A letter to Moms of High School Seniors

NOTE: This post has been updated several times as I think of things to add 🙂

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Moms of High School Seniors,

It has been a year since I was in your shoes. The year of decisions and “lasts” is so emotional. For the senior and the parents. This year has been a year of transition and adjustment but so much easier on my heart.

I have been praying for each of you. I know that some of you were awaiting the April 1st college deadline. It can be a hard day if your senior gets some “no’s” and it also puts an end to the possible decision procrastination. I have been using these scriptures to pray for your senior. I will add to this post with more encouragement for you as Mamas soon. But today I have it on my heart for your seniors and their decisions and emotions.

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You Are Loved.

xo,   Melissa

P.S. I chose the cover photo because 1. bridges symbolize transition. 2. My sonimage is walking ahead on his own which symbolizes that this is our senior’s decision. 3. when faced with big decisions or emotions, I have found that mind clearing, solitary activities are helpful. I generally choose a nap. But my senior liked to swim in the ocean or walk outdoors with music in his headphones.

 


 

Actually…here is some encouragement for you…

This book was really good. The except I copied here has some encouraging biblical examples of women that faced change.

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——>  here’s another option for deep thoughts …

 

Oh shoot … Just when I was trying to be funny …. Now I’m feeling emotional looking at these little backsides and thinking of mine being that age … Like yesterday!

Such is the roller coaster ride of Motherhood.  Enjoy the ride. Even when your tummy feels funny with anticipation.  Let go of the bar, raise your hands and … Let your emotions out. 😳😁😜😫😢😭😀🤑😍


 

Last year this time, I was planning for graduation. Below is a link to what I came up with for an announcement. I had two versions. One that invited people to a BBQ and one for out of town friends.

I do not few announcements as requests for gifts but merely celebrating the student and this rite of passage. People like to celebrate with one another.

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

This is how I decided who to send the cards to… I looked at my contacts and my Christmas card list and thought about “who is in the Jack fan club?” I later wished I had thought of a few other people. like his piano teacher, Mrs. Burnside. As for local friends of ours, I used this test “If Jack ran into them at Kroger, would he say hi to them?”  This kept me from just inviting my friends 🙂     Side note: Jack is pretty friendly with adults. If you have a shy child, this test may not work.

A link to Jack’s graduation announcement from Shutterfly

 


This year in our Hope Moms of Teens group, we had 7 Moms with graduating Seniors.

We planned a special time for them at our end of year luncheon.

Below is the prayer (by Angie Coleman)  and hand-crafted gift (by Tracey Simpson) that we presented to them.

 

Dear precious father,

I ask that you be with these moms as they enter a new season with their teens. Show your face to them as they let go… Give them the peace that comes from trusting you Lord — our savior and gracious father. How precious these moms are to you and oh how precious these children are too. What a wonderful and amazing God we serve, trust and love completely.
Heavenly father, please be with these graduating seniors as they go where they do not know.

As they seek to grow in knowledge and in their life, we pray that they grow in their faith.

As they set out to conquer the world, we pray that they conquer their fears through trust in you.

As they strive to find their place, we pray that they find YOU.

Please go with them where we cannot, protect them when we cannot, and bring them safely home to us to visit a lot.

Amen

The Senior Moms at the Luncheon:

 

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Happy Easter

 

A quick post to wish everyone a Happy Easter. It is different for us this year with Jack being in college. No Easter egg hunting at our house. No family photo. But Easter isn’t about all that anyway. It is about celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus.

So today, we focus on that fact that He Is Risen!   The Stone has rolled away. We had a wonderful celebration at church today. Our Pastor spoke about it in a new way …  The stone was not removed to let Jesus out…. The Stone was removed to let us in.

Alleluia!!

 

Easter Monday update:

A Mom in our Hope Moms of Teens group had her baby on Easter! Congratulations to Carey and Nathan and big brothers Christian and Max on the precious addition to your family, Maverick Dean. I had the pleasure of spending some time with this family at the hospital. Watching the older boys be so tender filled my heart.

And of course I am delighted that Maverick is going to come to our MOTs class with his Mama. I promise he won’t be a distraction 😉   Or at least not a bad distraction.


 

Another update (cause I got the photo on Easter Monday): Jack spent his Easter weekend in Virginia Beach with his fraternity brothers. They travelled for their spring formal.

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I did get some egg hunting photos, but they were of a friend’s grandchildren! So cute!

 

I have had some other new photo opportunities. Last weekend, I covered a couples’ wedding shower for some friends from church. So fun to celebrate and capture the event.

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We also had unusual spring break with Jack and Katie having different weeks off.

Jack and Sean had a ski retreat in Colorado.

 

Katie had a 16th birthday adventure with Grammy and Grandpa Jim in Hawaii!

She flew there and back by herself with no problems. She handled the 4 hours in the Honolulu airport waiting for the Denver flight. Starbucks and napping in the sunshine (with her bags looped around her). And had an amazing adventure.

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 I had a stay cation and some quality time with each of my peeps!

Enjoying the beautiful weather of spring.

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I bought myself some staycation souvenirs 🙂

An adorable bunny and a bee from my artist friend at What’s Inside Designs.

 

 


 

And our last night, Sean and I went to see Billy Joel in concert. It was awesome. A fun night of singing along with the Piano Man.

 

 

 

parenting teen anger

Love and Anger ~ Forging Constructive Paths

My notes on Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages of Teenagers”  Chapter 10 on Anger

Resolving anger is so important!

“Unresolved anger in the heart and mind of the teenager is one of the worst things that can happen…it breeds bitterness and resentment. …If the parent is going to successfully communicate love to the teenager, the parent must first seek to deal with the unresolved anger.” p.168

Steps for Forging the constructive path:

  • Determine if your teen implodes or explodes when angry

  • LISTEN, refuse the temptation to defend yourself, if you get the silent treatment, examine yourself to see if you over control and if so, confess that and admit you are trying to be a better listener.

  • Affirm that their angry feelings are valid. EMPATHIZE; put yourself in the teens shoes and recognize how it might make you feel if you were them.

  • THEN you can explain your perspective and seek resolution. Remember to admit when you make a mistake.


 

 I put this method to use last week with awesome results. An argument over tracking my son on the Find my iPhone app was a source of resentment stemming back to an argument over a year ago. At that time I handled it incorrectly. When he first exploded in anger, I jumped to defending myself. Eventually, I realized I was wrong in my accusation and apologized for that. But I did not listen to the underlying feelings that caused the anger.  Fast forward to last weekend. My son is home from college for spring break and went out with his sister and a friend. My daughter thought he was over the high school stuff and she mentioned another time that I tracked him secretly that she knew about. She thought he would laugh about it now. But NO. As soon as they walked in the door, he exploded again. He had bitterness and resentment that were triggered. But this time I was better prepared.

I LISTENED!     …PEOPLE…   that is huge!

I learned a lot about him. He simmered down. I EMPATHIZED. I recalled how I felt when my husband started getting daily updates on out credit card balance. He wasn’t trying to track me or bug me but if he said something like “How was Michael’s today? Did you go to Target 3 times today?” I would get defensive and maybe even explode or implode depending on the day.  I could understand my son’s feelings.  

And THEN, he was ready to listen to my parenting rationale and the potential this tool could have in some cases. And be a protection if a teen was heading down a dangerous path. I spoke more hypothetically about teens and he conceded my point. He still did not want me to track him or his sister but it was a productive conversation and the anger was gone!!!  Woo Hoo!!     


 

Personal Reflection Questions:

  1. Having to listen to an angry teenager can be challenging. Are you a listening parent who is prepared to field hard questions? Why is it so important to allow angry expressions to be heard?
  2. Was there ever a time when your feelings were ignored and you knew they were important? Why is recognizing your teen’s feelings essential to affirming the validity of your teen’s anger?
  3. What is strategic about explaining your perspective as a parent and then seeking a resolution? What can it enable that helps break the destructive patterns of anger?
  4. Parents make mistakes. Have you ever confessed past failures to your teen and asked forgiveness? How do expect your teen would respond to a sincere apology?

 

Choose a memory verse to help you in times of anger:

(resource: bible.com app teen devotional on anger)

Proverbs 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

 

Proverbs 17:14

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

 

Proverbs 19:11

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

 

Proverbs 20:3

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

 

Proverbs 29:11

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

 

Romans 12:19

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

 

Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

 

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

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I chose to memorize James 1:19-20. Being slow to speak is a challenge for me. If I am not intentional, I tend to speak the first word AND the last word. (and maybe most of those in between). I pray for God’s strength to help me change in this area.

I added part of the verse to a photo I took this week. These tulips, in a road median, spoke God’s creative beauty to me. How awesome that God can correct and mold me as well as surprise me with flowers.

Have a great day, my friends.

Do not fear the bridge

“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.” Melissa Fagan 🙂


“Our teens are… ~ in a state of radical transition. When a person is in a state of transition ~ things in their external world are changing while their inner world of thoughts, feelings, and desires are in a state of disequilibrium ~ a person responds differently in different situations.” p.129

This is a quote from the first page of Chapter 8 in the “5 Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman. The Chapter is about how to discover a teen’s love language.  Well, apparently, I lead our group astray, because I thought we already did this! We had our teens fill out the questionnaire at the back of the book. It looks like the author had a reason for putting it at the back and not the front. Determining our teen’s love language is not quite as easy as filling in a form.

Guess why?     Not because they don’t want to fill it out or that they truly like or dislike  almost all of the ways they can receive love   BUT   because they might answer it differently depending on the day or even the moment!

That takes us back to the quote. Radical transition and disequilibrium is a reality for our teens. And it can cause them to react differently. The author talks about 3 different areas that are unique to a teenager’s transition:

fluctuating moods, thoughts and desires

emerging independence

developing self-identity

I have been wrestling all week with how and what to write about all of these thoughts. What to share and what not to share. I have several examples of teen reactions relating to fluctuating moods, emerging independence and developing self-identity. If you are parenting a teenager, you can share some too. Or remember it from your own teen years. But what God has put on my heart to reflect on today is the word transition. It conjures up a lot of feelings in me and is helping me identify with my teenagers.

A few years ago, I kept losing weight (I know…nobody wants to hear this as a problem) and suffering from nausea and IBS. I had a lot of testing done. Two moves later, I was diagnosed with transitional anxiety! I didn’t want to accept it at first. How could I be a successful Navy wife if I can’t manage transition? But that is my ego speaking and resisting. Fulfilling God’s purpose for me has nothing to do with my “success”.  I am happy to say that currently I am not suffering from transitional anxiety and (most days) I am not discouraged by the 35 pounds have gained.

So… that was my first thought at the idea of radical transition.  As I began to write about it, I googled the word. And here is something I find ironic…. the first definition I found for transition had to do with writing… and as I read it, I realized it is one of my biggest struggles and it may be my WEAKNESS… my challenge that I often ignore. Here is the part of the definition from wikipedia:

Transitions are “bridges” that “carry a reader from section to section.” Transitions guide a reader through steps of logic, increments of time, or through physical space. Transitions “…connect words and ideas so that your readers don’t have to do the mental work for you.”

Ummm… yes! That is important stuff! And to you, my readers, I apologize for my stream of consciousness style. My lack of bridges and the extra mental work it requires of you!

But perhaps you have noticed that loving a teenager requires extra mental work! Precisely because they are in the midst of transition and haven’t found their way to what lies on the other side of the bridge. And that land is a bit of an unknown. And we don’t know exactly what the “land” on the other side looks like and neither do they!  But the good news is: God does!

I love the visual of a bridge. I often take pictures of bridges (okay… I often take pictures of lots of things). But they are beautiful and symbolic. People pay extra money for a bridge view. It is a good view. But sometimes when I’m driving over a bridge, I am fearful. At times it is just a twinge and at others it is more intense.  I completely trust my husband’s driving. Even if he is on the phone or driving with his knees … I’m serious… I figure if he can land a jet on an aircraft carrier at night, he can handle driving.

Except on a bridge.

My brain processes it differently. Why would I stop trusting?  Why do I let fear get a foothold when I am on a bridge — transitioning from one side to the other?  Could it be related to the transition?  One thing I know for sure, the higher the bridge and the less I can see leads to a harder experience. With fear and without trust.


 

Here are a few of my favorite places and bridges:

 

As I pulled out the photos, I prayed about all of this and here is what became clear:

“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.”

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This picture in particular reminds me of being a parent and standing near by as our kid’s navigate the transition called “teenager” ~ the bridge between child and adult.

To pray for this kind of trust, I turned to one of my favorite resources. The Moms in Prayer website. I identified what part of God’s character I truly need to trust in transition.

Try praying these for yourself and for your teens.

Scripture Prayers for our teens in transition

 God is the Master Planner

Show __________Your ways, O Lord, teach __________ Your paths, guide him/her in Your truth and teach __________, for You are __________’s God and Savior, may _________’s hope be in You all day long.     From Psalm 25:4-5

God is Immutable

May _______ put his/her hope and trust in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever.  From Hebrews 13:8

God is Faithful

Let_________ know that no temptation has seized him/her except what is common to man. And You, God, are faithful; You will not let _________ be tempted beyond what he/she can bear. But when__________ is tempted, You will also provide a way out so that _________ can stand up under it.    From I Corinthians 10:13

God is our Guide

Lord, guide _______ in what is right and teach him/her Your way. From Psalm 25:9

 


 

A lot of our teenager’s behavior is influenced by this radical transition.

It may be challenging but it is normal.

It is what I call TTB:

Typical Teen Behavior

Giving it a name helps me, on the spot, to have perspective and LET IT GO!

Here’s an example: I like to plan ahead and in general, my teen does too. But lots of teen social get togethers require a zillion group texts and last minute modifications. So when my daughter comes to me and says, “Could you please drive me and 3 friends to the movies? And we need to leave in 1 minute?” Instead of getting all uptight, I can simply answer yes or no and let go of the “why didn’t you plan ahead lecture” because I know it is TTB and it will pass with the season.

My teen has also started to identify some TMB…. you guessed it… Typical Mom Behavior. It helps her to Let Go of some of the areas that frustrate her. Instead of thinking “You are the only mean Mom that does this!” She can realize that she is not alone. And although she may not like it, we are doing our Mom-thing and it is our job!

 


 

Back to the chapter….

So the answer to finding your teens love language was NOT: ask them or have them take the test. Here is what Gary Chapman suggests:

The three-step approach to finding your teens primary Love Language:

  1. ask questions
  2. make observations
  3. experiment

 

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A video of my class presentation “rough draft” is available in our Facebook group:

Transitions and Bridges by Melissa Fagan from the kitchen table

Although these videos aren’t perfect, they are real and I have received positive feedback, so I will continue to explore this area.

I continue to feel lead by God to share in new ways. And this blog post lead to me first original quote. (on the golden gate bridge photo)

I approach this with humility and hope that it is not perceived as self-promotion. I am open to feedback. Please comment below or contact me.


 

P.S. After Naomi posted about walking the bridge in the fog, I thought I would post this fog photo from last week:

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