Category: family/parenting

Let’s Plan a Wedding! (In Which Glorious & Gut-Wrenching Both Abide)

Enter the roller coaster of human life. My daughter, my first-born, my best friend and right hand is GETTING MARRIED!

And I’ll just be as honest as I can about this reality because I want to encourage any of you out there.

First, we are thrilled. I mean, beyond excited. Why? Because raising our children to leave home and start their own families is one of our biggest jobs in life. It’s a crowning moment. Our magnum opus. But not just that: raising them to follow the Lord and choose a spouse who follows Him too is even bigger.

“I have no greater joy than to hear (see) my children walk in truth.”

It’s true. Nothing in life makes me happier than to watch one of my children grow up, own their faith, and carry the torch into the next generation. This is it! It is everything we’ve prayed for, hoped for and lived for.

And then there’s the reality of loss. Someone I have spent every day of my life with for 20 years is leaving. The person with whom I sit every morning, and share all my ideas, and coffee. This woman who loves our home and takes care of it like I do. The person who knows me inside and out, who reads my subtle cues and delights to help make life pleasant for me. Who takes all the kids to the barn with a blanket and book just to bless them and me. Who can whip a room into shape before I have time to say “what a mess” because that’s her gift and she rocks it. The woman who inspires me to know Christ deeper by watching her strive to know Him.

I’m not boasting, but this is my daughter. It is nothing I or my husband have done. But in God’s incredible grace to us, Bria has been an exceptional daughter. She isn’t perfect. She has her share of weaknesses, for sure. But she is amazing.

And losing an amazing person is hard.


When most of us were growing up, we started weaning away from our parents at the age of 5. We got on a bus and left home for a large part of the day. We shared our attention and affection with peers. Our priorities began to be disbursed among other activities, people and places. It was a gradual process and by the time we got married, we had already emotionally and physically left home.

Our family has been different and this leaving, in every way, is happening all at once. Even as we rejoice, there is grieving that comes with it. Change always brings some grief. No matter how good the change.

But I know this pushes me to a deeper dependence on God. It is good for my other children as I get a renewed focus on them, brought on largely by the reality that I only have them for a short time and indeed, every moment is precious. What a gift that the Lord teaches us such sweet things on this journey!

So we are in a season of stretching, growing, adjusting and letting go. It is glorious and gut-wrenching all at once. But above all, we are grateful. Grateful for the way the Lord brought Kyle and Bria together, for their commitment to Him and each other, and for grace that will sustain us all.

Kyle is a pre-med student so the road ahead of them will not be without challenges, though I’m eager to see how those very challenges will specifically shape and strengthen their marriage. I am fully confident that as they seek first His kingdom, everything they need will be added unto them. My greatest comfort is releasing my treasured child into the arms of a man I know will treasure her too. (Thank you, Kyle.)

And for those who will walk this road soon, there is no formula. There is only people, wisdom and the need for fervent prayer and grace. And friends! I am praising God for friends and friends who have walked this road, know how it feels, and are willing to hold my hand, walk with me, and love on me through it all. His gifts are innumerable!

I may be more quiet than usual for a long time. There is much to be done and huge adjustments to be made. And I’m up for the challenge. Because just this morning, my Father reminded me,

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength….they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40,41

What Hurry Does to My Heart

Dear Mom,

I know there are so many things to do. Important things. Things with deadlines and time restraints. But could we slow down, just a bit, and let me look at this caterpillar crawling by? This world around me is so interesting and I just want to watch it for a while.

I know you have to hurry to your work, your meeting, to my soccer game, and I know it’s bad to be late. But lately it feels like we hurry to everywhere. And I just wonder, at the end of our lives, will we be glad we went to all those places, even when hurrying doesn’t feel nice?

When we hurry you get short with me. Sometimes angry. I don’t understand because I’m going as fast as I can but I’m not as fast as you. And I thought we were supposed to “enjoy the moment” but I don’t think hurrying helps us do that.

What if we could slow down and not hurry so much? What if you had time to stop with me, look at me, and just enjoy the wonder in my face while I watch a butterfly? Have you watched a butterfly lately, mamma?

What if we just said “no” to being more places and said “yes” to being together?

What if we had more time to read and sit together, or snuggle together, or cook together? Because if you weren’t always in a hurry then it would be OK if I messed up.

Hurry sometimes hurts my heart. Can we not hurry so much before I get big and think that hurrying is how you’re supposed to live?

Summer Family Happenings at the Crawfords

I thought I’d drop a personal post for those who like to peek in from time to time, and I like to document things for permanent journaling purposes too. We’re busy in a country life sort of way these days. With normal struggles, ups and downs, joys and difficulties. Here is a small vignette of our summer:

Bria (20) and Kyle continue to get to know each other and we are grateful to watch the Lord working in their lives. I love seeing their zeal for knowing Christ more as their relationship grows. There truly is no greater joy than to see your children walk in truth. Anticipating what the future holds brings its own distinct set of emotions and watching your children grow up is a bitter/sweet journey. What a joy, however, to see how God’s grace has covered her, to watch her grow in strength and beauty, and to get to witness her servant’s spirit lived out here while her zest for life splashes onto all of us. She is a work horse, both tough and delicate, strong and sensitive. She is goal-oriented and purpose-driven, spending much of her time studying, working, gardening, upcycling furniture, playing music and soaking up life. She is such a gift!

Ashton (15) is super busy these days. I love that he gets to work with his Dad some because he is learning so much that will benefit him later in life and also because they are growing closer. He spends much of his free time honing his gift of art and music, and has had a few paid portrait jobs this year. The Lord has grown him and I’m thankful to see him mature in so many ways. He plans to enroll this year in a 2-year program on-line to get his associate degree in graphic design. He’s faithfully saving money and praying about his life work.

Alexa (12) loves to work; man, this girl loves to work! She wanted a window seat, so she built it. She needed a bookshelf, so she built one. She and Bria are the muscle behind our garden too, and I’m inspired watching them. Alexa’s sweet spirit is a blessing to us all, and I am humbled by the gift of her. Quiet and yet remarkably wise and funny.

(Photograph of cat by Avi)

Avalee (10) is in between child and woman and I am trying to savor this short time with her. She is full of life, imagination and laughter. She loves baking and she has a special interest in fashion design and has learned a lot from tutorials on the Internet. She and her 3 older siblings also are committed to their study of music. Lately she has also taken an interest in photography and some of her shots are amazing. I’m eager to see how the Lord leads her and am so thankful for this fourth-born of mine who often leaves me sweet, heart-felt notes.

Brooks (9) is pretty amazing. At 9 years old, he has a purpose-driven passion: all things with an engine. This is him, a week ago, sitting for 2 solid hours watching youtube videos on “how to repair small engines.” Right afterwards, he went to work on a lawn mower that hasn’t been running for 6 months. He checked the spark plugs, took the carburetor apart, cleaned it, found a broken piece, got it ordered to replace, watched anxiously for the part to come in, put the part on, put the carburetor back together and…it ran. He was like a child on Christmas morning. He asked me to order him some business cards for his small engine repair business. ;-)

(Photograph by Avi)

Mallie (8) is like sunshine in our home. She is made of kindness and it oozes.  Her imagination is as big as the moon and she inspires me to see joy in everything. After reading a book about worms at the library, she was fascinated and we watched some videos. Then I thought she needed a worm farm. Our worms came today! We are all pretty excited. I think we’ll try to sell them as bait, as well as harvest vermicompost for our garden. Who knows, maybe we’ll start to sell the worms for others to start worm farms soon. 

Kyla (6) is what I call our “full throttle” child. She keeps us laughing all the time and is both bold and sweet. She gets her words mixed up sometimes and says things like, “Mom! Mallie pulled her shirt up like a zucchini!” (Thinking of the word “bikini.”) I look at her sometimes and can’t wait to see the woman she becomes. But I’m also quite content to cherish the fleeting moments now.

(Photograph by Avi)

Ellia (4) is a joy. What can I say? She is so funny and expressive when she talks. She smiles constantly (except in this picture and when she’s mad at a sister) and loves nothing more than to play with her baby brother. She’s learning to read and is super excited about it. Usually my kids are a little older before they’re interested in reading.

(Photograph by Avi)

Jax (3) is such a fun age right now you would just have to hang out with him to know. I love this boy so! He is all boy, wide open, and delightfully loving.

And there’s Kaid (1)…snuggly, adorable, precious Kaid. We’re soaking him up.

Aaron and I, like any parents, are trying to remember to enjoy all the little things, in the midst of busy lives, and hold on to simplicity, remembering that building relationships which help us point our children to Christ, is our priority in life. We are not without struggles–believe me, even though I only hit happy highlights here. But we have lots to be grateful for and are just walking each day doing our best to hold on to the important stuff.

How to Be Happy (The Reminder in Mom’s Night Out)

I went to see Mom’s Night Out. Twice, actually, and I positively loved it. It was super funny and tears streaked my face several times, some from laughter, and some from the stomach-pit place that felt just what Ally was feeling.

I will note, before making my completely different point, that the few negative reviews were welcomed in my book. Because they prove the point that feminism really isn’t, in practice, all warm and fuzzy and “everyone just be happy doing what you love.” (They actually call the movie “anti-feminist”, so I’m not making that up.) Feminists’ love of choice stops at the front of door of home. Period.

Back to my post.

There was a line, early on, where the main character says something like (I couldn’t find the exact quote), “This is what I’ve always dreamed of. I’m living out my dream. I’m a wife and mom and…I’m not happy.”

And yes, it bothered me. Because for all the reality of motherhood being hard, I think our younger generation of women on the brink of their own families get discouraged by our complaining sometimes. So we have to (need to?) walk this tightrope of “It’s hard, but it’s good.” Honesty met with strength.

Which is ultimately, what the movie did, and beautifully recovered what I had thought was a disturbing line but actually wrapped the movie up with the simple, perfect message.

Ally says, at the end of the movie, “For me to be happy, something has to change.” And she smartly responds that she is that something.

And there it is. That thing I tell myself, and you here, and that thing we so need to be reminded of day after day, regardless of where we are in life, or what our circumstances–

that our happiness doesn’t depend on a life being always in order and things in a row, and our nails manicured and quiet vacations at the beach and pretty clothes with no wrinkles or stains, and uninterrupted bathroom breaks.

Happiness (which I’m not sure really exists and would be better defined as “joy”) is something that comes from within. It’s the something that has to change if we find ourselves “unhappy.”

Because I’ve watched people rise to joy out of miserable circumstances and I’ve watched others wallow in self-pity with less misery. And still, I’ve seen some, with every comfort and privilege life has to offer, never find contentment.

Ultimately, our most inherent flaw is the need to blame. Blame something or someone for everything we feel or experience. Remember what Adam did in the garden?

We laugh at him and do it ourselves. “It’s his fault, her fault, I can’t be happy.” “If my husband were different.”…If my house were bigger.”…”If my children…if my parents…if my financial situation…if my church…”

Happiness begins with “honor and strength are her clothing.”

Happiness begins with the choice to stop blaming and choose joy.

 

And for another great point about the movie, visit my friend’s post, “What Are You Saying to Your Kids?”

Parenting Completely: Where the Little Stuff Becomes Big

We can’t help it. We want to do something important, something other people think is important, something validated by general nods from society. Something for the Lord.

In reality, however, most of us won’t be called to take the gospel to a tribe of cannibals, or become a renowned teacher. And the thing is, that’s just where God would have us, because His grace is most needed where people are thirsty and need their dirty feet washed.

And it’s in those humble, daily acts of service where we become like Him. It’s the only kind of ministry, in fact, He commanded.

Can we wake up joyful because we are right where He wants us? Can we rejoice for mundane work that, when done humbly, for the glory of God, becomes elevated to honor?

Can we remember that it’s in the daily grind where the Kingdom of God is and grows?

It’s not the big moments that move our children to love Him, to love life, to grow in grace. And we can’t parent completely in “quality time.”

Just like a garden grows…ever so slowly, where the gardener is faithful and consistent.

Raising Entrepreneurs: Kids Starting Businesses

There are several reasons we encourage an entrepreneurial mindset in our family. Briefly, because there is freedom and variety in it, and unlimited opportunity, allowing a person to do what he or she is good at and loves. And, entrepreneurs turn the machine–they are leaders.

And it even goes beyond that: even if our children end up in a life work that is more mainstream, the entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable one of innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness. It grooms us to see that the world is full of ideas, and to solve problems and live optimistically.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever told this story here, but my son Brooks has a passion for machines. He loves to look at them, talk about them and ride them. He loves to watch his Poppy repair them, soaking it in like a sponge. He has wanted to operate a machine business since he was old enough to articulate it.

When he was 6, he began quizzing me about how a business operates.

“If I have a machine business, I want people to call me to work for them. But how will they know to call me?”

“Well, you have to advertise and list your phone number so they can find it.”

(Long pause) “How do I get a phone number?”

“You call the phone company and they’ll give you one.”

“How do I find the number to the phone company?”

And on it went like this for about an hour of pure, fascinating interest in running his own business. He got a crash-course in business that day that continues to propel his dream.

When we got home, I ordered him some business cards. By then, we had talked all about a business name, branding, marketing and saving up for his first investment–a skid steer, his favorite machine. I encouraged him to share his business cards and tell people about his dream business. Part of that, I told him, was to hone his relational/communication skills–something very important to a business owner.

 

Brooks has a jar of money he has been steadily saving for his first machine. He does odd jobs for us and for his grandparents to earn money. With an early vision of his goals and a growing understanding of economy, he should be well-equipped at a young age to launch into adulthood.

And even if his goals change, maybe he has a good start in the foundations of business.

If you’re interested in raising entrepreneurs, you may enjoy Raising Entrepreneurs, Raising Leaders.

Also, I’d love to hear your stories about how you’re encouraging business/entrepreneurial skills.

 

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