Our Words

So…anyone who knows me knows that I am not a sports person. I don’t play, I don’t watch, I don’t care! I don’t understand the rules, and if I was on the field or court, I would be the one who gets hit in the head with the ball or runs the wrong direction. I was lucky enough to marry a non-sports person as well, so we’re just blissfully ignorant together. But something we didn’t think about was that we would have offspring, and those offspring might actually want to play sports.

Enter 9 year old, 4 ft. 10 in., sweet and sparkly Selah Taylor, playing basketball for the first time ever.

After the first couple of practices, I knew it wasn’t going to be the experience I had hoped for her. I had hoped she would get on a team of kids who wanted to just have fun playing, learning the game, taking turns in the different positions, etc. I’m such a girl, I guess? I don’t know…I still don’t think I was entirely crazy with those hopes! What she ended up with instead was a team of very close friends, all guys, who had known each other forever and apparently had been playing basketball forever as well. Then there were three beginners tagged onto the group. Two of them were girls, and the other was a shy boy. You can imagine how this has played out. They have equal playing time, and that’s about the only positive thing I can say! The crowd goes wild when the same boys play after play after play drive the ball down the court single-handedly for a lay-up, or maybe a pass to their friend. Maybe once a game, a newbie will accidentally get the ball. Usually, they don’t know exactly what to do with it, they may dribble a little too high and lose control of it, they may break a rule, they may run to the opposite goal. It’s like they’re thinking, “Oh, wow, this is what a basketball feels like!” and by the time they’re done with that thought, someone has stolen it. And the worst thing that I sensed from the beginning is some of the adults who are “encouraging” their children from the sidelines or even the bench. This “encouragement” comes in the form of belittlement and phrases like, “What were you thinking?” My sensitive heart beats out of my chest. The kid’s face is red and he’s trying not to cry. No one does anything.

Okay, so all of that was to set up the story. This blog isn’t going to just be a bunch of complaining. I know God is doing something in me, God is always doing something on a deeper level and as I dig, there it is! I needed these truths and reminders, and this lovely basketball season was just the way for God to show me.

1. Sometimes our kids will do embarrassing things. Maybe its a sin they commit, bad behavior in a public place, or maybe their skill level in a certain area will be low! We’re watching them, we’re seeing the disappointment others may have in them, and it hurts. We don’t want them to feel ashamed, and quite frankly, we don’t want to feel ashamed. But I think God is saying to parents, to me, that if my self-confidence is so low as to care what others think of my child, I need to spend some time with Him remembering what matters, remembering my identity and who I am is wrapped up in who I am in Christ, not what I do or have to show for myself here on earth. Only when we remember that, and nail that down, can we teach our kids to do the same. We need to be bold and extravagant in our encouragement to our kids so they can hear what God wants to say to them about who they are! Also, they can accomplish great things, but they are also going to fail… a lot! We need to show them how to do that gracefully, with a firm grip on how much they are still loved and exquisitely designed for great purpose. So there’s a pit in my stomach on that basketball court. I don’t know that I want my daughter to get the ball. Who will be mad at her when she messes up? Maybe some parents, maybe some kids? Well, who cares? I love my daughter and I’m proud of her for trying. Anyone who thinks we are silly for still being happy after a mistake is missing out on some very good living.

2. If that embarrassment or frustration at our children leads to saying belittling things to them like: “What were you thinking?”, “What’s wrong with you?”, “Are you ever going to get this?” or “You drive me nuts”, we are flat out bullies. We’re standing over these little people and saying in essence the most ridiculous thing in the world: “Why aren’t you as good at this as I am?” We have 30 extra years on this earth! We may have gotten better at cracking eggs and solving math facts, but apparently we haven’t matured in character in all that time if this is how we’re acting. I am so convicted about this! That father at the basketball game made my heart hurt, and while I’m very sorry for the little boy, I am glad I could see my own wrong so clearly.  I’ve asked forgiveness and God is giving new phrases that are kind and patient: “It was so cool how you learned that concept, I know you’ll be able to get this one, too!”, “One day, we’ll look at this book and it’ll seem so easy!”,  or “Let’s dig deep and do our best, but if we don’t get it today, it’s ok!” Again, sometimes our frustration toward our kids isn’t even about them and our hopes for their improvement, it’s about us. I’m not any better than that dad. And we all have the daily moment-by-moment choice to be who God is calling us to be in the relationships we have with others, especially these little people.

We have the power to change the atmosphere and the atmosphere for future generations. We will either pass on the ability to gracefully make mistakes or pass on a policy of being harsh or ignoring failure completely. We will either pass on self-confidence and a deep sense of significance given to every creation of God or perpetuate the belief that we “are” as good as we “do.” We will either pass down kindness, security, and patience which sure does go a long way in helping a person of any age learn anything, or pass on the nerve-wracking demands that never gave anyone character or quality of life.

For anyone who is learning this and wants to pray with me…

Lord Jesus, You always spoke with kindness and love. Even when you corrected people, You spoke to their heart in a way that still cherished them as a creation of God and always let them know they had a safe place in You if they would be willing to leave their sin behind. You do not look at us as we deserve. After all of our sins, but also failures and things we aren’t good at, You look at us directly, in the eye, and just love us so much. Thank You! Help us receive this love and acceptance so that we can easily and freely give it to others!  I acknowledge my behavior as sin and I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have said things and acted in ways that were not loving and accepting. I have been frustrated, embarrassed, and at my wit’s end over this particular person and situation… Please forgive me. I will go to this person and ask their forgiveness… Holy Spirit, will You be like an alarm clock in my heart, warning me when I am beginning to think and feel in an ungodly way so that I will stop and not allow myself to do any more damage. Lord, I seek complete and total freedom forever from this attitude and way of interacting with this person/these people. Give me a new way to think of them and speak to them, in Jesus’ Name. You are so powerful and the only way I can be changed, and I praise You!

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Raising Healthy Kids…

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Hey friends!

If you are a mom of elementary age (and up) kiddos, I would love your ear…or I should eyes?…for a minute. 🙂 This is a sensitive topic but I have felt like I wanted to write about it for awhile. Maybe it’ll be helpful to someone out there.

Selah came to me the other day and said, “Mom, when we were at the pool, this girl in the bathroom was looking at herself in the mirror and she asked her mom if she thought she was fat. The mom said, ‘No, honey’ and the little girl said, ‘But I think I am…’ The mom replied, ‘Well…maybe we could change some things we eat?’ (in a non-committal tone). The little girl was crying, and it made me really sad.” She had tears in her eyes relaying this conversation to me…

And goodness, I could relate to that little girl! To a young girl, it’s all relative. Even if she is not overweight, if every child around her is petite, she feels big. And the fact is that these days, an overwhelming amount of kids actually are at an unhealthy weight and size. When a child starts worrying about this, everything they do is affected. Any failure or rejection they think has to do with their size, even though it has nothing to do with it at all. They feel less than others and that leads to unhealthy relationships as they go into puberty. No one should have to strive to feel equal with their peers, but I can tell you one thing: Most kids who struggle with their weight are in that unending predicament and most of them would really like help getting out.

As a parent, we may feel comfortable with how our bodies have turned out. We’re perhaps at peace with where we are…but we’re no longer in that super sensitive time of life and while our kids need to be taught and shown that looks are not what matters most, they live in a world where it does matter. And it isn’t just the emotional and psychological effects that matter here anyway. We are at an extreme disadvantage if we go into our 20’s with the extra baggage weighing on our systems and raising our risk of disease. It gets harder and harder to get healthy and fit as we get older!!

There’s not a magic solution, but here are some thoughts, if this resonates at all with you:

1-If your kids ask for help about weight, take it seriously. Listen with sensitivity, without over-reacting or glossing it over. Whether they are truly overweight or just going through a hormonal change that has brought on a few inches and pounds, let them know you care and will help. If they seem unaware or unworried about their weight but you sense a problem, I would keep those thoughts to myself, but still do the following…

2-Depending on your child’s personality, find a way to put physical activity as a higher priority in the schedule. If they are a little unmotivated or simply enjoy group goals more than individual goals, make family hikes and bike/scooter riding or team sports a part of your schedule at least 3 days a week. Make it fun! If they are the type that likes crossing off tasks or being alone, or there isn’t time in the family schedule for sports, they might enjoy an exercise routine that includes a video, or a place and time to walk or ride their bike alone.

3-It’s time to get smart and serious about nutrition. I wouldn’t make huge blanket announcements like “We shall never eat sugar again in this house!” (Learn from my mistakes, haha!) But I would cut certain foods out, replacing them with other foods without making a big deal of it. For example, my first changes would be cutting out things like full-fat dairy products, all products with wheat flour in them, and as many products as possible with sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients list. Instead, each meal and snack should be based on a protein (like eggs, all natural peanut butter or almond butter, raw nuts, low fat cheese, greek no-sugar added yogurt, meat) paired with a healthy carbohydrate for energy (think half of a plate of raw veggies and fruit, baked tortilla chips, 1/4 cup of brown rice or quinoa, rice cake). If this is the food you have in the house, this is the food they’ll eat, at least until they have the opportunity to drive themselves to the grocery! Yes, this will take more energy from you. I say with much love and kindness: Deal with it. 🙂 At the beginning of the week, chop up a large tupperware of veggies, buy several types of fruit (some that spoil quickly like berries and others that can hang out a while like apples), and buy a couple bags of raw nuts or seeds, put handfuls in baggies, and when you’re on the go or need a quick meal/snack, this is just as easy as chips or processed snacks all week long.

4-Save sweets for one family movie night or campout or get together per weekend. Let that gradually become the norm. Of course it’s better to make more nutritious sweets with ingredients like honey, coconut oil, dark chocolate or carob (look up Paleo desserts!) but my kids do have regular candy and wheat free cookies sometimes. They are allowed to eat what they want at parties and weddings…but they certainly know its a treat. We have told grandparents that they can have these kinds of things only on the weekends. There’s such a balance we pray to find–to not freak them out with rules and make them want to hide and binge, but to teach them a 90%/10% lifestyle. That just means that 90% of the time you do what you research to be genuinely best for your body and 10% of the time (like a couple meals a week at the most) you just don’t worry about it.

5-Be a good example: Not perfect, not obsessed, but making an effort in a balanced way. We have been entrusted as good stewards of these tents while we’re on earth. Our bodies are temporal, so that puts body image into perspective, but also knowing we have only one body to be God’s hands and feet in while we’re here brings another angle to that perspective.

It’s a sensitive topic even as an adult, so just imagine how our kids and teens feel. I hope this post will be helpful and give you a few ideas on how to assist your kids in making lifelong healthy choices.