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So you've probably seen a post floating around the past couple of days;  8 Things Kids Need to do by Themselves by Age 13. 

 This list says that parents need to make sure that kids can wash their own clothes and make their own breakfast and lunch. It also suggests kids learn before the age of 13 to plan ahead (or face the consequences). There are five other things kids should be doing independently (making their breakfast and lunch only counts as one thing even though I count it as two when I do it.).  

All 8 things are appropriate suggestions, even if highly ambitious. 

This list (which is actually a very good list) puts parents into one of two categories. 

  • Super Parents- These parents make up approximately 8% of the parenting population (according to my keen sense of guessing). These moms and dads are raising capable children who will become responsible adults. And honestly, they and their children, are to be applauded.
  • Fantasizing Parents- Parents who buy cute new laundry baskets with hopes and dreams that it will encourage the kids to want to do their laundry-  These parents  show their children how to separate and wash laundry one or two times before forgetting about this goal and then going back to doing all the laundry themselves. These moms and dads give their kids multiple reminders to set their own alarm and take care of their business before the last minute. The problem with Fantasizing Parents is that their resolve fizzles before their kid develops these good habits (or else they're so darn busy that they forget to get their kids to do these things). These moms and dads are also rescuers.  Fantasizing Parents make up 92% of the parenting population. 

If you find yourself in the second category, a parent who dreams that one day your children will efficiently and successfully take care of paperwork and remember all of the school items they need from day to day, without reminding or rescuing, don't fret. I've made this modified starter list. You've got to begin somewhere. 

8  7 Things Your Kid Needs to do Before They Turn 18; A Modified List 

  1. Throw away empty toilet paper tubes       I don't know what it is about my kids (Oops.) kids. They seem to have a hard time understanding that when the toilet paper is gone from the roll that you can throw the tube away. Maybe they're planning on repurposing them for some neat craft. Still, before your kid's turn 18, they should be disposing of toilet paper tubes (or else using them to make something... like a soundless windchime for your birthday). 
  2. Tie their shoes They know how to tie them, but keeping them tied tightly requires skill. Noticing when they're hanging loose on the ground requires awareness; one that can and should be taught before they graduate from high school. Make it happen. 
  3. Turn in their homework While it's important that kids do their homework before the last minute and remember to take it with them to school, every kid should do their homework and get it turned in even if it means (occasionally) it's done five minutes before the tardy bell rings at school. 
  4. Close the cabinet door  This is a hard one. Oftentimes they have a glass, a towel or some type of object (like their iPhone) in their hand, leaving only one free hand to shut the cabinet door. Though difficult, all children should be able to close the cabinet door independently and without prompting before they turn 18. 
  5. Wash the toothpaste/spit residue out of the sink  If your kids are brushing their teeth daily without being asked, give yourself and them a pat on the back. The next step, which requires a lot of reminding and patience is teaching and expecting them to wash their toothpaste spit down the sink after brushing. All kids should be doing this by the age of 18. 
  6. Fold towels (If this is too difficult a task for your teenager, at least teach them to make sure they don't unfold other towels when they get a towel out of the cabinet). They can do this with your help. 
  7. Pick up hangers off of the floor Someday your grown child will develop the skill of washing laundry. Until then, have your licensed teen practice picking up hangers that fall on the floor (or else are placed on the floor when they put their clothes on). This is a skill that takes years to develop, but have your child keep attempting this task. 

Stay strong friends. 

Are there any you would add? 

I just took my daughter to McDonalds. I remember the rumors during the 90's that there were worms in the hamburgers. And then there's the recently famous Super Size Me documentary that lead many of us to swear off Big Macs forever. McDonalds has a terrible reputation.

 I'm still not ashamed. 

I can probably count on one hand the times we've been to McDonalds this year, or last year for that matter. We're doing our best to eat healthy.  Iceberg lettuce and squash have become common staples in our fridge. A quarter pounder and fries has little nutritional value. I get it. 

Still, today just seemed to beg for a quick, satisfying meal (even if high in calories, cholesterol and sodium). We grabbed our bag from the drive through and a few minutes later parked at our next destination. What happened over the next fifteen minutes might make me a believer in occasional visits to McDonalds. 

Mysteriously, the burger seemed to be some sort of mood stabilizer. And the fries? They acted as a miraculous truth serum. 

Before I knew it, my girl was telling me about an incident that happened this week that I might not have heard about it if we'd not been popping fries. She poured out her trouble as I slurped my soda. News that would typically make me fume was somehow softened by our not playing by the rules impromptu lunch.  

She talked and I listened while fries and our disappointment disappeared. 

Would Subway or carrots at home have had the same effect? I don't know. Come to think of it, I did more listening than I did talking today. (Maybe it's because my mouth was busy). I lent more attention to how she felt than I did to planning an agenda to fix everything. 

Was it fast food magic? Who can tell.  

I walked with her today while she sang "Am I not pretty enough". I didn't answer. I just let her sing. We don't always have to give an answer. Sometimes we don't have one. 

Maybe sometimes we get it right because we drop the need to get it right. Sometimes a burger and our presence is enough. 

Parenting is tough. Being a kid is too. Sometimes, I'm finding out,... you (do) want fries with that. 

We have a family spot in Colorado. I went there as a kid. Now we take our kids, providing a technology-lite, s'more making (and a little bit of trouble-making) experience. It's in Colorado, where the boundaries are loosened, that I was able to practice the needful maternal response to my kids' mild injuries. I remember one time in particular.

Across the river, behind our cabin sits a mountain with trails forged by campers before us. As per tradition, the cousins bring bikes or rent bikes and then behave dangerously, like boys do. I do believe that each of them have a Colorado scar; a story to tell.

On this occasion, my brothers and sisters, along  with my parents sat on the back porch to watch the boys walk their bikes up the steep trail and then ride down. We noticed that each subsequent participant accelerated their speed to outdo the one before them. (This wasn't the first year they'd rode down this trail. My nephew had been injured on it in a previous year.)

We decided it was time to tell them to do something else, being that injury was imminent, but not before our son Hayden came speeding down the hill. The handle bars of his (decades old)rented bike began to protest, jerking back and forth violently. He no longer had control and was headed for a boulder that sat between him and the river. The next thing we saw was a cloud of dust.

I had no idea how badly he might be hurt, but I forced myself to fix my contorted face into one that appeared calm, even  though ready to spring into action.  Surprisingly, he jumped up, threw his hands in the air and shouted "I'm OK!" Of course he'd earned some scrapes and bruises, but he was alright.

Though I would run to where he was to check on him, I was thankful for his immediate confidence.

There are a number of occasions that parenting requires that we assure our kids. They fall and scrape their knee, and then judge by our reaction, whether or not they're ok. They're often depending on us not to panic. Hayden had surgery on his arm at age seven.  Dramatically, the last thing he said to me before they rolled him back was "If I don't make it, I love you". You better bet I interjected that he was going to be fine.

I haven't just made this a practice with Hayden.  I've made it a habit with the girls too.  Sure, I've bandaged their boo-boos with Hello Kitty and Dora Band-Aids. I've planted kisses on bloody, gravel planted palms. I've sat up, on numerous occasions, a grand sick station; complete with a TV tray with comfort goodies. But along with these pampering pleasantries, I've always reminded them that they're ok.

So why is it that when their heart is injured I've been less than assuring?

A couple of mornings ago, our youngest, Rylie, was headed out the door for school.  I asked her how she was doing.  She looked straight at me and said "Well, there's really only one answer for that... It's that I'm fine...because if I say anything different it will start a big discussion about what's wrong...You can be honest with your friends without having to try to explain things when you're not having the best day...It's harder with adults".

Having been schooled by my eleven year old, I smiled and told her to have a good day and then pounced my brain cells on this true and relevant thought she'd shared.

She's right.

When it comes to my kids' emotional wellness, I can be guilty of feeding right into their insecurities. When our middle daughter was in fourth grade I asked her who she was sitting by at lunch.  When she replied that she'd been sitting alone, my appalled response told her that she wasn't ok and that this thing had to be fixed or life was doomed. I'm not thinking that helped.

The "You're OK" me that assures them that their cuts will heal needs to inform the "We can't have ANYTHING making you sad" me.  When our kids are feeling dejected and discouraged there's nothing wrong with kissing their hurt, but it can be detrimental to magnify their hurt. Kids are resilient.  I think sometimes, our convincing them they've been wronged, when they already know, holds them back. We can slow the healing process.

Parenting involves such delicate balance. Our care for them shouldn't hold them back, but instead should propel them to be stronger, problem solving, optimistic and growing people.

  • Be aware. You can often find out more by observation than you can by directly asking how they are.
  • Listen to them. Listen more than you give advice when they come to you with hurt. Be careful about appearing desperate or showing angry or vengeful feelings toward those who may have hurt them.  You may think this makes them feel supported, but this won't help them move along healthfully.
  • Talk to them. Remind them that it's ok and understandable to feel hurt.  Remind them that you hurt with them when they hurt, but always end conversations with hope, reminding them they will be ok. Don't be your kid's Debbie Downer.
  • Be careful not to coach too much.  This can make them feel inadequate to handle their own problems.  Pay attention to how your tips and concern are being received when they're having a tough time.
  • Pray. Talk to God about the things your kids have opened up to you about and also the things you suspect might be bothering them.  Ask God to help them in ways you can't, remembering that he is the only one who is with them always and is the one with a plan.

Parenting isn't for the faint of heart, but for our kid's sake, we've got to toughen up.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16



It's 1 AM. I'm not only awake. I'm having a confident moment. 

It's strange really. We dropped our oldest off at college yesterday. One could say this is when the real test begins. 

A gentleman at the check-in table on the first floor of Hayden's dormitory held a small yellow envelope over our kid's open hand and shook out two keys that Hayden would solely be responsible for. 

 That made me a wee bit nervous. 

Parenting makes me nervous. I have anxiety that takes residence from my shoulder blade up to my neck. Parenting can be a pain in the neck. 

Besides making me nervous, "Momming",  means that I deal with feelings of inadequacy. These feelings range from guilt and fear to desperate and deranged. 

Our girls start school Monday. 

What will Hallie do when she finds out that many people in High School will continue to identify her as a preacher's kid much more than they will see her identity in Christ? 

Will she feel ignored, misunderstood? Or will she seek to find her full identity in Christ, not anxious about how others perceive her?

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.....v.3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

How important will "fitting in" be to Rylie? 

 How will I react when once again my best-thought out advice regarding friend trouble and a homework tip is met with an eyeroll? 

Will I crumple in self-doubt when one of the girls behaves in ways contrary to what we've taught them....their whole lives?

I do my own evaluations when it comes to "Momming". Jason is my partner in parenting but thankfully he doesn't critique my mom skills. I do though as I suspect many of you do. 

I'm rather hard on myself and see the future of my children hinging solely on my ability to parent perfectly. 

But you know what? Right now I feel great about parenting. Even though I learned something at a wedding that we attended yesterday after dropping Hayden off at college (it was a long day). I haven't taught my youngest how to sit like a lady yet (She was man spreading in a skort at said weddung, good thing we sat in the balcony).  I also just this weekend taught my "now high schooler" how to fix macaroni from a box.

These less consequential shortcomings and the bigger parenting failings I haven't mentioned won't stop me from sharing the secret I now believe I have, the secret to raising kids. 

Neither will the fact that the proof isn't yet in the pudding. Who knows what the two younger will do when they get older (one has mentioned a tattoo) or what the oldest will do with that new set of keys he just got handed. 

I'm sharing anyway. 

The Secret to Raising Kids

1. Love them. Love them at their best and even harder at their worst. Don't just love them with things, but with words and deeds and with your time and attention. 



4.  Be an example. -This in no way means that you will do everything perfectly. Challenge yourself to be patient concerning that frustrating experience at CVS (even when you get back in the car and the cashier is out of earshot). Too many times we're unconcerned with the little ears still listening. Sometimes you'll find yourself being the example of humility as you share your mistakes with them. Other times you'll forgive them without hesitation or a lecture when they've owned a mistake they made. 




8. Have parenting mentors. Carefully choose people who you know will encourage you and invest in your children. Listen to them. Confide in them. 

9. Look to the word. I wouldn't much need a parenting book if I'd be more diligent in studying the word of God. He has much to say about how we should parent our children and what it means to be an example for our children. 

Philippians 2:14-16 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.    






15. Pray. I still have a ways to go in raising my kids but I can tell you that my prayer life grows as my children do. I pray for their well-being.  I pray for guidance. I pray desperately, sometimes only using one word. Other times my requests are lengthy. Be thankful in your praying so that your talks with God will be more than just requests. Listen in prayer

I know....I've got gaps in the list. 

The secret is in the gaps. 

I type all of these words madly in the post-midnight hours after being figuratively hit in the forehead with the knowledge that GOD IS IN THE GAPS.

 In his grace and in his love for our children He fills in the places we can't and the places we don't. 
The gaps are there to remind us of the important equation in parenting-

God + What we're able to do....

 Equals more than enough, 

Even with regrets because you've goofed up big time when you allowed your kids to do something you shouldn't have let them do. 

My grace is sufficient for thee 

2 Corinthians 12:9

The partnership we have with God keeps us going  when we realize we've been too busy for our kids or when we're scared senseless, clueless how to handle bad news we just received about trouble they're in. 

We can rest a little. We can live with the fact that we might not be our kids' favorite person for the time-being. We can hand over our anxiety and seek peace even when we can't fix it.  We can quit evaluating ourselves quite so harshly.  

And in those rare moments where we feel we've earned a parent "gold star" we can be mindful not to take too much credit. 

 We can quit trying to be so creative and heroic at filling in the blanks. Those gaps aren't always gaps. 

Sometimes they're God spaces. 


respect: to treat or deal with (something that is good or valuable) in a proper way 

And as you wish others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

I remember clearly one of the last nails in the coffin of my full-time teaching profession. My second grade class had just returned from PE. 

Coach ordered two of the boys to sit out at recess. According to the coach, boy #1 was scooping sand between his legs while standing. Some sand hit boy #2 in the face. Boy #2 proceeded to spit in boy #1's face. When the time came to sit out, boy #2, the spitter, refused to sit out.

 I suggested we call home to share this news with his parents. This ended up being one of the worst ideas I've had to date.  His dad answered the phone. I quickly shared what had transpired and how coach had requested he (and "the sand thrower") have some time to sit out at recess. I shared his refusal to sit out.  His dad answered with a profanity-laced rant affirming that his kid would not be sitting out because 'if he had in fact spit in someone's face, he had a perfectly good reason'. 

I have since then witnessed kids telling teachers "they don't have to!" and kids crawling under desks or tables or running around when an adult has told them to get in their seat. My own kid recently shared they didn't understand why they needed to say "yes ma'am" when answering a question. 

Let me say that I love kids. I love their spontaneity and spunk. I love to listen to their stories that have unexpected twists and turns. I admire their honesty even when it's at the expense of me and my new hairdo. 

But kids in general are less respectful these days.   Kids are a product of what they're taught, but moreso of what is modeled. 


And let's face it. The "Father of the spitter" isn't the only parent not adequately modeling respect. 

We're too busy to be respectful. 

Myself included, we're busy people...... Too busy to take the time to assign value to people. So we rush, letting the door close on the elderly gentleman slowly shuffling behind us.  We cut someone off  in traffic (Oops! Sorry.) because we have somewhere we have to get. We avoid the church member in Academy because we don't have time for conversation. We ask and answer the question "How are you?" disenigenously without giving the person we pass the time of day.  

We're too distracted. 

iPads, iPhones and hand-held gaming devices keep us from making eye contact with people when we're having conversation (if we're having conversation). I'm guilty of this. 

We're too frustrated to be respectful. 

Facebook frustrates me. I still have an obsession with reading the news which is often slanted. Worse, I read the comments which are written by people who are talented at being vulgar and hateful. I show restraint by not typing my comment, but instead share my response to whatever family member is closest by.  It's usually not nice. I'd say it's not respectful. With my words I devalue the person who has spoken in ignorance or spite.

Maybe the person whose comment is my aim didn't hear what I said, but too often my kids witness my lack of respect. 

I'll shamingly share that I've openly vented about teachers (or on one occasion a coach) in front of my kids.  A coach had called Hayden a  name on the court loud enough for me to hear. I unleashed my fury in the car. Rylie, who was four at the time, chimed in from the backseat: 

"Ok guys, on the count of three say it with me.  Let's ruin coach's life!"

Not respectful. 

And here's the biggie-

We don't show respect because people don't "deserve"our respect. 

(People like that coach)

We seem to hold the idea today that respect MUST be earned. Foolish people don't deserve it. Unfair people aren't worthy of it nor those we deem ignorant.  

It's easier to show respect 

- to individuals who make us feel good about ourselves  (We totally respect people who give us compliments.) 

-when we're not challenged (It's much easier to show respect to people who share our beliefs than it is to people who ruffle our feathers) I find it easier to respect people who are pro-life and people who are against legalizing marijuana. 

-to those who have built-in status (like the mayor or military personnel or people in positions we admire) 

-on a good day  (When we're having "a bad day" neither our husband who forgot to pick up his socks, nor the innocent cashier at Burger King who isn't responsible for the onions we found on our burger is deemed worthy of our respect.)

Respect doesn't have to be earned. We are people of grace. 

Showing respect is a behavior more than a feeling. 

Showing respect has more to do with the one offering respect than it does the recipient. 

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers... 1 Peter 2:17

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. Titus 2:7

We can show consideration to those who lack integrity. We can still behave respectfully  when someone has hurt us or (this is hard to swallow) when they have hurt our children. 

This means we respectfully act , respectfully respond and, when necessary, we respectfully disagree.

 And we can teach our children to do the same, doing our part to create future adults of integrity. 

Once again, I'm thankful for grace in my failings. 

Lord help me to extend grace (in the form of respect) to others. 


There's a ninety percent chance it will rain today. I watched the forecast on the news this morning as I was packing three lunches for school. In my Monday morning mood I thought to myself that there was a better chance of rain today than all three of my children remembering their lunches. We're a forgetful bunch. Last Thursday one remembered their lunch, one forgot their lunch and one somehow got off with two drinks but missing her snack. This morning one "lost" her lunch. How do you misplace your lunch?

I scampered upstairs to check the bathroom (gross thought). Not there.  I was checking the next possible spot grumbling about

wishing we could have one morning

where we ALL have our stuff when she yelled, "I found it.  It fell behind the shoe basket."

It's not just mornings that I'm reminded of our inability to "get it right".

I am a diligent overseer of grades. I frequently go online to check how the kids are doing. I've also signed up to receive a notification any time the kids make anything below an eighty. At least one kid scores below an eighty on something every week.  Every Friday like clockwork I get an email from the address "noreply@nederland.k12.tx.us". But I tell you, I always have a reply.

Could we just have one Friday without one of these emails?

One Friday!

Jason suggested this past weekend I change the notification setting to a lower grade or that I discontinue the notification. ....The nerve of that guy.... Why would I want make our Friday afternoons more pleasant when I can have a guaranteed reason to shake my head at this "less than eighty nonsense"?  I think I may listen to him.

Sometimes I'm forgetful. 

I'm forgetful of my own blunders. I'm forgetful of my own forgetfulness. I've only recently come to the place of knowing I have to put my keys in the same basket on the counter or else they will be lost. I'm constantly looking for the one spatula I have. I lose paperwork. Worst, I lose my cool.

I'm also forgetful of how quickly time passes. The duties and demands of motherhood are unending.  As moms we spend so much time working to make things right, that we often neglect to realize how right things are. In the Burden house, the kids are all still home. The number of those days is getting fewer.

In five months we'll be moving our oldest into his college dorm. Jason and I attended a high school meeting two weeks ago for Hallie. I wasn't prepared to see "Class of 2019" on the projector screen. The kid was a preteen thirteen months ago. The baby is months away from double digits.

In ten years I won't have lunches to pack anymore. I more than likely won't have foreheads to kiss every morning.

I wonder if I'll be wishing we could have "just one morning". Maybe I'll be asking for another Friday with the kids all home.

It was just a few years ago that I grumbled about diaper changing. Now I miss grabbing those bare feet, squeezing pink baby toes while they were close to me.

They're a forgetful bunch, those kids. We're a forgetful bunch, us moms. Neither us or the kids get it right all the time. But today lets know where our heart should be. Mine is in a place called home; a sometimes messy spot where things are often missing

......but never should be love and gratitude for a gift as precious as our family.

Today put your heart on pause; maybe it will tick a little more slowly.   Forgotten lunches and crummy quiz grades for me,  or maybe dirty diapers and toddler tantrums for you, mean that our children are still children. Instead of asking for one day where we get it right, surely we know that today is right. God has given us today with them. Today is good.

We've been notified.


To bring up a child in the way he should go-travel that way yourself. -Josh Billings

I probably shouldn't be writing about this on a Monday morning. The kids just left for school and there's a shower curtain and rod in a big jumbled mess on the bathroom floor that nobody knew was there. The girls were shrieking in frustration this morning indicating that the brother who has felt too bad to antagonize them is returning to good health and good pranks. Someone's eyeglasses are lost again. Their last known whereabouts is Hico (in Central Texas) at the visitation for Jason's grandmother who passed away last week. We have a picture to confirm this lasting sighting of the glasses. So. The lost eyeglasses are somewhere within a three-hundred and fifty mile radius. Since we usually have a great deal of difficulty finding them when they're lost in the house, this should be fun.


I've been thinking a few days about a phrase we hear every now and then.

"You have good kids."

I've had a few people say this to me through the years.  The opposite has been thought as well, but we know most people won't say your kids are bad until they know you're out of earshot.

When I've been told my kids are good, my response is varied.

  1.  I say something like "You should have seen them this morning"  countering the compliment with information that they're typical children with typical behavior that's not always good.
  2. Very rarely, do I say thank you. Here are the reasons.

Saying thank you feels like I'm taking credit for such goodness.  I am in a constant state of awareness of how difficult parenting can be.  I know I make mistakes.  And I make mistakes that I don't even know I make. It's a tough gig. Not to say that parenting is without reward and joy; parenting is full of both. But, this parenting path is one I walk blindly on; depending completely on God's grace to see me and my children through. Neither my parent's path or my neighbor's is just like mine.

Hearing from someone that my kids "are good" feels like too flat a description.  It doesn't quite describe their complicated nature which is at times opposed to good. My kids do good things like the one who spent her own money at the bookfair to buy an overpriced cat poster for her sister when I know she would very much like the cat poster for herself.  Or like the brother who rescued a lost dog this past weekend and then found the owners returning the dog to them.  I'm reminded of a time or two the dishwasher was unloaded without my asking.  These kindnesses are counterbalanced with episodes of fighting over things like the DS game charger and chores left undone. My kids do good things.  They misbehave too.

Saying thank you scares me frankly. In my own experience, the moment I brag on my kids, they go and ruin it.  I remark how nice they're being to each other only to hear them fight over feeding the dogs.  I listen to one of them tell the life story of Winston Churchill and swell with pride over their depth of knowledge only to check their grades online hours later to find a zero and a two terrible test grades.  Saying, even thinking that my children are doing good seems to have a jinxing effect.  How much more, if I accept a compliment suggesting that they're GOOD kids.

As parents, I think we all appreciate that person who takes notice of our family.  We're thankful for a kind word saying that we, or our kids, or both are doing a good job.  We're likewise thankful for people who encourage even though "good" is not how they see our kids present behavior (or our attempt to manage it). Our world is made brighter by kind words with encouraging intentions.

We also know as parents, that there are inevitably times that our parenting is questioned.  Our kids cop an attitude in public or act like hooligans in a restaurant.  Maybe they forget what we taught them about responding to an adult with maam and sir. We can be sure that our kid's name may go home with another kid, mentioned in a story that's anything but good.  Maybe our kid will act bullyish at one time or another, even if they have the kindest of hearts.  They'll probably be rude, deal with jealousy and say things that aren't true. Beyond bad behavior, even the hardest praying, most loving parents may find themselves and their children in a dark season where trouble seems to never leave. Regardless of our kids' behavior, misbehavior, or the severity thereof; all parents find themselves in the same boat.

We believe we are doing the best we know how.

There are times we are proud, and times we are dog-tired and our efforts seem fruitless.

We have room to improve and room to rely on God more than we already are.

We want people to love our children without regard to their behavior.

More worth mentioning than any of these things is the truth that we have a God who is good, loves our children unconditionally and a God whose behavior doesn't change.

We have a Father who promises:

His grace is sufficient for the parent who feels they're not getting it right and whose children aren't following their instructions.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

He will guide us and He will guide our children.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

We ought to be diligent to pray for each other as parents.  Let's pray for each other's children, keeping at the front of our mind that righteousness is only found in God. Pray that our encouragement to others would be rooted in truth and love.

Kids are a precious gift, wrapped in mystery, given by a good Father who leads us all along.

Email your thoughts, your wisdom or a request for prayer.

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Malia Obama, the sixteen year-old daughter of our president has been in the headlines lately. Some felt she had an attitude on camera back in November during the turkey pardoning. She stood to the side of her father sulkily with her arms crossed. She did. Whether or not you're a fan of the President, she looked sullen.  And and she was dressed like a teenager going to the mall to hang out with her friends at the prestigious event. I might as well go ahead and say the first thing that seems objectionable. I really don't care what she wears, in front of the camera or elsewhere. I've never been one much for fashion propriety.

And the thing with her having her arms folded, looking bored? It did make her somewhat of a spectacle; just as I know my kids have made of themselves some Sunday mornings, not to mention at the grocery store and restaurants. I know there have been times where they walk into the sanctuary and put their nose to their phone to play a game. Or then there are those times that we have the morning greeting during service and they stay put in their pew; straight-faced and barely acknowledging the people who come to greet them. I would hope that nobody would assume that I haven't taught them better, because I have. I would further hope that people wouldn't believe that I allow them to act that way regardless, of the place, time and manner in which I choose to discipline them.

I would think that the Obamas would have had words with Malia had they known that she would give the impression that the turkey pardoning was a less than stimulating activity. If they're anything like most parents, they probably would have reminded her to smile and be pleasant. And maybe they did. My kids have been guilty of not following my instructions (especially when told to "fix their attitude"). Quite possibly they corrected her afterward. And if the Obamas didn't care at all that she stood unimpressed with the Thanksgiving tradition? I'm not sure that really matters all that much in the grand scheme of things (being that we'd like him to wisely lead our country) (and for Michelle to plan our kids lunches……..only kidding).

Parenting is tough.

Having your parenting being picked apart publicly is extremely difficult, I can imagine. I know how the small handful of comments I've received regarding my parenting have stung. Even constructive criticism is usually made without having the necessary information and without seeing the big picture.

Malia's more recent appearance on Instagram is a little bit different. A picture of the president's daughter in a "Pro Era" t-shirt has been circulating (at least in conservative circles).

I didn't have a clue who or what "Pro Era" is. Upon a little reading I found that Pro Era, also known as Progressive Era, is a Brooklyn based group of hip hop musicians. Their lyrics are downright vile. Every song is crammed with lines touting drugs, violence and sex. They also share the cop-hating sentiment with lyrics as they sing about "slaughtering pigs"

It's unknown at this point whether or not the Obamas knew about Pro Era or of their daughter's selfie with the t-shirt. I'm going to guess they didn't know. They know now. You can only hope that they don't approve of either the message of "Pro Era" or the fact that their daughter has aligned herself with their message.

I said all of that to say this. My opinion of the president and his wife's parenting choices matters little. Neither does the opinion of the general public. Luckily, New York Times and the folks at Fox News have little interest in me or my children. However, we all live in our own size and make fishbowl.

Regardless of the liberally given opinions of the public, it is the choices that Jason and I make regarding the upbringing of our children that ARE of the utmost importance.

I can't help but think:

  1. You can really never pay too much attention to what your kids are doing, what they're listening to, or who they're hanging around. I can't count the times I have looked up the lyrics of certain artists that my kids were listening to, only to be shocked. Before I make my kids sound bad, I know I was guilty of listening to music that spoke of sex and the like as a teen.  Most of the time I was clueless to what the lyrics said, much less what they meant. It's our responsibility as parents to pay attention.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

2.Talk to your kids. There is one artist two of my kids have been fond of that I have listened to in the past. His songs are always ridiculously catchy and upbeat. A news article brought it to my attention that many of his songs speak of violence toward women. I checked this out and upon reading the words to some of his songs, was embarrassed that I'd ever listened to anything he'd sang. You'd better bet that I talked to both of the kids about it.

3.Be more concerned with what they're doing in more private circles than what they're doing in public. My concern for what they're doing in public is usually formed around what I feel other people will think. The older I get, the less I worry about public appearance. Those who love my family will love us through our mistakes. I can't be overly concerned by those who would be looking for our failings. On the other hand, what my children do in more intimate circles and the struggles that they privately face is of greater concern. Knowing what they post on Instagram and Twitter is a more accurate picture of who they are and the choices they are making. What they do at their friends house overnight is more important than whether or not they appear to be the perfect kid at HEB or in English class. Appearances can be deceiving.


Taking care of our own families would be enough to keep our time occupied, but we always seem to have time to consider the affairs of others. There's nothing wrong with Godly concern. But as a spectator of other families and their challenges we need to keep a few things in mind.

Keep in mind that parenting is tough. Being a kid, with all of its pressures, is tough. Small children are going to throw fits. They're going to get caught running in the sanctuary even when they've been told not to. They're going to be bratty when their parents have taught them better. When they're older you may see them speeding down Nederland avenue even though their parents care very much about their driving safely. Parents don't always know what their children are doing. They may smart off to their parents in your presence.  What you witness is only a portion.  We don't always see or know a parent's attempts to discipline their children or guide them in a better way.

Before you rush to judgement consider your motives. Do you have a Godly love for the family? If your answer is no, your concern is of no positive consequence. If you do love them, remember to pray for them. Lift them up to God instead of sharing their mishaps with others. Let them know you love them before ever considering helpful advice.

 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; to cheer one on in the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands. -Christina Rossetti

Let's be a family of sisters and brothers to moms and dads and growing kids.









My mom is here.  My sister and her kiddos are too.   Yesterday we took a trip to the beach at Galveston.    Both the gulf water and the beach were teeming with life; each doing their thing.  There were small children with shovel and pail in hand and teens with footballs practicing the perfect spiral.  Grandmas watched while adults stole time to enjoy a good book.








Hallie, my animal lover, rushed to the water to show off her beach skill.  She has a knack for catching hermit crabs.  I see a new reality show in her future.  It could be called Redneck toe-crabbing.  Yesterday she and her protégés easily caught more than fourteen crabs in about twenty minutes.

Hallie scootches her toes through the sand along water’s bottom.  When she feels wiggling beneath her toes, she reaches down to the muddy bottom and grabs the crab's shell. Maybe this is typical hermit crab hunting, I find it creepy.

The crabs who haven’t lost their lives to Hallie and her partners have a near-death experience to share with their friends.

It is in honor of these crabs that I write this blog.

There is a behavior that has been observed in the life of the hermit crab which deserves our attention.

I'm talking about molting .  A hermit crab’s exoskeleton doesn’t have a life-time guarantee.  There comes a time when the hermit crab has grown and must shed his old skin.

A crab must molt to continue to grow.

A crab must molt for life to continue.

Interestingly the crab buries itself as it sheds its skin.  As the crab sheds its skin, evidence of the old skin disappears (the crab eats its old exoskeleton).  Its old self is gone.

The crab, in his much needed fresh “suit” is not immediately strong. The new creation needs time to come into its brand-new self.

God continually reveals himself in nature. I smile that molting closely resembles the transformation that we go through as we accept Christ.  For life to continue beyond this earthly vessel, our old life must be cast off and buried. “ As we are buried in Christ’s likeness, we rise to walk in newness of life.” We are not instantly strong Christians.  A disciple is made in time which brings me to my ultimate point.

This year at VBS we had fifteen salvation decisions.  New life has sprung. This beautiful picture will be displayed Sundays to come through baptism.  We have reason to pray; these babies in Christ need nurturing.  But above all, we have reason to rejoice.


She knows when he’s coming. Her bare feet scamper across the floor and into the front closet; the place where our mails spills in.  She’s been waiting.  Not for the mail, but for the mailman.  From inside the closet Rylie pushes up the creaky cover to the mail slot and shouts a greeting.  Sometimes she says “Hello Mr. Mailman”.  Other times she says, “Thanks for the mail”.

At first I tried to stop her.

I had noticed that he didn’t respond and I didn’t want to annoy the man.  I know that he moves quickly in order to empty the stacked crates full of important envelopes and bulky advertisements.

And frankly, I worried that he might find it strange to be greeted by a faceless someone. But I knew it was harmless and that it brought her joy so I let her continue.

One day this week Hayden witnessed her routine. Knowing Rylie must be wondering why he didn’t answer, Hayden suggested that maybe he couldn’t hear her.  He said that he had seen him wearing earphones before. …Quite possibly so.

We may never know why he doesn’t respond.  Maybe someday he will.  School days will be here soon and there will no longer be the voice speaking love from the mail slot.

I’ve wondered why he doesn’t respond.  Surely he can hear her.  Is he too busy? Does he not respond to her because he thinks it’s strange?

And then I wondered some more....


Is there somebody who calls out to me day after day?

Sure, some days I listen.  But then there are other times....

I’m so busy.

I’m distracted.

There are other voices in my head.

Sometimes I hear him, but I choose not to respond.

Don’t I know he’s waiting?  Don’t I know that he really wants to hear from me?

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow.  John 10:27