Tag Archives: life

Make Life Hard

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I stumbled across this kernel of wisdom while reading one of my daily devotionals from David Jeremiah.  Sometimes it’s the scripture verse he references or the message he offers that speaks to me. But sometimes, it’s the quote at the bottom of the page that leaves the biggest impact.

This one made me think. About my own kids and what kind of life I offer them. About other kids I know and the life they live. It’s all about perspective.

I started this blog as a way to support other Mommies who find it hard to, well. . . .be a mommy! I’m not a natural. I find it easier to nurture my cats. I love my kids. But my kids aren’t my life. There is so much more to me as a person than “mommy”.

I know there are other moms out there who feel the same way. And you probably struggle with the same sense of guilt that I do. (If not. . . .well, aren’t you special?)  There are plenty of times I know I could’ve been kinder, gentler, softer, more patient, more understanding, etc. I have plenty of regrets. I’ve told them I’m sorry and asked for forgiveness. Thankfully, my kids still wake up every morning loving me.

However, reading this statement eased some of that guilt. I’m hard on my kids. I have big expectations for them. I know what they’re capable of, especially when they fall short. I don’t let them off the hook easily or give in to tears. I’ve told them to “Suck it up!” or “Cowboy up!” or “Deal with it!” so many times I should be paid for it.

Why am I hard on my kids?

Because the real world is hard!

I refuse to raise kids who will go out into the world expecting it to bend to their wishes and whims, to give in when they whine, or give them a pass when they’re too tired. IT WON’T HAPPEN!

I want them prepared to face the truth that it’s going to be hard.
That they will get their feelings hurt.
That they will have to put their time and energy into things they may not want to do.
That they will not get rewarded for effort, but results.
That they will have to budget to pay rent and grocery bills before anything fun.
That no one will be motivating them but themselves.

So, when my eight-year-old tells me she’s too tired to get a shower before bed, I tell her, “Tough. Do it anyway.”
Or when she doesn’t want to brush her teeth, I tell her, “You can pay for your own dentures.”
Or when she “borrows” money from grandma to buy something, I make sure she pays it back.
Those nights when she complains about the “horrible” food that I cook – (I can cook, by the way. I just don’t like to.) – I remind her of the two little girls we sponsor in Africa who would be happy to eat my horrible meal. And then I offer to send her there and bring them here.

On the days when they fight, when they whine constantly, when they’re too bored because they don’t have anything to do, when they complain that there’s nothing good to eat – I’m honest with them. I tell them I don’t like their attitudes and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve told them I need a vacation from them and threatened to leave them home alone with Daddy. (The horror!)

I will not pander to their every whim, I will not reward them for trying, I will not give them a pass when they break a rule or give their word.

I will make life hard for my kids now because it will continue to be hard for them.

My hope in being hard is that:

  • It teaches them right from wrong.
  • It teaches them how to think for themselves.
  • It teaches them responsibility.
  • It teaches them integrity.
  • It teaches them how to persevere.
  • It teaches them to be thankful and content with what they have.

Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t condone any kind of abuse. That’s TOTALLY different. And I also don’t want to raise children who are cold-hearted scrooges.

I want to produce two adult women who know how to take care of themselves and expect nothing from anyone. I want two women who can be relied upon for their upstanding character and hard work. Most of all, I want two women who understand how hard life is – and are willing to find ways to make it easier for others.

That’s why we sponsor two little girls from Africa – to show my kids what a “hard life” truly is. They learn compassion by making that hard life easier. They also learn to be thankful for how rich we are – even if we aren’t “rich”.

That’s why they are aware of and (to a small extent) helped in the creation of a local program, Panther Packs. It sends food home on the weekend with at-risk elementary school children who may not otherwise have a meal. My kids learn that hunger exists in their own community – with their classmates. And they learn that Mommy’s food isn’t so horrible after all.

I make life hard for my kids now so when it truly gets hard, they aren’t too soft to handle it.

 

 

 

Pursuing Your Passion

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I wish I had known when I was young that I would grow to love writing so much.  More than that, I wish those who’d recognized my talent/passion would’ve encouraged me to pursue it and helped put me on a path that would help it flourish in the future.  Instead I ended up majoring in Nutrition and graduated with both a B.S. and an M.S. in the field.

I do enjoy my job with the WIC Program – I like the aspects of nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy and childhood.  After ten years in this specific field, I’m pretty darn good at my job.

But it’s not my passion.  I don’t go home still thirsting to learn more about nutrition.

Instead I spend my down time working over plots or character sketches or simply writing a story.

This true passionate talent gets relegated to the back burner because I pursued something else.

I’m 100% positive I’m not the only one.

I think it’s silly that those of us who choose to pursue a college education are expected to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives at the tender age of 18.  At that point in life we barely have our heads screwed on straight.  All we’re looking forward to is the chance to have freedom from Mom and Dad.

Granted, there are a few who know their passion and pursue it in four years and leave the rest of us in the dust.  It took me a whole semester just to decide to major in Nutrition.  Now, two degrees and thousands of dollars later, I wish I hadn’t wasted the time or money.

My hope now is that I can look at my girls as they grow, see what they’re both good at and truly passionate about, and encourage them to pursue that.  I want them to enjoy what they do and feel fulfilled by it.

This concept isn’t new and I think more parents need to pay attention to it.

When I got married I quickly discovered that one of my Mother-in-Laws favorite scripture passages is Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  At the time, my brother-in-law was a rather wild and rebellious soul and I think she clung to this verse hoping that it meant he would someday accept the much more conservative principles of her own faith.

In some ways, she’s right.  As Christians we are in charge of spreading the gospel to our kids.  It is then their responsibility to believe or not believe.

But this verse means so much more.  I didn’t dig any deeper until I picked up a Max Lucado book and he spent an entire chapter devoted to this one verse.  His interpretation of the scripture meant something entirely different.  He charged parents instead to help their kids discover their talents, to find what they are good at, passionate about, and built for.  Then we are to take every opportunity we can to let them practice and hone that skill so that they can carry it into old age.

There are many translations of that verse, some helping to see this viewpoint better than others:
“Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”  The Living Bible
“Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”  The Message
“Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”  New Life Version
“Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.”  The Voice

They all speak of a path or a course or a direction – and most assume that means the straight and narrow walk to Heaven.  However, it can also mean the direction of their life in general.  Help them discover who God created them to be.  We are all parts of one Body, that of Jesus Christ, and we all have different skills and assignments.  It is our job as parents to help our kids discover what God created them to do and be.  Beyond that, we need to put them on a course that allows them to use their talent to glorify God.

I only started taking my writing seriously when I turned 30.  For our anniversary my husband bought me a laptop and said, “I expect you to use that to write.  You’re good at it.  So do it.”

No one had ever said that to me before.  People humored me.  Some even read my books and told me they liked it or thought I was a good writer.  But no one ever pushed me to pursue it or helped me find the means to do so.

I had been writing for 19 years by that point, but only in the past five have I allowed my words free reign for the world to see.

Now when people ask me to define myself it rolls off my tongue without hesitation or embarrassment – “I’m a writer.”

I want my kids to have that kind of confidence from the start.  I want them to embrace and be proud of the person God made them to be.   So between all the temper tantrums and dirty diapers, spilled sippy cups and mountains of toys, I am quietly observing who they are.  What makes them tick?  What do they show a natural talent and interest in?

Those are the things I want them to pursue.

Though I may lament lost time and opportunities, I’m still thankful that I finally found someone who convinced me to take myself seriously.  Better late than never.  Even though I haven’t achieved “traditional success” – meaning I’m not published in print or in electronic form – I still feel like I’ve accomplished something for God.  I haven’t wasted my talent.

I have five complete novels posted on WattPad and all five of them are quickly and quietly racking up readers.  All but one of them focuses on a person’s journey to God – whether through grief, fear, anger or unforgiveness.  Better than the numbers and the followers are the comments I’ve garnered from my readers.

God is using my words to tell His story and people are responding to that.

Two of the best comments I’ve received were these:

“Absolutely loved the story line, the flow and character descriptions. You did a good job manipulating my emotions and reminding me of the various tough times that I just couldn’t pray or believe. Grief is not an easy road for many. You were quite effective in answering many grief related questions that people normally ask. All in all, this was an excellent story! This story is truly one of those hidden gems on Watt Pad. Keep up the awesome work!”

“The two stories I’ve read of yours have been a wealth of knowledge for me.  I’ve learned more about God and it’s given me some peace.  Your stories are excellent tools of learning and I hope you write more.  When Gabby threw the Bible I felt the pain rip through me too.  Thank you for beautiful stories of such deep faith.  I’ll treasure all I’ve learned.”

I have three goals when I sit down to write:
1.  Write real and raw.
2.  Point back to the source of my gift – God.
3.  Get it read.

I’ve accomplished those things with every single one and that makes me proud.

I don’t know it all and I’ve still got plenty of learning of my own to do.  But even in the middle of my mess – this crazy, insane, and totally brain-squashing thing called Motherhood – He’s still using me.

We’ve all got a gift or a talent, a passion that drives us.  Harness it.  Thank God for it and figure out how to use it to spread His message.

Beyond that, help your children learn who they are so they can do those things too.

 

*All scripture references were taken from BibleGateway.com*

*Max Lucado reference is taken from Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot*