I Don’t Want My Girls to Win Every Time

Constant winning will do nothing to help a child grow. It will instead provide a false sense of superiority. Working hard and improving are far more important than winning.

Case in point: our swim meet a few days ago. Kaitlyn received 2 first place ribbons. One was because she swam in a heat by herself. When there is no competition, you are going to win by default. The other ribbon was from a relay she did with 3 other girls. This was not won because of her mad swim skills. This child was a little too full of herself.

Lauren came away disappointed because the best she received were 2 third place ribbons. Never mind that she is swimming against bigger and stronger girls. She was frustrated and it didn’t help that her little sister had better ribbons than her.

Just like last year, we came home and compared their times from this meet and the first one. My jaw dropped when I saw Lauren had been 4 seconds faster in both freestyle and breast stroke than the first week! That is huge! She is definitely improving and works hard to be her best.

Kaitlyn had slower times in this meet than the first. Her placements didn’t show growth. When she got a little too big for her britches, I had to point that out. I don’t enjoy watching my child deflate, but if I don’t do it, the world will.

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When kids are grown and living on their own, the world will try to make them think they don’t matter. It will beat them down and leave them on the side of the road. As parents, it is our job to show them where their value lies: in how they live their lives. We need to teach them to work hard and get better, and not to be the best but to be the best they can. They need to know it is not all about them but about how much good they can do.

Sometimes we have to let kids fail so they learn the value of pushing themselves. It isn’t easy, but if we don’t let it happen, it will happen eventually. The best thing for them is for them to fail while they have us there to help pick up the pieces. When that happens, we can be there to show them how to recover from the setback and move on. Eventually, the goal should be that they are able to do this without us.

Let’s raise this generation to be able to lose gracefully, to stay humble, and to work hard.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Being Kind Never Hurts

Tough days happen. They can spring up out of nowhere or happen for reasons you know. Even understanding that not all days are going to be sunny and happy doesn’t really make you feel better. Neither does knowing that these times will end. What will matter in these times is your attitude.

The important thing to remember on the hard days is to ask this question: Am I spreading more good than bad? Looking out at those around you rather than looking inward takes the focus off you and your problems and helps you regain perspective.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to make a situation better. You have to just let it work itself out. Why worry when you can work? Get out there and help someone. Just because there is nothing you can do in your own life doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do in the world.

On the days where everything is coming together it is easy to be kind to others and be courteous and helpful. The skill comes in when life isn’t going your way and you choose to be positive and helpful anyway. Anyone can be happy in the good times but it takes maturity to look outside your own situation and show others kindness. If you don’t take the time to reach out, there is a good chance no one will either. A person who needed you will suffer. You aren’t benefited by remaining in your own head either. If you choose to worry away your time instead of helping someone else, nothing will improve.

So smile even when you don’t feel like it. Write a note encouraging someone. Help someone carry their groceries. Visit someone who needs a friend. Be the someone they need to get through their time, and who knows: maybe they will be who you need one day.

Hard times are inevitable in this life. Don’t be someone who holds onto them and nurses them until they take on a life of their own. Instead, be someone who goes out and loves. Show the world that this day doesn’t define you. This hard time will pass, but the impact of your reaction to it will possibly last a lifetime. Make it count.

Linking with Holley Gerth

What I Know About Good Dads

As a woman, I will never be a dad. Fortunately for me, I have a great dad and am married to a man who is a great dad. So in case you were wondering where my authority comes from, there it is!

Becoming a father is easy. Raising a secure and kind child into a functioning adult takes daily work from both parents. There are no sick days or do overs. Parenting is the most vital job out there, so dads should never underestimate their significance.

One thing I know about the best dads is that they value presence over presents. They spend time with their child and build a relationship. They listen to what the child says and teach them the things they know. My Dad and I have always been close. Even though he traveled when I was growing up, when he was home he was home. He played with us on the floor. He took us places. The picture below is from a race Dad and I ran when I was 7. When we did activities that were just about us and the time we spent together, I was happiest and most secure in my childhood.

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My husband teaches our girls lots of things. He and our oldest cook together, and he takes both of them to the tennis courts to play. When he is building some new furniture, he often involves them and shows them how to do whatever he is doing. He may not be perfect, but he is here and shows us that he wants to be here.

The other mark I know of a great dad is that they show their love. Not all of them wear their heart on their sleeve, but they show their love in tangible ways. My Dad tells me that he loves me and is proud of me. Those words have gotten me through many tough days. My husband is affectionate and our girls never doubt that he loves them. I have always been around hugs, kisses and the words “I love you,” and I wouldn’t change a thing. They have shaped me into the compassionate woman I am today, and I know they will do the same for my girls.

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Kids need love and support from their dads. They need to feel loved as they grow so their self confidence can blossom. The good thing about this is that it is never too late to be a good dad. Even someone who has not done their best can start showing up and loving well.

For all the awesome dads out there, please know that the world needs you and so do your children. I hope you have a wonderful week and feel as cherished as you are!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Summer Time

Summer is in full swing around here, which means I am slightly less tired than during the school year. The girls had their first swim meet of the season last night and did great. It was a long and beautiful night.

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Lauren went up to an older group this year, since she is 11. She has worked on flip turns with the intensity she worked on diving last year. That child wants to do better than everyone or not compete at all. She swam 50 meters (instead of 25 like the younger kids) in butterfly, freestyle, and breaststroke. Then she finished the night with a 100 meter IM (Individual Medley.) Before each race began, she would hug me and tell me how nervous she was. Hopefully her nerves are settled now that she got the first meet out of the way.

Kaitlyn swam 25 meters of breaststroke, backstroke, as well as freestyle 3 times. She is improving so much over last year! She is actually trying and wants to practice diving this weekend. Last year, there were many times we had no idea what stroke she was doing. Now she actually looks like she was putting forth the effort.

Tonight both girls are having friends over. There will be pizza, sugar, and lots of giggles. I hope one day they look back on summers and remember how much fun they had as well as how hard they worked at swimming. I want them to remember laughing with me and seeing me read. Summer time is magical for kids and is time you can’t get back. I think we are off to a good start!

Linking with Holley Gerth

God is Still in the Miracle Business

Sometimes it seems God must be goofing off. We pray and pray for people and situations, to no avail. We plead and beg for relief, and nothing happens.

God is still working.

There are several miracles I have seen and heard about in the last week. They aren’t mine to talk about, but they happened. People’s lives were hanging by a thread and God came through. Doctors gave a diagnosis and there was total healing where dialysis was supposed to be a given. Young and old alike are touched by these miraculous healings every day.

Does it feel like we only talk about the lost causes and the worst of the worst? Does it feel like the world is falling down around us, one crisis at a time? It does to me at times. The desperation I feel around me for change and healing gets to me. I plead with God to help them. I am sorry to say that lately, I have not really believed in my heart that there would be answers, at least not soon. I had, in a way, given up.

Then God worked His way into several lives and shocked us all.

There are still lots of situations and people and hearts I am praying for. I won’t stop until the prayers are answered one way or another. I just can’t forget these huge times when God performs nothing short of miracles. He loves to go big and leave obvious marks that He was there. He wants us to have no way to doubt His presence!

When these miracles happen, we need to see them and celebrate them. They really do happen every day.

If there are big requests where you keep asking for God’s help, make sure to look around at the miracles that are occurring. You will be astonished and overjoyed, and they will spur your faith on to keep praying.

Never forget that God is always in the miracle business. Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t make this less true. Learn to celebrate the miracles you do see!

To Regret or Not to Regret

We like to say we have no regrets. It sounds good, doesn’t it? I think we say this because we want it to be true, whether it is or not.

There are plenty of choices I wish I had made differently, but since I can’t go back, there is no point in dwelling on them. I think I learned from the decisions, even when it took more than one wrong turn. My life is great, despite the times I veered off course. I do believe that God works things together for good. It may not feel like it at the time, but He does.

I think about my girls and how I wish I could convince them to stay on the straight and narrow by my words alone. My brain knows that there are going to be plenty of lessons they have to learn the hard way. If only I could point to my own experiences and they would understand, but that is not how free will works.

When I think about it that way, of wanting my children to avoid heartache, I think I have a glimpse of how God sees it. He gives us so many examples of choices in the Bible, as well as all around us, and He hopes we use good judgment. But when we inevitably fail, He wants us to learn from it and leave it in the past. He wants to help us make the best of the situation, like I want to do for my children.

Some verses that help me understand God’s view are in the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” There are two ways to deal with a failure: to move on or to dwell. God wants us to learn and be better in the future while Satan wants us to stay stuck in grief over it and never to do good again. Each time we look back on it and linger, Satan cheers.

The other verses are Philippians 3:12-13, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Taking our eyes off the prize does us no good. It distracts us and may trip us. Forgetting what is in the past sounds impossible, but God helps when we ask.

So since we have free will in an imperfect world, we are going to make mistakes, big and small. That is certain. To take those mistakes and massage them and make them bigger and more powerful is just as bad as the original mistake. However, when we learn from them and keep moving ahead toward the future God has planned, we grow and thrive. Hopefully along the way, we can help someone avoid the mistakes we made. As long as we only visit that time and don’t set up shop, we are on firm ground.

Do you have something in your past that is haunting you? Is God telling you to leave it behind for something better? I urge you to listen and drop it so you can run into His open arms with nothing weighing you down!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Summer Memorization Time

In summers past, I have paid my girls to learn Bible verses. Judge me if you must, but a dollar a verse worked! I have found that summer is the best time to get the Word into them, without school work stressing them out.

This year, I won’t pay them. We will buy them souvenirs on vacation and, oh, put a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. That should be enough. Here are the 8 verses I have chosen to focus on.

1 John 4:19-“We love Him because He first loved us.”

Romans 3:23-“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Joshua 1:9-“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Mark 16:15-“Go into all the world and preach the good news.”

James 2:10-“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

James 1:22-“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Matthew 22:39-“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Genesis 1:31-“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

The last verse is there because I want my girls to remember that God created them and they are good. As they get older and their bodies change, this will be a key point to remember. The other verses vary in their message but each one carries weight. I also want them to be simple enough to remember the rest of the year and the rest of the girls’ lives.

Summer is definitely a time for fun and relaxation (and swim team), but it is also the best time we have found for focused Bible verse memorization. Throughout the year, they will learn at church, but this is our time. If you are feeling led to do something similar, go for it! I understand if you decide to pay your kids….

Linking with Holley Gerth