Things I Don’t Want to Forget {Installment 3}

 

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Her sweet manners. She says thank you so naturally.

 

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His encouragement. He is always the first to compliment my hair or outfit.
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That he climbs on EVERYTHING! Tables, counters, chairs…you name it.
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Where there’s a will, there’s a way

 

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Her sweet repeat-after-me prayers that she must do two or three times before I can close the door for bedtime.
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His giving nature. “Mommy I want to give this toy away”.
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His desire for big boy status. If big brother or sister does it, he wants to do it too.
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Her sweet singing voice.
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That he loves to help with the dishes.
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That baby boy loves to climb on the couch with his brother and sister while they watch tv…not because he’s interested in the program but because he feels like a big boy when he does it.
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Her refusal to nap that turns into very interesting sleeping positions when she passes out.
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His multimedia art and her abstract art.
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That she knows all her colors and shapes and can count items on a page.
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His love of iPhone photography.
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His love for balls.
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Reading classics like The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe with him and then watching the movie.
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How grown up she has become.
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Their joy.
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Those sweet moments when they play well together.
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And when they don’t

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photo credit Captured by Emily
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photo credit Wonderlove Photography
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photo credit Wonderlove Photography

 

What about you? What precious quirk or memory of your child do you want to treasure always? Join the conversation by commenting below.

Not Your Typical Father’s Day Post

It’s been a bittersweet exercise to thumb through my Facebook and Instagram feed today. It’s Father’s Day; a day set aside to honor dads.

Scrolling through the posts, I see the thank you’s to amazing fathers. I witness the blessings and joy these fathers and grandfathers are to their children and grandchildren.

I also see the missing my dad posts. Some are fresh hurts, others said goodbye to their father many, many years ago yet the pain and loss are still very real.

I see another type of post. It is sandwiched between the best dad ever and the I miss my dad terribly. It is unseen because it is left un-said. Not posted. Not voiced.

There are those who have longed for years to be called daddy and have not been able to hear those glorious words spoken from the lips of their very own offspring.

There are others silently posting: I wish I had a dad worthy of this holiday. Whether living or passed on, they wish that they could with conviction say that they love their dad or miss their dad terribly. But the words fail because their dads failed.

It’s a tough spot…father’s day. Celebrating, and rightfully so, those who have fathered well. They’ve made mistakes, of course, but at the end of the day they have loved and lived well the role of father. Today is my sixth father’s day without a father. It is also my sixth opportunity to honor the father, the amazing daddy, that my husband has become!

There’s a part of me that dreads every Father’s day. Each year I grieve a loss. Like a tormented King Saul, my father struggled and fought to be a good man and although he tried, my dad sadly failed more than he triumphed at being the daddy my family needed. Most of my memories are filled with proof he failed. There are a few sweet moments I try to hold onto wishing they would wash away the painful recollections. Sometimes my intellect wins out and I can see and name the psychological demons that so tormented my dad’s mind. In rare moments of grace, I can sympathize and even applaud his fight to overcome his own abuse-filled childhood. In many ways he did overcome. But not completely. Although hurting people hurt people, that doesn’t mean that I deserved to be hurt and that is what stays with me the most.

Amidst my dad’s bi-polar tendencies, my dad lived with epilepsy. My earliest childhood memory involves a thanksgiving gone awry because my dad had a seizure just before we prayed over our meal. Throughout my childhood, seizures and black-outs were a constant and often daily occurrence. I recall one weekend while home from college sitting with my dad on the front porch. I took a chance and began pouring my heart out to my dad. I shared experiences from school, dreams I had for the future, and ideas I was chewing on. One minute he was smiling and engaged, the next his eyes had a distant look. In that moment I knew his body was present but his mind was elsewhere. The epilepsy had taken over. My shoulder’s slumped and my heart sunk. In a moment of vulnerability my words fell on the deaf ears of a man experiencing a mild seizure. As I sat there, stunned, waiting for my dad to come to, I felt God speak to my heart.  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” My dad had left me but my Heavenly Father was right there.

A dear friend texted me today because she understands what it’s like to scan the card aisle in desperate search of a father’s day card that doesn’t cause too much pain to sign and deliver. She shared a beautiful scripture passage and left me with a great reminder. She reminded me of the amazing fathers that both our children have.

Oh the redemptive work of Jesus!

I have a choice to make. I can wallow in what I’ve lost or rejoice in what I gained on the day our first child was born. I choose to rejoice.

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Although I will likely struggle on days like today for like…always, I am thankful for the father’s love. I do not have many fond memories of my dad to look back on but I witness daily the richness and blessings of a daddy who loves his children oh so much. The Lord redeems my childhood in every hug, every smile and every word of affirmation my husband speaks over our children. It’s a beautiful thing.

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I can’t speak to your pain or joy….

But I will try anyway:

If you have a wonderful father, I rejoice with you. You are so blessed and I am very thankful you have this gift!

If your wonderful father is no longer living, may he live on in your laugh, in your smile, in your child’s determination or sense of humor.

If you have experienced the loss of a child or never had the opportunity to hear those sweet words: Happy Father’s Day from the lips of your child, may the God of all comfort give you peace.

If your relationship with your child is strained, may God restore it.

If your father is not, or was not, what you hoped he should be, may God redeem your story through the miraculous transformation of your father or through the provision of men in your life who honor you as a child worthy of love.

“See what amazing love the Father has given us! Because of it, we are called children of God. And that’s what we really are!” 1 John 3:1a

Every Chickfila Needs a Ms Jane

 

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I’ll admit it. We eat at Chickfila way. too. much, Although there are many to pick from, I typically go to the same location. With three small children, I aim for the closest parking space, and sit in the same booth. We order the same thing and I count on the smile of one person to make our visit a little brighter.

I can’t be sure the first time I saw her but I remember vividly the day I truly met her. I was sitting in a booth at Chickila with my oldest son: Dominic. He wasn’t feeling well and we were waiting for a return call from the pediatrician to schedule an appointment. We were mesmerized by the flowers as they reminded us of our current favorite book of the same name: Chrysanthemum! As we talked, a lovely lady who works at CFA approached. She noticed our interest in the flowers and we explained that they were the same flowers as in the book we had been reading all week. As we talked, the lady commented that Dom did not look himself and asked about our other two children. I explained that we were waiting on a phone call from the doctor. She was truly sympathetic. Dom asked her name and so began our friendship with Ms.Jane.

That he is a natural encourager

A week later, we saw Ms Jane again. She commented that Dom was looking better and asked what we had found out at the doctor. I was surprised that she remembered but also thankful for her concern.

Flash forward a few months to a day where I had an exceptionally rough morning with my children. It was after nine and we still hadn’t eaten breakfast. I made it through the doors of Chickfila with my children ages 4,2 and 6 months. I pushed the newborn in the stroller while praying the other two would follow my instructions. We ordered our food and I collapsed in our regular booth facing the playland. I was so very tired and trying to keep all three kids happy seemed a daunting task. Before I knew it we were late for my women’s bible study and I had not eaten at all. I frantically worked on getting everyone out the door only to spill coffee on the stroller and on the floor. I felt so defeated but then Ms.Jane came to the rescue to help. A small gesture with a big impact. “I got it honey” is what she said.

On a particularly stressful day, at Chickfila {again}, my daughter decided that she’d rather stay at the top of the playland than come home and take a nap. After countless attempts of love and logic, idle threats and pleas, I left my 9 month old at the base of the playland with my almost 5 year old to climb the playland that I am way too big to be climbing to retrieve my stubborn 2 ½ year old. She was not happy. I strapped her into the stroller, put my baby on my hip and as I reached for my 5 year old’s hand, cringed at his words, “Mommy, I’m really thirsty.” We exited the playland only to happen upon the busy-ness of the lunch crowd. The line was literally snaking right back to the playland door. I tried to deflect his request with a promise of water when we got home. The humiliation of the playland, the sleep deprivation, the stubborn two year old, the 5 year old’s request for water, the anxiety-inducing crowd. It was all a little much for me. Somehow Ms Jane heard my son’s request, and even in the midst of a very busy time, took the time to bring my son a cup of water. My overwhelmed mind and discouraged heart was so thankful.

Over and over Ms Jane has been the smile or placemat or drink refill or presence that this tired and overwhelmed momma so desperately needed.

I know service with kindness and a smile is the Chickfila way, but Ms Jane does more. She’ll never fully know the impact her kindness has had on me. My children call her by name. She is always so thrilled to see us and in inkind calls her chickfila grandbabies by name.

My children are now a little older and I’m getting better sleep at night as a result. Taking them out into public on my own is not so scary anymore.

When we go to Chickfila, however, I still aim for the closest parking spot and I often strap at least one child in the stroller while carrying another. And I always feel so much better about my adventure when Ms Jane is there. She is not my mom but when I’m at CFA I feel like she looks out for me like my mom would and for a moment taking three high energy kids out to eat by myself is not so bad. Not if Ms. Jane is around.