Thursday, October 20, 2016

Becoming Independent

I know, long time no post.  I haven't really had anything to say; it's shocking, I know.  I do have something to say today though.  IF you disagree with what I'm saying, ok great for you.  These are things I've just noticed in the last year & I thought I would share it with you.  



I sub…a lot, and I love it.  I sub middle and high school aged kids.  They are fun and crazy and make me laugh.  I get to be like their favorite aunt.  I come in, love on kids, help them with their work or give them a test, and then I leave.  Most kids are excited to see me.  They know they get a break from the strictness of their teacher for a day.  My goal is to help the kids learn something new, finish their work with excellence & have fun each time I sub. But, here lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among 12-18 year olds, they are utterly dependent on their teachers and parents for everything.

It's OK if they fail
Hey mom and dad, stop.  You are crippling your child.  It’s your child’s responsibility to remember assignments, homework, and what they need for class.  If they don’t remember it, allow them to suffer the consequences.  Even if they get a zero.  The goal is for them to learn to do it on their own.

I know you don’t want your child to fail, no parent wants that, but I also hope you won’t be following your child to college to help them there as well.  What about after college when your child has their own job?  Are you going to be following them around as a personal assistant?  Your well intentioned help will become your child’s crutch.  Your job is to give your child roots when they are young & help them learn to fly on their own as they get older.

Roots & Wings
Obviously, when I think of roots I think of a tree.  Trees grow roots to help keep them upright and to sustain them.  The roots grow bigger as the tree becomes larger.  If there is something wrong with a tree’s root system, or it becomes stunted, it can kill the tree.  When our children are babies, we start establishing their root base.  We love them and see to their needs when they are young.  We help them discover who they are; what their beliefs are; and what they can accomplish at each developmental stage.  We love and nurture and encourage and discipline those roots until our little sapling is a full blown tree with the ability to stand on its own.  But, if we stunt the growth of our children by doing everything for them, they learn their way is never good enough.  They learn that they don’t need to be responsible, because mom & dad can do it for them.  Along with a strong root base, our kids need wings. 

I love the idea of a momma bird encouraging her fledging to leave the nest.  She knows her little baby can’t stay with her forever.  It will need to venture into the great big world and build a nest of their own.  (and hopefully find a mate have little baby birds of their own, because the momma bird really wants lots of grandbirds.)  How does she encourage her baby to grow up?  As she feeds her fledging, she will move farther and farther towards the edge of the nest, until eventually the baby leaps out and falls/flies.  She also does this so the fledging will associate flying with eating instead of falling.  If the baby won’t fly of its own accord, the mother will push them out.*  I love this.  Momma bird doesn’t expect her baby to jump out of the nest right away.  Each time she feeds the fledgling, she is encouraging it to move a little more towards the edge, but at some point she knows if her baby won’t fly on its own she has to do something a little more drastic.

You can be this way with your kids as well.  Teach your children the basics of how to take care of things on their own while they are young, and help them to refine those strategies as they get older.  It’s not your job make their lunch every day, clean up their rooms, do their laundry, check their Google classroom calendar every night to make sure they are completing their homework.  It’s not your job to do any assignment for them, or email the teacher about why they couldn’t complete their work.  It’s not even your job to use ‘Find my iPhone’ to figure out where they are when they leave for college.  If they have a problem with a teacher or another student, help your child know what questions to ask, but don’t do it for them.  When they mess-up, love them and show mercy if it’s needed; guide them through their mess-up, but don’t clean it up for them, no matter how particularly messy it is.  (this is easier said than done!)  They will be stronger after they do it themselves, and hopefully learned a valuable lesson as well.   Our jobs are to love, guide, and empower.  You can do it brave mama & daddy bird, and remember you are not walking alone. 


*(reference.com)  

Celebrating another day to love kids,
~ashley


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Walking Across the Room

I know this is my third post this week.  And yes, I'm just as amazed as you are.  But something happened to me today & yes, it relates back to my Honduras trip.

Each morning, someone would give a devotion/message/challenge.  One morning, one of the men challenged us to, just walk across the room.  He is reading a book by the same title & told us that for each person it would look different, but as believers we're called to share Christ.  If you are shy, walking across the room (WATR) may be you talking to someone you don't know.  It might be sharing your testimony or praying for someone you just met.

WATR is recognizing the moments God has placed you in & using your life moment for His glory.  Well, today I had one.  Through a series of unimportant events, I ended up at the FedEx distribution center in Birmingham.  A box my company was shipping was going to a nonexistent address & I had to get it so it wouldn't end up being shipped back to Tampa.  Was I upset?  Yep, I was.  I missed my favorite workout classes that are only offered only 2 days a week, and I really need to be in the gym.  Eating the wonderful food in Honduras did not help my waistline.  I found out I had to pick up said box at a funeral yesterday.  An out of town funeral.  Insert unhappy face emoji here.  :(  But, we believe in great customer service, so this morning off I go.

I walk into the guard shack and gave a perky good morning & how are you, because that's what we do in Alabama.  In America, 99% of people will tell you they are "fine" even if their world has gone to hell in a hand-basket.  I've said it tons of times when I should say differently.  This sweet guard, I'll call him David*, looked at me & said "I've been better".  Ok, he did not give the standard answer.... What do I say?  Where do I look?  I was SO uncomfortable.  I told  him I was sorry & just kept quiet.

As different drivers came through the guard shack to start their day delivering for FedEx, each asked David how he was doing.  Each time he said 'horrible', or 'not too good', or 'terrible'.  Ok God, I get the hint.  I looked at David & started off just chatting.  Why I was there and about sad situations.  I asked him since he was having a bad day if I could pray for him about anything.  What I found out is that he was hurting and feeling terribly rejected.  Once I looked, I saw it in his countenance, and it made me sad.  I didn't wait to pray for him.  I grabbed his very large hands in mine & prayed for him right there as people were coming into his guard shack.  He needed the only WATR the love of Christ can give & I decided this man needed to feel it & so what if I looked like a crazy bible beating Jesus freak.  If the shoe fits (please!)...but I want mine to be a cute wedge.  ;)

Since I had my business card on the desk, I decided to give it to him so he could email me with any other prayer needs he has.  Will he email me?  I have no idea, but I want him to know he's not alone. David my new friend, I'm praying for you.  I'm praying for Jesus to bind up your broken heart & heal it like only He can.  He is the living water.

I would encourage you that when God give you the opportunity, WATR.  Open your eyes to those hurting around you.  Once you do, you will be changed as well.

Celebrating life's opportunities to share God's love & walk for Him,
~ashley
*name changed

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Given Much More than I Gave

My view every morning at Grace Farm.

1 week ago Saturday I left to go on a mission trip to Honduras.  The months before I left and the entire way down I kept asking myself what in the world I was doing.  I'm about as white and as southern as you can get.  As I've looked back on my 44 years, I can't remember a time when I was hungry because I didn't have enough to eat.  I've never been without heat when it's cold or cool air when it's hot.  I was never abused by my parents.  I have always had plenty of clothes in my closet to wear.  So again, I asked myself, what am I doing here.


Plane window view
As we flew into the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, I couldn't help but notice how urban it was.  It looked like a normal American city.  And it is.  They have malls and movie theaters.  (they actually have the movies inside the mall, brilliant!)  They have McDonald's, Popeye's chicken, and many other restaurants.  They have Wal-Mart.  (again, inside the mall!  Love it!)  Before we left the city though, it was apparent we were not in Kansas anymore.  Our friend, Jenn, a native Honduran, told us about life in parts of the city and what many of the homeless and/or orphaned children go through on a daily basis.  I felt my heart breaking as I watched a child climb into a dumpster looking for scraps of food.  What do you say except "Here I am Lord, use me".   What I learned, is that if you tell the Lord that, He'll take you up on your offer.


Three of the days we were there we went into the garbage dump, where people were living, and a depressed neighborhood to serve the beautiful people of Honduras by meeting a basic need of food, loving them, sharing Jesus with them, and praying for them.  I have so many stories to tell that will rip your heart out and make you want to become a puddle of tears on the floor, but there are many ways I saw the great I AM move.  I also have stories that will make you giggle.  One story I will share, because it's the moment I realized I did have something in common with the people I came in contact with in Honduras.

It was Monday, the first day we were in the dump.  We came to a house and my group leader for the day, Bo, looked at me & told me I was up.  Whoa, what?  I know you don't mean me.  My plan was to keep quiet, and let Bo do "the heavy" stuff.  Anyway, we walked up to the house and started speaking to the mom.  We found out her son had been stabbed in the eye, robbed, and left for dead for the food another missionary group had given him a few weeks before.  They wanted to murder him for a few dollars of food.  I just couldn't wrap my head around that fact.  What do you say to a grieving mother?  All I could tell the mom was how, as I mom, I couldn't imagine her fear for her son.  I couldn't imagine the fear of the unknown from this moment forward, and that I was so sorry.  We prayed for her son, who had a doctor's appointment the next day; we prayed a hedge of protection around their home; and we prayed that God would give them peace for the journey they were walking.  You know what they told us?  They knew Jesus had this situation.  They knew He would make a way for them.  I was given so much more than I gave.  It's always the people who you think should be angry with God & are praising Him instead are His biggest witnesses.  I mean, wow.

That's just one story, and trust me when I say I have TONS.  I have fallen in love with the people of Honduras.  I have fallen in love with the children in FCM.  I have fallen in love with Noah's Ark Church.  If I had the money and a group to tag along with, I'd go back tomorrow.  Yes, they moved me that much.    Attached below is a 30 second video from Noah's Ark Church Sunday.  They started singing Like a Lion by David Crowder & ask me how cool it was to sing it in English as they were singing in Spanish?!  It made me aware of the every nation & every tongue will praise the Lord.  And yes, I cried.  How can you not when you realize He is being praised 24 hours a day throughout the world.  I was a little verklemped.  

Pray that God will provide the money for us to go next year.  Pray for me to relearn enough Spanish to communicate a little.  Pray for Roberto, he's a really cool kid who loved dead legging all of us.  Pray for all the children in the Forgotten Children's Ministries.  Pray for their missionaries and translators because they totally rock and just live out God's love!

Celebrating life & the Love of Christ,
~ashley

PS~ on a side note, E took 4000 pictures the week we were in Honduras.  :)  Hopefully 1/2 will turn out, she's pretty talented, so I bet more than that turn out.  I'll post a link when she's done going through them so you can see some of the beautiful people we met. <3

video




Monday, June 6, 2016

Ok, You're Up

I was accused, and rightly so, of not teaching the children how to cook.  Apparently they didn't learn by watching me cook for hours on end all through their childhood.  Yes, I'll be waiting on my mother of the year trophy and accolades from each of you reading this.  ;)  Well, the not being able to cook stops now for the 4.  Since this may be the very last time I have all four under one roof for the summer everyone is going to learn to cook, even Henry. (who, by the way, turned 14 yesterday!  HBD Hen!)

Sunday night we sat around the table eating dinner and we planned out the menu for the week.  Several rules were laid out for the summer of cooking:  You cannot grill out two weeks in a row.  No repeating meals over the weeks.  I will do the grocery shopping, but I have to know what you need.  I'm pretty sure I'll have to throw a few other rules in as we go along, but this was a good place to start.

Here's what everyone is cooking for week 1:

  • Hop:  baked bourbon marinated salmon; roasted asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, and feta cheese; and couscous.
  • Harry:  homemade Friday Special based on the Taziki's recipe (of course I've tweaked it a bit) and he made breakfast casserole Monday for everyone to have 
  • Elizabeth:  burritos with caramelized onions and peppers, homemade guacamole, rice and possibly with Picarro
  • Henry:  hamburger pie
Part of the art of cooking is learning the timing of when everything will be done, so something doesn't sit around growing cold and/or rubbery.  It's happened to the best of us.  I have to say, Hop did a great job tonight, and before you ask, no I don't have any pictures because I didn't think to take any before we scarfed down what he cooked.  :)  

It's going to be a great summer!  If you need for your kids to have cooking lessons, send'em over & I'll be happy to help them learn.  I love older kids, they're fun!!!  Woo Hoo, let the cooking begin!

Celebrating Life and passing on the love of cooking to the next generation!
~ashley

Friday, April 15, 2016

It's the Real You I Love

A letter:

Dear sweet high school girl trying out for __________,  (insert your team name here)

I wanted to let you know that God really doesn't care if you make said team.  Yes, He gave you the ability to throw a layout full; pull a firebird right after you've done 8 turns in second; have the largest range in the choir; be able to debate the questions until your blue in the face; kick and catch any ball,  but that's not what He cares about.  He doesn't love you more because you've made those teams.  He loves you. Period.  Every little flaw you think you have, He created, and in reality it's not a flaw, only you just think it is.  He thinks you're beautiful and wonderful and His.

Have you ever noticed when people make or do something great they always praise God's name and quote scripture?  Have you ever heard anyone praise Him when they didn't get something they've trained years for?  When you've been rejected and told you're not good enough by the world's standards, can you stand up and say God is good?  When you have to do it, it will be the hardest thing you will ever do, but you will find something in the loss.  You will find Him and possibly His will for your life. Don't justify not making said team by saying 'well it just wasn't God's will'.  Ugh, I hate that.  To me that makes God sound shallow and fickle, and he is anything but.  God's will for your life involves His plans for you sharing His Word and kingdom.  Sometimes He allows us to have the desires of our heart to turn us back to Him.  Chew on that for a while.    

I'm going to tell you a secret.  Several in fact.  
1.  Life will kick you down at some point in your life.  And sometimes kick you again, just for good measure, while you're laying there on the floor.  You have to realize we are only passing through this life, and our main job on earth is to get up off the floor and share the love of Jesus with as many people as possible.  
2.  In 10 years, no one will care if you were a cheerleader, on the dance team, choir, debate team, or if you played football, soccer, or lacrosse.  What they will care about was how you acted towards people.  Are you a mean girl?  No one likes a mean girl, even those who claim to be her friends.  
3.  Remember that dancing, cheering, debating, playing sports is what you do & not who you are.  If your identity is wrapped in those things, you are going to be empty in the fleetingness of it.  At some point down the road your body won't be able to do the things it once could.  Your joints will pop and your muscles will be stiff.  It's just the way of things.  So find your identity in Christ, in whom and through whom you were created. 

Tryout season at our high school is pretty much over.  There have been heartaches and happy tears.  Congratulations to those who made the teams they wanted, and for those that didn't:  get up, practice harder, and tryout again.  But above all:  be kind, do good, have a oneness in your heart with God, and love His people, because God loves the real you.

Blessings,
~ashley   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Love Drips Down

(taken from the internet)
You know, before kids I was fine.  Things were easy.  (I was thin.)  I could keep my house really clean.  I could keep up with laundry.  I could get a lot of work done in a day, and I didn't have my emotions leaking down my face on a daily basis.

Did I cry at sad movies?  Yes, duh.  Steel Magnolias to 'ya, but crying at any other movie or at any other time for no apparent reason?  As if.  When I was little, I remember my mom taking us to see the Muppets take Manhattan.  At the end of the movie when Kermit & Miss. Piggy get married, my mom sat in her seat & cried.  I mean boo hoo'd.  We teased her unmercifully about it for years.  Who cries at a kid's movie?  Well, apparently, my apple didn't fall far from my mom's tree.

It's gotten to the point where I can cry at the drop of a hat.  I don't mean to, I just do.  I can be in church singing a song; watching a movie, video or commercial; listening to music; or just talking to my kids.  Love, joy, heartache, and longing...emotions leaking down my face just like my mom.

I think I know why my mom cried so much.  It becomes hard to keep love bottled up once you have children.  The miracle of their very being moved the very core of me and changed me.  All reason flew out the window.  When you have a child, and you feel the love you have for them, you have a small idea of what God feels for all of us.  He loves us, mess and all.  It is truly humbling.  

I adore my crazy kids.  When things go well for them, I'll cry.  When things go badly for them, I'll cry.  I can't help it.  Like I said, it's my emotions dripping down my face.  Heaven help me once there are grandchildren; I'll be a mess.  It will be a good mess though, and I'll buy stock in Kleenex.  Until then, I'll relish every tear that drops because it means my heart is still soft and affected by love.

Celebrating life and tears,
~ashley

       

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rules are Rules

Rules are absolute, except when they are meant to should be bent, broken or changed.  I grow weary of hearing people in authority say they can't change a rule.  It's not that they can't change it, it's they choose not to.

Here's a perfect example.  The gist of the linked article talks about a young man from Iowa, who won a cross country race, but then went back to help another young man that was "turning white and holding his chest 20 meters away from the finish line".  Did the Iowa High School Athletic Association laud this young man for going back to help someone that could have been having a serious health issue?  Did they hold him up as someone to emulate?  No, they didn't.  They stripped him of his first place finish.  The finish he EARNED.  No one helped him across the finish line, he helped someone else after many runners ran past & didn't even offer to find help.

The IHSAA could have ruled to allow this young man to keep his first place finish, but chose not to, and you know what, it makes me sick.
It makes me sick that:

  • There is someone who put others above himself and is punished for it.  The whole "do unto others" thing is a pretty good way to live your life.  
  • In the spirit of good sportsmanship this young man is stripped of what he rightfully earned.  I could understand taking the win away if someone had helped him, but no one did.
  • All the runners that ran past weren't reprimanded for  at least finding someone to help the young man having trouble.
I have seen other situations where rules could be bent or even changed to help someone that needed it, but just like in this case, those in authority chose to do nothing.  When leaders don't stand up for what is right then it's time to choose new leaders.  I love what the Declaration of Independence says: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security".  It shouldn't matter if it's the United States government or the governing body of high school athletics, doing the right thing is never a mistake.  

I love the motto of one of the schools my children went to:  "We do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do".  I wish the members of the IHSAA would learn this.  I know some others that could benefit from learning this as well, but since I'm just a stay-at-home mom blogger, what do I know?  But I do know this,  "People of character do the right thing even if no one is looking.  People of character do the right thing even if it costs more than they want to pay.  People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world". (Michael Josephson)

Celebrating life & people who do the right thing no matter the cost!
~ashley