An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

Do you have sons? What would you share with them if you wrote them a letter? As a mom of three boys, I gave it a try. Here's an open letter to my boys. #parenting #boys #lettertomysons

I’m honored to be featured this week over at Char’s blog, Trekking Thru the Week. 

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Dear Son,

I immediately felt the fiercest love for you from the moment I knew you were real. Indeed, countless hours were spent imagining the curve of your face and what hue of brown or blue your eyes would be.

Our greatest hopes for you from the beginning were happiness and safety. However, with wisdom comes the understanding that we can not always keep you happy and safe.

You, my beloved son, will become well acquainted with sadness and disappointment in your life. Because of this truth, my hopes and prayers are a bit different then they used to be…

Do you have sons? What would you share with them if you wrote them a letter? As a mom of three boys, I gave it a try. Here's an open letter to my boys. #parenting #boys #lettertomysons

An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

A mother’s longings for her son:

Happiness should never be your ultimate goal

Son, unfortunately, our world teaches you that your greatest goal in life should be attaining and keeping your happiness.

And, take it from your mama, none of us are guaranteed constant happiness in this life. Further, entertaining, attaining, and keeping this fickle emotion should never be our greatest goal.

Additionally, something or someone that makes you happy in a moment can turnabout and make you miserable a moment later.

Truly, true joy is something that must enter your heart and sustain you when the simple emotion of happiness is nowhere to be found.

Son, the truth is, that often our happiness will come at the expense of someone else’s. In addition, what we do to attain our own happiness in a moment can cost quite a fortune for another.

Remember this my sweet little man, and count the cost.

Come on over to Trekking Thru the Week to read the rest of this post.

An Open Letter to My Three Boys…

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I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed…

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed. #hope #believed #despair

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;”

Psalm 27:13-14 nasb

 

I sat down to finish writing something entirely different, but my fingers wouldn’t type.

So, I walked away.

I find myself in a familiar place today –

Afraid.

Too anxious to sit. Too scrambled to articulate sentences and think up pretty words.

I’m not myself – or rather, a previous form of myself.

I don’t like her very much and I struggle to give her grace when she shows up.

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed. #hope #believed #despair

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed…

I’m battling a cold and tiredness seems to engulf me today.

My youngest is home sick, he woke up at three a.m. with a high fever and cough. After giving him medicine and a cool towel we sat together and watched some of the Olympics. My little guy drifted off sometime after four and I sat alone in the dark thinking.

I know better than to go deep when the night is heavy around me…

Whispers from the past pull me down

Lying in bed next to my sweet, sleeping cherub, I wander to a place years ago in the midst of postpartum depression, when my older son was sick. Back to a time when life seemed unbearable because I was having severe anxiety and obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

I was physically present but not so much emotionally and mentally, which left my memories blurred.

My boys are no longer little. Two of them are teenagers now and my tiniest—as my husband and I call him—turns nine next month. Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital?

The nagging voice in my mind whispers – Time is short... I shift uncomfortably in my bed because I am all too aware that I can never get those days back.

My breath catches as tears fall while I grieve the past.

It hurts.

The would of’s, should of’s and what if’s are there waiting—so are the fears that once swallowed me whole. None of them truly leave and if I rummage long enough, my emotions match my thoughts. 

I am left feeling helpless and anxious.

Today I am Tired

Memories have that effect on me.

I struggle when ghosts from my past trigger emotional reactions, especially in weak moments.

Today my body is fighting off sickness while my mind fights to stay present. When I’m tired I am more prone to anxiety and then depression always follows closely, seeking an opportunity to descend.

I’ve been waiting for a day like today. I knew it would come and I’d have to write about it…

 

We hear all the time how hard it is to be transparent.

Well, it really is… Hard.

Then the lies…

Who do you think you are to write about overcoming anxiety and depression? You’re still here…

You have nothing to offer…

You’ll never get over this…

The ripple of a stone thrown years ago in the lake of my life still reaches me, even today, on an average snow-covered February morning.

If only life were a sitcom, where we could laugh while all misfortune is neatly summed up in 30 minutes.

But it’s not.

Life is complicated, tangled and imperfect.

I’d love to tell you I am wrapped up in the prettiest paper and neatly tied with a bow. But this would be a lie because I am a work in progress. Bad days happen when you deal with anxiety and depression. And often for me, it’s the memories that set one in motion.

But God…

Making some soup for my boy, I spotted the most beautiful little bird amidst the snow outside my back window. He didn’t seem to mind the frozen ground, pecking and digging until he found a worm. Satisfied with his loot he flew off to the nearest tree and sang a song until another sweet melody responded.

Observing my feathered friend on this crisp winter morning, reminded again that God is faithful.

He was then, He is now.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed…”

I love the King James Version of this scripture – I would have lost heart unless I had believed…”

Oh, how I lose heart when I forget to believe! It is so tempting to look back and try to manipulate the events of our lives – although, the only thing altered is us – we are left defeated, sad and helpless by lingering too long in the unchangeable.

But God…

“I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

He reminds me of His faithful goodness IN the land of the living.

Right. Now.

When I dig through the icy memories at my feet I find Him there. The goodness of the Lord, even in the cold, even in the muck. When I do, I rise above the cold to sing a song of rejoicing for where I am AT this moment.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;”

I texted my husband to ask for prayer and my sweet guy told me to look at the cross. “You don’t have to try harder, He did it all, just look up in faith to Him.”

Today I wait.

I wait for this to pass.

I fight to stay in the moment and remember that sometimes fighting doesn’t mean pulling out weapons and battling until you’re bloody. Occasionally it looks a lot like waiting. Allowing your heart to take courage by standing firm in the truth you already know. It takes a little time for our heart to thaw and take in courage.

Then my guy told me something else. “Don’t try… Just write,” he said.

So, I write

My little boy is snuggled in watching movies next to me, his fever warmed skin pressed against mine. I nuzzle my face into his sweaty head of hair as his blue eyes gaze up at Wreck-It-Ralph. All while remembering to breathe out a quiet thankfulness for this moment, time alone with my Tiny while my older two are at school.

Days like today take place, they just do.

Triggers come and sad, anxious days will occur. But just as the delicate bird sings his song amongst the wintry frost, I choose to believe I will see the goodness of the Lord IN the now.

Reminders of past victories and present grace.

Hope.

Won’t you join me today in thanking Him for the hard days as well as the good? They will come and that’s okay.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble… God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46: 1-2 &5 NASB

 

I’m linking up with some fantastic fellow bloggers this week – click on the links and join me over there!

Grace&Truth-300x300

 

Holley Gerth

 

          

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What does real love look like?

I’ve been sick this week and completely useless.

It’s no fun being sick around the holidays, so much to do and no energy to do it. Thank God for Amazon.

And my husband…

Every time I’m sick he takes such good care of me. He makes sure I have all the medicine I need and am totally comfortable. He must’ve gone to the store 50 different times because of my ever-changing mood for food and drink. And, he even drove halfway across town to get me my favorite soup.

Also, he allows me to rest and he picks up the slack around the house and takes care of our kid’s needs. I am truly blessed because of him.

My husband’s response to me being completely laid up and useless during one of the busiest weeks out of the year has got me to thinking.

What does real love look like?

Is it really just 3 little words with an emoji attached to it?

Or is there action behind this word that is shaded in various hues of pinks and reds?

In our day and age “I love you’s” are said daily without a second thought and are slathered all over social media. While sometimes this can be the only thing that can be done or said in a moment, I can’t help but think it can feel a bit vacant. When it’s thrown around so impulsively it begins to feel void of any commitment and true substance.

Maybe loving isn’t always as easy as we like to think it is. Perhaps, at times it takes a little more work than we would like to think.

What if during this season of giving, we take a step back some 2,000 years ago and follow the man from Nazareth and consider what real love looks like.

For God so loved that He gave…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is more than likely the most well-known verse in the entire bible and I believe it holds an equation as simple as 1 + 1=2.

God loved = He gave.

Real love gives.

God gave His Son to die for us which led to life for all mankind. He knew we had a need and out of love He gave.

This gift that He gave was given solely out of Agape. This is the word used to describe the love that is from God and specifically IS God.

Agape love is shown by what it does. It is not an emotionally based love, it is not based on anything the recipient has done. Agape is faithfulness and commitment.

Agape is God’s love for us because it is who He is.

Real Love has a name

Because God IS love, (1 John 4:8) He is the ultimate model of who we are to follow when we need to see how to do love.

God gave Love…He gave Jesus.

We love, we give. There just simply can not be one without the other.

Real Love Gives

We have forgotten in our day and age that there is a responsibility that comes with loving someone. It is a weighty duty.

And a great privilege.

Love doesn’t mean we are fulfilled or even necessarily happy at the moment.

A lot of the time love isn’t even about us or our needs.

Most of the time, it is others focused.

Truly loving another comes with sacrifice on our part. It may even mean going against what we feel in the moment to give another love.

…”My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:38-39

I think we like to believe love shouldn’t cost us anything.

But sometimes love doesn’t look the way we think it should, sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable.

Sacrificial, even.

Love gives

an apology.

truth.

time.

a hug.

a meal.

a sacrifice.

Friend, don’t be fooled by the shallow counterfeits out there. There are many. We can fall for the shiny and the easy, thinking it’s the road to real love because it gives us butterflies. All the while forgetting that true Love is stained with blood and wears a crown of thorns.

The ultimate gift we could ever receive was given just over 2,000 years ago. It was the utmost act of love and sacrifice at once.

It was certainly not what everyone expected… or even wanted.

But it was exactly what was needed.

This is real love.

Love came and entered our little ball of dirt and turned everything upside down for the people of that time, and if we allow Him to, He will continue to do so today.

Because real love never stops giving.

May we be reminded this Christmas, and all the year-long, that real love gives.


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How to be the Loudest Voice our Kids Hear

In a world full of ugly how will we teach our children to be decent human beings?

It’s the question at the heart of several conversations I’ve been a part of in recent months. With Hollywood’s current events and our tumultuous politics, this has been a recurring topic on social media and in personal conversation.

I’ve heard comments such as these:

“How will my boys be men that respect women when we have a president like this?”

“When those in power behave this way how are we to teach our kids it’s wrong?”

“How do I explain the ugly things that happen in this world to my kids?”

People in the spotlight are responsible for the most hideous behaviors and appear to be above the law. More shootings and ugliness spill out daily into our homes from simply turning on the television. At the swipe of a finger, the news bombards not only us but our children as well.

We worry how their hearts and minds will be affected by the people in places of prominence and the events in our world.

It can leave us feeling helpless.

So, how do we raise men and women that respect others while the world pushes in?

Going on a walk with my family, I happened to lag behind a bit messing with the dog. I looked up and pulled out my phone just in time to catch this picture. As I glanced down at my phone, the thought crossed my mind.

This is how..

My hubby and my oldest were walking, genuinely engaged in a conversation about serious issues. We want them to come to us first when they have a struggle and we are so honored when they let us in.

We are far from perfect parents but we make it our mission to have our boys consider us a safe place. My husband and I decided to have an open door policy in our home, to be honest with our boys.

 We choose to talk about life. Real. Not fun. Ugly. Exciting. Glorious. Confusing. Life. Un-filtered and uncensored. Sometimes the conversations aren’t fun, and they aren’t always pretty and sometimes we have to initiate because they’re embarrassed.

There are days my kids see and hear things I’d rather they not. I can’t control what comes out of the mouth of the president, the celebrity on tv, or for that matter, the person next to us. And I certainly don’t always agree with their views.

Talk to them

My oldest son is quite literally growing into a man before my eyes, and as I watched my husband walking with him I was filled with a sense of awe. An understanding of the great privilege a parent holds gripped me all over again.

I believe the greatest mistake we can make in parenting is to put the power to impact our children into the hands of others. Whether this is a politician, school,  church, society, or anyone else.

When we throw our hands up in defeat we are claiming helplessness over our own children; Instead of this, we should be claiming promises over them.

When we throw our hands up in defeat, we claim helplessness over our own children.. when we should be claiming promises over them.Click To Tweet

Ours are the words they hear daily. It’s our voices that have the ability to shape what they understand to be true of the world and themselves.

With a million voices vying for their attention, I want ours to be the loudest. We are the ones that love them. No matter how well-intentioned he may be, the president doesn’t love my children. Whether they be a republican or democrat, conservative or liberal, they don’t love our children.

They do not know my children individually and they do not know what is best for them.

Therefore, I will not give them that much credit.

I refuse to give away the power that I possess to influence my children because of what celebrities, politicians, or anyone else choose to do or say. In a world full of agendas and lies, I pray that our home will be filled with love and grace so that they won’t feel the need to look elsewhere for their worth.. or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Wherever I may fear the greatest threat comes from, supposing it’s the White House or the house down the street, I want my kids to know that their greatest ally on Earth is right here, walking next to them.

 

I pray they’ll remember the love they’ve been given and the truth they’ve been shown right here when questions arise and the ugliest part of humanity shows its face.

This is what I hope will lead and guide them as they grow into men.

Though imperfect as we are, we love them fiercely. My hope is, if I am honest with them for my need of grace, they will be honest with their need and that will extend far beyond our home.

Ultimately, my prayer is that because they have been given grace, they will be grace givers, always.

That they will see and know the ultimate Grace Giver.

We certainly can not keep them from all the ugly in this world. But it is my privilege to take their hand and walk with them through it.