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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Check out The Latest Newsletter!

The latest newsletter is available! It is short and sweet, but I hope you like it! You can go to the Facebook Group page to download the PDF. Unfortunately, I can't seem to add it to the blog. But, I can send it to you if you provide me your email address by using the contact form on the right hand side. Thanks!

Relieved To Not Be Doing It My Way

Tonight I took a trip down memory lane and went to my old college campus. I was amazed at how much changed yet many things stayed the same. I knew for sure the one thing that changed was me. As I sat down to eat dinner at one of my old favorite restaurants I had flashbacks of all the wild things I did in college and the years after, it seemed so foreign and like a different life, because it was a different life. I'm not talking about the difference of being 42 and 22, I'm talking about the difference in my heart and my life in Christ opposed to my life in the world. My life in the world was me doing it my way.  I was stubborn too, you couldn't tell me that my way wasn't the right way. My way was reckless, but that was okay because my rational was you only live once, so go ahead and do it, try it and don't worry about the consequences, live! I wasn't actually living at all, in fact I was quite dead. There was never a deep satisfying contentment, instead there was an unquenchable thirst that had me reaching for more of whatever looked good at the time. It wasn't living it was just slowly spiritually dying.

Tonight I came home and had a thirst, but it was for the scriptures. I came across Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death." BINGO! That is exactly how I was living (but really not living at all). It took me a long time to accept that my way was the rough way, the painful way and they way that led to regret . When I accepted Jesus I started to relax and rest in him. I trusted him instead of myself. My desire as my relationship deepened with Jesus was to be led. It was a relief to not be in charge of my life (you know that false sense of control we fight so hard to hold onto). When I was able to fall back and have faith that God would catch me it was only then that I had genuine peace. God's path is full of light and my path in the world was filled with darkness. The only way I could get rid of that cloud was by submitting to God. When we do it our way we fight against what God has in store for us, maybe we think our way has something better, but it can never compare to God's love.

I was glad that the 42 year old me wasn't doing it my way any longer. I'm far from where I need to be but I'm far from where I was and I thank God for that blessing. This evening I didn't yearn for the years that passed but I was confident that my best years were ahead of me because now I am actually living and not grabbing for what I thought life was supposed to be like. Now I know what genuine soulful living is supposed to be and it is far better than I ever imagined when I stopped doing it my way and started doing it God's way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dealing with Bullying



Bully is such an awful word isn't if? It even sounds mean. Well, I hope your children never have to deal with a bully or any unnecessary teasing or harmful behavior from another child, but unfortunately it happens.  I'm not an expert on  bullying, but I had to deal with a situation last year and I thought I'd share how I handled it with you all.

Basically, a girl at Anya's school wasn't being very nice to her and some of the other girls. I caught wind of the situation and spoke to her teacher, but when it continued I went to the principal to get the other parent involved and then it got resolved. I can't begin to tell you how my blood was boiling when I picked up my daughter  from school and noticed a bruise on her cheekbone. Mama bear was in full force! I found out that the girl had grabbed Anya's arm and Anya slipped and hit a table. There was another incident that she kicked Anya while she was walking down the stairs. Now, I don't condone violence, but I will be honest here and say part of me wanted to tell Anya to whop her. But, I know that is absolutely the wrong thing to do, but again I'm being honest. Anya on the other hand is very sweet and said that she didn't want to do anything back to her because this girl was younger than her. Good kid, right? So here is what I did to get the bullying to stop:

1. First, talk to your child and find out exactly what is taking place. You may want to ask them a couple times to repeat the story just so you have all the facts. Also, really pay attention to how they act when they come home. I didn't notice anything different, but when I volunteered at school she was  a little clingy and that is when I found out this was happening.

2. Speak to their teacher and present them with the facts. It is just as important to get both sides of the story. Your child's teacher is with them all day, get her opinion and observations is important to fully piece what's going on together. In my case her teacher was aware and addressed the issue, but that still wasn't working.

3. Take it to the principal. Get the principal involved and have the teacher there as well if it doesn't stop. Be clear on what your expectations are and if needed ask for a meeting with the parents. Make sure the parents are contacted. I found out that they hadn't been when I thought they were which could've put a stop to the situation earlier.

4. Talk to your child on how they should proceed. I told Anya at that point to basically to avoid her until the situation was resolved, not to be afraid of her but to stay clear. I also told her to go directly to the teacher if anything else occurred.

5. Pray about the situation. Anya later told me that she prayed for this particular little girl, which made me really proud of her. We always pray before school and asked for this situation to be resolved.

6. Protect your child. Do whatever it is that needs to be done to protect your child, if that means going higher than the principal do it! Be present and let everyone involved know that you aren't going to go quietly in the night, this is the time to be bold and that's okay! Don't be afraid to make sure the bullying is addressed and it is stopped. It is so important for your children to see that you have their back and when they come to you with this type of problem that you will do whatever you can to protect them. I found it amazing that this girl was doing this to other children and I was the only parent who brought it to the attention of the principal.

In the end, her parents were contacted and made aware of the situation and that it had to stop. The girl wrote Anya a letter and said that she was sorry and she hoped they could be friends and as a peace offering she gave her a flower. Anya forgave her and even ended up standing up for her when someone was being mean to her, which says a lot about her character.

Kids will argue, but there is a fine line between a spat and being bullied. Obviously there are 2 kids in pain, the one bullied and the bully because usually there is something deeper to the acting out. I had told the principal this needed to be resolved not only for my daughter but for this girl because she was isolating herself from the kids and a pattern and a reputation was being formed that would end up hurting her. Our schools have a responsibility to protect our kids. Hold your school accountable.

Resources:
http://www.thebullyproject.com/
http://www.stopbullying.gov/
http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying.page
https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-bullying
http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/friends/bullies/

One last thing, talk to your kids about bullying and how to recognize the signs of bullying. We also want to make sure our kids never become the bullies! So have a talk about behavior that is unacceptable and the consequences. We all have to take a stand against bullying.

#22 of 100 Days of Happiness!

#22 is Anya's Artwork
Anya is super creative! Whether it is art or creating a cast for her doll or an a contraption I'm always amazed at her handiwork. Here are a couple things that I think are pretty cool! It makes me happy that she thinks outside of the box!

A chalk drawing from last year's art class
 
 
Her doll getting an IV at the hospital
 

She made this out of beads and glue, it is very cool in person
 
A cast she made for her doll
 
 

#21 of 100 Days of Happiness!

#21 is New Bowls and Dishes for My Kitchen!
I'm a dish girl! I love simple dishes so I found these plain white ones at IKEA and these pretty bowls with a touch of yellow to add a little brightness to the kitchen.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

School Supplies Are Purchased, But Are We Preparing Their Heart for the New School Year?


There is always a flurry of activity before the new school year arrives of getting school supplies, new clothes, and getting everything ready before the first day, but are we preparing the most important thing for the new year...their heart? I think we need to pay even more attention to our children's heart then the back to school to do's, because their heart is going to affect how their school year begins and continues. So in the midst of running around I suggest taking a day to just have some quality time and prayer for the new year. Creating a special day with mom can be a fun tradition for you and your children you can do each year. If you have more than one child you may want to do it separately or all together. Choose something you all enjoy doing, maybe it is a picnic, paddle boating, or catching dinner, whatever it is make it relaxing and in a space where you can talk openly.

When we're preparing our children's heart for a new year the first thing I think we need to do is find out what's on their heart. Ask them if they are excited for the new year, what they are most looking forward to, if there is anything they are worried about, what new activities they want to try or old ones they plan to pursue. Letting your kids talk out loud about what is on their mind may bring up issues that you had no idea they were even thinking about. Talk about goals and what they hope to accomplish you'd be surprised how much changes from year to year.

Most importantly spend some time in prayer with them. Taking time to pray with them about the new school year begins it on a positive note and already puts God in the forefront. Especially if they are nervous about a new teacher, or if they are going to a new school, and if there are issues with friendships they are confronting, it is important for them to give it to God in prayer. Asking God to prepare their heart and minds for the new school year is also sending them a message that prayer is essential to preparation for anything in life and you are establishing prayer habits.

Our kids face so many cultural pressures and they are living in a world that is appearing less safe and more uncertain every day, so by arming and empowering them with the power of prayer we are giving them that safety net that only God can provide. As parents it is so important that we pray for our children in all circumstances and that they know we are praying for them and doing our best to prepare their hearts which is what matters most.

Here is what we'll be praying about for the new school year:
Safety
Understanding of the coursework
Good relationships with Anya's teacher and friends
Guidance in peer situations
A kind and compassionate heart
Balance in school and extracurricular activities
Opportunities to serve


I pray all of your children have a wonderful and safe start to the new school year!!!

#20 Of 100 Days of Happiness!

#20 is Hanging Out With My Brother!
The other reason I love coming home is I get to hang out with my brother! Yesterday, we walked through a B17 Bomber, which was quite an experience, went go-carting, golfing, played air hockey and had a lot of laughs! Feeling very blessed to have such a cool younger brother in my life!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

#19 of 100 Days of Happiness

#19 is Sitting on my Parent's Porch Reading and Writing!
There's no place like home, right? This morning I sat on my parent's porch with a cup of coffee, a great book, my bible and did some writing. I have a few ideas for an eBook and decided today was a good day to get started. Doing something I love makes me happy!

Friday, August 15, 2014

#18 of 100 Days of Happiness!

#18 is Taking a Evening Stroll With My Momma!
I try to get home as often as I can to visit my family in Pittsburgh. Tonight I had a great time taking an evening walk with my mom and getting some exercise. Being with my mom always makes me happy!
 
In Motion
 

#17 of 100 Days of Happiness

#17 is Building a Fort With Anya
Imagination play is the best! Tonight we watched Hook and watched the magic of the Robin Williams who will be very missed. Feeling inspired we built a fort in the living room and had our own little Peter Pan magic! How can't this make me happy!