8 Lessons I Learned from My Daughter’s Cheer Tryouts

(Originally posted March 2015)

Well, we made it. We survived our first big tryout week. Honestly, it was better than I expected. Even if my daughter hadn’t made the 7th grade cheer squad, I’d still say that.

I was nervous going in, mostly because of the crazy cheer momma stories I’d heard about people freaking out over their child’s competition and pulling sneaky moves. I didn’t want to be like that, of course, nor did I want to fall in the category of being so obsessed with the outcome that I spent the week being strung-out, stressed, and overly invested in conversations about which girls have an inverted toe-touch, and who can do a back tuck.

After all, every girl who tries out for cheerleader is somebody’s daughter. Their parents love them like I love my child. And while I certainly hoped and prayed my daughter would make it, I didn’t want to wish misfortune on anyone or secretly delight in fantasies of girls messing up so she would look better.

So I prayed to keep my head and heart in the right place. I prayed for my daughter and the other girls. Most of all, I looked hard for the life lessons I needed to learn.

Because win or lose, I knew there were insights God wanted me to gain from this experience to help me grow as a parent and a person. cheer3

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Helping Kids Build a Thick Skin

Some of the best advice I ever received came after my first big job promotion.

I was 23 years old, and the newly tapped executive speechwriter for a large company. My primary responsibility was to prepare notes for the CEO’s speaking engagements. Since he was a terrific speaker, he often spoke off-the-cuff. What this meant for me was that I might spend three weeks working diligently on a speech – only to have him use a sentence or two.

As my boss prepared me for what would come, he emphasized one thing in particular: “You need a thick skin if you don’t have one already, because he might use all of your speech or none of it, and you can’t take it personally.”Build a Thick Skin NEW - FINAL

He was talking about the job, of course, but what I’ve realized in the years since then is how relevant this advice is to life in general.

You see, I’m sensitive by nature, and while I’ve come to appreciate this about myself, I’ve also come to see how important it is to have a thick skin when living in an imperfect, unpredictable world.

When you’re sensitive, life affects you deeply. While your highs can be really high, your lows can be really low. Since you empathize well, you tend to be a good friend. You can recognize when someone is hurting and know when to offer encouragement.

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