Texting While Driving

LOL = loss of life

I think we all know the dangers of texting while driving. We have all seen what happens. It gets covered in driver’s ed and in rules with new drivers. My kids seem to grasp the danger and they do not text and drive. The problem I keep running into is adults that text and drive. I hear reports from my kids about their friend’s mom texting while driving. This danger would have never occurred to me until they started tattling on other moms.

I have timidly confronted these moms with the hope that my child was confused about what she saw. But no, the mom will admit it. I get a chuckle and a half-hearted apology with an excuse – the triple threat of someone who really doesn’t care. So, I then have to go parental on them and ask  tell them not to text while driving with my child in the car. I then give my child permission to be that kid who will speak up and say, “My mom would rather you not text and drive with me in the car.” Will they actually do this? Probably not. These things should be left up to adults.

The only other option left to me is to appeal to people in the largest forum I have. Please do not text and drive. It is proven dangerous, even among very frequent and talented texters who think they can handle it. If you don’t care about the people in your car, think about the people driving around you; newborns, newlyweds, beloved grandmothers and adorable toddlers. All this flow of information could wait ten years ago. It can wait now. You do not have to jump at the beep of your phone like a trained animal. It. Can. Wait.

Here is a video made by real people with real stories. If you think you’ve got this texting while driving thing down, watch this, all 10:44 of it. Tell all your friends if you don’t answer them, it means you love them and you are driving. It’s not hard. It is absolutely not hard to stop doing this. Thank you. I’m done now.

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Let’s Talk About Santa and Elf on the Shelf

He looks like a nice enough guy, right?

A friend recently asked me what my family does about Santa. I usually don’t talk about this because it can be such a hot-button topic. As I was answering her, I realized I had learned a lot as a parent about the link between Santa and our children’s spiritual well-being. The older I get, the more God has freed me from my tendencies toward legalism. He has not released me from my firm view on Santa however, and I will tell you why.

At first it was our youthful legalism and perfectionism as new parents that kept us from playing the Santa game. Christmas was about Christ. No discussion.  When my husband and I did talk about it, we felt dishonest setting up all the back story that comes with Santa. Also, we knew that we couldn’t do “naughty or nice” based presents. We knew we would give our kids presents regardless of their behavior. We also found that we liked letting them know we had thoughtfully and lovingly chosen their gifts. If it is the thought that counts, the thought was ours, not Santa’s.

My opinion on this doesn’t matter one bit compared to what the Bible teaches. I know it doesn’t say anything about Santa, but if we look at  our calling as parents, certain problems present themselves.

We are called to lead our children to their Creator and His plan for being reconciled to Him.

Exactly.

That plan is found in the person of Jesus Christ; a man they can not see with human eyes. We tell them they have to believe and have faith. This is the same kind of talk that comes with Santa. Only one day, they will find out the life-altering, innocence-shattering truth; you can’t really see Santa because he is not real. He couldn’t see you when you were sleeping and he had no idea if you were bad or good. He doesn’t exist. It is easy to see how their childlike faith in an invisible Jesus, an extremely precious treasure, can be confused by this revelation. Atheists already use this argument to plant doubt in the minds of whoever will listen. The posters in this article are produced by Atheists and they would exploit any angle to “free” your children from the religion you have “brainwashed” them with. To me this amounts to a foothold for the Enemy. 

Now for the naughty or nice issue. If you are trying to raise your children to respond to the

just awful

Gospel of Jesus Christ, this issue is so important. We are saved by grace through faith. Grace means the gift of God is not earned by behavior nor prevented by bad behavior. It is merely accepted or rejected by humans but always freely given to us, while we were yet sinners! Connecting your approval of your child to your child’s behavior teaches the exact opposite. Both you and God love your child unconditionally. The rules of Santa fly a huge sleigh right in the face of all we want them to believe. Grace is so hard for humans to grasp anyway. The concept of grace is important enough to let it shape the details of how you raise your children. This is especially true for a holiday that is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus and God’s plan to extend his amazing grace to us.

Deception on the Shelf

This rant must be extended to the Elf on the Shelf. Do you really want to teach your children that the eye-in-the-sky is watching them and Christmas is all about whether it sees them do good things or bad things? Do you want their motivation for being good to be the promise of presents or the fear of less presents? Have any one of us ever given our child a lump of coal? You know their behavior will not affect your list or it certainly shouldn’t. Gifts are unconditional. That is why they are called gifts, not rewards or wages.  Teach them this biblical economy and you are sharing the unconditional love of God. It’s really beautiful when you think about it.

I know it is easy for me to say all this when I never started pretending about Santa in the first place. If you already play Santa, prayerfully consider how you can do it without the conditional presents and the convincing tricks. We do the Tooth Fairy, but very tongue-in-cheek and with a wink. Everyone has always known she is me because she falls down on the job so often. I don’t deceive them but we play at it. So, let your elf on the shelf get into mischief in the night if you want (by the way, why doesn’t he have to be good?) but don’t let him be their conscience or the family stalker.

If you are just get started with your Christmas traditions, consider not doing Santa at all. The only real trick to that is making sure they never tell other children. That’s not their job. Above all, keep Jesus the focal point of your Christmas. My mother always hosts a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. This is a great way to have fun and point out to your children that the Giver of all good gifts lets them blow out the candles and open the presents on His birthday. He’s just that awesome. You can not go wrong driving home that message while you are raising His child.

In keeping with the title of this post, please share your views on Santa and how you work it out at your house. Don’t hold back your opinion but be good….for goodness sake.

The Coolest People in the World

all 20 of them

The first thing I remember to thank God for on Thanksgiving is that there is only one minute of travel involved in going to Grandma’s house. When I say Grandma, I mean my mother. She only lives around the block. Every time I get in the car to go there for a holiday, I thank God sincerely for not having to travel on the holidays. God bless all of you who get out there on the roads for your families. I would if I had to but I’m so glad I don’t have far to go. Gma’s is where the coolest people in the world gather – The Cousins.

By Thursday The Cousins will begin arriving.  We, their parents, are still plenty cool of course but this is not about us, this time. Almost all of the cousins are teenagers and young adults now and they are funny. Not funny peculiar, but straight up hilarious. On Friday they will be wiping out the leftovers and playing games or going to the movies. As with all things cool, it is hard to say what makes them so cool, but I will tell you what I love about them.

They come from different cities, different schools or homeschools, different economic

the beautiful girls. the youngest is sleeping

brackets and they did not grow up together. Only on holidays and occasional visits do they see each other. With all these reasons to be stand-offish and uptight with each other, they all just jump right in where they left off, because where they left off last year was more than likely a fun place. The big kids still play with the little kids. They don’t gripe when the ones who can barely read struggle through a few hands of Apples to Apples (the best game ever by the way). They have been known to ditch the little ones by telling them they are going to the woods where the caribou are. Caribou hunting is a tradition now.Clearly, it is too dangerous for small children.

The Boston cousins taught us the whipped cream toss – whipped cream sprayed into your

turns out, looking up "whipped cream game" is not a good idea

hand then launched by smacking said hand with the other hand from underneath in an upward motion. Sorry, I will try to find a picture for this. Trust me it is fun. I think mine ended up on the ceiling. Gotta put some english on it next time. Yep, they don’t mind the old people playing along sometimes. At least they are very good at acting like they don’t and that counts.There have been other epic food tosses, like the bread into the mouth battle that left a minefield of bread for Grandma to find later.

And these kids don’t roll their eyes and complain through picture time either. As you can see, they make the most of taking 112 pictures in what starts to feel like 112 degree heat. In sweaters. They can do this with anything; Legos, Catchphrase, fighting over pie – whatever is going on is fun because they are fun. These kids could make or break the holiday they are given and they choose to make it great.

the very cool boys

This post has no big message, no words of wisdom on how this was accomplished. I’m sure Grandma prays over the whole thing every year. Other than that, I have no idea. I only want to let them know, in the biggest forum available to me, that they are the greatest and I look forward to seeing them every year. I’m sad about the ones who can’t make it this year. I’m so thankful for the chance to see whoever gets to come. Maybe some of that cool will splash on to me. A girl can dream.

Cheater Chicken Pot Pie

a delicious mess

I don’t really like to share recipes on my blog. They aren’t my thing really. But, if I find one I love that I think is good for real-life conditions, I feel I have to share it. This one is my attempt to copy my mom’s chicken pot pie without doing all the work she does. She peels, and dices all the potatoes and makes the crusts from scratch. God bless her. I won’t be doing that so, here is my much easier cheater chicken pot pie.

You will need (makes two pies)

1 small can of cream of chicken soup

enough milk to refill that can

4 boneless skinless chicken breast

half a bag of frozen peas and carrots

1 small can of niblet corn (or you can use frozen)

1 bag of frozen potato hash browns (the kind diced in cubes)

1 box of pillsbury roll out pie crusts

Cook the chicken breasts thoroughly with the seasoning of your choice. I never boil mine, but I kind of poach them in their own juices and a little butter, salt and thyme. Get out your crusts to soften so you can unroll them easier later. Put the a big pot of salty water on to boil.

While the chicken is still hot, use this trick on them to shred them.

Boil the frozen potatoes in salty water for 5 minutes. Then add the peas and carrots, and the corn. Boil for two more minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Add the chicken soup and the can of milk to the chicken. Then add the vegetables until the balance is right for you.

Because the crusts are round, I put this mixture in two round pie plates. Now just roll out the circles of crust and center them on top of the mixture. I just fold the edges down and in, nothing fancy. Make a few slits for the steam to escape. Bake at 425 until the crusts are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

nothing fancy

This recipe would be great to do in a bigger batch and freeze the pies for a night when you just can’t do dinner. I hope you enjoy it!

Let’s Talk About Crying

I can't believe I found this.

I cried at the hairdresser’s today. Yep, right there in her chair while her hands were in my hair. I was talking to her about how, if I had waited for the perfect circumstances to have more children,  I would probably have stopped at three kids and missed the last three I have now. As I said those words, tears came to my eyes, more than they can hold, and they fell on my face. She thought she had sprayed my face. I had to tell her it was me.

I am so mystified by this. I don’t cry in front of others if I can help it. I have said those words about my kids before without crying, lots of times. Even weirder? I cried at the same point again when I retold this story to my family. It was just as surprising and involuntary then.  What does it mean?

Am I crying for the children I am not having now? I feel at peace with shutting down that season of my life. Were there hormones released while talking in a relaxed environment with another woman? This poor woman has not been my stylist that long. I didn’t want to explain to her for fear of crying more. Not that I really could explain, obviously.

I grew up in a house where crying was a problem. If you started, you need to stop as soon as possible, sooner actually. I would cry at my piano lessons out of frustration and tell the teacher I had something in my eyes. I cried one day at school and told everyone I just needed my allergy drops. I cried in 6th grade math because I couldn’t get it. I wanted to disappear.

I spent most of my adult life trying to rein that in. I cry less and less for each year I live. I tell my kids to cry when they are sad all they want but crying out of frustration makes things worse. My family sees me well up a lot, but not full on crying.

as close as I could find to the moment

I cry at movies all the time. That one scene in Sense and Sensibility where Emma Thompson makes that unearthly noise of relief and joy gets me every time, and I have watched it a lot of times.

No one cries alone with me. Anyone crying will set me off. God just recently pointed out to me that crying is the one emotional response we can’t hide. Anger, happiness, fear even, but all the emotions that cause crying, all the kinds of crying, are so visible. I think He was trying to tell me that we shouldn’t ever do it alone. It is our soul’s way of signalling our need for others to come along side us. When God came to us as a human, he cried too. Not just in the one famously short verse, but multiple times. Crying is so essentially human.

Obviously, the subject of crying is something I need to give more thought to. I would love to cry freely when appropriate. I would love to learn how to stop it on command for my daughter’s upcoming wedding. I would love to know what to say to others when they cry. I would love to know what to tell my hairdresser.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Let’s talk about crying openly as a start to crying openly. I already went. You go ahead, in the comment box below.

The Clichés Continue

My post from Monday resonated with some of my friends so I thought I would continue the idea. I wanted to edge more toward hope and spring, perhaps the most used cliché of all. I was helped this week by a song from my favorite lady, Sara Groves. She usually has a song to help me through a hard time or put words to a happy time. I want to share this song with you all on this rainy, gray day.

Here’s a picture of me and some friends with Sara Groves when we blocked her path on her way to the bathroom after a concert. If it wasn’t such a bad picture of me, it would be my profile picture forever. I’m clearly trying to get a grip on my emotions so I won’t scare her.

look at me trying to get a hold of myself

Sharing this song doesn’t mean that I am without hope and desperately waiting for some. I want to celebrate the beauty of hope, truly one of God’s great gifts. “Now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love.” Hope remains. Amazing.

The Seasons and other Clichés

she loves him and he knows

I really love fall. I know almost everyone says they love fall, but not like me. I love it like nerd loves Star Wars or like Leia loves Han. I say to Fall, ” I love you” and it calmly says, “I know”, because I have loved it so openly for so long. I go outside and pick up leaves. We don’t rake our leaves until they are all brown. I annoy my children by making them look at certain trees and run to the window to catch a good steady cascade of leaves. I know which trees to go see; I could be the tour guide of local Fall color.

In the fall you get a string of days that are just warm enough to sit in the sun. Then the cold

so beautiful

comes and I sigh and think, that was good while it lasted and then, like an extra gift, another string of warm days come and the colors that seemed to peak last week, kick it up a notch this week. Even the first chilly nights are great and we light a fire and drink something warm and get out our sweaters. I warned you about clichés, but they are clichés for a reason.

Like all things that bring on such intense feelings, the love I have for Fall is bittersweet. I soak it up almost desperately because I hate the winter. I am cold-natured and crabby in the winter. Turns out I am a color junky when it comes to nature and I hate the grayness as much as I love the color. My yard turns brown and gray. The crabgrass we managed to ignore all winter is now a sickening blonde color and everything in my yard looks ugly. In the Fall I am clinging to the beauty because the dread of what lies ahead is so strong.

so bleak

My life feels like it has rolled ahead of the calendar in a downhill free-fall into winter, the metaphorical winter. I had my days of blazing intensity and beauty all around me, but slowly winter has crept into my heart. I have prayed less and zoned out more. I have criticized and complained. I used to cry at commercials but now I cry for no one. The worst is, I can write about it unemotionally as well. I am dormant now and, as with the seasons, it must be necessary. There must be some purpose to this dying time because I have been through it before and so has everyone.

I am not depressed nor hormonal, not any more than usual. This is different. It’s like God is ever-present but very dim and shifting in the light. I read my Bible without feeling anything. I hear sermons without connection and I haven’t sought out my friends. They have not looked for me. Although I know how common these feelings are, it does not help to soothe me. Soothe is the wrong word because I am not agitated or in distress. I am calmly slipping into dormancy while appearances stay the same. My work gets done and the days tick by but the color and warmth is fading from them. Winter.

dying? or surrendering?

I write this and put it out there because I tire of the women who share the beauty of life, the sparkle of their home and the happiness of their children without acknowledging the blah. There are great seasons of blah. It is the way of things. I am not going to try and spiritualize my way out of a season of blah. Most people in the Bible had theirs so I will wait out mine. Too many women speakers and authors try to tell us how to feel good about our lives. Maybe we should just feel the way we feel and give it over to the only One who can truly manage it. This is where Grace abounds, when we are at the end of ourselves and we surrender.

I used to think surrender, in the spiritual sense, meant to stop doing wrong things and start doing good things. But, if you think about it in terms of war, it means to give up fighting for your side. You don’t then take up arms to fight with the side you surrendered to. You are captive. The metaphor breaks down fast , but there is something to it. Surrender is not about doing. It’s about being. Right now I am being dormant, appearing to die even. But the clichés would remind us that Spring is always next. Always.

There is something so deeply comforting in this promise that the LORD gave to Noah,

” As long as the earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

all four. always

This promise was made after the flood, along with the promise to never flood the earth again. I am thinking that the God we are made in the image of, didn’t like the gray any more than we do. He knows what is best for us and, if you will allow one more cliché, we wouldn’t enjoy the summer if we never experienced the winter. Pray for me as I wait out this winter in my heart. I pray that by sharing all this, others will know they are not alone in feeling the chill.

If you can relate or if you have any tips on winterizing the soul, please share them in the comments below.