Tag Archives: children

Graduation Day: Nobody Warned Me

Today is my children’s graduation day. Yes – both of my wee babes will wear caps and gowns and will graduate tonight. The how and why of how two kids born a year apart now graduate on the same day can be subject of another post or a private conversation for those who want to know. The bottom line is that they…both…graduate…tonight…

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document "my senior year" with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on  regular basis.

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document “my senior year” with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on regular basis.

My heart is full for them. Tonight, they will speak as the welcome speakers – together – at the ceremony. This summer, they will engage in jobs and internships that will prepare them in ways yet to be known. In the fall, they will both attend Baylor University – far from home, far from me, but full of opportunity. Their paths are in front of them, guided by God as they ask Him to guide. And I could not be happier about who they are today.

But my heart is breaking for me.

Some parents do not seem to have the same problems that I am having, but there are many of us who are. This is our first go around with this crazy graduation thing, and we are lost. We like our kids, and we have raised them to be people with whom we would like to spend more time than with some adults we know. We are thrilled for them – and even at times can’t wait for them to be out of the house because of the inevitable power struggles that happen at this time – but we really just want to swaddle them up in those receiving blankets from the hospital and place them back in the bassinets next to our beds.

And I am upset that nobody warned me of this whole crazy thing when I was in health class learning where babies come from.

I wrote that exact sentiment earlier this year to a friend as I shared with her that the boy now has a girlfriend and that I was getting to know his girlfriend’s mom. While I like the boy’s girlfriend and think that being friends with her mom is brilliant (in fact, I asked  her to be my chaperone buddy tonight at the all night party after graduation, and she said, “yes!”), I had no idea that it would happen some day. And I think that, more than the biology of how to make the babies happen, someone should warn you that some day you will find yourself in this state of jumbled feelings that makes it harder to think clearly about important things…like what to have for supper and what kind of ice cream is your favorite.

I don’t know! Can’t you see that my kids are graduating tonight? Please…don’t ask me any hard questions!

In the end, I doubt that anyone’s warnings would have mattered, and what good would they have done really?

Preparing oneself for a future grief rarely works. In fact, grief by its very nature is not predictable. We cannot prepare ourselves entirely for hard times in the future because experience seems to be different for each of us. How you handle your kids graduating may be very different from the I handle my kids graduating, and that is just fine.

So, fellow parents, let us go into this graduation season with some reminders to help us get through it.

  1. We are all in this together. I mean this! We may not have relied on each other up to this point, but we should rely on each other now. Sharing our grief lightens the load…and sharing with others who experience the same process may help us out.
  2. It is alright to cry. If you cry at the ceremony, do not hide it…whether they are tears of joy or tears of grief, they need to be shed (ask the biology kids about how tear shedding is important for your health!).
  3. We must not compare our worlds to each others’ worlds. Our houses do not have to be perfect. Your graduation party food does not have to be better than your neighbor’s food. My hair does not have to be perfect. Comparing ourselves to others robs us of our present joy.
  4. We must live in the moment. I need to get someone else to take pictures at graduation so that I can just live in the moment of the ceremony. Rather than recording the great times, I want to live in them.
  5. We have done our best; now it is their turn to live their own lives. At our house, we have a saying, “God loves you, and Stacy has a PLAN for your life.” While this stems from the fact that I like to help others discover their passions and jobs that go with those passions, it might be true that I like to meddle in my kids’ lives. I need to step back, be available when they want help, and let them lead.

This is a standing stone in our lives as parents. As many of us are going through picture albums in preparation for parties or to create books, we are seeing other standing stones in our lives. This one may be bigger than some in the past, but it is certainly not the last. We are not giving up our parent hat, but that hat is changing. We have had to be flexible as our kids have grown, and that need will continue as they grow into young adults and beyond.

Parenting is never over, but this particular chapter in our lives as parents of these particular children is over. As we grieve that ending, let us remember (and remind each other as many who have gone down this path have reminded me this year), that our parenting will change and that there are beautiful times ahead in the coming years.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2014…and their parents!


Filed under Education, Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

The First College Tour

Yesterday was a huge day in my life as a mom.

We went on our first college tour as a family.

This week is spring break for my kiddos, and we made the long drive to Waco, TX, to visit family and to tour Baylor University.  The drive was a blast, and our trip has been great.

I need to clarify: both of my children will graduate next year.  Because of the strange way that our family has lived out its life, our kiddos are in the same grade even though they are a year apart by age.  While this has many benefits, I can see how the nest emptying out all in one graduation moment could have its difficulties (for me).

My kids growing up has been great, but it has been hard as well.  And this whole “college thing” just makes it even more real. There is nothing like being on a college tour to help you realize that time is flying by.

Step back for a minute….

The girl had visited Baylor University in August when she flew in to visit family.  I could not believe that she had gone on her first college tour without me.  She went with her aunt.  It was heart-breaking.  I’m a guidance counselor. And I’m her mother!

I gulped hard and was happy for her while at the same time I hurt for me.  She was so proud, as we took the tour yesterday, to tell us how much she already knew.

Letting her do the tour without me was just one of many huge steps to come.

And our tour yesterday was another example of a huge step.  I trailed behind the tour guide, did not ask a ton of questions, and was not “that parent” on the tour.  I am quite sure that the boy was happy about this as he thinks I am “that parent” on just about every occasion possible.

As I rode the tour bus, it dawned on me that there is no turning back.  They are in the midst of deciding the next step in their lives, and – though I can say what I want – the decision really must be theirs.

And this step will determine the course of their lives.

It is a big deal.

And I felt that big deal most of yesterday.  I felt it all…

I realize that this is something that I have to get used to feeling – a loss that isn’t a loss yet, a future on its way, and a whole new stage of parenting.  The way I parent today prepares them for this future, but I have to accept that the new stage is on its way and will change how we interact with each other in the next few years.

Yesterday was just part of the continuum, and it is all going fast.

Too fast.

In my mind, I can still see the cute little people who stood – in their cute little uniforms – in front of our flat’s door in  Edinburgh, Scotland, on their first day of school in 2001.

And yesterday they walked across the Baylor University campus as if they were ready to stay and participate.

What made yesterday so awesome?

  1. The kids had prepared by looking at the website a lot.
  2. The kids had looked at several other university and college websites so that they were able to make comparisons.
  3. We knew people in the area and at the school.
  4. The school gave the kids free t-shirts (you think I’m kidding? I’m not!).
  5. I tried to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation (note: tried).

I will spend the next eighteen months trying to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation….and that started yesterday…

If you have a junior in high school, how are you doing? If you have kiddos who have graduated, what was the most helpful in the college search?  What has been the hardest thing about your kids growing up?


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Travel

Music Monday: You Were Born by Cloud Cult

One of the things that I love about blogging is connecting with people from all over and hearing what other people are into, what they like, and what is touching them or has become dear to their heart.

In response to last week’s Music Monday post about the potentially autobiographical elements of the song Carry On by Fun., my aunt sent me a Facebook message asking if I had heard the song You were Born by Cloud Cult.

I had not.

And I am disappointed that I had not up to that point.  Apparently it was featured on last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother – another “I have not heard of it” moment. Like I would do with a truancy problem, I did some sleuthing and found that the sitcom has a very cool premise even though it is known for it’s “typical TV sexual references.”

Cooler than the sitcom, though, is the fact that Cloud Cult has its roots in Minnesota, and I currently live in Minnesota – so…very cool.

There are cooler things about this group.

After the death of his son in 2002, the lead song writer (Craig Minowa) wrote over 100 songs to deal with the loss.  They have since tackled many of life’s big questions.

Some of their performances include live “paint jobs.”  Check out the website!

I love uniqueness in the music industry.  With technology as it is, just about anyone could sound good on a recording these days.  However, groups like The Civil Wars, Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, and now Cloud Cult have added elements (or taken them away) to make music in purer forms. When this happens, we are all drawn in and experience music along with the artists.

Check out You Were Born by Cloud Cult below.

Video found on YouTube. I hold no rights to this.


What I love most about this song is that it is essentially an oath…to love the baby forever and to be thankful no matter what comes “in this strange world.” 

And we have to believe that our children are born “to change this life.”

As we head into Monday, let’s remember what it means to bring children into the world.  And let’s do our best to protect them from harm wherever we are.  They are precious.

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What Church Means to Me

It is election time, and the word “church” seems to get tossed around, misused, and twisted to the point that I no longer recognize what those who are saying “church” mean.  It is election time, and people use the word “church” to add some kind of authority to what they are saying to the point that I no longer recognize what authority those who are saying “church” mean.

Church is not a term that I use lightly.

I do not often mention in a post the fact that I go to church.  I do not often mention in a post the fact that call myself a Christian because I believe in the saving power of Christ and grace that God extends to all because of His death.  Nor do I not often mention in a post itself that the fact that I a pastor’s wife.

I do not mention these things because so many seem to use these for political gain.

But being a Christian (a Christ-follower) is at the heart of who I am.  It defines me in ways that I want to be defined even when I fall short of the perfection of the One whom I follow.  To identify myself with Christ brings clarity to my life.  I do not have to struggle with the questions of “who am I?” or “why am I here?” because being a Christian simply answers those questions as struggle with applying the answers.

Going to church allows me to be challenged by others who identify themselves this way.

I go to church to join other flawed, broken, and needy people who identify themselves as Christ followers, and we join together to struggle with how to follow Him more effectively, more actively, and more sacrificially.  I go to church to hear the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit along with 200 others who hear the same word and take away something different, but there is beauty in that unity.  I go to church to sing praises to God along with 200 others sing beside me.

We live life together.

Had the writer of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes written the third chapter today rather than when he did, he would have said very similar things but with some additions (in bold).

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Notice that nothing is bolded.

With all that has changed since the time of the Old Testament, much has remained the same about relationships – and the relationships in the Church.  The Israelites certainly quarreled about everything from leadership positions to how best to raise their children, but they stayed unified under the Lord.  They probably did not want to be together all of the time, but they came together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.

Things are not always perfect in my church.  We are family, and – like our families of origin – we have differences from time to time.  But more often than not, we live life together – unified under the Lord and coming together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.

And there is a time for everything.

This past weekend revealed that to me very clearly as we had a bridal shower on Saturday morning (a time to celebrate), a funeral on Saturday afternoon (a time to mourn our loss and a time to celebrate a great life lived), and a Sunday School Picnic on Sunday after the service.  The picnic was especially great because it was potluck-style, and there were some great eats to be had!

The image of us living life together has stayed with me and will stay with me.  As I observed the picnic yesterday, I was reminded again of how we live life together. 
  • A grandfather holding his sleeping baby grandson talked with a father holding his sleeping baby girl.
  • Grown men and women playing a wiffle ball game with children as young as 3.
  • Two teens flanking their youth sponsor as they all lay on a blanket – the teens listening to the sponsor as she read aloud her study material for a master’s class.
A time to eat and a time to play.  A time to listen and a time to praise.

A time for everything…Amen.


Filed under faith, Relationships, Thoughts

Supporting Sparks with Gifts

According to Search Institute, sparks “are the interests that inspire, the activities that energize. Sparks are the special abilities uniquely yours to tend, to grow, to share with the world.”  Everyone has a spark.  Many of us have forgotten what our spark was or have not thought about it for a while.  But pursing our sparks could mean the difference between merely surviving rather than thriving. The Search Institute asserts that youth need to find and pursue their sparks in order to survive. If we would all be thriving, our world might be a better place for all of us.

In our society, we are more concerned about what will allow kids to make it in life than what will help them thrive in their lives.

While I was on my trip out east a month ago, I spent a day in the village of Rockport and enjoyed poking my head into many a shop.  One of the shops I ventured into was called The Wishing Well – a shop filled with products by a variety of artists including paintings, quilts, and ceramics.  The shop also had some supplies to help young people pursue their interests in these areas.


Pictured above is a colored pencil set in a woolen sock puppet case.  What a great idea!  If I had a young child who had shown an interest in are, I would have considered buying this as a gift for him or her in order to support the interest in art.

Sparks may not be what career a child pursues in order to pay the bills.  In fact, my own Spark – writing blogs – will probably never pay the bills.  But Sparks enrich our lives, allow us to thrive, and take us to where we long to be.  We need to support the young people in our lives as they discover their Sparks, enrich their lives with their Sparks, and learn more about their Sparks.

As adults, we should care about the future of all youth.  This could mean that we have to buy some art supplies, pay for soccer camp, or drive them all around town.  We might need to help them with research, connect them with a mentor, or give of our time

How can we support a young person’s passion today?  I would love to hear stories from readers about how someone supported them in their younger years to pursue their Sparks.  Please, please – share in the comment section!

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Filed under Education, Parenting, Travel

A Few Good Men

Today honors those who have taken on the task of being a dad.  It makes me laugh (as well as cringe) a little to know that Mother’s Day was created as an official holiday 58 years before Father’s Day was.  And I know that today is a difficult day for many whose past or present with the concept of father is a difficult one.  I still stand by my thought, though, about why we should celebrate (see Mother’s Day Musings).

In the simplest sense, there is little greatness in becoming a dad.  I do not mean to be crude at all, but a few minutes of biological intrigue is all that is required to start off the process of being dubbed “father.”  Although many put a great deal of thought into when and if they should become fathers, as many others do not.  To be a “father” in the biological sense requires little responsibility.  I realize that the same could be said for mothers, but there is that nine months of incubation – a bit more commitment.

The animal world has a great deal of diversity on fathering responsibility.

  • The story of Goldilocks does not tell the whole story about Papa Bear.  Most male bears abandon the female shortly after mating and have been known to kill or eat cubs – even his own.
  • Male lions tolerate their offspring but only allow them to eat after the father has had his fill.
  • Few primates father their young past their second year, but titi monkeys carry their young about 90% which gives the young titi monkeys a preference for their fathers.
  • Male Emperor Penguins sit on the eggs, and the females rejoin the family once the eggs have hatched.
  • In one of the oddest fathering moments (and perhaps gross-est from my standpoint), Darwin’s Frog fathers actually host the eggs in their vocal pouch.

We see a variety of “fathering” in the human life as well.  Simply donating half of a child’s DNA does not make one a father in the sense of one to be celebrated. It does, however, create some tie emotionally that tends to pull fathers and their children together regardless of how good or bad the father’s influence tends to be.

I would argue that it is not the biological donation that we celebrate on Father’s Day nor is it biological fathering alone that we celebrate.  No – rather, it is the act of fathering that we celebrate today.  And for those whose acts fall short of celebration, we remember them and honor them (if we have come to this point in our own lives…we all do at some point…) in our own whether by card or text or a simple prayer, for they likely have guilt for the way that they have not fathered.

Acts of fathering are critical to the healthy development of children.  I will not bog down the blog with facts and figures to support something that, in our gut, we call know to be true.  Better fathers tend to raise healthier children who become healthy adults.  And some sense of fathering is necessary in children’s lives.  We gain a sense of how the world works from the standpoint of our fathers.

I happen to adore two men who have shown me what being a great father is.

374255_706071905930_1262669302_nThe first is a man named Rick who entered my life at a time when I needed a father…and, it turned out, my mom loved him and wanted him to be her husband.  We have now hung out – living life together – for over 33 years, and it shows.  Whether we are folding laundry at the Happy Host Inn, shopping at Sam’s Club, or sleeping through the Vikings’ game on TV on a Sunday afternoon, we like being together.  We can almost read each others’ minds, and we obsess about similar things such as the weather, hockey scores, and construction (this one is a stretch for me, but every time I pass a site, I think of him…and this feels like an obsessions – especially during the summer in Minnesota when construction is everywhere!).  He has taught more about life than just about anyone else, and his approval means a lot to me.  He is a great dad entirely by choice without any biological obligation, but he is more loyal and committed than many who have that tie.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

249417_659686163330_3611758_nThe second awesome dad in my life is known to most readers by the moniker “the huz.”  To our children, he is dad – or daddy (when the girl is tired).  We did not plan to have children as early as we did; but when our daughter arrived a premie in the eighth month of our marriage, the huz stood at the ready to be a great dad.  Neither of us feel as though we know what we are doing most of the time, but we love our kids and who they are growing up to be.  The huz has a keen fathering sense that allows him to be flexible at the right time and to put his foot down when necessary.  He approaches discipline calmly and logically, and he allows our children to dream up big schemes for their futures.  He leads the way in our house by having high expectations and lots of love for the kiddos.  They enjoy being with him and would say that he is one of their favorite people.

Happy Father’s Day, Huz!

I am happy to know these two men and have them as guiding forces for my life as well as for the lives of my children.  They are foundational, and they are critical.  They are a few good men.  Today is their day, and they are celebrated.

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Filed under faith, Parenting

Decorative Duct Tape?

I used to be a staunch Wal-Mart patron.  I have no idea when this changed, and it may change again now that a new store is going up close to my house.  But recently I have found that I am in Target stores much more than Wal-Mart stores.  I know that this will cause great joy in some of my friends while great despair in others.  It is kind of like the Starbucks vs Caribou debate.

Regardless, the other day I had enough time to stop at Target to pick up my anti-crazy drugs (click hereto read why I take them if you do not already know)

.  Tangent moment has to cut in here.  I know that there will be some who are offended by my statement in this paragraph about “anti-crazy drugs.”  I am sorry that you are offended; however, because I am on the medication and have a diagnosis that gives cause for the medications, I feel that I can call them what I want (it’s a coping mechanism…).

Return from Tangent: While at Target, I found a couple of items that caught my eye…it is much like the “squirrel” moments in the movie Up (which, by the way, I do recommend for adults as well as children – but bring the tissues!).

Item #1


Several years ago, I taught English at PACT Charter School in Ramsey, MN.  During my time there, I had a few students who were quite creative with their uses of duct tape – purses, wallets, vests, and more…I think there was talk of a prom outfit even (if someone has a picture of one of my students wearing those items, I would love for you to email me!).  The point is that they did not have “decorative” duct tape with instructions; they used various colors, but purists stuck to the silver duct tape.  And they made lovely items by applying what they knew or by finding out information.

I have to admit that I am a little shocked that there is now decorative duct tape available with instruction booklets.  In fact, I am a bit sad about it. To be honest, I think that any time there is a craft kit in a store with instructions, it is a sad moment.  Where is the creativity in that?  I know that I would be much better off with instructions, but sometimes even with instructions a project is not successful (evidenced by my 9th grade home economics sewing project – a shirt with three arm sleeves and nowhere for my head…).

What do you think this?  What are the pros and the cons?  Is it better to follow instructions and create something just like someone else? Or should kids be left to their own devices to create?

For item #2, you will need to stop by tomorrow or Monday (depending on when I get the energy to write the blog).

Happy Saturday!


Filed under Education, Parenting, Thoughts

Divorce, Custody, and the Government–Oh MY!

IMG-20120520-00484Sunday was my 17th wedding anniversary.  With every year that passes, I am more and more grateful for the man who said “I do” even though “for worse” at times describes our lives more than “for better” does.  We have learned, grown, and gone through trials. As we come out still married at the end of each bump in the road, we realize that we are part of a rare crew – those who stay married.  We do not say this with pride because it has less to do with us than it does to do with God and His role in our lives and in our marriage.  Maybe a little bit of stubbornness plays a role in our sticking it out, but really – the glory goes to God.

Yesterday morning I woke up and, as often is the case, I read some news on my phone. I typically scroll through the headlines and read those that catch my eye.  I care less about how many fish the Minnesota governor caught during the fishing opener than I do the laws that await his signing.  Today, the headline about a statute that hits home in my own life caught my eye.

Click on the title to read it: Proposed Custody Changes Await Governor’s Signature

I posted info about this on Facebook and asked my plethora of friends to respond.  I heard from many whom I anticipated would respond, and I also heard from some voices that are not normally in my “commenting” crowd.  All had strong opinions and good questions.  Many spoke from personal experience as a child of divorce or parents who had been through a divorce.

Thank you to all who responded as you have assisted me in clarifying my own thoughts!

Thought #1

As much as possible, I firmly believe that those who bring children into the world should stay together.  I doubt that those who legalized divorce in (insert statistics here) ever anticipated that in 2011 more children would live without both biological parents than those who do. In my faith life, I would definitely say that no one should seek to tear apart what God has joined together. My preference would be that our country be filled with marriages and families with a firm foundation of faith; however, the divorce rate is as high (if not higher) in the Christian church in the US than in the general population.

In my opinion, we have become victims to a lie that we deserve better than what we have chosen, that we should not have to work so hard at our marriages, and that infractions or betrayals are “good enough” reasons to abandon the marriage ship.  However, if forgiveness reigns in our hearts, lives, relationships, and marriages, staying together can be an option. (Note: I do not support anyone staying in dangerous relationship, so please, please do not hear that!!!)

When my husband and I do the premarriage counseling session on communication and forgiveness, he always states that we do not forgive our spouse or expect forgiveness from our spouse because we deserve it.  We do so because God forgives us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross – an act of forgiveness that we did not deserve.  Those who look in on our marriage might wonder, “What struggles have they had that they would even know what I have endured?”  Although I am very candid in my blog, I have not “bared all”…and there are things that we have struggled through that have been very difficult – in the same way that most couples would be able to say this.  There are times that we have both wondered, “What did I get into?”

And we have chosen to forgive –  not because the other deserved it but because we chose to follow God’s example in this area.  Staying together is not easy, but separating does not seem all that easy either.

Thought #2

Divorce happens.

Because we are human, we make choices, others make choices, and sometimes all of that ends in divorce.  I would not stand on this side of the blog and say that I judge another because they have gone through divorce because that is not my place. It is my place to encourage and support marriages to stay together; in fact, regardless of our faith convictions, we probably can all agree that –in the majority of cases – staying married is the best choice.

Although we can believe this, know this, and live this, we have to recognize that divorce happens. I can believe what I stated in Thought #1, still be a realist, and accept that divorce happens.

Thought #3

Divorce hurts everyone involved, but it causes a great deal of issues for children. No one whom I respect argues with this.  I know this personally as my own parents were divorced when I was very young. Although I believe that everyone involved did the best that they were able, I still had a very rough time navigating what it meant for my parents not to be together.

Thought #4
The government should not have to legislate common sense.  A couple of the commenters on the Facebook thread really took this to task.  Why are we legislating what should be common sense?  Research supports that children survive divorce better when both parents are involved.  If that is common sense, then why should we have a law on the books?
I have to say that I tend to agree.
However, common sense has not ruled since custody battles started.  A couple of dad commenters (so glad to hear from them!!!) supported the need for legislation to support their rights to co-parent.  In the past, there has been a stigma against dads; yet, I know many who have been raised entirely by their dads, and they have come out with no more issues than I who grew up with my mom having 100% custody (ok…no crack jokes about my subscription of issues!!).

In fact, IF we are going to legislate at all, why are we going only to 35% and not to 50%?  Why would we not start out with the understanding that children who have 50% of the DNA from each parent should have input from each parent 50% of the time?  Honestly, these are just questions….I don’t really have all the answers – even if I act like I do…

Thought #5

In Stacy’s world, this is how things would go:

  • Unless there is compelling evidence of abuse, all custody arrangements should start at 50-50.   As a nation, we need to recognize that both parents are necessary in a child’s life.  If there is evidence or concern of abuse or neglect, that should be brought up to the court and taken into consideration.  However, dads have been neglected for far too long, and – in some cases – they have been allowed to neglect for far too long.
  • Every child whose parents are getting divorced should be assigned a guardian ad litum (yes – parents would have to pay for this as part of the divorce).  Guardians are “pro-child” – they are not to have anyone’s interest in mind except the child’s interest.  They would recommend to the parents and the courts what would be best if the 50-50 was not the best choice.  There might be times when 50-50 living conditions are hard (example: when children attend school in a district that is far from one parent’s home).  This needs to be addressed.
  • Parents need to realize that their lives will be inconvenienced, and that is just how it should happen.  While the ones who could not “make it work” move on (often re-marry, etc.), children go on living in the state of divorced-ness for the rest of their lives.  The parents are the ones who need to bend over backwards to make sure that life is as health as possible for their children.
My Last Thought

What is best for most children is that they are raised by the two parents who contributed their creation.  However, as in the case also of foster care and adoption, this is not true of children with divorced parents.  Because of this, legislation should not be in place, but judges and other law-parts involved in custody cases should be educated that both parents (except in exceptions) should be allowed and expected to have involvement in their children’s lives.

In closing, ParentFurther.com has a FREE webinar (click here to sign up!) coming up about how moms can make room for fathers.  I know that I often get in the way of my husband’s fathering, so I plan to attend and see what they have to say.  You can too – they are always at noon, so take your lunch hour and learn some parenting stuff!


Filed under Education, faith, Parenting

Slavery? Still?

Pinch me, please, and remind me that we live in 2012.  Remind me that slavery was abolished in most northern American states in 1783 after the American Revolution. Remind me that the Constitution’s 13th amendment – which abolished slavery in the entire United States –  was ratified in 1865.

How then can slavery still exist in the United States?

It does.

Not only does it exist “somewhere” in the United States, it happens in my state – in my city.  And that makes me so, so sad.  The quote below is taken from an article in today’s online edition of the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

…because of a large immigrant population, northern ports, and a long border with Canada, Minnesota has become one of the areas most heavily targeted as a spot for labor and sexual trafficking.

This is happening in my state, in my city – maybe on my block for all I know.

In fact, it has even bumped into my professional world.  One of my truancy cases turned out to be much more complicated than a student simply not logging on to her computer to do school work.  As the case unraveled, truancy was the least of our concerns as it became evident that this young lady was a victim of the sex trade and human trafficking.  To this day, I wonder what the outcome of the situation was.  I can only hope, only pray, that redemption was part of her story.


A few years ago, through one of those “God” moments where people come into your life and stay…and you are thankful, I was invited to attend a fundraiser/awareness/info night for International Justice Mission.  If you want to hear the back story of the woman who was at the bottom of this, click here and read.  But – that night planted a seed in me to know more and to consider how I might do more.  It has taken some time, and I am still not sure what this means for me personally or for our family collectively…but we continue to seek what God has for us in this area.

Last night, my family joined 500 other people at a celebration and awareness event held by International Justice Mission at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis.  The most compelling part of the night for me was that we were shown the new film put out by IJM: At the End of Slavery.  The film highlights the work being done around the world to combat slavery and human trafficking.  It also reveals the overwhelming number of people in bondage for various reasons.

There is a great need as human lives is now the third most “sold” commodity after drugs and arms.

Our family has attempted to learn more about this great need.  In fact, my husband and a team of concerned peeps have even brought information about IJM to our church through the annual Freedom Sunday services.  According to IJM and US state department statistics, millions of people remain in the grip of slavery around the world and in our own country.  While IJM works almost exclusively in international fields by training local law enforcers, supporting investigators, and creating a collaborative model including aftercare for victims, other agencies such as Breaking Free in Minneapolis/St Paul work inside the United States in similar models.  Check into a “men only” organization – MATTOO–  that is demanding change as well.

How can this still be happening? In 2012?

In his speech to the Anti-Slavery Society following the close of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass warned them – and warns us – that slavery will not go away:

It has been called by a great many names, and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.

He was right.  The old snake has new skin, and that monster is destroying the lives of men, women, and children here in our country and in countries around the world.

As we left last night, our family realized that awareness is truly a first step, and we are beyond that step now.  We need to move into the action stage.

Awareness is an important first step in getting rid of human slavery and human trafficking.

  • Do we know that this is happening?

  • Do we care?

  • Do we pray for their freedom?

  • Do we see it happening in our cities?  Would we know how to recognize it?

  • For more information about awareness, see the IJM website.

Action is needed in this issue.  How can you act?

  • Share your vision with others and raise awareness in those who have not heard about this horrible reality.  You could host a screening of the film that we saw! Click herefor more information.
  • Prayer is vital.  Battles must be fought in person, and those battles need prayer support.
  • Funding is necessary.  Be creative and think outside the box – how could you support IJM?
  • Consider a career with IJM.

As a family, we are unsure what our action will be.  Joining in the prayer time last night should not be the last prayer moment that we have on behalf of those who fight slavery.  How can we mobilize our community and our friends to see this as an issue worth writing to their congress-person about?  How can we heighten awareness in the people whom we see every day in our schools and work places?

What is our next step?

That is the question for us to day….is it a question for you as well?

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Filed under faith, Social Justice

An Apology Concerning my Facebook Etiquette

Last night before our family sat down to dinner, my son made a bold move and challenged me about my Facebook statuses from yesterday and Monday.

IMG-20120501-00423I need to step back a moment and share a disclaimer.  Part of our parenting strategy is that we allow our children to challenge our behavior when they think it is out of step with whom we claim to be.  When we are not being appropriate role models, they are welcome to share their concerns with us.  They must do this with love, respect, and concern.  It cannot be a situation where they are being brats about something.  We essentially expect them to treat us in the same way that we treat them when we discipline them.

I encourage all parents to consider this in their parenting strategy as it goes a long way.  Our children see us at our worst, and they often can speak into our lives.

Back to the story.

My son shared with me his concerns about the following two statuses that I had posted:

On Monday: Dear emo kid across from me in the library: I hear your country music through your headphones, and I am happy that you have diverse tastes…but I don’t want to hear it! 🙂

His concern with this post was my use of “emo kid,” and he questioned if I would have called the kid “emo” if I had known him or to his face. He pointed out that I often have stated that I dislike it when others use the anonymity of Facebook to say things that they would not say in person. 

He is right.  I am sorry for this statement, and I have removed it from my wall.

On Tuesday: Dear person in the library taking a nap: you are snoring. That is awkward, but you might really need the sleep. *trying to show grace today*

The boy’s concern with this statement was that I was actually mocking the person in front of my Facebook friends…being a bully, really.  And I did not know anything about why the man was sleeping – maybe he has an illness or something.

He is right.  I am sorry for this statement, and I have removed it from my wall.

Facebook allows us to air our grievances, publish our joys, and share our favorite photos.  It also is a den of mean-ness and causes a great deal of hurt.  When our children were old enough for Facebook accounts (the rule is 13!), we allowed them to have their account with the condition that they had to be friends with us.  We also have the condition that they must allow us to fully see their walls and status updates.  We wanted to monitor their Facebook behavior, and there have been times when we have had to ask them to take down their posts.

I never dreamed that, in expecting them to be our friends on Facebook, my son would question my integrity in terms of my Facebook use.  But it happened.  And to be honest, it needed to happen. As I examine my heart, I realize that I have become judgmental in this season of my life.  I have spent a lot of time with some very difficult student situations over the past few months, and that has seeped into my overall view.  I need to step back and put on a kinder, more compassionate spirit.

So – thank you, my boy, for being willing to share your concerns with me so that I could examine my heart a bit and realize that I needed to put on a new set of lenses.


Filed under faith, Parenting, Thoughts