Dear Older Me…

Dear Older Me,

I see how tired you are. I see how weary you feel and how worried you have become about everything these days. I see how you struggle to find balance throughout your day. I see as you forget to eat and I watch as you choose the worst foods to try to soothe your stress, your worry, your disappointments. I listen as you cry when things feel overwhelming and you feel like you are such a failure. I watch as you stare at yourself in the mirror and wonder how that person could possibly be you.

I have watched you and felt the sting of each moment with you. I have cried with you and wondered how you could have forgotten the important things these years have taught you so today; how you could have forgotten how far you have come and how much you have overcome.

I want to tell you a few things. I want to encourage you because my dear, sweet older me…you are so much more than you are seeing.

You keep looking back. That’s your first mistake. You keep replaying every single mistake in your life in your mind like a movie reel, constantly trying to pinpoint the moments that you could change to make all those regrets and mistakes disappear from your record of life, but don’t you realize that the younger version of you made those mistakes and had I not, then you would not be the woman you are today. Those mistakes, one by one, grew you, refined you, hurt you and broke you just enough that you found Christ and you allowed God to redefine who you are. Those very mistakes, those very broken roads all led you to the life that you so deeply love and thank God for today. Stop looking back. Those days are gone. That’s not who you are. Instead of trying to figure out how to fix younger you, focus on who you are now and embrace this season of your life with grace, compassion, understanding and acceptance.

You keep saying that you will start tomorrow. Our tomorrows are never guaranteed. Why do you keep trying to hold off on the important things out of fear? Has God not shown you time and again that He has called you to be present in TODAY? Stop putting off your destiny and calling. Stop saying that you don’t have time. God gave you the exact amount of time you need. Allow yourself to see that you are worth being a part of every purpose and plan God has for you RIGHT NOW. So write those books. Publish the ones you have already written. Move in those ministries. Stop being afraid of who you are and love yourself the way God does. You are beautiful and special. God says so. Stop waiting until tomorrow to accept that and be bold enough to be all that you are created to be. Tomorrow may not come.

You keep saying you don’t have time for yourself. That’s a lie. You have plenty of time to take care of yourself. Stop trying to have the perfect home. The laundry will always need to be folded and clean clothes are just as clean and wearable if they are in the basket as they are in the dresser. The floors will always get messy so stop fretting if there is a crumb under the table or dog hair by the back door. Instead of pushing yourself until you have nothing left trying to be an ideal of perfection God doesn’t expect, take moments, instead, to take care of YOURSELF. Take the shower…who cares if the baby is crying. She won’t cry herself to death. Put her in her walker in the bathroom with you and let her cry while you wash your hair. Take the nap. Your laundry will still be there when you wake up but the moments you have to rest will be gone if you do not seize them. Do the workouts. You may not be able to do them easily or perfectly but if you just keep trying, you will eventually be stronger than you ever thought possible. It’s okay to let the house go so you can take care of you. If you wither and buckle physically from the stress of your need for perfection, you cannot take care of the ones you love the most. So go ahead. Say no to some of the cleaning today and just spend time on yourself.

You keep saying, “I can’t”. Stop using those those words. They are lies. Trust me I know. I have been using them on repeat for years and you are so much more than I am. For every I can’t, there is an I CAN. God made you to be more than capable to do ANYTHING you put your mind to. You are smart. You are strong. Your are incredible. Stop believing you can’t do things and just do them. Prove every I can’t wrong. Someday you will not be able to do that so make it your mission to turn every single I can’t into an I DID before it’s too late.

Your life is precious. It means so much more than you give yourself credit for. Stop selling yourself short. Stop letting people speak harmful things into your life and stop living your life afraid of the things that have been spoken over you that you KNOW were not from the Lord. Stop caring what anyone else thinks. You know who you are and you know what you are created for so be confident and love yourself. Show yourself the same care and compassion you do others. Allow yourself to make mistakes and stop trying to be who you used to be. I like who you have become. You are braver, stronger, more fearless, and more amazing than I have ever been. You are my hero. So keep being YOU.

P.S. I think 40 is going to be your best year yet.

Sincerely,

Younger You ❤

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Bracing for Impact

As I laid here in bed staring up at my ceiling, I realized that there is no way I am going to be able to find slumber any time soon do I might as well put my insomnia to use.

The dreaded day of long goodbyes is quickly approaching and I am finding it harder and harder to feel at peace, especially at night when I am just lying there with my thoughts.

As a military spouse, I know these moments are coming and I know they cannot be avoided. I know I must be strong because there are no other options and I know that I will be strong because deep down in my core, I know it’s what I am.

I also know that at times, it is hard to love a military man. The hours are long, the “business trips” unending and the lifestyle ever changing. It is hard on the best days and can feel unbearable on the worst of days and yet, we each find a way to hold on still for one more moment and then another day and we just keep holding on until we can let go for just a bit longer because while loving them can be so hard, it is so very worth it.

I know that it won’t always be like this. I know that someday this life will no longer be ours and so, I try to savor the moments that this journey grows and shapes within me. I try to find ways to focus on the good things it has brought into my life; the endless connection of incredible people, adventures and new places, growth and endurance…the list goes on and on.

While I ty to pretend that the goodbye won’t come, I silently brace for the impact, waiting and knowing that when it does I will not be able to escape it’s sting. I try to prepare myself for the days after and anticipate in advance my damage recovery.

Yet, the craziest part of it all is that I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even a little part of it. I cry and I complain sometimes and I worry and fret. I bite my nails and I wish for it to go away but the truth is that in the midst of all of this craziness and temporary heartache, I get to love a man who is never afraid to answer the call. I get to love a man who cares so much for his country that he wakes up every day before the sun rises and goes to bed before the rest of the world is even settled just so he can know that he is a part of something greater than himself. I get to love a man who puts others before himself.

So, I wait, I try to brace myself and I remind myself that ever steady goes the ship whose heart is set with determination on the course ahead.

Tonight, as you read this, would you consider taking a moment to please pray for all who are facing the long goodbyes? Because the truth is? even the tightest of embraces is never really strong enough to lighten the initial impact of what is to come.

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤️

Spring into History

The last few weeks have been so busy for us as we began to approach Mister M’s leave and prepare for our friends to come spend their Spring Break with us. It has been a wonderful way to take our minds off of our fast approaching deployment.

Last weekend, we drove up and met our friends in D.C. That night, Little Miss M and I hung out in the hotel while Mister O took Mister M and our friends to watch an NBA basketball game.

Then Sunday morning we woke up early and spent the entire day exploring the historical sites of our nation’s capital.

We were especially excited to take Mister M now that he is old enough to really take in some of the sites. We were able to see so much and walked for over 6 hours. We did not get to see the Smithsonian museums like we had planned but still had an incredible day.

We will definitely be making another trip before Mister M leaves so that we can see and explore more. There is just something so special about getting to see these important pieces of our past and walking in a place full of  our nation’s historical monuments and documents.

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤️

Spring Fever

Oh friends. It has been six days since I popped in. SIX WHOLE DAYS. That’s almost an entire week. Where has the time gone? I feel like I blink and days have passed. How does that even happen? Like, it was February and then POOF! It’s March. I hope this month might go just a wee bit slower. Goodness knows I need time to just get things done and with it flying like this, I feel so behind all the time.

Life over here has been the same as always: busy and chaotic. School seems to be a bigger struggle every single day. I keep telling myself that this is normal but some days I wonder if all children can be as resistant to doing their school work as mine. But, resistant or not, it gets done; even if it takes us all day and several meltdowns later to say we are done. Sometimes you just have to do what you have have to do.

Spring fever has officially made it’s way here and I truly believe this may be the biggest reason school is a struggle. This time every year leaves us all desiring road trips and vacations, sunny skies and warm sand. Yet, here we are in freezing temps with rainy skies and muddy tracks left on my floors. Oh how I am ready for Spring. I am also ready for a break in school, hikes and beach time, sand and sun and I am especially ready to be able to go home and visit my family. Spring fever is definitely making us feel like school is just a burden these days.

But even “burdens” must be carried if they are important and school is definitely falling into the important category. So, to liven up our moods and spirit, we ordered our curriculum for next year and I am hoping once it arrives, it will spark excitement back into our hearts and that by seeing what we are working towards for next year, will also bring back some much needed motivation on both our parts.

Do you ever feel like Spring can’t here fast enough? Boy I sure do. In the meantime, it’s deep breaths and let’s get back to it for us. I hope your school days are a bit easier than ours!

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Books?

I have an immense love of the written art. Books are a staple in our homes and my life.  I am extremely concerned with literacy in both our home and our nation. As a homeschooling parent, one of my top goals has always been to ensure that our home is filled with the right kinds of books and that I am creating an atmosphere of adventure and learning through reading.

In a world where IPads, IPods and Iphones have given our children access to anything and everything this world has to offer, it has become an addiction that has begun to steal our children’s contentment and intellect. Where children used to fill their hearts and minds with books and toys that allowed for creative play, exploration of new ideas and concepts and critical thinking, they now fill them with digital video games and YouTube videos or social media apps that foster a need for the constant state of “having more” and are stealing from them valuable growth and exploration. With our entire nation, especially our children, plugged into screens more than ever before, we have begun to see a rise of the generation of “boredom”; nothing satisfies them or is ever enough. Being inundated with videos and shows such as toy reviews or reality television and bombarded with the constant advertisement of the next “coolest” thing has led our children to become obsessed with having material items simply for the sake of being able to say they own it.

Books are a hidden and, often times, under appreciated treasure in our world today. They fill the shelves and libraries often untouched and unexplored. They have become an object of disdain among a vast majority of children because they are seen as “work” rather than something of enjoyment.

Books and reading are vital to both emotional and academic growth in our children. They help our children to explore their own feelings and passions. They open up a world full of possibility and adventure that our children so desperately need.

One of the most common statements I hear from individuals is, “You have way too many books.”  This always surprises me and saddens me for two reasons: 1. I feel like I do not have nearly enough books and 2. How is it that in a world where we value the art of collecting gadgets and apps on our phones, we have lost the art of  valuing and collecting a good book?

While we are teaching children that they can never have enough toys, games or the next coolest app, we should be teaching them that they can never have enough books; they can never read too much or explore enough.

If we are wondering why we have an increase in depression and dissatisfaction within our next generation, I feel we must stop to ask ourselves if it could coorelate to how much time they spend “plugged in” and how little time they spend exploring a good book. We must ask how much technology surrounds our children rather than books. Books educate, yes, but they also provide an escape and can give our heart a sense of purpose and encouragement and joy that is currently lacking. Books can provide an escape for the hurting and the broken. They can ignite inspiration and change. They can provide a place of safety and security when our hearts need it the most. Sometimes, a good book can change the way we think or feel, sometimes they can even provide healing and peace among a world of chaos and grief.

Literacy is a struggling issue in our nation and our world. We have lost the art of holding a good book in our hands and with that, we have also begun to lose our sense of wonder and adventure.

I encourage you to look around your home. Do you fill it with books? Are they in your bedrooms? Your home offices? Do your children have access to all kinds of reading material or do you find your home and rooms to be full of merely electronic gadgets and screens?

We all want to be a part of the ways that our country grows and evolves and we all get excited and pulled in by the enticement of the next big thing but while we are a society that has become so very “plugged in” day in and day out, I feel we must take back our children and teach them what it means to foster a love of reading and books. It is time we unplug and begin to become fully aware of the crisis in our nation that is technology. These screens are robbing us of our time, our contentment and our humanity.

Someday, our world may experience a regression in technology or worse, we could face a crisis in which access to the internet could become threatened. If that happened, how would it affect your family?

For centuries children had but a few small toys and shelves of books and from among them arose a generation of explorers and inventors who created the most extraordinary, life changing things; a generation of people who asked the questions no one else dared ask and who pioneered into the unknown with courage and fearlessness. Where are the next great explorers of our times? Who will our children become?

I fear that if we continue to push literacy aside in the home for a more “hip” and easy fix of temporary entertainment or fulfillment, we may someday soon find that the last of the great explorers and inventors have come and gone.

Books are so much more than words on a paper. They are the hope of our children and the legacies we leave behind. They are the secret to taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

So the question should never be if we own too many books but rather if we own too few.

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤️

Indestructibles: Books for the Little Destructors in Your Life

This past week, I came across an advertisement for some special books, called Indestructibles, made specifically for babies and toddlers. These adorable books are 100% nontoxic and are made to be chewed, twisted and crumbled by the littlest of hands. Why? Because they are literally indestructible.

Besides being the perfect size for small hands, they are also colorful and adorably illustrated and tell short and sweet stories that capture the attention of even the busiest of babes. Even better than all this, they are chew proof, rip proof and they are washable.

When I saw this, I HAD to get some to try them out. We are a book loving family. We are always reading something and while I love our books we have now for our Little Miss M, it is sometimes hard to allow her near them because her constant chewing and pulling is not very good to them, or my sanity for that matter.

So, I set off to find these amazing books on Amazon and I was stunned when I saw how affordable they were. This had to be too good to be true.

I ordered two. One was around $3 and the other around $4.BB2DDCBB-9E89-4891-B4B8-701F25B7BF06

I was so excited when they arrived last Sunday. I immediately opened them and gave them to our little destructor. Her reaction was priceless! She was so excited and of course, they went straight to her mouth. She chewed on them and played with them for hours. They were soaked in drool and crumpled.

After I laid her down for her nap, I began to pick up everything and realized that the books were not damaged at all from the moisture and even more than that, all that baby drool had not changed the integrity of the paper in any way. All of the places where she had crumpled them were now back to normal and had not one single rip.

I am happy to report that three days later, these books are still going strong and have zero evidence of drool or wear even with her chewing, tugging and pulling on them.

I am amazed. Seriously.

So, if you are a book lover like me but don’t trust your littles with them, these are the books for you.

No book deserves to be chewed on. Well, unless they are indestructible like these that is.

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In Christ’s love,

Kristy ❤️

 

Oh, Mr. Rogers, How Much You Knew…

As a child, I grew up watching “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. I loved the music and the “Neighborhood of Make Believe”. It was a show that created a calming and soothing effect and I can remember feeling like it was a safe place. Anyone could be a part of his world and anyone would be treated with kindness. He taught us things, he opened up ideas and thoughts and helped us to realize things we might be feeling or thinking. He created this mutually understanding that life was about constantly growing and changing and learning how to be okay with that and do it in a way that promoted healthy and stable environments, emotions and relationships.

As the years went on, I am sad to say that I forgot about the things that Mr. Rogers taught us. I became consumed with the need for friends, the latest boy bands, trying to fit in at school and wanting to be accepted. I became consumed with television shows that seemed to always be about a boy falling in love with a girl or a girl trying to win that boy’s affections; shows that seemed created this need to be someone other than myself.

Even shows that seemed harmless seemed to, while trying to get across some very valuable principles and lessons, often times pushed into my mind these thoughts that I wasn’t enough. And then there was the music and the magazines and the commercials that all seemed to also push sexuality onto us, and in a lot of cases ideas of bullying and even violence. They were so subtle that they were often over looked.

By high school, we were hooked on shows like Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, MTV’s the Real World and too many others for me to even bother mentioning. Our minds became bombarded with images of physical sexuality, drug and alcohol exposure, underage bar hopping, bullying clicks in school, and so much more. But no one told us that it wasn’t safe for us to watch because most didn’t even realize what was happening. These shows were actually targeted with a young viewer age range in mind and we bought into it. Every. Single. Episode.

From there, it went downhill very quickly. Shows began to use foul language and we became so used to it that after a while they added harsher foul language and we didn’t even notice or pay attention. They also began to slowly and steadily introduce nudity. It started with small things and then we began to see actual nude female bodies until it became the norm to see naked men and women on television. Shows began to incorporate very graphic violence and where we started with video games like Super Mario Brothers, we quickly escalated to games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto, which let you go into places to “purchase” and have sex with prostitutes or shoot cops. They are so graphic and yet, this game was sold across America without anyone really blinking an eye as a whole and was played by varying ages. Most thought it harmless because after all, it was just a video game.

And then it slowly began. This spiral downhill trend of our children and our society. With these rapid increases of exposure to violence and sex, we also began to change how discipline was viewed in our society. We took children and began to treat them as adults, teaching that the days of  strict discipline were outdated and also harmful for our children. Spanking became taboo and wrong, even though it had been used for centuries and the vast majority would tell you that they suffered no harm mentally or physically from this. There is and was a difference in a spanking and abusing a child but that line no longer existed and it became socially frowned upon to spank/paddle for any reason. Then that led to this notion that any form of strict discipline, even those that did not include spanking, caused lasting emotional trauma for children.  That slowly led to a trend of approaches in which children became the navigators of their own lives giving them the freedoms to think, say and do as they saw fit for themselves. We took away from them the ability to remember that they are only children and still need guidance and instead, gave them this idea that they are already grown enough and know enough to be able to navigate life but this approach has failed many of them because they are and were actually not emotionally or mentally mature enough to handle the realities that having to make these kinds of choices and decisions bring in life. They were and are not mature enough to navigate life but we have taught them that’s okay. Just go for it. You can do it. But they can’t.

It was a slow but steady decline that has now led us to a nation of youth who are many things. They are strong, determined, intelligent and highly vocal. This is good, of course, But while those things are good, they are also so much more that we often do not want to fully take accountability for or discuss. They are also angry, they are irrational, they are intolerant of any view that is not their own, they are entitled (Yes. I said ENTITLED. And they are. They believe they should have whatever they want with little or no effort.). They are also depressed, they are suicidal, they are careless with their words and they have little regard for anyone who does not do things their way or think the way they do. While they are not all these things at once, they are some of them at different times. There are exceptions and there are moments when the good outweighs the bad but at 40 years old, I can tell you that growing up, suicides among young people were not this prevalent and we certainly did not have 5th graders taking their own lives at the rapid rate we do now in this society. I had never even heard of a childhood suicide of that age until the last few years. I can also tell you that while we had teen pregnancy issues, we did not have the crisis and epidemic of babies having babies that we do today and I can tell you even  more certainly that we absolutely did not have the amount of youth that we have today who thought it perfectly acceptable to stand at a platform and scream and yell and demand for anything. We did our best to take a stand while still showing at least an ounce of respect for others and trying to speak and debate in a manner that was becoming of debate itself.

We were taught the value of human life and while violence was a problem then, it is an epidemic now. It is a daily norm to wake up and see children murdered and stolen and for us to see events such as school shootings or mall shootings or people being blown up by bombs at marathons or events. All of these things became something that slowly became socially acceptable to allow children to role play with in video games and take in day after day on the television shows that began to replace the programs that once taught life lessons and educational concepts.

While our generation is called narrow minded and out dated, I can tell you that in my time as a youth, we did not see these types of crimes happen as prevalently as they do now. The decline of our nation and the rise of violence began to rapidly increase when we took away the rights of parents to truly discipline and we began to expose our young people to things that their young minds should not yet be exposed to.

Mr. Rogers once spoke before the Senate floor, urging and asking for the funding for his program to not be cut. He made mention multiple times of the concern he had for children and the things they were being bombarded with now that television had become a household item. He was concerned with what these outlets were teaching our nation’s children and he wanted to be sure he could provide an outlet that taught them value for human life while also teaching them how to navigate their feelings and their emotions. He spoke of the importance of teaching children that they were loved, that they were accepted and why his program was so instrumental in helping do this. He won the Senators over with this speech and two years later, they increased his funding budget by millions. His show began airing in the United States around 1969 and continued until 2001, when the show was cancelled because of his terminal illness. He lasted 31 years. He fought the good fight for 31 years and provided an outlet of safe, educational entertainment for children all across the nation.

But where are the Mr. Rogers of our nation now? Why are we, as parents, not as concerned for our own children and nation? How have we let ourselves become a nation where children taking their own lives or the lives of others is something we just know is going to happen and we just feel sad about but don’t stop long enough to ask WHY?

I am not here to debate gun control. I am not here to place blame on anything other than where it should be: ON ALL OF US. The harsh reality is that we are all a part of this decline. We are all a part of the problem but this is not a popular opinion or wanted response. It is however, the truth.

As a mom, I am ashamed to admit that I have not been diligent enough to be fully aware of the things my son is exposed to. If it is marketed for children, I have naively assumed that it is safe. That it is content worthy of viewing but that is NOT at all accurate. Many of the cartoons he has been watching have promoted such things as bullying, either in speech or action, killing “bad guys”,  and being a part of the “cool crowd” just to name a few. At 7 years old, I have had my son ask me if he is fat. I have had him ask me if I think he is cool. I have had him ask me if I think he is popular. How is that even something that a 7 year old should have a concept of or be worried about?

I was naive enough to think that video games created and available on his iPad that are clearly marketed with children in mind were safe. But this morning, I sat down to look at them all and realized that a VAST majority of them, while seeming innocent on the surface, had horrible undertones of violence and disrespect all through them. One such game was a game of cops and robbers. This game allowed you to be a robber and your end goal was to be able to take out as many cops as you could. I was heart broken. My son had a video game in which the end goal is to take out men just like his father, who happens to be a military police officer. I had watched him play this before and yet, this part of the game had managed to go unnoticed by me because it was marketed as a race car game. I deleted it and began to purge his entire iPad. The devastating reality that there is so much deception in these outlets was overwhelming.

Trust me when I tell you that I check his technology ALL the time. I constantly have him show me what he is doing and he has to have permission before downloading things, but unless you sit and watch them for a good deal of time you may miss what is in them. I did and it upsets me to know the things I have naively allowed my children to be exposed to over the years because I too had begun to be exposed to them as I got older and it was allowed. It was the norm.

But it shouldn’t be.

The truth is, the trend in violence and self harm can not be undone by one person or one thing. It will take us ALL. It will take MANY OUTLETS OF CHANGE. It will take a level of commitment that we may not even fully be able to understand yet or be comfortable with as an individual (change and blame is hard to swallow sometimes) but we have to be willing to go beyond ourselves and work harder to break this cycle in our nation.

I cannot fix the entire world or every person in it but I CAN fix what’s broken in my own home. I CAN evaluate what I am exposing my children too and I CAN change what I am allowing to be the norm in our home. I can work harder to remove poor content. I can work harder at being okay with being the “mean mom” and I can work harder at teaching my children about discipline, kindness and respect. I can work harder at paying more attention to my children and less time to my own screens (let’s be honest, we struggle more than they do). I can work harder at teaching my children about the value of human life and why EVERY life matters and is important. I can work harder to teach my children what it means to work hard and be the kind of person that will work hard to do what’s right and help those around them. I can work harder at being the kind of example they need to see it all in action.

This won’t happen overnight. I am aware of that, but it just takes the decision to do it. So, today I made that decision not just for my son but for MYSELF. I too have become desensitized to the violence and the sex and the drugs. So, I have things I am having to give up also for the good of my children and home. If I can’t have a life free of these influences, how can I expect my children to? Giving up what we like is sometimes a deal breaker but it also very necessary if those things we enjoy are contradicting what we are teaching our children.

While we may never fully be able to rid our world of violence and death, we can at least work to no longer ignore them or allow them in our home to the best of our ability or allow them to invade our minds on a daily basis and influence the hearts and minds of our children. It’s time we have real conversations with our children and we start addressing the decline of morals and discipline (all forms of discipline) and respect in our nation. It’s time we find the roots of the problems and one by one begin to work on them. If we work together, one at a time, and we determine within our selves to change as parents, we WILL begin to change our children.

The responsibility does not lie upon the teachers, the administrators, the politicians or anyone else. The responsibility lies upon US, the parents. It starts and ends with us.

So the question becomes, what will WE do about that?

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤