Stand up and sing... Proud to be an American...

Sometimes... as a mom, you just do something spur of the moment and a little bit silly, but for some reason, it just sticks...  I'm not sure the exact day or time that it first happened.  I know there were at least three of my children in the car.  :)

We were on our way somewhere, and the song, "God Bless the USA", by Lee Greenwood began playing on the radio.  I didn't really think about or plan it, I just felt an overwhelming sense of respect and honor that required an action.  As I strain my brain even now to remember that moment, my thoughts quickly go to 9/11.  Wondering now if the time frame was just after that tragic event in our country's history because we were all so deeply affected.  Without much of a thought, I pulled the van off the road and into a parking lot.  Turning up the radio as if we were shouting to the heavens, I turned to the kids and said, "stand up and sing!"  Yes, I think maybe they thought I was just crazy enough to really mean it, so they joined me outside the car... and we SANG - at the top of our lungs with all the van doors open.  When the song ended, we all got back in the car and headed on our way.  Not really much conversation or debrief, just a quick reminder of the prayer in that song... that God would bless our country and how thankful we were for those who serve our country so faithfully in our military.

Likely a week or two later, in the car, the song was played again.  I think the kids may have held their breath with perplexed thoughts like... "surely she won't do that again..."  Well, she did it again.  I pulled the car over and encourage them to stand.  You really can't just sing that song... I played it myself just now shaking the house with shouts of "and I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free..."  Just in case you need to stop reading and stand...  here is the link.

That began one of our many "silly, little traditions".  Just yesterday, Mollie sent an iMovie group text from her car to all of us with the song playing on the radio.  (I'm not sure she actually stopped, stood, and sang, but she certainly acknowledged the respectful moment.)

My kids would tell you that this is one of MANY silly, little traditions we created.  Did the stopping the car to stand and sing (or shout, as we often did) teach our children the importance of patriotism and respect that would be ingrained in them forever?  Not necessarily, but what I know is that those silly, little ideas and traditions left lasting impressions on our children of important truths and ideals.  

Most intentionally some of our other silly, little traditions centered around a verse of scripture, a Biblical truth or a specific character trait.  Using every resource we found available from Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey to Gerbert (a funny little guy who talked about character) to Little House on the Prairie books and episodes to American Girl books to Rescue heroes to cds with books of the Bible songs to dinner conversations... to bedtime prayers.  You get the idea!?!

As moms, as parents, as any role that offers us influence over others, we have such rich opportunities to instill important ideals into others.  Always pointing to the importance of the Bible and God's love for us....

So... won't you stand and sing with me now!?

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music!  Psalm 98:4

Because I, no HE, said so...

As our kids were growing up, I often found myself sounding much like my own mother when parenting.  I am blessed with a wonderful mother, so following her example is/was a very good option.  There were, though, those few lines that I was determined not to repeat.  Most assuredly, when questioned about the 'why' of some directive, I was certain I would never use the words, 'because I said so.'  I knew, with all patience, I would explain each decision and the well-thought-out rationale behind the decision.  They would listen intently until they understood and agreed...

That plan probably lasted until Katie was two years old, and I had patiently answered the 'why' question for the umpteenth time... and was weary of explanation.  She didn't listen intently, she didn't understand, and she certainly didn't agree!  I was the MOM here... and I SAID SO!  :)

There were those very important times like a surprise 16th birthday party for Mollie.  All she had been told was that would be babysitting for the evening.  My question to her, "are you really wearing... that??  Her question made sense... "what difference does it make; I'm babysitting - the kids don't care if I'm not dressed up."  I responded with, "well, I would prefer that you look a bit more presentable... just because I say so."   I knew the future for her... I knew the plan I had for her... I knew she would appreciate my encouragement later.

Raising preschoolers, the time I most remember using the "because I say so" phrase was nap time enforcement.  You see, I knew that the afternoon would bring fun playtime outside, and that rest was necessary for the enjoyment of the remainder of the day.  A few of my children did begin to trust my "because I say so" wisdom, and they often benefited from my advice.  Occasionally, as they trusted more and more, they would not necessarily like the wording, but they would yield to it.  Realizing, sometimes... much, much later, that I always had their best interest in my mind.

At some point in their lives, our children had to decide that either they trusted us, or they didn't.  Don't think for a moment that it was a "once and for all times" decision.  But with each event, whether huge or relatively insignificant, they realized our love for them always guided our decisions for and about them even if/when they didn't fully understand.  Trust me when I say, we were so very far from ideal or perfect parents, but our intention and desire was always the same... to encourage them, to teach them, to help them develop skills that would offer them understanding...  "to grow in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

As I have recently found myself asking my loving heavenly Father some of those why questions, those I don't understand questions, those this doesn't make sense questions... I have listened intently to His word - His answer to some of my questions.

Oh my loved Daughter:
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:9

Oh my trusting daughter:
I, the Lord, do not change.  Malachi 3:6
Trust in Me (the Lord) with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Me (Him) and I (He ) will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Oh my confused daughter:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Oh my fearful daughter:
Don't be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Oh my uncertain daughter:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;  I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1

Oh my precious daughter:
I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3

He loved you and me so very much that HE sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that we could have life forever - eternal life.

... because HE said so!


It may not have been my brightest shining moment as a young mother.  It was another "first", and I was stumped as to how the perfect mother (which I certainly was not) would  handle the situation.  Katie was five years old, and I had asked her to do something.  Honestly, I can't even remember the "something".... I would guess it was to pick up her toys, or some equally annoying overwhelming task that she just didn't want to do.  So, in her five-year-old frustration, she loudly announced that she was running away.

I was shocked... flabbergasted... defeated... knowing I had totally failed as a mother - what five-year-old wants to run away from home?   I had a few choices as I determined my response.

I could:
1.  Apologize for asking her to complete such an unreasonable task and beg for her forgiveness.
2.  Tell her how much I loved her and cuddle up on the couch offering a favorite movie and snack.
3.  Remind her of the fact that she had her own room painted the color of her choice.
4.  Teach her once more about the starving children in Africa that so needed a home like hers.

None of those choices appealed to me, nor did they seem to me to offer a strong enough response that I felt in my heart.  I know mothers are supposed to have all the answers and react with motherly love even in discipline with gentleness and understanding...

So I mustered all the self control that I could and wisely responded, "Okay, honey, I will get your suitcase; it is under your bed.  Let's get packing."

Her immediate reaction was simply... startled, but being the determined strong-willed daughter that she was, Katie rallied with the idea.  She joined me in her bedroom where I had already added a pair of shorts, a shirt, and her pajamas to the open little pink suitcase.  "Hmm," I said matter-of-factly, "you better go get your toothbrush."  I felt her glance of disbelief behind me, but she wasn't going to back down, so off she headed to the bathroom returning with toothbrush and toothpaste in hand.

We closed the suitcase, and I asked that she carefully latch it as she didn't want anything to fall out on the street.  "You're going to let me cross the street??"  I just nodded, "well, I guess you will have to.  Please be careful and look both ways."

I could read her mind... Surely she won't let me cross the street...  She then announced that she thought she would go to Grandma's where she knew she wouldn't have to pick up her toys.  (Grandma lived in Louisville at that time about eight miles away.)

Then I did something I would never have imagined myself doing.... I ushered her out onto the porch with her little pink suitcase, and I shut the front door between us.

My thoughts:  I have now ruined this child for life.... there will be hours and millions of dollars of therapy to correct my mothering mishap.  She will probably hate me for the rest of her life.  How could any mother agree to a five-year-old crossing the street alone let alone running away... and helping her pack?  I had just likely won the failed mother of the century award..

Her thoughts: (I'm guessing went something like this)   Well, that didn't go like I expected.  What do I do now?  If I go back in, she wins and I will be picking up my toys.  If I stay out here, I will get hungry.  I think it must be lunchtime.  Maybe I will tell her I know how sad she and Daddy will be if I'm not here... and then who would play with Kellie.  I will tell her they need me too much.... so I guess I will just pick up the stupid toys.

Of course I had the perfect vantage point from the window as I tearfully watched her struggle unfold. She did walk off the porch once.. to the driveway and then quickly returned.  The first knock at the door came as she was "very thirsty", but I replied that since she had already run away from our home, I couldn't give her anything... unless she decided to return.  (Not sure that was the best parenting, but I was doing the best I could.  She had only been outside seven minutes, so I knew she wasn't yet to dehydrated stage.)

Her second knock and quiet statement went something like this.  "Momma, this is a pretty good house, and you are a pretty good mom.  I think I better stay here for a while.  I will pick up my toys.  Then can I have some water?"

With overwhelming joy complete with tears, I gathered her in my arms and told her I was thrilled with her decision, that I loved her, and that she could have a drink of water first, then pick up her toys.  Throughout the day we talked about forgiveness and frustration and what to do with all of it.  We shared the events with Frank, who assured her that he was very happy with her decision.

She let him know that it was extremely hot outside that day..

And... She never ran away again...

Oh friends, aren't you thankful that we have the perfect parent who always know the best and desires the best for us?  Our Heavenly Father offers us grace and mercy through His perfect will and plan to have a relationship with each of His children.  And still... many of us feel the need to walk, or even run from Him.  We are those strong-willed... the Bible sometimes refers to them as "stiff-necked".. children so desiring our own will and way.

My goal as a mother has always been to strive to honor God like the Proverbs 31 model,
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Often my day went more like:
She wears sweat pants and a teeshirt and is tired and overwhelmed,
she may be laughing often at herself,
she offers advice sometimes asked for... and other times, not...
her desire is to teach her children well even if she doesn't quote the verse exactly right..

So as I review and thank God for my four children this morning, I "camp" on this verse from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17... the perfect Father heaps these blessing on all of us..

 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

The greatest two minutes in sports... +

For the city of Louisville, the greatest two minutes in sports on the first Saturday in May has blossomed into the action-packed, fireworks exploding, airplanes booming, steamboats racing, balloons glowing, runners panting, parade marching, horses running two weeks of activity!  Traditions abound both at the track and in many neighborhoods and homes.

The excitement mounts as each event unfolds, and seemingly every year some new event is added to the calendar.  There is an anticipation in the air as the month of May approaches and as the race time nears.  Whether attending the actual race at the infamous Churchill Downs or spending the day with friends and family in the backyard, there is much adu.  Hats are the choice accessory, so picking just the perfect adornment to top off the outfit is paramount.  

When our children were younger, we had a much anticipated Derby event each year.  Everyone who lived on our court pitched in.  We set up several TVs outside for viewing along with tents for shelter.  Buckets of water balloon were filled for the kids, potluck dishes created a yummy buffet for grazing for the day, a chalk-drawn track created a fun ongoing "race" for kids - both young and not so young.  Just be sure you have a stick horse, whether borrowed or created to get you to the start line.  Someone always took home a little extra cash from the pot created for each race - no picking your favorite horse... just the luck of the draw of a horse's name out of the Ziploc bag.  Celebration filled the day - both for the winning horse and for a fun-filled day.

Preparation, planning, celebration...  A record crowd at the Derby here in Louisville this day- over 171,000 who prepared, planned, and celebrated the event that truly does put this city on the map and offers us a bit of fame.  I love the feel of Derby Day - even from our living room, we were swept into the thrill of those two minutes... we (well, as least, I) stood when My Old Kentucky Home  was sung by the crowd; we quieted as the bugler called the horses to post; we held our breath as the last horse entered the gate and ... they were off!  Leaning closer to the screen, we moved from a quiet awe to a loud shout of proclamation as the winner pulled ahead to win the race!  The exuberant crowd erupted right along with us - shouts, hugs, fist pumps,  high fives, hearty handshakes, tears, laughter, absolute celebration!  

Sunday's coming... may our excitement, our awe, our wonder, our celebration be just as intentional, exuberant, and celebratory as we worship the KING of the world!  He is the great I AM!

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy!  For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over the earth....  God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets... The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; HE is greatly exalted.  from Psalm 47