My Tiara Needs to be Removed Repeatedly

The day was long and I’m sure every parent anywhere ever can nod along with me knowing the feeling that comes as the day winds to a close. Our resources running on empty, our emotional give tanks dry.

I’m not sure about you but when I hit this point I stop seeing well. I wish I could simply put on my old lady reading glasses but that’s not it. When I’m tired, and dare  I say just a tad cranky, I tend to focus on everything that isn’t all that important. Though believe me, it seems it at the time.

You know the days when you’re running helter-skelter every which direction you can barely tell which way is up? The days where you wake and wonder how on earth you can accomplish all that needs to happen but, God be with us, you manage to keep everyone alive and in the right place at (generally) the right time?

At the end of those days, as the sky darkens along with my resolve, I find my perspective taking a turn for the worse.

To be clear, I came home last night in a huff.

Did I have reason to huff? My evening, tired perspective said – sure did! My running on empty thoughts said – oh man, they’re going to hear it.

When I get in this place I tend to hover over my life and look down and in on it. From this vantage point I can only see all that’s going wrong. When I’m up above everyone else looking in, I see the whole tapestry of mess. I see every dish left on the counter and every pair of socks thrown, clearly disrespectfully, into a random corner.

When I’m in this place, when my perspective is above and over everyone else, I can only see the chaos, the turmoil, the faults and the mess.

After stomping around for awhile, all dishes clanking and vacuuming under feet so that maybe they’d get the point (they didn’t) I realized the fool I looked. Because getting all snitty and acting like the fact that I’m perturbed is something everyone should cater to – never accomplishes what I want it to.

Imagine for a second that Jesus just stayed in heaven looking down on humanity. What a head shaker that would be. If anyone would have reason to come down miffed it would be Him. But He didn’t.

He came to earth humbly. He walked among the mess, looked at the broken hearted and saw them. He took up residence in this place not fit for a king. His sandalled feet dusty from the roads just like the people whose lives were in shambles that He hung out with.

He didn’t show up all pretentious and haughty, pointing fingers and telling everyone what to do and how exactly to do it so that He felt respected in this, His own house.

No, He showed up and had tea. Chatted with ragamuffins at the well. Washed feet. Broke bread. BREAD! No Boursin cheese and expensive crackers. Normal, everyday, commonplace, bread.

After flitting about my proverbial kingdom for some time, tiara all lopsided, I whispered a prayer and changed my tone, half begrudgingly.

Instead of hovering over all, I laid down beside a little, rubbed his back and asked him to tell me all of the things about his day. It took exactly 3 minutes.

Instead of continuing my rant, I sat alongside some teens and asked them what the upcoming week held for them, chatted through all of their schedules, and got the benefit of a few funny stories amidst it all. It took 6.5 minutes.

Instead of coming in all high and mighty, I sat beside a kid, peered on as they watched their latest netflix binge and they lovingly removed one headphone to tell me what was happening. It took roughly 4 minutes.

In under 15 minutes things changed in our home and in my heart.

It seems to me that connection – normal, everyday moments change everything. When we come alongside people instead of above them, when we enter into their moments, their days, even their mediocrity, it brings us together in a way that ruling over them never could.

And it’s not just with our kids. When we see one another – all people – on level playing fields, when we drop all feelings of superiority or greatness, when we cancel out the fact that we think we deserve things and we just sit with people – it’s transformative. The mood shifts, the tones are adjusted, the whole air around us is modified into one of love instead of animosity.

When we sit side by side and we care about each other it strengthens the links that bind us, it tosses a rope to one another that we can each grab hold of, it weaves the tapestry of our lives into each others picture and ties it with a tight knot at the end. This can only happen when we choose connection. When we make seeing one another and hearing each others stories the priority over winning a game that doesn’t even exist.

How thankful I am that God  sent His son to connect with us. How thankful I am for the example of how I need to connect with my children in the same way He connects with His. In love and humility. With words that speak I’m with you’s. With grace that abounds. Our imperfect love can still be a reflection of His perfect love no matter how flawed we are. Because flawed we are. As evidenced by the very fact that my tiara will show up again. And I’ll walk through these motions again. And I’ll remember grace – again.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Me Today

I read something this week that bothered me, though I know it to be true. It was about social media and the fact that we only portray the parts of our world that we want to – which is, of course, a hundred thousand billion percent true.

I only tell you what I want you to know.

The article went on to talk about the sunshine factor and how our portrayal was only good. How we put our best foot forward and only talk about the pretty, shiny things in our lives. It was at this point that I wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Nuh huh!”

C’mon, how many times have I told you what an awful job I was doing at something, how I dropped the parenting ball again, how I didn’t make my kid a homemade birthday cake and how I was feeling insecure about everything? Need more – dig through the archives.

So while yes, I choose what I put forward – don’t we all, in all facets of our lives? Just because we see each other face to face doesn’t mean we’re being any more truthful – does it? We can all look pretty put together and plaster on a smile if that’s what we want the world to see, whether it’s online or over coffee.

I was chatting with my son last night, one who is much like me on many levels, and his very unrefined comment was that he couldn’t stand people who were happy all the time. The people who laugh too loud and are always grinning and who always look like they just stepped out of a magazine.

While his judgement is too broad and sweeping – I understood his heart in the matter. And I could nod my head along with his reflections as he talked of people who put forth the perfect life and the perfect kids and who probably sing kumbaya each night together.

Again – unfair, and yes I talked to him about judging people when we don’t know their story but I also heard him. And I agreed with him. I don’t function well under a facade. I don’t live well behind a mask. Yes, I might share too much sometimes but I’d rather the vulnerability of that than the stress of trying to be something I could never be. And something I’m not expected to be. And a picture of someone who doesn’t need Jesus because I’ve got it all together all by themselves. Trust me, I’ve got nothing together by myself.

So with that – I’m here to tell you exactly about how I am. Right now.

There are a few avenues I’m pursuing that are giving me life and joy and passion right now. I love the work that I do. I get to be part of a team that’s goal is to bring help and hope to every marriage and family – it’s an honour.

And I often feel completely incapable. Like I’m winging it amongst professionals and somehow I’ve duped them into thinking I have a handle on it all. I don’t. I’m doing my best and using my gifts but it’s rare that I don’t feel a bit in over my head – at least at some point in my week.

I’m a really great at home mom. Before you hate me for saying those words, let me explain. When my kids get home from school – and we get to sit around on kitchen counters and talk and laugh and discuss our days over random snacks pulled out of various cupboards – I’m a great mom. When it comes to my kids handing me papers to fill out from school, things that are expected of me, having structured homework time and studying for tests – I’m a horrible mom. Don’t argue with me. You have no clue, and it’s true. I expect my kids to do their homework on their own, study on their own, and I’ve never really instilled in them a, ‘let me sit and help you and we’ll get through this together’ vibe. Instead I say things like, “that’s your responsibility and if you need help you need to talk to your teacher.” I love school. I just don’t love doing my kids school. It feels like a lot of work and I pass the buck to their dad or anyone else who may be able to help. I fear I haven’t set them up well for future education.

I’ve been led into a new area of ministry over the past few months and it got real last night as I went for volunteer training at our local federal prison. I don’t know how to explain it but having done prison ministry many (many!) years ago, it felt good to be back within the gated yard and buzzered doors. Everyone is called to different things and somehow I feel like these are my people. These are the women I want to be around. Not to change them or turn them into versions of me but to get to know, to be a face that wants to hear their story, to let them know that they are valuable and worthy of dignity and respect. My heart longs for them to know deeply that they are image bearers of Christ and nothing they have done can keep them from His love. I want them to know that I’m not judging them or coming in with preconceived notions of who they are, but rather – just like on social media – they can present themselves as whomever they wish to be, no judgement, no shame, and no matter what I will be back. I want them to know that I’m not a voyeur wanting an inside scoop on what they’ve done but instead for them to know that they have support from someone outside of those walls.

Think that sounds all good, right? Right. Except I’ve been neglecting my husband as of late. So whatever picture you had of me and sainthood? You can just put a big X through my face. He’s a grown up and so I tend to think he needs me the least. I tend to think he can manage on his own. (which, of course, he can) When life gets busy or other things are more urgent – he’s the first to have to take a back seat with my time and my affection. It sucks for him. Or – I think it does. Cause somehow preparing food for Thanksgiving meals becomes more important than spending time with him, and ministry outside of the home can seem more gratifying than loving him well, and because I know that he’ll be there next week – other imminent things win over putting work into our relationship. And let’s be honest – a working mama with 3 teens and an outside ministry? She’s tired.

I’m also not nailing meals – if you really want to know. Last night was turkey soup (thank you – leftovers) and grilled cheese eaten on the fly and without a vegetable in sight.

I’m pretty sure I said something mean about one of our neighbours yesterday. Like, out loud. And I went in public last week in the clothes I slept in the night before. And I don’t understand the pumpkin spice phenomenon. And I want to bury my head in the sand and not hear another word about American politics for as long as I live and I’m praying Jesus just comes before we know who makes it into office.

There you have it, folks. 1,200 words of your time that you can never get back.

I never want to just put forth the pretty or the good, but I also know I can err on laying out the bad in a way that is unrepentant for it but just laughs because #momfail – neither is good or right. And dare I say this could be a place where the internet gets a bit honest? I think so.

When my kids were in their younger schooling years they had to do something called 3 stars and a wish. They had to basically write down 3 things they were good at and then one thing they hoped to be better at. It annoyed me because I had to help them.

But now I’m thinking it’s kind of awesome. My 3 stars today are this – taking a leap on a new ministry that I feel quite unqualified for, managing to raise 3 boys and keep them alive for so many years and saying no to a few things that I REALLY wanted to say yes to but knew would just take too much from other things I was already committed to. Yay, me!

My wish? That veggies would find their way back to our table beyond the form of baby carrots and that my husband would move back up the veritable list on things of importance. He’s the most important and he needs to know it.

Warning: these could all change by tomorrow!

What are you nailing these days? Tell me your 3 stars and a wish!

Talking to Our Kids About Pornography

Pornography is something that we don’t even want to think about, let alone consider talking to our kids about. But when we open our eyes to the world around us, the digital world in particular, we simply can’t be ignorant about it.

Sexually explicit content is everywhere. Whether it’s the lyrics to a song on the radio, the massive posters at the mall, or right in our very own homes via tv and internet. Thinking that we can avoid it would mean hunkering down in a cave and never embarking out into culture.

Of course that’s not realistic, nor is it sensible. We can’t hide from the world or what’s in it for many reasons but a key one being that our kids certainly aren’t hiding from it! Having a plan to face the culture we encounter is critical. We’re wise when we work to ensure our kids have a plan, as well.

*I’m over at FamilyLife Canada today talking about some great resources for parents in order to help protect their kids from pornography, resources to help you talk to your kids about it and how to make a plan both for you and your child for when they see it. (Unfortunately, it’s not IF anymore, friends.) Read the rest of the article here.

Entitlement + Teens

It’s been just over a week since our boy came back from his missions trip. A week since he travelled across oceans wide to serve in the rough communities of rural Ireland.

While he was away he was run ragged in the best possible way, rising early and going non-stop until pillows beckoned and eyes could stay open no longer.

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While he was away he served with his hands and his feet and his voice in ways that I can’t even count. There was tangible help to elderly, there were races against arrogant children taunting that they could totally beat him, there were choices about simply being a mature teen and staying calm and cool when the locals words made him turn a deep shade of red.

What we wish for our kids when they come back from something like this is that it would continue. That they’d come home and wake up the next morning and ask how they can get involved in their local community. That they’d rise early and make breakfast joyfully for their brothers because they’ve learned that sometimes that’s what serving looks like. That they’d quickly sign up for all of the church groups that are heading out to do great things and they’d rally the troops for family prayer because they don’t know how they’ll get through their day without it.

That’s what we WANT to happen. Of course, it’s not what DOES happen.

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Instead they come home weary and they crawl into their beds and in the morning there are cupboards filled to the brim with their favourite breakfast foods because that’s how we welcome them home. It’s how we want him to feel our love. With stuff. With comfort. With ease. I mean, serving was so hard – but your home now, little one. Come rest and eat some Corn Pops.

And they’re tired because jet lag is a real thing and so we let them laze around for a few days and during that time they reconnect on instagram with all of their friends and they watch a few movies and grab the playstation remotes and we tell them it’s okay, because they’ve worked hard. They’ve done a good thing.

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But all too quickly we’re feeding them a reward program for service and it looks something like being a sloth. Our actions are very clearly depicting that when you do something hard over there, across the world, it’s so nice to be back here in a sterile home with every comfort you could possibly want. You deserve it. Have another pillow. Well done.

Our souls have been restless this past week and we knew that this wasn’t how we wanted to do it. We’ve always taught our kids that being a missionary isn’t for the select few that head across the ocean but it is for all of us. If we are Christ-followers then we are called to make disciples wherever we are, not just the moments we choose, not just the times we head off and feel ready but every moment of every day.

As parents we understand so deeply the difference between telling our children something with our mouths and reinforcing it with our very lives. It’s so easy to tell our kids that missions happens right here. It’s way harder to pick up our cross and show them that it’s true.

By the very words of scripture we know that Jesus did not come to this earth to be served but to serve. But with our very words we’re showing our kids exactly the opposite. We ask things like, “What do you want to do today?” or “You’re bored? What would make you happy?” and we go on to do those very things.

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You want to go to the beach? Let’s go! You want a restful day at home? Done. You want spaghetti for dinner? Here you are! You’re annoyed by your brother? Maybe take some quiet time to regroup by yourself. Maybe put your headphones on so you don’t have to be annoyed. Maybe build a barrier because you don’t deserve to be annoyed. You deserve to be happy. And if it doesn’t make you happy – I know, that person is hard to love, they’re tiring to you, they’re so needy, they make you crazy? Probably you need some boundaries. Don’t let them wear you down. That’s not okay. YOU figure out what YOU need and YOU make sure that noone gets in the ways of YOU!

The words bring on waves of nausea and hurt the deepest part of my head. The disconnect causes turmoil in my heart and tension on every side of figuring out how we’re supposed to live and I think that it’s exactly how it should be.

I never want to feel overly comfortable; finding unending rest  and constant ease in life, I want to wrestle with which way to turn next. Sure, we can find rest in our homes and shut out the needy in the world. It’s easy. Close the door, turn on the tv and eat a bag of chips. We can even take a photo of the moment and broadcast to the world that God has given us so much joy and rest in this season. #blessed

But I can’t help but question if this is really the good life? Is this what we were made for? Jesus tells us the exact opposite but we’re struggling to find the words and actions to show our kids that this is true. Because netflix and popcorn sounds pretty great to them.

We changed our words over the weekend. We gathered the kids around and made it clear that our vocabulary was changing and for good reason. We’re breeding self-absorbed, entitled teens and we don’t like it, want it, and even more it’s not what we’ve been told to teach them. We haven’t been told to give our kids a life of ease and safety and comfort. We haven’t been told that showering them with everything they’ve ever wanted is the way to go. We’ve been given the example of Jesus life and He washed feet, while we play Halo and drink lemonade.

Our vocabulary change was simple. We made the choice, as parents, to change our sentence. No longer was our first mode of thought each day going to be, “What do you want to do today?” but rather, “How can you serve someone today?”

It’s small. It’s just a few words difference. But the entire meaning of how that changes our days is huge!

How can you serve? Here, in our city. Here, in our home. Here, in this country of privilege. Here, in your school where it feels like everyone already has more than you. Here. The place that we’ve been given. The place that God has planted us for now.

We want a paradigm shift and I may be bold in thinking it can happen but I really do. Change a few words, plead with God, feel the tension between the gifts we’ve been given and our self-absorbed nature and focus on what He focused on when He was here on earth.

Serve. There are a thousand ways but that’s another post altogether.

Gifts That Don’t Clutter Up the Closets

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I don’t know if it’s because we’ve always lived in relatively small spaces. Maybe it’s because we have 3 kids close in age all of the same gender. But at some point along our parenting path we decided that we simply didn’t need any more stuff.

I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to decor, I’ve worked on it in the clothing realm and there’s something that just makes me so happy when I have an empty shelf here and there.

We never want to live beyond our means, in fact, we want to live below our means, because giving and helping are things we always want to be able to say yes to. This means not spending a bunch of money on knick knacks or fast fashion. It also means not wanting to clutter up our kids rooms and lives with all of the things that they may think they need.

Spoiler alert for parents with littles: They don’t need all of the things. They’ll never play with all of the things. Most of the things will be fun for about 3 days and then forgotten.

Add that up with the whole landfill debacle and we’ve decided that most often when we give gifts to our children it’s going to be in the form of an experience over toys. Turns out, when we do this, they can even remember from year to year what they received as a gift. If you want to be disheartened as a parent, simply ask your child what that awesome thing was that you got them for their birthday last year. Odds are, they have no clue!

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This was our youngest boys latest birthday gift. Baseball tickets!

It is sometimes hard to come up with various age appropriate experiences but we’ve managed to find a number of good ones along the way.

Some of our favourites when they were little were trips to a zoo in another city, maybe one bigger or better than our local one, excursions like Science World or even the Waterslides which we don’t just do as a norm. When you’re a family of 5 these things can cost well over $100.00 for a day and so we make them special and give them as gifts.

We’ve also gifted nights in a hotel, which they think is super fun (think pool, morning cartoons, extravagant breakfast – all out of the norms for us!), concert tickets to a band that they’re into, or tickets to a play. We usually save the play for a Christmas gift because it’s a fun thing to do together over the holidays.

One year for Christmas we nixed presents altogether (except for the hoodie/sock/book combo which are really necessities) and went on a snowboarding vacation. Another birthday we gifted hockey or baseball tickets.

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All of these add up to be fun family times that our kids value, appreciate, and talk of often. I assure you, they never talk about how exciting it was to get that video game 5 years ago or that monster truck that time. Those things are sitting buried at the bottom of a closet somewhere and long forgotten. But the memory of the time spent together through experiences are something they drawn on time and again.

If you’re worried your kids will miss the stuff – they might at first. But when you make the event extra fun, choose something you know they’ll love and talk about it for months after, they’ll soon realize the value of it too.

Spend Canada Day Unplugged

I’ve been thinking a bunch lately about the hours that we miss connecting in our family because of devices. It’s not even that any of us are on them all that much. Okay, my husband and I both work on computers all day but I’m talking this-doesn’t-earn-a-paycheck sort of device time.

If I spend an hour a day checking personal email, instagram or reading blogs, it doesn’t necessarily seem bad. But if I spend my hour at 4 and my kids spend their hour at 7 and hubs spends his hour (he doesn’t have an ‘hour’ but you know what I mean) at 8 then it adds up. That’s 3 solid hours of time where one of us is disengaged. That’s 3 hours when we aren’t chatting or connecting. Suddenly an hour of time feels like so much more.

I want to find ways and days for our family just to completely unplug. No phones around and no iPads binging. I truly never thought this would be an issue for us but with 3 teens in the house, turns out I was a bit naive.

I’m thinking that choosing a holiday is a great place to start. Spend the day completely unplugged. Be engaged with our families for hours on end in a way we once were without it inducing panic or a feeling of great loss. Phones weren’t always a thing! Of course, there are a million ways we can disengage. Technology certainly isn’t the only culprit. It’s just the one most prevalent.

These are some things I’d be down for on the upcoming holiday!

  1. Attend a Local Canada Day Parade or Party – Communities across Canada put on super festive celebrations on our country’s birthday. This could mean lining up early to get good seats for a parade, attending a festival complete with face painting and mini golf, or staying up late to watch fireworks. The important part is to leave the phone and devices at home. Parents, this goes for you and the kids!
  1.  Pack a Picnic and Head Somewhere Beautiful – If being a part of the crowds isn’t your thing on Canada Day, pack up a picnic lunch and find somewhere a little further out, off the beaten path, to spend your day.  Maybe your family has a hike they like to do, or a beach you enjoy visiting, or even just head to the local park with a frisbee and a soccer ball. The fun part will be spending time together without constantly checking texts or emails or being disturbed by a ring tone. Lay out a blanket and find shapes in the clouds, eat sandwiches and watermelon and just enjoy being together.
  1.  Make a Big Breakfast – Can’t seem to make it out of the house on this holiday? That’s fine. You can plan an at home day that still feels special by leaving the tv and iPad’s off. Start by working together on a great breakfast. Waffles and bacon is always our fave. Or treat them to overnight cinnamon rolls. Then pull out a board game or if you have littles, build a fort together or play a fun game of hide and seek in the dark. You don’t have to leave the house to make it feel spectacular. Simply giving each other undivided attention for the whole day without the interruption of devices will be special enough.

Yes, you may have to work at coming up with conversation to fill the voids that facebook usually covers. Yes, you might miss checking out what your friend had for dinner by ignoring Instagram for the day. Sure, you may even have extra emails to reply to on Monday – whatever! Let our kids know that we value them far above what social media has to offer. And remember they’re always watching, so let’s lead by example. If we can leave our phones tucked away and still have fun – surely so can they!

Teens + Missions

I’ve done this before. You’d think I’d know the drill by now. That I could be cool and all, oh whatever, about it. But I can’t. Evidenced by the fact that it’s the middle of the night and I’m still up watching my flight tracking app. That little plane tick, ticking across the world on my screen. It’s the worst when it’s just directly above ocean.

I put my boy on a plane today. A thirteen hour flight across the world, his first time away from home for more that 5 days of summer camp. A whole month of not hugging me before bed, a whole month of not hearing the words – Hey mom! Check out this meme! A month of not watching 24 with him. A month of not hearing that deep voice and laughing over the hair that’s accumulating on his legs.

I shouldn’t have written that last paragraph. *gulp*

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For some reason, I dread them being up in the air though I know it’s safer than walking down the sidewalk. For some reason I can’t sleep well, I toss and turn, until I know their feet are on solid ground. Once they hit earth (gently) I know it’s nothing but adventure and I can’t be fearful anymore. Because who wants to be worrying about someone who’s having the time of their life?  Not me.

It’s the first spreading of wings, a trip like this. The first time they get to be who they are out in the world without us whispering from the sidelines. The first time they get to choose what they’re going to eat and if they’re going to brush their teeth and how they’re going to interact with people and if they’ll use their manners at all.

It’s times like this we hope we’ve taught them well. It’s times like this we hope they were listening.

 

From their littlest years until now we’ve been filling up their backpack. In one zippered pouch is personal hygiene, in another is emotional stability, and that one over there holds the wisdom of God’s word. There are pockets filled with how to treat others and make them feel welcome and others lined with how to stand up for yourself and be confident in who you’ve been made to be. There’s a secret compartment that carries the conversations about love and relationships and the butterflies that may enter your tummy when certain girls talk to you. There are patches sewn on with life verses and family phrases and reminders of what we stand for.

Day by day of his life we’ve been filling the backpack. Now as he’s off in the world, without us right there to guide him, he has it to draw from. He knows what each pocket and zipper hold and it’s up to him to use what he’s been given. To pull it out when he needs it, to gain strength just from knowing it’s there, or to leave it tucked away.

We pray that he has the resources to soar. We long for him to live this adventure with integrity and with wisdom. We pray that he’s been loved so well, his natural inclination is to show love. We pray that he’s been discipled in a way that will help him now disciple others. We pray that the plane on the flight tracker keeps ticking along until it lands safely in Dublin. We still just really pray that he brushes his teeth.

When You Might Seem Fickle [and a winner!]

It’s not that I give up, per se, it’s just that there are so many amazing things in the world that I have a hard time deciding how to spend my time in all of them.

Because how do you choose which food is your favourite when the variety that is offered around the globe is so vast? How does one broaden their palate if they only ever eat cheese pizza?

I contend it isn’t even wise to choose only one past time that all of your hours are devoted to, because how will you ever get to partake in all of the other fun things?  Or even learn that they exist?

Some might call it fickle, I call it varied. Some say it’s because I lack stick-to-itness, I say it’s a broad scope.

If I only ever chose one author I’d still be reading Nancy Drew and not Carol Shields or Francis Schaeffer. If there were simply one way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I would always have my nose in a book and never venture out into the woods or wander the rows at the Farmer’s Market or see the ocean. If I could only choose one person I’d still just have Anita Kurki (Love you!!) and never have met all of the Jenn’s (and Gen’s) and all of the Lisa’s and all of the Sarah’s and everyone else in between.

Keeping options open in life makes it interesting and challenging and a constantly shifting tide. It means we can never get too comfortable before we step out and try something new.  It means that our days are a constant adventure and our nights are spent dreaming of all of the cool things we get to experience.

There is one thing though, that I never want to be fickle on, or change my mind on, or broaden my horizons on to see if there’s anything else that could replace the current position of favourite.  Marriage.

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Because when we said we would 19 years ago today, we meant that we would.  When we committed our lives and our hearts to each other it meant that we wouldn’t keep peering around to see if something else outranked our choice.  When we placed those rings on each others fingers and kissed that kiss in front of a cheering church full of friends and family we said that we were each other’s it.  That’s it. That’s all. No looking. No turning. No running. No mind changing. No giving up. No it’s too hard. No I want something shinier. No that might be better.

Our marriage has seen it all.  I dare you to challenge that.  The hardest of hards.  The unpacked baggage. The how will we ever get past this’s. But when we made that decision before Christ we said that this was it and this was the one, come what may.

19 years in and here we are.

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Thank you, Earl, for being the one decision on this earth that I’m not fickle varied about. Thank you for being a man of your word, someone who said forever and meant it. Thank you for loving me more than Lego and Star Wars.

**The winner of the giveaway is Niki Rooke! Please send me a message with your address and I’ll mail out your charcoal cleansing bar.

Parenting + Grace + Watchful Eyes of the World

The longer I’ve parented the more grace I’ve learned to have. I wish so much I could have had it back when my kids were wee and I just needed them to listen so badly because I was tired. I wish I could have had more of it when their friends came over that I didn’t really care that much for. I wish I could have had more when they made big mistakes.

But it’s hard to parent in front of a watching world.

I’m ashamed to admit the times when my tykes were little and I parented more for the other parents watching, than for their good. Maybe when what they needed was not to be scolded but a hug. Maybe when they really didn’t need to share that toy but I made them anyway, so that others would see how kind they were and, in turn, what a good Mom I must have been.

It’s taken years and I’m far from knowing any ultimate truths on the matter but I do know this. I don’t want to parent for the rest of the world, for the watchful eyes, or the nosey neighbours.  I’m not interested in parenting for the social media masses or for that woman in the grocery store who always has something to say.

I want to parent for my children, for their ultimate well-being, their good and their growth. I want to parent before Christ and teach them His ways and be a conduit of His love and show them unending mercy when they fail.

Because Lord knows I fail.

It doesn’t get easier when they’re big. Sure, I don’t have to tell them not to hit or bite anymore. Those days are long over. But the stakes? Well, they feel so much higher. And the eyes? Well, they seem to bore holes all the more.

I’m making up my mind now. The way I’ve always taught my boys to do. I’m creating a plan of reaction for the really big stakes.

Because how will I be able to show them grace when they crash the car if I don’t have a plan?  And how am I going to  journey with them through the depths when I find alcohol on their breath or condoms in their pockets? What about when they speak words I promise they never learned from me and I’m embarrassed that some other parent out there heard it.  What happens when I find things in their search engines I really wish I hadn’t and what about when the mall security calls telling me that they didn’t pay for what was in their bag?  Or when they fail a class? Or when they’re the bully?  Or the jerk?  Or the heartbreaker? Or what about when they have doubts and walk away from the faith we’ve taught them so diligently?

How can I show love and have grace and journey alongside them if I don’t figure it out now. If I don’t commit to not worrying about what whispering lips have to say and care only about the safety and love of my children.

Mama’s of littles, raise those babies up the way you’re convicted to raise them and don’t think two-seconds about what everyone else in the restaurants stares seem to say.

Mama’s of in-betweens, love those awkward, gangly messes who put together strange outfits and speak in a dialect that you don’t understand and be proud of who they are becoming.

Mama’s of teens, hug them hard even if they think they’re too big and show them that you’re with them, in all of it, no matter what the mess. Show them that you love them and that this is your journey too and you won’t ever leave their side, come what may.

Our kids of all ages need us to be their safe harbour. They need us to look them in the eye and tell them we love them. They need us to care less about the concerns of the world and more about them. They need us to put the phone down, turn netflix off, step aside from our work, leave the cleaning, the book, the shopping or the sleep we think we need.

They’re going to make decisions we don’t want them to make. They may even mess up beyond repair. And all the while, their watchful eyes will be wondering if we’ll be there for them through it all. Make sure they know that we will.

Let’s be ambassadors of Christ’s love. Let’s never give up on them like He’s never given up on us. Let’s be patient the way He’s patient and love the way He loves.

“…with a never ending, never giving up, unstopping, always and forever love.” -Sally Lloyd-Jones from The Jesus Storybook Bible.

 

**Last day to enter the giveaway!  What give away, you ask?  Check it out here!

Teaching Kids Kindness

teach kids to be kind

We work through various themes in our family. They seem to change about as often as the seasons and so, as we pack away our winter jackets and pull out flip flops, we also reevaluate what’s going on in our hearts and lives.

This season it’s all about kindness. Mainly because, there isn’t a lot of kindness going on.

I’m not a fan of simple behaviour modification with my boys. I know that it seems great in the moment. It’s nice to see my child say sorry to someone they’ve just hurt. My mama heart can swell with pride when I see a boy give up something they want for the sake of another. But all too often, it isn’t from the right heart…….Read More Here.

I’m over on FamilyLife Canada today, talking about how to teach our kids to be kind.

p.s. There’s a give away going on!  Check it out by clicking right here!