An Open Letter to My Children 2017

Wow…what a year we have had.  It has been one year since I wrote the original An Open Letter to my Children 2016 and we’ve seen great joy and unbelievable hardships.  We’ve succeeded and failed….we’ve grown together.  I find myself in a new year (that isn’t so new anymore…already) with an eight- and five-year old, and again, I don’t know where the time went.  I try earnestly to tell my children exactly what they mean to me, exactly how I feel, every single day.  But I know these words fall flat on their tiny little ears, because there is no way they can yet understand the joy of being a parent.  Someday when they have children of their own, they will truly know.  Until then, I will continue to write to them, so when they gain perspective, they can look back and remember who they were at this point in time, who they were in the world and who they were to me.

To Jace:

Jace, you are eight years old today.  What an amazing eight-year old you are!  You are growing into yourself more and more every day.  You are learning what you love, what you don’t, and how to maneuver everything in between.  I was having a bad day last week.  I was struggling completing a school assignment and you noticed.  You didn’t have to notice, but you did.  That is who you are…you see people.   I had to leave the house to complete my assignment and dreaded coming home to dinner dishes.  I walked into the kitchen and there you were….standing in the center, wash rag in your hand.  The dishes were washed, dried and put away.  The counter tops were cleaned.  You did it all by yourself without anyone asking.  In that moment, you shined.  The kindness in your heart radiated.  You brought me joy….immense joy that I have a son who is so caring, kind, dedicated and hardworking.  You make me so proud.  Over the past year, you have changed in some ways but you’re still the same in others.  Scary movies are still your favorite.  You still love steak although I’m trying my best to convert you to a vegetarian.  The look on your face when I mention the word “cabbage” is priceless but you eat everything I cook.  You’re figuring out friendship.  Girls still get on your last nerve (thank God).  You love baseball…LOVE BASEBALL.  You won the baseball tourney this year and you were so happy.  You love to swim and run.  You have started speaking for yourself with more confidence.  You have your own style and opinions.  You went to Disney this year and loved all of the thrill rides, always questing the fastest and most exhilarating experience possible.  You love dirt bikes and classic cars.  You don’t love to read but you do it to appease me.  You helped me build and plant our garden this year, and you loved every moment of it.  You just a cool kid.  The best.  You’re a great friend.  You’re an awesome son.  Thank you for all of the love, joy and beauty you brought into my life over the last year.

To Jera:

Oh Jera, child, you are a tornado.  You leave a path behind you, and you are memorable in the most beautiful way.  We can never (and I mean NEVER) see your bedroom floor.  You leave a path in the bathroom…in the living room…on the front porch…you are constant movement and thinking.  You have fallen in love with art this year.  You have three or four drawings waiting for me each day that I pick you up from the sitter.  You love to draw our family and on each drawing you write “To Mom, Jera”.  You love music, and your dad and I smile when we hear your little voice carrying through the house from your bedroom as you play, from the bathroom as you bathe, and even from the toilet…you sing ALL the time.  You love Trolls and Moana.   We took you to Disney this summer and you refused to ride a single ride because you are afraid of anything fast, dark or high.  ‘It’s a Small World’ was a thrill ride for you. You love animals of all kinds.  You have a special tenderness with animals, and I see something special in the way you handle them.  You are incredibly smart, and I cannot wait to see what Kindergarten brings for you.  You love your family and don’t like to be away from us for any length of time…which should also make Kindergarten interesting.  You still give the best hugs….and kisses.  You are the most loving child.  You love tea parties and playing with your various little dolls.  You love using your imagination.  Your favorite food is beans, which makes me laugh.  You have gotten into the habit of whining when things don’t go your way…and I am anxiously awaiting for that phase to end.  You have started using the word “literally” in nearly every sentence, and when I hear it fall out of my mouth as well, I know where it comes from and it makes me smile.  You are kind. You are so beautiful, on the inside and outside.  You have so much energy and potential.  Everyday with you is an adventure.  Thank you for keeping life interesting.  For always being ready with the unexpected.  For keeping me on my toes.  Thank you for your love.

Love,

Your mom

If you haven’t, take a moment to reflect on your family today.  Write it down.  It will be gone tomorrow, and the moments you think you’ll always remember will fade away into new, exciting growth and development.  Live in the moment.  Don’t think about tomorrow.  Focus on your family.  Love too much today.  Happy Sunday!

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Just Say No

Good, great and beautiful Sunday morning! I love mornings in general, but Sunday mornings? There is just something about those precious few peaceful hours that makes all the world right.

Life continues to be absolutely crazy. A week ago, I finished my fifth MBA course marking my half way point in the program. Then Monday, I rolled right into my sixth class with Computer Information Systems…no rest for the wicked they say. I’ve taken on some new professional challenges, determined to continue growing and move forward with my skill set and work experience. 

We’ve had golf camp, art camp, VBS, baseball and Cub Scouts. After a sedentary year of adjusting to being back in school, I’ve started running again with my sister (see the photo below…I made her run in the rain and then take a makeup free picture 😲…she thinks I’m trying to kill her but she’ll thank me later!). And finally, I’ve started reading again (for fun!). I’ve decided to go back through the classics that I “cliff noted” my way through in high school and to try to actually appreciate them this time. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (absolutely fantastic) and am now reading To Kill a Mockingbird.


I feel a shift within myself. There are no more hours in the day today than there were a year ago. But today I feel more productive and happier and thankful for the energy to do all of the things I’m passionate for. This change, these happy moments with my children, with my husband, in my career, in my schoolwork, they haven’t been without a cost.

I have learned little by little to start saying no. Let me clue you in to the fact that I hate saying no. I want to do it all. Be involved, support all good causes, be a strong leader in my community, church and work… But in order to be happy, in order to be content, in order to be the Christian, wife, and mom that I am designed to be, I have learned that I have to pick and choose where I am spending my time very wisely. 

Sometimes the no’s are obvious and sometimes they’re painfully difficult. Some of my no’s were easier than I imagined. I say no to TV today. I say no to social media. The truth is that I  have better places to spend my time, and when I’m focused on television or social media, I losing time on something I find more precious. You may be reading this blog via a Facebook link thinking “what a hypocrite, ” but let me tell you that these are not hard no’s. If my day is done, and my husband has settled into bed to watch a good murder mystery, you better believe I am by his side. If my child has done something adorable (as children often do), I will make a post on Facebook to share with my friends and family. But gone are the days of spending an afternoon on a Netflix binge or blindly scrolling through a Facebook feed while sitting with my family. I’ve turned off all notifications to my cell phone and try to leave my phone put away any time that I know my focus should be on my family, work and/or school. So of all my no’s, this was an easy one. This no has brought me many moments of great joy and peace.

However, there have been other no’s that hurt my heart. I had to resign from some volunteer work; volunteer work that I know is important, that is vital even. But I saw myself swimming…drowning in commitments that I could not follow through. My joy in life was slipping. I was missing out on too many tuck-ins with my kids, too many opportunities to grow mentally, emotionally and/or physically. Right now, at this point in my life, I have to make difficult choices. I am happier today for the no’s I’ve forced myself to say. I am a better wife and mom. I can feel God’s joy in my heart because I am taking moments to just sit in his peace. I can share that joy with my family and friends. That is my number one responsibility in this life. 


When was the last time you had a moment to sit in God’s peace and love? Are you making quiet time to just be? It’s difficult. It’s one of the hardest things in life for me. I also believe it’s one of the most important. Saying no isn’t always easy, but the rewards are exponential. Make today a joyous day. Say no to the things that aren’t on your priority list (and if you don’t have a priority list, make one). Say yes instead, to the things that bring you peace and joy. Here is a list of my “insteads” since I’ve started to say no: a walk with my kids, a bike ride, a run, planting a garden, reading a great book, listening to my favorite podcast, dancing with my children, coloring a page with my daughter, washing my dishes, sitting on the front porch with my husband…the list will continue to grow. I am so thankful. I’m wishing you the best of days over this holiday weekend. Happy 4th of July from my family to yours!