I will never forget the day I wrote these four little words in a card for my sister. It was just after she'd had her first baby girl. I sat with a blank card in front of me, pen in hand, when a wave of emotions came flooding over me as a million thoughts filled my mind.
What do you say to your little sister who's on the brink of a new journey...she was stepping into one of the most beautiful, rewarding, exhausting, and challenging roles she will ever have the honor of walking in? I could have said a lot of things. But these four words are all I could get out...
"You can do this."
That was it.
Because sometimes all we really need is a big sister to step up and be our cheerleader. There are moments in our lives that we don't really need a list of do's and don'ts. We don't need advice or a three step plan. We just need someone to stand by our side and say, "You can do this."
Mamas, let me be your big sister today. Let me be your cheerleader.
YOU can do this.
This incredibly hard job of motherhood - You can do this.
We spent last weekend in Washington D.C. It was a much needed family get-away! We saw monuments, went to museums, saw a hockey and a baseball game, visited Mount Vernon, had a tour of the Capitol...we had three crazy awesome jam-packed days! (Homeschool Mama's dream!)
As we walked around looking at monuments and the incredible relics and treasures in the museums, I would remind myself that these were real people...living real lives...just like us.
We stood looking at the sword George Washington used in battle, the desk that Thomas Jefferson used to write the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the hat Abraham Lincoln wore the day he was assassinated.
We walked the plantation grounds of Mount Vernon where Washington lived. We saw the bedroom and the very bed he took his last breath in. We saw the "broad stripes and bright stars" of the American Flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write, what is now, our National Anthem.
We were up close and personal with our nations history, and it was both beautiful and solemn.
I kept thinking about the fact that these incredible men and women who made history were once just young boys and girls. They had no idea that one day there would be statues in their honor.
They laughed, cried, played games, and probably said, "I'm hungry" just like our kids do. Do you think they dreamed of adventures, never realizing they would grow up to be history makers?
Did their moms and dads have a clue where their sons and daughters were headed? Do you think they knew they were kissing the scraped knees and wiping the tears of future Presidents? Did they know they were raising children who would, literally, change the world?
Do you think their parents knew who they were raising?
I don't think George Washington's mother knew the little boy she tucked in every night was going to be the first President of a new nation. I don't think Abraham Lincoln's parents knew he was headed for greatness or surely they would have given him more than one year of "proper education."
They didn't have the ability to see what the future held, but they had enough wisdom and insight to raise men of character.
What about the people who changed the world, and we don't even know their names?
We stood at war memorials and honored the many men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I thought of the women who's husbands never returned home, the children who never saw their fathers again...they are heroes too. We don't know their names or their whole story, but their place in history is just as significant.
We are left with the question, "Do we know who we're raising?"
Just like the parents of so many who have gone before, we don't know where our kids are headed. Someone, right now, is raising a future president. Someone is raising the next Billy Graham or the next Thomas Edison. Someone is raising another Jim Elliot and Amy Carmichael. It's happening in their homes right now, and they don't even know it.
I am raising the mothers of my grandchildren, and that means I'm raising women who will change the world.
I don't know what the future holds for my daughters, but I know they are headed for greatness...not because of what they will do but because of who they will be.
Let us be diligent as we raise our sons and daughters to become men and women with strength of character: men and women who will stand resolute on truth.
We need to raise children with a sense of significance. We are a part of something bigger than today.
"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." - Andy Stanley
Do you ever feel like all you can hear are the lies? There they are like the constant, steady drip of a leaky faucet.
It's national honesty day. So let's get real. The honest truth is this...Some days it seems like no matter how hard I try to stand on truth...I find myself sinking into a pitfall of lies. Anyone else ever feel that way?
A few weeks ago, during church our Worship Pastor began to pray over the ladies in our congregation...it was a prayer he had been praying over his own daughters, "May the loudest voice they hear be the Father's voice."
It wasn't, "May the only voice they hear be the Father's voice," it was "May the loudest voice..."
There are countless voices coming at us, but which voice has our attention? Which voice has our ear?
How many times does it feel like all you can hear are the lies screaming at you?
You know the ones I'm talking about...
You're not enough.
You don't do enough.
You're not smart enough.
You're not good enough.
You're not strong enough.
I am so aware of my need for grace...my need for a Savior. Every. Single. Day.
Without Jesus I have nothing.
Over the last several years I have become more and more aware that my precious daughters need a Savior too. Our children are born into a broken world, and they need Jesus just as much as we do.
Just because our children's struggles, challenges, and sin issues look differently than ours, it doesn't mean they are in need of Jesus any less.
Our weaknesses and challenges may seem harder and greater than theirs, but they need Him just as much as we do! Our sin may seem bigger and more ugly, but their sin is still sin, and they need the forgiveness of a Savior.
To sin means to "miss the mark." The Word of God is our standard, and when we sin, we are missing the mark...we are living below the standard. We miss out on the abundant life we could be walking in because we're stuck in our sin.
It's our responsibility to show our children what a relationship with Christ looks like.
We should be modeling repentance and forgiveness.
I want them to know how to run to Jesus, not away from Him, when they have failed.
I want them to know how to find Him when they feel weak.
I want them to see and feel the power of forgiveness and the beauty of grace.
I want the words "please forgive me" to flow easily from their lips.
What's the best way for them to learn these principles? My living them.
If I want those words to flow easily from their lips, they better be flowing easily from mine.
If I want them to run to Jesus when they have failed, they better see me doing the same thing.
If I want them to extend forgiveness, they better see me offering it.
Have you ever heard your voice coming from your child's mouth? It's nice when it's the good things they are parroting...it's not quite as nice when you see your own sin mirrored back at you. I can think of so many times I have stood listening to one of my girls thinking, "That's me."
Our children are soaking up the way we live and the way we speak. If we want our children to find the Gospel...to find Jesus...then we better be living it in front of them.
This is such a weighty, and yet, at the same time, a freeing idea. When I get caught up in thinking that I am going to "mess up" my kids or "miss something" in our training them, it's time to take a step back.
We need to keep the one thousand foot view...keep the big picture in front of us. If you're like me, there are plenty of days that you're parenting from a zoomed in perspective.
Sometimes we need to zoom out and get a broader perspective. Don't miss the forest for the trees.
I realize that everything my day holds...every issue that comes up in my own heart...all my failures and struggles...it all comes down to me and Jesus. Ultimately, it's the same for our kids.
We say this to the girls on a weekly basis, "Repentance opens the doorway for grace." We are teaching them to come to us and not hide from us when they have failed...and in those moments, we can direct them straight to Jesus. We get to represent Him to our children.
What an honor as parents - we get to be His voice, His hands, His feet.
This Easter season, let's keep in mind that we are not the only ones in need of a Savior. Our children need to know the power of the cross and it's work in their lives!
If we live like we don't need Him, our children will never know that they do.
I will never forget the year that Victoria was around 3 years old, and we were reading about the crucifixion...
Now, you have to understand that Victoria has grown up hearing about Jesus. She's been hearing the Easter story since she was a few months old. We read her little Bible to her from day one.
This particular day, as we were reading, I was trying to go a little deeper...I wanted her to start feeling the significance of Christ's love.
She used to look at the pictures in her Bible and say, "Jesus got a boo boo? Jesus was sad?"
So on this particular day I was laying it on thick, "Yes, baby. Jesus was hurt...He was hurt very badly. He had lots and lots of boo boo's, and He was in so much pain. He went through all of this because He loves us so much. He loves you so much."
Her sweet face looked so thoughtful as she stared at the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. Just when I think her little heart is "getting it" at a deeper level... she sweetly exclaimed, "Look, Mama! That's so nice!"
"What's nice, Baby?" I asked. "Look! Jesus had friends with Him when He died on the cross!" she said happily!
Early this morning I just wrote. I needed to process. When I started writing I wasn't even sure anyone would ever read the words but me.
The next post I had ready to go was more about building our marriages...about the importance of date nights. In light of circumstances this week and things that have happened even over the last couple of days...I just can't post that. Not now. Not today.
It's still good and I still believe it, and it's still coming. It's just not for now.
Right now I'm mad.
Mad. Disappointed. Hurt. Grieving. Burdened. Sorrowful. Overwhelmed. Shocked. Upset. Angry. Sad. Furious. Confused.
I'm sitting here thinking about the many amazing young gymnasts who lived through hell...feeling trapped and isolated. I'm thinking about the fear and shame these young girls have carried. They were living their dream and then found themselves in the middle of a nightmare.
I'm thinking about the students who just lost their lives at the school shooting in Florida. I'm thinking about the Moms and Dads who sent their kiddos off to school that day with a kiss and never imagined they wouldn't be kissing them good night later that day.
I'm thinking about the precious families in our own church who just lost husbands and fathers in the last two days. It's close to home and it hurts...bad.
These situations have been on replay...running through my mind.
The questions start to flood.
Why? Over and over again...Why?
I'm asking questions, and I know the victims affected, the parents who lost children, and the families around us have to be asking questions too.
It's hard not to. It's hard not to look up and scream, "If You are really good, then why did this happen?!" It's hard not to ask "why" a million times over. It's hard not to wonder, "WHERE WERE YOU?!"
Let's see if you can relate...
Husband comes home from work and begins to talk about his day. You listen, somewhat empathetically, while internally you are rolling your eyes and thinking about the challenges your day held.
Or maybe, your wife starts going on and on about all she's had to deal with and get done that day, and all you're thinking is, "Seriously? You've got nothing on me."
One day, I walked in the door and Casey had just cleaned up the kitchen - even swept the floor. He was pleased with himself...I could tell by the goofy grin he was wearing.
Being the awesome wife that I am...I said nothing. (I know, I know...I'm horrible.) A few minutes pass and he says, "What? No 'thank you' for sweeping the floor?"
To which I replied, "Do you know how many times a week I sweep this floor without a 'thank you' or anyone even noticing?!" (Yes, I did. It was a real proud moment.)
Incase you were wondering...being slapped in the face with your own selfish nature and immaturity doesn't feel great. Can you relate?
So, what do we do?
As I sit here contemplating what it looks like to "love your husband" all I can really think about are all the times and ways I have not shown mine the kind of love the Word of God encourages a wife to give her husband. So, yeah...there's that.
Like the times he walks in the door and I'm busy with the kids or with something around the house and he gets a quick, "Oh, hey...glad your home...can you take the trash out?"
Or the times he's gone out of his way to bless and serve me in some way and it barely gets even a nod of appreciation.
Or what about the days that are challenging for him, and he does something hard? There are days he could use a boost...a little encouragement to keep going...a little cheering on, but his cheerleader is nowhere to be found. I'm too busy, caught up in my own world, to meet him where he is.
So, what does a real, true, deep down, knock-him-off-his-feet kind of love look like, and what's getting in the way of giving that?
How can we show our husbands the kind of love they were designed to need?
We often say, "All my needs are met in Christ, but my husband/wife could certainly help!" That's part of the beauty in God's design and purpose for marriage.
My husband...your husband...was designed, by God, to need a specific kind of love and you were put in his life to give it.
In Titus 2 it says, "then they can train the younger women to love their husbands..." This is a specific instruction to wives, and the word used here for "love" is philandros. Paul uses a word that comes from the root of "phileo" to describe the love of a wife to her husband.
On an unusually warm January day, the girls spent the afternoon playing in the backyard. They came running inside and called for me to come see a special cloud they had spied in the sky.
This was, of course, not an ordinary cloud. This was a cloud that they were just sure had to be a portal to another world. (Yes, we have read all the Chronicles of Narniabooks, and yes, the girls have active imaginations.) Ellie quickly says, “Mom, can you just pop us over to the other side of the fence so we can get closer?”
“No, baby, you can’t go in that field. It doesn’t belong to us.” This was, naturally, met with a wave of sad emotion, and through her sobs, “But if you don’t, we’re going to miss our chance to go through the portal!”
I, willing to help, gave a perfectly logical solution, “Baby, why don’t you go ahead and just pretend that you made it through the portal? You can pretend you are now on the other side and you can start exploring!” At this point, both daughters look up at me like I had just suggested they take a bath with their clothes on. With eyes rolling, “Mom, don’t be silly.”
Oh, I’m the silly one? You’re the ones who think if you cross this fence you will get close enough to the cloud to be able to get to another world by going through a portal in the sky?!
Then they asked, “Well, can we cross the fence and go play in the side field?” To which I replied, “Girls, why can’t you just play on the thirty acres that DO belong to us?”
Without missing a beat, Victoria responds, “You know, Mom…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Those two crazy girls could play absolutely anywhere on our farm. They have plenty of space to roam, but that afternoon all they wanted to do was cross the fence.
Ugh. Why is this so true?
Do you ever just need a do-over in life?
This last Christmas was a do-over for our family. Christmas of 2016 was to be our family’s first Christmas in our new home; however, my Dad was in the hospital fighting for his life, (another story for another day) and we spent two weeks at UT Medical Center. When Christmas 2017 rolled around, the girls kept referring to it as our “second first Christmas” in our new home. They called it our “Christmas redo,” and we went with it.
In fact, it was a redo in more ways than one. A couple of years ago, I got my husband, who deep down has farmer in his blood, an awesome Carhartt coat and work overalls. We had just bought our farm, and even though we weren’t living there yet, I knew he’d love it and start making use of it! Well, first let down…the work overalls didn’t fit, and then a few months later, in the craziness of moving, the coat went missing. Guess what Casey got for Christmas this year? Coat and work overalls (that fit this time)! A win for the redo year!
I was also the happy recipient of a redo gift. For my birthday last year, Casey and the girls got me one of those bath tub trays - holds a book, drink, candle, etc…. Sadly, it didn’t fit the tub and was promptly returned to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Christmas this year? New bath tray. Redo!