Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I haven't posted in a while.  Blogging is something that I enjoy for a number of reasons, but there are times when I just can't write about what is going on in my life.  There are some things which must stay private.  In a way, this saddens me, because the things that we struggle through privately are often the very things that minister to others the most when we share them.  As we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, I want to share a few of the things that I've learned over the last several weeks.

I've come to realize that a subtle pressure has crept into our lives.  I've congratulated myself over the years that we've resisted the pressure to have our children 'compete' on the world's arena.  We gave up soccer leagues and sports associations years ago, determining that these were not conducive to our family and its health.  Well, at least, until last year.  I've also resisted the temptation to push academics, or so I thought.  I've come to realize that the pressures our children face in school to succeed are greater than I imagined.  As a Christian, I tell my children--and myself--that the world and its values are not our benchmark.  We don't measure our success by how well we do in our culture, because that definition changes.  Our success is to be measured by how well we glorify God.  Somehow, in our home, that definition of success had started to slip.  Without realizing it, Brian and I had allowed some very unhealthy attitudes to creep into our home.

While it is good to plan for the future, God's Word is clear that He holds the future.  Proverbs 16:9 says, "We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go." (CEV)  The schools encourage our children to take Pre-AP classes in middle school and AP classes in high school in preparation of college.  I am not advocating against offering these courses, but for us, we've come to the realization that these courses should be taken in moderation--extreme moderation.  I failed to remember that the AP English course I took in high school was essentially a college-level course.  I took the one course my senior year, and it was tough.  I spent a lot of hours on that one class.  Matthew already takes Pre-AP courses in middle school, and Jacob has been taking them for a while.  It occurred to me these last few months--with the counsel of others--that the push to take advanced classes, get excellent grades, and to compete for college admissions is taking a toll on our kids.  So, we've backed off on those.  Going back to the verse in Proverbs, while we may plan for our kids to go to college (and I hope that they do), the reality is that God knows the plans He has for our kids.  Planning for the future and scorching the earth of the 'right now' is no good.  Lesson number one that I have learned these last several weeks:  Kids need to be kids.  A very kind police officer was telling me one evening that teens in the metroplex are taking their lives due to stress.  Not simply due to bullying.  Not due to drugs or alcohol, necessarily.  Stress.  They simply don't see an escape from it. 

We often forget how 'in the moment' young people are.  If a smart, young woman sees that her workload in school is overwhelming her, then realizes that she faces the same--if not more--in college, she may feel hopeless.  Those kids that are able to manage the stress of a full load at school without getting discouraged are probably blessed with an extraordinary gift of organization.  They are probably also blessed with a sense of when to take a break.  I hate to say it, but we've had to learn this!  I tend to go full-tilt all the time.  I have backed off lately, and so has Brian.  We're learning temperance, I supppose.  We're getting snow cones, playing in the park, taking breaks.  We're learning to relax.  Shocking.

I've come to realize that I was wrong about some things.  I tend to blame everything on myself:  It must be that I'm working that the kids are stressed.  It must be my fault that the house is a mess.  I have to do better...  I've had to relinquish some of my duties to Brian.  He gets the kids up in the morning now and helps with dishes more.  To be honest, he didn't know I needed him to.  The kids help out with chores.  I was doing more than necessary.  So, I asked for help.  When I saw that one of my kids was struggling, my first thought was that it was my fault.  Then, I got smart and realized I needed to get some help, so we did.  There's no shame in asking for advice, or for seeking counsel. 

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous.  Lily was playing at a friend's house, so I decided to walk over to pick her up, rather than drive over.  I enjoyed the sunshine, the birds' song, the flowers, and the breeze.  It took a few minutes more to walk than drive, but the world didn't fall apart because I took a few extra minutes.  Lily and I walked in the sunshine and talked and I felt so blessed.  It felt like the weight of the last couple of months had lifted. 

It's taken me forty years to learn how to lighten up....

Many blessings,


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