Tough Breaks

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Dear Lindsey,

“Mom,” my eight-year-old began last week, “could you please call my coach and letknee-pain him know I can’t play tonight, because I cracked my leg.”

Seeing he was walking fine, I smiled inside (remembering my own “broken leg” claims of childhood) and asked how it happened. He explained he had been playing soccer with his brother. Five years his elder, that particular brother can be a little over-competitive with his already-powerful kick.

“Did he miss the ball and kick you? Or did you fall? What happened?” I prodded, guessing there might be a little tattling involved.

“He kicked the ball ‘as hard as he could’ [a phrase that always makes me smile inside] and I tried to stop it.”

“Oh my! That’s the kind of shot I stopped one time, and I couldn’t use my shoulder for a year!” I said. “Well did you at least stop him from getting the goal?” I jested to make light of the situation.

“No.” He sulked, and I stopped suspecting his purpose of getting his brother in trouble.

“No? You tried to stop it and it hit you so hard you hurt your leg, but it still went in?”

“No,” he complained, “I tried to kick it really hard, but I missed the ball completely.”

“You missed the ball? Then how did you hurt your leg; did you kick the ground?” I dragged the story out of him.

“No. I didn’t hit anything. But I kicked so hard, I cracked my leg, because I heard it crack,” he surmised.

I relished in the joy of motherhood.

“Well, bud, I don’t think you broke it, so you are probably ok for practice tonight.  Besides, you are scrimmaging the girls. Your team needs you!”

“No, Mom,” the concern in his voice was obvious.  “There is no way I can play in my scrimmage tonight.”

Uh oh…I smelled a teachable moment. What can I say to encourage him away from the wimpy attitude that tries to stop us all when the “going gets tough”?

Bradys play hurt!“? -no…he’s heard that one already.

Story! I need a story!

My kids (like us adults) always learn the best through a relevant story. For me, when it is told through a third-party’s eyes, it takes the offense away and allows learning without feeling attacked.  Certainly I could think of someone overcoming hardship that would relate to this eight-year-old’s heart and mind. Then I remembered an oldie but goodie from his very own oldest brother (whom I knew this younger son would never see as “wimpy”). I started my “once upon a time…” voice with the following true story – but in eight-year-old terms, like, “You know what happened next?” to keep his attention:

When your big brother was eleven…

(From my previous Letter, “Itching to be Tough,” images-1which was inspired by this conversation with my eight-year-old last week, but that day I told it to him in younger terms.)

When Casey was about eleven, I remember that sometimes even he, like many eleven-year-old boys would cry, or fight wimpiness. I prayed that God would help to make him strong and tough.

The very next day, Casey got poison ivy! It was just a little patch, but Casey thought he would have to skip his soccer game. I told him I thought he needed to “play hurt,” because it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

That night, the rash got worse. A lot worse! It was on his face, his belly, his legs and his feet! He itched SO BAD, I prayed that God would take the poison ivy away! fast!

But the next day, Casey got out of bed and you know what he did? He put on his soccer uniform to go play the game!

I couldn’t believe it! Then I realized what a champion he became when he overcame the poison ivy!  I thought back to my prayer just days prior and realized that maybe the poison ivy WAS the answer to my first prayer: that God would make Casey tough, because when I saw him play even though he had poison ivy, I realized my prayer was answered.

I wonder if God ever laughs at me?! One moment, I prayed that Casey would become a warrior, and then when God allowed the exact thing that would make him tough (poison ivy),  I immediately prayed it would be taken away.  Lucky for me, God continued with His plan, and didn’t just listen to my request for the “easy way out.”

Not only did Casey play for his team that day, but he scored a goal!

“Maybe sometimes God allows the struggles so that we can gain the strength we need to persevere,” I told my young son (telling him about Romans 5:3-5) as I finished the story of his brother, hoping it would make an impact on his own toughness factor for the night.

He sat pensively silent. I gloated at my mothering ability to teach through a third-party story. I hoped he got the parallels to his own soccer-scrimmage dilemma.  I got a little choked up, thinking about my now sixteen-year-old who has become such a man.

Then the eight-year-old broke into my prideful thoughts, “Well, that is a good story with poison ivy, Mom, but MY cracked leg is a much bigger problem!

Ha! Don’t we always believe “our mule carries the bigger load”?

I told him he could let the coach know that he “popped” his knee, and that he might need to take it lightly that night.

images-3I would say that the lesson wasn’t learned, but alas, he DID play in his scrimmage that night… “broken leg” and all.  His team was down 2-0 at half-time, but came back in the second half to win the game against the girls. (He wanted me to be sure and tell you that part.)

Enjoying motherhood,

Terri

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Bradys Play Hurt

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Dear Lindsey,

I have decided I know why it is called, “roughhousing”: because it is rough on my HOUSE! Boys are boys! When our oldest was barely one-year-old, “wrestling with dad” became the most exciting activity of the day. It progressed well into toddlerhood and became training ground for toughness with each of our three boys.  Chris and Casey spent hours tumbling on the floor and showed such a different relationship than my own with my son (or my relationship with my husband, for that matter!). The game always seemed to come to a halt in tears, as the toddler would succumb to exhaustion, realizing he was “whooped.”  Chris wanted to raise our boys to be tough though, and he would never let their game end with crying.

“Brady’s play hurt!” Chris (knowing that his son was not really injured) would egg a four-year-old Casey on – never rewarding his sniveling.  Making it fun so the toddler would continue playing, Chris would then let enough time pass that tears were forgotten, and he could end the game on a good note.

This game was daily, no maybe hourly! Wrestling with Daddy still occurs in this house with teenagers…only louder!

One particular day of toddlerhood, though, the game was declared “over,” and Chris rested his eyes, lying down on the couch in our playroom while Casey played with Legos. After some time, the four-year-old suddenly ran and jumped on the couch, landing on Chris’s mid-section, startling Chris from sleep to a shout: “Owwww! Get off of me!”

Casey got a cute twinkle in his eye and said,

“Come on, Dad! Bradys play hurt!”

I laughed out loud!

And the wrestling continued.

Oh my! The number of times the saying goes through my head outnumbers the wrestling events where it was created.

When I want to give up in tears,

when I want to make excuses for my mood,

when I want to scream in exhaustion, “I can’t get it all done!”

I go back to the moment with my four-year-old and am reminded: “Bradys play hurt,” and I stay in the game …just one more day.

Blessings,

Terri

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…

1 Corinthians 9:27:  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

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Finding a Character to Marry, Part Two

How to Find a Spouse

Dear Lindsey,

In the previous two Letters, Part Zero and Part One, we have been discussing “How to find a spouse,” featuring advice from Pastor Stephen Davey.  If Dr. Stephen Davey had a list of things to DO, then Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a former radio talk show host who often took calls from listeners expressing their dating woes, had a unique list of Don’ts in her book, Top Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess up Their Lives. Using brash terms like stupid, 51Xwh+JmslL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_“Dr. Laura” holds nothing back as she allows single women to learn from the mistakes of others. Although my milder personality would probably choose a softer term, I kept the word stupid in this Letter, as I summarized her list.  For the most part, her book says that finding your identity in someone else (and I would add: someone other than Christ) puts your happiness in someone else’s control, and never ends well.

Dr. Laura’s Ten Stupid Things:

Stupid Attachment 

If you feel like a spouse is the answer to all of your woes, you are heading for disappointment.  Overly-attaching yourself to someone is often the number one reason that someone wants to become unattached! Fast!

images-8When my daughter Christine was 2-yrs-old, my little butterfly loved attention of her three buffalo brothers. Once while buckled into her car seat in the third row of our Ford Excursion, she asked Casey (then age 9) to sit next to her. He said he wanted to sit one row forward, so he could more easily exit when we arrived at his practice. She broke into tears and wailed to me, hoping my ears in the front seat would recognize her desperation two rows behind me.  “Mooooooommmmy!!!! Casey won’t make me happpppyyyyyy!” she sobbed.

Let’s all have a moment of prayer for Christine’s future husband.

OK.

Seriously, attaching our happiness to anyone else is a perfect recipe for perfect unhappiness. Become the best unattached YOU, [bringing glory to God]. Have dreams; forge a purpose; have an identity; make a commitment to things outside of yourself. You can only become the best spouse by becoming the best YOU first.

This principle doesn’t end once a woman puts on a ring.  (Read “The Needy Queen” in a previous letter, The Bad Queens for how “attachment” looks within marriage.) Becoming the best YOU, aligned with Christ, will make you a better wife, because that is the One with Whom your husband should be aligning as well.  (2 Cor 6:14 says that believers in Christ should only be yoked with believers in Christ.)

 

Stupid Courtship

If you are dating a jerk, now’s the time to leave him. In Dr. Laura’s words, “You don’t have to settle; you can SELECT!” (Emphasis mine)

You are worth it!

When I was in high school, I had a suitor, who quickly became a stalker with a side of creepy when I didn’t share his admiration in reverse. What began as love notes and personally recorded songs sent through the mail, quickly became threatening phone calls and eventually mystery hang-ups. (Before the inventionimages-6 of caller ID, he would call my house, ask for me, and then hang up as soon as I got to the phone.)  Once I cracked the case of the mystery phone-hang-up artist, my older brother called the guy and told him the familiar poem of the 70’s: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn’t come back to you, it never was.” Except, my big brother, … in my defense, … being the sweet, protective big brother he is, …said in a threatening tone, “If you love something, let it go. If she comes back to you, she’s yours. If she doesn’t, and you call again, I will hunt you down and rip you apart with my bare hands.”  The suitor never called me again.

I think “stupid courtship” is coming back to someone when you shouldn’t.

 

Stupid Devotion

This one seems so simple:  if a situation is self-defeating, then leave it.  When you have a dream, a defined purpose and a calling, and your significant other is defeating that, it is probably defeating “the you” that God meant you to be. 

 Don’t be devoted to self-defeat.

A true future spouse will be devoted to that which you are devoted, so be sure your devotions are worthy of …um…devotion.

Bryan Heath has a song that says, “I am not my family tree.” You have incredible, God-given value, and nobody –particularly a future spouse – should be trying to convince you otherwise.  Your past (or your family’s past) does not have to determine your future; Dr. Laura says it this way: “History is not destiny.” Your choice in a spouse matters.

 

Stupid Passion

Things happening in the premarital bedroom (or backseat of a car) are not love.   How do I know? Ask any man who has ever paid for “passion”. Why would someone pay for it? Because it feels physically good – not because it increases a relationship with the one he paid.

OK, some will argue it is not all lust, some is expressing love; but it is all against God’s Law. To really spell L-O-V-E, let him show you he loves you enough to preserve you for the wedding night. Show him you love him enough to treat his body as a beautiful temple deserving respect. Express love to each other by waiting.

In this day, movies and daytime television advertise premarital activity as not only acceptable, but expected.  I saw one recently that said, “Wait until the third date.”  The “third date”???!!!!!

images-1

“They” say it is respectable if you wait to go to bed together on the THIRD DATE?!!!!

I hope you didn’t just argue, “Oh good, I’m not THAT bad; I wait until the fifth.”

.

The Bible says differently. It clearly says, “Wait until the wedding night.”

How is that possible in this day and age? While the world says, “No way!” God says, “You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.” (Phil 4:13)

Stay strong, and your marriage will be too!

 

Stupid Cohabitation (Living Together Without Marriage)

images-4

Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married.  Wow. THAT is worthy of repeating:

Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married.

 So if this letter is How to Find a Spouse, then statistically, STAY IN SEPARATE RESIDENCES. 

This mistake is related to all of the mistakes listed above:

  • Stupid Attachment (You will lose yourself when living with him);
  • Stupid Courtship and Stupid Devotion (You are less likely to do the right thing if it is breaking up, if you are sharing a residence with him.);
  • Stupid Passion (How do you stop from eating the chocolate cake if you see it out all the time?)

Living together is tempting when it “makes sense” financially. It’s ironic to me that people, even Christians, will make this argument. Yet, they would never rob a bank, even though that might make sense for their “financial benefit” – because they recognize that stealing is wrong according to God’s law.

So is sleeping together before marriage! Ugh!

Living together makes it easy for someone to become dependent on someone else.

Living together, statistically doesn’t lead to a good marriage.

If someone doesn’t want to continue dating unless they can “take the car on a test drive,” then go ahead and lose the relationship. It is likely that you would have lost it for other reasons anyway even if you had slept with him, but then you would have been the used car, and you are worth more than that.

 

Stupid Expectations

If someone is a controlling person, you can expect him or her to continue to be controlling.   A wedding ring doesn’t change someone’s personality, so your expectations for after marriage should be about the same as who he/she was before marriage.

I remember dating someone who gave me my every wish. What Terri wanted, Terri got. It was heavenly…for a while. Then it went from heavenly to heavy.  The pressure of being the rudder of “our” ship was too much, although I didn’t recognize the problem at the time.

Later, when dating Chris, things were quite different. He was attending graduate school on a full fellowship with a monthly stipend, and I was living on Ramen Noodles and cold Spaghettios. I felt like he was rich!  Our date night was my “princess” night!

Then one day Chris pointed out the bill. Really? My date showed me the bill and questioned why it was so high?! At first, I was embarrassed for him that he would be such a slave to money. (Oh, the irony of my blindness is killing me here – but I will share anyway.) He went on to say that he loved our time together, but wondered if we could do it without the appetizers, specialty coffees and desserts sometime?

images-9

Some who have heard my husband speak on leadership have said he can punch you across the face, and somehow make you laugh and follow his way. I think that night I got “punched.”  Inside, I was embarrassed that I had been a burden on his budget. But be still, butterflies of my soul! I fell madly in love with the man who would be so strong as to control the rudder of our ship. His courage to stand up to me (on something with which I could only agree!) made a pattern for much resolution in our marriage.  Oh how I pity the woman who has no rudder speaking truth to her.

 

Stupid Child Conception

images-7“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” I sang hundreds of times in the jump rope game of my youth. The song’s principles are not always the case these days.

Somewhere around the age of six, I remember visiting a family friend in the hospital. By chance, we ran into one of my father’s other friends from work, whose teenage daughter had just given birth. In my youthful state, I stared at the young girl and innocently asked my dad, “Where’s the baby’s daddy?”

He looked down with sad eyes and said, “There is no dad.”

In my little mind that day, I had decided that God had made a mistake. I feared for my 6-yr-old-self, (checking my belly to make sure it wasn’t growing) worried that the mistake could happen to me too.  Obviously time and education wiped the cover of innocence from my eyes and I eventually figured out the truth of who was making the mistakes.

The term, “baby daddy,” of the 2000’s was coined because of so many conceptions out of wedlock. (Or would those be misconceptions?)  Careless women and men, who don’t pay attention to some of Dr. Laura’s other listed “mistakes”, will end up in this situation.  Unfortunately, or ridiculously, some women will become pregnant out of wedlock ON PURPOSE trying to get a marriage commitment. Entrapping a daddy, thinking this will change him is as bad as it gets; it’s like risking the life of a child for your own selfish desires to be married.  It only multiplies the number of unhappy people in the house.

Be responsible.

 

Stupid Subjugation, Stupid Helplessness and Stupid Forgiving

Some direct quotes from Dr. Laura’s book on these last three “mistakes”:

“If your someone abuses you, it’s over.images-5

It is the saddest thing when someone won’t stop trying to get love from someone who is abusive and offensive to him/her.  Some women will use the “any dad will do” excuse to stay with bad men in bad situations. A NO dad home is better than an abusive dad home.”

Be strong and courageous, for the Lord thy God is with you. (Josh 1:9)

Until we “part” again (in Part Three),

Terri

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Recommended Reading:

Nobody Wins

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horse cowDear Lindsey,

“Nobody wins an argument,” may be true, but I still have to laugh at the professional soccer players. They look so cool on the field, so suavely athletic,…until that whistle blows and the theatrics begin. Following the referee and screaming at his back, do they really expect him to turn to them and say, “Well, now I see your point; I am glad you argued and brought me to my senses, so I will reverse that call in front of this crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and blow the whistle on the other team instead.” Of course not! But they scream at the ref anyway.

Sibling bickering is a song that plays in the backseat of my car too often. When my younger two were four and five-years-old, they had the “did not!”, “did too!”, “did not!”, “did too!” chorus perfectly memorized for performance any time and any place.

I have often said that children act the way adults would if tact didn’t bridle us with censors.  I guess I can say I prefer the “control-top” version of my mouth, at least when it comes to the aftermath, but I have often had a giggle over the things the kids say…that I wish I could still say…just once in a while.

A few years ago, this was the conversation in the car from my backseat toddlers (age 4 and 5):

English: Cow Pasture Looking towards Cowhills ...

Christine: “Look at ALL those cows!”

J.R.: “Yeah, but look! There’s a horse in the middle.”

Our car sped by the barnyard.

Christine: “There was no horse! They were all cows.”

J.R.: “Yes there was a horse. It was all brown. The cows were black. There was a horse.”

Christine: “No there wasn’t J.R.! They were all cows. Farmers don’t put horses in the same yard with cows!”

J.R.: “Well THAT farmer did, because I SAW A HORSE!”

This continued and even escalated a bit, so I calmly interceded, with those “Mom lyrics” I seem to sing over and over:

“Christine and J.R. please stop the noise pollution. Remember who wins an argument? NOBODY. So just change the topic. We will never know whether there was a horse there or not. Arguing will not convince anyone and only makes it unpleasant for us all. God knows whether there was a horse there or not.”

There was almost thirty-seconds of silence in the car.

Then J.R. broke it and said matter-of-factly, “Yeah. And when I get to heaven I am going to ask God and He is going to tell you it was a horse.”

Haha!

My daughter, Christine (now age 9) is reading Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People for her homeschool “business-ownership” class. She came to me today, and explained how she doesn’t understand why anyone would ever need to fight! “All they have to do is agree with the other person and say, ‘sorry.’ Then the other person can’t argue any more. But if you disagree with them, then they will never back down!”

I like her (and Carnegie’s) thoughts. If it were only as easily done as said, there would be a great reduction in noise pollution around the globe! And in the mean time, we can look forward to one day finding out if it was a horse or a cow that we sacrificed in all of our arguments that we dropped. (smile)

God bless,
Terri

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Homeschooling Missing Ingredients (Mistakes I’ve Made)

Dear Lindsey

The coupons began as a spontaneous purchase at Walgreens, although I haven’t seen them there lately, so we have made our own. One coupon says, “Your choice of restaurant the next time we eat out.” Another says, “Multiply your snacks by two today,” and a very memorable one said, “You make the snack, whatever you want, and Mom has to eat a bite.”

Hmm.  Why do I do these things? I was nervous when they decided to redeem that coupon!

Fortunately, my children were nice (nicer than I probably would have been to my own Brady Bakersmother when I was their age! LOL!) and decided that they would try to make peanut butter icing, knowing my love for peanut butter. The problem was that this 6 and 7-yr-old could not find a recipe, so they just guessed. They were so excited working together. I walked through the kitchen and saw my Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter as if this were a professional production. I tried to stay out of sight, but I enjoyed their whispers from a distance.

“No, no, no! I don’t think there’s baking powder in frosting!” I heard J.R. say, “I’m pretty sure there’s vanilla, though.”

“It looks like peanut butter mush!” they cackled and then hushed each other so I wouldn’t hear their surprise.

“Mmm, it’s good mush,” Christine said, and I pictured her eyes sparkling as she took her taste-test finger out of her mouth.

“What’s that white stuff in frosting?” she asked.  “I think that’s what’s missing.”

“Oh yeah!! Shortening!” he yelled, and I heard his motions climbing the counter to get to the cupboard behind the prep sink.

I cringed from my office, wondering what kind of sick mind I had the day I thought that coupon was a good one to offer. Why didn’t I say DAD had to taste it?!

“Oh Mom–my!” they sang in a doorbell-toned duet. “It’s ready for you to taste!” and the giggles filled the room.

I rounded the corner to see the powdered sugar box empty, with clear handprints in its dust all over the island. Measuring spoons were out, though I wondered what they had measured, since they didn’t have a recipe. I did not see reptiles or worms present, so I thought it must be safe for eating. With all the courage I could muster, I took the spatula from JR’s hand, where it had been preloaded with peanut butter icing, and took a lick.

“Not bad!” I said, and they squealed with pride.

So cute!

I happened to have some ooey gooey chocolate cookies left over from Christmas in the freezer, so we thawed them and sandwiched the icing between two cookies. Delicious! Really!recipe

When I began homeschooling, I think I wanted a recipe to follow, but yet I LOVED being able to cater the learning to each individual child! I went with what I knew, and then added some things and subtracted some things. And I still do today! But just like in Christine and JR’s recipe, there are certain things I want to keep out. (By the way, that’s the real recipe they invented to the right. Use with caution! 🙂 )

Some Homeschooling Mistakes Along the Way

Although I love lists, this one is not my favorite: my list of mistakes. (And it is longer than could be captured on any blog and still growing!)  However, I am grateful I learned from some of these…at least once so far, anyway.

  1. Bringing school home:  When I admitted to a dear friend, Sham Palomaki, that I never felt like I was completing a school day right, she said sweetly, “It sounds like maybe you are bringing school home instead of homeschooling.”  I immediately knew what she meant, and I was guilty as charged! I had a chalkboard on the wall, and even had a 1950’s school desk I found at a garage sale! I was “teacher” during school hours, and “Mom” some time later. School wasn’t done until that little book said it was done.  Missing ingredient: Home.
  2. Routine Rut: Routine is great! We start at the same time (approximately) each day. We do subjects in the same order (although for the first year, I wrote the subjects down on popsicle sticks and allowed him to rearrange the sticks daily). But routine can lead to ruts of “unfun” hours end on end. Too often, I have become a slave master, cracking a whip, worried about the time and when summer break (for me!) would begin. I had an agenda and it needed to be met. Similar to “putting the home in school,” I realized I needed to flex. We made family sandwiches (with mom on the bottom, of course – thanks, Marcia Robinson, for that idea), learned multiplication of 7’s using football guys, added recess, put in a field trip or special lecture series by Dad (since he is at home during the day), and my older two keep telling my younger two that we used to have “math substitute” once a week. (Shhh. Those two are doing fine with math every day!)  Missing Ingredient: Laughter
  3. Keeping up with Joneses: We know that comparison is the root of unhappiness, and I really didn’t think I could be that way. I mean, my kids are the best kids on earth, so how could comparing with any others ever lead to unhappiness? Well, when someone says, “We accidentally hit an opossum in our car last night, so we decided to scoop it up and take it home for science dissection,” I realized “I am completely unworthy to ever be called a homeschool mom.” (LOL, Thanks, Wendy Lukonen, my hero!)  “Keeping up with the Joneses” does two things: 1.  It makes me feel like I should be doing something different in homeschooling. 2. Any moment I take thinking about “what I should have done” takes away a time where I could be encouraging another precious homeschool mom for doing her great job. I decided that Mrs. Jones was chosen to homeschool her kids. I am called to homeschool mine; no comparison allowed.  Missing ingredient: contentment
  4. Low Expectations for my kids: I watched Casey’s math test “grades” dwindle. I was never much for keeping grades. Grades seemed to be for communicating between teacher and parents how well a student was performing. I never bothered. Instead, I looked for mastery. If he missed problems, he had to re-do them until he could do them well. Red pen? Optional.  One day, I realized Casey was not getting 100% of his problems correct…ever. Knowing my kid, I realized he was capable, and completely unmotivated. Why would he care? I had no expectation for him to meet. The above “coupon” program was instituted to encourage 100% on the first try of a math assessment (test). It was amazing how as soon as there was incentive, he checked and doublechecked his work before turning it in. He had never known that I expected 100%, because I had communicated otherwise. I soon recognized other areas of my low expectations: excellence of chores, cleanliness of rooms, good attitude, edification of siblings, etc. Ugh! Writing this reminds me of how much I still need to do!  Missing ingredient: great expectations.
  5. Too Many Activities: Just because opportunity knocks, doesn’t mean we have to answer it. We could go to a co-op all day Thursdays, play homeschool soccer on Friday mornings, go to homeschool art class on Monday afternoons; don’t forget library story hour next door – it’s so convenient it’s the same day and free! And shouldn’t Christine get homeschool gymnastics on Wednesday afternoons, since her brothers’ soccer dominates our evenings? Oh, and that worldview class at church seems too good to be true! But let’s not forget the “normal” evening activities of church choirs, music lessons and Awanas (Scripture memory). Not to mention that I went to Bible Study Fellowship one morning/week for 8 years. Wow. Some years, my kids did so much school in the car that I called them “Road Scholars” :).  Missing ingredient: school.
  6. Hungering for Encouragement: It can be a lonely world for homeschool moms. There is no one to say, “Your kids are awesome; here’s an ‘A’.” Or “I think your child should be invited to this honors class.”  I must admit that there were many times when I would hear of awards given or school rankings of similarly aged public school neighbors and I would think, “I wish my kid got noticed.”  I am embarrassed to say that I even sent the standardized test scores to the grandparents the first year of homeschool – just wishing someone would say, “You are doing a good job. Maybe you are not messing them up after all.”  I know Col 3:23 says to do all for the glory of God, not man, so why does this desire creep back into me so often? Can’t I get just a little glory for me? Just a little glory for my kids? Ha! Do I really forget WHO is in charge of my homeschool?  I have had to go back to that original list of “why homeschool” so many times. One of the reasons I homeschool was not, “So I can be recognized that I did a good job.” It was not, “So my child can get accolades from his peers.” But the biggest reason was so my child will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Missing Ingredient: Eternal focus
  7. Being Puffed Up: Too often on this journey, pride has reared its ugly head. It is difficult when taking a stand and walking against the crowd in any direction not to feel a bit of excitement when your way works! But the only way that happens is because God is at work. There were times I think I was homeschooling to “prove a point” instead of “do what was right.” When the “I’ll show them,” negative attitude wins over the “I’ll serve the Lord” attitude, the fall awaits. 1 Samuel 2:3 says, “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, 
and by him deeds are weighed.”  This showed most clearly when we debated on sending our oldest son to high school. We had various reasons that looked like this particular Christian school could be a good opportunity for Casey: more Godly men leading as examples; competitive sports; Christian friends, etc. Casey asked us not to send him. My heart ached to have him (and frankly his good example) at home all day. Through prayer, we realized that we really felt it was the right thing to do for him and his wellbeing. Dark voices began echoing in my head, “But your identity is a homeschool mom of four! Everyone is going to know you “failed”! You’re quitting! You must not have really believed what you set out to prove!” and on and on. Chris actively wanted Casey to go to high school, but left the decision to me after his input. I analyzed five different ways of homeschooling through high school. I resisted the change in all of my normal ways – coming up with my plan B, C and D. But one morning, in silent prayer (amazing how many realizations happen on that porch while the birds sing in my ear), I realized that it was meant to be. As a friend, Ann Winters, says, “God is always on Plan A. Always.”  I called the school and arranged a tour. The following fall, I sat in the bleachers watching him play high school soccer as the only starting freshman, and a man came over to me and said, “Casey is the answer to my prayers for a friend for my son.” I could hardly choke words out in reply. My prayers had been answered as well. Missing Ingredient: humility to accept when God’s plan wasn’t my plan A.

.

So when we add laughter to great expectations, humility with contentment, and some home along with school,  I suppose we end up with homeschool.  It sometimes looks like peanut butter mush, but sandwiched between two cookies of love, it is really delicious. Really!

I recently came across a blog where a man thanked his wife for homeschooling their children. He was celebrating her “retirement from teaching,” since their youngest was graduating from homeschool. What an encouragement for those of us on the journey!  A copy and link are pasted below.

God bless,

Terri Brady

——–

Praising a ‘Retired’ Home School Mom

By Marty Duren , CP Op-Ed Contributor
May 13, 2013|10:42 am

The homeschool teacher who taught my children is retiring after a stellar twenty-three year career.

In the next few days we will withdraw our youngest child from her homeschool, high-school program. She then will prepare for taking the GED test in the next few weeks. For Sonya, my wife, it ends a twenty-three year homeschool teaching career.

When we made the decision to start homeschooling our oldest daughter it was not because we heard a word from God. It was not because we thought Deuteronomy 6 applied to readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic. Nor was it because we were on an anti-public school tirade.

It was pretty simple. When our oldest daughter was 5 years old we lived in the country where I pastored a church. It was 10 miles each way to kindergarten. If we drove her to school we faced forty miles a day round-trips. If we put her on the bus she would board around 7:30 in the morning and return around 5:00 in the afternoon every day. That was not appealing. Each school bus, like the one she would ride, had kids from K-12. That was not appealing, either.

So, we decided to homeschool.

As is the case with most homeschool families, Mom carried most of the responsibility. After twenty-three years and three kids my wife has done at least 98% of the teaching, grading, record keeping, encouraging, reproving, threatening, laughing and crying. I probably threatened worse judgments but she did more of it.

She sought the best deals on curriculum every summer as well as determining what of our old curriculum we could sell. And, she determined what we had to keep for another child or two coming through.

She told me what math I had to do with which kid on what night. She oversaw so many science experiments we could not even count.

Some of them actually worked.

All three of our kids could read, because of her emphasis on phonics, before they started school. One, however, sandbagged all the way through first grade acting as if he did now how. It was only when she informed him he would need to repeat first grade Reading that he picked up a book and, to her amazement, started reading it to her. I feel certain a loud lecture soon followed.

She read aloud more books than anyone could count. Classics, modern stories, the Redwall series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, dozens of Agatha Christie mysteries. Thousands of pages, perhaps tens of thousands. Our youngest preferred to read than be read to. Finally Sonya would get two copies of the same book so they could alternately read aloud and follow along. To this day all our kids read, read widely and read much.

One thing instilled in our kids was a love of learning. I have heard more than one person say over the years they never picked up another book after college. Sonya never went to college but has picked up books ever since high school. She modeled learning, both biblical and the “schoolish” type, to our three. Education really should not be about reports and finishing courses, anyway. Education should be about creating the desire to learn and freeing the ability to do it.

We are not that home school family where each kid got a full-ride scholarship to Harvard while finding a cure for a major disease over the kitchen sink after successfully suing the government over the freedom of education. No, we had to evaluate every spring whether we would do it again in the fall. We also were not that family who went into the yard, picked a couple of dandelions and marked science off for the day. Sonya made sure there was structure. Field trips were planned judiciously. Going shopping did not count as economics. Well, not often…

Our middle child, and only boy, hated school (except for the reading part) and fought it every step of the way. He did not care for college either. But he is gainfully employed, promoted three times in a single year on his job. Our oldest got a scholarship and finished a philosophy degree at a state university. She helps run a coffee shop and thinks about the meaning of drinking coffee. Our youngest is in the choosing college phase. All three graduated at least a year early.

A local school principal once told me that, of all the homeschoolers she had ever seen, Sonya was the only one who did it right. It might have been hyperbole, but it was encouraging.

Sonya Duren passed up the choice to have a “career” so she could pour the best of herself into the three to whom God entrusted us. We forewent a lot of things to buy school supplies, books; VHS lecture tapes, DVDs and entire curriculum sets. Anything you see in the Bible about the rewards of sacrifice is embodied in her.

So, she “retires” this year with no pension, no admiring colleagues, no principal’s speech, no plaque, and no pension. She just retires having changed three lives. Not to mention my unending appreciation and admiration.

The column was first published on Marty Duren’s blog, Kingdom in the Midst.

Marty Duren is a former pastor, Christ follower, husband, father, writer, social media strategist and general provocateur who lives in Hermitage, TN. His blog, Kingdom in the Midst can be found at www.martyduren.com.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/praising-a-retired-home-school-mom-95754/#H52sld4DoQbdbJhX.99

Related Letters to Lindsey:

Striving for Good Measure

Dear Lindsey,

“She is inconsolably crying,” was my husband’s text to me while I was at the grocery store

English: Digital fever thermometer Deutsch: Di...

last Saturday. When I got home to the thermometer, it was 103.  Christine (9) has had a cold for more than two weeks, so I assumed it had escalated to an ear or sinus infection. She and I headed for Urgent Care. That was when the stomach flu symptoms began, so we cancelled the trip; no Urgent Care needed. Mom diagnosis: flu.

“To bed you go,” I led her up the stairs to her room.

“But can’t I eat?” she asked so innocently.

“No, ‘Starve a fever, feed a cold,’” I softly quoted the old saying, remembering how hunger fools us into eating during stomach sickness.

“How does starving a beaver help?” she whined.

“Fever, honey.  Starve a fever. You will feel better after some rest,” I chuckled at her misunderstanding as I gave her some Oscillococcum, and she drifted off to much needed sleep.

Sunday morning, although symptoms were gone, I decided to keep the flu to ourselves and stay home from church. Since she and her younger brother are inseparable, I guessed he was next…and probably in that incubating, contagious stage, so I kept him home too.

We listened to church online at 9:30am, and then JR (7) said he didn’t feel well.

Sick children are endearing. His cheeks were flush as if painted on a porcelain doll; he snuggled close as only ill children do. Like an electric blanket, the heat radiated from his body to mine. My prediction was right. Here comes #2 family member falling down with the domino flu. I was glad we weren’t at church.

“102.5” was my guess.  It’s a little game I play – as if running for “mom of the year” (always! 🙂 ). I like to guess what the fever is, and then continually be shocked at how close I am when I get out the thermometer. It’s like somewhere in the birth canal, the baby flips a switch in a woman.  Sudden abilities come to her:

  • to be able to distinguish her baby’s cry 2 miles away in a room full of other crying babies
  • to be able to see out of the back of her head
  • to suddenly think, “because I said so,” is a logical enough reason to bring an end to any argument and…
  • to be able to tell if a child has a fever, within one degree, only by the touch of her hand.

I got the ear thermometer poised (and smiled remembering when one of my toddlers had brought it to me from the closet and said, “Will you measure my ear?”).

97.8 was the reading.

Experience has taught me that, although easy to use, these devices have a lot of inaccuracy. I checked the other ear, my standard operating procedure.

98.3 the other ear said.

I felt again. Was I losing my touch? I really believe it’s 102.5, maybe just 102, but definitely fever. Flushed cheeks…sick sister…I couldn’t be wrong.

I reached for the old thermometer: the one which actually had to be kept under the tongue for minutes that felt like hours. It had been so long since its use, I had forgotten that it spoke! “One hundred and two point five,” said the male computerized voice from the thermometer.

I was right: 102.5.

Mom: -> 1       Ear thermometer: -> 0

“To bed you go,” I said as I carried him there.

——–

“Properly defining the problem is the first step to any solution,” Chris often says. But as in the thermometer story, the measuring device has a huge part to play in problem definition.

The world is a measuring device. It often measures success through the amount of money in one’s bank account, the vacation time allotted, the title of a job or the recognition one receives.

God’s “success” measuring device is different: He sees our love, joy, peace, patience…(Gal 5:22); He looks into our thoughts – are they pure, true, noble…? (Phil 4:8); I suppose He assesses the true treasures of our hearts. God’s measuring device needs no numbers. He simply uses the touch of His hand.

The world’s measurements are inaccurate:

  • “They” say we are not good enough;
      • God, through His Son Jesus Christ, says we are forgiven and perfect. (1 John 1:9)
  • “They” say there is no security without money.
      • God says we can consider the lilies of the field. Don’t they have food to eat and water to drink? How much more does our Father in heaven love us – won’t He take care of us?! (Matthew 6:28-34)
  • “They” say I try too hard and should relax.

Although I know it is wrong, I sometimes still have a worldly flinch in a crowd when everyone is talking about what they “do” for a living. It seems as though it will be a let down when it gets to my turn. “They” are doctors, secretaries, engineers, ICU nurses, HR managers, etc, and then it gets to me: a stay-at-home mom.  Yep, most of my tasks could be done by any teen for about $6/hour.  No training necessary.

Yet, my heart knows that the “world’s thermometer” is inaccurate.

What “pay” can be measured by the crushed dandelions that were handed to me as a Mother’s Day Bouquet with the worm still attached?

What “title” can top the spontaneous post-it note that said, “You’re a good cooker!” or as shown in my heading above,“YOR MI FAVRIT MOM” (as if he has more than one mom).

What “vacation” could surpass a picnic in the woods behind my house where they catch the baby frogs and scoop the salamander eggs in anticipation for spring?

What “recognition” would transcend adult children replicating our efforts in Godliness, marriage and parenthood in their own home?

What “award” could top hearing “well done, my good and faithful servant”?

Sometimes the world’s measurements are wrong, and we can stick to what we know is right.

God bless,

Terri

1 Timothy 4:7-87Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

What Does Love Mean? (Children Tell)

Para español, haga clic aquí y aquí

Dear Lindsey,

I got one of those cute-kid-quote emails recently. I had seen it before, but I loved reading it again, and I thought I would share some of my favorite parts as a Christmas letter to you.  Of course, I always enjoy audience participation, and these kids’ thoughts inspired some of my own, which I will include at the end. I would love to hear your own personal definition, or feel free to ask your children, or let them write a comment. It is such a thought-provoking question with such illustrative answers. 🙂

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ‘What

Heart

does love mean?’

Their answers:

‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore, so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’             – Rebecca- age 8

‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’     –  Billy – age 4

‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’     –  Karl – age 5

‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’     – Chrissy – age 6

‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’     –  Terri – age 4

‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’     –  Danny – age 7

‘Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that.  They look gross when they kiss’     –  Emily – age 8

‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.’     –  Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

————————————————————-

Their thoughts sparked me to think of my own:

Love is… a mother who spends hours baking everybody’s favorite cookies for Christmas Day – even the cookies she doesn’t like.

Love is…a Daddy having a tea party with his daughter in the middle of the day.

Love is…a man showing his boys how to be men by living example.

Love is…my 9-yr-old daughter crying when I am crying, when she doesn’t even know there is something to cry about.

Love is…my dad eating my burnt peanut butter cookies because, “that’s just the way he likes them.”

Love is…my husband texting me every day while he is gone to tell me that he misses me.

———–

I could list forever, but I won’t bore you with my love stories…

Here is a definition of love that came in story-form, in a Christmas card from a friend:

Nativity Play

For many years, a Midwest town held an annual Christmas pageant where children in the town acted out the story of Christ’s nativity.  Wally, a special needs boy of 9, yearned to be a shepherd in the play that year, but the director gave him the role of the innkeeper, because he wouldn’t have many lines to say.   Wally was bigger than the other kids, and his size would make his refusal of lodging more forceful.

The night of the play, Wally watched the pageant unfold with fascination, totally caught up in the story.  When it was time for his part, he was ready to go.

“What do you want?,” Wally brusquely asked Joseph.

“We seek lodging,” replied Joseph.

“There is no room for you in this inn, replied Wally, looking properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, my wife is with child and needs a place to rest.  Surely you must have a small corner.  She is so tired.”

Wally, the innkeeper, paused so long the audience was tense with embarrassment.  “No!  Begone!” the prompter whispered from the wings.

“No!”  Wally repeated automatically.  “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and they started to move away.  The innkeeper did not return inside the inn, however.  Wally stood there watching the forlorn couple, his brow creased with concern and tears streaming down his face.  And suddenly the Christmas pageant became different from all the others.

“Don’t go, Joseph.”  Wally called out.  “Bring Mary back.  You can have MY room,” Wally beamed…

———

That, my dear friend, is love.

From a recent devotional: too often we spend our lives seeking stars, and end up being disappointed to find only a stable; but when we seek deeply, inside the stable, we find the star: a King is born.

Whether you are blessed with stars or stables this Christmas, may you have room for the King.

Final definition: God is love.

God bless you as you celebrate His birth this week and always.

Merry Christmas,

Terri Brady

<< Luke 2 >>  The Birth of Jesus 

 

That’s not the Right Seat!

Dear Lindsey,

When my son was four, he sat quietly at a table and dumped the pieces to a puzzle, spreading them out to begin. He said to me, “Mom, pretty soon you are going to hear a big ‘TAH DAH!’ but first… there’s going to be a lot of work!”

I wonder if that is what God thinks when we first recognize our desire to follow Him.

As I continued my walk in my journey of pride diagnosis, I came to the next symptom:

Wanting to Correct

I don’t believe the Bible mentions the “gift of reproach” as one of the spiritual gifts, but girl, I think I lived much of my life thinking I had it! Maybe it was growing up with three brothers (who certainly had a lot to learn from me. Tongue-in-cheek.) or being blessed with talents, A’s and no cavities, but somehow along the way, I developed a critical eye: a sign of pride.

How do I tell her she needs to dress differently?

I need to write the school about that teacher.

How can a deacon of the church let his child do THAT on Sunday?

Galatians 6:2-5 says that we should bear one another’s burdens and every man bear his own burden.

If I am thinking of ways to correct someone, I am hardly carrying their burden. In fact, every minute I think about correcting someone is a minute I have not spent worshipping the Lord, or improving myself.  I love the saying that if 80% of the problem is my husband’s (or friend’s or teammate’s) and 20% of the problem is my own, then I need to spend 100% of my time working on the 20% that is my own! Every minute spent on stressing “rules” to someone else is often a deterrent from allowing them the “relationship” with God.

(note: The Bible does talk about reproof (James 5:20 for example), and there is a proper time; this “pride” about which I am talking is not Biblical reproof. The recommended reading below clarifies the difference.)

Each morning before school, I try to read to my children from a devotional book.  The following story comes from A Wisdom Retreat (book 1), by Stephen Davey.   On Day 19, entitled The Aisle Seat, Davey best describes someone who chose to worship God instead of correcting His people:

————-

“Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.

One day Bill decided to attend a middle-class church that was across the street from the campus. He walked into this church of well-dressed people in his tattered jeans, tee shirt, and, of course, barefooted.  In truth, this was the first time he’d ever been inside a church sanctuary.

People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything as Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was quite crowded that Sunday and as he came to the front pew he realized there were no seats left. So without any hesitation, he sat down on the carpet in the middle of the aisle, the same place he sat when his Christian friends invited him as they met for Bible study. He casually crossed his legs and waited for the service to begin.

The tension was palpable as people murmured, craning their necks to see the stranger in the aisle. Then one of the elderly deacons – a man who was well-respected in the church – began walking down the aisle toward the student. Rebecca’s friends who witnessed this scene told her that they whispered to each other, “Well, you can’t exactly blame him for scolding the guy…he is a disruption to the service!”

As the well-groomed deacon neared Bill, the church was deathly quiet. All eyes were glued front and center to see what would happen next. With some difficulty, the old man lowered himself to the floor and sat down next to Bill. He crossed his legs and shared his hymnal with the college-aged boy. The crowd was stunned.

That Sunday the deacon not only worshiped there on the floor, but he reminded the congregation how to worship.”

———–

C.S. Lewis says that the greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is …Christians. What?! “The greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is [sinful] Christians.” (OK, I added a word.) Well of course we are!  I bet I stunted the growth with my very own lips at times, correcting people for things that didn’t even matter to Jesus himself. Prideful people take the light off of the Lord and put it onto themselves.

God doesn’t need me; I need God. Anytime that role is changed, my pride is in the way and those around me suffer.  (Aside:  PLEASE, if you have been hurt by one of these “special people with the gift of correcting,” look beyond them, and rise above to forgive. God has a bigger plan for you! Christians are not perfect (not even your spouse!), or they would not need a Savior Who is!)  May we follow that deacon’s example and worship God instead of working on His people in our hearts and actions today.

In love,

Terri Brady

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Recommended reading:

Instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

Related Posts about Pride

Dampened Impressions, Toddler Style

Dear Lindsey,

Company is coming!!! The holidays begin! Candy still lingers in my kitchen and I can’t believe it’s already the next holiday!

My preparations today remind me of a day a couple years ago:

I have had their last name for almost two decades, but trying to make a good impression on my in-laws is still one of my strong desires. I want to make sure they know I am the perfect wife for their perfect son :).  They encourage me and tell me nice things all the time, but as a daughter-in-law, I always want to do more for them.

Case in point:

The oven had been hot, preparing the holiday goodies all day. The laundry room was equally hot, as I tried to get all of the tasks done before their arrival. I wiped counters and awaited their text: they could be here any minute. All the checkmarks were in the box! …if that last load of laundry could get put away.

“GPS says we’ll be there in 10,” the text arrived!

I worked to mop that floor one last time, and hopefully put on makeup as if I always look “done-up” for their son…but that one last load of laundry was still in the back of my mind. Oh, how I wish I could clone myself for times like this! Wait?! Isn’t that why I had kids? (smile)

“J.R.?” I yelled up the stairs to see if the last remaining unworking child was within earshot.

“What, Mom?” the 5-yr-old yelled back down.

“Grammy and Papa will be here in 10 minutes. The dryer has your clothes in it. Could you please fold those and put them away?”

“10 minutes?!!! Yaaayyy!! Sure! I’ll put my clothes away!”

A tinge of guilt crossed my mind. Is that a lot to ask of a 5-yr-old? He’s folded clothes beside me many times before. The dryer happened to only have his clothes in it, so he would know where it all went, right? They don’t have to be folded perfectly; they only need to disappear into his drawers, right? Perfect! I have time to get myself ready! I raced upstairs to the master bath.

“They’re here!!” the screams began from each of the four children. No question that the white van from Michigan had pulled into the driveway.

Phew, the floor dried in time! I thought as I descended the stairs to the clean kitchen greeting Grammy and Papa. Chris came out of his office; the holiday had begun!

Later that evening, as is tradition (and such a great break for me!!) Grammy and Papa headed up the stairs to help the kids to bed. The kids anxiously picked out their favorite books and brushed teeth, while looking forward to their “scratch-backing” time while Grammy and Papa read books. That’s when Grammy yelled down:

“Terri? Do you have a leak somewhere?”

A leak? You’re kidding me!

I raced upstairs to find that she was baffled why all of J.R.’s pajamas in the dresser were WET.

As I inspected the situation, I found that not only were the PJ’s wet, but so were all of the underwear, pants and shirts…that he had put away from the dryer.

“J.R., was the dryer off when you took the things out to put them away?”

“No. You didn’t say they had to be dry.”

Enjoy your Thanksgiving! Be thankful you have clothes…even if they are wet.

God bless,

Terri Brady

The gift that says, “I’m the big one!”

Dear Lindsey,

I know it’s not much to look at, perched on my office bookshelf among the cluttered books, but just seeing it floods my memory and heart, sufficing the intention of any gift.

My husband, Chris, had taken the boys, age 2 and 5, to the store and handed them $10 each. He told them they could buy anything they wanted for me for my birthday.

Nate, full of personality (and leaving very few of his thoughts to mystery) had those pudgy cheeks the church ladies would squeeze.  Always a competitor, when asked his age, he would answer “5,” (his older brother’s age) with full confidence.

“My! You are such a cute little boy!” a stranger had once told him.

Nate replied, “I’m not little! Except when I look in the mirror, then I’m still little, but I’m not little for real.”  (Although, it sounded more like, “I’m not wittle!”) Ha! Such spunk!

Casey, a sweet spirited pensive type, made the perfect best friend of opposite personality.  I am sure he kept the birthday shopping in line, as he turned down Hot Wheels and guns, aiming for the perfect gift for Mom, not himself.

The package wasn’t wrapped professionally. Evidence of novice hands’ work made it all the more special.  Nothing needed tearing for the present to be opened, since the young deliverers who shared in handing it to me had torn most of it. They stood, or maybe bounced, in anticipation, waiting for my response to their deeply-thought-out purchase.

The torn colored paper revealed the gift: two pigs.

Chris stood in the background, smiling so hard his cheeks might have cracked.  It was truly delightful to see these two boys so excited to give. Casey (5) explained the reasoning for the choice: “They are two brothers, just like Nate and me. We put our money together to buy it!  We thought if you put it in your office, then you would think of us. We knew if we got you candy or something, you might eat it and then it would be gone, but this you can keep FOREVER. It says, ‘I love you,’ because we do!” His reasoning continued, while I basked in the joy of the moment. I gave hugs of gratitude while they both beamed with pride over their selection.

Afterward, I cleaned up the papers and sent them for their PJ’s to start the bedtime routine.  As Casey started toward the stairs, Nate suddenly turned away and ran to my side, cupping his mouth to my ear so Casey wouldn’t hear. (–This is my favorite part!!:)

“I’m the big one!” the 2-year-old whispered, happily pointing to the pigs, which ironically both looked identical. That adorable memory of my “big” 2-yr-old sits on the shelf where the pigs still reside 10 years later.

What makes the gift special?

–      Chris. He thought to take time out of his busy schedule to let toddlers do the shopping.

–      It’s the thought that counts…always; their hearts beamed brighter than the most valuable diamond.

–      The 2-yr-old’s and 5-yr-old’s antics are no longer in my house; I cherish those memories.  No material possession could ever rank over moments that cannot be relived except in our memories. Some things truly are priceless.

Dear young mother: please remember that toddlers are a gift, temporary though they are.  When it seems you can’t get anything done…when you get more boxes to check than checkmarks in the box every day…when you are exhausted with the illness and realize you still have more kids to get it…when you are tired of finding syrup in places you didn’t know it could get to (and you haven’t even had pancakes in weeks!)…stop and find a memory for which to thank God. Blow some bubbles.  Drink in the smile. Pinch the cheeks. They disappear more quickly than the to-do list.

May you find the value behind the gifts you give and receive. I think the remembrance of the giver is “the big one” of them all.

In love,

Terri Brady

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