Growing Beyond Lazy

His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? – Matthew 25:26

I know, me personally, when it comes to following Jesus I get lazy. I don’t want to wander too far outside of my comfort zone.

However, when I have taken steps to move in that direction, I have been very happy with my results.

Every time I push myself, in the name of Jesus, I have never been let down. It encourages me to go again, and again, farther and farther, this time.

However, when it comes to my fitness routine, I find myself not only being lazy, but never exerting myself beyond what I think I can do. I work until gets hard. I work until it hurts. I work until I do what I set out to do, but not one more step beyond that.

I know my body can do more than what I push it to do. Just like I know I could do more for Jesus than I do. He not only calls me, he enables me too. Do I always do it? Nope. Because I get lazy.

I find when it comes to parenting, I am also just as lazy. I expect from my kids, what they have shown me they can do, or should I say what they are willing to do. But they whine and complain and it’s “easier” not to listen to them than to step up as a parent and ignore their excuses and demand their best. Well, because that would require more work on my half too.

But like me, I know they can do so much more.

So how do we teach our children to push on, to overcome, to not give up, to expect more?

I should expect more from them for starters. That would be a good start.

What if we pushed them beyond what they think they are capable of doing?

Would that not build their confidence as my stepping out in faith has built mine?

I want them to one day to be able to push themselves when there is no one else doing it for them.

I want them to continue on, when everyone else says they can’t.

And I want them to work to their potential; not to their comfort level.

I have a bunch of lazy kids. Kids who, like me, look for comfort. But growth doesn’t come from comfort.

It is through the pushing and the stretching and the going beyond what you thought you ever could.

It’s living through the pain and seeing you can still survive.

That’s what I want to teach my kids. That’s what I want to teach me.

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Why Are You So Concerned?

I got a special treat tonight.

My daughter asked if she could borrow my phone to call her brother, Tunes. Not really believing he would answer the phone, I gave it to her anyway.

He came over and had dinner. We talked about his life and work. We talked about his plans for his future and his struggles.

Somehow we turned to our phones and started sharing funny videos and amusing posts from Facebook.

As the night grew later, each one of the kids took their showers and headed off to bed. Mike joined them.

And then there was just the two of us.

For the next two hours he shared with me videos he had found, or posted online; all of which were centered on how corrupt the United States was.

From its education system, to the pharmaceutical companies, to its politicians in office, to the banking industry, America was doomed.

His light demeanor turned dark. He plans on one day, moving to another country.

He doesn’t know which one, but any of them, is better than this one.

Knowing I was about to start something he doesn’t like to talk about, I took a deep breath and pondered if this was the right time. If it was worth jeopardizing the small precious time I got to spend with him.

I started with…

“I know you don’t want to hear it, but…

“Everything, everything you just showed me, everything you just told me about, you can find in Revelation.

Silence.

“You are not telling me anything I don’t already know. There are dark, dark times coming.

“Christians study Revelation and watch for the signs and feel the need to share it with everyone they know, just like you are doing.

“It’s not new. The New Testament says the end of the world will come like labor pains. Fathers will turn against sons, and daughters against mother. (Matthew 24:3-51)

“I wonder though, if you can spend this much time, researching how dark this world is, why can’t you spend as much time investigating what I’ve been telling you about Jesus, to see if it is true?

“Start with the Bible. There is plenty of scientific proof that the Bible is for real.

“There are archeological evidence that back it up.

“There are sources outside of Christianity, that provided historical evidence that support the validity of what it says.

“There are people who have done more than simply thrown their hands up in the air and said, ‘Well I don’t believe it’, and have actually done their research and set out to prove Christianity as a hoax, and have converted because of what they have found.

“If it is so important for you to educate others on the demise of this country, why can’t you spend just a little bit of time researching what I have been telling you?

“There is nothing you can do about it. It does not matter which country you try to run to. The whole world is coming to an end.

“So, you can watch it. You can study it. You can get mad and outraged about it. You can go out and proclaim it to everyone you know about it.

“Or you can look to God, someone who has overcome it.

“You say you don’t understand. You don’t know how there could be a God, but I will tell you His brain is so much bigger than ours. He is supernatural, and just like trying to explain how a car works to an infant, it is impossible for us to understand it in our puny little brains. (John 3:12)

“So he shrunk himself down in the form of Jesus so that he might dumb it down it for us.

“Now I don’t claim to understand it all, but I know he gave us the Bible, which has been evidentially proven as true, and in it says the way to the Father, is through his Son. (John 14:6)

“He sent his son, so that we may spend eternity with him. He gave us a way out of this sick, dark and destructive world. (John 3:16)

“And yes, it sucks living here, especially if you see what is coming; but life here is only temporary. We are only here for a short time.” (James 4:14)

I rolled my ball of yarn out on the kitchen table and I told him to imagine that it didn’t start here and stop there, but actually went on infinitely in that direction and eternity in the other.

I then placed my index finger on one spot of the yarn.

“This is were we are at. Your birth started on this side of my nail and your life here on earth will end here on the other side of it. Everything you experience here is but a breath, and then you live in eternity. (Psalm 144:4)

“So my question to you, is what are you going to do with the education, gifts and skill sets you have, during this short amount of time you have?

“What legacy do you intend to leave?

“The legacy I want to leave to my children, and my grand children and my grand children’s children, is that I loved.

I loved everyone.

I made sleeping mats and hats for the people who live on the street. Probably some of them deserved to live on the street, but I love them anyway.

“I love the needy as well as those who are mean.

“And even though I have a child who doesn’t believe what I believe; I want them to know, as well as you, that I will still listen to you, I will still be there for you, I will still support you, because I will always still love you.

“I want to impact the world that way.

“I want every person I come in contact with, to be better for it.

“But not because of me, but because of Jesus.

“Because he took a single mom with four kids who had nothing and made her something.

“I may not be rich with money, but I am rich with love.

“I have more friends who are family now than I ever did my whole childhood.

“And I want those in my small world to know Him, and what he has done for me. He has transformed me.

“I am fully aware, without being ‘fully’ aware, that life sucks and bad things happen. But my trust is in the one who has overcome this world.

“Why are you so concerned about what is going to happen right here, when you have eternity to worry about?

“Which eternity will you live?

“Because there is a Hell and it’s not under ground. It’s here.” And I let my finger run forward on the yarn.

“And it is here.” I pointed to my finger sitting on the yarn.

“It is full of pain and regret, and anger and despair.

“Or will you spend eternity with our Father?

“I don’t know if I will be spending my eternity in heaven with him, or I will be spending it here on earth once Jesus returns and brings the New Jerusalem, but I will be spending it with him in one of these two places.”

“Mom.” He showed me his phone and it was nearly 11 pm. “It’s time for me to go home.”

“No. You are home, but I will drive you to where you are living.”

My time to talk was over.

As I got back home, and set my head on my pillow after changing for the night, I texted him, “Love you. Thank you for coming over tonight. You’ve been missed. :)”

He responded, “At least know you raised a son with the same beliefs as you.”

“Look it up. Find the proof you need. Investigate. You are not a dumb kid. You are an educated man. Research and then make your own conclusion. Not one that your mom has given you.”

Good night.

How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

Summer Read

So, I’m so excited I got my little girl into reading! Finally!

She’s hates to read, or so she says. I just think she hasn’t found the type of books she’s into, yet.

Today, she followed me around the house, just getting into everything I was trying to do, while she was trying to entertain herself.

It wasn’t working. This is going to be another long summer!

Last year I tried to get her interested in learning Spanish. I found some workbooks for her that she flew through, so I also dug out my computer based Spanish program thinking, Ha! score! But no.

It kept her busy for about a minute. She lost interest quickly.

So today, while tripping over her, I asked if she would like me to take her to the library to pick out a book. She’s older, you know.

Well, she was super excited, so imagine my surprise when once we get there, she tells me she doesn’t like to read.

She doesn’t like to read…like that’s even a thing. She knows she’s my daughter right? She can’t possibly be serious. I read books like I drink water. I love books.

After fighting with her for what seemed like forever, I finally had to pick a book I thought she would enjoy. She was being less than helpful.

We had one of her brothers with us too. Yeah, he didn’t help. The entire time I’m trying to convince her to even consider reading something, he’s in the background whispering, “Just hit her.” And she’s responding in a not so whispering voice, ‘Grow up and get your own kids to beat. ”

A lovely day at the library, I must say.

After grabbing something I thought she might like, I quickly escorted my two loving offsprings out the door and booked it home.

Why did she even want to go to the library in the first place? I don’t know. I stopped asking.

While continuing our argument in the car, I inform her that she needs to read at least a chapter a day. And if she doesn’t read it, we will be reading it together every night.

While sitting at stop lights, I start to read her chapter one. Her brother tries to convince her she’d like the book if she’d give it a chance.

“Oh, how do you even know?”

“Because it’s about the same crap you watch on TV!”

Still not helping, but thank you… I think.

We stop by a Circle K so Justice could buy himself a soda, and I have a captive audience, so I continued reading.

We get home with only two pages left in chapter one.

“Two more pages, Butterfly. You only need to read two more pages tonight, before bed.”

Well, just as I’m about to head for my room for the evening, I remember the book. Crap.

I turn the TV off so I may finish reading it to her and get to bed and NOW she wants to read it…

Out loud….

To me.

So, I’m not sure if she really wanted to read it, or she just wanted to read it out loud, to me to put off me getting to bed.

I compromised with her. I read a page, then she did.

Well, somehow I got hustled into us reading not only to the end of chapter one, but all of CHAPTER TWO AS WELL!

We really did have a good time reading together. I wish it was a little earlier in the evening, but by the end, she made us read the last page of the chapter together.

It was great. She is actually getting into it!

Oh how great it would be to find her something to do all summer! Bonus if we can do it together!

I am encouraged. Maybe there is hope still for a little girl who claims she hates reading.

AND for a little girl who has a crush on Charlie. We’ll learn more about that, tomorrow in chapter three!

End of Year Expectations

I have struggled with expectations I have put on my kids and their education, their entire lives.

I was a child who never earned straight A’s, but I strive for them like nobody’s business. I graduated at the top 10% of my class, and I received a scholarship to a community college.

Don’t be too impressed. I lost it after my first year and my friends were in the top five and received scholarships and acceptance letters to universities.

Not doing homework, was unheard of. The amount of stress I put on myself led to migraines and breakdowns. Getting good grades was what defined me.

So, to have children who constantly do not turn in their homework, routinely bring home C’s and lower and just do the bare minimum to pass a class, has just about driven me over the edge. I have been disappointed and heartbroken time and time again.

However, things are changing. I have changed. Instead of comparing my children to me and what I was capable of as a child, I am learning to accept them for who they are and what they are truly capable of doing. I am no longer allowing their success or failure define who I am.

We may not have had any kiddos who have received any scholarships, acceptance letters into their favorite University or even applied for community college, this year.

We don’t have anyone with straight A’s or perfect attendance.

But we do have…

A kiddo who stuck it out and graduated, after losing his privilege to live in our house, two months before the end of school. He may not be going college anywhere right yet, but he’s working and paying rent somewhere and has bought his own form of transportation; as unconventional as it may be. It’s his and he’s the one who purchased it!

We have a kiddo, after struggling with his grades all year, and especially his last semester; who looks like he was able to pull a minimum grade up at the very end to avoid summer school!

We have a kiddo who after years of being suspended once a year, has managed to not only keep his nose out of the front office for the whole year, but has also avoided D’s and F’s, for the first time since third grade. And is coming off his IEP in time for him to start high school!

We have a kiddo who has transferred schools last year. Not once this year has he been sent home for fighting, crying or leaving his classroom or campus. He also has not been a target for any bullying and the kicker…made Honor Roll for the first time ever, this last quarter!

Oh I’m not done!

We have a kiddo who struggled all year with D’s and F’s. We were concerned he wasn’t going to pass the fifth grade. Even being grounded from the Internet and video games for over half the school year, didn’t seem to be helping. Although, his last quarter grades may not have been all A’s and B’s, he still got all his F’s up to passing and will be entering the sixth grade next year!

Finally, we have a kiddo who may have never have struggled with any of her grades, ever. But has proven herself once again just how versatile and capable she really is. Last year she transferred schools with her brother to a much smaller classroom. I was actually concerned it would hurt her socially, however she made new friends, both inside and outside her class and has still made Honor Roll three out of the four quarters!

We don’t have any rocket scientists, obviously, when it comes to their education. But I still feel these kids have ROCKED the 2015-2016 school year!

And I don’t feel I have lowered my expectations for any of them at all, but have certainly changed them to match who they are.

It is amazing the amount of love that blooms and heart that swells, with just accepting who my kids are and what they are capable of doing.

I think we’re all looking forward to what next year can bring and to see how much farther they can go!

Singing Praises

It’s super late, or super early, actually. I need to be sleeping. We have a HUGE day tomorrow. It’s our Memorial Weekend BBQ, and we have so much to do, still.

But can I sing the praises of my Justice before I go to sleep?

This child, who I have fought with since his birth… The one I sent to live with his dad just six months ago… He is back and he has really, really turned into a fine young man.

Oh my gosh I love him so much.

So much time, so much energy, so much heartache has gone into his life. And today I see a young man I could only dream of.

He is bursting with personality. Those he let’s see him, love him. He is funny, and sarcastic, and loving.

Tonight, he took the M&Ms away from me, because he cares. He came out of his room and played with his sister’s friends. He let one of them show him up, in a game of string.

He laughed. He yelled. He continued to smart off, “What the fluff?” whenever he would get his hands tangled.

He was pleasant. He was friendly. He was happy.

I am blessed. I am grateful for such a gift as he. I am honored to watch him grow. I am in awe of the craftsmanship that lies within.

He is remarkable.

And not because of his grades. Not because of his behavior. Not because of his ability to take common, innocent nouns and sometimes verbs, and turn them into swear words.

But because of his perseverance, his strength, his ability to change, his uniqueness.

He drives me absolutely insane. He sends me completely over the edge. He challenges my role as his mother, daily. He is the biggest pain in my….backside.

And yet I would not have him any other way.

I love him, not only for who he is, but for who he makes me be.

Well done, Jesus. I can see in him, a strong resemblance of his Father. Continue to mold him, sculpt him, refine him with fire. But make him yours, so that he may draw others to your side so they may bow at your feet.

All for your glory, Lord. He is for you alone. Amen.

My Son, the One with a Broad Future

Two and a half years ago I found myself at a child’s advocate organization, trying to get help for my kiddo.

He was failing.

Life for him, and with him, had always been hard. That was something he had struggled with much longer than two and a half years.

But now he was failing at school. He hated school. He hated his teachers. He hated his classmates. He hated homework. He hated school work.

I knew something was terribly wrong and couldn’t understand why he was in a remedial reading class, when two years prior, he was his class’ top reader.

I also couldn’t understand why the school didn’t see there was a problem, and it wasn’t just with his reading.

I wanted him to have an IEP, Individualized Educational Plan. It would allow him extra supports that was personalized to his needs in order for him to succeed in class.

I had to fight for it because although he had a disability, it wasn’t a learning disability.

At first, his school flat out refused to evaluate him even though his disability qualified him for at least testing, and he was failing.

It is true his behavior had just started to change. He hadn’t been failing for years, but I could see him spinning quickly in a direction I didn’t want him to go.

The short time frame, may have been their reason for not wanting to test him. I was told if there was anything I should be concerned with, they would be able to identify it before I could. They thought it was too soon. They didn’t want to label him.

I could appreciate that, I didn’t want to label him either, but my son needed help.

The organization helped educate me as to what my rights were and more importantly, how to let the school know I knew my rights.

After I was dismissed by the school psychologist and refused testing, I promptly emailed the school psychologist, school principal, and the school district stating I wanted an independent evaluator for my son.

Before the end of the day, someone from the school district had called to apologize and informed me their school psychologist had misrepresented their school and they would be more than happy to proceed with the evaluations, if that was still something I was interested in pursuing.

It was.

It was hard for me to go to that next meeting. I felt like the squeaky wheel, and I don’t like being the squeaky wheel. I’ve never been one who liked to rock the boat. I’m a people-pleaser, a recovering codependent.

So to sit in that meeting with all those school representatives looking at me like I was wasting their time, was all I could do from drowning in my own puddle of tears. Keep it together, Kim. One person even asked why were meeting again; wasn’t the decision to not test already made?

I knew it would be a slow process. It took time. It took a lot of time. It took a lot of people’s time. That was made perfectly clear.

But my son was struggling! He was growing more and more impatient. He was being suspended frequently. He was caring less and less. His self-esteem was crumbling. He was becoming more violent and more threatening. He was more out of control.

I was scared.

Days before the results meeting, the school psychologist had called for me to come in. They weren’t able to get all the evaluations completed. My son had refused to do some of the tests.

She wanted to make sure I understood, in the next meeting we would be determining if my son qualified for an IEP based on ED, an emotional disability or emotionally disturbed. She wanted to make sure I understood if we go through with this determination, that it would affect the rest of his life. It would mean he could never be in the military or any public service position like that of a police officer or fire fighter.

I turned to face her, my hands clutching a tear filled tissue with black eyeliner smudges, and told her my son has a mental illness that I don’t understand.

How our society deals with people with a mental illness is by putting them in jail or putting them on the street. I was aware of the broad range of jobs between being a police officer and living on the street, and I’m completely ok with it.

I would be thrilled for him to have the opportunity to pursue any one of them. But my son needs help. If he doesn’t get help, I’m afraid we won’t have to worry about whether or not he would be able to serve his country in the future; he won’t have a future to worry about.

He will be dead. Because that, unfortunately is the third option for people with an untreated mental illness. I’m asking you to help me, help my son.

That was almost three years ago. We got his IEP as well as counseling and other treatment.

As a sixth grader, I felt his future was very bleak. People worried about their teens graduating high school, I wasn’t sure if my son would make it to eighth grade.

But here I was tonight! Looking at my son standing with his class as they were being promoted on to high school.

I caught a smile from time to time, too. He stood tall. He had on a tie and his shirt tucked in. He took pictures. He cracked jokes. He said goodbye to his friends for the summer.

I saw him.

I could see him standing there somewhere in that broad range of excelling and failing, and I was ok with it. Just like I knew I would be.

I’m so proud of him. I’m so proud of us.

YOU DID IT!