Posts tagged Raising Children
Teenagers Are Awesome - Part Two | How To Handle Decision Fatigue in Parenting Teenagers

When my kids were 1, 3, 5, and 7, I thought my life was at an all-time level of crazy.  My floors stayed in a constant state of disaster...eerily resembling the status of my hair.  My car looked like someone lived in it...also a lot like my hair.  And every crevice of my day was covered in baby spit-up and snot...again, a very fair description of my hair.  My twenties could easily be titled "Jurassic World, Bad Hair Version."

But, friends, I was wrong.  With kids who are 14, 16, 18, and 20, my life is just now at an all-time level of crazy.  Yes, it's true that my floor, my car, and even my hair are clean now, but it turns out, there are other things besides spit-up and snot that make life messy.  Because right now, every crevice of my day is covered in questions.  So many questions.  And all of them leading to decisions that have to be made.

In and of themselves, there aren't many that are life-altering, but put them together, and you have one major case of decision fatigue…

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Why You Shouldn't Give Up, Mama

With four children entrusted to my care, I spend a lot of my time teaching.  How to tie shoes.  How to ride a bike.  How to drive a car.  How to match your clothes.  How to start the dishwasher.   The list goes on and on, right into the more important things.

How to forgive.  How to use your words to bless.  How to pray.  How to stop gossip.  How to strengthen yourself in the Lord.

I've been teaching these precious ones for fifteen years now, so I'm comfortable in my role as teacher.  I'm not always so comfortable in my role as student.  And that's where I found myself this week, as my son became the teacher.

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How to Have a Wonder-Filled Christmas

love the song I hear playing non-stop in every store I enter right now, the one with the line that gets stuck in your head so easily.  

"It's the most wonderful time of the year."

I know those stores are sending not so subtle hints that I need to get my Christmas shopping done, preferably in the store I'm in right at that moment, but I like the song for a different reason.  I like it because my mind re-writes it ever so slightly.

"It's the most wonder-filled time of the year."

And it is full of wonder. 

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Like A Little Child

When Keegan, my oldest, was little, he was the king of adorable baby talk.  There was "strawbabies" for strawberries.  "Crash can" for trash can.  And my favorite, the basketball "hoot" for that hoop he couldn't quite seem to successfully locate with his tiny, foam ball.

And then there was this. 

"Hold your Keegy, Daddy."

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A Blessing for Teachers (With Free Printable!)

New year.  New grade levels.  New friends.  New habits.  New teachers.

We are sending our most valuable treasures out into the world to be taught and shaped and mentored by teachers who didn't bring them into the world, wash their clothes this weekend, or put their breakfast on the table this morning.  Teachers who care about them, but aren't their parents.  Teachers who want to see them succeed, but don't have a lifetime of equity built with them.  Teachers who can't focus on four children like we do at our house, but have an entire classroom to take care of.

And that's why I take a few minutes today to bless my children on the first day of school, but also the teachers who are entering my children's lives today...

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No Substitute

recently enjoyed speaking to a friend on her podcast about pastoring your soul.  We spoke about the busyness, the noise, the tiredness, and the chaos that can drown out our own heart's signals that it's time for a pause.  A pause to be still, be quiet, and be refreshed.  It was a great conversation, and if that stirs something down deep, you can listen to it here.

But, as I was processing the things we talked about, I realized there is a pattern I've begun to follow in life that not only pastors my own heart, but my marriage and my family.  And it all involves TIME. 

I wrote about it here a few years ago in regards to fostering a healthy relationship with my husband, so I've known it existed, but I've come to see that the same pattern that nurtures my marriage also nurtures the deep parts of me, and is even the same pattern that causes my kids to thrive.

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Weekly Adventures: Six of Our Best Family Nights

Recently, Treasure the Ordinary featured a post on Family Nights.  That article has sparked a great deal of feedback, with many readers retelling how they, too, have had to go back to "boot camp" as a family and pick up old, yet important habits they had inadvertently laid down.  I'm encouraged that it's never too late to start over, and that this week's family night could be your best yet!  

To that end, here is a list of some of the most enjoyable of our recent von Atzigen Family Night Adventures.  In the past, I've noticed that ideas I've found online for this kind of thing seem to be centered around families with young children.  So, while a lot of these ideas could be adjusted to accommodate little ones (especially if you partner them with older kids or parents), my list here is centered around families with older children and teens.  I hope they will spark your own idea for an evening in, or an evening out, as long as it's with the ones you love most.

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What To Do When Someone Hurts Your Child

Ever since I was a little girl, I've read the Christmas story from Mary's perspective.  What would it have been like to birth the Savior of the world?  After a pregnancy where everyone thought the worst of you?  And what was it like to experience that birth far from home, away from your own mother, with only your young, terrified husband to hold your hand?  The birth of Jesus was a miracle in many ways, and one of them was that a young teenage girl said yes to the whole thing, trusting God to sort out the details of her very real life.

But, I'm certain the birth wasn't the hardest part for Mary.  For, just days later, she would hear the words no mother ever wants to hear at her baby's dedication service, spoken by a prophet who whispered them while looking deep into her eyes,

"And a sword will pierce your own heart, also."  (Luke 2: 35)

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Family Night

"Sometimes you have to go back to boot camp."  My friends words were spoken with a laugh, but the truth of them rang in my ears. 

She was speaking about her children.  About their tendency to drift from the family's boundaries and push the envelope.  About the need to come back to basics and remind children what we do, what we don't do, and why.  We love each other.  We speak kindly to each other.  We use our manners.  We don't eat things that come from our nose.  The real basics. 

That's boot camp.  And we just had one of those seasons in our house.

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What To Do When You Disagree With A Fellow Believer

MOM!!!!" 

I always knew that particular sound.  The one that said someone was angry.  It might be that someone stepped on his feelings, it might just be that someone stepped on his cookie, but he wasn't happy.  It was an angry brother.

And when my boys were young and prone to disagreements, I was hearing that angry cry far too often and became a little desperate in looking for a way to help them move past their differences and celebrate the sheer fact that they were brothers.  I often tried lecturing, but I knew they really didn't need to hear a lot of preaching.  They knew everything I was trying to tell them already, they just didn't want to do it in the heat of being wronged.  I needed something else.

And that's how it was born.  A simple tactic, really, but it seemed like it was magic in how effective it was.

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Believe It or Not

"You are everything I ever wanted in a daughter."

I heard my husband speak those words today, and they took my breath away.  I paused to watch what they did to her. 

She found his gaze.  A slow smile.  A nod.  A kiss.  And then she was gone, on to living life, which meant at that moment lunch and Phineas and Ferb.

There was no big reaction because there was not a new revelation.  Just quiet confidence that Dad still felt the way he has always felt, assurance that comes from knowing you are as loved as you have always been.

But, my heart has been contemplating the many, many grown women who are still walking around wondering what their dads think of them, wondering what it would be like to experience the embrace of approval that has never come.

And so, today, if that's you, you need to know something. 

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Ready or Not

My son is eighteen years old.

It doesn't matter how I say it or how many times I repeat it, nothing about that sentence makes any sense to my brain.  But, it's happening.  Happened already.  He's eighteen years old.

One of hardest parts is facing the fact that I'm actually old enough to have an eighteen year old.  I vividly remember turning eighteen, being eighteen, loving eighteen.  Eighteen is when I spent two months in Peru, moved to college, met my husband, and started doing grown-up things like voting, buying my license plate tags, and eating salad.  It's the year my parents moved across the nation, and I had to find my own place to live when school let out.  The year I got a real job.  The year I looked into the face of a man who wasn't too much older than me and said yes when he held out a ring with hope in his eyes.

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Favorite Things

My daughter watched the Sound of Music last night.  She was telling me this morning her favorite part is when Maria sits on the pinecone.  So many memories, that movie holds for me, since I watched it at least once a week, it seemed, while I was growing up.  And I think my favorite part has always been the "Favorite Things" song.  I'm pretty sure if the rest of my family experienced anything at least once a week, it was me singing that at the top of my lungs from behind my closed bedroom door.  It may or may not also be the reason my bed broke when I was nine, since I also tended to act out all of the children jumping on it with Maria as they sang.

"When the storm strikes, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel.....(getting up to full out gusto here)...so baaaaaaaaa----aaaaaaaa-------dddddd!"

It's a lovely song.

And probably the reason I have always believed in having a lot of favorite things.  Because if you have hundreds of favorite things, you can't help but happen upon them every day. 

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Prayers for the First Day of School

All the backpacks are lined up by the front door.  The first day of school clothes are waiting on their hangers.  The crayons are pointed and unbroken.

My birds are asleep in the nest, ready to fly away tomorrow.  And it's this hour that a Mama kneels and prays.  She prays that the small wings will be strong as they carry her precious ones into a world not always hospitable to young things.  She prays that His breath will blow, lifting them higher, above the reach of that which would entangle. 

And she prays that they will fly safely home again...

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Still In It

Today is the last day our house will have a child in the single digits.  Tomorrow, the youngest turns 10. 

She is thrilled. 

Her mama is trying to be thrilled.

I love this season we are in, with children getting older, able to do things we've never done before, having conversations we've never had before, laughing together at things they've never understood before. 

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A Surprising Chapter

Two summers ago, our ten year old broke his arm after only a few short hours of arriving at summer camp.  It was a quick trip to the emergency room and then home for him.  While his friends continued on with a weekend of excitement and adventure, he spent the next couple of days with his arm in a sling, waiting for the swelling to go down enough for the bone doctor to put it in a cast.

He was a trooper.  Didn't complain much.  But, you could see the disappointment in his eyes for days. 

And now, two summers later, out of the blue, came a gift.

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New Life

When my daughter heard the good news that the four baby porch birds had hatched, she was immediately sad. 

"Oh no, that means they will grow up and fly away."  And this from a girl who doesn't read her mama's blog.

But, she gets it.  The wrenching of the heart that comes with letting go...

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A Mother's Prayer

My son was in an accident a couple of weeks ago.  It was in a school vehicle with several other students, and it could have been very, very bad.  But, it wasn't.  Everyone is safe.

It took my heart several days to sort through the emotions that rose up during that first phone call.  It's taken many more not to allow fear to dominate when I see him pull out of the driveway in his own truck.

We are fragile creatures, us mothers, our hearts battered daily by this call to raise human beings.  A call that demands we let those same human beings, once tiny in our arms, loose to fly on their own.

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The Way I Want To See

"There is beauty and adventure in the commonplace for those with eyes to see beyond."  - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The older I become, the more I've realized that my life is not made up of hills and valleys like I once thought.  It's made up of tiny moments on the road that stretches over hills and valleys. 

Tiny moments like making my husband a cup of coffee...

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When You Have to Leave Them

My husband and I have had the wonderful privilege of traveling quite a bit in our seventeen years of marriage.  Most of it has been one of us at a time for missions, but a couple of trips have just been for the sheer joy of experiencing new places together.  We love it.

What we don't love is leaving each other or the children behind.

And that part never gets easier for the one who is boarding the plane. 

But, we have found a small way to make it a little easier for the ones left behind...

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