Entering the Teenage Years

28 11 2015


You’re a teenager!  (Though you’ve been eating like one for a while now.)  You are almost taller than me, but I am still faster and stronger and smarter.  And, I can drive and you can’t.  At least I have that.

Not only have you grown up physically, you’ve grown more mature.  Academically, you are (have always been) gifted.  I was super proud, perhaps a little too proud, to see you standing on the stage when they announced the first quarter Heads List recipients, and there were only six kids.  You, the only boy in the group, were among them.

Spiritually, I can see your faith turning into your faith, not my faith or Daddy’s faith, but one of your own.  This excites me and scares me.  You have conquered some feats I was a little hesitant about (ROP), and I see you wrestling with God sometimes as you try to make sense of the world around you.  As long as you always lean into God and not away from Him, these times of wrestling can lead to great peace and joy and wisdom.

Highlights from your twelfth year include:

  • Successfully completing the Rite of Passage, even on a weekend with pretty miserable weather.  (No pneumonia, thank you, Lord!)
  • Receiving a “real” phone with a “real” plan. Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Easter and Fourth of July for that one.
  • You made Honors Choir and had your first piano recital where you played the Star Wars theme song. I honestly thought you sounded better than some of the kids who had been playing longer than you.  But I am your mother, so I am automatically biased in your favor.
  • I love that you prefer to listen to K-Love or The Fish as your music of choice. I also like all the classical and movie soundtracks you listen to as well.
  • Lego Dimensions. (Even I admit, it is kind of cool.  But not quiet so cool as what you paid for it.)

Looking ahead:

  • Only one more year until you can start working at Publix. (You have no idea how excited I am about this!)
  • Only three more years until you can drive on your own. (I know I will eventually be excited about this once I get over the terror of my first-born driving on his own.)
  • You’ve got great teachers this year, and I am so, so grateful for how you enjoy and excel in school. That does a momma’s heart good.
  • You’ve got many more years until you’re a parent, but please stop practicing on your little brother so much. However, if that’s our main point of contention with you as you navigate the tumultuous waters of middle school and puberty, we are so very blessed!

And we are blessed by you, Caleb.  You have such a good, kind, generous heart.  You care about your work.  You always desire to do your best.  You are creative.  You are musical.  You have a good group of friends.  You make us proud, and you are a gift from God.

My prayer for you as enter the teen years . . .

  • Don’t get bogged down by things that don’t matter. Always remember what’s most important in any situation; it’s probably not what is most obvious.
  • Don’t let the stress of getting a certain grade weigh you down. Earning a B is not the end of the world.  (I promise, we won’t love you any less if a B ever makes its way onto your report card.)
  • Remember your little brother is 5 ½ years younger than you. He loves you and adores you and looks up to you in ways you don’t fully recognize yet.  That is a tremendous privilege, and with it comes tremendous power and responsibility.  Don’t abuse it.
  • Honor and respect the young women in your life, be they classmates, friends, or someday girlfriends. When you find yourself becoming “interested” in a young lady, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, replacing the word love with the name of the girl.  If you can’t read it without questioning the fit of the girl to the scripture, keep it platonic.  (Actually, keep it platonic anyway.  You’re far too young.)
  • Always turn to God first. When you’re happy as well as frustrated, take all of your emotions to God.  Cry out to Him when life seems unfair and you’re hurting.  Thank Him when you are surprised with an unexpected gift.  Talk to Him when you’re bored.  Seek His counsel and wisdom when you are unsure.  Rest in His presence every night.

I love you with every fiber of my being.


Jason – 7

28 03 2015


Dearest Jason,

You bring joy and laughter to our home every single day with the sparkle in your eye, your silliness, and your constant singing, even while eating.  You amaze us with your love for God and your faith in Him.

This past year, you:  lost your first tooth, finally played on the Big Piano at FAO Schwartz, became a really good reader, still want to be a paleontologist, are still obsessed with Legos and Minecraft, fell in love with brussel sprouts (at least for a day), were spoiled by your Maga and Papa (not so much by Mommy and Daddy), still like to snuggle with Mommy, and had a peanut butter and banana sandwich every day for lunch.

To my Lego-building, Minecraft-obsessing, come play with me begging, midnight snuggling, read to me asking, peanut butter and banana sandwich eating, dream telling, Subway Surfer mastering, crazy (and sometimes inappropriate) dancing, smiling, giggling, loving, hugging, skipping, running, kind-hearted littlest boy . . . our prayer for you is this . . .

That you continue to love God first, others second, and yourself third; that you always enjoy learning and reading and writing and discovering new and cool things about the world around us; that you always love music and art and expressing yourself creatively; that you never stop exploring and wondering and that your imagination soars; that you will be a friend to all; that you will marry a girl who loves you well and who you love well; that you will overcome trials and temptations victoriously; that you will always know how loved and adored and how precious you are to God and to those around you.

Mommy and Daddy


28 11 2014

Dear Caleb,

I can’t believe you’re 12.  How did you grow up so quickly?  You are still my miracle.  Every day, I look at you and smile at the young man you are becoming.  I am so thankful for so many things about who you are and who you are turning into.

You love your daddy and me well.  I am really thankful you feel loved and safe enough to come to us with any problem you are facing.  I know far too many families for whom that is not the case.  Their parents are the last people they want to talk to.  I pray you will always trust us and know that we will love you no matter what.

You love your brother well.  I love to watch you and your brother play your silly games.  You can certainly push each other’s buttons with the skill and ease of an expert, but I pray you grown into being each other’s best friend.

You love your Maga and Papa well.  You will do anything they ask, and you will do it without complaining.  Of course, I wish you’d exhibit the same eagerness to help at home, but what a blessing it is to me to observe your love for your grandparents.  You have a very special relationship with them, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

You love your friends well.  Your desire to help your friends do better in school, your efforts to hold them accountable for their work, and your fight to not get sucked into their idiocy make me proud.  Oh, I know you make mistakes and go along with the crowd sometimes, but even then, I know your heart, and your heart is good.

You love Christ.  You are generous.  You are kind.  You are polite and respectful.  You work hard.  You are studious and conscientious.  You do your best.  You care.

I am thankful you still let me give you hugs and kisses, even at school.  I am thankful you still let me snuggle with you occasionally at bedtime.  I am thankful you are growing taller and stronger, but I’m also thankful you haven’t overtaken me yet on that front.  I know time will pass quicker than I want it to, but for now, you are still mine, and for that, I am thankful.

To my Lego loving, Minecraft creating, brother bothering and brother loving, iPad charging, phone begging, Facebook not wanting, piano playing, Gravity Falls obsessing, Shark Tank watching, mail scanning, 9:00 p.m. snack wanting, raspberry Nutrigrain bar eating, free samples taking, Honors Choir making, joke telling son . . . I love you with all of my heart, dear one.


From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:10 

On Turning 6

28 03 2014


Jason (kindergarten photo)

To my favorite littlest boy,

I don’t know where to begin with you. There are times when I look at you and see myself–your stubbornness, your headstrong nature and your fierce loyalty, your creative imagination and love of reading and learning. Then there are times when I look at you and wonder how you are my child, especially with such astute observations such as, “My poop smells like ham.”

However I look at you, I see the sparkle in your eyes and goofy smile on your face, and you bring me such joy and peace (except when you are fighting with your brother.)

I am awed by your unwavering faith in God, knowing that He is good and loves you always. For one so young, that, too, brings me such joy and peace.

So what do I remember from your fifth year of life?
•You learned to read, and you love it!
•You sing All. The. Time. Seriously. Your favorite time to sing or hum is during meals. Of course, this makes a meal last for a couple of hours with you, but I love that you love music.
•You are quite the negotiator, especially when it comes to getting snacks, treats, and desserts.
•Every rock is a precious stone, and every stick is a light saber, sword, or gun.
•”Will you sing and pray and rub my back?” Every. Night.
•You can’t imagine a day when you don’t want me to snuggle with you at bedtime. I assure that day will come, but I’m selfishly glad that day is not here yet.

To my Lego lover, Star Wars padawan, pancake maniac, booty dancer, giggly joke teller, excited reader, burgeoning erudite, midnight snuggler, and master compromiser, I pray that you will always love God with a steadfast faith. I pray you will always love reading and learning and exploring. I pray you will always be allowed to let your imagination soar and your creativity run wild. I pray you will always want to sing. Always.

I love you with every fiber of my being.

I’m Not 40 Anymore!

21 09 2013

I turned 41 yesterday, hence the title. I must say, being “over the hill” has been a great ride so far. I am in far better health now than I was 20 years ago. My cholesterol continues to decrease each year and is at an all-time low of 133. I can still do 180° right and left leg splits. My 5K speed continues to get faster. Spiritually, I am more in love with the Bible than ever and find prayer calming and humbling. Professionally, I continue to revise my curriculum every year. I am not content teaching the same stuff just because it’s easier. I just started working on my MBA. In terms of behavior, I am more patient all around and am much calmer in the car. When it comes to my family, I am ridiculously blessed with an amazing husband and two incredible sons.

I am also very goal-oriented, so I decided to take stock of my “40 Things to Do in the Next 40 Years” list that I wrote a year ago. (My updated notes are in parenthesis after each item.)

1. Do 40 military style pushups at one time, no breaks. (Still working on this)
2. Successfully finish a Tough Mudder. (Tough Mudder teased us with a Nashville race in May 2013, then moved it out of state.)
3. Swim freestyle for 50 meters without stopping. (Nope, practicing would help)
4. Run a sub 30-minute 5K in an actual race. (I’ve done several races this year, but not a straightforward 5K, not yet. I have 4 more races before 2013 is over, so I’m really hoping this will happen. I ran a marathon relay not too long ago and PRd with an 8:28 minute mile at one point.)
5. Do ab ripper at least twice each week, preferably three times. (Nope)
6. Bike once each week. (Nope)
7. Run two-three times each week. (Yup! I’m averaging 10 miles per week over 4 runs)
8. Swim once each week. (Nope)
9. Always remember to wear sunscreen. (Almost always)
10. Hike the Appalachain Trail. (Maybe next decade?)
11. Still be able to do 180° right and left leg splits 40 years from now. (Yup!)

12. Eat at least two servings of fruit each day. (Yup! Except on my birthday; then I get all my calories from sugar and lard . . . and maybe some cheese)
13. Eat at least two servings of vegetables each day. (About half the time)
14. Remember to take all my supplements each day—multi vitamin, calcium/Vitamin D, fish oil. (Usually)
15. Cut back to one sweet/dessert item each day (except on birthdays). (I’m down to two per day which is way better than it was a year ago.)
16. Try one new recipe each month. (Yup!)
17. Drink more water. (About the same)

18. Fast 40 hours straight once each week. (I still fast, but not for 40 hours—my body did not take kindly to that. I was getting too dizzy and lightheaded.)
19. Memorize one scripture each week. (Sadly, nope. I do read the Bible every day, and my knowledge of scripture is growing, but I just don’t officially memorize verses.)
20. Give half our income away, probably through Compassion International child sponsorships. (Well on our way!)
21. Teach my children to pray in all circumstances. (Working on it; this will be a lifelong lesson.)
22. Teach my sons the importance of sexual purity and protecting and honoring their bodies and the bodies of any girls/women they have relationships with. (Praying about this regularly and having age-appropriate conversations as they arise.)
23. Watch my sons grow into their own faith in Christ. (Yup! So cool to see my sons coming into their own faith rather than living out simply what we tell them to do and say and believe.)
24. Go on a mission trip. (Yup! Texas in March 2013 and India in June 2013)

25. Get my MBA. (Just started my classes! Graduation = fall 2015)
26. Get my PhD. (Maybe next decade; need to finish the MBA first.)
27. Not go crazy. (Debatable)
28. Read on average one book per week. (Pretty darn close)
29. Become fluent in another language. (If sarcasm counts, I’m fluent.)
30. Learn to play the piano. (Too busy; maybe after my MBA and PhD?)

31. Have a weekly date with my love. (Desperately need to do better!)
32. Play more games with my family. (Same #32)
33. Visit all the Wonders of the World. (Five down, two to go—Petra and Angkor Wat)
34. Travel to a new country each year. (So far, so good)
35. Grow my hair out to my wedding day length. (Almost there!)
36. Join a community choir. (Too busy with #1-35)
37. Watch no more than 1 hour of TV each night, except when Dancing with the Stars goes for two hours. (Yup! I have almost cut out TV completely, probably because I’m reading so much. I honestly don’t miss it . . . except Dancing with the Stars.)
38. Re-invent/re-paint/re-design several rooms in my home. (Consulting a friend who is an interior designer is on my to do list for the summer of 2014.)
39. Build a library with floor to ceiling book shelves in my home and fill it with great literature. (Also on my—as in my husband’s—to do list for the summer of 2014.)

Most Important
40. Remember that each day is a gift and to live a life that reflects how grateful I am to be alive. (I’m better at this than I used to be, but there will always be room for improvement. Can we ever be too grateful?)

The Big 5

28 03 2013

5th Birthday Present

5th Birthday Present

Dearest Jason,

I can’t believe you’re five today! I believe times passes quicker the older I get. A day in your life can last for 50 hours; in mine, it lasts for only 10.

I love experiencing life through your eyes. Your wonder of rocks and sticks that has led to the growing “rock garden” in my classroom. Your favorite pocket in your winter jacket where you stash your favorite sticks which may really turn out to be light sabers in disguise. Your sadness and tears at having to part with the twelve pounds of rocks your extended care teacher bagged up for you to take home. I smile at it all.

You can make me smile and laugh like no other. Ever since you first tried out, “Mommy, can I have a sucker since you’re so nice and lovely?” you had me.

My favorite memories from this year are many.
•Wanting to be “bathtized” just you could get your own piece of communion bread.
•Your first yearbook picture followed by a retake that lasted for 10 minutes and required multiple bribes and ended with a long line of frustrated students behind you.
•Learning how to draw and write.
•Your numerous and memorable drawings on my classroom whiteboard, my favorite being “Mommy on Fire Flying Up to Heaven.”
•Starting school at FRA and being so upset many days when I came to pick you up because you were having so much fun.
•Your declining fascination with Tomas the Train and growing obsession with Legos and Star Wars.
•Your ability to out-eat me on pancakes any day.
•Your “forever hugs.”
•Teaching the rest of us prayers to “The Addams Family” and “Superman” theme songs. (Thank you, Ms. Karen!)



To my mid-night smuggler, banana thief, pancake maniac, sweet talker, light saber wielding Padawan, stick collector, rock treasurer . . . I pray you will be stubborn for goodness and righteousness. I pray you will always remember to seek God when you feel scared or sad, lost or alone. I pray you will be known as a friend to all, kind and generous, gracious and compassionate. I pray you will always be ready to forgive and equally ready to apologize. I pray you will be as your name: a healer; a healer of hearts and souls.

I love you to the sky and back, but God loves you even more. Never forget that, little one.


“Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name.”
-Psalm 103:1

"Mommy on Fire Flying Up to Heaven"

“Mommy on Fire Flying Up to Heaven”

My Dear Son

28 11 2012

My dear son,

Eldest.  Blessing.  Miracle.  Joy.  Delight.  Honor.

I can’t believe you are 10 today.  I’ve been pondering this day a while now, wondering what to write.  Let me start with this scripture I read a few days ago.  I immediately thought of you and some of the things you are going through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me, he will help me.
I look in triumph at those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.
-Psalm 118:1, 5-8

I think of some of the conversations we’ve had lately, and I am blown away, excited, joyful, and yet my heart aches for you.  I can see the Spirit of God moving in you in a mighty and powerful way for one so young.  I see God pulling on your heart, desiring goodness for you.  I see you wanting to obey with everything that is in you.  I see you coming into a faith of your own—not your father’s or my faith, though I pray we have provided you with a firm foundation on which to stand on your own.  Not having grown up myself with the faith you have as a young child—you have no idea what this experience means to me.

I see your struggles, and my mommy-heart aches for you.  I wish I had the answers you seek:  Why am I here?  What does God want me to do?  Why doesn’t He answer me?  Does anyone think I’m special and important?

Take heart, precious son!  You are here for a grand purpose, though we may not know for years what that purpose is.  God did not bring you into this world without having a great and glorious master plan already prepared for your life.

Be strong and courageous, my child!  God wants you to love him first and foremost.  He wants you to love others just as much.  He wants you to pray for those who tease you or make fun of Blanky Bear.  He wants you to love, no matter what, no matter how difficult.  My heart rejoices as I see you try to live out God’s greatest commands.

Be at peace, young one!  God always listens to your prayers.  He always hears your cries of sadness.  He always knows your deepest longings and greatest struggles.  He always loves no matter what.  He always forgives with a doubt.  Even when you don’t hear him, and it seems like he’s on another planet, He is still there for you.  Always!

Smile and sing and rejoice, Caleb!  You are more special than you will ever know—not just to daddy and me and your family and friends.  You have no idea the lives you have touched and will touch.  You have no idea the plans God has in store for your future—a future brimming with hope, goodness, and greatness in Him.  I believe this with every fiber of my being.

Caleb - 10 years old

Caleb – 10 years old

To my lego-lover, deep-sleeper, joke-teller, recorder-player, popcorn-seller, avid-reader, craigslist-poster, Weird Al-lover, straight-A receiver, laundry-doer, special-helper, hospital-visitor, Cheerio treat-maker, cous cous-eater, and most precious delight of God . . .

My prayer for you is that you will always feel the presence of the Holy One dwell deep within you.  May your faith continue to mature.  May God’s will always be on your heart and in your mind.  May you always overcome your struggles with goodness, mercy, and grace.  May righteousness always be your guide.  May you always love God and always know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much He loves you.