Posts Tagged With: faith

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.

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

Ours for the Leaving

A balmy 75 degrees. Finally a beautiful day. After being cooped up inside for what seemed like an eternity, this change from the frigged, windy winter weather was more than welcomed. I buckled our oldest son, seven months at the time, into the stroller, tucked a blanket around his body, and off we headed on an adventure. He smiled and squealed at everyone we passed, and I was sure that a little walk around this beautiful, sunny, warm world was just what we both needed to lift our spirits.

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Not long after our walk began, we came across two women who took interest in my blue-eyed boy, although not with the same exchange of pleasantries and adorations I had become accustomed to over the last seven months.

“What on earth are you doing out here with JUST a blanket? That poor boy is going to catch cold! He needs a coat. Are you his mother?”

As they walked away obviously disgusted with my happy, smiling son’s lack of winter clothes on that (75 degree, warm and beautiful) day, I was completely crushed. What I had thought would be a fun bonding experience with my son turned into a glimpse of one of the harsh realities in the world of parenting.

Seven years and four kids later, I have learned that everyone has an opinion about how you should raise your children. And occasionally, despite your very best efforts to do things the right way, one of those “everyones” decides that you need to know exactly what you are doing wrong.

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After seven years and four kids, I’ve also learned another truth: I’m really, really lousy at accepting criticism.

Being a parent, I am completely convinced, is one of the most humbling experiences a person can ever have.

Let your child cry it out. Get your child the minute he cries. Co-sleeping is a wonderful experience for everyone involved. Don’t you dare co-sleep, studies show that’s a bad idea. Feed them rice cereal at 4 months. Wait, feed them avocados at 6 months. Heck, babies don’t need anything but milk until they’re one. Time outs or spankings or counting to three. Breast or bottle, public or private, cloth or disposable. Epidural or natural. It even begins before the baby arrives!

Out of the 7.125 billion people on Earth, not a single one of us are the same. Not a single one of us thinks exactly the same way, has the same idiosyncrasies, concerns, priorities, or personalities, and, that being the fantastic and wonderful case that it is, not a single one of us will parent exactly the same. Nor should we.

Sometimes those comments, right or wrong, can really sting. As moms, the way we parent becomes a part of us. We love our children, we want them to grow into good, kind, loving, normal human beings, and we feel like we are trying our hardest to do what’s best for them. Sometimes those comments are meant to be malicious, to be offensive, and sometimes they just aren’t. But always, always it is our decision how we will take them.

“Certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.” — David A. Bednar

That sting of my first encounter with the realities of opposing opinions in parenting is gone. Looking back, it seems almost silly that I took offense at the opinion of those two women. But sometimes other opinions do sting, and sometimes I have to remind myself that offense is mine for the leaving…If I choose.

Dear mothers, let’s remember that we are all doing our best. Let’s help each other, love each other, and above all encourage each other. And, when something must be said, let’s do our very best to be tactful and kind.

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And dear mothers, when someone tells you something that stings, try not to take offense. Remember all that you do right, and, if needed make some changes. Because, chances are, you really and truly are doing wonderfully.

“May I say to mothers collectively, you are magnificent.” Jeffery R. Holland

In a world where taking offense is so often our first line of defense, I hope that we can instead choose to learn from each encounter and move forward. Oh my, what an incredibly difficult thing to learn! But today, today I’m going to try.

Categories: parenthood | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

When I Feel Weak

N, our two-year-old, burned his hand on our stove last week. I’d been fixing dinner early that day and he was being my little kitchen helper, mixing and measuring ingredients into the bowl at the table. The burner had been turned off only minutes before, and out of the corner of my eye I saw N pull the stool over. Everything was in slow motion as I dropped the knife I had been cutting with and rushed over to my little boy. It was too late. The palm of his hand had only rested on the hot burner for a millisecond before I grabbed him up, but the deed was done. Immediately under the running tap water blisters began to form. His tears dripped into the sink and pulled at my heart as I cursed myself for not getting to him sooner.

Later that day as he took a nap, I called my sister and cried. I spilled out my heart. I felt weak. I felt like I had failed him yet again. I was the adult, the one in charge, but I felt so inadequate, so lacking, so incredibly weak. His little hand bandaged in gauze, his sad cries played over and over in my mind. “Ouch! Hurt, Mommy. This hand, it hurt.”

Being a mom, being a parent, I’m convinced is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not because of the late nights, not because of the endless dirty laundry. It really has absolutely nothing to do with the constant demands from little people still lacking patience or the dishes that pile high every night or the diapers that constantly need changed. When I became a mother I expected all of that. I knew full well what the job description entailed. What no one had warned me about, what makes it harder than anything else we do with our lives, is none of that. From the minute we found out we were expecting our first little boy I felt like my heart had been taken from me and would never be given back. I experienced emotions unlike I had ever felt before, from the most extreme joy to the most intense worry and pain. Their hurt is mine, more strong in my heart than any pain I have felt for myself. Their disappointment, their excitement, their successes and failures. Their happiness gives me gladness I never knew could be felt. THAT. That is what makes this job the hardest. Our emotions run in extremes and rest on these little ones.

IMG_1010On that particular day I felt weak. I hate feeling so weak. I wanted more than anything to take away his sadness, to put on a magic salve or give it a kiss and make it all go away. I felt like millions of mothers feel every day. So often we feel like we have to be strong, but we’re afraid there’s no strength to muster. We want to put on a brave face, tell them everything will be fine, but inside we’re scared too and want nothing more than to stroke their hair and take it all onto ourselves. It’s a hard job: wishing, hoping, loving, feeling and emotionally giving our all. Loving someone so intensely.

IMG_0997I’m so thankful for a Heavenly Father that knows the emotions I feel. He knows better than I do myself. He understands that complete joy, he sorrows in our sadness. Some days I feel so weak, like when my little two-year-old burns his hand on the stove. But I know with His divine help my weakness can become strong. I know because of Him, because of his love, I can pour out my soul to him and I can pick myself back up. Because of Him I can take on this tough job with strength. Because of Him I can hold my little boy in my arms and reassure him that everything will be okay. Because He is there for both of us, always, no matter what. I’m so thankful that I have been given the incredible responsibility to love and care for these little ones, and I’m thankful He will be by my side when I feel the emotional load of it all is weighing me down.

Because I’m human, because I’m a mother, I often feel weak. I often feel like I fall short. But I know that because of Him I can be filled with strength. And when you feel overwhelmed with the emotional load, I know you can too. He loves us. He will make up the difference.

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

Having Children Ruined My Life

It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.

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Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.

Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.

Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.

Having children ruined my life.

I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.

Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.

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Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.

Maybe.

But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Happy Place

I’m typing this one-fingered on my iPad (something that drives my husband crazy!) from the rocking chair. My left leg bounces up and down and my fingers run through a two-year-old’s blonde hair. His blue eyes hidden under heavy eyelids and long lashes. A rare moment I seldom get to enjoy, but today…today I will. The dishes wait, the toys strung from one room to the next sit. This. Nothing in the world could compare to this.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about “my happy place,” thanks to my dear friend Marla who writes a beautiful blog, Pendulum World. After being challenged by another blogger and writing about hers, she challenged me along with a few others to write about mine. Let me first tell you about Marla. I’ve never met her in person, but she has a way of making you feel like an old friend. She writes words of encouragement and often reminds me of what this life is really all about. I’m so thankful for her friendship and how she has touched my life.

Last year for the 100th day of school our son was asked to bring in 100 of something. For days I proposed ideas as we sat around the dinner table and watched as my husband’s face twisted in mocking smirks.

“How about we make a treasure box and paint it, then fill it with 100 gold coins? You could wear a pirate costume when it’s your turn to present. Eh?” Brilliant.

Now, here’s just a simple example of how my dear husband and I are complete polar opposites (for what it’s worth, we are living proof that opposites really can attract!).

My husband smirks. “R, Mom is crazy. Here’s a $1 bill. Take it in and say it’s 100 cents. Easy. Done.”

“So typical!” I’d think. “Sure, take the easy, straight-forward route. So engineery.”

Our proposals went back-and-forth for days. Finally a decision was made. R put together a cute little photo album with a title on the front, “100 People, Places, and Things I Love.” Each photo protector held a picture of someone or something near and dear to him with a label of what it was. I was a proud mama, and even my “this project is way too frilly and time consuming” husband thought it turned out pretty darn cute.

I won’t put 100, but I thought I’d share my happy place(s) with you through pictures. Like Marla said in her post, being with people I love is where I find joy. They are what makes life full and happy, and I’m so thankful for those who have shared their lives with me. So, without further ado, here are my “people, places and things I love,” or “my happy place.”

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Being with my family

...and more family

…and more family (thanks, katiejanephotos.blogspot.com 🙂 )

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Sailing on our boat

Hiking

Hiking

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Places that bring back special memories

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Running (and being) with friends

Running (and being) with friends

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Being with my kids

I’m so glad Marla challenged me to think about what brings me happiness. With the start of a new year, I hope we can all look back and remember those people, those moments, those places that we find joy. And this year I hope we can all share our joy with others.

As these traveling posts go, I have thought about some bloggers to pass the “happy place” challenge to. Of course, I don’t want to make anyone feel obligated to do it, but if you would like, I’d love to read yours.

Shape Up Cupcake— Kristen and I go way back to volleyball freshman year of high school, guitar class, soccer, and sleep overs. She is amazing! I feel honored to call her my friend after all these years. She is such a inspiration to me and so many others.

A prompt reply— Torrie has quickly become a good friend. Being in different walks of life, I love to hear her view from where she stands, with adult and teenage boys. Her advice and words of wisdom is always something I appreciate.

Sensitive and Extraordinary— Leila is such a kind person. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and reading her thoughts on raising children. She has been a huge help to me as a beginner in the self-publishing adventure, always answering my questions and sharing her experience and knowledge.

Categories: Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

By Small and Simple Things

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions every year (and possibly one of yours too!) is curling up on the couch with family and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart in pure 1946 black-and-white splendor. At the end of the movie when the credits are rolling, tears are being wiped away from every eye in the room, I always wonder what it would be like to have George Bailey’s wish…to see what the world would be like without me. What difference has my simple, small life really made?

George Bailey: [George hears a train whistle] There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?

Uncle Billy: Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner…

George Bailey: No no no no. Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.

No doubt about it, It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic, a beloved movie in many, many homes. And maybe that’s because we all have a bit of George Bailey in us. We all want to do BIG things. We want to explore the world, make our mark, leave it for the better. We want to be good at something, known for something, have people remember our names after we have gone. And so often we feel like the whistle blows, the plane starts up it’s motor, the anchor is hoisted, and we’re left watching from the station. But I wonder if we realize, just as George Bailey had the opportunity to find out, no matter how insignificant, how small and simple our lives feel at times, we are making differences. Our lives are intertwined into so many others. We make ripples, and even the smallest ones touch more than we could ever imagine.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

I wonder if we could all see, if only we could know what we have done. If only we knew…

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

If only Mrs. Chamberlain knew. An awkward tom-boy with a hideous bowl cut and no self-esteem was completely changed in her third-grade class. If only she knew how many elementary ed professors read about how every child deserves to have a teacher like her, who gives them a chance, believes in them, and loves them.

If only Regina, the owner and boss of the best family-owned burger joint around, knew. Those who have worked for her over the years would all agree she taught us far more than how to make a killer Ladybug shake or count back change. She taught us about being kind, giving people a chance, and serving others with a smile. Always. She taught us to truly care about others and think more of them than of ourselves.

Yeah, we lost almost every game. We weren’t the best in the league, but we loved soccer. We loved it because we had amazing coaches. Their pep talks when the score board read 5-0 might have seemed to fall on deaf ears, but their encouragement went far. To this day we are all changed because they taught us to love the game, to be a team, to have fun and be good sports…even if we could never seem to get the ball in the net.

If only friends from long ago knew. If only they could feel the way their simple messages, phone calls, letters, have made me feel on a bad day. If only they realized how much their friendship has meant to me over these many, many years.

If only the kind lady at the grocery store realized how far-reaching the effects of her simple gesture of allowing us to go ahead of her at the checkout counter meant. Not just to the hungry, crying baby and the exhausted mother, but countless others who I have shared her story with. I want to be her someday when I don’t have the anxious kids in tow.

If only…if only Mrs. M knew how scared my son was to start the first grade. How he didn’t like to read, how he despised writing. How he has blossomed and reads every night, writes stories on the bus, and talks about her at every meal. She is his hero. She is MY hero.

He’s only the custodian, but Mr. Mike creates ripples. The kids love him. The way he teases them in the lunch room making each one giggle with delight. He makes a difference. Every single day. They will remember that forever. If only he knew.

If only each one of us could know.

Each day, each moment, our small actions touch others. Sometimes in very big ways when we don’t even know it. We may never do really big, grand things. We may never have an audience of millions, have stadiums or buildings named after us, or have our photo on the cover of magazines or in books. We may never be the best. But life really is wonderful, and you and me, all of us, even in our small and simple ways, make a difference.

Clarence: You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grinchy-Mom’s Week Before Christmas

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Twas the week before Christmas and Mom was a mess.

Instead of holiday happy greetings, all she felt was distress.

“Only five days till Christmas! It’s practically here.”

She grumbled and bristled, felling no sort of cheer.


Christmas cards strewn the table, cookie cutters filled the sink,

Wassail steamed from the kettle for carolers to drink.

The festivities had started, everything had the appearance of jolly.

But Mom, well, she was a grump, and seemed rather melancholy.


“Don’t pull on the ornaments!” “Ahh! Tinsel’s not to EAT!”

“Oh, for Heaven’s sake. Take the Christmas stockings off your feet.”

The old Grinchy-Ma had forgotten what it meant to have fun,

The moment the Christmasy season had begun.


The stockings needed filled, and that should have been easy,

But the thought of another Wal-Mart run made her queasy.

The cards needed stamps, the lights were a-tangle.

She got a headache hearing the bells jingle and jangle.


She’d slaved in the kitchen making cookies and pies,

Even sampling some, which she bitterly knew would be her waste line’s demise.

Glitter and ribbon, googly eyes and hot glue,

Would these silly festive crafts ever be through?


The Elf on the Shelf got left in the storage.

That creepy grin, those sketchy eyes, this year she just didn’t have the time nor the courage.

Each time she swiped the credit card she thought of the bill.

Were the cheap, plastic gifts worth it? But it didn’t matter—she had Christmas list orders to fill.


Christmas carols blared on the radio. The family had watched The Polar Express.

A Christmas Story, Rudolf, Frosty, But admittedly she sympathized with Scrooge the best.

Under the tree were presents she’d spent many nights wrapping.

They’d done it all, so what on Earth was she lacking?


“But I love Christmas!” she puzzled that night under the covers.

“Why can’t I be joyful, like all the other mothers?”

Mom was stressed to the limit, Christmas had plum worn her out.

She’d been so consumed with the going she’d forgot was the season was about.


She stewed and she puzzled till she could take it no more.

She slipped on her boots and walked out the door.

Down the empty streets she breathed in the frigged night air.

Except for the evergreens, every tree stood bare.


No crowds to fight, no bad deals to be dealt.

Her heart suddenly felt full…Could it be the Christmas spirit she felt?

She’d ate way too much pie, it wasn’t a question.

Still sceptical, she thought maybe what she felt was just indigestion.


As she rounded the corner she saw a neighbor shovelling snow.

Not for himself but for an elderly couple who didn’t even know.

Christmas is about giving! How could she not remember?

A heart-felt gesture, a kind smile, serving a little more all though December.


The stars in the sky seemed to twinkle more bright,

And suddenly she was reminded of an ancient Bethlehem night.

A silhouette through a window of a mother rocking her child,

Took her back to a night long ago with Mary so mild.


Ah, now she remembered. The first and best gift wasn’t purchased in a store.

A price could never be placed. It was worth so very much more.

Not the gifts of the Wisemen: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh,

But a baby. A gift so perfect and pure.


The Christmas cheer she had searched for she’d finally found.

The night taught about giving and kindness without breathing a sound.

“All along I was wrong. It wasn’t in the cooking or under the tree.”

“All along the cheer had to be found inside me!


So this Christmas as we find ourselves hustling and bustling around,

Don’t forget that it’s not in the busyness Christmas spirit is found.

It’s not in the packages, or in the crowded isles of Wal-mart.

But the simple things, like family, kindness, and doing our part.


Most of all remember the gift of a Son from above,

Given to the entire world out of pure and unconditional love.

Let’s choose to be happy, let’s choose the real Christmas spirit so bright.

And let’s share the sweet message:

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 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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Categories: children | Tags: , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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