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Archive for the ‘The Kids’ Category

An oldie but a goodie image 😉

Here in Canada, turkeys are a-roasting this weekend as we pause to give thanks for all that makes up life and living.

For me, Thanksgiving is always connected to our youngest, our son.

At 10:10am, on Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10, he breathed in the air of life and I inhaled gratitude … for life is tender, fragile, not guaranteed.

Our very own Ben 10 is one I have immense thanks for, so today, gratitude is great, celebration is due.

As I feel and know gratitude for him, I pray that he always live a life of gratitude.

For gratitude is our exhale, and it is in the breathing out of thanks that gratitude is inhaled.

When we sit around a table, as we bow our heads in thanks for our food, his grace is always one of thanks.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when he offered thanks for the food, for his sisters, for his parents. This is not odd for him to do, for he knows where who is the Giver. Yet, on this particular day, I was not feeling particularly worthy of such appreciation.

Since that day I have thought numerous times about his offering of thanks … for one who had not been graceful to him just hours earlier. His gratitude, despite imperfection from the one he expressed thankfulness for, has been a new lesson for me.

It is easy to be thankful

for food … when it tastes appealing
for work … when we are enjoying it
for education … when we are succeeding
for people … when we are in good relationship with them
for the new day … when it is sunny

Yet, gratitude is not simply for the things that feel good at the time, for our thanks does not come after, but before the blessing. Thanks is the attitude of faith in the One who gives, not an acceptance for what has already been received.

Gratitude is the attitude that preexists the reality of what we are given … whatever it may be.

In being PRE-thankful … in ALL things, we are preparing for the good, bad and ugly that comes to us in life. We are being cognizant that gratitude is due, even though our mortal self may suffer. This is a great mystery, yet, for those who practise gratitude in all things … a peace that passes human understanding is the gifted result.

Ben knows this. He lives this life of gratitude in all things. He is not perfect, for his closest teachers (that would be his parents) have not modelled this consistently, his humanness fights against such illogical practise. Yet, as I hear him give thanks, for those who have let him down, I am encouraged that his life is heading in the right direction.

Happy birthday Ben. My encouragement to you today, are from the words of Paul,

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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It’s a thing … a rather big thing,

if you look at social media posts on the first week of school.

Kids, all clean and smiling (real of forced), often standing in front of the door to their house, sometimes holding a sign recording the grade they are about to begin. Sometimes even parents … if they work in schools, because, let’s face it, if we work in schools there is a part of us that hasn’t moved beyond the glory days of school.

I have those pics, in photo albums and on memory sticks. I remember trying to acquire them … often with much insistence, schedule-juggling, bribery and the potential that we would be late for the first day of school (horror of horrors). As the years meandered on, the first day of school picture morphed into the first week(s) of school picture, for that one shot is a difficult one to remember, to organize.

I love those images and the memories they hold … not the memories of the battle to get them taken, but the memories of each child at the age represented. Heck, let’s get real here, they could have been taken in February of that school year and the cockles of my heart would still be warmed by the flashbacks my momma’s heart would experience glancing at the faces from past years staring back at me.

These pics are reminders of an entrance to a new phase of schooling, of life. They are markers along the schooling journey … they represent growth, change, development. They are also images that represent hard work, accomplishment and, for those of us who follow Christ, they are images that remind we parents that what is done is done in His strength, His faithfulness.

Like the Israelites.

They too had 12 markers, but not photos. These markers with twelve stones, representing the 12 tribes of Joshua. God himself told Joshua to create a memorial with a stone from each tribe. These stones were to be a reminder for all time of the miracle of their crossing the Jordan River.

Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, … and they are there to this day.

Joshua 4: 4-7, 9

As a parent of now adult children, I look back on those first day of school pictures differently than at the time. At the time they were hurried images of my littles. Now I look at them and think of the faithfulness of God, who walked through each year with them, protecting them, loving them, challenging them, teaching them.

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This is the time in the year, in this annual season,

when you are tired, my child.

I see it on your face, hear it in your voice …

you carry it on your shoulders.

Your shoulders …

they were what I noticed first when you were born.

They were unlike those of your sisters.

I remember marvelling at how straight and strong they appeared.

You were a long anticipated gift from God.

Each day of your pre-birth life prayed over … for the next day was not guaranteed.

Each movement was cherished.

Your birth, peaceful and unhurried.

unhurried … you have, from your beginnings, had your own timeline.

Then you burst into this life with robust cries, fists clenched and man shoulders to boot.

You were embraced, kissed, held (and had your eyes poked by your adoring sisters).

A boy born to three motherers and a father … who were so thankful to have you with us.

Your heart is soft. Your shoulders are strong.

As a child you played with little figures of super heros, watched their movies and shows, dressed as them at Halloween. You have grown into one who is bothered, grieved by injustice.

You want to make right the wrongs. You desire to fix broken pieces. You yearn to be personally involved in seeking justice. Your eye is ever on the ideal, what is best.

This is who you are, in the most natural way.

May you use these gifts of strength and gentleness in your whole life. May you seek to find where God can best use this combination of strengths in our world.

Know that you have been loved since your very beginnings.

Don’t ever forget the gift that you already are to so many.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Once upon a time …

that is how fairy tales begin …

and they end with a perfectly tied up bow, with the assurance that they all lived happily ever after.

Leaving the reader with a contented sigh.

My dear, your story very much started with a once upon a time beginning … kind of.

As our second, first pregnancy, your beginnings were shrouded in fear … but they were also blanketed in anticipation, hope and desire for your life to be part of ours.

From the first moment we were aware of your presence, we prayed for you (realistically, that began well before any knitting needles were picked up (Psalm 139:13)).

Though there were warning signs that elevated our fears and brought us to our knees, as I look back now, I see you were quite comfortable in your own little womb. Perhaps it was the aquatic environment, the warmth, the ability to set your own schedule.

When you emerged you did so with a loud battle cry, alerting us to your presence, which filled us with such relief and thankfulness that overflowed from our hearts down our cheeks.

You are a life striver, a life saver … I think this is why your life has been one of helping others.

From teaching swimming to littles who were fearful of getting their toes wet, to helping those whose life is in danger because of substance addictions, you have spurred others to strive.

You have literally helped the same ones who have spat in your face, called you horrible names and threatened your life.

Life saving has become part of you, whether in the swimming pool, having to call social services when parent’s drug abuses are endangering their children, or while administering Narcan in the McDonald’s drive thru.

The thing is … the life saver often gives their all to helping others … leaving little resources for themselves.

And … maybe it is time to direct your life saving skills and strengths back toward yourself.

After years of health struggles, that continue still today, you are rather beat up and bruised. Rather worn and wounded.

You’ve heard that often used metaphor “put on your own mask first before assisting others.”

Girl, it is the time to catch your breath, to inhale the life-preserving oxygen that is central to our human creation.

Breathe deeply.

For you have been so loved, so wanted … you were our own once upon a time,

since before your first breath.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Hey you, who I love, let me tell you a story …

a love story,

your story.

The thing is, I have held on to it, as though it is my story, and mine alone.

Then, in the middle of the night, like a whisper that screams loudly into one’s heart,

I knew that I had to give it back to you.

That you needed to hear it, with your heart.

That you needed to own it, possess it,

as your own.

It is the story of you.

The dream you were, the battles fought for your presence in our life, this life, your life.

The sadness, the sorrow, the struggles that came before you …

those heartaches that led us to you.

I recalled our first awareness of your presence, our excitement, hope and fears.

I shared that almost right after that, shadows fell,

the fight was on!

We fought, I fought,

YOU fought.

From the moment you had a physical presence your determination and perseverance were already obvious.

Then, on your very first birthday, you were born, silent and still. No rosy cheeks, no loud warrior cries.

We thought this was the end of your beginning.

But, you are a fierce force and your cries rose to fill the room, our hearts.

Your pre-birth struggle to live, your first year of adjusting to life on the outside …

those were the building blocks of your greatest strengths.

You have, from a young age, had an uncanny ability to feel the sadness in others, to see people only through the lens of human, to comfort and fight for those who cannot do so themselves.

You offer gentleness to others.

Now I ask you to apply that gentleness to yourself. That you fight for you. That you see yourself only through the lens of being human.

Remember that you were and are, a highly anticipated gift, that you have so much to offer this world, that today is just one day, but “tomorrow is always fresh” (LMM).

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Seven days.

Seven mornings.

One week.

I lift the top of the jar, filled with paper.

Some lined.

Some floral.

Some shiny.

Some colored.

All of them with words.

That was their happy Mother’s Day gift to me last week, my three.

(because I had said, quite firmly, NO SPENDING MONEY ON ME!)

A glass jar filled with little pieces of paper … enough for one a day, for eight weeks.

Each piece of paper inked with quotes, memories, little tidbits of joy.

It is the BEST GIFT EVER!

I head to the jar early each morning, while my coffee drips. Eagerly I lift the lid, reach inside (not looking, of course), pinch a paper between my thumb and index finger, lift the paper out of the jar. Then, not too fast, as I don’t want to rush the moment, I enfold the paper, til the words face me. It is then that I begin to read the words, hearing the voice of the writer. I smile, laugh, sigh … a few times tears form in the corners of my eyes.

This is the BEST GIFT EVER!

words speak … to the heart

The Bible reminds us of the value of our words, in many places:

“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”
Proverbs 20:15

“Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 18:20

“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 18:4

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24

In this past week I have been so reminded of the encouragement in words, through this simply, inexpensive gift. The written word, especially, holds great weight, for it can be read again, and again, and again … replenishing the soul each time afresh.

Speak your words to those you love. Write your words of encouragement to one who holds a special place in your heart. Leave your words for others to read, to know of their value in your eyes … to know their value.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”
William Wordworth

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To mine …

I am thankful for you three who have spoken mom, mum, momma to me since your lips and tongue could first form the word.

You three are precious gifts to me (and your dad).

I am your mom. I write those words with pride in my heart, for I do not wish to ever take this gift of your life for granted. Each inhale and exhale from your lungs is a gift, one that I had little to do with.

I gave you so little. DNA, a place to grow (both from within as well as after you were born), nourishment, love … all of the basic building blocks, the scaffolding from which you grew, developing the person who you are today, who you will be in all of your tomorrows. It’s not nothing, but in the totality of a human life, what I provided for you was embryonic.

I think, if I were to look back with honesty and openness, I would have to admit that my initial reason for wanting each of you was totally and completely selfish. I wanted you because I wanted to mother you. And I am so very thankful that you three were who I given to fulfil this selfish desire. My hope is that, in my selfishness I also have given you more than just the task of meeting my desire …

I hope that I have given you a desire to fulfill your hopes and dreams. I hope that I have given you a need to be the best you that you can possibly be.

As each of you has walked into adulthood, I have realized how very selfish we moms can be, when it comes to our children. Though you may not live under my roof, I still want to have opportunity to mother you, to love on you all, to be a part of your futures. The thing is, I realize that when it is all about what I want for and from you, then our relationship is still about my desires and not about releasing you to make your choices, to live in the freedom of making your own path.

Even in your celebration of me today, this day is not about what I deserve as your mom, but it is about who you are choosing to be, as adults, irrespective of how I mothered you. For today you choose how and if to celebrate and that reflects not on me, but on each of you and how you choose to live your lives.

I don’t want you three to be mirror images of me … not in how I look, how I live, how I think. I want each of you to be a better human, a better soul than me. I want you to make your choices, willing to live with the good, bad and ugly that come from them.

And I do hope you will share your experiences and learning with me. That you will allow me to celebrate with the good, cry with the bad … knowing that I will pray for you through it all.

For your every breath has been in the hands of your Creator, it is His gift. He have overseen every day of your existence. My goal has, is and will always be to remind you of that, of Him. For it is only in and through Him that you can truly be the best and most free you.

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Happy birthday to our West Coast girl! Born twenty-four years ago … about nine months after we arrived here, to this place we now call home.

But it has always been home for you. The addresses may have changed, the occupants too, but home for you is the west coast, it is where you belong.

I associate your birth with spring, blooming magnolia trees and Easter … these are parts that are always part of your life, your home.

Though you do not live at my home anymore my mother heart will always think that my home is yours too.

I will eagerly make a place at the table, have a blanket ready to cover you as you snooze on my couch or bed, invite you to help trim the tree … all because your moving out on your own does not make you less a part of my home.

When you come to visit, I send you back to your place with food or flowers or goods … because I want to share a little of my home with you.

I plan and plot when I know that you are coming, hoping that you feel at home when you are here.

Honestly, it is never long enough and my selfishness bristles when you’re running late, or have to leave early. But, that is my problem, my expectations and I remind myself that to have you for a little while in my home is blessing. And I am thankful that you’ve come.

You see, when we parents have a home that we have built for our loves we want them to love being here as much as we do. I guess we parents have to learn from nature, from the birds that encourage and even push their birds from the nest they’ve made … because that is the way.

Just days before your birth we celebrated Easter and your presence inside of me brought me different and intimate understanding of the Spirit within us. Though we are the residence or home of the Spirit, it is the risen Jesus who gives us home feels like none other. I remember reading (just days before your birth) “when everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am” … this is the home without me needing to do any of the preparing, the cooking, the cleaning … I just have to show up, and I will be home.

The magnolia trees outside our home are beginning to prepare to bloom in the warming spring sun. They whisper to me your name, remind me of your pink skin … they remind me of when we brought you home.

May today be the budding of spring in your life. May you know the security, the warmth, the nourishment and the love of home. May you know this, your original home, with your dad and I, always has a door open, a place at the table, a room to rest your head, a warm hug …

love lives here for you.

Happy birthday my west coast girl.

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We sat there, enjoying our meal together, when the conversation moved into an area of gold.

“So, who has inspired you and why?”

What followed was great revelation, great insight into those who have been the influencers in the life of my, now adult, son.

The people named were not surprising to me, though I did find it interesting the order of who was mentioned. Then there was the why question … why did this person, or that, stick in your mind as inspiring?

Youth leaders, teachers, camp leaders … those were the areas of leadership that they all originated from. Mostly men (as this was my son), but women as well. Descriptors such as authentic, available, consistent, interested, solid, challenged to work harder, be better flowed from his lips.

I found myself to be so encouraged.

As a mom, a parent, it is always good to know that your child received encouragement towards growth from someone else. It is good to see that our children are not just impacted by us, as parents, but by others around them. That they take into adulthood the whispers of encouragement from others.

“If your actions inspire others to
dream more, learn more, do more and become more,
you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

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Over the past weeks, my son has had me on a steady weekly diet of Star Wars films and animated series (Clone Wars and Rebels) to prepare me for season two of The Mandalorian. He felt I needed more background knowledge of the Mandalorians as well as a better understanding of how things fit together in the Star Wars narrative.

I just want to watch Season 2 of The Mandalorian!!

He, though, sees the bigger picture. He wants me to not just see season 2 as a show, but as a part of a bigger picture …

where did he learn this bigger picture emphasis?

Okay, so … maybe from his mother.

Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure also. Yes: failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.

Those words, spoken from Yoda to Luke, in the Last Jedi, could fit as appropriately when speaking of the parent/child relationship.

As my own three apprentices are now adults, I feel much of the teaching, the passing on, is done. Now I am watching them reach out into the world with their training done, making their own choices of which lessons to keep and which to abandon (temporarily or permanent? who is to say?).

In my parental passing on of what I have learned, I have equally passes on strengths and weaknesses, wisdom and folly. In my human imperfection, I have also failed them at times … and that failure is also part of the package that I hand over to them.

This is how the human race has a tendency to repeat past mistakes, for history’s teachers impart both the good and the bad, the blessings and the curses from within themselves.

As their parent (master 🙂 ) I have handed down to them many things, but my legacy is not just what I have modelled, taught or insisted upon … my legacy is also what they do with the treasures (and trash) I have shared with them.

Just like a teacher to a student in a classroom, there is no formula for guaranteed success.

If we look beyond human parents and Jedi masters, even in the mastery of Jesus himself, to his disciples, there was not perfection in the following of his teachings. Yet, two thousand years later, his word and his way (“this is the way”) are still being taught, still being modelled … imperfectly.

Though the burden, or struggle of all masters, all teachers, all parents is that our legacy is not in what we impart, but in how our apprentices, our students, our children use what we have given them.

And this is the greatest burden, but also the greatest learning of all parents.

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