One Lesson I Hope to Teach My Children

For those of you who aren’t aware, much of Texas has been “closed” for the last few days as we’ve had record low temperatures combined with a nice mix of icy rain and snow. Our residents and city infrastructure, well able to handle the high heat and humidity of summer, are ill-equipped to cope with icy roads and freezing water pipes. Give us mosquitoes the size of dragonflies and air thick enough to stop your breath – no problem. But temperatures in the 20s for more than 24 hours? Nope. Just nope.

Texas closed for weather

Because of that, for the last few days we’ve been stuck inside just trying to stay warm and not go crazy. There have been lots of board games, movie marathons, a memorable episode of skype charades with out-of-town cousins, and the constant pleas for snacks by four bored children.

During our 17,000,000th game of Settlers of Catan (a strategy game) today, I realized that there is one thing I really hope my kids leave home with when that day finally comes – which I know will be sooner than I would like!

Family should always have each other’s back.

The oldest two girls and I were playing the game while their dad entertained the 5 year old with a hilarious game of Barbies. What kind of Ken loses his boat license because of an unfortunate incident between a trash can and a raccoon? (Apparently a Ken that is played by my husband).

dads playing dolls, family sticks together

As we were playing Catan, my two oldest decided they were “enemies.” They worked to sabotage each other’s strategies, and constantly refused to help or trade with one another. They weren’t fighting or bickering, they just seemed to enjoy getting in each other’s way.

In fact, they were so focused on making sure that the other sister lost, that they completely missed it when I snuck up and won with three points to spare.

After cackling about my win (yes, we’re one of those families) I got to thinking about how my girls were so intent on stopping each other from winning, that they were oblivious to the fact that I was coming up behind them.

How often in life do I do that? How often do I focus on what other people are doing or being or achieving that I don’t see the opportunities or challenges that are right in front of me? How often do I compare what I am doing with what a friend, stranger or even family member is doing, and think I need to compete? And how often do I look at my family members as competitors rather than partners?

I don’t want that for my kids.

I don’t want them to look at each other as negative competition or a duty on family reunion weekends.

I want them to know, absolutely, that they can always count on their family. I want them to know that if no one else is on their side, their family will stand up for them. If no one else wants to help them, their family will be there. If no one else will listen, understand or answer truthfully, their family will be encouraging, honest and open.

family unity

They don’t always have to agree on everything. In fact, that would be pretty weird and annoying if they did. They don’t have to think every decision their siblings make is right and perfect. They don’t even have to always get along.

However, I want them to know that their family isn’t going anywhere. I want them to know it intellectually at ages 8 and 11, but viscerally at 22 and 25. I want them to call each other to vent and laugh. I want them to drop what they’re doing and travel three hours at 2:00 in the morning if they get the call. I want them to help each other move apartments, love each other’s kids and pray fervently for one another.

I want them to have each other’s back.

(Except when they’re playing Catan against their mom).

family sticks together

Marry the Man Who Makes You Coffee

I sat slowly on the couch, blearily rubbing sleep from my eyes and blinking to try to bring the living room into focus. My knee was throbbing slightly from running into the door jamb again, and I moaned quietly about having to be up before the sun.

Then I heard it. The wonderful, mood-altering sound of liquid being poured came from the next room. The spoon clinked musically against the rim of my favorite porcelain mug. I knew it would be my favorite mug – my Mommy mug with all of my children’s faces on it – because it always is.

As my husband’s footsteps drew nearer, I could smell the bittersweet aroma of coffee, the only thing that could shock this night owl into wakefulness before dawn. I took the mug, inhaled deeply, and took that first sip of liquid heaven.

I haven’t always been a coffee drinker. As a matter of fact, I never particularly cared for the stuff at all, until I got married.

On our honeymoon, since we wanted to spend every moment together, I started joining my new husband in his morning cup of coffee. I had no idea how to make it, so I relied on him, my resident expert, to make that first cup for me. He added the cream and sugar I requested, while grimacing in distaste of what that would do to such a fine roast. We sat together in a sunny spot with our matching hotel mugs, watching our shiny new rings glint as we drank quietly together on that first full day of our new future.

Almost 15 years and four kids later, and my husband still makes that first cup of coffee for me.

It’s not so much about spending time together anymore, since by the time I get up in the morning my husband has usually already had his coffee, fed the dogs and had his quiet time. I’m still a blinking zombie when he gets up to get ready for work. On those days that he has to leave before I get up, he pours the cream and sugar in my mug, sets it by the coffee pot, and puts a spoon out for me to stir. However, that first cup that he makes me means so much more to me now than it did when I was a young 23 year old with no idea what the future would bring.

advice for marriage

That mug of coffee is my husband saying, I love you.

I love you even though you’re 15 years older now.

I love you with your bed head and your morning breath.

I love you even though we had a fight yesterday and went to bed angry.

I love you even though I just watched you run into a wall that hasn’t moved in all the years we have lived here.

I love you when I’m running late and need to focus on my own stuff.

I love you even though your body reflects the badges and battle scars of four pregnancies.

I love you enough to know what you need and what you like, and to provide it for you without you having to ask for it.

I love you enough to give.

I love you enough to serve.

There are so many days in this season of life that we don’t see each other much. Between busy work schedules, an increasing number of activities and commitments for our children, not to mention evening meetings for our different volunteer work, there have been days when we won’t see each other for 16 or more hours after that morning kiss goodbye. By the time we get home, get the children in bed and finally have a few minutes of quiet, there is a solid chance one or the other of us will fall asleep on the couch within ten minutes of sitting down. Those first days of our honeymoon, with unlimited time and meandering walks on the beach, are a fond and distant memory.

On those days, those ships passing in the night days, when the best we can do is an end-of-the-day reminder that dinner has been kept warm on the stove, my morning cup of coffee is a touchstone for me. It says, I’m here. I’m still with you. I love you.

marriage, a love story

So marry the one who brings you coffee. Marry the one who will take the time to give you the things you need. Perhaps, for you, it’s not coffee. Maybe it’s a hug at the end of a long day. Or a break from the children while you take some time for yourself. Perhaps it’s a full tank of gas when you start the car, even though the fuel light was on the day before. Maybe it’s recognizing that you were out of milk and picking it up before coming home, or a surprise candy bar on a hard day. It could be holding hands during a movie in a dark theater, or watching a game with you and wearing your team’s colors.

Whatever it is, whatever that small thing or gesture or gift may be for you, recognize it for what it is.

I’m here. I’m still with you. I love you.

 

love, marriage

The Christmas With No Toys

She sat there calmly. Not crowding around the tree with her cousins and siblings, searching for a tag with her name on it.

She watched it all with a small, contented smile, cheering when her sister got the doll she wanted and waiting patiently for her turn.

She laughed at the adult jokes being tossed around, and pulled her young cousin on her lap when he tried to sneak into the kitchen for more cinnamon cake.

Her boxes were significantly smaller this year. Each thing she opened was packed carefully to the side, out of the way of stampeding toddlers and over eager preschoolers.

There were clothes, shoes, soft blankets and a couple of sophisticated electronic devices. Decorations for her room. Jewelry. Gift cards. Books.

There were no toys. No dolls. No remote control cars. No brightly colored, plastic, noise-making things. The only gift remotely toy-like was a scooter – a scooter that was made for adults. When I asked her why she wanted one, she told me she needed more exercise. (I’m not sure that really counts as a toy.)

I don’t know quite when it hit me that my big girl could no longer really be called a child. Maybe it was when I looked through her gifts and realized that I would have liked to have received some of them myself.

Part of me wants those childlike days back. I want to shower her with Barbies and princess games. I want to play dress up and tea party, and snuggle up on the couch for an episode of My Little Pony.

The rest of me, though, is fiercely proud of who she’s becoming. I love her grit and her grace. I love watching her think through problems and help her younger siblings with theirs. I love that she makes witty comments and occasional dry remarks.

She likes to read, fish and write poetry. She likes to play strategy games and watch YouTube videos. She uses adult coloring books and helps her brother with his tooth brush.

I don’t particularly enjoy the hormone surges, the emotional explosions and the retreating to her room, but I understand them. I understand the need for solitude in the face of crazy because I have felt that need myself.

She’s changing. In amazing, astounding and wonderful ways. I’ve seen it happening over this past year, but this Christmas it finally hit me – that little girl is gone. That little girl trying on my high heels, with sticky fingers and a sparkly tiara. She’s not coming back. I’ll only see her in my memories and the few pictures I took as I followed in her wake.

But this almost teenager – she’s here now. And she’s pretty awesome. I’m so excited to get to know her, too.

Tweens and teens

I wrote a bit about these growing pains (mostly mine!) in a post published on Her View From Home. It’s called Those Little Hands Change But Mine Stay the Same. I would love it if you checked it out!

 

The Toddler Guide to Taking Over the World

toddler destruction of a parent's world

By: A Toddler

Welcome fellow toddlers. After spending the entire two and a half years of my life committing myself to extensive research, experimentation and play group interviews, I have put together this guide that will ensure a New World Order in your own home. Follow these step by step instructions, and along with me, you will finally plant the flag in the center of your universe.

Step 1: Destroy the Existing Infrastructure

As any supreme dictator or alien invasion force will tell you, the easiest way to take over an existing civilization is by crumbling the very foundations the society is built on. A toddler’s weapons of mass destruction may seem innocent – we’re just tiny humans, after all – but don’t be fooled. When used properly, these small hands and feet are capable of huge amounts of damage.

As soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning, the world is your oyster. Pull dishes out of cabinets. Color on the walls. Dump every single color-coordinated basket of toys out in the middle of the floor, mix them all up, and stand back and laugh while the mom tries to reorganize. Occasionally pick up one of the toys and throw it across the room. You get extra points if you hit a pet.

When laundry is being put away, walk behind and take all of the clothes out of the drawers. Laugh and make it a game, carrying armfuls of previously-folded clothing down the hall and into the kitchen while the mom chases you.

Throw balls at light fixtures, flush random objects down the toilet, and hide the dad’s watch underneath the kitchen sink. When he asks you where the watch is, act like you’re going to lead him to it as you revisit every room in the house.

Find the water dispenser on the refrigerator and push it, often – using a cup beneath it is optional. Throw food at the wall, on the dog and across the table. (Pro tip: be sure to smile often as to avoid annoying time-outs).

This may seem like it would get tiring after a while, but you’ll be surprised at how much energy you have for demolition after even the longest of days.

Step 2: Establish Dominance

Once you have the mom and dad running from place to place just trying to clean up from the destruction you have caused, it’s time to show them who is boss.

Be aware that it’s helpful to let them think they are still in charge for as long as possible before you pull the rug out from under them. There is generally less resistance that way.

My advice is to start small. When getting rocked to sleep at night, start by asking for your favorite stuffed animal. Once that is part of the routine, add a blanket. Continue in this manner until the only way you can be “successfully put to bed” is if you are rocked for 15 minutes with a stuffed animal, blanket, hug THEN kiss (in that order or no deal) and with your feet pointing a certain way. Get creative! Feel free to add particular prayers, nightlights and lullabies to the hoops that must be jumped through.

Meal time is another wonderful opportunity to show the parents that you’re running things. Ask for macaroni and cheese one day. Eat it all and request more. The next time it’s served, refuse to eat it. Act incredibly offended that it would be placed on your plate. Demand chicken instead. When the chicken is served, eat two bites and then push the rest away.

Only drink milk. From a red cup. At night. Water must be given in the green cup, unless you’re at the park, and then only the blue cup will do. Throw yourself on the ground in tears if your demands aren’t met.

Step 3: Eat a Snack

What? Snacks are important. You have to keep your energy up for world domination.

Step 4: Exhaust the Masses

When taking over the world, it’s important to not underestimate the intelligence of your future subjects. They’re smart. They’ve been around the block a few times, they have developed an impressive radar for lies, and they possess mysterious eyes in the backs of their heads. In order to make completely sure they won’t realize you have taken over until it’s too late, it’s best to think strategically.

What is the best tactic to get past their canny adult brains? Exhaust them. Make them so sleep deprived, worn-out and dependent on coffee, that they just don’t have the energy to do much more than survive the day-to-day. In the world domination business, this state is called the “sleepwalking zombie.”

One excellent way to accomplish this phase of the plan is to build on your already established, drawn-out bedtime routine. After the parents finally do everything correct to get you to sleep, take a nice power nap and then call for them right as you hear them heading to bed themselves. You don’t even need a reason to be awake. In fact, it can be fun to make them guess why you’re awake and try different things to get you to go back to bed. Repeat throughout the night as often as possible.

Another useful tactic will be the endless amounts of energy you enjoy. You will find that the parents don’t have nearly as much stamina as you do. Run everywhere. Climb all the time. Twirl, jump, dance, play, and ask that they join you. When they take you to an outdoor activity in order to tire you out (the parents can be sneaky that way), it’s a good idea to fall asleep once you get in the car for the trip home. Wake up as soon as you arrive, and laugh at the idea that you can be transferred into your bed for a nap.

Step 5: Make Your Subjects Love You

This is the most important step in your quest to take over the world. After all, what fun is it to rule if your subjects don’t like you? Luckily, this last step is also the easiest.

The parents in your life already love you more than you can imagine. They think the sun rises and sets on your precious face. When you were a baby, they gazed at you in awe that someone so beautiful and perfect could ever come from them. They know the curves of your cheeks and the dimples in your hands. They think your belly laughs are more adorable than kitten and puppy videos, and they will do the most ridiculous things to make you chuckle.

Even in the midst of their exhaustion, stress and shock over the state of their new reality, they will love you unconditionally and without exception.

They actually want to care for you. They want to make sure you’re healthy, fed, well-rested and taught the right things about life. They want the absolute best for you.

When you call, they will answer. When you smile, they will smile back.

When you learn something new they will rejoice with you, praising you for how smart and strong you are.

When you curl up in their laps with tears streaming down your face, they will hold you gently, murmuring quiet words to make you feel better.

When you kiss their cheeks and wrap your sturdy arms around their necks, they will want to hold you forever and protect you from the world.

Little do they know…you now rule their world.

Toddlers Guide to World Domination

Christmas Confession

I have a confession to make.

I was not looking forward to Christmas this year. I wasn’t counting down the days until I could play carols in public. I wasn’t eagerly rearranging my furniture to make room for 16 boxes of decorations and a seven foot tree. I wasn’t making wish lists, thinking about new cookie recipes to try, or digging through the back of my closet for my Christmas themed shirts.

As a matter of fact, I was dreading it.

There, I said it. Dreading. It.

When invitations to Christmas parties, concerts, musicals, plays and family fun events started flooding in, I shuddered – not because I don’t love being invited or the people doing the inviting, but because I just wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready for all the things on top of the mountain of other things.

I didn’t want to search my computer for my Christmas card address list because I can never remember where I saved it. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle and mess of cleaning up ceramic snowmen that a certain two year old decided to throw against the wall. I didn’t want the extra traffic, the extra work or the extra expense.

I was Scrooge this year.

Or, as my husband would say, “Oh good golly, this moose was NOT jolly.”

It wasn’t until we were hauling all of the decorations out of the attic and I made a remark about not getting a real tree this year that I realized my inner grumbling had slipped past my filter and spilled out onto my kids.

Time froze. A lone jingle bell rolled forlornly down the stairs. The look of horror on my eight year old’s face would have been comical if it hadn’t been directed my way. My husband, because he’s smarter than the average bear, remained completely silent in the attic.

No tree?” was the appalled whisper from a little girl in Christmas pajamas, with a mop of un-brushed hair covered by a too-large Santa hat.

As I looked into those big blue eyes, I didn’t feel an overwhelming flood of Christmas spirit. I didn’t suddenly want to sing Jingle Bells and watch A Christmas Story. I didn’t get the immediate urge to deck the halls and whip up some egg nog.

However, I did realize that I had a choice to make.

I could keep going the way I was. Putting on a brave face and trudging through the holiday. I could grudgingly go shopping, hang garland and put up lights.

Or, I could choose joy.

choose joy this christmas

Not for myself, but for these four little ones that start talking about Christmas in January. For these kids that look at the tree and don’t see the dried needles falling off that have to be swept daily, but see the fun and experience of decorating it. They look forward to pulling out their baby ornaments and arguing over who puts the tree topper up.

They help hang Christmas lights on the house and don’t care about missing bulbs, tangled strands or blown fuses. They see the colors draped on the bushes, and giggle at the purple plastic ornaments hanging from the redbud by our mailbox.

They ask for stories about Christmas traditions when my husband and I were kids. They relive favorite gifts given and received, and speculate about what candy will be in the advent calendar tomorrow. They talk about whom we’re going to help this year and who is going to help us. They arrange and rearrange the nativity sets, and tell the Christmas story to their baby brother.

They’re not worried about hassle, mess and money.

They see joy, family and Jesus.

So even though there’s still a small element of “fake it till you make it” in my holiday prep this year, I’m going to choose joy for these kids. I’m going to sing carols, send cards and decorate cookies. I’m going to dance to Little Drummer Boy and rock out to Transiberian Orchestra. I’m going to continue the traditions that they love so much, and maybe a little of that Christmas spirit will start to come back for me.

So if you need me, I’ll be digging out those Christmas shirts from the back of my closet.

change dread to joy this Christmas

The Day My Husband Put Me in Time Out

It was one of THOSE days. You know the ones I’m talking about? Those days where everything that can go wrong, does. Those days where you start out chuckling about the chaos, and end up laughing hysterically with tears rolling down your face. Those days where, about halfway through, you are desperately calling out to God for a do-over.

The toddler launched his cereal across the dining room table because the milk was too wet.

The five-year-old screamed and cried because I insisted she wear matching shoes to school.

The toilet overflowed around lunch time because “someone” had put an entire roll of toilet paper in there and then tried to flush. Three times.

 

By the time my husband walked in the door at 6 p.m., I had about reached my limit.

Read more at Her View From Home.

motherhood, time out, marriage

Christmas Gifts That Give Back

It can get tricky for my family during the holidays when it comes to giving gifts. It seems sometimes that we spend all year trying to teach gratitude for what we have and generosity for others, and then the Christmas season comes around and the first thing we ask the kids is, “What do you want for Christmas?” Of course, because they’re kids, the answers usually have to do with the newest electronic, hottest toy or “that thing from the show with the guy. You know what I’m talking about, Mom?”

Christmas gifts that give back

I often feel conflicted because I recognize how blessed we are with what we have and I realize there are so many out there who are in need. However, I’m not going to lie, I love giving my kids gifts. I love seeing their faces light up when they see the presents start to accumulate under the tree. I love watching them count and shake and speculate on what is inside. I even enjoy the chaos of Christmas morning when there is paper all over the floor, squeals of excitement and a desperate search for batteries that weren’t included.

Christmas gifts that help others

In light of that conflict, over the years I’ve compiled a list of companies and organizations that provide a way to satisfy that desire to give gifts to my children and family members, but that also benefit others in our community or around the world.

In case you find yourself in a similar position this Christmas, here is a list of gifts and companies that have a mission to help others with each purchase you make.

(None of these are affiliate links – I don’t receive anything if you buy from these companies. This is purely my own opinion based on what we have done in the past).

Christmas gifts that give back

Purchase Effect

Purchase Effect was begun by a friend of mine who is a missionary named Connie Rock, who had a vision to help people around the world with one purchase at a time. Her and her team buys the products from people in countries around the world who make them in order to feed themselves and keep their families off the streets. A portion of all profits go to charity. You can buy things ranging from jewelry and bags to wallets and wall hangings online, or if you’re lucky enough to live in Gainesville, Georgia you can visit their brick and mortar store (I hear there are some awesome boots there).

Trades of Hope

Trades of Hope is similar to Purchase Effect in that all of their products are made by women in countries around the world who make these products in order to escape poverty, or as they recover from the trauma of sex trafficking. A portion of the proceeds from purchases go to charities which help girls who have been trafficked. Trades of Hope is a direct marketing company, so you may know a distributor personally, but you can also purchase directly from their website.

Truth Tales

Truth Tales is a compilation of 15 children’s folktales from India, edited by a friend of mine who is a missionary. The stories are sweet and easy to read, and like most folktales, are followed by a moral. They reflect a rich culture, and are written in a way that children of all ages will enjoy and understand. The profits from sales of Truth Tales will go to build schools in the remotest villages in India and SriLanka. If you are looking for a gift for an elementary-aged child, or you want to help out this beautiful ministry, you can purchase the book here.  If you would like to read my review of the book, you can see that here.

Amazon Smile

If you’re anything like me, you can’t do Christmas shopping without going to Amazon at least once. This year, when you do your online shopping, try going through Amazon Smile. You can still use your Amazon Prime benefits, you still get the same Amazon prices, but on qualifying purchases Amazon gives .5% of the purchase to a charitable organization that you choose. It may not seem like much, but for many of these organizations every dollar counts!

Buy Local

Not to take away from Target, the mall, or other big box stores, but another thing we do is try to buy at least some of our gifts from local, family owned businesses. When you buy from your local shops you are only helping your local economy. Also, don’t overlook your friends that are distributors for direct marketing companies. I have a number of friends who use that to supplement their family income, so if you want to get a gift that will make your sister-in-law happy but will also help a friend buy gifts for her children, why not do both at the same time?

Christmas gifts that give back

Donate Gifts to Relief Organizations

Another option, especially for people who don’t want gifts or who already have everything they need, is to go through various organizations that offer gifts that directly go to less fortunate families around the world. Compassion, Samaritan’s Purse and Heifer International have paper gift catalogs you can print or order. We have our children go through these just like they do the popular toys catalogs, and they circle the gifts they want on their Christmas list.

For instance, one year my daughter asked to give a chicken for Christmas, and so we donated the $14 in her name for a family to receive a dozen baby chicks. It was fun to see her open up her card that year and get excited because another family was getting chickens because of her.

The gifts at these sites range in price from very low, like $7 to protect one child from parasites, to much larger, such as a $500 heifer  that can change an entire family’s life. The three sites that I have used and would recommend are: CompassionSamaritan’s Purse, and Heifer International.

 

holiday shopping that helps others

20 Reasons My Toddler Hates Me

Ok, I know that seems pretty dramatic. I also know that when my two year old yells and throws himself on the floor to get away from me that he doesn’t really hate me. HOWEVER, when all I want to do is walk downstairs with him and he tries to push me back and says “stay!” it feels like less than love, you know? I’ve been doing some in depth observations to try to figure out why he is constantly reacting this way, and here is what I have come up with.

  1. I opened his granola bar the wrong direction when he handed it to me.
  2. One of the fruit snacks got stuck to the bottom of the package.
  3. I wouldn’t let him jump from the top of the couch onto the dog’s back.
  4. I made him lunch.
  5. While playing cars, I touched the red car. Never ever touch the red car.
  6. I made him get off the kitchen counter when he climbed up there to get to the candy bowl.
  7. I said “no” to the fifth episode of Elmo.
  8. His milk was too wet.
  9. I took away the bat when he hit his sister with it. And the window. And the tv.
  10. I flipped on the light switch without letting him try first.
  11. When I tucked him in I didn’t cover his feet with his blanket.
  12. The dog ate his lunch when he threw his plate on the floor.
  13. I took away the sharpie.
  14. I buckled him in his car seat.
  15. I wiped his nose.
  16. When he threw the ball in the air it came down and landed on his head.
  17. I took the bunch of grapes he had grabbed from the refrigerator out of his hand, gave him a few in a bowl, then scolded him when he lost his temper and threw them at me.
  18. I turned on the vacuum cleaner.
  19. The throw rug got in the way of him dragging a chair to the counter with the cookie jar. And I wouldn’t move it out of the way for him.
  20. I made him wear pants.

Please tell me I’m not alone here. Anyone else have a toddler that hates them?

when my young child seems to hate me during a tantrum

Love Anyway: What I’m Telling My Kids About the Church Shooting

I started this morning watching my girls get ready for church. They stood next to each other in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing their hair and talking about the things young girls talk about in the morning.

sutherland springs church shooting, why is there evil, love one another

“I wanted to wear this shirt today because it makes me smile.”

“I sometimes wish I had straight hair, but I also like it with ruffles.”

“Mom, can I use your lip gloss?”

“Do I have choir practice today?”

I watched them as I got myself dressed for the day, smiling quietly at their comments and wondering how they have grown so fast. I thought about what else needed to be done before we left – pack the diaper bag for the baby, make sure my oldest gets breakfast since she slept in, check that everyone’s shoes match and are on the right feet before walking out the door.

My mind was filled with all the things that were on the agenda for the day. Church service, lunch with family, choir practice, volleyball, dinner, baths, bedtime. I thought about what I wanted to get done after the kids went to bed, then deleted a few things from that list since I knew I would be tired from the busy day.

All in all, it was a quiet morning, a simple one.

After church got out, as I was sitting with family eating lunch, I happened to look at my phone and saw the headline about the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Oh my heart.

So many of those people in that small Texas town probably had the same morning as I did. They helped their kids get dressed. They packed diaper bags. They made checklists in their head and planned their Sunday. They checked shoes and keys and purses as they rushed out the door to worship.

…I don’t really want to imagine what their afternoon was like.

As I tucked my kids in bed tonight, rocking the baby and giving extra hugs to the big kids, I kept asking myself, why? Why does this keep happening, and what do I tell my kids when they hear the news? Why is there so much evil?

I know there will be answers in the morning. Or, at least, proposed solutions from multiple factions. I’m already hearing the sound bytes and scrolling past the tweets. I’m reading the opinion pieces, and watching the news anchors, experts and politicians come out with their directives.

And the truth is, I don’t think the experts are going to figure this one out.

I think the problem is brokenness. We are broken people living in a broken world. When you truly listen to people, when you hear their stories and look into their eyes, you can see the shattered pieces that we keep trying to glue back together.

Just as every person has brokenness inside of them – brokenness that they are healing from, living out or entering into – our society is broken. Instead of trying to heal that brokenness, we seem to default to blame and finger pointing. Instead of opening our arms and hearts to help, we want to retreat to our bunkers and find someone to blame.

As I stare at the ceiling fan in my living room, asking God for the wisdom to say what I should, I can’t help but come back to what Jesus said in John 13:34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

sutherland springs church shooting, love each other, talking to my kids

We need to get involved in each other’s lives. We need to reach out, to open our eyes and our ears to listen to people’s stories. We need to really, truly follow that command Jesus gave us. To love one another.

What would this world look like if each person truly felt the genuine love of another person? What would this world look like if we put as much effort into knowing and loving people as we did into blaming and marginalizing them?

I don’t know the answer to that one, either, but I do know this. When I talk to my kids tomorrow about things that happened in that small Texas church, I’m not going to focus on fear. I’m not going to focus on blame or politics or policy. I’m going to tell them about love, and about the things love can do if we only give it a chance.

sutherland springs church shooting, why is there evil, love one another

A Letter to Jesus from a Tired Momma

tired

Dear Jesus,

Remember those days before my kids came along when we could spend hours together without interruption? I could study your Word, write in my prayer journal, and dig deep into my faith, learning more and more about you and myself with each moment alone with you.

Remember when I could read books written by your servants that helped me understand even more? I could discuss them with my husband or my good friends over coffee, and we could share with one another what you had been teaching us.

Remember when I could be still and listen? When I could be still and know?

Things have changed now.

Go to Her View From Home to see the rest!

Love,

Sandra