children

 
 

One-kin-stine

I have never met a one-year-old that I didn’t find completely and utterly adorable. Their pudgy sausage fingers, their squeals of delight, their hilarious interpretations of new words that will, for better or worse, follow them the remainder of their lives (raga-lo-li-lo-li will forever be on our menu for busy Tuesday nights!) One-year-olds are, without a doubt, the best.

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Unless…

Unless, of course, you happen to take a one-year-old to the grocery store. Hell hath no fury like a toddler who has had enough of the canned tomato isle. King Soopers is a dark and lonely place for a mother who dares to venture to get food with a toddler in tow.

Today happened to be such an occasion for my four boys and me. Despite my inner conscience screaming, “Nooo! Don’t do it. Have you forgotten last time?  Is there no other way??” I loaded them up and off we went. As expected, not two isles in my one-year-old went Dr. Jekyll on me. By the yoghurt section I was carrying him potato-sack style with his hands flailing to reach the string cheese on the other side. By the time we miraculously reached the checkout, I’d been the gracious receiver of no less than seven “Wow, you sure have your hands full!” Five “FOUR boys!? Oh, you poor thing.” Two “Bet if you tried for a girl you’d just get another boy.” and one “Oh, Mama, go buy yourself some flowers. You deserve it.” Not to mention numerous eyebrow-furled stares.

Minutes later as I wrestled my toddler into his car seat and the other boys unloaded the bags out of the cart, I thought about how those grocery shoppers had just witnessed my sweet, little one-kin-stine  at his very worst. No doubt about it, he was a monster for those 45 miserable minutes.

But in those two-second exchanges, they missed so much. They missed ten adorable, pudgy fingers. Fingers that learned to snap when he was just nine months old. They missed how he loves dogs, how he won’t even say his brothers’ names, but can say Howard (our English Shepard) almost perfectly. How he thinks his big brothers are hilarious and loves to steal their toys; how he loves to jump on the trampoline and would spend every waking moment outside given the opportunity. How he climbs on everything and loves to ride in the laundry basket when Mom does the laundry. They missed his big, toothy grin he gets when his dad gives him piggy-back rides and how his brothers always fight over who gets to sit by him every single time we get in the car. He refuses to wear shoes and he’s ticklish on the bottoms of his feet. They missed that too.

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Essentially, they missed that he really isn’t a monster. Not at all.

But I didn’t. I didn’t miss for a minute that these four crazy boys make me one incredibly lucky mom. That when I look at them I feel blessed far beyond what I deserve. And I never ever want those boys to think I forgot. So next time a fellow grocery shopper acknowledges me and my wild brood, I’ll smile and, in all sincerity say,

“Yes. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

 

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Categories: children, Family, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Glimmer of Hope

I’ve always loved a good old “good triumphs over evil” story. Where the unlikely hero wins, the good guy gets the girl, the dragon is defeated, the treasure is returned to the deserving and rightful heirs. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

When our first son was born seven years ago, I struggled. Having a new baby in our home was so exciting and new, and I was completely enamored with that tiny infant. But after years of going to school, working, and all sorts of being incredibly busy, I suddenly felt like life had screeched to a stop. Overnight my life became driven by naps and nursing. My contributions to society seemed minuscule, if they existed at all. Those long days were just that: So incredibly long.

In order to break up the day, I decided to read The Hobbit out loud to our new baby while he nursed. When we finished The Hobbit, I decided to tackle The Lord of The Rings. By the time my son was 6 months old I had brainwashed him into being as nerdy as his parents (and I have high hopes that I was successful in my efforts).

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Those long afternoons with my newborn seems like a lifetime ago. Back then as we read, in my mind the evil was contained inside those pages, or at least merely lurking in the shadows. Whether it’s because I’m more aware, or whether it’s because the world is a scarier place than it was back then, I’m not sure. But unlike those days seven years ago cuddled on our couch devouring page after page of adventures in Middle-earth, the evil seems much more tangible. It no longer lurks in the shadows, but openly recruits, displays it’s intent, and waltzes through the streets demanding attention. And unlike back then, I can’t skip ahead to the last few pages just to be sure that Bilbo makes it back to the Shire or that Frodo does in fact destroy the ring.

And sometimes, like the sad news this week in Europe, it feels like evil is winning.

On countless occasions as a mom I have wondered what life will be like for my kids. With technology so incredibly accessible, facts and information merely a search away, morals and lifestyles changing, and a world much different than the one I was raised in, I occasionally wonder if I’m even cut out for the job of teaching these boys. Evil seems to be penetrating so many facets of their lives, and I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility to teach them.

But truth is, evil isn’t winning. It didn’t win yesterday, it won’t win tomorrow. We might not be able to thumb through to the end and take a peak just to be sure, but we can take a look around and see the good. The unlikely heroes, the small acts of kindness, the love. In the desperation and sadness, there’s always glimmers of hope.

Moms, as mundane and sometimes small our job seems to be, as little as we feel our contributions are, we are not merely maids and nannies. We are mothers. We are raising the next generation, a responsibility more incredible and noble than we realize. Our influence much more far reaching than we could ever imagine.

And we are equipped with the strongest weapon of all: love.

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We, in our little acts every day, are giving rays of hope. What we give to society is faith in a bright future, the assurance that evil will NEVER win. So today as you fold the laundry and change diapers and make dinner and read those bedtime stories, as you build the blanket forts or rock a sleeping baby, take courage. Know that what you are doing does make a difference. As you zip those little coats and tie those tiny shoes, you are dispelling a thick and menacing darkness. You are giving hope. It may not seem like it at times, but we are on the front lines.

And, best of all, we can take heart in knowing that because of that first Easter Sunday so very long ago, good will triumph over evil. It did then, it will today, it will forever. I believe when we carry out our role as mothers, when we teach and love and care for our children the very best we know how, we are fighting on His side.

It’s a scary world out there, but evil won’t win. This too will have a happy ending. Keep fighting, because I have absolutely no doubt we are on the winning side.

Categories: children, Motherhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unfinished

M came down the stairs this morning in pants that would have been fantastic for some clam digging on the beach. I could have swore that just yesterday I had to roll up those same pants to keep them from dragging on the ground. I used to cringe when sweet ladies at the grocery store would stop me and whisper the old cliché, “Oh, they just grow up so fast!” I’d wonder, does she not realize she is the sixth person to tell me that in this visit to the store??

IMG_20150905_151926_298Then suddenly I blinked and there stood a five-year-old in his clam diggers and over-sized backpack ready for the bus.

In my closet I have boxes and boxes of fabric, each carefully labeled, “Black dress,” “R’s quilt,” “Quiet book,”Giraffe growth chart.” Fabric all cut and waiting, some pieces even sewed together. In the garage sits wood sanded and queued to be built into a shelf, a bench, a frame, a spice rack. Ideas penned in notebooks lay scattered all around the house for a picture book, another blog post, a letter to a friend. Bookmarks keep spots in dozens of started and unfinished books. Clothes fill my closet waiting to fit again, for when I will set aside the time to run and get rid of this lingering baby fat.

Recipes I want to try.
Songs tucked away to be learned on our neglected piano.
A guitar untouched for years.
Pictures waiting to go in scrapbooks.
A list of friends I would love to call and hear their voices again.

Unfinished projects. Sometimes I feel like my life is made up of dozens and dozens of unfinished projects. Skills I would love to learn, chores only halfway accomplished, hobbies and ideas and dreams started and set aside. All waiting. For tomorrow. For the weekend. For when the baby stops fussing, the kids are fed, the spilled cereal is swept, the tickle war is over, the scrape is doctored, the kids are in bed.

IMG_20150909_152418_320And there stands my not-so-little-anymore boy in clam diggers that I’m almost positive fit him just yesterday.

There will come a time when I no longer have the interruptions of spilled cereal to clean. These little ones will eventually brush their teeth without help, and they will no longer beg for the momster to set aside yard work and chase them around the trampoline. Slap Jack will eventually loose its appeal, and scrapes will no longer need mom’s kiss. And when that day comes, when I suddenly have the time for all the projects I’ve started and set aside, I hope I never look back and feel like they, these sweet boys, were yet another unfinished project because I was too busy trying to finish all the others.

IMG_20150921_143823_871They grow up so fast. Their pants seems to shrink from one day to the next. But projects can wait. Someday, moms, the time will be ours. The nights will be longer, the little chatter that fills our homes will come much less often than we wish. And all those unfinished projects will fill our time. But now, now is theirs. Now is about slap jack and monsters and spilled milk. Now is the greatest project, the most amazing adventure we will ever embark on. And I’m sure we will never regret making sure that this one isn’t set aside, put on the back-burner, forgotten and left unfinished. Because, moms, in everything that can wait, this one can’t. Let’s give our today to them.

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Categories: children, Family, Life Lessons, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Woman Standing at the Doors of the Clinic: Maybe if She Knew

I’d never pulled an all-niter in my entire life. Not even during dorm life in college. As much as I tried, I knew as I pushed the sheets off my legs and stared at the ceiling that sleep was not going to come that night.

4am, the city still fast asleep. A 25-minute drive that seemed to last an eternity. “Please, let’s just make it to the hospital,” I pleaded. I did NOT want to give birth to our new baby boy in our car, and during those agonizing 25 minutes that felt like a real possibility.

At 7:02am we had our first glimpse of our fourth little boy. I counted his fingers. I counted his toes. I took in all that sweet eight pound newness. Those gray eyes, that matted down reddish hair, the button nose and that wrinkly skin. All so amazing, all so new. All nothing short of a miracle.

photo courtesy of katiejanephotos.blogspot.com

photo courtesy of katiejanephotos.blogspot.com

Four babies later, the incredibleness of bringing a little human being into this world has not diminished. Each time I have been completely enamored at each little detail of that tiny body. The mind-boggling complexity of it all, the beauty. Everything. It is amazing.

My emotions this week have been raw. As I hold this tiny little boy in my arms, I read about other little ones who will never have a chance to live. Who sadly will never get a glimpse of this world. Whose life was so abruptly and horrifically ended before it began. I couldn’t even finish the news articles. I honestly felt sick. I held my little baby in my arms and felt his warmth, wishing those questioning expectant mothers standing at the clinic doors could just feel it too.

If maybe they could just hold their baby, feel the warmth, count those toes. Maybe instead of seeing a burden they would see a most amazing blessing…If not a blessing meant for them, then maybe for someone else.

I have never had to face the pain of not being able to conceive a child. I have never lost one before he or she was born. But I do know others who have struggled and who have mourned such loss. I have watched as friends and family wish, hope, dream, plead, pray, and cry for that child that never comes, or that comes but has to go far too soon.

If those standing at the clinic doors could see that longing in these mothers’ eyes, maybe they could understand the power that they hold to change an unfavorable situation into something incredible. Though that child might not be a possibility for them at the time, that child could bring infinite joy to another family. A family that has longed for that baby to come. They could give a gift so incredible. An act so selfless. Is that not more desirable than the alternative?

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Back in college for a summer I worked at an activity and skills center for children with special needs. The children ranged in age from 8-21, and their disabilities ranged from moderate to very severe. It was by far the hardest job I have ever had, but it was also one of the most rewarding. The mothers and fathers of those participants were the most compassionate and amazing people I have ever met. If you were to ask them about raising a child with disabilities, they would tell you in a heartbeat that it was worth every second. They would tell you about love deeper than anything you have ever felt. I’m sure if you asked, they would tell you about how terrified they were when they found out their child would never lead a normal life. They would tell you the sadness they felt, the worry, the anxiety for their child’s future. Not to mention their own. But they would tell you they would never go back. Not for a second. When they chose to bring that life into the world, despite the difficulty they would face, they were brave. They were selfless. And they learned about love in ways others may never know. Maybe if those standing at the doors facing similar situations could see, could know. They could make such a difference. Those parents to those special spirits are heroes in my eyes.

I don’t judge these women. I feel so much sadness for them and the questions they find themselves asking. I have no idea what those women face. I don’t know their reasons for standing at those clinic doors. But I do know that there are others out there that would help them, love them, and support them. I see no love and compassion from a company willing to crush the little life that mother is growing inside and sell the parts as if that baby were a wreck from an auto salvage.

As I count these tiny fingers and toes again and again and hear that little cry, I wish more than anything those women standing at the clinic doors could hold their precious babies in their arms and do the same before they make a decision. I can’t help but wonder if their decision would be left unchanged.

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Categories: children, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Those Care-Free Days

20150405_093955I grew up in a house that was a century old. The stairs creaked, it was a little drafty, and when my parents bought it, it needed lots (and lots and lots) of tlc. My parents saw something in that house I’m sure very few could. Their vision of turning that musty, dusty, old house into a home became a reality as they planned, gutted, painted, tore down, built up, and everything in between over the next 25 years. I can’t remember a summer going by without renovations being made.

When I was five years old my dad decided to dig out a basement. On one particular summer evening, I remember slipping inside our back door with my mom and sister to take a break from playing and get a drink. My dad was working below. As We stood in the kitchen we noticed the wall start to move. My mom rushed us out of the house and screamed at my dad from the back yard. There are few things I remember well from five years old, but the image of my dad running up the hill and the house caving in behind him I can play in my mind clear as day. I remember watching the pink sunset that night and the dust settling as my sister and I sat in our yard terrified and my parents rushed around to assess the damage and make calls. Our kitchen and part of the upstairs has fallen in where my dad had been working.

That disaster was the start of the most memorable summer of my childhood. Dirt piles everywhere, tractors coming and going, huge pipes to crawl through. Countless English papers were written about those particular three months of my life for the next two decades. Forget the trips to Disneyland, the vacations to sandy beaches and amusement parks. THAT summer is what I look back on with the fondest of memories.

If you were to ask my parents to honestly recall the events that took place that evening and the months that followed, you would likely get a much different story. While we were romping around playing Peter Pan on dirt piles and unearthing century-old artifacts, my parents were battling insurance companies. I’m sure many nights were spent stressing over architecture plans and building permits while we slept soundly after a full day in the sun. On top of all the stress they were facing, my dad broke his ankle while working on the project. Their adult reality was night-and-day different from ours as kids.

Earlier this spring my husband and I embarked on our own project of rather large proportions. We knew when we moved into our old home in the country we would have to fix the septic system at some point. That point came sooner than anticipated, and, as most projects go, everything that could go wrong, well, did. In a very big way.

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Before it all was destroyed…

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Piles and piles of dirt and sand, tractors coming and going, trees being torn out. Fighting county regulations and praying the inspectors would be flexible, reasonable and kind. I almost cried as I looked out the window the first day to see a muddy hole where our giant, beautiful pine trees once stood.

But among all the chaos comes an entirely different story. Our three boys wouldn’t tell you about the phone calls and the plans, the permits and the worry. Their story begins with the coolest tractors that currently line our driveway and Mr. P, who drives them that let them climb inside and check them out. It’s about mounds and mounds of sand and dirt, running from one to the other and getting so dirty their bath water turns to an icky, brown, thick consistency. I would imagine it would include eating frozen pizza (a time of two more than once, I’m embarrassed to admit) while the water was turned off and mom couldn’t do dishes. THEIRS is a story of a spring worth remembering.

IMG_20150409_144157_614 IMG_20150409_144429_678 IMG_20150409_144343_146Sometimes as adults we long for those care-free days when troubles were simply an adventure. We remember the “good old days” and forget that we are remembering with a child-like view. I have certainly had flash-backs this month as my boys have dug in the dirt and shouted with glee while my husband and I stress and wished I was back on that side of life.

Then I think about my parents. When they tell the story from those many years ago, they tell of the adventure, the little miracles along the way, and the FUN the kids had as we experienced the excitement. As we face adulthood and all the challenges that come with it, I hope we can live vicariously, even if only a little, through the lives of our children. We will undoubtedly have to face the bills, the paperwork, the phone calls and the frustrations, but they don’t. I hope I can look back and remember the joy on my boys’ faces and see moments like this through those innocent, child eyes. As adults, let’s remember to stress the stress, carry the burdens, and pay the expenses. But when all is said and done, let’s let our kids be kids, and let’s remember to try to see the world even if only a little through their child eyes. Because theirs is the story worth sharing.

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Protecting our Children

A typical Tuesday night. 5:00. I pull up allrecipes.com on my iPad and grab a pot. I busy myself mixing ingredients as N, my two-year-old climbs up on the barstool and commandeers my tablet. Not two minutes later the familiar lyrics of “The Hamster Dance” fills the kitchen and the glow of the screen lights up my son’s smug grin. As I stir the simmering pot, I notice he has found his way to the paint application and is quickly filling the blank space with a rainbow of colors. Dinner ready, table set, I scoop him up and set him in the high chair. Before I close the iPad and turn off his music, I discover that in the ten minutes he took control, he managed to pose for four selfies, write a novel of toddler gibberish in a document, change my background settings, take off airplane mode, renew our library books, fix two bugs, clean the finger printed screen, order three books on Amazon and write 100 lines of code (ok, so I’m only halfway exaggerating).HPIM1512

My two-year-old knows how to navigate my tablet better than I do.

And frankly, that scares me.

Years ago while I was unmarried and still in college I had the opportunity to spend a summer as a camp counselor for a church program called “Especially For Youth.” Each week we worked with two “co-counselors” and a set of about 8-12 teenagers each. It was an incredible, faith-building experience. One week while talking with my male co-counselor I was surprised to find out that the night before eight of his ten boys, ranging in age from 16-18, confided in him that they had accessed and viewed pornographic images. I was shocked. How could that be? These were really great kids who had everything in the world going for them.

Eight out of ten. I know it isn’t a big enough pool of boys to create a real statistic, but it was none-the-less alarming to me. Now, ten years down the road and (almost) four boys of my own, the image of those kind, handsome young men and their confessions burns in my mind.

If you think that porn has no harm or lasting affect on the person or those associated with them, think again. If you think it is healthy, I have to disagree. If you feel you are alone in the fight, you’re not.

Pornography is… addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it “hooks” its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more. A man who had been addicted to pornography and to hard drugs wrote me this comparison: “In my eyes cocaine doesn’t hold a candle to this. I have done both. … Quitting even the hardest drugs was nothing compared to [trying to quit pornography]” (letter of Mar. 20, 2005). –Dallin H. Oaks

This is a taboo topic I never dreamed of writing about, let alone thought I’d ever have to worry about. But with the power of the Internet at our fingertips, at our two-year-olds’ fingertips, the topic becomes a bit more real. I watch my six-year old create planes and helicopters out of bristle blocks with his brothers, laugh at the same knock-knock joke for the fiftieth time, then cuddle up with his stuffed animal monkey after he’s said his prayers. So innocent. I wish more than anything I could protect him and help him keep that innocence forever. But I can’t wrap him in bubble wrap.

So as moms, what can we do? The dangers are out there, and they are real. I don’t have all the answers. I hardly have any, and probably not all great ones. But I’m learning, and my thoughts are this:

Sure, we can secure our internet, put the computer in a public and heavy-traffic location. Limit their phone data, check their texts. We can micromanage every facet of their lives, but the only way to really help them, to protect them, is to create a relationship with them and love them. No security measures can compare to helping them see their self-worth and that of others. If we maintain an open communication with them, know their friends and genuinely have an interest in them, and help them to understand the seriousness of this addiction, of the way becoming involved in such activities could change their lives and current and future relationships, I think it might help. It’s certainly not foolproof, but why not try?

“My plea—and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it—is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture.” –Gordon B. Hinkley

Being a mom has been by far one of the greatest blessings of my life. As I twirl all 22 pounds of two-year-old sweetness around the air to the fifth repeat of “The Hamster Dance” ( if only he would show me how to turn the darn repeat off!!), I remember what an incredible, wonderful, daunting responsibility I have to raise these boys to be kind, considerate, courageous, stalwart, chivalrous gentlemen. For their teachers, their professors, their future employers. For your daughters, for their children. For God. It’s kind of a big deal, and I hope and pray I can get it right.

IMG_5180What have you done or plan to do to protect your children from the scary stuff out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, here’s another link that I thought was good for moms in case you are interested.

Categories: children, parenthood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Terrible/Wonderful Twos–Loving Whatever Life Throws Our Way

Our youngest son recently turned two. TWO! Every time I’ve had a two-year-old I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Could I possibly love this kid any more?? If I could only freeze time, I’d freeze him at this age, right here, right now.” I LOVE two. It is my favorite, favorite, favorite age.

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Yesterday was a moment I would have froze if I could. We were putting Christmas decorations up, and N (that cute little two-year-old), enthusiastic about all the festiveness in a way only a two-year-old can be, grabbed the angel from a Melissa and Doug nativity set and ran to my husband. “See, Daddy? See? This Mommy! Mommy a angel.”

My heart turned to mush.

Obviously he’d totally forgot about how I was the meanest mom on the planet an hour before for not letting him try a bite of the uncooked chicken I was cutting up for dinner…

While I would freeze each of my children at the age of two for eternity if I could, There’s no doubt in my mind that the “terrible twos” are real. Oh, so very real. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” It was the age of pure joy, it was the age of temper tantrums. It was the season of laughter and squeals, it was the season of never-ending potty training. It was the time of ‘do it myself’ (hooray!), it was the time of ‘do it myself’ (ahh! No!!). Two is, without a doubt, a paradox. It’s a year thick and thin with inconsistency.

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But, the more I’ve thought about it, maybe that’s just life. We live in a world of ups and downs. Mountains and valleys are ever present in all of our lives, wether we are in the thick of raising a child in the terrible/wonderful twos, or if our children are states away with families of their own. Some mountains in our lives may seem so incredible they touch the skies, some valleys may seem so deep we feel we may never rise again. Regardless of where we find ourselves, a lesson I learned years ago from a talk has stuck with me.

“Come what may and love it.

“…every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.” —Joseph B. Wirthlin

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Having a two-year-old around again has reminded me of that advice. Most days are the absolute best. My mountain seem higher than the clouds. Others, well, I’ve simply had to remind myself to laugh…

“The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”

…and “seek for the eternal.”

“Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others.” –Wirthlin

Whatever our lives bring, I hope we can tell ourselves, “Come what may, and love it.” I hope we can laugh at our blunders, at the little frustrations, at the uncomfortable situations. And when our valleys are deep and we are too far down to laugh, may we look up and seek for His help. Only through Him can we be made whole.

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Categories: children, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

You Are Worth So Much More

My dear child. As I watch your big, blue eyes fade in and out of dreams there’s so much I want to tell you. It’s been a long day. Somewhere between spilling your second glass of orange juice at breakfast and your fit in the middle of the yogurt isle at the grocery store you seem to have misplaced that sparkle in your eye. Your block tower really was amazing, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry that last piece on the top sent it tumbling to the floor. And time-out for teasing your brother isn’t much fun. Believe me, I know. But do you know something?

I love you.

I love you more than you may ever know. You see, your worth to me is so much greater than a silly glass of orange juice or tears in the grocery store. I think it’s fantastic that you like to build towers. Nothing brings a smile to my face like when you run in, beaming with pride as your magnificent creation teeters in the family room. But that’s not why I love you. Your towers scaling the sky will never hold a candle to the worth you are to me. You may have splashed the sudsy water out of the tub and squirted shampoo on the wall, but I don’t love you any less. Bath or no bath, I love you from the tip of your muddy nose to the bottom of your stinky toes.

My son, do you realize your worth? Your worth does not hinge on your mistakes. It does not fluctuate each day with your accomplishments. Nothing could measure my love for you. It is infinite, like the stars in the sky. Your worth is great because you are my child. Nothing else matters, because I love you and always will. No matter what. Tomorrow is a bright, new day. When the sun shines through your windows we can try again. But remember, always remember, you are worth that same infinite, incalculable amount. I promise, my love for you will never change.

Love, Mom

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…as my eyes beging to fade in and out of dreams, I can almost imagine I hear a faint whisper…

My dear child. Do YOU know something?

I love you.

Your worth to me is infinite, like the stars in the sky. I don’t measure it by how your hair looks or if you lost your temper today. I love you the same wether or not your toddler throws himself on the tile floors of the grocery store in a fit for all to see. Your worth does not hinge on how spotless your kitchen is, nor does it diminish when you don’t feel like you could even compare to the other moms who have it all together. Nothing could measure my love for you. Your worth is great because you are my child. Nothing else matters, because I love you and always will, no matter what. Tomorrow is a bright, new day. When the sun shines through your windows we can try again. But remember, always remember, you are worth that same infinite, incalculable amount. I promise, my love for you will never change.

Love, God

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Preparing our Children for the Weather of Life

Monday Morning R, our six-year-old, slipped on his jacket and sneakers, grabbed his backpack, and dashed down the driveway to catch the bus. 60 balmy degrees. The sun was shining, beautiful fall leaves of red, yellow and brown still hung high in the branches above. As the bus rumbled away, I looked into the sky and saw a dark cloud looming over the mountains. “Boy,” I thought to myself, “I’m glad I talked him out of wearing shorts today! It just might get a little chilly later.” And chilly it got. Within an hour of the bus screeching to our stop fall had all but been dashed to oblivion and winter had boldly taken stage. Temperatures dropped 30 degrees almost instantly and snowflakes as big as ping pong balls fluttered down from the sky. And there my little boy sat in his first grade classroom totally unprepared for what waited outside those big, red doors. His light spring jacket was certainly no match for this winter storm.

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As the two younger boys and I signed in at the front office to bring more suitable clothes for their brother, Mrs. R came over the intercom. “Inside recess today! Make sure to come in winter gear tomorrow so you can play outside!” “Oh good. I’m not the only neglectful mom who failed to check the weather,” I sighed in relief. As I drove back home, I thought about how our family theme this year is to be organized and prepared. Thoughts of preparedness and being more organized filled my mind. I failed at sending R off to school prepared for the winter weather, but what about the weather of life? Had I helped to equip him with the skills he’d need to face the world?

Would he know what to do when someone was being left out? What to say when he needed to stand up for what was right? How to encourage a friend? Stand down from a fight? Had I prepared him for times when friends and peers would say inappropriate things? For moments when he would be the only one with certain beliefs and feel so alone? When friends would tease him or choose to no longer play with him because of his clothes, his freckles, his backpack…the principles he values and holds dear?

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Had I prepared him, taught him, helped him to know?

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Had I said “I love you” enough? Does he know that he matters, he’s important, he’s kind and unique? Does he know that no matter what happens out there, he has a family who thinks he’s wonderful and a Father in Heaven that knows him and loves him more than he can imagine?

Did I prepare him for school today?

It’s my fervent prayer each morning that I have. That when the storms rage and the weather quickly turns, that I’ve helped to equip him with all he needs. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

How do you prepare your children for the storms of life? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts!

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Categories: children | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Believe

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love, true love, never dies… No matter if they’re true or not, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.” –Secondhand Lions

We see things in the news every day. Disasters, scary things. People making unwise decisions and the consequences of their actions hurting others. We see it on tv. We read it in the paper. I stand in the checkout line at the grocery store and, glancing over at the tabloids, I almost feel sick.

“Exclusive: What drove a popular boy to commit mass murder.”

“The Ultimate Betrayal”

“So-and-so and another actor split. Who gets the kids? The fight begins.”

“Secret Lies Exposed”

“Hollywood’s Worst Bodies.”

Wait. This is news? Really? Do we honestly enjoy this gossip? Reading about how other human beings’ lives have been destroyed? Their faces plastered across the front page, their anguish three columns in length for the world to peruse.

And then I return home and I look out my kitchen window while I make dinner. I see my boys playing pirates. No doubt the bad guys will loose, the good guys win. They always do. Good always triumphs over evil. Honor, courage and virtue still exist. People are generally good. They know because they are around goodness and kindness every day. Teachers, bus drivers, librarians, parents, the lady at the grocery store that digs through her purse to find a penny to ride the horse. Money and power simply don’t matter. And love. True, selfless love: they’ve seen it. They see it in grandparents and great-grandparents, and they’ve felt it from all the good people. They know. It’s real. IMG_0795 Their faith is so pure, their innocence refreshing. Their view of life uninhibited and clear.

And again I believe.

Categories: children, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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