I recently had the opportunity to have some solitude, a time completely alone, aside from our two dogs, Gracie and Mocha. This doesn’t happen that often, so I wanted to share a few things with you about my adventure with solitude. While Donny was away for a few nights on a scuba diving trip, I seized the moments and took an intentional time-out for me. I had been storing up files, clippings, quotes, thoughts from my siblings, all about my Mama—and I had been pondering a book project, entitled “12 Lessons My Mama Taught Me.”
Now, before you say “There’s no way I have time for that!” and just stop reading at this point, I do realize that it is rare for a person to have the luxury to unplug from it all for this long.
Solitude is definitely a gift that few people take full advantage of and I would like to offer some thoughts on how you and I can seize the moments for being alone, if only for a few minutes in a day, week, or month.
spend time in nature, alone, enjoying the pleasure of your own company
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) lived alone in the woods for two years and two months in a small structure built with his own hands, for just under $29.00.
An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau
While I have not been able to get through his book, Walden, cover-to-cover, I have read enough bits and pieces to confirm the benefits of solitude, both long like Thoreau, or short-term like the seven suggestions above.
How will you and I find ways to carve solitude
into our lives in the days ahead?
On my way home from my time of solitude, the song, The Prayer came on over my Sirius radio.
I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go, And help us to be wise, in times when we don’t know Let this be our prayer, as we go our way Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace To a place where we’ll be safe…lyrics from The Prayer
As I listened to the lyrics, I thought about how much better our world would be if we could just take a few minutes out and utter the lyrics of this song…The Prayer, with Sandi Patty, and Don Pelsis.
I'm raising a teenager. What's your super power?
Anonymous, but familiar to all parents of teens!
This is the season, many Moms have declared, “This month is busier than December!” Preparations for graduations, class parties, final exams, field days, sports, the list goes on and on. Our two are grown and married, but still, especially as a former teacher, I remember those days!
Even if yours are babies, toddlers, or “just a thought,” if you have dreams of being a parent, it is not too early to be thinking about these things. Children are wet cement, little sponges, and we only get one chance to make the right impression on their unique and beautiful lives. Let’s do this well!
Back in 2002, when ours were just 14 (daughter, Leah) and 11 (son, Walker) I taped the following on a mirror where I get ready for my days.
Walk by faith, even when you cannot see.
2 Corinthians 5:7
I read this list often and I believe it helped me in our raising of two kids. While we always wanted to expect respect from our two, this list served as a good reminder that teens need to know they are respected, as well.
Ten Ways To Value A Teen:
Frequently applaud and praise your teen
Encourage decision making
Support your teen’s good decisions
Compliment your teen’s appearance
Look for positive gifts and point them out
Admire your teen’s gifts
State your appreciation of your teen
Ask for your teen’s help and advice
Express gratitude for your teen often
List positive qualities of your teen and read them aloud to yourself when times are tough
I hope this list is as helpful to you as it was to me for more than a decade taped to my mirror. We definitely had conflicts, and some of them were really big. That is a normal part of parenting and children who are growing into themselves.
Even amidst the friction, we tried to always love them without condition and affirm them as unique individuals. Whether a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend of the family, your loving presence is the greatest gift you can give a growing child or teen.
The date was August 21, 1998. While Walker would be homeschooled for first grade (a big change as I had NEVER been a home school teacher), his big sis, Leah would begin 4th grade at a new school. We were so thankful that our friend, Martha, who had a 4th grader at the same school had the foresight to plan a pool party for a bunch of Leah’s future classmates. But, still, a new school awaited her. Leah was so nervous. Add to that, the day before, sadly, our 14-year-old golden retriever had a stroke.
After delivering Leah for her first day, Walker and I would be taking him to the vet, probably for an euthanasia. Leah, age 9 understood what that would entail…her coming home and her beloved Riley not being there to greet her with a wagging tail. Yes, Change is Life and Life is Change.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
Paired with our mourning the death of our long-time pet, Leah’s apprehension and tears caused me to somewhat question our decision to change schools. I prayed a lot for guidance in those days when my kids were small, and I still do today. As we pray, I think it is important to trust our God-given parental instinct in which He equips each one of us with. As parents and grandparents, many of us can tell stories and give examples about times we were guided and directed by His unseen hand. As a Mom who has two grown and married children, I advise you, especially if you are in the years of parenting young people, to (1) Pray A lot and (2) Trust your gut, your instinct, when making important decisions for your precious children.
Yes, it is a new school year and I betcha this means a lot of big changes for you, your children, your grandchildren…A LOT of changes! “Meet and Greets” will be happening all over our country soon. Is your baby or grandchild beginning a milestone school year? For some, it means spending hours at Bed, Bath, and Beyond picking out all the things on the list for a dorm room. For others, it involves shopping for new shoes, checking off items on a school supply list or being a brand new teacher, like my friend, and neighbor Sarah Frances who is setting up a classroom for the very first time. It may even mean you’re attending the college graduation of your last child, like my dear friend, Cindy will be doing this Saturday, August first, on the campus of Auburn University. Or your days may not surround school at all for the moment, and you may be celebrating the birth of a new grandchild, like our friends, Dave and Judy.
Whatever your life circumstances these days, I bet there are some changes for you with a new school year around the corner , and I’m quite sure that with those yellow school buses rolling again, you are having that feeling of CHANGE, too!
Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
As a teacher at DeKalb County’s Avondale Elementary for many years before Leah’s birth, my mind is also on the teachers who will be greeting their new students in just a few days. Teachers are an invaluable gift. I encourage you to pray for these who will be with your children throughout the school days.
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
Children are a gift, too! In their loudness, their messiness, their goofiness, their immaturity and lack of good choices, they are still a precious gift. While they will NEVER admit this to you, children WANT boundaries! Give them these boundaries they need to be successful in their growing up years. Give them a safe place to fall. Pray for them and with them as they find their way in school from making friends to achieving in their school work.
And we Parents and Grandparents are gifts. I once read a book entitled Children are Wet Cement: Make the Right Impression in Their Lives. I don’t remember much about the book, but I have never forgotten the title. We as adults have an amazing privilege and a keen responsibility to make the right impression in the lives of those young ones who are in our sphere of influence. Let’s read with them, laugh with them, play with them, pray with them, eat dinner with them. For they truly are like wet cement, so during this start of a new school year, this time of so much change, let’s make the right impression in their lives.Time goes by no matter what.
What can you and I do to make lasting
memories for the ones we love the very most?
HERE is a picture taken in 1995 of Leah and Walker playing in the snow with Riley. Today, Walker is 23 and Leah is 27. Where does the time go?… we ask…While we did not manage to eat together every single night, we did very often and one of the ways we struck up good discussions is by going around the table and asking this question: “What was a ‘high’ and a ‘low’ from your day?”
TODAY TRULY IS A GIFT, AND THAT IS WHY WE CALL IT “THE PRESENT”!