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The dating tightrope, finding balance

Written originally for “The Whatevergirls”

Part 2: Today, I want to take a look at the guidelines my husband and I set in place as we tried to find the right balance on the dating tight rope.

We feel the guidelines we set are extremely important.  To have no guidelines, to not care how dating looks, or no set age when you think it is the right time to date, would be like saying to your kids: “I don’t care how fast you ride the motorcycle,” and: “it is your choice to wear the helmet or not.” That kind of attitude towards dating is setting your child up for hurt.  On the flip side of that, I have watched a few families that have said no to dating, no to attending a dance, no to even going to a movie with a group of boys and girls; the outcome of that was not good either.  The NO, NO, NO from the parents led to the SNEAK, SNEAK, SNEAK of the kids.  I have witnessed more than one family lay down some of the tightest rules–as far as the opposite sex goes–and allow no dialog about it with their kids.  Sadly, in some cases, it has led to everyone but the parents being aware that their child is being anything but pure.  The kids have chosen the proverbial “back seat of the car,” while the parents have assumed their guidance of one big “NO” about the opposite sex is good enough.

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Our son and his girlfriend

My husband and I knew we needed to find the right balance to walk the dating tight rope in our home.  Again, I want to stress that this is what worked for our family, it may not work for yours.  Also, I cannot say that we did not have any near falls while walking this out. We saw that our kids were more likely to want to hang out at our home if we allowed them to have a relationship with healthy guidelines. When they hung out at our house, with us there, we got to be like the parents in the other room while the baby enjoys freedom in the crib–like I talked about in my first post, “taking the first step”. I guess you could say we found taking the middle ground between “no rules on dating,“ and “no dating at all,” to be where we landed.

The guidelines we set for our children when it came to dating, were like the pole that a tightrope walker uses for balance. If we let the guidelines lean too far one way or the other, it would be sure to knock our kids off the rope. The guidelines applied in all situations. We also were very clear on explaining the rules (guidelines) to any of our kid’s friends who came into our home. What we found was that kids like to know what the guidelines are, and they were happy not having to sneak around.

The guidelines:

  • If you want to hang out at our house with the opposite sex there must be a parent home.  The same goes for you hanging out at their home.
  • The bedrooms are off-limits!
  • If you are watching a movie, there is no reason to be in a completely dark room; have at least one light on.
  • If you get cold, turn the fireplace on; if you want a blanket, we have plenty of them so you can each use your OWN.
  • If you want to have a group of kids over for a pool party or movies, that is fine but we will be calling the parents to tell them that we are going to be here and they are welcome to come and hang out if they want.  We had many nights enjoying a glass of wine and visiting with parents while the basement was full of kids watching a movie.  We laughed as each parent randomly took a turn walking into the basement to make sure that no one was getting too comfortable.  Not only our kids, but other kids asked us more than once to have more nights like that.
  • If you are going out on a date, the only time you need to be hanging out alone in the car is while driving some place.  If you have nothing to do but sit in the car alone, get to our house or call it a night!
  • We are going to check with the parents of whatever house you are going to, and if you don’t like it you can stay home.

Affection:

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Our daughter and her boyfriend

We know you like each other.  We know you want to hold hands, snuggle and kiss.  We would much rather have you show affection in front of us, because the alternative is that you go somewhere alone to show affection and that can lead to things going too far.  Please be comfortable in front of us.  We were young once too, and we show our affection holding hands with a peck on the lips or cheek in front of you, because it is okay to have those feelings.  But keep it at that.  Don’t be alone, and do not take it farther than that simple affection.  To let things go beyond that will leave you with the regret of having to tell your spouse some day.

To our son: If you are going to date, you better respect the girl because she is Jesus’ princess; you better treat her in the same way you would want your sister treated. Also, you will not date a girl without speaking to her father first and looking him in the eye like a man.  That goes for something as simple as asking a girl to a dance.  You go to her father, or if she only has a mother then her mother first, before asking.  We also like our son to be aware of just how much that father loves his daughter, and that he would not only answer to us, but he would answer to her father if he disrespected her.  (Knowing that the father owned guns always added to helping get our point across and gave us something to laugh about behind closed doors).

To our daughter: If you want to go to a dance with a boy, he will come and ask your father so that your father may have the joy of making him sweat and tremble in fear.  If some boy wants to date you, he will look your father in the eye like a man when he asks.  He will understand that you are to be treated with respect, period.  We are letting him date Jesus’ princess, and if he thinks answering to your father and older brother is scary, then just think about trying to explain his intentions to Jesus.  It also helped when the young man asking to date knew that we owned guns as well.

My husband and I felt it was our responsibility to help our children avoid the same mistakes we made.  By setting these clear guidelines, we were taking our first steps to help our children walk the dating tightrope with more success than we had.  All those guidelines set in place were good, but we also had to trust that we had given our children a firm foundation to stand on, and that they would have the strength to resist temptation.  We pray that they will not make the same mistakes we made when we were young. As I said, our guidelines were like the pole the tightrope walker uses to stay on the rope, but remember even the best tightrope walker falls at times.  We had to trust that when our kids were without us and out on a date, and if they did fall into temptation, God would catch them in His safety net.

With the guidelines in place, the next step across the tightrope was having some deep talks with our kids about our expectations for them.  In my next post, I want to look at the importance of prayer and the different approaches we needed to take with our son, as opposed to our daughter.  Please remember I do not have all the answers and every step across the dating tight rope has been a cautious step for us.  I hope you are finding some answers to help cross the rope with your own kids.  Have a blessed day, and I hope you will join me in my next post.

If you missed my first post in this series, you can back up and read it at “Taking the first step”

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Child of the most high God.

By Cassie’s Corner

CassiesCornerButton

I am a Daughter…..

What is a daughter? A daughter is defined as a female child or person in relation to her parents. A female IMG_6332descendent, a person related as if by the ties binding daughter to parent. What is a son? A son is defined as a male child or person in relation to his parents. A male descendant, a male child or person adopted as a son, a person in legal position as a son. I was born a daughter to my mother and father, a granddaughter to my parentsʼ parents, and a sister. I was born to be a daughter.

To be a daughter has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. Growing up I was doted on by both my Mother and Father, my grandparents were amazing and I was loved. I made life choices based on how I was nurtured at home and the interactions between my parents and their parents. I was raised by a single mother, with one older sister in our house. We saw our father on the weekends and would spend time with our ʻstep- sisterʼ, ʻhalf-brotherʼ, ʻhalf-sisterʼ, everyone labeled us a ʻblended familyʼ and wanted to separate us based off who our parents were. This never changed how we saw ourselves, we were four sisters and one brother and loved each other regardless of what our blood work showed.

We were family, a family that was created specifically for a purpose; a purpose that was unknown but always being sought after. We shared everything and did all of lifeʼs events together with our different parents coming together for a common purpose; US. I treasured those times and still do. Our parents still come together, now for their grandchildren. My family growing up is like the Kingdom family, I am now part of.

As a young girl I chose to be a daughter of the Most High God. John 1:12-13(NIV) states, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbandʼs will, but born of God.” I was so excited to be Godʼs daughter, I wanted more with each Sunday that I attended church, I wanted Jesus to live in my heart.

I have lived a life being part of a truly ʻBlended Familyʼ, I have biological parents, spiritual parents, grandparents and numerous brothers and sisters in Christ. I am surrounded by love and acceptance from both. God created earthly families to be unique and special. He created us each as a daughter or a son for a purpose, to live together for a common goal; love one another and share His love, bringing others into our ʻUniquely Blended Familyʼ.

 To read more of Cassie’s post go to Cassie’s Corner

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Act 2 “Preachin’it and Teachin’ it”, Episode 6

59020_4508193394536_906363613_nToday we finish episode 6 with Act 2 of Teachin’ and Preachin’.  If you did not get yesterdays post you can use this link to Act 1.

Pastor Karli’s story about listening to God is a beautiful testimony but, before we get to that let me first set the stage and get you acquainted with our next Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom. She is a mother of 3. She has 2 boys; one who is graduating from College and another who is a junior in College. The youngest is her daughter, a senior in High School. This June she will celebrate 25 years of marriage to her wonderful husband.

Karli spends many hours each week as the Kitchen Coordinator at her daughter’s high school and after that job is done, she puts her dual degree from Eastern Washington University in Microbiology and Medical Technology to use as biology and chemistry tutor

Both Karli and Dawn (see Act 1) have very powerful testimonies and I wish I had more time to tell them. Sadly, you get the summarized version of both these incredible ladies.

Karli was involved with a local deaf church where she taught, and preached to the deaf. She has participated in a mission trip to Dominican Republic to assist in the establishing of a deaf school and a new deaf church there. At her present church she was a Missionette leader, worship team member, and currently an adult Sunday school teacher.

I asked her when she knew that she was to become a pastor and Karli shared with me that is has been a journey to this place…

“A journey of many ups and downs, many experiences. Questioning and lots of time before God in prayer brought me to the place to answer this call. A pastor, whom I respect as a friend, mentor, as well as a spiritual father, saw something and encouraged me to continue throughout the years.  While my children were in high school, a stirring began in my heart that told me that it was time to pursue the answering of the call. I attended our church bible institute and completed it in 2 1/2 years. Recently, I have completed the credentialing process and am now a licensed minister through the Assemblies of God.”

Karli is not the head pastor at her church but she is in a supportive role to her pastor. She told me that she would step in and assist him in whatever needed to be done as The Lord leads and she currently teaching the adults Sunday class and occasionally Wednesday Night as needed. On Monday nights this real housewife of God’s Kingdom blesses our bible study with her love for the Lord.

Besides being a Pastor, Mom, Wife, Tutor, and running the kitchen at the school, Karli finds time to read, decorate cakes, do some one on one mentoring and she loves sports. Sounds like a lot of moms’ right? Things are not always what they appear to be however, Karli also has a 75% hearing loss in left ear and 80% loss in right ear. It was caused by rubella in her mother’s first trimester of her pregnancy. This was discovered after her family moved back to the states from Chile. Karli would then attended an oral deaf school where she received daily intense speech therapy. “Lip reading came naturally to me during this time” she said.  In 1973, Karli was mainstreamed into the public school system where her speech improved so much that people couldn’t tell that she is hearing impaired.  I can attest to that. I was blown away when I realized this. I still have to remember to look at Karli when we talk because she can so easily appear to have no hearing issues and I am gently reminded when she give me the signal to look at her.

Today I am going to wrap this up differently than I have done my other episodes. Today I want Karli’s powerful words to be the last thing you read. I hope to see you back next month on the Real housewives of God’s Kingdom and I leave you with this…..

I asked Karli to give me her favorite verse and she could not nail it down to just one. She says, “There are many favorite verses that I have and each one applied to each season or time in my life”.  For this however she choose Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn, to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

“You see, I have been deaf since birth.  God has blessed me with residual hearing that with hearing aids, I 4561_1068094313910_7828890_nam able to hear most of everything.  My eyes do most of the listening for me through lip-reading”.

A young man once asked me, “If you’re deaf, how can you hear God’s voice?”

“I told him that there are no barriers when it comes to hearing His voice.  God speaks to us through the ears of our heart.  His voice is gentle, compassionate, loving.  He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  He will speak to us when we come to Him anytime, anywhere. Just come as a child.  He will not force His way to get you to hear Him. He patiently and eagerly waits for us to come to Him.  It is when we listen closely to His voice and obey Him; we grow in our relationship with Him.  I may have a physical hearing loss; I can hear Him by His Spirit within me.  As we listen more and more, his voice becomes unmistakably clear and able to resist the enemy. Let nothing stop you from spending time in His presence and listening to Him.  He wants this so desperately. He is waiting.  Won’t you go and ask Him to speak to you and help you to hear for Him at all times. A treasure is waiting to be opened.”  Pursue Him! Hear Him! He loves you!

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Episode 6, Act 1 “Preachin’ it and Teachin’ it”

Welcome back to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  In our last episode we met two women who literally gave of themselves for the goodness of another.  They both gave a kidney to a total stranger and gave them the gift of life.

In keeping with the idea of giving oneself to another I want to introduce you to Pastor Dawn  and Pastor Karli. Dawn is not a stranger to my Heartfelt Ramblings page.  She was my first guest writer when I kicked my page off in the fall of 2013.

Now let me start by saying I know these women personally and God has used them in very big ways in my life. So may I have your undivided attention, insert drum roll… Welcome to Episode 6 “Preachin’ it and Teachin’ it”

Did you catch what I said at the beginning?  They are PASTORS. These two women have been called to give of themselves to serve others. Now we are all called to give of ourselves yes however, some people are called to be pastors. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Cor 12:4-6

579189_438861032830506_512536406_nDim the lights and ready on set….Enter Pastor Dawn.

Those of you that know Dawn, will agree with me, dynamite comes in small packages.  I have been blessed to listen to Dawn speak and she may not be much taller than the pulpit but when she speaks you know that God is using her in a mighty way.

Dawn told me that she knew she wanted to be a pastor from the age of 8 but that in His timing He would grow her with marriage and motherhood first.  Along the way God would also walk with Dawn as she faced some tragedies.  It was not until she was in her mid-30’s that she would get to start her studies.  I met Dawn, as she was finishing up her schooling in 2002.  Dawn was one of the women that God used over weekend retreat where I would give my life to Him.

As I type this I can’t help but smile when I read Dawn’s favorite verse. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  I am smiling because thankfully God had some big plans for me the weekend I meet Dawn.  His plans for me have truly given me hope for my future and Dawn says that the verse 
reminds her, “He is always with me and it is my go to verse”.

Dawn is a commissioned pastor and she did her studying through the Christian Church/DOC through their Licensing/Commissioning Committee in the Northwest Region. That process took her 3 years before she was granted a license. On top of that there were readings and reports to do. Dawn currently lives in the Midwest and in the Midwest Area/Mid America Region she has monthly mentor meetings. Currently Dawn is enrolled in classes through Grand Canyon University and through Mid America School of Religion.

If I were to pick a song to describe Dawn it would be

“Hands and Feet” by Audio Adrenaline

I want to be your hands

I want to be your feet

I’ll go where you send me

After being commissioned she was an Associate Pastor at Kennewick First Christian for 2 years, then moved to Ephrata, Washington to Memorial Christian Church for 7 years as solo pastor/youth pastor/secretary and then moved to Missouri to pastor 2 yoked congregations. Dawn is now the solo pastor with a staff of a secretary and janitors

I asked her what she has learned as a pastor and challenged her to sum it up in 1 paragraph and we can all learn from what she said.

“He never gives up on us no matter where we are in our lives. Don’t fear to share your story and be transparent. Through tragedy, death, fear and triumph, joy and hope, He is my all in all, my Abba.”

Dawn’s sence of humor can been seen when she talks about her family. She calls them the “mix n match crew” She has a 
38-year-old stepdaughter in Nampa, ID
 and 27-year-old son who is a Staff Sgt in the Army National Guard and has seen 3 tours. He just recently transferred as a guard to the Airway Heights Prison in Spokane. 
Next in line from oldest to youngest is her 26-year-old son who works in Calgary as a project manner for an oil company
 and her 23-year-old foster daughter who lives in Everett, Washington. 
We are only getting started here folks.  Her mix and match crew also consists of a 22-year-old foster son in MO (He is not living in their home now) a 12-year-old adopted son and a 
9-year-old, soon to be adopted girl.  Dawn’s heart for children is over flowing with love and because of that her and her husband have also opened there home to a 13-year-old foster daughter and a 
4-year-old foster son.  In the last 4 years they have had 15 kids come and go through their home.

At the young age of 48 Dawn is also a grandma of seven foster, step and biological grandchildren ages: 19, 17, 16, 13, 11, 4 and 2. This midlife domestic goddess is exhausted just typing that.  Now just imagine if you had to balance your job, and a huge family like the mix and match crew but you had to do it with a body that had it’s own challenges.  This amazing housewife of God’s Kingdom is faced daily with that issue. Dawn wakes up each day with a body that has lots of healing to do after experiencing two strokes to the brain stem.

She says she feels blessed to have survived and to be whom and what she is today. The strokes have made her a different person. Just getting dressed can be a challenge and there are struggles to walk and use her left side and arm. “God does have a sense of humor as he has left me with the gift of speech. I think my husband might have enjoyed a few more months of quiet” says Dawn.

We all have many identities we go by. Many titles we answer too. The titles I carry are wife, mother, 972755_10151769818418992_2021631322_ndaughter, sister, pastor, child of God and the latest title stroke survivor. Some I enjoy, some I am called to be, and others carry a weight. Taken from Dawn’s Guest post, “My Identity, His Glory”

As I said earlier, Dynamite comes in small packages and Dawn if one powerful explosion of God’s strength within someone. As we bring Act 1, “Pastor Dawn” to an end I want to leave you with this quote from her.

“I am just me. I was chosen by God to speak His word. It is scary and terrifying at times. I am disliked by some, judged, ridiculed to be a woman in ministry. I have received hate mail. I don’t argue with those who disagree with that viewpoint, as they don’t want their viewpoint changed. I just love God, love people and try to show the Christ in me.”

Dawn is just one more amazing “Real housewife of God’s Kingdom” to learn more about her and her inspiring story as a two-time stroke survivor, check out her guest post “My identity, His glory”

I hope to see you back tomorrow for Act 2 with Pastor Karli 🙂

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Trust

Anna Dietzen Head ShotGuest Post: by Anna Dietzen, author of the blog “The Unexpected Journey”

Anna Dietzen is your typical twenty-something wife and mama, trying to navigate her way through cheerios and diapers, all while trying to make the most of everyday. A graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communication Studies, Anna worked the corporate America scene for 5 years before deciding to stay home with her two boys, Parker & Lane. She has taken her love of writing and experience of raising two boys with special needs and documented their journey on her blog The Unexpected Journey. While each day has it’s own challenges and this unexpected path is tough, Anna finds the life lessons in these experiences and tries to give others a glimpse into the reality and beauty of having children with special needs.

Trust……..

It’s such an interesting word. Trust requires vulnerability, abandonment to self, action, reliance, confidence, faith and so many other things.

It really requires us to believe that the other person, or thing has our best interest at heart.

One of my dearest friends and I were talking about this the other day. We were talking about what it really means to trust God. I know that I should trust God and I do believe He has my best interest at heart, but do I really trust Him?

With EVERYTHING?

This question has really stuck with me over the past few weeks and I’ve wrestled with what this looks like in my life.

Up until a few years ago, everything in my life had gone pretty well. I’d had my times of struggle, but nothing really too detrimental or life changing. I went to college, met my husband, got married, and started a family. Everything went according to what I had imagined my life to be. It was easy to trust God and believe that he had my best interests at heart, because all of the desires of my heart had come true.

That is, until the first diagnosis.899

At 7 months, our first born son Parker was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Joubert Syndrome. Joubert Syndrome is characterized by the underdevelopment of the cerebellum and brain stem and generally causes decreased muscle tone, difficulties with coordination, abnormal eye movements, abnormal breathing pattern and cognitive impairment.

Trying to work through what it means to have your child face all of these unexpected difficulties is almost unimaginable. To trust that God was really looking out for us, and looking out for Parker was really hard to believe at first. But then Parker would look at us and smile and it was as if God was speaking directly to us saying “I love you…it’s going to be okay”.

839And that has proven to be true. We face our challenges everyday, and this special needs journey has not been easy, but the love and desperation we have felt for God through this all has helped our hearts heal and recover.

And then we received the second diagnosis.

We got pregnant again in January of 2012 and we were scared. Excited but scared. Every pregnancy has a 25% chance of having Joubert Syndrome and we knew that this baby could also be affected. But we went in fully trusting God with this baby and trusting that He would give us a healthy baby. We had numerous ultrasounds and tests and everything showed that this baby was healthy and his brain was fully formed. We were cautiously optimistic as we knew there was still a small chance they could be wrong, but were hopeful that the doctors were right.

After Lane was born, he seemed to be developing on time until about 5 or 6 months. At that time we noticed he was falling a bit behind and didn’t seem as far along as most kids his age. At 10 months, Lane went in for his MRI and we got the diagnosis that he too had Joubert Syndrome.IMG_4506

I really struggled with this diagnosis. Not because he had Joubert Syndrome, but why God would allow the uncertainty for so long. We trusted Him, and it felt like he completely took that away. We did all the necessary prenatal testing and talked to doctors after he was born and everyone assured us he was fine. But then to find out 10 months later that was all wrong.

Was it worth trusting God when it felt like he didn’t hear us? When it felt like he didn’t care?

It was during a run one day that I realized my mentality about trust was all wrong. I only trusted when things would go my way. I only trusted when it wasn’t risky, wouldn’t be messy, and wouldn’t require me to give up too much control. And I realized that what I was doing wasn’t really trusting at all.

I’ve learned that trust is a process, it’s a relationship, and it’s built over time. It’s built through my quiet times, through my prayers, my relationships with other, and it’s built through truly letting go of control.

IMG_2796I’ve learned that trusting God doesn’t mean that I am going to get what I want, but rather what He wants and what He wants to do through me.

Through parenting two beautiful and precious boys with special needs, I have had to trust and rely on God more than ever in my life. I could have never imagined that when I “trusted” Jesus with my life and pregnancy that it would mean special needs, but it has been the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

And by sharing those fears, those unmet expectations, and growing in my maturity and faith in God, I have come to see that trusting means giving God 100% control and forming my heart to look more like His.

Had things gone the way I wanted, or expected, I would never be the person I am today or have the relationship with God that I do now.

And really, that is all that matters anyways.

Plus I get the bonus of being the mother to Parker and Lane who have touched more lives than I could have ever Dietzen012imagined and I am humbled to watch God work through their lives every single day.

Trusting God is more than a word, it’s a way of life and requires my complete surrender…

Every. Single. Day.

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