Saturday, July 18

When you are fourteen...

Dearest Maggie,

On your last day of thirteen, I picked you up from camp.  You had a fabulous week, made new friends, and spent a week in God's word.  You were excited to maybe get a new Bible (which you did) and to highlight your favorite verses.  You asked for one that wasn't too big, and you told us you hoped it would be one that you could write in and carry through life.  "You know, Mom, like yours?"  I laughed and smiled, and then I walked away and cried.  Because really?  How is it your birthday, yet, you give me the best gift?  Those words were more than I could have ever asked for.  Of course you can have a new Bible.  Please write in it.  When you don't understand what God's doing, mark it.  When you do understand it clearly, mark it.  And one day, your children will flip through this Bible that's barely held together, and they too will want a relationship like that.  They will read the notes, see the wrinkled-with-tears pages, and be encouraged.  God is faithful.

On your last day of thirteen, you told us the story of the autistic boy in your camp group.  You told us about his tics, about how the other children picked on him, about his wild behavior.  With a raised voice and a passion that burns deep, you told us about the injustice of it all.  You told us about how, on your last day of thirteen, you couldn't take it anymore.  You yelled at the other boys picking on him.  You told them it was not okay and to stop.  You demanded it.  The room of teenagers fell silent, and everyone stared at you.  And you didn't care one single bit because you knew you did the right thing.  The other campers listened to you.  When you were finishing out your thirteenth year, you were more of an adult than most adults I know.

So when you are fourteen, my prayer for you is this:  that you never forget to cling to what is true, what is right, and what is good.  I pray that you continue to love fiercely, and that you continue to give more than you take.  It is a crazy world you live in currently, and it is easy to get caught up in the issues.  I pray that you always remember that souls matter more than things.  Things are usually not worth fighting for, and people with integrity never point out their integrity.  Strong people do not announce their strength; they just stand firm in the wind, holding others up in the process.

You are a beautiful, talented dancer.  You are smart, and you are funny.  You are a hard worker, not easily daunted.  But you are only these things by the grace of God.  I pray you remember that always.

When you are fourteen, you are going to change the world.  You already are.  I'm just grateful we get to tag along.  I love you.

Wednesday, May 27

When you are thirty-nine

When you are thirty-nine, God tosses you curve balls.  You think you have life figured out, but you don't.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.

You make it through one of the toughest times of your life, and you think you've arrived.  But God reminds you that he is indeed in charge, and he's not done with you yet.  And when you are thirty-nine, you no longer shake your fist in rebellion, day after day.  You no longer cry those hot, angry tears.  You get on your knees and say, "Really, God?  Show me what you are going to do with this."  Because you now trust him more than ever.  You know he shows up and that he means business.

When you are thirty-nine, you go WAY outside of your comfort zone and travel six-ish hours and spend time with the moms of the girls your daughter spends the most time with--crazy dance moms.  Except they aren't so crazy.  You laugh like you haven't laughed in years.  You share way too much because they share way too much.  You tear up over others' struggles; you tear up over your own. God gently molds your heart in the most unlikely of circumstances.

When you are thirty-nine, you hold your husband and your children tightly.  You try a little bit harder, you play a little bit longer, you snuggle a little more frequently.  You have a high schooler next year, and you now realize that time really does just march right on by.  You try not to miss anything--the swim meets, the dance recitals, the conversations in the car, catching fireflies in the yard.  The moments.  They just mean more.

When you are thirty-nine you are okay with who you are.  You are not perfect.  You know that you cannot control others.  You cannot change their minds, their attitudes, or their hearts.  You can control your own actions, the amount you let others hurt you, and the amount you invest in people.  At thirty-nine, you are finally investing in the people and things that are worthy of the investment.

When you are thirty-nine, you still feel young.  You laugh at the days to come.  You really, really do.

Wednesday, January 7

Something Else.

She's thirteen.  She does things to annoy her brother.  She leaves her towel on the floor in the bathroom.  She puts headphones on and listens to music that sometimes ventures into grey areas I have yet to define and ignores everything going on around her.  And I get tired and frustrated, and even though she is a completely awesome kiddo, I get irritated at the little leaving her heavy coat behind on the coldest day we've had yet.  But then, she comes home and tells me this completely awesome story.

In language arts today, her new teacher read the class a campaign speech for a fictional candidate.  She had the students analyze the speech and decide whether or not they would vote for the candidate.  They organized their thoughts in a paper, and then the teacher took a poll.  She asked a show of hands of who would vote for the candidate.  Every single student raised their hand; every student except Mags.  Then she asked who would not vote for the candidate.  Mags, of course, was the only one to raise her hand.

I pause here in the story to take note.  I would not have done this at thirteen.  I would have voted with everyone else, regardless of how I really felt. I needed that validation of my friends at thirteen.  She does not.  I say this to just let you know that she's a pretty awesome kiddo, but thank goodness, God is in control of that.  She is venturing into a territory of self-confidence that I know nothing about still to this day.  I try to guide her, but really it is most often me learning from her and being amazed.  This was the case today.

The teacher smiled and looked at Mag's hand, all alone in the air, and dared to ask her why she felt that way.  She listed off a variety of reasons (I read the paper, they were pretty decent reasons).  Mags said that when she finished explaining why she would not have voted for the candidate, the teacher revealed that she had actually read a speech by Hitler.  She just changed the names.

I am proud of her ability to think clearly and logically.  I am proud of her ability to be able to analyze information and sort it accordingly.  But I am most proud, that at thirteen, she still dances to her own music.  She is not afraid to stand alone.  She's not afraid to say what she thinks.  She's not afraid to take chances and risk being wrong. She is still something else.

And I'm pretty sure her new teacher probably feels the same way.

Wednesday, December 3

Catching up in Squares

It's Advent season---our favorite.  We light the candle(s), read scripture, sing carols, and pray together.  I'm not sure anything else can top that.  This week, we are focusing on hope.  It is most beautiful, and exactly what my soul needs most.

We visited our cousins last weekend, and we hit up Lights of the South.  Ummm, my seven-year-old thought this was the most amazing place EVER.  I wish so often that my heart would leap for joy like that over the most simple of things.
Our tree is truly a kid tree.  A mix-match of handmade ornaments and ornaments that mean something.  All stuffed together in one place.  It really represents every single one of us, and man, does it make me smile to turn it on in the evening!
Bentley turned eleven.  ELEVEN.  He celebrated with Mexican with these two--his very best buddies.  He is such an amazing kiddo.  I cannot even begin to explain his intelligence, his sense of humor, and his incredibly kind heart.
She is my battle.  My fight.  My tears and my most prayers.  I'm not giving up, and I am gaining ground like you wouldn't believe.  See these green pants?  She made them herself.  She's reading.  She's writing.  She's dancing.  She's playing cello.  She's not just going to make it in this world, she's going to take it by storm.
And this is just two weeks ago, while we were waiting for swim to finish.  She really does make life a party when she wants.  I just wanted to capture the joy and remember it forever.

Monday, September 22

Books We've Read 2014-2015 School Year

  • Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (B)
  • Rascal by Sterling North (B) 
  • Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel (E)
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B.White (E, read aloud)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling (B)
  • The Elite by Kiera Cass (M)
  • The One by Kiera Cass (M)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman (A)
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (E, read together)
  • The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill (B)
  • The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (B)
  • Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff (E)
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (E, read aloud)
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (B)
  • Marie in the Fourth Position by Amy Littlesugar (B, E)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (B)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (B)

Wednesday, August 27

A New Season

A dear friend of mine frequently has reminded me through the years that we only see a small part of the bigger picture.  It is so easy to get weighed down by our narrow vision, and it is important that someone speak truth to you in those moments.

She was my easiest baby.  The caboose.  Her schedule flexed with the big kiddos.  She went everywhere, watched everything, and waited patiently...over and over and over again.  I fell deeply in love with my Boo girl.

I won't lie--the last few years with her have been hard.  She only likes certain clothes that fit certain ways.  She feels deeply and strongly.  She laughs loudest, yet cries hardest.  I found that I could handle those things decently--consistency, consistency, consistency.  As long as I could respond correctly, we were headed in the right direction.
 But then I began to school her, just as I did her siblings.  She HATED it.  I could convince her to color, to sing, to dance, to dream...but I could not convince her to read.  She knew her letters; she knew the sounds.  She would not read.  I tried everything.  I asked everyone for help.  I struggled just as much, if not more, than she did.
 I wanted her to love reading because I love reading.  Because her siblings love to read.  She did not care.  I took it personally.  I began to feel as if I was failing her.  People, unintentionally I hope, gave me reason to question myself. I contemplated enrolling her in school so she could have a better teacher.  I cried, and I prayed.  I found myself defeated and deflated.  My pride stopped me from seeking out more help.
 So it was with complete and utter dread that we started second grade this year.  I am not even kidding.  I prayed that God would somehow enable me to do an impossible job.  We are four weeks into the school year.  She loves it.  EVERY.SINGLE.THING.ABOUT.IT.  The handwriting?  It's beautiful.  The reading?  She's doing it AND enjoying it.  The math?  She's mastering it like her siblings did.  I remembered what I had forgotten--one of the greatest joys of homeschooling is letting each child find their own pace.  We finally found hers.

 I have been reminded that God always has more in store for us, and we have no idea what that looks like.  For me, at this time, I am treasuring our mornings.  I am thrilled to share my favorite stories with her, to see her own joy over my favorite characters and their antics.  Her heart is bending, and I am amazed as I watch it happen.  Her spirit, still quite spunky, is more pliable these days.  I am excited to see where she's headed.

**All of these beautiful pictures were taken this summer in Maine, except for the very last one.  It is from Gettysburg.**

Tuesday, March 25

At twelve and a half.

At twelve and a half, you are ALMOST a teenager.  You have opinions and thoughts, and they matter.  You have also entered the portion of the dance world where some of your costumes have two pieces.  I have become okay with that.  You do not wear them anywhere but on stage, so unless I post pictures, most people do not even realize it.  That being said, on Sunday, you danced beautifully, and on Sunday, there were a lot of fabulous pictures taken.  And for the very first time, we are sorting through which pictures are the most appropriate for viewing.  Although none of your dancing is inappropriate, a picture captures only a minute piece of the dance...and sometimes that leaves some of the beauty behind.  So these are a few that mark your skill without being too questionable.  

You are a beautiful dancer, and I love to watch you dance!