Mother’s Day in my Heart

I was kind of a toot on my first Mother’s Day.

The expectations I had built up in my heart — never verbalized, of course! – were sky-high. I wanted a new dress to wear to Sunday morning services. I wanted a wrist corsage (that’s right, a wrist corsage). I wanted to win the “newest mother” flower during the worship hour. I wanted a present from my husband, a present from my infant son and a present from my mom. I didn’t want to lift a finger the ENTIRE DAY.

Basically, I just wanted I and all of my contributions to the mothering world to be meditated upon by my entire circle from the first second of Mother’s Day to the very last.

That’s all, though. Nothing more.

Bless it. Needless to say, by ten o’ clock that night, I had crashed and burned into a sad heap of unmet expectations. Even though everyone was lovely to me and I had more than any woman in her right mind could ever dream of, it wasn’t enough.

Because, like a said, toot.

I was a big one.

Thankfully, as the years have gone by and God has gently and consistently pulled me away from myself, I am learning to celebrate Mother’s Day in a much healthier way, and it goes a little something like this…

My husband is off the hook.

My gosh, I KNOW this man loves me, I know he celebrates me, and I know he is thankful for me. Instead of expecting him to give me the moon and grovel at my feet, all before he preaches his Sunday morning sermon, I simply ask for a little time off sometime around Mother’s Day.

And sometimes, “time off” doesn’t always mean I want to be alone and away from my family. It just means that I’m free to do…well, whatever! By myself or with him or with the kids or with my mom or with Netflix.

For instance, last year, on the Friday before Mother’s Day, my mom and I loaded up my girls for a day on the town where we got haircuts, ate out, went shopping and, best of all, laughed and talked and celebrated not just motherhood, but the friendship that can grow between generations of women who are dedicated to one another for life.

That was our Mother’s Day. And it was awesome!!!

Rebekah and Betsie watched movies and ate snacks in the car while my mom and I took turns getting our hair did.

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Next we went to Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, one of those thoughtful places where hungry kids get balls of dough to keep them distracted until the food comes.

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Now, I have to interrupt this string of pictures to tell you a crazy story. See right over there below that American flag? And see the exit on the left side of the room? And see the booth right before you get to that exit?…

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I’m talkin’ about the area right beyond the lady in red…

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Yeah, so Ed Sheeran was sitting there, eating pizza.

We didn’t KNOW it was Ed Sheeran, at the time.

We noticed that he LOOKED like Ed Sheeran, and my mom might have even verbally pitied him for trying SO HARD to look like Ed Sheeran, but we never DREAMED it was actually ED SHEERAN.

Because…why would Ed Sheeran be eating six tables down from us at a pizzeria in Tulsa on a Friday afternoon??? The idea never even crossed our minds because it made absolutely zero sense.

Even though some of the staff were taking selfies with him.

But…

IT WAS TOTALLY ED SHEERAN.

He was apparently in Tulsa for a concert, and one of our friends who attended it said he actually mentioned Andolini’s Pizzeria during the show.

But he didn’t mention us.

Because he didn’t know we were there because we didn’t know he was there.

Nope, the only guy WE saw was a desperate Ed Sheeran look-alike. And the staff was taking pictures with him because he looked SO MUCH like Ed Sheeran that it was hilarious.

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I intently examined all of my pictures from the day and, sadly, there wasn’t one Ed Sheeran photobomb. Not a speck of red hair in the background.

Oh, well.

I did decide, however, that Betsie makes a great city girl.

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After Andolini’s, we popped down the street for some tiny desserts from Le Madeleine, heavy on the chocolate.

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And then we shopped our feet off!! It was an unscripted and lovely day — not a greeting card in sight! Not an expectation in my brain!! — but it was the BEST Mother’s Day experience I could possibly ask for.

Not because the world stopped for a day and recognized me.

Not because my husband sweated bullets trying to make sure he read my mind and gave me all the stuff I wanted.

Not because my children took a moment to thank me and read me a poem.

But because I was with the people I loved.

That’s what Mother’s Day should be about.

With the help of the Spirit, I don’t ever want Mother’s Day to be about ME again, because I am starting to learn that, without fail, when things become about “me”, they go downhill really, really fast.

If my kids want to do something for me someday, hooray, if my husband orchestrates a breakfast-in-bed, yippee, but God forbid that I ever end another Mother’s Day in that heap of misery again, not when I have living and loving to do with the very gifts that made me a mother in the first place.

So. That was Friday, but my “Mother’s Day” weekend continued to be sweet and fulfilling, solidifying lessons in my heart that had been a long-time coming. .

On Saturday night, even though they’d already had their church baths, the kids and I wound up outside in the street. Mr. Gore had called from the church (where he had gone to fix the computer) to tell us there was a brilliant rainbow in the sky.

Well, because of all the trees in our driveway, we couldn’t see it.

So we walked out into the street.

We still couldn’t see it, but after days of heavy rain, the lightning and thunder finally allowed us outside, and what was left were little rivers cascading down both sides of our street.

It was irresistible, and before I knew it, the kids were DRENCHED.

Cheeks flushed, eyes dancing, bodies jumping and running and kicking, their childhood was on full display, and I, the mother who, eight years ago, threw a hissy fit because Mother’s Day was not what I thought it should be, was absolutely at rest. I’d had more than enough to call it a successful holiday, and it wasn’t even Mother’s Day yet!

This was sincerely all the gift I needed.

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Listen, one thing the internet has taught me is that Mother’s Day is an awful day for a lot of people. People who have lost their moms, people who have terrible memories of their mom, people who want to have babies but haven’t succeeded, people who have suffered miscarriages of their precious children, people who aren’t married yet and feel like the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking…

this holiday, for so many of the people we love, is the absolute pits.

So much that it makes me wonder if I even LIKE this holiday anymore!…

But at the very least, I am just more and more convinced that, if God has woven motherhood into my story, I have more than I could ask for, period. I don’t need to be recognized at church, I don’t need to be pampered, I don’t need to become a Mother’s Day tyrant, I don’t even need all the gifts and all the thoughtfulness.

In other words, I don’t so much need to be celebrated…

I need to CELEBRATE.

Lucky for all of us, the only necessity for that is a grateful heart.

No corsages needed.

~

p.s. Great news! Late that Sunday night, the kids and Mr. Gore DID surprise me with an at-home pedicure and manicure that they ALL took turns administering. It was like a hilarious nightmare, all the way down to the box of polish they all chose together at Amazon, titled “Jingle Splash”. Happy Mother’s Day to me?…

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I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning…

My posture is a bit different this evening as I sit down to gather my thoughts.

Most usually, I wait until the children are in bed or otherwise situated before I even attempt to jot down a blog post. The reason being, I kind of have trouble doing any two things at one time – cooking and listening to people talk, patting my head and rubbing my tummy, driving and reading street signs, being alive and doing any sort of math problem, watching television and folding clothes – in other words, I’m a big, fat dummy and need absolute silence in order to properly think or do much of anything.

But today, I’m feeling spontaneous and am sitting at the kitchen table with my refurbished laptop, my eldest children on either side of me, happily occupied with their coloring books…and, evidenced by the buttery fingerprints on my keyboard, there is a giant bowl of popcorn right smack in the middle of the table. Betsie, of course, is locked up nearby us in her highchair, eating sugar snap peas and deli turkey and as much popcorn as she can convince us to share with her. For, if Betsie is loose, NObody gets ANYthing done, whether they are a big, fat dummy or a smartypants genius or even, I’m betting, the old lady in the shoe. Betsie just has that effect on people.

So what is it that has me feeling so spontaneous? What has happened to me that makes my heart feel so contented and calm within me? How in the world am I able to sit amongst this throng of little people and find the mental fortitude to make intelligable sentences?…

I don’t really know. It has just been one of those laidback (but productive) Saturdays that makes me want to be near to my family, to count my blessings, to bask in our togetherness as long as possible.

And all afternoon, an old song has been lilting through my mind, the perfect soundtrack to highlight our first weekend in November…

Got no diamonds, got no pearls,

Still I think I’m a lucky girl.

I’ve got the sun in the morning

And the moon at night.

Got no mansions, got no yachts,

Still I’m happy with what I got.

I’ve got the sun in the morning

And the moon at night…

It all started this afternoon during the children’s naptime. I was going through the 9,000 pictures I have stored on our desktop (sadly, all of them taken since January), deleting some, adding some to albums, moving some to the external harddrive…

And as I scanned through photo after photo of my family last Spring, I could hardly fathom how quickly the children have grown and how much they’ve changed in so short a season. Days and moments I had completely forgotten about came rushing back into my soul in a flood of sweet memories. And although I enjoyed looking at all the fun parties we’ve had where our clothes were matching and our hair was tidy, the sweetest pictures were just of us…unscripted…untidymismatched…living!

They were pictures of life and life abundant, the very thing I set about celebrating here on my blog. And they were so beautiful, they made my heart ache. Not because we are particularly special or beautiful people, but because the things I see in those pictures are real and substantial things that are eternal and were the main components of the perfect world God initially created for us to enjoy: love…family…laughter…innocence…work…nature…home…

Each and every one a gift created by and given from a very loving Father.

As the children woke up and our afternoon wore on, we all ended up in the old, spacious shed on our property. Mr. Gore was finishing up a woodworking project and the children and I were sitting on our bottoms on a swept-off concrete slab, coloring and talking (we color a LOT in this house). I looked around me. Mr. Gore was deep in concentration as he measured and tinkered, and looked especially resplendent and manly with his coarse, red beard glowing copper and awesome in the natural light of the shed. Gideon was dressed in a full-out pirate costume, complete with strands of beads and a bright red headwrap. Rebekah was covered in dust, as was her ditsy floral sundress that is two sizes too small, her “golden hair” (as she affectionately calls it) flowing down her back where it ended with little curls, also covered in dust. Betsie was, again, locked up, this time in her big, red wagon, peering up at us from behind her straggly bangs, eating a box of raisins and doing her darndest to reach the bucket of crayons. (She loves to eat crayons even more than she loves to eat raisins).

And my heart just sighed for a minute, and I thought…

I could live in this shed with these people.

These moments of clarity and contentment are my very favorite in life, and I can’t tell you how much I love it when all of our junk is out of my sight and I am with the people I adore, and I asked myself the same question I’ve asked a thousand times this year: why, Mrs. Gore, do you continue to store up treasures on this earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19)?

For there, in that dirty old shed, with a bucket of crayons and two coloring books, I was as happy as I’ve ever been in my entire life.

And I realized once again that NOT being rich is a great blessing.

I’ll never forget the first time Mr. Gore mentioned this rather radical thought near the end of a sermon, and he encouraged our congregation to stop striving after silver and gold and to refrain from doggedly pursuing the next level of financial comfort, not because it is a sin to be rich, but because God might be showing us great mercy by keeping us in the financial situation we are in. He went on to point out the many times the Bible warns us of the snare of money, and how the human heart is naturally inclined to make gods of the corruptible, citing John Calvin’s famous words: “the human heart is an idol-making factory”. My heart agreed so vehemently. “Be content with your lot,” he warned us, “for God might know that if He gave you more, you would become a slave to it. One of the greatest blessings in your life might be that the small income He has given you is just enough to keep you from depending upon yourself. Rest in that.”

I would never have come to that conclusion on my own, but the minute the words rolled off of his tongue, I was a believer. How great and how kind is our God, working all things for our good, even when we are little aware of it.

Since that day, the drive inside my soul to make more so we can have more has slowed considerably, and I am learning to relax with what we have today, knowing and trusting that God knows best what we need for our future. In the meantime, even though there are springs sticking up through the cushions of our couch, and even though our cars are becoming more “vintage” by the day, I am seeing with fresh eyes how abundantly we have been blessed, and how little we need to live happily and contentedly in this world.

And who knows? Someday we might have to move into our shed, and convert our home into a boarding house (what? I told you I read a lot of Christian fiction). But guess what would go with us? Love. Laughter. Gratitude. Probably a bucket of crayons and a couple of coloring books. Some flowers maybe and a set of lace curtains. The sun in the morning. The moon at night. But most importantly…

Grace.

Grace that sustains us, that fulfills us, and that allows us to have even the tiniest speck of love or gratitude in our hearts in the first place. Grace that is enough for today and gives us faith for tomorrow.

~

To read more on this subject, see “Mother Hen Paints the Fence Some More” and “Mrs. Gore is in Seven Heaven” from the archives

A Craving for America

I already published this very post a month ago for the 4th of July, but in the wake of the recent Chick-fil-a controversy, I wanted to rework it a little and share it once more, in the hopes that it will pull our eyes off of the ridiculous spectacle that is being fed to us on television and through social media. It might seem like America has gone off-the-charts crazy, but go outside and look down your street. Everything is alright. Keep standing for your rights, eat some chicken if you want, but remember how our battles are really fought…in the voting booth, in the education of our children, and in our rational and gentle discussions with those we meet face to face.

~

We were pulling into a parking spot at Chick-fil-a last month when our 5-year old son, Gideon, reverently breathed from the backseat…

“Papa…I’ve never been this close to a ‘Kuhmerican’ flag before…”

Looking out the window, my eyes landed on a flagpole next to the fast food restaurant that went up, up, up…

and at the very top gloriously waved a humongous American flag.

My heart melted a little.

It doesn’t take much, does it, to capture the wonder of a child? Their little eyes have a way of appreciating the simplest things in life, and I was reminded in the midst of our busy day to look up for a moment and gaze upon the beauty of our country’s flag waving majestically in the wind.

“Do you want to touch the flagpole?” Mr. Gore asked him.

“Yes!” Gideon exclaimed, and all thoughts of lunch were momentarily put aside as our family took a tiny field trip to the Chick-fil-a flagpole, to reach out and touch the metal that hoisted that very important statement of our freedom seemingly all the way up to the sky.

It was a brief and random moment in an otherwise hectic week, but it seated itself in my heart and fanned a longing that I’ve been having as our nation continues to wade through murky political turmoil…

I’ve got a craving for America.

Not the one that is found in the partisan arguments between liberals and conservatives on news channels…

Not the one that is written between the lines of the biased and sensationalist story shared in the newspaper…

Not the one that is found in every other status update on Facebook…

Not the one that is found in the ruthless and hateful comments following every article and blog post on the internet…

The voices of the people on my television and computer screens have become so loud and so vitriolic that I don’t know who to believe anymore. I have grown callous to their arguments and suspicious of their intentions ~ do they really care? Are the statistics they are sharing from an unbiased source? Do they truly want change or are they trying to make a buck or a name for themselves? What is their agenda, really?…

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The spirit of my countrymen has become so bitter and jaded that few are really listening anymore; we have become like partisan robots who immediately agree with everything our political party says or we vehemently disagree with our opponents. On every. single. issue.

When we don’t get our way on those issues, we become fatalistic, as if America is dead. Freedom is dead. The “land of plenty” is a cursed wilderness…

But I’m looking around me, and even though I strongly disagree with many of the views our President stands for, and even though laws are being passed that cause my heart to painfully groan within me, and even though there are a thousand things I would change if I were given the power to do so, this is what I see…

I have good roads to drive on.

The mail is delivered to my mailbox every single day.

I am free to worship God as loudly and as consistently as I choose.

I have thousands of people I have never met who are training or are already trained to protect me – with their lives – if the need arises.

I have the right to school my children at home, and if I change my mind, there is a fully-equipped public school minutes from our house.

There are no bathrooms or water fountains in my town or my state or my country that can be used by only one race.

There are police officers, and firemen, and medical professionals a phone call away if I need help, day or night.

There is a grocery store down the street that contains more food choices in its tiny square footage than people have probably ever had in the history of the world.

I am a stay-at-home mom who is married to a pastor of a small church, and with our modest income, we still fit in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people. Because we’re Americans.

And no matter what the media says about which way our country is going, I still have my vote and I still have my freedom of speech.

I’m sure a Christian from ancient Greece or a suffragette from the 1900’s or a black man from the enslaved South or a Jew from Hitler’s Germany would absolutely love to trade lives with me, even if just for one day.

And so here’s what I want for my country as election day draws near…

some solidarity.

some patriotism.

some gratitude.

some respect for the office of President, no matter my political party.

some kindness.

I want to be heard without being labeled a close-minded conservative or a bigot or a nutcase Southern Baptist and I want to share my honest opinions and heartfelt beliefs without being called “judgmental”.

I want to hear the opinions of others with compassion and understanding, even if I know in my heart I will never agree with them.

I want to be well-informed and knowledgeable about our country’s state of affairs without being used as a pawn in a political game or to increase a show’s television ratings.

I want to use my most important tool of freedom, my vote, with pride and conviction.

I want to use my most important tool for lasting change, prayer, and faithfully beseech God on behalf of our nation and my fellow citizens, every single day.

I want to instruct the children in my sphere that change, in a democracy, always begins with you, not the folks in Washington D.C. or the people in high places.

I want to treat President Obama and his lovely wife the same way I wish my beloved G.W. and Laura would have been treated, disagreeing without disrespecting, keeping scorn and bitterness from my heart, and always remembering that presidents are not kings and will not sit in our White House forever.

I want to have faith and hope in a system of checks and balances and in a democracy that swings one way and then usually the other.

I want to enjoy hard work and stay busy enough that I stay out of trouble, and I want my neighbors and townspeople to do the same thing.

I want to worship the Creator as faithfully and boldly as I can while the opportunity is mine.

I want to study the unadulterated history of my country and teach it to my children, learning from our mistakes and celebrating our God-aided triumphs.

I want to use my rights to speak up – in a kind and effective way – for those who have no voice, specifically for those in the womb.

And mostly, I want to feel safe within my borders. Safe to speak, safe to live, safe to raise my children how I see fit, safe to worship, and safe to continue my personal pursuit of happiness.

And the funny thing is, when I tune out the voices on Fox News or CNN or in the comments sections of blogs and internet news stories or from the more out-of-touch celebrities on talk shows, I notice something: America, in my neck of the woods, is almost exactly what I’m looking for.

Of course there are things we must improve. There are freedoms and reforms we must continue to pursue like hounds. There might even be as much wrong as there is right…

But for a moment, I want to celebrate the good things, and thank God for this unprecedented chance to live in a free America, while begging Him for grace and guidance to use my freedoms and my blessings wisely and efficiently and, most importantly, generously.

I encourage you to unplug yourself from the talking heads (and mayors!) today and see with fresh eyes and a grateful heart what you’ve been given.

A beautiful homeland…

previously unheard of freedom and democracy…

a local community to support you…

hope for change…

and the most beautiful and breathtaking “Kuhmerican” flag that waves on nearly every corner, just for you to enjoy. Whether you are supporting Chick-fil-a in the weeks to come, boycotting them, or neither, I hope you’ll at least take a minute to stop and touch their flagpole…

And, if this post resonated with you, I just have to say it: “My pleasure!”

~

As ever, feel free to share your thoughts with me, but I will only publicly share comments that will be edifying to my readers. Save the drama for another blogga.

A Fourth of July Craving

 

We were pulling into a parking spot at Chick-fil-a when our 5-year old son, Gideon, reverently breathed from the backseat…

“Papa…I’ve never been this close to a ‘Kuhmerican’ flag before…”

Looking out the window, my eyes landed on a flagpole next to the fast food restaurant that went up, up, up…

and at the very top gloriously waved a humongous American flag.

My heart melted a little.

It doesn’t take much, does it, to capture the wonder of a child? Their little eyes have a way of appreciating the simplest things in life, and I was reminded in the midst of our busy day to look up for a moment and gaze upon the beauty of our country’s flag waving majestically in the wind.

“Do you want to touch the flagpole?” Mr. Gore asked him.

“Yes!” Gideon exclaimed, and all thoughts of lunch were momentarily put aside as our family took a tiny field trip to the Chick-fil-a flagpole, to reach out and touch the metal that hoisted that very important statement of our freedom seemingly all the way up to the sky.

It was a brief and random moment in an otherwise hectic week, but it seated itself in my heart and fanned a longing that I’ve been having as Independence Day draws near…

I’ve got a craving for America.

Not the one that is found in the partisan arguments between liberals and conservatives on news channels…

Not the one that is written between the lines of the biased story shared in the newspaper…

Not the one that is found in the ruthless and hateful comments following every article and blog post on the internet…

The voices of the people on my television and computer screens have become so loud and so one-sided that I don’t know who to believe anymore. I have grown callous to their arguments and suspicious of their intentions ~ do they really care? Are the statistics they are sharing from an unbiased source? Do they truly want change or are they trying to make a buck or a name for themselves? What is their agenda, really?…

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The spirit of my countrymen has become so bitter and jaded that few are really listening anymore; we have become like partisan robots who immediately agree with everything our political party says or we vehemently disagree with our opponents. On every. single. issue.

When we don’t get our way on those issues, we become fatalistic, as if America is dead. Freedom is dead. The “land of plenty” is a cursed wilderness…

But I’m looking around me, and even though I strongly disagree with many of the views our President stands for, and even though laws are being passed that cause my heart to painfully groan within me, and even though there are a thousand things I would change if I were given the power to do so, this is what I see…

I have good roads to drive on.

The mail is delivered to my mailbox every single day.

I am free to worship God as loudly and as consistently as I choose.

I have thousands of people I have never met who are training or are already trained to protect me – with their lives – if the need arises.

I have the right to school my children at home, and if I change my mind, there is a fully-equipped public school minutes from our house.

There are no bathrooms or water fountains in my town or my state or my country that can be used by only one race.

There are police officers, and firemen, and medical professionals a phone call away if I need help, day or night.

There is a grocery store down the street that contains more food choices in its tiny square footage than people have probably ever had in the history of the world.

I am a stay-at-home mom who is married to a pastor of a small church, and with our modest income, we still fit in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people. Because we’re Americans.

And no matter what the media says about which way our country is going, I still have my vote and I still have my freedom of speech.

I’m sure a Christian from ancient Greece or a suffragette from the 1900’s or a black man from the enslaved South or a Jew from Hitler’s Germany would absolutely love to trade lives with me, even if just for one day.

And so here’s what I want this 4th of July…

some solidarity.

some patriotism.

some gratitude.

some respect for the office of President, no matter my political party.

some kindness.

I want to be heard without being labeled a close-minded conservative or a bigot or a nutcase Southern Baptist.

I want to hear the opinions of others with compassion and understanding, even if I know in my heart I will never agree with them.

I want to be well-informed and knowledgeable about our country’s state of affairs without being used as a pawn in a political game or to increase a show’s television ratings.

I want to use my most important tool of freedom, my vote, with pride and conviction.

I want to use my most important tool for lasting change, prayer, and faithfully beseech God on behalf of our nation and my fellow citizens.

I want to instruct the children in my sphere that change, in a democracy, always begins with you, not the folks in Washington D.C. or the people in high places.

I want to treat President Obama and his lovely wife the same way I wish my beloved G.W. and Laura would have been treated, disagreeing without disrespecting, keeping scorn and bitterness from my heart, and always remembering that presidents are not kings and will not sit in our White House forever.

I want to have faith and hope in a system of checks and balances and in a democracy that swings one way and then usually the other.

I want to enjoy hard work and stay busy enough that I stay out of trouble, and I want my neighbors and townspeople to do the same thing.

I want to worship the Creator as faithfully and boldly as I can while the opportunity is still mine.

I want to study the unadulterated history of my country and teach it to my children, learning from our mistakes and celebrating our God-aided triumphs.

I want to use my rights to speak up – in a kind and effective way – for those who have no voice, specifically those in the womb.

And mostly, I want to feel safe within my borders. Safe to speak, safe to live, safe to raise my children how I see fit, safe to worship, and safe to continue my personal pursuit of happiness.

And the funny thing is, when I tune out the voices on Fox News or CNN or in the comments sections of blogs and internet news stories or from the more out-of-touch celebrities on talk shows, I notice something: America, in my neck of the woods, is almost exactly what I’m looking for.

Of course there are things we must improve. There are freedoms and reforms we must continue to pursue like hounds. There might even be as much wrong as there is right…

But this 4th of July, I want to celebrate the good things, and thank God for this unprecedented chance to live in a free America, while begging Him for grace and guidance to use my freedoms and my blessings wisely and efficiently and, most importantly, generously.

I encourage you to unplug yourself from the talking heads this Independence Day and see with fresh eyes and a grateful heart what you’ve been given.

A beautiful homeland…

previously unheard of freedom and democracy…

a local community to support you…

hope for change…

and the most beautiful and breathtaking “Kuhmerican” flag that waves on nearly every corner, just for you to enjoy.

Happy Independence Day, from Mrs. Gore!

Praise at the Bedtime Hour

I tiptoed upstairs to turn off their lamps and stole a moment to watch them as they slept…

Rebekah.

Exquisite. Wisps of dark eyelashes rest daintily on her cheeks. A perfect little nose. Strawberry lips to match the strawberry tint of the long golden strands of hair framing her cherubic face like a halo. Her mouth forms a dainty “o” as she sleeps, her usually busy hands resting on her chest, rising and falling to the rhythmic beat of her rest.

My heart melts at the sight of her, this unexpected daughter whom I have dubbed “unsinkable.” She is my Molly Brown, my Olivia Pearl, my Holly Alexander, my Calamity Jane…brave, talented, unblinking, smart, bossy, funny…everything I could ever want but didn’t know to ask for.

Thank you, God. She is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Gideon.

Timeless. Two dark rows of thick eyelashes catch my eye. Then that sweet swoop of a nose that I saw in my first ultrasound picture – it has grown a little, but it looks just like it did the first time I saw him. His mouth is slightly open, revealing a row of straight teeth that match him just right. Hair that is so many colors – brown, red, blonde – crowns his head, laying straight and tidy except where it is not.

He is my vintage boy, full of imagination and innocence and hope. I love him a bushel and a peck, and I feel like our lives began at the same time. He is my Opie, my Little Ricky, my Theodore Cleaver, my Gary Jackson…interesting, classic, funny, boyish, and curious, with just a little bit of crazy thrown in for good measure.

Thank you, God. He is fearfully and wonderfully made.

I come downstairs to give my third child a turn…

Betsie.

Precious. She has doubled in length since she first joined our family and her lean little body is sprawled across her bed, reminding me that time continues to pass without my noticing. In my darkened bedroom, her profile shows three curls, Daisy Duck eyelashes in the front, a curlicue topknot on her forehead, and a ducktail at the nape of her neck. One rosy and chubby cheek lies on her bed; the other faces me, begging to be touched.

A forever baby, she is dependent and doting and lovely in every way. Her tender expression begs for love and praise, the contents of her heart written all over her face. She is my Gerber Baby, my Beth March, my Hearth Cricket, my pet…generally quiet, sweet, affable, beautiful and adoring…and with her winsome nature, she has made herself the darling of the entire family.

Thank you, God. She is fearfully and wonderfully made.

As they lie sleeping, and the house lies still, my heart rejoices in the handiwork of a Master Creator who knits together the most amazing and complex masterpieces, each one different, but each one bearing His fingerprint.

I carried them, but He made them.

Fearfully…

Wonderfully…

Thank you, God.