Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gentle Shepherd

Since yesterday I told you about one of my favorite bedtime stories, today I want to share another beloved ritual from my childhood...the bedtime song.

After my mom finished reading our stories, she would turn out the lights and sing a song. My favorite was Gentle Shepherd. As she sang, she rubbed my back. Her soothing strokes mingled with the peaceful melody calmed my heart and mind as I drifted off to sleep.

Gentle shepherd,
come and lead us
for we need you
to help us find our way.
Gentle shepherd,
come and feed us
for we need you
for strength from

day to day.

There's no other
we can turn to
who can help us
face another day.
Gentle shepherd,
come and lead us
for we need you
to help us find our way.

And now I sing this song to my son. Every night I rub his back as we rock and sing.

I have a terrible voice. Truly awful. And I'm not exaggerating. But to my sweet little boy and to my loving God, the notes that I miss matter not because they hear the praise and prayer of my heart.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Special Place

Like most kids growing up, I LOVED bedtime stories. Actually, I loved stories any time! But bedtime was always extra special...a time of quieting down and listening to my mom's soothing voice.

My sister, Mary, and I would sit in our matching twin beds nestled in the nook created by the double peaked ceiling of our shared room in the house my great grandfather built. My mom would perch between us and take our bedtime story requests.

More often than not, we chose The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. There were silly poems and thoughtful poems. Poems that made us giggle and poems that made us shriek. One of my favorite poems was one that made my heart feel comforted and glad.

Home! You're Where It's Warm Inside
by Jack Prelutsky

Home! You are a special place;
you're where I wake and wash my face,
brush my teeth and comb my hair,
change my socks and underwear,
clean my ears and blow my nose,
try on all my parent's clothes.

Home! You're where it's warm inside,
where my tears are gently dried,
where I'm comforted and fed,
where I'm forced to go to bed,
where there's always love to spare;
Home! I'm glad that you are there.

Now that I'm the mom, I'm inspired to create this kind of home for my kids. A place where they will always know that they are loved. A place they'll be glad to be.

As someone who struggles with perfectionism, it can be easy to allow the to-do's of running a home to take precedent over the get-to's of raising a family.

I get to kiss the boo boo's and dry the tears. I get to prepare healthy meals and give cozy hugs. I get to be a teacher, playmate, and encourager.

So day by day, I'm learning to let go of being perfect and embrace being present.

I'm Mommy and I get to make Home a Special Place!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It spills out of my eyes.

Sometimes I'm overcome by how much I love my boys.

Of course, I always knew (in an intellectual, of-course-this-is-logical kind of way) that I would love my own children more than any other.

But sometimes it surprises me how deep and fierce and pure and joyful my love for them is. I've only been their mother for a relatively short time. But each day I know my boys is another day I love them more.

Sometimes my love is too much for my heart to hold. It spills out of eyes. It creates the goofiest grin that I couldn't erase from my face if someone offered me a thousand bucks to do so.

Noah and Elias are my sons. I delight in them. I love them just for who they are.

In loving them I can't help but have a greater understanding of the Father's love for me. It's profound, really.

Watching Noah play or Eli sleep makes my heart smile. In the same way, God's heart is filled with joy just watching me be me. He loves me not for what I do but for who I am.

Noah, 21 months old

Elias, 2 months old

I could ask for no greater blessing than being a mom.

I'm blessed to love fully.

I'm blessed to be fully loved.

The LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And So We Walk

My walking shoes are therapeutic.

They make me turn off the TV and breathe in fresh air.

They make me forget my tiredness and feel my strength.

As a friend who is in my same stage of life so eloquently said, "walking represents my sanity."

I strap Elias in the Bjorn and buckle Noah in the Bob and we walk.

Sometimes we walk with a friend. This daily dose of adult conversation refreshes my heart and makes the miles melt.

Other times we walk alone. Just me and my boys, my inner dialogue, and my prayers to God.

I don't always feel like walking. But when I walk I always feel good.

It's a chance to soak up the sun. A chance to smile at a stranger.

Walking calms a fussy baby, contains a rambunctious toddler, and gets me one step closer to fitting in my jeans.

And so we walk...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who's Got Mail?

Confession. Growing up I had this quirky habit: I had to open the mailbox before I opened the front door...every time. It didn't matter if it was a Sunday, a holiday, midnight, or if I knew the mail had already come and I was even the one that had retrieved it. Every time I stood I stood before our green front door, that black metal box hanging on the rough brick wall beckoned me to open it.

What if I missed a letter the first time? What if there was a hand delivery? were the questions that continuously came to mind. But what propelled my irrational behavior most was my love for the ever-treasured personal notecard.

I could pick a hand written letter out of a mailbox lineup in my sleep! The slightly square shape of the envelope, address scrawled in familiar penmanship, and sturdy weight of a greeting card tucked inside. There's just nothing better.

Nothing better than knowing someone thought of you. Someone cared enough to pick up a pen, find a stamp, and lick an envelope. My first summer in college I worked in Kings Canyon National Park. There was no cell service, no Internet access, and a single payphone for all the employees to share. While it was one of the most challenging summer's of my life, it was also one of the best, in part because snail mail was my main form of communication with family and friends. I cherished every card I got!

In these (wonderful) days of texting, email, and facebook, the blessing of a written "just because" card is often lost. I admit that as much as I love receiving a handwritten note and as much as I love writing, the busyness of life and the tyranny of the urgent have put my card writing days on the back back burner.

Until now...

In honor of National Day of Encouragement (today!), one of my favorite blogs, (in)courage, recently gave readers ten free greeting cards from DaySpring's new Hope and Encouragement line. I was one of the lucky recipients of these beautifully designed, refreshingly thoughtful and authentic cards, and I can't wait to send them out!

 Maybe today is the day you'll get a special note of encouragement. Or maybe it's the day you should send one.

Stock photo courtesy of clshearin

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Several years ago I was talking with a coworker and asked her if it was hard to be single. She was in her early forties and had never been married. We chatted and she expressed that yes, at one time she had hoped and longed to be married, but now was content with her life and the journey God had taken her on. Then she said something that has always stuck with me:
"It's better to want what you don't have than to have what you don't want." 
The wisdom in that simple phrase has come to mind time and time again when I get caught in the wanting game. I want more sleep, more energy, more time. I want better hair, whiter teeth, and cuter clothes. I want best friends who live on my block and understand me all the time. More money, better communication, a bigger house, kids who never whine, and flatter abs. I want. I want. I want!

And then I remember those words. Especially the last part...to have what you don't want. What if I had a child with a severe disability or a husband with a terminal illness. What if I had no food for my family or didn't know how to read. A lack of hope, no one to call a friend, an abusive past...all things I would never want.

How blessed I am to NOT have what I don't want!

And really, when I think about it, I really do want everything I have. A husband who is smart and funny and my best friend. Two insanely cute and precious little boys. Two legs to walk on and two arms to hug the ones I love. A sharp mind (when I'm not sleep deprived) and friends who care for my heart. The amazing-grace gift of salvation and a relationship with Jesus. Wow. Everything I have I want!

I guess wanting is not such a bad thing...if you want what you already have.

Be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
-Hebrews 13:5