All through February we worked on a new cabinet refinishing project for a wonderful lady named Jackie.  This was one of our larger projects–a kitchen, butler’s pantry and large laundry room, all in different colors!  The end result has been great.  Somehow I forgot to take “before” pictures, but picture medium stained wood cabinets, and no backsplash.

This project had a new element of design fun for us– Jackie wanted a color other than white on her cabinets.  We picked this light blue/green color (Woodland Blue by Benjamin Moore) and kept the island white  (Jackie is considering changing her island counter to a white marble in the future).

This makeover added lightness, whimsy and a fresh look!

We picked this backsplash in the neutral family with just a touch of gray.  Jackie’s walls are going to be painted a color called “Owl Grey” and the backsplash will pull that color through the kitchen nicely.

As I usually recommend in all the kitchens we makeover, we put beadboard around the island and on the ends of the cabinets.  This serves two purposes–one, to add a more sturdy surface to accept the paint and not chip in the future (compared to the laminate wood on most island ends), and two, it upgrades the custom quality of the kitchen.

The lighting isn’t great in this picture below, but you can see the who area.  

Here is our team and Jackie is in the middle with the great smile.  It has been wonderful working with her!

We are working on two more kitchen cabinet projects right now so I will of course add these to the blog!

xoxo,

Amy

P.S. We have a new Instagram site @amyandval where we are posting pictures of our projects as we go!

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When our oldest daughter, Hannah, was in middle school I had my first totally gut wrenching experience of watching her be truly hurt by friends.  She had been invited to a house for a birthday party with a group of girls from school.  When I dropped her off she was all smiles, bouncing up to the door with a polka-dotted gift bag. I remember feeling all warm and fuzzy about the new friends my daughter was making—all was well in the universe.

About four hours later she texted that she was ready to be picked up.  When I arrived, she walked out to the car, absent of all bounce.   “How was the party hon?” I asked.  “It was okay,” she responded sliding into the passenger seat.  “Is everything all-right?” I continued, noticing her flat tone.  “Not really, Everyone is sleeping over except me.  I didn’t get invited to.”

And then she burst into tears.

I can’t begin to explain the flood of intense emotions that rolled over me. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me by a bunch of pimply snap chatting middle schoolers. But I don’t need to explain, Moms, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Not only did I desperately want to hug my child until all the pain was squeezed out of her, but I found myself instantly remembering long locked away feelings of being left out when I was a child…which is always fun.

It. Felt. Awful.

“I am so so sorry honey.” I softly said. “I just don’t know why they don’t like me enough to see me as one of their group,” she sobbed.  I had no words to explain…who knows? 

We drove home in silence. Both of us hurting and confused.

Now I know some of you moms out there would be making a phone call the next day to the mom who hosted the party, or crossing those girls off your child’s friend list permanently and believe me, I understand. Our mama bear comes out in those situations like a dog chasing a cat.  I just didn’t have the fight in me for that one.  Hannah and I talked about security in God and not in friends and how much we loved and accepted her in our family.  But the pain was still there, and to make it worse it happened a few more times that year.  More fun.

I actually think in that situation I did the right thing.  This was part of Hannah’s friend story.  I didn’t rescue her.  I just sat in the pain with her.  But I didn’t always choose that option.  Over the years with our three kids I found other (unhealthy) ways to deal with my pain and theirs.

For example, sometimes after our children experienced particularly painful encounters, I would make secret plans in my head to move my family to a remote country where we would raise chickens and help orphans because of course there would be only rainbows and no pain there.

Other times, I would react, like the time I stormed out of our back door and told off a group of boys that were teasing my son (this had been a repeated event and I just lost all my cool).  And then I calmed down.  And got the full story.  And realized I could have asked more questions and talked to them in a reasonable way about how this behavior was really hurting my son instead of as a freaking out suburban crazy bear mom.  And then I called to apologize to all the moms for my overreaction.  And then felt even more terrible because one of the moms had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I didn’t know.  Geez.

A couple of times I sent emails to moms to try to work out the problems and both times that exploded into an awful exchange of misunderstood tones and meanings.  (Important note; DO NOT EMAIL OR TEXT IN THESE SITUATIONS.  Resist your inner millennial and pick up the phone).

But most often, I didn’t do anything except brew mean thoughts about those kids who were hurting our kids.  How they were just plotting and planning ways to leave our daughter out (which I realize sometimes is the case, but not usually) or how they relished the pain it was  causing my son to not get invited to high school social events (ok, relish is probably too strong of a word).  I would make up stories about how if I could only give them a taste of their own medicine then they would stop, or that maybe I needed to intercept my child’s phone and send a nasty text back. 

So…just so you know I’m not very proud of these thoughts. 

Note that what I didn’t at all account for in this inner mental tirade was that our child MIGHT have POSSIBLY contributed to the situation.  Which as moms we need to admit is very often the case.

And the problem is that when the next day my child is full of smiles and pep because they are now best friends again with that child that hurt them (AND sent me into an emotional nosedive just twenty four hours before) I was not over it.  And would have to drive this child to an activity in a carpool or feed them a snack at my kitchen counter.  With a smile pasted to my face.

I was sharing all of this with a close, wise friend few years ago and she (as good friends should do) said, “Amy. You need to get off this emotional roller coaster. You are riding it right along with your child and they don’t want or need that. They need you to be waiting at the end of the ride, calmly, sanely, with a hug and and ice cream cone. (Well I added that part about the ice cream but I could imagine her saying that.)

And when you watch them get back on the coaster (which they inevitably will), just sit on the bench and breathe and pray.”

In essence she was telling me to get a grip.

She was sooo right and her words were incredibly freeing.

Moms, our kids don’t need a mom who joins in on the railing and complaining against the perpetrator, or a mom who sends and email they might regret,  or runs out the back door yelling and pointing fingers.  Ahem. 

No.  They need stable, calm, sane mom. Solid in her foundation as a secure adult who is not rocked by the misdeeds of others (mere children for gosh sake!).  Who is confident of her God who loves her and her child…who takes a moment to calculate what time of the month it is before responding like a crazy person.

Our child needs a mom who assures them that everything is going to be okay and asks empowering questions like, “Wow. That must really hurt.  What do you think you should do about this?”

Believe me I know this is hard.  When our kids are hurt it causes us moms to go a little let’s say…bat you know what crazy. Just ask our husbands.  We lose rationality and clear thought.  We are out for blood.  We are mad. Like a little insane mad.  Because these are our flesh and blood and our primal instinct as moms is to protect them from pain at all costs.

The problem is in those moments we are totally focused on the now. Not the tomorrow or the years ahead.  Not our child’s long term maturing process.  Not our relationships with other moms…like when you will see that other mom at the bus stop or show up for the same volunteer time at your kid’s classroom, or sit down the row from each other at the middle school band performance. Awkward. Not that that has ever happened to me…

In those moments we are not understanding the long term perspective.  That our kids really end up being okay.  They figure it out.  It becomes part of their story, they learn from it how to be a better friend to others and who to choose as future friends.  We forget that that child that we are so mad at will possibly be in our home for years to come and really do we want to be harboring ugly feelings for an eight year old mistake when they are fourteen?

So, slowly, I got off the roller coaster of our child’s friendships.  I got a grip. Those friendships were brutal sometimes; still are.  Just last year my daughter had a incredibly painful friend situation her first year in college.  I listened.  I prayed for her.  I hung up and prayed for my heart which was killing me as I sat over a thousand miles away from her.

But you know what? She got through it.  That is the same child who was not invited to the sleepover?  She’s amazing.  And secure. And has good boundaries.  And has an incredible group of friends this year who all flew to our home for a weekend stay and some mountain skiing just last month.

Just last week our seventeen year old son shared that he had been left out of something his whole group did together.  They just didn’t want him there.  The pain is still very powerful and real. Those mean thoughts wanted to take root. But I just handle it differently now.  I pray.  I ask God to give me wisdom and peace and to shut my mouth.  I listen to my son and if he doesn’t want to talk about it I don’t pry.  He will be okay.

He will.

They survive.  We survive.

The pain…if we can wrap our brains around it moms, is not this evil ugly monster trying to devour our child.  If they have a safe and sane place to land at home, the pain turns into strength and learning about how to treat others, and perseverance, and healthy boundaries, and maturity.

I don’t think those girls at the birthday party were intentionally trying to be mean.  They were just clueless.  Can we give those who hurt our children the benefit of the doubt?  And can we acknowledge that our children aren’t perfect and also will cause hurt to others in their eighteen years of childhood?  Can we demonstrate grace and forgiveness to those in our home and those outside of our home? 

What an incredible example of Christ’s love we can be.

Moms, you are amazing!  Press on!

Xoxo

Amy

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It’s time for another kitchen makeover post!  This is a project I worked on last October for one of my LONG-time dear friends.  Susie and I have known each other since meeting in a bible study in college at the University Of Colorado, and we have walked through a lot of life together over the last 30 years.

Susie and her husband Johnny live in a great neighborhood but wanted their older ranch house kitchen to have an update.  The cabinets were original and had been resurfaced at one point along with new granite countertops put in, but overall the fixtures, paint, hood, cabinets and flooring needed a new current look. 

Ok here we go.  Originally we  just discussed painting the cabinets.  Susie already had plans for refinishing her wood floor and a new fridge.  But as we looked at her kitchen, I suggested we replace the hood over the stove along with considering painting and replacing the lighting–all three ideas would create a big updated impact with only a small  increase to their overall budget.

She and her husband decided to add these ideas to the project and we created a plan.

DESIGN PLAN:

~Paint Cabinets

~ Backsplash

~ Lighting

~ New Hood

~ New Paint

~ New Fridge

~ Refinish Flooring

So, Valerie and I went to work!

Here are a couple more before pictures:

 

 

 

Those are the big picture views of Susie’s new kitchen!  Here are some close up pictures:

Backsplash/Lighting

We picked a stone backsplash that was a little more neutral since the counters had a lot of pattern.  Then we replaced the flush-mount light over the sink with a hanging glass pendant from Lowes.

We replaced the fan over the kitchen table with a new light, and hung a new canvas to pull through the reds that Susie loves.

Here is a the new hood from Lowes.

We also added bead board to the flat panels that covered the peninsula cabinetry. It is a small investment for a big impact upgrade.

ALSO, we decided to preserve the existing hardware which was brass colored.  I spray painted all the hardware with a metallic spray paint:

Another BEFORE picture:

And AFTER:

 

Thanks for joining us for another kitchen makeover!

Right now I am working on a full house redesign and update which I will share with you here on the blog when it’s done! (Think red/yellows and formal style turned into grey/tan/cream with black accents modern farmhouse!)

xoxo,

Amy

Also, it’s ULTIMATE BUNDLES TIME! This week Ultimate Bundles is rolling out their latest package –FIVE DAYS of bundles:

PARENTING ~DECLUTTERING~FITNESS AND HEATH~HERBS AND EO’S~HEALTHY LIVING

Bundles are basically a whole grouping of resources on individual topics pulled together for an online download just for you.  I love these because they are so full of ideas and answers to problems we all face!  Check it out if you want:

ALL ACCESS BUNDLE PASS

Have a great week 🙂

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(this post contains affiliate links)

By now my guess is you have most of your Christmas decorations unpacked and beautifully displayed around your house, but maybe this year you are still wanting to add a new look in a couple of areas and are not quite sure how to accomplish that.

I wanted to give you some ideas in this blog and make it EASY to copy!  I am including links at the bottom so you can just order and create this exact look, HOWEVER Amazon changes its supply often, or you may not be able to get it by Christmas.  So order for next year’s table setting OR search around and see if you can find something similar online or in stores and use these pictures as examples.

IDEA #1  KITCHEN TABLE CENTERPIECE

This whole look is from Amazon and is the perfect Christmas ensemble.  I started with the tray which is a distressed mirrored glass bordered by rustic wood.  Round trays look good on both round and square tables.

Then I added the pine tree in a pot.  The pot was a little deep so I crumpled up some paper to lift the tree up.  The deer figurine is small but beautiful, and could really go anywhere in the house, but I loved it right here.

I found this “Merry and Bright” wood sign which is small enough to perfectly fit on this tray, and then added the gold pinecone (which I love!) and tapered candle.  To pull it all together I cut some branches off a pine tree in our yard and circled them around the bottom (you can use any kind of pine branches).

 

IDEA #2:  DINING ROOM TABLE

Sometimes bringing a centerpiece together is a matter of collecting things you love.  This setting has a mix of old and new, gold and candlelight, farmhouse and traditional, with a few pine needles from the backyard.   And it all works!

These rope gold candlesticks bookend the decor and add a hint of traditional and formal.

And more gold pinecones..

(Note: Amazon recently changed their supply–this particular one is not available but I’ve included a link to a similar set)

 

I found this white deer at Lowes–they have great Christmas decorations this year!

And, from Magnolia Market…the salt and pepper shaker. 

A great table runner creates the foundation for any table setting.  The one if found has a warm, natural, creamy look.  I love it.

 

 

One more look:

I have listed below the links to find most of these items so you can create these looks if you want.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xoxo,

Amy

Links:

Round Mirrored Wood Tray

Gold Rope Candlesticks

Gold Pinecone Holders

Magnolia Market Salt and Pepper Shaker

White Deer with Wreath on Neck

Small White Deer Figurine

Small Pine Tree

Merry and Bright Wood Sign
DII Cotton Everyday Machine Washable Chindi Rag Table Runner, 14 X 72″, Natural

 

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Hello!  Welcome to another kitchen makeover!

In September I completed a kitchen cabinet painting project for my next door neighbor (who is awesome!).  Brooke is naturally gifted at decorating and pulling ideas together, but she invited me in on her project to paint her cabinets and to be a sounding board for her kitchen vision.  Here are the befores and afters!

BROOKE’S PROJECT LIST:

White Cabinets

New Countertops

New Lighting

Level Island to One Flat Surface

Leveling the island is a great function move.  It allows flow of conversation and                      connection between the family room and kitchen.  Lowering the bar also creates                    more visual space, making the rooms feel bigger and more open.

Didn’t she do a great job?!  As we were discussing the design for these areas, we wanted to bring in wood tones wherever possible to warm up the “cool” grey walls and white cabinets.  Brooke bought this great wood and iron shelving unit (to the left of the fireplace) which she did an amazing job decorating.

The quartzite countertops are beautiful, and the lighting she picked added warmth and a rustic touch.

I painted the cabinets my new favorite cabinet color, Banner White by SW….and, selfishly I got to spend some afternoons getting to know my neighbor better which is always the best part of my job!

Here’s one more before and after:

Have a great day and remember to take a deep breath and rest in the holiness of this season.

XOXO,

~Amy

Oh, almost forgot–I created this new free e-book!  Check it out!

 

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Not every year, but most, I give the ladies in our family (mothers, sisters, daughters) a devotional for Christmas.  It is my way of saying “I love you and here’s some hope and encouragement during the good and inevitable not-so-good days of the upcoming year.”  (Oh, and I always get one for myself too!)

This year I found mother/daughter devotionals that have the same theme for the year and they are at great Cyber Monday prices:

1. COLORING DEVOTIONALS (the new trend)

Wholehearted: A Coloring Book Devotional

Moms, do you daydream about slowing down? Here’s a way. Picture a morning cup of coffee, an array of pencils and a few minutes to color your thoughts on the devotional you just read.  Click on the picture or the link above to see more:


Faithgirlz: 60 Days Of Discovering God’s Hope and Love

This is for girls 8-12 years old..a great present for your daughters or nieces or granddaughters! I love anything that encourages creativity and provides an alternative to screen time.

 

2. PRAYER JOURNALS

My Prayer Journal: A Three Month Guide to Praise and Thanks

I shared in a recent FB video about how writing down my prayers has really helped me focus during my prayer time.  This prayer journal might be the perfect gift for yourself or for others who want to grow their prayer lives.

My Kid’s Prayer Journal: 100 Days of Prayer and Praise

What a gift to our children to help them learn how to pray and give praise to God! And, this is something you can share together if you both have a kickstart to your year with these devotionals.

 

3. QUALITY TIME WITH JESUS

JESUS ALWAYS: Embracing Joy in His Presence

These devotionals are timeless-I read them year after year and the truth is fresh each time. Of all the devotionals out there, Sara Young’s speak to my heart the most.


JESUS ALWAYS: 365 Devotions for Kids

This is one of my FAVORITE kid’s devotionals.  It is simple but full of truth.  We used to read it at the dinner table for our family dinners.

Hopefully you found one of these types of devotionals that you would love for yourself or for a family member (or friend!).  Starting the new year on the spiritual right foot is a beautiful gift!

xoxo,

Amy

PS: Please share with friends and family if you think they might like this post!

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In December on the Blog- another kitchen makeover, holiday design tips, and more Christmas spirit coming your way!

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Our daughter, Hannah, was home from college last weekend.  Jon and I took her out for breakfast one morning and I just couldn’t help but stare at her .  There she was, in the flesh, sitting across the table eating chocolate chip pancakes and telling us about life at school in Arizona. I reached across the table to hold her hand, and she laughed and said, “Mom, why are you being so weird?”  I laughed back, “I know, I just miss you when you are away and am so glad to be talking to you face to face.”  

I do miss her, but I am really thankful for this little technology marvel called Facetime that she and I use when she is back at school.  It is the next best thing to watching her eat chocolate chip pancakes in person.  I love Facetime because I can experience her world a little better.  Sometimes she is walking through campus, or washing her face in the mirror, or in line at Chipotle.  I’m right there, connected with her.  

It is a far cry from communication of the past.  My in-laws were in town a couple of weeks ago and they were telling stories of when my father-in-law, Vin, was stationed on an aircraft carrier at sea for six months at a time while in the military.  Letters were the only way of communication to his wife and kids except for the occasional phone call.  These phone calls would have no prior notice and my mother-in-law would have to just hope she was at home to receive the call on her land-line.

I am sure during those many months home as a single-mom, my mother-in-law longed for a face to face conversation with her husband, or to reach out and hold his hand, as did my father-in-law on a ship at sea for days on end.  And I’m sure they would have been thrilled to be able to FaceTime each other each night.  It would have dramatically changed the experience for them.  

I think that we often communicate with God in pre-FaceTime mindset. 

We send up a “letter” to God, a one way form of communication with hopes of receiving an answer back sometime in the future.  We perceive our relationship with him to be long-distance.  We hope we are listening and aware when he hopefully decides to respond to a prayer.   When we pray it is without assurance that someone is really listening on the other side.

And then we wonder why our connection to God is struggling and why he seems unreachable.

It’s time for a technology update in our prayer life.

I just finished reading the newly published book, Talking To Jesus, by Jeannie Blackmer.  Jeannie writes about how the bible records many conversations people had with Jesus, and if we took a fresh look at those conversations as “prayers” it gives us a whole new perspective on how reachable, close and present Jesus really is.

Men and women in the bible approached Jesus during his time on earth with different requests or situations.  And he responded.  Like when he was sought out by the grieving ruler whose daughter had just died of a mysterious illness.   Jesus responded by walking to the ruler’s house, taking the child’s hand and commanding her to wake up. She immediately began breathing again.

Let that sink in.  Regular folks like you and me approached the Son of God and asked for physical healing, or to understand him better, or to calm a storm, or for wisdom or direction, or to describe the cost of following him.   And he listened and had a response to their need.

Aren’t those the topics we go to God with every day? What if we truly believed we had direct access to him anytime.  What if we embraced the fact that Jesus wants to communicate and respond to our needs just as earnestly now as he did in biblical times? How would that change our prayer life?

While true face to face conversations with Jesus will happen only when we get to heaven, I do think we can liken our prayer life to a Facetime call.  He is right there, having a conversation with me and acknowledging my questions and concerns.  His responses are not random.  I can picture his face and his loving expressions…and maybe entertain the idea that he’s eating chocolate chip pancakes while we talk.

I realize this metaphor might be stretching it a bit…but here my point.  Let’s not treat our interactions with God as if he is far away, with time and distance preventing intimate, present, personal relationship.

And the disciples asked Jesus, “Where are we going to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”   Matthew15:33

Personal, present, honest.

What if we asked Jesus for help in our lives today as assuredly as the real people who did 2000 years ago?  What if we got rid of our old technology mindset?

Jeannie explores this idea with beautiful conversations and written illustrations in her book. If you would like to understand this personal way of praying even more, I would highly recommend reading TALKING TO JESUS.   Not only does she share the conversations people had with Jesus in detail and depth, but she then invites us into personal reflection that encourages us to go deeper in our own prayer lives.

If you struggle with prayer like so many of us, this book is a must read…you may even begin to experience Jesus like he is sitting right across the table from you, listening to you talk, reaching for more syrup. 

You can get the book here:  http://amzn.to/2y2Y1Rf

Blessings to you this week!

xoxo,

Amy

PS: I am posting on my Facebook Community Blog page every week with design tips, projects I am working on, parenting thoughts and faith encouragement!  Like the page at: http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

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When I paint kitchen cabinets I usually have HGTV playing in the background.  So in light of that, I am going to start naming my projects HGTV Style.  Today’s “Barn Door Kitchen Remodel” reveal is amazing.

My friends Lisa and Steve had some great ideas for what they desired in their kitchen remodel and together we transformed their traditional suburban kitchen to a custom design that serves their needs functionally and beautifully–punctuated with some incredible barn-like doors for their pantry.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  This is what their kitchen looked like before we started:

The two requests Steve and Lisa had for their kitchen remodel were:

  1. To somehow change the layout that would allow better movement of guests between the family room, kitchen and dining room.
  2. Update the look.

As a pastor and wife to a thriving church, they often invited people over to gather and felt like everyone often ended up crowding in the kitchen instead of spreading out to the family room and dining room.

The peninsula was a major contributor to this issue, so the design idea I suggested was to remove the peninsula and replace it with a large island that would open up the space between the two rooms.

There was an eating area in the kitchen which would no longer exist because of the island, so in order to continue flow between all three spaces I suggested opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, where there would be a large farmhouse table to seat multiple guests.  See the small arched opening below:

Here was the result!

Design Points:

~ tear down peninsula and build an island

~ carry wood floors through entire kitchen family room to connect all three spaces

~ paint cabinets white ( I used my new favorite cabinet color: Banner White by RL) and add new hardware

~ add pendant lights over the island

~ replace pantry doors with barn doors (this was Steve and Lisa’s idea–they came unstained and Steve stained them himself. The doors totally make the kitchen!)

~ new stainless appliances

~ granite countertops, stone backsplash and some beautiful barstools

Steve and Lisa have a great eye for design and did a fantastic job choosing many of these options–I just was there for moral support and confirmation on choices!

In opening up the doorway between the kitchen and dining room, Steve and Lisa lost one bank of cabinets.  A small sacrifice to have access and connection to the main seating area from the kitchen.

 

Now these three spaces flow so nicely.  Their kids eat breakfast at the island each morning and dinners some nights as the busy teens rotate through.  Family and hosting guest dinners take place in their beautiful new dining room:

We also worked on the design and flow between the living room (to the left of the front door entryway) into the dining room.  We pulled blue and grey through the entire area so all rooms feel fluid and cohesive.

Here’s one last before and after:

Don’t you just want to sit down for a cup of coffee and conversation?

Steve and Lisa are dear friends and we are blessed to have them in our lives.  Like I have said before, one of the BEST parts of this job is getting to spend time with amazing people.

Have a blessed, restful, adventurous, productive, family-filled, football watching weekend!

~Amy

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This blog was written a few months ago and I am just publishing it now. I needed to let it percolate and seek the okay from family members, because it is real and a bit vulnerable…but hopefully encouraging to you as you know you don’t walk this parenting journey alone.

I do my best processing of life on airplanes. There is something about being confined to my own little space with no distraction except the occasional beverage cart or turbulent air pocket.  I am trapped and it is blissful. 

Out in the wide open world I have trouble containing myself. There is so much to see and do and be.  I am constantly pursuing and being pursued in wonderful friendships, pouring time into my family and my relationship with the Lord.  It too is blissful.  Yet my heart and brain are so busy and full that I don’t find much time for quiet reflection.  Which is why, right now, I am writing, almost 40,000 feet above the earth, traveling over cities and farmland and lakes, but in my own space of solitude with a blanket on my lap and a soda on the empty seat next to me.

Today I am thinking about parenting.  We are in the throws of teenage life.

My husband took me to the airport this morning, he taking his own flights, me on another route, and we will meet up in New Jersey tonight and spend the day in New York City together tomorrow, just the two of us on a little 24 hour vacation.  On the early morning car ride I brought up a sensitive topic—one of our children and how to navigate a promise we made to him and that we don’t fully agree on the appropriate reward at the end.

It is just one of the places we spend a lot of time lately-navigating our different opinions on parenting our teenager.  Me from my background, my husband from his, we circle the issues over and over, slowly, slowly coming together in the center.  It is taking time.  It hasn’t been easy. 

Up until our teenager parenting years we were always on the same page as mom and dad.  A unified front.  But what I have realized is that teenagers will peel back all the layers of ourselves, down to the tender core. The stakes feel high.  We can see the clock running out on their time with us and we care SO darn much about the people they are growing into.

Teenagers expose our messy, darker sides as we fight to control our emotions, have endless patience, and exhaust ourselves seeking the wisest way to handle each and every situation.

Growth.  It is a constant companion these days.

Just this week I smiled with clenched teeth at my daughter in the orthodontist’s waiting room as she argued with me in front of a room full of parents paging through magazines.  I reached for her phone after asking her to put it away several times and she pulled it away, thinking we were playing a game.  I. Was. Not. 

The playful arguing continued, evoking raised eyes and sideways glances from the people sitting around us. Until we got into the car…and I lost it.  Unfettered emotion and frustration and embarrassment spilled all over her.  She began to cry.

I had surprised her. She thought I thought it was funny, that we were just goofing around.  By all my outward signs she was right in her interpretation—getting publicly mad at my daughter and creating a scene is about as comfortable to me as sitting on a cactus.  So in the moment I play with fake smiles and clenched teeth “Please give me your phone…”. When inside I am wrapping up more and more tightly, like a coiled spring.

The emotion and tears and raised voices continued all the way home.  It was messy.  In our driveway, my daughter and I sat and talked it out.  I said I understood how she misinterpreted the situation, and that I was very sorry for not handling it better once we were alone.  She apologized for arguing and not being respectful.  We agreed to do better, both of us.

My tender core.  Needing growth, again.  So much stretching and learning and being humbled.   

And then last night, as we celebrated Father’s Day on our back patio on a stunningly beautiful Colorado evening, my girls called, “Mom! Come hold our feet!”  They were upside down, a 19 and 15 year old, in the grass trying to imitate a paired headstand yoga pose they had found in an Athleta magazine.  Giggling uncontrollably.

I walked through the grass, stepping on the thick blades and over dog poop land mines.  Holding the magazine in the air my girls said, “Hold our feet together this way!” Laughing, I tried…to hold their feet… but they couldn’t both stay in their pose at the same time. Breathless and giggling they kept falling over. 

I could only grab one leg and then as the other child’s leg came up the first one would fall. More giggling, “Try again!” More grabbing and falling and mismatched poses. Breathless laughing.  “Once more Mom!”  We never got it.  And it didn’t matter. The point wasn’t “getting it”. The point was the moment together, the laughing and trying and falling.

That is the Parenting Teenagers Experience.  Wanting to grab all their feet and connect them in perfect synchronicity to hold the perfect yoga pose.  No falling.  No multiple tries.  Spot on the first try.  Wanting the beautiful, composed image of a happy healthy family, like the sculpted Altheta models on a beach in Tahiti or somewhere.  Peaceful. Perfect. Balanced.

But instead, grabbing one child solidly only to lose grip on the other.  Lot’s of falling over, lots of trying, never quite in sync.

I call these “almost poses.” Almost always showing grace and patience and forgiveness.   Almost responding the right way every time.  Almost completely understanding each other’s point of view.  Almost perfect.

Almost.

Sometimes this place of “almostness” feels really discouraging.   I feel like I should have mastered how to react to stressful situations with my kids at this point, know the wisest call to make at every new issue, and how to always be on the same parenting page with my incredible husband by now.

Other times, when I am in a healthy spiritual place, I see this “not yet there” as a gift of the journey.  God has work to do in me, in my husband, in our children.  He can’t grow perfect people.  He can’t use perfect families to demonstrate forgiveness and mercy and grace and hope. 

God wants to sanctify me—the process of renewal and change for His purpose and aligned with his heart.

This is done, I am realizing, in “almost poses,” clumsy and surrounded by poop land mines, and meltdowns in the car.  It is where he can do his best work.

Not on a beach in Tahiti.

Those of us who are in this phase of life know what I am talking about.  I would encourage you to find a friend who is willing to share about the hard parts, who is striving to be the best mom possible, and walk this journey together.

I have several of those friends, but one in particular, who lives a over a thousand miles away and is walking closely with me through these teenage parenting years.  We text each week, sometimes call, sharing prayer requests, asking for advice.  We are brutally honest and completely real.  She is safe for me, and I for her.

We love our families with a fierceness that gets us in trouble sometimes, but we remind each other to embrace the process God is taking us all through.   We sometimes get off the phone completely validated, and sometimes completely challenged to get back in the ring of raising great kids and showing up well for our husbands.  It is awesome. 

Find your people.

So press on fellow parent. Strive not for perfection but for sanctification. 

I’m taking a sip of my Diet Pepsi now, gazing out at the patches of land below as the plane begins it’s decent.

We are almost there.

Xoxo

Amy

I don’t post blogs every week, but every week I do post content on my Facebook page–on parenting, faith, and design, so “like” my page and join in!  http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

 

 

 

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We just finished our first year of college.

Well, our daughter did, but from the parenting end my husband and I definitely felt like it was a first for us too.

We learned a lot of things this past year—what to do better, what not to do, and I will be sharing more of these lessons on the blog, but I wanted to highlight my top three best learned lessons and share them with you today.

The lessons I learned as a mom this past year of our first child in college were born out of an “imperfect” year for our daughter. She experienced heartbreaking rejection, the kind that made me want to crawl through the phone to hold her, along with loneliness and a struggle to figure out who she really wanted to be. Yet, she also formed beautiful friendships, honed her major and thrived in the education she was receiving.

Our daughter, after much thought and prayer, decided to transfer schools this fall.  In a future post I will share about that journey!

That being said, I don’t believe any of us would change this last year at all.

It was in essence, a perfect, “imperfect” first year of college—with all the ingredients that make for maturity and preparation for life. That is worth every penny (and there are a lot!).

And bonus! I garnered some “college mom wisdom” through it all, so here ya go:

1. Pain is OKAY. Your child will experience some pain this first year, possibly with a friend situation, rejection from a club or group, or with a roommate. They might be homesick, or struggle with the academic load. They may make bad decisions that cause them to struggle.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to shower advice on our child or “rescue” them.

But pain is good. It is really good. It is from pain that our child finds their inner strength, begins problem-solve, or best, learns to pray. Pain is the soil for maturity and wisdom. When we take the pain away we deprive our child of an incredible opportunity to grow.

Instead, try telling your child, “I believe in you and I know you will figure out this problem.” This empowers them and helps them believe in themselves. They are becoming adults and we need to let them stumble in order to get there.

2. Get off the Roller Coaster

This was a challenging one for me. One week our daughter would be struggling and I would be struggling emotionally right there with her, and then a few days later I was still struggling and praying and worrying and all the while things had turned around and were just rosy and great on her end! This happened enough times to teach me that I needed to get off my parental emotional roller coaster. Things change constantly in college—roommate issues, friends, academics, moods, etc.

The reality is, there is nothing we can or should do about what our kids are going through except be supportive and encouraging and pray for them. It is a waste of valuable time and emotional energy that can be useful in our present life when we worry about things we can’t control a thousand miles away.

And, our kids need us to be calm and stable when they do decide to reach out—not emotional messes that stress them out even more.

3. Don’t Ask Them About Their Grades

I was surprised by this one when the Chancellor of the college our daughter attended implored the parents not to focus on our child’s grades. He expressed how many parents continue to helicopter parent about college grades, which is understandable with all the focus on grades needed to get into college!

But now that our kids are IN college, they need to take full ownership of their GPA. “But what if my child is tanking and I don’t even know it?” Yes, I asked this one. Our daughter’s school said they would let us know if she had a D in any class. I would check with your child’s institution and see how you can be informed.

In general it was recommended that we ask not about GPA, but instead questions like, “What is your favorite class?” Or, “Which professor do you like and why?” Or, “Is there any subject that you are struggling with?” I liked the question, “What are learning about yourself academically from your experience so far?”

These are my top three I wanted to pass on to you because I think they are golden.

I don’t know if you noticed, but they all have the same theme: LET GO.

It’s time to let go. It is really really hard. My daughter experienced the biggest rejection of her life this past year. And had days of sitting alone in her dorm room. I desperately wanted her to come home so I could take her away from the pain. The only way my mom heart survived was being there for her on the other end of the phone…just listening. And A LOT of prayer.

God was good. He helped me through it….and my daughter survived, and is thriving.

She came home this summer stronger, wiser, and more confident that I have ever seen her. Something had shifted.

Priceless.

Like I said before, I wouldn’t change a thing. For either of us.

I wish you the very best in this journey of sending your child off to college! I am walking right there with you.

Join me on my Facebook page for inspirational posts, articles on parenting, home design tips and more!  https://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

xoxo,

~Amy

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