11/8/21

Power Move Parenting: Being Chosen

 My love for our adopted son runs very deep. Our children are now 15, 15, and the other one 13 next month. When you experience repetitive loss having children, it changes motherhood. We lost five pregnancies at different stages and it absolutely still shapes how I parent and am currently parenting teens. Not all in a good way, there are definitely the up and down sides of that trauma. For this season of life and my encouragement today, the up side helps with clarity and focus. The strong desire to mother and care keeps you checked in, it overrides your exhaustion and you stay in the game. With biological children, this is a life you prayed for and literally shed blood and tears for. With adoption, it’s a very similar fight to not only go through the process of adopting, but to then fight to get that child’s life back, which for us is going on 8 years. Adopted or not, mothers rise high and quickly from whatever hole we are in when our child cries out at any age, it’s how we are made. A mother that has had loss just is listening a little more intensely, maybe responding half a second quicker, battling it a little more intensely…. because we were already in fight or flight mode to begin with. Unrest and fear started this process and even though it doesn’t have its full power anymore, it quickly rears it’s head when startled. I have seen my own trauma in fight or flight raising a child that developed in it, or lets be honest and say no one develops or thrives in that state. You never get over it. Don’t spend your life trying to. But, you can absolutely experience peace and wholeness through it not being a decision maker in your life. It’s season is over, remind yourself of that.  It doesn’t get to have any more power than it already did. You can do the work of prayer, counseling, medication, community, and all the parenting hat tricks, but you will never erase from someone the scars that seared their minds and hearts. You can speak truth and have practical ways you handle every situation and a talk track that gets you back, but there will never be a place in life where you say, “All that was fine. I’m good now.” If you are able to say that, you have not experienced life changing trauma. I personally think everyone has some type of an experience to a degree, haven’t met someone trauma free yet. 

We are raising a child from it and all I can speak from is where I have walked with him and where I am at personally. I will tell you Zach and I both have a pretty high threshold for what will rattle each of us on the daily. I think sometimes people from trauma are almost calm because when you see other people freaking out about whatever, you roll your eyes. I said I wouldn’t list examples and I’m not gonna do it, but perspective is a funny thing. We have many ongoing emergency room visits, crises, and whatever… they have a tendency to upset the people around us more than they even actually bother us! I have learned to delay and deliver information in accordance to that. Your thermometer will climb at different speeds if you are from trauma, but remember that other peoples don’t. 

Everyone warned us that when you have an adopted special needs child that is from trauma and then they hit puberty…. Beware. We are almost on the other side of it at 15 with him right now. The hormones and lack of appropriate development can be a literal train wreck. Here’s how I would respond, the train has already wrecked. And you have already been on the scene. Remove that anticipation. The difference is now you knew what it sounded like and how to suit up. It’s the beautiful part about raising any child, they aren’t born a teenager. A million factors affect each child’s development and trust me, some have nothing to do with adoption or special needs. 

Our son has been a true picture of healing and I have to remind myself to celebrate that, literally his life was changed forever. I consider it a huge, and overwhelming at times, calling from God that I would be the best mom for Zach. But, they will fall. And so will you. It is difficult to have set backs when pushing the ball up hill is so hard. The setbacks feel greater and farther, it feels that way, but I promise its not. It is just another hurdle and they will cross it. And so will you. We have had big and scary situations with a child that now towers me, and I have seen grace win. Maybe not in the moment, but the seeds you have sown will reap and that truth you have spoken will not come back void. Hold the flag, do not drop it. Be open to being outside the box with what your kid needs in the moment. When you get out of the moment, put them back on the tracks and push forward. Do not pivot, force the next step forward and the rest will follow. 

With some hard hurdles crossed and now him having a lot of communication, teenagers and hormones create an impulsivity that you sometimes can’t control in the moment. If not physical, they can be verbally impulsive. With any child and especially those who didn’t develop correctly with trauma, physical behavior for us subsided when communication spiked. It’s known that the ability to communicate well leads to frustration that can turn physical when they cannot express themselves accurately.  Get those ears perked up and have a plan…. Again, those from trauma were already subconsciously listening and ready for it. Zach said the other day after a consequence was delivered, “I don’t want to be in this family, I’m going to live with the grandparents.” To which I responded, “They already raised their kids, no dice. You are stuck here.” I’m sure that gracious response to him yielded the next statement out of his mouth, which was, “Then take me back to the orphanage.” And we all know how that ended so I quickly let him know, “Too bad mom helped get that place shut down so there is no more orphanage, bud. You are our family forever and this is how it is.”

There was something transformational that God did in my heart after hearing those words that stung. Also, be very careful you don’t take teenage angst and hormones personal. See it as they are comfortable, safe, free enough to express themselves and quickly move to restoration. Many kids think it or stuff it anyway, they just aren’t saying it to your face. No one is getting punished forever, although I think I could last pretty long. When we give our lives to Christ, we are His. Our old self has died and He literally gives us a new Spirit that lives in us and if we allow, transforms our minds and hearts. For me personally, that power is in my every day. I would have mentally lost it by now. He renews and transforms and I can’t explain it. It is just what He does. New mercies and new mornings. It gives me the peace of not being offended and taken down by a child and knowing this very true and one thing because of who I am in Him…. God put his one statement on my heart about Zach and it is this,

He doesn’t have to choose us, as long as he knows he is chosen. Remind your child of that and walk away. The is the power of love. I hope that truth sews deep in his heart because the beauty of being adopted is that you were chosen twice. Once by God, and the second by me.

Don’t withhold your love, speak it louder. Don’t not act when it is in your power to act and do good. When he sees that I am recovered, he sees it is safe for him to recover. Don’t act fine, we aren’t fine. I show my tears and respond that words hurt just as much as physical actions do. With special needs, you do this once. Then you do it a million more times. We have seen he grows, gets it, and gets better. Which is the time that it will stick? We don’t know, but we know it will.

That is not powerful parenting, but parents who have a powerful God. Amen and amen. 


1/30/21

Failure to Launch

 


Going to a military college, I spent hours watching cadets practice drill, use bayonets, and special units like Columbo and the Rangers would practice on a higher level and it was fascinating. Army commands flying around and it was all normal to me.  A lot of military terms became parallel to my faith because of how much spiritual growth happened in college. I remember thinking how busy I was, but I definitely had time for multiple bible studies, long quiet times, and constant ministry retreats on breaks. Every day for 4 years, this was the environment in which these men were trained and some would go on to commission after college. I have stepped back into my roots of faith recently as I look around and desperately hope people of faith would live loud, that they would advance and not retreat.  I hope this writing piece will encourage you to step out, you have already been called and God will provide all that you need. 


Christians are given The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20.  And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you."

Simply put, if you are to go and make disciples, then that means you probably need to be around people that aren’t yet disciples. Disciple means a follower of Christ in this context. Again, we need to be around and immersed in people that are not following Christ. I absolutely value church and having a body of believers, I believe in it so much that I actually helped plant a church… in the middle of a pandemic. But, that's where some people stay. It should be a place of worship, teaching, and encouragement, so that you can go back out into the world. Then, meet again. In fact, don’t give up meeting together.  One of my favorite movies is, Failure To Launch. Some parents hire a girl who says she can get anyone to move out of their parents house. In the same sense, we need to get out of our Father’s House and get on the mission he gave you. The mission is not being done inside a building, bubble, or whatever barrier you’ve tried to put up to protect yourself. He is our protector, provider, and already given us the authority to do that. What is your fear or barrier?


You don’t have to get on an airplane and leave the country for mission (and newsflash it's super impossible to do that right now anyway), but you can walk across the street, serve in the local food pantry, have your family buy supplies for those that can’t or have been in crisis. If you are immersing into the world, you will see the needs. They will feel overwhelming at times once your eyes are opened. Any school social worker can give you plenty of ways to help support some of the families that go to school with your children. You will be able to discern what is best because God also says he’ll give you that, along with wisdom. There’s a good chance if you don’t know of any needs, you have failed to launch. 


Maybe you are constantly on the battleground and on it so much you have neglected your own family. That has definitely been me before. I found it was easier to meet the physical needs of other families than the emotional needs in my own house. You will hit a guardrail and be convicted if this is you. I was and I made a pivot. A few years ago, my parents started giving experiences instead of gifts. We took that idea and started doing that as well for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Our time away as a family is gold and I long for the days when our calendar is full again, so don’t forsake your own family for the needs of others. There was one time, early pandemic, when my porch became a drop off for the Walton community. I have never seen the amount of generosity like I did then. We had 800 rolls of toilet paper dropped off, and ironically, I had zero in my own house. Luckily, a friend hooked me up and shared their stash because I was not about to take from the elderly. It did remind me though, take care of your own affairs so you can take care of others.  Shop for your family and throw in an extra for someone else. I would also argue that you don’t not have time to serve, it’s soulwork, and that ranks high up there in raising the next generation. Your family can serve together and if they don’t see you doing it, who are they watching do it? Get them involved and create a heart to serve in them young. 


You are loved, you are God’s children, you have salvation through the Gospel, but you’ve been given a charge. And it's not to make your world safe and comfortable. Instead of pulling away, try pushing in. That is where the power of Christ is anyway. You don’t need it if you aren’t going anywhere. We all need to do an about face. We need to advance into the world with big love and the last thing we should do as army Christians on this battleground is retreat. 


I’d give any time to anyone wanting to make steps for themselves and their families to dig in, get messy, and realize that beautiful life is found where people are broken. You have something very special to give away, who are you going to give it to?

5/3/20

Quarantine. Grace. The Elderly.

I absolutely love writing. It served as therapy for me for years of trying to become a mother and then entering motherhood. I wrote out of a lot of pain, suffering, and emotion when we lost pregnancies and then even more emotion as I became a young mom still processing all of that. This space ramped up for me as we renovated many homes over the past 8 years and then slowed when we became adoptive parents a special needs son almost 6 years ago. It slowed as this season has been the hardest for me to process. I hope I will begin to have the words to write about it one day. It's been the most humbling and hardest thing Tim and I have still to date ever had to go through and continue to go through every day. Our journey is still God crafted and so unique I find myself full of joy always watching what God does next is our lives. I love that Tim is a high risk taker and the adventures that takes us on. And I love that I am intrigued enough to always say yes to what God has up his sleeve and see my husband become more alive when I'm all in no matter what.

So as we are in quarantine, a part of my story I don't talk about a lot has been brought back up slap in my face the past 6 months. I hate this is included in my story, but it sure has made me raise a warrior of a daughter. 22 years ago, I had an uncle that attempted to assault/attack me when I met with him to see if his church would support my mission trip. The situation was interrupted by a doorbell and I was saved from everything and got away as I ran right back out of that front door. Fleeing is sometimes how I have gained freedom. I went to years of therapy and although I still have consequences of it and find myself uncomfortable without wanting to be in some situations, God had big grace. He brought me the most amazingly self confident husband that would give me the moon if he could. He makes me feel so loved and cherished. Because of that uncle's choices, I lost relationships with my grandparents, and my dad did too because he had my back, because they couldn't process and were in denial about their son. Even as his fate landed him in jail for a while because he started having a pattern of this, they couldn't accept it. I missed them and grieved that relationship that I lost for a long time. In October, my grandfather passed away. I woke up in the middle of the night with a full eulogy that I was supposed to deliver. It repeated over and over. I called my dad in the morning and told him what I needed to do. 
It was a liberating time for me to stand in front of my uncle and talk about the 17 years I was able to know my grandfather and the memories I had with him, despite the gift of time he took from me. I also gave a tribute to my father for being the best kind of father and grandfather to my children. I know this is the legacy that the Lord would want for my family and my dad is living that out.
It not only brought bravery, love, and truth to an ugly situation, it allowed my heart to truly have closure. As I spoke with friend in my front yard this morning, sometimes people who commit evil are their own worst hell, it's in their mind and to which there is no escape. I pray evil would always turn and refuse to lose hope that it can, though I have watched a lot of it play out and to those in that boat, it is the crux of your faith so don't let someone else be the reason your faith takes a hit.
So, my grandmother was left, widowed. And remember, not a fan of us still because their was no way her pastor son could commit wrong. She fell downhill quick after losing her husband of 65 years. Her reality was taken from her and the mental state of alzheimers took over and she was helpless and alone. And the son she had picked to be the care taker was failing miserably. We stepped in. By the unbelievable grace of God, she knew exactly who we were, wanted us to be with her, and seemed to not have memories of anything negative, including losing her husband. She keeps telling us he did die, but is back. We cleaned her house, bought her food, purged a lot of harmful things we found in her house, and quickly realized this was a bandaid and would have to go head to head with the monster himself to gain some control.
God can slay and flip tables and by God, he did. My dad stepped in, flipped some tables, and spoke a hell of a ton of words and truth to that man and 2 weeks later, my grandmother was moved into a memory care center with full time supervision. We gain nothing in this relationally because the shipped has sailed for that. We gained everything in this because eternity is the kingdom. And this world is a glimpse and we will absolutely reap what we sow. And sometimes, you may grit your teeth while you are planting those damn seeds, but you are obedient. And we can do great things in His name. No one deserves to live how she was and basic humanity is to care. It was healing to step in and love someone difficult and where there was nothing to receive back. 

Nothing will slap you in the face more when you are serving. It changes your perspective. I tell anyone that is being given over to poor mental health to get outside your world and step into someone elses. Serve somewhere hard. Ask people their struggles and stories. There is power in perspective and therapy in identifying with others.  My daughter saw elderly people walking in the street to the CVS next to our house to try and get food. It broke her heart and then broke mine. We decided to post and do a small collection for them of some basic grocery and staple items they could use so they didn't have to get out. We took over a load and it was so overwhelming to see how happy they were. Not at just the food, but the show of support and that people in the community were thinking about them. Somehow, the post got shared with hundreds of people and my porch was never empty again. Every morning, it has been full and the simple act of how people have been touched about the elderly hit home. I am pretty sure half of the state has my address so whatever, but complete strangers that I have no idea how to even thank have donated an overwhelming amount of things. The times I have been home or outside, people have cried telling me about their recent loss of a parent, grandparent, or spouse and the care and strength it takes to provide for the elderly, physically and mentally. Complete strangers, yet bound by love for those in a hard season of life that lack the skills and capacity to do what we take for granted. 

From what I have walked through recently, its not about what's easy or what's deserved. Its about caring for people in God sized ways that may or may not even be aware that they need it.  My mom lost her dad young and we lost her mother a few years ago from dementia. I now just have a grandmother living who has had history erased, but an opportunity for me to have grace in the present. 

I have survived this quarantine by serving and loving and stepping into difficult things. It has made me grateful, I have new friends, and it has given my kids an opportunity to see love as a verb and redemption at its finest. It has also helped me meet a ton of new people because we have been asked by all sorts of people if we are hoarders because my porch was loaded with supplies. It has also been humbling as over the weekend many people have walked by and there are cases of depends on the steps. I hope, in this season, it reflects a time of God's abundance. We are not only overflowing with these items, but what is inside our hearts. And I thank God for growing that in us because that's what He does.
I am grateful to be a very small part in this food movement. I am a landing place and a driver one day a week to pick up for our schools. Every person doing a small part is feeding hundreds. And that is the best multiplication happening in our online homeschool that I can teach.

xoxo
jen

























9/29/19

We Have Two Teenagers!

 Our trip inspiration was to celebrate our boys turning 13 and hit all the spots they wanted to see! They both picked California and Zach’s dream was to see the Golden Gate Bridge. They love being outdoors so we knew we’d end up in Yosemite for the longest stretch. Big Sur was on our personal bucket list and we knew they’d love the beach and that drive up the coast.
Here is our itinerary. I planned this by calling local Outfitters and talking to locals about their favorite must see spots. All of these book out 6 months in advance so you'll have to book early enough to stay at all of them.
873 mile road trip:
Day 1- Atlanta to Fresno (layover in LAX)
Drive from Fresno to Hwy One, started in San Simeon to Big Sur
Night 1- stayed in Big Sur
Big Sur to San Fransisco
Night 2- stayed in San Fransisco
San Fransisco to Yosemite
Night 3 & 4 in Yosemite
Day 5- Yosemite to Fresno Airport, layover in LAX, then Atlanta
My friend Jane told me about these and they cured car sickness on some patches of this trip:
Eyes on Board



Tuesday- we flew out of Atlanta at 7am to LAX. Layover and small aircraft to Fresno. When booking this flight, select Atlanta to Fresno and it will automatically layover to switch aircrafts in LA. We landed in Fresno at 11am and I booked a mini van with Alamo. We freaking loved our minivan and made it our mini home for the trip to keep supplies we didn’t need just yet in the back. We also purchased 3 out of 5 of our flights and the rental car with points…. FREE! Set you rental car time an hour before you land so it will be ready. The Fresno airport was small, friendly, and you are in and out. We drove straight to San Simeon to start our adventure up Highway 1, the most iconic drive in America. This was roughly a 3 hour drive from Fresno to San Simeon, we did not stop. Travel light! For this type of trip, everyone brought a carry-on and personal bag of favorite things/stuff to do, do not check bags. We packed in layers, one pair of tennis shoes and chacos, swimsuit, and small bag of mini toiletries. I carried one back pack full of protein bars and snacks and empty Nalgene bottles and we filled up at airports, gas stations, and restaurants. On the west coast, just double what you’d normally spend on food and that is what it costs. We tried to eat out at one big meal a day and do snacks and fruit for the rest.
San Simeon to Big Sur- we took about 5 hours and stopped at many of the vista points. Hearst Castle is visible from the road, but we did not stop and tour (figured our recent visit to Biltmore would trump that anyway ;) We stopped at the Elephant Seal observatory and also pulled off before the cliffs started to let the kids run into the Pacific ocean for the first time. It is COLD, but really beautiful and deep blue water. We spent about 20 minutes with the seals and that was a really good stop. Close to Big Sur, be sure to pull of the road to McCays Waterfall. It was a 30 minute stop and really gorgeous at sunset. We stayed the night at Big Sur Lodge and ate at a luxury hotels restaurant, Ventana. Its pricey to stay in Big Sur and the accommodations even at a rustic place, but worth it. Lodge is $300-$400 a night. Keep in mind there is no AC, Tv, and really no cell phone signal during most of Highway 1 and not in our lodge. Ventana would be an amazing splurge if this is a anniversary/celebratory trip, but I think rooms start at $800 and is adults only for accommodations. Dinner at Ventana was a gorgeous view and again, double what a normal place would be.

Highway One, San Simeon to Big Sur

 Big Sur Lodge in the heart of Big Sur



Big Sur Bakery, a must!!


Wednesday-  We woke up to the most amazing woods smell in Big Sur and went across the street to Big Sur Bakery. It was incredible. The bakery, smell of the woods, and coastline are so imprinted in my mind forever. The most beautiful parts of the drive are from San Simeon to Monterey. We stopped at the Monastery Beach right when you get into Monterey. Its advised to not get in the water because of the rip currents and temps, but it is beautiful to sit on the beach at the most perfect temperature. After an hour or two at the beach, we went to the downtown Monterey Wharf and ate some amazing seafood. We would have stopped at Carmel By the Sea and also included the 17 mile sight seeing loop, but we needed to make it to the Golden Gate bridge for sunset for Zach. We drove through downtown San Francisco, saw the cute townhomes and hilly city streets, and went straight to the bridge. There are vista points everywhere and we did them all. We stayed that night on an Airbnb boat in Oakland, which San Fran is not not a super safe place in general, but inside the marina we were in was great. We were full from seafood in Monterey so we ordered milkshakes and went to bed in the boat from the restaurant in the marina! The owner has several boats and it was a heck of a deal staying somewhere so cool for $100-$200. A splurge would be the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake hotel in downtown San Fran, but we were up for a night on the boat since it was so different.
Monastery Beach in Monterey, Ca



Thursday- We slept great on the boat, woke up pretty early because of time change, and drove straight to Yosemite, about 3 hours. We stopped and got hot sandwiches at Panera. The drive to Yosemite was really great, rolling fields of gold, low growing trees, farmland, a few wineries, and the grand drive entering Yosemite. Enjoy the drive in, Brideveil falls is on the right, El Capitan will be on the left, and you will get a pass where you can go in and out of the park if you leave, which we didn’t. We checked into Housekeeping camp, around $150-$200. Book a tent/yurt by the river and get there early to get a good one. You can check in and set up, go take a shower at the bath house, ect. There is electricity, bunk beds, double bed, and they have a store, groceries, bedding packs you rent for $10, ect. Glampy camping, really. A lot of people flip out about bears, but the park is on the ball. There is a bear patrol, there are bear canisters everywhere, and we never saw one. The biggest rule is to keep food and anything scented in the bear canister and not in your car or most certainly not in your tent. After we checked in, we had the latest time for a lunch reservation at Ahwahnee Hotel. It is the nicest place in Yosemite and apparently Obama stayed there last year, ha! The dining hall is beautiful so you could even eat a late dinner and go back and crash at your tent. You need reservations to eat!! If you are on a splurge, you can book a night there, I didn’t even look at the prices. We explored the valley and Yosemite village, you can walk, shuttle for free, or rent bikes for $30 a day to see the valley. There are lots of supplies in the valley in you need something. Housekeeping camp for us was just a place to sleep for us, don’t think of it like weekend car camping. The bridge within the camp is one of the most beautiful sights of Yosemite Falls and you are just surrounded by the granite rocks, you can’t beat the location and price. The falls are only running a few times a year, we did not see them, but we also had the advantage of less people here.  Most people crash and you don’t even see many who come in late and leave the next morning. A few bring Christmas lights, set it up like a house, ect. Make sure to walk around early and go take a look on the bridge for a perfect mirrored reflection of the mountains.


        Housekeeping Camp             


Friday – We loaded it all in the minivan and ate protein bars and I bought some fruit and the camp store. We drove straight to Mariposa Grove which was well worth the 1 hour drive within Yosemite. It is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and hosts some of the largest sequoias in the world. It is a scenic drive through Yosemite to the grove and you take a shuttle at the top to the entrance of the 2 mile loop through the grove. It’s a easy loop. There’s another store in Mariposa grove for restrooms, water, and park rangers to help. After Mariposa, there is a golf course pro shop at the Wawona hotel and we stopped and grabbed a sandwich and sat out in the beautiful lawn of the hotel. We went straight to Glacier Point / Sentinel Dome trailhead and parked there. A great 2-3 mile loop takes you to a breathtaking view of Yosemite. All ages can do this loop. After, we drove another mile or two to the top of Glacier Point. Another store, lookout, and restrooms. We stayed for the sun starting to set, ate ice cream, and left Yosemite for the hostel for the night, about a 2 hour drive from Glacier Point, which put us closer to the airport for the following day. I’m not sure what I thought a hostel would be like, but this place was brilliant. Its actually called Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort. It houses private cabins, a group dormitory, full restaurant that is incredible, and a spa and hot tub for $12 a person. I think our private cabin was $200 and we had 2 queens and a small rollaway for Mackenzie. This place was just fantastic. You drive by on the way in to Yosemite so you could even stop and eat lunch here. I think staying and driving back and forth would eat your time, but I sure wish it was in the valley. We went to the spa before bed and they have a private mineral soak I would do next time and grab a glass of wine upstairs.


Saturday- Had a great overnight at the hostel. Just a cool vibe there. Clean and we really enjoyed the food. We ate breakfast and toured around and headed to the Fresno airport for a noon flight.  Landed back in Atlanta at 11pm.
Highlights for us were for sure Big Sur and that amazing drive. Yosemite is like nature on steroids and truly incredible to see giant granite rock walls surrounding you and some of the largest trees in the world. If you’ve been skiing, that’s what it feels like out in the wilderness. A blanket of quiet, stars so bright, and your kids in awe of what’s around them. I liked our pace because we were constantly moving and seeing something new. It leaves little room for teen/tween fighting because everyone is entertained and eager to see the next thing. Snacks, water, and then the kids kindle fires with game apps or bag full of items kept them occupied while we were making our next move or crashing for the night. Get off the grid with your family and see the sights together. There is something so calming about just what God has made on this Earth and letting that be the entertainment. This trip was about sight seeing and not spending time in a hotel room. Part of the fun was staying in really different places and showing the kids all different types of experiences. My kids aren’t getting cell phones until right before high school, so this year David got a drone. I love it channels an electronic into something creative and he has become quite the photographer. Zach is one of those kids who wants to draw so I don’t have that battle, and Mackenzie might be a fairy from nature with her desire to create. It’s a battle to keep their eyes open to the world and not let them be molded by what’s “normal”. I want to get them outside, drive their creativity, and experience God.

5/24/19

5th, 6th, and 7th grade

"A goal without a plan is just a dream"
Having a quiet moment this morning on the last day of school. I woke up this morning to our company, Summit Heating and Air, being the top post on our 12k people Marietta City Facebook page. It somehow even beat out the town article about the beloved mailman of 35 years. We were lucky to have him during some of our years on Hope Street! I will catch up on our most recent move, but first I wanted to take about the last day of school.
How you treat people will determine your success in life. It starts internally with your business and goes out into all the homes you go in. All of that brings it back to my home for me. We love being entrepreneurs, business, and pushing our kids outside the box. It is challenging running a seasonal business that peaks at summer when school comes to a screeching hault. I love our kids get to experience running a company. David will be washing summit vans, Zach cutting the grass at the office, and Mackenzie cleaning inside the office. Our kids will become 5th, 6th, and 7th graders today. I raise 3 very different children from a special education student with epilepsy and developmental delays, to your average all american wild boy, to my little lady high flyer thats a little aggressive and wants to be a world changer. Our expectations in our family are unique. School is secondary. It's secondary because no one asks where I went to college, what my gpa was, or gives a flip if I was sorority president. Tim and I were both raised to find our passions and to love the Lord and pursue both above all else. We were both average kids, not perfect students, and possibly a little bit edgy. We were both called crazy for most of the unpopular choices that we have made, I've definitely never been called sweet a day in my life, but we know who we are and are ok with not being everyones cup of tea. And thats all I want for my kids.
Despite Zach's disability, he took home the 5th Grade Artist Award and it makes me teary. He loves art and it brings him joy and confidence and he is excellent at it. David finished 6th grade with A/B grades, but had to work his tail off from them wavering throughout the year. He also got a Reading award. Mackenzie finished her 1st year at the STEM school in Marietta and I had no idea the potential that was waiting to be unlocked in her. She also had A/B grades and was voted Miss Congeniality because she has the gift of getting along with anyone. Tims mother growing up said, "God has big plans for you" and Tim grew up knowing in his heart he could do anyting that he wanted. Tonight, we will take our kids to dinner. We will sit across the table, not talk about any awards, and tell them this:
Find what you love. Be a good student. Do the best you are able to do, but don't let it get in the way of people or finding what your passions are. Be kind, but don't get pushed over. When you see something not right, speak up. Don't be afraid of conflict. Ask questions. Be different. Do hard things and work hard. Being out of the box and going against the grain is not just ok, it may be just how God made you and prepare you for what's ahead. You are loved, brilliant, and we have your backs no matter what. 
Celebrate the person they are, not the awards they will get or not get. Godspeed to all the working parents and kids home for summer, we got this.
*Also, how our family regulates electronics. No kid has a phone. The wifi modem stays unplugged until everyone has finished what I asked them to do. Cheers!

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