Parenting, Stories I tell

Stories I Tell: A Brother’s Counsel

Seven years ago this month, my youngest was involved in a wreck that totaled his car and left him unscathed.

“We have family in every city,” I told my son who was hundreds of miles from both our home and his. “This family is called church.” I suggested he use his smartphone and find a local church. I was over an hour from home with a flip phone.

I texted another son and raced home to the internet. My husband was in Italy, and I needed to notify him.

My church suggestion caused my stranded son to send a group text to church brothers who rescued him the next day.

Why the next day? His older brother said so.

While I was driving home, he was taking charge. The quality of counsel he gave amazed my husband and me—more detailed and informed than ours would have been.

“He was Papa Bear taking care of his cub,” I said later. The cub agreed. “I told my friends he was calling the shots.”

During a time of trauma and uncertainly, my heart rejoiced in my sons’ relationship and the wisdom they showed in giving and receiving advice.

Stories I Share

It Will Be Over On Friday

Decades ago, my husband and I were foster patents to a one-year-old, whom we nicknamed Z-Man.


Z-Man’s energy was boundless, his coordination was amazing, and his main word was ball—all fitting for the son of a football player. Unfortunately, that football player was an absent father, and Z-Man’s teenage mother needed help. She wisely chose temporary foster care.

When Z-Man’s mother was ready to resume parenting, she was allowed daytime visits, and finally, one overnight visit. Z-Man joyfully ran to greet my husband when his overnight visit ended. Then, Z-man turned and looked at his mother. He turned back with anguish on his face.  Z-Man understood he couldn’t have both people.

That Sunday night with us went smoothly, but on Monday night, Z-Man screamed his emotions. He was inconsolable and too young to understand the plans of the adults in control. On Friday, he would have his mother permanently; he would no longer bounce between two homes.

I occasionally think of Z-Man and the reminder that in my darkest moments, God has plans. And they might be completed on Friday.

For who has known the mind of the Lord. or who has been his counselor? Romans 11:34

Favorites, Friendship, Parenting

I Need Holding Help (From June 21 2020)

A republished blog for the third anniversary of 100 words.

For weeks, I listened to a tough, tender former Army Ranger instruct his children.  “Do not say, ‘I can’t.’ Instead, say, ‘This is hard. I need help.'” 

He drilled his children. “Yes, you can. It may be hard. You may need help, but you can do it.”

One Saturday, I was hiking in a rain forest in Brazil with this cousin and his four children. We had strayed from the main trail in order to explore, and the miles were adding up. The almost-four-year-old turned to me and said, “This is hard. I need help.”

“What kind of help?” I asked.

“Holding help.”

I picked him up and carried him for a while.

Trails in Guaratiba, Brazil where my cousin’s preschool son required “Holding Help.” (Below, I am in the pink top.)

I took hold of my cousin’s response to “I can’t.” It acknowledges the hard we face. It avoids the argument about whether something can or cannot be done. It supplies a solution.

Do you need holding help for your hard? Does someone need your holding help for their hard?

Favorites, Parenting

Mundane Rules (From June 5th 2020)

A republished blog for the third anniversary of 100 words.

I asked my five-year-old cousin what was his favorite part of my visit to his home in Louisiana. His answer? “You waiting for me when I got off the school bus.”

Three years later, he was asked his favorite times with his mother who was dying of cancer.  His answer? “Mommy playing games with me while we waited for the school bus.” His favorite game involved counting colors of passing cars.

Being met at the school bus. Waiting for the school bus. Both outweighed adventures such as sunset boat rides, trips to Avery Island to watch alligators, and playing on the ever-changing beach of Rio de Janeiro.

How are these answers relevant to parenting and educating our children? Along the way, I learned that day-to-day life matters more and will be remembered more than elaborate vacations, carefully planned birthday parties, science fairs, team sports, and field trips.

The mundane stays in our children’s memories because of the repetition and the emotions attached.  I wish I had known earlier to make the most of the smaller moments.  Mundane rules, which can be very good news.

Which mundane moments are your favorites?

Family, Friendship

Let’s Let Others Repent

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 ESV

There are things I hesitate to share because friends and family immediately disagree. They are wrong, and I have become unwilling for them to negate truths.

When I say, “I was too busy with outside activities when my children were younger,” the response is “You did the best you could.”

Did I? Not regularly.

When I say, “I’m inattentive to relatives,” or “I’m not generous,” the response is “That’s not true.”

Am I attentive and generous? Not enough.

Years ago, I witnessed a woman confess her failings. I had been affected by her sin. She needed to repent. This moment could have been healing and helped her move forward, but three close friends immediately negated her honest statements.

These friends had not witnessed her behavior. They wanted to affirm her by denying her imperfections. The woman who confessed did not feel affirmed. She felt frustrated and misunderstood. Being accepted with full knowledge of her imperfections would have affirmed her.

Why do we find it hard—even impossible—to let our family and friends repent?