Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Prayer for My Children This School Year {Measuring Success}

Back to school bed time is in full swing. We’ve tried on the closets to see what still fits. Paper work has been completed and all the school supply list items purchased, labeled, and placed in backpacks. Lunch accounts are padded. First day of school clothes were picked to match personal style. Hair cuts have been had. 

Excitement for the first day of school is off the charts.

And as my girls head off, this will be my prayer:

 photo credit Mothers of Daughters

Lord God,

In a world where school is viewed a training ground for the future please help my child keep focus on the present. Help her remember that it is not about who she can be but who she is.

Give her a heart for...

To finish reading please visit Mothers of Daughters 

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The One Commonality You Share with Josh Duggar

When I first heard recent news about Josh Duggar I was saddened. I was saddened because I liked watching the Duggars and appreciate many of their family values. But, even more, I was saddened because sexual sin burns deep. There is no response to what transpired void of pain.

I have friends whose lives have been forever changed because of a marital affair. Anna is in a no win position. Leave the husband she's loved and made a family with or believe Josh to be truly repentant and climb a steep mountain of reclaiming trust and intimacy. Josh's choices are no better. Even with true repentance making that believable and living his changed life out will always bring with it doubt and speculation. Brokenness shatters the glue that makes their marriage unique. We should be praying for them and the strength of marriages everywhere.

The fact that there is a website to seek out an affair makes me want to puke. The lures of our cultural are real. And this is what each of us shares with Josh Duggar.

What we will look at, click on?

Social media is a sleeping giant in all our homes.

"The devil doesn't come to you with his red face and horns, he comes to you disguised as everything you've ever wanted." Unknown

Our computers,  phones, tablets, and/or print media can make the bad look good. If we don't keep our guard up at all times we are all at risk for character death.

Living control and restraint to look away from what might be wrapped interesting or intriguing is critical because the temptations of the flesh are plentiful and words/images linger addictive like nicotine. Josh Duggar admitted his struggle began with pornography. Something I imagine was difficult to say but can easily believe. Nudity excites the senses and contorts what God meant for gift in the marriage relationship into a "right now" want to be conquered.

In the book Pam Stenzel and I wrote for teens on the risks associated with modern media and its affect on integrity and relationships, Who's In Your Social Networkwe have a whole chapter devoted this topic.

You might be surprised to hear that-

  • 47% of Christian marriages report pornography a "major problem in the home" Family Safe Media

  • Every second an average of 28, 258 Internet users are viewing pornography Family Safe Media

  • The average teen spends 1 hour and 40 minutes per week viewing pornography Clean Cut Media

And that last stat came before the advent of Snapchat. Thank you, inventors of imaging users think disappear. This doesn't lead to better decision making and, I would guess, spiked that last number higher.

Josh Duggar's confession shouldn't have us pointing fingers or casting stones. No. It should drive us deeper in prayer. We should be pointing the finger back at ourselves asking (whether married or single) Are my choices honoring of God's boundaries? And, if you are a parent of a middle schooler on up, Am I having the necessary conversations with my child to help prevent this pain?

Because if we don't, our marriage, our child, could be next.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Well, friends, you are lucky I remembered that it is Wednesday! We're now into renovation week and I feel like we've been clearing our house of all things that make it a home for days. Today the floor demo begins so the wood floor laying can be begin. Wohoo! It's super exciting but my sense of time has completely left me. Yesterday I was talking to my PTA co-chair and I told her to have a fun trip (thinking it was Thursday). She set me straight and reminded me that I would, in fact, be seeing her tonight. I'm going to be VERY grateful for my phone reminders helping me get to where I need to be when until I emerge from this time-warped mess. :)

On to real mom confessions:

1. "We eat on the floor." This is what my daughter told someone at dance the other day. In all fairness, we've done some of that the last few days as we've cleared our home, but it's NOT how we always make these kids function.

I hope they are getting some good memories in the midst of this chaos!

2. Barbie Plunger. While cleaning out the house I've been trying to simplify. As I was going through Ava's room (dear Lord that is no easy task), I came across this and asked what it was and if it needed to be kept

Grace: Yes, that is our Barbie plunger.

Barbie is so spoiled these days. She has cell phones, laptops, and apparently other toys to make sure her home lacks nothing.

3. "Can we listen to "Tight Pants" until it says the 'b word?'" Out of the mouth of my 4 year old about to go to Christian school. Lovely. Remember when I told you my hubby and I danced to the Jimmy Fallon/J Lo piece in suck-it-in tight overalls for the family talent show? Instead of recalling our stellar moves she's still focusing on a timing error. Dear Jesus, please zip her lips of the sharing of this story at school. I beg of you. Amen.

4. Back to school bed time. I told the girls that with the back to dance schedule came the return of school bed time. Notice I didn't say sleeping hours. It's purely selfish. I want them to go to bed and start waking up sooner on their own because I don't want to force morning because...well...morning. If they aren't waking at school time I will start that the week before. Until them, I'm sleeping in too!

xx Melissa

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Join Me (Walking) in the Race for the Cure

Being part of the Race for the Cure was not on my agenda going into summer. No race was, honestly. And it isn’t because I have anything against them, but because I break out in hives when I run outdoors in combination with the unpredictable temperatures + humidity playing games my asthma creating a risky experience.

And then Miss Amanda and Miss Emily posted a picture to the BritZa Facebook page inviting people to be part of their 5K.

I wanted to do it.

Therese Marlette wrecked me.

I went into this Brave year knowing my first call for courage would be the dancing out of the mother/daughter class I wrote. I imagined mothers carving out time with their girls to connect on issues real to an elementary girl’s heart. But would they come?

Within ten minutes of posting the class Miss Amanda called with my first sign up. Therese Marlette and her sweet girl, Corissa. Therese had recently gone in for her baseline mammogram only to walk away fighting for her life. My class was going to be her special time with her girl.

I cried. Because it’s what I do. And I stood in amazement as she came each week, in the throws of breast cancer treatment – smiling, laughing, and moving with her girl. The week covering “inner beauty” I saw tears fall in their private discussion and I wondered if she knew the beauty I saw. Her bright smile, fortitude, and choice to live love a stunning combination that inspired all of us.

Photo credit Joe Ahlquist & permission to post via Argus Leader. 
See more of his lovely photos & read full article on the class here

The Saturday Therese walked in and said, “I had radiation all day yesterday and all I could think was ‘tomorrow I get to dance with Corissa,’” I stood speechless with unveiled understanding of what this dance class was. More than what I envisioned for others. More than I envisioned even for me.

Hives wouldn’t be nearly as bad as the discomforts people battling cancer face. If I was going to have an asthma issue at a race this would probably be the best one, right? It’s with one of the local hospitals. Doctors will be everywhere.

I started to question my solid “no running outside” rule because this opportunity seemed like the perfect honorarium to Therese and exclamation point to her CLEAR MAMMOGRAM. Happy dance!!!!

How much would I be risking? Could I do it?

I went to Bible Study and shared my struggle. “No. There are other ways to show your support than risking your health. And if you do do it bring an EpiPen,” a dear friend, Yvonne, piped in. She’s vested as both a breast cancer survivor and OB who has cared for me in good and very tenuous days of pregnancy. Her educated words jarred me. Her awareness of my headstrong personality made me chuckle.

I do my best thinking in the shower. And the next morning as the water poured down on me God’s message hit my soul-

This has NOTHING to do with you, I sensed. QUIT making this an all or nothing based on your ability to run and put your focus where it belongs.

God can be bossy like that.

Therese, my doctor friend, and others that I love and you love are moved by support. It’s the communal visual and awareness that you care. Not which path you take.

So, I will be representing Twirling for Ta Ta’s on the one mile WALKING course. Fun has ballooned because what was once going to be my race alone now includes others. My husband and three children as well as my mother will be joining me and if you are from the Sioux Falls area I invite you to do the same (Sunday September 27). If you can’t be there but wish to donate financial support you can do that too.

I LOVE Miss Amanda and Miss Emily’s open invitation. It highlights the “come be your best and bless others” spirit that epitomizes BritZa Studios. Jill Callison’s newspaper story on them so beautifully articulates that. Whether you walk or run doesn’t matter. Together we can show we care.

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Summer is winding down and school prep is on the upswing. In our house this means cramming in the last minute trips to the pool and visits to family members in between dance prep and PTA planning. Next week we're having a staff/committee chair mixer that I'm super excited about. If you have a child in school I'd encourage you to read this for your child + school success.

Despite my awareness of all the routine returning next week, I still made a major foil which will be real mom confession number one.

1. Dance shoes. We start dance next Monday. With three girls we are there Monday-Thursday and I've been saying all along how that day will mark the back-to-school bedtime routine and end travels. I'm also a dance teacher at the studio (check out this link for a father/daughter one evening bridging of hearts and grandparent/grandchild fun if you are in the Sioux Falls area). Still, I managed not to compute needing shoes for next week. How did I do that? I have no explanation. Thankfully the younger two are set with my "used shoes" collection but the oldest needs all new ones. Hopefully they arrive in time. Eek! 

2. Broken bones. Basically the entire neighborhood was at our house the other day and I hear Grace say, "Mom doesn't take me to the doctor's office when I break bones." WHAT?! If you are reading this and your child was at my house I'd like to set the record straight. I do take them to the doctor WHEN IT IS CALLED FOR. Grace maybe broke a bone in her finger once when she fell on a scooter but she could still bend and use it fine. I DID CALL the doctor's office and he suggested that based on her movement they would not do anything, as a splint would not promote better healing. I did my due diligence. I ALWAYS take my children in when their is need, yet I imagine this will be told to a teacher or written in a paper at some point in school.

3. Names. This I am bad at. I only have three kids. Why can't I get their name right the first time? It seems like  I call them by one of their siblings names at the most inopportune times. Like, when the neighbors are over. Hence my child saying, "Does your mom go through all the names before she gets your name right too?"

4. Peppa Pig. We're gearing up for our last summer trip and I'm hoping not to repeat last week. I started humming a tune on our car ride like it was super enjoyable and said, "What is that from again?" Peppa Pig. PEPPA PIG. Please, Lord, no more Peppa Pig ditties in my head.

This is the mom life, I guess. An everyday mix of stress and hilarity. And I wouldn't have it any other way :)

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Monday, August 10, 2015

5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Child's PTA

If you’re the parent of a toddler through high school senior, you’re probably a buzz in the back-to school aisle. If you’re a teacher or administrator, you’re probably on your knees hoping for a wonderful year. The reasons for our excitement and concern vary, but the bottom line for success is in our unity.

As you fill your child’s bag, I encourage you to fill your mind with PTA consideration.   

Build a relationship with teachers and administration. Our children spend 40 hours of their week at school. It is a home away from home, and the people inside those walls are hugely influential on their hearts. When you get involved in the classroom and school activities, you better get to know the temperaments and creativity of the people touching their lives. {Plus you can piggy back on their ideas and become a better parent in the process :)}

Free up the teacher workload to better meet your child’s academic needs. Google teacher workload and you will find a compilation of articles highlighting shortages, stress, pay issues, government standards/testing pulling teaching style, and, sadly, people exiting the profession they once felt passionate about. The demands teachers face are enormous and every person only has so much time in a given day. If you want your child’s teacher to come enthusiastic and personally meet your child where he or she is at, you must cheer them on in speech and action. Even the simplest of activities, like stapling papers or making copies, gifts time back to the teacher to be with students and focus on academics.

Flexible way to volunteer. Unlike many volunteer possibilities, PTAs offer a variety of ways to champion education. From counting and submitting box tops in the privacy of your home to contributing food for staff at conferences to planning year- end or classroom parties to being hands on in the everyday learning, everyone from the stay-at-home to full-time working parent can participate in a way conducive to schedule. When all these pieces come together, the result is a flourishing school and knowing you helped make that possible will promote personal life satisfaction.

Get to know your child’s peers. In-school volunteering allows you get to know the classmates your children refer to in after school discussion. This helps direct conversations and encouragement at home.

Studies prove children with parents active in their education are more successful. And what parent doesn’t want that? I’m most struck that a synthesized finding of 51 studies determined students earn higher grades and test scores, attend school more regularly, and reach (as well as graduate) from higher-level programs and post-secondary education when their parent is involved despite income or background. Doing something for school translates to your child as care and that value makes education a more naturally desired pursuit in the life of your little one(s).

I love the people that fill my children’s schools. From the principal, to the teachers, to the support staff, they are gems. They give so much to better my girls’ futures. And I can’t wait give to them.

I hope you will consider the same.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

We are in the last month of summer here. I can't even believe it! We had a longer summer break in our district due to a school calendar shift and I thought our love of togetherness would have waned by this point but so far I've been proven wrong. Thank you, God! 

This week is all about family. We've been having our annual family Nesdahl get together which is routinely a blast. Each year there's a talent show and the kids have totally taken over. This year there was a sign and emcees and acts all their own. I love that! We also did an early family celebration of my father-in-law's 70th birthday complete with an extended family gathering plus an original song sung in his favorite apparel.

Overalls and the onesie.

This caused an impromptu change of our talent. Being's we'd both shimmied ourselves into way to small overalls (mine were out of the little boy's section!), all I could think of was Jimmy Fallon and JaLo so we lip synced and danced to their "Tight Pants."  It was all really hilarious until we didn't get it stopped fast enough and she goes, "Listen here you little b _ _ _ _ _" Fill in the blanks. I suppose that should be my first real mom confession.

Other things that have happened along the way,

2. Pottying during travel. One of the girls said they had to go to the bathroom and I responded, "Okay. We're going to keep going till you have to go super bad." This might be medically ill-advised but one cannot stop anytime someone just kind of has the "got-to-go" feeling. I needs to be legit.

3. Bathroom embarrassment. The girls and I were waiting in the bathroom and there was a lady clearly....clearing herself in the stall. Loudly. With moaning. The girls start giggling and I give them a confused look silently praying it's PC. "It stinks in here," one of them says. I quietly pulled a Vontrap-like exit and told my husband to take the girls in the men's restroom.

4. The plunger.

Caption this. There are no words.

At least it is not one used from the bathroom.

Family is a blessing and we're making the most of our time together. It includes such late-nights and massive kid energy that my hubby just said, "Henry, what's your favorite tinga nurtle?" Get the man more coffee. We have a day ahead of us :)

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