Not The House (and what comes with it) But The Home

I am now an empty nester – one of those women who carry photos of her children and grandchildren to bore others with because she is no longer overwhelmed with noisy, energetic (and sometimes cranky) children underfoot.

I cannot claim to be new to the experience of being an empty nester – mainly because I believe that every time a child leaves home an empty nester experience occurs. Yet, all of those empty nester experiences and observations of my children as adults have taught me some invaluable lessons:

•    Cherish all of the teaching moments with your children – especially the ones that come at inconvenient times. And…make an effort to create as many of them as you can.
•    In order for our teaching moments to be effective they must be backed up with our example.
•    Take time to have fun as a family…and do it often. Laughter and giggles are important!
•    Teach children responsibility and how to work (even when it’s easier to do it yourself).
•    Teach children right from wrong, morality, the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. They do not automatically absorb it.
•    Dance lessons, music lessons and sports are all wonderful and have their place but they need to have their place and not rule schedules or a family. All too often families lose the connections they should have with each other because they are spending every spare moment effort funding the lessons, traveling to practices/games, and living life on the go.
•    A parent needs to be a parent and not relegate authority over the home to the children. The angriest and most emotionally unhealthy children I have ever seen are from families where those children were allowed control of their families.
•    Daily expressions of love are invaluable to building relationships and a loving family.
•    Skip the expensive toys and electronics and encourage children to play and use their imaginations. (The best toy in the world is an appliance box!)
•    A large fancy house does not have an increased ability to make a happy family.  Many shacks have been better homes to children than mansions have.
•    Children do not learn to be successful by being coddled and indulged. They learn to be successful by learning self discipline and how to work.
•    The most important things parents can do to provide security for their children is to make their marriage a priority. Date nights are important and the courtship that initiated the family should never…ever end.
•    Don’t wait to do things with your children until your children are older. It may seem like lots of activities would be easier if you just wait until they are older but the most critical time to build relationships with them is when they are young (and those activities take the most effort).
•    A house does not make a home.
•    Building a home is not done with walls, mortar or nails. A home is built by two parents who love each other – who are committed to each other and the work and effort it takes to build a family.  A home is built with hugs, teaching, tears, a few scraped knees, kissing boo boos better, discipline, work, trips for ice cream, chores, water fights, attending church together, family dinners and more. And somehow…even when we are so exhausted that lifting a finger seems a monumental task – we must do it all with love.

Building a home out of a house is tough demanding job. The hours are grueling and there is no monetary compensation. However, “the toughest job in the world” has amazing rewards. I feel and experience those rewards every time I walk through the door of my house and sense all of the laughter, love, and memories that have been created and shared there, spend time with my sweetheart (who is still my sweetheart because we have made each other a priority), share in the successes of my children, and gather together with my loving, energetic, and sometimes mischievous family!

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I Am There with You…

You are never alone-791420

I remember so many moments in my life when I felt so alone – many of those moments I was surrounded by large numbers of people. Other than losing a loved one, I’m not sure there is a more difficult experience than feeling lost and alone in a crowd. Those years that I suffered from severe depression had more of those moments than I care to think about. I have always been a person with spiritual inclinations and depression stripped me of my normal ability to feel connected to God. For all of you who are wading through depression or other life altering experiences, please know that God loves you and is aware of you. If you can’t yet feel Him talk to you in your heart – climb a mountain, smell the sweet scent of a flower, hold a newborn baby or do whatever it takes to sense the miraculous. Miracles abound in this world if we will open our hearts to their presence. God’s majesty is ever ready to be found. He is present in your heart – hang on and hang in there until you can feel Him. Ask Him to hold your hand each day until you can feel certain that He is holding your heart as well. As a witness of His divine presence and perfection, I cannot promise that each day from this day forward will be easier for you but I can promise that you are loved by God unlike anything you can relate to in mortality. I also promise that as you open yourself to His presence in your life you will see miracles and you will eventually know in your heart that you are not alone and that you never will be.

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Having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? …Happy Mother’s Day!

No Good Very Bad Day portrayal-89189I love the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst! Recently while surfing the internet, I came across a quote from the book. When I saw it, I just knew I had to use it for my Mother’s Day Meme!  It may seem odd to you but the book about Alexander reminds me of motherhood. On this day when we celebrate our mothers, I am reminded of many who have mothered children but could not have their own. I also think about children from dysfunctional mothers. I think of children who, through no fault of their own, have had to grow up without mothers. Last, but not least, I think of those days as a mother when I thought that early retirement might be a good idea! I am grateful that God created families with both a mother and a father. Both are important and essential. Children do not come with a manual – I know because I have searched high and low for the manuals to my children and nobody, including me, has ever laid eyes on them. So, either they don’t exist or the security surrounding them makes Fort Knox look like a toothpick sculpture. Not all mothers are wonderful and all children come with their challenges. However, in spite of all of that, there is one truth about moms and motherhood that supersedes all others. God has entrusted the mothers of this world with the welfare of His children. No one else can do the job they do. No other person or force has greater influence on a child and the life they will live. Fathers are amazing and their job is no less important. However, a mother’s influence begins at conception and a child innately looks to the mother to determine if they are loved and it is the interactions (or lack of) with the mother that will mostly determine the child’s self-concept and emotional health. Have you ever noticed that the first parent an adopted child seeks to find is the mother? There is no coincidence in that. It is from our mothers that we each, innately, look to to determine our worth and our value. A mother who abandons a child physically or emotionally creates a child who will eventually have to address his abandonment in order to achieve a healthy sense of self. I remember a conversation with a therapist I once had regarding one of my adopted children and the emotional issues that they dealt with because their birth mother had not properly cared for them. She said, “Who knew that when we were changing the diapers of our babies and they were screaming at us for doing so, that we were communicating to them that we loved them and helping them to know that we would keep them safe.” As the mother to both birth children and adopted children, I understand the worth of mothers. Those days and moments when we want to retire early from motherhood are not for us – they are for our children. I know that it can often seem like the payback moments of motherhood have ditched us for someone else. However, every time you celebrate a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day along with Alexander, know that what you are doing is priceless and that, in your own special way, you are making our world a better, happier, healthier and more loving place to be!  I want to give a heartfelt thanks to every woman who has mothered a child and helped them to feel loved and cherished. To all women who have nurtured and loved children, Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Guardian Angels…

guardian angels  baby-390555_1280I’m not sure I believed in guardian angels before my near death experience. What I still don’t believe is that we have only one. I have been incredibly blessed by my guardian angels! In fact, it was one of those guardian angels that took me back to heaven during my near death experience. I believe that most often it is our deceased family members who watch over us. Who better to watch over us than those who know and love us best? I remember reading a book (can’t remember the name of the book or the author) of a man who had a near death experience while in a coma. His deceased uncle and cousin showed him some of the work they did with/for other family members. They did even seemingly minor things like remind family members of appointments and other specific tasks that needed their attention. One of the most important things I have learned in recent months is the importance of asking God for assistance from my guardian angels. I believe that my guardian angels have always been a part of my life. I suspect that various guardians assist me and others depending on our needs. I pray for the help of my angels daily. They are unseen, but I have felt their presence and seen their assistance demonstrated too many times to doubt them or their existence! Since praying for their assistance, I have been able to find strength easier, find answers quicker, and feel greater reassurance towards the path in life that I am walking.

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Marriage is Such a Blessing!!!

I’m feeling very nostalgic today! It is my husband’s birthday and I know that I am a very blessed, lucky, and fortunate girl to have him in my life! Somehow, despite youth and naivete we got it right! We have been through a lot together and I think that’s what makes our marriage so wonderful – we go through everything TOGETHER. We made a commitment early on to continue to date each other (also called courtship) forever. Our children didn’t always love that concept (mom and dad leaving for date night) but we all have been blessed because we have always put our marriage first. Marriage is work – but it is the kind of work that yields incredible dividends when you are committed, willing to sacrifice and include God in the process. Next month we will celebrate 38 years of marriage – I think that qualifies us for experienced marriagers! The best thing about it is that we still are blessed to feel like newlyweds! Thanks and Happy Birthday Greg! marriage bridal-636018

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