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Strong kidsLife gets so busy in mid May, with end of the school year concerts and awards ceremonies and presentations. Not to mention kids who gets stressed out studying for finals. I have a friend who calls May, second December, because of all the busy things that a family is involved in.

Then school lets out, and it’s like the air is let out of everyone.  A big sigh of relief, ending in big blobs of laziness.  Is it just my family?

Sure we’ve got vacation plans, summer sports, continued music lessons and even a summer chamber orchestra. We also plan to explore art festivals, renaissance festivals, and hiking and biking trails.  But right now, day-to-day activities are less than desirable. They involve a lot of TV and video games.

I know summer is only 2 months, but I don’t want them to waste this valuable time on computers and electronics.

Now to be fair, I’ve allowed way too much of this in the past, and habits have developed that I have somehow encouraged to happen. My oldest son accused me of using the TV as a babysitter.  It kinda hurt, but I knew it was true.  I can’t change the past, I can wish I had done things differently, but regret for the sake of feeling bad isn’t going to help.

I let them play video games all summer in the past, because I was a single mom, working all the time, but now I have a chance to make a difference in their lives. They may not appreciate it at first, but I have to do what I feel is right and get them active and involved.

I had a system of jobs and studying in order to earn game play time on the weekend when they were in school, but now that school is out, all bets are off.  Even my youngest who used to love going outside to play, only leaves the house (and his electronics) when I force him to.  It almost makes me want to go back to the school schedule.

While searching the internet for some mothering help, I came upon this book by Kay Willis Wyma.

I read a review letting me know that the style of writing was intriguing and while it addresses a universal problem with a generation of kids who feel more “entitled” than ever before, she also shares her own journey to try to correct the problem in her own house. In a very real way, she discusses her children, without putting them down, but in an honest way showing the efforts that she made herself.

I bought it immediately.  This is my first summer read! I’ve only read a few pages so far, but it has already motivated me to create a “summer purpose plan.”  The introduction talks about the problem of a generation that expects the world to take care of them. As the descriptions continued, I could see the reality of this problem of entitlement in the lives of people who I care about.  The children of my close friends, friends of my children, and struggles my own children are going through.

It is nice to see that Kay takes 12 months to make this change, and to share her experiences in this book. It’s nice to know that she’s not preaching about a quick fix.  I can hardly read through a few paragraphs before I stop to highlight something and make notes to myself of things I want to do in my own home.

By doing too many things for kids, in an effort to “protect” them from the world, we have not allowed them to learn to do for themselves. I have seen the problem up close. By not giving our kids the opportunity to really prove their own capabilities before they are expected to go out and prove something to the world, I fear we may be setting them up for failure.

As a generation, in wanting to give our kids every opportunity, it appears as though we have also become a parenting generation of rescuers.

When working with a therapist, we talked about the “drama.” triangle. drama triangle  Each person in the “drama triangle” is in a position of dysfunction.  I asked about the rescuer.  certainly it can’t be bad to be a rescuer?

That is when I learned, that being a rescuer, (trying to fix other people’s problems, stepping in to help) creates problems because it says to the other person, “you are not capable of fixing this problem by yourself, let me do it for you.”  This can really create problems in a relationship, but it can be devastating to the development of our children.

I want to love my kids enough to start letting them struggle until they find an answer themselves.  I want them to learn to work hard so that they can feel that sense of accomplishment at the end.  I want them to know that they can do hard things, and survive, even feeling better afterwards knowing that they are strong.

I have to remind myself of this resolve on a regular basis, because life gets busy and sometimes I get too tired to work they way I need to, in following through with them to make sure they are working. I’m hoping that as I continue to read Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement it will help me to remember why I need to care enough to let them do what needs to be done. – Laura

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As women we need each other. We need friends to cry with and to understand us when we don’t even understand ourselves. And yet I feel too often we sever potential relationships or on going friendships through misplaced judgment. We only look at what we can see, and that vision can blind us to the good in each other because what we look at are her flaws.

Maybe someone has offended us or we have heard horrible gossip. Maybe another person really is doing something sinful and awful in our mind. Does that mean they no longer desire that same sense of love and belonging we as women can offer?

Tonight, after being referred this scripture by a friend, I reread this account found in John 8:2-11

2 And early in the morning he (Jesus) came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Neither do I condemn thee. When others had a reason to judge, our Lord did not. Some would have quickly walked away from this, Jesus stayed until everyone else was gone.

I desire to have the courage to be that kind of a friend. To see past the judgments and gossip and mistakes. To love so freely I can stand with another and love her as my Savior has shown me how to do.

Don’t I often act imperfectly and unjustly?  And isn’t it in my weakest and hardest moments when I need a friend the most? I can’t imagine if everyone walked away from me because of the things I had done or because of the mistakes I often make.

Jesus is the perfect example of courage in the face of others. Showing us to love even when others are unkind. Teaching us that doing what is right in the sight of God always trumps what the crowd is suggesting.

Do we have the courage to allow others to be exactly who they are? – SUSAN

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women & menThis weekend, I found myself explaining some of the teachings for Viktor Frankl from “Man’s search of meaning” to my children.  He discusses his experience, and that of others who survived the atrocities of World War 2.

I also had a discussion with my husband about the teachings of a special agent in Las Vegas who taught a special type of self-defense class, unlike any I had ever even considered before.  This special agent teaches classes on “how to survive” to police officers in high risk jobs (such as SWAT team members).

Is there a correlation to surviving a concentration camp and having bad guys shoot at you daily?  Well…. maybe there is.

Viktor Frankl discusses the importance of having something outside of yourself to live for.  He witnessed that those men who gave up their crust of bread to another who seemed to need it more were more likely to survive than the men who just looked out for themselves.

This special officer who taught us, said that the men who kept a picture of their wives and kids in their wallet, and had a clear recognition of WHY they needed to go home that night, had a much higher survival rate than those who didn’t.

It is interesting to me to think of these two scenarios together.  Very different circumstances, but similar concepts. Those who have a life perspective bigger than just themselves, knew they had more to live for, and survived in larger numbers.

Viktor Frankl and this special officer spoke of people who needed to be able to survive life threatening physical danger.  In our world we have threats to our emotional and mental well-being that we want to survive.

I read an interesting article by Michael Ringwood that talked about a “search for relevance.”  I thought that was a good description.  A search for relevance seems to be important to most people.  We want to think that our own life matters. That our existence has relevance.

With the surge of popularity in social media, you can see the seeking of relevance, as people reach out to everyone they have ever known, sharing anything they want, from articles they think might interest others, to every frustration they feel in life, to every happy celebration, in hopes that people they know will recognize and leave a comment, thus confirming that what happens in their life does indeed have relevance.

I had someone once warn me about checking my Facebook, instagram and pinterest too frequently, because of the addiction that comes from that hit of dopamine that you get noticing that someone “liked” your post. The danger comes from feeling “good” in a way that relies solely on the response of other people.

Michael Ringwood said

Today there are some who would have us believe our search for relevance can be satisfied only by obtaining position and power.  Yet, thankfully there are many who are uninfluenced by this perspective. They find relevance in seeking to be truly good and without guile.

It can be really easy to be sucked into the belief that because someone is famous, or holds a position of power or notoriety, that their life is more important than someone who is unknown.  But… is it really?  Does our quest for meaning and relevance in this life have to be directly related to how we are seen by the public eye?  Do you even have to be seen in public in order to have meaning and relevance in our lives?

Is it okay to be like this second group of people who find relevance, simply by doing good, without the hope for recognition?

Spencer W Kimball said

Great women and men are always more anxious to serve that to have dominion.

Whether we are seeking for meaning or relevance or happiness or even peace in our lives, I think it is most important to really like who we are, when no one else is around.

When it is just you, looking at yourself in the mirror, or kneeling at your bed pleading with God the Father, this is the time to decide.  What can I do with my life that will bring lasting happiness? How can I live so that in the eyes of my family and my God my life will have meant something?  If we can figure this out, we will have a higher chance of survival as well, with a life that has real meaning.  — Laura


If you haven’t read Viktor Frankl’s book, I would highly recommend it. You can get it here. Man’s Search for Meaning

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How fantastic is girls camp?  When I was 12 I first got to go. I was so nervous and excited when it came time to leave. I had no idea it would be one of my great memories. I loved the songs and the bad food and the pranks. I can smell the pine needles as I think about it.

Today I leave for the rest of the week to go again to girls camp. For several years I have been blessed to be a leader and every year I feel the same nervous excitement I did that first time. I love all that camp entails. We get dirty and sweaty. We sing horrible songs really loudly. We laugh till our sides hurt and usually we sleep very little.

And among all of this craziness, we strive to come closer to God.

I am over the 4th year campers, girls aged 14-15, this year. We get to go on a 3-day, 2-night, backpacking trail, and while we are away from camp, we have the opportunity each night to fill our cups with devotionals. I get to teach the first one.

I absolutely adore the theme I was given. “Embark in the service of God.” And to make things even more awesome I get to tie in a superhero theme.

I wondered how I was going to do this until I came across this amazing talk by Thomas S Monson. He is one of my heroes. It’s filled with perfect gems I can use like this

There is one responsibility that no one can evade. That is the effect of one’s personal influence.”

A superhero must step up and be true to what she believes. That is our responsibility, privilege and right as believers in Christ. Even when danger may seem present.

Another pearl from the talk is a poem by Meade MacGuire is quoted.

“Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; …
“Art thou working for them or for me? Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee

A true superhero works in the shadows trying not to be seen for her heroic acts, often putting the needs of others above her own.

At some point every superhero must decide to embrace the divine that is within them. It may seem scary at first. They might feel like they are not good enough for the task at hand. In the moment they decide to walk forward is the very moment they are given all they need to serve.

Every superhero must battle a super villain.  Satan is our super villain, and he will do all he can to destroy anything that is good. He is determined.  I want the girls to really think about what we must do to overcome Satan.

But above all else I want the girls to know there is one who is mightier than all evil. Who, if we align ourselves with, will be able to overcome any and all struggles.

He is a teacher of truth–but He is more than a teacher. He is the Exemplar of the perfect life–but He is more than an exemplar. He is the Great Physician–but He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord, who declared:
“I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. … I am the light and the life of the world.”
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”