Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Gold, Circumstance and Mud"

As I sit here watching the lights and waiting for the kids to fall asleep, I am pondering a story that was given to me just earlier today from a neighbor.  I would like to share that story with you now.  It will hopefully give you a chuckle, but might also trigger you into thinking about what Christmas is truly about.

(a story written by Rex Knowles entitled "Gifts of the WiseChildren; or Gold, Circumstance, and Mud") 
It was the week before Christmas, I was baby-sitting with our four older children while my wife took the baby for his check-up. (Baby-sitting to me means reading the paper while the kids mess up the house.)
Only that day I wasn't reading. I was fuming. On every page of the paper, as I flicked angrily through them, gifts glittered and reindeer pranced, and I was told that there were only six more days in which to rush out and buy what I couldn't afford and nobody needed. What, I asked myself indignantly, did the glitter and the rush have to do with the birth of Christ?

There was a knock on the door of the study where I had barricaded myself. Then Nancy's voice, "Daddy, we have a play to put on. Do you want to see it?"

I didn't. But I had fatherly responsibilities so I followed her into the living room. Right away I knew it was a Christmas play for at the foot of the piano stool was a lighted flashlight wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a shoe box.

Rex (age 6) came in wearing my bathrobe and carrying a mop handle. He sat on the stool, looked at the flashlight. Nancy (10) draped a sheet over her head, stood behind Rex and began, "I'm Mary and this boy is Joseph. Usually in this play Joseph stands up and Mary sits down. But Mary sitting down is taller than Joseph standing up so we thought it looked better this way."

Enter Trudy (4) at a full run. She never has learned to walk. There were pillowcases over her arms. She spread them wide and said only, "I'm an angel."

Then came Anne (8). I knew right away she represented a wise man. In the first place she moved like she was riding a camel (she had on her mother's high heels). And she was bedecked with all the jewelry available. On a pillow she carried three items, undoubtedly gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  She undulated across the room, bowed to the flashlight, to Mary, to Joseph, to the angel, and to me and then announced, "I'm all three wise men. I bring precious gifts: gold, circumstance, and mud."

That was all. The play was over. I didn't laugh. I prayed. How near the truth Anne was! We come at Christmas burdened down with gold—with the showy gift and the tinsely tree. Under the circumstances we can do no other, circumstances of our time and place and custom. And it seems a bit like mud when we think of it.

But I looked at the shining faces of my children, as their audience of one applauded them, and remembered that a Child showed us how these things can be transformed. I remembered that this Child came into a material world and in so doing eternally blessed the material. He accepted the circumstances, imperfect and frustrating, into which He was born, and thereby infused them with the divine. And as for mud—to you and me it may be something to sweep off the rug, but to all children it is something to build with.

Children see so surely through the tinsel and the habit and the earthly, to the love which, in them all, strains for expression. [The Guideposts Christmas Treasury (Carmel, NY: Guideposts Associates, 1972), pp. 197–98]

I was grateful for the gentle reminder that Christmas isn't all about the hustle and bustle of finding the "perfect" gift.  It is about the humble reminder of Heavenly Father's greatest give of love to each and every one of us, the birth of His Son.  With this gift, we have the opportunity to repent of any wrongdoings we may make, and become the person that He knows we can be.

I hope that each of you take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and remember the "perfect" gift you have been given.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Joy of Teaching Children

I have recently been reminded of how "precious" children are in this world. It comes in the most unusual ways too! Normally I would write how my children did the most outstanding, adorable thing to make me reflect on why children are so wonderful - but if I were to do that you would soon question the validity of my past blogs. If you have been following my blog, you will find that I don’t "sugar-coat" the truth when it comes to children. I'm one of "those" people who tell it like it is. I am one to tell you that motherhood is hard - but rewarding. I am one to tell you that children are a challenge - but a true blessing in our lives. 

In truth, life without children wouldn't be life at all. They have the ability to teach you about yourself in ways that you wouldn't otherwise have the chance to learn. For example, in the past couple of weeks we have been struggling across the age span of our children and their challenges. We have had everything from "I can't wait to move out!" to "I hate you!" to "What's for dinner mom?" to "I love you mommy!" Yes, in my family we have all types of "tudes" that can get in the way of seeing the bigger picture. Thank goodness for a sweet hubby that has stepped in and came to bat for the mamma!

My hubby was able to smooth several ruffled feathers and point out to our wonderful offspring that I am not the enemy, but someone they can trust to get them over the difficult times or trials in their young lives. He was able to help them see that I could teach them how to get through the challenges they are going through. I guess he was able to help each child see that mamma has "been there, done that, got the t-shirt to prove it". All in all, things have worked out ok and we have all become "friends" again - well, almost.

I really am grateful for the past couple weeks of challenges cuz it has taught me that I love to teach children. I love the challenge of helping them see the best in themselves and to reach beyond what they think they are capable of. In short, I love to teach - no matter if it is in a home or school setting.

I have had the distinct privilege to help in my youngest child's kindergarten class. I go in every Friday for about an hour and help these sweet children. It is a joy (not to mention a great ego-boost) to walk into the class and see the faces of the children light up with excitement because they know that I am going to help them learn.

I think I have been missing this part of my life for a while now. As you will remember, I wrote about how I have worked with young children as a child-care provider, Kindergarten teacher and a Pre-School teacher. I don't really know what has me hooked either! I think it's a cross between finding some new exciting teaching tool and the excitement of a child when they are learning and finally "get it".

I have recently been contacted by a lady, Seisha Lock, who works for Upon further investigation, I have found this to be a wonderful teaching website that has many learning opportunities for children from ages 2-11 years of age. It is filled with learning games, stories & songs your child can explore online, as well as offers worksheets you can print to encourage "off-line" learning for your child. 
My daughter really had a fun time creating the "pretty pizzas" in the build a pizza game that teaches math skills!  In the course of my communications with Seisha, she gave me permission to include one of the many worksheets available from their website as a glimpse of what they offer.  (Feel free to print and share this worksheet.  The answer sheet is included as well).
To quote Seisha Lock for
"Make learning fun for your young learner with our matching list worksheet. Give your child more opportunities to sharpen their literacy with reading games, worksheets, and activities at!"

I was blown away when I was contacted by! It made me start to think of all I have done in helping to encourage young children to learn and become the best they can possibly be. It helped me to realize how important a role I play in teaching children they need to keep trying no matter how hard the task seems. To see the excitement in a young child's eyes when they finally master a task is more precious and rewarding then words can state.

I was also approached by my daughter's Kindergarten teacher and asked if I had ever considered being a substitute teacher. Not gonna lie…when you are less than 5 feet tall, your options are kinda limited. But if I were to be a substitute teacher, it would be for Kindergarten. The children are so eager to learn and explore. They are finally doing what their older siblings are doing and this is a very exciting time for each child at this age. Not to mention, I am taller than most Kindergarten children!!

So to answer the teacher's question, YES! I would consider being a substitute teacher for the Kindergarten grade. Maybe next year when my youngest is in all-day school and I am looking for something to fill by day with, I will seriously consider making the difference in other people's young children's lives once again. Until then, I will continue the wonderful challenge of my own children and helping them to see what amazing people they can become!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Are You Willing to Serve?

If you were asked to give service for a long period of time would you?  It is easy to serve someone for a day or a week, but how about a month or a year?  How about 7 years?  I'm afraid I have been in the "this is too hard" or the "I don't have time" category of thinking.  I want to change - right now!  I have discovered in my own self that I am a very selfish type of person that is very reserved when it comes to helping others.  I try to be kind and serve when I can, but if that service has been asked for long term I start to think that service has now become a burden to me.  In this way of thinking I am wrong.  I have been given many examples of how my attitude needs to change and how my service is a blessing to others.

One of the best blessings I received was when I was asked to serve my grandparents.  Several years ago when both my mother's parents were alive, I was asked to make and deliver dinner to them each Thursday night.  I was really "put-out" with this request because I felt that my youngest sister, who was living there, could just take care of it.  After all, that is what she was there to do - take care of the grandparents.  Needless to say, my attitude stunk!

One Thursday night my attitude changed.  I had brought in the usual meal.  Served it on plates to take into my grandparents.  (They always ate meals in their chairs in the living room in front of the TV.)  As usual, my grandmother asked me to re-heat her dinner cuz it wasn't hot enough, so I did.  As I delivered their meals to their trays, my grandfather muted the TV and asked my grandmother to say the blessing on the food.

My hardened heart cracked with that simple blessing on the food.  My grandmother not only asked a blessing on the food, but she humbly expressed her gratitude for me and the sacrifice that I was making to bring them dinner.  She then expressed her love for me to Heavenly Father and asked that He bless my family.  Right then I knew that I would never see bringing dinner to my grandparents as a burden ever again.  It was a gift of love that I would willingly share with them for as long as the Lord allowed me to serve them.

After my grandfather passed on, my grandmother had an extended stay in an assisted living home.  I made it a point to visit with her every Monday afternoon.  I took my young son  with me, and sometimes my oldest daughter would come as well.  We had amazing visits together.  We would even bring her treats at times.  There would be times when we would enter her room and she would be on the phone with someone and she would look at us, smile and then tell whoever was on the other line "I got to go.  My boyfriend is here."  Then she would give my son the biggest hug a great-grandmother could give.

I didn't realize how much my grandmother treasured these visits until I received a "tongue lashing" from her.  You see, I was expecting my third child and had become somewhat ill.  It made it difficult to visit my grandmother for a few weeks in a row.  When I finally felt well enough to resume my visits, I came into the center to find her playing BINGO with the other residents.  Her response was to look over her shoulder at me, give me the "death glare" at say "Well, it's about time!"  I vowed never to miss my weekly visits with her again.

Now that she is no longer with us, these are some of the most treasured memories that I  keep close to my heart.  I feel more blessed than I can ever comprehend because I took the time from my busy day to serve her.  It may not seem like much, but it made the world of difference in her life, and I have realized that it made a difference in my life as well.

I know that when we give service to others we not only bless their lives, but our lives are equally blessed.  When we give willingly of ourselves the Lord will make sure that our needs are met.  If there are hurts in our lives they will be healed.  If we are depressed, we will have greater hope because we will be able to focus on someone to help make a difference in their world.

I watched a video that really touched my heart.  It tells of a group of men who gave of their time and service for over seven years to a woman who was disabled.  Please take the time to watch the video.  Go ahead, I'll wait………(click on picture below to see the video.  Be sure to have tissues ready....)

I challenge each of you, myself included, to get out and find someone to serve today.  It can be in the tiny little things that you do - remember that service doesn’t have to be big.  Just serve with a smile and a willing heart.  Those that you serve may not ever tell you "thank you", but they will always be grateful for how you touched their lives for good.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hold on to the Kite String

Image result for kite photographyThe other day my family spent a wonderful night at the park flying kites.  Nothing fancy, just your run of the mill plastic triangle kites.  The kids had a blast!  They knew the "proper" way to fly the kite was to get it up in the air then lie down on their bellies and watch them soar through the sky.

As I was watching them, I was reminded of a story I once heard, long ago, about a boy who flew a kite with his father.  The story went something like this:
Image result for kite photography"The boy was very young. It was his first experience with kite flying. His father helped him, and after several attempts the kite was in the air. The boy ran and let out more string, and soon the kite was flying high. The little boy was so excited; the kite was beautiful. Eventually there was no more string left to allow the kite to go higher. The boy said to his father, “Daddy, let’s cut the string and let the kite go; I want to see it go higher and higher.”
His father said, “Son, the kite won’t go higher if we cut the string.”
Image result for broken kite“Yes, it will,” responded the little boy. “The string is holding the kite down; I can feel it.” The father handed a pocketknife to his son. The boy cut the string. In a matter of seconds the kite was out of control. It darted here and there and finally landed in a broken heap. That was difficult for the boy to understand. He felt certain the string was holding the kite down."

WOW! What a great story!  Short and simple, yet so profound!  How many times have you thought, or your children thought, that the rules we live by each and every day are "holding us down" and that if we just "cut the string" we will be able to fly?

I know for me that when I have followed the "rules" I have been spared heartache time and time again.  I haven't allowed my body to become addicted to "outside influences" that have the potential to shorten my lifespan.  I have also found that when I have followed the rules I haven't felt trapped or stunted; I have been able to fly to greater potential.  I know that I am not fully there yet, but if I hold on tight to that string, I will fly to higher and higher heights.

We, as mammas, teach our children from the time they are born to the time they flee the home how to be respectable human begins that will eventually contribute good to society.  We sometimes think when that child rebels we did something wrong or that we didn’t do enough.  We most often forget that our beautiful child has a wonderful brain of their own and, like us, they were given the same agency we were given when sent to earth.  The only way to develop that trait is through experiences and choices - both good and bad.

As a mamma you will no doubt hear the familiar phrases: "you just don't understand!"  or "you're just saying that so I can't have any fun!" or "why do we have stupid rules anyway?"  These are all great questions that a "normal" child wanting to develop their independence will at some point in time ask you.  Your job as a great mamma is to be prepared to answer these questions, I hope that you can answer with the same amount of love that a loving Heavenly Father gives us.

When He gave us commandments to follow, He knew we would ask these questions and He also knew that we would "test the limits" of the 'rules'.  He doesn’t come down hard on us for the mistakes we make, He instead pleads with us to recognize what we have done wrong, repent of the wrong choices we do make, and once again look to Him to lead and guide us back home to Him.  Not always an easy task if you ask me!

When you have an over-passionate teen who wants desperately to spread their wings and fly to higher and higher heights, they start to feel as if the 'rules' are holding them back, and they will start to rebel.  This will lead to many a drawn-out fight, or at least heated arguments on why these sorts of behaviors or choices are unacceptable.  You as a mamma will feel that you have "lost" your little child forever and that you have done everything possible in your being to help this child see that you really do love them with all your heart and that you would walk through fire to save them - from anything!  When they rebel, your heart breaks into a thousand tiny little pieces that you fear will never be repaired again.  I'm here to tell you there is HOPE!

A few years back, I was struggling with one on my children and I had had ENOUGH!  I was at my wits end, and I just didn't know what to do anymore.  I was by myself most of the time cuz my hubby's schedule was kinda 'off' so I really didn't have a "daddy figure" in my home all the time.  One night I left the house, just so I could cool off and not say or do anything to my child that I would later regret.  (I have to say, my child was perfectly safe.  I also returned within 10 minutes of leaving.)  I had gone to a friend's home who helped me to calm down and helped me realize that this type of behavior is "normal" for children to exhibit.  She also told me that things would work out in the end.

My poor wounded heart was breaking - but I dried my tears and went home to my child.  I did love that child with all my heart then - and I still do to this very day - even more!  I was determined to seek for the help and guidance from Heavenly Father.  That guidance came a couple weeks later while we were reading our nightly scriptures.  The answer was this:

Jacob 5:47-50

47 But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
48 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?
49 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard?
50 But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.
How many times as a parent do we sit and wonder what we could have done more to teach our children to have the courage to make good choices and become who Heavenly Father knows they can be?  We spend our days and nights teaching them right from wrong.  Praying for them to find the right path for themselves, just to have them choose a different path.  This leads us to doubt ourselves as a mamma and ask am I enough?  How many times have we sat down and said "I'm a failure!  I just can't teach them anything!  They just won't listen to me!  I can't do it anymore!"  These are very real questions that I have asked many a time. 

Image result for kite flyingI have also received many answers to these questions.  Mainly through the spirit of our Heavenly Father that whispers, "Spare them a little longer." 

This statement "spare them a little longer" gives me hope every day of my life.  It also reminds me these precious children are not really mine.  They are "on-loan" from Heavenly Father.  They were sent here to grow and develop, just like I did.  I made some pretty stupid mistakes in my long life, and they too are gonna make the same stupid mistakes.  They are their own person, having their own life experience.  You are NOT a failure because of the choices your child chooses to make!

I hold onto hope that one day my children will be the persons I know they can be.  If you are a mamma that is losing a grip on hope for your children, tie a knot at the end of your rope and hold on, have a little more love and patience for your child.  There is a plan for the hardest of children out there.  Heavenly Father is in control of EVERYTHING and He will give you the HOPE you so desperately need.  He loves you just as much as He loves your child.  After all, you are both His. Trust in Heavenly Father and His plan for you and your children.

Image result for kite flyingI leave this thought with you, hold onto hope, always hold tight to the kite string.  This will help you keep grounded in the love Heavenly Father has for you. You will both feel the freedom to fly to higher heights than you could ever imagine.  Of these things, I can promise you!