Category Archives: responsibilities

Serious Sunday…Accountability

I’ve been thinking about accountability a lot lately.  I’ve been thinking that it’s probably something most people don’t think that much about, but it’s something everyone needs.

When you’re growing up, you have your parents, who, in their best efforts, keep you accountable.  Then, throughout life, we have teachers, coaches, employers and maybe even co-workers that will hold us accountable, at least to the responsibilities we hold in their presence.  If we marry, we have our spouse to hold us accountable, and that’s always fun… So fun, that many marriages end in divorce.

Any recovery or improvement program worth its weight, has an accountability plan.  Everyone knows that to overcome something, you have to have someone you trust, that you can be completely transparent with.  Someone who knows your weaknesses and will speak truth to you, even when you don’t want to hear it.  Better yet, someone who will commit to pray for you.

So, why don’t more people have accountability partners?  I think it’s because most of us don’t like to admit that we have issues.  Fear and pride are pretty big obstacles.  It’s hard to tell someone that you over eat, and the reasons why, or that you look forward to a glass a wine too much, or you loose your temper on your kids, or you like your computer screen more than your spouse.  It’s the same reasons most folks think they don’t need a Savior.  It’s the ultimate deception.

If you are serious about your personal growth and justification, you need to get transparent with someone.  We were created for relationship, and that includes accountability.  It’s not always fun, but it’s real…and worth it.

If you think you don’t have any reason for an accountability relationship, you’re in denial. Really.

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Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

I started home schooling out of desperation, but I have continued out of conviction.

Right before I took my 7th grader out of public school all those years ago,  I had been substituting at a couple of middle schools.  My experiences in those schools were not pleasant. Things had changed drastically since my days of puberty, and it was not for the better.

I home-school because I want my son to learn without distraction.  I want his ears to be  sensitive to profanity and his heart to be soft to injustice.  I want to teach him that it’s God’s Word that matters most, not the most popular kids word…I want my son to know that God is in every single thing in his life, and it’s his very ability to learn that comes from Him.

I home school because I believe that all children deserve to learn in the way they were created and at the pace that their brains can keep up with.  I don’t teach to a test, and we don’t move on until there’s complete understanding.  The time will come soon enough when meeting the status quo will matter, but it’s not in adolescence.

I have learned that when you teach to a child’s heart, knowledge and understanding will follow.  Grades are just a way to see what we still need to learn.  They are not the defining mark of any child.  Their character is.

I have totally selfish reasons for home-schooling as well.  I love the schedule of it.  I love planning activities with my son, and going on field trips.  I love implementing life responsibilities in our education, and I just love being a part of the whole process… We rarely run out of time for the things that matter, because it all matters.

I believe that the public school systems do have the children’s best interest at heart.  I also believe, unfortunately, that their interest can only be diluted when you have the increased population in the classroom, and the varying, ever changing, opinions of those in control.  It is a government entity that has taken too big of an influence in our lives, in places where it has no business.

I choose to home school.  I take it seriously.  I don’t judge you if you choose not to, but I do admonish you to talk to your child about their day at school.  I implore you to be pro-active with your child’s studies. Get to know your child’s teacher.  They would probably appreciate your support!  Know what they are learning and be involved.   It’s your right as a parent.  You are your child’s best advocate, and their character development is up to you.

When all is said and done, and the diploma is hanging on the wall, the adult that your child becomes is really up to them.  We can only do what we can.  As I have said before…faith, hope, love and prayer will always be yours long after control and influence have expired.  Take comfort in those and know that God loves your kids more than you do. Really.


A Week in the Life…

This week was eventful and uneventful…

My mood ranged from ecstatic to forlorn… stressed to carefree, and disappointed to satisfied.  You could say it sounds like I’m a mom, but I can’t monopolize the roller coaster, as anyone could have a turn…I will share some of my week, in hopes that you can relate and share yours with me.

I finished a book (Weird) and started a new one (Heaven is for Real), and went to my women’s group study to watch a Beth Moore video, and fellowship. I made it to a few business appointments that went well, and learned some things about the community where I live.  I participated in lively conversations about homosexuality and christianity, as well as government and morality, and didn’t loose any friends in the process.

One of my kids needed lots of reassurance, and one needed hope, one needed cash and they all needed time.  I visited a doctor, and a hospital, and watched my sons be brave.  I met a “new” potential girlfriend, that I actually really liked, and I had a couple soul searching conversations about the future.  My daughter surprised me with her new tattoo and then I had to social network my “approval” of it…

I ate really well this week, and was rarely alone.  I had a few fabulous lunches, with good friends, and even a date night with my handsome man.  Some marvelous live music was part of the week, from a jazz band to an oldies band. I even attended a birthday party, and made some new friends…

The homeschool expo was in town, and I got out with just a few purchases… my bag was less than 10 pounds… I think.  I visited a non-profit that deals with homelessness on levels that I’ve never seen.  I gave a few dollars to a jobless man sitting on a corner.  Both experiences convicted my heart, and made me reflect on the billions of blessings I have.

I prayed, studied, cleaned, cooked, shopped, banked, and did some laundry. I even tweeted, texted, emailed, facebooked, checked in, and linked in…The bills got paid, and the account is balanced, although my desk is still a mess, and my file pile should have it’s own zip code.  I watched some stupid tv, and some not so stupid…mostly stupid.

I did enforce some rules, and debated some negotiables… I lamented over my youth when physical exhaustion took over, and I lamented over my children’s youth… because they are just so dang grown.

I entered a weight loss contest, and finished a huge project that has taken months of my time… and now, I attempt to blog.

I’m sure I forgot something, but I’m too tired to reflect any longer.  My life is good, and I don’t take it for granted.  Even when the trials come, I know how blessed I am and my gratitude list is long… Really.

How was your week and what are you grateful for?


“tough”

Have you ever made your kids do something that they really didn’t want to do, even though it killed you to do it?

The first thought that pops in my mind, is that dreaded, “all night cry.”  The night where you have finally reached your limit of jumping up to find a cute baby that just wants to play or be held… You went in the room, told the baby that you loved them, then, left them there… to cry it out, while you sat on the other side of the door, crying it out with them.

According to the internet, the term “tough love” made it’s debut in 1977.  Any phrase with the word “tough” in it, just doesn’t sound good… tough crowd? tough luck? tough meat?…You get the point.  It takes a word that otherwise would be wonderful all by itself, and makes it…tough.  In the world of parenting, it can mean almost unbearable.

I had to make my kids do a couple of things this past week that they had no intentions of doing on their own.  All of my children are grown, or almost grown, so I can’t implement the handy dandy, “because I said so” closing argument.  They are old enough to reason, understand, and have the opportunity to submit peacefully with full disclosure.  Don’t get me wrong, we certainly allow for discussion, but disrespect is punishable by law.  Anyway, it is always a tough situation when these times come around.

Why do we do it?  I don’t mean to sound like a cliché’ but it really does hurt us more than it hurts them.  It breaks my heart to see one of my kids forced into doing anything, especially when I know it is for their own growth and good.  I’ve come to the conclusion though, it’s just not the pain of seeing them upset, but it’s the “forcing” that is the heart breaker…it’s the desire to want them to trust us and seeing the lack thereof.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous, if every good thing we wanted our kids to do, they agreed, and went forth with a smile and a grateful heart?  I’d have had a lot more kids…

I don’t mean to write another post about discipline, but “tough love” falls under that category.  When you follow through in those times that seem the hardest, it is discipline, but discipline more for the parent then the child.

Scripture has much to say about it too; in one of many places we see a great section in Hebrews 12:5-11

5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I can only imagine how much it grieves our Father in Heaven to “tough love” us.  He loves us so much, he provided a way for all of our sins to be forgiven, but He did not take away the consequences of those messes.  We must always keep that in mind, not only for our children, but for us as parents.

I have hope in the possibility that my offspring will be grateful someday.  If not, I’ve at least given them plenty of subject matter for their therapy sessions.  Really.


Serious Saturday…The Warrior

What is a warrior?  The dictionary defines it as 1. One who is engaged in or experienced in battle. 2. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.

So, what does that mean?  A warrior knows the battle field and has a plan. A warrior is pro-active and reactive.  He is engaged in the battle completely, mind, body and soul.  A warrior knows the enemy.  A warrior has a good support team, and through constant communication, is making sure he is equipped with the right weapons and information.

In the Bible, God says in Psalms 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

According to this verse, parents are warriors.  Our children are arrows safe in our quivers. We take the twig, smooth out the knots, and sharpen the point, making it “ready  to launch” at the target of their future.  Wow! How do we do that?  How do we, as parents, prepare our kids for their futures, and, more importantly, for their own battles?

We must be primarily pro-active verses reactive. Are we involved in their education and interests?  Or do we just run them around, and try to have quick conversations between activities, homework, and friends?  Are your children’s teachers, coaches, and friends the biggest influences in their lives?  Are we just passively trusting in all of the activities, and people to shape them?  If this is your routine, keep reading…

If you are a parent, then you have been called to be a warrior.  The enemy is seeking to devour them. And you. (1 Peter 5:8) We have been given the battle plans, weapons, and armor in The Word, and we have the best support system in the universe through Christ. (Eph 6:10-18) We can be in constant contact with the creator of life itself, who has already defeated the enemy we face.  Do our kids know this?  Above all the lessons we can teach our children, these are the most important.  You will not always be able to be there for your kids, but Christ can.  You can’t completely restore them after they have been defeated in a battle, but Christ can.  You will not always have the perfect words to say to them… but The Word will always be perfect.

So, what advice can I offer?  After raising 3 kids with the 4th in middle school, I have had many failures and victories.  But keeping with my warrior theme, I will admonish you to teach them about Christ first and foremost.  Don’t think that an hour or 2 a week at Church will adequately counter the culture war zone we are living in.  I think about how many hours a day or week that they are exposed to things that aren’t on the target, and I am pro-active to the opposite.  Reading and discussing The Word and praying together daily is our smoothing and sharpening process.  Make the quiver a place of humility and grace.  Raising children is a battle.  It’s like one of those World Wars that last for years…There will be victories and miracles, as well as epic fails, and sorrow.  It’s an honor and a blessing to be called as a warrior…now go act like one.

 


Serious Saturday…Are you really where you are?

Are you really where you are?

Are you always  100% present where ever you go?  I’m not. I hadn’t even really noticed till recently.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I am referring to the ever present “cell phone” internet technology.

It has swept our nation at the speed of light and it is totally accepted.  Anyone who doesn’t jump on this rocket is considered old school and behind the times.  Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that modern technology offers a vast array of information, connections and progress that have never been seen before.  But how good is it?  Or, should I say, how responsible are we with it?

We have always been “those” parents when it comes to technology.  Our kids could not even have one till they were old enough to help pay for it.  They had to sign a “Responsible Cellular Phone Usage Agreement” and they didn’t get internet on the things till they turned 18.  We also made them turn their phones in every night by 11PM.  If they missed the turn in, they lost the phone for the entire next day.  I have made a 17 year old cry enforcing this rule… Really. We always stressed that cell phones were a privilege and not a “right”…

Today, everyone treats this technology as a “right” and a necessity. Myself included.  I have gone back home to get my phone if I’ve left it behind.  Spending a day without it is a withdraw process for crying out loud.  How did this happen?  How did we become a society that spends time with family and friends, while we chat, text and update the rest of the world.  When did we get to the point of thinking it’s OK to look at our email and facebook while driving on the interstate?  Seriously?  We complain about customer service, but how many times have you blown off a sales associate or check out clerk because you were on the phone or looking at it.

The other problem this age of information has presented, is the familiarity issue.  We share so much on facebook and twitter, that “friends” or “followers” think they really know us, which they just might, but do we know them?  We have all become little movie stars of our own social media and we don’t even realize it.  I remember when Twitter first made it’s debut and I laughed!  I thought, “who really would care?”… apparently, I do and so do millions of others.

As I step down from my soapbox, I will admit that our family are proud owners of every “i” product that is available.  We do not manage our screen time as well as we should at times, which as been the root of my rant. It’s funny how what annoys us the most about others, is usually what annoys us the most about ourselves.

If you take anything from this post, my prayer is it will cause you to pause, and leave your phone home now and again.  Turn it off when you get in the car and never bring it to the dinner table.  Maybe you will dust off a board game on a Friday night and LOL with your loved ones and realize there’s no substitute for the real face time that is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  Chit chat with the sales clerk and smile in the check out line.  What if, just what if, we looked at our Bible’s as often as our screens? What if we guarded our hearts, like we regarded our phones and what if we cared more about our relationship with our Creator then how many “friends” or “followers” we have.

Do you have balance?  Please share how you do it, I would LOVE to hear your story…


What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever thought about what’s in a name?  I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I’ve found myself missing mine sometimes.  Not that I have felt a void, or a longing, but I noticed that when I hear it, I get one of those “oh! hey! that’s me!” kinda feelings.  If you’re not sure what I mean by this, let me explain…

We all come into this world nameless. Then our parents dub us something that they have either pondered and prayed over, really like or has some special meaning to them.  Sometimes it makes me wonder though, when I see kids named Apple or Blanket…  Anyway, my name is Jennifer.  It is of Welsh origin and it means, “fair and smooth”.  It’s ranked #6 in popularity, which should annoy my mom, as she named me this thinking it was unique. Although, maybe she was the trend setter, as it hit it’s peak in 1970, taking the #1 spot, just a few years after I was born.

By the age of 5 I had decided that the playful shorter version of my name, Jenny, which I had been called regularly, had reached it’s limit.  Since I was headed to Kindergarten, I was too old for such a cute identity and I was to be known as Jennifer from that day forward.  And so it was.

Fast forward 10 years and a new name had been bestowed.  I am now also know as Mom.  It was a pretty awesome day to say the least.  I loved it.  I could hear it all day long!  I think I cried the first time my son actually said it.  Those emotions were just as strong when I birthed the next three.  The name Mom is the bomb.

Marriage brings a new name into the mix as well.  I must say though, the first time I was called “Mrs. Mottola”  I looked for my mother-in-law, then realized it was me.. and I liked it.  I am proud to be my husband’s Mrs.

I have several other names now too.  My husband calls me “Honey” a lot.  I answer to “Hey” and “Ma’am”  although I prefer “Miss”.. the kids in the neighborhood call me Miss. Jennifer.  My friends usually call me “Jen” or “Hey Girlfriend”.  I like these names, and the identities that accompany them.   I’m sure there are other things I have been called, some nice and some not-so-nice.  The point is, names are not just names.  They are titles. Identities. There is power and emotion behind them.

Lately when I hear, “Jennifer”, it has reminded me that I am me.  It’s the title of my identity.  I am a child of God, a sinful human whose been rescued from herself, who loves deeply and cares too much, who’s passionate and strong willed and has a mix of gifts and talents that God has given me. No one ever had or ever will have the exact DNA as me.. or as you.

Sometimes I think having so many titles can keep us so busy fulfilling them, that we can forget who’s at the core.  Have you forgotten who you really are? My name is Jennifer.  It’s nice to meet you.  Who are you?