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Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

Page 18: 2973 Days

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

As I sit here alone in an empty office building, I am left to ponder the last 2973 days. Back on November 28, 2005 I started my career with Telus. Today is my last day and on Monday I start a new career.

Since then many things have changed over the past 8 years.

  • I was 28 years old and now I’m 37.
  • I’ve gained and lost a lot of weight over that time. I have been between 190 and 250 depending on my mood and energy level and now I’m in the lower half of that again and heading in the right direction.
  • I had a preschooler, a toddler, and one in the oven and now I have four elementary students.
  • We had just signed a lease on our 11th rental place in less than 7 years and now we have been living in a home we own for almost 7 years.
  • We’ve seen two new premiers of Alberta, a new Prime Minister, a new US President, and added 1.6 billion people to the earth’s population.
  • The Office had only aired 15 episodes and now after 9 seasons it has ended.
  • We started a podcast, recorded 42 episodes (which the kids still love to listen to), and shut it down.
  • We have attended several different churches in that time. Rockyview, Harvest Hills, East Side, Full Gospel, St. Thomas More, Eastview. Some only a few times, some for about a year, but we’ve always found ourselves drawn back to Bow Valley where we started out. Tomorrow we are launching our new church plant, Northern Hills and we expect to be there at least 3 years.

About halfway through the 2973 days, in the summer of 2009, I got it in my mind that I wanted to start down the road to becoming an accountant. Since then I’ve taken 10 courses through SAIT and CGA, met with a number of accountants, taken two tax courses at H&R Block and subsequently taught those same courses, and spent three seasons preparing taxes and managing a tax office

The first 2,500 days of our marriage were focused on music ministry and then the next 3,000 have had a distinct drop in both music and ministy – at least in my life. This busyness (and working a rotational shift at work) led to me being in class or working a lot of Sundays for a few years. Now even though I am still focusing on a career in accounting or finance, I have been able to make shifts in priorities. I am very involved at church now. More than any other time since I was working in full-time ministry.

Since I started delivering papers in 1991, I’ve worked evenings and/or weekends except for one year just out of high school. For over 20 years of my career I’ve felt unable to commit to things because of my irregular hours. My new job is Monday to Friday, 8-4. I feel like I have finally grown up. In addition to the time I can now devote to ministry work, I’m also very excited to be able to date my wife again. All four of our kids are involved in a neighbourhood club on Wednesday nights and since neither of us are working, Amber and I have decided to make that a regular date night. Typically we get one or two dates a year because of my schedule (and me being too cheap to pay for a babysitter), so being able to have this time that we can reconnect will be awesome.

I’ve been getting congratulations from lots of people about this new job. Mostly everyone assumes it’s a promotion and that I’ve got it made now that I’m working with the government. That’s not really the case. The job I’ve signed on to is a term position that is only guaranteed until May and after taking into account my employee discounts I’ve been used to at Telus, pays about 15-20% less than we are used to. This is why this is such a leap of faith. To gain this time back with my family and be able to have a significantly less stressful work situation, I have to sacrifice stability. I am trusting that come the end of my term, the post will be extended or I will find something even better. While this seems really scary when I write it down, it feels so right. I know that this is the move that will take us where we are supposed to be.

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Just WOW.

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

We had an amazing weekend. It was one of those weekends that is just filled with beauty, learning, sharing, exploration, joy, sorrow, music, and generous generous giving of time and talent, all wrapped up in LOVE.

It was one of those weekends that comes to an end and you are so overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that you are quite sure you might burst at any moment if you don’t let something out.

Writing is my outlet, and here I am, sitting at my computer, praying that the words that flow from my fingers will accurately describe the huge feelings within me. I know that there are no words that are quite right, but here I am…willing to give it a try.

This weekend our family headed out to an isolated Christian camp in the mountains about 3 hours from our home (on a good day when there is not major construction happening. It actually took us 4.5 hours to get there on Friday.). This is generally not something that we do as a family – leaving town – we pretty much stick close to home on the weekends; Jon usually works either Saturday or Sunday so we don’t make plans to go away.

And here I’m pausing. I don’t really know how to continue. Hm.

What got us out to the mountains, you ask? Well, it was strangers.

Okay, they were only kind of strangers. We’ve actually known a couple of them for years, and one of them we knew from the past. But mostly, we went to the mountains to meet up with people that we have only met twice before. Once for a few hours on a Sunday morning and once for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks ago (or was it last weekend…?). Altogether we were about 21 adults, six there for the sole purpose of cooking and taking care of our 17 children, with the help of their three whom they brought along to help.

18 of us, along with our 18 children, are planting a church in north Calgary. This weekend retreat marked the start of our journey together as a team, and the start for some of us of many hours of planning and preparation.

We spent time exploring reports of our own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We found that our personalities complement each other in a way that is so balanced, it is almost impossible to believe. Almost. ;) We spent time playing team building games, discussing anything and everything that came up in structured and unstructured times, learning about each other, going over our church values, reading the Bible and praying.

One evening, we started singing. And didn’t stop for over an hour. Singing in a group…it’s powerful. Praising God with your new church family…powerful. Kids finished with their evening activity filtering into the room and cuddling up to their parents, their voices joining with the voices of the adults…so heart touchingly powerful.

I saw our children play together, eat together and make decisions as a group. Children who had just met, getting along and enjoying each other’s company!

I saw people serving God by serving us. Giving up their weekend for us, that they could drive for three (or four and a half) hours to be there for us. To feed us healthy delicious food and spend long hours entertaining children they’d never met. I do not like to cook at all, and I know how hard it can be to entertain children for hours on end, never mind 20 of them all at once in a place that no one is used to. Seriously, those people are angels. Healthy meals and childcare are HUGE gifts to me, and thinking of the effort they put in nearly brings me to grateful tears.

Speaking of tears, on Saturday night, one of our team members received word that someone close to him had suddenly passed away. We were in the middle of eating dinner, and before he left, we stopped eating, stood around him and just surrounded him with love. We cried with him, prayed through tears…made sure he knew that we are here for him. As he left to make his way back home, we returned to our seats. I had tears in my eyes as I sat; Josh asked Jon why I looked like I was about to cry, and Jon explained that sometimes we cry with our friends who are sad. I have a very soft heart, but I tend to cry in private. Andrew came over with his own tears. He said he didn’t know why he felt sad, but that he was crying because I was.

God’s love was so present in that room, and so present all weekend. This is what it’s all about. Loving people. Loving people no matter who they are, what they think, do or feel. No matter what their past or present looks like. Supporting people when they need support. Serving people. Meeting their needs when they need help. And doing it with a heart that just radiates love.

In our session after dinner, we shared about our lives – our pasts, the ways that our church families have blessed us, and our expectations for the church. Normal people who have lived normal lives. Not always smooth perfect lives. Some rough roads that made me feel that I am not alone in my experiences. Real life. Real people. Transformed by God’s love. Miracles.

My kids did not want to leave the retreat centre this morning. Andrew, of all people, did not want to leave.

I don’t know how to wrap up this post. The weekend is over, but this is just the beginning of this story. We are so excited about everything that is about to take place. Life changing, amazing things that we can’t even fathom. If you pray, please pray for us. If you want more information or to get involved, don’t be shy about letting me know.

Love and joy. :)

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Posted in friends, Godstuff, joy, kids, life, music |

On. Off. On. Off.

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

That is the pattern of the cursor blinking at the top of my blog screen.

So much going on with us. So much to say. But not yet. What can I write about?

I think that the next few months are going to be amazing. We are waiting on so many things.

Tonight as I tucked in my kids, three of them asked for stories. I read Claire a story about a hippo looking for someone to be her valentine. I read Andrew a story about Wall-E and EVE celebrating Christmas (while Claire read a second book that includes a part about how babies are made and how they grow. Before I left the room, she correctly identified a picture of sperm.). I then read Daniel a couple of old blog entries. Jon had one year of our blog published into a hard cover book for me for Mother’s Day one year, and the kids just cannot get enough of that book. They have read it more than any other book. Ever.

Of course that gets me thinking about my poor, neglected blog. It calls to me when I can’t possibly take a moment to write. I can try to save the thought for later, but it never lasts long enough in my busy brain. I really want to record our life so the kids can continue to enjoy it. Perhaps one day, our grandchildren will giggle as they read about the antics of their fathers’ childhoods. I would love to read anything written by my grandma. I think often about how I didn’t know her well enough. I didn’t get to hear her story; the whole thing. I want to know it, but she left too soon, and now I can’t know. I wish that I could have known her as a mother knowing a mother. I’ve nagged my mom in the past to write her life story – it is an interesting one – but she says she doesn’t know where to start. Just start at the beginning.

Anyway, now I am babbling, and I could probably go on all night, writing about nothing. Tomorrow will bring school for the kids (Andrew already is upset about having to go), work for Jon, and the gym, errands and phonecalls for me. Laundry. Cleaning. A new day.

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One month later…

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Ha! So, over and over I make plans to start blogging daily again. But it doesn’t happen!

Today I am starting again.

This month has not been the easiest in terms of getting everyone to school without tears. It seems that three of them just aren’t interested, and one of them REALLY does not want to be away from his mommy. Fun times.

This morning I had a dentist appointment at 7:20 am. This meant that Jon was in charge of the morning rush, and had to get our four kids and a little girl that I take care of before and after school to school, without assistance.

He had our oldest complain and ask why mommy couldn’t have stayed home and gotten them off to school and had daddy go to the dentist instead.

My appointment was painful and not fun at all, so when I heard that Daniel had said this, I was in full agreement!

BUT…Jon got them all to school, on time. And by the time I got home at 10:30 (yep, my appointment was over 2.5 hours long!!), Jon had done all the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and dining room, and run to the store to pick up garbage bags and dishwasher detergent (both of which we ran out of days ago). He encouraged me to nap for the hour I had left before the kids came home for lunch, so I rested, got up to feed everyone, then Jon made me go back to bed for the afternoon, while he folded the two baskets of clean laundry that were sitting in the living room.

Do I have an awesome hubby or what?

My face feels like I’ve been punched, over and over and over, and for the first time since Andrew’s birth in 2006, I have been counting the hours between Tylenols.

Tonight two of the four kiddos are at Kids Club at a nearby church, where they get to hang out with other kids from the neighbourhood, play games, do crafts, watch movies, learn Bible stuff, have snacks and run around in the gym. I wish that all four of my kids were interested, but the older two are moving quickly into the “I’m too cool for that” stage, which I am trying to maneuver through with equal helpings of “you have to do this because I told you to” and “if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to; you can make your own decisions.” Kids club is a “make your own decisions” activity, while Jon and I have decided that they (the oldest two) will be taking part in a leadership club at the local Y, and they don’t have a choice in that. Balance.

So that catches us up to today, and tomorrow I’ll be back with more about our exciting adventures!

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Posted in kids, life, marriage, parenting, school |

On the first day of school…

Friday, August 16th, 2013

…my children gave to me…

Four sets of dry eyes (YES!)

Okay, that’s all they really gave me yesterday, but I had to share.

Daniel is back in his old class with the same teacher he had last year. She is expecting a baby in October, so there will be a new teacher for him at some point, but it’s great that the transition to grade six was a smooth one for him. One new kid in his class, and homework already that Daniel actually cannot wait to get done, and he is bugging me for his computer time to start so he can work on it.

Josh has a new teacher, and many of his classmates are people that weren’t in his class last year. He somehow managed to score a seat at a desk grouping that he was the only one present at yesterday. He acted really excited to be all alone (which surprised me; I can’t figure out if he is really happy or sad about it), and in the free time the teacher gave the class, Josh managed to make every student in his class an origami Yoda, his specialty.

Andrew said yesterday that the morning at school was WAY easier than he expected, and we have not had hesitation or concern from him about school since yesterday morning when I had to push him a little to get him to walk through the door. Amazing, amazing and I am so very proud and thankful.

Claire went into her Kindergarten class yesterday afternoon without a worry. She met up with two of her buddies outside and they all sat together on the carpet as the kids were all called into their respective groups. One of the kindergarten teachers who was Daniel’s and Josh’s kindergarten teacher commented to me, “She looks so ready.” And she is! This afternoon, Claire lined up on the wall with her friends, and walked into the school without one glance back when the teachers came out to get the kids.

I am so very HAPPY.

Yesterday while the kindergarteners were having their first 1.5 hours of school, the parents went to the gym to hear a presentation about the school, some things to help our little ones get accustomed to the new schedule, and reading, technology, health and art tips. It made me love the school even more than I already do. We are so in the right place. Though it’s been a bit unsettling for us to constantly be wondering if we should move (and where) over the past five years, I am so glad that we have this comfortable place to rest while we wait for a clear answer to our wondering. We are so blessed to have this!

The kids have already fallen back into the school year schedule, but I am struggling to get back into it. I’m still in the lazy days of summer, doing the minimal housework necessary to get by. Yesterday I managed laundry, dishes and most of the bathroom. My goal for this weekend is to get my floor washed. It really needs it. I can do it! :D

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‘Twas the Night Before School

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The bags are packed, we’re ready to go. The snacks are waiting in the fridge. My house is messy and eager for the cleaning that only truly happens between August’s end and July.

Yup, a brand new year of school starts tomorrow.

My youngest will be heading off to kindergarten and I should be emotional, but I really never am for the kindergarten year. I am just filled with excitement for my child every time this experience comes around. School – such a wonderful adventure before them – a gift just waiting to be opened.

I can’t say that I’m not emotional about other things though. Strange as it is, I am a little sad that my biggest has grown so quickly. Tomorrow he begins his last year in this school. It is unbelievable to me that time has flown so fast. At the end of Daniel’s kindergarten year, Claire was born, and now she is beginning her kindergarten year. Daniel has been at this wonderful, amazing, honest and supportive school for a lifetime. Tomorrow he starts his seventh year there – grade six. Isn’t that just… I don’t know. I have no words, just a lump in my throat.

I also know that tomorrow will be an emotional day for Andrew. He has been battling a huge fear of school since about March. The last while of his grade one year was pure stress – for him and me – and while I am trying not to think about it, and am trying to force the ‘what if’ thoughts from my head tonight, deep down inside, I can feel the pressure of the feeling that tomorrow morning is not going to be easy-going, relaxed or happy. I’m trying to prepare myself for it, but there’s just no real way to do that. I’ve worked so hard these last few weeks to give him support and tools to face this monster, but anxiety is a beast and support and tools aren’t always strong enough. Especially when you are heading back into the nightmare after a very long break from it.

Please pray for our family; for peace and for patience.

Of course I need to mention Josh, who will be getting a new teacher this year. He is heading into grade five, and he is my easy-going socialite. I am looking forward to hearing about his day tomorrow! He will probably have a lot to tell me about all his friends. He has already asked for permission to throw a back to school party, and has the guest list all ready. Of course I said yes, and soon we will figure out a good time to do that. LOL

Tomorrow: school, excitement, friends, freedom, cleaning, quiet, routine.

I can’t wait.

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Summertime!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

It seems that it is about time for my monthly blog post! :D

This summer has been a little different than most of our summers. We tend to do our traveling at the end of the break so that the days and weeks off school don’t drag on with the most exciting part of our vacation behind us right off the bat. This year, we traveled almost as soon as the kids were out of school.

It was good because the weather in Winnipeg was FABULOUS! Hot. My favourite! We got to hang out with friends and family there, but most of what we did was lounge. Lounge around the house, on the deck, in the yard. I read two books while on vacation. On the deck. In the sun. That was my favourite part.

On the way home we got to stop for visits with Jon’s family – first his aunt and her grandson, then Jon’s grandma. We had a nice time with each of them; some beach time at the cabin/beach where Jon spent many many childhood summers, and a little drive through the town Jon lived in as a child.

Our first week home really was reorienting ourselves with life. It was a strange feeling to not have to jump right back into life like we usually do after our summer trips. We all kind of wandered through the days; working to get things dealt with before they became out of hand nightmares – bacteria, bugs, anxiety, housework.

This week three of the kids have had swimming lessons every morning. Josh is in an actors’ program where he spends about seven hours every day developing his talent. He came to me awhile ago and told me that if he was ever going to be an actor, he needed to get on it; that he was getting old! So, as a gift to him for all of the helpful things he does for our family – all the time without fighting, arguing or being asked twice – I found and registered him in a program that runs for a week and is put on by a talent agent. They love him there – he is the youngest in the group – and I am so proud of him for jumping into an unfamiliar situation and just going for it! There are only about 4-5 kids in the program and the next youngest is 12 years old. He came home yesterday with a sheet of paper filled with affirmations from everyone…almost every one on there mentioned how cute he is. I love that he is getting this attention and affirmation. As a well-behaved, quiet middle kid, I imagine he is soaking it up, since he seems to fly under the radar most of the time at home.

Swimming lessons for the other three are going okay. Andrew is suffering separation anxiety and it is sometimes hard to get him into the pool. Still, when he gets there, I am so impressed with his skill. I am amazed by Daniel’s confidence in the water and he and Claire both make me so proud with how much they’ve taken to swimming. I’ve never been the strongest swimmer and I really never was interested in it. Still not. Josh has been a lot like me in terms of swimming, but next week he’ll be in lessons with the other three, and since he last took lessons, he has acquired a great pair of goggles and a noseplug. I have a feeling that these will give him the comfort he needs to finally progress to the next level.

I was thinking that with only having swimming lessons in the plans for the summer, things would be pretty laid back and easy, but it still feels like we are running, running, running with not enough hours in the day. I do fall into bed every night hours later than I wanted to, exhausted.

In three weeks, school will be back in session already! Hopefully we’ll all be ready for the transition, and excited to be back into a routine that keeps the kids minds busy for most of the day. I have to say, there has been quite a lot of computer and video game playing going on here lately. While I don’t necessarily love it…I actually do. :D

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Spa Night

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Tonight was a fabulously relaxing time for me. Jon had the day off work, so after our afternoon family counseling appointment, we took some dinner to a friend and then came home.

Jon got us pizza for dinner so I didn’t have to cook (well, technically I made two dinners already today, just not for us!), and a Froster for me.

After I ate, the three kids we have home this evening were all occupied by various electronic devices, so I snuck upstairs to get rid of my greys. After my hair was all back to brown, I thought I’d play around with some new makeup I bought recently. Then I decided to take an Epsom salt bath, and give myself a manicure and a pedicure.

And as I did all this, I was kept entertained by some awesome 80s tunes and many texts from many family members about superfun plans we have coming up.

It was a wonderful and relaxing evening. Even as I tucked the kids into bed, I was able to bring my boy back from a panic attack, and hearing the words, “I feel a lot better, Mommy,” was a beautiful and amazing thing for me, and the first time he has said that. I know that a lot of the time he does his best to just “suck it up” and push his anxiety away. I am so proud of him.

And now it is still early enough that I can get to bed at a very reasonable time. And I pray that the relaxed feeling will continue on into tomorrow, with health, calm and happiness for the whole family.

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Posted in anxiety, joy, kids, life, parenting |

Best Friends

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Andrew was looking over my shoulder at my open Facebook page and sees a picture of Jon.

Andrew: Daddy is your FRIEND???

Me: Yes, of course. Daddy is my best friend.

Andrew: Weird.

Me: Why is that weird?

Andrew: I don’t know. Claire is my best friend.

Me: Do you think that is weird?

Andrew: No.

Me: Are you guys going to be friends when you grow up and get houses close to each other so all your kids can play together and be good cousins?

Andrew: Yes. :)

~~~~

Claire: Can I sleepover at C’s house tonight?

Me: No.

Claire: Why not? :(

Me: No sleepovers on week nights.

Claire: EVERY night is a week night!!

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Posted in conversations, joy, kids, life, parenting |

Things

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Do you ever have one of those days where you look around you at the amount of STUFF that has amassed in your home and you are just disgusted at all there is?

I am having one of those days. I have these days often, and they are accompanied by a strong urge to start filling bags and boxes as quickly as I can and get them out, out, OUT of our home. Usually what sets me off is a huge mess of clutter that seems to pile up around me in a space that is just big enough for our family, and not for things to be strewn about. Also, my urge to get rid of things depends strongly on the amount of disrespect my family has for their things at any given moment.

It makes me sad to see them kicking around toys, sitting on books, leaving things out that are just SO important to them that they couldn’t possibly live without it (like a piece of school work). We have talked endlessly about respecting your things and about others who are not fortunate enough to have the things that we have.

It frustrates me to have to clean up the same mess over and over. It angers me to have to put away food left out on the counter after a meal was prepared. It irritates me that these values that I am trying to instill in my family are not sticking.

I recently finished reading a book called “Kisses from Katie,” which was written by a girl who left her rich American life to change as many lives as she can in Uganda. It is happening right now. It brought all of these feelings about having too much and needing to declutter our lives right on up to the surface of my heart. We don’t NEED all this stuff. We have too much. It disgusts me.

But I know it is our culture and I know that I can’t force my family to live in an empty building and call it home.

I just wish I could teach them to appreciate it all a little more.

I hope that deep down – even though they don’t outwardly display it – I hope they know that they are so blessed to have all that they do. I hope it is written on their hearts so that as they grow, they are able to escape the more, more, MORE mentality of North America. I don’t want them to spend their lives aching and longing for a bigger house, for a better car, for the newest gaming system. I want them to find joy in what they have; and in where they are. I want them to find their family there, and their friends, and know that that is what is important and that everything else is just fluff. And I want them to be able to leave the fluff if that’s what it comes down to.

And this weekend, I think I may have to declutter. Just a little. ;)

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Posted in books, joy, kids, life, parenting |

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