Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Unsuspecting Super-hero

The movie, October Sky, is the true story of how NASA Engineer, Homer Hickam, and his friends rocketed their way out of the coal mining town they were raised in, to fulfilling, successful lives.
Unfortunately Homer’s father, John Hickam, did not understand why Homer didn’t want to follow in his footsteps by working in the mine…to the point of being harsh and unkind . At one point in the movie, John Hickam, makes a derogatory remark to Homer about the fact that he (Homer) did not recognize famous rocket scientist, Werner Von Braun, when Von Braun shook Homer’s hand at a science fair. In an attempt to prove to Homer how senseless his dreams were, he says, “I heard you met your hero, Warner Von Braun, and didn’t even know it.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Homer replied, “Warner Von Braun is a great man, dad, but he’s not my hero.” The obvious insinuation being that Homer’s hero was his dad.

But then, most parents are heroes in the eyes of their children...
Zach started following John around about the time he could walk. In looking up to his dad he developed an excellent work ethic he still has today as well as some valuable skills. And while in some ways they are alike in how they use these skills, in many other ways Zach uses what he learned from John in entirely different ways. But that’s the way it should be and it’s just fine.

The same can be said about Elizabeth, Olivia and Emma. Now that they all have a child of their own, I can see there are things they do just the way I did it for them. But because they all have different personalities there are things they each do differently than I did. And you know what, that’s just fine, too.

Being your child’s hero is about being someone they can look up to and someone they know they can count on to accept them for who they are—even when they aren’t exactly like you. It's not always easy and it doesn't always come without a certain amount of turmoil, but don't most aspects of parenting?
John Hickam was a hero and didn’t even know it. He couldn’t see it because he didn’t see what he wanted to see. Can the same be said about you? I hope not.

Momma D

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Granny's New Blanket

When you have children in the house you can be sure there will be accidents; spills, breaks, stains and any number of other ‘methods’ of turning something new or special into something new or special with a little added ‘character’. That’s life and there’s not really anything you can do to stop it. But what you can do is let your children know that you understand accidents are just that—accidents and that nothing you own is more important than they are.
Extending this kind of grace is comforting and reassuring to a child. I know this is true because my Granny was the best at it…

One Friday evening when I was five, Granny came home from the grocery store with three things I thought were the best treats anyone could ask for: potato chips, French onion dip and a new orange wool blanket with the satin edging around it. Wow!

The chips and dip were great, but that blanket…. All we had were hand-made quilts and I thought that blanket was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. NOTE: Thankfully I’m a lot smarter now and appreciate the beauty of those quilts.

Later on in the evening I had a bowl of chips and dip and was then tucked into bed with that glorious orange blanket wrapped around me. A few hours later, however, I woke up not feeling very well. Too much of a good thing, I guess. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say the orange blanket wasn’t very pretty anymore. I was heartbroken. I’d ruined Granny’s brand-new blanket. I remember crying and repeatedly telling her how sorry I was. But in true Granny-fashion, she just cleaned me up and said, “There’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s just a blanket. It will wash. So don’t cry, just come sit with me so I can make sure you are alright.” Then she gave me a kiss and held me on her lap for a while before tucking me back into a clean bed for the rest of the night.
Now I know that may not seem like much to some people, but to five year-old me that was the ultimate display of love; for Granny to care more about me than she did about a brand new blanket.

Forty-seven years later I still have that orange blanket. When Granny died almost two years ago, it was one of the few things I needed to keep as I prepared to sell her things. The satin edging is long gone and it’s been washed more times than I can count. But looking at that blanket reminds me that it is both an honor and responsibility to extend to our children the same grace God gives us and to let them know they are more valuable than all the blankets (or anything else) in the world.
How about your children? Do your children know they are your greatest treasure? Does your love reflect an attitude that says things can be washed, mended or replaced…but that they can’t?

Momma D

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Story of Hoppy

When you live on a farm, animals are naturally a big part of your life—both in and out of the barn. What’s more, with four children, you can be sure the number of animals (aka pets) is going to be a big one. Hoppy was counted in this very big number...

One afternoon Elizabeth and Olivia went to the pond to collect tadpoles in a bucket, but when I saw them coming toward the house, their excitement level was a lot higher than what tadpoles called for. I was right. 

Inside the bucket was a bullfrog—a really big bullfrog. I’m talking several pounds big. Olivia was ecstatic. She’d caught him with her own two little hands and couldn’t wait to set up a little home for him…in her room. Yep, that’s right—Hoppy the huge bullfrog was coming inside.  

After giving strict instructions as to what would and wouldn’t be allowed, I went on about my business and left the girls to creating their frog oasis. Somehow, though, during the transfer from the bucket to said oasis, Hoppy hopped right out of Olivia’s hands. Olivia didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. All she could do was watch while I hopped after Hoppy. And let me tell you, that frog could jump!

Once he was safely secured, I made the executive decision that Hoppy would be living outside on the patio. No argument was made. For the next couple of days Olivia carefully tended to her new ‘pet. But it didn’t take her long to realize that Hoppy wasn’t very hoppy anymore…or happy. So being the wise little animal lover she was, she returned Hoppy to his real home from where we heard him often. 

Some of you might think I was crazy for ever letting Hoppy into our lives (much less our home). But before you pronounce ‘sentence’ think about this: in letting Olivia have her “Hoppy adventure”, she and her siblings learned some important lessons. They learned:

1    That not all animals are destined to be pets.
2.      That loving something or someone means you do what’s best for them instead of making their own selfish desires the focal point of it all.
3.      A nurturing, safe and healthy environment is essential for happiness.
4.      That bullfrogs can jump higher than they (the kids) were tall.

Olivia's love for animals was a great help on the farm throughout her growing-up years 
As a parent, you need to remember these same lessons. You need to remember that your children need to be provided a safe, loving, healthy environment; one that allows them to grow and develop according to who they are. Don’t stifle them or put them in a ‘cage’ of conformity. Love and nurture them in such a way that they aren't afraid to hop as high as they want to in order to become who they are meant to be.


Momma D

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Ultimate Mother's Day Gift

This has been a blessed week for our family. Early Tuesday morning John and I welcomed our 5th grandchild, Esther Kathleen, into our family. It’s hard to believe our baby girl is now a momma, but in watching Emma and Dwight love and care for their sweet baby girl, I know she’s in great hands.

I am fortunate enough to be able to be spending this special time with Emma, Dwight and Esther. And throughout the course of these last few days I am continually drawn to these thoughts:
Cherish your children. No child asks to be born. They have no say in who brings them into this world. If for this reason only, every child deserves to be cherished and cared for as if they are the most important person on earth by the ones they call Mom and Dad.

Don’t take your children for granted. Two doors down from Emma and Dwight’s room were a mommy and daddy who will be leaving the hospital with empty arms because their baby was stillborn. Babies are God’s greatest miracle. Even on the not-so-easy days we need to appreciate the cries, smiles, colic, dirty diapers, sleepless nights, fingers wrapped tightly around yours and the sounds of contentment.  

Give thanks for life. Minutes after Esther was born I heard Dwight thank Emma for their daughter. At that moment I immediately recalled those first moments after I gave birth the first time—to our son, Zach. I can still see the smile and happy tears on John’s face as he kissed me and said, over and over, “Thank you, thank you so much.” Sometimes we get too busy living life to appreciate it. Don’t let this happen to you—especially when it comes to enjoying your children.
And finally…

Hannah should be the model for all mothers (1st Samuel 1:21 through 2:11). Hannah understood that children are a gift from God; a gift we are to share back with him. I am thankful my children understand this when it comes to raising my grandchildren. I am especially thankful that on this Mother’s Day I will be able to witness Emma and Dwight dedicating Esther to God before their church family and themselves to being the parents God desires them to be.  

Each year on Mother’s Day cards are signed, flowers are sent, dinners are cooked and gifts are given.While I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’ve been reminded this week that being a mom is the gift and that there is absolutely nothing I could receive that could top the honor and blessing God has given me in being a mom and nanna.

Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, Emma, Rebecca, Craig, Matthew, Dwight, Mackenzie, Macy, Reuben, Laney and Esther, you are the ultimate Mother’s Day gifts.

Happy Mother's Day,

Momma D

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Need to Speak to my Nanna

My granddaughter, Mackenzie, started forming sentences by the time she was about 18 months old. Among her favorite words to say was “I need…” She never wanted anything but she needed everything.

I’m not quite sure how Mackenzie learned at such a young age that needing something carries a lot more weight than just wanting something, but she did; leaving us with the ‘job’ of helping her learn the difference between needs and wants. It wasn’t usually too difficult to do, but one day her need/want lesson was especially funny--to her grandpa and I…

John, a state law-enforcement officer, had just gotten off work and was in our bedroom removing all the required gear from his uniform and putting it away. Mackenzie, who was almost 2 at the time, and I were sitting on the bed telling him about our day. Mackenzie, however, decided jumping on the bed was more fun –until I made her stop by holding her on my lap.

Luckily (or not) for Mackenzie, the dryer buzzer went off and I left her with John while I went downstairs to retrieve the laundry. This was the chance she’d been waiting for…or in Mackenzie’s case, needing.

As soon as I was out of the room, Mackenzie shot up like a rocket and started jumping on the bed again. John told her to stop. She kept jumping. John told her to stop again. She didn’t. John swatted her on the behind, sat her down on the bed and told her there would be no more jumping. Instantly her little lips started quivering and in a shaky little voice that was trying to choke back the tears, she said,

“I think I need to speak to my nanna,”

Knowing he couldn’t laugh, John kept it together and said, “Nanna is doing the laundry, so I’m all you’ve got. But what you need is to quit jumping on the bed like we told you to.”

As parents you NEED to teach your children the difference between wants and needs. Teach them that needs make life possible, while wants are things that aren’t necessary…just nice to have.

As parents you NEED to teach your children that they can thrive (not merely survive) without the latest and greatest in tech gadgets, toys, activities, clothes and other stuff. They need to understand that having those things isn’t wrong, per se, but only if and when they have earned the privilege of having them.

Teaching your children the difference between wants and needs is a matter of the heart. It is something you will do by example—by living within your financial means and by knowing and appreciating the difference between needs and wants yourself.

Your children will know the difference between needs and wants when you hold them responsible for their actions, expect them to do chores because families work together for the good of everyone and when they are taught that it’s not what you have, but who you have in life that matters.

Mackenzie is now 5 and I am proud to say that she now has a firm grasp on the difference between needs and wants and that her beautiful smile comes from her heart as much or more as from the fact that she just happens to be absolutely beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I’m Nanna.

Momma D