*Christian

Five Things I Want You to Know on Mother’s Day – To the Women who had Miscarriages

I was so happy. I sat in church and locked eyes with my husband. We exchanged a smile over a secret only the two of us shared.

But then, the next Sunday, tears sprung to my eyes before the first notes of worship even began. I hugged a few close friends but shied away from everyone else.

As the singing of our church service began, I sank into my seat. I was broken hearted.

I had experienced loss. I had miscarried a baby.

I’ve been through this experience five different times over the span of eight years now. I am more in-tune to the emotional signs of loss than the average member of our congregation, but even with my watchful eye, I know many other women slip through my radar and suffer their losses in silence.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

Sweet girl at church, maybe you have experienced a miscarriage as well. Whether you’ve shared your loss or kept it silent, I have some things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day. Whether you sit in my pew, attend my congregation, or live miles away, this message is for you:

1. You are not alone.

Even if you’ve kept your loss private, you are not suffering alone. You may look around the room and see babies in seemingly everyone’s arms, but even the church is not free of heartache.

The most recent statistics state that 15-20% of all pregnancies end in loss.

Our scars are not visible, but many of the women sharing your pew have felt the heartbreak of infant loss as well.

2. Others want to love you.

If you choose to share your losses — and I recommend you eventually do — let the church body surround you with love. Let us bring you meals or bake you cookies. Accept our gifts – even if you don’t believe you need them. These gifts are a physical representation of God’s love for you.

After one of my miscarriages, a friend brought me a pair of fleece pajamas. Every time I slid my legs into those fuzzy pants, I felt the love and support of my friend.

Do not isolate completely, as the whispers of Satan can become shouts in our times of solitude.

3. Grief takes time.

Grieving the loss of an infant is not the same as grieving the passing of your grandfather. He was given the opportunity to live a full life. You have memories with him.

Grieving a baby you never met is unique. You lack the memories and shared experiences, but still posses the pain. You mourn what could have been as opposed to what was.

It’s ok to seem fine one day and struggle again the next.

After my second miscarriage, I took a few days to grieve and then returned back to work. One of my clients announced her due date that next week – it was the same date as the baby I had just lost. Following the announcement, I took a couple more days off of work. My heart was not ready; I wanted to be happy at the announcement of new life, but my wound was too fresh.

Trust your body and your heart as you mourn. Take a day. Take a month. Take what you need. Your grief is as unique as the baby you cry over.

4. God does love you, but Satan hates your family.

You chose to create a family and bring a child into this world. You planned to raise this baby in the church and according to God’s Word. God is not punishing you for any unfaithfulness in your past or anything you have done wrong. God loves you. He desires to give you good things.

But.

But Satan is present and powerful. He hates the idea of a family grounded in truth. He stops at nothing to harm and destroy.

These are facts of the world we live in, but dear friends, don’t allow Satan to win.

Do not allow this trial to breed bitterness or anger against God. Seek wise counsel and help if you need someone to preach and re-preach God’s promises and goodness over you.

Soak up the truth of how God loves you as you continue to read your bible during your grief. Remind yourself of the hope of heaven as you grieve for what sin has taken from you.

5. You were the best mama for your baby.

My babies typically perished between six and ten weeks gestation. For every one of those weeks, I was a good mama for my babies. I kept them safe. I nourished them. I loved them unconditionally.

These losses are not something I wanted. Quite the opposite. I would have done anything to keep them alive.

This is true for you as well, Mama. I don’t doubt your devotion to your children — no matter how long they lived on this earth. You were such a good mama.

If God grants you another babe, you will be a good mama again, no doubt. You will be the best mama for that baby. God made that specific child with you in mind.

 

These are the five things I want you to know on this Mother’s Day – whether you attend my congregation or not, whether your loss is recent or long ago.

Sister, even if your children are not still with us here on this earth, this Mother’s Day is for you. I’m sorry for your loss, but your baby was blessed by your love – no matter how short or how long s/he lived. Sweet girl, sweet mama, Happy Mother’s Day.

Let Us Be That For Each Other – Encountering Special Needs in Public

As a mom of children with special needs, I have learned to let my pride fall and apologize quickly. When my son calls a stranger fat or my other child licks our neighbor’s ankle, I am humbled and often embarrassed.

A few weeks ago, we took our sons out to eat. The restaurant was having a fundraising night (unbeknownst to us) for one of the local school districts. The store was packed and children abounded. We bought our sandwiches and even supported the local school. We ate, and our boys expelled their energy in the playplace.

As my husband and I sat after the meal, we unpacked parenting and the lives we’re living. Soon, a gentleman and his son appeared at the table behind us.

From the moment I saw the boy, I knew.

There wasn’t anything about his appearance that might trigger this knowledge, but watching his interactions and his demeanor, I saw my sons in him.

I saw that this boy was special.

His father was struggling to keep the boy close. The child was overstimulated by the large number of patrons and the busyness of the restaurant. Within an instant, the boy appeared at my side.

He hurriedly nabbed the card game from my sons’ meal. The young man opened the game and began to examine every piece. His presence was near and he leaned against my arm as he bombarded me with one hundred questions.

I smiled.

He was close in age to my oldest son and had similar social boundaries. I delighted in this boy’s presence.

His dad, on the other hand, was mortified. He quickly apologized and pulled the boy away. He returned the game and hung his head.

I nodded and reassured him everything was fine.

Soon the boy was seated. He spoke fast and loud as he inquired about everything in his surroundings. His father seemed exasperated and tired.

The boy grew bored of his father and turned back towards me. He began to show me the letters he knew in sign language.

He obviously had no idea I had studied sign language in college.

The next thing I knew, the boy was practically in my lap, and I was teaching him to sign “sea turtle” and “rabbit.” Again, his father was stressed. He apologized profusely and pulled the boy away again.

But the boy would not be dissuaded. Chance and I spent the rest of our meal talking with the boy, practicing sign language, and encouraging him to try the fruit in his cup. At one point, this sweet child peppered my arm with kisses.

As my own children grew tired, and it was time to pack up, tears flowed from my eyes. Chance saw me and nodded in agreement. He knew what I was thinking.

Chance stood and walked over to the boy’s father. He shook the man’s hand and thanked him for sharing his son with us.

Chance thanked the man for letting us love his son. He explained to the man about our oldest son. Our son lives in a group home because the actions that accompany his autistic diagnosis have led him to be unsafe. We have spent years on the side of apologies and attempts to keep him within the confines of social boundaries.

We, too, have dreaded taking our son in public for fear of the public’s reaction.

But along the way, we have met warm and forgiving people. We have been accepted and loved. Our son has been engaged and encouraged by strangers.

More often than not, our son’s hugs have been received with open arms and his inquiring utterances have been answered with grace.

That day in Chick-fil-a, we were given the opportunity to be that for another child with special needs.

The tears came to my eyes because until you have a child who pushes boundaries and forces apologies, there is no way of understanding the kindness of strangers who accept your children for who they are.

To the tired father in Chick-fil-a, I want to be that for you.

Dear readers, let us all be that for each other.

Let us be forgiving and kind as children explore and question. Let us be the village of support parents need as they struggle through bringing their special kids into public.

Let us be loving, accepting, gracious, and kind. Let us be that for each other.

 

[Please feel free to share pass this message along as we all need reminded of how to interact with those who have special needs. They are a blessing.]

Keeping Perspective

My youngest sister-in-law is 18. When I met my husband, she was four. She got older (as apparently this phenomenon is known to happen).

This year is her senior year of high school. She and her mom asked if I would be able to take Libby’s senior photos. I jumped at the chance. I had new lenses for my phone, and I thought these pictures would be a great way to try them out.

So Libby came to our house on a Saturday last fall. She wanted pictures outside around our farm.

It was a blast. She was slightly different from my usual photography subjects – you know, she held still. My preschool-age sons don’t quite get that concept, and our farm cats cooperate even less.

Libby even brought her long-time boyfriend and had me capture a few cute shots of them together. From my perspective – behind the lens – the pictures were turning out great. The lighting was ideal as the sun set, and the subjects, you know, were holding still. I felt like Libby’s smiles were genuine and not forced. She seemed relaxed and was totally photogenic.

These pictures were simply going to be perfect.

I could see the finished products in my mind’s eye. As I was snapping pictures, I couldn’t stop thinking about the end result.

After the photo and modeling session, I edited the pictures and started showing them off. Sure enough, they were well-received. They looked great, even despite my being an amateur.

One day, I showed a few of the shots to our babysitter/mother’s helper, who had been present the day I took Libby’s pictures.

I flipped through the pictures and eventually got to the one of Libby and her cute boyfriend. Our babysitter, Samantha, started giggling. I could not figure out why she was laughing! I thought it was a great picture!

Then Samantha pulled out HER phone and told me to take a look. She had snapped a photo at the exact same time I took my photo.

But somehow, her perspective was a bit different.

It wasn’t just that the lighting was all wrong and that not everyone was looking in her direction; her photo captured the actual chaos of the moment of Liberty’s photo.

As I was shooting Libby’s photos, I was aware of the chaos around me, but I was completely focused on the final product – the end goal. I was stepping over kids (and apparently Captain America) and shouting to be heard by Libby, but I was hopeful of some really great senior pictures. The chaos was there, but I wasn’t allowing it to ruin the moment or completely distract from my end goal.

I think this is true of how we as believers need to live our lives as well.

There’s so much chaos, turmoil, and even suffering in our world. We feel like we need to shout to be heard over all the noise of destruction and distraction. But our eyes need to be so focused on the end goal. That final picture. Heaven.

In the midst of all our hard times here and the chaos of a world that disagrees with our beliefs, we must strive to keep our eyes lifted towards heaven. It’s ok to notice that chaos around us, but it shouldn’t dissuade our actions as we look towards our end goal. (Just like Captain America couldn’t keep me from capturing Libby’s smile!)

I pray this encourages you as the chaos of life seems to rise up around you. Remember to look to the finale. Keep the perspective of living with the goal of eternity.

Five Years Home – Nasko, #prayfornasko

Five years ago, a plane touched down in Chicago, IL. It contained one passenger who would impact thousands, but most importantly, that passenger changed me.

I had high hopes when we adopted Nasko from Bulgaria. He responded positively when we taught him sign language on our trip to visit him in his orphanage. He seemed to need extra love and instruction, but progress was imminent.

It has taken me much of these past five years, but I can finally say, progress isn’t the goal.

Nasko came home and achieved. He developed, grew, and attained. We watched him explore and learn.

He gained language at a rapid rate. His little mind never stopped. He was constantly increasing his knowledge of the world around him.

He was progressing.

Then, about a year and a half following his adoption, Nasko’s progress slowed. He began retelling the stories of his orphanage. He would act out the abuse he had suffered. He trusted us with his story.

His anxiety heightened when his baby brother was born. Nasko wasn’t so much an over-protective brother as he was confused by the differences in the treatment our sons had received. Fear crept in as he questioned Louis’ safety and his parents’ intentions.

Five years ago, I could not have imagined the journey Nasko’s fear would take us on.

As he grew, Nasko’s fear translated (and still translates) to danger. When he felt afraid, he caused danger for those around him. I was raising three boys and attempting to keep each of them safe, while essentially allowing a terrorist to live in my home and eat my food.

A cute terrorist, but a terrorist nonetheless.

He was living in fear, which had also stopped his developmental progress. His skills and his behavior spiraled backward as he put our other children in danger.

Adrenaline was all that was keeping me going. Anxiety wrecked me and depression plagued me. I felt inadequate. I had obviously failed. And where was God?

On year ago, I wailed in an office with my counselor and my husband realizing I could not go on living the way we were. We decided I needed to spend some time away. I booked a trip to spend thirteen days in Florida.

My body was physically crashing. My soul was spiritually crushed. Something had to change.

When I received the go-ahead from my counselor and my husband, I traveled down to Florida looking for relaxation, and most of all, looking for God.

Thankfully, he showed up.

It took nine days before I stopped panicking at the sight of a paring knife on the counter – ours at home were in a locked box, but it only took two days before God reminded me to abide in him.

Be with him. Study the words he has given. Rest in him. Trust his plan and his forgiveness.

Abide.

That reminder (and many hours of counseling) allowed me to realign my goals. Progress isn’t the goal. Abiding in the creator of my special Bulgarian boy – that’s the goal.

Nasko continues to harm others and just yesterday he harmed himself to the point of requiring a trip to the ER. His behavior isn’t progressing in the way I want it to.

Nasko may never learn to read. His words may grow more garbled and less clear. His fear may never lessen, but my God, he remains the same.

God remains.

He is good. He is for me. He cares. Abiding in him and resting in his peace, that is the goal.

Five years ago, a boy who changed my life, walked off a plane and into my arms. Five years ago, God brought us a boy who would go on to impact so many of you as well. I know his story has inspired adoptions, changed how the public views orphans, and educated many on special needs.

Five years ago, a plane touched down in Chicago, IL. It contained one passenger who would impact thousands, but most importantly, that passenger changed me.

Happy adoption day to my sweet son who has taught me and the world so much. I still pray for progress, but meanwhile, I’m abiding.

Our Story

The winner of the giveaway is Angie D! She has been contacted! Thanks for participating and sharing, friends.

Some of you all are new here, so in order to get everyone on the same page, I thought I’d tell you what’s up around these parts:

My husband and I met in college, where he attempted to ask me out three times before I agreed to date him. I told him he was too country for me. I came from a town of 13,000; I was OBVIOUSLY a city girl.

Chance (that country boy I dated and who eventually tricked me into marrying him) worked as a minister the first ten years of our marriage. He worked with youth and then was an associate pastor of a church. When he transitioned into working with adults, we decided we missed the kids, and maybe we should have some of our own (BECAUSE THAT’S THE SAME).

In just a few short months, we suffered three miscarriages.

As a little girl, I used to tell everyone I wanted to be a mommy when I grew up. Three miscarriages wrecked my world.

Adoption had always been part of our long-term plan, so we sped those plans up and entered the roller coaster of filling out paperwork and being analyzed by a very expensive social worker.

And then we got a phone call, “Chance. Ginger. We have a child for your family.”

We entered into a love affair with a single photo and a very depressing file. Our son lived on the other side of the earth, and now that we knew he existed, it was our job to bring him home as fast as possible.

So we “hurried up and waited,” which is actually the first line of the Crazy Adoptive Families Pledge. (On my honor, I will try to hurry up and wait with patience…)

While we were waiting on our Bulgarian boy, Nasko, we received another phone call. There was an infant boy being born locally. He needed parents.

We entered into a relationship with his birthmama, who eventually decided to parent him. We came home from his birth to an empty nursery on a rainy April morning. We released our little boy to God’s plan with the hope of seeing him again in heaven (and occasionally when we nosily drive by his house and smile really big at his cuteness. We don’t do that. Yes we do. Man, we sound weird.)

A few months later, we spent a week with Nasko in Bulgaria (and had to leave him there, blah).

Right after, Chance led a missions trip to Sierra Leone, West Africa. When he came home, he realized he forgot a piece of his heart in the country that had recently been labeled “the most desperate place on earth.”

So three weeks later, he dragged me back to also the hottest place on the planet and tried to retrieve that piece of his heart. I fell in love too, though. It wasn’t until a couple years later that God would show us what to do with all those FEELINGS.

Meanwhile, Nasko came home. Nasko, sweet Nasko, was/is a ball of energy. So, Chance and I quickly got into the best shape of our lives as first-time parents (you know, chasing Nasko as he escaped to five of our neighbors’ houses in the first month!) Nasko was diagnosed with autism, Tourrette’s, and eventually severe PTSD.

Then we thought, “Let’s try this baby thing again.”

And along came Louis. When he was born, I was in hormone heaven and could not stop saying “You’re so beautiful, and we waited SO long for you.” It was precious. Like a movie. A very, very sappy movie with bad actresses and, you know, all the goop of birthing a baby. So maybe not like a movie at all.

When Louis was almost one and Nasko had been home two years, WE OBVIOUSLY LOOKED BORED, so God directed us to an adoption file. #neverlookatadoptionfiles

Now we have a Latvian in our mix. He fits snugly between our other boys and has become Louis’ “best fwien eva eva eva eva eva.” (His words, not mine.) Edward has VACTERL syndrome which is a fancy way of saying his insides and one of his legs are all messed up. But he is a fighter and a smarty pants who prefers to never wear pants.

Around the time Edward came home, we took a huge leap and thought, “How can we appear to be more insane? Oh, Chance, how about you quit your job and we’ll try living like missionaries?”

Three-and-a-half years later, we’re still doing that. We work full-time for Lifegate in Africa, raising money for telling bible stories and teaching life skills to the people of Sierra Leone.

Last year, we moved sweet Nasko into a group home. We now get phone calls when he terrorizes his new neighbors. We also receive FaceTime calls from him regularly at 4:00 A.M. You’d think we might not have time to miss him, but YOU’D BE WRONG. We miss him desperately.

Here on my blog, Our Moments Defined, I write about all our adventures and how we learn from them. I also write regularly for a few other sites. I speak and share our story BECAUSE IT IS OBVIOUSLY THE STUFF MOVIES ARE MADE OF, except with a few more instances of poop and a whole heck of a lot more laundry.

Thanks to many of you for signing up for the book giveaway, but now I hope you’ll stick around and hang out.

Books and Coffee to Love – FOR YOU!

Two things I love most in life –

Jesus and my family.

Ok, the next two things I love most in life –

Very possibly books and coffee.

Y’all know how I love to read. I’ve made that abundantly clear. And coffee? I somehow made it through college and past first-time mom and the newborn stages without it.

I DO NOT KNOW HOW I DID THAT.

When Nasko was more challenging and dangerous last year, I realized I needed something to keep me alert and awake.

Enter dirt water.

It took me a looooong while to get coffee right, but now, it’s love.

Books and coffee. Love.

And because I love them so much and I love you, my readers, I want to share my loves with my loves.

You trackin’? That was a lot of “loves.”

(I’m giving you books and coffee. For free. Click here.)

See? It’s important to keep up.

My buddy Courtney and I looked around our houses and realized we had libraries of amazing books. We’ve read them, and we want to share the love with others. We want others to love reading (and coffee) too, so we are doing a giveaway!

Here’s what you could win –

Books:

Choosing Real: An Invitation to Celebrate When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned by Bekah Jane Pogue

Doing Good is Simple: Making a Difference Right Where You Are by Chris Marlow

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp

From Depths We Rise: A Journey of Beauty from Ashes by Sarah Rodriguez

A Different Beautiful: Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected by Courtney Westlake (woot, woot! I know her!)

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction by Asheritah Ciuciu

Move Toward The Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life by John Hambrick

It’s Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn’t Choose by Melanie Dale

Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy by Mary DeMuth

The Key to Everything: Unlocking the Secrets to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t by Matt Keller

Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears by Kelly Balarie

(not pictured, but included:)

Four Letter Words: Finding Hope in a Tiny Wild Life by Krista Wilbur

Coffee:

Custom Cup Coffee grounds

Katie’s Koffee grounds

Live A Different Beautiful coffee mug

Books and Coffee.

And you could win it all. (Click here.)

This week, I’ll be sharing parts of these books on my Facebook and my Instagram, so you’ll want to join in on that fun.

Courtney and I just want to get some amazing reads into the hands of our people. So please enter to win!

 

All you have to do is click here and enter your email address. You can get extra entries just by sharing on your social media too!

Click here to get all the details! You have until Friday at 5:00 (CST) P.M. to enter and share! Good luck, my loves!

Enter the Giveaway!

Let Your Words Be A Recycled Toy – How We Should Speak To One Another

Some children expect a gift every time their parents go away for an evening or an overnight trip. I’m sure my children would never object to this method of lavishing love, but my three-year-old son prefers to be on the giving end.

At least 200 times each day, this darling child of mine will saunter into a room with a small object hidden in his arms. He’ll approach with a sly, sideways smile and proclaim, “Mama, I have a surprise for you!”

He’s three. He doesn’t actually have a surprise. This child doesn’t have the ability to get to the local store without someone helping him with his coat, buckling him into his car seat, and driving him five miles down the road. My son isn’t bringing me an object I’ve never seen; he has one of the toys my husband or I purchased for him.

He does not care that his gift isn’t even new; he does, however, care about his presentation and my reaction.

He hides the toy from my view, or sometimes he even wraps it in paper or a cloth. He takes great care to choose a toy that might specifically interest me. He maintains the secret of what his arms contain until his little heart might burst.

He then shares the toy with me and watches for my reaction. He seeks to bring me delight and happiness. He never brings me a wooden train or a toy cat with the desire to upset me.

He gives each one of his gifts with the intent of bringing joy.

If only I were so innocent.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as it is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

Or, even more simply the Message states, “Let every word you speak be a gift.”

I talk a lot. I spew words from my mouth as directives to my children or instructions for my husband. For my job, I share God’s Word in written form or in the form of a speech. I am constantly sharing the story of our family’s adoptions and missional-living style. I speak to my friends and people I’ve never met (hello, I’m an extrovert). I post short sentences on social media or even paragraphs of rants. I talk to the grocery store clerk and the librarian on a weekly basis.

Do I give my words the same care and presentation as my son gives his recycled toys?

I know I don’t.

I rarely speak with careful thought and preparation. I know I don’t give my gifts of words for the sole reaction of delight and happiness. I don’t take the time to choose words specific for the receiver of my gifts. Most times, I only speak because of my personal agenda.

This week, it has been difficult to be present on social media. Our nation’s leadership is making controversial choices – and no matter if we agree, disagree, or fall in the middle, we citizens desire to maintain a voice.

Social media has given each one of us an immediate platform. Many have used this platform for their personal agendas, but how many of us have seen our words as gifts? Have the letters we typed reflected preparation and care? Is our desire to bring joy to the recipient?

A gift. Our words are to be a gift. Last week. This week. And next week.

God, let our words resonate among your people with the preparation and joy of an old wooden train gifted to the mama of a three year old.

Let our words be a gift.

When You Pray Your Child Learns Scripture – A Story Too Funny Not To Share

Chance and I are so intentional about how we teach God’s Word to our sons. Reading our children’s bible is a regular part of our day. We attempt to maintain context as we quote scripture to aid in disciplining our boys. (Our current favorite verse is Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of your tongue. Speak life.”) Our boys know the stories in the bible are true. They observe Chance and I reading scripture regularly.

As Christian parents, we desire for our children to learn and quote scripture. Hearing one of my kids quote Psalm 23 would about do me in, as I could not handle the precious sweetness.

But, as many of you know, Louis isn’t that typical kid. (You might remember his first internet shopping spree…) Of course, Louis’ first quotation of God’s Holy Word had nothing to do with the heavenly shepherd and EVERYTHING to do with his own agenda:

Backstory – Louis eats almost zero fruits and vegetables. I’ve given up stressing about this, and I plan to use my gift of patience to wait. him. out.

At every meal, I offer my three year old a specific fruit or veggie only to be turned down – except one time he ate two whole bananas “like a monkey.” And this is why I continue to offer… Patience…

The other night, I offered Louis some fruit. I explained we had apples, bananas, grapes, and oranges; he could have his pick.

Louis apparently decided it was time to bring scripture into this daily nagging conversation. I’m sure he believed it would end the conversation once and for all.

And so he proclaimed with the conviction of a preacher, “No, thank you. Mama, God says, ‘Don’t eat the fruit.’”

Well, God DID say that, I guess. To Adam and Eve…

While stifling a smile, I attempted to explain the apples and oranges in our fruit drawer were most certainly not from the same tree God was referencing.

Please add my child to your prayer list… He (and his parents) are going to need all the prayers he can get.

He’s Just A Man Who Sits Upon An Office Chair

I’ve never been to the White House. I don’t know what color the carpet is in the second-floor hallway, and I’ve never been taken on a tour of the president’s living quarters. I haven’t seen the four-poster beds, the meeting tables, or the window treatments with my own eyes.

As I understand, presidents are allowed to redecorate upon inauguration. They can choose from the antique collections and storehouses filled with the purchases of presidents past. New carpets and rugs are uniquely woven for the men in power.

I have no idea what type of chair sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. What style of seat holds one of the most powerful and influential men in the world? I am unsure.

What style of chair will President Donald Trump choose for his workspace? Will it be real leather or a hypo-allergenic alternative? Will it recline or maintain a straight back? Will it roll or offer massages?

I have no idea what chair Donald Trump will choose. This decorating decision may seem rather inconsequential; I suppose it could tell us of his preferences – Are his tastes expensive? Does he esteem animal life? Does he respect the history of antiques?

But none of this tells us much of his values… [finish reading the post]

I’m writing about something I rarely even talk about today: politics. But on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, I have an important message to share. I’m sharing it over at Her View From Home. Click here to read the rest of the post

Also, do you mind sharing the post with your friends? This is a timely message everyone needs to hear today and it’s a big opportunity for me! Thanks, friends. 

The Post With No Pictures – A Lesson From Interaction

He came around the corner with the smile of a conqueror. He had done it! He had sculpted a masterpiece.

I was causing deeper indentions in my favorite chair, wrapped in a blanket, and warming with a book.

Edward came tearing around the kitchen counter holding a green glob of play-doh.

“I made a Christmas tree! I did it, Mama!”

He was so proud.

My boy, who has struggled with imagination and creativity, actually made a representation of something with a blob of molding clay. It really did look like a Christmas tree!

“Hold still, let Mama get her phone and take a picture,” was my first response.

But I couldn’t find it. I could have sworn it was right here. Alas, my only unattached appendage was nowhere to be found.

I felt my emotions plummet. How could I savor this exciting moment without a photo? What if he never makes a tree just like this again? It was so cute, how would I ever remember it?

Meanwhile, my creative and impatient five year old blinked at me. “Um, remember me, Mama?” he had to be thinking. “You know, the one who just crafted play-doh together and came to show you?”

After a too-long hesitation, I snapped back to reality.

“Edward! Your creation is marvelous. I love how you coiled the dough into a tree and added specks of the orange play-doh to make ornaments. You really made it look like a Christmas tree! Nice job!”

Following my praise, he scampered back around the corner. He was headed to make another creation and mix colors in ways that make me twitchy.

I, on the other hand, had no picture of Edward and his tree. What I did have was a mental image of my son – a child seeking praise. In my mind’s eye, I wasn’t framing the look of proud accomplishment, I was zooming in on the look of disappointment that flashed in his sweet, brown eyes. Unnoticed. Overlooked.

My boy came to the living room wanting to show me, his mom, a masterpiece, and I immediately broke our eye contact and our connection as I searched for my phone.

Dear Edward came to me, one whom he loves, with a smile and healthy pride. He left in defeat as I did not focus in on what was important.

I have over 45,000 photos on my computer.

That’s right. Forty-five thousand snapshots of creations and accomplishments. And for what? Sometimes I share them on social media. Occasionally they are texted to the grandparents. But is it really necessary to document every second of our days?

No. It’s not.

Pictures are great. I love seeing pictures from my childhood. I gained my love of photography from my dad, so I’m no stranger to being in pictures. My brother and I’s proudest moments have been cataloged.

But I cannot remember a single photo of my play-doh creations. I do remember my dad’s proud smile as I showed him my current art project in high school. I remember my mom’s praise as I brought home an improved grade or my current writing project.

I remember our interactions, not the color of play-doh used to make ornaments on the tree.

Similarly, I want Edward to remember his value as my son, a creative.

I want to put away my phone and capture his heart and his confidence in my reaction. I want to remember encouraging him to do his best and grow in his weaknesses, even if I don’t remember his handiwork.

Your children want the same. While it is ok to capture memories and savor the moments, it is more important to build up character and confidence.

I, for one, need to lose my phone more often. There is a lesson to be learned in the interaction.