A Success Story in the making

In the midst of my dark mood, attitude and opinions surrounding the American Education system, more specifically, directed at the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, there is a bright spot.  My brilliant niece Aubrie.

Yesterday, my niece and I took some time to celebrate what we like to call Auntie/Aubrie day.  Kind of geeky, eh?  Not really.  Aubrie and I have virtually NO time to spend together because A.) I spend most of my time with her sisters because they’re little and need me more and B.) Aubrie is 13 and involved in 3 different sports, not to mention her rigid academic schedule.  It’s kind of sad that we actually have to schedule any time we can spend together a month beforehand. We pack a lot of talking into the few hours that we have together.  Right now is a good time to mention that Aubrie is not my biological niece although NOBODY would be able to tell by looking at us.  She couldn’t be MORE mine if she were biological and I’ve become her favorite aunt through the years.  She tells me that she feels like I treat her with respect and don’t condescend to her.  It helps that I’m a good cook and like to take her shopping!  lol  HER words.  She likes that I actually enjoy our time together.

This weekend, Aubrie is competing in the National History Day State Competition in Columbia MO at the University of Missouri Campus (Mizzou).  She’s made it this far by placing fourth place in the original competition where she beat out hundreds of other kids making their presentations on the historical figure of their choice.  Most of the kids her age gave speeches on past presidential leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  *yawn* –  Natural and easy choices.  Not Aubrie.  She went out on a limb, like she always does and made her presentation based on a very strong and successful woman who rose to the top of the fashion industry.  Coco Channel became iconic using her own skills and hard work ethics.  She started poor and became wealthy, as we already know.

What impresses me so much about Aubrie’s presentation and choice of historical figures is that she chose a woman.  Someone Aubrie can look up to and use for inspiration.  We’re all strong women in our family and believe that our gender shouldn’t dictate how far we’re able to go in life, we’re in control of our own destinies.  We are also very well aware that we’ll have to work harder to get there.  Aubrie is well ahead of her game.  Before she was allowed to prepare her speech, she was required to create a website.  This may sound like a normal skill for a girl her age in other countries.  Sadly, here in America, this is NOT normal for a public high school student.  She’s only in 7th grade.  I’m proud to show you all what her website looks like.  It’s her first time creating a website and I think she did a fantastic job!  Obviously, the judges of this competition shared my semi biased opinion or she wouldn’t have beat out hundreds of other students.  Here’s the link to the website she created about the life of Coco Channel

My niece takes her studies VERY seriously.  She worries me sometimes because she’s so serious but I have NO worries about how successful she’ll be in life.  When she gives public presentation, especially when she’s competing, she pays attention where her appearance is concerned.  Aubrie wants to make a professional appearance.  I truly believe this helped her win the competition.  Most girls her age made their presentation to judges who were college professors (potential scholarships involved for MAJOR universities) wearing yoga pants or blue jeans and tee shirts.  They weren’t allowed to wear provocative clothing but a lot of these girls looked like they’d just jumped out of bed without brushing their hair.  Their clothes were wrinkled and they appeared sleepy.  Not MY niece.  She wore a suit appropriate for an interview with a major corporation.  She’s only 13 folks!  lol  Her hair was up in a neat bun and her make up was appropriately light.  She appeared to be a powerful and intelligent woman!  I was so proud.  The professors actually commented on her appearance and asked the other girls to pay attention to Aubrie’s presentation of HERSELF.  They used her for an example of what TO do instead of what NOT to do.

So yesterday, in preparation for her competition on Saturday, we spent our time at the nail salon of her choice.  The salon where Aubrie knew the stylists would do the professional job that Aubrie expects.  If they don’t do it right, she makes them do it over.  Wow.  I can honestly say, she makes ME feel like the child!  lol

Here she is talking to a teacher for one of our public schools also getting a pedicure.  Aubrie is explaining the competition to her and what she expected to win THIS time.  She expects to win a substantial scholarship, by the way.  I’m placing MY bet now that she’ll WIN that scholarship!

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(she cracks me up with how serious she is and how adult her mannerisms are)

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(thank the LORD Aubrie is satisfied with her “full set” and the quality of work this stylist does… lol)

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I must really rate in Aubries book because she allowed me to talk her into a more playful, age appropriate style.  A style that she will have fun with even after the competition and a style that I think will also work for her professionalism.  It’s not so crazy of a color that will stand out and make her appear to not be taking her job seriously.

Talking with my little “adult” niece about her plans for the future and the work that she’s doing to make her path clear, only served to make me more aware of how POOR our public school system is.  Aubrie has NEVER attended public school.  It’s Catholic/ Private all the way for her and it’s certainly ALREADY paid off.  Her private school is already preparing the children to write quality university level research papers.  They begin teaching the children to do research papers in fourth grade, by the age of 8 and 9.  Aubrie tells me that her instructors are constantly explaining to the class that they’re being groomed for COLLEGE (not high school).  When I was in Catholic school, they stressed how we were being groomed for high school.  It’s different now and I’m glad.  Guess when our PUBLIC schools focus on college level work?  Tenth grade.  My daughter gave me the “Mom is just crazy” look when I shared my opinion on how important it is to teach our children how to create a proper college level research paper.  In another related point, do you know that these public school kids don’t know how to address an envelope?  They tell me that it’s not important anymore in today’s age of technology.  It just seems so simple to me and common sense.  Don’t they still NEED to know how to address an envelope?  Or the proper way to write a letter, be it business or personal?  They SURE know how to “Tweet” and know ALL the “texting” language.

I’m feeling EXTREMELY guilty that I’m not financially able to provide the right kind of education for my daughter.  Aubrie’s younger, yet she’s so much more prepared for the real world.  She’s been lead to already know the direction she wants her life to go in.  My daughter hasn’t been taught to give it another thought.  THAT is my fault.  I can’t leave it all up to the school system especially since I’m fully aware it’s a FAILING school system and has been since 2001, when the “No Child Left Behind Act” was passed.  My back’s against the wall and I’m running out of time here!  I asked my daughter to consider switching schools.  I realize the choice is not hers but I ‘d feel a whole lot better if she’d share my views for her life!  She’s only 14 and in 9th grade.  She’s got 3 more years of high school so is it too late?  I don’t think so but my daughter actually said these words to me, “Mom, it’s too late for me”.  She’s not worried about her social life and losing her friends.  She just actually believes that she’s not capable of learning because she’s also very aware that she’s not being taught.

To give you an example of why my daughter believes she’s not being educated, I’ll tell you what happened the other day with her Science test.  She’s always (in previous years) been very good in Science.  Once she hit 9th grade, this changed.  Her teacher almost isn’t even present.  He does bother to lecture or do experiments.  He tells them to read their book and if they don’t understand something, he tells them to read it again, never bothering to explain.  He gets annoyed.  My daughter told him that she wasn’t ready to take the test because she only got 2 out of 10 questions right on the quiz.  She didn’t even know why she got those questions wrong and she explained this to her instructor.  He told her to sit down and he actually GAVE her the answers for the test.  I’m pretty sure we all remember what used to happen to US if we were caught stealing the teacher’s answers, or if we “copied” off our “neighbor”, right?  This teacher actually GAVE her the answers because he knew it didn’t matter if she knew the subject matter.  She was going to pass because NOBODY fails anymore!  The rest of the class can’t move ahead if even ONE person fails so he gave her the answers in an effort to make himself appear to be a successful teacher.  It looks bad on the teacher if one child doesn’t know the material and for THIS reason (NCLB act) ALL the children are forced to be on the same level.  For THAT matter, they’re even integrating Autistic and otherwise learning disabled children into a class of “normal”, learning abled children.  They’re ALL being taught the same way.  If there’s an Autistic child who’s making a lot of noise in class, he’s allowed to keep distracting the other kids and there’s NOTHING an instructor can do about it.  TRUST me, my sympathy doesn’t only lie with our children.  What is a teacher supposed to do to gain control of their class and keep their students focused?  It’s becoming more clear, every year that passes SINCE 2001, that there’s NO point in our instructors caring.  SO sad.  Occasionally, we’ll have a rogue teacher who actually takes pride in the fact that they’re forming our children’s future.  They know they may even get into trouble for not focusing ENOUGH time to preparing our kids for one federal test or another.  This rare “rogue” educator will actually spend TIME discussing and teaching a subject.  I need to stress how very rare this is though.

But this isn’t the point of this post.  You all know me by now, I get distracted and one thought leads to another, which leads to another and on and on we go!  lol  My point was to brag about my niece and to pay attention to what she and her educators are doing right.  My point is to pay specific attention to the difference between our public school system and the private school system.  The differences between the poor and the rich, although there is a DRASTIC difference between our rural area schools and the wealthy public schools in the better suburbs.  I’m SO proud of my sister-in-law for making education a priority for her children!  I’d always believed education was a priority for MY children as well.  However, now that I’m being honest, I can see my tendency toward taking the “lazy” route.  I’d been reading for years, about the effects of the NCLB act on our youth.  I didn’t want to believe it though and tried to make myself accept that it just takes time to iron out the rough edges of any new program.  MY children should have been made a priority, somehow.  I shouldn’t have gambled on their futures and I should have sacrificed more to give them the education that they deserve.  I made vacations and our quality of life our priority instead.

It’s NOT too late though.  I’m done accepting less than mediocre for my daughter.  I’ve got to either talk with the scholarship program St. Pius and make arrangements for her to attend, if she’ll even be able to test into their school.  OR, here’s my other option.  I can do what has been recommended to me BY several educators and allow my daughter to take the high school equivalency test (GED).  There’s not ONE bit of difference here, anymore, between a GED and an actual 4 year high school diploma.  Many parents have now started taking the advice to take their children out of high school and having them begin college courses so that they can earn college credits.  Our educators tell us (in private and off the record) that to send our children to high school is equivalent to sending them to be “babysat” for 8 hours a day.  There used to be at LEAST a social reason to attend high school.  In present days, it’s becoming only negative social development.  Why do I need a babysitter?  I don’t and she should have the same advantages as my niece has.  I’m ashamed and shocked when I think of how much she’s actually REGRESSED since grade school.  Her grades used to reflect a college level knowledge of almost every subject.  Now she tests at a grade school level.  The only reason she’s passing Science at all is because the teacher provides the answers for her.  Don’t think I haven’t tried speaking with the proper school officials.  They keep giving me the same answers and even IF I can get them to care, their hands are tied due to the No Child Left Behind Act.  They have to follow the rules if they’re to receive federal funding.

I want MY daughter to be a success story also.  Naturally she already is in MY book.  She was born with an amazing mind and is every BIT as intelligent as my niece is.  She just hasn’t been given the same advantages and THAT’S been my responsibility all along.  We need to make our children’s futures our priority.  After all, they’re going to be leading this world one day.  If our government doesn’t care and won’t do anything about it, then the responsibility lies solely on us, as parents.  I think it’s time, folks.  It’s probably over time.  We should have paid more attention to this as citizens of the once great USA.

I’m VERY interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions.  DO any of you have a story to share about how our schools have affected (good OR bad) your own children?  What would you do?  Or do you have any ideas about how we, as a nation can change this?  We NEED to care.  Even if you don’t have children now.  This country will be run, decisions will be made by these children who AREN’T being educated.  Who then will run our country?  Let me give you a hint.  It WON’T be the “people”.  I believe they may be doing it this way so that we’ll all become more ignorant.  We’ll care even less than we do now (if that’s possible) and eventually our officials won’t be “elected”.  We’ll have dictators because we won’t be ABLE to make educated decisions.  Is this what they want?  It sure makes you think, doesn’t it?

The Shack by Wm Paul Young (Julia’s reading project boo review)

The Shack

By:  Wm Paul Young

Published by:  Windblown Media

Remember the reading project I’m doing with my teenage munchkin?  We’re kind of getting behind…  with Springtime busyness.  Let’s face it, I’m not the most disciplined person in the world so why should my daughter be, right?  lol  FINALLY, after a few weeks, Munchkin finished her last book!  This one’s costing me 5 bucks and it’s 5 bucks I’m happy to pay because she LOVED it!

Here’s the description from the back cover:

“Mackenzie Allen Phillips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness.  Four years later, in the midst of his “Great Sadness” , Mack received a suspicious not apparently fro God, inviting him back to that shack for the weekend.

Against his better judgement he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare.  What he finds there will change Mack’s life forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world  so filled with unspeakable pain?”  The answer Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him.  You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!”

What was Julia’s take on this AMAZING story?  It made her THINK & FEEL.  She asked me if this was a true story.  I’d heard conflicting reports about the “truthfulness” of this story.  In the end, we “Googled” the question.  We found the authors site and read straight from the horses mouth that The Shack was indeed fiction based on an event in the authors life.  He says that he wrote the book for his own children and he’s leaving it up to the reader whether or not the “conversations” took place.  He leads us to believe they did actually happen and that he (the author) really IS Mack, the lead character in the book.

There are so many questions we, as adults, have about God.  Is He/She a disciplinary God or is He/She a loving God or maybe both?  Why does God let bad things happen to good people?  Naturally, a teenager has maybe even more questions than an adult has.  My daughter has faith that God exists and she really IS more spiritual than the average teenager, I think.  However, this book answered most of the questions she has.  The Shack just made sense out of God’s love for her.

Here’s what Julia says about The Shack:

“I believe Missy (Mack’s daughter) was murdered just so that Mack can see what God is really about.  Instead of God being his enemy, He became Mack’s closest confidant.  This was the BEST book I’ve ever read so far.  I took a lot of notes on pretty much everything that Papa (God) said.  My favorite quote was, “A part of you chooses not to see me.  You don’t need me at all to create your list of good and evil.  But you DO need me to stop such an insane lust for independence.”  It reminds me a lot of myself.  The Shack changed my perspective on God.  Now I see Him as a loving, caring and forgiving God, instead of only seeing God as a powerful, scary man who only exists to punish me for my sins.  Although I didn’t see Him as only mean, I just didn’t see Him capable or willing to be as nurturing of a God as the author portrayed in the book.

I wish the whole world would red this book!!!”

So you see, by Julia’s comments, she cared enough to not only READ the book, she also took notes!  Wow.  I didn’t know this until she gave me her book report.  This made me SO happy!  It’s a definite jackpot when she finishes a book, remembers what it talked about AND it sparks her imagination and makes her grow as an individual.  Now I have the hard job of trying to top this one for her!  lol

How I’ve been Inspired by a Child…

Bear with me while I brag just a little…  I’ve been recently inspired by my 14 year old and a group of her friends.  I honestly didn’t think it was possible for a group of teenagers to motivate me the way they’ve done.  Okay, so about a month ago my daughter came to me and told me about a plan that she and her friends had to start volunteering at local charities in our community.  It was really strange to me because the girl who came up with this idea was formerly a girl who had been into a lot of trouble.  She was born to a 14 year old mother who suffered from a mental disorder and consequently Julia’s friend was exposed to MANY men who sexually abused her, with no protection from her mother.  Naturally, this girl turned to drugs and sex at a VERY young age.  I have a heart for wayward kids because I, myself, was a wayward kid.  Where would I be if not for the love of other people outside my own family?  BUT…  now that I’m a mother, I have to draw the line somewhere.  I’d seen so much BAD from this girl and I had to make the decision to limit the time Julia was spending with her friend.  This hurt me because it went against everything I believed in but I needed to protect my own.  I still made myself available for the family and offered to babysit her little brothers (she’s got 4 of them because her mother just keeps having babies) in order that Julia’s friend and her mother could have a break.  I contacted this girl’s grandparents when she broadcasted a plan that she had to commit suicide.  This resulted in her being removed from her mother’s home and placed with her grandparents.   This is where her life turned around!  For over a year now “L” has been doing fantastic!  She’s SO smart, above average intelligence, and is now making straight “A’s” in school.  She became active in her church and just wanted to do something to give back to her community.  She felt like if she focuses her time on doing GOOD, it would help her with disposing of some of the “demons” in her own mind.  A year’s a pretty long time in the life of a 14 year old!  I’m so proud of her.  Besides, doing good makes us ALL feel pretty terrific, right?

SO, “L” printed out fliers announcing a meeting after school for anyone who wanted to be part of her little group of volunteers.  At first, there were only a few of them who were interested.  NOW, after a month, there’s around 10 kids and it’s still growing.  10 is a start though and it gives me SUCH a thrill to watch as these kids take pride in what they’re doing!  The first location they chose to volunteer at is a place called Heaven’s Closet.  They all met at the school EARLY on a Saturday morning and they departed for Heaven’s Closet where they sorted TONS of boxes of clothes and assisted many needy families with choosing 5 free items per family.  These kids were able to see so many people who were in desperate situations, like one woman who’d lost everything in a fire the week before.  Of course, SHE received more than 5 free items for her household.  Our kids came home glowing because they felt like they were needed.  I’m telling you, doing good is contagious!  Unfortunately, Heaven’s Closet lost their lease so the next time our kids volunteered there was the LAST time.  They helped pack up all the merchandise they’d previously put on the shelves and moved to a different charitable organization.

Last Saturday, the group was scheduled to work at a local food pantry but they were called at the last second and told that they couldn’t be used.  I personally think the food pantry didn’t want to deal with a bunch of teenagers, which is sad.  BUT, that didn’t deter “L”!  She got on the ball immediately and called a local nursing home to ask if they could spend time with some of the elderly patients.  Upon being given the okay, “L” quickly baked some cookies so they could all hand out to the “old folks”.  Now, my daughter has been visiting nursing homes for many years and she’s learned to absolutely LOVE the old people.  She shines when it comes to interacting with them and my shy girl, who normally only has 10 words a day to say, suddenly becomes very “chatty” with them!  I LOVE that!  I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly, myselfJ  It turns out that the group spent 4 hours at the nursing home, feeding them cookies and playing basketball with some of the residents!  Who knew that they would be ABLE to play basketball?  Lol  Some of them were wheel chair bound but our kids still got them involved by throwing the ball back and forth.  The old people absolutely LOVED it and can’t wait for the kids to come back to see them.  I don’t know if any of you have experienced visiting an old folks home but if you haven’t, you definitely SHOULD.  It will fill your heart with so much love!  Some of these people have no visitors and nobody except the busy nurses to talk to.  They light up when they see someone look them in the eye and just smile or ask them how their day is.  It seems like they live to see the face of a child!  If you’re lucky enough to develop a relationship with an older person, LISTEN to them.  They have so much wisdom to share!  Our kids are discovering this and can’t wait to get back there again this weekend.  The plan is that ALL of the kids are going to bake and distribute their goodies to many more people.  This is actually something my daughter does every weekend.  I bake and send whatever I’ve made with Julia and her dad when they go visiting.  They tell me that the old people get so excited when they see good food walk through their doors!.  They don’t get to eat homemade goodies often, if ever.  Usually what they’re fed is so bland and tasteless.

Usually when we think of a teenager, it’s not for a POSITIVE reason.  I’ll admit that after raising 4 girls, I have one foot in the grave!  Lol  However, when they do something like THIS group of kids has done, I beam with pride.  Yep!  They’ve inspired this old mom to get off her butt and DO something.  Now, I hope that YOU go out and do the same for someone else.  If you don’t have time to volunteer, please make the time to perform a simple act of kindness.  Look an old person or disabled person in the eye and smile.  Acknowledge their existence.  You’ll be surprised at how this makes YOU feel.  I’ve realized what this group of kids are realizing now… that volunteering or just doing “good” makes me feel so much better than it does the person or group that I’m trying to help.  Sometimes, it’s what the doctor ordered!  Hope you all have a blessed and FANTASTIC day!

Reading Project, Or – How I Bribed My Daughter…

My 14 year old started high school this year.  As I mentioned before, she’s the baby of the family and my last chance to do things right so naturally, I’ve been pretty involved with her school work and her grades.  She had a few issues in English this year, which is strange because she always tested well above her age in English and literature.  In 7th grade, she was reading on a college level so you can imagine my surprise when I was notified that she’s only reading on a 9th grade level THIS year.  Of course, I immediately scheduled a meeting with her English teacher and what I learned was more than a little unsettling to me.  I don’t know about ALL public schools but our little public school doesn’t have a required reading list for their high school students.  Totally not acceptable to me!  No WONDER we have such a high illiteracy rate these days.  I realize times are different AND there’s a big difference between public school and the Catholic school that I grew up in BUT I was required to read Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in 6th grade!  We couldn’t move on to 7th grade until we had a complete understanding of both.

And here’s where I took matters in my own hands…  I established my own very special required reading program for Julia.  Okay, at first she wasn’t happy about it but I explained that she would lose her skills if she didn’t use them (she came really close to letting that happen) AND reading is the single most inexpensive vacation that a person can take.  Once you open a book, you’re transformed to places you may never get to see in “real” life.  Did I tell you that I also resorted to bribery?  Each book that she finishes in a timely manner (I usually give her 2 weeks but she’s been finishing 1 book a week) AND hands me a good book report on is worth between $5 and $10!  You can’t beat that, right?  She loves it!  For the most part, I’ll be choosing the books I want her to read.  I don’t want this to be a punishment though so every once in a while she’ll get to choose her own.

I’m going to try and post about every book as she finishes it but because this is a new blog and she’s finished 3 books since we started doing this, there’s going to be 3 books on this post.

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

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The reason I chose this book for my 14 year old is that I wanted her to understand how very lucky she is to live in America, the land of the free.  I wanted her to have an understanding about the horrors and oppression other women face in the developing world.  What she learned:  She says what stuck with her is how widespread human trafficking is and about sex slavery.  Did she appreciate this book?  No.  Maybe a bit too much for a 14 year old BUT she does want to start fundraising and getting her friends involved in raising money to prevent human trafficking.  Mission accomplished!

I paid her $10 for this one!

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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The reason I chose this book was primarily because we own sled dogs (Alaskan Malamutes) and I remember loving this book at her age.  I thought it would be cool for her to see the world through the eyes of a dog.  Did she appreciate this book? Absolutely not!  She thought it was too sad.  She didn’t like to read about “Buck’s” struggle to survive the extreme conditions and inhumane treatment of some humans.  It made her sad.  On the other hand, she liked Jack London’s writing style.  She liked that she was made to understand exactly how “Buck” felt… she truly saw through the eyes of a dog.

This one earned her $5

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor

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I chose this one last week in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day.  It’s so hard for a white kid to understand what it was like to be black in America even in the early 1900’s.  I wanted her to know and to feel something.  Mildred D Taylor will MAKE you feel!  Basically, it’s a coming of age story about a black family and their struggle with “accepting the way things were” and the treatment of black people.  It also mentions lynching, night riders (or KKK) and describes a tar and feathering.  Did she like it?  YES!  We have a winner!  She loved it and even gave me a 3 page book report (I didn’t ask for 3 pages but she just had a lot to say about the book!  Lol)

$5 for this one!

On accidentally doing something right…

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Where did this kid come from?  Sometimes I’m SURE babies were switched at the hospital on that lovely spring day back in 1998.  Some other, not so lucky family, must be enjoying my “demon spawn” while I’m enjoying their little angel!  I’m going to go on record here and say I truly don’t want my real baby back.  Don’t call, don’t write and don’t show up at my door!  I will not be home.  I’ve raised 4 daughters and finally, FINALLY (on the final try), I got an easy one.  God, PLEASE don’t jinx me for saying this too soon.

Julia  just walked in the door from church.  And no, this is not the norm for anyone in my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a “spiritual” person and truly do believe in God.  I even consider myself a “Christian”, although I’d never be a poster child for the movement.  Somewhere along the line, my daughter just developed an interest in helping people.  Okay, for this I truly CAN take a little credit.  I’ve tried to instill in my children the importance of taking care of our elderly and helping the less fortunate… I just didn’t realize anyone was listening!  lol  Anyway,  she tells me that the best way to participate in “caring for her fellow man” is to associate herself with a local church and youth group.  Now,  I have reservations about some of the fanaticism related to a few churches in our little Midwestern town but I think we found one that even I can feel comfortable with.  Just not so comfortable that I would want to go WITH her for Weds night service.  I digress….  So I was saying that Julia just walked through the door and I asked her what she learned.  She tells me that the youth leader spoke about teenage girls and the importance of being single.  He quoted a scripture in the Bible (of COURSE I don’t know which one it is) and talked about how dating at too young of an age is a distraction.  I’m warming up to this guy!  Keep talking….  I asked J what HER opinion of tonight’s sermon is.  My heart melted when I heard her say, “Mom, I think he’s right.  There’s just so much I want to do with my life and especially while I’m young and single.  I just think I want to focus on what God wants me to do”.  At this point I have tears in my eyes and I want to go light a candle and say a prayer of thanksgiving!  lol  This child COULDN’T have come from me!  At her age, the only two thoughts in my head were 1.) what was I going to wear today and 2.) who I would be dating.  Which pretty much paved the way that my life would go.  I became pregnant at the age of 17 and graduated from high school 9 mos pregnant. I have lots of adorable pictures of me waddling down the isle to receive my diploma.  NOT cool.  Out of necessity,  I held 2 jobs while trying to get through college in order to support my child.  I’ve been married more than once.  It seems like my life has been spent trying to figure out how to support my children.  Definitely NOT the road I want my own daughters to tread.  To be fair, none of my girls have gone down my path BUT Julia’s 3 sisters have definitely given me a run for my money in too many other areas.  So far so good with Julia.   WHEW!   Maybe I did something right with this one?  Pretty sure this one’s a keeper!