Friday, September 12, 2008


I love this picture of Victoria. It's from her 6th birthday last winter. I keep it in my bible, not just because it's a great picture of my daughter, but more because of what the picture speaks to me.

Look at my daughter. She really thinks she's something special, you can see it in her eyes, and in her pose. She has her crown perched on her head and you can tell she believes she is a princess. I love that. I think we should all feel that way.

I don't mean I think we should walk around full of ourselves, but in humility, I do wish every one of us could walk around remembering we are loved by our Father the King. I wish we would never lose that sense of beauty and uniqueness we each have because we were carefully created by THE Creator of the universe, in love and tender care for a good plan and purpose.

Today I was surfin' the net and during a news quiz I take weekly I learned about a young woman named (pseudo-named) Natalie Dylan. Even the fact that she's using an assumed name speaks volumes about the truth of what she's doing.

She is a beautiful young woman who has made a decision to, via Howard Stern's radio show, auction off her virginity to the highest bidder. What in the world has this world come to? In the course of my perusing it was revealed that she hopes to raise a million dollars to pay for her post-graduate education in this way.

It makes me sad. It makes me sad that she thinks her purity is only worth a million dollars. I realize that may sound very strange, but the truth of the matter is she should see herself as priceless. I can't help but wonder if there wasn't a time in her life that she felt about herself the way it appears Victoria does in the picture above.

The truth of the matter is a lot of young women in the world today are "selling themselves short." They may not be offering their bodies for cash, but still they walk around like they have a price tag on, and often it says "bargain basement." Many of our young women today label themselves as "clearance" by the way they dress, or by the way they speak; they portray themselves in such a way that makes it so others don't value or respect them either.

One of my greatest hopes as a mom is to foster the perception of self-value my daughter displays in the picture above. I hope she always sees herself as so special that she would never devalue herself, or give up a part of herself by the way she acts, dresses or behaves. I hope she thinks so highly of her beauty that she dresses it in modesty, and values her purity so greatly that she guards her virginity till the day she's married and her sexual purity all her life. (Because even once we have lost our virginity our purity can and should stay intact in marriage.)

I pray that God would give me many opportunities to share this message to a lot of young women, to know their great value, their preciousness and about the God who determined it so. If only someone were there to share it with Natalie Dylan.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Proud Mama or Naked Me - Ah, Maybe Both

OK, so I have been battling. I know I'm the only mom out there who obsesses over her children, how they are doing, whether they are liked, if people are being nice to them... catch my breath... the list goes on and on. I know, it's just me, and not one of you can relate.

My latest obsession (possession?) has been over Ethan's new 2nd grade teacher. I came from a school where the teachers were my friends. And if they weren't my friends, they certainly faked it really well. (Kidding, I know we were friends.) It was a school where we could drop in anytime, the teachers were always super open, and ALWAYS encouraging. It was the paradise of school experiences. Law and order existed, but love abounded more.

Now I am in a new place, a different place, a bit more usual place, I suspect. And it's got love, the principal is wonderful, very loving, but somehow law and order seem to take precedent. I am certain the love is there, and I have even seen it a little, especially in Victoria's classroom, but compared to what I have known, there is great restraint. (And truthfully a few mean mommies on campus too!)

So I have been watching Ethan's teacher from what seems (seemed?) to me the designated distance. At the "Meet and Greet" when I asked about homework I was told I'd "get the info at Back to School Night" (which is still more than a week away, come on.) At the end of the first day when I asked how "our first day went" I was told, "it was definitely a first day, I'm sure things will get better." Ouch! I suddenly flashed back to early Sunday school days when I just quit asking how Ethan did because I was afraid of the answer. Back in those days it was because Ethan was all boy, challenged to be caged in small quarters for long services. But I can honestly say he has outgrown that, and he's a really good kid. His first grade and kindergarten teachers used words like, "loving, tender-hearted, kind and prayer warrior to describe him." And when we were driving to school this morning I asked (yes, I know, I have crossed so many lines...) "Ethan, does your teacher yell?" His reply, "Yeah." "What does she say when she yells?" "She yells, 'Stop it!'" "Has she ever yelled at you?" "No." (And I will admit, that made it better for me.)

So I have been watching. Ethan's assigned seat in morning assembly is right next to his teacher. Lots of mornings I wouldn't see her even really greet him. (Ok, day 5 of school just ended, so "lots" is a relative term.) She seemed to hug the girls more... was she one of those teachers who didn't like little boys? (They are out there, just so you know.) One day when I picked him up I saw him ask her if he could go to me (I was waiting outside) and she barked "No!" Gasp! (And yes, bark may be my interpretation...) My poor baby... (I'm nuts, aren't I?)

This morning he wanted to go greet his friend Cole who also came from Creekside (they got split up in 2 different classes.) There were 4 minutes till assembly started but she told him "no" when he asked. Sniff! Other kids were running all around, and he was going to be penalized for asking?? I was so distraught I went over and walked him to Cole myself. (bad mommy, bad, bad mommy!)

By the time I left the school this morning I was totally wound up. Neal suggested (because I called him as I left), "let's confront her Back to School Night." Oh right, like I need her to know how neurotic I am?? But by lunch time I could take it no more, so I sent her a little email. "Just checking in, not getting clear feedback from Ethan, we're still adjusting, please let me know if all is well..." I would call it a "friendly little email," but let's just be honest it was fraught with ulterior motivation.

So tonight after dinner, I went in and checked my email, and this was her reply...

Dear Mrs. DePriest,

Thanks for checking in with me regarding Ethan! How is the adjusting phase going for your family? Are there any questions I can help you with or someone I can direct you to that can help?

Ethan is doing well at school. He is completing his work in class. Yay! I have also noticed that he appears to be making friends quickly which I am excited to see. The only thing I have noted is that at times he can be a bit chatty when he should be on task but I was very impressed with him today. He requested that he be moved in line so that he wasn't tempted to stand next to a fellow student he knew he would talk to. He impressed me with his wise choice and the way he handled the situation when I talked with him.

I think just keep praising him for his wise choices and encourage him to stay on task when in school. I enjoy having him in my class and I'm glad he's at Vineyard this year! Always feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have.

Have a nice evening!

Sweet, huh? OK, so I am just going to confess the part that got my attention the most was the "at times he can be a bit chatty..." What is my problem?

This poor teacher, she doesn't even know what she's been put through by this crazy, neurotic, messed up mother. Isn't it funny how when we don't take thoughts captive they can just completely take on their own destructive crazy life? How DOES God put up with me?

So, anyway, I'm really proud of my seven-year-old for making a wise choice and asking for help to skirt the problem before it escalated. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from him... One can only hope! (Note to Katherine: I know you are totally laughing right now, it's like 4th grade ALL OVER AGAIN! You just wait till you ride this experience from this side of the line!)

There, now my neuroses are fully exposed, hence the contemplation of changing the name of this blog from My Walk of Faith to simply, Naked Me! Love me or laugh at me, or even love to laugh at me, just don't point when you do it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wit's End.

A week ago I posted an entry about the challenge of disciplining my children. Then a couple days later I pulled it down, for fear of offending my children, specifically my oldest son. I was worried I was disclosing too much and might embarrass him.

Now here it is a week later, and this ongoing problem with Jacob has resurfaced yet again. And I am somewhat exasperated. I feel like I want to give up, disconnect, because this flaw in my son keeps coming up and up, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to get through to him. So my concern for his discomfort has been overshadowed by my concern for his well-being. And so here I post again.

The flaw is sneakiness, it comes in other forms, from defiance to outright lying, but sneakiness, that's a good word to encompass the whole battle.

A few weeks ago I caught him using his phone close to midnight. There are a whole variety of rules that got broken in the process, like not using his phone after 9:30, not being allowed to have his phone in his room at night, and when I caught him, at first he lied to me, SWORE to me, that all he had done was "turn it to silent." My suspicion was he was texting, but I couldn't prove it because outgoing text messages don't time stamp on his phone. But my mother's intuition told me he was lying. Upon further investigation I discovered he hadn't sent a text message, he'd made an actual phone call to a girl he used to go to school with, a crank call. He spent 2 weeks (or more?) with no phone, no internet access (except when he used it at my mom's without permission - more sneakiness.)

As the start of school approached I tried to back off a little, let him be dropped off at the movies with a friend, gave him his phone for safety reasons, and for my own comfort. When school started the first couple days I had him take it to school for safety reasons, "turning it in" as soon as he got home. By Thursday I decided he could have it back.

Another issue from the past with sneakiness was Jake lying about things like getting homework and such done. I caught him a couple times up in the middle of the night doing schoolwork when he should have been sleeping. I really came down on this situation because he would turn his bedroom lights on in the middle of the night without having any consideration for how it might affect his little brother's sleep. He's on the top bunk about 2 feet from the light source. We have had this happen 2 or 3 times, once for homework, another time he was reading a magazine, this time he was working on his latest "manuscript." That's when I caught him doing this past Friday night. I woke up in the middle of the night, well like 5 in the morning and something/ someone (probably the cat) had opened our bedroom door sometime through the night. I'm not a good sleeper and so as I was stirring, the bright light outlining the boys bedroom door caught my attention. I found him in his room, wide awake working on a play manuscript he's adapting in his spare time.

I was so angry. On more than one occasion he has been specifically told NOT to turn the lights on in his room when his brother is asleep. Ethan's little, needs his rest, and if he was awoken in the middle of the night or way too early hours of the morning he'd probably have a tough time going to sleep. I realize that so far 3 for 3 he's managed to sleep through it, but is that the point? I've told Jake, made a rule, and he ignores it, defies it even.

It seems to me like it's a pattern, the lying, sneaking, defying specific rules. Now I realize that on a bigger scale Jake seems like a good kid, sneaking to do homework, or write, but there's a core issue there, and it scares me. Am I to assume that although we have these struggles in "little things" when it really matters, then he will do the right thing and obey? I think that's a leap of faith I'm not willing to make. Doesn't it talk in the bible about being faithful in little things before you can be trusted in the big?

My husband adds to my frustration. Compared to Neal (and even me to some degree) Jake is a good kid. At his age I was sneaking out and drinking alcohol, and Neal was doing far worse. So in Neal's eyes he is a good kid, by comparison. But Neal and I also grew up without having a Christ-centered home, and to some degree, at least in Neal's case we weren't really taught any better. Or in my case, my parents were just too trusting and I had friends whose parents were far more permissive. I worked the system. And because of Neal's family background and issues with his dad, he finds it harder to discipline our kids. So I feel like I am always picking up that slack, I'm the "mean mom."

If it's inconvenient or there is a cost, discipline often goes by the wayside. For example after I caught Jake up with the lights on, there was no punishment, the four of them spent the day at Universal Studios. Neal didn't want to disappoint the little ones, and he didn't want to leave me home alone with Jake. (I had plans to clean and a meeting to help counsel some friends.) Another example, a few weeks back my little ones stole some toys from the dentist's office. There's this treasure chest and you're only supposed to take one, and they took more, Ethan took 8, Tori took 5, and Ethan lied to the receptionist when she specifically asked him if he was taking just one. We were at the house by the time I figured it out, and Neal was waiting to leave with the boys for the river. To me, lying and stealing are "spankable" offenses. And there had been an ongoing issue with Ethan about lying for a week before. I felt E needed a spanking but Neal wasn't willing because they were leaving. So it feel to me again to be the mean mom and I spanked Ethan (and Victoria) before the boys left. Ethan wouldn't even kiss me goodbye. And then it was me again a week later when I made them go back to the dentist office, confess their sins and return their stolen property. And I'm sorry, but it is stealing.

Another struggle I am having is how angry I am with Jacob. I try to withdraw from him to make a point of how unacceptable his choices are, but I don't know that is has any effect. I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall, and I worry that it's my son's heart. If you defy your parents, lie about it, sneak around, there are spiritual consequences even if the physical ones are ineffective. Every time he does it, I know it gets easier and easier to do it the next time. And I see him on this road to disaster. The lies will get bigger, the choices more serious. What is a mother to do?

I've been trying to evaluate our home, wondering if it's something I'm doing, or Neal is doing that is setting a poor example. But we don't lie, we're very forthright and transparent. Then I wonder if I am frustrating him into rebellion? I don't know, I am at my wit's end. Last time we had a big blow up with Jake sneaking around and lying we had even gone and I tried to make him accountable to his youth leader at the time, but when I told the whole story the youth leader looked relieved. Jake told me when he talked with him after I left he's said something about being glad it wasn't "worse," that he'd been really worried. But is there anything worse than being a person who lacks integrity?

Another thought that has occurred to me and has me concerned is this. If I keep catching Jake, over and over, is it because God has him truly on a short leash and he's getting held to a high standard and God isn't letting him continue in the sin? Or is it the more logical assumption that he's doing it so much I'm catching him often, but there are lots more times he's slipping by? That's what scares me. Everyone who knows Jake likes him a lot, and they all think he's a great kid, but if he's a good kid "out there," why is he living a double life and behaving so differently in our home? And what kind of example is he setting for his younger siblings?

I am tough, "mean mom" isn't a hard role for me to play, but I don't think expecting my kids to be honest people is too much to ask. I don't think it's too high a standard to set. My final and greatest worry is about my son's relationship with Jesus Christ. I see no real conviction in Jake when he does these things, I mean truly there must not be enough to stop him, and when he gets caught, I see no repentance. I see someone who is sorry that he got caught, not sorry for what he did. It frightens me.

I guess I need prayer for wisdom. I pray for God to speak to Neal too. I need prayer for Jake too. I honestly believe this is a huge issue, and at a time when we are sending him out into the world more than ever before with new influences and temptations, if there is no conviction toward integrity at the core, then I am very afraid.

I am also seeking counsel. If someone out there is reading this and has any insight, it would be appreciated. If you don't know my e-mail you can contact me through it by clicking on our family page and then going to my profile. Sigh. This parenting thing is tough.