We Have One Year Left Before Being Empty Nesters!

Meet my friend Tammy. We discovered through Facebook that we are "kindred spirits", as Anne of Green Gables would say. We have some mutual friends, but have only seen each other a handful of times in person. Our kids briefly knew each other in middle school. She came and helped me on her day off when I bought my business recently and had two days to move in. I wonder now why I even had the gumption to ask her! Maybe because I knew she just might say yes and she was the kind of person I needed that day. There is a divine connection between us, though I don't see her as much as I'd like. We'll fix that, we are having coffee next week! Tammy and I both have the same situation- our youngest are seniors this year... we are almost empty-nesters. (She won't stop having an impact on young people though. She leads a small group of girls at church. She and other co-leaders have led this group since the girls were in 8th grade and they are seniors too! This will be a hard May for her). Many of us are in the same boat, wishing that this year will go slowly. I asked her to write a blog about it for other moms. She graciously agreed.

I can vividly remember words spoken to me at church a long time ago by a sweet, older woman.  My husband and I had just entered the foyer with our 2-year old son and 5 -year old daughter.  I'm sure we had that "good-grief-can't-believe-we-actually-made-it-here" exhausted look on our faces.  This gal stops me, places her wrinkled, sun-spotted hand on mine and says "The days are long, but the years go by so fast."  I smiled, told her thank you, and then in my young-mom mind thought, "Well, maybe YOUR years, but mine will be morphing into CENTURIES."

Funny.  She was right.  Those years flew right by...can't say I  wasn't warned.  That 2-year old son is now 17 and a senior in high school. The 5-year old daughter is now 20 and a junior in college.  My husband and I  have found ourselves discussing things such as downsizing our home, retirement...albeit, it will be a few more years for this.  Maybe picking up a hobby we can both do together.  Golf, perhaps? Tennis?  We've even joked we're going to get an RV, travel the states with our dog, and be THAT couple you get stuck behind going 10 miles an hour.

We joke about these events to come, but they are right around the corner.  We are almost empty-nest-ers.  True, our kids will come back sometimes on weekends for various things (my son for laundry, I'm 100% sure), but the frequency with which we see them will lessen.  I've semi-adapted to this with my daughter. SEMI. But now my son, too?  Can I handle this?  I won't sugarcoat hurts.  You will cry...a random times.  Are they ok? Are they adapting? Are they eating? Did they get out of bed? Daughter, probably...son, the jury's still out.  They better have gone to class...this college stuff is NOT CHEAP.

Everyone's scenario will be different, but I do feel the "hurt/sadness factor" will be a common denominator.  What has helped me manage this ache are words wisely given to me by a dear friend and neighbor whose children are grown with families of their own.  She said "Tammy, think about how much you love your kids." (I did this and my heart almost exploded right then and there).  "Well, now, think of God.  He loves them even more."  WOW.  So simple.  So true. I love my kids A LOT. He loves them even more! Let me tell ya', that is a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE. 

I can't be there 24/7...but God can.  I can't protect them 24/7...but God can. I do not know if they are hurting...but God does.  This was such a relief to me.  These beautiful children of mine are not really mine...they are his and always have been.  Why then should I worry? 

Psalm 139:7-10 reassures me with this promise..."Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

That lady in the church foyer years ago was right.  The days ARE long and the years DO go by quickly.  But let me just add...

God's got them. He always has.


I'm the New Owner of the Local Business "My Little Dollhouse"!!

Desires of the heart.... come true at the strangest times! Guess what? (drum roll)

I'm the new owner of My Little Dollhouse, a girls' birthday party venue near 91st and Harvard in Tulsa, OK!

You've probably held a party or taken a daughter to a party there before, but in case you haven't, it's a place where moms can assure a great birthday party for girls, generally aged 3-10 years old (to be expanded in future). They have options of fun places to play- a "house" with toys, a tree house, a black light room, nooks and crannies, and a kid-sized stage for dress up fashion shows. Additional options include tea parties, dress up, hair and makeup done for each party girl, even a visit from a real live Princess!

I've wanted to buy My Little Dollhouse for years, and have secretly (and not so secretly) thought how fun it would be to own it. I've driven by the building and dreamed of the potential. I've said it out loud to people. Two of my daughters have worked there in years past. I've told the owner annually that if she ever thinks about selling it, I'm interested.

It happened last month!  I wasn't even thinking about it until the day that I was contacted.  I had just been talking to my family about the business, when she messaged me, asking if I was still interested.

After screaming at the irony of the moment, and excitement, I replied yes.

I'm so thankful to her for contacting me.

Long story short, it is now a done deal and I take over next week.

This is a dream come true. There is so much work to be done, but it's with a happy heart that it will be done!

The business will continue on as My Little Dollhouse. As we get acclimated, there are additional ideas on the horizon.

Ownership of this business fits right in with long term goals of Girls 101. I'm excited about that. We can offer lots of different events there for girls of our city.

I love events. And parties. And girls.

This will be fun. :)

To celebrate, we are offering big February specials! Help me out and pass the word along, if you don't have a young girl yourself.

February special:
$40 off of a Regular or Princess Party on Monday-Friday held in February

Use the code "firstmonth" when you call 918. 299.(4FUN) starting Tuesday, January 27.

Please "like" our Facebook page "My Little Dollhouse", to hear about discounts, specials, and events!

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them" - Walt Disney


Healthy Dating Relationships- Part 1

"What does a healthy dating relationship look like?"

I've been asked more than once by older teens or girls in young twenties who are ready to consider a life long relationship.

It caused me to stop and really think.

Caring about another person is a vulnerable thing. It's hard for some people to be vulnerable, because it leads to a chance to be hurt. But that's part of it. Part of life. We get hurt sometimes. The fear of possibly being hurt can't stop us from a great adventure with rewards that are greater than the risk!

The subject of dating nowadays is a bit different than it was 20 years ago. Dating has become so complicated according to 1) my observations and 2) what girls have said. Now I've seen some young couples who have done things the way we are used to- they meet, get to know one another by talking and being together, he asks her out on dates, and they eventually become exclusive.

On the other hand, too many girls have said that they are disappointed with boys that seem to be in fear of them, or don't know how to start a conversation, or ask them out on dates, or rely too hard on social media for communicating.

The number of girls who have never dated is huge! (I'm sure moms of boys have things to say about this, and I welcome your comments. We would love to hear from you!!)

In the "old days", we dated to have fun with someone we may like, and eventually realized we both couldn't live without each other, or we parted ways. Nowadays it seems that couples want to have a commitment before they even start dating.

There is so much pressure to know where you stand instead of getting to know each other and taking a risk.

Sometimes it seems couples want to know the end  result before they start dating.

So what's my advice? Have fun without knowing the end result.

You may decide you really like him. You may decide you want to move on. You may marry him. You may break up! Young people say "I don't want to waste time". No one does. But there's no way to know ahead of time if you're going to marry someone. The risk is part of life. But so is the fun and the people you meet along the way. I heard great advice from someone- "Just leave them better than you found them if it doesn't work out".

Can we come back to a balance from the days of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye?" (I just finally read that book 10+ years later. I don't really agree with that approach, but was intrigued with the influence it had on our Christian culture, so I gave in and read it for myself).

Young people are so concerned with only dating who they are going to marry that they have become paralyzed in a way.

Sometimes you just have to date, chill, and have fun while you figure it out.

Ask God for direction and know that He will. He's not opposed to innocent fun. Or friendships. Or love.

We've made life into a complex puzzle in some ways, instead of embracing the process.

Stay tuned for part two.

Dating is Harder Than They Say

"Dating is not easy. No one tells you this. Pink and blue is real. You think it's all fun, but there's real conflict to work out." - an anonymous teenager

I've heard this more than once, so let's talk about it.

Yes, dating is fun, with outings and dances and pictures and such. But no it's not conflict free, because you are two humans.

I have heard two perspectives, and they are quite different. But both are worth listening to.

One is this- Movies and shows have made dating look so appealing and romantic and conflict free, that is the expectation of many. They are surprised when they begin dating and find the opposite sex thinks so differently, therefore there are things to be resolved. Even as teens.

The other is this- Bad examples are real and present. There is no problem believing that there are conflicts in relationships. The desire to see the good in dating and marriage is the prominent know there is a good side to being with someone. They long for encouraging examples and advice about relationships.

We'll do a couple of posts on this topic this week.

Discussion Starter - (to ask your tween or teen)

Which of the above views do you think teens today believe? What do you believe?


Instagram and Young Girls- What Do We Allow?

Rachel Simmons, a guru on all things girl, wrote a Time article on Instagram and Tweens this week. I've talked about this topic so many times with moms on a personal level. This is a great opportunity to blog about it.

I posted this article and question on my Facebook pages, 5 Things and Girls 101, saying:  What do you all think? I'm in the minority I fully realize, but having social media accounts during middle school years add to the complication of a growing identity. But many have it I know. Do you mind sharing your thoughts? 

Here are the comments I received from moms, girls and teachers:

 Because of the drama involved with Instagram, my daughter voluntarily closed her account. She was tired of the selfies, of seeing what activity she wasn't invited to, and many other things related to all that. She hasn't regretted it once. She said, "I was becoming addicted to it."

My daughter is getting her first phone this week. She's already seen other girls obsessing over Instagram. At this point, she's not interested in getting it. Not sure how she'll feel about it in a month or a year, but for now, ix-nay on the Instagram for her.  "Instashame"??? Insta-no thanks.

My daughter is in 9th. I haven't let her have FB, but she has Instagram. In middle school it was all about how many likes/favs they get on a pic. "Ugh, she has 50 likes and my pic only got 48!" It's a status. There is even an app to get more likes..... My 5th grader has Instagram & I have to constantly tell her she has to keep her acct private. 
I strongly abhor raising girls with social media!

Teacher perspective: they start it at home, using social media. They bring it to school and cause a problem, disrupting their education.

I couldn't agree more. Many of my 4th graders have Instagram already.

Wow, I think this article is almost spot on...which is a little scary. I LOVE social media, but just decided to stop using Instagram earlier this week because of how intoxicating it can become to the way we perceive our social lives and even ourselves at times. This can be risking territory for young girls..and guys. Thanks for sharing.

As moms, we have to decide when is appropriate for our kids to have social media. At some point, it's fine. 

My girls and I have it, but I made them wait until the end of middle school to get it. Here's my thoughts:

1) don't give access until you are ready to monitor it (and that includes knowing how it works)

2) remember that middle school is a time where identities are very fragile so take that into account
3) social media is not a "right", it's a freedom that you can give permission for or say no to
4) you can say "not yet" instead of "no"

What are your thoughts?


A Prayer for our Families- When God Reveals His Son

Jadyn Noelle photography
Until my typing ability improves, I may do some REALLY short posts, which are a duplicate of my Facebook posts, on 5 Things.

I can do voice text over my phone for Facebook, so it's much easier.

If you're on Facebook, "like" us!

This is today's post.

A great prayer for pray for our kids- In Galatians 1:11 is Paul talking about how he received the gospel by revelation. "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ". Verse 15 says "But when God...was pleased to reveal His Son in me..."

Let's pray for our family that God will reveal Himself to them. It's nice to know it's not just up to us, but He will do this!


Why I Slowed Life Down
Newsflash! A month ago, I had my one year anniversary at my first full time desk job in over 20 years. Even though I went in with a multi-year plan, I also had my last day of full time employment a week later.

I decided to give my notice, but then agreed to periodic part time work to help through the transition, until a new person was hired. So I technically ended this week, after a very long "leaving" haha.

So many factors went into this decision. I realize how lucky I am to even have the choice.

1. Let me reiterate that I LOVE ORU (Oral Roberts University). This is where my husband and I met and went to school years ago, where two of my girls go now, and where I worked this last year. I also say, and mean it, this is where some of the top quality college students go! I loved being in the mix with the students on campus, had FUN with and so appreciated my boss and co-workers, and am so grateful for the quality people who make it an awesome college. I will miss all of that for sure. I'm so glad for the things I learned, the students and people I met while being so closely involved on campus, and I'll miss running into my daughters for sure!

2. For many years, I worked part time from home doing a variety of things. I always find a way to make a little money. (I'm sure I still will). Then four years ago I took a leap of faith and began to not work at all (for money), with the support of my husband, to concentrate on the girls ministry and program I was attempting to take community wide.

Looking back, I can see what was accomplished in a couple of years of effort: community girls camps and workshops, after school programs, invitations to speak began, a cookbook published, a book on middle school was started, and a book proposal was requested by a publisher then denied  (to be resurrected!).

3. Then about a year ago, the time for college hit with my girls. Life got more expensive, and I thought I'd help the family budget by contributing again. So I took a full time job at the college my girls attend. My husband didn't ask me to, I just decided to one day. I think I felt the self imposed pressure that "this is what we do now that we're almost empty nesters", and I also felt a bit of fun excitement over a new season and new challenge.  I guess I thought I could do it all for a short season.

4. But now I know I couldn't do it all, at least well.  I took on more than I could chew. Often in our culture, we do too much, and run on fumes, instead of doing what we are meant to do, well. It's easy to fall into. I've always been the type that wants to do one thing and do it really well....not so much this last year!

After trying, I realized I couldn't do a very full time job, be the family member I want to be, take care of myself, and take care of a growing girls outreach. At least not while staying sane. :)

Granted, part of me feels wimpy at this realization, because the whole world lives like this, it seems!

But the other part of me is thinking "No wonder our world is as it is!" Life is out of balance, in many ways. I don't do well flying by the seat of my pants in every area, all the time.

What my spirit wants, is to be where God wants me to be. Exactly where that is, is what I was trying to discern over the last few months. As I was trying to be responsible and help contribute to the needs of family, the Lord started challenging me - wouldn't He take care of me if I take care of His needs (what He wants to accomplish in my family and life, as well as in girls and moms, through whatever He leads me to do)? At the same time, I don't feel like taking this job was a mistake, at all! Don't misunderstand. It had so many good parts, I gained skills, made great contacts, and loved the people interaction. It was tremendous and necessary. But the American/human self-sufficiency is so ingrained in us, even if we don't think it is. I know from experience.

I fought a mental battle-  of being logical and responsible, yet wondering if God was sure He wants me to concentrate on a life well lived and a calling, more than a full time job, (for now. I can't guess the future). I wasn't even sure I was hearing right, because my spirit felt very out of whack compared to how I had been. I felt wimpy and guilty at not being able to do both. Everyone does this, shouldn't I be able to?

I AM entrepreneurial and work oriented, just in a different way. I do have long term business and ministry goals. There are so many ideas I want to see come to fruition! They need more time and focus than I have been able to give this last year.

5. I've lived long enough to know that there are seasons to life, and desires change. I have been a stay at home mom, worked part time from home, and now worked full time, all while having kids. So I've done each, and felt right doing each at the time.

I knew when I quit that I would be misunderstood by some, maybe judged, but I felt willing to take the misunderstandings, and even the jokes. "The four hour work week" and "I'm leaning out, not leaning in".......yeah, yeah, yeah. hahaha. I can see the humor. (Those are plays on two current books, if you didn't know).

One person asked what message my quitting was giving to my  kids. (I didn't mind the question, it was a good one). That made me think, and I was happy with the answer. What's my message? Sometimes it's better to  make the hard decision, to go against the flow, to make the unlikely choice, when it feeds the spirit, the family, God's purpose for us, and life in general, instead of employment that feeds in a different way. I realize I have the choice, because my husband works and okay with this. Some don't have the choice I realize, and I'm only speaking of my experience. Some may say my message could be "quit when it's hard" or something similar. I knew that was a possible misunderstanding I might have to deal with, but I knew that wasn't my message.

Sometimes quality of life is more important than what culture pushes us to do. There is tremendous pressure on women from one angle to work, and pressure from another angle to not work. It's a catch-22. But it's a battle we all feel!

There is also something that tells us once the kids are older teens, the mom being at home isn't as important. But now I realize that isn't true, for me. There is something to be said for peace in the home, and being present in the way our family needs us to be, instead of trying to do it all, with partial ability.

Some can handle it all. At this stage in life, it wasn't my forte! So I decided to make a change.

I can't compare what God is leading me to, with what He is leading others to do. What He asks of me may not be what He asks of you, and vice versa. But for me, the ministry He's called me to is not an option. I don't want it to be! There are people waiting to be reached, plans waiting to be done, writing to be completed, that won't be done until I'm ready to make the room in my life for the purpose He's put before me. And I'm happy to do it! It needs a certain amount of time and energy. I can't help but do the girls ministry. In my spare time, I'm doing research, writing (sometimes only in my head), thinking about the issues of the day, talking to girls and moms, planning events, buying cute things I see for meetings, thinking up new curriculum. It  doesn't take effort. (well, the writing does). I'm happy and excited to do these things. They are energizing!

SO, I am giving my focus to this ministry, to family, and to a balanced life. Meanwhile, I'm asking God to continue to provide for all that we need, like He always has. We Americans can be so good at feeling the pressure to meet our needs ourselves, whether we need to or not, when we can turn to the Lord instead.  Doing our part, (and knowing what that part is), and then letting God do the rest, is what He requires. I plan to enjoy this fun season as my girls enjoy the college years, like I did. I'm so blessed they are there! As I get in my place He wants me in for this season, I believe He'll bless every member of our family. I'm thankful for a husband that gives me this freedom.

And because of the exciting news that my girls outreach became a non profit this summer, I look forward to growing it. When I think of the potential Girls 101 Foundation has, plans are endless!  The issues facing girls today as they grow up are only becoming bigger, and we want to help girls grow up well, and be an encouragement to those raising up girls as well.

That is my newsflash. Just so you know. And an explanation why blogging has been scarce the last few months. It was a full year, lots of milestones and happy occasions, coupled with difficulties too. Isn't that how life is.

P.S. One final tidbit of news. Carpal tunnel. I got that in the last few months on the job. Or I may not have gotten it (they can't name what is wrong with me yet for sure, it seems to be a combination of things- all I know is that my hand doesn't work right anymore, and that my arm is in a constant state of feeling abnormal). That might have pushed me to a decision making point, whether to keep working or not. I'm dealing with doctors to fix it now. I can't write legibly (torture as a journaler), and can only type for very short amounts of time. (This blog took multiple settings!) So I'll need a little time before all those writing goals come to fruition.

Speaking of blogging, I miss it! But by the time I finished typing all day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was type more at home. But blogging will continue. I'm experimenting with voice typing, and maybe even using someone to type my voice text into blogs.

I look forward to this new season. More to come!