A Letter To Luke

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(Picture taken by courtesy of Becca Davis Photography.)

Dear Luke,

You asked me a month ago if I would write a blog just for you.  I told you I would around your birthday.  Well, it’s a few weeks after, but I have not forgotten your request. So, here’s my blog just for you:

I remember the first time I held you in my arms.  You had the largest eyes.  They were so alert and seemed to be wise beyond their years.  You had this way of just looking at someone and seeming to take it all in.

You were one of the easiest babies!  You were content to sit wherever I put you.  You never fussed when riding in your stroller and would just sit and observe the action around you.  With two older brothers, there was always lots of that.

Skip ahead five years, and we have a little boy who recently celebrated his fifth birthday!  You are no longer the quiet little boy you were for the first two years of life.  Now, you are full of energy and enthusiasm!  You love to play sports!  You are quick to defend someone whom you think is hurting or being hurt.  You’ll stand up to a kid much bigger than you if you think someone needs your help.  You are generous with your hugs and kisses, and we all benefit from them.  You are bold with your words — sometimes too bold.  We are working on helping you learn what is appropriate to say and what isn’t.

When we were deciding on what we were going to name you, we picked a name that means “Light Bringer” for your first name and “Warrior” for your middle name.  It seemed very appropriate since you were born three weeks before Christmas.  Your name is also where a lot of the Christmas passage is recorded in the Bible.

Precious Son, you have been a “bright light” to us with your bright smiles, engaging personality, endless chatter, boundless energy, and delightful hugs and kisses!  We are so thankful for you!

Before naming you, we prayed about what we were to name you.  We believe that a person’s name should have a positive meaning.  We wanted you to have a name that would be significant and would even give you a sense of purpose.

The combination of the meaning of both names is: “One who strives or puts forth effort to bring light to the world.”  The light referred to in the Christmas passage was what the star that rested in Heaven’s curtains signified.  It was a greater light than the star.  It referred to a light that could permeate into the darkest of places and darkest of nights and darkest of hearts to bring light.  Is there really a light so powerful?  Yes!  That light came in the form of Jesus, the Babe who would become a man.  He would be a man who would change thousands of lives while He walked on Earth and would change countless lives throughout thousands of years since his tenure on Earth.  And He still continues to change lives!

Jesus came to bring a message of redemption to lives ruined by the havoc created by sin.  He came to bring hope to a world full of hurt and hate.  He came to bring love to those who only knew lust and loathing.  He came to bring peace to a world bent on achieving power by crushing all opponents.  He came to bring significance to the simplest.  Into a world full of darkness and despair, Jesus brought a message of deliverance and destiny.  He offered salvation in exchange for the rags of sin.  He gave His all so that we might know the full measure of the gift of His grace. 

He was born in a stable to a poor peasant girl and first welcomed by Shepherds.  He demonstrated in this that His grace finds us not in our own ideas of perfection but reaches us in our chaos, our craziness, our imperfections.  He then reaches out His nail-scarred hands and lifts us.  He doesn’t condemn us.  He doesn’t condone us.  He comes to redeem us!  He desires to show us what our true destiny is as His sons and daughters!

Luke, precious son, my prayer is that you first grasp from where your light comes — Who is your LightMay you know your source and may you then understand your destiny!  You are given the privilege of being His “Light-bearer”!  May your life shine brightly with His light so that you will be a source of light in a world that is desperate for it, even if it doesn’t know it.

Son, open those precious, beautiful eyes of yours.  See a world that is hurting and hating.  They live in darkness but don’t even know it.  They seek hope but turn to mere mirages of it.  Son, you do know the One who can help and heal them.  They may reject you — just as they did your Savior.  Your life may not be easy.  It may be full of suffering, but may it be with a steadfast hope, faith, peace, and joy as you know that you have a greater eternal purpose than what this world has to offer.

Luke, I wish I could protect you from the hurt and hate that you will see and hear as you seek to bring “light” to a dark world.  Son, keep your heart pure and sweet and trusting as you walk in close fellowship with the One Who made you and gave Himself for you and loves you more infinitely and completely than any other.  If you have that kind of faith, I can be at peace.  I know that you may still suffer, but I know that you will be okay — truly okay.  When we have God at our side, He’ll walk with us through any horrific tragedy that may come our way.  He’ll give you the grace you’ll need for each moment. 

And Son, know that this is one Mommy who loves you, who is proud of you, and who knows that God has wonderful plans for your life!

So Son, hold your head high, open your eyes to this hurting world, and be a light to them, reflecting He Who is our eternal Light of love, peace, salvation, redemption, healing, and hope!

I love you, darling boy!  Kisses and hugs, Mommy…

A Letter To Parents

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Dear Parents,

I wish I could get this message to all parents.  Unfortunately, the only parents that will probably read this are the ones who probably don’t need to read it.

As parents, it’s so easy to think of the many ways our kids inconvenience us.  Believe me, I have done that.  I have even thought of how much easier life would be without them.  No, I wouldn’t trade my kids in, and I am very thankful for them.  It’s just that some days, you really miss those quieter pre-kid days when you could do things at your own convenience and the only noise you heard was what you made or chose to play on the radio.  Parenting is tough!

Some day — a very soon day — my kids won’t need me so much any more.  Some day, I am going to truly miss the toys scattered across my floor, the piles of laundry on bedroom floors, the stacks of dirty kid dishes, and even those smudgy hand-prints on my windows.  I believe that you will too.  Any parent who is decent will miss these stages that we rush through, “sleep-walk” through, and imagine away because we can’t wait for the next stage that we think will be easier.  The funny thing is we get to the next stage and often find it’s just as challenging but in a different way.  Parenting is work!

Today though I want us to take our eyes off ourselves and to try to see things for just a little bit from the perspectives of our children. 

I want us to also see the joys of parenting.  Parenting is a blessing!

I can’t help but recall the first and only field trip my boys had when they were in preschool.  It was the first and only field trip they would have that year, and it was to a park.  I, of course, went with my two boys, accompanied by their littlest brother.  I loved watching my boys play with their friends.  I wouldn’t have missed that day for anything.  A lot of other parents were there too.  I will never forget though the few little children who sat by themselves on park benches with the most forlorn expressions on their faces.  These were just 3 and 4 year olds.  They wanted their very own Daddy and Mommy to be there, enjoying the day with them.  They wanted their Daddy and Mommy to chase them around the playground, to teach them how to make sandcastles in the sand, to push them high on the swings, to catch them at the end of the sliding board, to laugh and giggle, to cheer them as they played the games for prizes, and to simply smile, letting them know that they are loved.  I remember walking up to this one dejected little boy.  He was sitting by himself on a park bench.  I asked him what was the matter.  His response?  He missed his Daddy and Mommy.  I was so happy I could be there with my kids, but I wished that his parents could see and know that they were missed and wanted.

Sometimes, we wonder why our kids react in anger.  Sometimes, we think they must not want to be with us because they throw a temper tantrum or do the foolish things that children do.  Sometimes, we wonder how much we are appreciated or missed.  When I think about those children, I realize that all kids just want to be loved.  They want the security of having parents who truly care about them and put the kids’ needs before the parents’ own desires.

I remember the one three-year-old little boy whose mother was there at the park for a short time, but then she rushed off so she could return to her T.V. show that she didn’t want to miss.  Her little boy spent the rest of the time, aimlessly wandering around with a dejected look on his face.

Then, there was this year.  It was parent visitation day in the classroom at the kids’ school.  This only happens once a year.  My husband took off work for the morning so he could be there, and I arranged babysitting so I could also go.  The two of us loved sitting with our kids and working on projects with them.  The boys loved having us in the classroom with them and hated to see us go.  My heart went out though to the little boy who stood their all during recess looking down at the parking lot, hoping to see his parents arrive to visit with him.  Parent visitation had ended, and the little boy’s parents never came.  Thinking back to that day makes me cry.  How difficult would it have been for a parent to come and sit with that little boy?  I know that there are some cases when a parent might lose their job if they got off work, but normally there is a way for a parent to get off one morning in a school year to spend time with his or her child.

I also observed how some parents came, which is wonderful, but they seemed so detached, so lacking in emotion and loving expression.  I wonder why the detachment?  Is it because we have absorbed ourselves too much in our own interests, pains, anxieties — rather than in the interests of our kids?  Have we believed the lie that “our children are burdens and keep us from fulfilling our own destinies and futures”?

If I put myself in the place of those kids, I see these little people hurting and longing.  All they want is that loving look, that hug, and those three simple words “I love you” to be spoken to them.

Perhaps, there is a reason for the anger that we hear and the rebellion we see.  Perhaps, it’s not so much because they are rebellious but because their anger is revealing a greater issue — the issue of a hurting heart.  Do we get past the anger to see what is in the hearts of our kids?  Are we willing to invest ourselves in the lives of our kids?

It saddens me when I hear the statistics that one in every three kids is without a dad in the home.  It also grieved me to hear that one of the top 10 things that kids had listed on their Santa list was “Daddy to be home.”

As the recent horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT has reminded us, life is fragile and brief.  We don’t know the hours or days we have left with our kids.  While we still have them to love and hug, let’s make it our goal to do just that.  Let’s make sure that we aren’t the causes of any behavioral issues our kids might have or any insecurities that they are feeling.  Let’s make sure that they and the world know that we love our kids. 

If our kids know that we “have their backs,” it’s likely that they’ll also have ours when it matters.

How Do We Keep Evil From Overcoming?

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This morning, families everywhere began their day just like any other day.  I helped my second-grader and first-grader get ready for school and hugged and kissed them before seeing them onto their bus.  My husband prayed with them, a tradition I consistently do with my boys each day before they depart for school.  Tucked into their lunches were loving notes, another regular tradition of mine.

Families in Newtown, CT also did the same.  They sent their kids onto the school buses with hugs or dropped their kids off at the school.  Plans were being made for the weekend and thoughts of Christmas in just 11 days filled the little boys’ and little girls’ minds with excitement.  It is the season of Peace and Good Will, of sparkling lights, shiny presents under the Christmas tree, carols playing, and candles illuminating.  As parents said their good byes this morning, none — not any of us — could imagine the events that tragically would unfold.

A gunman, the son of one of the teachers, entered an elementary school, gunning down the principal, other adults, his own mother, and classrooms of children. A confirmed 26 people lost their lives, 20 of those being little children.

We, as a nation, mourn.  We mourn for lives snuffed out when they have barely begun.  We mourn for the innocence of children being lost at the sound of gunfire and sights of their friends lying in their own blood.  Some of us even mourn for a mother who faced not just her killer but her own son as the killer.  Some of us even mourn for a young man, just entering his prime, who should be full of hope and good will but instead ended his life with hate and grievous revenge.

Some of us fall back onto political rants and rages over tighter gun control or looser gun laws.  Some blame the schools.  Some blame a political party.  Some of us just look for someone to blame.  Something to blame. 

Fear prompts us to cling to an object or specific person to blame.  We hope that an easy solution: tighter laws or a specific political party will eradicate our worst fears.

Yet, is it the gun that killed?  The gun was the weapon.  Laws were already broken in committing this crime.  The gunman was not 21.  He was not allowed on school property with a gun.  He was not concerned with following any laws of decency or morality.  If guns were completely outlawed, someone with such hate would surely have found another means of committing such atrocities.

Why do we as individuals and as a nation seek to eradicate the objects and the symptoms rather than the heart issues?  Do we not realize that guns were not to blame?  Politicians were not to blame.  Schools were not to blame.

Perhaps, the questions should be asked instead, “What was the cause?  What would cause a young man entering his prime to take the lives of those who gave him life, to take the lives of innocents, and then to take his own life?  What would produce such hate and such darkness, such lack of hope and purpose?”

Do we avoid these pointed questions because they are “pointed”?  In doing so, do we avoid the questions that point at ourselves?  Is it easier to cast blame?  Is it easier to blame things or others rather than to look deeper and to ask ourselves and to ask as a Nation where we have gone wrong that innocent children must live in terror and parents walk past rooms with empty beds tonight?

In avoiding the deeper questions and their answers, we avoid healing.  In avoiding truth, we allow evil to triumph.

In blaming objects and others, are we not just avoiding the heart issues of our nation and as individuals?

Until we begin to seek healing in our own souls and the “soul” of our Nation, are we not just allowing evil to triumph, to continue, to overcome? 

Some who heard of this tragedy immediately became incensed with the killer, spouting off how he should have gone for help.  Yes, we would all agree with that.  Yet, why is it easy to become angry when parents hold tear-stained pillows tonight instead of the tousled heads of their sleepy children?  Our anger feels justified perhaps.  There are such strong emotions that we want to do something with that emotion, to feel as if we have done something.  We want to fight against this evil.  Yet, we choose the very weapons that started this tragedy in the first place.  The true weapons are not that of inanimate objects.  The true weapons are that of anger that is allowed to fester, of hopes that are crushed, of revenge that is carried out. 

In order to overcome evil, should we not deal with the real weapons/the real threats? 

In order to cast aside darkness, more light must be permitted and welcomed.  Darkness flees when light burns brightly.  We must then ask, “What is light?  What brings light?” 

Perhaps, the questions are best answered by this very season.  In eleven days, we will remember a peaceful scene, an innocent scene, a joyful scene, a hopeful scene!  The Christ Child came as an innocent Babe.  He brought peace to a humble stable, to shepherds.  He brought joy to Angels and to the onlookers.  He brought hope to those willing to receive Him.  He came in a dark political, social, economical time.  Perhaps, the star that shone effervescently above his location spoke most eloquently of what His coming would portend to a world.  He came to bring light, to bring hope, to bring peace, to bring joy, to bring love, to bring salvation!

As our hearts grieve for those suffering deeply, may we turn from thoughts of blame and anger and instead turn to prayers for healing and comfort. 

Do we not overcome the darkness of evil when we turn towards the light?

My Million Kids

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(FreeImages.com/IrumShahid)

If you have more than the typical two kids and for sure if you have more than three kids, you have probably heard some bizarre comments.  (I am being kind when I say “bizarre.”)  I am amazed how people think they can negatively comment on the size of your family.  Truly, it is a personal decision for each couple.

A friend of mine is in her ninth month of pregnancy with her fourth child.  She just received an extremely rude comment from a bystander.  My friend responded well on the spot but later shed a few tears.

I too have personally heard many comments that are definitely not polite.  I’ve heard everything from, “You kept going ’til you had your girl (more innocuous but definitely not nice around my sons),”  “Good thing they had a girl, or they would have kept going,” “Do you have any more at home?”, “Are these all yours?” and my family has been introduced to strangers with, “… and their million kids.”

Society currently considers two children as being the acceptable and standard number to have.   If a family really likes kids, they might have three.  Anything more than that, you must be overly religious or belonging to a specific religion (Mormon or Catholic).  In such a current state of popular opinion, our family of four children is considered excessive.  I want to laugh in response because I grew up, knowing quite a few large families.  I babysat for some larger families (six kids or more).  Some of my best friends came from larger families (7-11 children).  The families seemed happy, got along fairly well, and were clothed, fed, and healthy.

If though you want a fairly quiet and controlled environment with limited arguments, a smaller number of children is definitely recommended.  If you want to keep a higher standard of living, again a smaller number of children is recommended.

So, why do some of us have more than two children?  Are we “gluttons for punishment,” uneducated (not understanding how children are conceived as people have said to some of my friends), or insane?  Seriously, why do we have more than two?  Our home is often full of noise, chaos, and disagreements between siblings.

For me, it is partially a reaction to how society seems to dictate everyone’s lives — even to how many children they have.  I didn’t want to just do what everyone else does — as if we are the blind following the blind.  I want to think for myself and to do what is right, regardless of society’s dictates.

Is there a specific number of children that is right or wrong?  Absolutely not!

So, how do I decide on what is the right number for my family?  Do I need to even decide?  Is this my decision?  I have friends that would argue that we don’t need to decide based on Scripture that says,  “Be fruitful and multiply” and also “Blessed is the man who has his quiver full.”  They would say we just need to trust God and that He will provide for every child He gives.  There are also verses in Scripture that state that God opens and closes the womb, indicating that He is in control of the number of children we have.

God creates life.  It comes from Him.  Children are always considered a blessing in Scripture — not a curse.  Death is a direct result of sin.  Barrenness in ancient Biblical times was considered a curse.

Our early forefathers faced many challenges.  Children were the heritage, the future of their parents.  They were necessary for humanity’s survival against extinction.  Infant and children mortality rates were high.  It was necessary for parents to have quite a few children in order for the human race to survive.  There was also the issue of having more hands to do all the necessary tasks it took to survive under harsh conditions.   Children were the hope and future of their parents.

In the Western world, our culture is prosperous and can actually provide much better living conditions for future generations.  Yet, in our culture, we actually have fewer children.  In fact, studies show that most wealthy couples not only choose to have fewer children but actually are forced to have fewer children due to declining fertility levels.

The poor often have more children and greater fertility.  I could definitely argue that some of the poorer are having children for all the wrong reasons (Welfare benefits, etc…) and many are not responsibly or lovingly raising their children.  That is indeed a tragic scenario into which a lot of children are entering.

Yet, I am not one of those.  I am married to my husband.  My husband has an adequate job.  We have a decent home — not extravagant but not poverty level.  We feed and clothe our children.  We spend one-on-one time with each of them.  We do special things as a family.

So is that why we have more than two children?

Yes, I did want to have more than the average two children — just because I seriously dislike having my personal life dictated by society.  I also wanted to have more than the average because I do believe children are a blessingI also believe and have personally witnessed how God does provide for each of them.  We don’t live prosperously but we live comfortably.

To be perfectly honest, my comfort level would probably be more like two children.  I rarely ever, if ever, get stressed when I have just two kids with me.  They are so much easier to handle/manage.  It’s much more peaceful.  Yes, I love my peace and comfort and quiet and order!  So, why did I have more than two?

One reason I have more than two is because I realize that two is my comfort level, but four is my grace level.  It is where God shows and teaches me every day to walk in grace.  Grace is found in the imperfections of life, in the messy chaos.  Grace is found when I am able to laugh when my natural and selfish response would be to be annoyed and angry.

Two is my comfort level, but four is my grace level…

My children have a way of teaching me what it means to walk in grace.  I don’t think I could have learned grace any more perfectly than in walking through life with my kids.

All children have a way of teaching us about God’s grace.  Any number of children we have — whether one or eleven have a way of teaching us more about God’s grace.

I may have more than two children, but my friends who are expecting Baby # 7 would think that I have very few children.  A specific number of children doesn’t equate to a specific level of spirituality or spiritual maturity.  I am not more spiritual because I have more children or because I have fewer children.  I am not a better parent because I have more children or because I have fewer children.

Do my husband and I need to decide on how many we will have?  Perhaps…  Perhaps not…  The issue is really our hearts.  How do we perceive our children?  Upon what do we base the number of children we will have or do have?  Is it about control, fear (because we still think we are in control), selfishness, legalism, pride, etc…?  None of these motivations are right.  Neither will produce the fruits of the Spirit or are the fruits of the Spirit.

Christmas is drawing close, and I am reminded of the Christ Child, lying in a manger.  I am also reminded of the verse in Scripture that says that whatever we have done to the least of these, we have done to the Lord (paraphrase).  How much more “least” can we get then children — especially in a society whose laws rule them as “expendable”?  As we gaze at the Babe lying in a manger, perhaps we can “welcome” Him by welcoming children into our own lives.  They might be of our own flesh and blood or perhaps they will be through adoption or foster care.  Perhaps, it will be by sending Christmas gifts to needy children in our own country or other lands.  Perhaps, this year the miracle of Christmas is to be a miracle within your heart and my heart — the miracle of opening our hearts and our homes to some of the least of these.  In doing so, we are doing it unto Him, the Christ Child.

Perhaps, this year the miracle of Christmas is to be a miracle within your heart and my heart…

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