Remember our fridge? Not what was on the inside (as yummy as that was), but what was on the outside. I loved displaying all your works of art, your photos, a good grade, all the things you were proud of. It was like our own little shrine to your awesomeness.
When we took things down, you would have a little freak out. Sometimes, I would sneak things into recycling or the garbage when you weren’t looking. Yes, I was THAT mom.
Other things stayed up there for a super long time just because it made both our hearts do a little dance when we passed by. You felt important and loved and knew how proud I was of you.
You know what? I’m a little sentimental and gushy because we aren’t putting things on fridges anymore. But I don’t need that dang fridge to tell you I am proud of what you accomplish, the things you create AND especially the person you are. That hasn’t changed and it never will. That little shrine moved from the big fridge door to the inside of my heart (no garbage or recycling needed)!
You know what else? Which just blows my mind!?!? God’s “fridge” is even bigger than mine. He loves you (AND ME) more than I ever can or will. You (AND ME) infinitely matter to Him. You (AND ME) are intensely valuable to Him. He is extremely proud of all the hard work you (AND I) have done and more importantly, the person that you (AND I) are. He’s filled with joy over you (AND ME).
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
He can live anywhere in the universe and He chose your heart.
Face it. He’s crazy about you.
Soak these words in! Let them settle deep down inside, where you can reach for them over and over any moment you need them! You are SO loved!
From my heart to yours,
P.S. You out there reading this…guess what???…all this applies to YOU too! I hope it puts a skip in your step for your day!!
*Picture from iVillage*
When you took your child home for the first time, I bet you felt like I did: nervous, excited, already exhausted, wondering if you would be all the things that were expected of you and that you hoped for.
It didn’t matter whether your child was chosen by you through adoption or born out of your body. Whether you went home with your first born as a single mom or with your sixth child as a married, older mom, this was a big undertaking, one filled with anticipation and trepidation (and maybe a little freak out).
This whole mom thing has been “quite the ride,” filled with quarrels and hugs, tears and laughter, heartache and hope. It feels a bit like you have been in some kind of battle together, sometimes fighting against each other (I know that all too well), but really fighting FOR something bigger than either of you: your child’s heart.
When he has bummer days, you fight FOR him not to become bitter. When she in on top of her game, you fight FOR her to become grateful. It’s an every-day kind of fighting and it doesn’t matter if your child is 2 or 52. P.S. You’re doing great!!!
I’ve got some BIG NEWS: You are NOT the only one fighting FOR your child, even in those moments that tell you the opposite. You are not in this battle alone, even for a minute.
God goes in front of your child, swatting down all the “spiderwebs” and low-hanging tree branches.
God hangs in the trenches with your child, especially for all the minutes that you are not able to be there.
God brings up the rear too, so that your child feels all kinds of safe inside.
God fights fiercely FOR his or her heart. YUP He does!! And He never stops!!
Believing this is one of the only things that holds this fraidy cat mama heart together many days.
Now I’ve even got some BIGGER NEWS: In the midst of the mayhem, God hasn’t forgotten about you. He also battles FOR your beautiful, precious, mama heart, your confused, grateful, anxious, sad, hopeful, kind, trusting, vulnerable heart.
He doesn’t just want your child to thrive. He wants the same FOR you.
He doesn’t just want your child to be free, He wants the same FOR you.
He doesn’t just want your child’s life to be full, He wants the same FOR you.
You are His beloved child after all.
I pray that today, your mama’s heart will both calm and bask in this truth and at the same time, be excited for all the victory that’s ahead on this crazy, never-ending motherhood adventure.
From my heart to yours.
“Like what I like.”
“Think how I think.”
“Do what I do (and how I do it).”
“Be who I am.”
For years, this was my life’s mantra.
Husband. Kids. Friends. Coworkers. Strangers.
“Make decisions quickly.”
“Enjoy watching football.”
“Be an extrovert.”
“Believe every doctrine I espouse about God.”
On and on the list went, my goal to transform everyone into the spitting image of myself. It wasn’t ill-intentioned, but it was just plain old yuck (for lack of a better word).
I was missing out on the beauty of diversity and the celebration of our mutual differentness.
What a gift when the “scales” fell off my eyes and I could see the truth of this crucial life lesson: these people are NOT me NOR should they be.
WHAT A GIFT of the OTHER!!
It’s where life can be truly enjoyed in all its fullness.
It’s where love’s root can dig deep and blossom into a bouquet of grace.
It means discovering the life-giving rhythms of silence and solitude from my introvert husband. (This Esthergizer Bunny needs these desperately.)
It means processing math lessons with my teacher daughter, along with unearthing the compassion she has for the struggling student, allowing for my own heart to come alive in ways I would never have known on my own.
It means hearing stories about the latest sales strategies from my second-born and possibly implementing them into my own little life’s goals of writing.
It means asking (and then actually listening to the response) about the latest headphones on the market from my tech-savvy recent college graduate. (The current sound system in our family room is to die for.)
It means getting a late-night text from my California-dreaming daughter about how her dreams are coming true, which means mine are too.
It means allowing each of my friends to be perfectly themselves, right where they are, without an agenda in my back pocket. They bring gifts every single time I am with them, gifts I would never receive if they were just like me.
It means leaning in and learning from all of you beautiful souls who are so incredibly different from me. I thank God for YOU!
“Like what YOU like.
“Think how YOU think.”
“Do what YOU do (and how YOU do it).”
“Be who YOU are.”
I will be much richer and fuller and happier because of YOU.
All You Sweet Mamas out There!
Take heart TODAY!
You know all those times you have blessed your child?
You know all those times you have worked so hard to create an environment for happiness and well-being?
You know all those times where you loved when it was hard, sacrificed when you were depleted, exhibited kindness when you were angry, and showed patience in the midst of difficulty?
You really have been a blessing. Sometimes a double one! Even triple!
There is no doubt. And you will continue to bless your child every day until you take your final breath! That part is never over no matter how old they get or you feel (haha)!
TODAY, it’s your turn. I pray that you would be encompassed by those who speak goodness to you, those that bring blessing, not only with their words, but with their lives.
TODAY, may you be encircled by love, sacrifice, kindness and patience the way you have shown these in abundance to your child over and over and over (and then some).
Of course, you haven’t done this perfectly. None of us have (me especially). Don’t let that voice overshadow you at all TODAY!
Listen to a kinder, gentler voice, the one straight from the heart of God! He fills in the gaps of your (and my) lack. He does this perfectly even when you (and I) haven’t and can’t.
His Spirit, the truest voice of encouragement and hope, is right there right now with you. He longs to tenderly share the message of love, grace, mercy, goodness and blessing that you (and me) need to hear, especially TODAY.
From my heart to yours, my fellow-Mama.
As the year ends…..and the New Year begins.
…reflections on Kahil Gibran’s “On Children” 31 December 2010 at 20:52 @ Copyright 2010 by my friend and fellow mom, Mary Cypher
I’ve always thought that Janus, the Roman god with two faces was an appropriate metaphor for this time of year. It is good to look back and then forward at the same time, to take stock, to adjust expectations, establish objectives. This can be a time of celebration, of sadness, a taste of the bittersweet. It is so for me.
My Facebook status early last month was “My youngest greeted me with the words ‘This is your last day with a 6 year old!'” It struck me that I’ve been a mother for 30 years and I am at the end of a season in my life.
I smiled as she spun and danced celebrating growing older, as only the very young do. Quickly, a lump formed in my throat as I grasped that she really was quite big! My baby was no longer so little.
In an age in which most people have 2.5 children, I chose to have a dozen. I had tots and teens for a long time, and truly reveled in the experience; the delight of their discoveries, the pleasure of their innocence and guilelessness.
It has been my unadulterated joy to give my children love AND to share my love of knowledge, of language, literature, history, art, music, & nature with them. Because, thank God, they too developed similar passions, we have had wonderful conversations and I am awed by the depth of character and the understanding that they have.
Now, I am forced to acknowledge that part of my life is over. Having shoved that realization to the back of my mind, even though it was still there percolating, Kahil Gibran’s poem,”On Children” came back into my thoughts during a quiet moment.
I smiled wistfully as I remembered how, as a 17 year old, I read these words with such a wash of relief:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
I remember feeling justified in pulling away from my immigrant parents and seeking my own identity, indeed, my own nationality. These words particularly resonated within my 17 year old Self:
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
” Yes!” I thought then.
How little I knew at that time that I would need the traditions, the values (if not the identity) of the heritage for which I had little use. Little did I realize how sad it must have made my parents.
It’s a painful part of parenting, releasing the son or daughter that your heart still calls “my child”. As a mother whose children range in age from 7 to 30 now, I think how true the words from Gibran’s poem really are.
Their souls DO dwell in the house of tomorrow. As much as I love them, they stretch their wings, reaching for the sky, seeking to go forward, upward — to a place I cannot go.
Half of my offspring are young adults now, and I have come nearly full circle as I truly begin to understand the last stanza of Gibran’s poem:
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
The sheer pleasure of having very little ones in my home is now a thing of yesterday. A wonderful, special season, that I will always remember, but which belongs to yesterday. I look at my youngest, who looks so much like me, and think,
“I must still be a stable bow for her and the rest who are still in the nest, that they may grow to be men and women who also will freely bend to the Archer’s Will.”
This was a boy who peed on the nurse when he made his world debut.
This was a boy who wiggled until this mama heart grew weary.
This was a boy who heard the words “no” at least 48 times before breakfast.
This was a boy who had a bit of a rough time following the rules.
This was a boy who gave his teachers a literal run for their money.
This was a boy who found loopholes and leaks around my very-tight parental ship.
This was a boy who sent my very scared mom self straight to my knees in desperate prayer.
THIS IS A MAN who is gaining confidence to be exactly who he is.
THIS IS A MAN who has boundless energy to love those around him.
THIS IS A MAN who can bravely say “no” in all the best ways.
THIS IS A MAN who extends grace to all who need it.
THIS IS A MAN who teaches himself and humbly learns from others.
THIS IS A MAN who keeps his heart open to every new possibility that finds him.
THIS IS A MAN who calms my “did-I-really-do-okay-as-a-mom” inner voice by his tender messages every where I turn.
I sit by my fire alone.
It’s strange here.
A year ago, my third-born was bursting through the door, overstuffed college laundry bag in hand, ready for a week of “rest” in the “best bedroom ever,” along with eating the ultimate “Taylor ham and egg on an everything bagel” sandwich every morning of his time with us.
This afternoon, I was driving him to the airport. He is off to see his younger sister 2,726 miles away on the left coast.
A year ago, I was picking up my exhausted college baby girl up at the same airport, joy filling my heart as we chit-chatted on the way back to a house filled with family.
Today, my phone buzzes. “Can you send me Josh’s flight info? Also, can I have the famous jello salad recipe? I’m going to make it for Thursday.” She is headed to buy the ingredients to make her favorite Thanksgiving dish at a grocery store I don’t even know the name of.
A year ago, my oldest fed her baby our family-secret sweet potato casserole in the same booster seat we used for her, surrounded by oohs and aahs from cousins and great-grandparents.
On her commute home from teaching second-graders earlier, she chatters away on the phone. “When do you leave, Mom? I’m hoping to get my grad school papers done on Friday. We are just going to eat out with my mother-in-law on Thursday. I might make the family-secret sweet potato casserole just to have leftovers. ” Her two-year-old babbles in the background, “I want to go that way. I have a raccoon sticker. I see a tractor.”
A year ago, the second child of my heart was on his way home from a land far away, new puppy in tow, ready to cuddle up on his favorite sofa, eat his favorite NJ pizza, and see his favorite friends.
“Just landed in Florida. I hope you have a wonderful week” lights up across my laptop screen on Sunday morning. He’s with his girlfriend spending the holiday with her family. I can’t even tell you what town he is in. Maybe somewhere near Palm Beach. Not sure.
I sit by my fire alone.
It’s strange here.
Feelings bubble to the surface, unlike any I’ve had before. I’m not sure what to make of them.
Thanksgiving has been together for 27 years. The three of us. Then the four of us. Then the five of us. Then the six of us. PLUS, a whole bunch (and I mean a WHOLE BUNCH) of other family and friends and anyone who wanted to join the mayhem.
Pies. Parade. Mashed potatoes. Dog show. Family-secret sweet potato casserole. Puzzles. Turkey. Football. Ham for those who hate turkey. Cousins. Gravy. Games. The famous jello salad. Beer-tasting. Pictures (the one at the top of this website being last year’s).
I sit by my fire alone.
It’s strange here.
No overflowing shopping bags filled with cranberry sauce and giant foil roasting pans. No beds being prepped for guests. No Costco runs for last-minute hors d’oeuvres. Not even one decoration in sight except a pumpkin candle burning slowly behind me.
My husband, away on business, calls in the middle of all the feelings. “You’re alone. How are you?”
“I’m okay.” I say. “I like it in many ways. I am glad for tonight. But I’m glad I will see you soon.”
Tomorrow, I hop on a plane myself to spend a few days with my parents. My man hops on his own plane the next day to join me. I won’t be alone for long.
But right now, this alone thing gives me space. Space to sit with my Savior and sort out this new normal I find myself in.
This new normal filled with sorrow that I am not seeing ANY of my four children. To shed the tears that need to flow.
This new normal filled with thanks that I am seeing my parents, my groom and a grieving childhood friend. To allow a warm smile to curl to my lips.
This new normal filled with bewilderment that this is actually where I find myself on the journey (I think Costco might send a search party). To sit quietly, a questioning “hmmm” filling my thoughts.
This new normal mostly filled with hope that I might have just done this mom thing okay. To embrace the idea that my kids are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing: building lives of their own, going on new-found adventures, loving those they are with and best of all, making family-secret sweet potato casseroles and famous jello salads.
I sit by my fire alone.
It’s strange here.
But it’s really good.
I am grateful.
I have four children. There are many days it’s been hard to be their mom. It’s been a lot of work. But there are times when I catch myself sitting back and asking God why I was so blessed to have them in my life, to get to be their mom. In those moments, my heart almost feels like it’s going to burst with thankfulness. This mom journey has been beyond my wildest dreams, far harder, but also far better than what I even believed could be true.
God tends to do that in our lives. He has surprises for us that are beyond our imagination: something in nature that just boggles the mind, a kind word from a stranger exactly when you need it, a random text from your child that they love you, a job promotion that you did not dare to hope for, and so on. He always has something up His sleeve.
He is much bigger, kinder, more generous, stronger, more loving, and smarter than we can even begin to wrap our brains around. He extravagantly loves us as if there is only one of us. No matter what we face or what we need (you might be in the middle of something that seems beyond fixing and desperately hopeless), soak this in:
God’s limitless, tireless, unbounded, lavish power that transcends our three-dimensional world is able to provide and work far beyond what our limited selves can envision.
This God can do anything and everything. This is not “pie-in-the-sky,” magical thinking. It’s a hard fact. Don’t be afraid to dream big and ask big, but be prepared for even bigger, above-and-beyond bigger.
Be on the lookout today for all that He has for you. Be prepared for more than you can even think up. It will change your life. It has changed mine! There is great hope!
From my heart to yours.
My world changed forever the first time I laid my eyes on my child. More importantly, my heart changed forever the first time I laid my eyes on them. From the moment I saw them, I knew something that I would never be able to “un-know,” the anchoring feeling and experience of unconditional love.
It’s a love that’s hard to explain with words. It’s a love that doesn’t lessen even if I am hurt, angry, sad, weary, panicked, exhausted, confused, frustrated, afraid or despairing. Nothing is able to fully quench it.
It’s a love that doesn’t increase just because I’m grateful, happy, rested, proud, peaceful, hopeful, confident, content, or optimistic. It’s a love that dwells in the secret, sacred space of my heart that’s reserved just for this one person, my child.
The experience of this inescapable kind of love for my now mostly grownups gives me a powerful, albeit limited glimpse into God’s unconditional love for me.
Nothing is able to make God’s love expand or diminish in any way. It’s steady and enduring, permanent and unfailing. This continuing peek into God’s heart for me (and thankfully for them) has the power to radically change me in only all the best ways. It’s a mighty force that brings life and healing the way nothing else can. For me and for them.
“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. May you have the power to grasp how WIDE, how LONG, how HIGH and how DEEP His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge. It will fill you with the richest experience of God’s presence in your life, completely filled and flooded with God Himself.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
From My Heart to Yours
P.S. The pic above is one of my favorite ever!!