A Mother’s Love: That Face

posted in: Parenting | 3
I’m honored to share another snapshot story with you today, one about motherhood, how quickly the time passes, and just how important it is to keep photos on display that remind us of how quickly our little ones grow into their own.Suzette Ladouceur is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home mom. She blogs at The Joy of Homemaking about marriage, motherhood, homeschooling, and making the most of the life God has given her.

Thank you Suzette for reminding us of the importance of a mother’s love!

— Betsy

That Face... Love. Joy. Sentiment. - The Joy Of Homemaking @ BPhotoArt.com

That Face

When my son was just under a year old, we went to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with some family. While there, one of our activities was spending time in their community pool. After a hearty swim, as we sat around to dry off, I looked over at my son who he had fallen asleep on my cousin. I took a quick picture, not realizing how precious the finished photo would be.

Every time I see this photo, it conjures up a whole host of emotions from my heart, but here are the three dearest to me.

Love.

I cannot believe how much I love my children. I never knew that I could love someone so much that even on my most tired nights, I would willingly wake up to care for the needs of that small person.

My love for them has caused me to evaluate my purpose as a mother and my goals for each child, spiritually and emotionally. My love for them causes me to pray and think about each decision I make because I know that my children will be affected by my choices in some way.

Joy.

I am so thankful that this little boy (and my daughter) is mine. He was a gift from God to me. Instead of looking at the blocks scattered across the house, hearing the noise he makes, or finding the negative in his 2 year old behavior, I choose to see the sky scraper he tried to build, hear the laughter in his play, and appreciate the point in time we are living in right now. I choose to experience the joy my children bring.

Childhood itself brings joy. Sadly, as we leave our childhood and enter the world of adulthood, we forget the joy of catching bugs outside, how easy laughter can come, and that the sounds of happy play and noise are two completely different things.

Sentiment.

He is growing so fast. It has been two years since that picture was taken, yet the time seems to have gone by so quickly. In two more years, he will be a four and a half year old on his way to Kindergarten.

I continually remind myself that time stops for no “mom”, and my babies will not stop growing. As much as I wish I could keep them where they are, each day is another step towards the growth that they must make. Each day takes me closer to the time when I will have to let them go. Looking at this photo of my son reminds me to appreciate each moment I have with my children.

Do you have a photo of your child(ren) that can serve as a reminder that our time spent as “mommy” is short? Can I encourage you to pull it out and keep it front and center? It will help in those moments when you forget what a gift you have been given.

— Suzette

Are you intentional in cultivating a mother’s love?

Do you find the days, weeks, and even months flying by far too quickly? How have you been intentional about cultivating and displaying a mother’s love to your children?

Do you have photographs on display, as Suzette suggested, that remind you of the brevity of childhood, and the importance of a mother’s love?

I’ve love to hear your stories, thoughts, and comments below.

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher?

posted in: Notes | 6
Today I’m welcoming Sue Lively of One Time Through as she shares a snapshot from her childhood, and the wonderful story about how her teacher, Mr. Smith, inspired her to learn, grow, and ultimately, become a teacher herself. What a wonderful tribute to an exceptional teacher!

Sue is an elementary school teacher on extended parental leave to stay at home full time with her son. She is passionate about all things related to arts and-crafts, language, and science! Thank you Sue, for sharing these musings on what makes an exceptional teacher. I can think of a few such teachers from my own childhood.

— Betsy

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher - One Time Through @ BPhotoArt.com

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher?

What do you think makes an exceptional teacher? Is it that unique ability to put oneself into a student’s shoes and see things through their point of view? Is it having a mastery of one’s subject or exceptional communication skills? Is it about seeing a student as more than just a sum of their parts?

Everyone has a favourite teacher that they can remember from early school years. Probably your favourite teacher had a few, if not all, of the qualities listed above. My favorite teacher certainly did.

Mr. Smith

He was a little unusual for an elementary school teacher, because he was a man. Also, it was widely known that teaching wasn’t his only gig. Mr. Smith not only taught full-time, but he wrote the drama critiques and reviews column for the large newspaper in the city close to where I grew up. He was highly involved in theatre himself and brought that love to his students.

I was lucky enough to have Mr. Smith for my teacher in grades 1 and 2 and later when I was in grades 4, 5, and 6; I was involved in school musicals that he directed.

What I remember most about Mr. Smith from the early grades was that he was FUN. Isn’t it always those teachers that stand out in your memory? Our classroom was full of laughter, poetry, art and drama.

I remember that he used to keep exceptional artwork up on his walls, long after those students had moved into higher grades. I was always proud to return to his class as a “big grade 5 or 6er” and see one of my art pieces still there! He just had a way of making kids feel good.

Teaching Through Discipline

He also treated his students exceptionally fair. There was one time when I was given the privilege of staying inside at recess on my own to finish an art piece. For some reason, only God knows why, I went around the room and tore a small corner off the page of everyone else’s work. I can remember clearly doing this, but to this day, have no idea why I did it!
When the kids came back in from recess, Mr. Smith easily figured out who the art culprit had been, as my piece was the only one without a missing corner!

I remember being quietly pulled into the hallway and firmly but gently confronted about my behavior. There was no scolding or shaming, just a very serious discussion about my actions and how they had affected others.

I think I remember that episode so much because I felt very deep remorse about my actions, and I was grateful my favorite teacher still liked and cared about me, even though I had been quite naughty!

Committed to Excellence

Later on, in grades 4-6, Mr. Smith directed me in the school musicals. He encouraged me to try out the first year, and really took me under his wing.

These musicals that he directed were not just “kid-stuff” either – they were big productions. We had amazing costumes rented from a theater company, professional lighting, and performed for large audiences. We rehearsed for months and really felt like we were a part of something important. They were a source of self-esteem and positive memories.

The time commitment from Mr. Smith, and the other teachers involved, must have been huge. It’s hard to see that as a kid, and although we all loved Mr. Smith, I don’t think any of us really appreciated how much work and time he must have put in to do these shows with us…and really, FOR us.

As a teacher and a parent now, I can see all the amazing things he did…and was. Mr. Smith was such a huge positive influence on me.

Encouragement Into Adulthood

He encouraged me to pursue singing and acting, which has been a source of incredible enjoyment in my life. Even into adulthood, he followed my “career” and supported me by interviewing me for his newspaper column, even giving me great reviews for my performances in several musicals.

He has become a positive mental teaching template for me. I often think about how Mr. Smith would deal with certain situations when I am challenged by a student.

He has also inspired me to direct musicals with my own students over the years and hopefully I can make a difference for some of them as he did for me. This has been one of my favorite, and the most rewarding, parts of being a teacher.

Lifelong Positive Influence

The photograph above shows Mr. Smith and me after I had received the grade 6 Drama Award. You can tell by my face that I was thrilled, and especially honored to receive this award from my favorite teacher.

When I look at it now, tears fill my eyes, and I send a hearty thank you to this special man who had such a positive influence on me as a child, and as an adult.

Thank you, Mr. Smith.

– Sue Lively

What About You?

Do you have an all time favorite snapshot from your childhood? Maybe a photo from your school years? I have memories of my favorite teachers, and seeing snapshots of their classrooms can bring so many memories to mind.

Do you have an exceptional teacher who inspired you like Mr. Smith inspired Sue? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

It’s The Little Things In Life…

posted in: Parenting | 13

I love that our son is adventurous when it comes to most things, including food. I’m not sure if it is just his nature, or maybe the “two bite rule” we implemented in our house proved helpful… At any rate, we have been blessed with a wonderful eater. Here are a couple snapshots of him devouring Bibimbap at one of our favorite local restaurants. These are the snapshots that inspired my poem that follows, about remember to enjoy little moments like this one I will treasure.

toddler eating bibimbap

enjoying bibimbap for lunc

It’s The Little Things in Life…

It’s the little things in life that we remember.
The memories that will stay with us years from now
are simple pleasures, nothing extravagant.
Living in the moment can be so tough,
especially when you give in to the pressure.
The pressure to
…do more
…be better
…live up to others’ expectations
…fulfill your destiny
…make more money
…be a success.
Giving in doesn’t guarantee these desires
will ever materialize or become reality.
All it does is take you away.
Away from
…enjoying the present
…living in the moment
…creating memories that matter.
Life is too short to forgo the little things
in favor of creating a name for yourself,
or fulfilling your destiny.
Step off the train, stop. Look around.
Life is here. Life is now.
It’s the little things in life that
…bring us pleasure
…give us enjoyment
…help us feel alive.
Don’t get so busy living that you forget
to actually live your life in the here and now.

Candid Snapshot Tip:

Sometimes the moment worth capturing has come and gone before you know it. Sometimes we focus so much on documenting a candid moment that we forget to enjoy it ourselves. Guilty as charged. As a photographer by trade, I know this all too well. When photographing an event, or even just taking snapshots at a family get together, my attention is focused (hah, an unintentional pun) on creating images — I’m not enjoying the moment as an active participant, but as an observer.

Don’t get so caught up in composing the perfect picture that you forget about being an active participant in what’s going on. Imperfection is ok. Take a snapshot or two, set the camera down, and enjoy the moment.

What About You?

What do you do to enjoy the little things in life? How do you keep yourself from getting so focused on “tomorrow” that you forget about the here and now?

Contentment in the Journey – Poem

posted in: Fine Art | 19

This past week I’ve been thinking about the unpredictable nature of life. How things can take a turn at any moment, how we need to count our blessings, and look for them — even though sometimes it can be like finding a needle in the haystack.

Contentment in the Journey

Morning comes
The day breaks
Another day dawns.
Life goes on,
whether we want it to
…or not.
Being in control
is a joke, impossible.
Life’s circumstances
are unpredictable
ever-changing
always surprising.
We make the choice to
fix our eyes on the goal
before us…
…or get sucked into
the quicksand of
life’s troubles
surrounding us.
Life will never be free
from difficulty.
But we can choose
to find contentment
in the journey.

Pink Hued Sunrise

The image above is from a morning this spring (yes, we still had snow). We were blessed with a vivid pink sunrise over the lake. As the evening receded and the sun’s rising approached, deep purple and vivid pink hues were muted into orange and yellow tones. The moment was gone quickly, even as we enjoyed the lovely colors.

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

Sometimes morning’s coming seems to take forever; other times morning comes far too quickly. And with the night usually comes silence. Silence can be overpowering, overwhelming, and even frightening. It is in the silence that we are forced to deal with our own fears, thoughts, and worries. The hustle bustle of our days allows us to shut out these things, to put off dealing with them until later.

And the morning comes, whether we want it to or not.

Are we ever content with being in the moment? Willing to accept the reality of our present circumstances, whether they be joyful, grief-stricken, or even filled with apathy? I’ve known some strong people in my life. It has always struck me, how, even during their times of trial, they are looking outward towards the needs of others rather than inward towards their circumstances.

Resources on Contentment + Sunrises

Here are some resources on contentment and sunrises. That sounds like such a random assortment, my apologies — but I found some neat activities related to contentment and sunrises. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

Contentment Resources for Adults

For Parents: Teaching Contentment

For Kids: Learning About Contentment + Sunrises

How Do You Find Contentment?

What about you? How do you deal with adversity, loss, or hardship? Do you think it’s possible to find contentment in the face of adversity? Sometimes it feels impossible to find peace in the middle of life’s trials. What do you do to help cope?

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. – unknown

Moms Can’t Get Sick (…yeah, right)

posted in: Parenting | 19

Being sick stinks. And when you’re a mom and business owner, you can’t just call in sick and expect things to keep on running smoothly. On the home front, there are kids to take care of, meals needing fixing, and the minimal household chores that keep a home from falling into complete sloth. On the business front, there are meetings and appointments with clients — clients who expect to meet with you. And they don’t want your sick germs any more than your husband does.

So, what’s a sick mom to do? Besides grit your teeth and try to do it all?

Moms can't get sick (yeah right)

Well, I have had the pleasure of being sick twice this winter — while pregnant. And the fun thing about being sick during pregnancy is that most “sick drugs” that help us adults plod through and carry on… those drugs are off limits. So I’ve had to resort to natural remedies, old wives’ tales, and those overrated concepts of sleep and rest.

The first time I was sick, I felt it coming on. But the holidays were coming too — and I wanted everything to be ready, to be done right. I didn’t want to drop the ball. So I didn’t slow down, I didn’t rest, I didn’t take a break or even ask for help. I attempted “mind over matter.” But it didn’t work. All it did was help my poor immune system get more stressed out, more run down, and less able to fight off the sick bug. I was probably sick for a good month. And my immune system was so worn out that that as soon as I started to feel better, the sick bug would get another wind.

Hint taken. Next time, slow down. Take it easy. Make sure you don’t get this sick again.

So, when my son came down with a nasty cold this month, I did my best to stay healthy — but caught the bug anyways. I was a sick mom again. But this time, I didn’t want to a repeat. I took naps. Lots of naps. I tried to sleep in. I tried (tried!) to go to bed early. Healthy, immune boosting foods were a focus of my diet. I drank lots of liquids, plenty of a specialized herbal tea blend, and performed daily sinus rinses. I had a few terrible days. But not nearly as many as last time. I was tempted to plow through now once it felt like I was on the mend. But as I knew… as soon as I started pushing myself, I start to feel the sick bug attacking in full force.

Lessons Learned

This has been a lesson in asking for help, for admitting I can’t do it all, for letting others step in and take care of me. Yes, I’m a mom and a business owner. But I don’t have to be in charge all the time. Sometimes I need to be taken care of too. Sometimes, I have to tell my clients we’ll reschedule — because I don’t want anyone else getting sick. But, I still feel like I should be stronger, able to pull through and keep going. I have the utmost respect for those parents and adults who can make that happen.

This winter, I had to be realistic about what would work best for me — instead of trying to live up to what someone else is able to do.

It feels selfish and wishy washy to rest and “take it easy” instead of plowing through like the rest of the normal world. But with the added factor of being pregnant, you lose the option of relying on those sick drugs to help mom function normally. I have to take steps to prevent a body-wracking cough from hanging around. It’s ok to let my husband take care of me, make me meals, and ask him to come home early so I can rest. It’s ok to have my toddler entertain himself with his toys, or ask him to bring me a kleenex and refill my drink. My family is always willing to help — I only need to stop being stubborn, listen to my body saying I need help…and ask.

And the astounding thing, to me? No one was annoyed or frustrated about having to reschedule. I love my clients and friends! They are all so sweet.

I don’t really want to share any “sick mom” snapshots with you, so a sleeping toddler one will have to suffice. I think I napped as much as (if not more than) my son when I was sick. Go figure.

sleeping toddler on couch

Some Resources For Staying Healthy (Not Sick!)

As I plodded through my sick mom experience, I pinned herbal and natural remedies to my “Health” board on Pinterest. You may find some of these pins equally useful 🙂

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Health – Natural on Pinterest.

What About You?

What do you have trouble asking for help with? Are you stuck on trying to “do it all” like me? Does it drive you nuts when you can’t follow through with what you said you were going to do? Any go-to remedies you can share to cut short a cold?

sick remedies for moms

Unstructured Outdoor Play

posted in: Parenting | 16

Unstructured outdoor play (or indoor!) is so important for children. Whether it’s in the presence of others, or solitary play, purposeless unstructured play (that seem meaningless to us adults) is really essential for helping kids develop their imagination and process the world around them. Have you ever stopped to just watch a child play? To marvel at the improvisation and invention that comes from such a young mind?

Happy Toddler - playing in melting snow - unstructured outdoor play

As we’ve been in limbo between winter and spring, my toddler has been hanging onto every last opportunity to play in the snow. Seriously, whether it’s melting or not, he hasn’t cared. And since I wanted to get in one last post about snow 🙂 — I decided to share some ruminations from the other day while I watched my son play by himself. It’s truly a joy to enjoy observe unstructured outdoor play (unstructured indoor play too, I’m not picky)

Towards the end of this post, I’m sharing links about unguided, unstructured outdoor play, but I wanted to share a quote from one of the articles right now. It’s on the decline of unstructured play in over the decades:

The researchers found that compared to 1981, children in 1997 spent less time in play and had less free time. They spent 18 percent more time at school, 145 percent more time doing school work, and 168 percent more time shopping with parents. The researchers found that, including computer play, children in 1997 spent only about eleven hours per week at play. [ All Work And No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed]

And, imagine, what such a study would show in present day, given that 1997 was more than 16 years ago (the time elapsed between 1981 and 1997). I almost don’t want to do those calculations. Kids today have so much more access to technology, and free time (recess) during school is traded out for expanded “educational opportunities.”

I read about a challenge for parents to have their kids play outside an hour each day — wasn’t unstructured outdoor play a standard element of childhood? I know I got kicked outdoors as a kid for a couple hours daily (or most of the day during summertime). Note to self — thank my mother for that. Now, onto my thoughts as a mother about unstructured play.

Creating Without Intent – A Mother’s Perspective On Unstructured Outdoor Play

Right now, I’m watching my son play outside in the snow. He’s on our deck, in snow boots — no coat. It’s not all that cold out, so I’m not worried. Such a pleasant day! He’s thrilled to be outside. I’m thrilled to watch him play.

unstructured outdoor play - building a castle with melting snow
The wind whistles through the barren trees. He stops, looks up, and screams in delight. Is he listening to his echo? The sound of his voice? We’ve been reading a lot about bats and the soundwaves they use to catch insects lately. He is so observant, so curious about nature.

He hears the nearby highways sounds, tells me about the ambulance that went by, and how he’s going to stay outside.

The snow is a foot thick in places on our deck still. His lightweight body walks across its surface with ease. My husband comes home early and goes out to say hi. He crunches deep footprints through the snow, and helps our son fling a couple big scoops of snow off the deck. Then it’s time for toddler shoveling again. He scoops snow haphazardly, flinging it with delight. It doesn’t matter where the snow goes, there’s so much of it that one more scoop won’t make a difference. To start, he’d tried to clear off the deck, but realized the futility of it. Halfway through the winter, my husband had done the same – cleared a path to the stairs and left it at that. We built it well, the deck will hold the snow.

Still hard at work, my son stumbles in the snow. Nonplussed, he gets right back up and keeps shoveling. Hard at work, hard at play. No goal in mind, save shoveling snow. Oh, I remember the days of childhood, when it was a delight to complete tasks that had no “purpose.” But really, there is purpose. He is learning, he is experiencing, he is doing. His actions may seem pointless to an adult (schooled in the way of “efficiency”), but to a child, his actions are pointed and full of intent. And that is the joy of childhood. You get to define the meaning, you get to determine what matters to you. And you don’t care what anyone else thinks. Not yet. It’s all meaningful if you want it to be.

My son’s accomplishment? A snow castle, complete with broom, tunnels, and plowed “roads.”

unstructured outdoor play - melting snow - snow castle

More Resources – Unstructured Outdoor Play for Kids

If you want to read further on the benefits of unstructured play, or get ideas for encouraging unstructured outdoor play, here are some links below (they’ll open in a new window for your convenience).

Books Related to Parenting + Unstructured Outdoor Play

Articles On Unstructured Outdoor Play, etc

Schools + Unstructured Outdoor Play

Ideas From Parents for Unstructured Outdoor Play

Unstructured Play – Your Experience

What about you? Is there something that you take joy in the simple act of doing? That you’ve lost sight of because, as an adult, there are more “important things” to do? I know I loved creating things. It didn’t matter what, they didn’t have to have a purpose. I loved being out in nature for hours on end, playing pretend and defining my own reality.

As an adult, I’ve fallen away from these childhood joys. I “don’t have time” to do things without “purpose” or to just read for pleasure.

But who determines whether there’s enough time? Why am I filling my life with busywork? Just to make myself feel efficient?

unstructured outdoor play - toddler carrying snow with a spoon

The Legacy of A Truly Excellent Woman

posted in: Notes | 32

Today I am sharing a poem in memory of a truly excellent woman, my grandmother – Fayola Ash. I wrote this in memory of her passing, which was almost three years ago — on my son’s due date (3/15/2011). He arrived about two weeks later, in good health — and he was known by name to my grandmother before she died. If you want to read the backstory behind the poem, consider some thoughts on creating a photographic legacy, and view more candid photographs, make sure to read to the end.

Betsy and her Grandmother, Fayola, in Pozzouli, Italy
Betsy and her Grandmother, Fayola, in Pozzouli, Italy (2010)

A Truly Excellent Woman

My grandmother was always certain,
calm, assured.
She had a firm foundation.
Her faith was strong,
her compassion knew no bounds.
She knew what she believed, and did accordingly.
Her whole life was a testament to her Creator.
She recovered from polio,
she raised four children (including twins),
she managed her household.
She loved and respected her husband,
deferring to him in public;
but if you knew them, you would know
he let her have the final say.
She was wise and thoughtful,
kind and loving,
opinionated but usually justified.
Her life was spent inspiring others,
through the works of her hands,
the music she created
as her fingers danced across the keys.
Age slowed them down, but didn’t stop her.
She loved music, and kept her dearest hymns
on her lips, even as death approached.
She lived a life worth living.
But in the end, cancer struck.
A vicious, quick attack,
leaving only weeks to come to terms with
the finality of the battle.
In her dying hours, she was selfess.
Caring more about the impending celebration of life,
that my son’s birth would not be
overshadowed by her death.
She always wanted the best for others.
Even at the sacrifice of herself.
Small in stature, she left big shoes to fill.
I hope my legacy will be worthy,
that one day I will fill my grandmother’s shoes.
She was a truly excellent woman.

3.12.2014


Backstory of “A Truly Excellent Woman”

This section does talk about my faith and beliefs. If that might offend you, feel free to skip to the next section. It’s just an integral part of who my grandmother was, so I can’t overlook it.

The Voice Bible translation describes the Proverbs 31 woman as “a truly excellent woman” (Pr 31:10). This is where I began when writing this poem, as my grandmother was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was everything one would aspire to be as a woman of God. While we never get over the loss of a loved one, it has taken me several years to realize the impact her life has had on me, and how I want to live my life as a wife, mother, and person. I hope that I will one day be able to look back on my life and know that I too, with God’s grace, was able to be a truly excellent woman in all my words and deeds.

A Shared Journey to Italy + Israel

In 2010, I accompanied my grandmother on a trip to Israel and Italy (she did not want to go alone). At 86, she was not the youngest on the tour, but she was a trooper. She conquered all the stairs at Tel Megiddo, she walked the Via Dolorosa, and climbed aboard a camel. Why the camel ride? She’s always wanted to ride a camel since seeing them on her travels to Egypt with my grandfather (my photographic inspiration). On this trip, she carried his camera with her (yes, I helped her use it from time to time). It was an honor to have taken that trip with her, and I have memories I will always cherish. She was a world traveler, and I got to share in her last big trip abroad.

The images below feature candid photographs of my grandmother (and some with me as well) during our travels to Israel and Italy. I’ve plenty of fine art photographs from my travels to show you, but that’s for another day. Today it’s about my grandmother’s legacy. [click on any image to view in gallery mode]

Candid Photographs of Our Journey

What About Your Legacy?

What kind of legacy will you leave? What do you hope to accomplish in your life? What will the photographs say about you to future generations?

I know I tend to ask a lot of open-ended questions, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers either. I know what matters to me… yet I make new discoveries on that front every day. I hope you too will be inspired to take an active role in crafting your legacy.

The decisions we make today, the actions we take now, all affect the person we will be remembered as by future generations.

And if you haven’t checked it out already, make sure to read my post, Life is Too Short, which I wrote earlier this month as I grieved with my friend for their loss of a family member. Pregnancy does things to ramp up emotions, so maybe that’s part of the reason for these sentimental posts. But truthfully, sentimental is part of what I do for a living. I make memories for my clients, I create portraits that capture personalities, I help document family legacies. I love doing multi-generational portraits because, for me, family is really what it’s all about.

So, back to my question: what about your legacy? Do you have someone similar to my grandmother, a truly excellent woman, in your life? Will you be an inspiration to others, as my grandfather inspired me to become a photographer? Will you be known as a someone whose shoes others can only hope to fill?

Life is Too Short

posted in: Notes | 18

Life is too short to put off what matters.  Your family, your loved ones. Spending time with those you care about.  I have a dear friend whose brother is in the hospital on life support right now. It was unexpected and sudden.

bphotoart-CJS_8788

Last year, my aunt’s father went in for routine surgery, and next thing we knew, he was gone.  Before that, my grandmother was diagnosed with and died from cancer within a month’s time — she passed on my son’s due date.

Life is not fair.  Life does not take our feelings into consideration.  Life hurts.

We deal with loss from the time we are little.  To an infant, the loss of warmth and being held can be world-shaking.  To a child, loss means saying “goodbye” to Daddy as he goes to work every day.  A teen might focus on their loss of independence.  But the older we grow, the more familiar we are with loss.  Loss of self, loss of others, loss of control.

Loss happens.  And we can’t do a thing about it.

We tell ourselves “there will always be tomorrow.”  But maybe, there won’t.  Maybe it’s worth the sacrifice to do it today.  Maybe it will make all the difference to you, to your loved ones, if you stop telling yourself “there will be time later.”

bphotoart-portrait-388

Because the clock doesn’t stop ticking.  Time keeps on going, life keeps on happening.  And it is not in our control.  We can’t control what happens to our loved ones, we can’t control what happens to ourselves.

The only thing we can control is our reaction, our response….

We have adages and proverbs galore that advise against delay, against getting ahead of yourself:

  • Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.
  • Don’t go to bed angry.
  • Don’t let the sun go down on your anger (Eph 4:26).

Because time shows us that waiting …for some things… doesn’t help.  Sometimes we need to take action now.  Sometimes we need to act impulsively, to exist spontaneously.

Live in the moment, exist in the present, be content with where you are, when you are, and what you are.

Life is too short to put things off.  Do what needs doing — do it today.

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Further thoughts…

I feel like I should flesh this post out a bit more, but it just flowed so quickly, I can’t bring myself to really edit the words above. The emotions of loss and our lack of control over life. Sorrows over lost opportunities. All too often I find myself making excuses, procrastinating on what is really important (in the big scheme of things) so that I can accomplish whatever (trival) task I’ve decided needs finishing.

One of the things my toddler likes about his bedtime routine is “tell me about tomorrow.” We talk about what we’ll do tomorrow, our plans, and what we’ll be doing. Oh, if only life were so simple.

“Tell me about tomorrow” — what’s going to happen? I want to know.

I don’t think this changes as we get older either. When life goes “according to plan,” we consider everything to be good and right. It’s when the storms come and we get thrown off course that we really begin to question ourselves. Earlier this week I blogged about my print, Uphill Battle, and how sometimes life is a struggle, but we have the choice to keep plugging away.

We will have troubles in this world, yes. We will face loss. We will suffer. But amidst all those things, we can still choose to persevere… to make the moments that matter be meaningful. The other night, my son chose to have me read The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble at School (disclosure). Right now, I’m hearing Grizzly Gramps in my head, telling Brother Bear, “If you find yourself on the wrong road, don’t just keep going until you’re in over your head – back up and start over on the right road”

…and Mama Bear saying, “It’s never too late to corre

ct a mistake.”

Sometimes, like Brother Bear, I get so entrenched in “keeping going” that I forget I have a choice to jump ship and abandon my stubbornness. Life is too short.

What changes have you been putting off?

Stop telling yourself those changes can’t be made, that you’ve committed to doing XYZ so you can’t back out now. You always have a choice. Life is too short to put off making things right. Don’t put the life you want

to live on hold for “later.”

“He didn’t take life seriously, but he took living seriously.”

What will your legacy be?

The Power of Giving

posted in: Notes | 6

As the gift-getting mentality becomes ever more prevalent in our society, my husband and I have been taking steps to intentionally cultivate a spirit of gift-giving and sharing in our son.
Besides a more well-known favorite, The Giving Tree (*), one of Toby’s favorite books that illustrates what it means to share and give is one I received as a child: The Mouse in the Manger (*). It’s about Oscar, a young mouse who runs away from home because he wants a bigger bed of straw; he ultimately gives away his entire pile of straw and learns how freeing it can be to give unreservedly. Read More