Like A Boss

We sat at the stop sign, waiting for the policeman directing traffic to give us the “go ahead” signal.

My son was sitting next to me, watching.

“I think I want to be a cop someday,” he said thoughtfully.

“Really?” I asked sort of surprised since he’d never mentioned it before.

“Well, yeah, just look at him. Just look at how bossy he gets to be with his hands.”

I laughed.

He continued, “Well, now that I think about it. You’re kind of bossy with your hands.”

He had a point.

“I don’t have a gun though,” I said.

“That’s true.”

The next time day my 6 year old told me she wanted to be President of the United States.

CLEARLY MY KIDS HAVE AMBITIONS.

“That’s great! You want to be a leader, change the world, huh?” I asked.

“Well, no. I just want to be the boss of you,” she said and walked off.

I’m sensing a theme here.

Image-1

A few days ago on our way to church, my husband stopped at Starbucks to grab us a coffee (okay, really it was coffee for him and a pumpkin spice latte (PSL) for me. Because it dipped to 90 here in Texas, so we were celebrating, naturally). It was my first PSL of the season and my kids were grumbling because we wouldn’t get them one. But at $5 each, I’M SURE YOU UNDERSTAND our cruelty at offering them water.

From the backseat, my 6 year old bitterly said, “When I’m a mom I’m going to drink all the sweet tea and coffee I want. AND, I’m going to boss everyone around.”

To which I replied, “I hope you have three children just like you.”

My son got in on the conversation and said, “I’m adopting so my kids are nothing like me.”

Hysterical.

6 year old upped the ante (and bitterness), “Well, I’m going to give all my kids any pet they want and a cell phone.”

Yes, PLEASE DO THAT, said the future grandmother in me.

My hubby returned to the car and asked why I was laughing. I told him that mothers get to drink sweet tea all day and be bossy.

“I want to be a mom,” he said.

Turns out I own motherhood.

Like a boss.


7 Habits of a Hot Marriage in the Middle of Monotony

He pulled me into the closet. And closed the door. I could hear kids calling. We ignored them.

He whispered, “I miss Hawaii. I miss you.”

We promised each other back in August, sand between our toes, loving a carefree togetherness we hardly recognized that we wouldn’t slip back into the hurried routine and forget each other.

It’s easy to make promises when this is your view:

2013-08-04 10.25.31

And it’s easy to forget them when this is your view:

reality

Promises are much harder to keep in the making-breakfast-doing-laundry-carline-and-work filled days. I believe it’s called monotony. And it can kill your marriage.

19 years and we are still each other’s favorite person most days. We miss one another when we’re apart and can’t get enough when we’re together. Usually. But we also let a messy house, a cold dinner, a parenting dispute, that unexpected bill, you know life, come between us.

And our whispered white sand promises are lost in the busy monotony of our lives.

Yet we still vie for a hot marriage. I actually think about it. I see him through the kitchen window mowing the lawn, shirt off, hot and sticky, flecks of mud and grass stuck to his chest. And I think “hmmm….” He walks in from a long day of work, tie at his throat and sits with our little girl and reads with her. It’s just plain sexy.

photo

But then dinner boils over and milk is spilled at the table, I scrub pots and pans, mop up messes, call out Science lab terms to my 6th grader, turn over a load of laundry, and remind someone to feed the dog again. I walk outside to dump half empty water bottles into my pots of wilted flowers and I’m greeted with the foul odor of the septic system. My husband heads out to Home Depot for chemicals because some things that stink just can’t wait. I’m left to do baths and devotions and by the time he returns, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Tomorrow is filled with much of the same, a lesson here, a church group there, it has a way of going from Monday to Thursday in a snap and I can hardly remember that hot guy mowing the lawn.

I can confirm the temperature because I have known the extremes: a cold marriage, filled with contempt and misery. And a lukewarm marriage, perhaps the worst, filled with idle days, stagnant affection and distant intimacy.

We have lived every season. Our favorite by far: white hot. It’s also the most difficult to maintain.

Marriage is hard hard hard work. We never arrive and kick up our feet and ride the waves of hot monogamy. It takes faithful, committed, selfless habit-forming work in the middle of a boring routine. They say it takes 21 days or more to create a habit. I dare you to try the following 7 habits for the next month and see what happens:

7 things we try to do every day:

  1. Touch everyday: Make a conscious effort to grab his hand, run your hands thru her hair, kiss for a couple of seconds. Set a goal to physically touch his arm when you’re talking, tackle him in a hug in your closet, pat her butt on the way out the door. 
  2. Be good forgivers: Perhaps the most crucial key is forgiveness. Listen, marriage is the union of two people prone to mistakes and sin, you can’t control your spouse, but you can forgive. Refuse to pick them apart, turn molehills into mountains and wave the banner of unforgiveness.
  3. Make the little things big: The other day, my husband gave me a card and a new wallet, just because. It was a small thing, but it made a big impression. I knew he was thinking about me when we were apart. Connecting with your spouse in small ways that makes them feel loved is a big deal.
  4. Fill our head with thoughts of each other. Let’s be honest, we live in a world where it’s easy to fill up our tank with outside influences. From the pretty girl in the office or in the magazine to the romantic, handsome guy in the novel we’re reading or movie we’re watching, there are many ways to get satisfaction outside of our spouse. Lust is ignited with a second look. But when we only let our mate fill up our tank, we are on the path to a marriage that is not only white hot, but Godly.
  5. Go to bed at the same time: While this might not be possible every night, this habit is important because it is a quiet time to connect. Nearly missing each other constantly brings a chaos to your home that isn’t healthy for your marriage or family.
  6. Pray for one other. My husband is under a great strain most days. He recognizes my own burden often. Knowing that we are lifting each other up to God is not only selfless, it’s powerful. Hearing my name on his lips in prayer is not only meaningful, it strengthens our union.
  7. Compliment each other. This might sound like a no-brainer, but five-hundred people can like my new hair cut (my kids not included) and none of the compliments mean as much as his. Seeing him look at me–really look and watch attraction ignite in his eyes, is amazing. We were grocery shopping at Sam’s the other day and I casually pointed out the green t-shirt on sale and said, that would look good on you. My daughter tried to convince him to get the red one and I overheard him tell her, “No, mom likes the green.” Your influence over your spouse is powerful, use it to bless them.

We get it right some days and miss the mark other days. But we never give up. Happy birthday, Terrell. I love you.


WFMW: Net Nanny

wfmw-300x198

 

You’re reading this post today because of the Internet. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most amazing inventions of our time. It’s made our life more convenient, it keeps us connected, educated. We have met amazing people, started businesses, helped people, the sky is the limit with the Internet.

It’s also become an undeniable force in the lives of kids, from email to school resources and games, and like it or not, it’s a huge part of their world too. As amazing as the Internet can be, it is equally be a dangerous, scary place that can lead to addictions and unhealthy relationships away from screen. Here are some guidelines I shared earlier this week for setting up Digital Etiquette at home.

Driving a car takes us to new, wonderful places. But driving can be unsafe if we don’t wear our seat belts or pay attention. We buckle our screaming toddlers into carseats because we take precautions to protect them. I like to think of the Internet that way with my children. If monitored carefully, it can add a lot to their lives, but I cannot ignore the lurking dangers behind every click. I have to be vigilant as a parent as they utilize this great resource.

“According to a June 2013 McAfee study, “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect Between Parents and Kids,” there is evidence that parents are often clueless about what their kids are doing online — and says that their ignorance is seriously harming their kids. Among the study’s findings: 80 percent of parents don’t know how to check up on what their kids are doing online. Not only that, 74 percent “simply admit defeat and claim that they do not have the time or energy to keep up with their children and hope for the best,” according to the study’s authors.” -source

We have tried a variety of filters and safety software. You can see some of my recommendations here. I wanted to share a tool we are using called Net Nanny. It’s gotten amazing reviews and my husband and I specifically love and use the app version ($4.99) on all our mobile devices, from phones to iPads, to Kindles (even the ones we carry. How many times have my kids asked to play a game on my phone?)

Internet Filter
Be in control of your internet. Set filtering for 18 categories of online content to either block, warn, or allow for view. [learn more]
Block Pornography
Warn or block access to pornography and other adult content. [learn more]
Time Management
Set the total number of Internet hours in a day or set specific times of the day when your child can be online.[learn more]
Mask Profanity
View a web page without being bombarded by vulgar language. [learn more]
Social Media Monitoring
Net Nanny Social helps protect kids from online threats and monitors activities related to your child’s “friends,” cyberbullying, sexual predators, privacy concerns, and reputation-damaging pictures or videos.  [learn more]
Alerts and Reporting
Receive reports and mail alerts about your child’s online activity. [learn more]
Remote Admin
Check usage reports, change your child’s profile settings, and much more, from any computer with an Internet connection. [learn more]
User Profiles
Use preset user profiles or customize settings for each family member; unlimited user profiles for each

Here are some of the features I love about Net Nanny:

When I was installing this software on my teen’s mini ipad that she uses mostly for school, she said, “Don’t you trust me?” (We talk about Internet safety A LOT in our house and probably over-moniter usage). I answered, “Of course, it’s all the people I don’t know on the Internet I don’t really trust. This isn’t to punish you. It’s for your protection.” I think that made us both feel better.

This isn’t a paid review. We really use and love Net Nanny. It works for us!


Buy Net Nanny Parental Controls and Save 25%.


Showing Off Some Faith, Hope & Love {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Congratulations, Kim Mitchell, you are the winner of this giveaway.

The other day a friend of a friend came over. She was young and heading out of the country to do social work in the sex trafficking arena. We chatted and for a split second I sort of wanted to roll back the clock and live vicariously through her wide-eyed freedom and adventure.

As she started to leave, she said, “I’ve never had a place of my own or had a certain style, but when I do, I want it to look like yours. I think this is my style.”

2013-09-13 01.23.28

Oh, you mean colorful, inspiring hodgepodge? 

“I used to fill my home with stuff. A few years ago, I decided that it had to be meaningful and inspiring to stay,” I said as I pointed out the inspirational art, the pictures of Mercy House girls and babies, the colorful world maps and the missions statement over our fireplace.

photo

When people walk through my door, I pray my home offers them three things:

Faith-A reminder that God can do anything through anyone

Hope-He redeems our past and transforms our future

Love-I  want warm, infectious love for God and others to be felt

2013-09-13 01.22.59When Show Off Arts, my favorite inspirational art store asked if they could send these gorgeous canvases, I approved. This lovely trio are bright and colorful. They look amazing on my wall!2013-09-13 01.22.39Today, I’m giving away this beautiful set of three canvases. To be entered, please visit Show Off Arts and leave a comment here with your favorite piece.This giveaway ends Thursday.


Protecting Your Home from the Digital Invasion

“Mom, I can’t access “health and beauty” on Pinterest. I wanted to watch a hair braiding tutorial. Did you add another filter?” –words from my 13 year old daughter.

Oh, how far we’ve come with technology.

Hand holding smartphone with a blank screen

In 1997, I heard my first dial up to the Internet from the new shiny desktop computer in our first home. I got an email address.  It changed my world.

Way back when eBay was virtually unknown, I sold stuff to stay home with my first child. The Internet became an avenue for me to communicate and work without ever leaving my home (or getting out of my pajamas. Whatever.)

I know there are people in our culture who have opted out of owning a TV or a radio. They don’t stream Netflix or go to the movie theatre. They try to limit the influence of our culture. Believe me, I get this.

But most people in our society have access to the Internet at home. And many have it at their fingertips all the time from their phones to hand-held devices.

I wouldn’t be a blogger, an author or a non-profit founder without the Internet. It’s a big part of my life. And it’s the way of the future, from education to communication to hair care apparently, nearly every aspect of our lives is impacted and dependent upon technology. It’s great and my family embraces the digital age as much as the next.

But it’s scary because our generation of children have more access to technology than ever before. And with access, there is a barrage of negative images and information, we’d rather our children not be exposed to. As parents, we have to monitor not only what our kids are exposed to, but also their access.

Side note: I will say that as much as we try and filter bad things from coming in, we simply cannot protect our children from every bad image out there. It’s not possible or realistic. Our children are curious, sexual beings (scary thought, isn’t it?). As they mature, it is completely normal for them to be interested in sexuality. So rather than stick our heads in the sand and live in fear of them seeing a nasty image, we do what we can to filter and then we talk to them about what they will eventually be exposed to in some way. We explain through grace that the emotional and sexual feelings they are tempted with are NORMAL and most importantly, we offer them solutions on what to do with their curious thoughts by teaching them self control.

But today, I’m talking about establishing digital boundaries in your home.

My husband asked me to listen to this podcast the other day by authors Dr. Arch Hart and Dr. Sylvia Frejd, who co-authored the book Digital Invasion, The: How Technology Is Shaping You and Your Relationships. Let me tell you, I was convicted. Because my job is on the Internet and it takes a lot of restraint (which sometimes I display and sometimes I don’t) to turn off technology.

While we heavily monitor what our kids are exposed to and over filter everything (I’ll share our favorite one tomorrow), we need to turn it off more. It’s our responsibility as parents to monitor good use of technology in front of our kids. I read a quote once about a mom gossiping about another mom who was on her iPhone the entire time during a birthday party. One of the ladies in the group responded, “Just think about how busy that mom must be to be on her phone. Isn’t it awesome she’s at the party?” Honestly, it made me feel less guilty about taking that important skype conversation in Kenya or sending the email regarding an issue at Mercy House.

But at the same time, no matter how busy we are, there is technology etiquette I want to establish in my home and model for my kids. As encouraged by Dr. Hart and Frejd:

 Establish Digital Boundaries

  1. Don’t check your phone while you are in a conversation (My kids don’t have smart phones or email, but some day they will. For now they are watching my husband and I).
  2. Don’t check your email/phone before you read your Bible (ouch)
  3. Take regular fasts from technology
  4. Set a time limit (see below)
  5. Time limits below might be shocking, so start by cutting whatever your kids are currently doing in half

According to America Academy of Pediatrics, based on research, this is the amount of time our children should be viewing technology (TV, games, computers, etc):

  • 0-2 years old-zero technology
  • 3-5 years-1 hour a day
  • 6-12 years-90 minutes a day
  • 13-19 years-2 hours a day *Most kids spend over 8 hours a day on technology

Of course, I realize that isn’t always practical. There are sick days and long, hard mom days (I KNOW, BELIEVE ME). But I think once we become aware of how much are kids are interacting with technology, we can evaluate if it’s too much.

(Here’s what is already on our etiquette list):

  1. Don’t bring technology to the dinner table
  2. We allow 30 minutes of mindless TV during the school week and 30 minutes of (educational) computer time or games and we are more lax on Saturdays
  3. Observe media free time every Sunday until 5pm

A recent study that interviewed 1000 kids from the ages of 4-18, showed these results: Technology is becoming a kind of “co-parent;” too much screen time is impeding childhood development; and parents’ obsession with their devices is harming communication with their children and even fracturing families.

“Children hate it when their parents pick them up and are on their phones and don’t even turn to say, ‘Hi honey, how was your day?’ Instead they’re giving them the shhh one minute signal which basically says ‘you’re not as important to me as whoever this other person on the phone is.’ Car rides to and from school as well as dinner, bath and reading time — parents should be present and phone-free for all of these daily rituals, she says. “Kids do not need our undivided attention all day long, but they do in those real-life moments of talking and reading and doing the hard work of parenting — dealing with meltdowns, teaching them how to pick up their clothes.” The bottom line: If you think your kids don’t notice that you’re distracted, you’re deluding yourself.”  The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital AgeCatherine Steiner-Adair EdD

And that quote alone, makes me want to unplug from technology and plug into my children.

Do you have technology etiquette in your home?