Tag Archives: Children

Proceed to the Route

Proceed to the Route

The sun was already low on the horizon as I choked back tears and hugged her. I had something I wanted to say but I knew that with one word would come a torrent of sobs. The last thing I wanted to do was make this more difficult.

I closed the car door and backed along the fence line. Through tears I drove away. “Call Mike on mobile” I sobbed to my car. The hands free feature dutifully dialed my husband and I poured out my heart as I drove along the now familiar highway.

It had been a week since I arrived, ready to relieve Nana for a few days. Momma was at the hospital hours away, attending to the newest arrival. With six children at home, she called for help.

But now Momma was home with the baby and things were settling into the new normal. It was time for me to go.

The heart is complicated. It can be so divided at times. I desperately wanted and even needed to get home. My job was waiting; my hubby had endured back to back absences during a recent business trip and this week with the grands. It was time to go, and yet my heart longed to stay.

And to further question my desire to stay, it had been a tough week. I have a new respect for moms of big families, especially when there are lots of littles.

I had barely arrived when a stomach virus struck. Each night, a different child woke with cries of “I frew up”. Showers, linens changed and comfort doled out, I collapsed on the air mattress in the boy’s room and dared the guinea pigs to wake me with their nocturnal shenanigans.

Every day, before first light, the house was awake with sounds of children. J was in his bed, reciting his schedule for the day and using every word in his vocabulary. Keep talking little buddy…I need coffee. Sweet EB was already standing in her crib, clutching her comforter, pillow and a stuffed Minnie Mouse larger than her. I put my arms around the bundle and went to the kitchen urging her to whisper, a skill she has not yet mastered.

As I walked through the living room, there sat G – completely dressed, including his newsboy hat. A “man” of few words, he gave me a nod as I passed. By now I could hear E calling from his crib. He and his sister would want their milk and Miss P, the only one with a schedule to keep, was still deep in her princess sleep. The oldest of the lot was sleeping soundly, a tween getting his growth sleep.

I pray we made some good memories. I have some great ones and I also was reminded of life with littles.

Toddlers must be fed but won’t necessarily eat.

When you hear a toddler say “Bye, Bye Puppy” you’d better run for the gate.

I discovered that a four-year-old can, in fact, give himself a toilet swirly.

A puppy can chew up a shoe faster than you can say Amazon Prime.

When a child says “all done” it might mean:

  1.  I want a cookie
  2.  I want down but if you throw this away I’ll be back in five minutes demanding it or
  3.  Stand back, I’m about to hurl.

There is nothing like burying your face in the tiny curls of a grandchild, even in the middle of the night when you are desperate for rest. I knew that my days there were few and I made a point of enjoying those moments.

I also caught myself hollering. A lot. At the dog, at the child who was feeding his dinner to the dog, at the pair of vandals who found the one and only stray marker and were about to deface the walls of the living room.

I think you get the idea. Even when the Momma returned home, this mother’s heart was drawn to help. I truly wanted to be in two places at once.

As I poured my heart out and drove up the highway, I began to notice informational signs that were completely foreign to me. The cities listed were not in the direction of home. My sweet husband gently suggested I might be going the wrong way.

I hung up and opened the Maps app on my iPhone. I had made this drive many times during my daughter’s college years. How could I be lost?


I typed our home address in the app and started again. As I did, nothing looked right to me. My internal compass continued to indicate that I was headed the wrong direction. The GPS? I stared at the blue dot and all that I could discern was my current location. That was not helpful! I could look around and know where I was. The obvious question was how do I get to where I want to be???

I turned the car around and immediately, my Australian navigator said “Proceed to the route”. Through tears, I shouted at him “I can’t see the route! Why doesn’t this thing show me a bigger picture?”

I couldn’t get my bearings. I knew the direction of home and I was sitting on the side of the right road. All that I needed to do was get on that highway and drive south, but when I did the landscape wasn’t familiar. I had clearly lost my bearings and my instincts were failing me.

After an hour of driving in circles, I gave in. Over and over, the familiar voice had repeated “Proceed to the route”. I needed to listen to that voice. I finally put all of my faith and trust in the satellite that could see me, even when I had no idea where I was.

I proceeded to the route and eventually I recognized familiar landmarks. I was on my way home.

The next day when I was less stressed and more rested, I understood where I had gone wrong. I had started my drive at the north end of the city; all of those other times I was south of town when I started home.

My heart quickened a bit as I thought of how often I look around and decide that I know exactly what I need to do next. I press on, even when God’s voice is clear. “Proceed to the route.” But Lord, I say, none of this looks or feels right to me. I am sure that I know the right way to go.

I proceed to go in circles, wasting time and resources, only to finally stop and choose to listen and follow his lead.

Oh Lord, when I get anxious and go in the wrong direction, nudge me until I proceed to the route that leads me to your best. Thank you for the assurance that you never lose track of me.

Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea,
even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.
Psalm 139:7-10 NCV

Proceeding by grace,


Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

It’s summer time. In May, moms can’t wait for it to arrive but right about now, they are all pining for the start of school. They are ready to be rid of send their little snowflakes back to the classroom. And you know why? They are worn out from entertaining them.

I keep humming the tune to Ella Fitzgerald’s hit, Summertime as I recall summer when I was a kid.

It was the 60’s. My mom (like all of the others) shoved sent us kids out the screen door early and locked closed it behind us. Don’t come back until lunch, she said.

The elementary school down the street offered summer recreation. In a big open room (that was not air-conditioned) kids of various aged played ping pong and board games. Outside, others circled around sandy places where marble championships were played out. On the adjacent sidewalk, girls bounced tiny rubber balls and scooped up jacks with proficiency; others jumped rope to rhymes like Cinderella Dressed in Yella and Three, Six, Nine.

Girls Playing Jacks_Photo Credit Required._State ARchives of Florida Memory

Girls playing jacks in Tallahassee. 1963. Black & white photonegative, 35 mm. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com


There was a sandy playground with a very tall slide. It was metal – by afternoon it was too hot for our bare legs to touch. It was fast, but not fast enough, so we managed to find squares of waxed paper to sit on as we pushed off. There was a sandy hole at the bottom of the slide and our butts landed hard. One time someone fell off that slide and broke her arm. There was no lawsuit so we got to play there all the days of my childhood.

playground slide-3857_1280

And who was watching over all of these vulnerable children? I’m pretty sure it was a couple of teenagers. Oh, there was probably an adult somewhere, but my bets are that she was in the air-conditioned teachers’ lounge smoking doing lesson plans for the following year.

When we finally returned home we turned on the water spigot on the side of the house; it ran through the hose and we had to wait for it to cool. It was refreshing.

water hose-815475_1920

Mother didn’t have play dates arranged for our afternoon; she expected us to find a shady spot to play dolls. Later in the day we played kick ball in the front yard, or badminton, using the fence as a net. We jumped on the swing set and swung so high that the legs raised up off the ground. We sang those same jump rope rhymes to the rhythm of swinging legs, propelling ourselves higher and closer to the sky.

We knew better than to say we were bored. She would put a bucket and broom in our hands and we’d be scrubbing screens and cleaning windows before you could say “child abuse”.

If there were Vacation Bible Schools I didn’t know about them. We were Catholic and there is no way my mom was going to allow the protestants to influence us with their cookies and Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool Aid, it was a favorite. Sweetened with sugar, I’m pretty sure it kept me alive, like a glucose IV drip. I don’t really remember eating but I’m certain we were fed.

The Popsicle Man came around most afternoons. The sound of the recorded music announced his imminent arrival and we started asking for nickels as soon as we heard it. We didn’t always get one, but it was a treat that we loved. We all sat around inspecting the color of each other’s tongues. No one wiped our faces or hands with wet wipes.

There were those magical afternoons when we loaded up and headed to Lake Fairview for a swim. The water was warm, but it was wet. Not one sign warned of alligators or snakes; we knew they were around, but I never saw even one. They had lots of room to avoid contact with humans and I think they liked it that way.

When it was finally time to come in for the day, she cycled us through the tub in our one-bathroom home (did I mention there were six of us?). The residue from kids who had played hard was apparent in the ring left in the tub. The last one out scrubbed it with Comet cleanser and we all settled in to watch some Red Skelton or Gunsmoke or whatever we my parents wanted to watch.

Yes, my mom left us a lot to our own devices, but she knew more about what we were up to than we realized. The world was big and far away, and our life was simple.

Those tired kids never had a problem falling asleep. She was smarter than any of us knew.

Moms know that tired kids have no trouble sleeping

“Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home…” Proverbs 14:1 MSG

By his grace alone (I survived my childhood summers),


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But Momma I Dont Want to be Kind


Phoebe Fish FaceShe was still clutching her lovey. Her long ginger curls were tangled and falling around the shoulders of her nightgown as she quietly entered the room.

Her younger brother, already involved in play, looked up from his cars and loudly exclaimed “Good morning!” She rolled her eyes and kept walking.

Untitled design

Mom was nearby and in a flash she was there, challenging the five year old to find kindness in her heart and respond appropriately to her brother’s greeting.

An epic stand-off ensued. Allowed some time to sit nearby and choose a change of heart, she was not budging.

But Momma was not backing down either.

After a few tears and a stretch of quiet time in her room, she returned and managed to speak to her brother with respect (if not enthusiasm). Momma hugged her briefly and asked what she’d like for breakfast. It was a lesson and it was done.

The stubborn momma is my daughter.

Honestly, I busied myself nearby as I mentally composed a short list of compelling reasons to justify my granddaughter’s annoyance with her autistic brother. It’s honest to say that he is not always easy to deal with. I was privately tempted to defend her response.

But if not at home, where? Where will she learn compassion if not by example and through practice in the safety of her family? Where will she learn to treat outsiders well if she hasn’t learned at home with the ones she loves?

If not now, when? She is most teachable in these formative years.

If not by the teaching of her mother, who? Her momma loves her fiercely, and is her first and best mentor.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
19 Teach them to your children, talking about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

It would have been easy in the newness of the day to ignore the roll of those blue eyes. There was breakfast and two babies to feed and her coffee was cold again.

But Momma knows…

  • At age 5 her little girl is old enough to know that kindness is a choice.
  • If her daughter doesn’t exercise extending kindness at home, she will struggle with being kind out in the world. She wants her little girl to be the one to say “Come play with me!” to the lonely or the new child in class.
  • There are even times when love is a choice.

This molding of hearts and pointing tiny faces to Jesus is exhausting and no one would have found fault with the omission of consequences just this once.

But momma knows that the hard work is best done early; early in life and when possible, early in the day.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14


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From Out Here: A Grandmother’s View of Autism


I pen this as an observer; I claim no expertise. I’ve never parented a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I don’t go to therapy appointments, I don’t visit the neurologist or the behavioral specialist and I don’t deal with the inevitable daily challenges of raising a child with a neurological disorder.

However, I love a child with ASD. He’s my grandson.

I also don’t have type 1 diabetes. I don’t prick my finger eight or more times each day to test blood sugar. I don’t position a spring loaded device on my belly and push the button to insert a cannula to deliver insulin – to literally keep me alive. I’ve never woken from a diabetic coma, surrounded by paramedics and feeling rotten. I’ve never been hospitalized with Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

But I love a man who does, who has. He’s my hubby.

It’s been a journey. So here I am, twenty years after his diagnosis, still clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate while maintaining my primary role as wife and lover. I avoid being the “diabetes police” but I’ve said the wrong thing and responded in the worst way when he most needed compassion.

diabetes-528678_1920I cannot express the highs and lows (no pun intended, but it’s so true) of dealing with diabetes. You can do the same things day in and day out and get wildly different results. Just last Saturday, the excitement of finishing a 5k was clouded within minutes when his blood sugar reading was high. There is big potential damage to vital organs from exercising with high blood glucose. But there are so many factors outside of his control, and virtually none within mine. There were many emotions that surged, from aggravation to fear, but the truth is that you just deal with the present. Adjust, course-correct where possible, and keep living life with this person I love with all of my heart. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

ASD makes normally simple things hard for our boy. He struggles with waiting. Changes in routine are upsetting; he doesn’t like to share certain toys and he’s not especially affectionate. Many times he’d rather play alone than with his siblings. Some days are just hard for him to deal with normal stuff.

He’s learning and developing skills to cope through therapy and the efforts of his parents. They are his champions.


Watching him run and play outside makes my heart soar. He’s brilliant, this little guy. He loves books – he will sit with anyone who is willing to read. When he is having a good day, he is delightful. His joy is pure and wild and unfiltered.

Since his diagnosis he has made significant progress. I have high hopes for this boy, confident that he will reach his potential because he is surrounded by people committed to building a strong foundation.

So here I am, clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate, while maintaining my role as his grandma and my daughter’s mom. I am not an expert on ASD and I’ve said and done the wrong thing. I’ve responded with impatience when I should have been compassionate. I’ve already made some monumental blunders in dealing with him. Without a doubt, I’ve annoyed his parents by saying the wrong thing or reacting inappropriately to his behavior. I’ve misunderstood and been misunderstood because I didn’t know enough about his symptoms and limitations. We’ve learned to extend grace to him and each other.

I don’t know what our sweet little grandson’s experience will be. I’ve read lots about autism, pretty much everything I can get my hands on; I listen and ask questions of his parents. And what I’ve learned is to expect the unexpected. The things that worked yesterday (or the last time that we were together) don’t always work today. Regression can occur and expectations have to be adjusted. But at the end of every day, the little boy who lies down (possibly after jumping in his bed for a bit) and sings himself to sleep is a gift from God, fearfully and wonderfully created.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14 NIV

May we ever grow in compassion and joy for every life.

April is Autism Awareness month. The Autism Society has issued a challenge of sorts. Awareness has been mostly achieved, so they encourage friends to become partners in the movement toward acceptance and appreciation. During April I’ll share some ways that you can take that next step.


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Average or Extraordinary?


“The truth is maybe we are just average. But the way I see it — families where parents get up every morning and go to jobs that are hard so they can get their kids through school and through life, and struggle to make it all work and manage to do it with dignity and a little humor — well, that’s not average. That’s extraordinary.”
Frankie Heck, The Middle

cafeteria-662458_1920There she stood, her jet black hair in a perfect Laura Petrie flip. Unlike Rob’s wife in the 60’s sitcom, her features were harsh. She had a nasally voice and when she saw me she smirked and demanded an explanation. After all, students weren’t permitted in the cafeteria before school unless they had business there.

I had strict orders from my mother that I was to hand the sealed envelope to anyone but her. I must have been all of ten years old, and a most compliant child. I was torn between obeying my mother and respecting the Tasmanian she-devil adult in front of me. I have no idea what happened next.

Honest. It’s blocked from my memory and while I’m sure that spending precious time and money with a counselor might help me remember and sort it out, I’m not sure I that I want to go there. It was mean-spirited but I did learn at a tender age that I never wanted to make another person feel like that.

She was the mother of my friend, our neighbor across the street. And she thought our family had too many kids. Even I realized that. And I knew that the envelope contained an application for free lunches. Handing it to anyone else was safe, but handing it to her just confirmed her opinion.

Strangely, I admired the perfect little playhouse that was situated in the perfectly manicured back yard. Her children, one boy and one girl, completed a perfect family. They were even born in the correct order, boy first. Her home was so clean it shined.

I never, not even once, felt welcome or wanted there. I did feel shame and judgment, not able in my immaturity to fully comprehend the strong opinions behind them.

Hubby and I married young. It was our choice. I was ready for my own home and family. The reality of the cost of providing for a family and the social norm of the 70’s to have 2.5 children were a big part of our choice to limit our offspring to two. In fact, I was so naïve about the heart’s capacity to love that during my second pregnancy I worried that I could never love another child like I did my first.

I am incredibly grateful for my two daughters. The real joy in having lots of children is giving them siblings. The truth is, our brothers and sisters know us as we always were. They share family secrets, feuds and jokes. And they show up. Good times, bad times, hard times. Two daughters, born six years apart, with four hundred miles separating their homes. And yet, their hearts are in tune. And while I wish I had given them a larger family, peace floods my soul when I realize they have each other; that they will drop everything and run from everything else to each other.

Sometimes life comes full circle. As of this moment, I have eight grandchildren; my mom would be so proud of her granddaughter’s house full of babies and children. Yesterday, the youngest turned a year old. He’s a foster but he just might stick and that would oh so wonderful, because you see, I love him like crazy.

When the whole crew arrives for a visit our normally tidy home is cluttered and loud within minutes. Babies cry and toddlers act like, well, toddlers. The kitchen stays busy and the door to outside slams loud when the windows are open and the weather is perfect for outdoor play. There are disagreements over sharing toys and someone skins a knee and because we have a five year old girl in this mix, there is drama. Lots of drama. And poop – with three in diapers, someone always has poop. We deal.

But that’s not all. There are moments of baby snuggles and reading to toddlers. There are five year old secrets to share and hair to braid. Big boys build Lego models and share their favorite things about the new Star Wars movie. There are showers and tubbies every evening and lots of stern warnings about staying in bed, even at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I sneak in and warn them about nice Mommy being done for the day before she confirms that she’s not kidding.

The truth is, it’s a lot of work to manage a large family. Things that some families take for granted are not possible. The budget may allow for a meal out, but seriously, why wrangle so many littles to a restaurant when it’s so much easier to feed them at home? I marvel at the way that the older boys take responsibility, whether making sure all of the diaper bags get to the van or buckling and verifying everyone is safely seated.


I’m mostly a spectator in the life of this big family. I can’t speak on their behalf and I have no experience parenting so many. I freely acknowledge all of that. But I am so thankful for a second chance at a big family.

When I think about them in twenty years, I can only imagine how great Thanksgiving will be at their house. I sure hope I live long enough to see it.

As it turns out, this heart of mine does have the capacity to love more than one child.


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I’m Seeing Red and It’s Not What You Think


Mom, do you remember when you were awaiting the arrival of your babies? There were months to prepare and everyone was waiting with excited anticipation. Showers celebrated the impending arrival of your blessing; new clothing was washed in that amazing Dreft detergent and folded and placed at the ready in a lovingly prepared nursery. The arrival of a child is a blessed and joyous event that should be celebrated.

When the call comes, foster parents have little time to prepare. Until that moment, they have no idea of age, gender, size or situation. In a matter of minutes or hours the child will arrive, likely with nothing more than the clothing on their backs, sometimes in the middle of the night, confused and possibly fearful.

May I share the arrival story of my second granddaughter? A case worker called – this is the official announcement that you’re “expecting”. The baby was being discharged from the NICU. In a matter of hours, a very sick, very tiny baby was delivered to her new home. There was no time for preparation except in the heart of a woman who heard the specific call for this child and said “yes”.

Foster moms go into nesting mode from zero to sixty with that call. And often, they are on their own. If they’ve been at it for a while, they likely have a network they can mobilize. Sadly, that network is mostly other fostering families.

It’s not the same. I get that. But what if we, as a community of believers…the CHURCH, got serious about this issue? What if we said ENOUGH? What if rather than getting bent out of shape about a disposable cup we took up the cause of the orphan?StarbucksCup

In the United States over 250,000 children enter foster care each year. That number is staggering. While not every family can or will foster, the statistics tell that if one family in one church out of every three churches were to welcome one child into their home, there would be no child waiting.

I wish I could just lay my heart bare. Words are supposed to do that, but I am better at telling a story than championing a cause. As best as I can tell it, this is what I want you to hear, dear reader. What if that that one family out of those three churches had an army of people around them? What if when a mama posted a status update about needing a toddler bed, instead of sending links to beds for sale on Craig’s List that same team of people found a bed and delivered it to that home where everyone is in prep mode?

I never knew. I had no idea. I thought those people were super heroes and I admired how they had it together and managed so well. I ignored the fact that I could should be a part of the story. I freely admit that I only became part of this amazing story because of my daughter and son-in-law.

But regardless of my failure to walk in it, this was not written for one family in one church out of three, my friends:

Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27 NET

So, dear reader, if you are still with me, and if that verse is speaking to your heart, let’s get on with it.

There are ways to touch the lives of children in foster care even beyond becoming a foster parent. I was going to give you a nice, neat bulleted list, but I just deleted all of it (I hope I don’t regret that in a minute!). What if we got to know them by spending time, asking questions and then reacting and responding as needed out of our abundance and with the conviction that these children ARE our responsibility?

Further, what about the church? What is her role in supporting fostering and adoptive families? It’s not enough to celebrate Orphans Day one Sunday in November (if your church even did – mine didn’t but that’s my fault).

Under the authority of the very Word of God, churches must provide tangible support for families who pursue a calling in fostering and/or adoption:

  • Put in place supports that will allow the families to maintain their current level of involvement in the church
  • Make sure you are ready to welcome special needs children into the various ministries for babies, children and teens
  • Make church the easiest place to navigate with a large family
  • Grief counseling (fostering involves loss)

Fostering is a delicate dance. For good reasons foster families take lots of things one day at a time. And ironically, that’s how love grows. One day at a time. And sometimes, that little girl who was discharged from the NICU becomes my granddaughter.


The Book says it more than once. I’m only sorry that I am so very late to this amazing dance.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.[
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17

A Spiritual Legacy ~ Never Underestimate the Impact of a Mother’s Faith


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

~ Mother Teresa~

For a few years I’ve been meeting weekly with some other women for Bible study. There is no study guide and really, no teacher. Throughout the week we read independently, using journaling to respond and make notes of key verses. It’s been amazing to camp out in a chapter for a few days, reading and rereading, comparing translations and investigating commentator’s notes. I’ve already shared in last week’s post how this has kindled a love for the Word in my heart.

Provider Journaling

Over the summer, I read Ruth and this was a great reminder of God’s provision.

I recently discovered the wonderful craft of Bible journaling. I’ve searched around

the internet and found some amazing blogs by people who have become Bible artists. I have zero talent for drawing and painting but I love to work with color and I can trace and copy pretty well. I find inspiration and encouragement from sites where others who are also not artists have taken up coloring in their Bibles. I love adding this dimension to my notes and sometimes I get carried away and end up with a bit of a mess, but I love that it encourages me to let passages simmer in my heart and intentionally respond to them.

Perhaps you are wondering why the obsession with writing and adding colorful words and pictures to the pages of my Bible. I’m 61 years old, and while I hope there are many years left in me, I’m more aware every day of my mortality and the reality that life is uncertain. I long to leave a legacy for my family. I want them to have reminders and reassurance of my faith and confidence in God and the promise of eternity. Recently I’ve discovered precious reminders, left by my mother, that helped me realize it was her who started me on a path toward my relationship with Christ.

I grew up Catholic. While my siblings and I all experienced the sacraments of first Missal 2Holy Communion and confirmation, there was a falling away from the church before I reached junior high. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I recall that my mother was hurt and in defense, she pulled back. Going to mass as a family and observing holy days was a thing of the past, but I have very vivid memories of my mom’s continued devout faith. As long as I can remember, she owned and cherished a Catholic missal, a liturgical book containing the prescribed prayers, instructions, and chants for the celebration of Mass. When family members passed away she would slip a memorial card or obituary into the pages for safekeeping and prayer. Today that book is in my possession. It has great value to me as it did to my mother. To her, it was the familiar, the comforting words of the Mass she had grown up with. For me, it is an icon, treasured by her and reminiscent of her faith in God.

When I began dating my husband we attended church with his family at a local Baptist congregation where I eventually became a member. Only as I’ve grown older have I appreciated how my Mother grieved over my decision to pursue another denomination. However, I know (and it comforts me that I believe she realized it as well) that it was her faith that first pointed me to God. While I follow a different faith tradition today, the deep roots of my desire to know God and to be in a right relationship with Him are borne out of her example of faith and determination to lead her children to God.

My brother passed away last year. As family members made preparation for his memorial, I began to sift through a bin of photos and other items that were gathered from my parents’ home after Daddy died. As I sorted and searched for pictures of Steve, I ran across a small certificate commemorating my first Communion. It was fhc 2one of very few items other than photos that were there. With six children, stuff tends to get lost or destroyed before it fhc 1can be safely tucked away. But there it was. I turned it over in my hands, thinking of how long it had been there, waiting for the day that I would come across it and finally realize that it was my mother who first pointed me to the Father.

I love having the Bible on my iPad and better yet, on my phone! When I’m studying, one of my favorite tools is viewing the passage in side by side translations on https://www.biblegateway.com/. But as I’ve thought about leaving a legacy of my love for the Word of God, I’ve come to the conclusion that my notes on a device won’t last like they will on the pages of the study Bible that lays open on my desk, surrounded by pens, washi tape, stickers and paint. As I highlight and illustrate and record my responses to the Living Word, I pray that even when I’m gone they will encourage and remind my children of their mother’s faith. As clumsy and awkward as it is, it’s legitimate.

 My Baptism Day - my mom is on the far left.

My Baptism Day – my mom is on the far left.

Confirmation Day

Confirmation Day – my mother made my dress, but it’s hidden under the robe.

Grace and the Mouse


Preface: This isn’t my normal blog post, but this is what’s fresh and real.  I hope it is relevant and even fun for some of you. As always, thanks for reading!

John  Mine Train

I just spent four days at Disney World on a park hopping tour with six children. Based on our rough estimate, we’ve done this twenty seven times in the past two years. The faces of the children have varied and we’ve actually had an extra once or twice. In every case, we’ve had no less than three in diapers and the age range has varied from a few weeks to eleven years.

Let’s just say that we don’t land quietly in the Magic Kingdom.

There is a lot of preparation each night. Clothes and shoes are all lined up, ready for the joint effort that will dress the littles as they rise. Diaper bags are packed and lined up near the door. A plan is in place for portable breakfast. Mom is the last one to bed and the first one up each morning. This sort of preparation is key and my offspring has this down to a science.  She’s a super mom!

night before

Lunches and snacks are prepared the night before, as well. We love that the Disney companies allow us to bring food into the parks. Food that travels well, like peanut butter and jelly, solid fruit and cheese sticks are great. Anything that can be eaten on the run is our preference. Of course, the lunchbox menu varies by park, since we have favorites that we love to purchase and eat in each. And lest you think we brown bag it all day, we’ve learned to snack on the run to maintain blood sugar (thereby reducing meltdowns…at least among the children) and sit everyone down for a good meal in a favorite quick serve restaurant mid-afternoon. Since we are a large presence, it’s best to plan away from the peak service times and we’ve found this approach works great when planning our day.

We push three strollers. At most parks we skip the tram and hoof it to the park entrance. Loading the tram with strollers, half a dozen bags and coolers along with six children is not only serious heavy lifting, we fill a lot of seats. If we’ve parked too far away – this typically happens at the Magic Kingdom, Mom and Dad push the strollers to the entrance, loaded with all of the bags, and the grandmas ride the tram with children in tow. Our motto: “Trams are for people, not stuff”.


The next stop that requires stamina and some serious skills is bag check. This is not an exercise for the weak or timid. All of those diaper bags and lunch bags, as well as any personal items like fanny packs or purses have to be checked by the Disney security staff. It’s a contest of efficiency and speed and one of the first opportunities of the day to show kindness to the park staff. It’s also the first opportunity for a child to get separated, so we typically assign one adult to corral any “loose” children.

While we are on the topic of getting lost, we always have the conversation with the children about what to do if they get separated from the crew. “Look for a cast member – they will be wearing a name tag.” And when we enter the park, we immediately point out cast members and draw attention to said name tag. I would love to tell you that we’ve never actually lost a child, but we have one little boy who notices everything and sometimes stops to investigate. Let’s just say that we can vouch for the efficiency of Disney’s parent location procedures.

In addition to the age variation, we have four boys and two girls. Princesses are high on the list for one sister, and to their credit, the older brothers have stood in long lines with her. When Anna and Elsa debuted it was a family affair. We couldn’t wait to meet them and everyone hung in there in spite of a chilly rain and long line. However, we’ve learned that at times it’s efficient for our crew to divide and conquer. That said, we make sure to frequently regroup and have lots of shared experiences.


He has waited for so long for this day – the force push!!!!

botherscousinsjedi proncessBruce

There are plenty of blogs that are dedicated to helping you get the most from your visit to Disney World, so I won’t try to do that. This post is about assuring you that you can do it with lots of littles. My recommendation?

Take a least one grandma (two is even better). In the afternoon, help Grandma find an out of the way spot for the littles to nap in their strollers. This is the time for her to put her feet up, sip on an iced coffee and celebrate the joy of introducing a new generation to the magic of Walt Disney.

Grandmaand babies

On this trip we logged in excess of 20,000 steps on Magic Kingdom days and nearly as many at other parks. I must be honest, it’s not all fun and games. The days can be long, and it’s a very different day with infants in tow. Although we appreciate baby care centers, they are never nearby when you need them. Take a thermos of hot water if you’ll need to make formula on the fly. Hot water is not easy to come by in the parks.

sleep jsleep E

In Central Florida it’s hot this time of year, and afternoon showers are typical. Make sure you have protection from the rain, not only for yourselves but also for those strollers. If you don’t have a stroller cover, just make do with a clear parka. Buy them BEFORE you go to the parks – your wallet will thank you! You are already carrying all of that other stuff in…what’s a few rain parkas?

If you have to exit the park near closing, be prepared for crowded monorails and melt downs…possibly by the children. It happens, friends. I will say that making sure everyone has recently had a high protein snack is a good plan – and may reduce the meltdown potential. But it’s not a long ride, and then all of those good people who were judging you will have something to discuss when you go your separate ways (insert sarcastic smiley here!). And most likely, your preschooler will magically feel better and the ride home will be much more pleasant. Grace in these moments is harder to extend but I find myself in need of it as well.

I love experiencing the parks with children. I’ve found that sharing the wonder and joy through their eyes is magical. On a recent visit, as we drove onto property via Western Way, my three year old grandson spotted the welcome sign that features Mickey, Minnie and Donald. He said “Home.” Yes, little buddy, I agree. It’s always good to come home.

mine train

Children at Play


Last week I viewed a video on Facebook that prompted many to express concern and even sadness over the difference in what three generations said they did for fun as a child. The grandparents were from my generation, and I have to admit that sexagenarians (way to make older people sound edgy!) tend to look backward through rose-colored glasses. They spoke of picking blueberries and gardening, even encountering a bear while out adventuring. Even the middle generation, now adults the age of my children, recalled gathering friends to play games or build forts.


My brothers and I in front of our home.

I thought about how I might answer and recalled my childhood. One of our many pastimes was joining other neighborhood kids on the playground at our school, right down the street. At the ripe old age of ten, we rode bikes a mile to the shopping center, or found a vacant house with a steep drive and dared each other to speed into the street from the carport. My knees stayed bloody and by the grace of God I avoided a head injury. We played kickball in our front yard until there was no grass between the base lines and we drank water from the hose on the side of the house.


The four oldest – I’m on the right on Jim’s shouders.

We were mostly unsupervised and once my sister fell from the high slide at the school playground and broke her arm (my parents paid for her medical care…they didn’t consult a personal injury attorney, but that’s a subject for another day). We were barefoot, dirty, and dehydrated most of the summer and every one of us had “creeping eruption” at some point. I’m convinced that my dermatologist is buying a yacht with the money I’m spending with him for skin cancer treatment. Our home wasn’t air conditioned so we spent lots of time outside under trees, seeking shade in the hottest part of the day. Daddy worked nights so we were pretty much banned from the house unless it was dark or there was a thunderstorm. We played outside. ALL.THE.TIME. It was good for us and we had lots of fun. So, ask me now and I’ll recount those adventures as if they were magical.

But if you had asked me that question then?

When I was growing up there were three channels on our black and white television – the only electronic distraction around. Weekday children’s programming was limited to Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room. On Saturday mornings there were cartoons and on Sunday nights we looked forward to the Wonderful World of Disney. There was one television for the family of eight, so we gathered around it and had to agree on the program. I spent lots of Saturday afternoons watching science fiction, thanks to my older brothers. Peering through the cracks in my fingers, my hands covered my face in fear throughout the half hour programs – I will never forget “pod people”! Fifty years later I can tell you my mother loved to watch the Red Skelton Show on Tuesday night. I’m pretty sure that if you had asked me then “What is your favorite thing to do?” I would have answered “Watch TV.” No question or doubt in my mind.

Can I make a confession? I had an appointment with a new doctor recently and the nurse asked me about hobbies and interests. Do you know what my first thoughts were? Please don’t make me write it down for the world to see! I spend entirely too much time using electronic devices….texting, watching you tube videos, checking Facebook and binge watching Netflix. I’m working on that because I’ve realized it’s a distraction and a time thief. When I was a child, after the eleven o’clock news the stations signed off and there was no television overnight. Everything shut down and there was a sabbatical of sorts. It got quiet. I need that pause and so do our children. However….

I’m not so worried about how my grandchildren might answer that question – I’m pretty sure I know what they would say. But the truth is, I’ve been paying attention to them and no matter how they answer the question, I know the real answer. They are happiest when they are playing. Yes, they have tablets and when the Florida summer heat makes outdoor play unbearable or the doctor is running way behind and patience is running out, Mom hands them over.  And I think we all agree that there is already too much “mom guilt” so let’s just give each other some grace about that.  Each family must decide for itself how much screen time is appropriate without external judges weighing in.   What I know for sure is that they love to play, especially outside. I’m confident that fifty years from now my grandchildren will tell stories of water slides and trampolines, swimming pools and scavenger hunts. I hope that I am part of the stories that are being written on their hearts through the wonder of play.

Mom, send them outside.  Better yet…go outside with them and enjoy the magic of play, if only for a bit.

Phoebe and George go walking (2)

And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparking. ~ Shanti


“The most memorable days usually end with the dirtiest clothes.” – Unknown


“I hope my children look back on today and see a mother who had time to play. There will be years for cleaning and cooking, for children grow up while we’re not looking.” – Unknown