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

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

 

MY RESPONSE TO ‘SHOULD YOU MAKE YOUR CHILD SHARE’

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)

Popsugar recently published an article that has gone viral in the parenting world. Why I Don’t Make My Son Share focuses on real life scenarios with pre-schoolers who struggle in a world of determining what is mine, what is yours and what is ours. Granted, preschoolers, and actually most children, are territorial in they find a sense of comfort and security in things. But is it so wrong to teach children to share?

In fact, there are many aspects of your child to take into consideration when teaching the “sharing lesson.” The first and foremost is the age of the child. Not all aged children can be taught the same lesson in the same way. Depending on the developmental age of the child will depend on how they respond. A toddler does not have the reasoning or abstract thinking skills of a 2nd grader, or even a preschool child. Teaching “sharing” is more difficult with a toddler because in their mind, everything in the entire world exists for them.

Regardless of age or anything else for that matter, I believe we should teach our children to share.

Here are a few comments from the article and my thoughts:

“I think it’s a great disservice to to teach him (the child) that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it.”

I agree. We are a generation of parents who teach our kids to remain toddlers their entire lives by feeding the lie that the world exists simply for them. I think the concept of sharing has absolutely nothing to do with the idea found in the above statement. To me the concept of sharing isn’t about entitlement it’s about serving.

Sharing has less to do with the child who wants the toy than with the child who has the power to be kind. The hope of the lesson of sharing is ‘pay it forward’. If I share with you, then you share with her. Along with the problematic sense of entitlement in the Ygeneration is also the sense of selfishness and lack of ability to work as team or within a family. Sharing encourages working together. To me there is nothing wrong with that–actually our kids need to learn all the characteristics of teamwork such as negotiation, communication and fairnes.

In addition, by not teaching your child to share the sense of entitlement simply shifts from the child who wants the toy to the child who has the toy. All I can visualize are all the seagulls in Finding Nemo chirping, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

As a Christian parent one of the most important lesson we can teach our children can be found in these passages:

I Corinthians 10:26 “the earth and everything in it belongs to God.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share-it’s not yours!”

Job 1:21 “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; praise the name of the Lord.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share- or I’m taking it away.”

“…think about your own day-to-day adult life. You wouldn’t cut in front of someone in the grocery checkout line just because you didn’t feel like waiting.”

Hopefully as an adult, by now I would have been taught kindness and social graces, so no, in fact, I would not cut in line at the store. Even most small children know that when you go to the store you have to wait in line, because they’ve been taught.

Teaching the concept of sharing is basically the same. It takes time, trials and persistence. The ideology of sharing is transcendent. Teaching sharing is not just about toys or things. Sharing is a deeply rooted part of every aspect of life. We share our time with others. When we grow up, we share our lives and our toothpaste with our spouse. We share our emotions with one another. We share life. People who do not share life with one another are found to be miserable and lonely. Our entire lives center around the concept of sharing. My hope is that because I’ve taught my children to share, someday when they are grown they might just let someone cut in front of them in line at the grocery store, just to be nice!

“Let’s teach our kids how to cope with disappointment because it happens.”

Yes, disappointment is a horrible part of life. But each lesson in life needs to be taught in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. I’m not sure disappointment should be the lesson taught along side the fundamental, and universal lesson of sharing. Disappointment is never intentionally taught by a person who loves you. Disappointment is the school of hard knocks. Life brings enough disappointment in itself. Perhaps better opportunities to teach a child to cope in disappointment are if your child doesn’t make the team at school, or your ice cream falls on the ground maybe even if a much anticipated spend-the-night just can’t happen, or sickness on field day. There are times and places….

In fact, Scripture teaches in Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

Translated by THIS mom: “We are playing with friends right now, so now is the time to SHARE.”

 

Teaching our kids to not share perpetuates the lie of the culture that I deserve and I have rights and it’s all about me. More importantly we rob our kids because there is joy in sharing. In fact there is so much joy in sharing because sharing is simply an expression of love–the love we see throughout the Scriptures and the very reason Jesus died for us. He died so that we may share in his inheritance, even though we are undeserving. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad Jesus decided to share.

Jesus AND his bride are BIG fans of sharing. The entire church was built on the premise of sharing:

Acts 2:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Translated by THIS mom: “You need to share your bubblegum, you need to share your time with your friends when you are playing, you need to share your space and let your friend sit next to you. You need to share your ideas with the world, and your faith with the unbelieving. You need to share love and kindness and hope to a hopeless world. You need to share your uniqueness and amazing gifts God has given you to make this world a better place. You need to not worry about who wants what, because it’s the person you are sharing with that is more important–even sometimes more important than you. So stop being the selfish person the enemy so wants you to be and be the wonderful creation God intended you to be. And share your toys.”

What do you think…the new trend of teaching our kids that we don’t “have to” share—is this a good thing?

Comment and SHARE!

 

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!