Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Age of Opportunity

Age of Opportunity.......what does that phrase conjure up in your mind?? If you have a teenager does it remind you of them??? If you would have asked me that question just two weeks ago, I would have chuckled and said that I am just trying to make it through these crazy teens!!
Don't get me wrong........Landon, my 14 year old is a wonderful young man. He is well behaved, mannerly and very handsome too!! BUT, the mood swings, the hormones, the messy room, the grunts and groans, the eye rolling, and the smart mouth does get to be a bit much at times. Our relationship is good, but at times I almost feel as if we are enemies. I love him with all of my heart and soul, but can't stand his behavior at times!! I have always known that God probably wouldn't want it to be this way, but what can I do??? I pray, I lecture, I complain, I discuss with other mothers and mentors, etc, etc, etc... Was I doomed to be the nagger with Landon as the nagee??
God is so good and His timing is ALWAYS perfect. Last year, Dan and I were participants in a wonderful class at our church called Raising Teens. We loved the class and learned so much. Once the 10 week class ended, we had made many friends and wanted to continue meeting. Believe it or not, every couple in the class committed to getting together once a week, studying the bible and how to apply it to our teens' lives. Since last October, we all have been doing just that........meeting once a week and really digging into understanding our teens. We shared together and prayed for each other and our children. Our study in the spring was Running the Rapids and was very helpful in comprehending why our teens act the way that they do at times. BUT, this fall we began a book entitled Age of Opportunity.....A biblical guide to parenting two weeks I am already changing the way that I think and the way that I deal with Landon. It is amazing what I am seeing!!
This study begins with understanding a basic but difficult fact......anything that occurs during the teen years is NOT too much for our God to handle. They are not unreachable and we as parents need to completely embrace that the power of the gospel is something that can never be stopped. God is sovereign and rules over everyone and everything. He is in control. We as parents have been recruited by Him to be a Godly example to our children and teach them the way that God has taught us through His word and our experiences. The teen years expose the wrong thoughts and desires of our own hearts. They tend to bring out the worst in us.
I totally cringe when I think of some of the things that I have said to my children in anger and frustration. Even though I always apologize and admit to my wrongdoing, I have guilt about flying off of the handle. No words that I have said can be put back into my mouth. UGH!!! So, this leaves me to examine myself very closely and pray about God helping me to become the parent that He designed me to be. I can't do it alone.
I learned last week that I have idols.......not ones that our world tends to think of; movie stars, athletes, desires for material things,climbing the corporate ladder, but idols that distort how I view parenting and that tend to control my heart more than God himself. My two biggest idols are appreciation and comfort. I so want Landon and Dalton to appreciate all that we do for them. But, I want them to say it and live this feasible?? In my world it is, it has to be my way!! I want them to always say thank you and verbalize how thankful they are to have what they do, and thank us for taking them on vacation, and thank me for doing their laundry, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, packing their lunches, driving them all over get the picture. But, how many teens do you know that get off of the bus, enter your home and say, "Boy mom, I was just thinking on the bus how thankful I am for you and Dad and all of the sacrifices that you make for me. I am so appreciative and I love you so much. What can I do for you today???" Are you laughing yet?? I know that teens are biologically filled with self orientation and self interest much more than with appreciation for others at this point in their lives.
I need to ask myself, " Why do I do what I do?? Whom am I serving?" I must stop thinking with the " I serve you, you appreciate me" attitude. If this is all that I am looking for, then I am going to miss out on wonderful opportunities to love, grow and connect with Landon emotionally and spiritually. I need to take these opportunities and gently point Landon to Him who provides every good and perfect gift and let go of the anger that I feel as if Landon is doing this personally to me.
My other idol is comfort. Life is not a resort, but boy I wish that it was....things would be so much easier!! Don't we as parents have the right to quiet, harmony, peace and respect?? When we don't get this, how do we respond?? Well, if you act like I do at times, I get angry and impatient. Again, embracing the moments and looking to Him for strength, words and guidance is the only way to fill my heart with His love and joy and not my expectations which always fall very short.
My goal for Landon and Dalton is for them to be kind, loving, peaceful, patient, self controlled and full of joy regardless of situations in their lives. These are fruits of the spirit which I can model with only God's grace. Once I acknowledge that their teen years are all about molding them to God's image and not my own which is sinful, then the opportunites will be there. I am seeing this already and can't wait to see how God continues to work through me to reach my children. My job as a mother is truly the highest calling that I can have.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Thankfulness

As I sit here contemplating where the summer actually went, I have to say that wonderful memories of this summer warm my heart. It has been busy to say the least, but relaxing when I was craving that too!!
Here are some of the precious things that this summer has given to me:
1. Landon turning 14
2. Dalton turning 10
3. Celebrating 19 years of marriage
4. summer bible study at my church
5. Days of sleeping in
6. Early morning runs when I didn't sleep in
7. 1/2 marathon training runs in First Landing
8. Bike rides to Yotini's for yogurt
9. Hot days at the beach
10. A visit and time spent with a dear friend who moved
11. Pool days
12. Ocean Breeze water park
13. Camps for the boys and seeing them enjoy their time
14. Visit to Pittsburgh
15. Kennywood Park
16. Seeing my uncle for the first time in 30 years!!
17. Fireworks
18. Sunsets at the Bay
19. July 4th with community group
20. July 4th annual neighborhood picnic
21. prayer time with community group
22. Bible school for Dalton
23. Time reading books
24. dolphins playing in the water in Virginia Beach
25. Florida trip
26. Aquatica water park
27. Eating at Mezzaluna in Florida....YUM!!
28. Sea World
29. Nights at hotels on vacation
30. Summer thunderstorms
31. Dalton riding his first rollercoaster
32. Shopping in Williamsburg with Landon
33. BSF in Fredricksburg and girlfriend time
34. Nordstrom Rack
35. Cookouts
36. The grill
37. Sunburn
38. Lunches with friends
39. Cold smoothie after a long run
40. Seeing my nieces and nephews this summer
41. Bike ride to the Oceanfront with a friend and then to Starbucks
42. Dinner with my husband
43. light until almost 9
44. Lightning bugs
45. Swimming
46. Traveling to DC with my family
47. late nights for my boys
48. pedicures
49. bare feet
50. flip flops
51. Visits and sweet conversations with a former student who is now a dear friend
52. Dinner whenever
53. fresh cut grass
54. shorts and tank tops
55. wet bathing suits

I am so thankful for all that this summer of 2010 has given me. Change of seasons is difficult for me and I am having a hard time transitioning into the mode of fall. It is so comforting though that this precious time of year will happen once prayer is to enjoy the change and look for the sunshine this fall and winter.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

God at my Doorstep!!

It is the end of August and that time is quickly!! I have bittersweet feelings about it selfishly for myself, but for my children, I am ready for them to go back!!
We have had a wonderful summer....traveling to Pittsburgh, Kennywood Park, days at the beach and Ocean Breeze Water Park as well as our family vacation to Florida. As the summer is winding to an end, my patience is getting shorter and shorter. One of the big reasons for this is because I am a bit tired of being "Julie the cruise director" for all of my children's summer activities. They are getting a bit lazy and bickering pretty much non-stop. I wonder if any other mothers can relate to this??? :)
It seems as if my scolding and correcting are falling on deaf ears and quite frankly I am getting tired of hearing myself speak. I think that my voice to my children at this point is like the teachers in Charlie Brown....whaaa, whaaa, whaa......
Well, yesterday at just the right time, God showed up at my doorstep in the form of a young man representing TADA. For those of you that don't know, TADA is Teens against Drugs and Alcohol. It is an organization that promotes manners, hard work and a place for at-risk teens to be taught responsiblity and to have memorable outings with other teens. Everytime that they come to my doorstep (which is about twice a year), I am so happy to support them. The boys are polite and well mannered and so appreciative.
Randy was the angel that appeared yesterday. After buying Reese's cups and Skittles, my boys and I engaged in a great 10 minute conversation with him. He shared that he was going into 10th grade and that he wanted to hang with the right people and make wise choices for his life. This was why he joined TADA. He continued by addressing my sons; "Make sure that you treat your mother well....she and your dad work so hard to provide this beautiful home for you, work hard in school so that you can get a good job after college." These truths just came flowing out of his mouth!! I then asked him if he had brothers or sisters. He replied yes and I asked him if they got along. He said, "For the most part....." but then he continued to my boys, " Make sure that you love one another and really try to get along because one day when your mom and dad are will still have each other. I was flabbergasted.......what awesome words and lessons from someone that has probably experienced more heartache and poverty than my boys will ever know possible.
As the end of the discussion was approaching, he mentioned the Lord and how he needed to get Him back in his life. I added that He is the most important thing in your life and when you follow His path all of your paths are made straight. He agreed and said that he also wanted to get back to church. I encouraged him to do that as soon as he could!!
As Randy walked away, I was so touched. His words came from above and maybe now I can bear the next few weeks before school begins again!!! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not the picture perfect goodbye!

Yesterday I took Landon to UVA in Charlottesville for a wrestling camp that he has been looking forward to for months. It is just about a three hour trip from Virginia Beach. Check in was between 2 and 3, so planning ahead, I figured that we could go to church and leave pretty much after that.....around 11:15ish. I believe that I am way too optimistic at times about traffic around Hampton Roads. We ended up sitting in miles and miles of back-up on Interstate 64 and it took us almost 2 hours just to reach Williamsburg. So, ultimately we were late in arrival for camp.
My son, Landon is the typical teenager and was extremely irritated at me for the volume of traffic. I did a great job of staying calm and assuring him that things probably wouldn't be right on time and that he would be fine if we were a little bit delayed.
I was so thankful for my friend, Lizzie whose son was also attending the camp. She called me and let me know that the directions to check in were a bit confusing and she took the time to walk me through them. She also took my phone call as I was driving around searching for the dorms and calmed me down as I was frazzled beyond belief at 3:30 p.m.
As we arrived, we grabbed all of Landon's gear from the trunk and ran up a hill to check in. Sweat was dripping down the sides of my face as well as just about everywhere else in the 100 degree heat. As we approached I could see all of the wrestlers outside waiting for the camp to begin....not many parents were still there and my heart sunk knowing that we were really late and that my assurances about things not being on time were incorrect. Approaching the check in a woman stopped me and asked if we were the LoAlbo's. She directed us inside to turn in our forms and for Landon to get his dorm key. We headed towards the doors, but it was difficult because all of the wrestlers were coming outside for orientation. Landon had a confused and frustrated look on his face and was looking to me for answers. I walked in and turned in the forms and grabbed Landon's key. Landon had already headed up to his room and I met him there. We inserted the key and to add to our frustration, the key did not work. I just wanted to cry!!
Luckily two college aged counselors approached and asked if they could help. They tried the key as well and didn't have any success. (This definitely made me feel better and I kept some credibility with Landon too!!) They graciously offered to put Landon's belongings into their room until later that evening. We walked to the end of the dorm and put his things down. Landon grabbed his work out gear and quickly followed the counselors to orientation which had begun 10 minutes prior.
I was now realizing that I was leaving my son for three days and I wasn't going to get the kind of goodbye that I wanted. Well there it was thinking that it was always about me and God saying, "Hello is not all about you....I am in charge!" I tentatively yelled to Landon, "Bye, bud....Have a wonderful time....I love you!!" I understood that I was NOT going to get a hug or a kiss and that was the price I was paying for running so late. To my absolute surprise and delight, the counselors turned to Landon and said, "You go and give your mom a hug and kiss goodbye!!!" Landon hesitated and looked to the counselors first to see if they were joking or serious. As he did this, Landon knew that they were serious and he ran towards me and embraced me and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.
How thankful I was for this!! It may seem like nothing, but it meant the world to me and I am so grateful that God placed these wonderful counselors in just the right place at the right time for me to receive a goodbye that I will treasure for the three days and nights Landon is not with us. This also is especially important because Landon forgot his cell phone and normally I would be bugging him with "I love you " and "I miss you" messages and since I am not able to do that now, that goodbye was extremely special to me.
Why do I doubt God?? I get so wrapped up in myself and the limits of time that I totally forget that God is always in control. Yesterday was a perfect example of this. God provided even when I was hot, irritated, and most ungrateful. My prayer is that I can remember this and know that even when things are not going my way, that God will always provide and come through in His perfect timing!!
Things to be thankful for this week:
college aged counselors
Ocean Breeze water park
Atlantic ocean
beach time
caring pediatricians
Sweet nieces and nephew in Charlottesville
summer bible study
Dean's sermons
faces of joy
successful eye surgery
Piercing pagoda
friends that share their pools
Aunt Susan
Taylor Mary
driving school
pink seedless watermelon
fresh basil

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where does the time go??

Time....what a loaded concept. We are very pre-occupied with time. We have to make sure that we arrive on time for work, for a flight, for a doctor's appt, for a party. Sometimes we try to beat time....especially if you are a runner or an athlete. How long did it take to run that 1/2 marathon? The shorter the amount of time, the better. Timed must complete the test in a certain amount of time or take the risk of lowering your overall score because you did not complete all of the questions in the allotted time.
Time related to our lives though is time in its most precious form. As I have grown older, one of the most asked questions that I hear is, "Where does the time go?" One minute our children are entering Kindergarten and the next they are beginning the adventure of high school. I had the privilege of attending my brother's high school graduation this past weekend. I honestly don't know where the time of his first 18 years went. Granted, I was not living with him in the same household as he matured and grew up, but I did see him most holidays and at various other times during the years. One of my most vivid memories of him was when Dan and I took him home during my stepmother's surprise 40th birthday. He did not want to leave and was beside himself that he had to be seperated from his mother. Dan and I did everything that we could think of to console him, but sleep was the only solution. Now, he is leaving in a little over a week to go to New York for an internship and then off to the University of Arizona as a freshman in late August. He is a mature young man and looking forward to beginning his life and seperating from his parents.
We all wish that time would slow down in relation to our lives. But, I am convinced that if we cherish the moments then the years that pass by will be clear and full of heartfelt memories. I know that this is easier said than done, but I am devoted to taking each day and praising the God who created me for the people and moments that He places in my life. We may wish that the moments could last forever, but if they did then we would definitely miss other moments that continue to define who we are and our relationships with others.
I need to pray that I can take my own advice regarding time. I don't want to wish time away and I truly desire to treasure each and every moment with my family and dear friends. This is especially pertinant to me as my oldest begins high school in the fall and next year Dan and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. Where did the time go??? I know that it passed by, but I also know that the time holds dear and precious memories for me for the rest of my life.
I am thankful for:

privilege to vote
caring medical staff
printable boarding passes
first row of seats in an airplane
low humidity in Pittsburgh
graduation ceremonies
flights without turbulance
wonderful husband
Shorebreak pizza deals
incorrect weather forecasts
cool shower after a run
kind words
summer vacation
puffy white clouds
blue sky
grilled vegetables
feather pillows

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Special Reunion

I had the absolute joy to meet with two of my former second grade students today and share lunch with them. They certainly are not 8 years old anymore. They are beautiful 21 year old women with the maturity and poise of responsible young adults. They both are in college, playing sports and enjoying what is truly one of the best times of their lives. What a special reunion it was!! We shared and laughed about the class that I had 13 years ago and talked about what everyone is doing. I was in awe of how the years have passed by so quickly. Flashbacks in my mind reminded me of them both as precious eight year olds with pigtails and missing teeth.I am so thankful for this opportunity and the privilege to re-connect with two very special women. Relationships are precious and God certainly blessed me with that fact today!!

Other blessings this past week include:
Sunday sermons that tug on my heart
field day
cold water
tug of war/boys against girls
girls night out
The smell of Dalton while he is sleeping
unexpected letter of thanks
Ocean Breeze
caring doctor
our community group
my dentist
pride of a 4th grade author
Miss Sue
air conditioning
former students that are young adults
Sophie's nudging

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Monday of Thanks

Here is it...Memorial Day Monday and I am full of things to share that I am thankful for. I pray that this weekend was as relaxing and special for you as it was for me.

painted toenails
intense bike ride
a hard-working husband
clean clothes
running skirt
garden tomatoes and fresh avocados
a blue sky with puffy white clouds
Memorial Day
selfless soldiers
Day off with the family
Dalton's smile after a new accomplishment
sweat from sunbathing
a baby's toes
First Landing State park's running trails
ice cold water
Sunday sermons
developing new friendships

So thankful for yet another week of blessings..................... :)