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A Father’s Day note to my daughter’s dad

You celebrate Father's Day, but often feel like you're not measuring up as a dad. So, I want to tell you all the ways you're getting it right with our girl.

Father’s Day is always challenging. You hate being celebrated. The expectations for dads have never been higher, and you often feel like you’re not measuring up. You’re too hard on yourself.

So today, I want to tell you all the ways you are getting it right with our sweet little girl.

She was both the child you were most prepared for and least ready for.

You knew the ins and outs of babies, but you weren’t prepared for the intense little girlness of her, for the effortless way she would wrap you around her pinky and be so totally different from your boys, full of ribbons and bows and imagination and drama!

This Father’s Day, I want to say I see the good job you’re doing.

I love watching her with you, the way she races to your arms the second you pull in the driveway, the way everything is better because daddy is home.

I love hearing you call her baby.

I love watching your gentleness with her, the way you play dress up with her or let her style your hair. Watching you read to her makes my heart full. I love hearing the inside jokes you share only with her. She has softened you in beautiful ways.

Expectations for Dad have never been higher. Love him. Tell him what he's doing right. Click To Tweet
Keep being her dad.

Keep taking her fishing, teaching her to cast and reel and bait her own hooks. Keep taking her to fly kites and pick berries. Keep walking her through the woods, teaching her which plants are safe, which broken branches show deer signs. From you, she learns to honor nature and respect the animals we eat.

Teach her to love adventures and to forget about her hair. Let her get muddy on your watch.

Teach her to love adventures and forget about her hair. Let her get muddy on your watch. Click To Tweet

Keep wrestling and tickling. You’re teaching her so much more than to laugh. Your loving play is teaching her that good men can be trusted. You are teaching her to set boundaries with her body and to defend herself.

Do you remember how special it is to watch TV with your dad, just the two of you? She already so enjoys curling up next to you and watching hunting shows together. You’re building loving memories and creating exciting future plans in her imagination.

You celebrate Father's Day, but often feel like you're not measuring up as a dad. So, I want to tell you all the ways you're getting it right with our girl.

Keep flying her around the house as long as you can. You’ve taught her to feel safe in your strength. And our crazy, dreamer girl will always remember you made her first impossible dream come ‘true.’

You deserve a great Father’s Day!

Keep teaching her all the things you do. From you, she learns animals and biology better than any high school lab. She learns to try every new food at least once, even sushi or spicy octopus. 😜

She watches you decide to learn something and do it, going from novice to expert in front of her eyes.

From you, she learns that work is how we have our nice home and good food. She sees you work hard as a soldier and at home. She will learn to work hard and expect that from others.

Dad's teach daughters so much, including how to be loved. Keep loving her unconditionally! Click To Tweet

Keep loving her unconditionally. Someday, too soon, she will equate how you loved her with how a man should love her. Keep building a great foundation with whisker kisses on her cheeks and bear hugs.

She believes you are a superhero. She is right.

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Memorial Day Grace & Perspective from an Army Wife

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace.

Before 2005, Memorial Day wasn’t really on my radar, even coming from a family of servicemen. It was the beginning of summer, BBQs, and I could wear white shoes again.

But wasn’t really tangible for me until I kissed my young man goodbye and sent him to war.

Luckily when I gave my heart to a soldier, he came home to me.

Not every service member comes home, and I cannot speak for their families. I can only speak for my heart on this issue.

Starting a few days ago, posts began circulating on social media about knowing the difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day.

Spreading knowledge is admirable, but the tone of some posts was hostile.

“Don’t thank my husband on Memorial Day!”

“If you wear the uniform, Memorial Day isn’t about you.”

OUCH! Those hurt MY heart.

I can only imagine the grief that spurred those posts, but is that really the tone we want to have towards ANYONE who is grateful for military service?

Absolutely, Memorial Day is about those who gave all.

It honors those who won’t ever come home: dads, daughters, sons, mothers who sacrificed everything to stand for our nation.

Absolutely, Memorial Day honors those who gave all, but don't reject thanks for those that gave some. Click To Tweet

The depth of that sacrifice is too great to quantify. Boys never returned to marry waiting sweethearts. Men will never meet their child this side of heaven. Mothers will never kiss their babies goodnight again.

It’s too heavy to grasp unless you’ve lost someone.

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace

But I look at those green fields lined with white crosses and see people who will never hear another heartfelt, “thank you for your service.” I also see my husband who will never be the same.

And I think, why reject someone who gets it wrong and thanks a living soldier on Memorial Day? or an active service member on Veteran’s Day?

Gold Star families who lost someone might answer differently, but I imagine if they could thank their loved one more time, they would.

I want everyone to know we celebrate Memorial Day to recognize and honor those who paid the ultimate price, so the next generations understand how valuable their freedom is.

But if you also thank a living veteran or active soldier, that’s okay.

Should you thank a service member on Memorial Day? It's not for them, but reminds us to be grateful. Click To Tweet

Because All gave Some, too. No one serves without risking all.

Take every chance to say thank you while they are alive.

Memorial Day reminds us of those who went willing to make that sacrifice, like my husband. He lived things that haunt his nightmares so I can sleep in peace.

And I never want to discourage someone from appreciating his sacrifices. But we do need to be mindful that some veterans bear emotional scars and even genuine thanks reopens those wounds.

Instead of a harsh rebuke, just say thank you if someone gets it wrong. It comes from a place of gratitude.

If you want to recognize a service member, say, “I know this is Memorial Day, but I so appreciate your service, too.

I want to invite people to understand this military life, its costs and sacrifices as well as its joys and adventures; but there is a price, and I don’t think we can honor those who pay it too often.

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace.

My husband doesn’t stand when service members are recognized, because he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

I love his humility, but I remind him that he stands not for those around him: so our country can recognize his service and sacrifices, and so those around him can connect a face to those who serve.

Memorial Day may be about those who’ve died, but it’s for the living, for us to remember the cost of our freedom. And there is no wrong time to do that.

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How Motherhood Changed my Perspective on Mother’s Day

My Mother's Day perspective has changed through the challenges and exhilarating moments of motherhood over the years. All I can say is thank you, Mom.

My Mother’s Day perspective has completely changed through the challenging and exhilarating moments of motherhood. Each year has added to the fullness of the beauty of mothering.

I’ve learned Mother’s Day is for celebrating BEING a mother. I’ve learned that card company expectations are the enemy of joy, while macaroni necklaces, dandelions, and crayola cards are priceless.

I’ve learned to celebrate the messy work of being a mother.

As my daughter is growing independent, my role is shifting from primarily physical needs to more emotional and spiritual guidance, which is teaching me so many new aspects of motherhood.

Nothing taught me to appreciate my mother more than motherhood itself. #ThanksMom Click To Tweet

Being a mother has taught me to appreciate my mother more with every challenging stage and new accomplishment in my daughter’s life.

Previous years, I’ve focused experiencing Mother’s Day, since motherhood was a long awaited answer to prayer, but as I inscribed my mom’s Mother’s Day card, I was struck by how much I still need to thank her for the million thankless jobs of motherhood.

My Mother's Day perspective has changed through the challenges and exhilarating moments of motherhood over the years. All I can say is thank you, Mom.

Thank you, Mom for reading me a thousand books, some a thousand times, even when you were tired, even when dinner needed cooking. I remember quietly reading about a silly detective with an umbrella and knowing I was loved. I developed a love for stories and words and discovery on your lap.

Thank you, Mom for getting up before we did everyday and making breakfast. We probably complained about the cold cereal one day only to pitch a tiny rebellion the next over oatmeal or scrambled eggs. I’m sorry about the Grape Nuts episode. To be fair, I still think it’s gross. 😉

Thank you, Mom for the hours you put into keeping house without many modern conveniences I take for granted. It was never done, never perfect, and you kept on doing it. Now, you even sometimes come do it at my house.

As I look around the chaos in my living room today, I wonder how you kept everything so spotless despite our efforts otherwise.

Thank you for all the secret tears you must have shed in frustration when we wouldn’t stop arguing, broke your favorite vase; tears cried in hurt when we screamed that’s not fair or I hate you in teen angst, or times you cried from sheer exhaustion.

Thank you for the years of sleep you gave up in the raising of three young ladies, nights you were up until you couldn’t see straight, nights you couldn’t sleep until hearing the door three minutes past curfew.

I may not have understood the sacrifices, but I couldn't miss the love. Thank you, Mom. Click To Tweet

Thank you, Mom for Bible stories and rides to school, swimming, play practices, for all the clothes and formal dresses you quietly stitched in your free time.

Thank you for the million ways you invested in my life, putting aside yourself to develop character in me.

You didn’t get it all right, but neither will I.

While I may not have understood your sacrifices, I couldn’t miss the love.

And I can only hope my daughter will be able to say the same about me someday.

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Valentine’s Day Tradition

Free Valentine's Day John 3:16 Printable with love tank filling traditions to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littles.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition started a few years ago. She was just old enough to start understanding that there was a holiday, and it involved presents and chocolate. I mean, what else does a girl need to know? She was all in.

But I wanted to find just the right way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. When I saw John 3:16 written so the word VALENTINE was created, I knew that was the message I wanted for her, because it was the message I know I still need written on my heart.

It helps remind us to celebrate Christ’s coming everyday and focuses on Godly love, not just romantic love.

But I have all these cute ideas and by the time one holiday is put away, the next one is looming. I had always wanted to be the fun pinteresty mom that makes every holiday special, but frankly, those suckers sneak up on me like ninjas.

Free Valentine's Day printable for your children. Fill their love tank with God's love. Click To Tweet

One trick I’ve learned is to keep everything grouped together and labeled. For Valentine’s Day, I keep everything in a clear project folder I can just pull out and put up.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition is that we post a handwritten copy of the John 3:16 Valentine’s Day printable (link at the end of post) on her door. Then everyday we add a heart with a character trait we love about her. This is day 1.

Character hearts for a Valentine's Day tradition that will build self-esteem.

I used colored construction paper and just cut out several different sizes and colors of hearts, but you could buy heart shaped wall decor or doilies from Walmart or Dollar General if you wanted.

We start on the first and go through the 14th, but you can do however many days you want. You could start on the 14th and go through the end of the month as well.

Free Valentine's Day John 3:16 Printable with love tank filling traditions to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littles.

What I really love about this tradition is that my daughter spends the month of February being told she is loved and special because she was fearfully and wonderfully made by her creator and was so deeply loved by Him that he sent his Son to die for her.

Psalm 139:14 ESV  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My daughter has many wonderful traits, but I made a point to choose traits that I really want to encourage in her: her faith, her kindness, her curiosity, her joy.

We read each trait together everyday as we add the new traits to the door, so she gets to be reminded of each one. Then we continue to read them everyday until the end of February.

This tradition will build on the love we show her daily to create a memory of being valued for who she is. We can fill her love tank with pride and self-esteem based on the qualities and gifts God has given her.

Valentine’s Day Printable

And establish a good foundation for what true love looks like for the Valentine’s Days her future holds.

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Thanksgiving Attitude – More than a Day

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

In 2015, Thanksgiving was a contradiction in our home. While most of the country celebrated with large meals and loud boisterous gatherings, our table was be quiet.

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It was just another day without daddy in a long month of long daddy-less days.

But instead of sadness and bitterness over his responsibility to the army, I was able to react and adjust. How different was THAT response from previous responses dissolving into anger?!

Today, I read this post with great joy that I was able to see the blessings in a derailed holiday that year which reminded me to have a Thanksgiving attitude everyday.

—-Back to our story —-

This morning I crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. to hug and kiss him one more time before he went out the door. He won’t sleep tonight. And I’ll worry until he drags himself home tomorrow, 26 hours later.

But we’re so terribly grateful.

He is on U.S. soil, healthy and alive. Our extended family may be separated by too much distance, but everyone is happy and healthy even if we can’t share the same table.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with a veritable feast. Candlelight danced in my daughter’s eyes as we pried her fork out of the sweet potato casserole and tried to get her to eat a vegetable, even one covered in creamy mushroom soup and crispy onions.

Our table was beautiful and warm, heavy laden with more food than we can eat in a week, although we are going to do our best.

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

As of today (2015), we’ve spent six Thanksgiving holidays together, and six apart. In some ways, I’m sad because there is something special about being able to share a meal with my husband on Thanksgiving, the actual day, because we’ve missed so many.

But a Thanksgiving attitude really is more than a day on the calendar.

It is an attitude of giving thanks in everything, always, something this year has really taught me.

Thanksgiving is an attitude of giving thanks, always in everything. Eph 5:20 Click To Tweet

I’ve learned:

  • to see the the positives despite tough situations.
  • to Be Still and let God instruct me when I want to throw in the towel.
  • I can be more self-sufficient than I thought
  • having perspective to truly be thankful for my husband.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Giving thanks in everything is about God’s perspective over our own. If you’re His, that is enough to flood you with thanksgiving because you know to Whom you belong.

So God helps me have perspective, we have a warm house, a child we longed for (I love that National Adoption month is the same as Thanksgiving), too many pets to love and cherish, a full pantry and stuffed tummy, a stronger marriage.

We are beyond blessed on our worst days.

Cleaning up the kitchen last night, we were joking around. I sprayed him with the sprayer over the shoulder while washing dishes. Our daughter bounced around the house high on salted caramel and ginger ale, playing mommy to her baby doll. I was floored with my blessings.

I watched her softness and kindness with her doll knowing she is learning how to be a mom from me. Hearing her reflect the best of what I hope I am to her, made us both pause and just watch her for a moment.

My husband teased me and we laughed together, enjoying being able to wink and play and kiss over a steamy sink.

Thanks to the wondrous work God has done in my heart, home, and family this year, today isn’t my thanksgiving  .  .  .

My LIFE is, every single day.

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