What I Want My Children to See When the World Comes Together

For the last week, we’ve piled together –too many bodies on too small a sofa– to watch the Winter Olympics.

We’ve become fans of sports we didn’t know existed last week.

We’ve tried curling on the kitchen floor.

We’ve ice-skated in our socks.

We’ve sighed at losses and fist bumped at victories.

We’ve held our breath in nervous anticipation.

The Olympics are so much more than a worldwide sporting event. They are about unity, about the world coming together. They are about endurance and hard work. They are about the defeat of champions and victory of underdogs. They are about finishing what you started.

More than 20 years ago, I sat in my USA leotard in my living room and watched a girl a couple of years older win gold in gymnastics. I never made it to a platform and gold never hung around my neck, but I’ve never stopped dreaming or doing the impossible. I traded a leotard for a laptop and now I watch my son practice archery for hours with Olympic rings in his  dreams.

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[Mom brag moment: this past weekend my son won his division for the state of Texas in Junior Olympic Archery for recurve. Here he is with Olympic Archery team member, Vick Wunderle, who autographed his winning target]

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I want my kids to dream to do the impossible. I want them to feel the spirit of the Olympics rise up within them. I want them to find their purpose and accomplish what they are called to do.

I’m proud to be an American.

But sometimes I’m embarrassed by our actions.

We’ve turned social media into a forum to complain about first world problems and mock others–even at the Olympics. I understand this is mostly fueled by ignorance. Not everyone has been exposed to extreme poverty, but I quickly tired of hearing about the missing doorknobs and unfinished hotel rooms in Sochi, in a country that has spent more money in the history of the Olympics to present perfection on the backs of a broken people. I want my kids to look past the complaints about the color of the drinking water in an oppressed country and remember the millions of people who will still have undrinkable water weeks after the venues are empty.

Russia spent 51 billion dollars on the Olympics.

51 billion.

1500 families were kicked out of there homes (some at gunpoint) to make room for infrastructure.

“As journalists and athletes began to check in, social media site Twitter exploded with “#Sochi” tweets sharing traveler woes such as hotels without lobbies, water outages, guests trapped in malfunctioning elevators, faulty plumbing, missing manhole covers, unfinished sidewalks, and showers without shower curtains. A Twitter account dedicated to sharing these tweets quickly gained 325,000 followers, while the official account of the Winter Olympics has only recently cleared 200,000 followers.”  source

This isn’t the first or last time a country will overspend to showcase an over-the-top show. Fences separated poor slum conditions from athletes in Bejing, too.

I know this is a global issue. I love my country. I am proud to be an American, but I’m more proud to be human.

And when the world comes together, I want to my kids to see what really matters.

It’s not winning. It’s not a medal. It’s not victory. It’s not building something beautiful on top of something broken. It’s laying down the flags and color and language that divides us and it’s having compassion for others, even if they live and believe differently than we do, especially then. It’s lending a competitor a ski when his breaks in the middle of the race; it’s speeding down a mountain for your down syndrome brother who can’t.

This is the Olympic spirit.

More than winning, I want my children to value the beauty of helping those behind us in the race. I want them to be the one to come along the injured runner, the limping skier, and lend a hand.

I want them to finish this race well, not necessarily first, but with dignity and integrity.


Maybe Sometimes Your Kid Just Needs a Hug

I ran out of threats.

I ran out of energy.

I ran out of the room.

Mothering can be exhausting and emotional and it can empty you.

It was one of those days where my patience was a thin rope and my child was swinging from it. I was barely holding on and she wouldn’t let go.

Go. To. Your. Room.

I sighed and paced. Consequences ran through my mind and I made my mental list of how I should handle her actions.

My head was foggy, but I heard it clear Go to her.

Just the thought diffused my anger. I laid down my need for control.

I put away my rules and my mental list of consequences. I set aside the threats and the lectures. I slowly climbed the stairs and stood at her doorway. She looked up, eyes brimming. Instead of seeing a defiant child, I saw pain. Instead of seeing anger, I saw my little girl. I walked to her bed and sat down. Without saying a word, I wrapped my arms around her.

 Sometimes our kids just need a hug

She bristled at first and tried to pull away. But I held on and slowly, she melted in to me. And we sat there saying nothing, but everything that needed to be said.

Maybe sometimes our kids don’t need another rule.

Maybe they don’t need another consequence or punishment.

Maybe sometimes we need to break our own rules and just go to them.

Maybe they simply need us to hold them long and hard.

Maybe every once in awhile, our kids need to know no matter what they are feeling or experiencing, no matter how hard they struggle against us or how hard they fight, we will be there.

Standing in the doorway, waiting.


The Two Questions Every North American Christian Must Ask Themselves

A friend of mine told me about a group of women, mothers with children, who were living in absolute poverty.

Their babies didn’t have diapers. Their kids didn’t have shoes. Their homes didn’t have furniture. Their pantry didn’t have food.

I’ve met women just like them, stood on their dirt floors and been offered the last plate of food in their house.

But these mothers in this story didn’t live across the ocean, on the other side of the globe.

They live 49 miles from my front door.

They are refugees–removed from Bhutan, their country of birth because of genocide against their race and placed in a refugee camp in Nepal, where they survived for 15 years, until more recently, when the United Nations relocated thousands of people again, to their new home in America.

They are my neighbors.

But many of these refugees have never been more than a mile away from the apartment complex that is now home. Once aid from the US ended after 90 days, they found themselves in a foreign country, unable to communicate, trying to navigate a much different culture, living a minimum-wage existence where diapers and toilet paper, shampoo and soap are a luxury they cannot afford. They didn’t know there was a food bank within walking distance. But how would they manage toddlers and babies without a stroller or cart for food and who would help them fill out the paperwork to take what was needed?

As I listened to the story, I felt moved with compassion. Because this is my heart, my calling: To empower mothers with opportunity– for some it’s an opportunity to give, for others it’s opportunity to receive. I don’t have all the answers, but I know we can help each other.

I couldn’t help but wonder How could I help? I immediately told myself I’m doing enough. What could I possibly do? How much more could I add to my already full plate? We give a lot, how much more can we give?

But then I realized I was asking the wrong questions.

2 Questions Every Christian in America Needs to Ask Themselves

Go ahead. Ask yourself. It’s not an accident. It’s not luck of draw. There is a purpose. You have a purpose for living here and not there. What do you think it is?

I don’t think it’s a mathematical mistake that one-third of the world is rich enough to ease the burden of the other two-thirds who are desperately poor living on less than $1 a day. It’s not a curious coincidence that we are already sitting on the answer.

It’s something we teach our children from the cradle. It’s called sharing. We have more than enough, enough to share.  It sounds like a match made in Heaven, huh? Like maybe it was God’s plan all along to love others and instead of accumulating the American Dream, there’s the chance to give some of it away.

And I believe when God asks us what we did with our talents, our resources, our land of the free-home of the brave opportunity, we will be accountable for our answer.

Yes, we give already. But we have been given so much. We can give more, share more, do more. Not to prove we are good people or need a bigger list of good works. We do it because it’s our purpose to glorify God. We do it because He first loved us and we love others. We do it because we have it to give. We do it because if we were reusing disposable diapers, we would want someone to share with us.

We do it because our houses and cars and pins on Pinterest are temporary.

Our stuff will not last, but people will.

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When I asked myself these hard questions, I knew immediately what my answer had to be.

I started sharing this story with my friends and church community, many had the same answer. And with a pile of yeses, answers starting coming in.  Moms started pulling out clothes and shoes, their excess to share. Dads moved furniture into garages to give away. Women began stockpiling diapers. Volunteers are offering ESL classes, a website is being built and a group of moms have started teaching knitting.

Once a week for as long as I’m able, I’ll be spending the day 49 miles from home, with my neighbors. 

Is there a right answer to those hard questions? I don’t know.

But my family is starting by looking at what we have, thanking God for it, and then sharing it with someone else.

I hope you will too.

Neighbors are a great place to start.


WFMW: What I Learned About Marriage from a Fitness Guru {Giveaway}

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Arlene Pellicane. She is a speaker, author, wife and mom of three. She writes about creating a happy home in 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Find free resources to encourage you at www.ArlenePellicane.com and Take the Quiz to find out of you are a happy wife.

Congrats to random book winners: Krista and Heidi.

Guest Post:  by Arlene Pellicane 

Whether you’ve had a baby three months ago or 13 years ago, it seems like that baby weight is awfully hard to shake. I get this. I had 3 babies and 3 miscarriages in my thirties.

My go-to exercise solution with young kids in the house? Buying a fitness DVD that promised to change my life and waistline.

Like a motivated mama, I faithfully clicked play. I stretched. I jumped. I lifted. Then something the instructor said really caught my attention.

You have to force your body to adapt!

She persuaded, “Don’t give up. Tell your body you will keep going. You have to force your body to adapt!”

Huffing, puffing and desperately wanting to stop, I kept forcing my body to adapt.

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I realized this saying wasn’t only applicable to my workout. It was perfect for my marriage.

Marriage is about being adaptable, isn’t it? Sometimes you have to force yourself to adapt. To flex with changing circumstances. To adjust to the quirkiness you used to love about your husband.

When James and I were married 15 years ago, there were many adaptations for both of us. Even vacations required adjusting to each other. You see, James loved to camp under a different spot under the stars each night in the tent he had lugged around all day in his backpack.

I liked to stay in a lodge with a soft pillow and running water nearby at all times.

Our first camping trip as newlyweds was a clash of expectations and emotions. Usually I am a bright and cheery wife, but on the two-hour trip to the campsite to meet couples from a new church, I was quiet. Sullen. Irritable.

Right before we entered the campsite, James pulled the car over.

“Are you going to be like this all weekend? Because if you are, we can just head back home. This is supposed to be fun.”

Do you know what I said?

“You mean, I didn’t have to come?”

Through tears, I realized that I needed to change my attitude about camping so the weekend wouldn’t be ruined. I had to force myself to adapt.

I can’t say I had the time of my life sleeping in that tent, but I survived. I learned a valuable lesson early in our marriage. Happiness isn’t about where I sleep or how out-of-my-comfort zone I am. It’s a choice I make and it not only affects my life, it affects my husband’s well being too.

Just like forcing myself to work out for the sake of my health, I have to force myself sometimes to stretch and adapt to the needs of my husband. When I’m more bendable and flexible (picture a flexible straw here moms), I’m happier and more easy going.

And easier to be with.

Make a commitment to force yourself to adapt, to push yourself further than you think you can go. Be a constant learner about marriage and an enthusiastic student of your spouse. This doesn’t happen by accident. It happens intentionally, by an act of your will.

So press play. It’s grow time.

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Today, Arlene is giving away 2 copies of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. 

Leave a comment if you’d like to enter.

Being a happy wife works for me!