Happiness is……Easter

When I was about 7 years old, my great-grandpa Nelson died.  It was the first time I went to a viewing or a funeral.  I remember being worried about what the casket would look like and what my grandpa would look like.  I remember being frightened.  I had a vision in my head that the coffin looked like the one in Snow White, with a glass top and flowers all around it.  When I went to the viewing with my family, I became distressed because it didn’t look like a Walt Disney scene.  I was afraid and didn’t like the smell of all the flowers. 

When I was 9, my little school and church friend, Troy, died of a brain aneurysm.  We were in third grade and sat together.  We walked to primary together after school.  We liked to do art together and for a boy, I thought he was nice.  He didn’t try to pull up girls’ dresses at recess like some of the other boys.  We were good little buddies.  I remember the night he died.  I remember him saying he had a headache.  That night Troy became seriously ill.  They didn’t know what was wrong until it was too late.  It was really difficult for me to understand that my little friend had died.  I remember all the primary children singing at his funeral.  It was so frightening to see someone so young, like me, so still and so asleep.  Then I remember going to school after that and Troy’s chair was forever empty.  His crayons were still there, and the paste that we liked to dry up in the front corner of the cubby desk so we could make things out of it, was still there.   It was a long time before I didn’t cry myself to sleep about losing Troy.  And even longer still before I didn’t panic every time I got a headache.

When I was 12, my Grandpa died.  He had a bad heart and needed open-heart surgery.  My parents dropped my sisters and brother and me off at my other grandparents’ house, on their way downtown to be at the hospital.  I remember it was awfully late at night and still they had not come to get us and take us home.  My grandmother lovingly tucked us into the big bed in the guest room together to go to sleep for the night.  Then, in the early hours of the next morning, while we were sound asleep, my parents had come to take us home.  Just like it was yesterday, I remember my dad waking me up.  He said, “it’s time to go home; grandpa’s dead.”   He had died on the operating table and they couldn’t get his heart beating again.  I had visited the hospital before his surgery and I still remember him giving me a big hug and kiss and telling me he loved me.  I remember crying so hard at his funeral, I couldn’t get myself together.  Sitting there in my red Christmas dress that my grandma had sewn for me.  I stared at the coffin and stared harder at the grave.  I felt my heart leap out of my chest when they lowered his coffin down into the ground.  It was grief, truly felt for the first time.  I hated it.  I wanted him back.  After he died, I slept on the floor of my parents’ room for a few nights, afraid that his spirit was somehow roaming the halls of our house. 

Yesterday, a very close and dear friend of mine passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer.  Joan was a rock star.  She was beautiful, clever, funny, genuine, loyal, and happy.  We went through a lot together.  She was a true and loving friend.  It is hard to think that we will not be having our long talks or our trips for onion rings and lime rickies; that I can’t just text her a funny joke and have her respond with a joke back in return; that we won’t get to be old ladies together, wearing knee-hi nylon stockings showing out of our church dresses; that I won’t get to hear her talk of her love of family and of God that inspired me so.  I’m sad that she suffered the way that she did.  I’m sad her time on this earth was short instead of long.  I’m sad for her husband and children who adore her.  But, it’s Easter tomorrow and because of what happened on the very first Easter, I am happy for my friend.

Easter is my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving is 2nd).  I love it because it’s quiet and not usually commercialized.  It’s spring time and the flowers are coming up out of the ground.  The trees are blossoming and leafing out.  The birds are building new nests and little calves and colts and lambs are being born.  Easter happens in the spring, when we are taught in such magnificent ways about a new beginning, a second chance.  Easter is most important because of Jesus Christ.  Our Savior suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and paid the price for all human suffering and sin.  My suffering and sin, and your suffering and sin.  My heartaches and hurts, and yours.  My sadness and disease, and yours.  My wounds at the hands of other people, and yours.  Every possible pain, sorrow, ailment, loss, wound, fear, error, mistake, and sin were truly and actually felt by Jesus Christ that day.  He bled at every pore, the pain was so horrific.  He did this because he loves us.  Because we cannot make it back to Heaven to live with God if we are not clean and whole.  We needed a mediator, a partner with greater strength, to help us bridge the gap between ourselves and our mortal weakness and our God.  Christ did this for us.  Then, after being weakened in the garden, he was taken to the cross where he was crucified for saying he was God’s Son.  He could have saved himself, but he didn’t want to fail you and me.  He refused to let us down.  He endured to the end.  He completed his mission.  He died on the cross, for me, for you, for all of humankind.  Then, he was buried in a borrowed tomb.  When Mary went back to find him, to properly care for his body, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty.  She wept and cried, but Jesus greeted her and she recognized him.  He had risen from the dead and had been resurrected.  His body and his spirit together again, forever.  Now completely perfect.  He showed Mary his wounds in his hands and feet so she knew that it was really him.  She ran to tell his disciples and others.  What a glorious day that was!

I am so happy that I have this knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am so profoundly grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me and you, and all of us, so much that he allowed his only begotten son, to come to earth and do what he did for us.  This is because God wants us to return to live with him again and he knows we cannot do it alone.  Jesus knew we needed a savior and so he stepped forward and became that for us.  How I love them both for this tremendous sacrifice.  Because of Jesus, if I repent of my mistakes, I can be forgiven and clean, able to be worthy to live with God again.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, it is now a gift that every person will receive, that we too will be resurrected.  Death really has no final word.  We will live again.  Death is not the end!  We will see our family and friends again!  I will see my dear friend, Joan again.  And my little friend, Troy, and Grandpa.  It will be glorious!  While I am sad at being separated from my friend, I am so very happy for her!  She is free from her pain.  She is in the arms of family and friends, and she is in the safe arms of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

If you feel helpless or lonely, sad or rejected; if you are sick or in pain; if you are tired and weary; if you have burdens of sin that make it hard to face yourself each day, take heart!  This is what Jesus Christ can do for you.  He can take away your pain.  He can bring peace to your mind and heart.  He can heal you from any wound.  He can forgive you of your mistakes.  HE LOVES YOU!  He did this for you!  Easter is for you!  and me!  and we!  The greatest gift the world will ever know is that of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

I am no longer afraid of death.  I know it is part of life and it will come to all of us eventually.  I know I will live again and be with my family and friends.  I know God is real and that Jesus Christ really lives, today!  What I do fear is not living my life well.  I’m afraid of wasting my life and choices on worldly things instead of focusing on the eternal perspective.  I’m afraid of not seeing myself and others the way God sees me and others.  I want to align my will with God’s.  I want to be more brave.  I want to be more happy.  I want to have more peace.  I want to do what’s right.  I am more afraid of not really living than I am of dying. 

Easter is real.  Jesus Christ is alive today.  We have a loving Heavenly Father who wants to return safely home to him.  Our families and marriages can be forever.  All because of Easter—because of Jesus Christ. 

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Brave

 
In her song, “Brave,” Sara Bareilles sings “honestly, I wanna see you be brave,”
 and “show me how big your brave is.” 
I want to see me, my husband, my children, my family and friends, everyone I care about
“let the words fall out” and be BRAVE! 
 
Think about what scares you, what shuts you down, what fills your heart with dread. 
Maybe it’s not a what, maybe it’s a who.
Who is that person, or who are those people that you allow to hollow out your soul? 
And, why do you let them?
It’s time to stop.  It’s time to own our lives.  To be brave and say what we want to.
I’m sick and tired of political correctness. 
I believe in respect for all people and all beliefs.  I do respect all people and their beliefs.
So, give me the same respect and respect me and mine!
Why are these things one-sided?
One person can say how they feel, but the next person cannot without getting threatened or sued.
People!  This is wrong!
 
If you are being abused, it is time to tell someone.
It is time to stop it.
It is time to put your hand up and say, “no! and never again!”
If you have been lied to, it is time to ask for the truth
and then decide what to do about it.
If, Heaven forbid, your own parents are the culprits and you are a young person,
it is time to ask for help.
If your spouse abuses you, hits you, and threatens you,
it is time to ask for help and leave.
If your spouse is hurting your children, 
in ANY WAY,
it is overdue for you to protect your children.
If you are being bullied at school or work or at soccer practice or anywhere else,
it is time to talk and tell and ask for help until someone believes and helps you.
 
These are extreme things, scary things of the worst kind, yet beautiful people suffer every day.
 
What about the less threatening things we should be standing up against?
 
Are you brave enough to not pass along the gossip?
Are you brave enough to really, really stand up for your faith?
Are you brave enough to declare your faith?
Do you have enough Brave to bear testimony of Jesus Christ?
…..In all things, at all times, and in all places?
Are you brave enough to respect your marriage and family when the world does not?
Do you honor, love, and respect your spouse and children the way they deserve?
Can you be brave and stand up for your friend?
Do you have the guts to stop a lie or a false story in its tracks? 
Are you strong enough to tell someone you don’t want to go on a second date?
Can you be brave and tell the creep who broke up with you two times in 12 days
THAT YOU DESERVE BETTER!
Can you be courageous enough to be kind to other people? 
 
I’m tired of the double standard.
One person can say their piece, but anyone who is on the opposite side is not allowed to say theirs, without damage.
I’m tired of having to “make nice” with people who are not nice, just to get along.
I’m tired of the gossip. 
  If something is not true and you pass it on, it’s called slander.
Slander is a crime, punishable by law.
I’m tired of people talking about other people’s tragedies just over lunch, for entertainment.
I’m tired of people trying to find out information about people and their suffering, so they can talk about it over lunch or on the phone or at the fence or on a walk.
I’m tired of kids feeling like they can’t be themselves because they don’t think their parents would approve of what their dreams and aspirations really are.
I’m tired of wives and husbands not being nice to each other.
I’m tired of parents being crappy parents and treating their kids badly.
I’m tired of frien-a-mies taking advantage of people who really do need friends.
I’m tired of college-age boys who don’t know how to treat girls.
I’m tired of people not being strong enough to take a position.
Take a position, people!  You can’t straddle the fence.
And I’m tired of being let down by people I thought cared about me, because I believed in them and trusted them and cared about them and they lied.
 
Let’s be brave, can we?
It seems like a hard thing to do for a lot of people.
I think it is liberating!
As long as you are not hurting other people,
as long as you are truth seeking and truth telling,
as long as you do things out of respect, love, and compassion,
and as long as you are honest and truly honor God, yourself and others,
what harm could come from being brave?
 
You might just teach someone something.
You might be the example someone else needs.
You might be the reason someone else decides to do better.
You might discover you are braver than you thought.
You will probably wish you had done so sooner.
Because it feels good; it feels right.
 
Ghandi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Maybe we do that by being the “brave” we wish the rest of the world could be.
One person can make a difference.
I promise.
“How big is your brave?”
Mine is pretty darn big, but it needs to get even bigger.
It’s hard sometimes to stand up to the bullies and the haters.
But if no one ever does, they get more powerful and stand over us for our whole lives.
I don’t want to live like that.  Do you?
But, if we want to be brave, we have to allow others to be brave, too.
Sometimes that is what takes the most bravery.
So, I’m letting my words “fall out.” 
“Brave until the bitter end,” I want my family to say about me when I’m gone.
Or, “she stood up for the truth,”
or, “she could be trusted,”
So I’ll be brave in my quest to be worthy of such a statement.
What is your bravery quest? 
Let’s “come out of the cages where we live,” and be brave.
 
 
 
 
 

#SaraBareilles 
#Brave
#gossip
#abuse
#bullying
#truth

Brave

 
In her song, “Brave,” Sara Bareilles sings “honestly, I wanna see you be brave,”
 and “show me how big your brave is.” 
I want to see me, my husband, my children, my family and friends, everyone I care about
“let the words fall out” and be BRAVE! 
 
Think about what scares you, what shuts you down, what fills your heart with dread. 
Maybe it’s not a what, maybe it’s a who.
Who is that person, or who are those people that you allow to hollow out your soul? 
And, why do you let them?
It’s time to stop.  It’s time to own our lives.  To be brave and say what we want to.
I’m sick and tired of political correctness. 
I believe in respect for all people and all beliefs.  I do respect all people and their beliefs.
So, give me the same respect and respect me and mine!
Why are these things one-sided?
One person can say how they feel, but the next person cannot without getting threatened or sued.
People!  This is wrong!
 
If you are being abused, it is time to tell someone.
It is time to stop it.
It is time to put your hand up and say, “no! and never again!”
If you have been lied to, it is time to ask for the truth
and then decide what to do about it.
If, Heaven forbid, your own parents are the culprits and you are a young person,
it is time to ask for help.
If your spouse abuses you, hits you, and threatens you,
it is time to ask for help and leave.
If your spouse is hurting your children, 
in ANY WAY,
it is overdue for you to protect your children.
If you are being bullied at school or work or at soccer practice or anywhere else,
it is time to talk and tell and ask for help until someone believes and helps you.
 
These are extreme things, scary things of the worst kind, yet beautiful people suffer every day.
 
What about the less threatening things we should be standing up against?
 
Are you brave enough to not pass along the gossip?
Are you brave enough to really, really stand up for your faith?
Are you brave enough to declare your faith?
Do you have enough Brave to bear testimony of Jesus Christ?
…..In all things, at all times, and in all places?
Are you brave enough to respect your marriage and family when the world does not?
Do you honor, love, and respect your spouse and children the way they deserve?
Can you be brave and stand up for your friend?
Do you have the guts to stop a lie or a false story in its tracks? 
Are you strong enough to tell someone you don’t want to go on a second date?
Can you be brave and tell the creep who broke up with you two times in 12 days
THAT YOU DESERVE BETTER!
Can you be courageous enough to be kind to other people? 
 
I’m tired of the double standard.
One person can say their piece, but anyone who is on the opposite side is not allowed to say theirs, without damage.
I’m tired of having to “make nice” with people who are not nice, just to get along.
I’m tired of the gossip. 
  If something is not true and you pass it on, it’s called slander.
Slander is a crime, punishable by law.
I’m tired of people talking about other people’s tragedies just over lunch, for entertainment.
I’m tired of people trying to find out information about people and their suffering, so they can talk about it over lunch or on the phone or at the fence or on a walk.
I’m tired of kids feeling like they can’t be themselves because they don’t think their parents would approve of what their dreams and aspirations really are.
I’m tired of wives and husbands not being nice to each other.
I’m tired of parents being crappy parents and treating their kids badly.
I’m tired of frien-a-mies taking advantage of people who really do need friends.
I’m tired of college-age boys who don’t know how to treat girls.
I’m tired of people not being strong enough to take a position.
Take a position, people!  You can’t straddle the fence.
And I’m tired of being let down by people I thought cared about me, because I believed in them and trusted them and cared about them and they lied.
 
Let’s be brave, can we?
It seems like a hard thing to do for a lot of people.
I think it is liberating!
As long as you are not hurting other people,
as long as you are truth seeking and truth telling,
as long as you do things out of respect, love, and compassion,
and as long as you are honest and truly honor God, yourself and others,
what harm could come from being brave?
 
You might just teach someone something.
You might be the example someone else needs.
You might be the reason someone else decides to do better.
You might discover you are braver than you thought.
You will probably wish you had done so sooner.
Because it feels good; it feels right.
 
Ghandi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Maybe we do that by being the “brave” we wish the rest of the world could be.
One person can make a difference.
I promise.
“How big is your brave?”
Mine is pretty darn big, but it needs to get even bigger.
It’s hard sometimes to stand up to the bullies and the haters.
But if no one ever does, they get more powerful and stand over us for our whole lives.
I don’t want to live like that.  Do you?
But, if we want to be brave, we have to allow others to be brave, too.
Sometimes that is what takes the most bravery.
So, I’m letting my words “fall out.” 
“Brave until the bitter end,” I want my family to say about me when I’m gone.
Or, “she stood up for the truth,”
or, “she could be trusted,”
So I’ll be brave in my quest to be worthy of such a statement.
What is your bravery quest? 
Let’s “come out of the cages where we live,” and be brave.
 
 
 
 
 

#SaraBareilles 
#Brave
#gossip
#abuse
#bullying
#truth

Beauty: Is in the EYES of the Beholder

These are my eyes.  All my life I was told I had brown eyes and that is how I filled out every form that ever asked for my eye color.  Then a doctor I worked with a long time ago commented one day that he thought I had pretty, green eyes.  Other people have told me my eyes are amber or even hazel, but most people agree that my eyes are not brown. 

I don’t have great eyelashes.  Especially the ones on the bottom.  You can’t see those unless I have mascara on.  When I have mascara on, they look pretty good.  I don’t have thick, unruly eyebrows either.  I’m glad they’re not unruly, but I wish they were thicker and darker.  I have to darken them to really see that they are even there. 

I like my eyes.  I like to wear eye makeup.  In fact, it was one of the first ways I rebelled at home.  Wearing eye makeup.  It’s always been fun for me to apply makeup.  I don’t like a lot and I like it to be pretty classic looking, but I like wearing makeup.  I also have worn makeup for so long that it’s hard to think about going out of the house without it. 

Over the last few years though, I have found myself getting more and more comfortable, and even liking, not wearing eye makeup.  Even in public.  I’m not scared of people seeing me without it, like I used to be in college.  And maybe it has something to do with having chronic dry eyes and the constant need for eye drops.  Some days, my eyes are just too tired and too sensitive and don’t want to have makeup put on them. 

I had hip surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It went well.  I didn’t break my hip or have a hip replacement.  I  have deformities, I guess you could call them, that have been with me probably for my whole life that cause extreme pain and discomfort and prevent me from doing things I would like to do and so it was time to get it corrected.  The recovery is long.  I have been flat in bed for two weeks.  This week I can sit for 15-minute periods, but then have to go back down for 2 to 3 hours.  So, you can imagine, I’m not wearing eye makeup right now. 

These last couple of weeks have been weirdly cool.  I get to sleep any time I want.  I have an excuse to rest.  My sister brought me her small fridge and so I have it in my room, stocked with cold drinks and snacks.  I have excuses to not do the things I don’t want to do.  I get to  watch movies and read all day.  My neighbors from church have been spoiling me rotten by bringing dinners.  And, the coolest thing of all is that I have decided I like the way I look without makeup! 

My routine has had to be much shorter these days.  I get out of the shower and only can put on some moisturizer and brush my wet hair into a braid before getting back down flat.  Each time I have come face to face with my reflection these last many days, I have gotten more and more happy with the fact that, hey!  I didn’t have to put any makeup on today!  I still look pretty darn good!  And, more than that, I don’t care!  Yay! 

I’m 50 so I’m not old by any measurement, but I am tired of some things.  I’m tired of reading books that I don’t love, so if it doesn’t grab me in the first two chapters, I’m not going to finish it and I’m not going to apologize either.  I’m tired of eating so-so food.  If I have to eat to live, because that’s me–I eat to live–I don’t live to eat–then I want to eat delicious food.  That doesn’t mean fancy or expensive.  It just means GOOD.  The meals my church friends have brought me, by the way, have been delicious!  I’m tired of conversations that are negative.  They wear me out.  I’m tired of worrying about the future, and I’m a grade-A worry wart.  I’m worn out with it.  I’m tired of the world, and all the forces within it, pressuring me to look a certain way or to be a certain kind of woman.  Guess what?  I will wear makeup when I want to and I won’t wear it when I don’t want to.  Maybe I won’t wear it to church one day.  Maybe, even, I will teach my lesson at church without wearing makeup, just because I’d rather have 5 minutes extra time in the bubble bath.  Maybe I will wear lots of eyeliner to the grocery store and maybe I will wear a bare face and bright red lipstick only to the symphony.  I will do what I want, when I want.  And guess what?  It’s okay because me wearing or not wearing makeup is not going to hurt anyone. 

And something else.  I’m tired of trying to search high and low for better mascara.  I just read an article that said it’s all the same, basically.  It’s so hard and takes so long to get patents on new formulas, that the only thing they can really do is come up with new wands and new tubes.  And then they sell it us for $8 all the way up to $40 per tube.  And then, they tell us we’ll all go blind if we don’t throw mascara out every three months.  I think that’s a bunch of hype.  In college, and when we were first married, and for several years after that, I didn’t have the luxury of getting mascara every three months.  It wasn’t in the budget.  Especially if the tube was still full.  I used mascara until it was so gone or so dried out I couldn’t get any more out of the tube, and I NEVER went blind.  They tell us that because then they get to sell more mascara.  And we’re supposed to be okay with that because then we can try all the hundreds of ridiculously shaped wands and colors of tubes and fancy names of mascara.  There is one called “Better Than Sex,” and one called “They’re Real,” and other ridiculous names.  Please! 

I’m sure you have already read my post, or rather my rant, about false eyelashes.  If not, please give it a read.  I won’t go into that here, but I’m not afraid to tell you I’m against them.  If I now happen to be in the mood to put mascara on, and two coats on the top and one on the bottom doesn’t do any magic, well, too bad.  I have more important things to do, like artwork or stained glass or reading a book, or cooking something new for dinner, or doing Pilates, or making out with my husband, or talking to my children.  I don’t have time to try to look like Lady Gaga.  Who would want to? 

I guess I’m just tired of feeling like every day I have to put on some kind of  a mask to be presentable to the world, or even to my husband and children.  Guess what?  After two weeks of no makeup, my husband still thinks I’m pretty and my kids don’t think I’m an alien.  I bathe every day and wash and style my hair.  I wear cute clothes that are clean.  I smell good.  If I don’t want to wear makeup, is that a crime? 

I’m asking us as women to evaluate why we wear makeup and why we go without it.  How does it make us feel?  How do we feel when we take it all off?  I really LOVE washing my face at night.  I love having a clean face.  It makes me feel relaxed and calm and now I’ve decided, actually prettier. 

This is my face.  It’s a nice face.  It makes my husband happy.  He loves me with eyeliner and lipstick and he loves me without it.   I am not against makeup.  If you know me, you would know I’m a makeup and beauty junkie.  I even subscribe to a beauty sample site where I get a new box each month bursting with lovely new surprises to try.  I highly recommend it.  There are many, but I like the one called Ipsy.  It’s like Christmas every month.   A new little box comes and you get to try things for a few times.  I have learned about new brands of hair and skin products that I didn’t even know existed.  I have tons of ready-to-go items for traveling and my purse.  It’s a wonderful way to learn about beauty.  So I’m not against makeup.  I will still probably wear makeup most days of the week.  I just want us to fall in love again, or for the first time, with our beautiful, uniquely special faces.  I want us as women to be able to look in the mirror and say, hey, you!  You are so pretty just the way you are this morning, leave things alone!  Take a rest! 

I can tell you that going without makeup for two weeks has done something else for me.  My skin has never looked better.  I don’t wear foundation anyway, but I’ve been wearing more moisturizer and creams and serums because I don’t have makeup on so I can slather something wonderful on if the mood hits or I need a little pickup.  I think it has helped my skin be brighter, less dry, and clearer. 

I don’t have all the secrets, but if you would like to know my favorite products, the ones I swear by on my own future grave, here they are. 

1.  Moisturizer:  I am addicted to this!  It is $12-14, available at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, just about anywhere.  No scents.  Not greasy.  Just heavenly and sinks right in.  Feels light and beautiful.  And it can be used on your whole body, so you only need one item.  LOVE IT!  The one my dermatologist recommends. 

2.   Sunscreen:  The MOST IMPORTANT thing you put on your skin each day.  My dermatologist gave this to me a few years ago and I’m hooked for life.  I used to put foundation over it, but now I’m going more natural and so I have nixed the foundation from my life.  I just wear this and concealer. 

  

3.  Concealer:  Well the pic is upside down.  Forgive me!  I’m a dork.  But truly this is the best, for me, for under eyes.  A little goes a long way and it lasts forever.  It doesn’t smudge or slide around on your face.  It’s there until you wash it off.  Moisturizing, too. 

 
4.  Finishing powder.  I used to use Bare Minerals Mineral Veil.  I loved it until I got a sample of this in a beauty box.  This is $6 and Mineral Veil is $29.  This is prettier, lasts longer, and doesn’t irritate my eyes.  I love, love it. 
 


 
 
5.  Eye shadow:  There are lots of very good eye shadows.  This happens to be my favorite because I can do anything and everything, or even nothing with this palate.  It’s simply gorgeous.  Line with the darker shades, highlight with the lighter ones, or go all out with the dark shades as shadows.  It’s a riot to play with this.  Expensive, but I’ve already had it for 2 years.  It has paid for itself. 
 

  
6.  Eyeliner:  I love Ulta’s Automatic Eyeliner pencils with built-in sharpeners.  All the colors are gorgeous, but black/brown is my shade.  They cost $7 and sometimes you get a free one when you buy two or three.  I used to use Clinique’s pencils, but these are exactly the same, as far as I’m concerned, and half the price. 
 
 
7.  Mascara:  I haven’t found the perfect mascara yet, maybe because there is no such thing, but these three are in rotation right now.  Cover Girl Professional, Maybelline Great Lash, and Estee Lauder Double Wear.  I like black mascara.  I also want it to come off with soap and water.  If it doesn’t, it gets tossed.  These all wash off very nicely, leaving no residue or gunky leftovers in my eyes. 
 
 
9.  Blush:  I love Clinique’s Cream Stick blush in Peach Blush.  It looks like a big, fat lipstick.  It is a natural, lovely color on me and lasts all day.  It’s moisturizing and wonderful.  I’ve had this stick for 3 years now and it’s still going strong. 
 
  
10.  Lipstick:  This is my favorite of all.  I love lipsticks.  In fact, I think it deserves it’s very own blog post, so that will be coming in the near future.  For now I will share my latest favorite, from Calvin Klein.  It is extremely rich and creamy, like butter frosting, really.  The shades are gorgeous!  It is not a matte, by any means, so if you like glossy, this is for you. 
 
 
11.  Brow Filler:  I always used to use a brow pencil or even a powder, but this is a new revolutionary product for me.  It’s like mascara for your brows.  My brows look more natural now with this.  It just darkens them ever so slightly, and shapes them into prettier brows.  If I could only use two products aside from sunscreen, I would choose this and lipstick.  It’s that wonderful. 
 
Well, that’s what is in my makeup arsenal.  I hope it helps if you’ve been looking for something new to try.  I love each and every one of these products and swear that they work beautifully for me. 
 
As I recover from my hip surgery and I’m allowed to do more standing and sitting and maybe actually even leave my house, I’m sure I will get back to wearing makeup, but then again, maybe not.  I really am enjoying my “real” face.  I hope it doesn’t sound vain, because I don’t think I’m a vain woman, but I do like my face.  Is that wrong?  And, is it wrong to like how it looks all by its own little natural self?  I don’t think so.  I think we all need a little time off from our daily beauty routines.  It has helped me to focus in on the question of why do I put makeup on at all?  And, who do I really wear makeup for?  I think I’ve found that I wear it for myself, but I also wear it to be “pretty” in what the world would call pretty.  I think we all need to look at our eyes and our lips and our skin and own them, really embrace them and love them and accept them.  I don’t have long or thick eyelashes, but I have eyelashes.  Where I didn’t get blessed in the eyelash department, I got an abundance of blessings in the lip department, so I won’t complain.  I’d rather have it that way.  And, in the lipstick blog post we will have to talk about how I finally came to accept and love my full lips.  That was a journey in and of itself, after years of teasing and bullying when I was young. 
 
This morning I had the privilege, and yes, I say privilege, of taking a nice hot bath.  It’s the first time that it has been okay to do since my operation, and I loved every second of it.  While I was soaking in the warm water and enjoying how nice everything smelled and how good it felt to be in my tub again, I spied my bottle of face cleanser.  I was struck by the title of it.  Purity, it is called, by Philosophy.  It has the coolest saying on the front of the bottle:
 
  
“Purity is natural.  We come into the world with all the right instincts.  We are innocent, and therefore perceive things as they should be, rather than how they are.  Our conscience is clear, our hands are clean, and the world at large is truly beautiful.  It is at this time we feel most blessed.  To begin feeling young again, we must begin with the most  basic step of all; the daily ritual of cleansing.” 
 
I love that!  No wonder I feel so happy and good and pretty at the end of the day when I lovingly wash my face at the sink and pat it dry, looking in the mirror at the face God gave me.  Why, I ask myself, did I try so hard today to cover up and make up this face?  It’s pretty darn beautiful just the way it is.  My prayer is that you will all discover and embrace your real faces, the ones God made for you, and be more proud than ever to show the world that beautiful face. 
 
Please share your comments with me.  I would love to know how you feel about this subject?  What are your favorite products?  What can’t you leave the house without?  How do you make yourself feel pretty?  I would love to know!  Until I hear from you, have a blessed and wonderful week.  🙂
 
 
 
#Philosophy
#Clinique
#CalvinKleinOne
#EsteeLauder
#UrbanDecay
#Maybelline
#CoverGirl
#Ulta
#E.L.F.
#CeraVe 
#EltaMD
#Ipsy






Beauty: Is in the EYES of the Beholder

These are my eyes.  All my life I was told I had brown eyes and that is how I filled out every form that ever asked for my eye color.  Then a doctor I worked with a long time ago commented one day that he thought I had pretty, green eyes.  Other people have told me my eyes are amber or even hazel, but most people agree that my eyes are not brown. 

I don’t have great eyelashes.  Especially the ones on the bottom.  You can’t see those unless I have mascara on.  When I have mascara on, they look pretty good.  I don’t have thick, unruly eyebrows either.  I’m glad they’re not unruly, but I wish they were thicker and darker.  I have to darken them to really see that they are even there. 

I like my eyes.  I like to wear eye makeup.  In fact, it was one of the first ways I rebelled at home.  Wearing eye makeup.  It’s always been fun for me to apply makeup.  I don’t like a lot and I like it to be pretty classic looking, but I like wearing makeup.  I also have worn makeup for so long that it’s hard to think about going out of the house without it. 

Over the last few years though, I have found myself getting more and more comfortable, and even liking, not wearing eye makeup.  Even in public.  I’m not scared of people seeing me without it, like I used to be in college.  And maybe it has something to do with having chronic dry eyes and the constant need for eye drops.  Some days, my eyes are just too tired and too sensitive and don’t want to have makeup put on them. 

I had hip surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It went well.  I didn’t break my hip or have a hip replacement.  I  have deformities, I guess you could call them, that have been with me probably for my whole life that cause extreme pain and discomfort and prevent me from doing things I would like to do and so it was time to get it corrected.  The recovery is long.  I have been flat in bed for two weeks.  This week I can sit for 15-minute periods, but then have to go back down for 2 to 3 hours.  So, you can imagine, I’m not wearing eye makeup right now. 

These last couple of weeks have been weirdly cool.  I get to sleep any time I want.  I have an excuse to rest.  My sister brought me her small fridge and so I have it in my room, stocked with cold drinks and snacks.  I have excuses to not do the things I don’t want to do.  I get to  watch movies and read all day.  My neighbors from church have been spoiling me rotten by bringing dinners.  And, the coolest thing of all is that I have decided I like the way I look without makeup! 

My routine has had to be much shorter these days.  I get out of the shower and only can put on some moisturizer and brush my wet hair into a braid before getting back down flat.  Each time I have come face to face with my reflection these last many days, I have gotten more and more happy with the fact that, hey!  I didn’t have to put any makeup on today!  I still look pretty darn good!  And, more than that, I don’t care!  Yay! 

I’m 50 so I’m not old by any measurement, but I am tired of some things.  I’m tired of reading books that I don’t love, so if it doesn’t grab me in the first two chapters, I’m not going to finish it and I’m not going to apologize either.  I’m tired of eating so-so food.  If I have to eat to live, because that’s me–I eat to live–I don’t live to eat–then I want to eat delicious food.  That doesn’t mean fancy or expensive.  It just means GOOD.  The meals my church friends have brought me, by the way, have been delicious!  I’m tired of conversations that are negative.  They wear me out.  I’m tired of worrying about the future, and I’m a grade-A worry wart.  I’m worn out with it.  I’m tired of the world, and all the forces within it, pressuring me to look a certain way or to be a certain kind of woman.  Guess what?  I will wear makeup when I want to and I won’t wear it when I don’t want to.  Maybe I won’t wear it to church one day.  Maybe, even, I will teach my lesson at church without wearing makeup, just because I’d rather have 5 minutes extra time in the bubble bath.  Maybe I will wear lots of eyeliner to the grocery store and maybe I will wear a bare face and bright red lipstick only to the symphony.  I will do what I want, when I want.  And guess what?  It’s okay because me wearing or not wearing makeup is not going to hurt anyone. 

And something else.  I’m tired of trying to search high and low for better mascara.  I just read an article that said it’s all the same, basically.  It’s so hard and takes so long to get patents on new formulas, that the only thing they can really do is come up with new wands and new tubes.  And then they sell it us for $8 all the way up to $40 per tube.  And then, they tell us we’ll all go blind if we don’t throw mascara out every three months.  I think that’s a bunch of hype.  In college, and when we were first married, and for several years after that, I didn’t have the luxury of getting mascara every three months.  It wasn’t in the budget.  Especially if the tube was still full.  I used mascara until it was so gone or so dried out I couldn’t get any more out of the tube, and I NEVER went blind.  They tell us that because then they get to sell more mascara.  And we’re supposed to be okay with that because then we can try all the hundreds of ridiculously shaped wands and colors of tubes and fancy names of mascara.  There is one called “Better Than Sex,” and one called “They’re Real,” and other ridiculous names.  Please! 

I’m sure you have already read my post, or rather my rant, about false eyelashes.  If not, please give it a read.  I won’t go into that here, but I’m not afraid to tell you I’m against them.  If I now happen to be in the mood to put mascara on, and two coats on the top and one on the bottom doesn’t do any magic, well, too bad.  I have more important things to do, like artwork or stained glass or reading a book, or cooking something new for dinner, or doing Pilates, or making out with my husband, or talking to my children.  I don’t have time to try to look like Lady Gaga.  Who would want to? 

I guess I’m just tired of feeling like every day I have to put on some kind of  a mask to be presentable to the world, or even to my husband and children.  Guess what?  After two weeks of no makeup, my husband still thinks I’m pretty and my kids don’t think I’m an alien.  I bathe every day and wash and style my hair.  I wear cute clothes that are clean.  I smell good.  If I don’t want to wear makeup, is that a crime? 

I’m asking us as women to evaluate why we wear makeup and why we go without it.  How does it make us feel?  How do we feel when we take it all off?  I really LOVE washing my face at night.  I love having a clean face.  It makes me feel relaxed and calm and now I’ve decided, actually prettier. 

This is my face.  It’s a nice face.  It makes my husband happy.  He loves me with eyeliner and lipstick and he loves me without it.   I am not against makeup.  If you know me, you would know I’m a makeup and beauty junkie.  I even subscribe to a beauty sample site where I get a new box each month bursting with lovely new surprises to try.  I highly recommend it.  There are many, but I like the one called Ipsy.  It’s like Christmas every month.   A new little box comes and you get to try things for a few times.  I have learned about new brands of hair and skin products that I didn’t even know existed.  I have tons of ready-to-go items for traveling and my purse.  It’s a wonderful way to learn about beauty.  So I’m not against makeup.  I will still probably wear makeup most days of the week.  I just want us to fall in love again, or for the first time, with our beautiful, uniquely special faces.  I want us as women to be able to look in the mirror and say, hey, you!  You are so pretty just the way you are this morning, leave things alone!  Take a rest! 

I can tell you that going without makeup for two weeks has done something else for me.  My skin has never looked better.  I don’t wear foundation anyway, but I’ve been wearing more moisturizer and creams and serums because I don’t have makeup on so I can slather something wonderful on if the mood hits or I need a little pickup.  I think it has helped my skin be brighter, less dry, and clearer. 

I don’t have all the secrets, but if you would like to know my favorite products, the ones I swear by on my own future grave, here they are. 

1.  Moisturizer:  I am addicted to this!  It is $12-14, available at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, just about anywhere.  No scents.  Not greasy.  Just heavenly and sinks right in.  Feels light and beautiful.  And it can be used on your whole body, so you only need one item.  LOVE IT!  The one my dermatologist recommends. 

2.   Sunscreen:  The MOST IMPORTANT thing you put on your skin each day.  My dermatologist gave this to me a few years ago and I’m hooked for life.  I used to put foundation over it, but now I’m going more natural and so I have nixed the foundation from my life.  I just wear this and concealer. 

  

3.  Concealer:  Well the pic is upside down.  Forgive me!  I’m a dork.  But truly this is the best, for me, for under eyes.  A little goes a long way and it lasts forever.  It doesn’t smudge or slide around on your face.  It’s there until you wash it off.  Moisturizing, too. 

 
4.  Finishing powder.  I used to use Bare Minerals Mineral Veil.  I loved it until I got a sample of this in a beauty box.  This is $6 and Mineral Veil is $29.  This is prettier, lasts longer, and doesn’t irritate my eyes.  I love, love it. 
 


 
 
5.  Eye shadow:  There are lots of very good eye shadows.  This happens to be my favorite because I can do anything and everything, or even nothing with this palate.  It’s simply gorgeous.  Line with the darker shades, highlight with the lighter ones, or go all out with the dark shades as shadows.  It’s a riot to play with this.  Expensive, but I’ve already had it for 2 years.  It has paid for itself. 
 

  
6.  Eyeliner:  I love Ulta’s Automatic Eyeliner pencils with built-in sharpeners.  All the colors are gorgeous, but black/brown is my shade.  They cost $7 and sometimes you get a free one when you buy two or three.  I used to use Clinique’s pencils, but these are exactly the same, as far as I’m concerned, and half the price. 
 
 
7.  Mascara:  I haven’t found the perfect mascara yet, maybe because there is no such thing, but these three are in rotation right now.  Cover Girl Professional, Maybelline Great Lash, and Estee Lauder Double Wear.  I like black mascara.  I also want it to come off with soap and water.  If it doesn’t, it gets tossed.  These all wash off very nicely, leaving no residue or gunky leftovers in my eyes. 
 
 
9.  Blush:  I love Clinique’s Cream Stick blush in Peach Blush.  It looks like a big, fat lipstick.  It is a natural, lovely color on me and lasts all day.  It’s moisturizing and wonderful.  I’ve had this stick for 3 years now and it’s still going strong. 
 
  
10.  Lipstick:  This is my favorite of all.  I love lipsticks.  In fact, I think it deserves it’s very own blog post, so that will be coming in the near future.  For now I will share my latest favorite, from Calvin Klein.  It is extremely rich and creamy, like butter frosting, really.  The shades are gorgeous!  It is not a matte, by any means, so if you like glossy, this is for you. 
 
 
11.  Brow Filler:  I always used to use a brow pencil or even a powder, but this is a new revolutionary product for me.  It’s like mascara for your brows.  My brows look more natural now with this.  It just darkens them ever so slightly, and shapes them into prettier brows.  If I could only use two products aside from sunscreen, I would choose this and lipstick.  It’s that wonderful. 
 
Well, that’s what is in my makeup arsenal.  I hope it helps if you’ve been looking for something new to try.  I love each and every one of these products and swear that they work beautifully for me. 
 
As I recover from my hip surgery and I’m allowed to do more standing and sitting and maybe actually even leave my house, I’m sure I will get back to wearing makeup, but then again, maybe not.  I really am enjoying my “real” face.  I hope it doesn’t sound vain, because I don’t think I’m a vain woman, but I do like my face.  Is that wrong?  And, is it wrong to like how it looks all by its own little natural self?  I don’t think so.  I think we all need a little time off from our daily beauty routines.  It has helped me to focus in on the question of why do I put makeup on at all?  And, who do I really wear makeup for?  I think I’ve found that I wear it for myself, but I also wear it to be “pretty” in what the world would call pretty.  I think we all need to look at our eyes and our lips and our skin and own them, really embrace them and love them and accept them.  I don’t have long or thick eyelashes, but I have eyelashes.  Where I didn’t get blessed in the eyelash department, I got an abundance of blessings in the lip department, so I won’t complain.  I’d rather have it that way.  And, in the lipstick blog post we will have to talk about how I finally came to accept and love my full lips.  That was a journey in and of itself, after years of teasing and bullying when I was young. 
 
This morning I had the privilege, and yes, I say privilege, of taking a nice hot bath.  It’s the first time that it has been okay to do since my operation, and I loved every second of it.  While I was soaking in the warm water and enjoying how nice everything smelled and how good it felt to be in my tub again, I spied my bottle of face cleanser.  I was struck by the title of it.  Purity, it is called, by Philosophy.  It has the coolest saying on the front of the bottle:
 
  
“Purity is natural.  We come into the world with all the right instincts.  We are innocent, and therefore perceive things as they should be, rather than how they are.  Our conscience is clear, our hands are clean, and the world at large is truly beautiful.  It is at this time we feel most blessed.  To begin feeling young again, we must begin with the most  basic step of all; the daily ritual of cleansing.” 
 
I love that!  No wonder I feel so happy and good and pretty at the end of the day when I lovingly wash my face at the sink and pat it dry, looking in the mirror at the face God gave me.  Why, I ask myself, did I try so hard today to cover up and make up this face?  It’s pretty darn beautiful just the way it is.  My prayer is that you will all discover and embrace your real faces, the ones God made for you, and be more proud than ever to show the world that beautiful face. 
 
Please share your comments with me.  I would love to know how you feel about this subject?  What are your favorite products?  What can’t you leave the house without?  How do you make yourself feel pretty?  I would love to know!  Until I hear from you, have a blessed and wonderful week.  🙂
 
 
 
#Philosophy
#Clinique
#CalvinKleinOne
#EsteeLauder
#UrbanDecay
#Maybelline
#CoverGirl
#Ulta
#E.L.F.
#CeraVe 
#EltaMD
#Ipsy






Too Much Homework? Bahhhhhhhh!

Are you a parent that feels your child has too much homework to do?  Does your child feel they have too much homework?  Let’s investigate this a little bit.  Help me out here by answering a few questions. 

Is your child in school? 
—–Well, they should have homework.  The teacher can’t possibly help them learn every concept in the short time they are together at school.  Thus, HOME WORK. 

Do you want your child to succeed in life? 
—–You should pray that they have homework.  How can a child who doesn’t gradually do more and more homework as they progress through school ever have a chance at earning a college degree?   We all know people that graduate from college have more success in their careers.  What about a graduate program?  More homework! 

Is it really that the child has more homework or is it that the child wants to waste their time on their phone or other device?
—–We all know that children don’t play outside anymore, so what are you taking them away from by asking them to do homework? 

Do you have your child in every single activity that has ever been offered to mankind and that is why homework is a problem? 
—–Here is a solution.  One sport and one other thing.  Your kid is not going to be good at the 20 activities you have him or her enrolled in because there is no way one person can be excellent at so many things.  Pick one or two things, that they can be good at, and that they love.  That is plenty, believe me.

Are you really invested in being a good parent? 
—–Sorry, I had to say it.  But, step back and ask yourselves.  Is it YOU that doesn’t want to read with your 6-year-old?  If so, aren’t you setting a bad example?  Is it really YOU that doesn’t want to go to the store so the poor kid can get poster paper for his country report?  When you signed up to have a baby, you signed up to help your child succeed. 

I don’t believe kids have too much homework.  There is a study that showed that homework amounts have not changed in 30 years, in fact.  What I do believe is that some kids naturally work harder than others and there are some parents who push.  Personally, we have had to beg our kids to take a break from studying once in a while.  But there are also parents who are lazy and thus produce lazy kids.  I also know that some teachers are better than most and have meaningful homework, while there are others who do expect the child to learn some things on their own. 

There are a lot of things that need to change with education in America.  We are being outwitted by students in other countries because their education system is better.  BUT, my point is that, if your child is in school, then as a parent you have a responsibility to support YOUR CHILD.  If the project assigned is lame, it is lame.  Sorry.  Part of being a mom or dad.  I don’t think we want to raise children who are disrespectful of authority and teachers because their parents complain about them.  This is about supporting our children and helping them succeed in the environment they are in.  If you can move in order to put your child in a better school, then do it.  If you can give up one hour of watching Downton Abbey to help quiz your child on chemistry, then, please do it.  

Our kids are in college.  Our son will graduate this spring and our daughter will graduate next spring.  They have a lot of homework.  My daughter has three math classes per semester, plus she takes upper division English classes for fun.  My son has so many Spanish and science classes with labs that he leaves at 6 a.m. and comes home at 10:30 p.m.  Then, they both study on the weekends and at night.  That is what a lot of homework looks like.  They both manage to have active social lives and work part-time jobs and serve in our community and church on top of it all.  But, I am convinced that the reason they seem to thrive in this environment, and can handle the really tough classes with all the demanding research is because of one thing:  We supported them in their homework when they were younger.  We didn’t complain or gripe about the teachers.  True, there were favorite teachers, mostly in junior high and high school, that pushed them to the brink with meaningful, investigatory assignments, and there were others that were draining with the endless worksheets and such.  But we emphasized the good over the bad.  Tried to learn something along with them.  Encouraged them to talk about what they were learning at school during dinner.  And clapped and whistled when the good grades and scholarships came rolling in.  But, good grades and scholarships don’t roll in.  They are earned by a lot of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears. 

As I think about our kids graduating from college and going on to graduate school and professional careers, I often wonder what it is that made them be able to do it.  I think the answer is easy.  We were excited about learning at our house.  The kids wanted to tell us what they learned.  They still do.  It’s funny now to have my son try to explain deep organic chemistry principles that are far over my head, or listen to my daughter explain in an 8-page paper “why zero is zero” for her Foundations of Algebra class.  But it makes me happy that they love learning.  They are smarter than we are and isn’t that the point?  To make each generation better than the one before it?

A big payback at our house has been that because our kids have always loved school and learning, and also spent many, many hours learning and practicing music, they never have grown attached to the X-Box or Wii or Playstation.  They don’t care about their smartphones.  They only use their laptops for homework.  When they are finished studying, they don’t want to see another screen.  They are playing their music, out with friends, playing basketball, or skiing.  They have learned to work hard at their jobs and earn their own money. 

I do not profess to have all the answers about raising children and I would never pretend to understand all the ways we could improve the education system.  But I do know that raising children to be excited about the world around them is important and teaching them by example to respect teachers and other authorities is critical. 

Our daughter will be a junior high or high school math teacher in a year and a half.  She has studied and worked hard to achieve this dream of hers.  I hope she is prepared to encounter parents and students that are whining about too much homework so they can play video games or participate in 12 different sports.  My daughter’s whole dream of becoming a math teacher is to help our world be a better place.  She believes that if more people could get over their math phobia during those critical years and learn to love and succeed at math, we would have more engineers, more scientists, more doctors, more inventors, and a stronger economy.  She remembers the hours we spent with her to overcome her fear of fractions and will tell you herself that this one thing, getting over her fear of fractions, helped her to love math.  We did that, not her teacher.  I know she is excited about being a teacher.  My biggest fear for her is that she throws in the towel after a few years and joins the private sector where she can earn a far greater salary, just because all her efforts and passion are not respected by lazy complainers.  Please don’t do this to my daughter.

I know every child is not cut out to be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer.  Please don’t write me and tell me that.  I know it.  I know every child has challenges and weaknesses and strengths.  My own kids do.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I just want us as parents to step up to the plate and give it all we’ve got.  The world is in trouble.  It needs our kids.  It needs them to be strong and smart and wise.  It needs them to be prepared to be engaged in solving its problems.  They can’t do this without homework.  Even if gluing cotton balls on poster board seems meaningless, and maybe it is, it is teaching our kids to sacrifice for education, for the greater good of becoming smart.  So they can be leaders and explorers and writers and teachers, and maybe even President. 

Ghandi said, “Be the good you wish to see in the world.”  When it comes to this topic, we as parents can be the good.  Be a good example.  Teach your kids that it’s okay to do the homework, to read the books, to make a poster.  Teach them to want to make the world a better place.  They have the power to do it, but they need inspiration.  They need us to help them.  And, if it keeps them off smartphones and video games and out of bars and jails and off drugs, then why complain about homework? 

 

Too Much Homework? Bahhhhhhhh!

Are you a parent that feels your child has too much homework to do?  Does your child feel they have too much homework?  Let’s investigate this a little bit.  Help me out here by answering a few questions. 

Is your child in school? 
—–Well, they should have homework.  The teacher can’t possibly help them learn every concept in the short time they are together at school.  Thus, HOME WORK. 

Do you want your child to succeed in life? 
—–You should pray that they have homework.  How can a child who doesn’t gradually do more and more homework as they progress through school ever have a chance at earning a college degree?   We all know people that graduate from college have more success in their careers.  What about a graduate program?  More homework! 

Is it really that the child has more homework or is it that the child wants to waste their time on their phone or other device?
—–We all know that children don’t play outside anymore, so what are you taking them away from by asking them to do homework? 

Do you have your child in every single activity that has ever been offered to mankind and that is why homework is a problem? 
—–Here is a solution.  One sport and one other thing.  Your kid is not going to be good at the 20 activities you have him or her enrolled in because there is no way one person can be excellent at so many things.  Pick one or two things, that they can be good at, and that they love.  That is plenty, believe me.

Are you really invested in being a good parent? 
—–Sorry, I had to say it.  But, step back and ask yourselves.  Is it YOU that doesn’t want to read with your 6-year-old?  If so, aren’t you setting a bad example?  Is it really YOU that doesn’t want to go to the store so the poor kid can get poster paper for his country report?  When you signed up to have a baby, you signed up to help your child succeed. 

I don’t believe kids have too much homework.  There is a study that showed that homework amounts have not changed in 30 years, in fact.  What I do believe is that some kids naturally work harder than others and there are some parents who push.  Personally, we have had to beg our kids to take a break from studying once in a while.  But there are also parents who are lazy and thus produce lazy kids.  I also know that some teachers are better than most and have meaningful homework, while there are others who do expect the child to learn some things on their own. 

There are a lot of things that need to change with education in America.  We are being outwitted by students in other countries because their education system is better.  BUT, my point is that, if your child is in school, then as a parent you have a responsibility to support YOUR CHILD.  If the project assigned is lame, it is lame.  Sorry.  Part of being a mom or dad.  I don’t think we want to raise children who are disrespectful of authority and teachers because their parents complain about them.  This is about supporting our children and helping them succeed in the environment they are in.  If you can move in order to put your child in a better school, then do it.  If you can give up one hour of watching Downton Abbey to help quiz your child on chemistry, then, please do it.  

Our kids are in college.  Our son will graduate this spring and our daughter will graduate next spring.  They have a lot of homework.  My daughter has three math classes per semester, plus she takes upper division English classes for fun.  My son has so many Spanish and science classes with labs that he leaves at 6 a.m. and comes home at 10:30 p.m.  Then, they both study on the weekends and at night.  That is what a lot of homework looks like.  They both manage to have active social lives and work part-time jobs and serve in our community and church on top of it all.  But, I am convinced that the reason they seem to thrive in this environment, and can handle the really tough classes with all the demanding research is because of one thing:  We supported them in their homework when they were younger.  We didn’t complain or gripe about the teachers.  True, there were favorite teachers, mostly in junior high and high school, that pushed them to the brink with meaningful, investigatory assignments, and there were others that were draining with the endless worksheets and such.  But we emphasized the good over the bad.  Tried to learn something along with them.  Encouraged them to talk about what they were learning at school during dinner.  And clapped and whistled when the good grades and scholarships came rolling in.  But, good grades and scholarships don’t roll in.  They are earned by a lot of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears. 

As I think about our kids graduating from college and going on to graduate school and professional careers, I often wonder what it is that made them be able to do it.  I think the answer is easy.  We were excited about learning at our house.  The kids wanted to tell us what they learned.  They still do.  It’s funny now to have my son try to explain deep organic chemistry principles that are far over my head, or listen to my daughter explain in an 8-page paper “why zero is zero” for her Foundations of Algebra class.  But it makes me happy that they love learning.  They are smarter than we are and isn’t that the point?  To make each generation better than the one before it?

A big payback at our house has been that because our kids have always loved school and learning, and also spent many, many hours learning and practicing music, they never have grown attached to the X-Box or Wii or Playstation.  They don’t care about their smartphones.  They only use their laptops for homework.  When they are finished studying, they don’t want to see another screen.  They are playing their music, out with friends, playing basketball, or skiing.  They have learned to work hard at their jobs and earn their own money. 

I do not profess to have all the answers about raising children and I would never pretend to understand all the ways we could improve the education system.  But I do know that raising children to be excited about the world around them is important and teaching them by example to respect teachers and other authorities is critical. 

Our daughter will be a junior high or high school math teacher in a year and a half.  She has studied and worked hard to achieve this dream of hers.  I hope she is prepared to encounter parents and students that are whining about too much homework so they can play video games or participate in 12 different sports.  My daughter’s whole dream of becoming a math teacher is to help our world be a better place.  She believes that if more people could get over their math phobia during those critical years and learn to love and succeed at math, we would have more engineers, more scientists, more doctors, more inventors, and a stronger economy.  She remembers the hours we spent with her to overcome her fear of fractions and will tell you herself that this one thing, getting over her fear of fractions, helped her to love math.  We did that, not her teacher.  I know she is excited about being a teacher.  My biggest fear for her is that she throws in the towel after a few years and joins the private sector where she can earn a far greater salary, just because all her efforts and passion are not respected by lazy complainers.  Please don’t do this to my daughter.

I know every child is not cut out to be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer.  Please don’t write me and tell me that.  I know it.  I know every child has challenges and weaknesses and strengths.  My own kids do.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I just want us as parents to step up to the plate and give it all we’ve got.  The world is in trouble.  It needs our kids.  It needs them to be strong and smart and wise.  It needs them to be prepared to be engaged in solving its problems.  They can’t do this without homework.  Even if gluing cotton balls on poster board seems meaningless, and maybe it is, it is teaching our kids to sacrifice for education, for the greater good of becoming smart.  So they can be leaders and explorers and writers and teachers, and maybe even President. 

Ghandi said, “Be the good you wish to see in the world.”  When it comes to this topic, we as parents can be the good.  Be a good example.  Teach your kids that it’s okay to do the homework, to read the books, to make a poster.  Teach them to want to make the world a better place.  They have the power to do it, but they need inspiration.  They need us to help them.  And, if it keeps them off smartphones and video games and out of bars and jails and off drugs, then why complain about homework?