If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

Add My Link to Your Site

Add My Link to Your Site
<a href="http://parentingconfessions.blogspot.com/"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Fvw3azj43OY/Sf0FVoGx5lI/AAAAAAAAACg/ywmB5Y2tfVE/S201/button.png" width="149" height="201" border="0" /></a>

Monday, May 31, 2010

Foul Ball

Grown men acting like little boys.

It’s not a pretty picture, but that’s exactly what happened recently during my son’s tri-county baseball tournament.

The boys look forward to the tournament all season, while the parents wonder, “When is this season ever going to end?” (The effects of sitting on hard, unforgiving bleachers four times a week has no doubt financed my chiropractor’s summer vacation.)

Sheesh. The things we endure for our kids. But I digress…

This tournament is a big deal. It’s the culmination of a long and hard-played season and a chance to show off the skills the players have learned and honed throughout the spring.

It’s usually great fun. But not this year.

Before the tournament, each coach is given a set of tournament rules to follow to ensure fair and uniform play. For whatever reason, this did not happen this year.

As a result, early in the tournament, one of the coaches, facing imminent elimination, decided to impose his own tournament rules (apparently allowed by the game’s umpire), which allowed his team to come back and win the game.

Since my son’s team wasn’t playing, I wasn’t at this game. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I heard it was ugly. Really ugly. The coaches – two police officers, no less – engaged in a heated exchange that overshadowed anything that happened on the field.

And that was only the beginning.

Soon, the “wronged” coach contacted all the other coaches in our city’s league, pressuring them to refuse to play any more games against the other city’s league. Chaos ensued.

And, our league officials decided to simply pull out of the tournament completely, which effectively shut down the whole thing.

I was so angry for so many reasons: The kids were penalized even though they had done nothing wrong. Grown men were putting their own egos before the interests of the kids.

And I was frustrated because I believe significant teaching opportunities were missed.

Perhaps the result of the game in question could not be changed after the fact, but this happens in sports all the time. A bad call or unfair enforcement of a rule allows the other team to win. It won’t be the first or the last time these boys will face this situation if they continue to play sports. They are looking to adults to see how to respond to these kinds of situations.

Further, the league officials could have shown the boys an example in leadership and conflict resolution by addressing the matter head-on and putting measures in place to eliminate confusion and make sure the remainder of the tournament went on without incident.

Unfortunately, the message to the kids was, “If it doesn’t go your way, scream and yell, then pick up your marbles and go home.”

Here’s a few other valuable lessons that could have been communicated instead:

1.) Do YOUR best. You can’t control what others do. The only person’s actions you can control are your own. If we’ve played fairly and to the best of our ability, we can hold our heads up high, even if the outcome doesn’t go our way.
2.) Confront problems and disagreements respectfully. You don’t have to be a doormat, but conflicts should be handled without disrespecting the other person.
3.) Own up to your mistakes. We all make mistakes. Even grownups. (Maybe especially grownups!) Admitting a mistake (not making the rules clear from the beginning) and then correcting the problem, is a skill our kids need to learn and will use throughout their lives.

Thankfully, as parents we have opportunities to communicate these lessons everyday, even when society is not. (Although it’s very helpful when it comes from the outside, too!)

In the busyness of life, it's easy to miss those chances. I've missed more than a few over the years. Now I ask God daily to open my eyes to teachable moments.

Yes, life is “foul” sometimes. But our kids will only thrive if we teach them how to stay in the game.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
Melinda

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Respect-Ability

It’s that time of year.

Sports seasons are ending. Time to celebrate with the team and hand out the awards.

I’ve witnessed this little ritual every season since my oldest child, Molly, played her first soccer game at age four. (Okay, I’ll be honest. She played. I’m not sure that it resembled anything close to soccer.)

It’s the same every year: The kids listen as the coaches praise their effort and dedication and then hand out a trophy to every player on the team as a token reminder of the season.

Now, the first couple of seasons I’ll admit this was cute. When they were little, the kids squealed with delight at getting a “prize.” Mom and Dad beamed with pride. Awwww….

Fast-forward nine years.

Our parental reaction to seasonal trophies now: Yes, we know our child played soccer/baseball this season. We’ve spent half our lives in a car driving him or her to endless practices. We’ve bore holes through the bottoms of our collapsible chairs watching countless ballgames. But in case we somehow forget, we have this beautiful dime store trophy to remind us. Why, thank you.

The sad thing is these trophies mean even less to my children.

Kids are smart. It doesn’t take them long to catch on. Soon, it dawned on them: Every child on the team gets one of these. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s nothing special.

This doesn’t just happen on the sports field. It happens in our schools, too. I watched it in action during my son’s recent school awards assembly, where every child received a certificate.

Somehow, in a quest to boost our children’s self-esteem, we’ve shied away from recognizing ability. We’ve decided as a society, that by lauding true achievement, we will somehow forever crush the fragile spirits of the children who do not receive the same praise.

Based on my own experience as a parent and great advice I’ve read over the years, I respect-fully disagree with this approach for several reasons:

1.) It lowers self-esteem. Kids self-worth isn’t boosted by receiving undeserved praise. It increases by the recognition of their actual and true progress and ability -- especially in areas where they have failed or not performed well in the past.

2.) It breeds mistrust. If we tell them everything they do is wonderful – usually with the best of intentions – we actually often teach them to mistrust all praise. They see through it. Then, even when our praise is real and genuine, they’ve learned to dismiss it.

3.) It kills incentive. Some kids are born internally motivated (lucky parents!). But most kids need external motivation. They need something to work toward. A prize to win. We’re even like that as adults. When everyone gets the “prize,” regardless of effort and achievement, what’s the incentive to excel?

God gave each of our children a very unique combination of talents and abilities. As parents, He’s entrusted us with helping our kids cultivate those gifts.

We can’t control the society we live in, but we can control how we praise our children. I read a great article a while back called, How Not to Talk to Your Kids. It’s a bit lengthy, but definitely worth the read. I dare say it will change your whole view of how you encourage and praise your children.

In short, here's a few basic guidelines the article gives to parents:
1.) Be very specific and genuine in your praise of your child's process and progress.
2.) Recognize hard work and perseverance.
3.) Allow them to fail. We all learn more from our failures than our successes.

Not every child will grow up to be the Babe Ruth of baseball. Or the Mia Hamm of soccer.

But they are far more likely to reach their own personal potential if we respect true ability instead of manufacture hollow accolades.
Melinda

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: TweetMeme

Want others to tweet your posts? Of course, you do! So why not make it easy for them?

That's exactly why I added the TweetMeme widget to my posts. It's that little gray and green box in the right-hand corner of each post.

In order to tweet one of my posts, a reader -- who is blown away by my sparkling wit and wisdom -- simply has to click the little green "retweet" box. The first time you do, it will ask you to register with TweetMeme.

After that, each time you click "retweet" on anyone's blog, it will pop up with a tweet that includes the blog and post name. Plus, it automatically shortens and adds the post URL. No cutting and pasting and visiting http://tinyurl.com/ or http://bit.ly.com/! It does the work for you! You can then edit your tweet to say what you'd like. Push the blue "Tweet" button underneath and Voila! You're done!

Don't you think readers would be more likely to tweet your posts if you made it this easy for them?

I had Berries and Cream Blog Design add mine when they did some other blog maintenance for me recently, but you can do it yourself, even if you're not very "techie."

Here are some links to guide you through it:

For Blogger users: http://bit.ly/dDce7B
For Wordpress users: http://bit.ly/aRX9BP

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday...

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my wonderful co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!





Melinda

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hair-Raising Battles

It’s driving me crazy.

It all started when my 10-year-old son Micah and his father got Mohawks to celebrate their beloved Tampa Bay Rays going to the 2008 World Series. Then, after the Series, they shaved them off and reveled in all their bald-headed glory.

Sigh. Those were the days.

Now my son is treating me to a far worse hair-raising experience. This year, he’s decided to become a modern-day Samson, refusing to let a razor touch a hair of his flaxen locks.

My former baldie actually now looks more like this:


It's so bad, I had to check his baby book the other day just to remember the color of his eyes. Strangers approach me in the grocery store and complement me on my two beautiful daughters. His shampoo budget may force us to take out a second mortgage on the house.

I know what you must be thinking: Don’t you own a pair of scissors, woman?! Find yourself some parental backbone and start snipping!

A few years ago, believe me, the fur would have been flying.

I certainly used to pick every battle with his older sister. That’s what we recovering perfectionists tend to do. A lack of control or deviation from the norm strikes fear into our order-lovin’ hearts.

But now that Molly is a teenager, I realize the damage inflicted by my control-freak tendencies. Choosing to nit-pick and die on every hill crushed her spirit and damaged our communication and relationship.

I’ve learned – the hard way -- that the “haircut battles" aren’t the ones that really matter. And when I insist on waging war on them, I erode my influence when I’m confronted with the battles that do count. Trust me. Once they hit middle school, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for legitimate warfare.

I’ve decided that if it’s a moral or character issue (i.e. inappropriate clothing, language, laziness), it’s worth the fight. But if they’re just expressing their personalities and preferences in ways that I simply would not prefer, then I’m letting it go.

So, yes, the hair is driving me crazy. But this battle goes to Rapunzel.
Melinda

Friday, May 21, 2010

Giving Motherhood the Respect It Deserves


Motherhood doesn't get the respect it deserves. And Michele from The Professional Family Manager is on a mission to inspire and encourage moms to respect themselves and the very valuable work they do by treating motherhood like a profession and their household like a business.

As she says on her blog, this isn't to turn motherhood into a "cold, methodical practice." Instead, "Treating family management as a business is a tool to get things done to allow you to love freely and live without stress. Doesn’t every woman on the planet deserve that?"

That's why she's my Guest Columnist today and Good Clean Fun Blog of the Week!

I don't know how I stumbled across Michele's blog, but I'm so glad I did! Whether you're a SAHM, WAHM or a mom who works outside of the home, you'll be inspired by her and the encouragement and practical advice she gives to mothers.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Professional Family Manager is one of a handful of blogs that was recently chosen by the editors of Nickelodeon's Parent Connect to be a potential nominee for Best Parenting Blog! To nominate/vote for her, click here. It will take only one visit to her blog to know why she was selected!

When I started The Professional Family Manager, I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with it. I had never read any other blogs before and knew nothing about what it meant to be a blogger. I knew nothing about social media, SEO, “following,” or advertising, and, quite frankly, I wasn’t even interested in it. All I knew is I had these thoughts floating around in my head and no one with whom to discuss them.
A friend mentioned that she used a blog to journal and share her thoughts with her family; another friend, with whom I shared one thing I had written, suggested that other people might be interested in what I was thinking. So I started a blog really just to get my thoughts in order, look for themes and patterns, and see if I could make any sense of them.
Things have changed a lot for both me and my blog in the past year.
I am a full-time family and household manager, raising three daughters while renovating and running a 145-year-old hobby farm. I also work part-time as a freelance copywriter and editor after resigning from teaching rhetoric and composition at a small private college. My husband works out-of-state and is home for only some weekends, and I do not have any extended family upon whom to lean when times get tough; as such, I’ve had to learn how to be self-reliant, creative, and efficient taking care of everything that goes on in life.
While I am certainly not perfect, nor have I achieved the elusive (and non-existent) balance and harmony in my life, my family’s life, or my household, I am actually enjoying the process of finding new, effective way to make my life, my family’s life, and my household better.
For years I’ve thought about why being a mother is so looked down-upon in our current society. Why do so many think that being “at home” means a woman is lazy and unintelligent with plenty of time on her hands? Why are the financial and managerial skills mothers employ to manage their lives and the lives of others dismissed as not being “real” skills? And what is the point of “mommy wars,” when, the bottom line is, every mother, regardless of her lifestyle choice, works very, very hard?
We can continue to gripe and complain about not getting the respect which we deserve…but, so far, that approach hasn’t done anything to change the situation. Fair or not, what must happen is we need to change the situation ourselves.
We need to respect ourselves. We need to have the self-respect and self-esteem to know our value, to recognize that which we do as being important and essential, and to treat ourselves well.
If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?
I write The The Professional Family Manager, to encourage all mothers to take control of their own lives, to give yourself the respect you deserve, and to take pride in the professional work that you do. The purpose of the blog is not to focus on household tips or child rearing advice (although I’ve mentioned some of those from time-to-time); there are plenty of other resources for that. Instead, I explore the things women do to sabotage themselves; the ways in which we can promote ourselves as intelligent, professional women; and how we can make our lives better. I try to do so in a positive way, as negativity is not productive and is destructive to our souls. I do not want to dwell on the wrongs done to women, but the incredible, wonderful things which are in our lives and how we can celebrate and promote those things.
I also write about looking at motherhood as being a small business in and of itself, and how, by treating your household as its own business, you can develop your professional skills while improving the efficiency and productivity of the household.
I’ve recently embarked on what I call The Professional Family Manager Project, where I’m employing corporate practices to my household to test how management practices work in a home setting and discover if I can actually earn money just by being a mom alone.
Motherhood is a career. It’s time we treat it like one, and give ourselves the respect we deserve.
Melinda

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Help Wanted

He said it wasn’t in his job description.

And it irked me.

My teenage daughter needed a ride to a friend’s birthday party. On the way, she wanted to stop by the drugstore to buy some makeup remover (a birthday party essential).

I’d had an especially long day and a trip across town with a tumultuous teen was not what the doctor ordered.

Me: Come on, will you take her?

Husband: We haven’t met the mom, so somebody’s going have to go in and talk to her. And makeup remover? Sounds like a “mom job” to me.

If someone issued strict parental job descriptions when we became parents, I must have missed the memo.

I’ve found myself doing a few “dad jobs” over the years, including plunging toilets, laying mulch, supervising contractors and various other “manly” jobs. Had I known, I could have just cruised through the carpool lane of mom life – feather duster in hand – without all those distractions!

I recently asked a friend whose opinion I respect about this “mom” vs. “dad” job issue.

Here was her take on it:

My husband is the same way. But I think it’s all in the way you look at it. I think what they’re really saying -- at least a lot of the time -- is this: “You’re better at this. Or, I’m not comfortable doing this.”

At my house, we don't necessarily always divide household responsibilities -- and certain aspects of parenting -- strictly by “mom” or “dad” jobs, but according to each of our strengths. It also depends sometimes on who's available (physically and/or emotionally) to do a certain task at the time it's needed.

I thought about what she said for a long time. And it made a lot of sense to me.

Certainly, God designed the family unit to work in a certain way and when the roles get too blurred, the family suffers.

But that doesn’t mean that Dad can’t take his daughter to ballet practice or that Mom can’t run a 5K with her son (did it a few summers ago).

I don’t want us to be so rigid that we can’t pitch in as needed outside of our traditional roles, as well as recognize and utilize each other’s strengths -- even if it means our house doesn’t look exactly like June and Ward Cleaver’s.

Sometimes there are aspects of family life that both parents are not strong at, but you just have to do it because it needs to be done. Doing what needs to be done – with God’s help -- to the best of our ability. That’s what parenting is all about.

I discussed my friend’s viewpoint with Mike and I think it helped both of us view the debate in a little different light. I then asked him if I could blog about it.

Yes, he said, as long as you don’t make me sound like a jerk.

So let me be clear. My husband is not a jerk. Far, far from it. And he has gladly performed more than a few “mom jobs” over the years. This is in no way meant to disrespect him. Neither of us are perfect. It's just one of those issues that has continued to crop up from time to time without satisfactory resolution.

But I think we’re getting closer.

Now I’m off to get a load of laundry for Mike to fold. I think he’s better at it.

How about you? Do you and your spouse ever struggle with this issue? I’d love to hear how you work it out in your family!
Melinda

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: Twitter Addiction

It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

So, I’ll be bold and just say it: As much as we all love Twitter, is it possible that maybe we love it a little too much?

I have to say, when I first heard about Twitter, I didn’t get it. Couldn’t understand the fascination. But when I finally plunged into the Twitter Universe a couple of months ago, it sucked me into its vortex and I’ve had trouble finding my way out.

But anything, no matter how good and fun, can be unhealthy when taken to extremes.

So I recently evaluated my purposes for being on Twitter and made a plan to help me set and stick to reasonable limits. Below is what I came up with:

Reasons I Twitter:

1. To connect and interact with blog readers in a more personal and interactive way than is possible via blog comments and email. I had found that Twitter has really helped me to turn “acquaintances” into friends.

2. To find new blogs. Since I follow mostly moms, it’s like having a great list of blogs that are just waiting to be discovered! I’ve found some awesome ones that I probably would never have stumbled on otherwise.

3. To drive traffic to my blog and gain new readers. I’d like to say that this is always my #3 priority, but, honestly, sometimes it’s #1, sometimes #2. I’m trying to keep it at #3 because I truly want my social networking to be mostly about encouraging others. But as a writer trying to build her platform (audience), getting known is important to getting my message out.

Keeping my purposes in mind has helped me to be more deliberate and productive with my time on Twitter.

My Plan for Twitter Sanity:

After getting kids to school and morning devotions: 45 minutes (30 minutes blogging & 15 minutes Twitter time)
Lunchtime: 15 minutes of Twitter
While kids are doing homework (if they don’t need my help): 15 minutes of Twitter
Evening: 30 minutes of Twitter and visiting blogs

I’m even setting a timer. When the buzzer goes off, I’m done. Where I’m at with raising kids, this is about all the time I can spend and still do my freelance writing and all the things I need to do to care for my family.

I’m not saying this is the plan for you, or that you need a plan. You'll have to decide what's right for you. But I’m a structure girl. If I don’t have a plan, I flounder -- and Twitter. Far too much.

Okay, now on to Tweet Me Tuesday (within reasonable limits, of course!)

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post from a couple weeks ago.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!




Melinda

Monday, May 17, 2010

5 Ways My Teen Girl Has Saved Me

Teens – especially girls – can get a bad rap.

The stereotype of difficult, demanding, moody, rebellious divas can be a tough one to shake.

So, I’m here to help repair their reputation – starting with five things my teen girl has saved me from:

1. Ambush by TLC’s What Not to Wear. My outfits are often evaluated for fashion sense and age-appropriateness. She informs me when certain outfits and hairstyles make me look “old” or “uncool.” My personal favorite is when she told me a particular ensemble made me look like “the 80’s threw up on me.” Nope, this mama will never walk out the door looking like a geeky, fashion faux pas. It’s a little like living with Clinton and Stacy except she hasn’t subjected me to the dreaded 360-degree mirror – yet.

2. The love of money. You know how “the love of money is the root of all evil”? When you have a teenage girl, money doesn't stay in your hands long enough for you to become attached to it. The owners of some of her favorite stores, like Hollister and American Eagle, may find plenty of evil lurking at their door, but I'm safe. Whew. What a relief.

3. Too much sleep. Have you found that too much sleep makes you lethargic? Well, you’re a parent. Of course you haven’t. Let’s just say that you’ve probably heard that too much sleep can make you lethargic. Saved again! All that worrying about the present and the future makes that unlikely. And, since she’s 13, I’m just getting started!

4. The need to answer the phone. I used to hear the phone ringing and assume it was for me. No more. My very popular and outgoing daughter has corralled all the social energy in our house. So while that phone is ringing off the hook, I can just kick back in my recliner and relax.

5. A shortage of cosmetic and grooming products. An early morning discovery that I had run out of mousse or hairspray used to send me into a panic. Now a quick trip across the house leads me to a veritable treasure trove of haircare and personal care goodies. As an added bonus, this also contributes to saving me from #2.

See? Teenage girls are performing wonderful acts of charity for their parents all the time.

However, this discussion wouldn’t complete without saying that my teen girl, Molly -- from the moment she was born -- has also challenged and inspired me to be a more giving, less judgmental, more compassionate, less controlling and godlier woman.

From the moment you were born, sweet Molly, God has been using you to save me from myself.

I love you deeply (and yes, I really did mean to say sweet.)

This post is linked up at Unexpected Bliss Monday Motivation. To link up your post, click here.
Melinda

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Social Media Gut Check

I’ve been feeling it in my gut.

And my back – and my behind, come to think of it.

I ignored it at first. De-nial ain’t just a river in Egypt, as Stuart Smalley would say.

But then I finally admitted it to myself: I’ve been spending too much time in cyberspace lately.

As a Christian writer, social networking is part of my ministry. I am downright passionate about connecting with and encouraging other parents, especially moms.

Wait a minute. Come to think of it, it’s all your fault. You guys are just too darn fun, witty and engaging. Stop it, will ya? (After the "denial phase" ends, I transition to shifting blame.)

Not buying it? Yea, me neither. I guess this is now the part where I “come clean”: If I’m not very deliberate, too much Twitter, Facebook and blogging can easily distract me from the other things God has given me to accomplish with my time.

And as I recently watched my little girl become a teenager, I’m reminded of how quickly time flies. Yikes. (On so many levels!)

Regardless of whatever other ministry God entrusts to me, my family has to come first. Should come first. If I’m not being faithful to those people and things inside my home, does it really matter what I accomplish outside of it?

My husband and I put limits on our kids’ computer time. I started realizing that no matter what good things I was giving and receiving online, my lack of limits on my computer time could be modeling some nasty things for my children:

Dependence on External Validation. Am I the only one who gets a little giddy when they see new comments on a blog post or watch your Twitter followers click over to the next hundred? Nothing wrong with that. Until it becomes too important. And we all know when we've crossed that line – if we’re willing to admit it to ourselves.

Lack of Discipline. Cyberspace can suck you in like few other mediums. You go online just to “check your inbox” and you emerge mind-numbingly bleary-eyed four hours later. I’m finding I have to set better limits (a timer may even have to be involved) and stick to them. I find when I do that, I’m more purposeful and productive with the time I do spend on the computer.

Loss of Purpose. We all have specific purposes and tasks that God has for us to accomplish. And I do believe connecting with others online is one way I carry out one of His primary purposes for my life and ministry. But, if I’m not careful, I can easily veer off course into time-wasting territory that is distracting from, instead of enhancing, my goals and purpose.

I continue to blog, Facebook and Twitter. I love it. There's a fabulous community of mom bloggers who encourage and inspire each other. Who encourage and inspire me. That is a very good thing.

But I realize I have to approach social media in a more disciplined, deliberate way in order for it to feel completely healthy to me. In a way that propels my purpose. In a way that helps my kids learn how to use technology wisely.

I may not be popular, but I sense I’m not alone in this struggle. And my gut was telling me something needed to be said. First to myself. And now to you.

After all, our families and our purpose are too important to ignore what our gut is telling us.
Melinda

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday: Finding Your Flock

Birds of a feather flock together. But how do you find your Twitter flock?

I've found a few ways that have helped me to find others in Twitterland who share my interests:

1. Visit the profiles of people you already follow. Chances are they are following people -- and have followers -- you have things in common with also.

2. Just Tweet It! This is a website I just found and it's great! It has categories of interests, like Writers, Comedy/Humor, Family, Financial, etc. Just click on a category and a list of Twitter peeps appear for you to follow. You can also fill out a form and have your Twitter profile added under your chosen categories so others can find and follow you.

3. Look at the lists of those you already follow. (To learn more about lists, read last week's post.) Usually their lists are also full of people who you'd be interested in following.

4. Twubble -- Although I haven't tried this site out yet, it looks interesting. You type in your Twitter username and password and it searches your friend graph and suggests people for you to follow.

5. Follow Friday (#followfriday or #FF) -- If you've been on Twitter very long, you're probably familiar with Follow Friday. Every Friday, Tweeps play a game where they recommend others to follow. Be sure to include one of the above hashtags. Your tweet might look like this: "Some great #FF: @juliealoe @shellthings @UnexpectedBliss @Jeanwise @Family_Manager." (Those really are great Tweeps to follow, by the way!)

Hope that's helpful in finding your Tweeps!

Now on to our Tweet Me Tuesday blog hop!

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post from a couple weeks ago.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!



Melinda

Monday, May 10, 2010

Girl Power: It's Not What They Think It Is

“You are beautiful.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

Every eye was riveted on the 20-something, handsome young man speaking at the podium.

He continued, “Let me say it again, ‘You are beautiful.’ And I want to be clear. If any boy does not respect you and your boundaries, they aren’t good enough for you. Period.”

It sounds like something a mother might say – should say. But coming from this young man, it had an especially entrancing -- and hopefully lasting -- effect on the middle school girls in the audience.

As part of the spring Mother/Daughter Bible Study at our church, I had asked our area’s Young Life Director to come and speak to the girls and moms about modesty.

He was blunt. He was direct. And he was tender. It was a devastating combination. “When you dress a certain way, you’re inviting a boy to see you as an object. He’s not interested in your personality, your character, all the things that make you, you,” he said. “And you are more than a body. You are beautiful – in ways that have nothing to do with how you look.”

Unfortunately, this is not the message our girls are getting today. Everywhere you look, girls and women are “objectifying” themselves. As a mom to a middle school girl, it can be downright depressing. No, maddening. It makes me mad. At the culture. And at my inability to completely protect her from its influence.

But mostly it makes me sad. Sad that so many girls don’t recognize their incredible value as creations of God. Because when we don’t recognize our value, we make foolish choices. We compromise. We settle. We borrow a lot of pain and trouble.

Recently, my daughter asked me what made her special. Specifically, she asked, “God thinks everyone’s special. How does that make me unique?”

What I told her was this: “You’re right. God does love everyone and think each of His creation is special. But there is only one Molly. He has a plan and a purpose for you that is like no one else’s in the world. I don’t want you to miss out on all that He wants to do with your life because you don’t recognize your incredible value.”

That is where true Girl Power comes from – their Creator and the many gifts, plans and unique qualities he entrusted to them alone.

I started this post, thinking that it was going to be about Miley Cyrus and her latest racy music video – a definite turn into “object” territory, which I saw coming for a while.

But rather than focusing on the culture, which we can’t control, I’m encouraging you to focus on what you can control: the messages – and appropriate boundaries – you give to your daughters. Find mentors and experiences that reinforce them. Start early and stand firm. I’m right there with you on the front line. They will fight you. Bet on it.

But true Girl Power is too valuable to waste.
Melinda

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Thought to Comfort You on Mother's Day


This is the front cover of my church's bulletin this morning.
So if you don't think you have enough worries to occupy your motherly mind,
take today to ponder the fear of global calamity.
Happy Mother's Day!

*In all seriousness, our Pastor is doing an awesome series on Fear. ;0)
Melinda

Friday, May 7, 2010

I've Been Tire-d

Who does this happen to?

Please tell me. I really want to know.

Today, I chaperoned my son’s field trip. (If you want to know how I generally feel about field trips, read here. We have a love-hate relationship.)


We survived the day. Everyone was in the van. I thought we were home free.

Wrong.

My field trip fiasco began with a wrong turn to get back to the interstate, which landed me smack in the middle of downtown and a maze of one-way streets.

Eventually, I figured out where I’d gone wrong (I am sadly beyond the help of GPS, people) and spotted a right-turn sign for the interstate. Woo Hoo!

When I turned, I – and my band of merry fourth graders – heard a horrible sound. I couldn’t imagine what kind of car malfunction could produce the vile sounds coming out of my van.

I made the next turn into a bank. Lots of mechanics are usually hanging out there, ya know.

But I really didn’t have a choice. I thought I’d blown a tire.

After further examination, it was more like I'd “been tire-d.” I can’t figure out exactly what happened, but I think that either my spare tire (which is housed underneath) came loose or I ran over a tire in the road.

(If you’re wondering how I could have possibly missed a tire in the road, please refer back to “merry band of fourth graders” in above paragraph.)

Okay, whatever the reason, the result was that I had a tire wedged between the undercarriage of my van and the road.

I’d heard about those moms getting a burst of adrenaline and being able to perform superhuman tasks to save their younguns.

I waited for the surge. It never came.

So, I left merry band in the van with doors locked and ran into the bank to plead for the mercy of strangers.

It worked.

A bank executive came out, threw back his tie, jacked up my car and removed the offending tire. A sweet teller helped keep the kids in line while he worked.

My heroes.

The whole way home I was thinking about this. Processing. Trying to regain my composure. Thinking about what a great blog post this was going to be.

And realized how it related to my life right now. I gotta be honest, folks. I’m struggling. I feel like my parenting life – and life in general – has “been tire-d” over the past year or so.

Somewhere along the line, I took a wrong turn or two. Not turns that make me a bad parent. Just turns that make me human. Add to that some other factors that are completely out of my control -- and then one day – Bam! – I felt like I’d “been tire-d.”

Right now, I am in the “tire removal” process. It isn’t easy. It’s stressful. It’s downright painful at times. But as I’m allowing God to remove obstacles – some of my own making, some not -- and heal old wounds, I’m appreciating Him more as my Hero.

I can’t do the hard work of parenting – and living – alone. But one day, the hard work will pay off.

And I’ll be cruising full-speed ahead again.

I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit crushed, And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up on their feet again. Isaiah 57:14-15
Melinda

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blockbuster Moments

Blockbuster loves me.

Why wouldn’t they?

In all the crazy ups and downs of Wall Street, I believe my late fees alone have singlehandedly kept their stocks soaring.

I try to be on time. Really. I do. I’m great at the big things. They get done well and on time. It’s the “little” things that sometimes fall through the cracks.

But last week, I was so proud of myself.

The movies weren’t due until Sunday, but I actually put them in my van on Friday. That would give me two whole days to drop them off when I was out running errands.

I swung by on Sunday – all smug and self-satisfied that this media giant wouldn’t get any more of my hard-earned cash.

Unfortunately, Blockbuster expects the movie to be returned and not just the case.

Hard-nosed capitalists.

Who wouldn’t be anxious to get Jaws 3 back, after all? (My teenage daughter is on a shark kick.) You’d think they’d see the favor I was doing the collective IQ of mankind by keeping that one off the shelf. Three dollars and ninety-five cents tells me the Blockbuster honchos did not share my viewpoint.

A price is paid for overlooking the “little” things in parenting, too. Small things that you can’t plan. Not the trips to the park or Disney World, although those are great. But like the times when you drop off your son’s forgotten lunch and he wants you to stay and eat with him and his buddies.

Or when your teenager daughter is gushing about something while you’re trying to complete a task. And, instead, of just nodding and saying “Uh-huh,” you stop what you’re doing and really give her your full attention.

Saying a prayer for them out loud on the way to school.

Looking beyond their sometimes harsh words to see their heart.

Those seemingly small things that can easily fall through the cracks are often “Blockbuster moments” to our kids. Those are things they’ll remember. And if we're not careful, we -- and they -- can lose something very valuable.

An added bonus? They don't cost a dime.
Melinda

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tweet Me Tuesday! Twitter Lists

Have you ever been on someone's "list"?

You know, like when you've offended someone somehow.

Or, remember when you tried out for a school play or sports team and waited anxiously to find out if your name made "the list"?

Making "the list" can be a good thing or a bad thing.

In Twitter, being on a list and putting others on your list is, as Martha Stewart would say, "a good thing."

Twitter Lists allow you to group or organize users you follow together into lists that have some kind of common interest or association. When you view that list, you quickly and easily get a "snapshot" of what those users are saying. You can also include people on the list that you are not following and their tweets will not appear in your main stream.

You can create public lists, that others can view and follow, as well as your own private lists. Others can follow public lists, without actually following each individual member on the list. For example, one of the lists I follow is @Thetamom/tmcmembers. I am a member of the ThetaMom Community of bloggers. I don't follow each member individually, but by following their list I can "check in" with these other mom bloggers and interact.

How to create a list:
1. Click "New List" on the Twitter sidebar. (Under the "Lists" heading).
2. Type in the name of your List. You can choose whether to make it public or private.
3. You can then add users in on your Profile page, users you locate using "Find People," as well as users from your other lists or the lists of other Twitter users.

How to follow a list:
If you want to follow someone's list, simply click on the list (located on their Twitter sidebar) and then click "Follow" as you would for any individual user. That list will then appear in your Twitter sidebar and you can click on it anytime you want to "check in" with that group of users.

That's certainly not everything to be known about lists, but hopefully it gives you an overview. As a fairly new Twitter user, I find information like this to be very helpful!

Before we Tweet, just wanted to invite you to enter my giveaway for a Philosophy "Going Coconuts" Shower & Bath set! Giveaway ends May 10th.

Now on to our Tweet Me Tuesday blog hop!

Tweet this post! Then visit Kristen at Hands, House, Heart Full. She is my co-host in this Blog Hop!

Link up a post you’d like Tweeted using Linky Tools below. It can either be your most recent post or an older, favorite post you'd like to share with a new audience.

Follow me and Kristen on Twitter! (if you’re not already)

Visit the links below and Tweet as many posts as you'd like (linked below).

Follow as many of these bloggers as you’d like on Twitter. (You can follow their blogs, too.)

• When you Tweet a blogger’s post, leave a comment telling them you tweeted it as part of Tweet Me Tuesday.

If you tweet at us/about us/for Tweet Me Tuesday please use the hashtag #TMT.
It makes it easier for us to find your tweets! Not sure about hashtags? See Kristen's post from a couple weeks ago.

Finally, please remember that Tweet Me Tuesday is about Linky Love! Please don't just leave you link and fly off! Visit as many of the others listed as you can. The more you interact with others, the more benefit to everyone.







Alright -- get to tweeting!



Melinda

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coming Clean Celebration Giveaway!

It's a momentous occasion.

I'm sure you've had it marked on your calendars for weeks.

That's right. Today marks one year that you've been the unbelievably fortunate recipients of my incredible wit and wisdom.

I imagine you must be asking yourselves, "How did we ever parent before Coming Clean?"

Surely, only by God's grace. Wait a second, that's how I parent.

Yep, the truth is we're in this parenting thing together. And God knows we need His help! I'm so thankful to all of you that have visited and encouraged me over the past year. Having your support in the journey has meant more than I can tell you.

God designed us to need each other. It's okay. It doesn't make us weak or inadequate. It just makes us human.

And parents are nothing if not human!

I've had a lot of fun sharing with you my parenting struggles and mishaps and what God has taught me along the way. Weird how sharing our mistakes can actually be enjoyable when we're able to learn from them and use them to perhaps help someone else. It's definitely made me feel not alone. Hopefully, it's done the same for you.

Well, in case you missed some of my invaluable inspiration the first time around, here are a few past gems:

Love Is A Battlefield

Can You Spell V-A-I-N?

Mom Detective: Fighting Time

A Humbling Experience

Swimming With The Sharks

Mom: The Un-Friend

My Idol? Performance

Finding Community at Kmart

Okay, now that the birthday girl has made her speech, what would a party be without presents? This present is for one of you, however!

Seems only fitting that Coming Clean should celebrate with some sudsy bath products. So I'm giving away this great Philosophy Shower Gel Combo Set to one lucky winner (Retail Value: $30) And just in time for summer!




This set includes lime coconut, pineapple coconut and orange coconut shampoo, shower gel and bubble baths. They cleanse and moisturize and smell delicious!

Here's how to enter the giveaway!


1. Follow me publicly and leave me a comment telling me so. (1 entry)

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave me a comment. (1 entry)

3. Follow me on Facebook and leave me a comment. (1 entry)

4. Subscribe via email or RSS feed and leave me a comment. (1 entry)

5. If you are already following me on any of these, leave me a comment for each one in order to receive one entry for each.

6. Tweet this giveaway and tell me you did. I'll make it easy for ya: Enter Coming Clean's Philopsophy Going Coconuts Shower Gel Set giveaway @MelindaMeans http://bit.ly/ddbp6R (1 entry)

Please leave a separate comment for each entry in order for all of your entries to count. Giveaway ends Monday, May 10th.

Thanks again for making my first year of blogging so fun and special. You make it easy, safe -- and yes, even fun -- to be real and transparent.

Now "Go Coconuts" and start leaving me some comments!

*Philosophy did not donate this product. This is my own personal giveaway.
Melinda
Blog Widget by LinkWithin