Finding Roots, Following Purpose

We acquire the strength we have overcome.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“Don’t judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him.”― Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Last night was the final night of a course I had been taking at the local community college in order to become certified as a preschool or child development center director. I already have my A.S. and this course didn’t transfer over in to my B.A. program; the only thing it did was get my certified. At first this seemed like a waste of time and money. But this class gave me exactly what I needed both professionally and personally. When I did my A.S. program it was at this same community college; now you can say what you want about community college (I watch Community too) but for me this college gave me wings. Without it I would never had been able to fly off to a four year college or be considering a master’s program beginning next fall. I made so many professional connections among both the professors in the Early Childhood division as well as among the students; many of the students who I graduated with were in this director’s class with me. It’s a small world at a community college, but it allows you to go far. Out of this college I was able to “land” my dream job teaching Head Start. At that point in my life there was nothing else I wanted to do but to teach Head Start; and I still love it.

As I left the early childhood building and walked to my car a multitude of thoughts filled my head. Whenever I leave that campus, that early childhood building, I feel as if I am leaving home. Truth be told I have often returned to that building and its lab school when I am low on professional enthusiasm and I need to remember why I do what I do. Teaching Head Start is not easy; it’s not all paint and smiles and laughter. I’ve been spit on, had chairs thrown at me, been called “dog face” by parents,been bit and kicked…it’s not easy. So back I go to my roots, the early childhood building and lab school in order to gain inspiration to carry on. That college and the professors there caused me to be who I am today as a teacher, and they still continue to be sources of support and encouragement and resources for ideas and professionalism (and send me student teachers too!). Without my beginning at community college and the strong early childhood foundation that it provided me I truly believe that I would not have been able to pursue my B.S. or even consider a master’s program. And though I love Head Start, I know now that it’s not what I am meant to do forever. It’s amazing how your roots are the foundation for all things, yet they grow and develop into something that is different than what you originally imagined. My roots have given me the foundation I need to become a psychologist. I have so many things I can do once I have achieved this…and I am so excited to be used as a psychologist wherever God sends me.

And while these may sound like personal aspirations to some they are personal callings in my eyes. I have been so bothered lately by those who seem to judge everything and everyone they see. I have read or heard comments about mothers needing to give up personal aspirations, or how tattoos are an epidemic, how wives and mothers need to be in the home, make this godly home-which is attained by spending all day baking bread (or something equally superficial-what does God have to do with baking bread anyways?), or children suffering from parents who work or go to school…I just want to scream: REALLY?! Way to make me feel like a totally horrible person in 2.7 seconds. You basically just judged and demeaned everything that I do…everything that I am. I have felt so defeated by these comments. I don’t understand why people feel the need to say things like this; especially when they are religious. As Christians we have no more of a right to judge others simply upon the basis that we think we are better than them. And really, where does this judgement come from except from the belief that we are somehow better? If I believe that tattoos are an evil epidemic and I do not have any of the evil things I therefore am construing myself as being better than those who have tattoos; I don’t have evil tattoos, so I am better than you. Judgement is passed. It doesn’t take much. I feel defeated. Constantly having to fight against the beliefs of people around me is tiring…even if they don’t come right out and voice their opinions their small actions and responses say it all.

Social influence plays more of a part than most people probably realize. Perhaps some of these people who cause me to feel defeated don’t even realize what their words, actions, and responses are doing. But the truth is, everything we do affects other people. In their book Social Psychology Aronson, Wilson & Akert talk about how even the presence of other people influence us. They also talk about how our thoughts, feelings, and choices are governed by real or imaginary approval or disapproval of those around us and by how we expect those people to react to us. Social influence has a phenomenal affect on our lives. I wish that people and their words, actions and responses did not have such an influence on my life, but they do. It’s part of this life that God designed. Although, if I were to venture a guess I would say that God designed us to use our words, actions, and responses in order to positively influence people instead of causing them to feel defeated. Although it is often appropriate to use our words actions, and responses to influence people positively despite our personal beliefs and feelings this rarely happens. And sin came into this world… now we have to deal with this feeling of defeat. So where do I go from here?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” So what does lie within me? To consider this, I have to go back to my roots. Not necessarily my childhood roots, but my young adult ones certainly. For me, those begin at community college. And when I go back there, either physically or in thought, I see what I am meant to be and what I am meant to do. To quote Emerson again: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” I have long known my purpose, though I have not always accepted it. I know what I am meant to do and meant to be, and I know that God has put this purpose within me according to his Ultimate Plan. Does that mean that this purpose is easy? Does it mean that I always want to live in accordance with this purpose? No! And certainly not when people cause me to feel defeated. Yet, I cannot allow what other’s say and think and do dictate the choices that I make. And in my heart I know that the choices I make are the ones that God wants me to make. Only I can know that. You can’t judge me for those choices as much as I cannot judge you for yours. We all have difficult paths in our life’s road; if only the things we say and do actually helped people follow God’s purpose for them instead of causing them to feel defeated. In the words of Fun “If you’re lost and alone, Or you’re sinking like a stone, Carry on, May your past be the sound, Of your feet upon the ground, Carry on. So that’s what I do. I will continue to teach, to be a working mom, to further my education; not because I am obsessed with personal aspirations, but because I am responding to the purpose for which God has created me to fulfill. I prefer to say it is a personal calling.

Not only did this class help me remember my roots and address my professional needs, but it gave me encouragement that I needed personally. It is amazing who God can use to give you encouragement. It may not always be someone who you know, or who is a strong Christian. He can use anyone (He can even use me). I needed that class, and more than just for the qualification it allows. I needed to be among people who are on the same path as me. While I would like to say that I do not need people…I do. Remember, the presence of other people influence us. We were designed for this influence; whether it be positive or negative. I am beginning to realize that yes, I do need people. But the people I thought I need are not always the ones that God provides. This was evident in my director’s class. It was so good to be among working moms; to share stories of our children and our other children (classes), to share professional and personal goals and dreams, to encourage and support one another as we pursued the knowledge and professional courses. Yes, sometimes God provides encouragement from sources we least expect, or maybe don’t want. I identifies with these strangers in so many more ways than I ever could have dreamed. I didn’t feel defeated among them; our common struggles provided common ground from which we could use our words, actions, and responses to influence each other positively. If you know what you are meant to do, but feel defeated in trying to do it perhaps it is time to examine the people you surround yourself with. And if you are part of the group w ho is surrounding another, consider the effect that your words, actions, and responses have on that person. We were designed to influence one another; I believe that God intended that influence to be positive.

Ultimately, it does not matter what other people think, do, say, or how they respond. If we are fulfilling the purpose for which God created us, nothing else should matter (even though it does). God is the only one who can offer judgement. And God is the ultimate source of encouragement, though He often uses others to provide this. I intend to follow my purpose, despite the opinions of others. I intend to be more like my daughter. In her young life she doesn’t acknowledge the influence that people could have, she doesn’t feel constricted by societal expectations. Instead, she does whatever she sets out to do. She wears her Minnie Mouse dress up dress to the grocery store, she happily says “hi” to all the grumpy looking people in the stores, she excitedly runs around public places with a grin on her face…she is full of life among so many people who seem so full of negativity. People don’t dictate what she does; if she wants to poop in the bath tub…well, she does. It doesn’t matter how gross she knows I think it is. If she wants to take fifteen minutes to walk all by herself from the car into church…she does. And yes, while some of her behaviors may be due to the natural course of development, the lesson remains: children don’t allow society and people to influence and dictate their every decision. They do what makes them happy. They live. So yes, I intend to be like her. Maybe I won’t wear a Minnie Mouse dress to the grocery store, but I will carry on with my purpose…after all, God has given it to me.

“Find the thing you want to do most intensely, make sure that’s it, and do it with all your might. If you live, well and good. If you die, well and good. Your purpose is done”― H.G. Wells

20130617_113718

Advertisements

Adventures with Books

“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that the things that are truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. Courage and kindness, loyalty, truth, and helpfulness are always the same and always needed.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Don’t just teach your children to read…
Teach them to question what they read.
Teach them to question everything.”
― George Carlin

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”— Emilie Buchwald

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. We had one of those days last week. After a long and fussy morning which ended in a much needed nap I was dreading what the afternoon was going to be like. I needed to get out, Ellie needed to get out; both of our sanity hung on whether or not we could find something to do…not in our house. And then it hit me in the head like a ton of bricks, and the answer to our problem was so obvious I should have hit myself on the head literally…the library!! Seriously! How have I not thought of this before?!? Sometimes I amaze myself with my great abilities…and my great oversights. So, when Ellie woke up from her nap it was on with the shoes and out of the door…with  Baby in tow of course.

20130619_141723I rarely stop talking, so as we drove I explained to Ellie what the library was (and that I thought I still had a lost book fee from that Eric Carle book I took to my class that never made it back). I told her that we would not be losing any books that we borrowed…no more fees for us! She kept looking at me in her mirror like I was slightly crazy talking about all this nonsense. It’s ok, someday she will understand it all. For now, I will just keep talking her through the process. When we got to the library she insisted on walking inside by herself while holding her Baby. We had to stop to smell every “pritty” flower along the way with an emphasized “sniffffffffff”. We finally made it inside and were greeted by our awesome children’s librarian…who even after a year without me stopping by still remembered my name! Last time she saw me I was still pregnant, so she was excited to see Ellie, who of course loved the attention and interaction from someone other than mumma. After being cute and smiley for the librarian Ellie set right in exploring this new environment. The Lego Quattro table drew her attention and she spent nearly ten minutes manipulating the legos. If you arranged them in a certain way a light inside the display box would come on; Ellie thought this was simply fabulous and exclaimed “stars” “sky” “whoa!” everytime brightness filled the display and illuminated the pictures and legos inside.

20130619_142101After exploring the lego’s she moved on the the books. I talked her through how we don’t just rip every single book off of the shelf and helped her select a small pile of animal and airplane (her newest obsessions) books and we brought them over to the rocking chairs. She was too excited by the oversized Cat in the Hat and Winnie the Pooh to sit and read. She took them off the rocking chairs they were sitting in and arranged and re-arranged them. Then she sat in the red rocking chair, then the yellow one, then the red one, and switched between the two at  least 20 times during which she kept demanding one or other of the stuffed animals or Baby. Finally she was pleased enough with whatever arrangement of chairs and stuffed animals she came up with to sit and look at her books.

20130619_143621I read a couple of the books to her, and she looked at some of them jibber jabbering away for each page. I love when she imitates reading; early literacy is so important. I started reading to Ellie when she was only a few days old. When she was old enough to sit up she almost always was surrounded by board books. When she stared to crawl she would bring books to whoever was around and climb into their laps expecting nothing less than to be read to. We eventually had to hide Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Doggies by Sandra Boyton because we read them at least 20 times a day; and I’m not exaggerating. I could repeated them word for word by memory. I love those books, but 20 times a day was too much for even this book lover. Anyways…Elllie seemed to thoroughly enjoy these  new and unfamiliar books. But soon she began to explore the rest of this new environment.

20130619_143106She played with the blocks and puzzles, going back and forth between the two. I have to say that our children’s librarian is just awesome! Some librarians would be horrified to have a 17 month old cruising around their library, but our librarian was totally fine with it! She kept asking Ellie questions and pointing out new and interesting things for her. It was fabulous!

20130619_150558We built with the large cardboard blocks, which are always so much fun. Ellie would build a tall tower around Baby, knock it over, and then dramatic proclaim :”uh oh! Babyyyyyy! Uh oh!” and then rummage through the blocks to save her Baby. I don’t know where she gets her drama from…but from everything else she gets from me it might be safe to say she gets it from me.

20130619_145731Next she discovered the large Farm Rug in another part of the children’s room. She walked around pointing to each animal and saying their sounds. When she got a bit too loud I explained to her that libraries were not a place for being loud, and I put my finger on my lips to demonstrate softly talking. She loves when I do this and also put her finger on her slips and softly talks; it’s so cute, I have to say! Eventually she decided she wanted to lay down on the animals, so she did. And she scooted herself around on her back “woofing” and “quacking” as she went. We even got some gross motor in as well as literacy!

After over an hour of exploring and building and reading and talking we had to leave in order to be home in time to make supper. After a fussy, long morning this afternoon of exploring and reading was a great change! Sometimes I forget about the obvious solutions to problems; at least I seem to remember them eventually. Now we have a great place to visit this summer; we plan on going once a week, and Ellie is going to learn all about borrowing and returning and be exposed to new and interesting books (in addition to the bookcases that I already have). When she turns 2 she can attend the Story Hour program; I can’t wait for this. I loved Story Hour!

It might seem like 17 months is a little young to bring a child to the library…but I beg to differ. There are no rules saying the Library is only for children 2 and older (I checked!). The only rules are the ones that we make; and I refuse to deny Ellie the experience simply because some people may consider her too young. Early literacy is so important for future development. Reading to children before they are 1 is essential; children cannot learn to appreciate books if they don’t see them being appreciated. I have said before, and the research shows that children learn by modeling. Model reading, and I will venture a guess that your child will one day appreciate books. After all, each book takes you on a different adventure. Adventure with books…even if you’re only 1.

Baby Talk

“The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!”
-Maria Montessori

❝Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.❞
‒Oliver Wendell Holmes

I teach preschool. There are many reasons why I have fallen in love with this age group; one of those is the simple fact that they can talk! Now, every once in a while you will get a really young 2.9 er who is a bit difficult to understand, or a child who experiences language delays or speech impairments, but for the most part  you can understand them and they can understand you. I have spent time in infant and toddler rooms, in the church nursery, with nieces and nephews or friends kids. I have seen hitting and kicking and screaming and tantruming , spitting and shoving and throwing and just about any not-so-positive behavior that you could think of. However, it was not all these negative things that scared me most about having my own child. It was language. Toddlers are so, so, so hard to understand! I imagined I would never be able to understand my child since I had such a difficult time understanding the variety of toddlers that I had come into contact with over the years. They babble and point, don’t articulate or pronounce. Baby talk was scary.

I am here to say that my fear has been erased. Lo and behold, I can understand my kid! It’s really a pretty big phenomenon. I’m not sure many other people can understand her, but I can! If I stop and think about it, it is really quite a miraculous thing. Obviously, children learn language from somewhere; usually their parents or caregivers. Through interaction with the important people in their life, children learn to talk. Language is really an amazing thing in an of itself. The process by which children learn it still is not fully understood. And yet, they learn. In my opinion it is the interaction between the child and the caregiver that provides the basis for mutual understanding. Hence, because I talk to her I can understand all the things that Ellie says. I know the context in which her language occurs, so it is easier for me to decipher her ‘baby talk’. Whenever I put Ellie in her carseat I say something like “pop” or “click” every time I snap one of her clips into the belt. Well, when my husband was putting her in her carseat to go to church on Sunday right on cue with the buckling Ellie says “pppppop”. My husband looked at me like “what is she saying?” He doesn’t engage in this little interaction as often as I do, so he didn’t really know the full extent of the context behind it. So I explained it to him… Yes, I think it’s true, interaction leads to understanding. That and the fact that children pick up whatever you say.

This is quite amazing and fulfilling. I was trying to write down all the words that Ellie says in her baby book (which I am NOT so good at keeping up with). Well, she says so many words that I couldn’t fit them all on one page. That girl really talks a lot. But then again, I do too. I am constantly talking, so it should not surprise me that she does too. It is so important to talk to children; if they don’t hear language they won’t learn it. I mean, Ellie already can identify and say “stars” (she says it more like ‘tars) in the right context. She blurts out “tars” in the middle of church when she seems them on the overhead, she finds a star shaped puzzle piece and proudly identifies it, she begs mumma and daddy to draw “tars” when she is coloring, she proclaims that there are stars on my pajama pants, and point up to the sky and softly says “tars”. And where did she learn all this? From her parents. It might seem like you are a crazy person, but if you identify and talk about whatever you see and come in contact with children will learn. They will learn language and concepts, and when they see how excited you are that they know what “‘tars” are they will have the confidence to keep learning and adding to their vocabulary. The lesson here: keep talking; even if it makes you feel like a crazy person.

Conversely, the fact that children pick up language from you is not always amazing and fulfilling. It is kind of a double edged sword by which you learn more about yourself than you  might want to.  Apparently I have a nasty little habit of quickly expressing my frustration with things. This became evident to me when Ellie began “ughhhhhh”ing when she was trying to pull a sock off of her foot. I stopped to think about where she might have picked this up from, I mean, it couldn’t have been me right? I only teach her good things….haha, I wish! Nope, upon deeper reflection it occurred to me that she learned it from….well, me of course. Yep, I am the culprit of her quickly expressing her frustration by sighing. Just the other day when I couldn’t get the plastic wrap unstuck it was me saying “ughhhhh” just like Ellie. Or should I say, she was saying it just like me? Yes, children learn language and expression from those they spend the most time with. Sometimes they help you to take a closer look at yourself and examine your behaviors more closely than you would prefer. Now, instead of “uggghhh” ing I try to express my frustration in a more positive way; “oh no, the plastic wrap is stuck again, what can we do to get it unstuck.” And there I am talking like a crazy person again. But at least Ellie isn’t learning to express frustration negatively anymore. The little adventures of life. The little lessons.

I am just glad that my fears were not realized and that I can understand my own child. I still can’t understand other people’s children; but, no offense,  that is not what is important to me. Thank God for the amazing phenomenon that allows parents to understand what their children are saying. Baby talk really isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Even though it may sound and look like babbling and pointing to an outside observer, it sounds like beautiful and intelligent words to me. So call me crazy, but I am going to keep on talking wherever I g;, cuz my little girl is learning, and that is all that matters.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” –Thomas Jefferson

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go! This is the song that I sang this week as I headed back to school to substitute teach for the preschool summer classrooms. I call the weeks that I substitute in the summer my ‘mental health weeks’…they keep me sane and help me stay mentally balanced while being home for the summer with my adorable Ellie. A lot of people don’t understand why I substitute in the summer, after all, who would choose to work when they have the chance not to? In fact, some people wonder why I work at all, especially now that I have Ellie. And though they may not say it, I know they think it. After all, society all but expects women to stay at home all day cooking and cleaning the second they get pregnant. Ha! I worked full time and all school year and summer long my entire pregnancy. I didn’t have the luxury of napping, or sleeping in; and I loved it! I took 8 weeks off when Ellie was born and went back to work for the remainder of the school year. Take that society! I love being a working mom; it keeps me sane.

But what about your children? It’s not fair to them that you work. Or is it? For me, I need to work. I go crazy if I’m not doing something, I loose patience, I feel like I have no purpose, so I get depressed…and you’re fooling yourself if you think that this doesn’t effect my parenting. Of course it does! I find that I spend far more quality time with Ellie when I am on my work schedule. Furthermore, in an article by The Washington Post research concerning working mothers is reported. The study that the article refers to found that the effects on child development of full-time working mothers was neutral; there was no difference in a child’s development when comparing a child of a working mother and a child of a stay at home mother. Additionally, the Post reports that working mothers “displayed greater “maternal sensitivity,” or responsiveness toward their children, than stay-at-home mothers”. Again, take that society. You were wrong once again.

Not that society is the only social influence that makes working moms feel bad. For a long time religion has also advocated stay at home motherhood. I find this rather amusing. Religious groups from wide and far love Proverbs 31…a wife should be virtuous, she will be praised by her children, she will gird herself with strength. Yes, I agree. But it seems that we so often focus on only these things and skip over the in between. Proverbs 31 also speaks of a woman who “willingly works with her hands” (this can apply to baking bread or working on an assembly line), she “considers a field and buys it…plants a vineyard” (she could have an at home vegetable garden or be a smart business woman), she “perceives that her merchandise is good” (maybe she sews clothes for her family or maybe she is an entrepreneur), and “her hands hold the spindle” (perhaps she makes things for her family or maybe she works as a seamstress), while she also “supplies sashes for the merchants” (aka: she has a job). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not attacking stay at home moms. But they need to understand that all too often you make the rest of us feel like really horrible people because of the fact that we work; and based on what? A Biblical passage that you take bits and pieces of, the bits and pieces that you want to. The key word here is or. The actions of the virtuous wife that Proverbs 31 talks about could be considered in both lights. It is important to remember that either choice is not wrong, we are all different and pursue this adventure of life differently, but we do need to understand and support each other regardless of what path a person chooses.

For me, I have to work. I love it. As Thomas Edison says, I would have missed so many opportunities if I did not work and teach. I wouldn’t have been able to give that little boy a winter jacket, or pray for that little girl who witnessed her mother being shot, or hug that child who was having a bad day, or refer that child for speech services, or pray for an entire class of children that someday God would touch their hearts and they would come to know Him as their savior. Not that this was easy; teaching is hard work. Leaving my daughter while I work is not easy either; but it’s worth it. Not only is she able to spend time with family members, but she is learning independence. I want to raise a child who some day has the confidence to go out into the world and make her own way; independence starts young. Besides, she gets to have so many adventures of her own while I am at work. And not only this, but I believe so much in what I do; I believe that it is a work worth doing as Thomas Jefferson says. With an emphasis on foreign missions, churches sometimes forget about the poor and weary and suffering within our own communities. My job allows me to serve within my community and work to love and teach and support families and children who need it most. It is fulfilling. It keeps my humble. It gives me opportunity that I would never have if I stayed at home. And it teaches Ellie that there are other people in the world that mumma needs to help besides her; it teaches her selflessness and giving. I know she is only seventeen months, and she may not fully understand for a few more years, but the lesson will be there when she is ready.

Camera 2012 055

(Ellie hanging out with her Aunties and Mam while Mumma is at work)

Was this week a long one? Certainly! I worked hours that I do not prefer while also taking two upper level college courses. It was hard. Ellie was less than happy, but she survived. And someday she will understand. Despite long hours of teaching only to head straight to class or home to write essays and complete other homework, I had tons of fun! I had conversations about what kind of car we would all drive when we grew  up. One girl wanted a “very very very pink pink pink cars with stickers I can take on and off”. While a little boy wanted a “blue truck with spikey nails and stickers.” I got to hug a child when he fell down, and engage in wondrous observation of an inchworm. Then I helped to coordinate the construction of two fabulous sand castles that five or six three and four year olds worked together to create, complete with landscaping consisting of bushes and grass and apple and banana trees, a moat and several drawbridges and firebridges.

20130614_170117

It’s a pretty awesome sandcastle. And it was a pretty awesome, yet crazy and difficult week. Some people may question or lack understanding for why I work and attend college. They may believe that it is not fair to my child. But I would not have chosen another path or another adventure. I love what I do; work and school alike. And it is my prayer that someday Ellie will look back on my adventure and understand. She will see my hard work and the way that I value it. She will see my love for learning and my commitment to furthering my knowledge. Hopefully she will learn from my adventures and be given the desire to follow her own path, valuing hard work and education as much as I did.

Azrielle = Love

“He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  But to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
―     Micah 6:8

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
― Mother Teresa

For some, meaning is found in what they do. For others it is in a song, a book, or a person. Others may question what meaning is, and where it can be found. In my eyes, meaning is everywhere.

This is my beautiful daughter, Azrielle. My husband and I thought long and hard about what name to give her. I believe that a name is a legacy, so the legacy that we started our daughter off in her life with was an important decision. After much reading and researching we finally settled on Azrielle. Her name is Hebrew and it means “God is my helper”. I love this meaning. When I am having a hard day, and when my mind is filled with doubt and fear…all I have to do is look at her, and I am reminded “God is my helper”. This is the meaning that her name holds. Not only is it true for me, but it is true for her as well. Not only does her name serve as a constant reminder for me, but it will for her as well. When she is old enough to understand, we will tell her what her name means. And since a name is such a vital part of a person, the truth that her name holds within it will also be a vital part of her and her life. Meaning. Some people find it in a name.


Not only does the meaning of Azrielle’s name relate to God’s truth, but the truth that it represents relates to life. It begs the questions, if God is going to be my helper, what is He going to ask of me? In what circumstances or trials will I need His help? Perhaps when she learns of the meaning of her name she will wonder, “why will I need God’s help?” And truth be told, dear girl, there will be many instances in your life when you will need His help. Hold strong to this truth, He will be there to help you. Live your life in the knowledge that He will be there to help you; but remember, not only do we ask something of God, but He asks something of us. Walk justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him; with His help you will be able to achieve this. Meaning. A name can have meaning pertaining to life.

And meaning can be found in places other than a name. For some, meaning inspires meaning. Azrielle brought a while new dimension of meaning to my life. She taught me so much more about love than I could’ve learned any other way.  She was part of my inspiration to permanently represent multiple dimensions and meaning of love in my own life. And so finally I fulfilled a long time dream to embark on the adventure of getting a tattoo.

I am so glad I did. This mark is a daily reminder of love. Love. Perhaps this is one of the most over used words in society today. And yet, it exists. So what is it? If you take a moment to think about what love really is, if you look past all that water that has changed the commonly held perception of this word you might be able to glimpse the truth of what love is. It is so much more than a feeling. It is so much more than a relationship. Sometimes, it is something that you cannot express, or define. And yet, it exists. Some people may perceive the meaning of love in different ways. For me, love is represented in many ways.

Infinite love. Love that never ends. Love that never fails. Kristian Stanfill says it this way: “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me”. Not only does God help us, but He loves us too. Forever. And this is the meaning that my tattoo holds…god will ALWAYS love me. Infinitely. He loved me so much that He gave the ultimate sacrifice; His own son, in exchange for the forgiveness of everything that I have done and will do wrong. Can love mean more than that sacrifice? Can it mean more than that deep and unending commitment? Infinite love.

And with the arrival of Azrielle I came to understand the depth of that sacrifice. I think that this is what motivated me to record upon my  body the truth that God loves me infinitely. I finally understood just what His sacrifice meant. For me, my tattoo represents more than just God’s love for me. It also represents my love for my husband. It represents a commitment that I made and will keep forever, infinitely. Infinite love, God has it for me. Infinite love, I have it for my husband. Infinite love, for Azrielle. But this love is so different than the love I have committed to for my husband; it was a love that I didn’t choose. Obviously, you know you are going to love  your children. But you never expect to be filled with that powerful, incomprehensible, strong and indescribable love that overtakes your mind and your heart and your whole entire body when you set your eyes, for the first time on your newborn child. You can’t help but to love her. It just happens, it just is, and you know with every part of your soul that it always will be.

But love is so much more. What do you do with love? I say, you show it. You live it, and you behave in love wherever and whenever you can. And so my tattoo reminds me that not only does God infinitely love me, but I should act His infinite love in whatever I do. It doesn’t have to be big things, although those are great if you get the chance. But show God’s love in the small ways too. Smile at someone in the grocery store, help the elderly man who has fallen in the icy parking lot, pray for a friend who is struggling. Pray for a stranger. Use a kind word with your co-workers instead of a curt answer. Jesus loved people in big ways, but He loved them in small ways too. And whenever I am tempted to act in anger, or to avoid helping someone I remember the mark on my neck…the one that reminds me to love, and of the love that I hold for other, and the love that is held for me. Infinite love. I hope that I can show even a glimpse of God’s infinite love wherever I go.

Meaning. Some people find it in a tattoo. And some people find it in a name. So, my dear Azrielle, I hope that someday you find the meaning of God’s love for you and bury it deep down in  your heart. And always remember, in whatever adventures life brings your way, God is your helper. He loves you infinitely. And so do I.

 

The Best Day?

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have those days. You know, the ones that just don’t go right no matter what you do and you get so bogged down in wrong and focused on bad and everything is awful and you feel so full of despair… Like the day when you put your child in her car seat, take off down the road to the grocery store and are pulling into the parking lot and your sister calls you frantically explaining that you prized tablet is on the trunk of your car unwillingly along for  the ride… So you take a deep breath, swallow those naughty words, and slowly stop your car to rescue your tablet when you suddenly remember…your husband’s new cell phone was with the tablet…but not anymore. And we had just both of us FINALLY gotten working phones. The best day?! Yeah. Right.

Or there is the day when you are trying to get something done because you are going crazy from boredom because the cleaning job you were supposed to do didn’t work out and you want to do homework (yes I know it’s weird I LIKE to do homework), or make your child a nightgown because she has none and it would be fun. So you say to yourself, what they heck. I’m just gonna do it. But you sew the right side to the wrong side and have to take it all apart, meanwhile your one year old is saying “mum” in two hundred different tones of voice and then decided to try to crawl up your leg and you tell her she’s not a monkey to which she replied “hoo hoo hoo hahaha hoo” and you say you don’t need to sound like a monkey either as you are trying to now sew both right sides together so that your entire morning spent on this sewing project isn’t for nothing. The best day? Hardly. I mean, I didn’t accomplish anything. Who feels good about that? And I was annoyed the whole time which is…even more annoying. Image

It’s days like these that I need to remember the wise words of Emerson. While emotion is not housed in the heart perhaps decision is. And if I decide to write it on my heart that despite all the…not so good things that occur every day I will chose to realize the day as being the BEST day, I think that just maybe it WILL be the best day. This is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, which in the world of psychology and education is described as ideas that become reality simply because someone believes them. They can be a very powerful thing. And thought I’m not sure that you can technically impose a self-fulfilling prophecy on yourself, I would say it’s worth a try! My guess is that if you choose to take Emerson’s advice and write it upon your heart to realize each day as the BEST day your eyes will be opened to so much more than the…not so good things.

Like, when you find  your daughter sitting on the couch having a conversation with her stuffed monkey her aunt gave her. Image

Or when you are trying to read your textbook and your daughter climbs into your lap, grabs the tablet and starts posing for pictures with you. So you both start making funny faces, to which your husband walks in the door from work and is surprised with hilarious looking mother and daughter.

Image

Or when you find your one year old daughter hiding in the pantry with her favorite crochet blanket over her head, peeking around the corner laughing at you, and quickly hiding again every time you call her name.

Image

Yes, I believe that Emerson is correct. Go ahead and try. Write upon your heart that every day is the BEST day…then wait and see the moments that your eyes are opened to.