No matter what you are going through or what your circumstances are...remember "on the other hand"! Declare today - You are filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and with courage!
No matter what you are going through or what your circumstances are...remember "on the other hand"! Declare today - You are filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and with courage!
Words and mothers. Mothers and words. There are some words moms should never say ... and there are some words moms should always say.
Words hold such life-altering power and yet often moms like me carelessly speak with little consideration for long term impact.
Few mothers would throw a child’s entire wardrobe in the trash and yet that is what I have done to my child’s self-esteem when I have spoken in anger or in outrage.
Not many mothers would destroy a year’s supply of vitamins in response to a moment of childish forgetfulness yet that is what I have done to his or her future emotional health when my words have not fit the crime.
As a mother of 5 grown children, I have learned a lot about words over the years. I have learned what to say .. and more importantly ... what not to say.
I would like to leave a deposit of “Never and Always” in the lives of all of my precious mom friends today. You are the ones who are raising the next generation of dynamic people who will make an impact on the world. These people will be a reflection of the words spoken into their lives when they were in their formative years. Speak well, my friends. Speak well.
HERE ARE THE WORDS THAT I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY...
AND THEN THE WORDS THAT I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SAY.
— ♥ —
Never say, “You drive me crazy!”
Remind yourself who is the parent and who is the child. Never accuse your child of having a negative influence or power in your life. Children are a blessing ... a rare and valuable gift ... from heaven’s bounty into your life. Take responsibility for your own emotional turmoil and never blame it on your child.
There will be days when parenting pushes you to the brink of emotional stability but it is not the child who owns the power in the situation. It is you, the mom, who owns the power to choose, to determine and to guide. It is you, the mom, who owns the power to rely on God for emotional strength and lucidity.
Always say, “If God gave me a catalogue of all the little boys (girls) in the world, yours is the face I would have chosen.”
Acceptance, genuine approval and heartfelt love are among the three greatest gifts a parent can give to a child. It is more important that your children hear you declare words of affirmation and unconditional love than it is that you take them to Disney World, send them to private school, or buy them designer clothes.
In the Bible, God says that He is delighted with us and that He literally sings over us! If God responds that way to us, as His children, I think that it is time that as parents we began to act and talk like God.
“As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all My delight.” - Psalm 16:3
Never say, “I love you but I don’t like you very much right now.”
As parents, regardless of how our child is acting, we must affirm our wholehearted acceptance of their personhood and value. It’s one thing not to like what they are choosing to do ... it’s another thing altogether to verbalize the lie that you don’t like “them” in that moment. In every moment of life, whether they are obedient or disobedient ... charming or frustrating ... sweet or acting obnoxious ... as a mother you must affirm the value that you have placed on who they are as human beings.
Always say, “You are the greatest gift I have ever been given.”
Children are great observers of people and situations; children hear what is not spoken and often don’t hear what is actually verbally rehearsed. As your child sees you give your heart, time and attention to things and people other than him, your little one will begin to wonder where he or she lands on your list of priorities.
Let’s face it ... there are things that a mother needs to do that are going to often divert her attention away from the little lives under her care. That is why it is imperative that often you remind your children of their value to you.
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” - Luke 12:7
Never say, “I don’t want to be with you!”
To a child, being with mom and dad is the greatest gift imaginable. Love is spelled T-I-M-E to the little ones under your feet. Treasure every single moment you are given with your child regardless of how they are acting. Know that in these difficult moments of disobedience and embarrassment that you are called to disciple them to healthy behavior. Change your emotional reaction to your child’s behavior with an unbreakable resolve that you will love them, train them and value them regardless of of how they act or speak.
Always say, “You have been created by God for greatness at this moment in history. You are a Daniel, a David, an Esther, a Ruth, a Peter, a Mary. You have the fingerprint of God on your soul!”
Declare greatness and purpose over your children with the words that you speak. When your children feel like a failure, let them know that their feelings do not tell the truth but that the Word of God is the source of all truth.
Dream big dreams with your children in every age and every stage of life. Never belittle their desire to be an astronaut, play the piano at Carnegie Hall or discover the cure for cancer. Why not your child?!
Pray that God will lead your little man and your miniature lady into the grandness of His plan and design for their lives!
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord: plans for welfare and not for calamity; to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” - Psalm 139:13 & 14
Never say, “I wish that I had never had you!”
Have any of you ever used these words? I hope not ... but the reason that I have included them in my list is that I have heard many frustrated mothers in public places say these words, or words similar to them, in violent anger. I have often wondered, if a mom says things like this in public, what does she say in private? Destructive words such as these penetrate deeply into a child’s heart and do significant damage that may never be repaired.
Always say, “You are a good girl (boy)!”
One of my children was a very active, mischievous, independent 2 year old. Every day when he woke up, I would tell him while he was still in his crib, “You are mama’s good boy!” When we were out with other parents and children, rather than rehearse all that he had done wrong that day, I would always say so that he could hear me, “He is such a good little boy.” When I was tucking him in at night, I would always remind him, “You are growing into such a good boy.”
If he was naughty, I disciplined him and talked to him about his behavior. However, my daily and constant declaration over him was, “You are good.” Heaven has placed the power of creation in our words and I was determined to raise a good boy. And you know what? He is a good man today because I declared over him the possibility and potential of goodness.
Our children will become whom they believe themselves to be. Your words lay the foundation for the men and women they will grow into tomorrow.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” - Proverbs 18:21
“For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” - Proverbs 23:7
Neversay, “Wait till your father gets home!”
The arrival of daddy at the front door after a long day at work should not be dreaded but should be highly and enthusiastically anticipated. Discipline should never wait until daddy gets home but should be taken care of swiftly and effectively at the time of infraction. Daddy’s arrival at home should be the highlight of the day for everyone including mom, the children and the dad himself! If there is an event or a behavior that dad needs to be made aware of, it should happen after dinner hour in a private and safe setting.
Always say, “I love you because you are mine. There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any less. There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you any more. I love you because you are mine.”
Don’t make the mistake of merely “thinking” about how much you love your children but verbalize it on a daily and hourly basis. Saying it once a day is good but it is not enough. Assure them of your love time after time after time. Hour after hour after hour.
Look in their little eyes and tell them “I love you” when they are fresh from heaven and you are holding them in your arms for the very first time.
Kneel beside them when they are toddlers, hold their little faces in your hands and tell them, “I love you today and I love you forever.”
When they go off to school every morning, the last words they should hear as they dash off to catch the bus are, “Don’t ever forget that I love you more than words can say!”
And when they are difficult teenagers with minds of their own and try to ignore your involvement in their lives, say, “I love you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”
Write “I love you” in lipstick in the bathroom mirror when they are learning to read.
Place notes beside their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunch boxes that remind them, “I love you all day today!”
Hide notes under their pillows ... inside their tennis shoes ... and in their jacket pockets that say, “You are my treasure and I love you!”
Your perpetual and auditory proclamation of love will help your child navigate treacherous waters and horrific storms. Declared love over a young person’s life fights demons of fear, self-destruction and doubt. The love that you decree over your little ones is the fertilizer of the soul that will produce healthy young men and women who have the emotional and spiritual tools to change the world!
“Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” - Mark 10: 14 & 16
MOPS International is giving away a free one year membership! ($23.95 value) MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is an incredible group that connects moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods, who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood. We will announce the winner on October 2, 2013 on our facebook page, so be sure to "Like" the Carol McLeod, Bible Teacher and Author page!
If you would like to enter to win this membership (you can give it to a sister/friend/daughter/etc) just send us your name & email address in the form below. We would love to hear from you in the comment section! Let us know your ideas for a future blog post! (not required for MOPS membership give-away) [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]
Time ... where does it go? The most valuable commodity that we have been given as human beings is the gift of time: ... of minutes ... of hours ... of days.
It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to my senior year of high school and now I am a grandmother. When did that happen?!
When did I graduate from playing with Barbie dolls and practicing piano to being a wife ... and then a mother ... and now a grandmother? When did that happen?!
When did my raucous, noisy, messy nest get so empty? When did that happen ... tell me when.
It happened in a thousand yesterdays that are filled with the memories of cherished friendships ... bittersweet good-byes ... the echoes of laughter ... and the daily reminders of what is truly important in life.
The scrapbook of my heart is filled with a collage of moments too precious to verbalize and too valuable to calculate by earthly economic currency.
As I flip through the intangible pages of the days that have been given to me, I realize that some days were wasted with impatience and disappointment. When the endowment of an ordinary day is shadowed by human frustration or disillusionment it becomes refuse and leaves a putrid odor rather than a glorious fragrance.
I have wasted time being angry at a person made in the image of God. I have thrown away days being depressed due to situations and events over which I had absolutely no control. Who do I think I am?!
I have frittered away days spent in the worry of an unpredictable tragedy that never actually happened and in the fear of the shadow ghosts of weakness. What a colossal waste!
I have misused the treasure of an extraordinary day by spewing the venom of my heart on the lives of people whom I love dearly. I am ashamed.
The untold wealth in this cherished peek into the past thankfully also holds the abundance of all that has been meaningful in my life.
I am amazed that I was given the delight of raising 5 little lives for the Kingdom of God! After so many years of barrenness and infertility ... of standing in faith and begging God for more ... He opened the windows of heaven and blew joy in my direction.
I loved every minute of peanut butter and jelly kisses ... of paper dolls and birthday cakes ... of choo-choo trains and baseball games. Those were the best days ... the days that mattered eternally ... the pieces of gold in my life.
Is there a gift this side of heaven so priceless as the moment when two little arms are wrapped around your neck ... or your legs ... or your heart?! Career promotions, enormous retirement accounts and academic pedigree become tawdry and bargain basement exchanges for the heavenly inheritance of the living human beings given to our parental charge.
I have loved being best friends with my mom. How I wish that you could know her! A woman of excellence and humor! A woman who prays and believes and prays some more. A woman who celebrates life with gusto and grace!
I loved falling in love with Craig and realizing that he was “the one”. I’ll never forget our first kiss that came with a marriage proposal. He has always been a man of honor ... a man whom I could trust ... and a man after God’s own heart. What have I ever done to deserve this man whose heart is pure gold?
And then ... the gift of girlfriends. Truly a fortune so rare and precious that it could fill the vaults of banks too numerous to count!
Time ... where does it go? Oh! How I want to live well the rest of the days that have been given to me by the calendar of heaven’s bounty.
There are days in the photo album of my mind and heart that are as yet blank ... unfilled. They are waiting for memories ... for moments ... for people ... and for blessings.
It is up to me how I fill these quickly turning pages of life. It is up to me whether the photos are taken in the brilliance of a technicolor and vibrant existence ... or from the only gray and black perspective of blame, discontent and frustration.
I determine to spend my days encouraging people and writing thank you notes.
I determine to invest the rest of my days believing for the best and not giving in to disillusionment or despair. A very wise man once told me, “It’s more fun to believe!”
I determine to lavish in the laughter of children, to wade in the gift of extraordinary friends and to drown in the beauty of creation.
I determine to be kind to cantankerous and fractious people. When I have been loving and generous in the face of personal cruelty and gossip, I have created a day that God Himself would applaud!
Life is too dear and much too fleeting to waste the glory of one ordinary day. I will not waste this life. Not one day. Not one hour. Not one minute.
I will pray for miracles and I will also look for the opportunity to be someone else’s miracle.
I now understand that tomorrow’s memories are being created today. The choices and memories that I craft today will fill the pages of the scrapbook of my life in all the tomorrows yet to come.
And so, I resolve, this day, to splash extravagantly in the joy of His presence. I resolve, this day, to be heaven’s gift to the world in which I have been placed for only a moment.
I was reading my Bible the other day...and I'll be honest...I was really struggling. I was feeling tired and a little bit frustrated with some people and events in my life and I had come to to the Lord from a dry spot...
I remember that late afternoon and evening so well ... My grandmother came over to see the outfits that we would be wearing to school the next day ... mine was a dark purple jumper with a violet blouse to go under it. I was most proud of my new shoes: they were plum patent leather with lighter purple grosgrain ribbon to be used as shoelaces.
Grandma exclaimed and oohed and aahed at all the right times and told us how proud she was of us. She said that she couldn’t wait to hear all about it and would be back tomorrow afternoon to get a full report.
After she left, we ate a hurried dinner of vegetables from our family garden. There were fresh, ripe tomatoes marinating in oil and vinegar ... corn on the cob dripping with butter ... snapped green beans ... and a whole pot of summer squash that had been simmering in onions and green peppers for hours. During the bountiful month of August, we rarely had a piece of meat grace our dinner table due to the richness and abundance found in the soil of our backyard.
After dinner, I set to work sharpening #2 pencils and writing my name in 5 notebooks of different colors. I counted and recounted the spiral bound notebooks that we had purchased at the Big N. I couldn’t stand the thought of starting the first day of 7th grade ill-prepared.
My sister and I talked about who our homeroom teachers would be and what it would be like for me to start junior high school. In those days of the late 1960’s, there were no backpacks but there were book bags in all sizes, shapes and fabrics. My purple and gold paisley book bag, complete with a purple leather handle, felt light with only pencils and notebooks in it. I knew that before long it would be too heavy for me to lift over my shoulder.
Mom and Dad came in my room and prayed for me that night. They prayed that I would make good choices, that I would study hard and develop healthy friendships. They prayed that I would be a blessing to my teachers and to my friends.
As they each gently kissed me and walked out the door of my pink and white bedroom, they left the light in the hallway shining for me. I couldn’t sleep. Where had the summer gone? Why couldn’t I return to the security of the elementary school? I wanted to go back to Mr. Werth’s classroom and sit between Patti and Ellen. I wanted to park at the lunchroom table with my familiar 6th grade class and know how to get to the library without following a map on the wall.
There was a circus of nauseous butterflies ricocheting off the walls of my stomach. I knew that I would never sleep ... or at least not sleep for very long that endless night. I didn’t know whether I was excited ... or needed to throw up.
A shudder went through my body from top to bottom. Tomorrow was the first day of school.
The first day of 7th grade was wonderful ... and so were the days that followed. I grew in ways that would never have happened in the safety of the elementary building.
I read books by Shakespeare, Alcott and Dickens. I learned about teachers who loved their students, teachers who tolerated their students and teachers who should get a job at McDonald’s. For the most part, I had life-changing teachers.
I learned two new languages: French and Latin. Parlez -vous francais? Veni ... Vedi ... Vici!
I learned that life is not always fair and that people are not always kind. I also began to understand that I was the only one who was in charge of my words and my reactions. I couldn’t blame my emotions on anyone but me.
I dissected worms and pigs. Yuck!
I learned about the danger of cliques and the value of life-time friends.
I learned that people didn’t have to act like me or think like me to be my friend.
In the years since that auspicious first day of the seventh grade, I have completed high school, graduated from college, homeschooled for 23 years, sent 5 kids to high school, watched all 5 of my children graduate from high school and then sent them to university 1,000’s of miles away.
What is it about the first day of school?
What is it about the first day of anything?!
What is it about change?
What is it about the years flying by with no way to hold them back?
Often, I still encounter that circus of nauseous butterflies ricocheting off the walls of my stomach.
When change comes and summers end, I often remind myself the lessons that I learned in my plum shoes with #2 pencils in hand.
Change is often the very best thing that can happen in an individual’s life.
There is invariably more to look forward to than there is to remember.
Family always makes everything easier.
The butterflies have no lasting power.
Prayer brings a comfort and a sweetness that nothing else does.
The light in the hallway is always on.
Dear Joy and Joni ... and Ashley and Jenna ... and Alyssa ... and Caroline ... and Tori and Olivia ... and Hayley, Rozy and Jordan ... and ... Perhaps I should say it this way ... “Dear Next-Generation-of-World-Changing Girls ...
One of my favorite quotes is this, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” These words are attributed to Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision.
Have you ever thought about the things that break the heart of God? I do ... I think about them almost daily. Some days I actually weep wondering if I have participated in any actions or heart attitudes that my have broken His heart of unconditional love.
As I have watched the conversation and debate swirl over the performance of Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards, I have wondered if God’s heart was broken that night.
You, lovely ladies, all have grown up in the same decadent and promiscuous era as did Miley. I believe that you are different from Miley ... and will continue to be different, not because you would refuse to sing a promiscuous song on stage in a barely-there outfit with sexual and provocative gestures, but you are different because your passion has taken and will continue to take you to a different place.
You are the young women of this generation who are passionate about making a marked difference.
You are the young women of this generation who aren’t afraid of making hard choices.
You are the young women of this generation who refuse to be intimidated or swayed by the mediocrity and compromise of our culture.
You ARE the passionate and purpose-driven women of this generation!
Oh! How I wish that your lives could impact the life of Miley Cyrus!
Oh! How I wish that CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News were following your life stories ...
As I have watched the video of Miley’s performance, let me tell you why it broke my heart. ... and then we will get to God’s heart.
What broke my heart is that Miley was made for so much more!
Miley was made to be a woman of honor and to embrace world-changing goals. Instead she has chosen to embrace the compromise of our culture.
Miley was made to be a show and tell of God’s extravagant and relentless love. Instead she has chosen to show and tell things that were never made to be shown in the public.
Miley was made for joy and peace and excellence. Instead, Miley has chosen a life of hollow words, devastating and cruel addictions and a life of empty lies.
Miley was made for more ... and so are you. The difference is that you know it ... and she doesn’t know it. Has anyone ever told her?
Has anyone ever modeled to Miley a life of extraordinary commitment and a focus on that which is priceless rather than that which is cheap?
One thing that I always want you to remember is the difference between mere “platform” and world-changing “power”.
Miley Cyrus has platform but she lacks world-changing power. Her face has been on every morning show this week, on every news website and she has been discussed on everyone’s blog. Including mine. Platform does not equal power.
Power happens when you willingly choose to give your life to the leadership and high calling of the Kingdom of God. You are among the most powerful leaders of your generation when you choose to live for the “much more” that God has called you to.
Will it be hard? Absolutely!
Will you fail at times? Without a doubt!
But let me tell you right now that you are more than a body ... you are more than a cute figure ... you are more than your weight ... and you are more than your sexual longings.
God has called you to make a difference with your life at this moment in history. He is looking for girls just like you who are passionate enough to say “no” to the wrong things and “yes” to the right things.
He is looking for girls and young women who choose to live in a place of honor when their culture calls them to compromise.
He is looking for a generation of women who understand that sex is a beautiful gift too glorious for words when expressed within the covenant of marriage.
Why do I think that God’s heart was broken on Sunday night?
I think that His heart was broken because our culture has taken that which He created for beauty and has turned it into something tawdry and cheap.
I think that His heart was broken because we live in a generation that values platform over power.
I think that His heart was broken because Miley was created to make a resounding and eternal difference at her moment in history and she has settled for a life of tawdry and temporary pleasure rather than the eternal value of a life lived well.
I think that His heart was broken because God really does care ... He cares about how we live and the daily choices that we make.
He cares about the friends that we choose and the voices to which we listen.
He cares because you were made to exhibit the character of God. You were created to imitate Him and all that He is and not to conform to the call of your culture.
Make a determined decision that you will honor God with choices great and small.
Honor Him in the clothes that you choose to wear. Honor God in the songs that you sing. Honor God in your relationships with young men. Honor God with the words that you speak. Honor God with the movies that you watch. Honor God with whom you follow on Twitter and Instagram. Honor God in how you treat your parents. It matters. It matters very, very much.
I can tell you this, my dear bevy of gorgeous, powerful girls, it pays to serve Jesus. It pays to honor Him in every area of life.
If the world laughs at you, know that God is on your side and is cheering for you. If your friends mock you, know that there is a crowd of raucous, enthusiastic and unseen heroes who are standing to their feet in a grand ovation of your life!
When you choose to be a young woman whose heart beats in sync with the heartbeat of God, you will never break His heart but you will become like Him.
I am praying for Miley, are you?
I am praying that she will understand the difference between platform and power. I am praying that she will snuggle up into the presence of the God Who created her and hear His loving voice. I am praying that Miley will know that she was made for more. And so are you!
Sometimes, there is pain in surrendering your life to Jesus...but after the pain in surrender comes the joy in surrender. When you give it all to Him, and obey His whisper, you'll experience His Joy!
This is my 100th blog! Who knew that my thoughts, opinions, feelings and prayers were significant enough to fill 100 blogs?! God knew ... He knows everything that is in my heart. I believe that He is actually in the process of going for the treasure in me and you ... after all ... He is the One Who put it there in the first place. In honor of my 100th blog ... I wanted to share something significant and impactful. I have pondered many possible topics ... a few inconsequential meanderings ... and several themes that you would quickly forget. And so ... this is where I have landed ... If I could talk to the 12 year old in you ... and in me ... this is what I wish someone would have told me when I was 12. I want to save you from some of my ridiculous mistakes and to challenge you to be more than you are.
1 - It really is more important to be kind than to be pretty. People will forget how you dressed for a certain occasion, what color eye shadow you wear and how often you get your hair cut. But they will never forget your heart. They will long remember and be impacted by your genuine kindness and friendship.
2 - Don’t date in high school ... it is a total waste of time. Focus on things in high school other than the opposite sex. Develop Godly relationships with other girls. Reach out to girls who are being bullied and be their friend. Go on missions trips. Teach Sunday School. But please don’t give your heart to a string of hormonally charged males who care more about how you look than who you are. Wait for the right man at the right time. He is worth the wait ... trust me ... I know.
3 - Practice the piano or take gymnastics lessons... Keep playing soccer and writing in your journal. Take ballet and learn to give speeches. So often when the teenage years and hormones hit, girls become distracted from their childhood dreams. Don’t allow your dreams or the disciplines of your little girl years to become lost in the foolishness of parties, social media and dating.
4 - Keep in touch with your childhood and high school friends. That sweet Girl Scout song holds a lifetime of truth in it, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” There is absolutely nothing like going out for lunch with someone who has known you since you were 8 or 10 or 12.
5 - Hold your babies ... they grow up so quickly. Someday you really will meet the man of your dreams ... and you really will have babies together ... and you really will be a mom. When that day comes, remember that the bonding process that takes place during the newborn days is more valuable than a beautiful nursery, designer clothes or a full night’s sleep. Rock your babies ... sing to them ... hold them ... snuggle them ...pray over them. These really are the most precious moments of your entire life.
6 - Increase your vocabulary. Listen to the words that other people use and make a list of the words that are unfamiliar to you. Look up the meanings of the words and try to incorporate them into your daily speech. Sign up for “Word of the Day” from dictionary.com and challenge yourself to use that word in a conversation. There is nothing quite as captivating as a vocabulary that is not peppered with slang but is filled with the beauty of interesting words and enriching phrases.
7 - Don’t just read the twaddle of the day. Travel to England between the pages of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Experience other times and places through the magic of great literature. Go to the Civil War in “Gone with the Wind” and through the pages of “Little Women”. The passport of your mind is too valuable to stay merely in one country and in one time period. Linger over a cup of tea with Ruth Graham in her biography, “A Portrait of Ruth” and travel to China with Amy Carmichael in “God’s Missionary”. The world is so much bigger than your little corner of it ... so envelop yourself in meaningful literature that will enlarge your capacity to dream. Trust me ... I know.
8 - Listen more than you talk. Women have a horrible habit of talking more than listening. Don’t be that girl. Ask questions of others and then truly care about their answers. Don’t feel that you have to say everything you think, feel and believe but be someone else’s safe place.
9 - Don’t always drive on the interstate ... take back roads as often as you can. Arriving at your chosen destination in the shortest possible time is not nearly as important as seeing the beauty along the way. Stop at an old bookstore ... buy lemonade from a child ... walk through an old cemetery and read the tombstones ... linger over a well-tended garden.
10 - Respect your parents in every season of life. Listen to their wisdom and never discount their input. You really don’t know better than your parents. The world and your peers will tell you to mock them, tolerate them, disobey them, ignore them and sass them. God calls girls from every generation and every historical juncture to honor them. I don’t think that you have a better idea than God.
11 - Please dress modestly. Please!! Your body is not a show and tell stage for the world to gawk at! Your body was not meant to be paraded for every boy to see what you have been given. Pieces of your underwear should never be easily seen under your shirt, skirt, or shorts. You may think that jeans with rips around your private areas are stylish ... they are not. They are seductive. You can be stylish without being sexy. I dare you! Try to do it! Be a young woman of virtue who refuses to cave into the culture. Have a backbone when it comes to how you dress ... be lovely and not lascivious. (This is a word that you are going to have to look up! See #6 and follow the instructions there! You can do it ... this is a word that you do not want used to describe you!)
12 - And please ... don’t gossip! Don’t be a drama queen! The circumstances and events that you are going through today will quickly pass. Pray your way through every situation and allow God to give you peace. When you talk about others ... let it always be in a kind and encouraging way. When others are gossiping ... think of something good to say about the victim of their verbal abuse. Your words hold power and with your words you either wound someone or encourage someone. Who do you want to be?
13 - Remind yourself on a daily basis that it really does pay to serve God. He has better plans for you than you can even imagine.
14 - Choose Godly friends who dress modestly, obey their parents and refuse to gossip or be drama queens. Your life will be better for it.
15 - Read your Bible every day. Connect your soul to eternity through this one simple, yet life-altering, choice. You can never underestimate the power of reading a Psalm a day ... a Proverb a day ... or about the life of Jesus Christ every day. If you desire to be the very best version of “you” imaginable ... you will read your Bible.
There are days that I wish I could be 12 years old again and anchor myself to these solid principles that somehow alluded me the first time around. However, we all only get to do life one time. We all only have one chance to be 12 ... and 16 ... and 23 ... and 37 ... and 45 ... and 58. And so today I will hunker down once again into the important stuff in life and be the very best version of “me” possible. While my feet yet remain on the soil of planet earth, of worldly culture and of a civilization that touts compromise, I will maintain my focus on all that is glorious and eternal.
Happy 100th blog to me and to you! And to all of us ... who are no longer 12 ... let’s fill the rest of our days with all of our hearts set on that which is noble and pure.
“Finally, sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” - Philippians 4:8
Do you have a dream you've put on hold? It's time to dream again! It's time to pray big prayers again! You will NEVER be able to outdream God!
There is a way to have a healthy relationship with your past...your future...and your present! The purpose of your past is to look back and find the fingerprint of God. The purpose of your future is to trust God...He's been to your future...and it's GOOD! The purpose of the present is to wring the joy out of it...find the joy in each moment...THIS is the day the Lord has made!
One of my dearest life-time friends, Sarah, is about to give birth this week to her third baby. Three world changing children known as Emma, Ethan and little no-name boy. (Sarah and Mike have sworn this new little baby boy’s name to great secrecy. She won’t even tell me! Imagine that!!) Three new little lives in just barely over 4 years.
Sarah is one of my heroines.
Because of Sarah, I have been thinking about those years when my house was an absolute mess and yet my heart was filled to overflowing with gratitude and love. I have been remembering the years when the laundry never ended, dirty dishes filled the sink and peanut butter and jelly crusts were all I ever ate for lunch.
Do you remember those days? After my third baby was born, I counted it a successful day if I was out of my pajamas by 4 p.m. I realized during those never-ending, noisy years that a long soak in a bubble bath was in some ways better than a trip to Hawaii.
In honor of Sarah and all of those other brave young moms who have chosen to walk the very brave road of large families, here is some advice from the heart of a mom who gave birth to 5 and wishes that she could do it all over again!
1 - Read books to your children.
Start reading to them from the day you bring them home from the hospital. Read “Pat the Bunny”, “I’ll Love You Forever”, “Good Night, Moon”, and the Bible. Even though they may not understand the meaning of the words ... they will understand the love and cadence in your voice. As they grow into toddlers and pre-schoolers, read “The Little Engine that Could”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, “Amelia Bedelia” and the Bible.
When they are school age and beginning to read on their own, continue to make family story time a well-loved tradition and read to them. Read “Caddie Woodlawn”, “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “Tom Sawyer” and the Bible.
At every age and every stage, read them biographies of men and women who weren’t afraid to dream big dreams and to live a life of resounding importance. Read them the biographies of missionaries, athletes, scientists and musicians.
And ... at every age and every stage ... read them the Bible. A child can never read too many books.
2 - Play music in your home.
Start playing music to them from the day that you bring them home from the hospital. Play the classics of Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin. Play the great hymns of the faith that thousands have sung before this little life ever began. Play worship music that is impacting this generation. Play the worship music that impacted your early years. Play the worship music that impacted your parents and grandparents. Play Broadway Show tunes and musicals. Play your favorite music. A child can never listen to too much music.
3 - Hold your babies.
You never spoil a baby with love. Rock them and sing to them. Quote the word over them as you quiet them in the middle of the night. It is no small thing to be given a gift from heaven ... treat your tiny blessing with heavenly care. Also ... may I just say ... never underestimate the impact that holding and rocking our babies will have during the teen-age years. But I will get to that later. Trust me when I say you can never hold a baby too much.
4 - Make a list of priorities. What matters the most to you?
A clean house or 3 home-cooked, gourmet meals every day? Going for a jog or reading a book all by yourself in the evening? Laundry that is done timely and folded when it comes out of the dryer or a beautiful garden outside your windows?
You can’t do it all ... so set your priorities and stick to them.
Don’t ever feel guilty about everything that you aren’t able to do during this season but know that you are doing the most important things in life.
I remember one day when my highly successful, beautifully dressed mother walked into my zoo of a house filled with children. There were toys everywhere, the floor was sticky and the dishes hadn’t been done in days. That’s right ... I said, “days”. I was sitting in the middle of the family room floor reading books to my three boys when she walked in. I looked at her and said, “Mom, I am so sorry that my house looks like this.” She sat down on the couch, started folding the mountain of laundry and said, “That’s o.k., honey, you are doing the important things in life.”
At the end of every long, busy day, remind yourself, “That’s o.k., Sarah, you are doing the important things in life.”
Your children can never have too much of you. You are all that matters to them.
5 - Make sure that there is a lot of laughter in your home.
Serve green mashed potatoes on St. Patricks Day. Serve hamburgers for breakfast and french toast for supper on April Fool’s Day. Read a joke every night at the dinner table. Bennet Cerf’s Book of Riddles was always our favorite.
Blow bubbles in the summertime and catch them on the tip of your nose. Giggle together over the simple, delightful things in life. Don’t make your home such a serious place that it lacks the healing power of joy and gladness. There can never be too much laughter in a home!
6 - Teach your children to pray.
Teach your little ones that God really does listen when one of His children talks to Him. Teach your babies that there is nothing too small to talk to God about. You can ask Him to heal your pets, give you a friend, help Daddy at work and help sister with her homework.
When you teach your children to pray, also teach them to trust God with the outcome. Let them know that God is loving and good and kind and we can trust our frail lives in His trust-worthy hands. Teach your children that sometimes God says, “No,” ... sometimes He says, “Yes,” ... and sometimes He says, “Have patience.”
A child can never pray too much, ask God for too much or trust enough!
7 - Teach your children to dream.
Teach your children to imagine and to dream! Encourage their little imaginations to go vagabond as they conjure up days of safaris and castles and expeditions into outer space. Talk to their imaginary friends as if they were truly a part of your family. What fun! If you can cultivate a culture of dreams when they are little ... then ... when they are grown ... they will refuse to limit themselves with mediocrity. Say things to them like,
“If you can’t do it ... no one can do it!”
“I believe in you!”
“God has great plans for your life!”
“You are here for purpose and destiny!”
“You are an Esther ... a David ... a Paul ... a Moses ... a Deborah!”
When they are grown, your children will know that they had a mom who believed in them then ... and now. A child can never have too many dreams.
8 - Know that the investment you are making today will reap a harvest of blessings and solid relationship in the future.
Do you want to know what I believe, Sarah?
I believe that when you hold your babies during these busy, frazzled, too-muchto-do, I-need-some-time-to-myself, would-everybody-please-leave-me-alone-and-let-mesleep-years ... that you are planting a lovely garden of relationship with this little one that will be harvested during the teen and young adult years.
When a mom holds a baby, it layers the baby’s life with a security that can be developed in no other way. When a mom holds a toddler, it chases away unreasonable fears and builds a foundation of trust that no teen-age hormones can erode. When a mom snuggles with an infant, for no other reason than just because I love you and want you, it builds a garrison of strength around that baby’s heart that no weapon of the culture can penetrate.
So as you hold little “what’s his name”, Sarah, know that someday he will grow up. You only have 18 short years with him.
18 summers ... 18 birthday cakes ... 18 Christmas Eves that will fly away in a mere blink of time. Read to him ... sing to him ... prioritize him ... laugh with him ... pray with Him ... dream with him ... hold him.
Sarah ... read him the Bible and ... please ... give him a great name! :)
UPDATE - July 28, 2013
Sarah delivered a beautiful, healthy 8 lbs. 1 oz. little boy on July 28th! And she gave him a GREAT name... Everett Patrick (Everett means - "Courageous and unending praise!")
What moves you? What fills your heart with the echoes of eternity? For me, it has always been words and melodies. I remember as a little girl, hearing “The Christmas Song” sung on “The King Family Christmas Special” and it made my heart ache. I was probably only 7 or 8 years old that December and it was the first time that the beauty of lyrics and melody made me long for more. The voices of a 40-member family of 4 generations blended in deep and rich harmonies that made the tears roll down my little girl cheeks. I knew in that moment that somethings are so beautiful that they hurt.
About 20 years ago, I heard a song in a church cantata that moved me with the same type of deep and eternal beauty. I remember that it was when I was in a daily battle with depression and most days my soul was a hollow vacuum of nothingness. I went to church the Sunday before Christmas and was so content to sit near the back, even though my husband was the pastor.
The cantata was cheesy at best and most of the music was woefully off pitch and embarrassing. The sheer inadequacy of the performance only added to my depression. Then, the choir director, turned around and faced the audience. I felt like she was looking right at me. She lifted the microphone to her lips, opened her mouth, closed her eyes and sang in a rich contralto that echoed through the empty caverns of my heart.
“God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand,
When you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand,
Trust His heart.” - Babbie Mason
God spoke to me and I was never the same again. He spoke through the lyrics and melody of a song written by one of His dear children.
These words have become more than lyrics to me ... they have become solid theology. They have become a dynamic and powerful prayer. They have become a reminder in the darkest moments of my life that I can trust a God Who is good and wise.
“God is too wise to be mistaken ...”
My soul rests in the assurance that God really is too wise to be mistaken. God is never wrong ... not one time. I never know better than He does ... never. His wisdom never contradicts His Word ... and I rest there ... in that safe place of trusting an all-wise God.
God’s wisdom never changes because God never changes. His mind and His heart toward His children thousands of years ago is still His mind and His heart toward His children today. If the ache of your heart is to know the wisdom of God, then you must read and agree with His Word.
If you read His Word and then question it or doubt it, then you really don’t believe that God is too wise to be mistaken. When my mind and my circumstances tempt me to question the wisdom of God, I am brought back to a place of trust by the lyrics of the life of David, the psalmist and the giant-killer, “And those who know Your Name, will put their trust in You, for You, oh Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” - Psalm 9:10
God’s wisdom is backed up by God’s power. If He were only wise, with no power with which to move, than His wisdom would have a lesser effect upon our human lives. But because not only is He the God of all wisdom, but also is He the God of supreme and eternal power, I know that His hand always moves with the wisdom of His Name.
“God is too good to be unkind ...”
When I read those words, I weep. My heart melts within me at the goodness of the God Whom I love and serve. There is no unkindness in God. Everything that comes into my life is filtered through the wisdom, power and goodness of God.
Anything that God is, He is eternally. God is eternally and infinitely good. There is not one atom or cell of cruelty, unkindness or badness in God. God has never had a bad thought about you or has ever been tempted to be mean to you.
He is infinitely and lavishly good. He is powerfully loving and wisely kind.
“So when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan ...”
How many times has THAT happened in your life?! You don’t understand what God is doing ... you can’t see His fingerprint in the dailyness of your day ... you don’t hear His voice or see the handwriting on the wall. You scream out for understanding and He is silent. You demand an explanation from heaven’s heart and get nothing. You wonder whether He is in control or not ...
What do you do at that lonely moment? Is there a place for your aching soul to land?
"When you can’t trace His hand ... trust His heart.”
This is what you do at that confusing, lonely moment when you wonder where He is ... you trust. You trust His heart. You trust His wisdom and His power. You trust His goodness that is never unkind. You trust that He is enough to carry you through. You trust the same God whom David trusted. You get on your face, open the Bible and trust.
Cady Morgan Kendall. She was my daughter’s freshman roommate at college. Joy and Cady were more than roomies. They were kindred spirits ... passionate about life ... filled with the joy of youth ... sisters to the core. Their room became the central location for prayer meetings, wardrobe exchanges, chick flick parties and encouraging conversations. Cady became a floor chaplain at the university while my daughter went through the RA program. Cady became a head chaplain for her final two years and Joy was a head RA. They were leaders of the very best kind. They led by example. They are both irresistible, actually.
Cady, a pastoral care major, was my summer intern the summer before her senior year in college. She was the sunshine of all of our days. She discipled the young women under her watch ... kept my kitchen clean ... dreamed big dreams for the ministry ... and taught us all the power of laughter. I remember that Cady was so thirsty for the Word of God ... she would gulp in every piece of wisdom, vision and encouragement that I spoke into her life.
Cady began to fall in love that summer with a young man who was in Africa on missions. I’ll never forget the night that my upstairs exploded in glass-shattering screams. When I ran up the stairs to make sure that everyone was o.k., my youngest daughter, Joni, informed me that Jordan Lewis had just returned from his missions trip and he had texted Cady! The friendship began and blossomed into romance.
There was just one roadblock. Jordan was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer before they went back to school for their senior year. He endured surgeries and dangerous chemotherapy. The doctor’s said that he might be blind or brain-damaged. He was neither ... he was strong and healed and triumphant!
Jordan returned to college for his final semester of college. Jordan and Cady were named Homecoming King and Queen and continued to serve God and people with an enthusiasm that touched everyone’s heart.
Jordan was in the process of buying a gorgeous engagement ring this spring when his medical check-up showed that the cancer had returned. Jordan’s 23-year old lungs were invaded by cancerous tumors.
Without even pausing, Cady looked into Jordan’s face and said, “Let’s get married!”
And so ... only 3 weeks after the second diagnosis ... Cady Morgan Kendall became Cady Morgan Lewis at a wedding that was so lovely ... so enchanting ... so miraculous that it was the stuff of which fairy tales are made!
Joy was her maid of honor and spent the two weeks prior to the wedding planning with Cady ... praying for Jordan ... and making sure that Cady’s wedding sparkled with delight and personality ... just like Cady does!
Surrounded by family from around the world ... friends from college ... and a team of prayer warriors that makes hell shake ... Jordan and Cady promised to love each other and care for each other “ ... in sickness and in health.”
Jordan promised Cady before the crowd of witnesses, both earthly and heavenly, that he would live a long, long, long time!
We all had the sense that we were watching a miracle in the making. We all knew that this was no ordinary wedding but that God was truly present on the Oklahoma soil. I wondered if we should all take off our shoes ... it seemed as if we were on holy ground for that singular moment in time.
I was reminded that week-end, that the first miracle that Jesus ever performed was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. I asked God, with tears running down my cheeks, to perform another miracle at this wedding in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
I asked God to heal this dynamic, world-changing young man.
I asked God to put life into Jordan’s body and to take out the ugly, evil cancer.
I asked God to give Cady more joy than is possible for one human to contain.
I asked God to use this young couple to be a brilliant voice in the darkness of our world that God really does hear our prayers and that He really does love us.
I asked God to give them children and grandchildren.
I asked God to let them get false teeth, social security payments and rocking chairs together.
Would you join me in praying for Cady and Jordan Lewis? They are spending this week in Cancun, Mexico without a care in the world.
They are spending next week at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas, in order to get a treatment plan.
Would you pray for a miracle? Would you pray that God’s love would drip lavishly into their lives? Would you pray for life?
What miracle do you need today? You see ... one of the miracles of it all ... is that Cady and Jordan want to pray for you! At their wedding, they had a prayer request box that they asked their guests to fill with personal prayer requests.
Cady and Jordan believe what the Word of God says: “ ... pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” - James 5:16
Cady and Jordan Lewis
June 29, 2013
Last week I read an article in the Huffington Post that deeply troubled me. You can read the article here "Grown and Flown" written by Lisa Endlich Heffernan. I wrote a reply to her article that has generated a lot of conversation on Huffington Post. You can read my reply Here as well as my entire blog post HERE.
Truthfully, in retrospect, what troubled me about Lisa’s article was the fact that she has chosen to live in a place of long-term regret. I believe that as a healthy woman, it is important that when one looks back over one’s life what is most easily and vibrantly seen are those things that stir up gratitude and thankfulness. And so my heart breaks for Lisa and for the sadness that fills her soul simply because she chose to stay at home with her children.
I know that the conflicting opinions between stay at home moms and working moms create a volatile issue among women today and truly it is not in my heart to make anyone feel guilty over their parenting choices. I chose to stay home and I am glad that I did. The sacrifice that my husband and I made financially still impacts our lives during our empty nest years and I turned down many prestigious and exciting career opportunities. But if I had it to do over, I would do it again. And again and again and again.
However, I am also wise enough to know that not many women are able to stay at home all day every day while their children are growing up.
My heart breaks for single moms who would love to stay home but can’t.
My heart breaks for women whose husbands are underemployed or have lost their jobs and so these women must leave their children under the care of others for 40 or more hours a week.
My heart aches for young widows who must provide food on the table, medical insurance and the monthly mortgage payments alone.
Unfortunately, we live in a two-income world and in order for a family to have any financial latitude or stability at all, many women are forced to work outside the home.
I know all of these things ... and this is what I want to say from the heart of a mother whose children are now healthy adults pursuing with passion and focus the dreams that are within their magnificent hearts.
Spend as much time with your children as you can. If you must work outside the home, then give up other things that would take you away from quality and quantity of time with your children. Rather than going to the gym 5 nights a week ... go during your lunch hour so that the evening hours are times of reading books, playing games and snuggling. Rather than going to Weight-Watchers, book club and making coffee dates with friends, have people in your home and make it a family night.
Always remember that love to a child is spelled T-I-M-E.
If at all possible, during the pre-school years, work only part-time or not at all. Habits are developed, character is set, self-esteem is created and home values are established during the important pre-school years. No one will do the job that you, the mother, will do. No one can take your place ... not a daycare ... not a nanny ... and not even a wonderful grandmother. Do not underestimate the importance of a leisurely morning of homemade pancakes, followed by an hour of reading books and snuggling on the couch and then time spent together making messy crafts and singing silly songs. These years will never come again so wring the joy and purpose out of each one.
If you must work due to extenuating circumstances, don’t spend one day in guilt but joyfully give everything you have and everything you are to your children when you are together. Make every week-end a time of celebration and love. This does not necessarily mean spending wads of money. Your meaningful and delightful time together can include making cookies, going for walks, doing crafts, reading books, going to the library, planting a summer garden, blowing bubbles, making snow angels, counting the stars and a thousand other activities that just say, “We’re together!”
Re-evaluate your spending habits and financial goals to see if you can lessen the hours spent away from home. If you are working in order to go to Disney World, buy a boat or live in the lap of luxury ... think again. Your kids want you more than they want designer clothes, $1,000 birthday parties or colossal Christmases. They want you.
When you are together, try to lay aside the computer, your phone, the iPad and anything else that makes your child feel unimportant in your life. Focus on your child’s dear face, their precious and creative words, the inflection in their sweet voices and the heart they are offering to you, their mom. Today’s e-mail, twitter and Facebook posts are rubbish in comparison to the soul of your growing child.
Whether you work 40 hours a week at a prestigious job, 20 hours a week at a mediocre job or stay at home all day long, know that the gift of parenting is unequalled in importance or in prestige. Remind yourself that your career does not equal self esteem, your income does not define your importance and the demands of a boss are not nearly as important as birthday parties, ball games and ballet recitals. Make choices based upon long-term investment in your family rather than the short-term clamor of today. When you are with your children during those precious hours, whether long or short, give them your whole heart and attention.
Parenting is not easy but it is worth it! When my children were small, I used to love to mow the grass. I would beg Craig, my husband, to let me mow our acre yard every week from April - November. He would stay inside with the children and I would sweat with delight as I pushed our lawn mower through the weeds and grass that filled our yard. I have figured out in these latter years, that the reason I loved mowing the lawn so much is because I saw immediate results. I could look behind me and see exactly where I had been and the difference that my sweat and woman-power had made. Parenting is not like that. As a mother, you sweat, push, walk, pull, talk, encourage, scold, exhort and rarely see an immediate result. However, in the long haul of parenting, you are making a difference.
You are today raising the ones who will change history tomorrow.
You are raising the dreamers, the doers, and the doctors of the next generation. You are raising presidents, authors, pastors, thinkers, mothers and worship leaders. You are raising men and women who will live on in history because of your impact.
You are fixing the mistakes of our generation by raising the next with honor and integrity.
You are splashing a dark and ruined world with the miraculous legacy fashioned by a stable home and of parents who were engaged in the lives of those whom they treasured the most.
Whether you work 40 hours a week or have been given the delightful opportunity to be a stay at home mom, value the lives of those whom you have created by an act of love. Their lives will never develop well without you and you will never become the person you were meant to be without them.
I wrote this blog as a rebuttal to the recently published article in the Huffington Post by Lisa Endlich Heffernan - "Grown and Flown - Why I Regret Being a Stay at Home Mom"
Dear Lisa -
I read your article that was published in the Huffington Post. I didn’t know whether to cry or protest with alarm ... but then I realized that I was just really, really sad for you.
I am sad that you are looking back with such mountainous regret.
I am sad that the lives of your magnificent sons can be compared to degrees, computer skills and the complexity of the women’s movement. I am sad that you have chosen to measure the worth of your life by your achievements rather than by the health of your relationships.
I really don’t want to be judgmental so forgive me if I come across as such. Just as you have opinions about your choices in life, I have opinions about mine. I am content knowing that I didn’t need a realtor, a car dealer or a travel agent to help me decide whether or not to stay home with the most valuable treasures that I have ever been given. I didn’t make my decision based upon chaos but upon conviction. Truthfully, I don’t care about finances or diminished earnings as much as I do about the emotional health and magnified blessings of raising my 5 children well. I didn’t bolt out of the workforce but I chose to make a decision that would define me for all of my days ... I stayed at home with 5 of the most incredible human beings ever created and with joy.
My most expensive mistake would have been staying in the work force and accepting the prestigious jobs that were offered to me. I realized over 30 years ago what has been confirmed to me time after time after time: you cannot put a price tag on time spent with your children. Earthly wealth, bonuses and power advancements pale in comparison to the value of simple time spent raising, nurturing and loving children.
I thought that I would take the opportunity to give the “other side” from the perspective of a mother looking back at 3 rich decades of staying at home to raise 5 incredible children.
You said, “I let down those who went before me.” Lisa ... that is called peer pressure and no valuable decision is ever based upon the expectations of others. I didn’t want my life to turn out like Betty Friedan’s or anyone else’s. I wanted to choose my own road. I chose to swim upstream in an age where women were effectively crashing the glass ceiling. By choosing to stay home, I have supported and strengthened the most vital people in my personal world.
You said, “I used my driver’s license far more than my degrees.” Not me ... I have wrung the substance out of my college degree every day that I have stayed at home with these miracles whose last name is “McLeod”. My college degree was in English, Communication and Music. Music filled the very heart of our home and my children grew up knowing the music of Gershwin, Chopin and Tchaikovsky. They knew the great hymns of the faith, the patriotic music of our country and all of the little ditties that I wrote and sang endlessly to them. I read to my children every day they were under my watch. We read “Pat the Bunny, “The House at Pooh Corner”, “Carry on, Mr. Bowditch” and “Little Women” until I had them memorized. I taught my children to love words and books and great authors.
And speaking of driver’s licenses, Lisa ... although we had 5 children, we chose only to have 1 car until our oldest son was in high school. It was the price that we paid for living on a one- family income. What a glorious price!
So, unlike you, I did use my college degree in the home although that blasted driver’s license was what went virtually unused in my life.
You said, “My kids think I did nothing.” Perhaps you need to re-evaluate the value system that your 3 sons are embracing. My kids, who are now pursuing their dreams and passions with whole-hearted intensity, know that I sacrificed that which is temporary for that which is lasting. I, as an empty-nest mother of 5, know deep within my soul that not only did I NOT do “nothing” but that I enthusiastically and with no regrets did EVERYTHING! My kids, healthy young adults in their 20’s and 30’s, still call me for advice, send me sweet text messages, and now fan the flame of the dreams that are flourishing within my heart.
You said, “My world narrowed.” Au contraire, Lisa Endlich Heffernan, my world expanded and exploded! Who knew that a grin on the face of a baby would be more beatific than Victoria Falls or the Grand Canyon?! Who knew that the giggle of a two year old would hold more rich substance than the London Symphony Orchestra?! Who knew that playing a rousing game of Candy Land with a 5 year old was much preferred over boring, endless and political business meetings?! Who knew that going to piano recitals, basketball games and National Honor Society Inductions would fulfill me more than stamps on my empty passport?! Who knew?!
You said, “I got sucked into a mountain of volunteer work.” Lisa, my new friend, I hope that no one allows you to actually think this selfish thought! Even the liberal media ought to confront you on this regardless of their parenting choices. America is built upon the spirit of volunteerism. Our most grateful thanksgiving, as a family, was the year that we served soup at the homeless shelter downtown. When our two older boys were active participants in the local basketball league for middle school boys, I saw that it had been taken over by politicking, obnoxious men. I volunteered to be the first woman commissioner and got the job and although I invested hours into this realm of service, I received absolutely no pay. I loved making decisions that I believed were in the best interest of children of all playing skills and not just potential olympians. Volunteers have the power to change the world whether or not they ever receive the paycheck that the Chairman of the Board earns.
You said, “I worried more.” Truthfully ... I worried less. Had I been stuck behind a desk in some corporate castle I would have worried my brain and my heart out! I loved knowing who they were playing with every day and what language was being used in my yard. It brought me peace to volunteer at their school and observe everything from the top administration to the dear lunch ladies. Lisa, if you have a problem with worry it is NOT because you were a SAHM. It is because you have chosen to worry.
You said, “I slipped into a more traditional marriage.” There is nothing intrinsically wrong with tradition itself. However, it is two adults who must agree on what type of marriage they are building and it is definitely not dictated by parenting choices. My marriage remained vibrant, challenging and fulfilling during all of the years in which we were raising the rambunctious, creative and competitive clan McLeod. Craig and I often yearned for more time alone but we were the ones who had chosen to have 5 children and we gave ourselves to it wholeheartedly during those years. Craig did laundry and unloaded the dishwasher. I mowed the lawn and took the car in for repairs. Craig read books, wiped noses and changed diapers. I watched sports, fixed leaking faucets and pitched unending baseballs in the front yard. I loved our non-traditional, traditional commitment to one another and to our children.
You said, “I became outdated.” Lisa ... girlfriend ... you are really stretching here for reasons that you regret your choice to be a SAHM. There is nothing outdated about a love that sacrifices that which is momentarily preferred for that which is the long-term best. The most significant women of every generation have known the fulfillment and power of laying down that which is culturally acceptable for that which is priceless. I actually believe that I stayed trendier and more hip by choosing to stay at home. I knew the language that my kids and their friends were talking. I wasn’t held captive every day by a stodgy old boss who was stuck in yesterday’s mindset. I listened with great interest to political ideas of teen-agers and their friends. I participated in late-night chats about dating, the pros and cons of piercings and what colleges offered what types of scholarships. If you became “outdated”, Lisa, it is because it is what you chose to be. Becoming “outdated” is not the cause and effect process that most SAHM’s experience.
You said, “I lowered my sights and lost confidence.” I understand that every woman faces the struggle of self-confidence but this is not a unique struggle that only stay at home moms experience. If you had been passed over for a grand and much deserved promotion, you might have lowered your sights and lost your confidence in that role. If you had run for a national election and lost, you might have lowered your sights and lost your confidence in that choice. So, Lisa, don’t blame your lack of vision and confidence on the significant role that you played as your children’s primary care-giver.
As a woman who has made the same choice to stay at home while raising children just as you did, I just want to tell you that I don’t regret one minute of it or one long-term lasting effect of that singular choice.
You see, in every generation, mothers are able to accomplish what no other nanny, daycare or even grandmother can do. To be a full-time mother is a glorious privilege and the highest call of personhood that a woman can fulfill. Never minimize this world-changing choice with false regret or by second-guessing yourself. Lisa, I salute you! Thank you for choosing to stay at home and invest yourself in something that was rich and real and vital ... the lives of the little boys under your watch.
Now, as I sit at home alone in my immaculate and quiet home, I realize that I did indeed have it all! Today I will sit behind my computer all day long meeting my next book deadline and creating speeches that will help women live well. However, my heart aches for the echoes of laughter that used to resonate within the walls of this home. My mind is filled with the faces of those little people who loved my grilled cheese sandwiches and threw their arms around my neck.
The difference between you and I, Lisa, is that I do not live in a world of regret but in a world of contentment. I chose to be a SAHM and I am grateful for the years of never-ending mothering.
Many people create a "Bucket List"...a list of fun things to do before they leave this earth. I want to encourage you to write a "Destiny List"! There are things that God wants YOU to do, at this time in history, that cannot be done by anyone else...
This Sunday is Father’s Day which has become a bittersweet holiday for me on two fronts. Let me explain ...
My father went to heaven in 2002 and I remember one of the first thoughts that I had was, “I will never get to buy another Father’s Day card for my Dad.” I had always been a “daddy’s girl” and something precious and stable was gone that day from my life.
It hit me in that moment that the man who had loved me since the instant I was born, although no longer with me in the physical, would ever live on in my heart.
Norman Frederic Burton was just a month short of being 81 years old when he died and how I loved every minute spent in his presence!
I had a Dad who loved the Word of God and taught me to love it as well. He believed that the Bible was the final authority on everything. I believe it, too.
I had a Dad who was a giver ... he generously gave to the Kingdom of God even when it meant personal sacrifice for him and for our family. I hope that I am as generous as he always was.
I had a Dad who loved creation and the wonder of God’s world. He took me to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Tetons and to beaches along both shores. He taught me to love the rich, dark soil in our yard and to cultivate things of beauty from that soil. Whenever I spend time outside drinking in all that God created, I somehow feel closer to my Dad.
I had a Dad who believed in honesty and integrity. He not only believed in it but he lived it. He was a man who never lied and paid his bills on time.
I had a Dad who loved my mom. He was crazy about her from sun-up till sun-down. He never spoke an unkind word to her or about her. I loved watching them dance on our 1960’s gold carpet in the living room.
I had a Dad who could fix anything. From flat bicycle tires ... to overflowing toilets ... to leaky roofs ... to removing splinters from my fingers. He even had the knack of mending my broken heart a time or two.
I had a Dad who was never ashamed to go to the grocery store ... canned an entire year’s supply of tomatoes, green beans and applesauce in our pink and green kitchen ... and rocked babies to sleep in his arms while whistling. He made donuts and zucchini bread. He created gorgeous needlepoint pictures and did the dishes every night after dinner. He was the manliest man I have ever known.
I never thought that I would find a man who could live up to the reputation and example of my Dad. But I did ... which brings me to the second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet for me.
The second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet is because our children are all grown now. We no longer wake up to homemade Father’s Day cards, burnt breakfast in bed or Father’s Day crafts made in Sunday School. Our three boys are now fathers themselves and our daughters are still praying for the men who will father their children. I gave my children the greatest gift I could find ... a man who would father well.
Craig, the father of all 5 of my children, is a one-in-a-million kind of Dad.
He coached too many baseball teams to count.
He played endless games of H-O-R-S-E and P-I-G in our driveway with three little boys who grew up too quickly.
He went to ballet recitals and piano recitals with no complaints but with bouquets of flowers in his arms for little girls who are now beautiful young women. (I only had to pinch him a time or two to stay awake!)
He read books time after time after time. French Fry Forgiveness ... Peanut Butter and Jelly Secrets ... The Door in the Dragon’s Throat ... Carry On, Mr. Bowditch ... Charlotte’s Web ... Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea ... The American Girl Books ... Little House on the Prairie ... and any book at all by an author by the name of Matt Christopher.
He played Monopoly, Clue, Chess, Checkers, Trouble, Uno, Kemps, Mau, Speed Scrabble and Candyland until other fathers would have been writhing in pain.
He has watched “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”, “The Sound of Music”, “Hoosiers”, “The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe”, “Mary Poppins”, “Remember the Titans”, “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Little Women” and “Father of the Bride” when lesser men would have been screaming, “UNCLE!”
He stood with me in prayer and encouragement through long days of depression and infertility.
When the money was tight and bills were ferocious, he never asked for anything for himself but gave and gave and gave to this family.
He has discipled his children with love, integrity and the power of believing in their dreams.
He has loved them through wins and losses, A’s and F’s, and popularity and loneliness.
He has led by word and by example. The 5 children who have grown up in our home have seen a man who has relentlessly followed Christ every day of his life.
My 5 children have seen their father refuse to speak ill of those who have mistreated him.
They have seen their father walk in victory and joy during days when other men would have given in to depression and discouragement.
Matthew, Christopher, Jordan, Joy and Joni have all been fathered by a man of God ... that is no small thing in a culture of compromise, moral mediocrity and the relentless call of busyness. Their father has stood head and shoulders above the rest while cradling their 5 precious lives in his heart.
Most of all, our 5 children have been raised by a prayer warrior. Any success or accomplishment in their lives has happened because they had a daddy who knew the power of prayer.
And so I face Father’s Day 2013 with both joy and a touch of sorrow. I am so grateful for a father and a husband who loved with their whole hearts. I am eternally thankful for two men who chose to submit their lives to the greatest Father of all.
Happy Father’s Day!
When Matthew, our oldest son, was a mere 24 hours old, my husband, Craig, found me sobbing in the hospital rocking chair. I was holding my new born baby boy and crying my heart out. Just literal gut heaves ... it wasn’t a pretty sight. Craig came into the room and rushed to my side, “Honey! What’s wrong?! Is something wrong with the baby?”
“No,” I replied through gulping sobs, “Someday ... I’m going to have to give him to another girl!”
And so it began ... the dread that someday Matthew ... and then Christopher ... and finally Jordan would no longer belong to me. I was their first love and ached to stay in that place of prominence. Someday, I mournfully realized, another woman would take first place in their hearts. I would be relegated to the back seat. Good ole’ what’s her name.
The years of learning how to tie shoelaces, shooting baskets in the driveway and family game nights quickly passed by and we sent our boys off to college. I knew that as they began this new season in life, a new season in my life had begun as well. It was only a matter of time and I was a goner. Finished. Washed-up.
Matthew called during the first semester of his Junior year in college and told us that he wanted to invite a girl to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s with us. Her name was Emily. As this blonde girl from Minnesota walked into our front door, she also walked into my heart. I immediately knew that I could love her like she was my own. She played games with the younger kids, fixed the little girls’ hair and helped like a champ in the kitchen. Yep ... she was a keeper.
Christopher brought home “just a friend” during one of his Christmas breaks as well. Liz joined 2 or 3 other college friends at our home and even though Chris didn’t see it yet ... I loved this girl! She had sparkle and compassion. She was obviously head over heels in love with our son and we thoroughly approved. The night that Chris proposed to Liz at Rockefeller Center beside the Christmas tree by singing her an original song was a night of joy and dreams coming true for the entire family.
And then ... my youngest son left me! He, too, went to college thousands of miles away from home and fell in love with the girl of my dreams for him. Allie’s zest for life and commitment to be a prayer warrior wiggled its way into my heart and I couldn’t love her more if I tried. Jordan needs Allie like the flowers need the rain and the earth must revolve around the sun. She is his perfect match. Head to toe. Heart to heart.
What was I so worried about? Why did I think that gaining a daughter-in-law meant losing a son? What it really meant was enlarging our family - and I love big families! What it really meant was the opportunity of seeing my sons so gloriously in love and so completely fulfilled.
Each one is a gift and yet so different ... Emily, Liz and Allie. The girls that I prayed for from the days that my boys made their grand entrance onto planet earth are the girls that God chose for each beloved son.
“Emily ... my prayer for you is that you will find daily joy in the smiles of your children and the strength of your husband. I pray that God would reveal Himself to you in miracles big and small. I pray that you would know that God is enough in each season of life and that He would give you the capacity to love like He loves. Thank you for loving Matt. I love you dearly.”
“Liz ... my prayer for you is that you would allow God to use you to the maximum! I pray that you would feel the compassion of His heart and be a vessel for His love on planet earth at this time in history. I pray that Jesus would fill you with wisdom, with discernment and with the joy of His presence. I pray that His Word would come alive to you. Thank you for loving Chris. I love you dearly.”
“Allie ... my prayer for you is that time spent on your knees would be the most productive moments of your life. I pray that God would enlarge your capacity to hear His voice and to obey His leading. I pray that your desire to go to the mission field would be fulfilled in His time. I pray that you would be a missionary at home, at school, at work and in the neighborhood. Thank you for loving Jordan. I love you dearly.”
If I could tell that young mom in the hospital rocking chair anything that I have learned in giving my boys to “the other woman”, I would tell her that life is sweeter and richer because of the girls that God brought their way. I would tell her that when you embrace the girl that your son chooses that it brings no pain but the fulfillment of a dream and the answer to a prayer.
I would tell that young mom in the hospital rocking chair to get a grip ... God is extraordinarily good in all seasons of life. We don’t raise our sons to keep them locked up - we raise them to give them as a gift to the world and as a gift to the girl of God’s making and choosing.
Well done, God. Well done.
The call came late at night. ‘One of the boys is missing … It’s Jack.’ Hastily, my dad put on his coat and drove to the Boy’s Home where he worked as Executive Director. Rain and ice pelted the car and the windshield wipers brushed away furrows of frost. The tires struggled for traction on a glazing coat of ice covering the bridge. The Christian home offered refuge and safety for children and Jack was one of their best kids. Dad arrived at the home. Shielding his head, he dashed for the covered porch. Nothing had changed, the boy was still missing. Grabbing a slicker to put over his coat, he stepped back into the rain.
That week, Jack had been given a new calf by the ranch manager and told if he cared for the calf properly, the animal would be his.
Flashlight in hand, my father ran and slipped his way to the fenced area at the barn where the calves were kept. Icy rain slid down his neck as he searched for Jack’s calf. Dad climbed the fence to look farther and stumbled over a broken bale of hay. After spotting a crumpled coat on the ground, he reached to pick it up. His throat tightened as salty tears mixed with rain.
Inside the coat, Jack lay asleep. His back to the rain, ice crystals forming on his jacket, he sheltered the only thing he had ever owned of value—a small red calf.
Years later, my dad continues to share this true story. Other than groggy and cold, Jack was fine. And the calf received the royal treatment with a bed made from bales of hay. Like Jack did his young calf, God wraps us tightly in His love, protecting us through the storms and cold of this world.
You are cherished by the God of the universe. No difficulty or problem will ever keep Him from your side.
Heavenly Father thank You that we are safely sheltered forever in Your loving arms.
Devotion taken from
Living Joyfully Free
by Lisa Buffaloe, page 33
Lisa Buffaloe is a writer, blogger, speaker, happily-married mom, founder and host for Living Joyfully Free Radio. She is passionate to tell others about God’s wonderful love, healing, and restoration. Her past experiences—molestation by a baby-sitter, assault, rape by a doctor, divorce, being stalked, cancer, death of loved ones, seven surgeries, and over eleven years of chronic illness from Lyme Disease—bless her with a backdrop to share about God’s unending love and that through Him we find healing, restoration, and renewal. She is the author of Living Joyfully Free, Nadia’s Hope, a 2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest Finalist, Prodigal Nights a 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest Finalist, and Grace for the Char-Baked.