A Letter To My Children

Dear Kiddo’s,

Since Mother’s Day is coming up in a few days, I thought I would write YOU all a love letter.  I am going to color outside the lines a little bit and make it a love letter, a list of what I want to do to be a better mom, and a list of why you guys are the best kids in the world. There will be some randomness thrown in so that you all know I’ve put my random mark on it, i.e. its not from just any mom, but your mom. (You grammar police go away.  I know I used random twice for emphasis).

So here goes…

You three are really something.  You always have been.  Something beautiful, unique and embedded in my flesh and on the walls of my heart.  (No comments from you three like oh mom you are getting all mushy on us.)  That’s why its my letter.  I get to write my feelings on paper.  But oh what subject matter I have been given. It started with this.  Just Dad and I.  But I have already explained all of that to ya’ll.

And all the moments.The mini-moments and micro moments  and humongous moments have been distinctly ours because we are us.  We are a tribe of five.  All the learning and loving could have only  happened as it did  because of you three.  You restored hope, you were miracles, you increased faith. Each step you took, moment you breathed, emotion you expressed poured you onto the canvas creating this painting . This art. This that is our lives.  Abstract, bold, colorful, screaming love and shouting grace.

Each one of you getting up and doing family every day. Bringing and offering and using  your unique gifts. I chase you around with the eyes of my heart trying to clumsily love you.  I stumble and fall and trip up pressing in a truth and repeating my mistakes, repeating my love. Crying out love.  Doing parenting sloppily, in my less-than-perfectness.  Radically receiving your love every day.   You give it so gentle.  You give it so perfect.  Because you all are life givers and life restorers. You look like miracles to my heart.  You walk out His love and your father’s love and my love with flesh and bones.

And lately I follow you around with my camera.  You shout and hide and say enough is enough.  But capturing you all doing life, eating it up with your passion is now my passion. Swallowing it whole without chewing and running down the good race with endurance like an athlete is my desire. Your lives are  something that should be saved and captured. To hold dear.  And hold on to. For more than split seconds. You are my prize. You are my glory.  You are gift.  You are so much more than I can clumsily say.

If I could make perfect sweet tea, I’d make it by the gallon to show my love.  If I could bite my tongue and never raise my voice to show my love I would.  If I could laugh and smile at every small thing you say and do to show you how much I adore you three I would.  If every favorite shirt and uniform were always clean and folded, all socks matched and every note signed pronto I would give you that. But I cannot go back, can’t bottle up the yuck.  Can’t re-do the what I did.  Can’t wash the dirty down the drain with the dishwater.  It’s just there in the mix, all mixed up with the love and the good intentions to love better and more.

So here is the part where I thank you for your grace, because you give it out and show it well.  Though you learned from one who was flawed and broken and full of sin.  Wrecklessly  extending grace, upon grace.  And tender Mercy.  Like He does.  You all do that well.

And this is the part where I ask forgiveness for my shortcomings and tell you how sorry I am.  And this is where I tell you a funny thing so you will laugh. Because you know I love Pooh and if you don’t you should.  And now you know if you didn’t.

“Oh Tigger where are your manners? I don’t know but I bet they’re having more fun than I am.” (A.A. Milne) There were those hundreds of times I reminded and prodded and begged and browbeat.  You know they are important.  I will never stop telling you so.

I know a wise young girl who told me once, “smile and laugh and we will smile and laugh with you.”  She just happens to be my own precious one.  So wise beyond her years. I can’t wait to do more of that.

I wish some things, in my memory and in my heart.  I wish that I could read “Goodnight Moon” a billion more times, while I breathe in your sweet smells and feel you cozied in on my lap.  You can turn the pages.  I want to dive into “The Very Hungary Caterpillar.’ We can swim from page to page together, with you saying the words in tandem with my breathe. We can read— together, we can go slow there is no need to rush. I will never again say those painful words, can you wait a minute. Because you shouldn’t.  You should have the all of me.

I hope you heard the parts about kindness, honesty, faithfulness, gentleness and doing your best.  I hope you heard me teaching you this when it sounded like preaching.  And when I wasn’t any of these things myself.

When I told you not to take the path of least resistance and mediocre was not acceptable. I hope you know that somewhere hidden in all that was a sliver like the new moon of love.  Me loving you into all good things.  Me wanting for you, all the best.

And now you would say that I didn’t follow the outline. And like when I say grace over the food, its just way too long.  You would say now that it’s time to wind down even though I have a trillion more things to say.  And no, I am not exaggerating.

I didn’t get a chance to say one more time to make good decisions, wear your seat belt, and all my other annoying one liners.

But since it is my letter and I am in control of the keyboard and little else, I can say that you amaze me, you teach me, and that my love for you is deep and wide.  It can never be like His love for us.  He loves you more.  And you should remember that if little else of this mother’s day letter to you, my children. My gifts from the giver of awesome gifts.

You delight, you surprise, you amaze me in so many ways.  This lover of words is out of them now. And to mothers everywhere I say love hard, love deep, love well.  And welcome with outstretched arms the surprises, the tomorrows and the right around the corner moments.

How Two Pieces of Mail Change This Blogger(Or This Isn’t Heaven…)

On the way to my meet up with other moms and kiddos I stop at the mailbox and grab a handful.  Two pieces of mail hand addressed with my name there.  The specialness oozes off the pearly white envelope and I rip them open and read.

My eyes glance down to read the cover of a beautiful card.  The words speak sweet encouragment, “It’s what we do for Christ in the HERE and NOW that will make a difference in the then and there.” — Max Lucado. And inside it reads, Thanks for making an eternal difference.

I open it and the eyes of my heart follow like a trail of sweet bread crumbs each individual cryptic signature.  Each one precious.  Each one is that of a child.  And I feel like I have been bunched in the stomache.  I am almost breatheless.  This card was not meant for me.

Looking for clues, I look for a return address and an adult’s name somewhere so I can return this card to the intended recipient.  I search my mind for someone’s name in town who is easily confused with my name.  I plan my route after my scheduled appointment.  I will go to the school and find which class these children are in.  I believe this card, so ripe with thank-you’s, bursting with gratitude is meant for a teacher.

“To the loved; a word of affection is a morsel, but to the love-starved, a word of affection  can be a feast.”– Max Lucado

I had wanted to feast on the gratitude.  I wanted to swim in the sentiment dellivered by children’s sweet fingers and hands.  I want to prop up this card in my kitchen and rest for days in the love and the thanks that so tenderly lived on this cardboard rectangle.

At lunch, I ask my friends to help me review the clues so I can deliver this note to the deserving one.  We study, we stare, we think, we problem solve, we read each child’s name to see what the connection might be, the common thread, why they are thanking, why they feel grateful, what group are they a part of, what do they have in common, these kids.

For an hour my mind is racing and I am rattled by guilt.  Why haven’t I done more.  Why don’t I do more. How can I make an eternal difference in  the lives of children.  Am I making an eternal difference in the life of my three.  There are opportunities I have missed.  Things left unsaid.  Times I could have stepped up and served. Missed chances to make that elusive eternal difference.

With all of the graduations this month of nieces and children and friends,  I want to graduate too.  I want to step off the podium with a diploma in hand.  My heart needs to move on and close out the chapter I am stuck on entitled “Guilt” and “Shame.”  Because I let a card sear my heart with guilt.  And worry and anxiety about balance and volunteering and helping and doing and being.

“When grace moves in…guilt moves out.”– Max Lucado

I want a passing grade in the class on “How Not To Get Entangled In Comparison, It Will Rob Your Joy.”

I just know I will smile and pass this card on to the deserving woman who has made an eternal difference.  Before the day is over, she will be so blessed to receive a note that was penned in love for her.

We sit and chat over lunch and I am pondering how I can serve more, and better and how and where and what will it look like. And suddenly  the mystery is solved.

There was another piece of mail for me that day.  It was beautifully handwritten and it was gracious in its thank-you’s.  Each line of gratefulness inspired me to serve and use the gifts God has given me more often.  But beyond that it inspired me to thank more often with the written word.  I read the note three times or more.  It was gracious and lovely and a gift in itself.  I had helped at a luncheon but I was the one who was infused with fellowship and laughter and left holding wonderful memories of women together doing community.  It was I who was helped, re-charged, and re-invigorated by women fellowshipping together, laughing together, and showing gratitude together.  The note was kind and it inspires me to thank in that way much more often.

So two notes in my mailbox lead me to Max Lucado’s loving word.

“Lower your expectations on earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.”–Max Lucado

And the children were grateful.  And the card about doing and making a difference was meant for me.  I had supplied pizza for my two teenagers youth group and they graciously thanked me.

But the gift was that I was stirred to give guilt-free pondering on how to serve in my community. Once I settled down from my knee-jerk reaction of loads of guilt and racing thoughts about finding the woman who I am comparing myself to.  And giving her the card. The one that was intended for me.

Comparing myself always and everytime to others leaves a feeling of less than.  Of being not enough.

I want to hold on to the diploma marked “Grace”.  And to politely usher out the guilt that wants to rob me of Joy.

What about you.

Thank you God for your loving, Amazing Grace.  Amen? Amen!

Five Things A Field Trip To A Mexican Restaurant Will Teach You about LIFE

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I am amazed at where and when I learn some of the most important truthes.

How God can take  and use the mundane, gray, ordinary. Turn it into a way to grab hold of the eyes of my heart.  Hold firm to my jawline in love and say “See this, right here.”  I love you too much for you to miss it.

How sparks of sweet knowledge fly off the life pages, there.  In the everyday.  In the messy, the plain, the simple. How sparks of knowing and seeing shoot out and turn the head like walking into a firestorm of shooting stars.

Life is messy.  Life is loud.  People are hurting.
I sit and catch up with an oldish friend.( She is  a decade younger so its not she that is oldish, it is this thing in our life which is a friendship). We have done life together for quite awhile but we often go for long periods without having heart chats.  Linking up and digging deep.

But in the middle of the loud and the messy, over the guac and the chips I hear the remarkable.  I hear about God’s love lately in her life.  I sit with what feels like one hundred loud high school students buzzing around us  and press in to hear about her son. How God is doing a loving work in his special life.  The waitress buzzes, the kids are rocking the place with their energy, but God’s mark on his life in the last few days is soft and sweet and deep and wide. One special teacher choosen for one special child.  An amazing choreography in this dance of life–connecting two, partnering up a child with one to walk through life as friend, mentor, teacher guide for a long season.  He loves so deeply, this God of ours.

I am changed in the knowing.  My Faith gets a re-boot.  As she Mom- proud raises her ipad to the table and shares the pictures of him running the good race, then standing on the podium at the Special Olympics, I glimpse a mother’s heart hard at work navigating through life, seeking the best always for her precious son.

Life is unorganized.
There are three of us now.  Talking, sharing, remarking, reviewing, observing life and our children and how crazy this field trip scene appears in its many facets of planning. How they move from Point A to Point B and all the logistics.

But I know now that what seemed like an excessive amout of time away from school was carved out for fellowship and community.  I know that their hours and their days lived out in the halls can be burden.  Can wear heavy mundane.  Can stiffle in the routine of the everyday.  But change the scene and joy pours out like notes from a saxaphone all happy wafting out, inspiring and infusing music and grace notes on the pages of their day.

I know that long expanses of time where we feel stuck and caught are really times to capture community and catch up in fellowship with each other, on life.

Drowning happily in story and shared experience. Freeze framing life, capturing it in one still-frame on one Monday in the middle of messy living.

Life is learned outside of books.
I know that they are learning about sixteen.  They are learning how to order in Spanish and pay the bill too.  But they are learning more I know it about friendship and fellowship.  Because it was there in all caps and all bold.  The things we learn when we heart listen to others.  The sad and the happy, the joy and the pain come out off the shelves when we listen.  When we invite.  When we ask the life story to come tell it all.

Life is best lived when slowed down and there is no agenda.
She calls me from school to co-ordinate my coming on the field trip and I grumble.  Who eats lunch at a Mexican restaurant at 10:30 in the morning.  I pass on a complaint to a child, allowing her to be exposed to my disease, its contagious, of grumbling, whining.  Not a proud parent momment, this, in hindsight.  But when there my heart delights in the energy.  It catches the happy and the smiling while chip dipping and straw sucking diet coke.  Where in the world would I rather be than smack dab deep down in the middle of salsa and chips and children on a Monday morning

Because we can count now, on a couple of fingers, the time that they are here now with us.  We discuss SAT and school and college and futures as Dentists and all such.  And I look with one eye at the Joy of these girls. They were there at the Special Olympics cheering, they were there in pre-school a yesterday ago, they are here and this is now and it is raw and real. This group, these girls, becoming women soon.  Learning Spanish and much more right here on a Monday.  And it smells like spicey, mexican restaurant Grace.

Agenda robs, and steals, and obfuscates the present. And who doesn’t love chips and dip and fellowship all cozied in on a gray day at a long table of giggling girls with their happy spread from one end of the room to the other.

I hug and say good bye and that I must press on down the very short to-do list.  By my design, I keep them short now.  It must be an over 50 charachter trait.  But I leave and I take giggly Joy with me.  And I smell all day like the memories built here with friends, with teenagers, in the middle of a very long lunch catching up on three of  the most important things in life– community, friends, and matters of the heart.

And Counting Gifts, this Monday, with Ann @ A  Holy Experience.

*for running into a friend on the beach.  Catching up and hearing how a gift I gave her years ago is still being used.  How our lives intersecting in the past was a good thing–for us both.  Realizing how I am the blessed one to have had her and to re-connect.

*time on the beach with The Patient One to bask in the sun and just be

*an email, sweet so sweet, from a friend of a friend who was sent here, to check out this blog.  Unexpected Grace on a Monday.

*News of improving health for college man-child and counting the days until he is under this roof again, for a short season.

*Sweet projects around this nest that I am dreaming of, inspired by a big project and garden undertaken by The Patient One over the weekend.

*Laughing often at a new blog I have discovered.  I will provide the link soon.  She is fun, she is funny, and she is passionate about life and the Lord (its contagious).

*New friends

*Old friends

*A month of birthdays and celebrations for people I love.

*A summer plan coming together


Celebrating, Cheering, Rejoicing —Life (With Words, Always)

I had lunch with a friend last week and she said something profound.  Profoundly simple.  I just live everyday like its the last.

And I want to too.  So a good place to start is with celebrating life and all that’s worth celebrating about it.  Daily.  In the ordinary.  In the mundane.  In the big and in the small. In the minutae and in the grand.  The footnote asterisk moments, and the all out worthy of champagne and caviar celebrations.  The all.  The package.  The whole entire messy and grandness of it all.

Around here today, this momma’s heart is celebrating.

So I write.  I write to celebrate and mark the worthy and the good. To describe the layers of living and life.  Tear stained keyboard marking milestones. Sweet and bitter co-mingling on the tongue-tip places. Tasting the past.  Savoring time since birthing a firstborn son into a world where he becomes the teacher, an anchor, a place to look for inspiration. A place to go for contagious exuberant passion for life and all that it grants.

Time blurs in the remembering. So I write.  And the fingers, the heart, the mind, and memories meld together and weave in and around, back and forth, and swirl up the all good.

I write and remember.  Track back and gather up. Gather up moments, milestones, time and time spent.  Ways love appeared and  the ways love was shown. Beautiful expressions of love.  Deeply handsome gestures of care, concern, love, and compassion.

I write to proclaim and give voice to the story.  A good story worth telling in bold and in all caps.  A story starting with love in love and continually marked by love.  Bookmarked with good and great and worthy of being raised up.

A story of a boy becoming a man.  Growing in manhood.  Tenderly, kindly, strongly, compassionately walking out love.  For His God.  For His family.  For his friends.  For others.

A story of gentleness and a passion for life and creation.  For the small in the world, the fragile, all that God created with feathers, and wings, and fur, and skin.

A story of caring.  Caring deeply for others, always.  A story of a heart which seeks to nurture  and love.  To protect and pour into.  Standing firm in Faith.  Standing firm in Family.  Going long, running hard after friendship.  Always digging deep into work, into love.

Happy Day of Your Birth.  Happy you have made me.  Joyful, joyful I adore you.  

Your life is a beautiful praise song to God.  You love all His creatures and you love His people in a way that touches deep in me.  You have woven your love throughout our family, always caring and searching for the needs of others.

Thank you for walking back into this home, my man-child, your passions, your joy, your love and your hopes.  Grateful for your strong tethered heart to this home and this momma.  I weep with joy, I weep with gratitude.

Happy Birthday, my son, I love you.

When we celebrate life, we celebrate Him, the Giver of all great gifts.  Thank you Father God for pouring out so richly into this life, this home, this day.

And all God’s people say “Amen.”