Let the little children… interrupt.

Let the little children… interrupt. 

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For to such, belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.

The tug on your shirt… they brush against your leg, they press up close, practically up your butt… you know your child is there, waiting patiently to tell you the next chapter their imagination just unfolded… or they say to you, ‘Mommy, watch this! Did you see what I just did? …Mommy, are you watching? Mommy, did you hear me?’ but you are talking… maybe you are ready to listen, maybe not… maybe it’s an important conversation you are in… maybe not.

Growing up, maybe you heard from your parents or other adults, “Be quiet – don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking… or… kids should be seen – not heard.” At times, I’ve observed parents say to their children, “Don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking…” or something similar… and it struck me – I rarely say that to mine. (((gasp))) I must be a horrible mom.

Either my kids must have impecable manners – and never interrupt… or my kids must have no manners – and must not have any respect for adults.

Adults always have something wonderful to say… well, sometimes.  Adults are always full of wisdom… well, sometimes. Kids should always be ‘shooshed’ when an adult is speaking… well, sometimes. Kids should never interrupt an adult. Well… no.

I love talking about world issues and injustice. I love talking about Jesus or whatever you believe in… I’ll have a good healthy go-round about beliefs anytime, but I can grow bored in other adult conversation rather quickly… oh really, your vacuum broke and you had to decide which model of Dyson to purchase… oh wow, your shopping spree included five new cardigans you don’t need… oh no, your 4,000 square house is too small… that’s rough. oh I’m sorry, your refrigerator stopped working and your ice cream spoiled… It happens. At this point in adult conversations, I zone out.  There’s not much else to say…

I am an advocate for manners, and kids listening to their parents, not being rude, and not developing a habit of interrupting adults… however, at times our children need to be heard and we are too busy talking and not listening.

Children need to be heard. We need to give them a voice, and their voices need to be validated.

In Matthew 18:1-4 The disciples question Jesus, “‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly I say to you (adults), unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Later in Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus speaks to a crowd of adults, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Adults, let’s be frank. We need to shut up sometimes. We need to stop talking… and listen… to each other, and to our children. I am guilty of being a parent who doesn’t listen well… and I’ve also grown as an adult, who is a better listener.

Adults, we need to listen now – when our children are saying things that don’t. even. make. sense. Telling us the stories unlocked from inside their imagination. They need to know we are listening to the nonsense they are saying and become engaged in the conversation with them. I long to hear their stories of roller skating dinosaurs, unicorn super heroes and all the details of the worm they found while digging in the yard and named “Wormy”… Engaging in these conversations are teachable moments.  In the freedom to tell stories, they also learn to listen to each others stories, and grow in their ability to communicate.

“I love my mom because she listens to me.” My oldest is a conversational vault. Only certain keys, turned at the right time, in the right place, unlock certain places in her heart. I never know when she will open up the treasure of her thoughts. I need to be ready listen to her, even when I’m tired, and she’s ready to have a deep discussion about poverty and the future of our planet an hour past her bedtime.

When we listen, we will hear some of the best wisdom and truth comes from the mouths of babes. Recently, our 4 year old was telling me, “I know why you like God… because He made me the way I am… and because He made our family… and that’s all I fink.” 🙂

Last week, the kids were discussing the ultra-serious life-altering decision of …what they will be when they grow up. Salem tells his sisters, “I’m gonna be whatever God calls me to be when I grow up.” Yep.

Are we always hearing spiritual wisdom out of the mouths of the babes at our house? Um…no.  We have our share of burping, farting and booger stories.  We have our share of long detailed stories about dora and boots, Legos and little boy, Barbie and Cupcake Diaries, and we have long drawn out times of drama, crying, yelling, wailing and gnashing of teeth … okay, not really that last part.

Listen between the crazy stories … even if you can’t understand what your 2 year old is saying.

Listen between the silliness … there is always room for more laughter! Old people need to laugh more.

Listen between the seriousness … you never know when the vault might be unlocked for the treasure to be heard.

***

What do you think? Are kids given too little or too much of a voice today?

Thanks for reading, sharing and joining us on this journey! In Him, Leslie

the lost pearl . . .

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Recently, my mom sent me a necklace from The Vintage Pearl with a few special charms… and a pearl. That’s their signature deal. A little pearl comes on each necklace. A few days ago, I lost the pearl. I started to internally freak out like I do. Then I internally prayed like I try and remember to do. And I kept searching. I left the necklace on the kitchen counter, the latch was open, and the other charms were present, so I was certain the pearl had slipped off the chain and was rolling around hiding somewhere on the counter. This counter space, btw, is where I pile things. All sorts of things, the kids school papers, their priceless artwork, random little toys, lip gloss, pencils, important scrap papers, my Bible, my phone, my rings, aaaand… my necklace. After searching and turning over the pile, I started looking on the floor and in the kitchen corners. Yuck. I realized I need to sweep more – and I had just swept the night before! Ah ha! I had just swept! Perhaps the pearl was caught up in the broom pan and thrown away. I searched thru the trash. Yes, I did.

Throughout the search, I was praying and freaking out and praying some more. I was trying not to be frantic about finding the pearl. Nothing good comes from my being frantic. I sensed a peace as I searched thru the trash. I was willing to look through our trash for this pearl. I am not a gal who wears, or owns, a ton of jewelry. I wear the same earrings most days. I have worn the same 2 rings for over 17 years, my wedding ring and a rose spoon ring that belonged to my great aunt. I rarely change up my jewelry. But this pearl, this necklace, had become part of my daily jewelry routine. It had become special to me. And if it was lost, I had to let it go. But God… 

I continued to pray about finding the lost pearl throughout the day. I had searched the counter, the floors, and the trash. God was reminding me not to worry. It is okay if I never find the pearl… One day, I might just randomly find it… If it’s lost forever, it’s really okay… I can buy another pearl… The pearl is not an eternal thing I need to lose my mind over… I was really okay with losing the pearl… But God.

I began picking up and moving around the toys in the living room. Our 4 year old usually asks us to “make a pile” of her toys, otherwise she’s too “overwhelmed” by her self-made messes and throws a fit about cleaning up. How many times do I do the same thing? I become frustrated if I leave a mess for too long. The mess becomes more daunting if I don’t address it right away, and I become overwhelmed. If I leave the dirty dinner dishes to “soak” overnight, they don’t magically clean themselves. They are staring me in the face the next morning. If I put off paying a bill, or calling the insurance company, or finishing a project in a timely manner, it only causes me frantic feelings. I was frustrated with myself about the piles I make, and the procrastination I too easily embrace, turning a simple task into a complicated ordeal… I was frustrated with myself over the random places I choose to put things, like my necklace, leaving space an innocent mess to turn into a lost treasure… But God.

God cares so much. For me. For the innocent messes – turned daunting overwhelming frantic messes – I make. He cares enough to teach me thru great loss and pain I have experienced, and He cares enough to teach me thru losing small, material, non-eternal things… like my lost pearl. As I moved the toys around in the living room, I came across the pearl. It was underneath one of the many dolls that cover our living room floor. An unexpected joy washed over me. My heart swelled with the reminder that anything lost can be found. God cares so much. He cares about everything. He wants us to seek Him for everything. Big or small. Difficult or easy. Important or menial. The details matter to Him. The loss of a small pearl, or the heartache of grief from the loss of a loved one… Whatever our circumstances look like, there is hope. In Him… 

God cares because He loves… He wants me to experience His love. My mom loves me so much, she gave me a special necklace. She expressed her love thru a special gift. God loves me so much, He wants to give me more of Himself. He expressed His love to this world thru the greatest gift, His son Jesus. As I follow God and let Him love me, He teaches me how to love, how to become more like Him. The greatest gift is not that the lost pearl has been found. The greatest gift is trusting God after a loss, seeking Him to find what I truly need, Him teaching me to be more like Him in the process, and the joy of receiving Him as greatest gift. Knowing He is the giver of all joy in the midst of it all, regardless of the outcome, and thanking Him for finding the lost pearl.

Jeremiah 29:12-14a “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord…”

Whatever has been stolen, lost or misplaced, can be found. It might not be in the way you expect. But God… 

In Him, Leslie

Finding reasons to {love} Winter

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I have found myself loving winter lately. Sure. It sounds crazy, but I can’t help myself. Adam is a native Californian and I am a native Oklahoman – two places where winter doesn’t last long or come at all, so my {love} of winter is rather comical. We have lived in Ohio and New York City for the past 13 winters, and found ourselves confronted with the bitterness of winter. As every season of cold, wind, snow and ice passes, I have grown to –and I still can’t believe I’m writing this– {love} winter. The first several winters I survived, but I really struggled with seasonal depression. Everything about winter made me angry, sad or numb. I had no joy.

I saw no value in winter.

I realize winter is not an easy season to appreciate, especially when it drags on and on. It can be costly as temperatures plummet, winter elements hit the roads making hazardous driving conditions, heating bills increase, winter clothing is needed, car batteries dying and pipes are freezing and bursting. Or –my personal favorite– it can be costly with the time it takes to bundle up yourself and 3 kids to get out the door, then shoveling your steep-ass driveway, only to find yourself stuck at the top of it, since you have the steepest driveway in your neighborhood. Yet in spite of the difficulties winter can bring, I have prayed for a change of heart and fresh outlook. I have found myself enjoying winter and being the mom who {wishes} for snow days.

Although there are still moments I find myself freaking out (stuck at the top of my steep-ass driveway) and longing for the beach…  I can honestly find reasons to {love} and enjoy winter.

*SNOW – it is beautiful. magical. unique. fluffy. pure and white. You can sled it, ski it, throw it, mold it and make angels in it. we love the outdoors and need to be outside or we go crazy, so we make it a priority to play in the snow and enjoy it.

*ClOTHING – i love boots, jeans, sweaters and coats. we have found many deals on winter clothing and shoes at thrift stores for our whole family… and on snow boots and pants, so we can bundle up and play in the winter elements. You can be fashionable, and warm, all winter long for minimal cost.

*TIME – winter slows the earth down. this is my favorite part about winter. transportation, activities and life in general, slows down… because it has to.  we are a culture that is too busy. life can stand to be a little slower all the time… yes – winter is an inconvenience, but we can learn to embrace it, enjoy it, and even {love} it.

Praying for you to survive, and even thrive, this winter… wherever you are. In Him, Leslie

the mom who *wishes* for snow days

Hey there.
I’m the mom who wished (and prayed) for 1 (or 2 – even better!) more snow days.
Yes. It’s true.
Christmas break went by way too fast and I wasn’t ready for school to begin. 
Then, much to my surprise (and happiness!) an Polar Vortex Arctic Blast or something visited us folks here in Ohio 🙂 Yipee! The kids were able to stay home 2 extra days 🙂 On Wednesday, they went back to school.
Weren’t you ready (over joyed, even?) for them to return to school?
Nope. I was still wishing for one -or 2- more…
Just a few days ago we returned from 2000 miles of travel on the open road marked by dirt, asphalt, rocks flying and gritty gas stations lined along the highway, littered with beer billboards and porn shops. Road trips are never dull, when you’re in a race you didn’t know you were in with impatient cars in the next lane over – oh W O W buddy – you can flash your headlights signaling I’m in-your-way because I’m only going 2 miles over the 75 mph speed limit to let me know you can drive 3miles faster than me. You are profoundly talented! I didn’t realize we were racing.
While all that racing was happening around us, we had a sick boy puking the entire 18 hours from Oklahoma to home. He was puking , I was driving, Adam was sermonizing (putting the finishing touches on his sermon while trying to assist our sick son). We pulled in to our driveway at 4am in good shape, safe and sound. Only to return to our dogs little present she left all over our daughters bedroom floor. Sure. We’ll stay up a few more hours to clean that up, shuffle the kids beds around, get them back to sleep and zzzz…. It was interesting
So yes. we’ve had plenty of family time, but it still wasn’t enough. It never is. On the open road I was struck (again) with the fact that it is never enough (like wishing time would stand still) never enough. We only have a short time with our kids -as kids- parenting, fully engaged in their young lives overwhelming them with our deepest love and listening ears.
Wednesday they went back to school and I didn’t get my *wish* of 1 -or 2- more snow days. Salem was convinced he would be going in to 2nd grade. . His teacher kept saying “See you next year!” before the Christmas break, so he thought that meant he was moving up to 2nd grade. 
Don’t grow up too fast, buddy…
Life goes too fast. There will be others speeding past you, flashing their lights at you, challenging you to go with the faster flow, or get out of the way. 
Slow down. Hold the moments. Keep *wishing* for more snow days.
In Him, Leslie 

The Cost of Christmas

This Christmas for our family was…hmmm, well… not. that. great.

I don’t want to write like a whiny complainer, but it felt sorta lacking…
The past few weeks leading up to Christmas were cracked with stress fractures, parent failures and heavy hearts.
Running short on time and high on stress, the simple task of buying a few small gifts for our three children became daunting.
I got sick on Christmas Eve and spent most of Christmas day sleeping, trying to feel better.
The cost of Christmas weighed heavy…
Where was the JOY?

The stores pulled out all the stops and put their best gifts on display…
The Cost of Christmas rang high.
Some pinching every penny…
Some putting off the payment until the credit card bill comes due…
Some planning perfectly and spending just the right amount.
As I stood in the lines, my mind swirled with the ridiculousness of the material mayhem.
>>>And I was fully aware, that I was a fully involved, fully committed, participant in it.<<<
I returned home, frustrated.
Where was the JOY?

I had forgotten.
I know it so well, yet I had forgotten…
It slipped away… almost.
Moments reminded me ~ Our 9 year old more excited to give than to receive, all of our children asking for simple gifts, grateful for the gifts they received… our children wanting time with us ~ more than anything. Special family time, laughing, enjoying, sledding in the snow… JOY was there all along.
Remember. Those. Moments.

The Cost of Christmas IS this ~
“Unto us a Son is given…” {Isaiah 9} 
The cost for Christ was everything.
He was given as the greatest gift.
He gave up His Heavenly dwelling
To dwell with us.
He came to live.
He came to die.
He came to be {Emmanuel} God with us.
Christmas can be costly, but He already paid it for us.
We may have allowed stress to overwhelm us,
pressure points strain us,
material mayhem consume us,
and joy to be momentarily stolen from us…,

but we have Him. 
He paid the Cost. no other bills to pay off…
He is everything. no other gifts needed.
He is our JOY. nothing else can be.
The cost of Christmas is found~
JOY in Him…
dwelling beneath the frustration, failures, hurt and pain, JOY abounds. JOY returns. JOY remains.  

He is Emmanuel God with us. With. Us. Always. 

Have you felt the cost of Christmas?
Remember. Those. Moments. 
Remember ~ He is with us.

In Him, Leslie