Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a song by Mr. Roger’s…

I am of the firm belief that no one is ever too old for a good dose of Mr. Rogers.

A while back my daughter and I found a DVD copy of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at our local library. As we watched together, equally absorbed in the adventures of Lady Alaine and Daniel Tiger, my attention was drawn to a song they were singing while peeling apples for an afternoon snack.

It’s the apple salad way to say, I love you.

It’s the apple salad way to show I care about you.

It was a simple song and it may seem a little silly written here where you can’t hear its tune but nonetheless the words struck me. They reminded me of all the simple ways we can show love to the people around us.

I have since made it a point to adopt this song as a regular in our household. As I go about my day with my girls and my family I often sing this song when opportunities arise…

When my daughter lost her glove and freaked out because her hands were so cold:

“It’s the giving you my glove way to say, I love you.

It’s the giving you my glove way to show I care about you.”

When she wanted me to sit next to her on the backseat because she was tired and carsick:

“It’s the sitting in the backseat way to say, I love you.

It’s the sitting in the backseat way to show I care about you.”

Did I want to give up my gloves? Not really. Do I like sitting on the backseat? For sure, no! But in both of these instances I was willing to because it was a chance to choose love.

There are so many ways to show love and each of them is a reflection of God’s love for us.

And it’s true, sometimes love feels more like a duty, or an obligation, or a chore but when we see these small and seemingly insignificant acts of kindness as an opportunity or a privilege, the act of love becomes a joy and a blessing not just to those on the receiving end of our love but to our hearts as well.

So look around you. Consider all the big and little ways you can sing this song for others. Consider all the big and little ways God is singing this song for you…

When your co-worker is having a stressful day:

“It’s the fixing you a cup of tea way to say, I love you.

It’s the fixing you a cup of tea way to show I care about you.”

Or when you’re running late for work but God’s got your back:

“It’s the all green lights on the way to work way to say I love you.

It’s the all green lights on the way to work way to show I care about you.”

If nothing else I promise this will put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  And perhaps it will also serve as a simple, yet no-less-real reminder of the endless ways we can love each other, of the lavish ways He loves us.

Brave Prince, lovely Princess, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the simple wisdom of Mr. Rogers. May you share this little song about love with the people in your “neighborhood.” May find the voice of God sweetly singing over you.

Just a Mom

So there were these words written here by Ann Voskamp. And these words they trickled from my inbox into my heart where they inspired, and moved, and made me move toward Him.

And there were these words that trickled from my pen. My humble response to Him.

From the pages of my journal…

Lord, thank you for these words that remind me that the “just” moms, and the small callings, and the tiny steps are made huge by you and your Kingdom. The work I do today seems small but it is pure, and true, and it is all I have. It’s all I love, and it is all for you.

I smile giddy at the thought that you saw fit to bless me with a calling I love so much. My girls. My man. My writing. And to think that you could…that you would…see fit to use “just” me. To think that you would use me to do the small in order to accomplish the big…to change the world, to change even ONE lost, hard, or hopeless heart. It makes my heart twist and my eyes blur.

It doesn’t seem real, or possible, or true. It doesn’t seem likely. But why not? To say it isn’t, to say it can’t be so, is to doubt not only me but you. And I am done being the Doubting Thomas.

Haven’t you proven worthy millions of times?

And there is Ann and her miracle. She started just like me, at her kitchen sink, with her kids, and her farmer. With her homeschooling books laid open and scattered. She started just like me with words burning in her soul and questions longing for answers.

And she did the work, and she asked the questions, and she said the thanks until she lived the thanks. She was flawed, but she was faithful.

And you, you took the kids, and the farmer, the books, the words, the questions, the thanks, and the longing. You took the mom, and the small, and the flaws and you spun out love, and grace, and miracles.

You did this. Not just for the mom at the sink but for countless others. You rippled the love, the grace, the miracles through the world, your very Kingdom here on earth.

So why not? Lord, why not me? Why not you and me together; forever spinning out miracles?

It is all and everything I want. To be found faithful with the kids, and the man, and the books. To be found faithful with the words, and the questions, and the longings. To offer the small, and the flaws, and the whole of the heart to you.

To take what you give and give thanks. To break it into pieces, into a family, into words, into a world desperate for you.

So it might be shared.

So it might be given.

Broken to bless.

I am just a mom. But this, it could be my story.

My miracle.

My ripple in this world.

Re-member (Blog Pile Link)

NetWhen I think about March I think about spring time, and Easter, and basketball.

As the tide of March Madness washes over our nation with the arrival of the NCAA Tournament I can’t help but remember all the spring and summer evenings my dad and I spent playing basketball in our driveway.

It’s not like we even play anymore, my dad and I. To tell the truth it’s been years since we’ve challenged each other to a shooting match. A combination of my dad’s bad shoulder and my interest in other things brought our days of heated rivalry to an end long ago. But despite this fact, our memories remain…today I’m excited to be posting at The Blog Pile. I’d love for you to follow this link and read more at: www.theblogpile.com.

Filling In The Blanks (A Message From the Archives)

Last February I wrote this post after spending a week with my sister and her family. Little did I know a whole year would go by before we had the chance to be together again. I’m happy to say my wait is almost over! By the time you read this post my family will be with me and the message I wrote last February will repeat itself from beginning to end.

As I prepare for my family’s arrival I thought this would be a good time to dig this post from the archives and share it one more time. May it be a reminder to you of “Kingdom Moments,” and the solace found in a thankful heart…

I know Christmas, by way of the calendar, has been over for a solid month, but for me, Christmas did not end until the last weekend of January.

Due to a new position at my brother-in-law’s workplace, my sister and her family were not able to make the 872 mile drive from their home in North Carolina to Michigan in time for Christmas this year. We all agreed that we would wait as long as necessary to celebrate the season if that’s what it took for us to be together.

“We’ll leave up the decorations until July if we need to,” I assured my sister. “Just. Get. Here!”

Finally, they made it, and for a full week we each drank deep from the glass family.

When they packed up their van and rolled out of our driveway, headed home to the sunny south, my heart began to ache. I don’t know for sure when we’ll see them again and that always makes goodbyes even harder.

Later, as my daughter and I sat at the kitchen table eating lunch, the quiet of the house consumed us. There we sat with room to spare, when just hours before, the table and the house had been full.

“Mommy,” Aletheia said. “I’m sad. I miss my cousins.”

“I miss them too.”

At three years of age, I know it’s hard for Aletheia to understand why she can’t see her cousins more often. I know how my heart felt in that moment and I could tell hers felt the same way. How could I help her understand and sort through the hard feelings that come with saying goodbye?

“Aletheia?” I asked. “Do you know why you feel the way you do? Do you know why you miss your cousins?”

Her sad, blue eyes spoke the words her mind couldn’t muster.

“The reason you feel sad is because you have five big holes inside your heart. One in the shape of Madeline. One in the shape of Conner, and one in the shape of Garrett, Aunt Melanie, and Uncle Landon too.”

“Yes,” she said with her tiny voice.

“And, do you know what else? I bet that Madeline, Conner, Garrett, Aunt Melanie, and Uncle Landon have some holes in their hearts too, except theirs are in the shape of Aletheia and Tenley.”

Aletheia nodded and we went back to our lunch, to our getting back to normal.

As my girls took their afternoon naps, I retreated to my room in search of my own sense of comfort for the holes that ached inside.

It’s a feeling I’m sure we can all relate to. At the end of something great, on the tail of goodbye, the sinking feeling of empty that is left in the wake of what I like to call days of heaven upon the earth. In time the ache goes away, but what to do with those moments when reality crashes hard?

Stretched across my bed, I pulled out my phone and opened my email. A week’s worth of blog posts from Ann Voskamp filled my inbox, evidence of a week too full of fun and family to stay on top of the everyday details that usually capture my attention.

I’ve written before, of my love for Ann’s writings and the way they have helped me in the past. I don’t mean to sound redundant, but once again, God navigated me to the right post at the right time and spoke to the holes inside my heart.

How can I fill the holes, the blanks left by a week that felt so much like His Kingdom, right here on earth?

The answer, I found, was simple: Fill the holes with Thanksgiving.

By remembering the moments that made the week great and the goodbyes hard, the holes can be filled with thank yous for God, the orchestrator and giver of each precious gift…

Garrett’s curls…

Madeline’s freckled nose and “little mommy” ways…

Conner’s boyish laughter…

Watching Twilight with my sister…

Landon playing in the snow with Aletheia…

Mom’s Christmas dinner…

Dad, asleep in his chair, while the grandkids romp wild…

Tenley learning to say “Coco” the name of our family’s furriest member…

Living-room ransacked with toys…

Late nights and early mornings…

Snow falling peaceful, the feel of “Christmas Morning”…

This is how my list began. As tears of remembrance slid down my cheeks, my heart was filled with thanksgiving for God’s goodness, for the joy of family and the comfort of His love.