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You Owe Him Nothing

37465687_mIt was the end of the day and I could not wait to get home from school. Just before the final bell rang, an office TA walked in with a bouquet of flowers and a card. The room erupted with remarks about, someone having an admirer. Much to my surprise the long stem roses were for me. The card attached said, “What does a guy have to do to get on your busy calendar to take you out?”

When the bell rang, I ran to my car trying to avoid running into him. The roses were beautiful but I did not want to go on a date with him. I felt like I was somehow obligated to accept his invitation because he bought flowers for me.

When my dad came home he asked me about the flowers and I explained my dilemma. I will never forget what my dad told me. He said, “You do not owe this boy or any other man that comes along, anything. You did not ask for the flowers, he bought them for you because he chose to on his own.” My dad went on to say that I was never to feel obligated to any man who bought me something or was nice to me. My dad also told me that I should never go out with someone I was not interested in and that if a guy made me feel like it was an obligation, I should tell him, “I owe you nothing.”

That next day at school he asked when I was available to go out. I very nicely explained to him that I was not interested and said, “Thank you for the flowers.” He was not very happy about my nicely put “no thank you” and told me that he had spent his money on the flowers so I at least owed him one date. The wise words of my dad blared like a bullhorn in my head. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “My father told me that I owe no man anything. You chose to buy flowers but that doesn’t mean I owe you a date.” I know he was not happy but he seemed to clearly understand what my dad told me and he accepted it and moved on.

The words of my father are for you too. You never owe a man anything because he bought you something or was kind to you. If you think that you need to go out with someone because you feel obligated, that is a red flag. Healthy relationships do not start out of a sense of obligation. Never allow someone to pressure you into a date and if a “no thank you” is not enough to get your point across, go to your parents and tell them what is happening. In the words of my dad, “you owe him nothing.”

 

Originally Written for the Whatever Girls.

 

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Make a Memory

DSC_7167By Kim Chaffin, The Midlife Domestic Goddess.

Originally written for the Whatever Girls Ministry.

“A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, but their hearts forever.”

–Author unknown

My children are adults and one thing I have learned over the years is that making memories doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Some of my best memories didn’t cost anything at all. They are moments in time, locked in my heart to hold on to forever.

This summer has been a very special time for my daughter and me. She is home from college and God has blessed me with the opportunity to live at the lake with her and work on my book while she works her summer job.

On one of her days off we had the most amazing day. It could not have been any more perfect. Other than the little bit of gas we used in the car, some money for a coffee and Gatorade, no elaborate expense was needed.

There were forest fires in the area and the firemen had cookies on their wish list. In the kitchen cupboards we found what we needed to make oatmeal cookies and even a package of muffin mix. The two of us baking together is quite funny. I am not exactly the best cook and my daughter somehow ended up dumping brown sugar into one of the kitchen drawers. We laughed while we baked. With our goodies in hand, we set out on a nice drive around the lake.

We grabbed some bottles of Gatorade for the firefighters and dropped all our stuff at a place called Autumn’s Loft. Autumn’s Loft was full of treasures and we wandered around the store sipping our yummy coffee drinks.

As we drove home my daughter yelled, “Pull Over!” and we waded into the river. When we got to the cabin I got the crazy idea to jump into the lake in my clothes. I ran down the dock fully dressed and when my daughter saw me, she yelled, “You won’t beat me!” Off the dock we went in our clothes. The people in kayaks must have thought we had lost it as we went down the slide in our clothes rather than our swimsuits. Oh how we laughed as we swam around!

Side by side we sat on the porch that afternoon. She painted while I finished writing my book. To hit ‘save’ on Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.59.47 PMmy finished manuscript, with my daughter by my side was priceless. The day seemed to move slowly and we had time for some lawn golf, corn hole, and a walk with the dogs. Through out the day she would hug me and in those moments she was my little girl, not a 20-year-old woman, working a full-time job and leaving at the end of summer to continue her education.

Life moves so fast and we need to remember to slow down and make memories with our children. The bond of a mother and daughter is so important. She is no longer my little girl but she will always be my daughter. Looking back over these 20 years the memories that really stand out to me were the simple things, the ones that don’t cost much if anything at all.

What special memories are you making with your children? Take time to stop and play with your daughter (do this with your sons also). Be silly. Run off the dock in your clothes or have a picnic in your living room. Stop at a fruit stand along the road, grab a treat and sit in the shade while you enjoy it together. Let her choose the music in the car. Take turns reading out loud to one another, play a game or color together.

When I visited my daughter at college we spent a night coloring princess pictures. Hearing her tell me how pretty mine was made me smile. But most importantly talk to your daughter. If you don’t build a strong relationship with her when she is young, it will be harder to get her to talk with you when she is a teenager.

Make memories with her that will last a lifetime.

Thank you Lord for the moms who are reading this. Some of them may be struggling in their relationships with their daughters right now. Lord I pray that you will give every mom who reads this one special moment with her daughter(s) and with any sons she may have. Even in the middle of the struggles that they may be having, bless them. Father our children are the greatest gifts we could ask for and parenting them is one of the hardest responsibilities there is. Lord we look to you for wisdom and strength. Help us Lord to make special memories with our children. Help those who are struggling in their relationships with their children right now. Give them a sweet and special memory to hold onto and in those memories may healing be done.   Amen.

For more stories like posts like this check out the Whatever Girls 

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Never Leave Wiggle Room For Doubt

Originally Posted on Living Better 50

When my daughter was little she had a knack for wiggling herself right in between my husband and I. Whether we were sitting, standing or, laying in bed, she would wiggle herself right in. It became a joke with us. We would sit as close as we could on the couch and in no time she would be on our laps. Than it started, her famous wiggle. It was such a subtle movement that she used and before long she would be sitting between us. Every time she accomplished this she would look up at us with her big brown eyes and a little wry smile as if to say, “look what I just did”.

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 9.06.40 PMWith our daughter we could let our guard down. We could leave her wiggle room. There are some things however that we cannot let our guard down to. Doubt is one of those things. If we give doubt any wiggle room you better believe it will wiggle it’s way in. Trust me, when doubt wiggles in it won’t be looking up at you with big brown eyes like those of my little girl. On the contrary, it will sit there with an “Eddie Haskell” like smile on its face. You know the kind of look that says, “Trust me I would never lead you astray”-wink, wink. The truth is, doubt wants nothing more than to lead you so far off track that you no longer believe what is true to be true.

As I was asked to write for different things, doubt began to creep in. It pulled up a seat next to me with its “Eddie Haskell” smile and tried to take to me off track. Doubt tried to make me believe there was no way I would be able to do the one thing I had prayed God would open the door for me to do. I had prayed about writing for a ministry for mothers and daughters and I prayed about writing for this a magazine. Yet, as God began to open the doors I began to doubt I had the ability to do it. I started to feel God had called the wrong person.

Yep, doubt had snuggled in between God’s promises and myself. I had to get it out of the way so I did the one thing I knew would work. I gave my doubt to God. Raising my shield of faith I prayed:

“God you opened this door so I trust you will give me what I need to write about. Please give me your words, the topics, and take my pride out of the way so that my words are your words. Please God remove the doubt”

I told God that I felt like Moses who did not have the words. I knew God sent Moses’s brother to be his helper and I asked Him to give me a helper too. That night as I slept God sent me a helper. He sent the Holy Spirit to help me. I woke up singing this scripture.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 (KJV).

God showed me that night if I seek Him first and trust Him with my writing, he would give me just what I needed. In that moment doubt was kicked out of the comfortable seat it had made next to me. God had opened this door and I had to trust that He would not open the door and leave me standing there empty with nothing to say.

God has given me what I need to write for both places. My writing began to come easier as I have trusted Him. Still, I was faced with another issue. I am not the best when it comes to spelling and my punctuation is sometimes all wrong. This time however when doubt tried to wiggle back it failed. I was now tightly pressed into God so that doubt could not wiggle back in and I trusted that God would send me another helper. My prayers were that God would help me find a friend who could do some editing. Sure enough He came through with that and I didn’t even have to go looking for her. God would cross my path with godly woman who was an editor and is now someone I can call my friend. Doubt no longer had a strong hold on me.

If you find yourself doubting what God has for you the best thing you can do is to take that doubt right back to Him in prayer and ask Him to show you his truth. You need to believe that God is not going to open a door and than leave you standing there with nothing but doubt in front of you. If God has called you to do something and you feel He as called the wrong person think again. It is most often the person who seems the least qualified that God chooses. Remember, with Him anything is possible.

Our daughter is 19 now and if she ever wants to wiggle in between us you better believe we will give her all the room she needs. As far as doubt goes I learned an important lesson and I am not going to give it any wiggle room.

With the New Year upon us, and the resolutions you have made, it is important to grab a hold of God tightly and never leave wiggle room for doubt in anything.

Happy New Year

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Obedience is a Two-Way Street

Originally Posted on the Whatever Girls

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

My children are now 21 and 23. We don’t have a whole lot of say about what they do but they still 1010340_10201155028385287_490074285_noften come to us for advice. When they were growing up and chose not to obey us, there were consequences for their disobedience. For the most part, they followed what we told them to do. However, there were times when they thought we were so mean because we would not let them do something. My daughter was so mad at me when she was about five years old that she put her hands on her hips and informed me that I could not play with her baby doll. Though the threat she made was scary, I held firm and followed through, not budging on what I had instructed.

My son told me to “shut up” when he was about three years old, and then threw a fit in his room when I moved him there for choosing to disobey me. Again I held firm, and he spent time in his room calming down. When he came out, he put his little arms around my neck and told me he was sorry. I hugged and kissed him and told him I loved him too.

I need to be honest. During this time, my husband and I were not always walking with God. When my son was in kindergarten, I began to feel that I needed God with me if I was going to do a decent job as a parent. After a very hard day with my son, I told him we would not go to the lake for my birthday. I had to follow through no matter how much it hurt me to stay home and not celebrate with my family. As the weekend slipped away and my family had cake without me, my heart felt the nudge of God. I knew I needed to go to church. During the church service the pastor said, “If you need to pray, the altar is open, so come forward and present your prayers to the Lord.” In a moment, I was there on my knees with water works flowing from my eyes.

As I asked God to show me how to be a better parent, I heard the sweet sound of my little boy’s voice. When I opened my eyes, there kneeling next to me was my son. His little hands were folded and he was asking God to show him how to be a better boy to his mom and help him mind. It was one of the most special moments of my life. There we knelt side by side, asking God to help us. I needed my son to mind me and he knew he needed to listen to both his parents. It was God that would help us do that.

Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I would like to believe that all parents expect their children to obey them. I have never heard anyone say, “I am okay with my kids not doing what I tell them to do.” Today I want to step back a little and look at Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents” from the perspective of a child. If we, as parents, expect our children to obey us then what kind of message are we sending them when we choose to obey or not obey the commands of our Heavenly Father?

If it is pleasing to a parent when their child obeys them then how much more pleasing is it to God when we choose to obey Him? God gives us instructions, guidelines, rules, or whatever words you would like to call His commands, because He loves us. God is not a mean and domineering father. Just like we put rules in place to protect our children, God does the same for us. Our children learn by watching us. Are you setting a good example for your child in how you obey your Heavenly Father? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Do you pick and choose the commands you want to follow and ignore the ones you don’t like? “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) As a parent, would you be happy if your children picked only some of what you instructed them to do and then ignored the rest?

If you asked your children, “Do you see me as obedient to my Heavenly Father, God?” Would they answer “Yes” or tell you that you need to go to your room for a time-out and get it straight with Him?

That day when I knelt beside my son I began to see that not only do my children need to obey their father but I, too, need to obey my Heavenly Father. As parents, we need to lead by example.

 

Check out Whatever Girls Live 2015, Mother/Daughter conference 

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They are still my babies

22 and 19 are the ages of my kids. Adults yes but in my heart they are still my babies. Just recently my daughter and I headed to Texas to work a Young Lives camp for teen moms. We were on the childcare crew and assigned to the 6-7 month old babies. Watching my 19-year-old daughter take care of those babies made me so proud and it filled me excitement as I thought of her being a mom herself someday.

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Tornado near Bertram Texas on June 12. Photo by Shane Meister

As the week came to an end a storm rolled in and we found ourselves under a tornado watch that would soon turn into a warning. The camp where we were staying at did not have underground shelter. As the storm grew we were moved to an interior room of the building with the babies that were in our care. Others found themselves in bathrooms of the buildings where they were caring for the babies. One large bathroom held about 20 people.

This Washington state girl is not accustomed to tornadoes and to be honest it is one of my biggest fears. As we I stood in that little room with a sweet baby girl in a front pack I became a mess of emotions. Across the room was my daughter holding a baby in her arms. The “what if’s” were screaming in my head…What if a tornado actually touches down, should I tell her I love her just in case? What if it touches down do I protect the baby in my arms or my baby? She may be an adult but she was still my baby girl.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 5.35.26 AMTears began to well up in my eyes and as I moved across the room to stand by my daughter. I wanted desperately to reach out and hug her tight, to protect her from whatever was going on outside that little room we found ourselves in. She is not one to be afraid of a lot things and she started to tease me for being scared. What she did not understand was I was not scared in the way she thought. I was scared because it hit me that my little girl was an adult and she would lay down her life to protect the baby in her arms if needed. I to would lay down my life to protect the baby in my arms also and it was tearing into my heart that I felt that I had to choose the baby in my arms over my own baby.

I started to feel my legs shake as I held in my tears and the resisted the desire to try to hold her like she was a little girl again. Momma bear was a mess. Fear was winning and I to get a grip. I said out loud, “There is not fear in God”. Than, I simply said, “Jesus” a few times and peace began to come to me. I followed that up with “God I trust you in this”. Fear loosened its grip and peace took over. In a silent prayer I asked God to protect my baby. I told him I trusted him to take care of my baby so that I could be ready to take care of the baby in my arms if needed.

I grabbed my phone to listen to worship music but the room was too loud to hear it so we began to sing worship music ourselves. They say the center of the storm is the calmest place to be. As we waited that storm out I can say without a doubt that when you let God be the center of your storm you to will find yourself in the most peaceful place. We were off-key when we sang but I know that to God we made a beautiful noise as we worshiped him and trusted him. A tornado did touch down about 25 miles from us and a home was ripped off its foundation with the family in it.

I have always been one to pray and trust God but in that moment I saw the importance of it in one of the most concrete ways ever. If you are a parent I cannot stress enough the importance of prayer for you child no matter how old they are. They will always be your babies so never stop praying for them. If you are going through your own storm as a parent trust that God will be the calmness in the storm. Praise him in your storm and trust him with your babies no matter how old they are.

To see the story of the family who gives God the credit for keeping them safe in that real life Wizard of OZ moment so close to where we were the night of June 12, 2014 click here. http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/2014/06/13/tornado-carries-home-with-family-inside/10499773/

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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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