Little Reminders {how my son’s story encouraged my heart}

You know those moments when you think you *might* just be failing as a parent? Well, if you pay close attention to the fine details of life, you will be reminded that you may just be winning in this whole parenting journey.

My soon-to-be third grader son wrote a story for a school project. The story involved two friends who set out to find a castle with lots of precious jewels. They wanted to get rich. They found a castle full of gold, diamonds, silver ,emeralds ,and other fine things. They thought, “The people at this castle must be rich!”

However, soon after entering the castle, they were approached by an angry mob so had to run away without the riches. They ended up trying to find their way home, and found a deserted island instead. On this island, they came across a lonely, lost and stray dog.

They took this dog in, named him “Sparkey” and taught him how to fetch and play. Instead of setting out to find more riches, they decided to keep the dog, love on him, and teach him other tricks.

At the end of the story, my son wrote, “By the end of their adventures, they learned a good thing. Even though they were not rich, they had a dog, and that was better.”20150522_141653

Now, I know that my son’s story alone does not completely represent how I might be failing or winning at parenting, but gosh, it sure made my heart happy. I told him that I loved his story, that I was so happy that the characters kept the dog, and that they realized that being rich would not mean as much as helping out a stray animal. My son smiled. I could tell that he knew he had written a good story.

What his story means to me is this: Sometimes, when I consider all of the challenges of parenting, when I wonder if I said or did the right thing, and if, perhaps, I am in need of a “do-over”, I receive little reminders that, just maybe, I am getting this whole parenting thing right.

This Momma (who happens to love animals) received the best and warmest feelings today while reading through her soon-to-be third grader’s story.

Friends, if you struggle with the daily challenges of parenting, remember this: Kind gestures and words you speak can resonate loudly in your child’s heart.

Whether it is other people or animals, the opportunity to teach compassion for every living thing, to show mercy even when it is not deserved, and to raise children who are aware that the little things in life really can be the big things, is truly a gift.

Be encouraged. Be intentional. Be yourself. After all, isn’t this what we want our children to be?

End of the School Year Gift Idea for Teachers {Teacher’s Poem}

With the end of the school year upon us, my children asked if they could give a gift to their teachers.  They decided they wanted to give their teachers a candle this year.

After purchasing the candles, I decided to write a poem to go along with it.  candleteacherpoem

Here is the poem that I wrote for the gift:

Each time you light this candle, I hope you think of me, 

For summer’s come, school is out, may we enjoy the days with glee.

Thank you for teaching me to learn, live, and laugh,

And, thank you for advocating on my little behalf.

The light that burns within us all is brighter than the sun,

It is something that does not extinguish, it cannot be undone.

A teacher’s impact on young lives will never really fade,

Thank you, teacher, for this past year, now I’m off to the first grade!

Since my children are in different grades, I simply switched out the grade they entering so that I could use the poem for both kids.  Their teachers were surprised by the gift, and my children could not have been happier to give it to them.  I have saved the poem to use in the years to come.

If you are looking for gift ideas to give teachers, consider writing something that is heartfelt and personal.  Teachers give so much to our children day in and day out. Gifts and kind words are just a few ways we can express how much we appreciate them.

If you would like to use my poem as part of a gift for your child’s teacher, please email me or comment on this blog.  Have a great summer!

Blessings!

Caroline

Ten Ways to Celebrate Foster Care Awareness Month (Adoption.com article)

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month in the United States.  There are thousands of children in foster care.  The number of children in care does not represent the amount of hotline calls made regarding abuse and neglect of children.  It also does not represent the number of intact families who are receiving preventive services in order to keep the children in the home.

Recently, I wrote an article for Adoption,Com listing ten ways you can get involved in bringing awareness to foster care, without becoming a foster parent.

You can read the article by clicking on this link:

Ten Ways to Celebrate National Foster Care Awareness Month

Together, we can all contribute to bringing awareness to the needs of children and families involved in the foster care system.

It’s today, birth mother.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of our adoption of our son…your son.  Somehow, this year, it sort of snuck up on me.  The moment I realized it, I thought of you.

Our son is growing up too fast.  I look at him sometimes and wonder where that curly blonde-haired boy went.  I imagine, though, that you might think the same thing.

He does not want to snuggle as much as he used to.  Forget about hugging me in public.  No, those days are just a memory.  However, he still carries within him the same sweetness, loyalty, and love that he has always possessed.  I suspect, or at least I hope, these things will not fade as his youthful spring turns into an aging summer.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of one of the most significant experiences in my life, and yet, I’m thinking of you.  It is odd, you know…two strangers whose lives greatly differ; yet, forever sewn together by the tapestry of a child.  Honestly, I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

Our son is smart, athletic, creative, and just a wonderful child.  His heart always seems to land in the right spot, even though his actions may not show it.  Behind that urging to fit in, be just “one of the guys”, and deal with the pressure of growing up in today’s society, is a boy whose future is full of adventures.

As I watch him develop, I gaze at his features, consider his personality, and marvel at his being.  That’s my job…to admire, to ponder, and to be amazed by him. However, it was once your job as well, and that is something I will never forget.

It’s today, birth mother.  Today is the day the gavel fell and he was declared mine forever.  Do you want to know something?  Despite the legalities of it all, I still believe that he will also be forever your’s.  How can I not feel this way?

I wasn’t there when he entered this world.  I didn’t hold him on my chest when he was breathing Earthly air for the first time.  I didn’t name him.  While this has grieved me some through the years, I cannot help but be thankful that you had those moments…those precious, unforgettable moments.

I don’t regret anything, birth mother.  No.  Instead, I am forever changed by the time we had together while we were all navigating the world of foster care.  The system isn’t pretty.  I know that you understand that so well.  It doesn’t create too many divine moments.  However, what happened between you, our son, and I was splendid.  The system cannot define it.

Today, birth mother, is the anniversary of our adoption.  Today, birth mother, I not only celebrate my son, but I also honor who you are, what you meant to me during our foster care journey, and how much you mean to me now.

Our son is wonderful.  He is everything you hoped he would be.  And that, birth mother, fills my heart with gratitude, contentment, and delight.

Jars of Clay {God’s Greatest Treasure}

It had been a rough week with our daughter. She’s extremely sweet at times, but at other times, she can be quite difficult. As we left for church last Sunday, all I was thinking is how much I just wanted to crawl back in bed.

My daughter wanted to stay with us for the worship songs before she went to her Sunday school class. Although I really wanted her to go to her class, I know how much it means to stand together with your child and worship God.

Soon into our service the song “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong Worship was sung. The song uses part of the song “Amazing Grace” in it. Although I was dwelling on the issues of the week, and the problems we had just right before we left for church, I began to listen and hear my six-year-old daughter sing,

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

My daughter has said for several years that “Amazing Grace” is her favorite song. I sing it to her every night before she falls asleep. As her little voice sang the words, my heart was punched.

A little further along in the song are these lyrics,

“You take our failure. You take our weakness. You set Your treasure In jars of clay. So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be Your vessel. The world to see,Your love in me.”

As I tried to sing the words, my mind and heart were interrupted by the thoughts of my daughter, my other children, and my own life. Soon, I was wiping tears away.

During the song while listening to my daughter sing, I was convicted at the very existence of my daughter, and all of us.

Broken vessels.

Wounded. Weak. Full of failures.

Jars of clay.

God’s greatest treasure.

Did you read that? Inside of us is God’s greatest treasure.

Despite our failings as we walk this Earth, and despite our histories, our greatest regrets, and our current circumstances, inside us dwells the greatest treasure of all.

Friends, if you are feeling less than what you wished you would be, confused by your circumstances, or perhaps, that you are not worthy of love, remember this,

YOU are GOD’s TREASURE.

Isn’t that something to cherish?