They need to learn how to fix a mistake. If we are constantly fixing their mistakes for them, then they never learn this important skill.

They need us to set boundaries. While our older kids are asking for more independence, they still need that independence within boundaries. They need to know where the lines are that they can operate within. Believe it or not, when you set boundaries for your kids, they know it means you love them.

They need us to pray for them. Our kids are dealing with all sorts of changes as they get older. They’re learning to navigate friendships and other relationships. They’re learning who they are and who they want to be. And they need us to pray for them. Prayer is a powerful tool in our parenting arsenal. We should use it often.

If your kids aren’t little any more, it takes a different kind of parenting to raise them. But one thing is true, they still need you.

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Game-Day Verses

Game Day Verses

My older daughter hurt her ankle playing soccer back in October. When I took her to the doctor, the doctor said “Wow, her foot is really bruised.” My daughter answered, “No, that’s Sharpie.”

You’re probably wondering why my daughter’s foot was covered in Sharpie. It’s because every game day, she writes on it. She chooses a Bible verse and writes it on her foot in Sharpie. It’s her game day verse.

In talking with other parents of kids who play sports, I’ve discovered that it can be hard to keep our kids focused on being a light to the world — even on the soccer field, the ice rink, or the basketball court. The language and behavior of other kids can make it hard for our kids to want to act the way they know they should because everyone else is acting differently.

My daughter finds that a game-day verse helps keep her heart where it should be. That doesn’t mean that she’s any less aggressive on the field. It doesn’t mean that she tries any less hard. It simply means that it helps her remember that even when she’s on the soccer field, she’s a still a child of God.

I love the game-day verse idea because it make God’s word tangible and useful. I love that my daughter came up with it herself. And I love that it’s an important part of her game-day ritual.

I know how hard it is as parents to help our sports-obsessed kids excel at their sports and keep their focus on Jesus. This idea ties the two things together in an easy way.

So, today, I want to share with you some of my daughter’s favorite game-day verses. Your child doesn’t have to write the verse on his foot. It may be that he simply places it somewhere that he sees it before the game. Whatever works for your child.

These are eight of my daughter’s favorite verses:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8

To help you out, I’ve created printable game-day verse cards that you can download and print out yourself. There are five different designs to choose from: soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball and plain. Just click on one of the pictures below to get your printable file and start your own game-day tradition.

baseball  Basketball  Hockey  SoccerPlain

 

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It’s OK to Be Ordinary

ordinary 2

We were in the car on the way home and the song “We Are Young” by Fun came on the radio. I heard the lyrics “We are young so let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun,” and I started thinking. I turned 40 in June, and I don’t think I qualify as young when it comes to the lyrics of this song.

I remember graduating from college, thinking I was going to change the world. I had a list of so many things that I was going to do. As I drove, I reflected on the things I’ve done in the 20 years since I graduated, and I realized I haven’t done anything the world would consider extraordinary. For a moment, I felt a bit defeated. What happened to that energetic young girl who was going to set the world on fire?

But then I looked in the rearview mirror, and I saw a curly head in my backseat. I heard the happy sound of my daughter telling me about softball practice. And I realized that my “ordinary life” is nothing to sneeze at.

I may not be writing best sellers or saving the world one rainforest at a time, but I am raising two kids. I love my husband. I make their world a safe and happy place. I have a little corner of the Internet where I can share the things on my heart with all of you, and I have jobs that I enjoy.

Doctor Who is my favorite TV show (my kids and husband would tell you I’m slightly obsessed and are probably rolling their eyes as they read this). I love the show because it is incredibly well-written. But I think I love it most because the hero is this guy (an alien called a Time Lord) who can control all of time and space, yet the one thing he longs for is an ordinary existence. One of my favorite lines in the show is when the Doctor is talking to a couple about to get married as time comes apart around them. He asks them how they met, and they tell him they met on a street corner waiting for a cab. He says, “Street corner, two in the morning, getting a taxi home. I’ve never had a life like that.”

ordinary

And I think we should all be a bit more like the hero of my favorite TV show, longing for those ordinary moments, that ordinary life. Instead of looking at the day to day of our lives as boring and ordinary, we should view it as the important thing that it is. God put us in a certain place for a reason. He entrusted these kids to us. God wants us to live every ordinary day as the adventure He designed it to be.

If God didn’t think ordinary was important, He surely would have found a more extraordinary way to send His Son into the world. He would have chosen someone more important to be Jesus’ parents than a simple carpenter and a teenage girl. If God didn’t think ordinary was important, He would have figured out a more headline-grabbing way to save the world.

We may not be making headlines in the world, but we are always making headlines at home. Our ordinary lives are important to those around us. Our ordinary days are the ones our kids will remember.

We don’t have to be people who burn brighter than the sun so that the whole world can see us. We just have to burn brighter than the sun in our own ordinary world to the ordinary people around us. God asks us to be a light to the world, but He doesn’t ask every one of us to do so in a hugely public way. He simply asks us to follow Him where He leads. For some people, that may be the world stage. For the rest of us, it’s in our ordinary lives, on our ordinary street, with our ordinary friends.

God simply calls us to do whatever we’re doing to the best of our ability for Him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23).” As long as we’re doing what we do with the right attitude, it’s all important. It doesn’t matter if it’s ordinary or if anyone ever sees what we do. God sees, and God loves us and our ordinary lives.

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Why We Should Stop Telling Moms to Enjoy Every Moment

Enjoy

I was in Aldi with both my girls the other day. My older daughter stepped on my shoe for the third time in the store. I turned around and said, “Will you please stop walking on my feet!”

As soon as I was done speaking, another mom with two young girls looked at me and said, “Oh, you ruined it. I was so hoping it gets better. I was just watching you and thinking how you were me in a few years. And then you said something that I say all the time in the same tone of voice.”

We had a good laugh, and I assured this mom that those moments she just saw were much fewer and farther between than they are when you have preschoolers. Then I opened my mouth to remind that mom to enjoy the stage she was in — and I stopped. I stopped because I remember when I was in the midst of those days when everyone needed something from me and I would have sold nearly everything I owned to simply get five minutes alone — even if it meant going to the grocery by myself.

We’re often quick to speak to another mom who is a stage or two behind us and tell her to simply enjoy the moment. We do it because we realize our kids are growing up quickly. We do it because we can view that stage with the rose-colored glasses of hindsight. We do it because we think we’re being encouraging.

But the reality is that saying those words to an overworked, overtired mom who is just in need of a few minutes of peace often just triggers guilt. What if she’s not enjoying the terrible twos (or the terrible threes, as we had in our house)? What if she’s so tired it’s all she can do to keep her kids well and fed? What if she’s in the midst of a rough stretch with her kids?

When we tell another mom she should enjoy the stage her kids are in, we’re implying that she’s doing something wrong if she doesn’t enjoy it. We’re simply heaping more mommy guilt on a mom who probably already feels plenty of her own.

I love my daughters, but I really didn’t enjoy the baby stage from about three months old to nine months old. I don’t miss those days, and I don’t want to do them again. They were hard, especially with my second daughter. Were there moments of joy? Absolutely. Were there moments that I loved? You betcha. Would I say even now that I enjoyed that stage of my life? Not really.

Not all stages of parenting are enjoyable. We really won’t miss some of those days. Yes, we should try to enjoy our kids as much as possible. But we really shouldn’t keep telling other moms to enjoy the stage they’re in. We’re not walking in their shoes. We’re not living the day to day in their house.

What we do want to keep in mind even in the tough stages of parenting is that God is growing us and our kids. He is at work even when it seems like He’s not. When there’s no light at the end of the parenting tunnel, God is still walking beside us in the dark.

So, the next time you see a mom with kids a stage or two behind yours, offer some encouragement. Let her know that the load does get lighter. But don’t tell her to enjoy the moment she’s in. She probably has lots of moments she enjoys. She just needs to know that this particular stage doesn’t last forever. She needs to know that even if she’s not enjoying that particular moment, day or month, she’s still a good mom.

Because, truly, as much as we love our kids, we don’t have to enjoy every moment. We just have to be faithful to being the parent God made us to be in that moment.

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When You’re Not Ready

Ready

My older daughter is 13 1/2. She goes to high school next year. So far, this teenager thing hasn’t been too bad, but changes are coming that are going to make parenting her a bit more challenging.

In six months, she can get her driving permit (because in our state, we think it’s a good idea to let kids drive at 14). Her list of people she texts has expanded in just the past month to include some boys she’s friends with. She’s going to Ecuador on her own with our youth group on a mission trip this summer.

These are all big changes that are stretching my momma’s heart. They all require that she have more independence and more responsibility. They require me letting go of a lot of control and trusting her to make the right choices.

I have to tell you, I don’t think I’m ready.

I’m pretty sure it was just yesterday that she was taking her first wobbly steps. Wasn’t it just hours ago that I sent her off to kindergarten?

But the truth is that our kids grow up. They move to different stages in life. They require a different kind of parenting. And, as parents, I don’t think we’re ever ready to leave one stage behind and move on to the next. The truth is, though, that we don’t have to be ready. We just have to be willing to follow where God leads. Because whether we’re ready or not, He is.

I know that God holds both my daughters close to His heart. I know that He is busy molding and shaping them into the people He needs them to be. I’m simply a tool that He uses to do so.

God is never surprised by the new stages that our kids enter. He is not startled by the addition of boys to the texting list. He is not concerned by a driver’s permit. He is not worried about an out-of-the-country trip. He is in control.

While I’m adjusting to the new norm of this new stage of parenting, God is already in the midst of it. He is busy working in my daughter’s heart and my own heart. He is there to offer up wisdom and guidance to this mom who sometimes already feels in over her head. He is simply waiting in the wings for me to acknowledge my need for Him.

So, as we enter this new stage — one that includes boys, driving and independence — I’m not ready, but God is. And that’s enough.

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Goals for a New Year

New Year

This post may contain affiliate links.

You may have noticed that for the past year, things have been a bit slow around here. I don’t post nearly as frequently as I did when I first started blogging. The truth is that in the past year, God has called me to be more present at home. We homeschooled our youngest last year, and my older one simply needed a little more of mom’s time and attention. The first part of this school year was spent getting my younger one adjusted to life in middle school (which I honestly think could be a full-time job — Middle School Transition Specialist).

For a while, my hopes and dreams as a writer and blogger had to be set to the back burner. My first calling is as a mom, no matter what my other passions may be.

Now, however, I feel like my girls are pretty settled in their routines and God is saying yes to some bigger and better things for Everyday Truth. This blog is my passion. It’s where I can pour out my heart and impact other people for Jesus. It’s where I can share the stories of our life with you in the hopes that you will see something in us that can encourage or help you.

I’ve never been one to follow the blogging “trends.” What you get here is simply the outpourings of my heart. That will not change. Everyday Truth will still be devoted to helping you find God in the everyday moments with your kids.

Today, though, I want to share with you my hopes and dreams for this blog for the coming year and explain the reasons behind some of the things you’ll be seeing that might be a bit different.

Blog

So, here are my goals for my blog.

I plan to be a whole lot more consistent in blogging. I’m not going back to a five-day-a-week schedule, but I am planning to post three days a week. Most weeks, it will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I hope to offer more giveaways and reviews on the blog that will benefit you. Be assured that I will only pass on products to you that I personally have found success with. I want to share my favorite things with you, not just push product.

I’m also planning to give Everyday Truth a fresh look that will hopefully be easier to navigate and have a cleaner look. Look for those changes in the next few months.

Writing

Many of you are familiar with my e-book Everyday Christmas. It’s my dream to write enough of my own stuff that I can make a living simply writing. To that end, I have a couple of things in the pipeline for this year. This spring, I’ll be publishing an Everyday Truth Bible study and this summer, I’m planning to make available my summer fun packets that will help you create your own summer adventure with your kids.

Speaking

Many of you may not know that I am available to speak to groups. I’ve done this in a limited way in the past but this year, I hope to put more focus on speaking to groups of women who are simply seeking God in their parenting. If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, just shoot me an email at ldfairchild@comcast.net.

Facebook and Pinterest

If you didn’t already know, Everyday Truth is on Facebook. Just click that little Facebook icon in the upper right corner of the blog, and you’ll find us. We’re also on Pinterest. You can click the little Pinterest icon up there as well.

Until now, Facebook and Pinterest have really just been a place to attach my blog posts, but this year, I want to change that. I want them to be places of true community. To that end, you’ll find me posting more frequently on Facebook. I’ll be sharing questions, short snippets from our lives and some of my favorite things that I think you might also enjoy. I’ll also be pinning more things on Pinterest that I think will be useful for all of you.

In return, I’d love for all of you to chime in on the conversation in those places. I’d love to get to know all of you as much as social media allows. So, if you have a question that you need help with, don’t be afraid to ask it. If you need prayer, let us know. I’d love to pray for you. If you have a story to share, please do — because I’m all about the stories.

E-mail newsletter

Some of you get Everyday Truth in your inbox every time there’s a new post. If you don’t get it in your inbox and you’d like to, just enter your e-mail in the little subscribe by e-mail box on the right of the blog. Later this year, I’ll start sending out a once-a-week newsletter that will contain links to all of that week’s posts, links to some other people’s blogs that I think you’ll find interesting and sometimes some information about products and deals that I think are fabulous.

Affiliate links

I know in the past you’ve sometimes seen a disclaimer on my posts that says “This post may contain affiliate links.” That simply means that if you click on the link in the post and you buy something through that link, I get a percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything more. It’s simply a payment to me from the company as a thanks for promoting them. I don’t promote companies or products I don’t believe in.

I include affiliate links because my long-term goal is to make enough money blogging and writing that I don’t have to do anything else. That’s a win-win for both you and me. I get to do what I love, and you get more things to read that you love. I tell you all of this because I want to be completely honest about what I’m doing. I never want this blog to be more about money than it is about ministering to other parents.

I believe that God has called me to this ministry, and I don’t plan to change things to be all about making money. I’ll just be inserting things that fit with the mission and ministry of Everyday Truth.

I’m looking forward to a fantastic year with all of you. Thanks for being readers and followers of Everyday Truth.


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No Matter What

No matter what

This post may contain affiliate links.

Ah, the charming family dinner.

I am sure somewhere, someone is having one.

Riveting conversations. People who sit at the table. Food that is actually consumed.

But here?

Eh.

Take the other night, for example. When somewhere in between bouncing the baby on my knee and trying to avoid getting drool (hers not mine) on my plate, I threw out this little gem, “What do you think our New Year’s resolution should be?”

The confusion was palpable. There were blank stares galore. Finally, my eldest saved me with, “Hey mom, what’s a resolution?”

“Oh yes. That’s right, you are only 9, 6 and 4. It’s something you would like to accomplish this year.”

More. Blank. Stares.

Lucky for me, the 9-year-old rescued me again with, “Popcorn. I would like to eat more popcorn.” Naturally, this brightened the eyes of the boy who affirmed his sister by saying, “I’m good with the popcorn thing.” But then, for some reason, I followed up his agreement with, “Now, buddy, you need to come up with your own idea…”

So he did.

“Movies.”

“I’d like to watch more movies.”

It was shortly after this epiphany that I began having visions of my 80-year-old self riding an electric chair down the stairs to find all my children (now in their fifties) still living at home doing nothing but eating popcorn and watching movies…

Thankfully, Nathan’s voice interrupted my random musings with “Sophie, why is your shirt hanging from your neck? And where on earth are your pants?”

Now it was all I could do to keep from adding, “Great. Now I will have three kids in their fifties in my living room eating popcorn and watching movies in nothing but their underwear!” Instead, I was cut short by the pantless one who announced, “Excuse me, I have an acclomplishment. My acclomplishment this year is to take a bath.”

Really, kid?

I mean, I knew it had been awhile. A few days maybe. But had it really gotten so bad it was an “acclomplishment” in this house to take one bath for the ENTIRE YEAR?????

My private angst was finally cut short when Nathan addressed the pantless one with a practical, “Sophie, put on your shirt and eat your dinner. We can talk about acclomplishments later.”

Boom.

My man is all about the business.

My pantless wonder, however, is all about the drama.

A mere two seconds later, she threw her face into her hands and cried, “This is boring, boring, boring.” Not to be outdone, big sister piggybacks with, “You think this experience has been bad for you…how do you think I feel? This is the same meal we had that night I puked. Frankly, I am having a very hard time eating.” Which prompted the third and last contribution from the boy, “And by the ways, I think we forgot to pray.”

It was then I turned to Nathan and said, “WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?” to the tune of simultaneous praying which culminated with someone shouting, “LORD, WE THANK YOU FOR THE CHRISTMAS ORANGE!!!!”

Say what?!?!?!?

Now the point of this very random tale is that even though we didn’t find our resolution (shocking, I know), this little slice of life reminds me of the very thing that has sustained us in 2014…

Grace.

His absolute, unfailing grace.

In diagnosis…

In healing…

In doubt…

In hope…

In tears…

In laughter…

In death…

In life…

In fear…

In strength…

In the gutting…

In the gentle…

In every sweet and bitter second…

His. Grace. Came.

So that even in our weakness I can boast of this as we head into 2015:

His grace will be sufficient for us. His power, made perfect in our messiness. For when we are weak, He’ll bring the strong.

No matter the chaos. No matter the crazy. No matter the year.

No matter what.

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew, one-year-old Sophie, and her new little miracle Maddie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.


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Why It’s Important to Talk to Your Kids about Charlie Hebdo

Charlie1

I was going to use this space today to talk about my blogging goals for the next year, but that post will have to wait until Monday because sometimes world events get in the way.

As a general rule, I’ve always tried to keep my kids aware of what is going on in the world around them. However, I’ve also often shielded them from a lot of the brutality and injustice in the world. I didn’t let them watch all the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. They’ve never seen some of the amazing documentaries on 9-11. I do this because I think that images stay with you forever, and at young ages, they simply don’t need those images in their heads. It’s enough that they know the stories of what happened.

Yesterday was another one of those days where I felt it was important for my kids to know what was happening in the world but that they didn’t need all the gory details. Twelve people died in a Paris magazine office yesterday because someone didn’t agree with what they printed in their magazine. That may seem like it’s far away and not relevant to our kids, but the truth is that if it has to do with protecting freedom, it’s relevant to any child old enough to understand what freedom is.

I’m not suggesting that you should provide your kids with an in-depth dissertation on what happened yesterday, but I am suggesting that if your kids have heard about the shootings that you use it as a springboard to a discussion with them. Because freedom is important, and our kids need to know that from an early age.

Living in the United States it’s all too easy to take our freedoms for granted. We don’t have to wonder if the police are going to beat down our door because we own a Bible. We can go where we want and say what we want. We exercise our freedoms every day without giving them a second thought.

Charlie2

But an attack like yesterday’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices is an attack on freedom everywhere. We need to talk with our kids about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It can seem sometimes like the press has an agenda they want to push or an angle they want to pursue. But the truth is that most journalists (and I can speak to this because I’ve spent a lot of my life being one) simply want to write a good story that’s as honest as they can make it. Do personal biases bleed through? Absolutely — because journalists are human beings. But the vast majority of journalists at your local newspapers are simply trying to provide your community with the information it needs.

Talking with our kids about freedom of speech and freedom of the press is important for a few reasons:

1. A free press helps guarantee a free country. A free press is allowed to dig into the things the government is doing. It keeps the government in check. The press has exposed corruption and illegal activities in the government too many times to count. Without a free press, the government operates in secret.

2. A free press helps guarantee your free speech. The first thing to get muzzled in a tyrannical government is the press. As long as the press is allowed to be free, your speech is allowed to be free.

3. A free press is allowed to propagate unpopular opinions. We’re always telling our kids to stand up for what is right, but sometimes what’s right isn’t what’s popular. Because our press and our speech is protected, we can continue to say things that may be right but not popular.

If you’re struggling to start a conversation with your kids about the events that happened in Paris yesterday, try some of these questions to get the ball rolling:

1. Why do you think people would want to stop the magazine from printing certain things?

2. Do you think that if an opinion is unpopular people shouldn’t print it or put it on the Internet?

3. What do you think God thinks about freedom? (Check out Galatians 5:1)

4. Why do you think the founders of our country thought a free press was important enough to put in the Constitution?

Paris seems a long way away to most of our kids. But the events that happened there yesterday are worth talking to your kids about. Because if we raise a generation that doesn’t value freedom of the press and freedom of speech, it will be really easy to lose those freedoms.


Categories: Death, Parenting situations | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Locker Room Courage

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We had tears in the locker room this weekend. My younger daughter played in a hockey tournament in Des Moines. Her team lost the third-place game, and my super competitive daughter was frustrated. She was also tired and irritated about some teasing from her teammates.

As I hugged her and talked her through her frustration, I was struck by the courage she displays every time she steps on the ice. Forget that hockey can be a brutal sport, and you have to be pretty tough to play it. Forget that she willingly steps on a sheet of ice knowing that she will block a shot, take a hit or be tripped by a stick. All of that takes courage. But it’s the courage she shows in being herself that leaves me in awe, wishing that I had half as much courage as she shows every day.

You see, girls hockey has taken off in certain pockets of this country. If you live on the East Coast, the West Coast or in the northern Midwest, you can take your pick of girls’ hockey teams. But here on the plains of Kansas, we don’t have a lot of kids who play hockey at all, much less girls who play. There are a few girls on her team and a handful of girls who play for other hockey organizations in her age group, but there isn’t a girls’ team for her to play on. There isn’t a support system for girls’ hockey here.

To play this sport, she has to play mostly with boys. She has to be willing to step on the ice, many times as the only one with a ponytail doing so. She has to be willing to prove that she belongs over and over again. She has to work to fit in when we travel with the boys — because she’s the only girl.

And she does it all mostly with grace and determination. It seems as if she does it almost effortlessly. But then there are the moments in the locker room when the tears roll down her cheeks. There are the moments when she comes home from practice frustrated with something one of the boys said to her or upset about a coach sending her to a lower skill group just so she can be with the other girls. And that’s when I realize that to be true to her love of this sport, it takes courage.

It takes courage in great measures to be different. It takes courage to stick it out when the going gets tough, when the boys are more than she can handle and the desire for someone else to just be like you is overwhelming. Honestly, it takes more courage than I think I could muster.

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I know that the lessons she’s learned about staying true to who she is and how to muster up the courage to be different are ones that will stay with her through her whole life. Knowing that even when the going gets tough she’s willing to be the person God created her to be, makes me confident that the courage she’s learned in these childhood years will make her a force to be reckoned with as she gets older.

As her mom, I wish this road were a bit easier for her. I wish that we could offer her more than just hugs in the locker room when it gets to be too much. But I know that God is molding her into the person He needs her to be and these lessons in courage will pay big dividends in the future.

Sometimes, though our kids choose to do things that take courage. When they do, they need our unwavering support. They need us to bolster them. They need us to be there to offer the hugs and the encouragement to keep going.

Through it all, though, I know this: My daughter amazes me every time she chooses to put on her hockey gear and step on the ice. I watch in awe, and I learn something about courage from her every single day.


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Categories: Character, Sports | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment