Books, Books, Books: A September Give-Away!

I cannot even express how excited I am about this month’s book give-away! Seriously, friends. This book is all kinds of wonderful and beautiful. Not to mention, its pages hold such awesome and timely Truth.

When I read it to my oldest two, they absolutely LOVED it. Sure, they were glued to its pages (the illustrations are super fun and rather colorful), but they also loved seeing pictures of children who look like their foster sister (Friends, our children’s books are lied with white people!!!). In fact, this whole book is about the diversity and beauty of God’s family–His fearfully and wonderfully man image-bearers. Truly, I think every soul (age 2 to age 102) should read this book!

When we read the disheartening and sinful ways that people can choose to treat others who differ from them, my heart sunk. It’s never fun to expose your kids to the sinfulness of this world, the nastiness of our hearts, and the ugliness of our sinful and sometimes systemic ways…but it’s necessary and good if we want to encourage love and promote change.

As I read, it was obvious our oldest was tracking with the content, but I wasn’t entirely sure if our 3 year old was “getting it.”

But as soon as I read the words, “People ruined God’s very good idea…People fight with each other. People are mean to each other. People laugh at each other,” she scrunched her little face and shared such honest and true words.

“Mommy, that’s rotten!” 

I don’t think I’ve ever heard her use “rotten” (I know I don’t use that term), but she was right. The unfair, unloving, and ungodly ways we can treat others who differ from us are DOWNRIGHT ROTTEN.

So what book am I giving away? 

I am giving away TWO copies of God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story About God’s Delightfully Different Family by Trillia Newbell.

And why am I giving away this book?

Three reasons!

  1. We need to teach our children this Truth.
  2. We need to talk with our children about the beauty of God’s design.
  3. And we need to tear down unloving and unfair walls that are anti Gospel.

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

I literally cried when I read these words.

God MADE it. 

People RUINED it. 

He RESCUED it. 

He will FINISH it. 

How true! Because of His holiness and because of His work on the cross, not only will He right all wrongs when He returns, but we can love and do right while we’re here!

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share a “glimpse of God” you had this week and on Sunday at 9PM (EST), I will select TWO winners!

 

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19 Things You’ve Said that I Don’t Want to Forget

Caden and Evie,

Your daddy and I were worried about how you would feel about our decision to foster. We were worried you might feel displaced, resentful, and maybe even jealous. We were concerned that it might be a hard transition, that it might drastically change our family dynamic, and that you’d possibly rebel against the whole idea. We worried you might not “attach,” and we were concerned you’d struggle with new roles and new spaces on our “family couch.” We were concerned that our decision to love might make you feel unloved, confused, and maybe a bit angry. We had concerns about the changes it would bring to our family time, our schedule, and how it would affect the attention you receive. Suffice to say, we had a few concerns about this decision.

And yet…we did it anyway.

We did it because not only did we feel led to open our hearts and home, but we felt nudged to let the Gospel lead our decisions, not our fears and not your comfort. We made a commitment to let go of our need for safe and secure in order to make a commitment to trust and love. We made the choice to walk this road as a family unit in hopes that we would grow, learn, and change as a team. And lastly, we felt confident that as much as a little soul might need a foster daddy and a foster mommy, they might also need a foster brother and a foster sister.

And wow, we’ve been utterly and entirely blown away by your response…by your love…by your relentless sacrifice and flexibility.  There’s so much we could say about your response and how you’ve transitioned and handled it all, but I decided I wanted to keep track of the things you’ve said. Because let’s be honest, your words speak for themselves and they speak better than I could speak on your behalf.

So kids, whether she stays forever or leaves tomorrow, I wanted you to have your own words to serve as a reminder for how much she’s meant to you–a reminder of your deep love for her–and a reminder of the beauty that can grow when you step out in faith.

In this post, I’ve changed her name to “sweet girl” to protect her identity, but let’s be honest…that’s one of your very favorite names for her. 

I love you. All three of you. And always will.

-Mommy

  1. “Mommy, if ‘sweet girl’ has to go back to her home, do you promise to take lots of pictures and paste them all over our house?”
  2. “Will we get to keep ‘sweet girl’ for a long time or a short time? I hope it’s a long time.”
  3. “If we have to give ‘sweet girl’ back, I can’t wait to get the next baby and love them.”
  4. “Mommy, I know she’s not my official sister, but she is still a sister in my heart.”
  5. “One time at school I wrote a bad sentence. I said I had only one sister, but then I realized that was not true. I pretty much have two.”
  6. “I think ‘sweet girl’ loves you, Mommy. She always looks at you like she loves you a lot.”
  7. “I hope God decides that she should live here forever.”
  8. “When ‘sweet girl’ grows up, I hope she always remembers me.”
  9. “Do you think we’ll get to see ‘sweet girl’ walk and say her first words? I really hope so.”
  10. “I hope ‘sweet girl’ gets to stay until Christmas because I want her to get presents from under our tree.”
  11. “I can’t imagine how hard that would be if I were ‘sweet girl.’ I can’t imagine how it would feel to not see your other family.”
  12. “If ‘sweet girl’ stays with us forever, I am going to walk her to school on her very first day and hold her hand the whole way.”
  13. “I think we would have a big hole if ‘sweet girl’ leaves, but I also think you wouldn’t be so busy.”
  14. “If I took ‘sweet girl’ to the circus, I could just sit her in the middle of the tent, and she could blow bubbles and spit for everyone.”
  15. “I am not going to my bed until ‘sweet girl’ comes to bed. I don’t sleep without her.”
  16. “I think our family feels better with ‘sweet girl.’ “
  17. “When ‘sweet girl’ is gone, I feel like there is a giant hole.”
  18. “I didn’t think I would like two sisters, but it’s been pretty awesome.”
  19. “Mommy, Evie and I are playing house and caring for our baby. We love having a baby to take care of.”

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“I Couldn’t Do That”

If I had $1 for every time I heard the following four words, I could easily support my Cold Brew addiction. Genuinely, I hear it all the time.

At the park. “Bless you. I couldn’t do that.”

In the grocery store. “Wow! I couldn’t love and give back; I just couldn’t do that.”

In the school pick-up line. “That’s really wonderful, but I couldn’t do that.”

Checking out at Target. “I don’t know how you look at that face and then possibly say ‘goodbye.’ I couldn’t do that.”

Seriously. I hear it all the time.

And I’m always at a loss as to what to say.

Part of me wants to cry and say, “I know. I don’t know how we’ll do it either if we have to do it.” And part of me wants to say, “I get it; it sounds pretty awful, huh?” And then there’s part of me that wants to ask, “How do you know if you can’t do it?”

It’s hard stuff. No doubt about it.

I don’t write from a place of knowledge, and I certainly don’t talk from a place of experience because honestly…we’ve only walked this road for three months, and we’ve yet to “give back” a soul we’re loving now. So truly, I have no clue.

But as I’ve been forced to process through the gamut of emotions and press through the myriad of thoughts that have passed through my head and meandered through my heart, I’ve had to remember the following Truth:

We don’t HAVE to do it; we just HAVE to be willing. 

We just have to be willing to open our hearts and home. We just have to be willing to love and meet the needs today. We just have to be willing to protect and care in the here and now. We just have to put one foot in front of the other, walking in the moment. We just have to be willing to get out of the boat. Because let’s be honest, no one ever walked on water while sitting in a boat.

Remember Peter?

They see a figure that apparently looks a bit like Casper. But when the frightened disciples realize it’s their Teacher, Peter gets hyper-excited and starts thinking the unimaginable.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 

Peter is bold; Peter is brash; and  Peter is bravely depending on His Savior. He has seen Jesus make fish tacos for 5,000, remove spots from a leper, and wake a dead girl from her bed; nothing is impossible for this man, right?

He’s willing, and he’s ready. But then something happens to Peter. Something happens to his faith that causes a good dose of doubt.

But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

He’s walking on H20–bonafide liquid–but then he notices the wind and the waves. All of a sudden, the task that once seemed small, now seems rather daunting and terribly scary. And recognizing his inability to do it, he yells for the Lord.

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

And what does the Master do? He reaches out a lifeline with His mighty arm, rescues his follower, and then questions his faith.

See, Peter jumped out in faith but when the going got a bit scary and a tad windy, he doubted. In short, he “jumped the ship of faith” and began to sink.

And man, can I relate!

I wouldn’t say it was “easy” to take the step to Foster, but I wouldn’t say it was “super hard” either. We saw a need; we felt a tug; we made some choices; and we got out of the boat…with both eyes on Jesus.

But then you get that little, cuddly soul–the one with the sparkly brown eyes, the soft skin, and the cutest little tongue ever-and you get attached. You get crazy attached. And then you’re told there will be paternity tests. And then you get told there may be a next of kin interested in custody. And all of a sudden, things feel a little scary, a not-so-smart idea, and a lot unstable…like walking on deep waters in the middle of a storm.

We’ve been there. Literally thinking and sometimes even saying something what feels and sounds a whole lot like, “I couldn’t do that.”

And it’s true. We can’t.

We can’t do it on our own; and we can’t do it in our own strength. So we have to do the one and only thing we can do:

Keep our eyes on His and remember His power. 

Because when you have a purpose and your eyes are locked on His, the risk and the discomfort is worth it. And when your eyes are pressed forward and looking above to His mighty arm, your mission is no longer your own, but His.

If our eyes are attached this little soul and to the idea of “forever,” we “couldn’t do it.” But if our eyes are set on Him, “He will do it”…no matter the outcome. He will carry us; He will provide; and He will reach out with exactly what our hearts and souls need to “do it.”

Soul, I don’t know what you’re facing and what you’re fearing you might not be able to do, but I pray you will embrace the idea that “you can’t,” and have faith that “He can.” Because when you’re walking on water, your faith can’t rest in you. It just can’t.

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I am the Mom who Sweats

Yes, you read the title correctly. I am a mom who sweats.

Like perspires. Like leaks stuff from my armpit, forehead, and neck glands. Like a mom who has pit stains that not even Old Spice can contend with on humid days.

I am that mom.

I am the mom who literally rides to the park on a 66 degree morning with the windows down and the air conditioner on. No, really; I did it this morning. And then I am the mom who gets out of the car and walks toward the park with only a Target tee and a pair of flip flops on–passing moms with long-sleeves, jackets, and shoes.

I am that mom.

I don’t shine; I don’t shimmer; I don’t sparkle. Friends, I sweat.

And while I looked around at the park full of moms who were covered from head to toe, I noted the beauty of our differences.

Because friends, we are all different.

Some of us drive mini-vans and some of us do not. Some of us run and some of us do not. Some of us are extroverts and some of us are not. Some of us scroll Pinterest and some of us do not. Some of us work outside the home and some of us do not. Some of us have a big group of friends and some of us do not. Some of us are planners and some of us are not. Some of us enjoy magazine reading and TV watching and some of us do not. Some of us “LuLaRoe it” and some of us do not. Some of us keep our gas tanks properly filled and some of us do not.

And guess what?

That’s great.

Why?

Because not every tool in the toolbox plays the same role and not every color in the crayon box colors the same, and THAT is beautiful. 

We need different, and we need variation. We need the stretching and growing that comes with different. We need the beauty of each other and the difference of YOU.

Different can bring perspective. Different can bring needed-challenge. Different can be beautiful.

And yet, sometimes different can be scary, and out of our comfort zones, and an opportunity for judgments and even contempt.

Like what about our differences in opinions and preferences?

Like what about those moms who feel strongly about home-schooling and no screen time? What about those moms who are okay with the 3 year-old watching the PG shows and bringing their iPad to the park? What about those moms who drink a glass of wine with their Bible study and what about those moms who wouldn’t be caught dead sipping fermented grapes near the Word? And what about those moms who are okay with using the word “butt” instead of “bum,” and how about those moms who are okay with skipping Sunday School to have a family morning at the playground? And what about those moms who feel strongly against two-piece swim suits, Barbies, and piercings? Or how about those moms who are proponents of sleepovers, make-up, and drive-thru dinners? And those moms who are against Sabbath sports and are against certain vaccines? Or those moms who lean left and less right?

The opinions can be vast and the preferences endless.

And as I stood at the park this morning, noting the differences between us moms, I couldn’t help but think of Romans 14, a recent place of study for me.

I won’t insert the entire text here (please check it out for yourself), but let me give a quick summary.

Paul is writing to the church in Rome–made up of both Gentile and Jew believers, and he’s urging them to be unified. And what is he worried might disrupt their unity and community? He’s concerned that the believers might get caught up on the differences and opinions they held regarding eating vegetables, consuming meat, celebrating certain holidays, and sipping certain beverages.

In short, he’s worried that carrots, pork, the Sabbath, and wine were going to cause division. Doesn’t sound that different from 2017, huh?

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats…One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike… Romans 14:1-5

Again, Paul’s concerned that judgment and contempt will stand in the way.

So what does he say?

1. Stop the judgment and don’t be a stumbling block! 

…let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. v. 13

2. Don’t let the preferences and opinions tear down the unity Christ brings…and died for! 

For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. v. 15

Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. v. 20

3. Pursue peace! 

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. v. 19

4. Remember what matters! 

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. v. 17

5. Whatever you do, do it for God! 

He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. v. 6-8

6. Let God be judge. 

Each one of us will give an account of himself to God. v. 12

Friends, the body is diverse and different and so are our preferences and opinions.

And ya know what?

If it was growing and good for the Church in Rome, it can be growing and good for the Church in the USA.

So whether you’re a mom who sweats, skips church occasionally, and sips on wine…or whether you’re a mom who wears sleeves, discourages sleepovers, and teaches your kiddos at home…DO IT FOR THE LORD; DON’T LET IT DIVIDE; and LIVE IN FREEDOM! 

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Park Jerks

Have you ever met a “park jerk?” Yes, I typed “park jerk” on my blog.

Ya know what I’m talking about, right?!?!?

The kind of kid that acts all bully-like while his mom stands by and flaps her arms in the kid’s direction while sipping her latte and scrollin’ through Pinterest “Style” boards? The kind of kid that pushes, name-calls, and acts like they wear the “King of the Park” crown? The kind of kid that gets some kind of sick thrill out of makin’ other kids cry–bossin’ like it’s their job? The kind of kid that you want to grab by the ear and…?

Yea. A “park jerk.”

Sorry. I have no other politically-correct term for the shenanigans of “Johnny mean-face” and “Julie grump-pants.” I just don’t.

So this morning, when we ran into not only one, but TWO “Johnny mean-face’s,” I was less than thrilled.

I tried to redirect our girl, finding another space to play. Didn’t work.

I tried to gently correct and suggest different words for “Johnny Mean Face 1” and “Johnny Mean Face 2.” Didn’t work.

I tried to be assertive and said something along the lines of, “You don’t need to compare. Everyone is here to play and have fun.” Didn’t work.

I even tried the “use a loud enough voice so the guardian can hear me” tactic. Didn’t work.

And since I wasn’t about to the leave the park on a beautiful day with breeze (you cannot leave the park on a breezy day…not when every other day of summer is filled with pit stains), I decided to ignore them and move on.

However, our Evie Rae had another tactic up her sleeve.

Completely unprompted, after being told she was “slow” and “stupid,” she yells after them, “YOU DO WHAT YOU DO!!!” 

I was shocked.

What?!

Turning to her, I asked for clarification.

“They can be fast, and I can not be fast.” 

My heart jumped to my throat; I knew exactly what she meant.

“You be you, and I’ll be me.”

I couldn’t believe the profound words that had just spewed from that 36 inch soul.

And I kid you not, “Park Jerk 1” and “Park Jerk 2” didn’t come near again. And that was that. Until…we got in the car to drive home.

“Mommy, those boys were not nice.”

“You’re right, sweetie. They were not being very kind.”

“God doesn’t want us to be rude with our words.”

“You’re right. He doesn’t want that.”

“Yeah. God doesn’t name-call us. He says, ‘We’re fast!'” 

Again, my heart did a leap.

In a split-hot instant, the words I prayed this morning, walking out of the bathroom with a messy bun and puffy eyes, were answered.

“God, give me a word today. Speak to my heart and deal with these fears.” I echoed the words as I headed for the kitchen.

Why did I pray those words? Why exactly did Evie’s interactions with those boys and her assessment of God’s thoughts toward us, hit me square in the heart? Why did He answer my morning prayer through her little soul, her tiny mouth?

Because…

Last night, I was a “park jerk” to myself. 

Sparing a long explanation and unnecessary details, I was doubting myself. Sitting on the couch with a sore attitude and a fearful outlook, I bemoaned to my husband why I questioned if I was capable of the recent opportunity I’ve been given.

“What if I’m not good enough?”

“What if I’m too serious and not enough hipster?”

“What if I write ‘and’ too much and don’t have a catchy title and an awesome hook?

“What if I look like the weak link and stick out like the sore thumb?”

“What if I’m too ‘English-teacher’ish’?”

Seriously. These were the “park jerk” words that were spewing from my hot mess of a self.

I was playing the comparison game; I was engaging in the doubt game; I was entertaining thoughts about myself that were not fair; and I was maximizing others’ strengths and minimizing mine.

It was crappy. REAL crappy.

So when our Evie Rae shouted, “YOU DO WHAT YOU DO,” the words pierced deep.

I need to be who I am. I need to use my gifts in the ways I’ve been gifted. And I need to let others be who the others are. I DON’T have to be anyone else, and I don’t need to let my thoughts about me…get in the way of what God wants to DO. In fact, it’s not even about me or my gifts.

Because again, her words were true.

“Yeah. God doesn’t name-call us. He says, ‘We’re fast!'” 

I may not be the best writer. I may not be the coolest writer. I may not be the funniest, the smartest, the deepest, or the most theologically-educated. And that doesn’t matter. Not even at all.

Because He doesn’t “name-call” us by the things we so easily “name-call” ourselves. No, He says of me…

You’re mine. 

You’re loved. 

You’re redeemed. 

You’re treasured. 

You’re gifted. 

You’re a creation. 

You’re an image-bearer. 

You’re a disciple. 

You’re on mission for ME…endowed by ME…for MY glory…and to be used for MY purposes. 

Friend, I don’t know what you’ve been called to do and where God has you, but I pray you will be a soul who…

embraces your gifts for His glory;

chooses to be a vessel for His plan;

and trusts that HE is your identity, no matter what your “park jerk” self is tempted to shout.

Because friend…you. are. fast LOVED. Summoned by NAME. And called HIS.

But now, this is what the LORD says– He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

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Littles Don’t Keep

It’s the night before 1st grade and the thought that keeps running through my mama head is…

Littles Don’t Keep. 

Wasn’t it just yesterday I was on bed rest, waiting for this little boy to arrive? Wasn’t I just crying on the recliner because I couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing? Wasn’t I just sitting in the doctor’s office, worried sick because he wasn’t gaining weight and wasn’t following the stupid “curve.” Wasn’t I just having a panic attack over his refusal to drink milk…like from a bottle or a boob? Wasn’t I just laying on the floor, coaxing him to roll over and sit up? Wasn’t I just filming his first steps? Wasn’t I just a basket case over having to leave him and go back to work part-time? Wasn’t I just pureeing squash and washing poop-stained onesies? Wasn’t I just following him all over the park, watching him waddle and stumble, climb and jump? Wasn’t I just elated-screaming over his first, spoken word? Wasn’t I just moving him from his crib to his “big boy bed?” Wasn’t I just teaching him his ABC’s and 123s? Wasn’t I just freaking out and googling things like, “Why doesn’t my baby want to cuddle?” Wasn’t I just playing “fireman,” running around the house and putting out fires? Wasn’t I just helping him navigate his frustrations over having to leave his “blankie” in his bed during the day? Wasn’t I just teaching him how to manage his emotions, rather than roaring like a wild beast or screaming “No way, no way, no way?!?!” Wasn’t I just soothing his tears over his bike riding fears? Wasn’t I just signing him up for his first preschool, soccer league? Wasn’t I just building train tracks and making Duplos buildings?

Wasn’t I just doing all of these things…like yesterday?

Seriously. Littles don’t keep. 

And as I have spent the past few days mulling over memories and thanking God for the past six years, the good and the hard, I had this overwhelming desire to write and encourage you, mama (whoever you might be).

Maybe you’re a mama who is in the trenches of sleepless nights, teething babies, and toddler tantrums.

Maybe you’re a mama who is fretting over weight gain, discipline issues, and the decision to wean or continue.

Maybe you’re a mama who is smack in the middle of eating battles, potty training accidents, and repeated cup spills?

Maybe you’re a mama who is feeling lonely, defeated, and overwhelmed with the routines, the day-in and the day-out.

Maybe you’re a mama who is baffled by the whole “schedule thing” or fed up with the whole “vaccination thing.”

Maybe you’re a mama who is battling guilt, dealing with postpartum depression, or raging with frustration over your little one’s refusal to sleep, eat, and obey.

Maybe you’re a mama who is prying scared hands off your legs and anxious fingers off your arms.

Maybe you’re a mama who is begging for patience, a break, a cup of coffee, and adult conversation.

Maybe you’re a mama who is questioning your abilities, your discernment, and your role as mama.

Maybe you’re a mama who wonders and worries if this season you’re in will last forever.

Mama, I don’t know what you’re facing today and fearing tomorrow, but I do know this…

Littles don’t keep. 

So, mama, whatever age you’re in and whatever stage you’re walking right now, I pray you’ll remember that even if tomorrow holds the same, the next years probably won’t. And though you are absolutely entitled to have the feelings you have today (this mama won’t tell you how to feel; I blogged about that one time), I pray you’ll find beauty within the hard and lovely in the midst of your difficult. I pray you’ll hold fast to these fleeting moments and make memories in the midst of it all (good, bad, and ugly alike). I pray you’ll cherish the precious, pray over the hard, and praise Him for these sweet, ever-changing moments. And I pray you will hold those precious souls tight, and maybe even a little longer than necessary, because mama…

Littles don’t keep. 

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While I’m Thinking of Them: 7ish Things

Caden and Evie,

There are a bunch of thoughts doing somersaults in my heart and cartwheels in my soul right now and before I forget them, I decided to jot you a future note. I know your little hearts can’t grasp all these sentiments right now, but I don’t want to forget or neglect to share these things with you–to teach you these things–so I’m adding them here for safe-keeping and easy-remembering! And maybe just maybe, some others will be encouraged along the way.

So here goes!

  1. I am not going to be a hovering, helicopter parent…rescuing you from all the hard and protecting you from all the hurt. Life is going to be hard and it’s going to hurt, so I’m going to make it my goal to help you learn how to maneuver the hard and how to process the hurt. I want to guide you to the ONE who can carry your hard and redeem your hurt. I want to give you tools for working through the hard and being honest about the hurting parts of life. But no, I am not going to try and rescue you from the hard. Which means…I’m not going to call the school and request a different teacher when you’re not with your BFF, and I’m not going to allow you to skip Sunday School just because it’s uncomfortable. I’m just not.
  2. I am not going to buy you something every time we walk into a store…even if it’s only a small pack of gum. I’m just not. Why? Because you don’t NEED something every time you walk into the store. I want you to know boundaries, self-control, and the value of the dollar and “special things.” I don’t want you to think you “deserve” or are “entitled” to something…to anything…even if it’s “not that much money.” I want you to be content with what you have and thankful for what you do have, and I don’t want you to believe that buying something or having something will increase your joy or bring you contentment. I don’t want you to “buy” into the lie that STUFF MAKES YOU HAPPY. Which means…I might say “no” to a pack of Skittles, or a bottle of cheap bubbles, or to that name-brand pair of shorts that everyone else is wearing. Why? Because money doesn’t grow on trees and even if it did, it wouldn’t bring long-lasting contentment.
  3. I am not going to lie to you in order to settle your emotions. What do I mean? I mean…I’m not going to tell you that there is “no more ice cream” because I don’t want to have a battle over you not having any. I’m not going to tell you that the small toy “got lost” because I can’t help you navigate how to get rid of old toys. I’m not going to pretend, fake, or lie about things in order to prevent you from feeling the weight of your feelings or of my “no” or my “not now.” Why? Because there is value in learning how to regulate your emotions even when you are presented with a roadblock or a flat-out “no.” Life will not be full of “yes’s,” so I want to prepare you with a healthy set of “no’s” before you start hearing them from outside our home.
  4. I am not going to tolerate “mean-talk.” What do I mean by “mean-talk?” I mean…I will not tolerate, diminish, excuse, justify, or overlook words that tear down, bully, criticize, generalize, stereotype, or demean another soul. Why? Because there are a million and one ways to healthily disagree with someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without having to tear down their person, their race, their culture, their actions, and their beliefs. We use our words to build up; we use our words to encourage; and we use our words to breathe life and whisper hope. So when I take the words written in your passed notes, your texts, and spoken in your conversations seriously, please understand that my desire is for you to grow up aware and cognizant of the impact your words have on others. Your tongue is little, but it packs a powerful punch; let your punch be filled with honey.
  5. I am not going to do everything I can to make your life easy. Which means…I’m not going to clean your toys up for you just because it’s “easier and quicker” for me to do so. I’m not going to buy you a new pair of soccer socks because you misplaced yours. I’m not going to pay you for every chore you do; in fact, I’m not going to pay you for a lot of the chores you will be asked to do. I’m not going to go find your misplaced belonging without you making your own attempt at finding it first. I’m not going to clear your plates from the table every single time. Why? Because there is value in understanding that life requires work, effort, and perseverance. Jobs don’t just “get done;” responsibilities are not “suggestions;” and laziness is not applauded.
  6. I am not going to make it my life goal to make your lives fun. Though I love to be intentional in making memories with and for you, this is not my number one goal. I love you, and I truly desire to bless your souls (in all kinds of ways), but I am not your personal “fun-maker.” Which means…there is a time for fun and play, and there is a time for doing and working. Life can be filled with fun things like play dates and vacations, but there are a lot of things in life that are not fun; you are going to have to do some of those “not fun” things. I imagine, some day, your boss and maybe even your spouse, will readily agree…and maybe even thank me.
  7. I am not always going to agree with you and take your side. This does not mean that I won’t love, support, and encourage you; it just means that sometimes I’ll think you’re wrong, and I might even side with someone else. That means that I won’t step in and try to change the coach’s decision even if you don’t like it, and I might not disagree with the teacher’s evaluation of your performance/behavior even if you don’t think it’s fair. I will be your advocate and your cheerleader, but I will not fight your battles, nor demand “special treatment.” I believe you are wonderful and lovely kids, but I will never believe you’re perfect, and I won’t behave like you’re above the consequences and/or superior to the expectations.

And on that note, I will conclude my list of 7ish things that I want to remember to teach you as you grow.

Goodnight and I love you.

Mom

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