As parents we often do little things each day to show our children our love. We pick up after them. We make their favorite meal. We offer spontaneous hugs. We carpool. We share a story and snack after school. We pick up after them again.
Some days we have to love BIG…to show up for our kids on their turf…doing their thing, not ours
–dressing up with them for a special school event (hoping you don’t have to make any extra stops along the way because you feel a little silly being the only cowgirl at the grocery store)
–being a parent volunteer for the zoo field trip on a rainy day and receiving some high-energy kiddos in your small group because the teacher “knows you can handle it”
–getting into the passenger seat that first time your oldest gets his permit, thinking of how those hands were the little ones you held each day not so very long ago, guiding him across the street
–going on a family “date” with your son’s new girlfriend, navigating the awkwardness-all-round as graciously as possible
–trying to be a good sport when you’re picked out of the crowd at the annual scout banquet by the guest speaker who proceeds to blindfold you and have you put your hand in a box. When the crowd screams wildly, you peek to see that your hand is IN a box of ROACHES! Not kidding. Let’s just say that the “friendly Bug Lady” is NOT on my Christmas card list.
Yeah, some moments we LOVE BIG. We take risks and wade through tricky situations, knowing that these are all moments our children are tucking into their hearts to treasure now and later. They may laugh at us, but inside they are thrilled that we loved them BIG enough to set aside our own insecurities for their special moment.
“There is no fear in love.” I John 4:18
Dare to LOVE BIG.
As a mom to all boys, I’m used to Love Bumps…squeezes, shoulder taps, pokes, and more recently lifts over their shoulders as they have grown in stature. Boys show affectionate in all kind of bumpy ways. I’ve developed some good reflexes and tolerance for these unique gestures of affection.
This week I noticed I have some physical “evidence” of Love Bumps from my head to my feet. Literally.
I helped my mom move and got a busted lip from a floor lamp landing on my face. Ouch! I’ve been sporting a bruised and scratched lip all week, but really it’s just another type of Love Bump received by helping out a loved one.
I’ve got a few Love Bumps and Scratches from doing various household chores for my family, loving them through dishwashing, meal preparation and putting away endless groceries that come in nefarious packages that leave multiple paper cuts when you finally succeed in opening them.
A couple of purplish bruises on my shins are fading from some recent mother-son basketball shootouts that got a little rambunctious.
I stepped out of the shower this morning and found a greenish bruise on my foot — another Love Bump, which I figured out was from a heavy lid my hubby dropped and bounced off my foot last night when he was unloading the dishwasher for me, a colorful echo of him showing love through action.
These outward signs of Love Bumps are a reminder of the ways we love others by lending a helping hand. Some of our other Love Bumps are less visible; we may be bruised in spirit. We may be weary prayer warriors lifting up the same prayers over and over, trusting for a positive shift in a situation or healing in a tense relationship.
If we are in the nitty gritty of life with each other, we are going to sustain Love Bumps from time to time. These incidents give us a shared story and a connection that we may not otherwise have.
So, march on and steady yourself for your next Love Bump.
“Dear children, let us not LOVE with words or speech
but with ACTIONS and in TRUTH.” I John 3:18
When we think of joy, we often think of a child’s beaming face on Christmas morning. All of the anticipation that has been building is finally at its peak. That little body is all atwitter ready to leap into the magic of Christmas. Each of us probably has some keen memories of Christmas mornings past, some that were fulfilling of all the hype and perhaps a few that were found lacking.
How long does that intense feeling of full joy last? Are we able to summon that same level of anticipation to see what our heavenly Father has in store for us each day…
or does our joy feel like it’s in bits and pieces?
As adults we seem to catch glimmers of joy yet somehow that robustness of childhood joy eludes us. There are many references in the Bible about having a child-like faith. Perhaps the concept of unbridled JOY is a natural unfolding of that child-like faith: grab it with intensity and don’t let go!
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for JOY and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
Maybe we need to follow our children on this one…
–to discover the joy unfolding all around us, in the big and small details of everyday life
–to embrace the messy
–to surrender our agenda
–to adopt a child-like curiosity and anticipation of good things to come…
Seeking joy throughout the year…
in the ordinary days,
not just dusted off at Christmas time.
Where can you find YOUR joy today?
One of the many joys we have both learned as Boy Moms, is to embrace the sheer pleasure of destruction in our sons’ worlds. I truly believe that a few of our kids only humor us with our Christmas tradition of Gingerbread-making because they know the day will come at the end of the Holiday Break when we will bring them all together again for: Demolition Day!
Yes, we are “those moms” that give our sons Nerf guns and hammers and on the count of 3… let them wreak havoc on our cookie creation. The whole thing is usually reduced to rubble in seconds while the two of us try to capture the fleeting moment for a scrapbook, dodging bits of gingerbread and candy flying past us!
This is how we look at it: children are constantly told to “be still, be quiet, don’t touch this or that, stop running…” It must be so difficult to contain all that frenetic energy bundled up in these growing bodies, AND obey all the adults that want them to stop acting rambunctious! Of course we can’t have children completely run amok (!!) but there should be some balance in their behavior training.
There are times we can create appropriate moments to run, yell, jump, wrestle, and touch everything in sight. So that’s what this day is about for our Gingerbread Warriors. They anticipate this day greatly, and we all dive in to the fun of it. So when we say “be still,” they can, because they trust us to tell them when it is time to “run with abandon!”
Enjoy the “play”; these moments are treasures tucked into your children’s hearts. They will become more important to you than all those moments they were quiet.
“Open my heart, Lord, to the gifts of this day!”
When my son was 4, his definition of patience was “waiting my turn.” Kids get a lot of practice with this at school, at home, at church, and on the playground. The adults around them encourage and reinforce taking turns.
As adults we probably get more “practice opportunities” than we would like…waiting our turn in traffic or in the grocery store line, being on hold, listening to toddler-babble all day long, waiting for news of a loved one’s life event, or biding our time until it’s our turn for a promotion. Sometimes we even have designated places to practice patience: those chilly waiting rooms outside of surgical suites and doctors’ offices–where time becomes squishy with an unusual mixture of uncertainty and hope. All these practices without a designated coach…it can get a little tricky with all of us out there trying to make the big play yet committing countless fouls in the process. This road to Patience is bumpy.
I asked Siri for a definition of Patience. In her all-knowing tone, she told me that having patience is to “remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people.” Geez! It’s probably good that we don’t have visible cartoon thought bubbles broadcasting how we reealllly feel in these daily situations of stress. Misplaced keys, a cracked phone screen, getting cut off in traffic…we face frustrations each and every
day hour. How we respond to these hassles reflects upon how deep our level of patience is and how quickly we can tap into it. And all of us know that our darling children are watching, always watching.
Somehow the “big” trials seem to ramp up my patience and I churn out the calm vibes at warp speed. On the other hand, those little daily hassles can trip me up. Running late can zap my patience with my kids super fast. Those last five minutes exiting the house can be quite dicey as I’m calling out reminders in my not-so-calm voice: “grab-your-jacket! Got-your-water-bottle-for-practice?Remember-we-have-your-music-lesson-right-after-school-so-bring-your-instrument-now-so-it-will-be-in-the-car-later.Did-you-turn-off-the-lights?Your-shoes-are-in-the-family-room-where-you-left-them.Come-on-we’re-runninglate.Put-the-sword-down.Don’t-forget-your-backup-soccer-jersey.Get-out-of-the-fridge-we-don’t-have-time-for-a-snack.Oh-and-bring-out-the-trash-as-you-come-please“…[just insert all those “Mommy messages” here because it’s exhausting reliving those moments; oh, and remember to add “please” at the end of the monologue–gotta keep it “nice”–ha!] Needless to say, countless apologies have been made in the car as we’re scurrying to a soccer game, violin lesson, or (gasp!) even to church.
To get better at patience, we probably have to know our “buttons” – our stress points. If we aren’t sure, our spouse and/or children will be able to provide us with some quick insights. (ouch!) Patience can be quite a strength if we practice and build up our ability to use it consistently and effectively. Maybe one way to “bulk up” our patience is to spend a little time trying to deepen our sense of calm.
I have a friend that loves to color. It’s soothing and helps ground her. After a coloring session, she has more mental clarity and is more prepared to tackle her next challenge. Coloring books for adults are now marketed everywhere, so go for it! It’s not just for kindergarteners anymore; it’s “socially acceptable” for grownups!
I tend to find myself cleaning out closets or my car just to have a sense of control over something tangible when life circumstances are off-kilter.
For others, taking a walk to burn off nervous energy might help restore calmness.
The beauty of being unique individuals is that we can each have a different arsenal of responses to any given situation. Whatever flavor of calmness technique you adopt, it probably works best if it “fits” and feels natural to you.
“A man’s wisdom gives him patience.” Proverb 19:11
Patience may be one of the Fruits of the Spirit that we need more time to develop. It’s about being patient, not doing patient. It’s not a one-time “I’ve got it!” experience either. It’s an on-going process that we continually have to reboot. Patience is tough. It keeps us on our toes. As with many things that are difficult, though, it is so worth it. Just wait, and you’ll see.