Monday, November 30, 2015

I Missed Black Friday!

I'm not a big "black Friday" participator.  I'll begin with that.  However, I have been known to venture to Walmart later on Friday to stock up on things like jeans for my kids and sheets for the beds.  This year, there were several retailers that closed for the day to give their employees time off with their families.  I thought that was pretty spiffy of them...and then it dawned on me that I would be contributing to other people working if I went shopping.  Yuck.  

I've been blessed to have the day off work for as long as I can remember, so I need to share the wealth and let others have it off, too.  As it turns out, we were in the back hills of Arkansas celebrating family...and no cell phone signal, or wifi or internet connection, for that matter.  And we didn't die.  I don't remember the last time I was completely "off the grid." It was weird, at first, but then it was fine--and then it was good!  I think it actually took me a couple days to quit jonesing for a hit from my internet devices.  How awful is that to admit?

Needless to say, I didn't die.  The kids got over it and went to play with their new found cousins. They went hunting and hiking and we went to visit old homesteads and a 2 room country school house their great-grandpa attended as a child.  It was pretty cool.  It was really cool, actually.

We didn't miss Black Friday.  This Christmas season, I would encourage you to unplug for a bit in an intentional kind of way.  It's a great way to keep connected, but it's also really invasive and disconnecting to those who are right next to you.

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What will you actually miss if you turn off your tech?  What will you find?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

P.S. I apologize for missing my regularly scheduled post on Friday.  I didn't realize how disconnected I would be, so my post didn't get posted on time.  Nevertheless, here I am.  I'm back on schedule now. I hope your Thanksgiving was beautiful.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm a Parenting Failure

There are so many things I do wrong as a parent.  I'm honestly amazed my kids are able to function sometimes--not because of their abilities, but because I've messed up so much.  It often seems like such a daunting task to prepare our kids for adulthood and to give them tools to be contributing, working adults that will have a positive influence on society and the world at large.  

Ultimately, my children will be responsible for themselves.  After all, I did not give birth to two little robots that I control.  I'd even go so far as to say they are responsible for themselves now, but they do still fall under the protection and care of my husband's and my household.  It's a tricky balance. We've all seen the kids with parents that love and care for them and for whatever reason decide to make poor choices.  It's difficult to watch.  Sometimes they need help.  Sometimes we need to not help.  Sometimes it's hard to know which.

A friend of mine that I've known for a really long time is struggling with one of her kids.  I don't know all the details, and I'm not at liberty to share even if I did.  I honestly think the child is just really smart and maybe is unsure of how to deal with it.  I don't know, and I couldn't possibly offer a perfect solution.  It was just a good reminder that we all struggle.  But as I sat in a parenting class this morning, one of the speakers reminded me that this battle is NOT between me and my kids.  This battle is between my family and the world.  The Bible tells us that we battle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and principalities of this dark world.  The spiritual battle is real, friends.  Satan is gunning for the very souls of our children, and he is sneaky and conniving and twisted.  

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The good news is that I don't have to be perfect--that doesn't mean I don't have to try--because His power is made perfect in my weakness.  God will fill in the blanks with my kids, but they need to know Him.  I need to know and trust him, and ask forgiveness from Him and my children when I mess up.  I'm so thankful I can do that.

What are you a failure at?  How have you seen God's grace fill in the blanks?  

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Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Thankful My Debit Card Got Stolen

I'm not really thankful that money was stolen from my debit card, but I am thankful for what I came to realize as a result of that happening.  Here are the top 3 things I learned:

     1. Some stranger cannot steal my joy by stealing my money.  Last Saturday morning, two things happened.  The first, I opened my online banking and realized money was spent that someone at my house did not spend.  The second, I had a coffee date with a lovely friend of mine approximately 90 minutes after said bank realization.  I took care of what I could.  My hubby took care of the rest, and I went to coffee.  It was wonderful.  My friend and I both needed the time, and we enjoyed it.  It was a choice to go.  She would have understood if I had cancelled, but I didn't.  We are both better for it.

     2. I'm thankful to be in a place where my kids still have food in their tummies even though a couple hundred dollars was stolen out of my account.  There have been times when that would have been all the money I had and I would have had to rely on the generosity of others to eat.  I am well aware that it could have been much worse of a thievery.  But I'm not kidding when I said we've been in that place where that would have been the last of our money.  We're not completely rolling in the dough these days, but we do have our emergency fund in place and are working to pay off our debts.  We also have side hustles going that provide a little extra cushion.  I say these things not to brag, but to offer hope for those of you that might be in that more lean place.

     3.  My hubby is a rock.  He may be passionate about yelling at football and cheering for our kids, but this dude didn't miss a beat and got our stuff fixed.  He was calm and steady and got all the information we needed to give to the police and to get our money refunded.  I love that guy.  And he's hot!  Go, me!

     4. And finally, it's just stuff.  My kids weren't hurt.  They are safe.  Money can be refunded and random headphones can be returned.  All the things that were offset can be righted.  (By the way, if said thief should be happening to read this, this black belt mama is also learning to properly use her sword...I'm just sayin'.)

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Have you ever had something rotten happen to you that afterwards you realized the good that came out of it.  God doesn't waste anything.  Sometimes it is hard to see the good, but it's there.  What have you learned?  Think on it and let me know below.  I love feedback.  What that looks like is up to you. You can subscribe and get each new blog post delivered to your inbox, or you can like and share my posts on your favorite social media outlet.  Or you can just pop over to Twitter or Instagram (@JensWallsTalk) when you want to see what I'm up to.  Make it a beautiful day, friends.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why We Drove 150 Miles for a $20 Hat

My hubby needed a new hat.  It's not that he needed an expensive or custom made hat.  A new baseball cap to wear at work is all he needed.  He had a general style in mind, but it wasn't anything too specific.  Do you get what I'm saying here?  He needed a hat to wear on his head at work that didn't stick up too far and doesn't make his ears stick out.  No biggie.

Well, it's not that we don't have any place in our small town to buy a hat.  We just needed to get out of town.  When you're working a side hustle, you put it in the cracks and chunks of available time. Sometimes that means painting a hallway at 5 a.m., or on Saturday mornings, or measuring on a lunch hour.  You just have to work with what you have.  

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One of the cool things about the sides hustles that my amazing hubby and I have been working on is that our kids often get to go with us.  I love it!  I really do.  They get to see that sometimes in order to do what we really want, it takes extra effort, and it bleeds into our free time.  That also means that we have a little less fun family time.  It means we need to be deliberate about fun time.  Enter trip to buy the hat...

It's not that we needed to drive 150 miles to buy a hat.  I'm certain we could have found one closer. What we did need was to just be a family.  We needed to just have some hang out time and argue about whether it's right to have Christmas songs on the radio when it's not December yet. We needed to drink our Sonic drinks and talk about weird things like what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert (and why we need both), and love languages, and what cool kids they are.  I know that sounds pretty serious, but it was actually fun. 

What random things do you do to get away or take a break?  I'd love to hear about.  Comment below. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Kids Should Get Paid for Chores

Why should I pay my kids for doing anything at home?  Why, indeed. If you've been a reader of mine for a bit, then you know that I fired my kids.  They still have chores, but they do not currently get paid for them, but I think they should.

I don't think they should get paid just for being part of our family. We don't do allowance.  Their payment needs to be for work performed.  But that's not my point today.

I want my kids to get paid while they are young so they can learn to handle money while they are still at home and can receive guidance. I want my husband and I to be the ones giving them information on how money should be handled.  There is a lot of misinformation in the world about money.  (No, you don't need a credit card for emergencies.  You need an emergency fund.) God has a lot to say about it.  In fact, the Bible talks about it more than anything else...more than love or forgiveness or grace.

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I want them to know you must put money in savings before you pay bills.  I want them to know the tithe comes off the top.  I want them to know that giving with their money is a good and really cool thing.  I want them to not only know these things, but to practice them before they get out on their own.  It's not fair or realistic to expect then to handle money well if they have not been taught or given opportunity to practice handling money well.

They will mess up. I still mess up sometimes.  But it's a whole lot better to mess up while they are at home with Mom and Dad than to be out on their own and getting their first paycheck and not really know what to do with it.

What do you think? Yes to paying kids commissions or no because they should just help because they're part of the family? Tell me what you think or do at your house.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

What Happens In Your Story?

Have you ever written a story and the ending was very different from what you thought it would be? It's different than writing a blog post that is usually short and has a specific point.  A story is another beast entirely.  You may start to write and as you ask questions of the characters, different events happen than what you originally planned.

I have this story idea in my head.  It's actually been floating around for a couple years.  I started actually writing down earlier this year, but I haven't finished it yet.  It's been pushed to the back burner a little bit as I work on some other hustles, but I still feel that it's an important story to write. Now it's NaNoWriMo, so I squeeze in some more writing time.  (NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month for those of you that are not familiar.) As I think about these characters and what they will go through, there are little tweaks here and there.  It's not clean cut.  Everything doesn't work out perfectly.  That's rarely how life happens.  We do struggle.  We do get lost sometimes.

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I think that's what happened to the teenagers at Canon City High School this week.  Perhaps they thought, "It's just a little picture.  What harm can it do?" They are smart--and hormonal, and not as grown as they think they are.  Most of the parents I know are taking the opportunity to talk with their kids (hopefully they've already been talking about it).  There are so many directions that conversation can go.  For example, this isn't a one time deal--the internet is forever.  If you wouldn't want your mom, sister, aunt, etc. to be portrayed this way, then why would you portray yourself this way? The list goes on.  The problem is that it isn't just a teenager problem.  We are all susceptible to porn.  It's an addiction.

To borrow from Casting Crowns' song, Slow Fade
Be careful little eyes what you see.  It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings...

I'm not here to judge.  I am a sinner every bit as much as the next guy.  I'm here to offer that we need to be praying for our kids.  We need to be involved with our kids.  We need to teach them that temptation is real and it's out there.  Talk with them before these things happen about how to respond when it does happen.  Decide before. It's okay to be sad for the innocence lost. It can never be completely erased, but now begins the time to heal.

#IamCCHS #JensWallsTalk

What are your thoughts about all this?  I'd love to hear about it below.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

What Are Your Stressors?

What are the things that cause you stress?  Sometimes our stress is caused by things that happen around us...these are the things we truly cannot control.  Sometimes our stress is caused by things we do.  I once heard someone say that 95% of the things we worry about never happen, and the 5% that do happen, we don't have control over anyway.  So don't worry about it.

Let's look at what is causing us stress.  My major source of stress seems to be things that I impose upon myself.  Too many commitments--it's okay to say no!  Not enough money to pay the bills--get on a budget/make a career change/start a side business.  I don't know.  A lot of things can cause stress, but really only if we let it.  More than anything, we have a choice in how we respond to life's circumstances.

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The point I'm trying to make in all this is that when you get to the place where you are stuck in a stressed feeling all the time, that should be a signal that something needs to change.  So STOP!  Look at what is actually causing the stress...and here's the crazy something to change it.

Right now.  Stop.  Look at the top 3 things that cause you stress.  Write it down.  If you don't know how to fix it, ask for help.  Change something.  What will you change today?  Comment below.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Never Underestimate Your Opponent

I remembered the first time I sparred at karate.  It's been quite a while ago, at this point, but I still remember being very intimidated by the thought of hitting someone else on purpose.  I was raised to "not hit," as probably most of you were.  Yet I found that I enjoyed the challenge of sparring.  (I must insert here that when we are sparring at karate, it is also an exercise in control: hit the uniform, but not the body underneath.  It's not an all out fisticuffs.) 

Most students are hesitant to spar at first, for any number of reasons, I would guess, but recently, some of our newer students started sparring.  I had yet to spar with some of the bigger kids.  Turns out one student in particular, was much faster than I expected.  It's not that I thought an 18-year-old would be slow, but he definitely scored on me more than I expected.  I wasn't being cocky...I did underestimate him, though.  The funny thing is that my son did the same thing.  As we were evaluating out sparring performance on the way home, he had come to the same conclusion.  This kid is fast!

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Should an attack situation happen in real life, I don't have the ability to walk away and evaluate what went wrong and then go back and try it again.  I need to always think higher of my opponent until he proves to me otherwise.  The same is true with my unseen enemy, Satan.  He is sneaky.  He seeks to creep in and destroy our children...and us.  Don't underestimate him.  Be aware.  

When have you underestimated someone to your own detriment?  Did you learn from it?  Tell me about it below.

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