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?

The Blessing Jar

photo (48)I’m not real good at making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions.  I have a few “to-do” items that I need to accomplish this year, but to say they are resolutions is a stretch.  Regardless of the New Year, the items on my list will need to get done for the betterment of my home and health.

Before the New Year came upon us, my son approached me after school, pulled some change out of his pocket, and said, “Mommy, I want to give this to people without money.”  I was happily surprised by this statement.  We have talked from time to time about how blessed we are to have a home, family, food, and other things, and have done some random acts of kindness with the kids on weekends, but I have never tried to guilt-trip my children about the luxuries they have in life.  I strive to balance the desire to raise socially conscious children who are aware of the plights of others, while also keeping in perspective the fact that kids just need to be kids and do not need to worry about all of the hardship in life.

My son’s statement became a teachable moment for a discussion on how to help people who are impoverished.  Mutually, we decided that instead of giving the change right away, we would put it in a jar and start collecting money.  The next day, as promised, I went to a local store, bought a jar, and brought it home to show the kids.  We brainstormed on a few ideas to call the jar.  My son suggested “The People Who Don’t Have Any Money Jar.”  While I told him that was a fantastic suggestion, I felt that maybe the name was a little too long!

I told him that the purpose behind the jar was to save money for the year, and then be able to be a blessing to someone else.  He asked, “What’s a blessing?”  I did my best to explain the complex definition of a blessing.  I said, “A blessing is something that is good and kind that someone does for us, or that we can do for someone else.”  I also explained that God gives us many blessings, and that he and his sister are blessed gifts from the Lord for mommy and daddy.

We decided that the jar would be called the “Blessing Jar”.  From that moment, both of the kids have been scouring the floors of stores, parking lots, and just about anywhere else they can find coins, in hopes of being able to add to the jar.  Just last weekend, I gave my son a dollar.  He held it for a while, then turned around to me and said, “I think I’m going to put this in the Blessing Jar.”  This action made my heart leap just a bit!  This project has become something the kids think about often, and they are eager to add to the money placed in the jar.

There is a small amount in it, and honestly, I don’t know how much it will be holding next Winter when we decide to donate it.  The thought that my children are learning to not only save money, but to make small tokens of sacrifices for others with-whom they have yet to meet, or may never meet, is worth more to me personally than what the jar will ever hold.

I think this is one resolution of sorts that we will keep not only throughout this year, but hopefully throughout their growing years.  It certainly has been a blessing to me to watch my children grow through this.

Do you have any other ideas for teaching social awareness to children?  If so, do you mind sharing?  I would love to hear from you!