expect to keep your mouth shut...

in more ways than one...

like first when you say you will blog everyday in may. i never should have said that...

because it is my daughter's senior year. which is the mother of all mays. i thought may was bad all those other years. nope. may was a BREEZE compared to senior year may. senior year may is a hurricane. 

and then i decided to start substitute teaching in may. well, actually i wanted to start subbing in the fall but i posted a photo of my sub certificate on facebook. and people started calling me to sub. and so i started. and i love it. and it has been a lot of fun. but it is may. need i say more?

but this post about keeping of the mouth shut is different than that... it is about keeping some things to yourself and not sharing them with your millions of internet stalkers (i like to imagine that i have millions of internet stalkers...) to honor (and not royally mess up) your relationship with your teenagers...

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i see a lot of parents of young children posting adorable photos and captions all over instagram. and facebook. and twitter. and to everything there is a season. sigh. and i wish it was that season for me... i rock facebook. and instgram should be renamed lea-stagram.

but i missed that season of parenting and showing off cute babies and sweet toddlers on social media. my kids were already into their early teens when the camera phone sensation began. i have scrapbooks full of embarrassing moments and my teenagers THANK GOD EVERYDAY that i didn't have instagram, facebook, and twitter when they were younger. it would have been an easy memory keeping tool for me. but i also think/know/am painfully aware that i would have not been the most circumspect poster. i would not have respected their future desires in what i posted when they were younger. i would have established a digital footprint for them that might have truly damaged our relationship during their teen years. and listen people... you don't want to start the damage when they are young. it is hard enough to keep that relationship on the up and up through their teen years. so don't start the damage earlier than you have to...

because the season of the teen years is NOT the best time to post every detail of your children's lives. unless your teen LOVES that you tag them in every post. every photo. and if that is so then POST AWAY SISTER! and for the record... i am totes jealous of you.

but if your teen likes a bit more privacy in their online life (like they don't want anyone to know that they actually have a family life and a mother) then honor them by not posting every family dinner or froyo trip. let them decide which photos you post of them on your wall. let them tag themselves if they want to. let them have the final say on their internet footprint coming from your side of the interwebby universe.

and try not to be bitter of those other mothers whose teens acknowledge and even PRAISE their existence. they are most likely on drugs. the parents and the kids. at least that is what i tell myself to get through the lonely nights of no one posting photos of me and them on mother's day and waxing eloquently about my mothering prowess.... and if you are able not to be bitter, call me and tell me what drugs to take to ease the bitterness.

i jest. sort of...

i agree totally with this blog post, parents do you think before you post? by someone who would be my BFF if only she knew me, jen wilkin. it is a great reminder of this concept of keeping one's mouth shut (in a viral kind of way) even when your kids are younger than teenagers...

The internet and social media open up new possibilities for us to record and share the lives of our families on a much broader scale than ever before. Because of this, parents of very young children must think of themselves differently than in the past. Photos like the ones my parents lightheartedly joked about revealing are now revealed routinely to our virtual communities. The off-the-cuff comment my mother may have made to her neighbor about my two-year-old sassiness is now made by parents to hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of virtual relationships. I wonder how many parents realize that they are the custodians of their children’s virtual identity until they are old enough to manage it on their own?

jen says that most online oversharings could be stopped by doing two things. two things that are VERY difficult for me (and why God didn't let the smart phone happen until my kids were older already)...

1) thinking ahead

Every day parents use social media and the blogosphere to offer up photos and posts chronicling all manner of child misbehavior, parental frustrations, and mishaps involving bodily fluids. I think these posts are made by well-meaning parents, unaware that they are creating an online identity for their children. But with every post, we construct a digital history of our child’s life – a virtual scrapbook for public viewing - and I wonder if we might want to think harder about the trail we are leaving behind. Do our comments and photos preserve our child’s dignity or gratify our own adult sense of comedy? Do we post our thoughts to satisfy a need to vent? Do we miss the truth that our families need our discretion far more than our blog followers need our authenticity?

Consider that your toddler will likely one day see the online identity you have created for them. And so may their middle school peers, their prom date, their college admissions board, and their future employers. But far more important than what the outside world will think of this digital trail is what your child will think of it.

2) imagine them older

Parents, before you post about your small child, imagine a thirteen-year-old version of them reading over your shoulder. Your child bears the image of God just as you do. Does what you have to communicate honor them as an equal image-bearer? Does it provide short-term gratification for you or honor long-term relationship with them? Does it potentially expose them to ridicule or label them? Does it record a negative sentiment that an adult would recognize as fleeting but an adolescent might not?

Maintaining trust in the parent-child relationship should outweigh any other motive for posting. Think before you post. By all means, have a safe and appropriate place to vent and “be real” about parenting – just recognize that place is probably not the internet. Let everything you share with those outside your home strengthen the bond of trust you have within it. Tell your story without compromising theirs. Execute well the custodial duty of managing your child’s online identity until its precious owner is ready to assume the job.

i can tell you from experience that when you imagine them older go on and imagine that they are not the kids that want you to tag them in every photo or the kids that are so self assured that a few potty or half naked bathing photos won't matter to them and their potential prom dates.

then if you do happen to get the greatest, most self confident, mommy lovin' teen ever who posts photos of you and them eating froyo together EVERY night, feel free to contact me and tell me that i was wrong. it won't be the first time i was wrong. or the last. in fact, feel free to tag me in a post that says that i was the most wrongy wrong blogger ever. won't be the first time. or the last. my internet footprint can handle it...

but don't tag my teenagers. they like for everyone to think they are orphans.

i jest. sort of...

food for a mother’s soul...

“...Strong enough for toddler tantrums and teenage testing, yet broken enough to fall on her knees and pray, pray, pray.

Someone who knows that in every hard place is exactly where you extend grace, who looks a hopeful child in the eye and says yes, even though she knows every yes means a mess but this is how you bless, who has the courage to keep letting go because she’s holding on to Me...

...It had to be somebody willing to keep loving when it made no sense because that’s what love does.

Somebody who knew that patience is a willingness to suffer.”

from God made a mother by ann voskamp

disney world circa 2001...

disney world circa 2001...

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parenting & sailing...

so the ocean metaphors continue... submerged by marriage and sailing as parenting. i do so like a good theme...

my book club and i had a discussion about parenting a few months ago... and how we know we should do what we do as parents out of obedience and NOT because we expect results. but how do we do it and NOT expect results? that was the part we were stuck on. we desire the result of children who grow up to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. and we have to have hope and expectations that what we are doing is leading them into His arms. it is a good desire... the single greatest goal of our parenting... but how do we keep on doing what we do when we don't see that desire fulfilled? do we give up all the "good ideas and practices" (which are slightly legalistic at best and downright anti-gospel at worst) and just wait on the Lord?

there is a place between the law and grace and we can't find that sweet spot. and we are all searching pretty hard for that sweet spot. between the seven of us we have tried it all. every parenting book. every conference. home schooling. private Christian school. public school. we have listened to every "expert". in our past some of us (yours truly included) have been touted as "experts" and spoken on how is the way to "train up a child in the way they should go..." none of us are being asked to speak much these days. none of us deem ourselves to have any answers anymore. save that one answer of "God knows..."

and so i found this blog post very encouraging. because there are many days when parenting feels very much like sailing. because i don't know a darn thing about sailing. and there might be sharks around this boat...

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from tullian tchividjian's blog...

Only The Promise Produces

Mike Horton rightly warns against depending on “guidance technology” to put wind in our sails:

Like a sailboat equipped with the most sophisticated guidance technology, our Christian lives are often decked out with the latest principles for living, with spiritual guidance counselors telling us what will make life really work for us and our families. Oftentimes, brand new Christians sail out of the harbor under full sail, eager to follow the guidance system, making use of all the gadgets, enthusiastically listening to every fellow boater who has some advice to offer. Yet as many long-time believers know, eventually the winds die down and we find ourselves dead in the water. Then when storm clouds gather on the horizon, we discover that all of the guidance technology and good advice in the world cannot fill our sails so that we can return safely to the harbor. The equipment can plot our course, tell us that a storm is coming, and indicate our present location, but it cannot move us one inch toward the safety of the harbor. In other words, if we are looking for motivation in the Christian life, it cannot come from motivational principles; only the gospel fills our sails…While God’s wise directions are necessary, apart from the ever present word of promise that, despite our failures at sea, God is at the helm piloting us to safety, we will eventually give up on sailing altogether. Purposes, laws, principles, suggestions, and good advice can set our course, but only the gospel promise can fill our sails and restore to us the joy of our salvation.

The Gospel Driven Life, pg. 143-144

purposes, laws, principles, suggestion, and good advice are needed to set our course... but there comes a time with only the breath of God can move us to the safety of harbor or onto our next adventure at sea. we pray and we wait on the strong wind to fill the sails...

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     a ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for. {william shedd}

still upward...

this poem by spurgeon reminded me of my one word goal for 2013, LIFT...

Still upward be thine onward course:

For this I pray today;

Still upward as the years go by,

And seasons pass away.

Still upward in this coming year,

Thy path is all untried;

Still upward may'st thou journey on,

Close by thy Saviors side.

Still upward e'en though sorrow come,

And trials crush thine heart;

Still upward may they draw thy soul,

With Christ to walk apart.

Still upward till the day shall break,

And shadows all have flown;

Still upward till in Heaven you wake,

And stand before the throne.

{charles spurgeon}

and i made this little poster that i will have printed up sometime soon to always remind me to let Christ LIFT my eyes. my heart. my purposes. my head. so that i may LIFT others...

and i loved this post... the crazy good things you can expect from God in 2013

What can you expect God to do in your life in 2013? Some pretty incredible things. You can expect:
  • God’s mercies to follow you, and pursue you, every every minute of every hour of every day. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ” (Psalm 23:6)
  • God to meet every single true need that should arise. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • God to lead you, counsel you, guide you, and give you wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • God to freely forgive your sins each time you repent. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
  • God to wonderfully correct and discipline you if you should stray into sin. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
  • God to continue working powerfully in you as you pursue holiness. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • God to help you overcome patterns of sin that have plagued you for years. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ” (Romans 6:14)
  • God to use trials in your life to refine and purify your faith. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • God to give you every good thing. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

God has promised to do all these things, and many more. His promises are sure. 2013 is bursting with blessings.

from steven altrogge, the blazing center