That One Time We Sold EVERYTHING

“I think we should just get rid of it all.”

He looked at me and said, “I was thinking the same thing but was afraid to tell you.”

We were moving back to Texas, and had a house full of “stuff”. A 2800 square foot house full of “stuff”. Toys, clothes, shoes, things to dust. Boxes and boxes of stuff.

And we hauled it all into our front yard, posted the signs and sold it. Well actually, we gave most of it away…and the rest, we might as well have.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just because it was me, but because I had to stand along side my kids while they learned the difficult lesson of materialism.

We loved our stuff. We attached ourselves to our stuff. Those are “my” dishes I bought in Mexico. Those are “my” legos. That’s “my” bag. Mine. Mine. Mine.

We kept a few things. I had a few pieces of furniture that have been in the family. I kept our memories, and school stuff from the kids. Those are still piled in my best friend’s garage in Florida. ( and I can’t wait to go back and dig through my boxes and get rid of more).

We came to Texas, all five of us, with just some clothes and shoes(and deodorant).

We call it “being in transition” but really we were technically homeless. So we shacked up with my bro and his fam for a few months until we could figure things out. Michael was waiting for his job transfer to come through from Florida to Texas, and I was figuring out how to organize the four of us in a few rooms, while feeling guilty for kicking my nephews out of their rooms.

We finally moved into our own space with still nothing but our clothes. We didn’t have a huge hunk of cash, so we financed mattresses, a fridge and a couch and dining room table (which we are still paying on a year later…smack me in the face).

My room has a bed. Yes just a mattress on metal slates. I have a broken tower fan in the corner by my side of the bed, just for the noise–it doesn’t stand on it’s own, it just leans in the corner.

We have the minimal of everything. And have now for a year.

And it’s absolutely freeing and amazing, and I love it!

Well, sometimes….

Sometimes I get caught up in the materialism of the city I live in, because believe it or not San Antonio, Texas is a town that likes stuff, likes to buy stuff, and wear new stuff, and spend a lot of money on stuff.

But most of the time I stay pretty grounded, because none of the “stuff” matters.

That one time we sold all of our stuff changed me forever. Not just on what I should own, or what I buy for my kids. No just about living minimally (Because ladies if you have to clean all the time, you need to get rid of it!) But about so many other things in the world.

I find myself sometimes sickened by the materialism in America. Not just because other countries are in poverty or need. Not because I’m on some high-horse, filled with pride about being able to simplify.

The reason I get sickened is this — people don’t even see what materialism, and wanting stuff, and taking things for granted is doing to them. People don’t see how it completely blocks a flow of the Holy Spirit into their lives. People fight for the wrong things, and work for stuff that doesn’t matter. People ROB THEMSELVES of joy and peace and love because of their Americanized perspectives.

I know, I know. Not you.

It’s just me.

This has been my soapbox lately. This idea of wastefulness and taking things for granted. This soapbox standings is probably why I got in a few heated discussions over the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness and fundraising.

Maybe it will pass, this feeling of being disgusted by our world’s selfishness and willingness to just accept things as they are.

But I hope it doesn’t.

How To Live Recklessly: Lessons From A 3 Year Old

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some kids. Adults can get on my nerves, with their well thought out opinions, thinking they know what they are talking about. Kids, most of the time, actually do know what they are talking about. Kids are so much better.

Yesterday I spent the day in the Fiesta Texas water park with my youngest and two nephews. For hours, me and this little were BFF’s.

Fearlessly, he ran through water, climbed up rope ladders and swam deeper and deeper. We walked into the pool, that gradually got deeper as you walked into it. With every step, his little heart raced, becoming more and more excited at the adventure that lied ahead. I wised up pretty quickly and rummaged through to find a small enough life vest. He moved his little arms and legs as fast as possible, not knowing that it was me who actually propelled him forward.

He was swimming.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ”

As we reached the shallower areas, he would just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I would say, “Blake, put your feet down.”

He realized he could touch the bottom.

He would jump, jump, jump, letting his vest bob him along the shoreline.

Then off he would swim.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After three hours in this pool we trekked to the wave pool–and for anyone who has been at Fiesta Texas and pushed a stroller from the bucket play area to the wave pool know the trek I’m talking about. Oh, my friend, I’m thankful to not have to use a stroller any more.

The waves encouraged a whole entirely new level of courage in that little person. He bobbed along, jumping, allowing the waves to push him in and out, up and down. The waves would get the best of him, and he found himself under the water. I would say, “Blake, you have to hold my hands.”

His little fingers would grasp tightly around mine, rebuilding his trust in himself, knowing I would not let him go.

The water would come crashing, forcing out giggles and wonder.

One little hand would surrender.

Then the other.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.”

He would bob along, and closely I stood, as he was determined to master the pool himself. The water would come crashing…and again I would gently remind him, “Blake, You have to hold my hands.”

Come,” he said.

Then he would see “the Guys” splashing and playing several feet away.

“Guys! Guys!” he would yell, quickly letting go of me, his safety, and “swimming” as fast as he could toward the big guys, ignoring the crashing of the waves that threatened to fall upon him.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Oh I want to be like Blake, like the child Jesus wants me to remain.

I want to move my arms and legs as fast as I can, knowing Jesus is guiding me forward, closer to him, closer to fulfilling all he has for me.

I want to run as fast as I can, not even knowing I can put my feet down to walk.

I want to jump out of the boat when I hear the voice of Jesus, letting go of all I know that I know is safe, ignoring the crashing of the waves, recklessly ignoring what my mind would see as treacherous.

Everyday, I want to pursue Him so fiercely that I am completely exhausted from the joy of being in his presence.

Kids are so much better. Live Reckless. -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!

A True Story of a Ridiculous Mother

This past weekend I took Zac to Fiesta Texas so he could swim his energy away. I took up residence in a lounge chair and did what I do best…watch people. And in the summertime, my people-watching reaches a new level because I am wearing sunglasses. I can watch people and they don't know they are being watched. Sounds creepy, but I'm a writer. I simply stand firm on the fact that I'm doing research, developing characters, whatever.

So this mom and her friend and their two girls were sitting next to me. I took a pic of them in front of the wave pool for their Instagram or Facebook. Then Blonde mom and her 8 year old or so daughter stood in front of the pool, and brunette mom snapped a photo. Blonde mom came back and checked the photo and it wasn't what she wanted so she wanted another one. She stood next to her daughter, and leaned down and whispered something to her.

Mom stood up and the daughter, I KID YOU NOT, this EIGHT YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL

I

KID

YOU

NOT

…sucked in her stomach.

I wanted to do what Jesus would've done and smack that mom in the face…okay maybe not the face, but perhaps just a simple sucker punch to the stomach. Perhaps. (after a conversation with my sweet friend from Florida [wink, wink, you know who you are] I want to make it clear that Jesus would never actually punch someone. He didn’t even beat the crap out of the guy who sold him to send him to the cross. It is ME that wanted to punch the mom….I’m working on being more grace-filled…I am a work in progress.)

I planned on writing an open letter to the Blonde Mom, but feel it more fitting to write to every parent. There is no pressure or formula to raise our kids flawlessly. As parents we are just imperfect people raising imperfect people. But there are certain things you just cannot do. And this is one of them.

So I say this to you with the same anger Jesus had in the temple when he freaked out and flipped tables:

Your child is not a canvas in which to paint your insecurities.


I'm not judging, I'm stating observations. Blonde mom–now known as 'Ridiculous Mother'–doesn't like herself. She is more concerned with what her Facebook friends think about her. To this mom, that sweet little girl is a direct reflection of her. I mean, we can't have our middle school friends thinking that our 8 year old growing super cute kid is anything but perfectly thin.

Every time we push our kids to be thin like we want to be, or be the best athlete like we wish we were in school, or even be protected more than we were, we are leaving a permanent mark on complete purity.

So stop.

Stop hovering, and feeling guilty. Stop caring about what other people think of you…as a person and a parent. Stop telling your kids to suck it in or suck it up. As a counselor I have worked with too many young girls who refuse to eat. As a youth leader I have seen too many boys who will never measure up to their dad's ridiculous expectations. Stop hurting your children because you haven't dealt with your own heartbreak.

I'm speaking to myself as much as I'm speaking to you. I live so afraid that my children will look back and hate their childhood, or feel in some way that I have failed them. My daughter told me last night that I care about these things more than they do. We all do…we care about things our kids don't even consider–like whether or not they look fat in a swimsuit.

What insecurities have you unknowingly pressed upon your child's heart–making it theirs?? How did your parents do that to you? Comment and Share

LG|LP <3 Tiff

Why I Send My Kids to Public School (Unforgettable Adults)

Creating Unforgettable Adults is one of my main goals as a mom. To our family, an Unforgettable Adult is one who is a strong, Christ-follower who is rooted in an identity that is unshakeable and is willing to trail-blaze for Jesus.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Recently our school district received anonymous threats from a crazy who claimed he planned to shoot up a random school on a Thursday morning. On Tuesday, with my heart racing, my kids went off to school. The night before, Michael and I laid in bed talking about the terror that scurried through my veins and prayed and prayed and prayed. Some of my homeschool friends used it as an opportunity to sell the “homeschool business”. But we just prayed and so did our kids.

Throughout the last twelve years of school, we have dealt with bullying–by kids AND teachers. We have endured hatefulness from small children, and loneliness when our kids didn't feel as if they belonged. My son has struggled to learn to read, and we have had to do stupid “busy-work” homework on many nights. We've stressed through the STAAR or FCAT or LMNOP or whatever standardized test my kids have been pressured to take that means absolutely nothing at the end of the day.

In all of the struggle, we believe, with our whole hearts, that it is preparing and growing them for the realities of this harsh world. We would much rather them struggle through these experiences while they are under our care.We believe, with our whole hearts, that God can use them NOW. As Christians, if we keep taking our kids out of public school then certainly there will be no God there. They are called to make disciples, they are called to be Salt, they are called to be Light. Not later, but now.

Through every child, we have taught them how to reflect Christ. Public school and all of it's crap wonder has taught them empathy–how do you know that kid who was mean to you today didn't watch his mom get beat up, or go without a meal? They have learned that God is working in every single person's life at every single moment, and they can choose to be a part of that work.

Public school has taught them that sometimes the system isn't perfect, and sometimes it flat out sucks, but we must follow rules and laws, as long as they don't conflict with the Gospel. My kids have been exposed to the ridiculous theory of evolution, and we've had the privilege of challenging our beliefs and digging deeper in the truth of God our Creator.

Sending them to school teaches them perseverance and diversity. It teaches them that not everyone is the same, but everyone needs the same thing–JESUS. They have learned to stand up for themselves and their beliefs, even at the risk of persecution or rejection. It has been a painful and tough road–for them and me.

Public school has been the perfect chance for my kids to learn to lean into Jesus more and less into me. They are learning that Jesus rescues, not mom. Without the wind from me hovering, they've been free to spread their wings just enough to test out this new life in Christ they've been given.

It's not the best situation, but Jesus nor the Apostles were ever in the best situations–actually they were in the worst. But because of God showing His power in those horrible situations, they finished well, and became Unforgettable Adults that changed the world. And that's the goal, my friend, that's the goal!

What are your kids learning from Public School? Comment and share with me how your kids are becoming Unforgettable Adults.