Part Two - Raising a Daughter with a Disability

Yesterday my friend Lucy shared part of her journey as a mom of a daughter with a disability. Catch up with us HERE if you haven't read part one! You don't want to miss it.

Lucy also reminded me of our time together in Amsterdam, when we would sneak away after all the team was asleep and raid the community pantry, to eat the yummy windmill cookies! My memory was a bit sketchy on the details of the raids, but I DO remember the windmill cookies. She said the team leader eventually confronted our missions group about the disappearing cookies, and she and I sat there with very concerned looks on our faces, waiting for the culprits to surrender! I guess we fessed up later on, and our team leader did not share our humor. Oh well. Look what I found!! A picture of our cookies!

 Back to the good stuff, Lucy's story.  Yesterday she shared details of the discoveries, the difficulties and the progresses that they faced the first few years of Hartley's little life. Today, Lucy continues with some candid thoughts:

"I can’t help but question God. I don’t know His plan. I don’t know where He is taking us. I don’t know how many more valleys we will travel or what kind of mountains we still face. But I do know that He is still with us. Guiding us. Leading us. Carrying us at times when we are too weary. I can tell you that I feel much more equipped to conquer this with confidence and assurance that the other side of the mountain is a reachable and attainable goal. After all, we are all on a journey, just at different points on the map."

Some tips from Lucy for moms who may share similar experiences:

1.  Feelings: what to expect. 

Every parent is different. But after a diagnosis of disability, it’s common for parents to feel:
  • confused and overwhelmed
  • shocked
  • disbelieving or numb
  • denial
There is no right or wrong way to feel, just allow yourself to deal with whatever you may be feeling.

2. Comparison-
Although it’s hard, avoid comparing your child with other children. Every child is an individual.

3. Celebrate -
Celebrate your child’s successes and milestones – and focus on positives and progress. Your child might be developing differently from other children but will be reaching her own goals and milestones along the way. There will be lots of reasons to feel positive.

4. Focus -

Take time to just enjoy your child without focusing on the disability. With time you’ll get better at doing this.

5. Hold onto inspiration -

During our journey, this piece by Emily Perl Kingsley was introduced to me. I love it. Just about sums it up.

photo credit: www.tripsite.com

"I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland."

(this is Holly now- Beautifully said.
I kinda love that the summer we spent together was in Holland.
Holland was amazing.)

This poem gives such great perspective, makes me teary. It helps me understand. It gives sensitivity.

Special thanks to Lucy for sharing her story on 5 Things. I love that God equips us as we go, as only He can. Pass this along to moms who may need some of her encouragement! 

If you don't want to miss any upcoming stories, you can follow us by email, or "like" our Facebook page 5 Things.


Part One- Raising a Daughter with a Disability

Lucy. When I think of Lucy, I remember lots of giggly late nights in a tent.

Our lives only crossed paths for 3 months, but it was a fun three months! We shared humor in the midst of long hours of missions work, foreign cities and tent life.

Lucy and I both went to Oral Roberts University back in the 80’s and spent an entire summer together in Amsterdam, Holland. What’s amazing is that several of those weeks were spent in a giant tent with lots of other girls, in bunk beds. In a campground. We had to walk to the bathrooms and showers in the darkness of night many times. Such funny times we had. Lucy is one of those reasons I’m thankful for Facebook. After losing touch for the majority of adult life so far, we recently found each other and have rekindled an old friendship.
When this blog began, she mentioned being interested in writing a special blog just for moms who are raising kids with disabilities. I am thrilled and thankful that she offered to write about her specialty and her experiences. She’s a gem. So is her family. She and her husband Charles have- Lorrin (22), Anastasia (19) and Hartley (13).

Here is Part One of her story.

"Life is a Journey – Raising a Child with Disabilities"

Let me begin by tell you that I believe strongly that we all have a reason for being, that we are all on a journey, but at different points on a map. The most recent jaunt of my journey involved conquering many mountains and trudging through many valleys. It all began in March of 1998, when my daughter Hartley was born, a seemingly healthy baby girl. It all seemed so perfect with the newest addition to our family.

We approached the first mountain when Hartley was just two months old and she faced her first of many hospitalizations. The cute sounding purr of her delicate breathing turned into a rasping struggle to force air into her lungs. We took her to our pediatrician several times and her condition worsened. At her most critical point, he took the painstaking time to listen to her breathe for three hours trying desperately to find an answer. Exasperated, he felt she needed immediate medical attention and rushed her via neonatal ambulance to the nearest hospital 45 minutes away.

That was the longest ride of my life as I thought of the worst case scenarios running through my mind, like a slow motion movie. What if it’s a tumor? What if she won’t make it? Did I cause this? What have I done? What will I do? Will I be able to take care of her?

When we arrived at the hospital, we were met by a medical team asking numerous questions about my pregnancy, the delivery, and the first two months of Hartley’s life. They reviewed her records and ran more tests. They scheduled her for a bronchoscope the next day in hopes to find some answers. It was a relief to find out it was a simple diagnosis of bronchial and tracheal malaysia which was just a floppiness of her airway. Laser surgery was performed to tighten her floppy airway. I was in the hospital with her for eight long days, three of which were in ICU. “What a relief!” I thought.

On the eighth day, we were ready to leave after taking a required CPR course for infants and being trained on the apnea monitor to alert us of any other breathing difficulties she may have at home. We also had to wait for one more visit from the doctor before we headed home. When the doctor came by, she made a comment that her head appeared asymmetrical. I did not want to hear about one more thing that was wrong with my daughter. I dismissed it as the way her hair was growing. Though secretly, I had thought her head was large when she was born; but justified it with the idea that most babies have funny-shaped heads and they eventually “grow” into them. Once we were home, we breathed a sigh of relief thinking how close we came to losing our little love.

Then on a routine office visit at four months old, our pediatrician voiced a concern about the rapid growth of Hartley’s head. He always made a point to measure her head on our visits and he was able to show me what it looked like on a growth chart. I could then see his reason for concern. He referred us to a neurosurgeon and at five months old, she was diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus and agenesis of the corpus callous, (or ACC as it is also called). The hydrocephalus could be treated, but the brain disorder was an unknown variable. The ACC means there is an absence of the millions of nerves that connect the two hemispheres of the brain that allow each side to communicate. Hartley has a split brain. There is no connection whatsoever. What would this mean for her? Would she be able to learn to speak? To walk?

This was a difficult time for the whole family. It was without a doubt a time in the valley. Many tears were shed and unanswerable questions asked. Surely there had to be someone to lead us through this difficult time and give us some answers and direction. Because of her medical issues and realizing that our daughter was not developing like other children her age, my husband called several agencies to find help. We found a group of professionals that gave us the help and support that we needed. They were so helpful! They gave us a wealth of information and set up a home visit where a nurse explained all their services. She also informed us about Early Intervention Services. It all sounded too good to be true. A Physical Therapist and an Early Interventionist began coming to our home one time a week to work with Hartley and we began to see how far behind she really was compared to her peers. I also came to the realization that my hopes and dreams for my daughter would have to change. I was now hoping that she would one day walk to me or be able to tell me that she loved me. I didn’t know what the future held for my precious daughter.

When she was eight months old, she began attending a Developmental Day School that was designed to use Early Intervention to help children with disabilities. I had no idea what this place was , although I drove by it every day on my way to work. We quickly began to see improvement in her development and within a year, we realized that Early Intervention seemed to be making a big difference in her young life. Although still lagging behind typically developing children her age, it appeared she was catching up. By 17 months, she was beginning to crawl, still about a year behind developmentally. Now at the age of establishing some basic vocabulary, she was only saying a few words. It was then that I realized her biggest delay was her speech and I began an active push for her to begin “signing” her words. Incredibly, she picked up in it very quickly and soon her number of “signed” words outnumbered her spoken words.

At 22 months, she began to walk. All areas in her development seemed to be progressing at an overwhelming rate. At 31 months, she was re-evaluated for her preschool screening. Amazingly, she did so well that she almost did not qualify for specialized services in preschool. Once again, I saw what a difference Early Intervention has made in her life.

As we prepared Hartley for entering preschool, most of her signing was dropped and her speech became clearer and took off at an astonishing rate. Within the first month of attending preschool in her first year, she dropped all of her signing and began total verbal communication. “Wow! Things are looking up!” I thought.

The first three years of Hartley’s life were difficult to say the least. Many challenges, much heartache, many tears, but God was there all the time. Sometimes He was walking with us; other times He carried us. Then, in 2007, just when I thought the worst was behind us and we were finally travelling light on a plateau, we encountered yet another obstacle: one huge mountain. She was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome.

What did this mean? She doesn’t have the gene that protects her delicate skin from the sun, so she is constantly developing basal cell cancers all over her body. She has had more than 250 removed since her diagnosis. We use a topical medicine that is supposed to attack the cancerous cells and leave the good skin alone. Unfortunately, the basal cells are growing faster than we can keep up with the medicine. She has hundreds of them. We have to drive 3 hours from home to see a specialist for her treatment every 4-6 months. This isn’t a terminal disease, but one she will live with unless a cure is found.

She loves the outdoors, but can’t enjoy them now. She loves to go to the beach, but we have to go when the sun is going down. People tell me that I am a great mother and am dealing with all these adversities with grace and ease. What I really feel is such inadequacy. It’s Hartley who keeps me going.

Tomorrow we will pick up here and hear some specific thoughts of Lucy’s on what has brought her hope, as well as some thoughts and tips for moms who may be experiencing similar situations. Stay tuned.


College Girl- Getting out of a Hard Friendship

Funny how we meet people. Several months ago I was with a group of friends out of state, at a restaurant. We were loud and silly and somehow as life issues were discussed, someone mentioned about waiting for sex until marriage. Our waitress chimed in and said something to the effect of "That's what I always tell people. Supply and demand!" I stopped and looked at her. I love intelligent statements. She was a young, fun, college age looking girl, and apparently was solid in her stand.  We all talked, exchanged business cards and I asked if she'd write for my blog one day. That day has come! 

Meet Melissa.

She is a 2010 college graduate with a degree in economics (hence, the supply and demand comment!) She is on her way to starting up her own massage therapy business.  She is a girl with goals, a plan, and also a couple of blogs on the side!

Check out her yummy recipes here at http://sugarspicesavory.blogspot.com/ and her thoughts on life at "Something Beautiful".

When she commented on my previous post "Wanna Know Girls Thoughts on Friendship?", about girls needing to understand how to end a bad friendship, I asked her to write about her personal experience.  Here it is, in her own words.

"A harmful friendship in my opinion is one in which you constantly feel like your boundaries are being violated or that is always pushing you to be something else. An extreme instance of this would be friends who are always pushing you to do drugs or things that violate standards that you have set for yourself. 

Any person who is not respectful of my boundaries is a person I would be cautious about being on close terms with. Whenever I don’t feel comfortable just being who I am that is a sign to me that I need to be careful about how close I allow those people to be to me.

Mind you I am pretty straight forward about who I am from the start. I don’t get hung up on whether or not people will like what I have to say or who I am. My security and sense of identity does not come from what others think of me, so if someone doesn’t like me, I don’t let it get to me, and I just keep being who I am.

My relationship with my former roommate was rather complicated. I mostly felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells when I lived with her. I would do nice things for her like doing the dishes or baking a cake for her to take to a party, and she would get mad at me for doing it. 

She was controlling and manipulative of my feelings. I hadn’t learned yet that I am not responsible for the way other people feel. 

I didn’t have to deal a lot with exiting the relationship because I was actually out of the country when the time came for me to move out of our apartment. My parents moved me out and had to deal with a lot of stuff that I would have had to if I had been here. 

My parents have never been the type to tell me who I should and shouldn’t be friends with, so after they moved me out, I was incredibly shocked when they asked me to cut my ties with her. I respect my parents and as I knew that they would not ask me that without good reason, I did cut off most of my communication with her. 

I later learned why they wanted me to do that and I am grateful that they wanted to protect me from her. Although looking back, I can see now that a lot of the problems we had were because I did not have proper boundaries established. 

I did hear from her a couple of times after I moved out, but I have never really reestablished a friendship with her. When she did contact me, I made it clear that I had established very firm boundaries on our relationship. Examples of these boundaries are: where I would meet her and when I would meet her.  I had to send her the message that I was no longer allowing her to manipulate me through the way she made me feel, but I also wanted to be a minister of reconciliation as we are called to be in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. I wanted her to know that she was welcome back in my life but that it would be on the terms I felt comfortable with.

I would say that one of the other things that helped me in exiting that friendship was that during the time I lived with her, I was also developing other friendships (a couple of which have become my dearest friends). We are called to live in community and when we don’t have a loving, supportive community around us it makes situations like the one I was in much more difficult. Good friends have a unique way of looking into our lives and speaking truth in love. To have those good friends around you makes stepping away from unhealthy friendships easier.
Looking back, if I had had the maturity I have now, I would have been better with my boundaries from the start. Actually, I would never have been roommates with her to start with. We might still be friends if we hadn’t moved in together. I definitely don’t regret it, though because I learned a lot about having boundaries and living with someone who is drastically different from me. 

I have had to get very good at being “friends” with people without allowing them to be too close to me, mostly because of my job. Also, there are just too many people for me to be close friends with all of them. I am a huge quality time person, so for me to be friends with someone, I have to spend a lot of time with them getting to know each other.
I have had to learn how to be open with my heart and my life without allowing people into all areas of my heart. I firmly believe that God calls us to live life from the heart, to have real and authentic relationship with the people around us, but He also wants us to be safe and He doesn’t want us to be in dangerous or unhealthy relationships.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to worry about keeping people at a distance, but we would all be good at relationship. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where people will hurt us both intentionally and unintentionally. The people I’m around get my heart when I’m with them.

I’m just careful about how much of my heart I allow them to have. 

Matthew 7:6 say not to cast your pearls before swine. It took me a while to figure out that that verse means not to give something valuable to someone who won’t appreciate the value of what you have given to them. There are parts of my heart that very few people have access to, and they only have access because they have proved themselves to be faithful friends. I have had to decide and learn what my pearls are, what the most valuable parts of my heart are, and I have had to make the decision to hold them sacred.

Trust and relationship is built layer upon layer, like laying bricks for a house. The house is your relationship and each layer of bricks is experience that you have with someone. If at any point there is an experience that is harmful or hurts you, that is a bad layer of bricks and you have to take it out and start that layer over again. 

A good, deep relationship is one that has had many layers of good bricks and whenever you hit a hiccup in the relationship, you are able to look back to the foundation and walls that you have built with that person and continue to grow in that relationship. 

As far as helpful hints to keeping people at a distance, I think it will vary from person to person. Since I know that I’m a big quality time person, if I need to keep distance in a relationship, I don’t spend as much time with that person. I also don’t share the deep parts of my heart with them. 

I think it’s really important to learn who you are and what means the most to you in friendship and use that as a basis for how you decide to keep people at a distance. Decide your boundaries and don't allow people to violate them. 

I am a pretty laid back person and I will tolerate a lot from people, but as soon as someone oversteps a boundary, I let them know that I don't appreciate it, and that if they are going to be around me they won't go there again. 

Mostly I find that people are fairly receptive to that. It is easier to be in relationship with people who know how to have boundaries ,because there is less guess work to the relationship. These relationships are happier because they are healthy. It takes work, but the fruit is completely worth the labor."

Thank you Melissa for sharing your story. 5 things we can say for needing to exit a friendship:

1. If you feel yourself not being respected or accepted for who you are, pay attention.
2. Understand the different types of friendships there can be- some close, some at distance.
3. Set boundaries in place and keep them firmly. Spend less time. You set the guidelines.
4. Don't be manipulated by people.
5. Listen to the people around you who care about you- family and true friends.

(This is not from Melissa, but a high school girl said that if she needed to stop hanging out with a friend so much but didn't want to tell her directly, she mentally categorized that friend as a "two weeker". That means, she said no to many offers to hang out, but about once every two weeks, she would do something easy with her socially. That helped fade it out gradually. We all thought that was helpful too!)


What Do Our Lives Communicate?

Photo credit: Jadyn Noelle Photography

So I got a little distracted from this series by a personal issue and a current event but now, let's finish up thoughts on how today's communication has changed for all of us, especially teens!

Part One- Gone are the Days discusses the girls meeting I held where we went over all the communication problems now caused by texting conversations, instead of face to face communication.

Part Two- Distracted Relationships reveals that we adults too have been sucked in to the myriads of technology...enough to irritate our own kids at times.

So.  There are vast amounts of ways we communicate now. It used to be a hello and a handshake, or a handwritten, sealed, stamped letter that took days to arrive.

Now it's phonecalls, emails, texts, Skype-ing, Face Time and Instant Messaging. Just to name a few!

But many are the ways we may not be as aware of, that speak volumes about us too! And people are watching. Some things that have become normal for today's teen culture are fine, when considered and thought out ahead of time. Some things I don't consider fine. These are worth a conversation with teens.

We communicate through BODY LANGUAGE-

Tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, body language. These all contribute toward gaining true understanding of what a person is communicating. Is your friend rolling her eyes while talking to you or really paying attention to what you're saying? What does your body language say when you speak to friends?

Remember that when communicating through phone or social media, you're missing out on all these crucial elements of understanding true meaning. Many misunderstandings happen this way.

As a teen, can you hold a conversation with an adult? Can you shake hands firmly and look in the eye?

We communicate IDEAS everyday-

Whether we realize it or not, this is true. Do we pause to think about this? What ideas does your life communicate? 

Please stay with me through this thought. When talking to girls, I asked "What is your first thought of a girl who goes through lots of boyfriends in school?"  What does that communicate to you? And reverse it, what about boys who go through lots of girlfriends?

Your mind can come up with possible answers.  Not that the thought is accurate, and we are not encouraging judging people. I'm just pointing out that as humans, we cannot help but have an initial reaction or opinion to people's behavior. We may be able to work past that initial reaction and say to ourselves, "Well maybe that isn't true, I shouldn't judge". Hopefully so.  But let's face it, many people, especially in younger teen years, don't do that. It takes maturity. What we do affects what people think about us. And us of them. Right or wrong. Actions communicate.

Let's help our kids to think through initial thoughts of others, giving benefit of the doubt, not judging, yet being aware. And offering the forgiveness we all need continually. By the same token, help your teen realize that others are forming thoughts of them, right or wrong, and others may not be giving your teen the benefit of the doubt. It's important to communicate beyond initial impressions.

We communicate ideas about ourselves through PICTURES-

In today's picture obsessed world, this deserves alot of consideration.

Here is a wonderfully happy college girl like that I know. My daughter's roomie.  What does her picture communicate about her? By the way, this is how she looks most of the time! She is all flowers and sunshine to everyone she meets. It's just her. This picture reflects who she is.

During a girls meeting, I pulled up a random girl on Facebook that it took me awhile to find. No, I didn't know her, but half of the little square profile pic was her chest busting out of her rather small top.  Quiiiite a bit of cleavage shall we say.

I showed the picture to the girls. "What are your first thoughts? What do you think of her? What is she communicating about herself?" They obviously came up with answers. "Why do you think those things" is such an important question. She put her chest out there and that drums up alot of opinions, like it or not. It's human nature to have an opinion. So if you put your chest out there, odds are you'll drum up the same assumptions from others. Pictures communicate.

Consider the pictures you share and post on social media, or text to people. What are you communicating about yourself? Is it consistent with the image that you want others to have of you? If it is, great! Fabulous! If not, it's a good thing to think about.

It's way too common for kids to text underwear or naked pics to people. If you were to receive one of those, (heaven forbid), what does that communicate to you about the person who sent it? If you have sent one, what is the message you're trying to convey? Is that how you want to be thought of? Why?

I think we know that teen to early twenty years are pretty much known for silly, not well thought out behavior. I tell girls today they are the first generation that really don't have the luxury of not thinking first (unfortunately). If you take a pic, or someone takes it of you, there's not much to stop it from getting posted online, or sent to someone, whether you want it to or not.

Pictures live forever now. It used to be we could tear them up, destroy the negative. (yes, negative).  Now a picture is almost eternal! Let's be smart about it.

We communicate daily by CHOICE OF WORDS- 

Picture someone you know who always has something nice to say. They are well spoken, mannered, full of nice words. What do they communicate to you about themselves?

For those that are fellow fans of old movies, think about how classy and fun ladies were in the old Doris Day movies. Or Audrey Hepburn. Ladies were classy, well spoken.

What's fairly common in some circles today? For some girls to greet each other with "What's up b**ch?"  What does that communicate? It's a far stretch from the fun Doris Day days!

I remember being fresh out of college and getting one of my first jobs as a receptionist. A co-worker immediately didn't like me and passively called me a b*tch as she worked away next to me. I got up, went to my bosses office and said "I"ll not be working with someone so unprofessional and I won't be called a b*tch". Boss lady called us both in and we all had it out. I don't mind working with people who use language, but not directed at me. She never did it again, and we became friends.  In fact, one day when I was horribly sick at home alone in my apartment, she was the one who came and delivered medicine to me.

Another one, the EFF word is becoming way too common, with WTF and FML. If you don't know what those mean, ask a teenager. They all know. Because of texting, I'm afraid it's even more common with kids who normally wouldn't talk like that out loud. But they may type or text it.

Even if they don't say the words but text them all the time, does that make it different? That's up to you.

How you come across to people will either earn you respect...or not.

For those who are Christians, we talk about the difference between following culture just because it's culture, or following Scripture.  If culture says it's normal to send naked pics, should we do it?

We DO know.

Everyone has an internal measure. You know where the line is. Would you say certain things to your grandma or your pastor? Can I lead a girls meeting using the EFF or B word?

People know when to "clean it up" because we just internally know. Everyone would straighten up in front of the Pope. Why? People recognize certain behavior as wrong in front of someone "holy", for lack of better word.

It could be a fun exercise to pay attention to yourself for the next few days and try to see what others might see in what you do.

Discussion Starter with your teen: Go through each of the topics above and ask for their opinion on what they see at school on a daily basis. Hear out their opinions. For Christians, try and decipher what is just culture and okay, or what parts of culture contradict what Scripture teaches.

Thanks for staying with me. That was long!


The Blue Ivy Effect

Wow, this baby's got some power.

To change the heart of Jay-Z, a rapper whose lyrics have helped build a culture of disrespect toward women, into a feeling, contemplative father.

My husband just forwarded me an article. Jay-Z has decided to ban the B**** word from all future songs, within a week of having his own baby girl, Blue Ivy (mom/wife is Beyonce).

I applaud him and believe everyone deserves grace. I hope it a real change and that his love for this baby will cause him to contemplate banning other things as well. But this article by an African American, Dr. Boyce Watkins, has an interesting perspective of  "too little too late."

A quote by Dr. Watkins:

"You can’t spend two decades referring to other men’s daughters as b*tches and hoes, and then somehow decide that your own daughter is going to be exempt from the game." "Perhaps Jay-Z will now learn the frustrations of millions of other fathers who’ve been long hurt that so many hip-hop artists have trained black men to show the utmost disrespect for their little girls."

Rap music has affected every race.  Ask any teen. He is one of the most successful rappers. Millions of our youth are listening to his damaging lyrics.

Jay-Z has now seen his own innocent little baby girl.  He has now felt the heart of a father. It must have surprised him.  And touched him.  He probably doesn't want anything negative to ever touch her.

This is just a picture, just an inkling of how our Creator Father feels toward each of us.

Being a parent is a picture of the love He feels for us. This parent love is why we fight for what's good for our kids. He fights for our good as well. But just like we can't force our kids to choose, He won't force us either.

But He gives us little pictures, hoping to get our attention. I think Jay-Z just had one of those picture moments. He sees his baby girl and said I won't use the B word anymore in lyrics. Having seen her, he doesn't ever want her referred to that way, rightly so.

If only Jay-Z could see that His own Creator looks at him the same way. Can you imagine with me?

"You're too valuable for all that. I have a better way for you than all the negative messages and names the world will call you. I want to keep you from all of that dirtiness, because you're mine. You're different than that. I want you to listen to the love I have for you, and not the messages you could grow up hearing. I don't want people to pull you away from me, I want to protect you. Let's have a better life than that, together."

I don't like his music. But he's still a human in need of grace, like all of us.

Now just like Jay-Z and every other human alive, Blue Ivy will get to choose whether to listen to cultural messages that her father helped create, or to choose the hopefully new message of her father. And whether to choose the message of her Creator Father.

Hopefully she'll never hear the lyrics of "Ain't No N****" or "Money, Cash and Hoes" or "99 Problems", that totally and completely disrespect women. (What is Beyonce thinking? How does that work?)

Now maybe he can understand why many of us don't support his type of music.  Because we don't believe our daughters are b*tches or hoes and don't want anyone telling them they are.  Instead we believe they can find people of character who will respect and value them. We pray to God that they will not receive the demeaning message that has been his for the past 20 years.

I hope this change is real. Truly.  Maybe Blue Ivy will continue to have a cleansing effect on her father.

But for now, his banning of the b*tch word is an interesting cause for thought though, isn't it?

What do you think, good for him, or too little too late?


To Grind or not to Grind

It's funny. Same day I said on Facebook that I'd love to blog current parenting issues, but I won't for sake of my kid's privacy, this happened!!

Me to daughter-"So I saw the paper asking parents to help with winter formal!"

Daughter- "yeah."

Me- "So I actually get to? Yay!" (in excited voice. It's a hard thing to ever get your foot in the door at our huge public school)

Daughter- (serious tone) "You can help with the decorating. Just please don't chaperone."

Me- (in defensive disappointed questioning shocked voice) "What?! Why!?"

Daughter- "Cuz people will probably be grinding and you'll tell them to stop (in flat knowing tone)".

(She knows I would LOVE the opportunity.)

Me- "Well aren't the chaperones SUPPOSED to tell them to stop grinding?"

Daughter- "Yes. I just don't want you to be the one telling them to stop grinding."

Me- "Can I post this?" (finding humor at the subject matter and how many times we're saying grinding).

Daughter- "Yes. (surprisingly emphatic). You can do whatever you want with this, as long as you're not there." 

(respectfully said).

Me- (getting excited) "Really?!!"

Daughter- "yes".

Me- "woo hoooooo!!!" (as I started to remember one of my favorite Pinterest pictures I hadn't used yet. (see above)

This is probably more fun than chaperoning anyway.

Let's talk about grinding!

So remember back to when you were little and you always felt old?! In the know? Looking back, now you realize how young you were at the time? You felt so old, but were 10. Now if you looked at a 10 yr old you would realize they're just a kid.

Picture a 12 year old. Now picture them grinding. L.O.L. Isn't it just wrong? But they're doing it and talking about it and thinking they are waaaaayyyy cool! Well not everyone's doing it. I know that, but a whole lot are!!! And what 12 year old honestly knows anything about grinding? (if my kids are reading this they have now passed out on the floor in horror.) It's just silly.

Now as they get older, they unfortunately might know what they're doing, but good heavens. Does everyone realize what they look like out there on the dance floor? Or does anyone really want to see this?

This whole concept of grinding would be kind of funny if it wasn't so sad. And disturbing. Sorry, but I feel like all self respect has been taken.

Come on, get some respect or get a room. Is that too harsh? It's how I feel. 

The answer? Boys.

Is that upsetting to you? Some people are upset by it, but not because of anything sexual, but because it's a double standard. Girls should be able to initiate grinding too. Hmmm.

Now I have no idea of the nice man's opinion who posted this article. He didn't give his opinion, just merely referred to the study.

So my question is, who is most likely to initiate grinding in Middle School?

I'd rather not know.


Distracted Relationships

So yesterday we looked at how communication has sure changed...and it now has some hazards added, with texting, social media and diminishing social skills.

I've heard girls say they have been disappointed with friends who ignore them while they're together, just spending time on their phones or computers instead.

I personally notice our culture's obsession a lot in the waiting room. Everytime I sit in the orthodontist's office, I notice how no one acknowledges each other (not that we necessarily would anyway) and instead are all looking down at our phones. Me included sometimes, then other times I force myself to read instead, just to buck the trend.

Have you seen the funny commercial of all the people in the carpool texting instead of talking?

You can catch it right here  for a giggle!

But at our girls meeting, why did the room get mysteriously quiet when I mentioned how moms and especially grandmas I've talked to feel when their family is present, but on their phones instead of talking?

Is it less offensive when we are the holder of the phone and not the ignored one? I have to catch myself at this too! (daily)  It's truly addictive to have all of these devices!!

I told them about things I've heard grandmas tell me - how sad it is when everyone gets together and they're all on computers or phones. One grandma said her granddaughter asked her to move because "she was blocking the DVD". Grandma was just putting her in the carseat of the van at the time! Another mom lamented that company all came over but were on 3 different computers in the same room.

One girl said her grandma makes her put her phone down when she picks her up from school because it's Grandma Time. Go grandma!

My own mom told my kids to put their phones up over break, which they promptly did. Go Grandma! (I do practice this, it was during a time not much was going on, but then when Grandma joined us, put 'em up!)

I encourage grandmas to speak up when family is at your house. I don't mind. We've just slidden into laziness.  We all need to pay more attention to this.

THEN, the ouch. I have heard this so many times, but girls mention how aggravated they are when it's Mom on the technology when the teen wants to talk! Often roles are reversed!

When I first read this, and heard girls talk, I began paying attention to myself and realized with regret I was on mine too much. Even if it's doing business, paying bills or returning emails (all possible on the phone), it takes away from what's important.

Decide to notice your own behavior. Ask your kids what bothers them. Hey, this is a personal battle too. If a teen wants to talk, we'd be silly to be too busy. And if you have a little one at home, hoping one day they'll still want to talk to you as a teenager, practice undistracted attention right now. It's got to be in place before the teen years hit.

There is an interesting article about this, "Distracted Parenting" from CNN last summer.  It's worth the three minutes it'll take to read. Here's a quote to tickle your curiousity:

"The problem is, my kid sees me with that phone and doesn't think about all that real world stuff. She doesn't give me a pass. In that moment, she might believe my phone is more important than she is."

Basically, let's go back to the old days and imagine how people interacted before phones. It doesn't mean you can't bust out a phone occasionally to show a hilarious you tube clip, it just means be aware, be courteous. Don't let it be present all the time. YOU be present all the time.

If you see me doing this, remind me please.


Gone are the Days of "May I speak to ___ please?"

Tweet. Add. Follow. Creep. Stalk. Comment. Like. Send. Rate.

Communication.  It's changed. Right?

From the old days of a giant phone strapped to the wall with a spirally cord.  We had to actually stay in one place (in the house none the less) to talk. There was ONE NUMBER for the entire family. "Special- amazing- LUCKY kids may have a second phone line installed in the house for them. (gasp!)

AND we had to answer the phone with manners when it rang. "Yes, just a moment please." And when we called friends. "May I speak to so and so? This is ___".

Then came cell phones, then texting, then MySpace (thank God that's pretty much out), then Facebook, then Twitter and Tumblr. And on and on.

Echoing in my head are the voices of SO MANY high school and college aged girls  (and some moms of girls who have heard the same) who have lamented about boys who don't seem to know how to talk face to face. Like they are hiding behind technology. Too afraid to approach them in person. So instead the guys send a Facebook message as an icebreaker. Or ask girls out by text. Let me add that this is in 1,2,3,4,5 different states I'm talking about. One state didn't seem to have the problem. I can't share which, without ratting out the source, so you'll have to wonder.

The girls are not impressed.  I would sooooo love to hear the guy's side of this!! (Moms of boys, please comment!!)

On another note: Friendships among girls are affected by these new forms of communication too! At a recent girls meeting, this was the topic of our conversation. 

I want to highlight just a few things discussed among these girls. These might be great conversation starters for you and your teen!

1.  I didn't have to come up with examples, because girls read me hilarious conversations straight off of their phones of all kinds of misunderstandings via text. 

Texts don't allow any kind of normal communication skills to take place. In person, we hear the voice of the person, hear mood and expression, word inflections, which words are emphasized, see their facial expressions, hear the tone of their voice.

Texting can be so misunderstood. Ex. I didn't say you're stupid.  I DIDN't say you're stupid.  I didn't SAY you're stupid. I didn't say YOU'RE stupid. I didn's say you're STUPID. .

One sentence could be interpreted 5 different ways on a text.

Before you jump to conclusions, pick up the phone and call the person at least. Have a conversation.

2.  Therefore the girls decided it's best not to have important conversations, or fights, over text because it's too complicated with all the possible misunderstandings.

3.  All the girls had experienced this- Disappointment when they get together with a friend and that friend spends the entire time on her phone, or on facebook, or texting other people.

So much rudeness! We need to have some phone ettiquette in place.

The actions of that friend communicated, even though she didn't actually SAY words.  How?

I asked the girls what that communicates to them. The answer? "That they would rather be with that other person than me. That I'm boring them. They don't want to be with me."

Please have a conversation with your child about this. So many do this. Manners.

4.  Girls reported being kinda paranoid about texts received because they couldn't tell the tone of the text, simply because of lack of (or too much) punctuation.

Example-  I text someone. They send back "Hey!!" (they are excited to hear from me). What if they text back "hey". No punctuation. If two or three texts come across like that, I may start to wonder "are they mad at me? what's wrong??"  Silly, but real.

5.  Here's a bad one. Almost everyone had seen (or done) this- people texting someone ACTING like they were someone else. Boy, if that isn't a way to get in trouble.

But it's true, when you receive a text, there is no absolute guarantee that that text is from the person you think it is. Because you can't see them.

Because all of these girls knew of that situation happening, the odds are it happens alot. I've seen girls do this so I know it's common.

Gotta be careful.

I text. Daily. I'm not against texting!

But we have to see that all these new forms of communication require with it some guidance along the way.

Do you agree??!

MORE TO COME tomorrow on this topic. Stay tuned!!