Five Minute Friday: Brave

This week’s word is one that I’ve used more in recent days than ever before. With myself…my daughter…my sons…it seems to be at the forefront of my mind. “Be brave. You can do this!” “Great job! You are so brave!” Sound familiar, Mamas?

I saw a perfect example of bravery from 2-year-old, Sophia today. It made me wish I was as brave and trusting of my Heavenly Father as she is of her earthly father. Her whole face smiled as she soared into the air without a single doubt that he would catch her. There was no fear in her eyes. She never took them off her daddy.

runningrunning to daddydaddy's armslift offin the airflyingthe catchback in daddy's armsHappy HeartTrue bravery, I believe, is running into the Father’s arms, ready for an adventure, knowing full well that as long as he is in control, there is nothing to fear. He always makes the catch.

When the Siren Sounds

Station 21 Firehouse The Atlanta Fire Department’s Station 21, offers a variety of services beyond firefighting and fire rescue. Citizens can have their blood pressure checked and obtain and learn to install child car seats, water conservation kits and fire alarms. The station also serves as a safe spot for domestic violence victims. Station 21 has a proud history, dating back to the 1940’s.

IMG_9491However, it isn’t for any of these reasons that I was first introduced to the men. For the last 3 years, they have faithfully come and shared with the Preschoolers where my son attends. There are only a few children in each class, but that doesn’t deter them. They show up and run through a demonstration of fire safety and first aid just as they would to a packed auditorium. The Chief even attends and facilitates the talk.IMG_9436

I am so grateful to each one of them for investing in the lives of these little ones. Each little IMG_9538boy now wants to “fight fire.” These guys are hero’s in our community. I would be lying if I said that I do something for them on a consistent basis. I think about it often, but rarely act on it. I plan to do better going forward.

For anyone who has schooled aged children, I cannot recommend this enough. They walk through each step of putting on their suit. All while talking to the children in an effort to diminish fear of the mask and oxygen tank.IMG_9544IMG_9550IMG_9553IMG_9554IMG_9556IMG_9558After he’s suited up and ready, the children are allowed to touch the mask, suit, helmet, while he continues talking to them, explaining what each piece is and why it is important.
IMG_9559IMG_9561IMG_9592IMG_9587This is so helpful in the case of an emergency. The children are learning not to be afraid of a rescue worker trying to help them.

At one point Rogers’ gear was sitting unattended by the truck.IMG_9466
Any time I see a firefighter’s helmet, a worn American flag, or hear the sound of their personal distress signal, I am instantly taken back to 9/11. All of those who were lost. The days of multiple distress signal units being heard from the rubble. It’s haunting.

To think that the same men and women who are saving people’s lives everyday would take time out to come share with us and take pictures with the children, is humbling and so incredibly appreciated.

When we took the boys to the station to deliver a thank you from the preschool children, the men were more than accommodating. They showed us around the station, let the boys take a picture with them and even slid down the pole. It is a memory that will remain at the forefront of my boys minds for a very long time.

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Who in your community is serving fearlessly to protect those you love? What can you do to appreciate them and their daily sacrifice?

Our Darling Boy

The last three weeks have been filled with fevers, coughing, headaches, sleepless nights, lot’s of tissues, cough drops, and smoothies from the freezer section at Costco.

Being a parent is wonderful. There is no equivalent. However, adding sick kiddos and mama getting sick to the mix increases the difficulty significantly.

Amidst all the runny noses, sneezes and sore throats there was something to celebrate…Riley's Happy Birthday hat

Caden turned 5. Five years old! My baby. He claims he is no longer a baby and he’s right, but he will always be my baby.

The morning started with Chris’ delicious Belgian waffles. Caden was elated and smiled throughout our Happy Birthday song.

It was time for making wishes, blowing out candles and feeling the first bit of sugar entering the system as maple syrup.

Next came the gifts, of which his favorite was the Angry Bird fan filled with candy from Aunt Carrie. He also loved the Lego’s and always enjoys putting them together with his daddy.1,000 piecesNew LegosFiretruckThe highlight of his afternoon was celebrating with fro-yo from Yoforia. What better for a sore throat? The other patrons joined us in singing. It was so fun!

We enjoyed dinner backwards as after Yoforia we went for “fancy” hotdogs. Mine was veggie and it was delicious.

The next week we celebrated with school friends which properly completed the festivities of transitioning Caden into his 5th year.

I realize this has been a total “Mommy post” which is somewhat out of the norm for my writings. I’m under the weather, making me more vulnerable to the sappy side. You won’t hold it against me, will you?

And let’s be honest…I’m insanely proud of my boys and sometimes it’s therapeutic to share my adoration so that I don’t explode.

Life…with a side of childlike perspective

The verbal and facial expressions seen and heard between my boys are some of the best material. You just can’t make this stuff up. Yesterday was no different.

This is the conversation had between my four and six-year-old while driving home at the end of the work day.

Caden (4 years old): “Ri, how long do brothers take care of each other?”
Ri (6 years old): “What do you mean?”
Caden: “How old will I be when you stop taking care of me? Six?”
Ri: “No, ten. When you’re ten you can do stuff cause you’re grown.”
Caden: “Like what kind of stuff?”
Ri: “You can drive a car…eat what you want…stay up late and get a job.”
Caden: “Oh.”
Me: “Ri, you can’t actually drive a car when you’re ten.”
Ri: “What?! Why not? I’ll be grown by then!”
Me: “You can drive a car when you’re sixteen.”
Ri: “SIXTEEN?! That will be forever!”
Caden: “Bella’s sixteen.”
Me: “No, darling, she’s fourteen.”
Ri: “WHAT?! Isn’t she in college?”
Me: “No, honey. She’s in high school.”
Caden: “Will I still be with you when I’m in college?”
Ri: “Yeah, we can live with mommy and daddy forever.”
Me: “Um…well…it doesn’t really work that way. When you go to college, you usually live on or near campus.”
Ri: “What kind of beds do they have at college? Are there fluffy, comfortable beds?”
Me: “You will probably take your bed when you move.”
Ri: “WHAT?! I’m not big enough to carry my bed!”
Me: “You don’t carry the bed, you pack everything in a truck…never mind. You don’t have to worry about college right now!”
Caden: “How old are you, mommy? Twenty-one?”
Me: “Do I look twenty-one?”
Caden: “No. You look twenty-five.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll take that.”
Me: “Ri, why are you so concerned about growing up fast?”
Ri: “I want to drive my girlfriend around.”
Me: “Who’s your girlfriend?”
Ri: “I haven’t found her yet.”


My Prayer for You

Downloadable Version My Prayer for You

Who is God?

This is the question that my 4-year-old asked on our way home from work today.

There’s nothing like that kind of question to make one realize that they don’t really know the answer.

The question that followed was of equal significance, “Does God love us?”

I have thought many times that I know who God is. Turns out I’m still learning and will hopefully continue discovering for eternity. The answer to the second question is one that I know for certain. Even when chaos abounds and sorrow seems to triumph, “Yes! God loves us!”

Several hours later, I followed the boys upstairs to put them to bed and the conversation picked right back up. “Will there be animals in heaven?” “Are there rules in heaven?” “Is everything gold in heaven?” “Can we buy a Nintendo DS in heaven?” “Do we exercise in heaven?” “Is Jesus in heaven?” “Will I be my same age in heaven?” “What if someone really old dies? How old is too old to be in heaven?”

As the questions came at me, I had to smile. In part because I didn’t know the answers to all of their questions and partly because I love that they are thinking about these things.

Eventually the more difficult questions came. Those that I too wrestle with in the dark when my thoughts are my only companion.

Mommy, what about your friend who was real sick and died.” said my 4-year-old. “Is she still sick in heaven?”

“No Darling, she isn’t. Elliot is perfectly healed and complete now.” I responded.

“How do you know?” asked my 6-year-old.

(Gulp) Well…I know because…well…because…I believe.

“Mommy. I know a baby in heaven.” said my 4-year-old.

“Which baby do you know in heaven?” I asked.

“Baby Hallie, from Miss Katie.” he responded.

It took me a moment to regain my composure. Katie and I were just talking about Hallie earlier today and what those days were like for her in the midst of uncertainty. It was a miracle that Hallie was born and the fact that she lived several days after was a gift.

“Will there be babies in heaven?” he then asked.

“Yes. I think there will be babies in heaven.” I said.

My 6-year-old chimed in, “If you die, who will be our mommy?”

Thankfully my 4-year-old was too curious to wait for my answer and launched into a new set of “Will ________ be in heaven?”

I continued answering as best I could until finally my 4-year-old said, “Can you sing now? I’m ready to go to sleep.”

I walked away feeling ill-equipped to have these conversations. If anything I caused more questions than I had answers.

I have experienced various seasons in my faith. One thing has held true. If ever there was separation, I was the instigator. If ever there was doubt, I was the first to question. Even now when trying to grasp an understanding of something so big and so far from my ability to comprehend, I find myself thinking, “Is what I believe really true?” If I think too hard or analyze too much, it does seem like the fairytale to rival all fairy-tales. Thankfully I am always snapped back into a realm compatible with my understanding. Jesus.

He was a man. Born a baby. He was grace, truth and incomprehensible love, in the flesh. He chose me. How can I not believe? When it all seems too farfetched and I begin to doubt, I turn my eyes back to Jesus. The tangible God. Is that wrong to say?

Whether one believes in Christ or not, history tells the story of Jesus. So here I sit. In a place where Jesus and faith collide and merge into one big question that my inquisitive little boys want to uncover and dissect. I will answer them the best I can and I will always point them back to Jesus.

I don’t think that God is one to be understood. Why would I want a God who is intelligible by the finite brain? I enjoy the mystery always unfolding. The twists and turns are what make this life interesting. I love viewing life and God through the eyes of a child who has yet to be influenced by the unsolicited feedback of inconsequential onlookers. Not only does it seem clearer, but the answers are not stressful. There is no argument or hostility. When they had talked enough, my little one spoke up and said he was ready to go to sleep.

I want to be more like that.

Dare I ask what your thoughts are on this? Should I open myself up to the obvious ridicule of possible responses? I think yes. Why not?

Is that a baby in your belly?

My youngest, who is 4 and very curious, walked up to me and asked, “Mama, do you have a baby in your tummy.”

My insecurity screamed inside as I rationalized the fact that my “pooch” apparently resembles more of a baby belly?! If I had walked away at that moment I would have scrutinized my body for the remainder of the evening.

Some of you are thinking, “You care that much about what a 4-year-old says?!

The answer is…”Yes…sometimes…depending on what kind of mood I’m in.” That’s not the point!

I didn’t walk away, I answered him, “No, Darling. Mommy does not have a baby in my tummy. Do I look like I have a baby in my tummy?”

To which he replied, “I was just checkin’! Miss Jill has a baby in her belly.”

“Yes, Darling. I know she does. Do you want me to have a baby in my belly?”

“No.” he exclaimed, “I want a cat with green eyes.”

“Well that’s good!” I said. “Because I’m done having babies!”

Though this was a funny exchange between my preschooler and me it was also an opportunity for me to learn. It made me think of all the times I have had conversations with people when one word or phrase they used would send me spinning into assumptions instead of listening and seeking to understand.

Our children can teach us so much. If you don’t have children of your own, find some and listen to their conversations. What my son reaffirmed today is that God knew what he was doing when he gave me 1 mouth and 2 ears. I need to listen twice as much as I speak.