Important things, Parenting, Revelations, teen Internet safety

A follow up.

If you are here on my blog, it’s a pretty good chance that you got here because of a post I wrote a few years back about teens and internet safety. Since I wrote that post in 2013, I have had more than a million hits on it and it’s been republished on a couple of other websites, including foreverymom.com. It’s like, the most successful thing I’ve ever written.

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I don’t say this to brag. It’s for sure the only thing I’ve written that has gotten so popular. The reason I mention it is because I think It’s time for an update. (For one thing, many of the sites are either totally different or don’t exist anymore)

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t even pregnant yet. I didn’t have a child, and I was only two years into teaching. Obviously a lot has changed since then – I now have a two-year old and I won’t be teaching again next year. I have a new perspective.

internet-safety-tips3I do not, however, have a different opinion about internet safety. I do still 100% believe in the importance of monitoring your kid’s social media and computer access. I do still 100% believe that the internet can be a scary and dangerous place. The only thing that I feel differently about is how important a role the relationship between you and your child can play in keeping them safe.

As I am raising a toddler and walking through parenthood with my husband, I am more and more convinced that the key to building a whole and complete person lies in emphasizing personal responsibility. Even at two years old, my son understands the difference between a good choice and a bad choice. He knows that a good choice will have positive consequences and a bad choice will have negative ones. The reason he knows this is because the adults in his life are lovingly and consistently reinforcing this for him through relationship. While the practical aspect of this idea changes as children grow, the concept remains the same. Love brings trust.Image result for hugging

Now clearly we are not The Perfect Parents™. Nobody on this entire earth can claim that title. What we are is a mom and dad who are working hard to be the best we can be.

Many of the comments I received about the blog post I wrote said the same things – that I was advocating scare tactics and removing individual autonomy from the parenting equation. That is not what I am suggesting. Your children are individuals. They are going to make choices you don’t like. They are going to mess up. You can’t protect them from everything. What you can do is build a relationship with your children that promotes trust and acceptance. If your child is afraid to talk to you, they won’t. They’ll try to do it on their own, and that’s when we run into trouble.

Don’t buy into the lie that your kids are people you will never understand and will want to actively avoid. Don’t let yourself give up just because it’s hard to teach good habits and respect. Don’t believe for one second that your kids have to be people you don’t like and can’t talk to. You have the power to shape and mold your kids into genuinely good people through love and authenticity.

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It’s really freaking hard to do this.

You are going to fail at this a good bit of the time. Your best efforts will be pitiful sometimes. The important part is that we are doing our best. There’s also a pretty big component of actually being the kind of person you want your kids to be, but that’s another post for another day.

Pray, work hard, be an example, love your kids. You got this.

That is all.

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Please stop calling me a snowflake.

Hello, Millenial here. You may recognize me from such things as: eating avocado toast, being incredibly selfish, and killing various establishments such as Applebee’s, Sears, and now Toy’s R Us  (for a full list, see here).  

I see things all the time about how Millenials are selfish and lazy, entitled, or just plain bad at life, and I find it off-putting to say the least.

Take for example this little gem over here:

Who is doing this? Who is making this kind of money?? More importantly who is wasting this amount of money?! Because it sure as heck isn’t anybody I know. First of all, the average Millenial is 27 years old. That’s right – Millenials are the working class adults of today, not the Tide-pod slurping 13 year olds everyone claims we are. We are not wasting our money “getting lit”. We are paying off our student loan debt and turning in our rent checks that keep getting bigger.

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But you know what? The bottom line is that we’re all just working class try-hards who are doing our dang best.

Leave Millenials alone 😦

That is all.

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Hey, That’s Kinda Neat.

I started another blog! I’m definitely still going to keep up with this blog for regular updates and things, but in keeping with my new focus in writing, I wanted a platform to create daily content. So, if you’re interested in my writing or some fine or generally okay recommendations for stuff, check it out!

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lol @ my tabs open

Love you guys! (kissy face emoji)

That is all.

Important things, Revelations, Uncategorized

The one where I quit my job.

Eyy so this is a post I’m writing. Feels pretty weird, not gonna lie. As many of you know, I have been teaching now for five years. It’s my career. But today I did a crazy thing – I decided not to teach next year. Now don’t think I’m abandoning all responsibility and putting my family in jeopardy (maybe next time, Trebek). IImage result for quit‘m still going to sub to pay the bills. But I’ve decided after much prayer and consideration and talking and talking and talking to my husband, the best and most supportive human being in the universe, that it is time for me to pursue my passion. You may be able to guess this, but my passion is writing. I love writing and I love creating and I just don’t get enough time to do that as a full-time teacher. 

On top of pursuing my passion though, there is a very real problem with burnout. If I’m being completely honest, I just haven’t been a good teacher to my kids this last year because I’m so dang tired all the time. I may one day return to teaching, but for now, I’m ineffective in my role. I fully subscribe to the belief that you should do everything to the best of your ability, and I am just plain not doing that.Image result for writer

I want a chance to focus on my family. Far too often my husband and sweet baby toddler are the first ones to suffer from my inability to juggle all my responsibilities. They should be getting the delicious chocolate truffles from the assorted heart-shaped box that is Kayla, and not the weird apricot nut thing that’s still left after a week and a half. Subbing and writing will not only give me the freedom to focus on myself and my passion but I will also be able to devote much more of myself to the ones who matter most.

As you can imagine, this decision has not been made lightly. Kai and I have sought council from people we trust, and prayed together and separately about this and we truly believe that we are in the right place for a fantastic season of growth. Our church family is amazing, our pastors are truly challenging us in so many healthy ways, Asher’s preschool is perfect, and we are finally at a place that affords us the freedom to make these kinds of decisions.

I’m really excited about the next season of my life. As with anything worthwhile, there is a pretty intense risk factor involved. How is this going to affect us financially? What if I’m not good enough to make this work? Am I wasting my time?

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But literally this just makes so much sense to me. God has given me the opportunity to make this decision in a way that allows me to still help support my family. I am so ready to be challenged and challenging through what I believe is a particular gifting I’ve been neglecting.  It’s like that old quote from Chariots of Fire in which Eric Lidell says “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” When I write, it feels like worship. I want more of my life to be directly glorifying to Him.

So I guess what I’m saying here is if you like my stuff, get ready because I’m going to be writing a whole heck of a lot more. And if you know of anybody looking for content creators or freelance writers, hook a homegirl up! I love you all and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do.Image result for quitter book

That is all. For now. 🙂

P.s. If you’re interested, I’ve been reading Quitter by Jon Acuff.
He is a fantastic writer and I’ve followed his stuff for a few years now. When I asked for the book for Christmas a few years ago I was actually disappointed that it was about quitting your career because that’s not the place that I was in at the time – turns out it was just waiting for me to be ready for it. Check it out if you’re interested!

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OH NO NOT FORTNITE PLEASE GOD HELP

So it’s come to this. Your child, aged between 9-16, has discovered the singular terror that is Fortnite. Your once smiling, ambitious child has become a monster that can only talk about skins, battlepasses, and kill counts. As a middle school teacher, I feel this pain deeply.Image result for fortnite If you have been fortunate enough to avoid this travesty, then thank the Holy Lord above that he has spared you from this plague. If however, you find yourself in sackcloth and ash, beating your chest in contrition for whatever sinful past has wrought this awful fate upon you, then I may have some helpful tips and tricks to make it through the discernible future (at least until the next awful trend through which the lord will carry our buttprints in the sand or however that goes).

First of all: Accept your plight. your child has been ensnared by the Fortnite demon and this is a particularly tough struggle. Understand that there may be some irreparable damage done to the child’s brain. Image result for fortnite youtuberThis is to be expected but can be overcome. The consistent intake of information, both in playing the game and digesting thousands of hours of Youtube playthroughs and inane conversations is almost guaranteed to alter the brain chemistry to some extent. I’m no scientist, but I know that obsession can lead to developing the condition known as “being super annoying”. This phase of your child’s life will require time and some of that sweet, sweet parental patience you have just oozing out of your pores. You will overcome. You can do this, Mom or Dad or teacher or random stranger online.

Next, do not, whatever you do, give your child your credit card information  You may feel sorry for them, or even wish to dote upon the once affectionate child, but this child has become a monster.Image result for fortnite Often we are too close to the situation to truly understand the scope of the danger. If you give your child money to spend on this game, they will use it to buy a fancy outfit for their character and it will set them apart as someone who “does too much”. Do not allow your child to succumb to this, as it will affect the very fabric of their interpersonal relationships. Giving your child the tools to be a Fortnite player with a fancy skin will ensure that they become the kind of adult who won’t drink Aquafina because “Fiji water just tastes fresher.”

Finally: pray. Pray so much. These trials can only be overcome through prayer and supplication. Just know that there is a network of teachers and parents who are right there in the trenches with you. We will overcome.

That is all.

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Can one be a Christian and a Feminist?

I struggle with this topic because I know that so many people will roll their eyes. both at the Christian part and at the Feminist part. But I am here to say that I believe both of these identities are not only valid, but intrinsically linked. I speak mainly to Christians in this post, but I think my principals are valuable to others as well.

One thing I do know about both Christianity and Feminism is that there are literally thousands of ways to be either one, and usually people look at them with disdain because of the most extreme examples. Say the word “Christian”, and many will think of Westboro Baptist Church. Say the word “Feminist”, and many will think of the man-hating, bra-burning kind. Now as a Christian, Westboro Baptist church is a hideous example of evil done in God’s name. And as a self-proclaimed feminist, I love the men in my life, and quite frankly, I need a bra y’all.

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What even is feminism? ( Did you like my Seinfeld opening? “Feminism – what’s up with that?”) Seriously though. I’ve been hearing the word “feminist” my whole life and now… now that I am a grown woman… I have like, zero clue what the term even means anymore. It used to mean bra-burning, women-are-superior, men-don’t-matter kind of women. I don’t know if that’s true, but growing up that’s what I thought a feminist was.
Sort of like how I used to think if I got caught watching anything on MTV I probably wouldn’t be allowed into heaven. I guess I thought God would be like “Woah there. Daria is not for Christians. You can just wait outside here. Yeah right outside the gates. Now stay put. Forever.” I feel like now though I understand feminism as a very different thing. I even used to say “No way. I’m not a feminist. I believe that men are authority figures in the house and I would love to be a stay at home mom.”

I feel like many of us still have this perception. How can I be a feminist and a Christian? Is that even possible?

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I think that the problem here is a fundamental misunderstanding of both identities. This is where it is helpful to examine what you really believe, and what is really important to you. I am a Christian. I believe in God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and earth (Thanks, Rich Mullins, for your succinct little tune), etc etc. For more about what I believe, check out the 16 fundamental truths, because that sums it up nicely as well. Because of those beliefs, I think many would assume that I am anti feminist. For me though, it’s the opposite.

I see my personal brand of feminism as an extension of Christianity. I believe that feminism is celebrating women and their strengths, no matter what they are. If your strength is in the corporate world, great. If your strength is staying home with your babies, great. If your strength is somewhere in the middle, like mine, then that’s great too. I think the Bible has several very pointed and specific passages celebrating women and that it is important for us to do the same. I grew up in Missionettes (think Girl Scouts with more Bible verses – Shout out to Miss Sampson) and we were taught the rich and brave stories of women like Esther, Ruth, and Deborah. We were taught about the Proverbs 31 woman and Mary, both Magdelene and the mother of Christ. These women did not take a back seat in their own lives. They were Godly, brave, and incredible women. they are celebrated and cherished for their femininity and strength in a way that men are not.

feminist-man_2684936bBut it can’t stop there. The thing with being feminist is that so many feminist proponents also loop in other issues like fighting rape culture and how women of color need special mention and protection (Black Lives Matter) and my body my choice. And as a conservative Christian many of those issues are so controversial that they make me physically anxious. Like… When someone at work brings up politics I want to flip the table I’m sitting at and bolt. “What do you think of Trump’s policy on…?” LOL BYE

But these controversial issues, though uncomfortable, are important. It is important to be talking or at least thinking about them. It is important to understand that the Stanford rapist got away with his unthinkable crimes. It’s important to know how unconscionable It is that the rapist’s father claims – with a straight face I might add – that his son “had a moment of weakness and should not be defined by it for the rest of his life” while the victim will forever be defined by herself and others as the victim of a horrendous trauma. It is important to understand that there is injustice in our country. It is important to know that yes, that officer did shoot that therapist without cause and when asked why he did it, he said “I don’t know.”  It is important to care about these events and not just discount them. It’s important to be a champion for the championless.

So today, on National Women’s day, if you find yourself being turned off by the idea of celebrating women, remember that it’s good and right the celebrate femininity – and feminism is one of many ways to do so.

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Empowering women and bringing them opportunities that they would otherwise not have access to is, I think, a biblical idea. Being a Christian and believing that the man is the head of the house does not mean that we believe women have to be docile and quiet creatures. We can be strong, and loud, and emotional, and wild, and beautiful. God created women to be special and we should absolutely celebrate that. Far too often in history, women were very much not celebrated but were oppressed. We are blessed to live in a time where women have more rights and opportunities than ever before, but there is still work to be done, which is why we recognize the women who have done so much for us.

I believe that God is a feminist. Don’t get me twisted, God doesn’t hate men or believe that women are superior, but He created us to be beautiful and strong. Feminism, in its truest form, is about empowering women. God empowers women who follow Him, just as he empowers the men who do the same. And in the same way that Christians don’t hate Christianity when a few bad apples protest soldier’s funerals with hate, we shouldn’t hate the idea of feminism just because some people will twist it to fit a sinful narrative.

You don’t have to agree with me, but I felt it was important to share what I believe about some of the most important beliefs I hold.

That is all.

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Bloom where you’re planted.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything and there are a lot of reasons for that. I’ve been raising a toddler, moving, teaching extra classes, etc etc. Bottom line is life is busy. But it always is, right?

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I’m in a place now where I’m being challenged in new ways. Life is an incredibly mixed bag right now. Life is good! The new house that we’re renting is perfect. We love it! Life is hard. My job has been… challenging. This year has been the hardest year for me yet. Life is good! Kai and I are doing pretty good! It’s been 10 years since we dated the first time. It makes me all mushy and nostalgic. Life is hard. My dad has been very sick. He was in the hospital for over a week (he’s getting better now). Life is good! 

I started a new diet and it’s going okay! I’m finally motivated to get healthy again, after a long time where if I’m honest, I was just too depressed. Life is hard. I started a new diet and it’s going okay. I would much rather binge on Oreos than tangerines but whatever.

This last couple of weeks I really tried to take time to reflect on my life. And what I saw was…. not surprising. Life is always a series of ups and downs. Life is always hard but I am always blessed. I realized that this was really one of the first times that I was responsible for my own circumstances. I chose my job, it’s not just the only one that fell in my lap. Kai and I chose our house. It was one of our only options, but it was our choice nonetheless. Kai and I chose this diet. We chose Asher’s daycare. This life is one that Kai and I have created for ourselves, instead of just doing whatever we had to do to get by.

I realized that through these choices, I still struggled to be happy. I have dealt with varying levels of depression in my life and I so often attributed my emotions to my circumstances. If I could just… get a new job I’d be happy. If I could just… move out of my parent’s house I’d be happy. If Asher was just… in a different daycare I’d be happy. But now I have those things. And happiness is still hard.

trollsI realized that the thing responsible for my happiness is me. I am choosing to be dissatisfied with my very satisfactory life. It’s funny, because this nugget of truth came while I was watching Trolls with Asher for the 42895704836th time. There’s a line where one of the trolls tells another character that “some people just don’t want to be happy”. (P.s. I hate you, Creek, you smug little butthole) I am that person. I have spent my entire life waiting for the next thing to make me happy. In high school, going to college was going to make me happy. In college, finding my husband and starting my life was going to make me happy. When I was engaged, it was marriage. When I was married, it was a better job. When I was in a new job, it was my living situation. I have a contentment problem.

My mom has always told me to “Bloom where you’re planted” which, most of the time, just ticked me off real bad. But as is usually the case with things that tick me off the most, she was right. (if you bring this sentence up to me mom, I’ve got other things to say about it so don’t think you’re getting off easy) This year I planned to change schools because it’s been so hard. I planned to just run away. Get out. But as I was looking at my other options I realized: I never prayed about this. I never once consulted the God who has blessed me with my life to ask what He might want for me. Guess what? It’s not what I want for me. And while at first, that realization made me cry real big girl tears (sorry Fergie), now I am at peace. I have a new peace about my job. I’m not done yet. I haven’t been doing my best here. These kids deserve better from me.

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As I look back on my life I realize that every leadership position I have ever had was a case of “if not you, then who?” and that is never more true than it is of the position I’m in now. I may not be the most qualified or talented, but, God help me, I will be the most willing. and I am so much more content now than I have been in a long time.

Part of my issue with happiness is allowing myself to not be the best. I’ve been avoiding so much because I was afraid to fail. I’ve never been one to learn anything the easy way though. Failure is such a quintessential part of my identity. And so is redemption. I’m going to bloom in this place that I have planted myself. I need my child to see that happiness is not only possible, but attainable. I owe it to my family, my students, and to myself.

That is all.