Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Leah came suddenly to me this afternoon and announced that she had written a book. She asked if she could read it to me.

Of course!

The Runaway Twins by Leah Randall

Once upon a time there lived two twins. They were brats. Their names were Lilya and Leah. As you know they are brats and are really bad especially. The bad things that they did: they stole people's lunch at school. That's the kinda bad thing that they did. It's crazy what they did do. Holy Cow! One day the brats' mother got mad. They ran away. The mother got worried. She had thought she had been too harsh. When the girls had run away she began to miss them very much. And so she began looking for them because she loved them very much. While the girls were gone they began to get hungry. Really hungry. Then they spotted a bakery. They had no money and they were really hungry. They decided to go home. When they got home they said to their mother, "We're sorry for what we did. Please forgive us. We will never do it again,"they said. "I forgive you. I hope you two do keep your promise." "We will!" The End.

Monday, April 08, 2013

non sequitur

Mama, did you give any of us kids away to an orphanage?

No, Josiah. I kept you all.

But are you going to adopt any of us?

I don't need to adopt you because you are already my son.

Oh! So I was already your son at the orphanage.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Open Letter To My Past

Dear Past,

I want to take this opportunity to apologize. I've changed. You haven't, which makes our relationship a little difficult from time to time. However, I'm beginning to realize that we can live agreeably with one another if we are both willing to accept a few truths about the other:

1. I promise to no longer deny you. It isn't fair to either of us. The truth is that I wouldn't exist today were it not for you. I'm bold enough to admit it and I'm sorry that I struggled at points to own it.

2. There really are three sides to our story: my recollection on good days, my remembrances on bad days, and the truth. I am going to choose to accept that you shift like a shadow through the course of the day and not hold too tightly to any one perspective.

3. You are tied to my emotions. I will never be able to look dispassionately upon your face. I am tired of trying. It is time to allow myself to feel the things you touch in me. Please forgive me for my many attempts at separating you from my soul.

4. I am done playing your guilt game. Yes, you have more baggage on me than Heathrow International Airport, but I'm no longer afraid of facing the mistakes and errors of what I did. In fact, I've learned that I sometimes need to look for ways to show people what's inside those suitcases just to prove to us both that you are not my only friend.

5. You may not define my future. Your existence does not entitle you to ownership in my destiny. You may come along for the ride, but I will be the one driving.

Some of this may seem rather harsh to you. Change is always a little difficult in the beginning. Please know how much I appreciate all that you do for me. I thank you for keeping a record of all the tender moments too beautiful to be spoken. Without you, they would be lost. I won't forget that. However, instead of only living in those brief moments of remembered bliss I'm ready to strike out on new adventures and experiences. I know how much this scares you. It scares me. I might get hurt, and you'll need to remember that, too. But I promise it will be worth it. Living with regret weighs us both down. Let's get rid of it together.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Your Necessary MommyPrint

A group of gals gathered to honor a sweet sister in her final weeks of pregnancy last night. We had fellowship, good eats, and a great time of talking shop. I was humbled by the request to provide a devotional. As I prepared to share my thoughts I was struck again and again by the memory of my own transitions through parenting. I wrote the words I needed to hear as a young mother preparing to bring her second born into the world. If you are journeying on this road called motherhood I hope this may encourage your heart.

I am so privileged to be here tonight, sharing with you from my heart. It is indeed a blessing to be a part of welcoming the life of a child. Every baby holds such promise, and is a clear indication that the Lord is still working in the lives of ordinary people. He alone opens and closes the womb, determining through His perfect plan the arrival of every human. This child is no exception! Even now, as God places the final touches on their precious soul they have a destiny. 
What an amazing truth! 
And not a little scary. 
It is a mighty responsibility to bear children. It is an even greater one to raise them. The bible shows us through the immeasurable love of our Lord how parental love should look: patience, tenderness, discipleship, encouragement, instruction and lots of hugs, boo-boo kisses, and baths with bubbles. The worthy calling of motherhood is not for wimps! And who better knows that then a momma preparing to bring her second child into the world? Experience has opened her eyes. But even though the how-tos of infant-care are second nature there can still be whispers of self-doubt and fear that creep into our minds, causing us to wonder if we’re ever going to be able to effectively love another child. After all, there are days we wonder if we’re effectively loving the one we already have! 
I want to speak a word of encouragement over you.  
You are exactly the right mother for this job. Your fist child was not accidentally placed with you and your hubby and neither is this little one. Your passions, strengths and talents are needed to mold the next generation. There are lessons that only you can teach. Stories written in the life experiences of your family that only you can tell. You hold the exact balance of temperament and personality necessary to fully engage the mothering these two children require. But, while it is so helpful to be reminded of the unique mommy-print we each carry through our individual giftedness, the blessing of our calling would only be half full if we stopped at this point. 
2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 
Mommy, you are also exactly the right mother for this job when you are imperfect. When your struggles, insecurities, and mistakes cause a giant blinking arrow to point to the word Failure hanging above your head Jesus is there to show you how His redemption is not merely about an eternal heaven - it is about: a cranky mommy who snapped at breakfast; an overwhelmed momma who can’t seem to get it right; a scared mother who doesn’t understand how the ups and downs of her battle to overcome sin could ever be a part of a healthy child’s legacy. 
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) because his grace is sufficient for you, and his power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9) 
Rest in the peace of God knowing that it isn’t just the good things you share that are part of God’s perfect plan. He is using your mess-ups and blunders, too. They help point your children to the only being who is absolutely perfect. And they restore to your soul the balance of knowing that you don’t have to be The Standard. You need Jesus just as much as your children do. You need never fear that truth, and allowing your children to see that is the most important thing you will ever show them. So be encouraged as you prepare to welcome your child. It isn’t just your strengths that are going to help them. It is the gift of grace in your weaknesses that will lead them to their Savior.

Monday, April 01, 2013


My children genuinely love one another. All of them.

For years I held my breath awaiting the dreaded sibling rivalry that was promised to me by grizzled veterans of the parenting wars. I watched, like a hawk, the children of other families and saw for myself the ways they picked, teased, argued and fought incessantly. My heart broke at the thought of such bitterness rearing up between my own children, especially as an only child who still has a sense of wonder at the mysteries held by siblings. I prayed fervently for the Lord to work in the hearts of my sons and daughters.

And I waited...

and waited...

and waited...

Until suddenly I realized I was already witnessing the beauty of my children's relationships filled with love and respect and I sighed with relief.

I'm certainly not foolish enough to believe that my children will never go through seasons of difficulty with one another. There are times when irritability, immaturity, and unrealistic expectations causes bickering. I can imagine that multiplied by problems bigger than whose turn it is to get the "good" truck in the latest installment of the make-as-much-noise-as-possible game. But that is a far cry from the splintered, anger driven actions of siblings with nothing but common parents holding them together.

So, how did we put ourselves on this course? I hesitate to give a set of rules that could mistakenly be thought of as a fail-safe because if there is anything at all the same about families it is that they are different. However, I do believe there are a few key principals my husband and I learned from the good and bad of our own families of origin.

Expect Affection. Children rise and fall to the level of expectation around them. When you expect them to love and cherish their younger sister, they will. Every time we bring a new baby home it is the same sense of wonderment, excitement, and joy. Children clamor to get their turn holding the baby. This natural awe easily quickens into love as the baby grows older and more sophisticated in its responses to the other kids. Sure, individual ages and genders may create a more seamless bond but there is something unique and necessary in the relationship between every person in your house. Treat it with respect and love. Our home's example: We underline again and again the importance of building one another up. To this end we do not allow coarse or crude joking that makes use of put downs or teasing.

Eavesdrop. Seriously. I am quite amazed at the number of parents who feel it is disrespectful to interfere in their children's affairs. Um, they're kids. You would never hesitate to teach the two-year old how to appropriately offer the new baby its pacifier so don't hesitate to teach the seven-year old how to appropriately offer their opinion. Children need to learn not just the motor skills of life but the emotional skills of life. Healthy relationships don't necessarily come naturally. This requires your input more than when it turns to blows. It must be proactive. Our home's example: I listen like crazy so that when a teaching moment occurs I can quickly take advantage of it.

Require Honest Apologies. When my husband and I argue it doesn't clear the air for one of us to simply throw our hands up and taunt, "Sorry!"If anything it simply adds fuel to a smoldering inferno. Honest, heartfelt apologies are the only things that get the job done. But how do you get them? We have found that doing two things helps tremendously. First, we work to set the offender in the offended's shoes and ask how they would feel if the tables were turned. Second, we teach our children from the beginning that a real apology is a specific one. Our children must clearly articulate what they are sorry for when they ask another child's forgiveness. Our home's example: Please forgive me for being mean when I tried to make the rules so you couldn't win. I was being selfish and it wasn't fair. I'm sorry that I hurt you.

Teach Reconciliation. Apologies are great and all, but if there is no reconciliation afterwards then you haven't won the battle. We all know that adult with a chip on his shoulder. It doesn't matter how real you are in your apology it won't do a bit a of good because he simply wants to be angry. When we are offended we wear our offense like a badge of honor showing the world that we've been hurt. Don't you dare try to pacify me. I've got my Wounded Ego button goin' on. We're simply children using bigger words. "Fine! Then I'll never play with you ever again as long as I live and even when I die I won't play with you! And you aren't coming to my birthday party!" But no bitterness. This won't get you far in healthy conflict resolution. We take gobs of time working through the honest apology so the wounded person feels heard and validated. But we also require the offended to choose grace and forgive. Holding a grudge is not an option. We often help our children come to a resolution by asking the offended what is their solution to the problem. Our home's example: I forgive you. I love you. I would like to play with the green truck by myself for a little bit but I would like to play with you after lunch.

Spend Time Together. Who are your good friends? Inevitably they are the people you spend or at least spent a great deal of time around. You don't become great friends with the person who lives across town but uses the same dry cleaners. Sure, you happen to bump into one another occasionally, but shared laundry just isn't enough. Of course I whole heartedly support friendships from outside the home. But I don't want those friendships to be a substitute for healthy relationships inside the home. And frankly, as children, I much prefer their closest friends be their brothers and sisters. After all, I know their parents and while they have some kooky ideas I can generally agree with their life paradigms. Also, I know if they get mean towards one of my babies I can expect honest apologies and healthy reconciliation. Our home's example: I homeschool. This provides the ideal environment to ensure that outside friendships remain secondary to inside ones.

Pray. Seek the Lord for wisdom in how exactly to manage your specific family's needs. He will provide it. (James 1:5)