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. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Liebster Award

I'd like to send out a huge and sincere THANK YOU to Natasha at Gigggle Giggle Toot Roar for nominating me for The Liebster Award!  I am sooo thrilled and honored by this!  I am loving this blogging thing and am so touched that my brand new blog has been chosen.  Thanks a million Natasha!

To quote Natasha:    

 "My understanding is that bloggers with followers under a certain threshold (somewhere between 200-2000) are nominated.  It’s a fun way to share a bit about yourself and learn about other newer bloggers too.  This is a cool and supportive venture; a way for the blogging community to show each other some love!
Here are the rules for receiving this award:
  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves
  2. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you and create 11 new questions for those you nominate
  3. Nominate 5-11 of your favorite bloggers and link them in your post
  4. Go to their page and tell them
  5. Thank and link back to the person’s blog who nominated you"

I hereby accept the nomination with gratitude!  Below are my responses, nominees and questions:

11 Facts About Me:

1.  As a kid I wrote fan letters to Marie Osmond and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman).  I never heard back from either one of them.
2.  In college, my favorite salad was a mixture of cheetos and popcorn (not a vegetable or anything green in sight!).
3.  I've owned two horses in my life:  Chippie I boarded at a stable in Andover, MA.  Santiago I tethered to a stake in the ground in the remote village of San Ixtan, Guatemala where I lived for two years.
4.  Trying to go to the Fiesta De Paz, I arrived so late at the border of El Salvador that I had to sleep on top of a cotton truck for the night, waiting for the border to open the next day.
5.  After getting kicked off a train in Ireland, my friend and I tended bar for our room and board that night.
6.  I've never been to Disney World.
7.  I hiked an active volcano in Guatemala.  I would be furious with my kids if they ever attempted this!
8.  I have the same exact thing for breakfast 7 days a week, 365 days a year (oatmeal and coffee).
9.  I used to review Young Adult novels for Kliatt Magazine.
10.  I have a Noah's Ark Closet:  when I find something I like, I buy it in two different colors.
11.  Until we had kids, my husband and I had a date every week where we would take turns planning the evening, surprising the other with the details as the date unfolded.

11 Questions From Natasha

1.  Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog as a way to further flush out, through my writing, what God was trying to teach me in the this journey of motherhood.  My hope is that it helps other moms see that Scripture does pertain to us and can be of great help and inspiration.

2.  How would you define a good leader?
One who inspires, not criticizes.

3.  What's your biggest pet-peeve?
Being ignored by my kids or my husband.

4.  What's your favorite meal?
Chicken pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.

5.  If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I'd pay off our debt, establish college funds for my kids, and then start surprising friends and family with things they need the most.

6.  Describe yourself in one word.

7.  If I spent a day in your shoes, what would it be like?
If it's the summer, it's a blast!  Every day is a different "adventure" with a different fun destination that I surprise my kids with.  If it's the school year, it's all routines, schedules, homework, housework and to-do's. 

8.  What's the best thing that's ever happened to you?
Becoming a mother.  Although I may complain and feel overwhelmed at times, the moments when I truly connect with my kids is the greatest gift I've ever been given!

9.  What's your biggest fear?
Losing the ones I love.

10.  If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Jesus.  Just having an hour in His presence would change me forever!

11.  Favorite candy?
I'm more of a "salt" girl and prefer cheetos (preferably 3 days old and soggy - go figure?!!!).

I hereby nominate the following bloggers for The Liebster Award:

Nina at The Whole Self
Brittany at 17 Hour Days
Nicole at Southern New Hampshire Kids
Lauren at Camera Happy Mom
Leesha at Just Leesha

Questions for the Nominees:

1.  Who was your favorite teacher and why?
2.  Who are the five famous people (dead or alive) that you would invite to a dinner party?
3.  What's one quirky thing about you that most people don't know about?
4.  What would your "perfect day" entail? 
5.  Where's the place that brings you the most peace and why?
6.  What are your three most valuable possessions and why?
7.  How would your friends describe you?
8.  What's one New Year's Resolution that you never seem to fulfill?
9.  What's your favorite movie and why?
10.  What are three items from your "bucket list?"
11.  What was your childhood dream for yourself?

I hope that you all accept this nomination and continue the momentum of paying it forward:  supporting each other, providing more exposure for each other, and spreading love and joy to each other.  It's such an amazing experience to get so much encouragement from people I've never met face to face.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.      Ecclesiastes 3:1

     I'm not a good photographer.  Although I know that the light source is supposed to be behind me, rather than the subject(s) I'm photographing, I continue to break this rule.  The result is overexposure:  there is so much light that all color, all vibrancy, is washed out of my pictures.
     My Zack loves his little sister Jocelyn.  He intuitively knows what she needs and how to make her happy.  He is the first one to respond if she needs help.  He watches over her, and can play beautifully with her for hours.  Consequently, Jocelyn looks up to Zack as if he were a superhero.  When people witness their interactions, their hearts melt.  There is nothing sweeter than a loving and doting older brother, and a little girl who is smitten with her big brother.
     But lately Zack has been incredibly impatient with Jocelyn, and, at times, downright unkind.  I've been dumbfounded!  It seems to have come out of left field, like his very character has taken a 180 degree turn.  Where before I spent my time trying to eaves drop on their conversations, my heart swelling with pride at their kindness to each other, I now can't help avoid the yelling and bickering between them.  My time is now spent refereeing, ironing things out between them, punishing Zack, and scratching my head, wondering when and why the change happened.
     I finally figured it out:  it's overexposure.  Summer is the culprit.  Too much time together wears patience thin.  Although all the fun time we've been spending in the sunshine is a wonderful gift, it also has bleached out the color and vibrancy in their relationship.  Both kids are seeing each other in a new light, a light that seems to be more focused on the other's annoying traits, versus their gifts.  It happens in all relationships; siblings are no exception.  (I'm sure most of us moms are feeling exactly the same way about our kids at this point in the summer too!)
     Although they do have to learn to accept each other's flaws, right along with the good, it's my job to shake things up a bit.  Like Ecclesiastes says, there is a time for everything; that includes time spent together and time spent apart.  Kahlil Gibran talks about "space in togetherness."  I need to create more opportunities for Zack and Jocelyn to be apart from each other, make space between them, give them some distance from each other so their hearts can grow fonder again.  They're relationship is too precious to not intervene.
     I'm trying hard to work on my photography skills.  Although my subjects get annoyed when I ask them to change places with me so that the light isn't behind them, the effort and bother is worth it.  My pictures are getting better: the colors are richer, more vibrant because of the change.  Likewise, I know the effort and bother it will take to create space between Zack and Jocelyn will be worth it too:  restoring the love and admiration they share for each other, bringing that vibrant color of love back into my household.   

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Grateful For Second Chances

" 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.' "              Matthew 13:29

   My eight-year-old son Mason is a very passionate and creative kid.  However, he moves slower than molasses with everything:  brushing his teeth, eating a meal, walking down the stairs.  He doesn't mean to hold everyone up, or slow down any process.  It's just that he's a day-dreamer:  he gets lost in the clouds all the time.  You and I know that walking down the stairs is just an action to get from here to there.  For Mason, it's a chance to hop on two feet, then on one foot.  Then there's the opportunity to stop and size up whether he could slide down the banister without getting injured or in trouble.  Instead, it occurs to him that he's had a growth spurt recently.  Now that he's half-way down the steps, maybe with his longer legs he could climb up three steps at a time.  So he gives that try.  Consequently, he regresses, instead of progresses, and he's right back where he started.  We were five minutes late picking Zack up from karate before.  Now we're ten minutes late!
     In exchange for taking my kids on fun "adventures" every day during the summer, I require that they write and draw a picture about the day's adventure in their journals.  Although Mason's great imagination makes him a wonderful writer and artist, historically it has also meant a painfully long time journaling.  His brother Zack has always been a "get it done so I can have fun" kid.  Twenty minutes into it and Zack's writing, drawing and coloring were completed.  Then he was off either using his thirty minutes of screen time on the computer, or playing with Legos.  An hour later, Mason was still writing away and adding details to his pictures that were already museum worthy.  
     In years past, I've ended up pushing Mason, rushing him to get it done.  There was always some other fun activity to do, or dinner to eat, or a shower to be taken.  Moreover, when his brother was off playing on the computer or with Legos, Mason slowed down even more, distracted by what game Zack was playing or what structure he was building.  Despite lots of creative problem solving ideas, it usually ended up ugly: Mason still going as slow as a snail, with tears in his eyes, and me, frustrated beyond measure.
     My prayer was that this summer it would be better, easier, now that Mason is a year older.  He had to journal in class every day this past school year.  I was hoping that that too would contribute to a big improvement.  
     There was a bit of a rocky start this June, but all in all, Mason was getting the journaling done in a timely manner!  I was so excited to move on to the next thing that I wasn't paying attention to the finished product.  I was just happy that it was getting done.
     Recently, I looked at his writing and drawings from this summer.  I compared them to years past and my heart plummeted.  There was no comparison.  This year's writing was brief and sloppy.  This year's pictures were vague and void of any detail.  I was devastated!  
     I wasn't wise like the farmer in this parable.  I didn't realize that rushing and pushing Mason so much would crush his spirit, eliminate any and all detail in his writing and drawings.  I rooted up the wheat while pulling the weeds!  But worse than a farmer ruining one season's crops, I had stifled the greatest gifts my son had to offer:  creativity, joy and passion.  In my opinion, there's nothing more unforgivable that a mother can do!
     Fortunately for me, God, and children, are amazingly forgiving.  Once I realized my error, I went to God in prayer, asking for the solution, and to Mason, asking for forgiveness.
     The great news is, there is a happy ending to this story.  After implementing a combination of ideas that came to me in my prayer time (thanks God!), and just being downright honest about what I had done and what I had learned with Mason, he is back to his old happy, imaginative, pie-in-the-sky self.  To confirm that all is well, when I told him how much I love that he sees joy in everything, his emphatic response was, "But there is joy in everything!"  I can't tell you how grateful I am for second chances!


I still haven't figured out how to completely strike a balance between nourishing Mason's free spirit, yet preparing him for a world that has deadlines.  If you have any suggestions and/or tips, I'd love to hear them!