Tag Archives: love

In case you didn’t get a valentine . . .

Dear Valentine,

You are a precious, even if you don’t get roses or a dinner out or a card. Your friendship and love for the people around you is not defined by consumerism.

Dear Valentine,

Love is remembering a friend’s birthday. It’s sending a bitmoji to brighten someone’s day. It’s baking cookies for your neighbor. It’s cleaning up your kids’ vomit for 8 days in a row. It’s biting your tongue when you want to lash out. It’s giving grace to a cranky husband. It’s closing cupboard doors and toilet seats. It’s picking up socks and Legos and Barbie shoes and turning off all the lights in the house after everyone else has gone to bed. It’s loading the dishwasher and making a homemade dinner that someone is going to complain about. It’s doing your best work. It’s putting your hobbies on hold so someone else can learn a sport or take a class.

Dear Valentine,

You are an angel of mercy. You listen carefully. You speak kindly. You cry with people who hurt and laugh with people who rejoice. You pray for people who’ve hurt you, and you never even tell them. You choose to be satisfied with your own life, even though everyone else’s looks better. You are the real deal, and people remember that all year when they’re wearing normal colors for normal days. (It’s why they call you when life gets hard.) Your relationships are your valentines, and they endure all year and for all eternity.

Dear Valentine,

You are critically important to the family you support, even though you work overtime, bear the incredible weight of stress, and provide unendingly for people who mostly likely complain about not having more. You are a hero. At some point, your family will recognize your sacrifice and shake their heads in disbelief at all you accomplished. And they will wish they had thanked you more often. They will understand true love, perhaps for the first time ever.

Dear Valentine,

Your life is the biggest love note of all. It’s been read and enjoyed by thousands–maybe even millions, because no one can comprehend the impact of a single life. Your life bleeds real blood and feels real heartache. Did you know that people love you for it? Yes, they do. They love without goose pimples or swooning or eye-batting. Just an old-fashioned, I’d-do-anything-for-you kind of love.

You can’t sell true love. And you can’t buy it, either.

You live it.

Happy Valentine’s Day to someone who’s made the world a better place.

Love,

Your Secret Admirer

image by Petr Kratochvil

12 things I didn’t realize about motherhood

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My first baby, Bruce. Sept. 12, 1993.

I got my first doll when I was a toddler. I don’t actually remember it, but I’ve seen pictures of me toting it around, a little hard plastic baby head attached to a soft flannel baby-blue body. I loved the body to pieces.

I was a child who loved playing with dolls. I played with baby dolls, paper dolls, and Barbie dolls. I had tea parties, pushed baby buggies, and played house all the time. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a mother. I realized in middle school that I loved to babysit, and I was good with children. After college, I became a teacher. I married a youth pastor. Kids were my life. I was ready.

(Cue the laughter.)

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My second baby, Brent. April 9, 1996.

But no one prepared me for some remarkable revelations about motherhood. I guess there just aren’t words to describe the emotional climaxes of becoming a parent–of being a parent forevermore, and never forgetting that you are one. I didn’t realize that:

  1. I could love so deeply, and that it would actually hurt.
  2. I would be so tired. All the time.
  3. I could be so afraid about my children’s well-being. And that I would feel this way most of the time, even when I masked it with pro-active energy and activities.
  4. I was more impatient and selfish than I thought I was. And that I could get angry over stupid stuff like toys on the floor and uneaten beans and little fingers poking me awake in the middle of the night.
  5. I would dislike their homework, disobedience, and Saturday morning chores as much as I did.
  6. I would lose my identity, use my children as my identity, and then find myself again. And that it would take a long time to navigate that cycle.
  7. I would be so impressed by my own mother.
  8. I would catch a glimpse the depth of God’s love for me, and that it would overpower me.
  9. I would rather suffer than watch my kids suffer. That their disappointments, sinful mistakes, and painful consequences would tear my heart out.
  10. The days might drag, but they years would fly. And that every moment was worth remembering. In a way, I wish I could have videoed the entire experience, but I know it would hurt too much to watch it. Memories are better reviewed in small doses.
  11. My children would learn many of their bad habits from me, and that I would need to fix myself first before I could begin to fix them.
  12. Letting them grow up would be simultaneously painful and rewarding, and letting them move away would feel like dismemberment.
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My third baby, Brady. Aug. 11, 2000.

Mothering is the single most important thing I could ever accomplish in my lifetime. I thought that was true before I became a mother, but I couldn’t have anticipated how the experience would alter me. Mother’s Day is not a sufficient enough occurrence to commemorate the impact that mothers have on culture.

Every mother holds the world in her hands. It’s why we are so anxious. What we need to remember is that the change that comes with motherhood–all the scarring and the aging and the imperfection–that’s an important part of culture, too, because wisdom slips through the unanticipated challenges of life.

Motherhood is a magnificent garment you never take off, even if you outlive your children (which, of course, none of us want to do). It is new skin that takes awhile to get used to. Although it ages, you wear it because it’s impossible to un-wear it. No matter what motherhood has done to you, it remains your greatest badge of honor.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Believe, love, learn: How thinking like a child could change your life

Thinking like a child could change your life.

What do I mean? Well, kids blurt out the truth. If your fly is unzipped, they will tell you. If your face is wrinkly, they will tell you. If their mom’s in the bathroom throwing up when you call, they will tell you.

They have sharp insight about what’s important in life, and they don’t mind asking the tough questions. Here are 3 profound truths we can incorporate into our thinking, straight from the mouths of first graders:

Little girl sitting at a wooden school desk.

YOU ARE SPECIAL.

“I have super powers. I attach fans and flashlights to myself. I put on gloves that I attach them to, and I put on a mirror that reflects the sun’s light. It gives me power.”–Harrison

(Concerning math sheet) “I don’t know why they call that ‘Higher Order Thinking.’ That was easy.”–Sarah

“Your hair looks like it did yesterday.”–Mandie;  “I didn’t have to comb it today.”–Eric

“Why are you wearing camouflage?”–Shelley; “I’m a redneck. Are you a redneck?”–Haley; “I don’t know. What’s a redneck?”–Shelley; “Do you live near the woods?”–Haley; “Yes.”–Shelley; “Then you’re a redneck.”–Haley

Embrace who God made you to be, and be the best version of yourself! You are special, you were created for a unique purpose, and you have contributions to your world that only you can make. You really do have super-powers. Maybe someone just told you to take off the gloves and flashlights a while back, so you did. Try putting those special powers back on. Decide to think: Anything is possible! You have amazing things still to do.

YOU ARE LOVED.

“We need to pray for my mom. She has a headache all the time.”–Mikey, the class’s most ADHD child

“My mom used to be a lawyer. Then she gave it up to have me.”–Joel

“My mom comes home from her trip tomorrow. My Daddy did not sign my book because Daddy is not a very good signer.”–Caroline

A first grader’s world revolves around mom: how she acts, what she says, and how she makes her son or daughter feel inside. All parents have the enormous responsibility to render their children content, safe, confident, and happy. This truth leaves me with 2 challenges, which I feel compelled to embody. The challenges for me today are as follows:  1) Do I make people feel loved? and 2) Have I thanked someone lately for how he/she has loved me? Turns out, I can spread love as easily as I can hoard it. Think Who can I love today that needs it? instead of Who around here loves me? The second thought belongs to a martyr, and little children haven’t figured out that strategy yet.

YOU CAN LEARN.

“Teacher, I have something to tell you.”–Lee

“At storytime, you give us a piece of candy so we will sit quietly and listen.”–Thomas

During reading groups: “My stomach hurts. I think I’m sick.”–Ronnie; “Do you want to lie down in the nurse’s room?”–me; “Yes.”–Ronnie; “We’re going to recess in a few minutes. If you’re sick, you can’t go and play.”–me; “Never mind. I feel better.”–Ronnie

“Next year, when I have my birthday party, I can invite a teacher. I’m going to invite you!”–Rachel

“If everyone has a clean desk, the Desk Fairy comes and leaves candy in our desks!”–Amanda

Learning is exciting. Just ask any young child. But somewhere, between first grade and middle school, some children decide they aren’t that special, they can’t achieve their dreams, and that learning is difficult. They stop believing, they stop loving, and they stop learning. They stop changing into the people they were meant to be.

Don’t let that happen to you, even if your face is already wrinkly.

Carpe diem. Choose to believe, love, and learn. Life is beautiful, and it only comes around once.

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

image from http://www.crestock.com