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.

And Great Shall Be Their Peace

My four, Oh How I Love THEM!

There are many scriptures to which I cling like one would cling to a scrap of wood while floating in the sea filled with hungry sharks smelling blood in the water.  These have been my guide posts, the light at the end of the tunnel of motherhood, and the happy promises of what this life can be today.  I do believe Proverbs to be the best book for common sense, practical advice.  It has been from Proverbs that I have taken most of the scriptures that I have trained my children with and used to teach them how to function in this world.  But for encouragement, nothing beats the book of Isaiah.

Now, if you are familiar with the Bible or have been around the religious establishments, you may find this odd.  After all, this whole book of prophecy is about the Israelites blowing it once again and having judgement come down from heaven. But, that is what makes it so encouraging.  God has passed judgement on them and then He makes them these beautiful promises.  We all blow it every day, we fail to live up to the standard but take heart, God makes us so many great and mighty promises in spite of ourselves.  These promises were given to a people in the old testament before our Savior, Jesus Christ, had come to make right all the wrongs, but never the less, once we accept Jesus as our Savior all the promises become ours new and old testament.  All we have to do is believe Him.  For me, the chapter I have poured over has been chapter 54.  It is so great.

As I have walked through the years of parenting, one verse in particular has stood out as a huge ray of hope to me.  Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”  Isn’t that great!  Who doesn’t want their children to be at peace?  This doesn’t mean without challenges, the Word is clear that we will have challenges on this earth, but through it all, great shall be the peace of my children.

The first translation I read this in said “Your children shall be taught of the Lord“. I took this to mean that I taught my children of the Lord and they would have peace.  A perfectly good and true thing to do.  But then I read it with the word “by the Lord” and I realized that I was not in this mothering thing alone, God was right there with me teaching my children about Himself, hallelujah!  Thank you Jesus.  How many of us know, left to our own devices we are not the mothers or fathers that we want to be and this whole parenting thing can, at times, be overwhelming?  I was so encouraged to know that the perfect Father was by my side- actively involved.

This revelation came to me back when my children were just preschoolers- the older two, the younger two were still just a glimmer in their father’s eye.  Now, those two are 19 and 17.  They are amazing, they have never rebelled, our house filled with teenagers (we have 3 in residence at this time) is not filled with anger or fighting, it is a home of peace because great is the peace of my children.  Does this mean that there is never any friction? No, there will be growing pains and friction as children become adults and are ready to move out on to their own.  This is normal.  What is not supposed to be normal is rebellion, anger, antagonistic behavior by both parents and teens.  God did not entrust me with these precious gifts for me to accept societies ways as “normal”.  We are a living testament that you can have a great time and a great peace with teenagers or preschoolers- the peace just looks different.

Some of you may wonder about the “how” to receive the promise of God.  This is how I would pray this scripture (and still do) over my children as they were growing up:

“Father, I thank you that your Word is true and you promise that “My children, Cheyenne, Savannah, Sierra & Jonathan, will be taught by You and GREAT will be their peace.  Thank you, Jesus, for the blood you shed on the cross to make this my promise. Thank you!”

Then when all hell wants to break loose in your home- You remember this prayer and repeat it.  You cling to the promise regardless of what you see in front of your face.  Our children’s flesh does not always- hardly ever- want to cooperate with the Word of God or you, but hold tight and you will reap a harvest of PEACE!

What Did You Do?

When you have four kids you get asked a lot of questions. I am very proud of my children and  so often people now ask me what we did to get such great kids.  This question is especially asked of my older daughters who are now 19 & 17.  It seems that respectful youth with good work ethics and self-confidence is unusual.  This is sad, and not the fault of the kids.

The problem I have with that question is that those that ask seem to think I can some up 20 years of hard work into a couple of sentences.  That is simply impossible and when I am faced with it, I don’t even know where to begin.  But really, the beginning is God and His plan for my children.  When they were born I was excited to see what He had gifted them to do and what His design was for their life- not mine.  I do believe a frequently made mistake by parents and other adults make with children is dreaming dreams for the kids without ever consulting God or simply looking at what the child is and what their desires are.  Each of us are gifted from the womb with abilities and desires written on our hearts by the hand of God.  To ignore these in our own lives is to live a life of misery.  To ignore these in our children is to set the children up for hardship.  In this situation, the child will either have to bury their God-given desires and dreams to conform to the parents wishes or they will have to rebel or fight to follow God’s will for them.  Woe to us as parents if we ever put our children in that position.

So, as my children grew they were free to dream, to express their hearts desires, and they were free to obey.  Everyone answers to authority, the sooner we accept this the sooner God can move in our lives.  I answer to Tony (my husband) and to God.  My kids answer to me, their father, and to God.  The idea here is that I am following God so that answering to me is the equivalent to answering to God.  Which means I had better be keeping close with God or I will mess my kids up!  So, my children learned that they were free to be the person God created them to be, but obedience was a key to that.  Some of the four accepted this with out much protest, some of them were not going down without a fight.  Either way, they have come to understand authority and the blessing that obedience brings to their lives.

Another key to developing great kids is to have time at home.  In the society that we all live there is this merry- go- round.  You know the kind that was once in all the playgrounds.  It could go as fast as the kid pulling or pushing it could go.  Well, the society merry-go-round is spinning out of control with lots of “good” activities for you too participate in and for you kids to be involved.  The problem is this- most of these activities have no eternal benefit.  They do not develop any skills or fundamentals that your children will need as adults.  I even include sports in this because sports had become a god to so many.  Yes, there are benefits to sports- I know because my kids played and so did I.  However, there is no reason for a kid to be playing every sport, many at the same time.  If your schedule has you gone from home every night of the week and most Saturdays- your house is a hotel and not a home.  Changes must be made if you want your children to be successful, confident, and stable adults.  We were once on the merry-go-round as well.  We have four kids and with each one choosing only 1 thing each at a time, we were still busy every night, then you add in church, family events, and school with all its demands= we were out of control in our time and stressed.  We did find the key to getting off the merry-go-round– You have to JUMP!  It will not stop and people around you will not applaud your choice.  But, it must be done, you will be glad you did!  We cleared our schedule- no sports teams, no camps, no anything for a few months and then we only added back what God clearly said to do.  Wow, we were happy, even the kids were after the initial hurt feelings.  We had time to play card games, board games, and time for fishing and camping.  This is the life!

Now, I could go on for pages about the things that we did as parents to get the results we are seeing, but these few things I have listed are key elements.  There will be many more blog posts on different aspects, but these are the ones I believe give the best starting point.

My Beautiful Family