On The Fly!

If my life isn’t one thing, that would be boring!  I was so wrapped up in all of the previous events as well as the upcoming events and changes that I didn’t think of what “Fun Friday” would be so I’m just going to use it to update everyone on the business that is my (our) life (lives).

First and foremost, we were blessed with a nephew last weekend.  He is just the most adorable little man that I have ever seen.  He has a head full of hair and was pretty active most of the time that we were there!  I can’t wait to watch this little guy as he grows.  (Well, I guess he’s not all that ‘little’) He’s for sure going to be a heart breaker.

Our morning routine is soon to change.  We got word a couple of days ago that Shane has been moved to a different route!  This is exciting (for me for sure) because instead of driving around 1,000  miles per week, he will be down to about 500.  Not only does it cut down on miles, it cuts down on the amount of customers (and all the hassle bologna that comes with them) and the amount of stops he has to make.  However, it is a more stable paycheck.  The only downfall that I’ve found so far is that he will have to start earlier in the day (4:00-4:30AM start time) but he will be done by my lunch hour.  So we are moving “morning coffee” to “midday lunch”.

Tonight, we are hosting our church “group” tonight.  Which tonight is just going to be Pastor, Marnie and ourselves.  We decided to cook supper for them and just talk about life and struggles and just take it easy with them for an evening.  I feel that since we’ve missed the last few weeks (busy, Good Friday, and group was cancelled the week before), we needed this time with our Pastor and his lovely wife!

M has been selected to compete in a spelling bee tomorrow.  Not sure how to feel about this.  As you’ve seen in previous postings, we struggle with her and taking responsibility, maintaining concentration, staying disciplined, and being accountable.  When she first showed us the letter, it was implied that she was a back up contestant (in case of an illness or something of that matter) so we didn’t really have much of a plan to go.  However, she informed us two days ago that she is now a contestant.  (If these two could ever tell us vital information like this in a timely manner it would be a miracle).
The reason I’m struggling with how to feel about this is that they go back to their mom’s this afternoon.  That mean’s that their mom is the one responsible getting them to and from events like this.  Even though we are now going, it’s part of the custody agreement between her and Shane that she takes responsibility for them when they are there (with the exception of church, we bring them there).  However, as of 6:45 this morning, M had not informed her mom that she needed to be at the school (which is 45 minutes away) at about 8 tomorrow morning.  So we (again) talked about responsibility.  She has a phone for a reason and that is one of those reasons.
I feel that things like these, while they are good programs, should be decided on by the parents.  They should have the say if the child goes or not.  Not saying that I/we would hold M back, BUT if she can’t take responsibility for the little things in life, I don’t think she could handle something this big. (And she hasn’t.  We’ve had to force information out of her.)  This also goes for her ‘practicing’.  They were advised to study a list of words and practice with parents.  She FINALLY practiced for the first time the same evening she told us she was an actual contender. (3 days before hand… 3 DAYS!) Any who, just one of those irritating things that Shane and I have been battling with for the last few months and I feel that she didn’t really need another thing added onto her plate.

Shane and I are also taking a date night tomorrow night! It’s been a while since we had an “actual date” where we get out-of-town and just spend some time the two of us.  We are going to travel over to SD and go see a movie and maybe do dinner.  I am making it a personal goal to not even touch my phone for the entire afternoon/evening with the exception of the kids (of course).  My husband deserves quality time with me and he can’t get that if my nose is stuck in my phone talking to people who aren’t him.

Shane is giving his faith testimony in church on Sunday.  I’m really excited to hear it!  He hasn’t told me a whole lot about it but I’ve been around as he’s been praying on it, jotting down key points here and there and getting what I call “happy bounces” when he talks or thinks about it.  He’s been finding scripture that relates to different key times in his life (i.e. the kids, the divorce, us, etc) and it’s been really fun watching him experience this.  Come next week, I may link it on my Thursday post so keep an eye out for it!

I feel like our life is forever on the go.  We don’t take much time to ourselves.  We get “shamed” (in a fun way of course!) because we are newlyweds who act like we’ve been married forever.  We would rather be spending our time being productive, socializing, doing things with/for the church, running with the kids, or just plain running.
We planned to take some time on Sunday just to sit and veg to the TV but I highly doubt that we will be able to sit still.  After all, we have a garden to plant, a garage sale to prepare for, a house to deep clean, a yard to fix and two moose (dogs) to let out to run.

There’s my life in a nutshell.  This is why my posts are so scattered and never consistent with the times they are posted.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

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A Picutre Is Worth 1,000 Words.

This Friday, I’m breaking my mold!  I stumbled upon a challenged that Blu Chicken Ninja was doing with black and white photographs.  I decided to put my own twist on it and instead of doing 5 days, I’m doing 5 pictures that sum up my life outside of my faith, religion, etc.  If you’ve even read one of my blogs, you know where I stand on my faith.

However, my life is intense, fast paced, and never boring!  I had a hard time choosing only 5 pictures but these are the 5 that say the most.


When Shane and I first started dating, he used to pick me flowers and leave them places for me to find.  He would leave them at work on my time card, he would swing by the house that I was living in and put them on my car, or if I caught him in time, he would hand them right to me.  It was always the same type of flower and it quickly became a symbolic flower to us.  When we would be driving and see them in the ditches, it would bring a smile.  I dried a few and had them saved but in the move, they were destroyed.

This particular ‘bouquet’ was created at on my parents farm.  We took a walk late last fall and ended up out on a rock that I used to go to when I felt my world was caving in.  As we walked, we were discussing my ‘dream wedding’ and what I would like to see.  I was telling him and as we were walking, both of us were picking different flowers.  We got to the ‘dream flowers’ and I told him that I wanted something that looked like they were ‘freshly picked’ and I looked down and the bundle that was in my hands and it was perfect.  I took this picture and it’s been one that I go back and look at often.

However, we won’t be using fresh picked flowers in September because I found another idea that seemed more us and fit the wedding better.

This was after my husband (then, boyfriend) returned home from two and a half weeks away at training.  This is when I knew that being a military wife was something that I wanted to do.  I found a strength in me that I didn’t know I had.

I never thought I would partake in a homecoming where there would be butterflies in my stomach, sweat on my palms, and shaking in my joints.  But that first time we were away from that long with limited communication allowed me to have my first experience with that.

I snapped this because I couldn’t believe that he was gone (and working hard) for almost three weeks, he gets home and hands me flowers, a bear and gives me a huge hug, then proceeds to make me supper.  From the time he hit the door, we were living at 100 MPH.  We haven’t slowed down since.

As if you don’t think our lives were busy enough, add our two human children and three fur children and it gets even more chaotic.  M&M are Shane’s children from his first marriage.  However, I fell in love with them as soon as I met them and have been increasingly welcomed into their lives.

From the time we met, it’s been “Let’s do this!”  “We need to do this!”  “OH!  Definitely this!”  They are the most exhausting but most rewarding blessings to come into my life.  I love them as if they are my own and I claim them as my own; most days.

Then comes our fur babies.  Angel (not pictured) is a rambunctious kitten who acts more like a devil.  She is almost always scratching, jumping, pouncing, climbing, eating, or sleeping.  I firmly believe she is the instigator in most issues that we have and she frames the dogs.  Then we have Marley (on the left).  What a brute!  He is a mix between a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Golden Lab and weighs in at a light 120 pounds!  He is so happy all of the time and loves to please.  Despite his size, he thinks he is a lap dog.  He has been amazing with welcoming a new fur sister and brother over this past year.

And finally, we have Hugo (on the right).  He is a mix of St. Bernard, Border Collie, and Black Lab.  He is all that is puppy.  He plays (like a cat, mind you.  Laser pointers, balloons, ‘hiding’ and pouncing..)  He was only a couple of months old when I adopted him and he instantly found a place in my heard.  He has been my guard dog since day one.  Even though he is hyper (and antagonizing the cat or Marley) majority of them time, I love him to pieces.

No one is getting in the house with those two around.

Shane and I have a morning ritual.  He will get up and let the dogs out to do their business, start the coffee and then come wake me up.  We will sit and watch the Weather Channel or a local news station and just chatter.  It is our “get away” time when the kids are here and it allows us to have a few moments together before the hustle and the bustle of the day begins.  It’s something we both look forward to.

This was taken the day that we committed our lives to one another.  This picture does more than sum up my life.  Those shirts hanging on the wall are the shirts we wore during our first “date”.  The man standing behind me with so much love on his face came into my life and reminded me of what it felt like to be loved and respected.  The flowers in the background between Shane and I were a gift from him “just because you deserve to be spoiled now and then”.  This picture IS my life.

Living Examples.

If there is one thing that has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older is the amount of bullying that goes on.  When I was growing up, it was just name calling, picking on clothes or hair and other “small” things like that.  However, today, things have gone so far that bullying now includes urging people to commit suicide because “their life isn’t worth it” or because they are a “waste of space.”

I’ve seen both of those comments pop up in news stories that have come across my news feed on Facebook over the last year or so.  It’s just sickening seeing things like this happen to children as young as 10… maybe even younger in some areas.

Children have so much more access to bullying.  It isn’t limited to in schools anymore.  It can  be found on every social media outlet and well as in text messages and phone calls.

I realize not all kids are innocent but things like this make me wonder how much of an active role parents play.  Do you realize how rude your kids are?

I would like to think that Shane and I play a very active part in M&M’s lives.  Especially when it comes to how they treat other people or how other’s treat them.  We ask questions such as “How did school go today?”  or “What happened that’s bugging you?”  We try to get them to open up a bit when we can see that something is really bugging them.

Not only do I view that as “good parenting”, I view it as a way for them to relieve some stress, anger, frustration, etc.

Bullying has always had some sort of side effects to it (low self-esteem, etc.) but with how far it’s gone in the last 10 years, it’s scary to see what it can all trigger.  Things such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, inability to sleep, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, and other mental health issues that could lead to suicide.  (To read more, click here.)  However, I’ve seen cases where the bullying is so bad where the child (or adult depending on the person) suffers from PTSD.  Looking at it from the stress side, it can also lead to Trichotillomania, Shingles, hair loss, panic attacks, IBS, migraines, Bruxism, Personality Disorder, sleep walking and the list here goes on and on.

But.  We, as parents, have an obligation to our children.  Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Our children’s actions begin with US.  You don’t want them to fight with others, don’t fight with in front of them, find a different way to resolve issues.  You don’t want them to bully others, don’t criticize them on how they look; let them be kids!  You want them to accept everyone just as they are, show others love.

Whether we realize it or not, they watch every action.  As adults, we even bully without realizing it.  Sarcasm.  Backstabbing.  Two-faces.

You see?  We aren’t innocent either.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29.

We are directed to help build others up, not tear them down.

But, thankfully there are steps what us parents and our kids can take to stop and prevent bullying.  The first thing is to recognize that there is a problem and not ignore it.  Children, if you see something happening, stay calm and stand up for the person; step in and ask the bully to stop.  Do not fight fire with fire, only then will someone get burned.  Do not hold judgment against them, just ask them a few questions and see if they open up to you.  But do not expect it to be done on the spot; especially if strong emotions are involved.

For those who are victims of bullying, I urge you to turn the issues over to the Lord.  There is no one greater to help than Him.  Exodus 14:14 says “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Do not fight back, know when to just walk away and hand it over to Him.

Maybe those bullies have a story deeper than we know.  Maybe they need a friend, maybe they don’t feel respected or loved, maybe they haven’t been shown kindness, or they don’t feel accepted for who they are or feel that they will never be enough.  Be a friend.  Be kind.  Be respectful.  Be loving.  Make sure they know that who they are is enough!  Be a living example of Christ’s love

But parents, it begins with us.  We can’t ask this of our children and be hypocrites.  Be the example of how you want your child to act, how they treat others, and how they handle tough situations.  “…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”  ~1 Timothy 4:12

**If you know of someone who has been bullied and is now contemplating suicide or if you know someone who is just having thoughts of ending their life for another reason, please give them a hug and let them know they are not alone.  Give them the number to the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.**

Where Were You?

Well, today is going to be kind of a downer post.  I apologize in advance for that but this is something that we are thankful for! (I can safely speak for Shane on this as well.)

Yesterday, Shane and I experienced about two hours in the life no parent ever wants to go through.

Shane got a message from Terri around 4:40pm stating that M had not come home off the bus yet and was wondering if she had gotten off there.  Shane said no and so it began.

M was missing, her cell phone was turned off, and no one had seen her; not the bus driver (she didn’t get on the bus), no answer from the school, she wasn’t at her friends Tae Kwon Do gym, etc.  Without even thinking about it, I began to pray: “Dear God, please keep her safe.  Allow her to find warmth and shelter until someone can get to her.  Please have someone recognize her and offer her a ride to where she belongs.   Please keep her safe.  Please keep her safe.  Please keep her safe…”

Immediately, I felt anger.  We have been having issues with M for the last couple of months. .  The issues range in things from general disrespect and attitude, immaturity and lack of responsibility and now this.  But as time went on, it turned into fear for her safety.

After talking to Shane a bit and sensing growing panic, I told him it was probably worth a visit to the Sheriff’s department.  This day in age, you can never be too safe.

Shortly after he had stopped by and was filing a missing child report, one of her friends had located her sitting by the school and called Shane.  Luckily, there was a Sheriff nearby that was able to bring her back to town.

From what we were told, she was pretty shook up.  The excuse we were told was that she had the impression that one of us (Shane, myself, Terri or Mark) was going to be there to get her after school.  After talking with Shane, neither one of us had talked to her in depth since Friday when she went back to her mom’s.  Terri and Marc knew nothing of going to get her.  After about a half hour, she then changed her tune to “I missed the bus.”  She claimed that her phone had died and that she had tried to call us from a gas station but their phones couldn’t call out to cell phones.  I doubt we will ever know the whole truth but I am just so thankful that God was able to keep her safe.  Especially since the weather was a bit chilly yesterday.  But the fear that I saw on Shane’s face even after she had been returned to her mother’s house was heart shattering.  My husband was home but he wasn’t with me.

From the time that he got home from his men’s group until the time we went to bed, his eyes were glassed over, his voice was monotone and there was a constant crease in-between furrowed brows.

As we got ready to pray before bed, we realized that we, as her parents, had to pray for patience, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and strength.  We need to be firm but loving and compassionate.  We need to discipline but be patient and understanding.

When I woke up this morning, I had a reassuring passage from my dad sitting in my text messages.  He sent me Proverbs 31:28-30.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed.  Her husband also praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you excel them all.’  Charm is deceitful , and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

Even though I had not told him or my mom what had gone on, it was like he knew.  He knew what I needed to hear after an exhausting evening of supporting and comforting Shane.

So, Dad,. thank you for that!  Also, I apologize for all of the horrible things I tried to pull as a child.  Going through it now myself with M is not fun.    If only she could feel what regret is going to feel like years down the road.

Even though she is home safe, I’m still repeating this verse:
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

However, this experience made me think of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  How many times has he been waiting for us to show up in His house?  How many times has He asked us “Where were you?” and we made excuses as to why we didn’t show up?  Probably more than we would like to admit.  But, he still opens His arms to us and shows us love, compassion and forgiveness.  For that, we will forever be indebted to Him.

Discipline is Painful, Not Pleasant.

I wish I could say that being a “step-mom” has been a walk in the park, but it hasn’t.  I wish I could say that things will get easier, but they won’t for a while.  I wish I could say that I was good at leading a “Godly” example for M&M, but despite my efforts, I am not perfect.

Jumping in to a parent role has not been the easiest adjustment.  I went from being single and caring only about myself and my dog, to dating this wonderful man and his children.  While I cared for them and worried for them while we were dating, it changed when I became one of M&M’s four legal guardians.  The nagging “Are you setting a good example?”  “A Godly one?”  “Are you dressed the way you would want M to dress?”  “Are you conducting yourself the way you would want M to conduct herself?” is consistent.  Everything I do revolves around these two human beings that look at me as a role model for how they are allowed to act.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  It’s a wonderful thing.  It keeps me motivated, it keeps me honest and it keeps me humble.  However, I’m now caught in a situation where I’m stuck between “Where did I go wrong?” and “Why can’t they listen to what we are trying to tell them?”

Part of the answer revolves heavily around social media website.  Yes, parents, you heard correctly.  Websites like Instagram, Snap Chat, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, so on and so forth.  It is today’s culture that is embedding itself into our children’s mind that is making them feel like they have to go to drastic measures for attention.  By drastic measures I mean talking to men/women they don’t personally know, posting revealing pictures of themselves, putting their personal information online, saying or doing just about anything to give them the attention that they crave.

It says in Matthew 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.  for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
This is telling us that it is not OK to act selfishly, righteously, or higher than any other person.  However, that is all that we see on these social media accounts.  It’s not just selfish comments like “Rate me.”  “I’m beautiful.” or things of that nature anymore.  It is also starting to be comments made out of lust for another.

Galatians 5:16 states “But I say, walk with the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  However, we are still seeing comments as “Shout out to this most perfect girl.”  “I’m taken by the most beautiful girl in the world.”  and things of that nature.  The scary thing is that this is not just happening in people over the age of 18.  In the past 24 hours, I have seen these comments made on Instagram by an Elementary school student.  ELEMENTARY aged student.

Parents of this child; WHERE ARE YOU?  What in your right mind made you think that it was OK to let your ELEMENTARY aged child create a social media account where he has access to endless pages of pornography, predators, hackers and other things that could completely ruin his future?

I would like to think that Terri, Marc, Shane and I are all on the same page when it comes to disciplining M&M – better yet, I KNOW we are on the same page.  I’ve heard comments come from people that I’ve talked to that amount to “You just need to let them make those mistakes.  You don’t need to guide their every move.”  While, no we don’t need to oversee everything they do, they have to earn that trust.  However, we are struggling with the trust issue due to issues with….. social media!  Go figure!  However, this isn’t the only issue.  It’s the staying up late to be on this website talking to boys/men that she doesn’t know, it’s the poor performance she has been exhibiting in school because she’s tired, it’s the selfish attitude that shows through when she doesn’t get her way, it’s the disrespect that she shows her father (and probably her mother), and it’s the spider web of lies and deceit that she has now weaved but caught herself in.

So, yes.  We are hard on both of the kids.  But it is showing them how to become responsible and functional adults when it comes their time to contribute to society.  The workforce won’t hire someone with a poor attitude.  They won’t hire someone who’s constantly posting inappropriate or questionable things on their social media.  They will not be able to function in society if they do not have firm hands guiding them the way they are supposed to go.

We try to bring the kids up in faith and try to find Biblical backing in all that we do.  And my motivation for this upcoming week is going to be Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

This next week is going to be painful.  Not only for us as parents but also for us as guidance counselors.  We will be starting to take steps to ensure that the kids’ know the danger of the social media world.  By dangers, I’m not just talking about the occasional bullying or the rude comments back and forth; I’m talking about the child abductions, the sex trafficking, the rapes and the murders.

Parents, please please please make your children (especially your young ladies) aware of the dangers of putting their information, their picture, etc online.  If you need advice or have advice (as I’m going to be going through this over the course of the next few weeks with my little lady) please leave it in the comments to help other parents.

#MotivationMonday

Will You Accept This Rose?

I will admit that I am a sucker for shows like The Bachelor.  Something about viewing someone else’s life makes me feel a little better about everything that has gone on in my life.  I’m a plain jane country girl who does not need expensive material items or 10 pounds of make up and hair product to make me happy.

But one thought that kept crossing my mind while watching last night was “My God, I hope Miah does not grow up to be like this.”  At first, I thought it was just a generalization; I do not want her feeling like she has to go on a reality show to find her “true love”, buy expensive dresses, be tore apart by the media, and suffer public humiliation because of events that may or may not have happened in her life.  However, as the show went on, I realized that my thoughts were revolving around Kelsey and her words/actions.

A little back story on this Kelsey just in case you don’t watch the show.  She claims to have come on the show after the loss of her husband.  At first, she seemed to be one of the few level-headed people there but as time went on and more girls went home, her true colors started to show.  She started making rude comments towards or about the other girls, started using her late husbands death story as a weapon and wore it as a badge of honor.  It seems as whatever had started falling out of her mouth has either been insulting, belittling, insecure or fabricated.  She put on shows for Chris (the panic attack) and would turn around and laugh about it with the other girls.  Not giving the best impression to us viewers; which is the point of reality TV but there is a point to this.

I was sitting on the couch with my 12-year-old step-daughter.  Our Monday night routine is to eat supper with the boys, get dishes done, laundry caught up if needed, curl up under blankets and watch The Bachelor.  However, last night seemed to be a little more than either one of us could handle.

Miah is at an age where what she sees in the media is how she depicts how she SHOULD act.  In some cases, it’s not so bad.  However, I could see the wheels starting to turn last night as she watched Kelsey lay on the floor in the middle of a “panic attack.”  See, whenever Miah feels deprived of attention, she turns on tears, causes a little trouble, or tries to find a way to become center of attention.  Given that the kids’ mom doesn’t pay them much attention, the first couple of days that they are back proves to be a struggle.

As I was watching this public meltdown, I kept thinking “I sure hope Miah realizes how dumb this looks and refuses to let her frustration episodes get that far.”  I would make comments like “This is just embarrassing for her” or “I wish someone would call her bluff” to show Miah that this show is not 100% real – which she should have known from the get go.

About 30 minutes pass and Miah has not uttered 4 words.  She’s totally engaged in the show and has seen snide comments fall out of Kelsey’s mouth as well as how she was two-faced and did not deserve to be on the show.  I shook my head and decided that this was the best time as any to address the issues of selfishness.

As we talked, I used examples that showed for every action has a reaction.  We ended up discussing how it is ok to feel like you need attention but to do so in a mature manner.  I mean I still get that way with Shane when we go a while without talking or a weekly date night; that is all just part of loving someone.  However; it is not ok to use it to your advantage, use it to manipulate people, and it is not ok to abuse it.  As I was explaining this, I started to see things clicking into place for her.  I knew the two on one date was coming up so I told her to watch what possible selfish actions could do to her in the long run.

We sat back and just laughed at the way Ashley and Kelsey were acting but deep down, I wanted her to really take a lesson from it.  She got to see both sides of Kelsey in that scene and all of a sudden it was like a light bulb (or in this case, a much bigger and brighter bulb) turned on.  She watched as Chris sent BOTH girls home because he did not appreciate how either one of them were acting and felt that he deserved better than them.

Shane and I have used that as an example for her.  If she were to keep manipulating situations to get what she wants or if she kept demanding attention, she was going to end up like Kelsey – self-centered, insecure, and manipulative.  She’s nodded but won’t fully understand until she’s a little bit older.

She deserves so much more than to be looked down upon for her actions, but it starts with her home habits.  Shane and I give those kids all the love and attention we can, but when they go back to their mom’s busy house and miss attention, it is natural for them to yearn for something more.  That’s when Shane and I have to figure out a system that works where they feel the love and the attention but don’t go to drastic measures to try to acquire it.

I’m glad reality TV is what it is.  It allows awesome teaching moments like this where I can really connect to her and give her examples where she can see others reactions and realize that she doesn’t want to feel that way.  I just hope that what we do is enough to keep her head held up high…. especially when it comes time for her to date… (*shudder*)