A letter to my little boy 

My dear sweet boy,

Today you reached up and grabbed my hand when we were walking and every time my hand would shift or slip from your little grip you would grab hold a little tighter. For a moment I stopped to take it all in, to memorize how little your hand was, to breathe in the fresh spring air. I took in the sound of the birds chirping and the children laughing on the playground. I felt the heat of the sun across my face. I captured a picture so I would remember your hand in mine. 

That moment was a breath of fresh air. It was a moment my soul needed. You see people often say, “you’ll miss these years when they grow up.” I have wrestled with that saying in parenting, because I long for the toddler years to come to an end. I have felt guilt and shame for not appreciating the trying moments, to be longing to be out of the toddler years and for not finding joy in this season of motherhood.  The reality is I will miss moments like today, moments when your sweet little hand reaches to grab mine, or when your arms reach up high because your little legs are too tired to keep walking. I will miss the days when you sweetly climb into bed with me in the mornings, cuddle up and fall back asleep. I will miss watching you learn new things. I will miss your sweet little voice and your contagious laughter. I won’t however miss the tantrums, the utter defiance and the blatant disobedience. I won’t miss the moments of training and discipline. Those moments are quite exhausting and I long for the day they are over. 

You have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, you have tried and depleated all my patience and you manage to do it before 9am on a regualar basis. You test every boundary and push every limit. You have been the reason behind my tears on numerous accounts. You are a strong-willed, determined little man. You are full of gumption. You are jocular. You are adventurous and brave. You are vivacious and energetic. You are inquisitive. You are meticulous. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are captivating and the truth is I am lucky to be your mommy. I am lucky to be challenged to grow in my own personhood through you. God knew I needed a sweet little boy like you to remind me often of my need for Him and to humbly remind me I will never surivive these toddler years on my own strength. 

I love you deeply.

Love always, 

Your exhausted, but grateful Mommy

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To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,
Today you turn six years old. 
I watched you playing on the playground recently and was in awe of the little woman you are becoming. There was a sweet little girl crying, you got down on your knees, put your arm around her and began to make her laugh. 
You have always been such a gentle spirit, such an empathetic soul. When you were just an itty bitty thing if you heard a baby crying in the store you’d instantly stop what you were doing and you’d become concerned with their tears. It’s a quality I resonate so deeply with. My heart swells when I watch you comfort those around you. 
Your love for people is intoxicating. I am not sure that you’ve ever met a stranger. Sometimes this quality scares the hell out of me, but I pray for protection and then embrace that you were created wonderfully and fearfully and God designed you to befriend all. You’re a prime example of what it means to love well. So *never* stop loving people. 
Just the other day you came home from school and said, “Mom, Dad, when I grow up I’d like to be a scientist.” When we asked what made you want to become a scientist you said, “because I’d like to invent potions that help heal those that are sick.” I sat in awe. It’s such a testament to who you are. I sit back and watch you and dream of what your future might look like. I often think, your little brain probably has the cure for cancer just waiting to be unleashed. 
You my dear are wise beyond your years. You are inquisitive and imaginative. You seek to find answers and you never stop filling your brain with knowledge. As your mom it poses challenges as we navigate the roads to your education and I try to gain my own understanding of how your brain is wired, but I’m also thankful for the challenge because in turn it keeps me challenged. 
You are a natural born leader and you are learning how to become a great leader. 
You’re stubborn as all get out and boy does that challenge every last ounce of patience I have in my body. Mostly because I myself am a stubborn woman. I pray that stubbornness subsides some and that you are able to be humble and ask for help when you need it. 
You my dear are so many other things and more. You are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t change thing about you! 
Six years ago you made me a mommy and I am forever grateful for that. I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared shitless but I was up for the challenge the second they placed you in my arms. You test my very patience and in the same moment touch the depths of my heart. You can make me both laugh and cry in the same moment. The last six years have brought with them some of the hardest moments of my life and some of the most joyous moments. I am proud to be your mommy and I cannot wait to see what year 6 has in store for you. 
I love you to the moon and back again…I win. 

Happy birthday beautiful.

Love,

Mommy

Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.

 

 

Have Courage

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Mark Twain

Just recently I watched as my daughter exuded courage. She had been given a bike, this bike didn’t come with training wheels. We attempted to ride this bike once before and that ended in frustration all around. I had a squirming toddler in my arms and it made holding her stable on the bike nearly impossible.

Having a perfectionist, strong-willed daughter makes for a challenge all its own, but it makes for a bigger challenge when something is not mastered the first time. She is good at many things, she is wise beyond her years… but she is stubborn and determined. Since the first attempt at bike riding was an epic fail she was determined to never ride a bike without training wheels again.

Well the other day seemed like a good day to ride a bike. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and it was just one of those days you didn’t want to spend inside. Daddy was home this particular day so we decided to give bike riding another go. Emma huffed and puffed and threw a tantrum of epic portion. She was determined to never ride that bike again. She stormed all over the house with her arms crossed and yelled all about how her bike was “stupid” and she “was never riding the stupid bike.” Now in our home “stupid” is a word we don’t use and she is fully aware of that. She faced a consequence and then my husband and I pulled her close to us and talked with her.

We talked about how we have two choices in life– we can choose to always do the easy things or the hard things. Les Brown says it like this, we can do the easy things and have a hard life, or we can do the hard things and have an easy life. We went on to talk about how in life we have to do things that are hard, things that scare us, things we might not want to do and things we may not be any good at. It’s how we experience life. It’s what makes us who we are. We all have to do it. We talked about how its okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to not be perfect at the task or to even master it. We talked about how we don’t have to rely on our strength, but that we have the strength of Jesus Christ and because of that we can do all things. We shared moments when mommy, daddy and her baby brother had to do something hard. She agreed to give the bike a try as long as daddy promised he wouldn’t let her go.

So outside we went. She hopped on her back and after just a few minutes she asked her daddy to let her go. He did and she rode her bike. She only made it a few feet before she took her feet off the pedals and fell down, but she got right back up and did it again. She rode her bike for a long time that afternoon. She would repeat the falling down and getting up bit every few feet but she never gave up. She was determined. She was beaming with pride. The smile she wore across her beautiful face said it all. We celebrated and cheered her on. We filled her with praise and told her we were proud of her.

We got back home and asked her how she felt. Her response floored me. She said, “I’m happy that God gave me the strength to do it!” A few nights later at dinner she shared her most thankful, “That God gave me the strength to ride my bike.” She gets it. God is going to use that girl to help him move mountains. She humbled herself. She knew that accomplishment was not done on her own accord. She took a risk and she had courage.

Youthful Perspective

“Those who look for beauty, find it.”

-Unknown

The other morning I was driving with my daughter and we had come to a red light. We had the most beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains right in front of us. Nothing was blocking that view. I sat in silence admiring the view and taking it all in. It’s so refreshing. It breathes life into my soul.

My daughter broke the silence. She wasn’t speaking to me per-say, she was just stating what she was seeing. From the back seat I hear her say, “wow that is such an amazingly, beautiful view.” To which I responded with, “yes, isn’t it so amazing to look out and see the snow-capped mountains in all their beauty?” She then said, “no mom, I was talking about those little dirt piles that look like mountains and have snow on them. They are so beautiful.”

Instantly my five year old is teaching me a lesson and reminding me of truth.

She reminded me of what was said in John 1 verse 3, that through Him all things were made. God created that very dirt. God created man from the dust of the ground. He created the snow and He told the snow when to fall and it obeyed and because of that it lay peacefully on the pile of dirt. Then I was reminded of what was said in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” EVERYTHING is made beautiful. God made in that perfect moment a beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt in line with beautifully, majestic snow-capped mountains.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we decided to stop for a brief moment and look around at the beauty that surrounds us. Would we even notice? Would we stop and let that beauty breathe life into our souls? Would we thank God himself for the beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt, knowing He created that?

Not only was I reminded in that moment that EVERYTHING has been made beautiful in its time, but I was reminded about perspective. It really is all about our perspective. In that moment all I saw was what I wanted to see. The beautiful mountains in front of me. I didn’t want to look around and notice the piles of dirt or anything else that surrounded me in that moment.

Then I think about the things that happen in life. The crappy, painful things we all have to endure at one point or another as the cost of living in a fallen and broken world. I really have two choices in those moments. I can chose to only look at the mountain in front of me or I can open my eyes and see the beauty around me.

What would happen if in the face of ugly dirt piles we clung to the truth and clung to the promise that God will use EVERYTHING for His purpose? What if we looked evil square in the eye and spoke the words of  Genesis 50 verse 20, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” How much more beautiful our lives would be if we simply looked at the piles of dirt and reminded ourselves that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.

It’s easy to be consumed and narrow minded in the face of adversity. Let’s start being consumed more by God and less by ourselves and the things of this world. Let’s start opening our minds and seeing beauty in the snow-capped dirt piles rather than only the snow-capped mountains.

#dayofthegirl

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“Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.”(http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/).

On December 19, 2011 the United Nations declared that October 11 would become National Day of The Girl. The point? To recognize girls rights and the challenges they face.

We’ve come a long way in the way of Women’s rights, but still have a long way to go. While it’s important that we are still fighting for our reproductive rights, the wage gap, being discriminated in the workplace, continuing to fight for fairness in our voting rights, an increase in incarceration among women and maternity leave rights– to name a few. We are missing the bigger battle.

We are failing to fight for the rights of little girls all over the world. Little girls are being denied education. Little girls are sold and treated as mere objects, used for sex. Little girls are being forced to marry and have children at the onset of puberty. Little girls are treated as invaluable and weak.

Each and every little girl has in them the potential to change the world. It’s our responsibility as older women to reach out and encourage those little girls. It’s our responsibility to remind them of truth. It’s our responsibility to equip them and support them. It’s our responsibility to fight for them. We are called to be the voice for the voiceless. We are called to help the widows and the orphans. We are called to be the hands and feet.

So in honor of National Day of The Girl, I encourage each and every one of you stand up and fight for our dear sisters all over the world. To pray for them. To encourage them. To speak truth to them. To educate yourselves on the issues at hand. To love them.

Beauty

As a mother of a beautiful  daughter it is my  responsibility to speak truth  to her and to help nurture  and build her self-esteem.  This means I in turn also  have to build my own self- esteem and be sure to not  speak any negative things  about myself in front of my  daughter. I refuse to ever  look in a mirror and call  myself fat— even on the days  when I feel like a whale. Why?  Because I don’t want my  daughter to overhear that  and think that her worth and beauty are ever defined by  her outward appearance. The  outside world will soon  enough tell her otherwise,  but by the time that happens  I hope that our work inside  the home will have a firm  foundation that will not be  easily shaken by the things  and people of this world.

My child dresses herself (and  usually doesn’t match) and  sometimes refuses to brush  her hair because she likes  messy hair. Yes, I let her  leave the house looking like  a hot mess. The reason? One  day soon enough she won’t  leave the house because her  clothes won’t be what the “ cool kids” are wearing and  one day she will refuse to  leave the house with messy  hair and that will be the  start of “bad hair days.”  I  look forward to those days. I  look forward to them because  they will be teachable  moments. They will be moments  I can use to remind her of who she  really is and where her  beauty and worth come from.

I am sitting here writing  this after I received a text message from a dear friend that read, “It’s always a good  start to my day when my mom  calls me fat.” When did it  ever become okay for us to  tell our children they are  fat!?!?! It is absolutely  unacceptable. We are suppose  to be a safe place for our  children to land. A place  they come to for truth and  reassurance. A place to be  reminded that what the world  has to say about us and our  bodies doesn’t matter. I am  blown away. I am enraged. I  think about my friend who by  the way is the most beautiful  person I have ever known and  is not overweight by any  means, but mostly I think  about my daughter. I think  about my daughter because I  can’t imagine being a mother  who speaks those words or any  hurtful words that tear my  child down. Our words have a profound effect on our children.

We have a little conversation that happens anytime we are going to play with our friends whether they are new friends or old friends. I adopted this from my dear friend because I love the simple reminder that it teaches our children.The conversation goes like this:

Me: Okay love, look at my eyeballs (so I know that she is listening)– what is the most important thing?

Emma: That we love each other mommy!

Me: And how do we do that honey?

Emma: We use kind hands and kind words.

I love the simplicity of the conversation, but mostly I love that it teaches my daughter to be mindful with her words and her hands because they have just as much impact in a persons life as mine and my husbands words have on her. It also teaches my daughter the importance of being kind and loving to herself. We’ve all heard the saying, “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” If my daughter can learn that if she wants to be treated kindly and loved well she has to treat others that same way, oh what a difference that will make.

She is a beautiful soul and her love for life is contagious. She radiates beauty inside and out and I am quick to remind her of that daily.

I have had several important people in my life who have been torn down and belittled by the most important people in their lives– their parents. And the problem is not just with our daughters but with our sons as well. Their self confidence and self love are just as important as our daughters. And I for one refuse to ever belittle or tear down my children. They are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want them any other way. I will love my children regardless of what they look like, who they become and the choices they make. I will be one to remind them of their beauty and worth and where that truly comes from, because after all they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So let’s start loving one another and using kind words to build our children up so that they in turn can be individuals who use their words to build others up. Let’s learn to love ourselves and let that self love radiate onto others. And for those of you with kiddos whether they be itty bitty or full grown– start speaking kindly to them. Let your voice echo truth when others try to drown them in the lies.