What I Want My Children to See When the World Comes Together

For the last week, we’ve piled together –too many bodies on too small a sofa– to watch the Winter Olympics.

We’ve become fans of sports we didn’t know existed last week.

We’ve tried curling on the kitchen floor.

We’ve ice-skated in our socks.

We’ve sighed at losses and fist bumped at victories.

We’ve held our breath in nervous anticipation.

The Olympics are so much more than a worldwide sporting event. They are about unity, about the world coming together. They are about endurance and hard work. They are about the defeat of champions and victory of underdogs. They are about finishing what you started.

More than 20 years ago, I sat in my USA leotard in my living room and watched a girl a couple of years older win gold in gymnastics. I never made it to a platform and gold never hung around my neck, but I’ve never stopped dreaming or doing the impossible. I traded a leotard for a laptop and now I watch my son practice archery for hours with Olympic rings in his  dreams.

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[Mom brag moment: this past weekend my son won his division for the state of Texas in Junior Olympic Archery for recurve. Here he is with Olympic Archery team member, Vick Wunderle, who autographed his winning target]

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I want my kids to dream to do the impossible. I want them to feel the spirit of the Olympics rise up within them. I want them to find their purpose and accomplish what they are called to do.

I’m proud to be an American.

But sometimes I’m embarrassed by our actions.

We’ve turned social media into a forum to complain about first world problems and mock others–even at the Olympics. I understand this is mostly fueled by ignorance. Not everyone has been exposed to extreme poverty, but I quickly tired of hearing about the missing doorknobs and unfinished hotel rooms in Sochi, in a country that has spent more money in the history of the Olympics to present perfection on the backs of a broken people. I want my kids to look past the complaints about the color of the drinking water in an oppressed country and remember the millions of people who will still have undrinkable water weeks after the venues are empty.

Russia spent 51 billion dollars on the Olympics.

51 billion.

1500 families were kicked out of there homes (some at gunpoint) to make room for infrastructure.

“As journalists and athletes began to check in, social media site Twitter exploded with “#Sochi” tweets sharing traveler woes such as hotels without lobbies, water outages, guests trapped in malfunctioning elevators, faulty plumbing, missing manhole covers, unfinished sidewalks, and showers without shower curtains. A Twitter account dedicated to sharing these tweets quickly gained 325,000 followers, while the official account of the Winter Olympics has only recently cleared 200,000 followers.”  source

This isn’t the first or last time a country will overspend to showcase an over-the-top show. Fences separated poor slum conditions from athletes in Bejing, too.

I know this is a global issue. I love my country. I am proud to be an American, but I’m more proud to be human.

And when the world comes together, I want to my kids to see what really matters.

It’s not winning. It’s not a medal. It’s not victory. It’s not building something beautiful on top of something broken. It’s laying down the flags and color and language that divides us and it’s having compassion for others, even if they live and believe differently than we do, especially then. It’s lending a competitor a ski when his breaks in the middle of the race; it’s speeding down a mountain for your down syndrome brother who can’t.

This is the Olympic spirit.

More than winning, I want my children to value the beauty of helping those behind us in the race. I want them to be the one to come along the injured runner, the limping skier, and lend a hand.

I want them to finish this race well, not necessarily first, but with dignity and integrity.


Maybe Sometimes Your Kid Just Needs a Hug

I ran out of threats.

I ran out of energy.

I ran out of the room.

Mothering can be exhausting and emotional and it can empty you.

It was one of those days where my patience was a thin rope and my child was swinging from it. I was barely holding on and she wouldn’t let go.

Go. To. Your. Room.

I sighed and paced. Consequences ran through my mind and I made my mental list of how I should handle her actions.

My head was foggy, but I heard it clear Go to her.

Just the thought diffused my anger. I laid down my need for control.

I put away my rules and my mental list of consequences. I set aside the threats and the lectures. I slowly climbed the stairs and stood at her doorway. She looked up, eyes brimming. Instead of seeing a defiant child, I saw pain. Instead of seeing anger, I saw my little girl. I walked to her bed and sat down. Without saying a word, I wrapped my arms around her.

 Sometimes our kids just need a hug

She bristled at first and tried to pull away. But I held on and slowly, she melted in to me. And we sat there saying nothing, but everything that needed to be said.

Maybe sometimes our kids don’t need another rule.

Maybe they don’t need another consequence or punishment.

Maybe sometimes we need to break our own rules and just go to them.

Maybe they simply need us to hold them long and hard.

Maybe every once in awhile, our kids need to know no matter what they are feeling or experiencing, no matter how hard they struggle against us or how hard they fight, we will be there.

Standing in the doorway, waiting.


WFMW: What I Learned About Marriage from a Fitness Guru {Giveaway}

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Arlene Pellicane. She is a speaker, author, wife and mom of three. She writes about creating a happy home in 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Find free resources to encourage you at www.ArlenePellicane.com and Take the Quiz to find out of you are a happy wife.

Congrats to random book winners: Krista and Heidi.

Guest Post:  by Arlene Pellicane 

Whether you’ve had a baby three months ago or 13 years ago, it seems like that baby weight is awfully hard to shake. I get this. I had 3 babies and 3 miscarriages in my thirties.

My go-to exercise solution with young kids in the house? Buying a fitness DVD that promised to change my life and waistline.

Like a motivated mama, I faithfully clicked play. I stretched. I jumped. I lifted. Then something the instructor said really caught my attention.

You have to force your body to adapt!

She persuaded, “Don’t give up. Tell your body you will keep going. You have to force your body to adapt!”

Huffing, puffing and desperately wanting to stop, I kept forcing my body to adapt.

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I realized this saying wasn’t only applicable to my workout. It was perfect for my marriage.

Marriage is about being adaptable, isn’t it? Sometimes you have to force yourself to adapt. To flex with changing circumstances. To adjust to the quirkiness you used to love about your husband.

When James and I were married 15 years ago, there were many adaptations for both of us. Even vacations required adjusting to each other. You see, James loved to camp under a different spot under the stars each night in the tent he had lugged around all day in his backpack.

I liked to stay in a lodge with a soft pillow and running water nearby at all times.

Our first camping trip as newlyweds was a clash of expectations and emotions. Usually I am a bright and cheery wife, but on the two-hour trip to the campsite to meet couples from a new church, I was quiet. Sullen. Irritable.

Right before we entered the campsite, James pulled the car over.

“Are you going to be like this all weekend? Because if you are, we can just head back home. This is supposed to be fun.”

Do you know what I said?

“You mean, I didn’t have to come?”

Through tears, I realized that I needed to change my attitude about camping so the weekend wouldn’t be ruined. I had to force myself to adapt.

I can’t say I had the time of my life sleeping in that tent, but I survived. I learned a valuable lesson early in our marriage. Happiness isn’t about where I sleep or how out-of-my-comfort zone I am. It’s a choice I make and it not only affects my life, it affects my husband’s well being too.

Just like forcing myself to work out for the sake of my health, I have to force myself sometimes to stretch and adapt to the needs of my husband. When I’m more bendable and flexible (picture a flexible straw here moms), I’m happier and more easy going.

And easier to be with.

Make a commitment to force yourself to adapt, to push yourself further than you think you can go. Be a constant learner about marriage and an enthusiastic student of your spouse. This doesn’t happen by accident. It happens intentionally, by an act of your will.

So press play. It’s grow time.

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Today, Arlene is giving away 2 copies of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. 

Leave a comment if you’d like to enter.

Being a happy wife works for me!


What to Do With The Bad Days

I gave into temptation and colored my hair. In my own home.

And then at 10 o’clock in the P.M. I washed my hair 37 times because hair color called Espresso is named that for a reason.

I fell into bed with my damaged vanity and slept fitfully. When the alarm sounded the next morning for church, I was still in a bad hair mood with a tingly scalp, a stiff neck and a-gone-to-bed-too-late hangover. I went back to sleep.

The house was sluggish until after noon, our regular routine turned on its side.

What started out as a simple “don’t do that” to one of my kids ended up in a full blown tantrum (I call that the bonus level). We generally handle these in stride. Because three kids and 19 years of marriage.

Take a deep breath. It's just a bad day, not a bad life.

But I was cranky and we let our child’s behavior turn a rocky parenting moment into marital strife because we disagreed on how to handle the blowout.  Please tell me you’ve been there. 

Just like that, our day went from lazy Sunday to the END TIMES if you know what I mean. While my husband and I retreated to our bedroom to try and get on the same page, I could hear my kids arguing in the other room.

The tension in our house was thick. And these are the moments, I am weakest. I feel most inadequate in every area of my life when I feel most human. And in those moments, I feel like one big failure. I tried to tell myself that this was normal.

But even that reminder can fall short on the bad days.

We said our “sorry’s.” Again.  Because it’s still the only way to start over even as the sun is setting. But we just couldn’t seem to get along or get it right.

I wanted the day to end because sometimes it feels like you can’t wait for those new mercies in the morning. I just needed them now.

Everyone was scattered-reading and doing their own thing and I longed to have a do-over and I’m not just talking about my hair.

“Can we just pray together?” I asked my husband with tears right on the edge of spilling over. And what I really meant was can my family just pray with me, for me?

We piled up on our bed, too many legs and arms and too little space and we held hands. It was an awkward Little House on the Prairie moment for sure. But no one pulled away or complained. Our kids could feel the tension and they wanted a do-over as much as we did.

Our youngest asked if she could pray first. Bless her. And then my husband led us in a simple prayer. I couldn’t hold my tears then because this is what I needed. Just knowing we are in this together and although we fight together, we love together.

My teen daughter rubbed my hand when she saw my tears and whispered, “It’s okay, Mom.” I nodded.

Because now it was.

So, what do we do with those bad days? We let them go. And we start new, not with perfection in mind, but forgiveness and love.

And we decide the color Espresso isn’t so bad after all.