How to REALLY Fight For Your Kids

I caught her expression out of the corner of my eye. I was rushing to pile stuff on tables, and convince every person that my stuff was worth the $5 bucks I was selling it for. We were moving to Texas–suddenly. My three kids were in shock, but with some happiness. Except my daughter.

She would be leaving behind her friends.

She wouldn't be a varsity cheerleader anymore.

She sat there, in the chair, huddled with her friends, on her 16th birthday, watching me sell our stuff.

I will never, ever forget the look on her face. I tried my hardest to be positive. I had conversations with God and told him that I trusted him. But inside, as a mom, I was dying. I felt like a failure. I felt the worse sense of shame that somehow I was causing harm to my kids. I hated myself.

From that moment forward I hated everything about life and everything about how utterly helpless I was to change our circumstances. We moved to Texas and did our best to settle, temporarily at my brother's and then soon after into our own place. No matter what I have done, being in San Antonio just hasn't felt like home. I hated this place. And I convinced myself that if I chose to like it, then I chose my daughter's pain, and I couldn't own up to that.

Her depression was ruining her. Daily tears, hating her school, feeling utterly alone, feeling like she just didn't fit in. Our pain was unified, she hurt, and I hurt…I hated and she hated. I couldn't take it anymore. What happened to my independent,sassy, life-loving, joy-filled, fisher of men? She was slowly fading, with every tweet: I hate school, I hate my life, I hate people.

I told her counseling was inevitable, she was stuck without perspective and I could only encourage her so much. She refused, with all the stubbornness inside her. It only made sense to fast for her. I had to.

As a mom, I have certain control over my children's spiritual life. She is flesh of my flesh, and I have every right to approach the throne on her behalf. I have every authority over the principalities of darkness to fight on her behalf. And I did!

With every bite I denied myself, every Coke I passed up, my prayer was this: My daughter needs freedom more than I need this piece of bread. The pangs in my stomach are my spirit crying to you Lord to free my daughter and give her vision for her life.

And He did.

Her depression is lifted.

She can be sad about missing her friends without it controlling her life.

God has given her a clear vision for her immediate future. And she has been favored already as she starts her own business and blog. She no longer cries everyday. She no longer hates people. (However, she still very much hates her school).

She is seeking God's word, and has once again embraced her desire to conquer the world.

Although nothing has changed, everything has changed.

As parents we must go head to head with the enemy, refusing to allow anything to overcome our children. God entrusted them to us and it is our job to protect them, not just physically, but emotionally and especially spiritually.

A group of us are fasting

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

Join us if you have a child who:

  • Is overcome with depression
  • Needs a relationship with Christ
  • Is lost or alone
  • Is being bullied
  • Struggles with Addiction
  • Has a broken relationship with you
  • Just needs some breakthrough.

FAST WITH US!

FIGHT FOR THEM!

A leader of the local synagogue, who name was Jairus, came and fell down before him, pleading with him to heal his little daughter. “She is about to die,” he said in desperation. “Please come and place your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” Mark 5:22-23

Right away a woman came to him whose little girl was possessed by an evil spirit. She had heard about jesus, and now she came and fell at his feet. She begged him to release her child from the demon's control. Mark 7:25-26

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him…” Mark 9:17

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them….He said to them, “Let the children come to me.” Mark 10:13&14

Parents! Bring your children to Jesus…they will be blessed and healed, And you will have a grateful heart, an overwhelming spirit of thankfulness whenever you look at our child. You will have evidence of God's present day miracles in the eyes of your very own child!

Comment your YES! and stay tuned as we prepare our hearts!

Share this with 3 people who can fast with you!

And for those of you who are already committed, I am praying for you!!

LIVE RECKLESS

 

 

Father’s Day For The Fatherless

I flipped through my grandma’s Avon catalog. She was a big believer in Avon, therefore, so was I. I came across all the Father’s Day goods. Cheap cologne, and pens in the shape of baseball bats or golf putters. A golf putter it was. My grandmother placed the order and I waited with great anticipation for it to come in. I wrapped it up, and couldn’t wait to give my prize. Father’s Day came and proudly I walked over and gave the coolest gift ever…to my mom.

She deserved that pen, after all she was my mom and my dad. Although through the years I had a step dad and a fantastic grandfather, I grew up without a dad. In fact, my biological father’s parental rights were terminated when I was eight, and I was never adopted by anyone else. So 29 years ago, I officially became fatherless. Like legit fatherless.

My life has been a struggle of wondering and wandering. Searching for acceptance, fighting rejection, asking myself why I wasn’t worthy enough. Even now I struggle. Especially watching my own kids with their fathers. I hear them call them dad, and I have no ability to even begin to wrap my mind around what that feels like to call someone dad.

As an adult I’ve reached out to my father and he still has no desire to be part of my life or my brothers. I can’t answer for him, or find any reason. He’s not a drug addict or homeless. I see photos of him on Facebook playing with my cousins kids and celebrating Christmas. But still he has no longing to be a part of our lives.

Periodically I’ve had to answer questions from my kids, who have grown up without a grandfather:

Why doesn’t your dad love you?

Why doesn’t your dad want to be our grandpa?

Where is he?

What does he look like?

I show them one of the only photos I have of me and my dad, tell them he lives somewhere in California or Colorado and then answer the same questions I’ve asked myself throughout my life with an emphatic: I really do not know.

As I’ve searched for my earthly dad, my heavenly father has gently drawn me near to Him. The teenage years of crying in my room, God was there, listening. The years of self-destruction as I longed to be loved, God’s grace covered me. The moments I sacrificed my dignity to be accepted, God’s mercy rained–in fact, it poured. When I found the man to spend the rest of my life with, God gave me tremendous love…a love that is patient with my pain, and understanding of my lifelong grief. A husband who is a loving, caring and wise father to all five of our kids.

So to those who are like me and are fatherless on this father’s day, hold tight to hope. You indeed, my friend, are not truly fatherless. God has sent his love to you in some fashion–whether it’s your mother, your husband, your children. And even if not…even if you feel as if you are all alone and unwanted, God has never left you, abandoned you or rejected you.

The pain you feel for yourself is the pain God feels for you, with you. He never wanted this for you… He never wanted this for us.

I cannot answer why, or tell you when the pain will end…but I assure you, the depth of his love for you is immeasurable. He does what every father should do….

He listens.

He quickly forgives.He comes to your rescue.

He is proud of you.

He is patient.

He willingly gave His life for you.

Because He loves you.

So happy father’s day….to all the dads who have loved …to all the dads and grandpa’s who have passed….and to the husbands who love their kids more than life. Happy Father’s day to my Father in heaven.

Happy father’s day to MY husband who has taught me the love of Christ…and gives my kids a better life than mine, a love that I have never had for myself.

Jesus said:

….You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 

School Awards Can Suck It!

Two more days people. Two. More. Days. I am overwhelmed with excitement that summer break will be here before the week is over. Mom taxi is going in the garage, and the kids will have to take the city bus anywhere they want to go from today forward, I’m not even kidding.

Ok, maybe I’m kidding.

This last week or so of school has brought relief.  No more homework, easier pick up schedules because of testing. No forgotten backpacks, because they don’t need one.  And last week was official end of the year awards for my third grader. And all I can say about that is that:  Awards from school can suck it.

See this kid…the tall one in the back.

zac awards one

Look at that face.

 

zac awrds 2

Does he look happy? Does he look proud?

Oh yes, he did receive an award…for learning his math facts.  And every other six weeks, he’s received an award for A-B honor roll. He was so determined, and proud that he’s worked so hard, and just knew he was going to get A-B honor roll this time, too–and that meant for the entire year. But no…he made a 79 in math. To him, his hard work pretty much meant nothing.

Other kids got medals and trophies for attendance and reading. Not my kid. He couldn’t get those awards even if he tried. He’s took sickly to ever make it to school every single day for six weeks, so you can forget an entire school year. Then there is reading, let’s talk about reading.

My child is not a natural reader, and his first and second grade year in the Florida Public School system was disastrous.  He was barely on level when he left first grade, even though the teacher insisted he would be fine and just needed a little extra help.  By half way through second grade, his teacher labeled him and he was entire year behind in school.  He was belittled and ridiculed for being who he was.  We changed teachers, who punished him through her behavior system for missing spelling words.  We worked with him at home, even though he threw books at our faces. We yanked him from public school and enrolled him in private. His teacher was patient and loving, but taught differently than public school.  He improved and built some confidence. Then we moved to Texas.

We thought he might have a learning disorder. He was tested, and put in special groups and had one-on-one attention in order to teach him all that he had not been taught in the last two years. After a long school year of wondering and working and praying, last week I got a call from his teacher

“Mrs. Crawford, I want to let you know that Zac WILL be going to the fourth grade. I know that he has struggled, but we believe he truly is on track. He will be placed not promoted, so he will need Reading group starting the first week of fourth grade. “

She continued, “Looking back I realize that when Zac came to third grade he really, truly did not know how to read. And now, even though he’s barely on level, he’s made it there.  He’s improved so much!”

By the end of our conversation, I was in tears. He had overcome.  Zac had pushed through the difficulty, he had dedicated himself to doing his best. He overcame his fear, and all the voices in his head telling him he was stupid and couldn’t do it. He conquered something huge, and worked hard. And was not recognized for it by the school, not even for a minute.

So this face     zac awrds 2    this face is defeat and disappointment. 

Now I get it, there will always be those kids who are super smart because they are born that way. Sure, they should get a high five for being themselves. But I sat and looked at all those kids on the floor waiting for their name to be called and wonder how many of them accomplished some major feat this year at school and no one gave a crap because they weren’t there everyday, and they couldn’t collect the most reading points, in that race for “who is the smartest.” I wondered how many kids wished they could get a trophy like that or get a medal, but their mom was an alcoholic and couldn’t always get them to school, or they just absolutely hated reading.

LBR (Let’s be real) not every kid likes to read. So what about Art and Music awards? What about awards for kids that recognize the things that are going to actually matter when they get out of school like

Perseverance

Dedication  

Integrity

Helping Others

….and even Overcoming.

The American education system is whack and the older I become I wonder if it does more harm than good.  Zac left school, in fact, he’s leaving third grade feeling not enough. He’s received the message that no matter how hard you work, you coming to school every single day is more important than never giving up when things get hard. He’s learned that reading the most books is more important than learning to read at all.

So this weekend–I am giving my own awards to my kids.  I’m going to present them with the awards that matter to our family, that align with our values. We are going to cheer, and have trophies and eat cake.  We are going to celebrate hard work and commitment and not giving up even when the cards are stacked against you. And we might even scream really loud “School Awards Can Suck It!” 

 What do you think? You think the award systems are fair?  Has your kid ever deserved an award for something he/she never even got a wink for? 

Comment and SHARE! (and encouragements to Zac are certainly welcome!)

LG|LP Tiff  <3

 

 

 

HOW I BECAME A CRIMINAL

It’s true. All of it, I confess. I went before the judge made my plea:

Judge: Do you understand the charges against you?

Me: Yes, ma’am

Judge: What do you plead?

Me: No Contest

Charges against me?! I now, officially, have a criminal record.

All the illegal stuff I did in my youth. The drinking and driving. The fake ID’s the drugs, the stealing….and NOW, as a mother of five….NOW, as I wife….NOW, as a someone who loves me some Jesus…NOW I am an official criminal.

And it’s not even a cool story. Everyone is expecting a cool story from me. But I got nothing for you…

It’s just as simple as this:

When Cody was sick, I sent in parent notes instead of doctor’s notes.

So because the school didn’t have their preferred excuse, me and my fourteen year old son had charges brought against us. And we had a court appointed time in the Municipal building with a judge. And we wasted a whole lotta tax payer’s dollars. To be told:

You are on probation until October 27th. Cody don’t have any unexcused absences, and Mom, make sure you monitor his attendance.

Yup. That happened… giving me a criminal record

I get there are kids who don’t go to school but these Texans take this truancy thing super seriously.

As I watched these other moms, I wondered how difficult it was for them to be there. How many of them had to take off work? How many of them have cried over their wayward child? How many have dreaded that phone call from the school saying their child wasn’t at there, and every tear was a different worry about something being horribly wrong?

My BIGGEST fear going into this whole court ordeal was that I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad mom. I wasn’t afraid of jail, after all I’ve seen ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. But people thinking I’m a bad mom would be worse than death.  In fact, the whole BIKINI DISCUSSION really boils down to this–moms wanting to make the right decision. We want to all say it’s for the sole benefit of our child, but, really, is it? I think as moms we want to impress other moms. We want to make the more noble decision. We want our kids to come out of their messed up childhood with flying colors. And if they don’t, then maybe we didn’t give them enough attention. Maybe we let them wear a bikini…maybe we turned in the wrong kind of note.

At one time, maybe those moms felt the insecurity of being sub-par. But as I looked around the courtroom, most of them were courtroom veterans. One mom told the prosecutor she just didn’t know what to do anymore, and she has a younger daughter who hated school, and life, just like the older one who was ready to drop out and get her GED. One mom hired an attorney. The other moms could care less about their criminal record, they just needed someone to help them figure out how to help their children.

How petty of us to be concerned about what other people think of our mothering?! In mothering we extend each other the least amount of grace. Even when we are sympathetic to that mom who has a struggling, rebellious child, we have those secret questions wondering to ourselves,… never out loud….where that mom went wrong.

If a child is doing well, we assume he has a great mom. If a child is failing, then it’s for sure the moms fault.

This entire situation taught me a few things:

  • I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me .
  • We judge ourselves so harshly, and sometimes even hope to come across another mom that is worse at parenting than us, just to make us feel better.
  • Moms of truly hurting kids don’t give a crap about how you parent. They are way too absorbed in their own troubles to care about your failures.
  • We are all humans in need of grace and mercy.
  • Truancy judges are bound to be bored out of their minds.

How do you handle your parenting failures? Do you give yourself grace or feel like you’ve messed up your child forever? What have been your eye opening experiences?

I really want to know…. Comment and SHARE!

LG|LP – Tiff

 

The Bikini:A 16yo Girl’s Opinion ( and her mom’s too)

It’s summer time! Eight more days of school, the kids will be home driving me nuts and I’ll be counting down to send them back. With the summer comes the all ridiculous process of

SWIMSUIT SHOPPING!

 

I’m not going to spend my time complaining about not starting my gym routine, ohhh 3 years ago, like I should have. Instead, I’m going to answer the question:

Should I let my daughter wear a Bikini?

Yes, this a big National Fiasco involving Watergate, Oliver North and Monica Lewinsky, along side every conservative mom wanting to do what is best.

I think most every mom wants what is best…

I have a sixteen year old, God-Loving daughter and I have dressed her in bikinis since she was a little. With that said, know that I allow her to pick her own swimsuits and to wear bikinis if she choses.I also normally wear bikinis myself. Before I share me and my daughters thoughts I want to clarify that I believe there is a difference between a teeny-bikini and a two piece. There ARE some bikinis that are no doubt completely inappropriate. However, there are some two pieces that even though they may show more skin, to me, aren’t provocative.

I spent some time with Alyssa and asked HER a few questions about this whole bikini-question.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE WEARING A BIKINI MEANS YOU DON’T RESPECT YOUR BODY?

ALYSSA: Absolutely NOT. I completely respect my body. I am 16 years old, remain pure and treat my body with honor by eating right and exercising. A swimsuit does not determine my self-worth, either way. It’s actually offensive to me that people would think I don’t have self-respect just because I wear a bikini

MY THOUGHTS: I have taught my daughter to respect her body more than during the summer. Teaching her respect is more than encouraging a swimsuit choice once a year. We talk respect all the time and in all situations. We include things from drugs to eating to rest to purity to cursing to dating. I have witnessed several moms who never let their child wear a two-piece and those daughters now live in a way that does not honor their body or themselves. And like my daughter, I have always allowed her to wear two piece swimsuits, and she has total self-respect. Self-respect is a much deeper heart issue that can not be controlled by swimsuit choice.

DO YOU THINK THAT WEARING A BIKINI MAKES GUYS LUST OVER YOU?

ALYSSA: Boys are going to lust no matter what I wear. Why do we have to over-sexualize every single body part? I get that we want to be honoring to ourselves, but since when did my stomach or my back become a sexual organ? A one piece NORMALLY covers up the stomach but still shows a girl’s shoulders and back. And is tight fitting on the body, too. Seriously, I could be wearing anything, and by the way I simply act I can make a boy lust over me. Sometimes it’s about your attitude and how much power you give something. Also, we can’t say girls should cover up and never teach the boys to stop looking at us as objects. We also can’t cover up girls and then allow boys to show their stomachs. If we are going to cover our bodies because of the possibility of lust or sexual attraction, then both guys and girls need to be covered.

MY THOUGHTS: I have never brought any “sexual attention” to my daughter’s swimwear. We have always picked swimsuits because they are cute. There have been plenty of times that she and I have been trying on suits together and we both look at each other, knowing that this one or that one is a little too little. She feels uncomfortable in things that she knows are too provocative. I tend to agree that boys are going to check her out no matter what. That doesn’t give her permission to have no boundaries, it’s just a reality that you will never be able to control other peoples reactions, no matter what the attire.

(CODY, my 14 year old boy chimed in on this one: A swimsuit doesn’t matter. If a girl is pretty, boys are going to look. We are boys, afterall.)

WHAT MAKES YOU CHOOSE A BIKINI OVER A ONE PIECE?

ALYSSA: I just want a swimsuit I feel confident and comfortable in. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a bikini, tankini or a one-piece. If I see a suit that is cute, and it fits me well, I’m okay with it.

MY THOUGHTS: Again, I allow my daughter to choose what swimsuit she wears. I do this because I trust her. I trust her judgement, I trust the way she views herself. I trust her choices in relationships. I trust her relationship with Christ. I also do this because I don’t feel the need to control everything in her life. I have raised her with a Biblical-foundation and I know that if God needs to convict her about something He will, and she will listen. I also know that if I feel something is inappropriate and approach her on it, she will respect me and my thoughts.By no means am I mom who does not care about her or her well-being. I just have never given that much power to a piece of clothing, and because of that, neither has she.

WHAT IF THE MOM FEELS ONE WAY AND THE DAUGHTER ANOTHER?

ALYSSA: A compromise can be made! If the daughter wants to wear a bikini and mom says no, there are so many styles out there now that can give the daughter some voice while earning trust with mom in the “judgement” department. And moms can be happy knowing that her daughter is appropriately covered. High waisted swimsuits are super in style right now, and high neck halter tops tend to cover more in the front than smaller bikini tops. There are options. Make a day of it!

MY THOUGHTS: Mom always trumps! But before you play that card, I encourage every mom to ask themselves what is motivating their decision. I also encourage moms to consider the age of the daughter and the condition of their own heart and their daughters. There is so much to be taken into consideration. I wish I thought it was simple but I don’t, because every child is different. Some daughters can be trusted, while other’s might use it as a mean to gain attention from the opposite sex. (and in that case, a swimsuit choice isn’t going to fix anything). As a mom take the time to build that relationship with your daughter so that though she may not agree with you, she will respect you.

I also have two amazing step-daughters who are 16 & 19…Here are some of their general thoughts on girls wearing bikinis:

KAYLA: If nothing is being done to disrespect your body in that bikini I believe that it’s okay. Society makes us believe that showing too much skin or being too out there is inappropriate. I mean, hey, as a parent you can make your kids do as you please, but making them not wear a bikini because of “respect for their body” is ludicrous. It is society that makes us feel uncomfortable about a lot of things including our daughters showing too much skin– All of out fear of society calling them fast, or the boys double looking. What about a girl being able to be comfortable in her skin, and not care what other people think?

MY THOUGHTS: I think we have a responsibility to teach our daughters their identity in Christ, and to be content with how God has made them. One thing I have always taught my daughters is to never be ashamed of their bodies or how God created them. I spent too many years hating myself and being embarassed because I never felt like I was enough. Being a woman is a beautiful gift and we should never hide in shame or fear over the very essence of our creation. Sometimes our fear of the world dictates our decisions, and that can be detrimental.

KARAH: …things that aren’t such a big deal, can be made into mountains in the wrong hands. I agree that the ideologies of respect should be taught at a younger age, but also I believe in finding a common place of normalcy with our current society.The thing is, clothing isn’t the issue, it’s how a child perceives their dress code that becomes problematic….A proper foundation of knowledge at a young age will help girls understand how they are being looked at and what steps they to take in order to preserve their integrity. Strong teachings in a household along with proper examples will be MORE sufficient than completely limiting a popular style of swimwear.

I think it’s the type of bathing suit that matters. If I was a parent I really wouldn’t want my daughter wearing a tiny bikini, but something that doesn’t make my daughter look like a video-vixen, I’m ok with. At my age, no matter what you wear the opposite sex will be attracted to you. To be technical about what should be worn is too much to worry about. The sense of what is inappropriate has changed from generation to generation. In my opinion swimwear will always be opinionated and continue to change. We should raise children how we want them to become and by setting that tone hopefully they will gain the knowledge of respect we would want them to have for themselves.

MY THOUGHTS: We can exhaust ourselves with what to wear and what not to wear. Overall, it’s important for you as a mom to know why you feel the way you do, respect that your daughter is, after-all, a teenager, and struggles with self-esteem, to fit in and to honor all she has been taught about faith in Christ. Just as this isn’t easy for you, it is probably even harder for her. Lead by example, with love…lots and lots of love!

Navigating teenage years is like being the Captain of the Titanic. You definitely never now when an iceberg will pop up. Slow down, take a turn when necessary, and know that if you lean into Christ, he will take care of you and your daughter.

I want to know your thoughts! But not just whether or not you allow bikinis, but why? And what else do you do to build into and build up your daughter? Let’s learn from each other. Comment and Share!