Sunday, June 8, 2014

Family project: day three - Honduras

If you were hoping that I'd write everyday, please know that was never my intention. As much as I'd love to remember every moment by documenting, I want to actually be in each moment, so last night? A dance party and Disney movie in Spanish happened instead of my post. ;) 

After another amazingly fun day at VBS yesterday, today was exciting because we were switching it up. We headed up into the mountains to a special little church retreat area. It had two pools, two soccer fields, covered cooking areas, and tons of lush tropical vegetation to relax under. 

We went with the intentions of baptizing people from the local Every Nation church.

And Hannah. 

Last March, Michael was baptized and just before that, Hannah had asked if she could be baptized as well. Both Mike and I talked with her at different times about how that was our heart, but there was steps she needed to take. We began to explain salvation through Jesus to her and she stop us. 

"Mom. I've already prayed and asked for forgiveness. I asked Jesus to be in charge of my life a long time ago." 

Hannah has a very vivid recollection of sitting in a chapel service at the Christian school she had been attending. She remembered how the speaker talked about giving all of your heart to Jesus was the best decision and she said that she knew that she wanted to give all to Jesus too. There was a Friday, sometime in third grade, that my little girl made that decision and I couldn't be happier. After talking with her for a short amount of time, both Mike and I knew that she was ready for baptism. 

Last week, when we were going through our schedule for Honduras, Hannah saw that there was a special time for baptisms. She came to me and asked if she would be allowed to be baptized in Honduras. Neither Mike or I knew for sure, but I promised we would ask. 

Today, my daughter and second-born child was baptized on the side of a mountain in Honduras. God has something very special planned for this girl. She has a heart of compassion and understanding. She never sees things only at the surface, she looks beyond that and looks straight into the heart. She will make friends anywhere, never letting language, race, or social standing become a wall. I truly believe that she will touch many people in her life and will see the world as she shares where her source of love comes from.

Missions work isn't just for the nationals that you are going to minister to. Missions work takes you out of your routine and places you in moments when it is just you and God. Nothing else matters and there is no one else you can depend on. When you come and you experience that, you will walk closer to God. You will be changed. You will decide to baptized miles and miles from home in a country that you have never been too, all because you want God more than anything. 

Today lesson: the most beautiful things happen on the side of a mountain.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Family project: day one - Honduras

You can almost divide missions trips into three stages: 1. Preparation, 2. Trip, 3. Impression. I think that any missionary, short or long-term, can testify to the struggles, challenges, and adventures that you can find in each of these stages. 

Our first stage of this, preparation, is a blog post that is stirring in my heart. So much so, that I am still wordless on it and until I can wrap my brain around it to convey it, I'll wait. 

But for today, let me share about our first full ministry day in the trip stage. 

Our Ten Days team consists of 33 people from all over the US. We brought nine people from our home area and seven from our church. We are the only group to have brought kids. Our team's ministry areas have fallen into three categories. First, there is the campus ministry. La universidad nacional autónoma de Honduras has approximately 85,000 students, making it larger than any university in the United States. Evangelism on that campus and the development and discipleship of student leaders is a huge goal. Second, Pastor Rigo Hernandez, the pastor of the Honduran City Life Church, has a special relationship with key members of the police force here in Tegucigalpa. This has led to the opportunity to disciple a group of people who are seen to hold power, but are also seen as people who abuse it. We want to encourage and guide them to Jesus, all while being given the opportunity to serve them through some projects, like painting, that need to be done. Then lastly, we are showing tangible love to children through VBS. This was a ministry that was added just a week ago, but was presented as a ministry project with our team's kids in mind. We will be doing two three-day VBS'. We want to build relationships with kids that will open the door to minister to their whole families.

VBS began today.

We woke up to a beautiful sun and excited atmosphere. Hannah and Jae were so blown away that they had just woken up in a different country. After a great hotel breakfast and my favorite Honduran coffee, we met for some VBS prep. We sorted through the hundreds of toys, crafts, and candy that was brought and prepared for a "normal" VBS at the church location for about 75 kids that we were leaving for at 9:00a. 

Actually, we left for our VBS at 11:00a and it was in a dirt-filled soccer field in the middle of a neighborhood of aluminum, concrete, and plywood houses with about 300 children. 

Day one lesson: Use pencils, not pens.

Yeah, we were a little overwhelmed. Yes, we might have been slightly under prepared. Yep, we made lots of mistakes. But God showed up. 

Michael fit right in with boys his age and began communicating in the universal language of fútbol (soccer) and actually impressed me with how well he kept up with these boys. After their game, I wasn't surprised to see him surrounded and an immediate leader with them. He was actually so involved in trying to communicate something to a boy named David, that he missed the three foot drainage hole. He sliced open his knee pretty rough, but I told him it'll make a great 'missions war injury' one day. The only thing that bummed him out is that his soccer days are limited now. 

Hannah helped me with teaching about Elijah and the widow of Zarephath and Jae helped in crafts. Hannah's heart broke for the living conditions and for the families. She told me tonight that she is pretty sure a little girl told her that she didn't have a dad because he just left, a familiar story here.

I am so happy to be back in Central America, this is a place that is so dear to me and I'm so blessed to finally be sharing that with the kids. But it never fails... No matter how often I am here, my heart breaks every time. 

A man once asked Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the late 1800s, "why didn't you come sooner?" and that question stirs in me. If I had come sooner, could I have shared Christ's love and saved a women from looking for love in all the wrong places? If I had come sooner, could I have shared God's restoration power and seen a family restored before it was too late? If I had come sooner, would a man who died yesterday be made whole in Heaven today? 

I might not have been here sooner. 

But I am here today. 

Use me, Lord. Show me, Lord. Mold me, Lord.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Family project: We are in a little jam....

When we first told the kids that, this summer, we would be going on a missions trip to Honduras, their first concerns were about money. It amazes me how kids can take on the worries of the world at a such a young age. Last summer, I decided to homeschool. We were going to become a one income family for the first time since I had had a newborn. They have watched us trim our expenses here or there and I'm sure they've heard Mike and I talk about budgets and inflow vs. outflow, but never thought they would take on that burden in any capacity.

However, when their first worry was money, I was actually excited. That's the same worry I had when I went on my first trip and through it, I was able to watch God work on and stretch my faith as I had to rely on him fully for finances. I want that for my kids!! If anything through our new life in the last year, I want them to understand that money just doesn't appear and that it's not unlimited. But even more... I want them to grasp that everything we have has been given to us by a God who loves us and wants the best for us.

We were able to talk about ways that God will supply all our needs and how we can't do this trip alone. We need friends and family to help us and partner with us. As Michael and I sat to write partnership request letters, we talked about how we might physically be going to Honduras, but so many people will be coming with us in spirit.

Have I mentioned how excited I am about all that God is teaching us through this trip??

Well... after some simple brainstorming, the girls suggested that we make something. I suggested that in order to raise money for our trip to Honduras, we could make jam.

I have never made jam before.

Now, we happen to live very close to Plant City, Florida, which happens to be home to the Florida Strawberry Festival. Since most people online said that strawberry jam is a good beginning place for canning, we decided that would be our jam. (pun intended)

We were joined by my cousins and their boys out at Favorite Farms and in just about an hours time had picked about 30 quarts of strawberries. I highly recommend Favorite Farms. The berries were great, the location was awesome and at $1.00 for 2 quarts, the price was amazing.

We brought our treasure home and decided very quickly that rinsing and washing these berries in the sink was just not going to happen easily and that's when I remembered when my mom used our bathtub to rinse strawberries, probably from the same farm, when I was my kids age.

Our tub of berries was pretty amazing and after the girls dreamed of jumping in with the berries, it was on to the next step. I promise. It was only dreaming. There was no floating on a sea of fruit happening. ;)

We hulled and mashed our five cups of strawberry yumminess. We measured out the cups and cups of sugar. We squeezed ever last drop of lemon juice from the lemons.

Then we had a science lesson. Again, I have never "canned" before. (Yes... we used jars, but for some reason 'canning' is the proper lingo. I don't know why... but go with it for a minute.) Since this was a whole new experience, we had to look up all the ins and outs and how-tos. We learned that you can't put a room temperature jar into boiling water, it needs to gradually rise in temperature with the water. We learned that you can't pour strawberries that have been "violently boiling" into a cool jar or you might have a broken jar and oozing jam all over. We also learned that when you water bath in your canning process, the pressure from the water is what pushes out the air to help create that vacuum seal to keep out bacterias.

Kudos to all those who followed that paragraph.

After our jars were done canning, we were the proud cooks of the best strawberry jam ever made in this house! After the 24 hour setting period was over, we enjoyed some of our hard work and ultimately were pretty impressed with ourselves.

But this is a fundraiser, so after that first batch was complete... we repeated it. Seven times.

72 jars of jam later, I bring you Branda Jam.

But WAIT!! There's more!! We are selling it!!

This can be yours for a simple $15 donation per half pint jar. We will accept cash or check. Comment below, Facebook message me, or email me to reserve your jar and instructions on donating! 

It's first come, first serve, so HURRY!! Let me warn you, my sisters have already purchased TEN jars! 

If you'd like to become a full partner for our trip, you can read more here about that.

... and now I will tempt you with examples of its yummy goodness... 

We had such a fun experience learning how to can and working together. Here are two fun facts. One... my kids actually dislike strawberry jam. But they all wanted to try what they worked so hard to make. Two... This was all done, from picking to the 72nd jar coming out of the pot, in a 48-hour period. I was leaving for a conference in Virginia and knew the berries wouldn't last until I got back. Just so you know... 30 quarts of strawberries is a lot. Even after our 72 jars... I had enough berries to do at least another 27 or so. :) 

I'm so grateful to have the ability to learn and grow with these kids and the experience was worth it alone. If you would like the recipe, or tips on canning, let me know! I'll direct you to all the fabulous websites I found that helped me learn a new trick and even share what I would and wouldn't do next time. 

Now.... buy some jam. :) 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Family Project: Honduras 2014

This is an excerpt from our partnership request letters that went out this past week... If you are interested in becoming a partner, please comment below and I can mail you a packet.

Thank you for your interest in our trip and for giving us the chance to share with you our hearts!!

Nine years and eight trips ago, I sat in a little town on the shore of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala and I was emotionally broken. Here I was, witnessing God working through my life and falling in love with ministry to the nationals, in a country I had never been to, and all I wanted was for my family to share that experience with me. At the time, an 11 month old Jaedyn, Hannah, who had just celebrated her third birthday, and my “big kid”, four-year-old Michael were under the care of my amazingly understanding husband back in Florida. I knew that a trip to a foreign country with small children wasn’t going to happen soon, but I started dreaming of the day that they would all be there by my side. 

Fast forward to 2011, my first dream became a reality when Mike joined me in La República Dominicana (Dominican Republic). It was during our time there that he and I knew that we needed to start praying about introducing our kids into what was becoming our passion for the lost and the countries of the world. 

Nine years of dreaming and three years of actively praying have finally come together. This summer, the ENTIRE Branda family will be joining our international church family, Every Nation, and their Ten Days Missions organization in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. To say we are excited, might be the understatement of our 2014.

We will be in Tegucigalpa, June 4 - 14, and while schedules are still being finalized, we know that our biggest mission is to go and bless the local church. Every Nation Ministries is a global family of churches that exist to honor God by establishing Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation. Since 1994, Every Nation has had a heart for ministering to college campuses and planting churches all over the world. Last summer, as I was a part of a huge national crusade and revival in Honduras, Every Nation planted their first Honduran church in Tegucigalpa. I had the opportunity to meet Pastor Rigoberto just before his church launched last summer and it is his church that we are coming along side of and encouraging. 

For nine years, my kids have sacrificed time and vacations in order for me to go and minister around the world. Now, my kids get to come and see what their sacrifice has been for since we will be in the same area that I was in last summer. You have an opportunity of partnering with us as we continue to minister to the Hondurans in Tegucigalpa. 

The total cost for our entire family is $10,000. That equates to $200 a day for each one of us. Would you consider being a day partner for $200, a half-day partner for $100, or even a full-day family partner for $1000?  We need people to come along side of us and join us in this adventure. Not just financially, but prayerfully as well. 

If you choose to join our team with a gift of $100, $200, $1000, or whatever you feel you can do, you have two options to donate. You can enclose a check with your response card. Please make the check out to our home church, Trinity New Life Church. The other options is that you can give securely at Choose the reference, MISSIONS. Both of those are tax-deductible ways to partner along side of us. 

Thank you for joining along side my family and becoming a part of this exciting adventure!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dear Hannah ~ A letter to my daughter...

When my son turned 10, I felt the need to commemorate it with a letter. I guess when your mom is a writer by nature, you should get used to get something handwritten on big events, right? Anyway... I decided that I would write all of my children on their 10th birthdays a letter. I mean, double-digits is a big deal! However... Hannah turned 10 in June. Six months ago.

But such is the life of a middle child, she was forgotten.

I know... "Mom of the Year"... right?? sigh... I wish I had some great excuse, but I don't. Which kinda makes me feel even more guilty. However, Hannah wouldn't be happy if I felt bad. Again, middle-child. She's the peacemaker and she only wants people to be happy. Basically, I am late in giving, the most amazing kid ever, a very important letter. Ugh.

I'll never make this up to her, but I will attempt to try.

So on her half-birthday, which is today, I am giving her the letter that has been LONG over due....


Hannah Faith ~ June 2, 2003 
My dearest middle-child,

I cannot believe that ten (and a half...) years has past since a nurse told me that I had a beautiful girl. I was dumbstruck.




I asked her if she was sure you were REALLY a girl. I had decided that I was going to be a mom of all boys. I already had one and thought I was an expert. Yep. It was going to be all boys for me. Ha! Unlike most sane people, your dad wanted to keep your gender a surprise until you were born. Surprised could be considered an understatement.

5 months old
Apparently, after I insulted the nurse, and her gender determining skills, your father confirmed to me that you were, in fact, a girl. It then dawned on me that every old wives tale about guessing the baby's gender was completely false. That's when I suddenly realized that while I had practiced my parenting skills on a boy, I was now getting ready to embark on another new adventure.

The mother of a girl.

Now, Hannah, you have to understand, I was never a very typical girl. Never the cutesy princess who pranced around in pink ruffles, and spent hours and hours perfecting her "duck face" in the bathroom mirror, or whatever little girls do. I was more of the build a fort in the middle of the cypress swamp, after you have spent the morning cleaning your catch from the lake kind-of-kid. Honestly, most days, I was either covered in dirt or hidden behind a book which probably made it hard to tell that I was even a girl...

So often, I wanted to be the girly girl who was graceful, talented, and called a princess. However, those titles were given to my baby sisters, not me, so I felt that I needed to live up to something else. I was the adventurous, determined, brilliantly smart girl that made things happen. Those were great things to be and made me enjoy every minute of my childhood and all aspects of growing-up. I never had regrets that I didn't know how to braid hair or really even brush it!

But when you are sitting in a hospital bed, holding a little baby girl, all you think about is pink.

one year old
Being a girl is a tricky thing. Long gone are the days where a girl was expected to grow up, become a wife, then a mother, and live to serve her family. Now, you can do that, if you want, or you can go to school, start a business, or even run a country.




And there I was, ten years ago, wanting you to have every one of those options in front of you, but if you had wanted to become the next top model, Lord, help me, I was not prepared for having a girl.

2 years old
Hannah, I am about to tell you one of the biggest secrets about myself. The entire time I was growing up, I was intimidated by every girl I knew. I never knew how to connect with them, because I didn't think I could ever measure up to them. They were flawless and I had freckles. They were elegant and I was forceful. They were girls and I was... just me. Instead of letting that bother me, I just embraced being different and became comfortable with, in my mind, not being as good as they were.

It wasn't until I looked into your eyes that I realized that I never had a reason to be intimidated by anyone. That I had been made perfect. Precious. Beautiful.

Just like you.

3 years old
Over the last ten years, you haven't been the only one growing up. I have been too. You see, I discovered what it was like to be a girl, when I had a girl. I took the determination that I've always had and changed a lot of my thoughts and routines. I fell in love with fashion bloggers. I chose mud masks over mud pies. I made myself a bulletin board with images, pictures, and quotes that celebrated being a girl. I even found myself loving the color pink.

Now, I'm not telling you this because I think that you have to be a girly girl who has a perfect "duck face."

Actually, side note, don't do the "duck face."


Consider that wisdom passed down. Anyway... back to your letter...

4 years old
I'm telling you this because I want you to know that you never, EVER have to settle into a specific description of yourself. It doesn't matter if you are ten, twenty, thirty-three, or eighty, you can reinvent who you are, as often as you want, whenever you want.

You were not designed to be the same person forever and there is nothing that you can't do. So, if you decide that you want to do ballet for the next ten years and then decide that you want to join the peace corps, do it! You can be a scientist and a mom and an artist and anything else you put your mind to.

There is only one thing that you have to promise me you will do.

7 years old with her big brother

About a year and a half ago, I gave your brother a list of commitments. They were things that I promised him that I would do as he continued to grow. They weren't just limited to him. You can hold me to every one of those commitments.

But with you, I want to ask you to promise me one thing.

Promise me that you will always listen.

8 years old
Listen to those who speak life, so that you can learn to speak it.
Listen to all kinds of music, so that you can relate to anyone, anywhere.
Listen to your family, so that you know you are loved.
Listen to the sounds of the oceans and wind, so that you know where home is.
Listen to your heartbeat, so that you know today was a gift.
Listen to those who came before you, so that you can learn from them.
Listen to your dreams, so that you can achieve them.

Listen to the voice of God, so that you know his voice and never doubt his presence in your life.

Listen. And I will too.

9 years old
That's all I want you do promise me that you will do. If you are always listening, you will never doubt who you are or what you should be doing, you will know when it's time to move and time to be still and you will be confident in every decision you make. The Bible says that the sheep listen to the shepherds voice and know it. (John 10:27) As long as you listen and know that voice, everything else will fall into line and you will be successful in everything that God has for you.

Hannah, I would give you the world, but I know that you have it in you to go out and get it for yourself.

I love you so much. Thank you for letting me grow with you. Listen to me when I say... never stop. Never stop growing. Never stop listening.

Love You Princess Banana.

~ mommy

10th Birthday!!! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flashback: "A letter to my son..."

Originally written close to two years ago... here is a flashback to a letter I wrote my oldest. Kiddo number two just recently turned ten and her letter is forthcoming, I promise, but until then....

Michael Stephen Branda ~ 7lbs 15oz ~ January 31, 2002
Dear Michael,

10 years ago today, you did something that no one else had done or could do. You made me a mom.

Michael - 11 mths old

Even as I write that sentence, it is hard to fathom that it has been 10 years. I remember the very moment that I held you for the first time. You were crying, wide-eyed and slimy. I know, totally gross, but that's not the point. The point is that you were wide-eyed and crying. Adding that you were slimy is simply because you are ten and you like gross things.

Michael's first birthday

Back to the point... you were crying so loudly that I held you tight and just tried to calm you. Then it happened. You stopped crying.

You stopped crying and I got scared.

There you were... this little, perfect (and slimy) boy. Your eyes were as big as your head and you were looking at everything. Focusing on so much. All of the nurses and the doctor kept commenting about how unusually alert you were.

And there I was. Barely an adult and suddenly, I was in charge of caring and raising a child. Scared. Terrified. FREAKED OUT.

Michael at about 9 mths

That was ten years ago.


Today, I am still just as scared, terrified and FREAKED OUT.

Michael 16 mths, Hannah 3 days

But first.... First, can I just congratulate myself? You have survived 10 YEARS!! And honestly, with the number of times that you ate things you shouldn't have, crawled places a baby shouldn't be, played with items that were not toys... it's a pretty impressive feat. You should be thankful. Oh and maybe you should thank your dad because I'm pretty sure he saved your life a few times by NOT letting you do things that I probably would have.

Anyway... just because I got you through these ten years alive, doesn't mean that I haven't scarred you for life. Which is probably why I am more scared now, than I was ten years ago. I really think that some of the hardest times of life are coming upon you quicker than I know I am ready for. I just pray that you are.

Michael at one of his MANY ring bearer gigs.

Over the next ten years, you will have more to say and more to do than ever before. But more importantly, what you say and do will start to show who you are as a person. You will be forming opinions and perspectives on things that may stay with you that for your entire life.

And me?

Well.... it's my job to help you in forming those and well.... God help us both.

Michael at about 4

It's going to be hard. But I promise, it'll be hard on both of us. We will probably both make mistakes, but we will both grow. We will both drive each other nuts, but at the end of the day, we'll be grateful for each other.  Honestly, that is where my fear comes in... I am so afraid that you'll make mistakes that will hurt. I'm afraid that I'll fail as a mother in teaching you correctly.  I'm afraid that you'll become closed-off to hearing me. I've been working with teenagers and young adults for so long that I've seen countless times the strains that many people have gone through.  I'm terrified that one day, you and I could have those pains.

Michael - 2.5 years; Hannah - 1 year

I know that I have role-played in my mind so many things. "If this happens.... I'll do this... or that..." But it's true that what works for some, won't work for others and who knows what will come our way. I just thought that as we prepare for the next ten years, I should just tell you what to expect from me and what to hold me to for... well... the rest of your life.

Michael - 3 years. Jaedyn - 3 weeks.

This is my commitment to you.

I will always be your mother before I am your friend.
I will tell you "no" more than I will tell you "yes".
I will always give you advice, not because I want you to do what I say, but because I've been there before and I don't want you to fail into the traps that I did.
I will always tell you things straight. If it's good, if it's bad, if it needs improvement. I'll tell you. 
I will always hug and kiss you in front of your friends because I will always love to watch you blush and I know that you do love the affection.
I will be front-row center for all you ever do and always will be your number one fan.
I will never stop being your mom. Remember that 18 is just a number, so don't talk to me about "when you turn 18..." I'll just laugh.
I will study with you for anything until you are ready for everything.
I will dream with you and for you.
I will listen.
I will lecture.
I will always love you more than anyone else who breathes here on earth.

I will pray.

For you now. For your future.

I will pray.

I love you so very much my little slimy boy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lesson #2: Responsibility aka "growing up is lousy"

Tween. A noun speaking of a boy or girl aged 9 - 12. Yep. It's a word in the dictionary.

I have two.

They are one year apart.

One boy and one girl.

I am pretty sure that I am undergoing some crazy intense training on this level of parenting. One might think that lack of sleep was the hardest part of being a parent, but I'm beginning to rethink that thought process. The emotions and the drama and sudden development of self-image are going to break me in ways that lack of sleep never did.

Lack of sleep had a remedy. Coffee. But this?? I am starting to understand the development of stronger drinks. Jack Daniels obviously had tweens. Let me give you a few examples as to why I've come to this conclusion...

Example A... Tween girl is told that instead of book work for history today, she will be watching a short video about the history of Israel. This wasn't a surprise. She knew about this all day, but decided to watch it after lunch. To the normal human, this sounds like a great deal. I remember those exciting days when I was a teacher and would put on a video instead of making students open a book, they cheered! To the tween, what began as a civilized idea for the day, has become the worst possible thing EVER. I'm still not sure what happened. I don't know where the change of attitude towards the movie turn. It just did. She just walked into my room and pouted. They just pout. And cry.

Even the boys.

Example B... Tween boy finds a video game that he really wants to play. He talks the game up for days. He is told that one of the parents will look up the details of the game and let him know. Understand that both parents are video game illiterate. We don't know the differences between one bang 'em up-shoot 'em up game from the other. We do know that we aren't fans of all these role playing games that involve shooting anything at anyone. So, a simple glance at a game with a glaring M on the cover, should be evidence enough for a simple no. M = 17 +, the negative approval should be understood. Not for the tween boy. I have apparently made him a glaring laughing stock among all the other YOUNGER boys in the neighborhood. Tears begin to fall and fall and fall. I am left standing there dumbfounded that this topic was even thought to be one that I'd agree with.

Where has my parenting faltered?

They don't talk to you. They don't "use their words". Remember training them to do since they were goo-ing and gaa-ing? They will not remember this when they hit this frustrating age. Their moods change as often as the weather in Florida does and there is no warning. They could be hugging you right now, but as soon as they turn the corner, you have now hurt their feelings and they will never recover.

One might think that they are mentally unstable. I did at first, but here is what I'm starting to realize... They are just having an inner battle. They are suddenly realizing that they are fully responsible for every aspect of their life.

Now, I'm not saying that I have GIVEN them responsibility for every aspect of their life. I am saying that I am starting to give them responsibility and I am teaching them that soon, they won't want me to be helping them every step of the way.

I am not dumb. I have been teaching high schoolers for quite some time. I've heard the complaints about any and all sources of authority in the lives of teens. I know that one day, that could be my kids. But you see... these teenagers all want to have full control of everything, but what most of them miss is the consequences that come with responsibilities. No one has taught them the fact that responsibility is the call to have a duty to DO something. It is a choice! You can either take responsibility, or you just don't. You can blame someone else, you can give excuses, you bring up all the reasons why you can't have the responsibility or you can step up and handle it with maturity and growth. Until you can handle it, you shouldn't be given it.

I will be a terrible parent, if I let my children believe that they can just cast responsibility aside. So it starts now. Just a little bit of responsibility... chores, decisions about meals or clothes, and other good tween responsibilities.

But here is where they are starting to revolt. They want more. They want to make their own decisions about video games and whether or not they watch a movie or do book work. But they don't understand, that while those might not seem like life-changing decisions, it is the very precedent that shows me they aren't ready for those responsibilities. The choices that they would make if I left it to them, does not show growth or an ability to handle that responsibility.

If at a basic level, they can't make good responsible decisions, why would I give them more?

That frustrating, hard-to-understand, utterly confusing question is battling inside of them.

I am trying to get them to see that I am training them into making good, solid decisions, but when they can't, as their mom, I step in to make that decision and take the weight off of them and just tell them mom's choice. This is all in hopes that, soon, they'll understand why I make the choices that I do. Then, one day, they'll make responsible choices too.

It's a lot to grasp. It's a lot to wrap our minds around. However, I'm hoping that they see that growing up is lousy and that they try not to rush it. Until then, I'll be doubling my coffee intake until they move past the emotional, drama-filled reactions to life. When does that happen?? A year? Two? After college?? Somebody please tell me they do move past it...