Love.

I dread the news these days, and my newsfeed too. If it’s not another tragedy or act of violence, it’s someone’s personal struggles staring me in the face. There are mass shooting and horrific accidents. There are sick children and judgements. All the judgements. Everyone that can do better than those suffering. It’s all so heartbreaking.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I want to hide it all from my children.- I never want to shelter them. If I do, they’ll be in complete shock when they stumble into the real world one day.- I do, however, want to shield them. I want to protect their innocence as long as I can and I want to save myself the heartache. The heartache I know will come when I look in their eyes and see understanding of something painful. I don’t want to tell them about evil and violence. I don’t want to explain mortality and loss. I want them to stay pure and feel safe for as long as they can.

So what do I do? How do I let them see the real world and hold onto hope at the same time? How do I protect their innocence while preparing them for life?

I love. I use love as a verb and not just a noun. I show them how grace and understanding far outweigh judgement and blame. I show them this concept in my daily interactions with them and everyone else. I explain to them that some people don’t know how to process pain, and sometimes do bad things. Then I love. I show them how to hurt without hurting others. I teach them about compassion. I give them the opportunity to give and help others instead of only looking on. I love. I try my best to show them how to comprehend loss. I find others who share my outlook to help my children understand the world is full of good and good people. I love.

Will this end all the world’s troubles? No. It won’t bring an end to violence or blame or suffering. But, hopefully, it will bring a few more people into the world that know how to love. People that know love is a verb and we must love each other everyday.

My Temple

Like many moms I know, I am not good at taking care of me. I can take care of as many other people as necessary, but not myself. I can monitor my kiddos nutrition, water intake, activity, screen time, and influences. Just not my own.

Although this may seem like an aspect of selflessness and an admirable quality. I’m slowly learning, it’s not. God tells me that my body is a temple. A church. A home for His spirit. And last I checked, God’s spirit doesn’t just lay around and nap all day. No. It gives, and loves, and teaches, and nurtures. It works hard. How am I to be a vessel, a home, for all these works if I’m run down and out of everything? How am I to do God’s work with no resources?

I’ve recently started putting more time and energy into taking care of me. I’m surprised each day to find that I can do more and accomplish things I couldn’t before. I’m encouraged by how much my family seems to notice the difference when I’m well fed and well rested, hydrated and energized. I’m more patient and understanding. I’m happier and less stressed. I’m finally seeing that taking care of me is not an act of selfishness, but an act of working harder to further God’s plan for me.

I hope, if you have as much trouble as I do taking care of yourself, that this will encourage you to try. I don’t succeed everyday, and neither will you. But if we’re do be a temple, we have to try to keep it up.

Give

The story of the widow and her last coins has been told many times. It serves as an illustration for giving all you have, even if it’s not much, instead of giving a little from your abundance. The story is mostly used to encourage giving financially and show that God can use however little you may have to help others. I’ve recently started to see this story in a new light.

As a mom, I give until I feel like I have no more. But, I prefer to give from my abundance. I think this is the case for most people. I give from my ability to manage chores and keep my house moderately clean, even with 3 boys, a husband, and a dog. For some people that’s not so easy, but I’m capable in that respect. I give from my abundance of artistic ability. Some moms cringe at the thought of completing a Pinterest project, but not me. I’m motivated by the challenge and can usually accomplish it. I give from my adequate amount of cooking skills. I’m no chef, but I can make dinner and even a homemade cake every now and then.

You’d think, since God gave me three boys and all, that I had some amount of athletic ability. Nope. None. I shy away from playing sports with my kids because I’m pretty sure they’re all more capable than me, even at 5, 3, and 1. This is where I need to be more like the widow. Even a small amount of kicking around the soccer ball thrills my boys. They’re satisfied with my small amount of ability, if I give it to them.

I’m not outdoorsy. At all. I love a good scenic view, but not hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, none of it. I don’t like the heat, the bugs, or the dirt. (I’m itching, just thinking about it!) Did I mention I have three boys? I can’t give them a weekend adventure in the great outdoors, but they’re so happy when I take them on a nice walk in a new place. I give what little I have, and they appreciate it so much.

Super terrible mommy confession, but I am not good at sitting and playing with my kids for hours. The balls and cars and superheroes and block towers that always end up destroyed with someone crying- it all makes me insane. My boys don’t understand games yet and always get mad at the rules. Puzzle end up strewn across the room. It’s just all too much for my patience. But I can give them small little chunks of time. I can sit and play superheroes for about ten minutes, then “mommy needs to go rotate the laundry.” I can give them what little patience I have, and they appreciate it. They always remember what we played last and talk about how fun it was.

The widow’s perspective on giving is helping me to be a better mom. It’s helping me to see that, no matter how little I have, when given freely to my littles, it is received with joy and graditude. This may not always be the case, but for now, for them, my little bit is more than enough.