When Sports Overwhelm


My girls both play sports competitively. It means we spend a lot of time and money for them to play. And that’s fine. It’s a choice we’ve made to let our girls follow their passions. But there comes a moment when we have to say enough is enough. We reached that point this summer.

My older daughter wanted to play on two soccer teams this fall, upping her league games from eight to 16. She also wanted to try out for the Olympic Development Program for our state. My younger daughter spent the summer traveling to Minnesota to play hockey on a girls’ team. It was not the best experience for her or us. The local hockey program recently told us they’re changing the program for the fall and doing away with the minimal travel option they’ve had in the past. Her options now are to play recreational hockey or to play on a team that double the travel and the cost of last year.

My husband and I have finally decided to say enough is enough. We miss our family. We miss going on vacation to a place that doesn’t involve the girls playing games. We miss having weekends at home. We’re still willing to support our kids in their sports, but we’re no longer willing to simply go along with the crowd. We’re no longer willing to have our lives and our marriage consumed by constantly going in different directions.

Don’t get me wrong, our girls will still be playing their sports. We’ll just be a bit more judicious about the choices we make. Our older daughter is not double rostering this fall or trying out for the Olympic Development Program. Our younger daughter won’t be playing on the travel team.

Because, here’s the thing: I can’t raise my kids and create a family unit if my family is constantly split up going in separate directions. I can’t “train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6)” if my kids are never around me. I can’t teach my kids about God “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:7)” if I’m never doing those things with my kids.

It’s hard to tell our kids no, especially when everyone they know is doing the things they want to be doing. However, sometimes we have to make the tough decisions that protect our families — even if it comes at the expense of upsetting our kids.

In our community, it’s really easy to get trapped in the idea that our kids will be “behind” if they don’t get the right training or spend the right number of hours playing their sport, learning an instrument or doing another activity. It’s easy to get caught up trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”

But isn’t it more important that we teach our kids the things they’re going to need to know to live their lives following God? Isn’t it more important that we be the ones pouring wisdom and love into them while they’re in our care?

The days we have to raise our kids are fleeting, and we need to choose how to use those days well. Sometimes that means pulling back and creating space and time to do that.

Getting Ready for Summer


Today is our first official day of summer. My girls finished school on Thursday, but this is the first day we’ve been home since then. Usually by now, I have our whole summer mapped out. I know what behaviors and attitudes I want to focus on. I know what activities we’re going to do. I have a plan.

But this summer, I don’t. Just getting to the end of the school year took every ounce of energy I had. There wasn’t time to think ahead. There weren’t any solitary moments to come up with a grand plan. I simply didn’t have enough time or energy to worry about what was coming next.

So, this week, as I try to put my house back in order from the chaos of the past couple months, I’ll be doing what I normally do in early May. I’ll be planning a summer that has already started.

I’m thinking that this summer might not look like a lot of our other summers. It might be a little less organized. We might be a little more spontaneous. We might spend a little more time just hanging out around the house. And that’s all OK.

Because sometimes what our kids need is a little less planning and a little more love and attention. I’ll have two girls in middle school next year, and what I’ve discovered as my girls get older is that they often need less actual instruction and more guidance. They need to be able to make their own decisions and draw their own conclusions. They need to be able to practice making good decisions.

So this summer is going to be less about some fantastic adventure and more about simply guiding my girls in the decisions that they make. We’ll still have a summer adventure, but it will be more focused on letting them make decisions and less focused on me teaching them.

Because in this house, we’re fast reaching the point where our kids have to choose to hear God’s voice. They have to choose to follow the path we’ve shown them. We can no longer shove them down the path. When there’s a fork in the road, they have to make the decision themselves. They have to live out the truth in Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

So as we embark on our summer adventures, I’m praying that my girls will appreciate the guidance we offer. I’m praying for wisdom to offer that guidance. And I’m praying for a summer filled with fun and growth — for everyone.

What’s Your Normal?


We’re on our third day off from school this week because of snow and extreme cold. I have to tell you, I’m ready for things to return to normal.

But as a I think about normal, I’m reminded that our family’s normal is not the same as another family’s. We’ve been having this conversation with our kids a lot lately.

My older daughter often looks at her friends who tell her they’re too busy to do something and compares her schedule to theirs. I often have to remind her that the choices that our family makes about our activities and schedules don’t work for everyone else.

We’re a busy family. We have some kind of practice four nights a week. Add in church and school activities, and we’re often busy most nights and weekends. That’s our normal. Most of our family time revolves around a child’s sporting event, band concert or youth group activity.

Your normal might be different. You might be a family that likes to stay home in the evenings. You might be a family that spends time together by watching movies, playing games or going hiking every weekend. Your kids might be involved in theater or dance rather than sports.

The whole idea that there is a “normal” family in this world is a farce. Our family doesn’t have to look like our next-door neighbor’s family. It doesn’t have to look like another family at our church. Our family just has to look like what God made it to be.

There’s not a lot of instruction in the Bible about creating a “normal” family. We’re told to raise our kids in the training and instruction of the Lord and not to exasperate our kids (Ephesians 6:4). We’re told to bring up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6).  But we’re never told that every family needs to look the same. We’re never told we have to be “normal.”

So, if you’re frustrated that your family isn’t “normal,” that your family doesn’t look like that family down the block, remember this: God designed your family to be special. He designed your family to reach a piece of the world for Him. He designed your family to be a part of His plan. That means you don’t have to look like any other family. It means that what’s normal for your family doesn’t have to be normal for another one. As long as God is at the center of the things your family is doing, as long as you’re making time to be a family, as long as you’re nurturing the young hearts in your midst, your family is normal. Your family is exactly what God designed your family to be.

My challenge to you today is to accept your family’s normal. Stop striving to be the family down the street. Embrace the unique qualities of your own family — because God has.

Let’s Have the Best Summer Ever

The calendar says summer starts on June 20, but around here, May 24 marks the day. As far as my kids are concerned, it’s the first day of sleeping in, trips to the pool, playing outside with friends and having fun.

As a parent, it’s easy to view summer as a long stretch of days with no structure. Some parents I know dread summer. The thought of filling all those days with activity is daunting. I think Phineas and Ferb said it best, There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it, but the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it.

I won’t lie and say that I look forward to every moment of summer. We have our share of grumpy days, fighting children and moments when I’d love to throw up my hands, walk out the door and let someone else deal with the kids. But, when my youngest started school four years ago, I realized that summer was my best chance to pour into my kids. It’s a time when they aren’t focused on anything else. School is out. Activities have slowed to a trickle. It’s a great time to get their attention.

So, I decided to be deliberate about how we spend our time during the summers. I decided to use at least some of that time to fill them up with the things that God thinks are important. Oh, I don’t sit them down and preach at them, but we find fun ways to learn important life lessons. We read. We spend time with friends. We play games. And we have summer adventures — all with an eye toward growing kids who love God and love others.

All of that doesn’t just happen. It requires planning, and this is usually the time of the year when I start planning out our summer. Being intentional with our summers has created some great memories. It has meant the time seems to fly by. And it means my kids are learning the things that God thinks are important.

Last week, I promised that we would be starting a series on planning for your summer. Today is the first day. I’m calling it The Best Summer Ever. I hope you’ll join us every day as we start planning for the summer. During this series, you’ll find helpful tips for living out Deuteronomy 6:6-9 across the summer months. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, the mom of teens or the mom of preschoolers, any mom can use the principles you’ll learn.

You’ll make your own The Best Summer Ever planning binder. We’ll have plenty of free printables, some giveaways and hopefully, a whole lot of fun. If you miss a day, all of the good stuff, including any posts you missed, can be found under The Best Summer Ever tab in the menu bar above that cute picture of me and my girls.

Today, simply grab a binder and print off The Best Summer Ever cover. Let me know you’re joining me on this summer planning adventure by leaving a comment here or on the Everyday Truth Facebook page. Share this blog with your friends, and let’s get started.

With a little thought, a lot of prayer and a bit of planning, you can make this a summer where you live out the words of Proverbs 22:6 and “start your children off on the way they should go.” Get ready for The Best Summer Ever.

Linking up today with Graceful and The Better Mom.

Stepping Back

My youngest daughter got checked in hockey practice the other night. For those of you who are not hockey fans, a check is when one person uses their body to smash the other person into the boards. The kid was about 6 inches taller than her and outweighed her by at least 20 pounds. And there’s no checking at her age level.

My daughter never cries at hockey. She’s one of two girls this year out of 50 kids. She knows that crying won’t help her case in being accepted. But she cried that night. She even asked to be taken off the ice to sit on the bench for a while.

When she skated over to the bench and asked to come off, it was all I could do to sit on my hands and let the coach deal with it. I wanted to run over to the bench and check her out myself. And as my momma bear claws came out, I also wanted to have a conversation with the kid who hit her.

My daughter never asks to come off the ice. Her coach sat her down, took a look at what hurt, gave her some time to get herself together and put her back on the ice. My daughter and her coach handled the situation and really didn’t need my help. I checked her out when we got home and she was fine. I was glad I had sat on my hands. My going over to the bench would have done nothing to help the situation.

I read an article the other day that talked about how we’re becoming a nation of hovering parents. The article pointed out that kids who go to the playground with their parents get less physical activity because their parents are so worried about them getting hurt. By the time these kids get to college, they have never made decisions for themselves or suffered the consequences of a poor decision. They fail at college because they don’t know how to manage life on their own.

Our job as parents is not to protect our kids from every imaginable hurt or consequence. Our job is to get our kids ready to live life on their own — a life that lets God’s light shine through. I’m not saying let your kids run out in the street and get hit by a car, but it’s OK to let them fall down and skin their knee.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” This means if we are constantly rescuing our children or stepping in and dealing with difficult situations for them, they will never learn to deal with those situations themselves. On the flip side, it also means if we teach them to make decisions and reap the consequences of those decisions on their own, they’ll be prepared when they leave home.

As our kids grow, we need to let loose of the reins and allow them to start dealing with things on their own. We need to be there for support and advice, and there are times when a situation gets so out of control that we need to step in. But we should let our kids have the first crack at solving their problems.

My oldest heads off to middle school next year. I have stopped being responsible for her getting her homework done. She knows what our schedule looks like for the week, so she is responsible for mapping out her time and getting it done. I’ll help if she has a problem and check it if she asks me to, but I don’t set her homework schedule anymore.

As your kids get older start turning over decisions and responsibilities to them:

  • Let your kids deal with their teachers. If your child is having trouble with another child bothering them or the teacher marked something wrong on their paper that was right, let your child have first dibs on talking with the teacher. Talk with your child at home about a respectful way to approach the situation, then let your child have the conversation with his teacher.
  • Start young. If there are decisions your child can make or responsibilities around the house they can do, put them in charge. My kids have been in charge of clearing their place at the table since they could walk and carry a plate. Now, they have chores they are expected to do. I don’t nag, but if I have to do their chores, I leave them a bill.
  • Teach your kids to work out their disagreements. Don’t immediately step in when your kids are arguing with a sibling or friend. Give them a chance to work it out. Sure, things may get said that could hurt another’s feelings, but it teaches them about the importance of considering each other’s feelings and point of view. If they have to apologize for their speech, they’ll think twice about saying those things the next time.
  • Teach them to pray first. When your kids are stuck in a tough spot, and they don’t know how to deal with a situation, encourage them to seek out the Source of wisdom. Show them how to ask God for help in dealing with the situation.

It’s hard to watch our kids get hurt and make mistakes, but it’s much easier for our kids to learn these lessons now than it is for them to learn them as adults. Start giving your kids the tools to handle their own problems and conflicts, so they get plenty of practice while you’re still around to back them up. They will thank you for it when they are older.

Memory Monday: Training Pays Off (Proverbs 22:6)

My youngest daughter’s team lost its hockey game this weekend by one goal. (Yes, we’re still playing hockey in May). Her team outplayed the other team and really should have won. But they didn’t because their goalie is just learning to play hockey.

I think hockey is one of the toughest sports to play. After all, you have to do everything on a sheet of ice. Just standing up and holding onto your stick is an accomplishment when you first start playing. Add pounds and pounds of goalie gear and the fact that everyone is aiming that frozen piece of rubber at you, and I have no idea why anyone signs up to play goalie. Learning to be a goalie is tough, and you’re pretty much guaranteed that you will cost your team a few games as you learn.

That’s what happened on Saturday. My daughter’s team’s goalie stopped some really tough shots, which was a huge accomplishment. And he let some easy ones into the goal. In the end, it was those easy shots that sunk her team.

You probably know by now that if there’s one thing my youngest daughter hates, it’s losing. I really think she would rather cheat than lose. (Yes, we’re working on that.) She’s also not known for holding her tongue when she’s upset about losing.

I fully expected to have to shush her in the locker room and have to talk with her about being encouraging to others on her team, even when they lose. So, imagine my surprise (and joy) when the first thing out of her mouth after the game was “You know, mom, our goalie made some really good saves.”

I was more proud of her in that moment than I was of any goal she’s gotten this season or any great play she’s made on the ice. Despite her disappointment in losing, she was able to see that her team’s goalie was improving and to celebrate that fact. I watched her during one of her shifts on defense go over and congratulate her team’s goalie after he made a good stop.

These aren’t things that come naturally to her. They are qualities that are taught and nurtured. Two years ago, her first reaction would have been to get upset about losing on an easy goal. Saturday, she wasn’t happy about losing, but she was able to offer grace to someone else and focus on what he was doing well. That’s a big accomplishment for her.

It’s moments like these that make all the teaching, all the discipline and all the effort that it takes to be a parent worth it. This week’s verse talks about the importance of training our children. Proverbs 22:6 says “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Training our children pays dividends in their actions.

When our children make a shift in their attitudes and actions, it’s a much bigger accomplishment than if they score a goal or make a great play. Because their actions toward others are a reflection of what’s in their hearts. It’s those hearts that we want to touch. It’s those hearts that we want our kids to let God fill up with His love and His grace, so they can pour that love and grace out on others. When that happens, it’s worth celebrating.

Starting tomorrow, we’re going to spend the rest of the week looking at ways to be intentional teaching your kids certain topics this summer. Last week, I asked for suggestions of topics. So far, I’ve got money, humility and respect. Shoot me an email, leave a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page if you have any other topics you’d like the blog to tackle.