When I Want To Take Away My Child’s Pain

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A word, a sentence, a look is all it takes to arouse a fear lying dormant in the heart.

“Mom, I can’t bend at my knees. I think my leg is swelling up again.”

Fears in my heart rubbed the sleep from their eyes.

“I’m sure your knee isn’t swelling. You are probably a little sensitive to the possibility of it happening again.” I was convincing myself as much as my 9-year-old.

The following day he made mention of pain in his leg. We noticed a limp in his walk. Fears in my heart began to stretch their arms, preparing to come fully awake.

Easing himself into a chair, he placed his left leg out so I could raise the leg of his pants. The chattering of fear could be heard in the background. I talked back, telling fear that it was a different leg than last year. I talked back telling fear that this was a coincidence. I talked back telling fear to go back to sleep. He’s not welcome here.

Inching the leg of his pants up, I swallowed a gasp as my eyes took in the sight of his knee. Begging my eyes not to give away the fear now fully awake, I looked at Zachary. “I think it’s fine. It looks like it is a little swollen, but I’m sure it’s fine. We will keep watching it and pray it doesn’t swell like last time.”

One year ago we had a scare and a painful couple of weeks when his right leg became swollen, fluids drained, tests run, and finally no conclusions, but swelling gone. For a year the fear of a reoccurrence has slept in our hearts.

Now we are reliving the experience. This time in the left leg.

In my own heart, fear feeds on the unknowns and the what-if’s. In Zachary’s heart, fear feeds on the pain, the oversized needle, and the inability to do all the things he loves- running, jumping, and playing outside.

The mama heart in me wants to make everything right for my child. To take away every twinge of discomfort, every ounce of pain.

We pray, friends pray, family prays, teachers pray. I listen to his prayers. I hear the courage that wants to dominate, but I hear the fear that fights for its place. We ask God to take away the swelling. We ask God to bring back the normal function of his knee, his whole leg. We ask God to take away the pain.

As we lay our requests at the feet of Christ, my heart silently pleads with God. Please, God, grant us this. I want Zachary to see how you answer our prayers. I want him to see how you work on our behalf. I want Zachary to experience you.

And I hear His whispers back to me. I strain hard to hear. I freeze, making no movement to be sure I hear Him. I always answer prayers. I work all things for good for those called according to my purpose. My ways are not your ways. Trust me.

I argue with God in the privacy of my soul. No, God, really. I don’t want my child to hurt. I want to take away all his pains. I don’t want to watch him struggle. And more than anything I want him to grow in his faith. I want him to know you fully and trust you with everything he has.

Patiently, God listens to my moanings. He is my child. I love him even more than you do. I want the same things for him.

I see my shallow faith. I see my temptation to believe the lie that my child must get his way to believe God. That my child must have his prayer answered immediately the way I believe is best to believe in the God he’s placed his trust in. I feel the guilt in my heart growing.

It’s a struggle I face daily. Trying to be the Holy Spirit within my children. I’ve written about this struggle.  Thinking I know what is best for them. Wanting to guide them towards safety. Wanting to grow them into who I want them to be.

I want to take away the fears of my children. I want to take away pain. I want them to experience joy. I want them to trust God with all their heart.

But at times I want that so badly, that I try to get in the middle and do it my own way. I think I know best. I think that for my kids to fully trust God, that God must answer every prayer according to how I best see fit. I think for them to trust God, they must get the answers they want from Him.

God always brings me back to Him. To a place of seeing our most desperate need is not to get our own way, but to live out our lives His way.

Softly, He brings to mind many of the prayers He has answered in my own life. Many that He answered in ways I never would have anticipated. Many in ways I never asked. Some no’s, some yes’s, some maybe’s, some yes – but it looks different that you are picturing.

Zachary hobbled to the farmhouse table and eased himself onto the bench by the fire. The place where hearts are shared regularly. The place where stories are told and created. The place where the fire warms us, the food feeds us, and His Word nourishes us.

“Mom, I think I know one of the reasons God allows this to happen to my leg.”

I looked up to meet his eyes that spoke a tenderness commanding my attention.

“I think God allows this pain so I can help others. Now that I know what this is like, I can help others when they hurt.”

The gasp I swallowed out of fear earlier came to the surface. This time it didn’t come from the place of fear.

“Zachary, if I could take away your pain I would. If I could take it on myself, I would do it. But I can’t. God did that for us didn’t He? To save us, Jesus took on pain, shame, and death so that one day we could be with Him in glory.”

He reminds me again. His ways are not my ways. Sometimes He uses our pains and our struggles to create the person in us He wants us to be. Sometimes He uses our circumstances to grow the character needed to sustain what He sees ahead of us. Sometimes pain free isn’t the best place for us. Sometimes it’s there we are most aware of Him.

As a mom, I want to make life well for my kids. I want to take away what hurts them. Kiss the boo-boo away. Tuck them in tightly crowding out their fears. Sometimes, I want it so much I’m tempted to take away the place God wants us to be in that moment.

He sent His son to die on a cross for my sins. He knows the pain of a parent watching their child struggle. He knows that pain more than I can begin to fathom.

Yes, I can trust Him with my own child. After all, my child is His child, on loan to me for a time. My role isn’t to make life smooth and comfortable, removing the rocks along the path. My role is to encourage my child to keep his eyes focused on the One who leads him along the path laid out before him.

 

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In This House We Will Giggle

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I’m so excited to share an interview with Courtney DeFeo discussing her new book In This House We Will Giggle. I met Courtney through a mutual friend and had the privilege to listen to her speak at She Speaks last summer. Last Christmas a friend bought me ABC Scripture Cards, which I fell in love with. I had no idea that Courtney was the creator until I met her at She Speaks. Today she shares her new book with us!

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  1. How did In This House, We Will Giggle come about?  In This House, We Will Giggle began after I left a marketing career and became a stay-at-home mom. Two passions collided. My passion to empower others mom – and my passion to change little lives. I started Lil Light O’ Mine – a blog and company with ABC Scripture Cards. As you are aware, the blogging community for moms is so unique. We can share our failures and dreams and work together to change lives as we follow God’s promptings. I was given the opportunity to share a book idea at the She Speaks conference by Proverbs 31 and they loved it. So the rest is history. I was able to continue with my mission to empower moms and change little lives through innovation in the home. Just in the form of a book! Reaching many more families than I ever dreamed.
  2. What do you hope this book will bring to families? I hope they have more laughter and less lectures erupting through their homes. I hope moms see how very practical the book can be for their lives I want it to be a conversation for these 12 virtues. The 12 family fun activities are just ideas – and they are BEST implemented when our families embrace them. So tweak them, skip some – just give it a shot! I want our kids to experience WHO we know more than hear WHAT we know.
  3. What is your heart’s passion/desire behind this book? Truthfully, it is to know Jesus. I believe if our kids experience His goodness vs just hear about all the rules and consequences – they will want to stay with it. The way my parents lived out their faith left a mark on my life. Our kids are not too young to serve, to give and to change the face of a community. It will get in them and it is contagious. Good little Christian kids is not the goal. Ones who have Jesus in them – and they enjoy it pouring out – that’s the goal. There are millions that know a lot about Jesus in their heads, but not so much in their hearts. Adults and kids.
  4. Does the book offer practical ways families can begin putting into practice immediately? Oh yes! I am a busy mom. I don’t have time to read a book that offers inspiration without practical help. So, each chapter has a detailed family activity to go with the key virtue. In addition, it has an easy virtue definition (words kids can understand), a corresponding memory verse and much more. Plus, the entire book has 60 ways to make your family giggle.
  5. What age range of children is this book intended for? I have pregnant moms to parents of teens and grandmothers reading this book and loving it. The activities are geared for 2 to elementary kids but the majority of them can be implemented well into the teens.

 

ENTER TO WIN A COPY! Just simply comment below on what makes you giggle in your home. Winner announced on my Facebook page Monday, November 3rd.

You Tube Link to Trailer Video

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About the Book: In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life offers parents a practical approach to instilling virtues in their children through laughter, rather than lecture. Designed to cover an entire year, each of the 12 chapters highlights one key virtue in developing a child’s character, along with insights to help infuse the virtue into everyday life. In This House, We Will Giggle teaches children to experience the goodness of God, the joy of following Jesus and the difference children can make in the lives of others.

 

View More: http://aleamoore.pass.us/defeofamily
About the Author: Courtney DeFeo is a popular blogger and creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View.” She is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. To connect with Courtney, visit CourtneyDeFeo.com

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Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

10 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Give More And Want Less At Christmas

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We would love for our kids to think less of themselves and more of others during the Christmas season (and all year long, really). Our job is to guide and model to them how this is possible. Culture is going to hailstorm them with messages of “It’s all about you.” Commercialism will create the monster named “I Want This” inside our children. Retailers will tantalize us with their displays and beckon our children to not just want but to desperately need what they are selling.

As parents we wonder how we can possibly fight against the way of culture. How do we create children who understand the meaning of Christmas and have hearts that desire to give more and receive less? It seems an overwhelming task.

When faced with what seems impossible, I like to look at the small piece of possible.

What can I do that sends the opposite message to my children than the message retailers are sending? Here’s a few ideas you might find helpful in growing kids who have hearts of giving in a season that tells them to get, get, and get some more.

  1. Don’t ask them to create a Christmas wish list – Don’t get mad at me. But your kids will give you enough hints that you can write down a few ideas without them spending hours creating a list of everything they could ever possibly want. This also keeps their expectations lower. When my kids have created lists, then don’t receive what is on their list, I’ve seen the disappointed looks. On the other hand, if they only drop hints, they don’t fully expect to get those items. It’s a bit of psychology I suppose. If we want our kids to think less of themselves and more of others, then we can make one simple change at Christmas by not asking them to think of what they want.
  2. Throw away the catalogues – One of my children loves to look at toy catalogues. He finds items he never knew existed then suddenly can’t live without them. I try to save him the anxiety and throw the catalogues out before they ever make it inside. If we don’t know it exists, we don’t want something we don’t need.
  3. Christmas Blessing List – Create a list that you post in a visible spot where members of the family keep a list of all the ways they have seen the gifts of Christmas. We define gifts of Christmas as the gifts of hope, love, peace, and joy. Where did we give one of these gifts, where did we see one of these gifts, or where did we receive one of these gifts. It’s a daily hunt for the blessings of Christmas. Training our kids to see beyond themselves and look for blessings. You could even make this a fun game that when the family reaches 100, you go out for ice cream. A little incentive for the littles (or bigs) to give a blessing more often than normal.
  4. Limit visits to stores – Does this sound impossible? It’s really not if we are a little creative with our shopping. I have begun to do most of my shopping online. When I need to visit a store, I try to arrange to go when my husband can be home with the kids, when they are in school, or swap babysitting with a friend. I realized when we hosted 2 orphans over the last couple of years how trips to stores seem to increase a child’s desire for more stuff. This should be common sense, but I didn’t realize it until I saw how these children would begin so content and the more stores we visited, the more stuff they began to ask for. They suddenly weren’t satisfied with what they had.
  5. Pick family missions or service projects – Our family prepares a meal to provide to a hospice patient on Christmas Day. We double the portion we are planning to prepare, package it up, and deliver on Christmas. It’s easy on Christmas Day to become absorbed in the gifts and festivities and lose sight of the ones suffering and grieving. Christmas isn’t joyous for everyone, but each of us can be a vehicle of sprinkling even the tiniest drops of joy into someone’s life. I’ll be posting ideas of family service projects in the coming weeks.
  6. Purchase gifts for others with their own money – If your child has their own money tucked away, it’s a good idea to have them use some of it to purchase a few small items for those they love. The Dollar Store is a great place they can get very small items inexpensively.
  7. Keep them busy serving – The more our kids serve, the less they think of themselves. The more I serve, the less focused I am on myself. Simple acts of kindness through the season will help loosen the hold of greed.
  8. Create family traditions – Traditions are what kids remember more than the gifts. It can be the simplest of moments, but the more time families spend creating memories and traditions, the less focus is given to the gifts. Kids will look forward to the events rather than the material gifts. The value of time and experience will grow larger in their hearts than gifts. Family traditions can be very small, and cost nothing or very little, but kids excitedly anticipate them each year.
  9. Set budgets and limits on gifts and communicate these to your children – I’m always surprised at the expectations of my children when compared to my own. I often forget that they create expectations based on fewer years than I have and often will place my own expectations on them. When I have communicated what our kids can expect at Christmas, they have never complained. If anything it has allowed them to let go of obsessing about what they will and won’t get. If they are told they will receive 5 gifts, they don’t expect more than that. If they are told they will receive one toy, a few clothing items, and a surprise item, they are more than ok with this. Sometimes when we are trying to decrease the size of Christmas, it is easier than we realize. We just have to communicate it to the kids.
  10. Gratitude Journal – A thankful heart produces contentment while leaving less room for discontentment, which is the root of many “wants”. The more we focus on what we have to be thankful for, the less we focus on what we don’t have. It’s a change in how we view life. We spotlight the thanks and the desires become dimmer.

Share your ideas with us. How does your family balance the commercialism of Christmas and cultivate hearts not consumed with material gifts?

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31 Ways To Pray For Your Kids

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In May I attended a writers conference and had the honor of meeting an author I admire and respect so much. He ended up being one of my favorite instructors at the conference with his humor and wit. Bob Hostetler has a new app available to help us parents pray intentionally for our kids.

I love that each day has a specific prayer topic, a beautiful picture, and a verse to pray along with. The app allows you to set a reminder, which was very helpful for me. I start out my day praying for my children, but often intend to pray for them throughout the day only to find the day became busier than I intended, and time slipped away. No matter how busy I found myself, the alarm would sound, I’d open the app, and I’d take a moment to pray specifically for each of my children.

This app gave me topics to pray for my kids that I had not been praying about. It helped me to move outside of my “normal” prayer topics to go a little deeper in my prayer life for my kids. Some days I simply breathed out the verse of the day in prayer for my kids. Other days, the app provided a springboard for me to dive deeper into a prayer topic.

I highly recommend this app if you find yourself wanting to become more intentional in your prayer life for your children.

You can download 31 Ways To Pray For Your Kids here.

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Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and The Red Letter Life, have sold over 3 million copies. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award. He is the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have two grown children, Aubrey and Aaron, who have given them five beautiful grandchildren.

 

 

 

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

15 Non-Toy Gift Ideas To Give Kids At Christmas

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Ready or not Christmas is around the corner. For many, this brings excitement. For others, it brings stress.

I’m speaking to several groups this holiday season on moving from stress to simplicity to splendor during the Christmas season. I thought it would be fun to take a little poll to see what stresses everyone out and solutions they have discovered. I will be sharing tips to simplifying the season over the coming weeks.

TOO MANY PRESENTS!

Today, I share a common stressor. Too many presents! One of the most common complaints I hear is this, “We have to clean out and purge toys before Christmas because the grandparents buy so much stuff.” 

Or

“We have asked relatives to simplify gift giving, but it is X’s love language, and she just can’t help herself. She brings bags and bags of toys each Christmas.”

Or

“We can never think of anything to get our kids because they have so much stuff.”

This may seem like something silly to be stressed about, but it’s actually not so silly.

When you are trying to model the true spirit of Christmas being about Christ and not material gifts, it’s really hard when kids are bombarded with the gifts. And what kid doesn’t like loads and loads of presents?

A closely related stressor for many people is the materialism and consumerism of Christmas. The pressure of gift buying, the draining bank account, and the ungrateful attitudes that begin to develop.

SOLUTION TO TOO MANY PRESENTS

If you have been a reader here for awhile, you know I love to talk about creating memories and traditions. When our kids were little, we asked the grandparents to try to limit the amount of toys they gave our kids. Toys were bursting through every crevice of our home, and the more our kids had, the less they actually played. At the same time, we wanted them to have something that went beyond Christmas morning- something of value, something that could create a memory.

We began incorporating more experience types of gifts.

About 2 weeks after Christmas, our kids were unable to list the toys they received. And they certainly couldn’t identify who gave them what because there was so much stuff, nothing had much value. However, the gifts they clearly remember and still talk about are the ones that created memories.

I love memory-creating, experience-happening gifts. One year our kids received a day of snow-skiing lessons from the grandparents as a Christmas gift. One year Andrew received 8 weeks of swimming lessons. One year our kids received season passes to the local amusement park. They enjoyed that gift for months and even created sweet memories with the grandparents.

Not only do we as parents love these gifts more, our kids do as well. Even if they don’t realize it now, they will later in life.

When they outgrow the latest video game, the newest all-the-rage toy people wake at 3:00am to fight for, they will not outgrow the memories they created with a gift that is a moment with you or an experience they can hold onto.

Here’s a list of alternative types of Christmas gifts:

  • Lessons– sports, music, art, etc. Do you have a child who wants to play the guitar? Do you have a baseball player who wants a few batting lessons? Do you have a budding artist? Giving a gift such as lessons also begins to instill gratitude and appreciation in a child. They begin to see the gift and sacrifice in something such as piano lessons rather than simply expecting they are entitled to it.
  • Sports registration– season of team soccer and a pair of new cleats, session of swim lessons and a swim bag. Sports registrations are expensive, again this is another way to teach children to appreciate the gift of playing team sports rather than simply believing they are entitled to play.
  • Movie passes with a box of candy and a popcorn bucket. We love taking our kids to the movie theater, but it’s a rare treat for our family of 5. Giving the gift of movie passes allows us to enjoy movie trips through the year we wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy.
  • Hotel night away– use points earned from travel or credit cards to save more money. This is meant to be very inexpensive and not extravagant at all. Really focusing on the simplicity of time together. Grab pizza, play games in the room, swim in the pool, just being together away from home.
  • Tickets to favorite sporting event -MLB, NHL, NFL.
  • Gift cards to favorite restaurants
  • A favorite camp. Camps are expensive, and many kids love summer camps. This is a great way to give a gift they will get to enjoy months after Christmas has passed.
  • Books, books, more books. Now, I don’t feel about books the way I do about toys. I think one can’t possibly have too many books. And books are a wonderful way for children to spend time together with their parents as well.
  • A special date night. This takes a little creativity but would be so special to a child and something they would always remember. If you are a grandpa who likes to fish and one of your grandkids likes to fish, plan a special fishing date for the just the 2 of you. Wrap up a little tackle box of a few fishing supplies with a note inside for a private fishing date.
  • Future project together. Are you a grandma who loves to sew? Plan a day of sewing a special project piece with your granddaughter. Wrap up all the supplies and a picture of what you will create together along with a little note about the date you will do this. Are you a dad who loves woodworking? Gift a project date for you and your son to build a project together. Just the 2 of you.
  • Coupon book of 12 one-on-one dates for the year. One coupon a month. The activities should not be expensive or extravagant but should focus on doing something in particular with that child. A trip to a favorite ice cream shop. An evening walk or bike ride. An early morning breakfast out when everyone else sleeps.
  • A collection– coins, baseball cards, stamps. Collections are fun for kids, but even more fun when someone they love gets excited with them and takes part.
  • Groupons for bowling or skating. Each year we purchase a groupon to the local bowling alley.
  • Family gifts– One year we received a popcorn machine from my dad, and one year he gave us a soda machine. These have been so much fun for our family to use on movie nights or when friends come over.
  • Trip supplies – Are you planning a trip next year? Find a way to include aspects of that trip into their Christmas gift. Are you planning a ski trip? Give ski lift tickets and new gloves as part of their gift.

Kids love time. Kids love moments. Kids love experiences. Kids also love stuff. But stuff doesn’t give much beyond the moment. Time, memories, and experiences go far beyond Christmas.

As a bonus, when you give gifts that you don’t necessarily buy at a store, you effectively combat the consumerism of Christmas. Spend less and give more.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.

A Letter To Me (and all moms)- What We Need To Remember Before We Open The Screen

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[box] Today’s post is in response to the requests of many of you. The ones who wrote to me and said, “It’s not my kids who I need to limit their electronic usage, it’s myself.” Or those of you who wrote me and said, “I’m afraid I am the one who is missing out because I can’t put down my phone.” Or the ones who simply said, “Can you write something for us, parents?” The letter I wrote to my boys about why we limit their electronics is viewed at numbers that leave me speechless. Since June I continue to receive emails that leave me in tears. You have asked me to write to husbands, which I did, to ourselves, which I’m doing, and to wives, which I hope to do.

Here’s the thing, technology is wonderful when placed within proper boundaries. It doesn’t take long before it begins to creep out of its boundaries. It doesn’t mind breaking rules. It’s time we put technology back where it belongs. As a helper, not a master.[/box]

Dear Me,

Do you remember the way he handed you the little baby acorn attached to a bigger acorn? The way he said, “Mommy, look it’s a me and you one?” The softness of his still chubby fingers placed in yours. Remember the way you breathed in his freshly shampooed hair as you kissed his forehead with a thank you? Remember the way his eyes said more than his lips uttered?

It was a moment. One single moment in time, never to be another exactly like it. Yes, other moments will be, Lord willing, some may even resemble it. But that moment passed. Build a collection of those moments. Fill books and books with moments. Moments write the story of life. Real life.

Too much time on the screen and you will miss the acorn moments. You won’t realize you are missing them because you are still there. Physically there. If your head is down, he may decide not to offer you the acorn next time. Or he may not think it resembles the “me and you.” He needs your eyes to fully connect to you. He needs to talk to you while looking into your eyes. Hearts connect through the eyes not the screen.

He is good at knowing the difference in you being partly there or fully there. One day he won’t be there at all. And you will have all the time you want for the screen.

The screen doesn’t play fair. You see it won’t sass talk you. It won’t argue. It won’t spill milk. It won’t cry for no reason at all. It’s very predictable. Its mood stays the same from day to day. It doesn’t need anything from you. Instead it tells you to come to it and it will give you a break from the stress of life. It beckons you to escape.

I know the acorn moments don’t equal the tantrum moments, the moments of defiance and disobedience, the moments of accidents in pants when we are too old for accidents in pants. The moments of sibling fighting and hurtful words. Yes, I know the majority of your day isn’t filled with acorn moments.

You need the acorn moments. It’s the acorn moments that lend sweetness to balance the bitter and sour moments that will follow. You need as many acorn moments as you can bank.

Much of your day feels exhausting, stressful, chaotic, and busy. Yes, this is part of life too. It’s tempting to pick up that phone to get away from it all. It’s right at your fingertips. It promises to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you smarter, to make you more interesting. It promises. But it lies.

Remember that a beautiful life isn’t filled with only beautiful moments. A deeply satisfying life isn’t one where everything is worthy of a post. A beautiful life isn’t what it looks like on the outside, it’s how you view it from the inside. The screen shades your view.

Some of the most meaningful moments are the ones that can’t be shared online. Life needs you fully engaged to handle each moment that comes your way.

Life is a collection of moments. Fleeting moments. Here today, gone in….a moment. They will not all look worthy of a Pinterest pin. They will not all win you mother of the year. But they all play a role in the story of your life. The screen will shield your view of the full story. It’s like starting and stopping a page turner when all you really want is a solid hour to sit and read 2 chapters. The screen makes you go through the story of your life reading only a few sentences at a time, setting it down, picking it up. At the end of the book, you won’t remember the intricacies of the plot, the parts of your favorite characters that sucked you into their lives. You will have snippets. Because that is how you went through life. One snippet at a time.

Don’t experience life in snippets. Experience life fully. Put down the phone. Walk away from the computer. Screens will snippet your moments.

What you need most is a life filled with soul-filling moments that carry you through the seasons of change and the seasons of struggle. 

The screen moments are like empty calories for your soul. You will be temporarily filled. It creates subtle cravings that bring you back for more. It promises to satisfy longer each time, and you will believe it. Especially on the days you are tired of hearing the name “mom” called ceaselessly. Or the days the whining and crying has short circuited your nerves and left you desperate for anything other than what you are experiencing in that moment. The moments of weakness are the times it will draw you in the most.

I know you are busy. I know you are exhausted. I know you crave intellectual stimulation and conversation. I know you want to feel connected to the world. Many days as a mom you are left bored, disconnected, and feeling unimportant. I know that when you catch up online, you feel smarter, you feel wiser, you shared a few laughs.

Remember a screen won’t hand you an acorn. A screen won’t place its hand in yours. A screen won’t make an impression on your heart that will remain for life. You will read this letter and likely forget it. You won’t forget the acorn moments.

Now, close this letter and go make your moments.

andrew acorn

 

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Dear Boys, Why I Won’t Tell You I’m Proud of Your Home Run

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Photo credit: Justin Anovick

Dear Boys,

I love watching you play baseball. Not because I want to see you hit a home run, not because I want to see you make the play, not because I want to see you win tournaments. But because I get to see your character tested and developed. When you lace up those cleats, remember it’s not just a game, it’s more than a game. You’ve heard us say, “It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about how you play the game.” When we say ‘it’s about how you play the game’, we are talking about the heart you play the game with, the attitude you have. We are not talking about your skills, performance, and results. It’s heart and attitude.

Tournaments and games are tough when you play teams that take little league to a different level. It’s tough to hear opposing coaches screaming and parents on the other side mouthing off comments about missed balls and errors in the field. But don’t let that drag you down. Don’t let that dampen your love for the game. Baseball offers more than just a game. Life lessons are played out on that field, and you have an opportunity to be a champion for Christ. In life you have to learn to tune out the negative and tune in to your purpose.

We live in a see all world. Performance and results seem to be king. We don’t have to post pictures on social media of our tournament trophies to be champions. The sweetest successes are the ones not easily recognized. While the social media likes may not accumulate, your Father in Heaven is cheering you on to the quieter triumphs.  This world will tempt you to gain recognition. Fight the temptation to look to the world to validate you.

Don’t strive for the glory of a trophy. Strive for the glory God receives when you play the game for Him. With attitude and heart. Sometimes a trophy will follow, but when you play for Him, often the joy won’t come from something that sits on a shelf. It will come from something that takes root in your heart.

Hitting a home run is fun, but striking out is golden. If you never strike out, how can you understand the sweetness of hitting that ball to the fence? And how can you offer words of encouragement to your teammate that walks into the dugout after his 3rd strike out of the game? Striking out with grace positions you to appreciate the gift of the home run. And when you experience that, you have something to offer your teammate.

You will rarely hear me tell you I’m proud of the hits you got, the plays you made, or the runs you scored. Here is what makes me proud.

When the kid joins the team that’s new to the game and you pat his back and welcome him. That makes me proud. When you embrace him and cheer him on. When you take the time to notice the catch he made and you high-five him with a genuine sincerity. That makes me proud. Looking to build others up, not only strengthen your own game. That makes me proud.

When your team is losing, and you hear parents hollering from the sides with tones lacking encouragement, and you cheer on your team anyway. When you don’t hang your head in defeat, but raise your head to the challenge and the lessons. When you shout out to your team to remind them that you are all together and you can do this. Encouragement. That makes me proud.

When you lose a game and you come home reflecting, can you look back and see where you can improve and own up to your own mistakes without pointing out the errors all your teammates made? Ownership of our own faults and mistakes. That makes me proud.

When the opposing team makes an amazing catch, can you place yourself in that child’s shoes? Can you feel the disappointment of what that catch meant for your team while at the same time telling him, “Great catch!”? That makes me proud.

When you’ve not been satisfied with your game, and you practice hard. When you realize anything worth achieving takes a lot of hard work. And then you work. That makes me proud. When you hit a home run, when you make the big play, when you score a run because you’ve been working hard. It’s the effort you gave to improving that makes me proud.

As you get older, you will find that our world leans towards a view of a one-man game. Baseball is not a one-man game. Neither is life. As you get older, remember the game of baseball. Remember that life is a team game too. Life takes a pitcher, a catcher, infielders, and outfielders. Life takes the gifts and talents of many. And life takes more encouragement than we have to offer. So offer it as often as you can.

You will hear a lot of talk about stats. You will hear a lot of talk about records. You will hear and see a lot of getting ready for the next level. But I want you to hear this. Baseball and life are more than stats, more than trophies, more than steals and wins. It’s about how you play the game that matters most. Play with integrity. Play with honesty. Play with passion. Play with love. Play with excitement. Play with courage.

You can be a champion without a trophy or medal to prove it. Your main audience is not in the stands by the dugout. He is up in Heaven, gifting you, preparing you, and cheering for you. When you play the game, play with all the heart He created in you. Play as if you are playing for the Lord. When you do that, you will be a champion.

With all my love,

Mom

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