Lessons from my boy

Words can not express how much I love this boy. He amazes me and teaches me so much each day. Each of my children opens my eyes to a new way of seeing things. The latest lessons come from Logan after his first swim meet last week.

Logan loves swimming. He is happier in the water than most anywhere else, but this is the first year that he’s been part of an official swim team. It gives him a way to learn swimming techniques and a chance to try something new. He doesn’t even have to compete in the swim meets, but he wanted to try the first one last week.

Earlier in the week he learned the butterfly stroke. He mentioned in the car coming home that day how bad he was at it. We talked about how it would just take practice. He was just learning it, after all.

When we got to the meet on Thursday, the first event he was listed in was the butterfly of all things. Now, here is where the first of the lessons comes in.

Lesson One: Try something even if you’re not perfect at it.

I was not about to make him swim something he was not comfortable with in front of all those people. Doing anything before I am completely prepared and confident makes me seriously uncomfortable. I’ve had many a nightmare based on exactly this concept. However, not Logan. Instead, he said “Well, I’ll give it a shot.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Did he swim the butterfly perfectly? No, but he did it. He didn’t let fear of failure stop him. As a result, Logan walked away from the meet that night proud of himself for trying something new.

He didn’t finish first that night. In fact, he finished last. However, he was not discouraged. He had a new experience to learn from. Here is where the second of the lessons comes in.

Lesson Two: View challenges as a chance to grow.

Even though he finished last, he wants to do it again. With a smile on his face, his exact words were “Well, the good news is I have plenty of room for improvement!

Do you see why I love this boy and have so much to learn from him?

When he is not perfect at something, he sees it as a chance for growth. It’s a challenge. An opportunity.

How else do we grow but by facing a new challenge?

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

As a friend recently said to me: Growth is evidence of life.

I’m so proud of Logan for viewing this particular challenge as a chance to grow. I love watching him grow and live boldly and without fear, which leads to the third of the lessons he taught me last week.

Lesson Three: Be confident in your support.

One reason Logan has no trouble trying something new is that he doesn’t really care what other people think. I mean that in a good way. He knows that his family loves and supports him as long as he is trying his best. That gives him confidence.

Before going down to swim, Logan said “Even if I come in last, it will be okay.” I assured him it would be. The only time my children disappoint me is when they have a bad attitude or they are lazy. My children know that my husband and I are always proud of them when they do their best, regardless of the outcome.

Doesn’t our heavenly Father feel the same way about us?

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the only servant that God is not pleased with is the one who was too afraid to do anything, the one who hid his talent in the ground.  (Matthew 25:25)

We shouldn’t let fear of failure or fear of what others think keep us from using our talents.

In John 12:42-43 the Bible speaks of those who believed in Jesus but were afraid to act upon their belief for fear of what others would think of them.

“for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:43

Logan wasn’t worried about what the people in the stands thought of him. He knew that their approval didn’t matter. He would be loved and approved of by his family no matter what.

That’s what God wants of His children.

When we feel confident in God’s love and live only to please Him, it frees us to cast aside fear and thus to grow.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

And how about a piece of pizza?

When Logan was done swimming for the night, he walked back up to where I was sitting. I smiled at him, gave him a hug, and told him I was proud of him. Then I bought him a piece of pizza. You’ve never seen such a happy boy.

My aim this week is to apply these lessons from Logan.

I want to accept a challenge as a chance to grow, confident in God’s approval, even if the outcome is not perfect.

When I live boldly and without fear, my heavenly Father will be there waiting and smiling when I finish my race.

I want to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

At that point, it won’t matter what anyone else is saying.

I’ll have the love of my Father and my pizza. What else could I possibly need?

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:39


Our last week of Elementary school

I knew this week was coming. It’s been coming for eight years, and it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around this fact: It is my family’s last week of elementary school.

First day of Kindergarten 2009

My oldest child started elementary school eight years ago, and my youngest graduates from that same school this week. I can still remember that first day of school eight years ago. I can see clear as day my daughter sitting outside to be picked up that afternoon. My heart was so full seeing my baby sitting among all those big kids. It didn’t seem real. My youngest child was just a baby in the backseat then, and now she’s one of those big kids. That also doesn’t seem real. That school has been a huge part of our lives for 8 of the 11 years that we have lived here. It has been a huge part of my children’s growing up and also of my husband and I growing as parents.

It’s hard to realize that this stage of our life is gone.

A Mere Breath

The words from Psalm 39:4-5 echo in my head.

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”

We are but a mere breath.

So many years I sat in afternoon car line just counting down the years. Only six more years left to do this, four more years, two more years … and just like that, the breath is gone.

“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” Psalm 94:11

The days of those long afternoon car lines will now be just a memory. Many memories come with us as this chapter of our life closes – memories of sweet friendships, field trips, nights spent making valentines and costumes, presents made from hand prints, teachers that went the extra mile. 

Realizing that those beginning days are gone, realizing that my oldest child will graduate high school in only five years, realizing that these days with my children will surely end, makes TODAY all the more important.

These milestones remind us that our time with our children is but a mere breath.

“Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

What Remains

Yes, these elementary years are gone for us now. 

But even though the years are gone, the results of those years remain.

The results are more than the memories and the first day of school pictures. The results are more than the report cards and art projects stored safely in drawers or scrapbooks.

The most important result of those elementary years are the children who stand before me today. 

Those years served to form their character, build their knowledge, and prepare them for the next stage in their lives. The years may be gone, but the result of how we spent those years remains.

An Example of Warning

Do you remember the Israelites in the Old Testament? When you read why God caused them to be taken into captivity, we see it’s because they did not use their years to follow God nor to teach their children to follow Him. Instead, they taught their children to follow after vain and useless things – things of the world around them. They did not prepare their children.

“They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15

The Israelites lost God’s favor because they used their years with their children to follow vanity. In so doing, they themselves became vain…empty…a mere breath.

What remains after the breath is gone? What will be the result of the way we are using our years with our children? Will our results look like those of the Israelites?

We have the example of the Israelites as a warning not to waste these years with our children. When the years are gone, the results of the years will remain. Will the results be emptiness or will the results make us smile as we reminisce about all the years that got us there?

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

Moving Forward

This week will be tough. I’m not going to lie – I will cry a lot.

The tears will come as I reminisce about the elementary years, remembering and being thankful for all the good. They will flow as I soak up every last memory.

Then I’m going to move on.

I still have a job to do. My job is to keep my children seeking God. My job is to make sure we don’t waste our years following things that won’t last.

We are but a mere breath.

This milestone in my family’s life is a reminder to make the most of today. The years will certainly pass by. What will remain when the years are gone?

 It all depends on what we do with them.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16


Be a Leader

ae_3 I had managed to avoid politics all year, but that changed last week when my oldest daughter had to watch the first Presidential debate for a school assignment. I couldn’t let her suffer alone, so we settled down to watch the debate together. Meanwhile my younger daughter, Autumn, was making cards in the kitchen. From there she could still hear the debate. After about 30 minutes Autumn said “Mom, they’re not being a leader.”

When I asked her what she meant, she said “They’re talking bad about the other one.” This did not meet Autumn’s expectations of a leader. She has been learning about being a leader the past two years at school through a program called The Leader in Me. The program encourages each child to learn to be a leader by choosing to listen to others, work together, and be respectful – the complete opposite of what she was seeing from the two people trying to be our nation’s next leader. debate

Children have a way of seeing things just as they are, don’t they? We can teach concepts all day long, but they notice if what they see lived out doesn’t match up to what’s being taught. Thankfully, Autumn is in a great school, and she does see those leadership qualities lived out each day. She also notices when she doesn’t see those leadership principles practiced other places, such as in that Presidential debate.

It is so important that children see a consistency between the words and actions of adults in their lives. When they don’t, it leads to confusion at best, and cynicism and complete rebellion at worst.

I can’t control how those candidates behave, but I can control my own influence. I need to make sure that my actions are consistent with what I teach. I need to lead by example.

If I teach my children that their lives should be full of the fruits of the Spirit, then I myself need to be patient, joyful, gentle, and kind.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

If I teach them to find their joy in the Lord, then I need to exhibit that joyfulness myself. If my joy comes from another source, they will surely notice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 

If I teach my children to control their anger and their words, then I must also control my temper. I can not talk in a hurtful way about other people or to other people. If I do, then I can not expect that my children will behave any differently.

 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:8

If I teach my children not to complain, but instead to make the best of a situation, then I need to do the same. (This is the hardest one for me. I have to confess I was the one heard saying “Having to watch this debate is ruining my night!”)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; Philippians 2:14

If I teach my children that they are blessed and they should be thankful for all they have, then I shouldn’t spend my time wishing for what I don’t have. I need to constantly express my thankfulness to God for all that I do have.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

If I teach them that the things on this earth don’t last, and then focus all of my energy on earthly pursuits, it won’t make sense to them. Instead, I need to focus on eternal pursuits. My actions will reveal what I truly believe.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

If I tell my children that God should come first in their lives, then I can not let other things come before Him in my own life. Allowing other interests, ideas, and thoughts to pull my heart away from God will speak louder than any words.

And He said to him,  ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ Matthew 22:37

ae_1Do I want my children to follow Jesus? Then I need to lead them there – not just with my words, but with my life. When it comes to being a Christian, I don’t want the reality of what they see to not meet the expectations of what I’ve taught them. There’s no fooling them. Even when we think they’re not paying attention, those children are listening and watching.

Do we want our children to follow Jesus?

Then let’s not just tell them what a follower of Jesus looks like.

Let’s show them.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23