Tag Archives: Family

Called to Move On

“It has to be a calling.”  I remember hearing those words from my pastor as he spoke to me about his profession.  Several years later, his amazing wife would utter those same words to describe my husband’s 16-year profession as a police officer.  Yeah… she’s right.  God’s calling on our lives takes any number of forms and paths, and is certainly not exclusively reserved for those in full-time ministry.

Without a doubt, law enforcement has been Scott’s calling.  There was a time in our lives when I was absolutely certain that God had placed my husband on this earth for the sole purpose to protect and serve.  He has the heart of a protector, and it has always been in his nature to step into harm’s way, if necessary, to accomplish the task.

The police profession has changed so much in the past decade, even more drastically in the last 5 years.  Men and women in blue are paying very high prices to earn a living today.

Three years ago I began praying a new prayer, in addition to my usual one for Scott’s protection.  We were perplexed and discontent, experiencing many closed doors (professionally), and sensing that we no longer had a clue which direction he should go.  I wanted my husband’s spark back –the one that you have when you are operating within your calling.  So we began to pray for direction, help, and strength, admitting that God’s ways are higher than ours.  And we waited.  More closed doors came and went, often painfully so, as our path was being refined.  Then, the unexpected answer…time to move on.

This was a shocking revelation, as it’s a path rarely traveled in law enforcement.  Historically, veteran police officers don’t leave the job; you “suck it up” until you reach the magic pension age.  But as we evaluated every aspect, our priorities became crystal clear.  With that, the decision to stay became much harder than the decision to leave.

Moving on is a calling too, when you think about it.  All of Scott’s experiences these past 16 years have intersected to bring us to the beginning of a new chapter.

I’ve been feeling a flood of emotions, with excitement and astonishment being the most dominant.  As I process how all of the upcoming changes will impact my family, I’m anticipating a moment when tears will flow.  These tears will appropriately mark the end of an era along with the beginning of a new chapter, both of which deserve space to process and celebrate.  It’s an odd experience for me, putting aside one of the many hats that I’ve worn for the past 16 years.

You see, this was my chosen “profession” too.  Sure, I didn’t go to the police academy, shoot a gun for qualifying, wrestle weapon-wielding drunk idiots into submission, hold a scared child as they watched their parents succumb to the consequences of their monumentally poor and selfish choices…I didn’t weave together intricate drug conspiracy cases that would ensure successful prosecution…I didn’t drive along the streets at some ridiculous hour searching for a perpetrator who had been burglarizing tax paying citizens’ homes, or have to notify a family of a loved one’s senseless death.  The list goes on.  I didn’t physically do those things, but every single moment, my heart was with the man who did.  With every hit, both physical and mental, I took it on the chin with him.  With every false and baseless citizen complaint filed against him, borne out of some systemic hatred for the men and women in blue, I stood by him and longed for the truth to prevail.  I symbolically held my breath every night as he walked out the door, and didn’t exhale until he returned safe and sound the next morning.  The holidays missed, birthdays, kids’ events, and the general upheaval that his crazy schedules caused…that was on me, too.  But, I was a proud police wife.  It took a strength beyond understanding to do it.  I didn’t have a physical badge, but I wore a badge of honor, intensely proud and protective of my husband and his profession.

As this chapter of our lives comes to a close, I’m thrilled and thankful, but I must acknowledge how it feels to say goodbye to the people we leave behind.  Police officers and their families possess something unique and special.  There is a sisterhood among wives, a brotherhood among officers, that can’t be rivaled… and I will miss it.  We have had the privilege to serve among some of the most hard-working, caring, strong, morally fit officers and their families. To you all, I say thank you for fighting in the trenches with us, and I hope that we can keep in touch.  Keep fighting the Good Fight.  You will be in my prayers, just as you have been for so many years.

Finally, I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with closed doors and NO’s in their life. Scott and I have had so many of them over the past 16 years, and no doubt there will be more.  We have had some low points, times of discouragement and questioning God’s plan.  But, we’ve had some monumental, eternity-impacting, life-changing YES’s too.  Rejections are hard, but believe and trust that God has a bigger opportunity for you on the horizon.  His no’s are merely making room for much bigger yes’s.

 

When Your Reality Makes You Weary

It was a gift—a relaxing camping trip with my family.  We had unplugged, played, napped, laughed, read books, and connected.  Heavenly, but it couldn’t possibly last forever. Now it was back to reality.

Our family’s “reality” includes my husband returning to his usual midnight shift job, with a Wed-Sun work week.  It was Wednesday evening; in anticipation of his first night back to work, he laid down for his usual nap.  After a hot summer day, the heat still lingered into the evening.  My 3 boys were buzzing around, indoors and out, playing with their neighborhood friends.  Doors were opening and closing loudly, the outside water faucet creaking on…and off…and back on.  I heard muffled squeals of excitement outdoors as I felt the rush of the cool A/C on my bare toes.

Then came a familiar wave of panic.  Like an unwelcome visitor, it plopped itself down in front of me and I was forced to acknowledge it.  I didn’t have to ask what prompted this feeling because I already knew.  It was the dread of being my husband’s “sleep gatekeeper.”  That’s what I call it, anyway.

I’ve always seen myself as the sole person responsible for his sleep quality, quantity, and therefore general health.  In my mind, everything hinges on him getting quality rest, something that evades most midnight-shifters.  When your husband struggles to meet his daily sleep needs, AND you have 3 active boys and a very vocal dog, the struggle to maintain a quiet house is exactly that, a struggle.

Midnight shift is counter-intuitive to human nature, offering up persistent fatigue, absent-mindedness (we call it “third shift brain”), and low vitamin D levels.  Those who work these hours take on an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and cognitive decline.  As a wife, I’m keenly aware of the fact that the most dangerous part of my husband’s work day (despite being a police officer) is his drowsy drive home after shift.  To keep the house quiet during the day, I alter my laundry and vacuuming schedules, whether I park my car in the garage or out, and ration my trips in and out of my bedroom while he’s sleeping.  I pack what I need each day, and live out of our guest bathroom to avoid waking him.  (Many times I’ve forgotten crucial “items” and have had to improvise.)  It isn’t easy, or normal, but it’s how we’ve done life for over half of his 16-year career.

This particular Wednesday evening as the noise ensued and the panic came knocking, I realized that my physical response to our reality was second-nature, and had been for quite some time.  I felt the anxiety wash over me; choking back tears, I felt hopeless and stuck.  I didn’t want to do this anymore; I longed for the blissful normalcy that we had tasted on vacation!  I was weary.

Do you have weary moments?  The kind where there is no end in sight and you don’t have it in you anymore to endure?

I asked God for comfort and a Word.  Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.  When I studied this verse in Greek, I learned that weary means “exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)” and rest means “to refresh; to cause one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; and to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation.”  This kind of rest can only refresh when it is given from above.  I can’t achieve the full measure on my own.  Anything I try to do for myself is temporary, at best.

When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it can feel impossible.  Enduring for as long as we must requires trust.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.  We can trust Him to take our burdens and lighten our loads and we can trust Him to strengthen us to endure anything that we face.  In this verse we also have the promise that it won’t last forever!  That summer evening, I needed to rest in these reminders.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I have my share of tears and fears.  All I know is that when I go to Jesus and cast my anxieties, somehow miraculously, I’m able to get up the next day and do it all again.  The same can be true for you.  Hang in there…think action verbs: come, trust, and cast.  You will find rest for your weary soul.

Shelter

umbrellaIt was what I call an “of course” moment.  Many refer to it as Murphy’s Law.  On a dreary morning with a driving rain storm, I was tasked with getting my youngest son to his bus stop with minimal drenching.  The ‘of course’ piece came when I realized that my husband was gone with our only running vehicle…containing all of our umbrellas.

My son and I stood in our garage watching the deluge, when I said a prayer out loud, “Could you please just cause the rain to let up long enough for him to get on the bus?  Please?”  I even thought to myself, Gee God, this would be a great moment to make yourself more real to my son, ya know?  I pray and you answer?  At that moment, the rain began to fall harder and faster.  Of course.

Something prompted me to do a final, desperate scan of our garage before making a run for it.  Maybe there is an umbrella here that I forgot we had.  Sure enough, I spotted one hanging on the wall next to the door that leads into the house.  I chuckled to myself, and whispered, “Thank you!”

My son made it mostly dry to the bus that morning and as I walked back to my house, I couldn’t help but think about the storms of life.  When we are in the midst of our storms, we often ask God to take them away.  Sometimes He does; other times He doesn’t.  But every time He provides us shelter.  All we need to do is look.

Inspiring Your Kids to Eat Healthy

As a mom, I have control over most of the food that enters our home –at least until my sons get jobs and driver’s licenses.  It’s hard enough to teach ourselves to eat healthy, but inspiring our families to adopt our habits can seem like an impossible task.

The obvious choice is to start when your children are young, so that healthy food is a part of their daily experience.  That’s wonderful, but what about those of us who entered the healthy eating game later in life?  Is it too late?  Or, what about parents who have picky eaters?  This is a real struggle with my own family.  I’m always trying to reign in the sugar maniacs while cajoling the picky eaters.  Over the years I have found a few things to be helpful:

 

dsc07107It takes time, but be persistent.  Chances are you didn’t arrive at a healthy lifestyle overnight, so be patient with your family.  Continue to set an example –educate yourself on the “what and why” of healthy eating.  Children are curious; they’ll ask questions about what you are eating.  It helps to tell them why your food choice is healthy, and to offer them a taste.  They may pass, but remember that we are rarely stagnate in anything; we can go forward or backward.  Your children’s tastes and preferences will change, and we as parents can choose to gradually nudge them in the right direction.  In our house, it is a challenge to get our kids to eat vegetables.  If this sounds familiar, I suggest starting with one meal a day, putting a few vegetables on their plates.  Eventually you can get away with offering it for snacks and other meals.  If they don’t like something, try serving it seasoned or prepared in a different way the next time.

Keep an on-going dialogue about the importance of quality nutrition and what sugar, for example, does to the body.  Since nutrition is one passion of mine, I talk about it often.  But you don’t have to be an expert to educate your children about healthy choices.  Children need lots of repetitions in order to master a concept, so expect to sound like a broken record.  Eventually it does sink in!  Recently I was in a store with my youngest son (age 6); he pointed out a box of Pop Tarts and loudly declared, “This is fake food, people!”  While I was slightly embarrassed, I was proud to see that he was retaining what I was teaching him.  If you have an intellectual and/or slightly older kiddo, consider watching some documentaries about nutrition.  We watched That Sugar Film with my 11-year old son and it was very compelling.  (Two great ones for adults are:  Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and Hungry for Change).

Identify the most challenging meals/foods and gradually switch out the favorite unhealthy foods…and explain why you are making the switch.  For example, instead of potato chips, buy a mandolin slicer and slice your own potatoes and bake in the oven.  For us, the challenging meal is snacks, so I set out a bowl of fruit, apples, bananas, cuties, pears, and let the kids know that something from this bowl is the first stop when wanting a snack.   Other great snack options are homemade granola bars and trail mix, mozzarella cheese sticks, hormone and nitrate free deli meat, air-popped popcorn, and Greek yogurt with berries or granola.

Tap into each child’s personality. This is probably the most effective tool in a parent’s arsenal for any behavior change.  By focusing on what motivates your child, you can channel their personality in order to positively influence them.  One of my boys sees everything in black and white (he has autism); I can give him a choice between two healthy foods and he will choose one because that is what he was asked to do.  I need to approach my second son intellectually (he’s a thinker):  “This is excellent for your immune system, and I know how much you don’t like to get sick.”  With my third, spitfire-of-a-son (Lord have mercy!), we have to make it all about competition and/or reverse psychology, “Whatever you do, don’t eat all of your salad like your brother just did.”  And he’ll immediately fill his face with salad…every time, without fail!

If it isn’t in your house, it can’t be eaten.  Sometimes I’ve had to take a firm stance on not buying any packaged or favorite unhealthy foods.  The kids freak out a bit, but they eventually get used to having only real food to choose from.  Confession: I use this trick on myself as well.

Ok, Better, and Best.  This is a great concept for teaching kids about the progression of healthy choices.  For example, an “ok” choice might be cereal that is low sugar or a packaged granola bar (not a lot of nutrients there), while a “better” choice would be a homemade, whole food granola bar, and a “best” choice would be a real piece of fruit.  In our house, we try to make the better and best choices more frequently than the “ok” choices.  But hey, we aren’t perfect!

Relax. There are no “Healthiest Kids on Earth” awards being given out anytime soon.  Yes, their health is very important, but it isn’t worth fighting over every morsel of food that goes into their mouths.  It’s ok to allow the occasional indulgence.  It’s ok to be honest about our own struggles with craving unhealthy foods versus knowing that they aren’t good for us.  This helps kids to interpret their own cravings with a healthier frame of reference instead of thinking that they are “bad” or “wrong” for wanting certain foods.  We can’t be perfect, but we can be better.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Spiritually and nutritionally, this concept applies.

Please share your tips below!  I’d love to hear what works for your family!