Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Best Lesson We Can Teach Our Kids At The End Of The School Year

The time from Easter to the end of the school year is always a struggle for me. After Easter, I’m ready for school to be over and for summer to start. And with Easter coming so late this year, I think it’s marked a new all-time low.

I’m tired.

Are you?

Getting out of bed each morning is getting harder for our family. Keeping up with all the correspondence, homework, and projects from school is overwhelming. And managing all their schedules?

It feels impossible.

On top of the daily grind, three weeks ago, our family lost a dear friend. The transmission blew up in one of our cars. And I changed careers.

It’s been a lot. A mixture of good and hard, enough to spin our lives a bit out of orbit. 

I know you’ve been there.

The other day, we were driving from one activity to another, discussing makeup work the kids needed to complete. Tensions were high and voices were higher, and before I knew it, two out of our three kids were crying.

It occurred to me…

The end of the school year is always hard for me, even with over 42 years of life experience to help me manage it. How much harder might it be for kids at the ripe old ages of 6, 9, and 12?

For families with kids in school, opportunities for extending mercy and compassion to one another abound this time of year, that’s for sure!  

On the one hand, the thought of how tired they must be made me want to scoop them into my arms, tell them to forget the makeup work, crawl into our king-sized bed, and pull the covers over our eyes.

But on the other hand, I realized every year this season presents a huge opportunity for learning:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"  Hebrews 12:1.
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

God desires for us to finish well.  

And God has this desire because He knows that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Romans 5:3-5.

God will use the end of the race to refine whatever it is within our spirits that makes finishing well a challenge. For me, it’s my lack of patience and discipline when I’m tired, my fear of failure, and my all or nothing perfectionist tendencies. For my kids, it’s altogether different things.

But for each of us, the end of the race is an opportunity for refinement and growth.

Yes, the end of the school year will present countless opportunities for us to extend mercy and compassion to our children. And we should be about that business. But we should also use the end of the school year to teach our children how to finish well, even when we don’t feel like it.

So with 31 days of school left (not that I’m counting), we have a choice:

We can throw in the towel.

Or we can rally the troops.

Throwing in the towel will be easier in the short-term, but a rally will teach a host of lasting lessons to our kids.

As I’ve considered what this looks like for our family in the coming days, I’ve decided it’s time to get back to some basics we’ve let slide over the last few months: getting up and going to bed a few minutes earlier, packing lunches and backpacks the night before, daily sitting down to discuss homework and other responsibilities, and keeping the calendar clear of unnecessary commitments.

It’s also critical that we maintain our good routine of family devotionals and prayer first thing in the morning. Because starting well helps us finish well, right?

What about you? Do you feel like giving up but know you’ll be missing a valuable opportunity to teach your kids if you do? If so, what will your strategy be in the coming weeks to help your family finish this school year well? 

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Feeling Inadequate? You're Not Alone.

It was one of those Saturdays. You know the kind where you try to fit 36 hours of activities into a 24-hour window? That’s the kind.

Two boys had baseball games on different sides of town, with barely a breath between them. Our daughter had back-to-back musical theater performances. And my husband was buried at the library trying to finish his spring doctoral assignments.

At home, dirty dishes filled the sink, clean laundry covered the floor, and the refrigerator was empty. Beds were unmade, personal belongings were strewn everywhere, and stacks of paperwork were begging for attention on the counter.

We were the exact opposite of the front cover of The Pottery Barn catalogue.

Our kids always need to be in three different places at the exact same time. So we’re in the dividing and conquering season of parenting, as much as I said “I’d never.” This means that I hadn’t yet been to the ballpark where our oldest son is playing baseball this season, and I didn’t know the ins and outs of finding his field.

The journey began smoothly. We piled into the car, had everything we would need to survive the next 8 hours, and headed off.

We got stuck in traffic, which made us late. Thankfully though, he had to be there thirty minutes early to warm up, so he wouldn’t miss the game. When we finally arrived, I saw the sign as we pulled into the parking lot and my heart sank.

We were at the wrong baseball complex. 

By the time we arrived at the right complex, my “can-do” attitude had changed to “I cannot do this for another minute”. It’s mind-blowing how quickly this can happen to me.

Anyone else?

I pulled into the parking lot, opened the van door, and began shouting for my son to “run, run, run” to his field. Off he went. But little did I know, there wasn’t just one baseball park in this complex. There were two. And I’d sent him to the wrong one.

Ten minutes later, we were running from one side of the complex to another, hoping to find Field 6 somewhere along the way. We ended up out of breath, in another parking lot, with soccer fields everywhere, but not a baseball field in sight.

I stopped in the middle of the parking lot. Called my husband. And burst into tears.

“I’m a terrible mother.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

“How could God be leading me to minister to moms when I can’t keep it together in my own home?”

My husband patiently listened on the other end. When I finally took a breath, he said all the right things and calmly helped me figure out where we needed to go.

It was a trek.

So I breathed deeply. Wiped my tears. And hollered to the troops, “Follow me!” Off we ran to find Field 6.

As we approached the park, I could see the other players’ moms sitting in the stands. One of them caught my eye and shouted, “Hey! You’re just in time, but you look flustered!”


As I settled in to watch the game, I shared the details of our adventure. Even the part about crying in the parking lot. And one of the moms said, “Wow. I thought I was the only one.”

Then it hit me.

Motherhood isn’t something we master, is it? It’s something we wade through. And all too often, we swim in the seas of inadequacy and isolation.

“I’m not enough, and everyone else is,” we tell ourselves.

But the truth is all moms feel this way, I think. The problem is that we keep it to ourselves, and that makes us feel less than and lonely.

God hasn’t led me to minister to moms because I have it all figured out. God has led me to minister to moms because I am a mom. I understand the mother’s heart. And I’ve discovered that vulnerable and authentic living is a gift I can give to other moms in the trenches with me.

So here in this space, we hope to give that gift to you through vulnerable and honest conversation.
We hope to share stories that might begin to dismantle the feelings of inadequacy and isolation that plague so many of us.

And we hope to inspire and encourage you to see more clearly that by God’s grace, you are enough, and that God is doing a mighty work in your family day by day.

Will you join us for the journey?     

Monday, April 3, 2017

Introducing Jennifer Knott -- Sky Mom's Ministry Director

Hi there!

My name is Jennifer, and I'm excited to announce that I’m the new Sky Mom's Ministry Director. The journey to this role has been a long one -- a lifetime in the making, I think. And I’m confident this is the next right thing God has planned for me in ministry. I look forward to sharing more about the ways in which God has used my story to bring me to this new place very soon.

I’m a pastor's wife and a mom to three kids.

I've been married to my best friend, Kory, for almost 18 years. We serve in one of the local churches in Plano, Texas. We were born in the same hospital, grew up on the same street, had the same third grade teacher, and his aunt babysat me, but we didn’t meet until my cousin set us up on a blind date in 1994! Kory is a gifted preacher and pastor, my biggest supporter, an amazing dad, and a lot of fun. When we aren't serving in ministry, we enjoy date night, camping with the family, cooking, traveling, and entertaining in our home.

Taylor, our oldest, is in sixth grade. She’s a free spirit, an old soul, and never meets a stranger! Taylor is in the youth group at church, where she is involved in a community group and youth choir. Outside of church, she participates in our local children's theater, plays the flute in the school band, and takes piano and voice lessons. She’s also a competitive swimmer.

Zachary, our oldest son, is in third grade. It's a toss-up as to where he gets his red hair because we have it on both sides of the family! Zachary is an extremely compassionate and affectionate child, and I’m smitten that he tells me I’m beautiful daily. He enjoys school, plays the piano, sings in children's choir at church, is gifted in art, and is currently playing baseball. This summer, he wants take a swing at golf.

Reed, our youngest -- the one I often refer to as "Little Bit" -- is in Kindergarten. His debut into full-time school sent this mama into a tail spin for a little while last fall! Reed has a witty sense of humor, a loving heart, and is always ready to wrestle with his dad. Though I miss him at home, he has enjoyed being at school with his siblings. He sings in children's choir at church, played soccer in the fall, and is currently playing baseball.

I’m an attorney and a certified mediator. For the past ten years, I’ve had the privilege of working a flexible schedule as a business litigator so that I could effectively balance the commitments of family, ministry, and my work. This has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me in my adult life.

As a partner in ministry with Kory, I’ve served in countless roles within the local church. Most recently, I served on the women’s ministry leadership team as we launched a new ministry in 2015. I’m currently serving on the church building committee while it oversees a building renovation, and I sing on one of our praise teams.

Outside of family and ministry, I enjoy connecting with women whenever I can, writing my personal blog, reading, practicing yoga, trying new recipes (which requires more yoga!), and traveling.

I love families. I can’t even tell you how much. I believe that healthy families are one of God’s greatest gifts to the world because they are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the communities where they live. One of my heart’s greatest passions is to facilitate small groups on the topics of marriage and family. To encourage moms and dads as they strive to build healthy, strong relationships with Christ, each other, and their kids. And to inspire them to see their families as opportunities to bring the Gospel to the world.

I also love Sky Ranch. In fact, our family is immersed in the ministries of this camp. It began with renting facilities in Van for youth weekends back in the 90s and has culminated with participation in Launch Camp, Family and Overnight Camp, Parent/Child Weekends, and even the outdoor educational experiences created in partnership with the schools. For our family, being on camp is one of the most life-giving experiences we enjoy all year, and we’re always counting the days until we get to come back.

It is my privilege and honor to partner with an amazing team of men and women to bring the gift of Sky Ranch to other families and to minister specifically to moms -- the hearts of the homes we serve. If I can do anything to serve your family in a specific way, please let me know.

I covet your prayers as we begin this journey together!
Jennifer Knott