Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Shifting My Perspective" Has A New Home

     I'm thrilled to announce that I am moving my blog "Shifting My Perspective" over to WordPress, another blogging host site!!  Through them, I was able to purchase the address of:  www.shiftingmyperspective.com.

     My hope is that the new site will be more user-friendly.  I was getting word that people were having difficulty commenting when they wanted to.  Hopefully that won't be the case at the new address, because I LOVE when people comment (hint, hint)!

     Unfortunately, those of you who have already subscribed here will have to subscribe again over at WordPress.  I sincerely hope that you do so, as it wouldn't be the same without you!  All you need do is click on this link: www.shiftingmyperspective.com and then put your email address in the field in the right margin of my new home page.  It's that simple.  Those of you who haven't subscribed yet, I would LOVE you to do so, following the same steps, so that each week's post simply falls right into your email inbox - no need to go searching for it. :)

     As always, I am immensely grateful to all of you for following my blog, and for voting for me by clicking on the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blogs" icon in the upper right hand margin of the "Shifting My Perspective" home page.  

     I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by, and mindful of, all the blessings that you have!

With gratitude and blessings,


Friday, November 21, 2014

Putting The "Play" Back In Playtime

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes."       Luke 19:42

     Joni Mitchell has a song called Big Yellow Taxi that says, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."  I get it.  As a mom of young kids, I know I'm supposed to "seize the day."  For years, old ladies have been stopping me in the grocery store, all saying the same thing: "enjoy these years," "cherish every minute when they're little because they grow up so fast."  
    Consequently, I've been putting a concerted effort recently into playing games with my kids two or three evenings during the school week.  This is no easy feat.  It's a very small window between when they get off the school bus, and when they have to go to bed, especially when you have to cram in homework, after school clubs, karate, piano lessons, clarinet practice, dinner prep, dinner itself, the clean up after, and baths and showers.  It's a marathon we have to run every day.  But I've been lectured for so long to "cherish this time."  So cherish it I'm trying.
     However, my vision of "game time" is a Norman Rockwell painting: all of us agreeing on the same game, sitting criss-cross applesauce in a circle on the family room rug, smiles on all of our faces, really connecting and enjoying each other's company.  Jocelyn and I play like this all the time when the boys are in school.  So it can happen, right?  
     The real reality, though, is that ten and eight year old boys don't do criss-cross applesauce on the family room rug when they're having fun!  Furthermore, when four year old girls see this, they morph into crazy, energetic jumping beans.  So "game time" turns into kids doing karate moves, handstands, and wacky dance moves between taking their turns.  Weird and obnoxious noises get vocalized, for no apparent reason, and grate like fingernails on a chalkboard, but with the volume turned up to one hundred.  No one pays attention to the rules.  No one knows when their turn is.  And pouting abounds when anyone loses or doesn't get the card or game piece they want.  I spend all of my time and energy refocusing them, trying to teach them to "dial down" the volume, lecturing them on how no one likes a soar looser, and trying to re-form the circle with these wound up little bodies bursting with frenetic energy.  
     I do start out the process with patience and calm, trying to use a quiet voice and gentle manner to teach them and control their energy.  But it doesn't take long for that well to run dry.  Before you know it, I'm yelling, tossing around threats like confetti, and have a tension headache between my eyes and at the base of my scull.  In what dimension is this scenario peaceful or enjoyable for anyone?
     I thought my job as their mom was to work with them to get them to that place where we were living out the Norman Rockwell painting.  I realize now how wrong I was.  
     This scripture passage "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace," has taught me that I have been defining "peace" all wrong.  I have been defining it as "calm, controlled, and quiet."  That's what my energy level at 6:30 at night is ready for.  But my kids' energy levels are on the other end of the spectrum.  Those Energizer Bunnies are still going at full speed, even more so because their batteries were just recharged while staying in their seats and having good table manners during dinner.  "Peace" looks different to them:  it's movement, it's noisy, it's freedom, it's letting the lid off their ids!
     What I have been missing is the fact that their joy in action is their open display of just how excited they are to play with me, and each other.  I should be deeply grateful and humbled by that.  If they came to the family room rug moping, wishing they were elsewhere, I would be hurt beyond words.  If they had any disabilities that prevented them from dancing and jumping and yelping with glee, I would be pounding the gates of Heaven with prayer to make them healthy, energetic, joy-filled little beings.  I have all of that right in front of me, right now, but it has been "hidden from my eyes" because I had a different vision of "what would bring me peace."
     I can't live the Joni Mitchell song any longer and only recognize what I had after it's gone. This is it - the time is now!  I need to change my approach, and my perspective, not change my kids by trying to stifle their enthusiasm.  I constantly preach to them that it "doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."  I need to go a step further and say, "Who cares how the game is played!"  The game is just a springboard for playtime with my kids: it's not the end all be all of our time together.  Instead of criss-cross applesauce, I have to appreciate the cartwheels and dance moves.  Instead of controlling the volume, I have to tune my ears to the excitement and delight within it.  Instead of following the rules of the game, I have to go wherever the wave of energy and joy takes us. (I do draw the line on the weird and obnoxious noises, though.  A mom can only take so much after a long day!) 
     Before it's too late and I create and cement a miserable environment where my kids don't want to be, I have to put the "play" back in playtime!


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of "Shifting My Perspective," click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Purging Is Hard Work

There is a time for everything... a time to keep and a time to throw away.                Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 6

     I just finished up what is, in my opinion, one of the worst chores of motherhood:  the kids' seasonal clothing turnover and purging that every mother in New England dreads.  No matter how hard I try, it always equals umpteen loads of laundry, and a week and a half of clothing strewn all over the upstairs hallway.  The piles are mind boggling and hard to keep straight: what gets handed down to my nephews' kids who are smaller, what still fits, what out of season clothing needs to get rotated to the top shelves of the closet, what of Zack's goes into the attic to be worn later by Mason, what hand-me-downs that Jocelyn has received from family and friends that fit and don't fit, what goes to Goodwill, and what I had to buy to fill in the gaps.  Multiply these piles by three kids, and my hallway is a minefield.  Then add to that the usual laundry that needs to get done and I'm buried under it.  Please tell me how mothers of seven or more kids ever complete this chore?!!  
     I am someone who, if my outer world looks chaotic, my inner world is a disaster.  Needless to say, I've been frazzled for over ten days now!  But knowing there was an end to the project kept me plowing through.  I couldn't wait to get to the other side: where my hallway would be clothing free again, drawers would be filled, tubs of clothes would be back in the attic, and what needed to get passed on would be in the hands of those who could benefit from them.  
     I kept thinking that once my outer world was organized, my inner world would become peaceful again.  But then I started tripping over all the piles in the hallways of my head and heart: routines that my kids and I have outgrown and aren't working anymore, toxic relationships that are exhausting to maintain because they're so imbalanced, habits I've developed that are taking me off course, and laziness in certain areas that is holding me back.  In the face of working through all this, I'd much rather wash load after load of laundry and side-step piles of clothing in my path.  
     However, if I want to become the person God envisions me to be, I have to do the hard work.  I need to spend the time to develop new routines for who my kids and I are now, so that I'm teaching them responsibility, independence and team work, and I am being productive.  I have to either step away from some relationships and let them die their natural deaths, or if they have the potential to be healthy and balanced, invest the time and energy to make them so.  I need to find the self-discipline to reverse my bad habits - knowing that I'm role modeling everything for my kids.  What they see is what they will become.  Furthermore, I want to demonstrate for my kids that it is possible to overcome laziness, fear, self-doubt, and whatever other obstacles there are between me and becoming who God wants me to be. 
     I'd be embarrassed if my kids were walking around town with pants up to their shins and shirts two sizes too small.  By no means do I want them to become vane, but I do want them to take pride in their appearance.  God created them amazing little beings; they should carry themselves with dignity.
     So too, I don't want to be embarrassed before God, walking around, still stuck in my old ways that don't fit anymore.  He made me an amazing being too.  I shouldn't disrespect that by clothing myself in old routines, bad habits, and laziness.  If I want to hold my head up high, carry myself with dignity, knowing deep in my heart that I'm doing the very best that I can, it's time to do the hard work of purging on the inside.


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of "Shifting My Perspective," click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Four Year Old Is A Hoarder

"Look at the birds of the air.  They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?"   
Matthew 6:26

     My four year old daughter Jocelyn is a hoarder.  She walks around the house with purses and bags loaded with random toys and trinkets that she vehemently declares she cannot do without.  It makes leaving the house a big ordeal, as she scurries around, collecting all her "stuff," making us late because she "needs to have it all" for the car ride.  I try to reason with her, but she's four!  Sometimes it's just easier to give in and help her collect and carry it all, rather than argue with her and end up later than we will already be.  It can be so frustrating!
     But then I step into my pantry and realize that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.  Not only do I have two of everything, I have three - a back up to the back up.  If there were any kind of national crisis, just come to my house.  I can keep a small village fed, single handedly, for quite a while.  Looking at my supply makes me happy; it makes me feel secure.
     So when the local grocery store chain went on strike for six weeks over this past summer, I thought I would go into panic mode.  I have been a loyal shopper there for years and know it so well, I can write my grocery list in the order of how the store is stocked.  The cashiers and baggers know my daughter by name.  I had to support them.  I couldn't cross the picket line.  Although I had no choice but to give in and buy perishables from the super expensive grocery store down the street, I didn't want to blow my kids' college funds on the dry goods there (seriously, this store is that expensive!).  So we ate our way through the pantry instead.
     As my shelves got more and more bare, I kept waiting for anxiety to set in.  But it never happened.  I was surprisingly okay!  I gained a new sense of self-satisfaction that I wasn't the hoarder that I feared I was.  Then, finally, after those six long weeks, the store chain reopened.  I immediately restocked my pantry, and life returned to normal.  Until that random day in October...
     That day, for the first time ever, we were bringing the mommy-and-me program I run to the local retirement community to make it inter-generational.  As I went back and forth from my car, unloading bucket after bucket of snacks and crafts and toys, the temperature and humidity kept rising.  I hadn't watched the weather report.  I was dressed for an October day, not the 80 degree day, with extremely high humidity, that the day was turning out to be.  I started to sweat and overheat.  To further exacerbate things, the temperature in the retirement community was set to the mid-80's, as the elderly's blood runs thin.  I was wilting fast.
     In addition to the wacky health problems I have, I also have an immense sensitivity to heat and humidity.  It is my kryptonite, my achilles heel, whatever term you relate to for my complete undoing.  With every passing minute, I could feel the life being sucked out of me.  By the time the program ended and I had repacked my car, I felt like I had the flu: I felt weak, nauseous, and extremely exhausted.  Those of you who have had miserable first tri-mester pregnancies that kept you couch-bound can probably relate.  All I wanted to do was go home, turn my A/C to high, and crawl into bed.  But I had a very important meeting scheduled for just an hour later.  It was a meeting with someone I greatly admire and had been wanting to meet for a while.  Canceling it wasn't an option.
     I raced home, changed my clothes, had some lunch, and gulped down Gatoraide, trying to recharge.  But the damage was done.  I couldn't get beyond the extreme weakness.  It was then that it became evident that I couldn't go to that meeting alone.  I wasn't capable of it.  I had nothing left to get me there.
     In the face of my weakness, I had to admit that I truly was a hoarder.  I sow and reap and store away my strength, confidence, and self-reliance.  I have always been able to burn the candle at both ends, jam a week's worth of work into a day, and still have energy left over.  That had become my identity, and I gave myself credit for it all, not God.  Now here I was, at the dead opposite end of the spectrum, not able to even drive myself the three miles to the church for this meeting.
     But I did have God, and I did have prayer.  I had no choice but to rely on both.  I was humbled and stripped of all self-reliance.  I was just like the birds of the air, trusting that God would gift me with the strength I needed to get to that meeting, and get through it.  When I got to the church, I had to double that trust when it was suggested we meet outside, as the other women wanted a change of scenery from the offices they work in every day.
     Although I did have to go to bed at 6:30 p.m. that night, God not only gave me the strength to get through that meeting, He went above and beyond and gave me the strength to get through homework time with my kids, dinner prep, and dinner itself.  It was pretty amazing to get to live Philippians 4:13: "I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me."  
     It is still hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I am no longer the self-sufficient person I used to be.  That is a huge blow to my ego and my self-confidence.  In fact, as a control freak, it shakes me to the core.  But I know for sure that this is exactly where God wants me to be.  It is the only place where I can learn to truly lean on Him, not on myself anymore.  Stocking up on extra cereal and pasta is practical.  But stocking up on self-sufficiency and my own ego is self-centered, not God-centered.  It's okay for my four year old to be a hoarder; it's part of her developmental journey.  But my journey now is to stop clutching on to my own abilities and strength so that my hands are wide open and ready to be filled by God's. 


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of Shifting My Perspective, click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

I'd also like to thank all of my readers for voting for me!  Because of you, my blog is #1 in the category of "spiritual and religious" on Top Mommy Blogs.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dwelling In Unity

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!   Psalm 133:1

     Although I tend to be an extreme advanced planner, the past few weeks have been so crazy that getting pumpkins for the pumpkin decorating contest at my boys' school just fell off my plate.  With a contest deadline of today, I finally got pumpkins yesterday.  The actual decorating didn't commence until last night.  With it being so last minute, and it being a no-carve contest, the options were limited:  If my boys painted the pumpkins, they wouldn't be dry until this morning.  Putting finishing touches on before school wasn't an option.  Also, if they made mistakes, there wasn't time to get new pumpkins and start all over again.  
     So we had to compromise and improvise: If Mason wanted to make a Minion pumpkin, instead of painting him yellow, he would have to be orange "because he drank a Halloween Elixir."  If Zack wanted to make a pumpkin ghost, he'd have to do everything at once, trying to work around wet paint, with the sole exception of the eyes that I conceded he could do before school this morning, if he agreed to get up early and work fast.
     Mason got started right away and was having a blast, his pumpkin coming out better than he expected.  Zack, however, was not as happy.  He couldn't make the pumpkin look like the vision he had in his head.  He kept getting frustrated, changing the plan, trying again, only to get frustrated and repeat the cycle over and over again.  By bed time, Mason was thrilled, and Zack was in tears.  We came up with the best plan we could to tweak Zack's pumpkin in the morning, but Zack still went to bed extremely sad.
     After pulling their bedroom door closed, I immediately got on the internet and scrolled through hundreds of images of no-carve ghost pumpkins to see if there was a way to salvage things.   I dug up more supplies and came up with a plan.
     This morning, I woke Zack at 6:30 a.m., hopeful that we could morph his pumpkin into a creepy ghost pumpkin that he'd be happy with.  Zack listened to the plan, tried to be optimistic, but then burst into tears saying, "I don't know about this."  He went on to explain, through his tears, that it's the kids who vote on the best pumpkin.  He confessed that although he had done his very best last year, not a single student had voted for his.  In fact, he himself hadn't either.  Then he ended with, "I wish we didn't get the pumpkins so late so I'd have more time."  The guilt was like a knife to my heart.  I apologized profusely as I hugged him, choking back my own tears.  And I prayed.  I prayed so hard for God to inspire me with some creative way to save the situation.  But absolutely nothing came.
     I know I shelter my kids too much from disappointment.  So I turned my focus towards praying for the right way and words to guide Zack through the difficult emotions he was experiencing.  The hardest part for me was that although Mason had knocked it out of the park with his pumpkin, gushing about that would further rub salt in Zack's wounds.  Mason intuitively knew to "hide his light under a bushel."  He just stood before his pumpkin, gazing at it, doing his best to repress his smile and pride.  I was so impressed with his consideration for his brother's feelings.
     That's when it hit me!  That's when my prayers were answered.  Mason is Zack's #1 fan.  They share everything: candy, toys, birthday gifts, even First Communion money.  They never say, "Look at what I got."  It is always, "Look at what we got!" 
     So I volleyed the idea: What if Zack morphed his ghost pumpkin into a Minion "who drank a ghost elixir?"  Immediately Mason jumped on board, convincing Zack that it was possible.  Zack felt his brother's love and support, and turned a corner.  The pumpkin remodeling turned into a family affair:  Zack worked on the eye, Mason worked on the arm, I fired up the glue gun, and Jocelyn danced and sang her encouragement in the background.  My husband further supported the cause by making breakfast, and agreeing to drive the boys to school to buy more time and help transport the pumpkins.
     The feeling in my house was more than "good and pleasant" like this scripture passage says.  It was grace-filled and magical.  Everyone was contributing; everyone was encouraging.  Glitches still arose here and there, but we problem solved together, with Zack commenting, "That's okay.  No one will notice."
     The crowning moment was when Zack said, "The day started out with me having the worst pumpkin ever.  Now it's the greatest!  But Mason, I still like yours even better."      
      Sure, my kids bicker and compete against each other, like all kids do.  But at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, they have a "best friends" love for each other that runs deep and true.  Although this mothering gig is challenging and exhausting, getting to witness this tangible love is the reward: it humbles me, makes it all worth it, and reminds me just how truly blessed I am.  "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!"

     Publishing this on the evening of contest day, I'm thrilled to report that Mason's pumpkin won first prize in his class today!  I cannot think of a more deserving winner than my sweet Mason!


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of Shifting My Perspective, click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting Back On Course

"Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." 
 Luke 13:30

     There's always a reason for kids to line-up: to go out for recess, to get ice cream, to have a turn on the swings, etc.  As a previous teacher, and now a mom, I've always tried to teach my students, and my kids, that you don't race, or push and shove to be first in line.  Instead, it's more polite, more noble, to let others go before you.  I've tried to role model this by letting other cars cut in front of me on the road, other customers in stores go through the check-out line before me.  I've always believed that that was the premise behind this scripture passage: that in order to be first in virtue, you let others go before you so you end up last.  I still see complete merit in this viewpoint, but I was recently taught a new way of looking at things by an eight year old I'll call Hannah.
     The two teen-aged daughters of my friend Jeanne ran a Princess Camp this summer where my daughter Jocelyn attended, and I volunteered.  This camp, and the teenage girls, Kate and Maggie, were amazing!  Each day they taught the little girls about virtues and the lives of female saints through the Disney Princesses.
     On the first day of camp, when Kate and Maggie asked who could explain what this scripture passage meant, Hannah raised her hand.  She marched right up to the front of the room with confidence and grace.  She asked if she could show what it meant with the help of some volunteers.  Hands flew into the air as the other little girls volunteered to help her.  She proceeded to line up three of them and had them face in one direction.  This amazing little eight year old then went on to explain that while facing in one direction there was a certain order, yet when the girls turned to face in the other direction, suddenly the first girl was last, and the last girl was first.  I was completely blown away that someone so young could be so centered and wise.  She stood before a room full of strangers and concretely demonstrated the true meaning of this scripture passage more clearly than any adult I've ever come across.
     That image has stayed with me: the three volunteers lined up in one direction to then pivot in the opposite direction, reversing their order.  Isn't that an incredible visual of today's culture versus what Jesus taught?  Advertisements and peer pressure have us all clamoring to line up, shoving our way to the front, convincing ourselves that we need whatever they're selling, despite it marching us off course, heading away from our real destination. 
     Once we wise up to how wrong that direction is, we pivot to reverse direction, only to find that not only are we now at the back of the line, but there is so much distance between us and our real destination.  
     Life is moving at a fast and furious pace.  Social media bombards us constantly with all that we should be doing, all that we're missing if we are not quick enough to jump on board.  But Hannah has me thinking now before I line up: Am I facing the right direction?  Is this line even going to lead me to where I want and need to go?  At the end of the day, more importantly, at the end of my life, whether I've kept up with fashion and social trends, or not, won't mean a thing.  What will matter is whether my choices have me facing towards God, or away from Him, and the distance I have to travel to get back on course.


I would be immensely grateful if you voted for my blog.  If you're not already on the home page of Shifting My Perspective, click on the title of this post.  Then simply click the cute pink and brown "Top Mommy Blog" icon in the upper right hand corner of my home page.  It's that simple!  That wonderful site ranks mommy blogs based on votes.  So feel free to vote up to once a day!  Thanks so much!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting Behind God

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."  Matthew 16:23

     At the end of the summer, friends of ours invited us to their cottages on Lake Winnipesaukee, along with another family, for an overnight.  Because my husband coaches my son's baseball team, he drove in his own car so that he and Mason could leave early the next day to get back for their game.  So I was in the mini-van with just the three kids and my GPS for the 80 mile trip north.
     Unfortunately, my GPS was acting funky.  It just had that red line of the highway I was traveling on, with the arrow moving as we progressed.  It wasn't displaying the usual screen that says how many miles until the exit or turn I needed to take.  Not knowing the next move, or when I needed to take it, made me very uncomfortable.  We were supposed to meet our friends at a certain time at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain to kick of the weekend with a nice hike.  If I got lost, I'd be inconveniencing two other families who would be waiting on us as I floundered around on the New Hampshire back roads.   
     Consequently, I became anxious, following my husband's car with a desperate need to keep him in my sight, relying on him to guide me and signal the next change.  Despite trying to glue my mini-van to the bumper of his car, other vehicles managed to cut in between us, raising my anxiety level and heightening my attentiveness to his every move.  
     Around mile sixty, my GPS suddenly changed and reverted back to what I was used to:  an overview of where I was, and the exact mileage to the next turn.  Suddenly I didn't care if I lost sight of my husband's car or not.  In fact, I was getting annoyed that he wasn't going fast enough to meet our friends on time.  I wanted to increase my speed and blow past him, blazing my own trail now that I knew where I was going.
     Talk about a metaphor for my faith life!  When times are tough, when I don't know where I'm going, or what the next move should be, I get behind God, relying on Him 100%.  I try so hard to not let anyone or anything come between us.  I try to focus on the things of God, not the things of men.  I do my best to keep Him in my sight at all times, relying on Him to guide me and signal the next change to keep me on the right path.
     However, once things settle down, once I have (or think I have) a clear idea of where I'm headed and how to get there, I blow past God.  I blaze my own trail, relying only on myself, thinking I've got it all covered.  
     In the verse before the scripture passage above, Peter is telling Jesus that he won't allow His crucifixion.  He loves Jesus too much to see Him suffer and die.  Like Peter, I know how I want things to play out.  I try to rewrite God's plan to suit my own wants and needs, especially the parts that include pain and suffering, wanting to deny that even those parts are critical to God's master plan for me.  So off I go on my own.
     Inevitably, I take a wrong turn, or lose my way.  Then I'm back at God's feet again, begging for direction, guidance and help.  It seems that no matter how many times I fall into this trap, I still try to blaze my own path.  Fortunately, no matter how many times I repeat this wrong pattern, God is always there, always willing to be my guide, and direct me again.
     That day, at mile sixty, I guess I was open to God's graciousness more than usual.  Just as I was about to put more pressure on the accelerator to speed past my husband, I heard God whisper more guidance and direction on my heart.  Suddenly I understood that meeting our friends on time was important, but the whole point of the trip was to journey together as a family.  So I listened to that whisper and stayed behind my husband, following him all the way.  Not only did we get there together, but, miracle upon miracle, for the first time ever, we were the first to arrive!


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

As If My Neighbors Were Listening

He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break.               Matthew 12:19-20

     Over the summer, I was hosting a barbecue for twenty-two people.  I had left everything until the last minute:  cleaning the house, setting up the yard, making the food, etc.  Every aspect of that list is the recipe that cooks me into a stress mess.  I could feel the usual symptoms:  pounding head, frantic motions, extreme impatience.  I could see the train wreck coming from a mile away and I was trying so hard to derail it.  My guests were people I love.  I was so excited to spend a beautiful summer evening with them.  I had a vision in my head of feeding the twelve kids first, then getting them settled in front of a movie inside while we adults all kicked back at the Italian style banquet tables I had set up on the lawn, complete with flowers in jelly jars for added beauty.  It was that image that was motivating me to get it all done so that I could be stress-free and present when my guests arrived, not distracted and still running around when they got here.
     So I was praying, praying hard.  I was asking God to help me do it differently this time, to not lose my cool as the clock ticked closer to company time.  But, despite the prayers, Mason approached me with some issue and I blew my lid!  Honestly, for the life of me, I can't remember what he said or did.  The real truth is, he was just the trigger that set off the explosion that was just waiting to happen.  And explode I did:  yelling at him at the top of my voice.  
     It was then that I realized that the windows over my kitchen sink were wide open, and I was just a foot away.  On the summer air, what I was screaming, and how I was screaming it, could probably be heard three houses away.
     What disappoints me most, and shames me to the core, is that I didn't care how my tone, volume and words affected my eight year old.  What I cared about was if my neighbors heard me.  That is what had me stopping in my tracks, lowering my volume, taking a gulp of air to restore my patience.
     Jesus had every reason to raise His voice, cry out in the streets, and quarrel with those who were committing injustices.  But other than His outburst in the Temple, when He was trying to restore respect and reverence to God's house, He was as gentle as a lamb, as peaceful as a dove.  He never screamed and yelled.  Screaming and yelling accomplished very little.  In fact, it closes people down, pushes them away.  Kids learn nothing from a mother who screams, except to copy her and scream at others.  That's a lesson I never want to teach my kids.
     I've put a lot of thought into that day, wondering why, if I was praying so hard to keep my patience, I couldn't.  I wondered if I wasn't praying hard enough, soon enough.  I started to question whether God was listening or not.
     Time has clarified for me that prayer, or being heard by God, was not the issue, my expectations were.  I had set the bar so high for myself that I had nowhere to go but down.  There was no reason why having a summer barbecue meant I had to clean all the bathrooms, dust every piece of furniture, vacuum every surface, and prepare an overabundance of food, especially when I was trying to do it all at the last minute.
     I truly believe that God did hear me, but He chose to answer my prayers differently than I was asking.  He knew that there was a bigger lesson that I needed to learn.  Had He smoothed things out and slowed down time so I could accomplish it all, He would have been enabling that obsessive over-achiever in me that thinks everything needs to be perfect, even at the last minute.  Had the preparations for that barbecue gone smoothly, I would continue on that path, always keeping the bar that high, always pushing and pushing, until I push myself over the edge.
     Instead, God taught me through my shame.  Although my shame didn't come from how I thought my son perceived me (unfortunately), my shame did come from how I thought my neighbors would perceive me.  Despite its source, shame is a wonderful teacher.  Once you feel that badly about yourself, you never want to put yourself back in that position again, if you can help it.  
     And help it I can!  I can lower the bar; good enough is good enough.  The point of the barbecue was to spend quality time with people I love, and to make memories with them.  It wasn't to impress them with how clean my toilets and floors were, or make myself crazy in the process, then take it all out on my children.
     I'm throwing another party next week: a Murder Mystery Dinner.  My goal is to limit my expectations of myself, focus on the fun we'll all have, and pray to God to be my pacesetter and partner.  He may not be here physically in my house to help me vacuum and scrub a toilet, but if I set my expectations appropriately, I'm positive He will take the pounding from my head, the frantic out of my actions, and the impatience out of my being.  Then there's no doubt that I'll keep my cool during the preparations, interacting with my kids the whole time with patience and love, as if my neighbors were listening.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Froggy Glasses

He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And He said:  "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven."  Matthew 18:2-3

     I form and facilitate groups of moms who meet monthly to delve deeper into their spirituality in motherhood in an environment of support and encouragement.  As the ice breaker for each groups' first gathering, I ask the moms to bring a "symbol of their motherhood:" something that represents who they are, or who they want to be.  As we go around the room, each mom explains why she brought what she did, then places her symbol on the "altar of motherhood" for the duration of the gathering.
     It's always fascinating to see what women bring:  a bottle of glue (she holds it all together in her family), a coupon book for kids' activities (she's the fun mom), a bag of Legos (she puts all the pieces together and her kids just undo it all), etc.  The symbol that has resonated with me the most is Kimberley's.
     Kimberley brought a pair of her son's sunglasses.  Each lense was in the shape of a frog.  She explained that she wants to be the kind of mother who always looks at life through her kids' eyes.  She wants to be mesmerized by an ant crawling up a blade of grass, and see all the joy and gift that every moment holds.  As she talked, I felt myself longing to share her perspective.  I wanted a pair of froggy glasses of my own!
     After saving for two years, my husband and I took our three kids to Smugglers' Notch in Vermont for an entire week this summer.  Smugglers' Notch is an incredible family resort with so much to do they have to print the two page calendar of events in eight point font so it doesn't spill over onto three and four pages.  
     The highlight for me was the Country Fair that they have every Thursday evening on the Village Green.  There is an outdoor BBQ, live performances by the kids who did Drama Camp that week, vendors selling fun stuff for kids, carnival type games that are free to play over and over until you win a prize, a rock climbing wall, etc.  But the greatest part is the Country Fair races.  By age group, there are wheelbarrow races, potato sack races, three-legged races, go-cart races, you name it.
     When I saw the races begin, I flashed back to being a kid hopping across a similar green in a potato sack at family reunions.  Those races were so much fun!  The memory of them had me pulling my kids along in my excitement.  But to my frustration, none of them wanted to participate!  They were actually poo-pooing the idea, and instead wanted to go buy useless plastic chachkie crap that was never going to last.
     Although I used to be a very adventurous person before kids, I'm a bit beaten down and tired now.  Somehow that has morphed into me being the stick-in-the-mud mom: waving from the ground instead of riding the roller coaster, filming video instead of riding the zip-line, taking pictures instead of jumping off of the pond raft.  
     But that evening, on that Village Green, I found my froggy glasses!  I saw all the joy and good, clean fun that was happening right before my eyes.  I knew it was my job to rise to the occasion, step out of the usual passive role, and open my kids' eyes to the enjoyment they were missing.  So I grabbed my daughter, and a potato sack, and went to the starting line.  After my boys saw how much fun we had, they each took turns grabbing my husband and doing the wheelbarrow races with him.  
     The peak of the experience was when my kids were the ones behind the camera taking pictures of my husband and me running the three-legged race together!  I truly felt like a kid again, and felt that kid-like excitement and joy.  I knew my kids felt it too because they were grinning from ear to ear.  Their smiles only got bigger when they received their Smugglers' Notch Resort fuzzy alien ribbons for First and Second Place that now adorn the family trophy shelf!
     Like I was astounded by my kids' inability to see the enjoyment right in front of them, how often is God looking down on me, shaking His head at how I am not seeing all the gifts and mesmerizing things of life that He is parading before me?  How frustrated He must be that I am too busy spending my allotted time on useless crap that is never going to last, instead of having the vision to see the real joys of life, what truly matters.  
     In this scripture passage, Jesus says that we have to change and become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Moreover, I think God gives us glimpses of Heaven right here on earth, all the time, at random moments, and in the most random situations.  But it is only those with child-like vision who get to see them.  Being a grown-up doesn't mean growing out of that perspective.  If our grown-up eyes are too clouded by responsibility and "to do" lists, we need to change and become like little children again, not only in our hearts, but in our vision.
    The wonderful thing is God lets us play at this game of life over and over again, just like the carnival type games at the Country Fair.  Even better, when we finally see things the right way, the prize is our very own pair of froggy glasses!


For more information about MOSAIC Moms Groups (monthly spiritual reflection and discussion groups) in the Southern New Hampshire, Northern Massachusetts area, visit www.mosaicoffaith.net.  


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Only Human

So it is written:  "The first man Adam became a living being;" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.                        1 Corinthians 15:45

Photo Credit
     Last year was an incredibly hard year for me.  I found out that I had fluid around my heart, and that I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (T.O.S. - the thoracic vein running across my chest gets compressed whenever I raise my arms, blocking the flow of blood in both directions).  That is the short version.  But the long journey to find all that out, and to address it all, was a complete year of two to three medical appointments a week, umpteen tests and medication changes, blood labs every three to five days, talk of invasive surgery to remove ribs and resection veins, etc.
     During all of that, I did my best to pray and turn to God, trying to trust Him to carry me through.  But boy did I stumble.  It seemed that with every step I tripped on anxiety and fell straight into fear.  The worst part of it all was feeling like I had failed in my faith: that as soon as my struggles reached a certain peak, my faith wasn't strong enough to get me through.  I wasn't angry at God for my situation; other people face far worse things than I was facing.  Instead, I was deeply disappointed in myself for not being able to rise above.
     Looking back now, from a good place (the fluid around my heart is gone and I am learning to adapt to life with T.O.S.), I see things differently.  
     Like Adam, I am a human being first, not a spiritual one.  I am here on earth, walking an earthly road.  I had no choice but to walk straight through fear and anxiety.  Although, in my opinion, they are the scariest elements of this human condition, they are part of the package.
     What fear and anxiety have taught me is that life on the other side of them sparkles.  I have a friend who calls those brilliant rays of sunshine that stab through the gaps in storm clouds "rays of miracles."  That's what it feels like when fear and anxiety part - like life, and everything in it, is miraculously shining.  That's a perspective I didn't always have before this whole experience.  That is the gift that God gave me in the midst of it all.  It took the journey to unwrap it.
     So if you are experiencing any kind of struggle right now that is so overshadowing it blocks out the light, be gentle with yourself.  Recognize your humanness; it is how we were made.  That needs to be honored.  Once we accept that God made us living beings first, then we can begin the journey towards becoming spiritual beings.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sometimes It Can Be That Easy

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.             Proverbs 3:5

     My new obsession is 409 Carpet Spot and Stain Remover.  Until now, I've been lucky if I got around to vacuuming my rugs, never mind cleaning the spots.  In fact, other than my sister coming with her carpet shampooer when I was pregnant five years ago and in "high nesting mode," I've never cleaned my rugs at all in the seven years we've lived here.  Truthfully, I haven't cared one bit.  
     But last week we were expecting overnight guests.  It's always when I'm having company that I see things in a new light.  Suddenly the stains in the guest bedroom carpet were glaring.  So I dug under my kitchen sink and came up with 409 Carpet Spot and Stain Remover that I have no recollection of ever buying.  I didn't really have time to read the directions, but thought I saw a drawing on the bottle of dabbing the stain with a cloth after spraying it.  That seemed like way too much work, and more time than I had.  So I took the easy route: I just sprayed the spots, let it be, and then vacuumed later.  Holy smokes - it worked!  The stains were gone!  It was that easy!
     There have been some major struggles with my kids over the years that were like the stains in my carpets:  they would start out small, going unnoticed by me because my attention was elsewhere, and suddenly, one day, they became so glaring, I was pulling my hair out.  
     Zack never like to read aloud,  But in third grade he flat out refused to do the teacher assigned reading aloud for twenty minutes each night.  Consequently, he fell an entire grade level behind in reading.  
     Mason has always been sweet, but he's also always been VERY slow.  It hit the "glaring" phase in second grade when he was taking more than twenty minutes each morning just to change his clothes.  That doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but there's only so much time before school.  Consequently, we were almost missing the school bus every morning last year (and in fact, did miss it at least 10 times).  
     Unlike the rug stain situation where I used the correct thing on the very first try, I wasn't as lucky with my kids' problems. 
     In Zack's case, I spent lots of money on books that I thought would interest him, even more money on a NOOK with a microphone so he could practice reading aloud by himself, took him to the library to choose books on his own, etc.  In Mason's case, I raced him myself, did sticker charts with rewards and prizes, you name it.  All of my time, effort, and investments solved absolutely nothing.  Both kids were still struggling, and all three of us were completely frustrated.  The only trick left up my sleeve was to finally turn to God.  I had no choice but to hand it all over to Him in prayer, and let it be.
     On the first parent teacher conference of Zack's fourth grade year, I was stunned when the teacher said that he was reading at a fifth grade level.  It made absolutely NO sense to me.  He left third grade at a second grade level.  HOW, in just a few short months, did he jump two whole grade levels?  Although I was utterly thrilled, I was completely baffled.  A few nights later, after the boys were supposed to be asleep, I heard lots of talking.  Right before I turned the door knob to tell them to settle down, it became clear to me that Zack was reading aloud to his brother.  When I asked Zack if he read to his brother every night, he said yes, and that he had been doing so since the summer.  There was no doubt in my mind that he was divinely inspired.  I had turned the problem over to God, sprayed it with prayer, let it be, and Zack was prompted to solve the problem himself.  Sometimes it can be that easy!
     Five weeks into this summer, Mason came down first thing in the morning completely dressed for the day.  To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement!  When I asked him where he got the idea from, he answered, "I don't know."  Again, there was no doubt in my mind that he was divinely inspired.  He has come down every morning since, fully dressed, sometimes with his face washed and teeth brushed too!  I had turned it all over to God, sprayed it with prayer, let it be, and Mason was prompted to solve the problem himself.  Sometimes it can be that easy!
     When I see a rug stain now, I immediately run for the stain remover.  In fact, I've gone through a can and a half in just one week!  My carpets have never looked so good.
     As quickly as I reach for that spray can, I need to reach for God with all the other problems that come my way.  I know God helps those who help themselves, and I can be resourceful.  But God is The Source.  When things are beyond me, they are never beyond Him.  I need to trust Him with all my heart.  I need to lean on His understanding, not on my own.  It may take time, more time that I'm willing to wait, but for the problem to be solved correctly, it has to be solved on His time frame, not mine.  
     So, here's to turning those unsolvable problems over to God, spraying them with prayer, patiently waiting, and having them seemingly solve themselves.  Sometimes it can be that easy!   


Have you had any situations that seemed unsolvable, only to turn them over to God, and, like magic, they were solved?  I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pleasant Places

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places...   Psalm 16:8

     I'm a huge "list person" with lists for the day, week, season and year.  I also created a checklist for my kids to cut down on the chaos of getting ready in the morning.  Their checklist is actually laminated and hangs in the bathroom where they get ready.  It has helped them become more independent, and has completely saved my sanity!  The final item on the list is "hug mommy."  It is a wonderful way to transition from "work" to "free time" before the school bus comes, or before we head out together for the day.
     Although my husband will say that I'm a complicated woman with all my lists, and my many other quirks, I do have very simple pleasures.  I also don't have to travel somewhere tropical or exotic to find "pleasant places."  
     One of the most "pleasant places" for me is in my bedroom, door closed, scented candle lit, Bible open, journal ready, eating hot oatmeal and drinking coffee.  While sitting in the same spot every time, my "prayer seat," I gaze at the cross and find deep peace and connection with God.
     After years of being bogged down with raising little ones, my husband and I have finally found a rhythm that allows each of us to escape and become our own person again.  Saturday mornings he is "on deck" with the kids and I get to retreat to my bedroom sanctuary to pray and write.  Sunday mornings I'm "on deck" with the kids and he goes off on long runs, and then to a coffee shop with his running friends.  
     As a result of my choosing to have my "me time" in the house, rather than at a coffee shop or at the gym, it has taken years to establish the boundary that when "mommy is having her alone time" my kids, or my husband, can't just barge in to tell me whatever is on their minds in that moment.  I recall an actual fight with my husband where I got ugly, screaming that if he didn't help maintain the boundary of my prayer space, I was going to load up the kids in the mini-van on Sunday, find his running route, and stop him at mile seven of his ten mile run, breaking his stride, just to tell him that we were out of batteries.  After that fight my sanctuary was restored, the boundaries were firm, and my prayer time became reverent and fruitful.
     However, recently, that has all changed!  Maybe it was the relaxed nature of summer, I don't know.  But suddenly my kids are barging in to "hug mommy" at the end of their morning checklist.  As sweet as that sounds, it's like a band of screaming banshees charging through a yoga studio in the middle of a meditation class.  It completely shatters my concentration and severs the line of communication I'm having with God in that moment.  It sets me back and I spend the rest of my alone time trying to find that place of peace again, that connection with God.
     So today, when Mason came in to "hug mommy" at the end of his checklist, and sneak in two or three other things he wanted to tell me, I told him firmly that from now on he needed to wait until I came out of my alone time to hug me.  I then asked him to repeat the same message to Zack and Jocelyn so I wouldn't be interrupted two more times.  As he left, I heard him yell down the hallway, "Zack and Jocelyn - Mommy doesn't want to be hugged." I felt like the worst mother in the world!  What mom wants to send the message to her kids that she doesn't want to be hugged?  The remainder of my alone time was spent in guilt, arguing with myself:  Everyone needs alone time to refuel and recharge.  Doing so makes me a better mother, right?  Even Jesus routinely went away by Himself to pray.  So why do I feel so awful?  Why am I so filled with guilt?  What happened to the "pleasant" feeling I had before Mason came in?
     That was it - the word "pleasant" was the key to the answer.  Although "the boundary liness have fallen for me in pleasant places" because my husband is so supportive of my alone time, I didn't define those boundaries "pleasantly" with Mason.  Instead, I was quick with my words because I wanted him to leave as quickly as possible.  
     It is completely fine to establish boundaries, in fact it's the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves, and everyone around us.  However, how we establish those boundaries is critical.  If I'm too quick and stern with my kids, they might maintain the boundaries, but it will be out of fear.  If I'm loosey-goosey and lax with them, which I guess I was over the summer, the boundaries get blurred and my kids get the message that the lines have been changed or no longer exist.
     What I need to do is reestablish those boundaries "pleasantly," lovingly, in terms my kids can understand.  I need to help them understand that we all have different needs, different ways of decompressing and rejuvenating.  I need to make the comparison for them:  Just like they need playdates every Friday to blow off steam, run wild, not have a routine and a schedule after a long week at school, I need alone time to reestablish my center, clear out the chaos of the week, and find that place where I can hear God.  They would completely flip out if I interrupted their playdate to tell them to do homework or some chores.  I would be derailing the story-line of the epic battle they were fighting, or breaking their concentration building the Lego creations they have envisioned in their minds.  Likewise, them charging in interrupts my journaling where I'm working through a problem or an issue, or severs the connection I have with God when I've finally reached my core in prayer.  
     Once I can lovingly help them understand this, I know they will maintain my boundary lines out of respect and love, just as I do theirs.  Then, once again, "the boundary lines will fall for me in pleasant places."   

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Greedy or Grateful?

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some of it and ate from it.                    Genesis 3:6

     I know my kids are only little for a short while.  To capitalize on that, and the fact that they're still happy to hang out with me, we do lots of "adventures" together, especially over the summer.  They have no idea where we are going, or whom it is with.  They just get in the car and off we go.  It has made for wonderful days and fabulous memories.
     The hazard of always trying to make things fun is kids always want more.  So for years now I've heard myself asking them, "greedy or grateful?"  The phrase is my attempt at teaching them to be conscious and appreciative of what we do, and what we have, and not to focus on what we don't do, and what we don't have.  Although it's an ongoing lesson, I do feel that it is slowly sinking in to heart level for them.
     As always, the lessons I'm trying to teach my kids inevitably circle around and become the lessons I need to learn.  Consequently, during our family vacation this year, I fell head first into the greedy well.  
     Due to a medical condition that was recently diagnosed, I am now aware of the fact that I can't hold my arms up over my head for any length of time.  After saving for two years for this vacation, I wasted precious time looking on, green with envy, as people shrieked with nervous excitement riding the zip line, cheered in triumph as they conquered the ropes course, high-fived each other after spiking the volleyball, and smiled with satisfaction doing water aerobics.  All of my energy was focused on what I couldn't do, not on what I could.  Without a doubt, I was greedy, not grateful.  
     So was Eve.  We look at her life in the Garden of Eden and we'd switch with her in a heartbeat!  What we wouldn't give for a life with no pain, no illness, fresh organic fruit at our fingertips, an extremely close relationship with God, and on and on.  Obviously Eve didn't recognize how great she had it or she wouldn't have wanted more, wouldn't have been such an easy target for the tempting snake.
     I know that I am often blind to what I have, and only see the greener grass on the other side of the fence.  I too become an easy target for the tempting snake.  I forget that any third-world mother who is struggling to feed her kids would switch with me in a heartbeat.  I don't think about the woman who has had failed invitro treatments, who, looking at my greener grass, would pay to have my life, medical restrictions and all, just to have any one of my three beautiful children.  I overlook the fact that there are people struggling to make ends meet who will never get to take a week's vacation away with their family.  Although I don't ever want to revel in other people's misfortunes, I do sometimes need to be reminded that there are people facing challenges far greater than my own in order for me to get the right perspective.
     Fortunately God granted me that perspective early on in the vacation so that I could recognize what I was able to do, and be grateful for that.  As my husband and I took a Segway tour together through the Vermont hills, I kept my arms down and thanked God for the cool breeze on my face, the breathtaking green mountains surrounding us, and the most fun I've had as an adult in a very long time! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Mother's Love Can Lead To Miracles

When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to Him, "They have no more wine."
"Dear Woman, why do you involve me?"  Jesus replied.  "My time has not yet come."  
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever He tells you."     John 2:3-5

     A mother's love can be so powerful!  Sure, we all make mistakes with our kids, and we worry that those mistakes will have a lasting effect.  But our children are human beings, being raised by human mothers.  Making mistakes is part of the package.  It's what keeps us humble; it's what keeps us real.
     But every now and then we should take stock of what we do right, how we surpass our own humanness.  We may never be the mother that Mary was to Jesus, but the depth of our love for our kids can mirror hers in some ways.  More importantly, believing in our children, like Mary believed in Jesus, and acting on that belief, can move us into the realm of the angels. 
     In this Scripture passage, Mary was the intercessor, the instigator for Jesus' first miracle ever.  She knew that the bride and groom would be embarrassed that the wine was all gone.  It takes a mother to see a problem approaching before it happens.  It takes a mother's vision to see how to solve a problem before it becomes an issue.  Mothers also recognize their own children's gifts, even if no else knows about them yet. 
     What impacts me most in this passage, and what speaks to the area where I need the most work, is that Mary inspired Jesus through her role as mother, then stepped back, not micro-managing how Jesus was supposed to solve the problem.  She created the platform for His miracle, and then stepped aside.
         Don't we all do this on a daily basis?  We help our kids with their projects, get them ready for their recitals, drive them to sports practices, feed them healthy meals to nourish their minds and bodies.  We guide and teach them constantly about right and wrong, responsibility, compassion, hard work, cooperation, respect, and all the other character traits that make them amazing people.  We identify their gifts and talents, and then nurture them, so they can grow into fruition.  But most of all, we pray to God for His help and guidance through it all; we intercede on behalf of our children.  Then we step aside and let our kids get the praise for a project well done, for a dance well danced, for being kind and loving people with wonderful skills and talents.
     As we swell with pride, they swell with self-esteem.  As they move through life with confidence and success, people put their faith in them, are drawn to them and to the light that they radiate.  As we step into the shadows, and they into that light, we can do so knowing that it was our "mother's love," combined with God's grace, that set the stage, that did all the behind-the-scenes work, so that our children can go on to live out the gifts that they have been given, touching lives, performing miracles in their own ways.

Witnessing A Mother's Miracle Making Love in Action

     I have a friend Jeanne who has two teenage daughters.  Her girls had a vision of creating "Princess Camp," a week long endeavor where they would teach little girls virtues through the lives of the Saints and Disney Princesses.  Jeanne believed in her daughters whole-heartedly.  But more importantly, she acted on that belief, giving up two whole precious weeks this summer to support her daughters as they ran back-to-back camps, in two different parishes.  She also invested countless other hours overseeing the planning and prep segments of the camp.  Being a volunteer for one of those weeks, I witnessed first hand how Jeanne was present through it all, but always behind the scenes, always a support, always doing whatever it took to set the stage for her girls to shine.  
     On the final day of Princess Camp, the little girls processed down the isle, one by one, to the front of the church hall.  Family and friends looked on as each girl was honored for the virtue she had demonstrated throughout the week.  Then each girl was given a wand and a tiara as she was crowned a "Princess of God."  
     One little girl had Cerebral Palsy, with plaster casts on both legs.  Despite those casts, this little girl was so excited to be crowned a Princess of God that she literally skipped down the isle to her coronation.  As she turned to face the audience, a smile beaming from ear to ear, I knew I was present to a miracle that all began with one mother's love.