Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Her Prayer.

The conversation a couple of nights ago between Rod and Abi, as he is tucking her in.

ABI- Whatever you need me to do, I'll do it.
Rod- What did you say, honey?
ABI- I was talking to God. I told Him, "Whatever you need me to do, I'll do it."


This will officially be my shortest post ever.

Three things.
1. She meant what she said.
2. Her heart is so full of love for God, this prayer couldn't help but spill out of her lips.
3. I wonder how many of us "parents" go to sleep with this prayer in our heart?

Lord, please make me more like Abi.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Understatement of the Millenium.

For those of you who haven't heard, I'M GONNA BE AN AUNT! My baby sister is baking a baby right now! My cheeks are literally sore from smiling so much over the last few days. Tater Tot will enter our lives sometime mid-January, and I can promise you there's not a family more excited to welcome a baby into it on this planet!

The other day, Lori wrote on her facebook for moms to private message her advice, pregnancy tips, etc... I can't wait to see what all she got in response. I remember being at this spot with Abi and feeling totally lost as to what I should expect next. The main thing people kept telling me is what I'm calling the "The Understatement of the Millenium." It says it all, but doesn't say nearly enough. And I promise you, I heard it hundreds of time before I had Abi...

"Your life is about to totally change."

REALLY ? That's like saying the Grand Canyon is a whole in the ground. Or perhaps like saying the Pacific Ocean has a few gallons of water in it.

So, in honor of this understatement, I thought I would compile a list of ways Lori and Seth's life is about to change. Moms and dads of the blogworld, please add to this list, either on here, or my facebook fanpage.


1. You will never sleep the same way again. Ever. EVER.

2. You will possess a love so fierce, you could rip a grizzly bear to shreds with your bare hands in order to protect your little one from pain.

3. Know how you used to just get your purse/wallet, get in your car, go buy groceries, and be back in an hour? This phenomenon will soon be a distant memory.

4. You will never stop being amazed at how a quick glimpse of your sleeping child, playing child, eating child, laughing child... will make your heart swell with pride and physically ache with love at the same time.

5. You will look at every person you meet on the street with skepticism from now on. Whether they are a "good guy" or a "bad guy" will cross your mind automatically.

6. You will find yourself standing over the crib of your sleeping baby, just watching... even when you swore as soon as you put him down, you were going to bed yourself.

7. You will acclimate just fine to your plate being cold by the time you finally get to eat for about three years after the baby gets here.

8. You will be so ready to dump your bundle of love off at your mom's (or sister's) house because you feel like you're willing to do anything for two hours of alone time... but you will spend those two hours thinking of that sweet little face and how yummy it will be when you kiss it over and over upon your return.

9. Every runny nose, fever, cough, and icky diaper will make you worry for about the first two years. Then you'll start trusting your instincts and the doctor won't be as frequented as he used to be.

10. You will eat lunches of Goldfish crackers, warm juice boxes, and those little yogurt things that melt in your baby's mouth... and wonder why you're starving when it's dinnertime.

11. You will realize it's 5:00, and think, "What the heck did I do all day?" on a regular basis.

12. You'll feel the need to apologize to your parents over and over and over.

13. You will crave a night out without the baby, but then decide to stay home and sleep.

14. You will find yourself recapping Dora's adventures to others like she's your personal friend.

15. You'll realize the parts that drooped and fell when you carried and birthed this child will never fully regain their original location.

16. If you have one of those video monitors, you'll find yourself watching it like you used to watch your favorite TV show.

17. You will suddenly possess voices that could land you a job as a cartoon character for the next Disney movie.

18. You will look at your childless friends who are still "playing" as much as they want and vaguely remember you used to "play" too... but you'll also know THIS kind of play is SO much more fun.

19. You will plan entire weeks around naptimes. And you'll laugh when you remember that you used to say, "My baby will just have to adapt to my lifestyle."

20. You will never, ever, ever make it though another hour of your life without thinking of her. Unless you're sleeping.

So, um, yeah. Your life will change. Entirely. And by entirely, I mean infinitely and limitlessly. And the change will never stop. You'll be overwhelmed, undersleeped, and taxed to your absolute limit. But it will be the best adventure you've ever been on in your life. This is what life IS. This is what love is.

New moms and dads, you were made for this! You can do it, yes you can!!!!

Welcome to the big leagues!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Purple Slurpee!

So, one Wednesday after work but before church, I took Abi (who was three) to Target for a few needed items. (If it's at Target, it automatically qualifies as a "need" for me...heehee) And on the way out, she wanted a Slurpee.

I hesitated, which should have been my first clue.

But, she was so darn cute and had been well-behaved for about 17 hours straight, so I decided to let her get one. I asked which color (because in my world, EVERYTHING is chosen by either colors or textures), and she said purple. Fine and great. She drank the whole small Slurpee and was happy as pig in the sunshine.

We went to church and then went home. I gave her a bath and we tucked her in. Thirty minutes later, she's still awake. An hour later, still awake. I cave in and put her in our bed. Thirty more minutes, she's still awake. An hour later... you get the point.

I get her up and carry her downstairs. She sees a cat outside. We go out and feed it, play with it, name it... We go inside and drink some milk. At some point, I say outloud, "WHAT IS GOING ON?" To which Abi responds, "We're having a girl party!" We color. We watch Blue's Clues (thank God for all night Nick Jr.). We eat a snack. I read three books to her. I finally get her to settle into my lap with a blanket and after rocking and rocking and rocking, she falls asleep. At 2:00 AM.

I carried her back to bed. And just as I am about to fall asleep in MY bed, it hits me like a ton of bricks.


Oh my word. I had let my tiny three year old drink a gazillion ounces of caffeine and her little body was in overload!

I have laughed so many times about that fun, yet frustrating night. And now, I see so much how we repeat this mistake all the time as parents.

We pile expectations on them that they are not capable of meeting, and wonder why they are frustrated and lashing out at us with anger all the time.

We let them run around with whoever they choose, and punish them for their poor attitudes.

We spend more time on our computers and cell phones than we do talking to our kids every evening and then wonder why they don't want to come out of their rooms or go on a family vacation.

We choose the most boring church in the world to take our family to and then wonder why they don't want to go.

Catchin' my drift?

At some point in childhood or adolescence, most kids have a hard time communicating with their parents. Since this is the case, we have to be extra vigilant about observing their behavior and seeing what's REALLY going on behind what's going on. Ask questions. Know when to give advice and when to stay mute. Be constantly aware that they are fighting their own battles every day. Being a kid in 2010 is no small feat. They have real pressures and pulls that are totally foreign to us old-school parents.

So, I pose this question. What's your kid’s purple Slurpee? What's the REAL reason they do what they do? Abi was oblivious to the wiles of the caffeine she ingested. She was just along for the ride. But if we are open, and moms and dads, if we will still our hearts long enough to listen, we'll get our answer.

And then next time, choose something like white cherry or bubble gum flavor. We live and learn. ;-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things I Hate To Hear.

I thought since yesterday's post was so heavy, today's deserved to be mucho lighter. All you moms and dads, this one's for you. (well, they're really all for you... but sometimes it's just fun to say that.)

TEN THINGS NO PARENT LIKES TO HEAR. (yes, things Abi has said)

1. Ooooooooooops.... Oh NOOOOOOOOO. (coming from the other room)

2. I think when I grow up, I'm going to be a dancer. Maybe I'll dance on tables like I do in the living room sometimes when the Backyardigans are on.

3. Mom, today in class, I told everyone that Mary had Baby Jesus out of her privates!

4. I'm just sitting here thinking about tobacco.

5. Mom, have you seen my sandwich that I was eating in the car?

6. Sometimes when I get done peeing and put my pants on, the pee keeps dribbling out!

7. Uh oh. This is bad.

8. How do you spell "Mom, I'm sorry I broke this"?

9. You're not supposed to say old and fat, right?

10. Sometimes I just want you not to hold me anymore. *sigh*

Good times. ;-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Surely you knew I was going there.

SURELY you did.
Let me give you a disclaimer up front.

This post is not fun to read. It's not filled with humor, cuteness from Abi, etc. I have never been more serious in my life.

I'm sure you've seen or heard of this video by now. If you haven't, let me explain before you watch. These are SEVEN YEAR OLD girls, at a World of Dance competition in California. If you haven't seen it, prepare to have your heart ripped out of your chest. If you HAVE seen it, please watch it again.

So, all the people who have thought I was off the deep end about my stand against premature exposure to media and entertainment, HERE'S EXHIBIT A!!!!

The definition of pornography is "the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction." Well, hmmm... seems like the video above exemplifies this definition, dontcha think?
I am on FIRE about this, peeps.

My heart is broken.

Those little girls that are just performing a dance routine they learned have no idea that their parents have sacrificed them on the altar of culture. It literally makes me want to throw up.

There's MANY things I don't know in this life. I have no idea which Transformer toy to buy for boys' birthday parties. I know nothing about nuclear fusion, how to change a tire, or how the heck a Target bag gets recycled into a coffee cup.
But I know girls.

Let me tell you this. Seven year old girls don't naturally gravitate toward lingerie and pole dancing. They pretend they are mommies, teachers, and nurses. They like Barbies, swings, tea parties, coloring, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They cry alot, they laugh alot, and they play alot. They skip, they run, they dress up, but they DO NOT KNOW HOW TO THRUST THEIR HIPS AND SHAKE THEIR CHESTS!

As many of you know, we just finished up a series on family relationships at church. One week, my parents (the pastors) were talking about the lack of real love in the majority of parenting today... how girls are crying out for love and will find it one way or another. They reported to us about a EIGHT YEAR OLD GIRL who was having sex with an adult male because she "wasn't getting love from home, so had to look elsewhere." EIGHT. YEARS. OLD. Not long ago, right here in our small town, an 11 year old gave birth. Not too many years ago in Atlanta, a 10 year old did the same. None of them were raped.

When are we doing to wake up and take this seriously? When are we going to stop letting our kids live beyond their years? When will we have enough of sexual overload in our media and entertainment choices? I have news for you, moms and dads... it's not going to get cleaner. We're WAY more concerned about cleaning up the earth than cleaning up our entertainment. And since the world around us is not making any effort to protect our kids' eyes and hearts, it's our job to do it within our own homes.

In our home, we have made the decision that Abi won't be allowed to wear a bikini. Now, I'm not hopping down this trail to preach at you about swimsuits. Those are your choices in YOUR home. But in our home, our thoughts are that we don't want her to wear basically a bra and underwear in front of others... that she will be saving those types of things for her husband only.

"But Jill, everyone else wears them! It's not a big deal!" It is to me.

See, I have other moms' sons in mind. I want to protect their eyes and their hearts. I have Abi in mind... to protect her for obvious reasons. And I have Abi's husband in mind. I'd like to think that as best we could, we protected what will eventually be his from other men's viewing enjoyment. (I know boys will be boys regardless, but I want to do all I can to lessen their ability to take advantage of her and to be taken advantage BY her on my shift!)

All I'm asking is that you evaluate your own home and see where you can tighten up. Weed through your TV shows. Filter through the questionable friends. Put your foot DOWN about activities that may be condoned by the world (like the dance group), but are clearly not condoned by God.

We aren't called to live underground or in a bubble. After all, we are His representatives in the earth, so we must have relationships with those we are representing Him to. However, we can't have a foot in both worlds. Our place has to be clear, our stand must be certain.

Make your own choice... but as for me and MY house, we will serve the Lord.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Move On.

Sunday morning was Mother's Day. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I would have a magical morning... awakened by my precious daughter with a kiss and a smile... that she would fully cooperate with our morning routine as we got ready for church. I mean, after all... I coach parents! My own child will cooperate and give me the Mother's Day of my dreams!

Dang Hallmark commercials. They lie.

I had to tell Abi to wake up at least 20 times. The night before, she and I had decided that since it was Mother's Day, she would wear a dress that I love (that she's never worn because she thinks it looks too babyish). She looked at me with love and said, "Mom, I will wear it for you because it's Mother's Day." (Why I believed her belongs with other mysteries, such as where is Jimmy Hoffa, what's the Bermuda Triangle really about, and what happens to those missing socks). So, after she drug her tiny hiney out of bed, she shuffled to the bathroom, then to the library, where she gets dressed.

Then, I heard it. The noise that shattered my hope of a seamless morning. The sound of fingernails down a chalkboard to my Folger's coffee fantasy Mother's Day morning.

"NOOOOOOOO! This dress is SCRATCHY! I feel like I'm being scratched by CATS! I cannot wear this hideous dress!!!!"

I walked into the room.
ME- Are you not wearing this dress?
ME- That it totally fine. But you broke your word and you broke our deal, so that's going to cost you a dollar of your allowance.
ABI- Then I want to go get another dress to wear!
ME- You can't. We have guests in the guest room, so you can't wake them up to get more clothes out. (Her clothes are in the guest room closet.)
ABI- Then I'm going to the laundry room to get something out of the basket! (She STORMS off.)
ME- You lose another dollar for leaving this room with such a bad attitude.
ABI- (from the other room) FIIIIIINE! UGGGGGH!
ME- Another dollar gone.
ABI- (Crying in laundry room. Finds her Easter dress... second Sunday in a row, btw.)
ME- You look cute in that dress!
ABI- (Collapses on the ground in hysterics.) All I want is to get in that room and get my clothes out!!!
ME- Abi, get your shoes. It's time to go.
ABI- (Sobbing) Where... (sob) are they? (sob). (Snot dripping off chin).
ME- They're not my shoes, so I don't know. Find them, put them on, and meet me in the van.
ABI- MOOOOOOOM! Don't leave me in this house!!!! WHERE ARE MY SHOES?
ABI- (Look of shock) Yes Ma'am.
ABI- When is kids' day? (WHAT????)
ME- EVERY DAY. (I get in the van)

She gets in the van.

ABI- Mom...
ME- Abi, please don't talk to me for a while. I need to calm down.
**We ride in silence for a while.**
ME- I am sorry I raised my voice at you.
ABI- (silence) I forgive you. (silence for a while) Mom, I'm sorry.
ME- For what?
ABI- (Chin quivering) For ruining your morning! And for breaking my promise! (Sobbing again)
ME- Abi, I forgive you. (suddenly change gears) Can you imagine what would happen if Scruffy tried to wear a dress to church? (her other imaginary friend who is the Snuffalupagus off of Sesame Street)
ABI- (Sobbing stops quickly) Mom, that would be CRAZY!

She spends the next ten minutes talking my ear off about Scruffy's escapades, kids from school, and popsicles.

We get to church, and as we are getting out of the van, she says, "Mom, are we going to talk about this after church?"
ME- It's over. We've started over. That's what forgive means.
ABI- Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Parents, three tips on handling the aftermath of a conflict....
1. Apologize first, if you were in error.
2. When they say, "I'm sorry" ALWAYS ask what for. I'm sorry is a blanket statement. They need to be aware of their offense and able to articulate where they went wrong. This is as good for you to hear as it is for them to say.
3. Let it go. DO NOT REHASH THE SITUATION OVER AND OVER. To forgive means to release from the payment of. When it's over, it's over. Period.

And my Mother's Day? It was fantastic from there on out. You'd never know it started the way it did.

In the words of the great philosopher Jimmy Buffett, "According to my watch the time is now...Past is dead and gone. Don't try to shake it, just nod your head. Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On."

Thank God for grace. *sigh*.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our main job.

If you've been reading this blog very long at all, you know that manners are primo in my parenting agenda. If you haven't gathered that by now... You must've been reading another blog.

But higher up on my list of priorities is raising my children with a high awareness of God.

In everything.

You might be reading this and immediately feel defeated. You might see this as a failure, or another thing to add to your already too long "to-do" list.

Don't. This is one of the most basic things we can teach our children. Because after all... His fingerprints are all over the world around us, all the time.

Sadly, as parents, we are so busy getting everyone from place to place, fed, clothed, and cleaned, that we left God at home when we rushed out the door that morning. Romans 1:20 is one of my favorite verses. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

This basically means that everywhere we go, there is an object lesson of God's creative power and love somewhere around us. It is our job as parents to bring those examples to life for our little ones. Can I give you a few examples of how easy this is?

You know that tree you pass all the time in the Spring? You know... the one you always quietly admire? Well, tomorrow when the kids are in the car and you drive by it, say this. "God sure was thoughtful to make that tree so beautifully and put it right here where I pass it everyday." Move on.

When you get to the mall, and the golden parking spot opens up for you right as you pull up to the front of the parking lot, say, "Thanks, God. You knew my legs were tired today." Move on.

When you sit down to eat, say, "I'm so glad that God gave farmers ideas on how to grow this food so we don't have to eat grass!" Or, "Wouldn't it be boring if everything tasted like broccoli? God sure is creative!" Move on.

When you see two puppies playing, say, "God has such a sense of humor, to create puppies to play so cutely like that!" Move on.

You get the drift. If you incorporate Him in your every day, He becomes a part of THEIR every day. Rod and I have been very deliberate about pointing out God in our daily lives in front of Abi, so she is always aware of His presence and concern in HER day to day.

And the payoff has been HUGE.

The other day, I walked into the kitchen while Abi was writing, and I saw her with her arms stretched out, face upward, and heard her whisper, "You know I love you this much, right God? Well, I do!"

A month ago, we were on a field trip with her. She was on the bus in the seat in front of me. With her bff sitting beside her, she turns to me and says, "MOM! I just heard God talk to me!" I said, "That is GREAT! What did he say?" Abi said, "He said, 'You sure are a good girl... and I am good all the time!"

Recently, I heard Abi say, "Daddy, why did God make us to poop?" Of course, Rod used it to explain how God created our bodies to take care of themselves.

A week ago, I pull into the garage at home, and Abi says, "Mom, the Lord has done BIG things for us!" I said, "Yes. He has. Thank you for the reminder."

A couple of years ago, Abi asked me on the way home from church, "What do I have to do to go to Heaven?" As a result, I led my four year old daughter to Jesus in the van, driving through Tavares.

We taught Abi that when she is hurt, sick, or injured in any way, we pray FIRST. I love knowing this has been instilled in her because when she's at her public school, and she can't get to me and can't get to Tylenol, she has the Healer to turn to FIRST. When she broke her arm, we prayed FIRST. When she falls down, we pray FIRST. When her heart is broken, we pray FIRST. So, the other day, her tummy was hurting, and we were at a restaurant. She asked me to take her to the bathoom. I did. And the minute we got into the stall, she said, "Please put your hand on my tummy and pray for me before I use the bathroom." Of course, I did.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't always represent Him correctly to her. I don't always point Him out. I don't always show her who He is. But it is something I am always aware of, this need for her to see Him in our every day life.

This child has literally grown up in church. By that, I mean until she started kindergarten, she spent the majority of her days (Sundays through Wednesdays at least) IN the building, in my office, roaming the halls... she's at every meeting, every service, and then some. But, hold on to your hats... She has learned WAY more about God outside the church walls than inside them.

It's not the church's job to completely educate my daughter about God's love for her. That's MY job. All through Proverbs, we see Solomon talk of how he learned about God at his mother's breast, or at her knee. Not in the temple, and not from ancient scrolls. I am not taking away from those things, believe me. Church attendance is NOT OPTIONAL for my kids.

But church is a tool to enhance what they are learning from ME. It is not their sole source of Godly exposure.

So, Moms and Dads, how much of Him are you incorporating into your daily life? It may feel awkward at first, but give it a try. Voice your appreciation of Him to your kids. Soon it will be on their lips as well.

It's music to this mama's heart.


Saturday, May 8, 2010


Well, if you wanna know where I get most of my parenting philosophies, see the above picture.

That's my Mama.

That little ball of energy and estrogen is somethin' else. Let me tell you what... she's one of the most genuine, real-deal, up front, simplistic, stubborn, childlike, wisdom-filled, unique creatures on the face of the earth. She's opinionated about everything... and by everything, I mean EVERYthing. She's even opinionated about things she doesn't know about or understand. She's hard of hearing in one ear and can't hear what you said from across the room, but can somehow hear your thoughts before they even come out of your mouth. She yells at the actors to look behind them in a scary movie, bawls like a baby in the sad movies, and laughs at parts no one else thinks is funny in comedies.

I can't talk about her without feeling a warmth of pride in my heart. And since this is my blog and I can brag on my family endlessly, I wanted to post a few memories of why my Mom is my hero... and a mom we all should aspire to be like.

I remember Mom overcoming her avid fear of reptiles to kill a baby snake wrapped around the ladder of my Nana's pool as I climbed down it. Mom was bad to the bone that day. (I haven't seen that side of her since.)

I remember Mom driving through a coop of chickens that were out in the road for some random reason on our way to town. And she laughed hysterically.

Once, she decided to build me a tree house. The finished product was basically 2x4s nailed to a few trees to make a circlish-square area. (Nevermind that treehouses are supposed to be up IN A TREE, not on the ground.) It was terrible and I never played in it because it stunk as a tree house, and again, there were reptiles out there.

I wanted a pair of purple Nike velcro tennis shoes. My friends had them, and I could not live without them. I have no idea how long my mom saved her grocery money to get them, but one day, there they were. I remember knowing that the fad had passed, but knowing she got them for me made them the best shoes I ever had.

I wanted Capri-Suns SO BADLY in my lunch box. I had no idea that being a stay-at-home-mom to children whose dad was a struggling preacher in the 80s equaled not being able to buy Capri-Suns. But I know Mom's heart hurt because we couldn't afford them. So, she told me my thermos had "homemade Capri-Sun" in it. I never knew it was Kool-Aid.

Once, my Mom turned a cartwheel and split her pants in from of all of my cousins. Sigh.

Before she had dental work, Mom had a gap between her front teeth you could parallel park a truck in. I thought it was cool because she could spit water out of the gap like a fountain you'd see in a mall.

Whenever we went on field trips, Mom went. She never missed a single field trip of mine (including my senior trip), and I'm pretty sure she only missed one of my sister's. She packed snacks for everyone, knew not to stand over me the whole time, and always bought me a souvenir from our day together.

My house was THE house to hang out in. We had no pool, no computers, no fancy tv, no basement filled with elaborate games or pool tables... We had HER. And my friends couldn't get enough of her.

Every Christmas, our toys were laid out like something out of a catalog. I remember standing and taking it all in, not wanting to destroy her art.

Somehow Mom would fall and sprain her ankle EVERY SINGLE WINTER in the snow.

The day her grandma died, I went with Dad to tell her. I must've been 13 or so. Because Dad was in ministry and wasn't getting paid much of anything, Mom put my sister at a babysitter's and cleaned apartments after people moved out of them. We went to the apartment she was cleaning, and Dad told her that Grandma had died. I will never, ever, ever forget the cry that came from her toes, as she sank down the wall onto the floor. She was wearing a gold sweatshirt and black leggings. For the first time, my Mom looked like a little girl on that floor. I will never forget that moment, and the love I saw in her for her precious Grandma.

The day of my high school graduation, Mom and Rod (who I was not dating, btw...) put signs all the way up 441 saying "WAY TO GO, JILL!" I was a celebrity by the time I got to school.

The day Mom and Dad dropped me off at college in West Palm Beach. My room was at the end of the hall, on the total opposite end from the elevator. They waved goodbye, and Mom buried her head in Dad's chest and sobbed. Dad said she cried the whole 4 hours back, and many days afterwards.

The day I found out I was pregnant with Abi, after six long years of trying. They were on vacation, but I couldn't wait until they got home. I called them. Dad cried. Lori cried. Mom screamed and cried. She came home two days later with three outfits, a book on praying for your child, a blanket, and a stuffed lamb.

She sent us on a scavenger hunt a couple of years ago all over the place, where we had to sing in a car dealership, sing in a pottery shop, sing in a house, and who knows what else... and eventually ended up with Disney annual parkhopper passes.

When Mom's sister came down for a surprise birthday visit. We wrapped her in a refrigerator box, and Mom opened it. It was SO fun to see her reaction.

When we hosted Mom's 50th birthday party. Her two best friends came down as part of the surprise. And the biggest surprise was the cruise Dad sent us all on.

Can I tell you how this woman affects every part of our lives? How Abi defends her every decision? How Dad's face changes when he talks about her? How Lori worries about her? How Seth and Rod won't let her lift a box, a chair, or a book that weighs too much? How I do not know how to live without her influence in my every day?

Mom, thank you for everytime you knew whether to spank my butt or let me cry. Thank you for having discernment of 99.99% accuracy into my doings. Thank you for every sandwich you made, every snack you prepared, and every "homemade Capri-Sun" you put in my lunch box. Thanks for going without new clothes for most of my childhood so I would feel like I was just as pretty as everyone else. Thanks for knowing when it was time to let go of my hand in a parking lot. Thank you for praying over me while I slept. I am eternally thankful for the fact that you were thinking of my husband long before I cared about boys. I am thankful you taught me how to make biscuits, make my bed, and make babies. Thank you for seeing what was coming before I could and for preparing me for the worst while hoping for the best in my teenage years. Thank you for getting the smallest piece of chicken, the crumbliest piece of cake, and the aisle seat on the airplane. We had some rough spots, but we did alright, didn't we?

We're finally there, Mom. You're my best friend. Thanks for not trying to ever be that until now.

I love you, crazy lady... my first home, my forever home.

Jill Bug.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A letter to my future son (in-law)

Dear Future Son,

It's crazy to think that you're somewhere on this big blue planet, right now... maybe in kindergarten like your wife-to-be, maybe in third grade... maybe graduating high school like your future-father-in-law was while I was six. But that's a whole other letter.

You might have a ballgame today after school. Or perhaps your parents have a conference with your teacher. Tonight's the night Abi stays at her grandparents' house. I wonder if you do that, too?

I often think about you, and wonder what you're doing while Abi is coloring me a picture or jumping on the trampoline. Do you have a brother or sister, or a puppy to play with? Do you share a room with someone? Are your eyes green like Abi's, or are they blue? Are you a little pain-in-the-rear about having your teeth pulled like your lady-in-training?

My son-to-be, while I care about these things and everything about you, what I really pray for are the things we can't always see. I pray you are surrounded by loved ones who are affectionate and playful with you. I pray that you are affirmed as the wonderful creature you are every day. I pray you are filled with the knowledge of God's immense love for you. I pray there's a man in your life who models being a man of integrity before your face on a daily basis. I hope you see your dad kiss your mom and hold her hand when they walk through the mall. Or if your parents aren't together, that you aren't basing your idea of romance off of what you see on TV, because that stuff is fake. I pray you see your mom prized like the jewel she is... that you see her doted on and lavished with praise, because the young lady you are going to marry has not only seen ME praised and valued, but she's never known a day of insignificance in her life.

I hope you are learning to open car doors and store doors for ladies. I hope you see that it is your responsibility to pay for your dates, to walk to the door and pick her up, and return her with all of her clothing and all of her self-esteem in tact at the end of the night. I pray that you are learning to guard your eyes and your heart from seeing women as objects of sex and lust. I pray that you are seeing that real men don't participate in activities they would be ashamed of their moms knowing about. And when you mess up, I pray you have a repentant heart.

I hope you realize you have big shoes to fill. Your father-in-law is a man among men. He is not forceful, condescending, or chauvenistic with his girls. We have been treated like the special ladies we are. Your wife is head over heels in love with her daddy, and trust me... she always will be. She has been dated, romanced, and cherished by her father. He holds her hand, lets her cry, and tolerates her mood swings. When he knows it's her hormones making her cry, he has learned the balance of when to step in and when to walk away. You won't figure this out until MUCH later in your marriage, so don't stress because you can't figure it out right away.

Abigail has been trained to speak kindly to you. To value your hard work. To fix your favorite foods and iron your clothes to show you appreciation. She understands that you are the head of your household. However, she comes from a long line of strong women. She is not a doormat, and I expect that if you try to treat her as one, you'll only make that mistake one time.

She is not perfect. She is a clothes fanatic. She isn't a fan of many vegetables (we're working on that). She thinks Cheetos are a dairy product. She grinds her teeth sometimes while she sleeps. She forgets to flush the toilet after she pees. Drama runs DEEEEEEPLY in her veins. But young man, you are receiving the best gift you could have ever received on this side of eternity when you take her hand. If you knew the treasure you will receive in her, you'd find it hard to concentrate on anything else for the next fifteen years or so until she's ready. So, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whoever you're with... we are praying for you. We love you already.

Oh, and what I pray for you most is that you have a personal, living, breathing relationship with the One who laid His life down for yours. Your wife does. I see her live intimately with Him everyday.

PS. I fully plan on being the next best thing to your mom for the rest of my life. You're stuck with me, buddy. Be thankful. And scared. ;-)

I'm the BOSS.

So, Abi. Sweet little Abi. From the time she could utter sounds that even SOUNDED like words, she was bossin'. (WHERE DOES SHE GET THIS STUFF FROM??????)

I stayed at home with Abi. And when I wasn't at home, I was working with her under my feet, day in and day out, in my office at church. Stay-at-home-moms, you are not forgotten. Your days turn into endless stretches of time where you don't go to the bathroom alone, you don't eat anything but sandwich crusts, and you forget that there is a world out there where not every conversation contains the word poop.

I knew when Abi looked me in the eye and popped me in the nose with her foot at six months old because I made her get in her car seat that we were in for a wild ride. (Yes, she did it on purpose. A mom knows.) And day after day of staying home with my little charge, not only was I trying to establish my authority in her life, but she was also trying to establish HER authority in ANYTHING. If I said it was time for lunch, she wasn't hungry. If I wanted her to get dressed, she would insist that she was wearing her bathing suit and not the dress I picked out. If I wanted to sit and read a book, she demanded outside time. Finally, one day, I summoned my mommy powers and stopped it.

Dead in its tracks.

I got down on the floor and sat eye to eye with her. Those green eyes looking into mine. Those sweet little chubby cheeks needing me to pinch them... Oh sorry, I'm getting lost. Back to the point. I looked at her and I said, "Abi, let me make this clear to you. You are not in charge of me. I do not have to do anything you say. And I will not to ANYTHING you demand. You are not the boss of me and you never will be."

She sat. She thought. And with all the sincerity she could summon, she said, (with a quivering chin) "Mom, I just want to be the boss of SOMETHING."

I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I saw myself in her so much at that moment. I remember the feeling of thinking I was born to rule the world. It was one of those "God, give me wisdom" moments. Because, this was not playing out like I thought it would. I had stupidly imagined she would say ok and go on her merry way. Nope.

But somehow, I found these words. "Abi, you can be the boss of your attitude."

With no further explanation needed, she stood up, jumped up and down, and exclaimed, "I'm the boss of my attitude! I'm the boss of my attitude!!!! I can't believe it!!"

Fast forward three years. On a daily basis, I remind her of her responsibility to choose her attitude. Because, fact is, I'm in charge of her. I can make her brush her teeth, get dressed, do her homework, come inside, and eat her dinner. But I cannot make her do it with a good attitude. Almost every single day as I see her heels beginning to dig in on a subject, Rod or I will remind her... "Choose a good attitude, Abi. Because you do NOT have a choice in doing what I asked. You CAN choose which attitude you'll do it with." Sometimes she chooses a good one. Other times we aren't so lucky.

But the fact remains, she knows this is an area that she and ONLY she can control.

When she was three, not long after the conversation I had with her on the living room floor, we were at lunch with a young married couple who didn't have children yet. To show off our awesome parenting skills (ha), I said, "Abi, tell them what you're in charge of!" Abi stands up in the booth, throws both arms out, and yells, "I'M THE BOSS OF MY ATTITUDE AND MY PRIVATES!"


Thank you, Abi, for announcing that to all three million of Sonny's BBQ patrons.

Hey, at least she got it. And apparantly, she saved us a few steps in the future. ;-)

I added this after the fact as a disclaimer... Be sure it's clear to them that each attitude they can choose has side effects!

Monday, May 3, 2010

One size fits all???

Seriously? Who created this concept?

If you're a woman, you know what I mean. You buy an article of clothing- a shirt, a jacket, a wrap, socks... and it's OSFA. Then you realize.

You're not an "all."

Or perhaps you see it in your infant's clothing. The size says 6-9 months, and you can't even get the thing over their big ol' bobble head. Yet another outift in the same size completely swallows them like Jonah's whale.

All-in-ones, all-inclusives, and one-size-fits-alls don't work for clothing, tastes, preferences...

Or children.

Can I be brief and super blunt today? (yes, just today... believe it or not, sometimes I taper my bluntness...) STOP MEASURING YOUR CHILD AGAINST OTHER CHILDREN!

Are you familiar with the feeling when your friends' kids are doing things like solving quadratic equations or reciting every vice-president we've ever had, and your kid is the one sitting in the corner of the room sticking his toe in his left nostril? Or maybe other kids are thinking of going to college to be a lawyer or to learn something useful like astrophysics, and your little Einstein has goals to work at a Texaco station?

Be of good cheer.

Your child is unique! Doesn't make you feel any better? I didn't think so.

Listen for a minute.

My sister and I cannot be ANY more opposite from each other. I was a brainiac in school. I loved everything about it. I loved research papers, book reports, homework, and exams. However, I HATED sports, getting hot and sweaty, and competition of any sort. My sister was done with school after the first week of kindergarten. She HATED school work, HATED homework, and HATED sitting in a classroom for hours everyday. She played all kinds of sports, had her teeth knocked out, and is the most competitive girl you'll meet. I cannot sew to save my life. She actually just opened a business making designer hair accessories. I cannot paint, draw, or color. She can spend hours on end coloring and even painted a tree on the wall of her living room that looks like it belongs in an IKEA magazine.

Did my parents freak out because by 5th grade, my sister wasn't reading on a college level like I was? Nope. Did they panic because I never played a sport in my life? Nope. They knew they had two girls who were total opposites.

And they were ok with that.

When I was pregnant with Abi, a few of my friends had babies around the same time. Of course as a new mom, you measure your child against every one else, looking for a glimpse of hope that somehow, your kid shines in areas others don't. At first it freaked me out that most of her baby friends were running around in the nursery, while Abi sat in one spot the whole time. But then I realized she was talking in complete sentences when they weren't. Her friends would be climbing on things, jumping off things, and there she'd sit. Chatting away, barking orders at everyone as they played around her.

And you know what? That child to this day has no athletic abilites (that we can see). She has the funniest run ever. She has a hard time consistently catching a ball. I think it's safe to say that she's not going to be the star of a Little League summer season. But you know what she WILL be the star of?

Every class she's ever in for the rest of her life. Her ability to make others feel like they are the only person in the room is almost supernatural. Kids are attracted to her like she's a living, breathing cartoon. She can sing like an angel. She expresses her heart by dancing. She writes us love letters on a daily basis.

We decided early on that the only standards we would measure her by are our family standards, and the standards God has outlined for her in His Word. His standards ARE one-size-fits-all. So, really, moms and dads... look at your friend's kid with the IQ of 562 and appreciate him... But take bigger notice of YOUR miracle.

Why do we think we have to have perfect children anyway? It's not possible! We are their parents, after all...

Kinda takes the pressure off a little, doesn't it?