Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Being Tossed by the Wind

Some know that I have been hit by an unknown, unplanned storm. Despite the storm, my days have been filled with hope, unlike my reaction to the other storms that have entered my life. I have been blessed with calm, with minor outbursts of anxiety. To still the anxiety, I pray. To calm my fears, I seek validation and inspiration from my sweetheart's unrelenting faith. 

Maintaining peace and calm during the storm has been tough. And every once in a while I find myself in a fetal position, wrapped in covers, not wanting to come out of bed. But I know I must. I know I must gather my strength and hit life head-on. I know I need to consider this time of unemployment as an adventure, a blessing in disguise, an opportunity.

I know I am qualified. I know we will be taken care of. I know that the Lord is aware of our circumstances. I know that everything will be OK. I know that we will be able to put my sweetheart through school, so that he doesn't need to work and so he can concentrate on what he needs in order to be successful. I know we will have enough in our savings to get us through this time, and to prepare us for future financial endeavors. I know it will all be possible through the Lord, Jesus Christ. And that is the energy I am creating - my manifesto. I am sticking by it.

And so, in my humble state, I offer a song that has touched the fiber of my being. It speaks to me. It calms me.

Jesus, Savor Pilot Me Lyrics

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee; 

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

While th’Apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee; 

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,

Over life’s tempestuous sea.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Provoking Articles, Part 2: Are We Creating Risk Adversed Children, Pampering Them Too Much, Taking Away Their Creativity?

The Overprotected Kid, by Hannah Rosin

Interesting Quote(s)

"Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting."

"When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them? "

"In recent years, Joe Frost, Sweeney’s old partner in the safety crusade, has become concerned that maybe we have gone too far [in creating safety policies for playgrounds, etc]. In a 2006 paper, he gives the example of two parents who sued when their child fell over a stump in a small redwood forest that was part of a playground. They had a basis for the lawsuit. After all, the latest safety handbook advises designers to “look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.” But adults have come to the mistaken view “that children must somehow be sheltered from all risks of injury,” Frost writes. “In the real world, life is filled with risks—financial, physical, emotional, social—and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.”"

"At the core of the safety obsession is a view of children that is..., “an idea that children are too fragile or unintelligent to assess the risk of any given situation,” argues Tim Gill, the author of No Fear, a critique of our risk-averse society. “Now our working assumption is that children cannot be trusted to find their way around tricky physical or social and emotional situations.”"

My Opinion

I recall hanging out with my bestie and her children. I have always admired her parenting style, and hope I can live up to it one day. She is very relaxed in her parenting style, in that she lets her kids be kids. For example, if her kids are playing outside and one stands on a wall, she will warn that they could fall, but ultimately leaves it up to them whether or not they want to pursue this behavior. Of course if the fall was extremely dangerous, she would - of course - rescue them. The point is, she will warn them and then let them experience what it could be like to 'conquer the wall' or 'fall off.' Sure, the repercussions of falling means tears, potential scrapes, etc., but she doesn't rush over and stop her kids from being adventurous.

As I write this, I can't help but do a quick check on the "political correctness" of my statements. I am not saying that parents shouldn't rescue kids who are doing super dangerous things. All I am saying is by nature we want to protect our children from harm...any harm. Allowing them to fall gives them the experience they need to learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up, enhance creativity, overcome fear, defend themselves, and learn how to be independent.

Another favorite quote from the article: "Children are born with the instinct to take risks in play, because historically, learning to negotiate risk has been crucial to survival; in another era, they would have had to learn to run from some danger, defend themselves from others, be independent. Even today, growing up is a process of managing fears and learning to arrive at sound decisions. By engaging in risky play, children are effectively subjecting themselves to a form of exposure therapy, in which they force themselves to do the thing they’re afraid of in order to overcome their fear. But if they never go through that process, the fear can turn into a phobia."

School Ditches Rules on Bullies, by TV NZ One News

Interesting Quote(s)

"Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says."

"The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing."

"Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment."

"We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over."

"Mudslides, skateboarding, bullrush and tree climbing kept the children so occupied the school no longer needed a timeout area or as many teachers on patrol."

"Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a "loose parts pit" which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose."

"The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school."

"The great paradox of cotton-woolling children is it's more dangerous in the long-run."

"Society's obsession with protecting children ignores the benefits of risk-taking."
"Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work out consequences. "You can't teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn't develop by watching TV, they have to get out there." "

My Opinion
In my last article post, I discussed letting kids be kids and the risks we take (as parents, teachers, guardians, etc.) when we pamper our kids. By not letting our kids engage in "kid" activities, we are taking away their ability to learn how to work out problems - even social issues.

This experiment demonstrates the psychological benefits of letting kids be kids. Right now, traditional education means sitting for hours inside a classroom with little physical activity. While this may be stimulating for some children, it is not for others. It is not a secret that education experts have been tackling the issue of attention in the classroom. When my parents moved and enrolled my little brother in a new elementary school, I was shocked to hear that they only had 30 minutes of recess and ZERO physical education classes.

It is no wonder I read an article everyday about how students aren't meeting testing scores, and that ADHD is a common diagnoses for hyperactive children expected to sit for hours in non-physically stimulating classrooms. I digress.

I was happy to read in this article that by exposing students to unorthodox playtime, there was evidence of advancement in both physical and mental aspects. This letting kids be kids thing can go a long way, don't you agree?

I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical, by Bummi Laditan in the Huffington Post 

Interesting Quote(s)

"Today, parents are being fed the idea that it benefits children to constantly be hand in hand, face to face, "What do you need my precious darling? How can I make your childhood amazing?""

"Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical."

"It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis."

"None of this negates the importance of time spent as a family, but there is a huge difference between focusing on being together and focusing on the construction of an "activity." One feels forced and is based on a pre-determined goal, while the other is more natural and relaxed. The immense pressure that parents put on themselves to create ethereal experiences is tangible." 

"When we make life a grand production, our children become audience members and their appetite for entertainment grows. Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane?"

"Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped -- or that magic is something you discover on your own?
Planning elaborate events, daily crafts, and expensive vacations isn't harmful for children. But if the desire to do so comes from a place of pressure or even a belief that the aforementioned are a necessary part of one's youth, it's time to reevaluate."

My Opinion

In DC I had the awesome opportunity to know several peer nanny's. I asked some of them the question: do the kids expect you to entertain them all day? I have also asked several of my mom friends if their children demand their attention, or if they are keen on playing by themselves? I had various responses to this question, but the majority told me that the children expected their undivided attention. 

In Virginia, we had three little girls who lived in our building. They would often stop by to say hello, and ask if we could come play. We loved their parents and told them that one day we would love to have them over to play. So, we set a play date. The goal was to paint nails, do hair and make-up and watch a movie of their choice equaling up to 2 hours of fun. 

Not even 10 minutes through, all the girls' nails were done, they didn't want to do make-up, and the movie was in. No lie, within 20 minutes, they said, "what are we going to do now?" You mean the activity I planned that was supposed to take 2 hours isn't adequate enough? I had run out of ideas. 40 minutes into our play date, they all went home. They were starved for more entertainment - I just couldn't deliver.

In my babysitting experience, I am used to watching several children at once. I find the most satisfaction watching children who use their imaginations to create festive tea parties, create entire populaces full of princesses, build a city that could be destroyed and re-built for hours and hours, and enjoy the children who didn't demand my entire attention - especially when there is more than one child. When there is more than one child demanding my attention, which I truly want to give because I love all the kids I watch, it is tough. 

I agree that families should have fun, productive time together. However, becoming a constant entertainer is overwhelming. What do you do to let your child discover their independence in play?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Provoking Articles, Part 1: Lies that Destroy Marriage and Other Little Tidbits

I have had a lot of different ideas flowing through my mind lately. I decided to a round-up of the top articles that I have been reading and researching that have inspired some deep thoughts and enabled me to develop my own opinions. I love that there are so many people out there dedicated to learning and sharing, just like me. Here is the first of many posts of things that have been on my mind.

The question I have for my readers: What are the lies that you have had to discover in your marriage, and how have you defeated them?

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on anything that you may read. I would love to know what you have to say. In fact, argue with me if you want to...it is good to have perspectives from all sides.

The Lie that Almost Destroyed My Marriage, by Scissortail Silk Becky Thompson

Interesting Quote(s):

"I married the wrong guy.
It was the lie that played over and over in my mind for years.

It was the base of every fight. It plagued our disagreements. It promised destruction.

But I couldn’t make it go away, and it almost cost us everything."

{Lindsey's musings}: By divine inspiration and guidance, the author knew there were certain things she needed to accomplish and be a part of, and struggled to understand how this would fit in with this marriage. Her expectation for 'how' her marriage and dreams were supposed to happen were unrealized, and she worked hard to figure out 'how.'

She writes "The more I pushed, and the more he resisted, the deeper the roots grew of a little lie that I didn’t even know I had planted…
"I married the wrong guy, Lord. How I am I supposed to complete this work that you’ve placed in my heart? How am I supposed to change a generation by myself?”

And instead of listening for the Lord’s response, I began to listen to the lie.

“You can’t,” It sneered. “You’re finished. Your dream is dead. You picked him over the plans God had for you. You’re done, and God’s done with you.”

I believed it.

And the lie grew into fear. I was scared that I had missed it. I was scared that the more my husband followed his dreams, the more it meant I had given up my own.

I blamed my husband. I blamed a perfectly innocent man who had only loved me and trusted God and followed the passions of his own heart."

My Opinion

I too have struggled with the 'how,' particularly in my marriage. From my youth, I knew I had a greater calling to be a wife and mother, and I wanted it - I strove for it, because I chose it and it chose me. It is no secret that I had a hard time being single for so long (just read my posts Ready for Love, Another Blog About Dating). In a culture that marries younger than average, I struggled with the fact I didn't get married until I was significantly older than any of my friends. 

Looking back, there were lessons I needed to learn - obviously, because isn't that what married people are always telling single people to tell themselves when they are frustrated with being single? I digress. Here's the deal - I thought I learned my lessons, or at least learned them enough. I thought I learned patience. I thought I learned how to better control my expectations. I thought I knew enough about how to have long-lasting meaningful relationships

Fact is - what I thought I knew has been tested and tried to the extreme! What I thought I mastered is only just a little bump on this highway of married life. It is a guarantee that I will continue to learn. There will also be days where I come up short - that is just reality. I am grateful to know though, that when I put God at the helm, through my faith, I will be able to recognize my weaknesses and know what I need to do to make those weaknesses become strengths.

I loved the article mentioned above and respect that Becky re-evaluated the situation and opened herself up to God's divine counsel and wisdom. Later in the article she said,

"God didn’t change my husband’s heart. He didn’t give Him new desires to become a pastor. No. He simply took my broken heart, and gave me a new one. He exposed the lie. He spoke Truth over me again, and pulled up every last tendril of that untruth. He wrapped me in the security of His love and whispered, “You didn’t miss it. I’m not done with you. Your husband has given his life for you, and now I’m going to teach you what it means to love him… because he is the one that I have chosen for you. Together, you will complete the plans that I have for you both.”

"I saw God come and bring restoration. We experienced unity and trust for the first time in years. I didn’t only trust my husband; I trusted God and His voice of Truth. I believed again that I knew what His voice sounded like, and I began to hear it more clearly. New life began to grow in our marriage as we learned what it meant to be one with each other and with the Lord. And we experienced peace and felt hope for the first time in years."

The lie I found myself believing is that there is someone out there better suited for me and my needs - how selfish. Another lie I found myself combating is how much easier life would be if I were single again - how selfish. Thank you Becky, for exposing exactly what the adversary would have us think about this amazing gift, and for exposing something I have struggled with since the beginning of my marriage - pride.

Instead of thinking about all the things my sweetheart needs to do to be a better husband, lover, future father of my children, spiritual mentor, etc., I renewed my commitment to open myself up to understand what I can do to improve myself in this marriage. I renewed my commitment to find God so that instead of worrying so much about the 'how' I could focus on the here and now, and enjoy this journey - because it is meant to be joyful!

More on the Marriage Learning Curve

Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 1: Choose Your Battles
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 2: Speak Well of and to Your Spouse
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 3: Love The Person You Found  
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 4: There is Timing for Two 
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 5: Confess Your Expenses, Even if You Feel They are Justified
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 6: Opportunity to Grow 
Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 7: Compliment Each Other Daily