God, are you still good? A question from hurting hearts.

Tasha Layton writes in her beautiful song, “Into the sea”

My heart is breaking
In a way I never thought it could
My mind is racing
With the question, “Are you still good?”

Much like the words above, have you either bowed your head in defeat or raised your head in defiance with the very thought that God is not good. Perhaps you’ve toyed with the idea that He is remote, cold, or even unreal? How could, why would, race through your mind continuously and the seeming inconsistency of who we want God to be and who we think we see physical evidence of are opposites from each other. Does that ring familiar? I’m here to encourage you that these thoughts are not uncommon. But most importantly, God knows the thoughts, and the pain behind the thoughts, and loves us despite them.

Recently, the idea of “cancel” became a hot topic and its own culture.

The idea is if someone says or does something that offends to a high enough degree, that person is simply ignored (deleted/blocked/written off). The offender might not even know they had offended or given the opportunity to learn, grow, and ask forgiveness for the offense. Or the offender was given the opportunity and conversations didn’t go the way the offended person wanted. Canceled. Essentially, “you are dead to me.” As a person with an overabundance of the gift of mercy, this is a concept that I cannot practice. However, I have been in close proximity with those that do practice this and I find it heartbreaking and alarming. (Disclosure: I’m not talking about toxic or dangerous situations here. That is another situation altogether!)

A few times in my life I was strongly encouraged to turn my back on people who offended without attempting to build a bridge for reconciliation, and I did for a time, but my heart was broken, and I hated every minute of it. It didn’t feel natural to me. It didn’t feel healthy! Over the years I learned that it absolutely was NOT healthy and have since attempted to mend or reach back out to those people. God, who lives in the heart of the believer, reaches towards people all the time (Nehemiah 9:31). He never turns His back, and He is always open for the repentant heart (John 6:37). He asks us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Jesus tells us that He leaves the many to chase after the one (Luke 15:4).

So, back to the question of God’s goodness. Tasha continues by writing,

From beginning to the end
You’re so close
You have never let me down
And You won’t
In the valleys, in the shadows, I know
You’re so close
You’re so close

God IS close to us. He is close to the one doubting. He is close to the one hurting. He is close to the one shaking her fist. He is close to the one that has arms crossed and jaw set. He is close to the one on her knees. He is close to YOU. He is close to me (Psalm 34:18). Praise Him who does not sleep and is never distracted and will not “cancel” His creation (Psalm 121).

Taking that step toward God

You might be reading this and longing to reach toward God but are unsure how. Perhaps you are reading this, and you’ve been feeling the strong magnetic pull towards God but you’re not sure what to do next. You might be reading this, and you have some serious questions and doubts. This is your next step. Pray, seek, knock, ask….Luke 11:9.

Allow me to pray with you. Jesus, today we seek You in truth. We are knocking on Heaven’s door to meet You, standing here with our hands open wide, not holding anything back from You. We ask that You meet our questions, our doubts, and our fear with Your love, compassion, and authority. Jesus, we don’t want to miss the life that You have planned for us. We don’t want to turn our backs on a destiny that is so much more than we can imagine. So, Jesus, take this tiny little seed of hope and faith and plant it, cultivate it, nurture it into a mighty life that gives honor to You. Thank you, Jesus, that You come after the one! Amen.

If you would like to learn more about my personal journey towards a God who met me at one of my darkest hours, in my divorce, you can find my story here. https://oklahomaslices.com/critical-steps-for-surviving-divorce-part-1/

Holiday Pain

How many times have you personally been told that perspective brings clarity and, dare I say it, happiness?  That advice isn’t always true. I believe that perspective also includes pain. A lot of times, perspective spotlights pain in a way that can unexpectedly knock you on your butt.

Perhaps you are alone for the holidays for the first time this year (or for the 6th year)? Maybe you have been happy with the way your life is going but when you catch a Hallmark Christmas movie or see the Christmas family photos on FB or Insta (or coming in the mail), you start to feel that your life is not as great as you thought. Slowly your smile begins to slip, your memory begins to betray, and your heart begins to pull in all the places that you thought were so tightly sewn back together. It’s not that you are seeking to feel sad, sometimes it’s a bus that unexpectedly plows into you!

For example, just the other day I was so excited to catch the new season of The Crown. I knew that Princess Diana would enter this season and I braced myself for some difficult scenes. How in the world could I have imagined that some surprising scenes would rip open a couple of the well-placed stitches? If I would have known, I would NOT have watched. Now I’m attempting to be very very still and allow God to re-stitch. It frustrates me and truthfully gets on my last ever-lovin’ nerve that my healing is further than it was five years ago, but not as far as it (apparently) needs to go.


Did Elvis have it right?


I’ve heard this time of year sadness called “a funk” or “holiday depression”. Elvis even sang about it – “I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas!”

So, what about you? Are you a grass is always greener on the other side type of person? Do you seek out new things or opportunities when you become sad or bored and then quickly lose interest? Honestly, I am not of that mind. Contentment is crazy easy for me and I can acclimate into my circumstances pretty dang quick. I suppose this comes from my childhood where I had different guardians and homes every couple of years. I never knew what was coming next until I was in middle school. My marriage was filled with constantly changing careers, cars, and new obsessions which caused me to be in constant alert and then acclimate to the new.


Truth and Light


Today I have stability, my dream job, an amazing family, and I have hope. But that’s when that devil sneaks in and starts accusing. “If you truly believed like you said…” “if you only had (husband, money, etc.) …” “if…if…if”. But those are lies and the script I’m hearing in my mind and heart must be flipped. Someone that is dear to my heart often says, “Truth and light.” Truth and light must be shined on the emotions we feel during this time of year. Feelings can become drivers if we aren’t careful. And we are so careful about so many things, why not our feelings and the reaction to them also?

Here’s the truth. My perspective is that I had lots of dreams about what I wanted my life to look like and those dreams did not happen. I had plans for career and family and many of those plans did not happen. I had a life going predictably one direction and without my permission, it took off in a completely different path. Out of those changed realities, came a lot of pain. And friend, pain is okay.

An analogy that consistently resonates with me is the concept of cleaning a deep wound and applying medication. When my son was in elementary, he avoided being run over by laying down on its side his Honda 50. The engine laid on his leg and gave him a third-degree burn. Over the next several weeks he and I would sit in the bathroom while I scrubbed the fresh scab layer off and apply medication to ensure he didn’t scar. It was horrible for both of us! Praise the Lord, today he has no scarring because of the torture that we both went through to scrape all the bad stuff away. If we would have left the first several layers of scabs, the wound would not have healed properly. What this means for us is that deep wounds need to be scrubbed and reopened many times to allow for true healing.

Does it hurt like hell? Absolutely.  Is it essential? 100%


Keeping the feelings moving


So here I am today with hands open and my heart laid vulnerable while another healing moment takes place. My pain is that I will probably be single for the remainder of my life. It hurts, but most days I’m okay with it. My pain is that I will most likely not retire or have a traditional grandma type of old age, but I have to be okay with that. We are allowed to be disappointed every once in a while. We just shouldn’t park our feelings there.  Like mobile homes are meant to travel and never stay in one spot, so are our troubles and heartaches. And for me, it’s time to get moving again.

Breeder vs Rescue: Your Pet Doesn’t Care.

My fur-babies

We all just need love!

Breeder vs rescue is a topic that I’ve seen escalate lately on social platforms, advertising, and even movies/sitcoms. It got me thinking about my pets and which ones came from where and if it made any difference where I got them after they passed over the rainbow bridge. Did it matter that I paid upwards to $500 for a pet that I believed would be healthy for a long number of years? Did it matter that I paid a nominal fee to a shelter for updating vaccinations and performing sterilization on the pet I was rescuing? To answer these questions for myself and let you in on my process, I’ve taken a memory walk through all the pets I’ve had up to this very day. Spoil alert: Your pet doesn’t care!

Fluffy: Rescue

My first pet, besides a couple of wily escape artist hamsters, was my beautiful long haired grey cat, Fluffy. She was the only fluffy kitten from a litter of short haired black ones and she was the only girl. A co-worker of my grandmother had this litter of kittens that she needed to find homes for. I remember my grandmother (who was raising me) being unhappy with my choice but she gave in after seeing the absolute love-at-first-sight look in my eyes.

I L.O.V.E.D. that cat! She slept with me at night, she taught me to meow (those that know, know), she was so precious to me. It didn’t matter that she was a surprise to her cat momma or human momma and it didn’t matter that she wasn’t registered in the Cat Fancier’s Association. She was my precious gift. She didn’t really fall into either category of rescue or breeder so for the purpose of this article, I will put her in the “rescue” camp.

Fluffy! I would antagonize her until she would chase me through the house! LOVED HER!

Roxanne (Roxie): Pet Store

Skip ahead nine years and my second pet was also my very first dog! My now ex-husband and I would visit a local pet store in Broken Arrow and look at the puppies for something to do when we were bored. One day we walked in to find a cage full of wiggly Scottish Terriers! I had been obsessed with Scotty “stuff” for years and was immediately smitten. Wanting a girl, I couldn’t believe it when they reached right in the cage full of puppies and pulled out a little black hairy female! We took our little-bodied, big-headed, gigantic-eared baby home and named her Roxanne.

She would become my best friend and my lap buddy until her old age, tumors, and pain took her away. Her personality was rich, her attitude was sassy, and her loyalty was beautiful. One day while walking through a garden store, I found a statue of a Scotty that was the exact image of Roxie – complete with the small crook in her tail. I still have that statue today!

Queen Roxanne! “Do I smell squirrel?”

Abigail (Abby): Breeder

As Roxie got older, she became depressed because she was at home alone – a lot. We were serving in Youth Ministry and spent many nights and weekends with the students. I remember we got a crazy idea to get our dog… a dog. haha. Enter, Abigail the miniature Schnauzer. Hands down the sweetest natured dog I’ve ever been around. She didn’t like to problem solve, fight, or calculate anything… she just craved love, love, love, and more love.

We found a breeder in the newspaper and drove out to see the puppies. Abby really did choose us. Her siblings were running all over the place completely ignoring the two strangers in the room. This particular puppy kept wiggling her little body over to us, planting herself at our feet, and looking into our faces. Yep, she came home with us that day and lived a long life. She eventually lost her hearing and became very allergic to a lot of environmental things but she never lost her love of chasing birds (one time catching mid-air) and getting loving’s from her people. Over the years I have searched far and wide for a statue of a Mini Schnauzer to add to my Scottie statue but none have the specific little pixie girl look that Abby had. Maybe one day I’ll find one.


Buddie: Breeder

During the last few years of Abby’s life, my son began asking for a weenie-dog. After months of begging we visited the pet store and discovered that they had a litter of Dachshund’s. One was the perfect little black and tan boy with a bit of dapple on his chest. He was so freaking cute! My son named him Buddie and he ended up being THE most difficult dog I’ve ever owned, hands down. Adjectives to describe Buddie would be smart, tenacious, calculating, food motivated, tenacious, and did I mention tenacious? lol

There was never a dull moment with Buddie. He loved destroying toys the millisecond he got ahold of them, and could sniff out a speck of a crumb inside a gun cabinet. He terrorized poor Abby to no end, and would burrow deep under any and all blankets, everywhere. We would beg guests to remember to push in the dining room table chairs because that long bodied runt would climb up onto the table! He also managed to scale a rolling cart and climb onto the kitchen counter, eat a tray of brownies, and then jump down before we got back home. Anyone ever see a green doxy? I have… he was miserable. haha Buddie lived a very long life until tumors, old age, and pain finally took him away. He will always hold a very precious, albeit enlightened to the breed, place in my heart.

Cutest little rascal!

Stanley: Rescue

It was in a season of extreme emotional pain that my son and I visited the local Broken Arrow shelter and fell in love with a cute little black lab. We had gone to visit a different black lab but someone adopted him before we arrived. The staff asked if we wanted to look at other dogs, so we did. A small black lab with the sweetest eyes was in one of the cages. We asked to visit with him and fell madly in love.

Right before the trip home with this no named, small black Labrador, they gave him some kind of bath before we could load him in the car. We drove about 2 feet from the shelter and had to roll down the windows as fast as possible! It stunk so bad! We quickly drove to a dog wash station attached to a car wash to try and get the smell off of him. It did NOT work! It is still one of the funniest memories we like to laugh about.

We named him Stanley and he became attached to me in a different way than any other pet I’d owned. Unfortunately we lost Stanley to lymphoma which came on suddenly and full force. I still can’t believe that we only had him in our life for three short years.

My heart! My Stan.
(The day we learned we had to help Stanley over the rainbow bridge. We were devastated but trying to hold it together so that Stanley would stay calm. He kept touching the doorknob.)

Baxter Bruce: Breeder

The heart trauma of losing Stanley weighed on me daily and almost a year later I found a Chocolate Labrador breeder. I was still incredibly hurt by the health issues that Stanley had that I wanted to get a pet that would be strong and live for a long time like Buddie, Roxie, and Abby had. We drove out to the breeder and chose this rowdy little bitey squirt of a chocolate kiss. We named him Baxter Bruce and just fell head over heals in love. Then reality kicked in. We lived in an apartment. He had more energy than the entire apartment building. I worked full time and was in college classes at night. I had made a very big mistake!

Apartment life was not fair to Baxter and I felt like such a bad parent, one of “those” people who get and get rid of pets constantly. I’ve never done that, but the guilt with Baxter was excruciating! I am forever thankful that my aunt fell in love with him too. She and my uncle agreed to take him and he is now living the best life ever! He has acreage to run, a creek to swim in, and he freaking adores my uncle. Looking back, I often wonder if I was supposed to get Baxter for my uncle? Either way, I am so thankful they have each other and we are able to visit him anytime we can!

Don’t be fooled, this is really a pic of a baby T-Rex! lol

Archer: Rescue

About a year later we were blessed with a house and a fenced yard. It was time to get a pet! My son mentioned rescuing a Rottweiler. I was quite frankly surprised and nervous but we began the search. We did meet a male Rottie before Archer and he certainly had issues from his previous situation. We knew within 15 minutes that we were not a good match.

A few weeks later Pet Angel Rescue contacted me about another male Rottie that she would like us to meet. They videoed him interacting with the staff which I found professional and helpful. Well, yesterday marks the one year “Gotcha Day” anniversary of Archer. We learned after a week of adopting him that our big boy has hip dysplasia. This means a life of medications and treatments, but that’s just the way love is. We don’t know or care how he came to be at the shelter because he is now our beloved Rottie bear. By the way, we believe that Archer looks to be a purebred Rottweiler who just happened to somehow end up in the wrong place at the wrong time one day.

He is perfect for us! We are perfect for him! True Love.

My Verdict.

My verdict of breeder vs rescue is 100% YES to either. Each of our fur babies needed our love. I’ve experienced no difference in the love and devotion of a pedigreed animals over a rescues, even though some believe the rescues have a smidge more. I won’t argue, because love is love in any degree. There have been expensive health issues with either type of pet we’ve owned and some of the issues of the pedigreed ones were very surprising!

I would love to have another lab someday. I’m not sure if I will rescue or not, (probably will, though). But today, Archer needs undivided attention, funds, and love. We really don’t care about his yesterday; he is 100% perfect for us today no matter what!

The Surprising Truth of COVID-19 – Personal Story

I can’t definitively say where or at what exact moment the COVID-19 virus entered my body and truthfully this many weeks out, it doesn’t really matter. What I do for sure know is that my body freaking freaked out and this is my story; the surprising truth of COVID-19.

Labor Day is when I woke up with that feeling that something was not quite right in the body of Tammy. Honestly, it felt exactly like I was in the very early stages of a Ragweed allergy attack. Itchy eyes, drainage down the back of my throat, and just a general sense of hazy that those with allergies can identify with. I looked up the stats on the news and sure enough the Ragweed numbers were crazy high. I totally checked that self-diagnosis box and went on with my day. That night I was extremely restless and by the next morning I felt like that allergy attack had kicked into full blown sinus infection. My head was killing me, my body ached all over, and I felt the first tickle of chills.

Ugh.


Covid-19 Denial – Stage One

Still in complete denial but, in my defense, I have an allergy attack which turns to sinus infection every year at this time!!! However, I was hopeful that I could get into the doctor and get my antibiotics going before it got too bad.

Then Wednesday happened.

Because it’s the year of COVID, I went to get a test. I did the deed, which was awful! Who thought of that torturous devise! OHMYGOSH! Anyway, I entirely believed (denial anyone) that it would be negative. When I got the call the next day (Thursday) I sat with my mouth hanging open…. and I’m not gonna sugar coat this…. I said a couple of “words”.

Thursday – Sunday was a rapid decline in my stamina. The fever would not go down and hovered between 99-101. I’m old school in that I feel that we should allow our bodies to fight using the fever and not try to bring it down unless it gets over 102, so I didn’t take any pain meds. Sleeping was horrific, my appetite went to zero but, praise God, I was not throwing up.

Then Sunday night.


Covid-19 Anger – Stage Two

Friends, that’s when my body began attacking itself. I would stand up to walk to the restroom and my breathing would plummet! Scariest feeling, seriously! I literally would feel like I was going to drop to the floor at any second. I would try to get back to the bed as quickly as I could. Heavy panting, trying to get any air inside my lungs and just the awful feeling that I was in distress.

Then the stomach issue started. Down – not up.

I would have to go the bathroom, hyperventilate trying to get air in my lungs, become so lightheaded the vision would start to tunnel, and I would have to quickly get back to bed. I wish I were exaggerating; I wish I would have had a camera on me, (not really – well, kind a, nah-never mind) but it was all too real.

By Monday night I was scared out of my mind and knew that I truly needed help. Even though I was utterly rattled about paying for an ER trip. I also had a strong feeling that I would have to go into the hospital. I knew in my heart that it was bad.

So, my son drove me to the ER and sure enough, I was in bad shape. Within a week of feeling like I was having a Ragweed attack, I was being transferred to the hospital in an ambulance because my body was trying to drown me. The admitting physician told me I was experiencing ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and when I gave him the sick bed look of “huh?” he dropped it down to Pneumonia. Oh, okay…. I understand pneumonia.


Covid-19 Bargaining – Stage Three

Basically, ARDS is a condition in which fluid collects in the lungs’ air sacs, depriving organs of oxygen. So, I would stand up and my oxygen would hit the ground and then I would be gasping for air. I can’t even begin to explain how difficult it was to remain calm during these episodes. I now have a crazy awareness of those that suffer from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Emphysema, or any other health issues that require Oxygen assistance.

The medical team hooked me up to all the wires and started me on low oxygen Tuesday afternoon. They also discovered that my Iron was very low, my potassium was wacked, and my phosphates were in trouble. They started me on IV Iron, pills, and massive steroids for 10 days. From what I remember the team telling me, the steroids are the number one way to help counteract what my body was trying to do to help itself. Like I said before, my body freaked out with this COVID virus and went full on war. My lungs were like WAIT! WOAH!

IVs for days
IV’s For Days

Covid-19 Depression – Stage Four

I was in the hospital from Monday night to Sunday afternoon. During that time, they were able to get me from having to use a bed side potty (ugh) to unhooking me from the pulse oximeter so that I could use the restroom again. That was a huge moment for me!! It’s the little things, ya’ll.

So, at this point in the journey, I have been on the COVID rollercoaster for over two full weeks (September 7 – September 24). I’m able to breathe on my own but I am crazy lightheaded still. Standing for more than a couple of minutes is difficult and I’ll be talking to the doctor about that.

The hospital team did one more COVID test on me right before I was released and I’m hoping to get that result today.

The surprising truth is this — I know people that have contracted COVID and did not have the health issues that I had/have. This virus hits everyone uniquely. I wanted to tell you my story so that you would know that some people react with mild symptoms, some with medium symptoms, and others may escalate into something shocking and scary. We must love on each other and be extra careful when we speak our views about this virus. I read recently someone saying that we need to get over it, this is just the flu. Well, I’ve had the flu, which is zero fun and very terrible, but this was a whole other dimension. My body took it up a notch for some unfathomable reason. There may be others around you that might nosedive quickly too. They will need you! Please be there for them.

Room under construction.

It’s about all of us!

I don’t know a lot about this virus….but I will continue to be vigilant in my hand washing, wear a mask where I’m asked to, and know that it’s not about me, it’s about all of us. That is a truth that should not be surprising!


Covid-19 Acceptance – Stage Five

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13

Woolaroc Museum

Must See: Bartlesville, Oklahoma!

We’ve never been to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve even though it is just a short hour drive from my house. This weekend turned out to be the perfect time to check it out and we were not disappointed!

Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum Company

Frank Phillips lived an exciting life that included owning a barber shop, selling bonds for the bank, opening a savings and trust, and eventually founding Phillips Petroleum Company with his brother, L.E. Frank’s life was full of details that are far to interesting to recount in this blog post. I encourage to visit the website here and learn more about him and why he built Woolaroc!

Wildlife Preserve

Turning onto the property you stop to pay a modest fee of $14 per person (adult price; 12 and under are free). Then you will see almost immediately that your drive to the museum may not be as boring as you imagined. Along the side and in the middle of the road are Buffalo! Lots of them! They were close enough to reach out and touch, but no thanks! I’m certain they would bite, but I was more worried about the smell! They are some filthy creatures.

The first stop on the map we were given at the entrance was a replica of an 1800’s fur trader site. A history enthusiast dressed in period clothing described the type of clothing, tipi materials, and weapons that would have been used. He was interesting and I learned several things. I learned that the Indian men hunted the buffalo but it was the women that skinned, butchered, cooked, and tanned the animal after it was brought back to camp.

Another fascinating thing I learned is that Indians would trade with the trappers and settlers for their canvas. They began using the canvas fabric for their tipi’s instead of the animal hides because it was water resistant like the tanned hide, easier to mend if torn, and infinitely more lightweight. The weight difference was significant because the tee pees belonged to the Indian women and it was their job to put them up and take them down! Wet hides are incredibly heavy; can you imagine that job?!

The fur traders used the canvas for shelter because it could be rolled up quickly and placed on the back of their saddle. All they needed was to drape it over nearby trees or rocks and it would shield them from the rain!

The Room of Women Settlers!

I was completely enamored of this particular room! Along with an authentic stage coach, there were 12 bronze statues that had been entered in a 1927 Pioneer Woman contest. I took pictures of all of them but I’ve included three of my favorites above!

Pioneer life has always intrigued me. The women who came west (and survived) were strong, adventurous and heroic. Yes, surely they were afraid, lonely, and perhaps angry as well but that doesn’t negate the challenges they overcame and the heartache they surely endured while trying to eke out an existence in the wild west!

In 1926, E. W. Marland, founder of Marland Oil Company (later to become Conoco) and at that time one of the wealthiest men in the world, commissioned twelve 3-foot sculptures that were submitted by US and international sculptors as models for the Pioneer Woman statue. Marland paid each sculptor $10,000 for his submission, about $100,000 in present US dollars. The models were shown in Ponca City, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Dallas, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City where they were viewed by 750,000 people who cast votes for their favorite.Hugh Pickens

Each of the statues were to represent a different attribute: Protective, Determined, Challenging, Affectionate, Self-Reliant, Fearless, Heroic, Adventurous, Sturdy, Faithful, Trusting, and Confident. You can learn more about the contest and the statues here.

Obligatory Selfie!

OH! One more picture to share, this is a real Water Buffalo just hangin’ out in the pond chewing on grass. I’ve never seen one that close! Have you? And that’s our historic reenactor shooting a powder rifle.

Next time you’re out this way…

Take a trip to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and see this wonderful treasure. You can plan your trip by visiting here. Unfortunately, We were not able to see the Frank Phillips Lodge or the Wildlife Gallery because — COVID — but hopefully it will be open when you visit.

I see you, tired parent! Part 4.

Why you must stand your ground!

Standing your ground can be difficult especially if you don’t know on which things to stand firm and which things to let go. My top three stands after raising my son and working in youth ministry for over twenty years are:

  • Adhere to a solid and realistic curfew.
  • Set weekly family times that can fluctuate depending on the season of life you are living.
  • Require respect toward you and show respect toward your children.

Curfew isn’t a curse word.

According to many young people a curfew is much life a type of confinement or policing of their time away from you, the parent(s). In actuality it is a safety net to establish boundaries and protect them from things they are not wise enough to know yet. Having a set time to return home is the first stage of learning to self-discipline their days and nights in addition to showing respect for their family. But curfews can also be a way to place a wedge between parents and their children when there is no communication or flexibility. Routine conversations about curfew times should take place. Summer vs winter; normal weekend vs special event…these are areas that need to be decided together.

Some families believe in a dictatorship style of parenting, “I say and you obey because I pay for everything that touches your life” but I’ve seen that this type of parenting opens the door wide for flight rebellion. Homes that foster communication and parents listening and taking into consideration the thoughts of the child have much greater success of consistent follow through. But how do you set a curfew that is fair and doable? An article on Healthline.com does a fantastic job of explaining the how-to of curfew setting. You can read that article here.

Family time really is important.

T.V. sitcoms and movies make sport of family time on the regular. Typically it is visualized as a barrage of uncomfortable questions from parents to their children, fighting among siblings, and ends with everyone feeling it was a waste of time. The reality is that family time is the number one way to stay connected and create a bond with one another!

I love this article from the Focus on The Family website which talks about how food brings families together! My favorite quote states, “Food allows us to feel safe by decreasing the sympathetic ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response.” I come from the generation that ate at grandma and grandpas table at every meal but started sitting in front of the T.V. when at home. I can personally attest that the conversations and bonding at my grandparents is something I treasure and miss! You can read that article here. Now we have the added pressure of cellphone interruption. There are many families I’ve talked to that have initiated a “no-phone” rule at the dinner table which has made a huge difference in their quality time together.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Did you sing that heading? I did as I typed it!

Singing aside, the fact is that respect is required, respect is earned, and respect is a two way street. Scripture is clear about this matter.

“Children, obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you. Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.” Ephesians 6:1-3

“And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, don’t scold your children so much that they become discouraged and quit trying.” Colossians 3:21

We should be treating the other person how we would want to be treated. Where have we heard that before? OH, YES! The Golden Rule! Matthew 7:12 — “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

You are a Foundation

So we can clearly see that standing your ground does not need to be a war to be won at all costs. Standing your ground means that you are a safe place, a consistent foundation that can be relied upon and looked to for stability. This is a good thing when done with love and respect.

I see you, tired parent. Part 3

5. Classrooms and friends.

Following the rules is difficult for parents. At the kindergarten meet-the-teacher night, she told us parents that one of the best things we could do for our precious babies was to teach them to walk to the classroom by themselves by the second day of school. So, because I wanted the very best for my little, I walked him the first day and then the next I let him out in the drop off lane in front of the school. I watched his little boy body walk warily into the school for weeks! It was awful!

If I could go back in time, this is one thing I would do differently. I would walk him to his classroom door until HE was ready for me to stop. Many years later he randomly asked me why I wouldn’t walk him inside in Kindergarten like the other moms. I was shocked! Come to find out, the mothers that were more seasoned (aka – not their first rodeo) kept walking their baby to the door because they knew the secret! It all goes by so fast, my friend. Of course, by the time he was in older elementary grades he did not even want me to wave at him from the car when I dropped him off! Walk your baby to the classroom door and enjoy their love and lack of embarrassment while you have it!

That brings me to the impulse to pick your child’s teachers. Many of my friends were adamant about having their fingers in the picking of their little’s teachers. The rules of the school state that you can’t choose your child’s teacher but you CAN choose which teachers you do not want. I can share from experience of watching what happened with them and what happened when I did it… don’t. Just don’t. God is much better at picking which teacher your child needs. God know which teacher will be a detriment to your child’s learning. God knows what areas of growth your child needs. Let God. Scripture says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

6. Be THAT house!

The house with all the bikes parked outside. The house where the yard football games happen. The house where slumber parties take place. Being THAT house will help you:

  • know where your kiddo is – always.
  • put eyes on your kiddo’s friends.
  • have a heartbeat on the social activities and paradigms of your kiddo.
  • allow you to be a witness and a mentor to your kiddo’s friends.

I loved having the bicycle ramps in front of my house. It was so much fun watching the kids on the slip-n-slide or running through the sprinkler. I still have such amazing memories of listening to the squeals and yells of hide and seek games and the laughter way too long into the night when friends stayed over.

A nugget of mom advise that I would love to share with you here is to keep your feelings and comments about their friends/girlfriends/boyfriends to a bare (almost non-existent) minimum. The adage “You want what you can’t have,” is so true even for adults. The more a person feels like something is forbidden the more enticing that “thing” is. If you see something troubling, steering questions are the most effective way to handle the situation.

I remember meeting one of my son’s friends and almost instantly feeling a terrible vibe. I kept my calm and when the opportunity arose, I made small talk with that friend. During the conversation, I asked a couple of generic questions and then just one or two follow up questions based off this friend’s answers. A few weeks later this person was no longer a friend. I asked what happened and my son just said “yeah, he was kinda mean.” I inwardly cheered at the discernment of my boy, but I outwardly kept my face neutral and told my son that I was glad he was making those decisions on his own. Was this easy for me? No way! Was it rewarding? Absolutely!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19


Come back for Part 4

where we will discuss the final topic in this series,

Standing your ground.

I see you, tired parent. Part 2

3. Eating should be easy, right?

Well… sometimes. Perhaps your little is having trouble with breast milk, or a certain type of formula, or has a reaction to a pureed food, maybe even a finger food. You will figure it out and you will be the very best advocate for your baby’s nutrition. Trying to discern what works and what doesn’t when feeding your baby is a daily struggle at times. Remember that often it takes up to three times of introducing a food to your little before they decide they like it. Truth be told, there are a couple of things that my son would not eat until he was in his teens!


It’s not…

I was raised to eat what was served or wait until the next meal to eat.  This didn’t work for me as a child and it still doesn’t today. There are some foods that just do not sit well on my stomach. Okra is one of them. I was either four or five the first-time fried okra was set in front of me to eat. I ate it, it came up. My stepmother was angry as all get-out and set another plate in front of me. I don’t remember what happened after that, but it wasn’t enjoyable. Another time, my grandmother gave me a plate of food to eat that had something I did not like the texture of. I was told that I couldn’t get up from the table until I had finished my plate of food. I sat at the table -alone- for a long long time until finally my grandmother realized that I would rather go to bed hungry.

Understandably, I am a huge advocate for not making your children eat something they don’t like. Of course, always coax them to try new foods! Fighting over food should not happen, but neither should you becoming a short-order cook. It’s easy to plan meals that each of your family members will eat and enjoy which creates better mealtimes and less stress on you. I promise, one of these days your picky eater will start eating something that they refused to touch their entire lives and you will about fall to the floor in shock! Then you will laugh, and all will be fine. 😊

4. The clothing war is a real war!

The day that I found out I was having a boy, I had visions of picking out clothing for him without having a daily all-out war like many of my friends. Wow. I was not prepared for the three-year-old boy that did not want me to pick out his clothes. I wanted to dress him in plain t-shirts with a button up shirt (unbuttoned) thrown over the t-shirt and blue jeans or khaki shorts. He wanted athletic shorts and a hoodie. I wanted him to have a lesser version of prep style and he wanted anything, and everything relaxed. I would grab one style of tennis shoe; he would grab another. By the time he was going into kindergarten, he picked out every stitch of clothing he wore. I just had to decide to let it go. (Way before Elsa told me to!) No more war! Well, about that anyway.

Speaking of fighting a three-year-old, I encourage you to give your preschool child two (but no more than three) choices of whatever it is you are asking them to do. Choices will be your friend, my friend! I PROMISE! Preschoolers are supposed to be developing their own likes, dislikes, preferences, and ideas but the way it comes out can create the opposite of celebrating those developmental milestones.


Additional Resources:

http://studmonkedtech.com/blog/know-early-childhood-developmental-milestones/

Have you enjoyed the series so far?

Come back for PART 3

We will discuss parent rules and becoming THAT house!

I see you, tired parent. Part 1

Encouragement for this season.

I see you, tired parent, as you sigh and drag yourself out of bed, off the couch, out of the chair, to take care of your family for the billionth time today. I want to give you a virtual hug and an air high-five for opening up this blog series. Just knowing that you are not alone in this parenting whirlwind will give you the encouragement you need and the fresh mojo to tackle whatever season of “little’s” you find yourself.

“It all goes so fast!”

Goodness, if I had a dollar every time I heard that phrase. I heard it from seasoned mothers that I trusted, but truthfully, I would usually nod my ponytail wearing head and blink my exhausted eyes, giving a wisp of an indulgent smile. I knew what they were sharing was true (sort of) but the broken sleep and the hours of my crying baby just didn’t seem to be going “fast” at all. It felt like each hour stretched to five (or more). The good news is that I made it through and so will you. I am thrilled to share a sip of what I’ve learned about raising little’s in a way that, hopefully, will be a balm to your weary soul. BTW – IT DOES ALL GOES SO FAST! 😊

1. Teething babies equals broken sleep cycles.

Just when you finally have your little on somewhat of a routine sleep cycle, those pearly whites start moving under the surface of those gums. Suddenly, your sleeping angel becomes a middle of the night terror! This stage takes a couple of weeks for each new set of teeth and some children will have multiple sets coming back to back. Mine did. Heavens! The encouragement for you, dear beleaguered parent, is that this type of teething will be mostly over before they hit that second birthday. The number of products available to help your baby with sore gums is awesome! Teething beads, frozen gummy toys, and Motrin are best friends to you and your little. Check out this article for some fantastic choices of teething products which is a few years old but oh-so-relevant still today. https://www.themillennialsahm.com/natural-teething-remedies/

2. Sleeping???

If it isn’t teething waking your little up at all hours of the night and day, it’s them wanting to eat or having scary dreams. Those babies literally grow while they sleep! Like inches at a time…. almost while you are watching them! Growing requires lots of calories which means that just when you have that breast put away, that bottle washed, the dishes back in the cupboard, it seems your kiddo is tapping you on the back asking for more. I remember thinking that my child could surely NOT be hungry again. I mean I had only eaten an equivalent of one meal in the last 24 hours so surely my boy wasn’t wanting to eat again. Well, he was. Now, there were times during my nursing months that when he was teething, he wanted comfort over food, but I now know all the saliva he was creating was messing with his tummy. Having some extra milk during the night was helpful to him! Even though this was a difficult phase, I cherished those quiet times of snuggling with him, especially when he hit the next stage — running!

Let’s talk about those scary dreams that come with toddlerhood!

Dreams are a natural product of our minds trying to process the events of the day as well as normal cognitive development. Things we see on TV, conversations that happen around us, events that happen to us… all jumble together in our subconscious and create often bizarre dreams. I’ve included a link to StandfordChildrens.org. It is a very good article about the differences in night terrors and nightmares for little ones as well as techniques to soothe.

My son ended up coming into our bedroom often. At first I would tuck him back into his bed, eventually we would allow him to climb in with us, and finally he grew to the age that he stayed in his own bed and would tell us about the dream the next day. At the time, these nightmare stages seemed eternal but, in reality it was only a few short years. My friends made we aware that during this time their little experienced bed wetting. Be patient and kind and diligent with keeping this low-low-key. Your child may feel embarrassed or even scared that you will be angry at them. I promise, none of my friends are still changing sheets with their middle-schoolers or college kids. 😊 It’s just a dot of a season.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5


Come back for PART 2 of “I see you, tired parent”

where we will look at picky eaters and clothing wars!

Critical Steps for Surviving Divorce – Part 3

Step Five: Celebrate the days you didn’t cry; give yourself grace for the days you did.

I cried every single day for months. Some days it was misting around the corners of my eyes, some days a silent waterfall. I confess that the weekends were more of the guttural sob, but I really did try to reign those episodes in as much as possible! A name, a smell, a memory (and there were loads of memories!), a building, a song, a movie – anything could bring a stab of pain and a sob in the back of my throat. Truthfully, it made me so angry at myself! Why couldn’t I control my reactions and why did this whole thing cause me such emotional and physical pain? Then one day I read something that changed my anger into understanding.

“It hurts because it mattered.”

That was a turning point for me. Knowing that even though I would need to heal and even though I would need to move on, it hurt because it mattered. Sometimes it’s the simple things that the Holy Spirit uses to break through. Our El Roi sees us and meets us at the exact right time with the most perfect word. Praise Him!

Step Six: Let go of things that bring you pain.

Do you still have that necklace? How about that dress? Maybe those birthday/anniversary cards? Give them away, my friend. Dispose of those cards! If it has value, resell it – but you must release the things that bring you pain. Intentionally I kept a few things for my son, but I have those things packed away, out of sight.  The pictures are packed away also so that future generations will be able to have them.  I plan to create an online photo book so that I can store the book away and get rid of the photos. I am a genealogist so this is very important! 😊

Next, replace those things so that you aren’t left with a gaping hole. Take new photos, replace that dress, find a different necklace, and begin to build new memories that bring you grins – that leads to smiles – that lead to laughs – that leads to joy.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” 

Four years later I am standing in the Worship Center of my church bursting with songs of thanksgiving for the healing He provided to me and the hope He restored.

I pray earnestly that if you are amid loss and debilitating pain that you will lift your eyes to the hills, seek the Abba Father, and find true Joy in Him.

Tammy A


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