Grace and Parenting

Today was an ordinary day. I made Tony breakfast and once he headed off to work I went to my balcony. On my balcony I watch the activity of my little block. I love watching the different flowers bloom across the street, the neighbors walking with their toddler, the mourning dove moving from tree to tree. I also love writing in my prayer journal, reading my Bible and praying over my island, I love Galveston. And I love this morning routine that grounds me and sets my intentions for the day. Yoga is a new addition and the benefits have been so great that it is a permanent addition.

On days with a relaxed agenda, I get to read on my balcony.

Reading on the balcony, Galveston Texas, Pretty legs and flowers on Galveston Island

I, then, sit down to my desk. What comes next is anybody’s guest. Sometimes I get straight to work answering emails and sending docs wherever they need to go. Other days, I create social media content or write. Some days a very vibrant three year-old greets me and climbs up into my lap. This morning she didn’t. She fell back asleep in her bed after being up since 5:30 am.

As I watch Cheyenne and Savannah in this season of motherhood, that season where you don’t really ever feel rested and you answer the same question 452 times, I am amazed. I am amazed at the patience and grace they operate with and extend to their children. They are far more relaxed than I was with them. I was convinced that if I didn’t jump on every little hint of rebellion or misbehavior, they would grow into lewd women who dealt drugs and ran around with strange men- or something of the like. It seems so ridiculous now, but when you are raised with religion as your master and grace is unheard of, these are the things you think. Now, I know that there is no need to fear.

I did learn to relax as the years went by and I spoke of it often. I am so utterly grateful that they listened and God’s grace was and/is abundant. I have watched my girls mother with excellence, not perfection but who even wants perfection? They find joy in their children. I am so stinking proud of them I can’t hardly stand it.

Because of the job they are doing, I can simply enjoy my grandchildren. Tony and I can pick them up and take them anywhere. They are funny and happy and spunky. We laugh at their antics even if it wears us out. I mean, I had forgotten just how much energy it takes to raise children! I can rest knowing that we did a good job and now my children are doing a good job.

God’s grace covers the weak spots and He promised me He would show me his salvation. He also promised me that my children would be taught by the Lord and great would be their peace. I have walked through enough to know that He is faithful, if he made me a promise, He will keep it. I can laugh at the days to come because my God is with me and them.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah 54:13

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Psalm 91: 15-16

I love my ordinary days. They are filled with life- which could be boring or monotonous but I choose to see the beauty and blessing that surrounds me everyday. I pray prayers of gratitude daily, how could I not? I am fully aware of just how blessed I am.

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Kind words are like honey, marriage, romance, love, happily ever after

Happily Ever After

This guy- I don’t know what I would do without him.

Four babies have come and gone. They are building careers and families of their own.

We are back to the two of us. We loved the years of raising our chaotic zoo and it hurts to know that we are officially done with that season. But, we are excited to be a couple again.

We started young and it wasn’t the easy way (I don’t think an easy way exists when it come to raising a family) but I wouldn’t change a thing.

When we look at our crew, we are SO FREAKING PROUD!

Happily Ever After is a way of life for us.

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See You Later- What A Wonderful Thought

This past weekend, we traveled back to Canton, TX and celebrated Jonathan as he embarks on his new life.

He has chosen to serve and departs for boot camp in less than a week. It was time to say, “See You Later.” Watching him interact with his friends and family was such a gift. Knowing that there wouldn’t be another moment like this was sobering. All of his friends will be very different when Jonathan sees them again. As it stands, we won’t see him again before August. One set of newly married friends will have welcomed their first child, his sister will be in law school and who knows what that much time will bring to the rest of their lives.

So, we soaked it all up. Laughter was in abundance as were smiles. He won’t look the same when he gets back. He will not be the same when he gets back. But, that is a thing to be celebrated, not grieved. Nothing stays the same, he is choosing to become more.

See you later, Big Boy! We could not possibly be more proud of you!

My Mile Marker Zero

Many of you may recognize this as Mile Marker Zero in Key West, Florida. Which might make you think that this is a travel blog post and it could be. We traveled there this summer, yes in 2020. It was my son’s senior trip, the handsome fellow you see in this picture. All he wanted was to go somewhere where he could snorkel. The Keys it was. What I did not anticipate was this picture.

God like to surprise us with little things that make our hearts happy. When we planned the trip, I know He was like, “This is gonna be so cool. You are gonna love this picture I have planned.” The reason it is so cool is that Jonathan is my fourth and final kid. I am officially done- he is my mile marker zero. It didn’t even occur to me when I took it. It was just a cool picture on a family vacation. But later, when we got home and I was looking at pictures, it hit me. Wow, what a way to wrap it up.

You would think that hitting such a milestone would feel so great. And it does feel great but at the exact same moment, it feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. When the older two left home, I comforted myself with the fact that I had two more kids at home. Then the baby girl left home and that hurt like a mother. But, I still had J. Now, it’s mile marker zero.

So, here I sit. I can’t say I don’t have any regrets. I firmly believe that if you get to the end of your parenting run and don’t have any regrets, you didn’t take the job seriously enough. I may have some regrets, things I would do differently but I have no guilt or remorse. I know that I did the absolute best that I could with the tools that I had. Yes, 48 year-old me could do a few things better than 28 year-old me- I should hope so! But, I gave it my all and I am very proud of the humans I turned lose on the world.

Jonathan has joined the Marines and ships out January 19th. Talk about an abrupt ending. I am going from having full control (that is different from being controlling) to having NO control over anything in his life. I am not going to lie, this is a difficult curve to navigate. I mean, if anyone else talked to him they will talk to him, I would have gone OFF on them. You do NOT mess with my kids.

I realized that I had this narrative in my head that the Core was intentionally going to destroy all that I had built. While talking to my family at Christmas, this came out of my mouth. Thankfully, my dad is a former Marine. He said, “No Honey, its not like that.” On the long drive back to my island, I processed through all of this. I decided to change the narrative. I chose to look at it from a different perspective. I raised a young man who knows his mind, knows himself, above all knows Jesus, and is so strong that no matter was the Marines throw at him, they won’t break him.

It is amazing how a human heart can feel so many big emotions fully at the same time.

I am incredibly PROUD of him.

I am so SAD I won’t get to hear his voice everyday.

I am so HAPPY he is moving into adulthood and following his passion.

I am AFRAID of where that path will take him.

I am so EXCITED to see where that path will take him.

The list goes on. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of raising this boy. So, I will focus on the positive and celebrate my Mile Marker Zero.

My Three Amigos

These three beauties are my grandchildren. T- Born in December, R-born in the following December and G- born the following September. Yes, it was an intense time for our family. I adore these blessings.

We took a morning and had a little photoshoot on the beach. We had so much fun!

I bought the outfits at a local shop in Galveston on the historic Strand. I bought them with this one specific purpose.

I planned to not have a plan. I mean how can you plan for what 3 toddlers/preschoolers are going to do? What mood they may be in? So, I just turned them loose and took pictures. Out of 500 I will probably get 10 perfect shots. But that is just fine. All I need is one to remember the fun we had and it doesn’t even have to be perfect.

I have no idea if they will remember- these moments were for me. There are pictures of me with the kids and pictures of my husband with the kids. Sadly, the Hawaiian outfits didn’t come in our size. But the kids will be able to look back and have photos of themselves with two people who thought they hung the moon and all the stars.

How You Can Help Say “NO” to Exploiting Children

If you could do one small thing that would shut a child pornography ring down- would you do it?

I’ve compiled some facts and done a little math for you this week.

There’s two parts to this post:

  • The role of child pornography in the sexual abuse of children.
  • One thing we can do to stop the abuse.

You guessed it, this is a Serious Saturday Post.

There are four preconditions that must be met in order for a predator to act and abuse a child. The first two are internal. A person must overcome the internal inhibitors that would stop him or her from abusing a child sexually. There are two common components in overcoming these internal inhibitors: child pornography and the erotic portrayal of children in the media. (Victimology 5th addition, Harvey Wallace and Cliff Roberson)

Child Pornography and the Erotic Portrayal of Children in the MEDIA- enter Netflix.

Netflix has produced the show “Cuties” which is at best an erotic portrayal of children in the media and at worst child pornography.

Waiting on some government agency to investigate or arrest or pull the show from the air will take too long. We as moral individuals must take a stand.

How can we when we are up against a media giant?

That is where a free market and a capitalist economy come in. In our economic system, the dollars do the voting. If it will sell, it is made. If it won’t sell, it doesn’t get made anymore.

There are 29 million people living in Texas. Lets say that the average monthly charge for Netflix was $10. I know some pay more and some pay less, but let’s just use an easy number as the median price. If 10 million people in Texas (1/3 of the population) cancelled Netflix that would me a loss of 100 million dollars PER MONTH to Netflix- and that is just Texas.

$10.00 X 10,000,000 = 100 million dollars per month

So, let’s take another number. There are 205 million Christians in America. If half of those cancelled Netflix it would mean a $1,025,000.00 loss per month for Netflix- over 1 billion dollars per month!

102,500,000 X $10.00= $1,025,000,000.00/month

Thanks to the way our economy works, we do not have to wait on someone else to take a stand and shut the giant down for exploiting our children and creating a pathway for abusers to overcome their internal inhibitors.

Stopping child abuse and sex trafficking is an overwhelming task, but through one action we can stake a stand that will make a difference and send a message.

Will you take a stand and cancel Netflix?

If you continue to send Netflix your money, you are bankrolling child pornography and paving the way for the sexual abuse of children.

Thanks To My Dad, I Am Not A Racist

With Father’s Day coming up, I thought about a gift of a t-shirt or coffee mug- you know the usual. But then things erupted around us concerning the issue of racism. I decided that the best gift I could give my dad would be my words.

To be honest, my dad was a train wreck in many ways. He would never have one an award based on being a father. These words will not come as a surprise, he knows this. We have talked about it and he has apologized and most importantly, many of those bad behaviors do not occur any longer.

But the thing he got right, like really nailed it- was race and gender. We will save the gender issue for another day but it deserves a mention here. Never in all my days growing up, and I spent a lot of time with him in the shop tearing down engines and helping him rebuild those engines (yes, me a girl knew an engine inside and out by the time I was 12), did I ever hear my dad judge a person based on skin color, ethnicity, or gender.

My mom tells the story of when they were first married she made a racist comment, probably one she heard growing up, and my dad told here never to say that again. He said that wasn’t allowed in our house. And just like that, my mom stopped.

This is why I say that because of him, I am not a racist. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have grown up just like the generations before me. I heard the word “n” word plenty and it always turned my stomach because of the bitterness behind it. But that word was never used in my home. I was never tempted to use it and I knew early on that it was not okay- even if people who I loved said it. That wasn’t allowed in our house.

Perhaps, what is a child hears in the home carries far more weight than what is said in the culture around them.

Or, what a child doesn’t hear. My dad and I never had a discussion about this. I learned from his actions and words- both said and unsaid.

He came from East Texas. He may have carried thoughts and attitudes of racism but he didn’t give them a voice and they died without light and air and recognition. I do not carry that baggage that he never handed me.

As I watch with repulsion the acts of racism, I feel a bit helpless. There are big problems in the world. How can I impact such a huge thing? Me, as one person, can’t actually do a lot on a national or global scale.

BUT, what I can do is decide what is allowed in our house. I raised four humans who do not judge a person based on their color, gender, or ethnicity. They, in turn will raise the next generation that know a human’s worth is not based on skin color or heritage or gender. If we all would focus on our own home, society would be fixed. If we all focused on our own home, the world would get better. Matters of the heart cannot be fixed with legislature. Matters of the heart must be fixed at home with Jesus.

That is another thing we did in our home- faith was central. No where close to perfect, but it gave me the foundation to build my life on the Rock and not the shifting sands of culture or society,

My dad was key in that, as well.

I am living proof that one person can stop racism from infecting the next generation, and the next one, and the next one, and on and on.

Thanks to my dad, I am not a racist.

Thank you Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

Divorce & The Holidays

christmas

As the holidays approach, life can really get complicated.  Add in blended families and divorced parents and it can be a real mine field.

So I am going to offer something that, I hope will make your holiday what you hope for.  Sit quietly and think about what memories you would like to make with your children and what you want them to remember when they are grown and look back on the holidays that they shared with you.  Frankly, this applies to any facet of life- what do you want your kids to remember when they look back and make that happen.

In regards to the holidays, don’t let all the voices pulling at you influence your dreams.  Just take a few minutes to dream about what you would like and what would be best for your children.  Now go do that.

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a friend.  Her children were all little and she was married to her original husband who was the father of all four kids.  The stress she was feeling was that both his and her parents were divorced and remarried- and all wanted them at their respective homes for the holidays.  She was exhausted and didn’t really want to make 5-6 stops in a 48 hour period with four small children in tow.  This was not what she thought was best for her kids or herself.  When asked what I thought I offered this:

“You did not create the problem.  It was not your decision or your husband’s for either of your parent’s to get a divorce.  The adults at the time made that decision.  Now, they have to live with the consequences.  Because they chose divorce, they now have to understand that they will not have all the children and grandchildren at every holiday.  And that is not your fault or your problem to fix.”

Now, will people get mad when you choose to stay home or only visit one or two homes?  Yes.

Will they get their feelings hurt?  Probably.

Will they be harmed? No.

The main thing is that you live and establish YOUR family in the way that is best for you and them.  Your  children are only little once, don’t let it pass by missing out on what you dream of by trying to make everyone else happy.

I hope this helps someone have a less stressful holiday.  The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration- but we have to be purposeful for that to happen.

 

Pumpkin Pickin’ and Memory Makin’

This past July I sweated profusely as I put 30 pumpkin seedlings in the ground.  I didn’t mind the heat or the sweat because in my mind I could see my children, my nieces, and little cousins picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch not from a bin or pile at the store, but from a real live pumpkin patch.  Never mind that I had never grown a pumpkin before nor had I seen anyone around me do it, this was my goal.  I wasn’t shooting for Halloween as my target date, I was shooting for November- Thanksgiving.  That part turned out just about right, we did have pumpkins but we needed to pick them early as the cool wet rains we kept having were causing a problem with the powdery mildew.  As it happened, my nieces and my cousin, Luke -a preschooler, were around on Sunday so I hauled them all out and we picked pumpkins!  What fun!!

If you have never heard a child giggle or squeal with delight at the discovery in a garden- you, my friend, have not experienced one of the finer things in life.

new pumpkin patchThe pumpkin patch about a month old.  Growing strong and beautiful.

Searching for pumpkinsLooking for pumpkins amid all the large leaves.  These pumpkins did not turn orange as they should have.  Instead we had lovely molted green pumpkins with an orange splash.  No bother, it was still fun and the unusual pumpkins were pretty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKatie found a baby, the kids all like the babies just as well as the big ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARylie has found one, with a nice orange splotch.  She is twisting it to break the stem off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke has just discovered that the stem of a pumpkin is prickly!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJonathan totes the large pumpkin for Rylie, he was waiting with his trusty knife if the twisting did not work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUncle Tony and Katie.  Tony requested that we pick pumpkins when he could be around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke took to wrestling the pumpkins free and Sierra tried to help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKitchen shears to the rescue, Sierra helps Luke get his prize

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuccess!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA pile of cute kids and pumpkins!  We will do this again next year.  However, I plant to set a date and invite all the other cousins.  We will watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and eat something – maybe roasted pumpkin seeds that we harvest and roast ourselves.  I also plan to plant some “Mighty Max” pumpkins that reach weights of over 100 lbs as well as smaller pumpkins that can be handled by smaller pickers.  The seed order will be placed this Friday.  I just can’t wait.