Things I’d Like to see End in 2016

With the start of the New Year, I’m already seeing posts/memes/etc about what trends or things that need to end in 2016 such as the man bun, and the word “bae”. Honestly, I can think of more important things that I’d like to see end in 2016:

homelessness
domestic violence
terror
the orphan crisis (millions, literally)
physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse of children
meth addiction
broken homes
loneliness
prejudice
hatred
hunger
fatherless families
motherless families
cancer
random acts of violence
suicide
heroin usage
alcoholism
greed
poverty
hopelessness
spiritual depravity

So, yeah. I’m totally okay with the man bun, and the use of the word “bae”.

Happy New Year {Hey, Moms. Let’s not judge.}

On the eve of 2015, we sat around our dinner table and each took turns creating goals for ourselves, and for our family- well, except for our little one.  He’s a bit too young to determine goals.  For him, the goal for 2015 might have been to eat more candy, and I’m pretty sure he did just that (aka: parent fail).  Anyway, after deciding what we should work on for 2015, I sealed up the slip of paper in an envelope titled, “Family Goals 2015” and stuck it on the refrigerator.  There it stayed for the last year – no one thought about it, looked at it, or even wondered about it.

Tonight, I exclaimed, “Time to open our Family Goals envelope!”, and the kids came running like a herd of cattle at hay-time.  Most likely, they did not remember what their goals were, but boy, they were certainly interested in learning if they accomplished them.

Opening up the envelope, I read out loud what each goal was.  As I went through each one, I noticed the look on everyone’s faces.  Yeah.  Can we say “EPIC FAIL”?  True to our nature, we gave an awesome “E” for effort, set new goals for 2016, and sealed them back up to be stuck to the refrigerator for this new year.  My husband and I did acknowledge to our children that “At least you recognized that you partially met some of them, and were honest about not meeting the others.  That’s important.”  Right?  RIGHT…wink, wink.20160101_193456

And then it hit me.  I might have just completely failed as a mother this past year.  My thought, “If I was doing my job as a mother, I would have encouraged them all to accomplish their goals.”  For goodness sake, I would have accomplished my own.  Sure.  I met one (sort of) literally within the last two hours of 2015, but the rest of them…forget it.  I completely failed.  To give an example, one of my goals was to count to ten when I am angry.  Again, EPIC FAIL.

As the kids ran out of the room just as quickly as they rushed in, I had another thought.  “Where are we as a society that chooses to define motherhood by “if you do this, or do that, or be this, or be that, or breastfeed, or not breastfeed, or home school, or not home school, or only eat organic, or not eat organic, or do all of those cool things on Pinterest, or completely abandon all social media, or yell, or not yell, or stay home full time, or are employed outside of the home, or send to private school, or send to public school….or whatever….then you are a good mother”?  I mean, come on.  No pressure, right?  And, do any of these things truly define motherhood?

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After working in child welfare for many years, I can assure you that if you are clothing, feeding, protecting, providing an education, and waking up each day with the determination to show love to your children, then you are doing a good job.  If you recognize your faults, have failures and successes, and embrace your children with a twinge of hope, then you are exemplifying all that motherhood brings.

The truth is that none of us are perfect in this journey.  We make goals, we fail at them.  We set boundaries, we allow them to be broken.  We say, “If you do that one more time…”, and then we don’t always follow through.  I am pretty sure our mothers went through the same things.  I often get a little bothered when I hear people talking about parenthood these days, and how all of today’s children are just “spoiled”, “not goal oriented”, or whatever label is put on them.  I suspect the same things might have been said about every generation of children (even us, gasp…no way).  Parenting is hard enough as it is – let alone having to judge ourselves against the often misrepresented images of motherhood that we see on any given day.

As part of the family tradition, I did set two goals for 2016, and I am going to do my best to work on them.  However, if I fail, or if my family fails at accomplishing their goals, then so be it.  It doesn’t change anything.  The very fact that we are setting goals, having a discussion about them, and admitting a few areas we need to work on is just fine with me.

Hey, Moms.  I’m speaking to you.  Let’s not judge.  In this new year, perhaps we should all set a collective goal to not define mothering by what we think society wants.  Let’s stop judging each other by the standards of what we think is the “best”.  Let’s recognize that it takes all types of mothers to parent all types of children, and let’s be okay with that.  Let’s be true to ourselves.  Let’s be who we are; the junk, the goodness, the failures, the successes.

Let’s just be Moms who deeply love our children, who protect them, who whisper messages of hope, who discipline, who steer in better directions, and who wake up each day embracing our children with the hope of a better day; regardless of what others think.

From my heart to yours, Happy New Year.  May this year be filled with lots of laughter – at the mistakes, at the successes, and at ourselves.

 

Hey, World. {Get Yourself Together}

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Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama. Here’s the deal.  I have three children that I’m raising; three children who have already been handed a loss in life.  Please, for the sake of these kiddos, get yourself together.

I have found myself bothered…okay, maybe a little more than bothered…by what is going on.  Chaos, confusion, bigotry, violence, lack of compassion, and death seem to be the words that I am describing you right now.  I know that these words do not make up the sum of what you are, but when considering the future of my babes; my heart just seems to be so incredibly dampened by these things.

Jesus asks us to go into the pits of the despair of others, but are we truly doing that? Jesus asks us to reach out to strangers, care for foreigners, show mercy, and pray for our enemies, but are we really heeding these directives?

Christians should be rising up, but are we?  Have we surrendered to the flesh?  Are we more concerned and confused by the political and social chaos of the world?  What about harvesting the fields?  What about salvation?

Fear, and the intense need to store up our own blessings, seems to have taken over.  The battle of the flesh seems to be so present, but is the battle truly of the flesh?  The flesh is just that…flesh.  Have we forgotten who the enemy really is?

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 

Ephesians 6:12

It breaks my heart to see children starving, sleeping on the streets, bartered and traded for selfish satisfaction, and forgotten.  It is easy to blame the flesh.  It is so incredibly effortless to look at each other and think, “They are the ones causing this.”  But again, is our battle really against the flesh?  Do we truly believe that?  After all, it is man who acts out the depravity of circumstances.

It is time for a reality check.  If you think that this battle against all the angst, violence, and craziness of the world is one that dwells within skin, then perhaps we have a lot more to worry about.  It is time for some serious need of prayer.  It is time to consider the true direction our Earthly home is heading, and who the real enemy is.

Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama.  Can we all just take a collective time out?  While chaos surrounds us, our children still deserve to grow up without fear.  ALL children deserve this.  From the children tucked away safely in their beds, to the ones scrapping for food on the streets, and to the children harbored away in a refugee camp…they ALL deserve to grow up, experience life, and live without fear.  They all deserve the opportunity to share their gifts to this world.

If there was ever a time to pray and be a witness of light and love to others, it is now.

Hey, World.  Get yourself together.  I’ve got children to raise.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 

1 Timothy 2:8

 

Seven Wishes for My 7-Year-Old Daughter {and yours}

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This week we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday.  I can hardly believe that she is already seven, and even though I used to huff when people would say “It goes by fast”, now I get it.  Life does go by quickly.

To honor my daughter during this special week of her birth, here are seven wishes I have for her as she grows up.  They are also wishes for all daughters around the world.

  1. I wish for you to be bold. Bold in your actions.  Bold in your wisdom.  Strong in your determination, spirit, relationships, and faith.  Be brave in your choices; especially the ones that are difficult to make.  Take a stand, even if other people do not see the value of it.  Do not be afraid to be a strong, independent girl.  The world needs them.
  2. I wish for you to find glimpses of humor throughout life’s circumstances.  Laugh at the whimsy and silly things.  Giggle at the irony that life will throw you sometimes.  Enjoy those gut-busting, pee-your-pants moments.  Humor is essential for survival, and for recovery.  Seek it.  Keep it.  Help others to find it.
  3. I wish for you to find love and friendship that is defined by acceptance, commitment, and contentment.  Love and friendships are both the most blessed experiences in life.  May they be filled with people who accept the whole of who you are, because you are incredibly special.  Don’t ever forget that, and don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t see you the same way.  (And, the best kinds of friends are the ones who will cry with you, and share in those gut-busting, pee-your-pants times of laughter.)
  4. I wish for so many moments that will give thrill to the adventure-seeking, curious little thing that you are.  Don’t be scared to try new things.  Try exotic foods.  Seek to conquer your fears.  Meet exciting, and slightly unusual people (I have found that they are usually the most entertaining and loyal).  If you dream of it, then go for it.  And, it’s okay to skydive…just don’t tell me when you do.
  5. I wish for you to see life as one big learning curve.  You will make mistakes and have some regrets (when you are a little older, I might just share a few of mine with you), and that’s okay.  Your mistakes, regrets, and need for a do-over are what refine you as a human being.  Don’t be scared to fail.  Failing is a part of success.  Just don’t be scared to try.  Let others teach you, but also teach others. Continue learning throughout your life, as there is always something new to learn.
  6. I wish for you to look in the mirror and see the reflection of a beautiful, purposeful, precious soul created by our Heavenly Father.  Embrace your flaws, but also embrace your beauty.  From the strands of your hair, to the tips of your eyelashes, fingers, and toes, every ounce of your being was put on this Earth for a specific purpose that only you can fulfill.  Carry that thought with you, sweetie.  When you are down, remember it.  When you are scared, embrace it.  When you forget it, pick up your Bible, and be reminded.
  7. I wish for you to always cling to the fact that you are so deeply loved by your family, and always will be.  Our life intertwining was not by accident.  You were meant to be our daughter, and we were meant to be your parents (even though at times we are the “meanest parents in the world”).  Nothing you can ever do will make us love you less.  With each passing day, I marvel at the unique little girl that you are.  It is an honor to call you daughter.

Happy Birthday, Sis.

“In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future.
  A reflection of who I am, and what we’ll be.
 And though she’ll grow and someday leave, maybe raise a family.
 When I’m gone I hope you’ll see how happy she made me.
 For I’ll be there in my daughter’s eyes.”

-Martina McBride, “In My Daughter’s Eyes”

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Six Lessons Learned From Being an Adoptive Parent

I’ve darn near decided that maybe it is more of a privilege to be an adoptive parent than a biological parent.  Before I offend anyone who has given birth to their children, please hear me.  I am NOT saying that adopting children is better than giving birth, and I am NOT saying that adoptive parenting provides more passion than raising biological children.  What I am saying is that being an adoptive parent is a privilege.  (Please understand that I have zero frame of reference as all of my kiddos are adopted.)

Here are just a few things I have learned since becoming a mother through adoption:

  1. Never underestimate the power of the pursuit.  If I had not put all of my efforts into becoming a parent, I know that I would not be experiencing the gift of refinement that parenting brings.  Don’t give up.  Throw every hat you have in the ring.  If you want to be a parent, let it be your priority and the passion behind your pursuit.
  2. Genetics are incredibly important.  Are you surprised I said that?  Let me explain.  When it comes to loving a child with every pore of your being, genetics don’t mean squat…BUT….when it comes to understanding histories, personalities, and medical issues, genetics are huge. Learn what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.  Sometimes, the only answer you can give to a doctor is, “I don’t know.”  While this is unsettling and, let’s be honest, a frustrating place to be, it is the truth.  
  3. Maternal instincts are not born from giving birth (no pun attended).  Do yourself a favor.  Stop worrying about your maternal instincts, or if you will love a child you adopt the same as you would if you gave birth.  While I do not have anything to compare, based on what I have heard from friends who have experienced parenting through birth and adoption, there is no difference. If anything, the instinct to protect might be a little stronger with an adopted child than a child by birth.  The adopted child may have a complicated history that only you will fully understand.  A part of you seeks to protect in secret that history; the other part of you never wants that history to be a source of embarrassment or ridicule.  So, yes, just perhaps, the maternal “momma bear” instincts to protect might just kick in a littler harder.
  4. Waiting to become a mother took so long, and because of it, I never forget to appreciate the brief and simple moments of life with my children.  I have known since age eleven that I would motherhood would come to me through adoption.  The wait to understand and capture that moment when it all made sense lasted nearly my entire lifetime so far.  I’ll be honest.  I get caught in a rut with my children.  I get frustrated, wish for an early bedtime, and look forward to time away from them.  I lose my cool.  I make mountains out of mole hills, and trust me, I totally mess up time and again.  Maybe, I might get this parenting thing down when they are adults.  With all of this being said, there are those moments with them that still takes my breath away.  While out riding bikes with my kiddos one night, I saw them both peddling their stubby little legs to me, I thought, “This moment.  This moment matters.”  
  5. Being an adoptive parent has unique set of challenges.  Do I think that there will never be any challenge to parents who give birth?  Of course not. The majority of my close friends have all given birth to their children, and they have challenges that they face.  However, with adoptive parenting, a parent must consume the history of the child only to be able to release it at a later date when the child is ready.  By history, I mean the knowledge of birth parents, and reasons why your son or daughter entered your home.  It is a heavy burden.  It is not to be taken lightly.  It can be one of the most difficult parts to raising children through adoption.  How does one fully comprehend what it feels like to be an adoptee?  I wonder how often my children think about their birth families.  It breaks my heart, but, it is a reality.  The worse thing one can do is run from it.
  6. I feel a big sense of responsibility in raising well-rounded and kind children.  Perhaps, I feel this pressure due to the fact that my children were intended to be mine.  I don’t want to mess this up.  At times, I fail miserably.  At others, I am totally enamored by the generosity and thoughtfulness shown by them.  I guess there is a part of me that believes I have more of a responsibility to raise my children right; as if (at times) the whole world will judge if I do not.  Being an adoptive parent is truly the most incredible privilege in the world, but it also comes with the pressure to be perfect – and we all know that perfection is completely unobtainable.

Adoptive parenting is a journey.  From the moment you decide to adopt, waiting to have a child placed (or if a foster placement, the wait for permanency through adoption), to finalization, and then raising the children, it is all just one big story with ups and downs.  I suspect all parenting is like this, but with adoption, there is a deeper sense of fortitude mixed with caution.

In these things, and many more, I find privilege.  That we were granted these children through the workings of the Lord is often beyond my ability to measure.  The years spent raising my children will continue to bring me lots and lots of frustrating moments, but also many wonderful and glorious lessons.

The lessons I’ve learned so far with raising my children is that this chapter of my life is definitely a privilege.

Every good and perfect gift is from above…(James 1:17)

Dear Infertility (Part 6)

Dear Infertility,

Remember me?  Maybe, maybe not.  I remember you, though.  I still think of you, often.  You forced me to walk in a wasteland.  My footsteps were not padded with softness.  I was not welcomed.  There was zero comfort in my journey.  My experience through your vast wilderness left me bewildered, frustrated, and deeply heart-broken.

I do not know why I keep thinking of you.  Honestly, you are not worthy of my thoughts.  You are not a friend I want to keep, but gosh, in random moments, I still think of you.

Perhaps, it is not just you I think about.  Perhaps, it is the whole life experience I have walked that involves you, my medical struggles, and my children.  Perhaps, just perhaps, without you, I would not be able to understand what it is to be at a low place, at a place of complete joy, or somewhere in between.

I do not like you at all, you know.  I wish you had no substance at all.  I wish more than anything that others had no idea of who you are, what you mean, and what you might possibly be able to take away.

Do you know what you do to people?  Do you even care?  You cause the faithful to question their faith, the hopeful to lose hope, and the joyful to watch their joy dissipate.

Dear Infertility,

Despite all of these things, I wonder if I would be who I am without you.  Would I wonder about others who are exploring your place in their lives?  Would I carry an ounce of empathy towards the plight of others who are experiencing medical problems?  Would I have a heart for foster children and orphans in the world? Could I call myself “Mamma” to three amazing children that were adopted into my life?

It is ironic, you know.  With you, I carry a bit of sadness, but without you, I cannot imagine the incredible gift of parenting.

You invaded me from the inside out.  Sure, I was physically impacted by my illness, but I was also spiritually and emotionally impacted as well.  It is crazy that you came into my life many years ago, and here I am still thinking about you.

Here’s the difference, though.  I no longer allow you to consume me like you used to.  I no longer feel you are a heartbreak.  I do not carry the same burden about you like I used to.  Instead, I think of you and my Heavenly Father, and I know that through His mighty grace, I have conquered you.  You are overcome.  You stand no chance when being met head-on by the faithfulness of our Father.

Dear Infertility,

It is true.  I do still think of you.  How can I not?  You have tried desperately to declare yourself as the author of my life.  Well, you are most definitely not.  You may be a character in my story line, but the author of my life is the Author of life itself.

You might be a part of who I was created to be, but you are not the whole of who I am.

More importantly, you will never define who I am in Him.  

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

Happy New Year, Friends

GoalsToday at lunchtime, my family and I sat around the table chowing down on our black-eyed peas, chips with cheese dip, shrimp cocktail, and “little smokies”.  Our conversation evolved to one regarding our goals for 2015.

“I want to try something new,” I said.  “What, Mommy?”, my children exclaimed.  “I think we should write down our own goals and then some family goals for this year.  We’ll seal them in an envelope and open them up one year from today to see if we accomplished them.”

They were super excited to do this.  Well, at least our older children were.  Our two-year old seemed to be too busy playing with the food on his plate!  We went around the table and spoke about our personal goals, and this is what I was reminded of.

If you give your children the silence and time to speak about their goals and hopes, you can learn so much about them.

My son and daughter both set goals that, if achieved, will benefit them both in a personal way, in a way that benefits our family, and definitely in a way that affects the greater good.  My husband and I told them our goals as well.  Then, as a family, we talked about goals for the new year.  My children exclaimed,

“I want to fill the Blessing Jar up to the very top! “

“I think we should clean up trash in the streets to help keep our environment around us clean.”

“We need to help each other more.”

“We should use calm voices more often with each other.”

As I wrote the goals down, a flow of those endearing little nudges of goodness showered me.  It seems, despite my many unending flaws as a parent, our children are precious little souls who yearn for opportunities to do good.

After lunch, we departed in our various tasks of the day.  Our daughter went to play with a friend at her house down the street.  Our two-year-old ran circles in the living room.  My husband started helping out with the daily chores involved with taking care of a family of five, and my oldest son went to his bedroom to look through a stack of books he wanted to donate.

I locked myself in our bedroom and started going through our closet.  As I pulled things out to organize and donate (if desired), a funny thing started to happen.  I realized that I get frustrated at the amount of “stuff” my children want to keep, and yet, there I was sitting in the middle of my bedroom stuffing trash bags full of gently used clothing, unused jewelry, and items I once swore that I needed.

Five trash bags of clothing, toys my children decided to rid themselves of, and other items, started to take up the space of my bedroom.  And then, my soul was stirred about the many things I carry in my heart that the Lord wants me to rid myself of.

I know there is more space in my life to donate to intentional parenting with my children.  I know that this vessel of life can do so much more.  At the same time, I also know the things that pull me away from the Lord’s wisdom.  I need to stick away these things in a trash bag, and let go of them.

With my children’s words of our family goals today fresh in my mind, here are my thoughts as I enter into 2015:

“God,I want to fill others…other jars of clay…with words that bless them.”

“Lord, I know there is a lot of trash in my life and in the streets of my thoughts that I need to clean up to keep this incredible environment of life clean.” 

“Father, help me to help each other more.”

“Savior, I pray Your voice will calm the waves of contempt in my life, and in turn, will create moments that I can be used bring peace to others.”

Here’s to 2015!  This is a wonderful time to be living on this side of Heaven.  My hope for this upcoming year is that we will all be drawn closer to Origin of Love.  

Now, that is a New Year’s Resolution we can all attain.

Happy New Year, Friends.

 

The Case for Kids

I have run across some Facebook statuses, blog posts, and other humorous social media updates that point to all of the benefits of choosing a life free of the “burden” of parenting.  While I understand where the authors of these posts are coming from, and even, the convenience in many ways of not having children, I have weighed the benefits of a life with children versus one without.

My husband and I had the choice to pursue parenthood.  There would be no “accidental” pregnancies in our lives.  I am infertile.  He knew that going into our marriage.  This is something that would not change.  We also had the choice to pursue a life without children.  We could have stayed in our quaint two bedroom cobblestone front home, and traveled the world.  We could have spent our lives on a seemingly perpetual date.

We did not choose this, though.  We pursued adoption because we wanted to share in the experience of parenting.  Because of this, I’ve come up with some simple, and yet relevant, reasons why life with children (however they come to you) is the best thing ever.

Once you become a parent, 

  1. you begin to value the simple things in life. 
  2. you are suddenly thrust into a world of humility.
  3. you learn that there is nothing more satisfying than self-sacrifice.   
  4. you are gifted with simplistic examples of love.  
  5. you are reminded that grace is a gift freely given, and one that you need to work on giving.
  6. your life is enhanced in ways that you never thought was possible.  
  7. the artwork on the refrigerator is the most priceless piece of work you have ever seen.
  8. your own health becomes more important.  
  9. you are given the gift of multiple second chances by the same little humans who love you, need you, and whose life is dependent on you.
  10. you work harder, sleep less, and do not regret either of these.
  11. your heart; the one that has led your decisions throughout your life, is now being led, moved, and persuaded by the little beating hearts walking right next to you.
  12. you are reminded that each day brings a new opportunity to start again, learn something new, correct a bad habit, and let your imagine soar.
  13. you are surrounded by the opportunity to remember and embrace those magical moments of your own childhood.
  14. you are reminded of how hard your parents must have worked to raise you, provide for you, and give you a life of opportunity.  Or, in some situations, you are reminded of how void your childhood was; thus, you are being the change needed in the next generation of children in your family.
  15. you gain a simplistic and innocent sense of humor.  (All it takes in the mispronunciation of one word by your child, and suddenly, you are giggling.)
  16.  you know that the most important job you have is being a parent.  You defend it.  You protect it.  You speak up for it, and, you are proud of it.
  17. you know you are the most important person to your children, and by this, you are nearly overwhelmed with unspeakable love.
  18. you are greeted with happiness, told that you are loved, and freely given tokens of love on a daily basis.
  19. every moment of life, from going through a car wash to traveling to an adventurous destination, is filled with excitement and exhilaration.
  20. you begin to see glimpses of your own future, and you fight for it.  You whisper hope into the ears of your children.  You teach them to love without judgment, and dream without borders.  You tell them that the world is open for them, and to seize their dreams.  You long for them to embrace their own sense of the world, and yet, you hope they do not forget where home is.  

I used to think, or at least give off the impression, that life would be okay without children.  Deep down, though, I knew I was missing out.  I grieved for something to which I did not even fully understand.  I just knew that I did not want to enter into my Heavenly home with missing the valuable experience of being a parent.

When I see the Facebook statuses, blog posts, and other humorous social media updates that depict why a life without children is better than a life with children, I find myself defending the plight of parents, the needs of all of those babies who have made their way to our lives, and the hope of our future.  I could go on and on about the importance, hardship, yet joy of life with children.

As a child, I was not promised parenthood.  I actually never visualized it.  Instead, I hoped for it.  I prayed for it.  And now, at the age of forty-two and thinking through the past thirty-one years of my life, I cannot imagine not fighting for parenthood.

My friend, if you are reading this wondering if you should get pregnant,  pursue IVF, become a foster parent, adopt, or, if you should choose a life without children, I want to tell you that there is nothing more challenging, yet, more incredibly rewarding than being a parent.

I will never stop challenging those who consider children as less important in our world.  Sure, movies may be easier to watch, going out to eat might be a little more quiet, traveling may be relaxing and exotic, and you may have more down time to sleep in, and embrace your own hobbies, but this blogger, this parent, and this child of God, will always support the case for kids.

IMG_2576Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.  -Psalm 127: 3-5