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.

The Most Powerful Woman In America

time coverAs I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, Time magazine caught my eye.  An attractive woman was on the cover with the line “Don’t hate her because she is successful” and under it was her name and claim that she had “a mission to reboot Feminism”  I guess being the top dog at Facebook gives her that authority.

I am struggling to order my thoughts as I am writing even though I have written this blog in my head a hundred times.  The problem I am having is that this cover stirs up so much in me I can’t decide which dog to turn lose first.  So I think I will just start with the first thought that popped into my head.  Those of you who know me might have just cringed.

Thought # 1– Why does feminism need a reboot?  It seems to being going strong, every day I see angry women raging on the news with their tight lips, unhappy eyes, and scowling faces telling me that I would be happier if I put myself first and through off the out of date ideas that children need a mother and that I need a husband.  (Which I do need him, he is my rock and I am not ashamed to admit that I am happily dependent on him).  I really can’t understand why they think that smart, intelligent women who are happy with their lives of raising their babies, have happy marriages, and are content to be busy making a home would want to trade that kind of contentment for raging, angry tirades.  This particular woman was thought to be a shinning example because she is running facebook, really- what eternal value does facebook have?  I’ll take Mother Teresa any day.

Maybe it is not a reboot that feminism needs it is a revamp- to embrace those traits that are truly feminine.

Thought #2– Where do they get the term “feminism” anyway?  I mean really- to be considered feminine is have certain traits about you.  To be soft ( not weak, picture a fist of steel wrapped in velvet and satin) and kind, to be smart, and attractive (not just in looks, but in your demeanor, people want to be around you), to be dignified and refined, to be fierce- like a mamma bear when her cubs are threatened.  All of these traits I see in Godly women I would like to emulate, not in the forerunners of this movement who demand this and that, who are angry and fierce- the scary kind of fierce that won’t tolerate anyone who thinks differently than they do.  These women who demand the right to kill their unborn children because they have a “Choice”- yes, you do have a choice to wait until you are married to have sex, simple as that- are not examples of what I want to be as a woman.

These women are not feminine- they are the very opposite of what we females were designed to be.

Thought #3– What exactly is their problem and why do they think feminism needs a reboot?  I think many of their issues rest in the fact that women still make up a small percentage of the “high up” positions in the work force.  Have they ever stopped to consider that maybe the numbers are what they are not because women “can’t get the jobs because they are female” but because women as a whole will not sacrifice their families for their career.  This thought will greatly chap the hides of a lot of  the “feminist” movers and shakers but it seems to me that there are too many women who have achieved their goals of getting to the top for it to be an impossibility.

“”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

The Bible is full of references to sacrifice, dying to your own desires and then finding fulfillment on the other side.

 

Thought #4– Who is the most powerful woman in America? or the World?  It is that woman who lays down her life to nurture, raise, and guide the next generation.

Society is a fabric- each thread woven together is a human life, each human thread is spun at home.  When society has the awful problems with school shootings, teen pregnancy,  greed, abuse and violence the problem is not with society in itself, but a breakdown in the home.  So the women that are choosing to put the next generation first whether that be by staying at home full time to be a wife and a mother or being that teacher that gives of herself above and beyond against the odds, or the working mother who turns down a promotion so that she won’t have to sacrifice her time with her children, or in any other facet where she finds the ability to make a difference- these are the most powerful women in America and the World.

I do not reject the idea that women are capable of great things outside the home, that they have the abilities to work at the highest levels or even that some women are called to do so.  I reject the idea that if I choose to lay down my own pursuits to put my husband and children first in my priority list that I have some how fallen short of what I was designed to be as a woman.  It takes a very strong woman to be secure in herself, to take on the challenges of building a healthy marriage and raising the next generation and to stand against the current that is telling her to abandon her post, and to trust her God to take care of all the things that she cannot control- that is femininity at it’s highest.

I know I sound a bit angry in this post, but that would be because this issue does make me angry. The home has been in large part abandoned and children are left to parent themselves with the help of “Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant” while both parents pursue their own lives and we then wonder why there is a breakdown in society.  The home is worth fighting for and I am tired of listening to those that are wrong say they are right.  Instead of looking at it as an unfair yoke, being the gender that was trusted with bringing forth the next generation and having the fate of society & the world rest in your hands should be revered as the highest honor on the planet.

 

Training Your Children

Proverbs  20:11 says “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” This is a scripture that we have used with our children in training them to be people of integrity and to be productive.  We have always tried to tie in the Word of God and the end goal with the instructions we were giving to the kids.
In telling them that their actions told people about themselves, we wanted them to think about what they wanted someone to know about them and then act accordingly. The scripture in Proverbs backed that up and helped them to understand that we were speaking to them not for our own gain, but for their benefit.  Of course, well behaved children are certainly a benefit to parents!
This was made very real to the kids this past week.  It is not uncommon for us to get compliments on our children’s behavior whenever we go out or travel.  However, this past week it was really over the top.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we bought several greenhouses and other equipment and this past week had to take it all apart and haul it home.  I was so grateful to my kids and how hard they worked.  I cannot count the times the other men out there would tell us what great kids we had.  For these crusty old fellows, it bordered on gushing.  One man asked Tony several times what we did to get kids like ours.  How do you sum up eighteen years of hard work in a sentence or two?  We passed all the compliments on to the kids- “even a child is known by his actions…”
Each child comes with his or her own special gifting; I am convinced of this fact.  Another fact I am convinced of is that this gift is the child’s place to shine and succeed or – not submitted to God- is the place for the biggest failure.  As I seek to train a child in the way he should go, I am not looking to have them go my way, but the way their gifts point them.  One of the cool things about the Bible is that there is a scripture for every subject that we may encounter in life.
Savannah is my second child and she came equipped with a very high intellect, wicked if not a bit warped sense of humor, and a strong desire for action.  Couple these things with her love of the ocean and animals and she is headed to be a marine mammal behaviorist.  Without any spiritual training, those personality traits add up to a kid who loved to stir up trouble and aggravate her siblings.  To Savannah, peace in the home was boring- I know because she told me so herself as if I had not already picked up on that fact.  So her personal scripture was Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”  Every time she was getting into trouble because of her unique gifts, I would have her go to the refrigerator where her verse was posted and read it aloud.  Then, it was not a battle of our wills as to how she was to act; it was between her and God.  I was just the messenger.
Savannah was not the only one with personal scriptures.  Cheyenne is a natural born leader a huge gift in her life- the flip side of that coin is that she can be BOSSY.  So, she would have scriptures pertaining to using her words carefully.  Sierra is intensely driven- the flip side to that is she can drive you intensely insane.  Jonathan on the other hand is very laid back, certainly a good thing to be when you are the fourth child with three strong-willed females ahead of you.  However, that easy going disposition makes him inclined to be lazy.  So we focus on showing him truth about hard work and what it is to be a man.
Never do I look at my kids personalities or gifts as something to be changed or done away with, I look at them as simply needing to be trained in the things of God.  I do not know what each of them is called to do, that is between them and their heavenly father.  He sent these children to me prewired with the gifts they would need to accomplish his purpose for them, how dare I try to rewrite their story to fit my desire or crush that which I do not like.   My job is to create and environment in which they can hear Him and to train them to discipline themselves so that their gifts do not destroy them.
The best tool for doing this is the Word of God.  Imagine that.  It is really the simplest way.  With a good concordance you can look up any word and find multiple scriptures dealing with it.  Once I found a scripture that fit what we were dealing with, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I typed it up on the computer or wrote it on index cards.  Then these scriptures were put on the fridge and the bathroom mirrors.  According to their behavior, sometimes these verses were read aloud a lot, but most of the time they would read them as they brushed their teeth in the morning and at night.  I did not require them to memorize and repeat them to me, but they did memorize them.
Jonathan working hard in the garden
Just the other night, we were all laughing and talking.  Something was said that I can’t even remember now, but Savannah said “I remember my verse” and she quoted it.  Then she said that she could remember another one but not its address – scripture reference.  Then Cheyenne spouted off, I can “Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you says the Lord….” and said the whole verse.  I can’t tell you how happy I was!  If you have ever dealt with children, you know what I mean.  You feel like you repeat yourself constantly and wonder if any of the good stuff is sticking.  Well, it is sticking.  You just have to wait a few years to see it.
 
Sierra and Cinnamon
Savannah & Misty     Cheyenne & Aurora