Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life As We Know It

I can not believe it is almost the end of September! I can not even really remember what went on this summer and now it is almost fall. I will admit that I am loving the cooler weather and warmer drinks (had my first pumpkin spice latte this evening) and fall is my favorite season, but it just seems like time goes by so fast and before I know it, it will be Christmas and then we will be looking into the face of summer vacation again.

Ever since school and work started back up again I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day for me to get everything accomplished that I want to get done. I have been getting up earlier to kick start my morning with some time in God's Word, a bit of exercise and just because I didn't want to be rightontime or late this year for work. I really hated slipping in the door or showing up to class five minutes late. I want to be regarded as someone that values others' time and my goal for the year is to be on time. So far so good.

The benefits of taking time to be quiet before the Lord and His Word each day has allowed me to focus on the important versus the urgent. I can tell when I haven't spent time to reflect and refocus in the mornings and it has not been pretty. My husband, kiddos and even I deserve better.

Also, I am starting to see the results of doing some toning exercises each day and really think it inspires me to  be active later in the day as well. My counselor encouraged me to be active and exercise because it is right and good for my body, not just to lose weight and be thinner. There are more benefits to being active than a smaller size pair of jeans. Although, the smaller size is going to fit nicely some day soon.

The kiddos are adjusting quite well to school - Cody is enjoying getting out at 10:30 AM and being able to work in the afternoons. He is starting to look at his options for school and even contemplating joining the military as an Army ranger. He is also hoping to have his license by December. It is hard to believe that in just a few short months he will be graduating.

Kari loves being among the oldest kiddos in elementary school - the 5th graders. She is a safety this year, as well as on the student council. She is continuing with her violin lessons and will be in chorus again. I was hoping she would apply for the performing and visual arts middle school, but she has decided to attend the feeder school and wants to be part of the orchestra and chorus there next year.

Noah is adjusting to the big changes in 3rd grade and is starting to settle into his own groove. He receives letter grades this year and is enjoying seeing As and Bs on his graded papers. He is taking violin lessons as well and can not wait to play in the winter concert with Kari. He is going to sign up to play basketball this fall and is really excited that he will get to jump and shoot.

Rick is working with two middle school students this year and I have a 2nd grader and 4th grader I am assisting. Rick's 7th grade student is much more challenging then his student last year, so he is adjusting to that as well as plugging along with school, coming up on his last two semesters before student teaching. I am so proud of him and can not wait to see him graduate!

I just completed my first ever 5K and am so happy I was able to do it!  I figured out that I am not a fan of running without a purpose, but enjoyed raising money for the clinic and spending the morning with Rick. He is a much better runner than me and I can see him participating in more 5Ks than I do.

So, that's life as we know it right, work, trying to take better care of ourselves, hoping to make a difference.

Too bad I don't have any pictures to go with this post.          


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letter to my 16 Year Old Self

On Friday, I will be linking this post to Emily's blog that is hosting a day to write letters to our teenage selves in celebration of the author's new book, Graceful, for teenage girls. Here is my letter. Why don't you write one, too?

Dear Marlen –

I so wish I would have been able to tell you the things I am about to tell you. There is so much I wish you would have known, but I am also thankful for your innocence and love for life.

You are so sure that you are in love right now and I know you care deeply for the Boy, but it is not love. Much of it is lust and a desire to be wanted and needed. Guard your heart and your body. Don’t give that part of yourself away to the Boy. You will not be able to emotionally handle the consequences of having sex with him. It will not bring you closer or guarantee that he will not leave you. I know that you feel committed to him, that you could be with him forever, but you are not married. That type of relationship is for a husband and wife. Do not be fooled by your lust and emotions.

Continue to sing and sing a lot. You have a good voice and have the ability to do even better. Keep practicing and just sing. God loves your praise and worship. And dance. Often. I know your spiritual leaders would discourage it, but God loves to see you dance. It not only allows you to express yourself, but it is helping you exercise and be healthy.

Stop worrying so much about your spiritual walk such as "Am I reading my 3 chapters a day?" or spending 15 minutes in prayer and going to church and visitation? Don’t check things off like 5 steps to holiness. Cultivate a relationship with Jesus. Love on Him and let Him love on you. Read His Word and pray because you want to be intimately close to Him, not because it is expected by those around you, but because you love Him.

Don’t let anyone talk you out of breaking up with the Boy. When you decide to write that letter, stand by it. You do not have to stay with him if you know in your heart it is not right. Let him go, let him grow. If it is right, God will bring you back together. You will survive without him and he will survive without you.

Enjoy spending time with your friends and your sister. Your time with them is short, but you are cultivating friendships that you will have and need for a lifetime. Don’t take advantage of their kindness and loyalty. You will need each other. You can learn many things from them. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses and encourage each other to do your best and choose right.

You are just as beautiful and talented and smart as anyone else in your class or at youth group. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are uniquely created by God. You are well liked and that is great, but do not dwell on having to be liked by everyone. Some people will not like you and that is okay because they are not the type of people you will want to have as your friends. Your friends will love and accept you and you need to let them be enough.

When your older sister moves away and gets married, you will be sad and that’s okay. She has been your best friend and anchor for a long time, but it's time to let her go and let your relationship with her change. You need to not put so much weight into her opinions for your life. She loves you, but you need to remember that you and God know what the best is ultimately for you. Ask Him for advice more than her.

Your choices at 16 will greatly impact your future and good and bad, they are what they are. Try to let go of the past and look at the present, only glancing at the future. Try to live in the moment, enjoying your youth and not rushing yourself along to grow up so fast. Soon enough you will be an adult and you will long for school and weekends, late night phone calls and slumber parties.

And in case you’re wondering, your love for teaching will remain strong and you will become a second grade teacher. Keep studying and preparing for college. You are going to love learning and getting your degree. But, it won’t be easy. Focus and stay the course. It will be worth it.

Oh, and let that boy serenade you in the college cafeteria and don’t be embarrassed. He only wants to share his talent with you and hear someone clap for him. Those staring at him and you are really just jealous. To be so lucky to have a friend and admirer like him doesn’t come along often. Enjoy it.

Love – Marlen

PS – Your braces will be off in time for Senior portraits, so stop worrying!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Parent 'Hood

I am participating in a synchroblog sponsored by amazing blogs like Fried Okra. Here's the post I am sharing today - 18 Years Ago. It is one of my favorite parenting posts and means even more to me now that my son is once again struggling to find who he is and get his life straightened out for himself and his children.

We all have parenting stories to share. Consider linking up to the Parent 'Hood.


I am not sure how it started. I guess maybe it was a genuine illness at first. Then the teenager babysat a little late on a Saturday night. ...