Ten Blue Eyes

life as we see it


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That’s Gonna Leave A Mark.

I’m giving Five Minute Friday a try again. I find it fun, challenging, and I just drank coffee too late in the evening so I’m wide awake and why not! :) Five Minute Friday is where a group of bloggers are given a one-word prompt and then they write about that topic for five minutes and then link up with others who have done the same. The prompt is given at 10pm on Thursday night here if you’d like to join us! And if you want to read what others have written about today’s word you can find them all linked here

Today’s word prompt is: LEAVE 

That’s Gonna Leave A Mark.

We sat in a circle this morning with Bibles open on laps and scribbled words on our papers. We’ve been studying the life of Moses and today we discussed that crazy day when Joshua was called to fight the Amalekites and Moses stood on top of a mountain all day holding his staff up in the air.

Weird.

We read about how when Moses lowered the staff, the Amalekites would begin to win, and when he raised the staff up, then his people, the Israelites, would be the victors. The staff was a visual represtentaion of God’s power.

We studied that as the day wore on, Moses’ arms grew weary (who can blame him!) and so he pulled up a rock, took a seat, and had his buddy, Hur, and his brother, Aaron, hold his arms up for him.

I don’t claim to understand how this all worked. Like I said, it’s kind of strange and not something I see every day. Or ever.

But I believe it.

And what’s more, I was struck in our study by the fact that God actually asks Moses to record what happened that day so that Joshua and the rest of the Israelites (and you and me too!) would know about this whole staff and tired arms thing. And even more important than that, so we’d all see how God led His people to victory in a powerful way, like only He could.

Basically, God wanted Moses to be sure to tell the story.

To not let the memory of that day fade with the setting sun.

Poor Moses didn’t have the great tools we have today to do such telling.

He couldn’t tweet:

@EgyptnoMoe Just helped my army win a big battle… but boy are my “armies” sore now!
#punintended #AaronandHuraremywingmen

He couldn’t blog:

Check on my new post “My Triceps are Killing Me but the Amalekites Aren’t” over at http://www.wanderingwildernessramblings.com

He couldn’t even update his status on Facebook:

Check out this group selfie of my bro Aaron, my buddy Hur and me. Long day helping Joshua win a battle. Can’t win ‘em all, but we sure won this one! ;) By the way, this staff sure is something!!

But technology, tools, convenience, or not, God asked Moses to record the events of the day and to pass it down to others.

God asked Moses to tell the story.

I see this theme in Scripture elsewhere. In Deuteronomy, God tells his people to impress God’s laws on their children. To talk about God and his law in their daily lives. To tell the stories of God’s work in their history. To pile a group of stones in a location where God did something and when their kids asked, “Hey Mom, what’s that pile of rocks for?” to tell them the story.

Because when we tell the story, we tell what God has done.

And that’s gonna leave a mark.

 

 

 


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A Different Dare.

Last week I tried Five Minute Friday for the first time and I enjoyed it! It was a good challenge for me and I had fun trying to be creative with the topic. Five Minute Friday is where a group of bloggers (anybody who wants to) write on a given topic (from a one word prompt!) for 5 minutes and then link up with others who have done the same. I thought I’d give it a try again this week. 

Today’s word: DARE

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A DIFFERENT DARE

 

We walked down the tiled and cold hallway of the mall.  My little daughter’s warm and soft hand was in mine.

Her feet shuffled quickly as she worked to keep up with my stride and her sweet little eyes moved from side to side as she took in our surroundings.

The lights. The mannequins in the windows dressed in strange clothes. The signs. The smells. The noise.

It was all communicating loudly to us without saying a word. It dared us to join in. “These are the things that society says are important.” it was clearly stating.

Wear the trendy clothes. Be relevant. 

Spritz yourself daily with a scent created by someone you admire.

Be thin. No, be skinny.

Fit in with right crowd.

Spend. Spend. Spend.

To thine own self be true.

But, little daughters of mine, I dare you to be different. And I’ve found that being different is even more difficult than trying to be the same as everyone else. 

I hold your hand today, but someday soon you’ll grow up and be gone. And so I want you to hear these things and hold them in your heart.

Wear dignity. Be full of grace. 

Spritz yourself daily with gratitude, for you have been created by the One who admires you.

Be you. Be healthy.

Help those who don’t seem to fit anywhere.

Give. Give. Give.

Be humble and think of others’ needs above your own.

For these are the things that are truly important.

I dare you to be different.

 


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The Longest Temporary.

I’m trying something new today! A friend, who is an amazing writer and blogger at Poets And Saints, encouraged me to try Five Minute Friday where you write for 5 minutes about a topic that is given to you and then you link up with other bloggers who did the same. Each Friday there is a new word given as a theme. I thought I’d give it a try! 

Today’s word was: Long. Here’s what I came up with…

(By the way, I wrote for five minutes and then went back and added the pictures and exact Scripture reference. I tried not to edit much because you’re not supposed to overthink it! Okay, maybe I did fiddle with a few sentences, but the main post was done in 5 minutes. This was harder than I was expecting it to be!) 

Five Minute Friday: Long

The Longest Temporary

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It was like a punch in the gut. My head could not even comprehend it. Three years of chemotherapy? My toddler will be “on chemo” from the age of two to the age of five?

This can not be my life.

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It took us time to process what our future held… and what dreams we’d have to let go of.

I sat with swollen eyes and read the one thing that calmed my soul. The Bible.

2 Cor 4:16-18 says:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Light and momentary? Are you serious?!

Three years of watching my baby boy receive a toxic poison in his blood was not light. And it most certainly did not feel momentary.

But those words washed over me like a balm. They comforted me in a way I can not describe. And though we are now far on the other side of that three awful years, those word comfort me still.

What is seen is temporary.

Temporary is shorter than forever.

It doesn’t always feel that way when you’re looking forward–when the road ahead stretches longer than you can see.

But God’s perfect grace reaches down into the pain of this temporary world.

And though our suffering feels long, His mighty arm reaches longer still.

 

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How Do You Teach Your Kids About The Bible?

Pastors’ kids. You know the ones.

Stereotypically, they come in one of two forms. Either they’re sporting black finger nail polish, tattoos, and piercings making them look as holey as Swiss cheese, or they’re the other kind of holy. Perfect little angels who have the New Testament memorized and have a rainbow-colored collection of WWJD bracelets.

I’m neither.

Thankfully.

However, I AM a pastor’s kid. But I’m not a kid anymore. I’m grown up, married and have three kids of my own.

But the stereotypes never seem to go away. And since I don’t wear black finger nail polish and my only piercings are in my ears, people think I grew up speaking Hebrew at age 4, baptizing Barbie and Ken in the sink, and playing Beatitude BINGO at birthday parties.

I hate to burst your bubble, but I am fairly normal. In fact, I grew up like most any kid. I played hide and seek, needed help with my math homework, and competed in school sports. Now I help my kids with their math homework (if I can figure it out!), put meals on the table (why do they want to eat every day?!) do laundry, and shuttle people to sporting events and birthday parties.

We really are quite normal. See?

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Being born into a pastor’s family doesn’t come with automatic Bible knowledge; you just have to spend more time at church.

So how did my parents teach me about the Bible? 

I get asked this question a lot along with the follow-up question:

How do you and Kraig teach your children the Bible?

So I thought I’d take a minute on the blog today to share a few ideas. Please understand that these are simply suggestions. Scripture makes it clear that we should be teaching the next generation about God and His Word, but there is no perfect “formula” or mandated devotional book we must use. If anyone tries to tell you there is, they must not have been paying attention in church.

So look at these ideas and thoughts as you would a buffet.

Take what your family likes and what you think they’ll digest. And you can even add other ideas å la carte. The important thing is that God’s Word is being passed on to future generations.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reads:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I’ve always loved this passage (I can clearly remember being asked to memorize it the summer after 4th grade at Vacation Bible School by a teacher wearing a “priestly bath robe” and homemade Israeli headdress.)

Basically, this passage is encouraging the people of Israel to do two things.

1. Love God and keep His commandments.

2. Teach their children to do the same.

It’s pretty simple, really.

According to this passage, the instructions for teaching your children are to make loving God and talking about Him a natural part of your lives.

Do you notice it doesn’t say you must have a “family devotional” time each night at 7:30?

Instead, it stresses that you talk about God and His commandments as you go about your life. It should be as natural to share about your faith with your kids as it is to share about their homework, their chores, or what they want for Christmas.

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Anybody can do it, even if you’re not a pastor’s kid.

Here are a few practical ideas.

“Talk about them when you sit at home…”

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Our family loves to talk at the dinner table. We often end up laughing with (and sometimes at) each other. It’s a joy. Not every conversation is spiritual, by any means, but sometimes while we’re “sitting at home” we can use a teachable moment. If a child is struggling in a relationship at school, we may ask them what they think God would want them to do in that situation. If they’re not sure, we’ll make a suggestion based on the Bible. As we pray for our meal and mention someone who is ill or in need, we’ll talk about what we could do as a family to help them and why we think the Bible says it’s important to care for others.

Growing up my parents often talked to me about the Bible while at home. My dad might say,

You know how you are having to make a hard choice with your friendships at school right now? Well, Daniel also had to make a hard choice when he was taken as a captive into Babylon. Daniel resolved to do what pleased God and then God blessed him for it. I hope you can resolve to do what you think God would have you do in this situation as well.”

It was a 15-second statement probably followed by, “Want to go down to the basement and play Ping-Pong?” but it became a natural thing for me to base my decisions on God’s Word.

“When you walk along the road…”

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I’ve told people that I believe some of my best Bible education did not happen in the classrooms of my Christian University, but instead in the middle seat of a white Toyota Previa minivan. Since our family preferred to drive down the road as opposed to walking as in the days of Deuteronomy, we used that car time to discuss many things. It wasn’t like we held official meetings or lessons, but we’d talk about God as we saw His beautiful creation out the window, or we’d play a game of Bible trivia where my parents would ask us questions and we’d make a game out of trying to shout out the answers.

The same is true today with my kids. We don’t do anything formal, but as we’re going along the road and pass an ambulance with its sirens blaring I’ll ask the kids if one of them would like to pray for the person who must be sick or hurt. We’ll pray aloud (I keep my eyes open while driving) and they each have taken turns lifting others up while heading down the highway.

“When you lie down…”

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What kid doesn’t suddenly want to talk when they’re being tucked into bed and Mom is flipping off the light? Bedtime can be a gold mine. I can remember talking to my Mom about all sorts of things when I was a little girl and she’d be tucking me in and sitting on the side of my bed. Those times are priceless and little hearts and ears can be tender as little eyes are getting heavy.

At our house, we do a Bible story every night before the kids go to bed.

But wait?!

I know what you’re thinking… I said earlier that the Bible does not mandate family devotions at 7:30 and yet that’s what we do. Am I a legalistic hypocrite?!

Let me explain.

The Bible does not mandate any particular method for teaching your children. BUT, it does indicate that it should be a natural part of your daily life. SO, it seems wise to put some habits in place for your family to help you get into a routine and practice of passing on God’s Word. It doesn’t matter what these routines look like or what time you do them.  You need to choose what works best for YOUR FAMILY.

We’ve chosen bedtime because it works for us. Here’s how we do the Bible story each evening.

We sit in the family room with the kids sprawled out on the floor or snuggled in one of our laps. My husband will read a Bible story out of a Children’s Bible and then we’ll ask the kids one or two questions about what we’ve just read to make sure they understood and were paying attention (they’re not perfect, sometimes they have no clue! Other times they surprise us by saying something profound.) Then we’ll read a Bible verse (our Children’s Bible provides a verse a week), and we’ll have the kids repeat it after us and try to memorize it by the end of the seven days. We add silly hand motions to help with memorization.

We started doing this about 8 years ago and we’ve now read through the entire Children’s Bible about 8 times. The book we use is called Every Day with God by Zondervan Press, but like I said, find one that fits your family! There are many great resources out there!

We also try to mix things up seasonally, so for Christmas time we’ll read the Christmas story each night instead (one year our kids memorized the entire chapter of Luke 2 – I’m not saying that to brag, but to remind you that many kids are amazing at memorization if challenged. They can do it and you’ll find yourself memorizing right along with them!) In the summer we’ll take a few weeks and try to memorize the Fruit of the Spirit and then we’ll ask the kids to give us an example of what it looks like to have “Love” or “Peace.”

And, I love that some of the last thoughts our kids have each night are focused on God and His Word.

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Oh, and sometimes we skip the Bible story at night. GASP! If it’s been a long day or we’re traveling we are ok with just putting the kids to bed without reading the Children’s Bible. We make sure that skipping it is the exception instead of the rule, but we don’t want to become legalistic about it. We want our kids to know that God is big on grace and He understands our weaknesses.

And incidentally, we’ve never been struck by lighting or hit with a plague of gnats when we skipped the Bible story.(We have found some large spiders in our basement, but I’m pretty sure they’re unrelated.)

“When you get up…”

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The other day my son astutely observed, “Mom, you’re not a morning person, are you?” No son, I’m not. So maybe I’m not the best one to be telling you about impressing God’s commandment on your children as you get up. I’m happy just to get some breakfast in them before the bus comes. But I think the point with this one is that each day as you get up, loving God and teaching your kids His commandments should be something you do automatically –like brushing your teeth.

“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…”

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The Hebrew people actually did these things. They would literally tie Scripture to their foreheads and write it on their doorframes. I’m pretty sure my kids would balk at the idea of tying a Bible verse to their hairline, so again, I look at the principle of this point. What can we put in place in our family’s lives that reminds them about God and His Word?

We have Bible verses in frames and on walls that my kids can’t help but see as they walk though our home. Maybe they’re “accidently” memorizing these verses, and maybe someday when they’re struggling, they’ll call one of them to mind.

I can remember seeing my parents’ Bibles when I was a child and seeing where they’d highlighted and written in the margins. I figured it must be important to them. My kids now see us doing the same. Maybe now we read Scripture on our iPhone, but we want them to see us reading God’s Word and model for them what we feel is so vital.

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There are so many methods and philosophies for teaching your children about God and His Word. I’m thankful that God has given us each unique personalities and unique children and that we have freedom to choose what works best for each of us.

Like I said, I’m pretty normal. Even growing up in a pastor’s home I’ve found that the best way to learn and teach God’s Word is just by living it. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

And thankfully you don’t even have to wear black nail polish or WWJD bracelets.


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Thoughts on Cancer and Magic Johnson

I’m not a Magic Johnson fan, but that doesn’t really matter. I am, however, a huge fan of biographies. You can put a book or documentary about almost anyone in front of me and I’m hooked. I love to learn about people’s stories. Therefore, when a documentary about Magic Johnson was on our television one evening this summer I curled up in my chair with my popcorn and watched.

I’m not here to tell you about basketball or the Lakers or any of that. Sure, there were great games and amazing statistics but it was actually something Johnson said near the end of the show that struck me.

The basketball legend was sharing about his journey with HIV. He was diagnosed at a time when many thought it would be a swift death sentence for both his basketball career and his very life. They were wrong. Johnson has lived with AIDS for 23 years and due to medical treatments he continues to lead a fairly normal life.

Johnson has been the face of HIV for almost a quarter of a century but he said that’s been both good and bad.

The good has been the level of awareness and education that many have received due to such a public figure being diagnosed.

The bad is that he’s alive and well.

The bad may seem good, and it most definitely is, but he was saying that in the fight to raise awareness and fund for HIV/AIDS many look to him and think, “He’s fine! He’s healthy! He’s had AIDS forever and still looks good. What’s the big deal?”

It’s a double-edged sword.

I can relate (though I’m quite certain this is the only way I can relate to Magic Johnson!)

k1 half kickOur son, Karson, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just two years old. It was a possible death sentence for him. We didn’t know how his little body would respond to the treatment or if the cancer would take his life. However, we are SO thankful that Karson is not only alive, he’s healthy and thriving. He’s now almost 10 years old and has been done with his rigorous 3 ½ years of chemo for more than 4 years. The dark valley of that time is behind us.

If you look at Karson you’d never know he’d once been a bald, puffy, weak and very sick little toddler. You’d never know he went through years of chemotherapy, 22 spinal taps, 2 bone marrow biopsies, 3 years of steroids, and more blood transfusions and hospital stays than we can count. Instead, you see a tall and smiling 4th grader who pitched on his Little League team and just broke his arm being “all boy” while doing a cannonball off a swing in our backyard.

And when you see him as a leukemia survivor you may begin to think, “He’s fine! He’s healthy! He went through leukemia but look at him now. What’s the big deal?”

But it is a big deal.

Karson is alive and healthy. Karson is a leukemia survivor.

Not every story ends this way. Not everyone is healthy like Magic Johnson and Karson Cabe years after being diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. We don’t know why we are so blessed to have this outcome when others deal with death and sorrow, but we are grateful beyond words.

And while on this mountaintop we don’t want to waste what we learned in the valley.

And that’s why we continue to share his story and many statistics and facts. Like:

 

  • Cancer is the #1 disease-related causes of death for children.
  • Every day, 42 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • 12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.
  • Children’s cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups.
  • The average age of children diagnosed is six.
  • More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
  • 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
  • There are approximately 375,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States.

 

I can’t speak for Magic Johnson, nor do I wish to, but I hope that his success story and Karson’s will champion the cause for those who are sick with these awful diseases.

If nothing else, it sure makes for a great documentary.

 

 

 


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Safety Pin Surgeon

My daughter had been watching me and was disappointed in my reaction. She had been hoping to witness a little drama and excitement… and possibly tears. But there were no tears involved. Instead I was quite stoic and the emotions of my face were of self-pride and relief. I had just performed a minor surgery on myself and had been successful.DSC_0624

The term “surgery” may be a little excessive. Maybe what I did was called a “procedure” when I dropped the safety pin into a pot of boiling water and then later pried it open to expose its cooled-off needle tip. I had taken that makeshift medical instrument and had dug it into the palm of my hand to free the splinter that had been wedged inside my skin for five days.

When the splinter was finally released from its fleshy prison I held it out on the tip of my finger and stared at it.

It was microscopic.

I could barely even see the tiny piece of rose bush that had been figuratively and literally a thorn in my flesh.

Five days earlier I had been trimming our rose bushes and the result had been better looking landscaping, but forearms that looked like I had been in a fight with a cat. And lost.

I knew I had gotten a few thorns stuck in my skin and I spent a minute or two extracting them. It wasn’t a big deal except for one stubborn thorn in my palm that just wouldn’t budge. I really didn’t give it much thought after a few attempts. I figured it would work its way out eventually and at least my rosebushes were free of its burden.

The days passed and I half-heartedly and periodically would try in vain to remove the little thorn. By day five I realized that my entire hand was beginning to hurt. I was having trouble grabbling onto things and since I’m right-handed I was constantly being reminded that it was painful to touch anything against my palm. The skin around the splinter was red and puffy and actually beginning to look infected.

It was time for this safety pin physician to heal thyself.

And so it had come to this post-op moment, my daughter walking away shrugging and bored and me holding a tiny thorn on my fingertip in the sunlight coming in from the kitchen window.

How could something so small have caused such pain?

The pus that oozed from my palm indicated that my body had been fighting this miniature enemy. It was a foreign object. It had not belonged in my skin and my body had rejected it.

I disposed of my surgical instrument and carefully washed my hands and squeezed some antibacterial goo onto my palm. A couple of Band-Aids were soon in place and I released myself to go back to all normal activity.

The tiny perpetrator was long gone and could do no more harm.

But I have other thorns.

They’re not literal, but they cause just as much pain, if not more. They stem not from a bush, but from fear. They cling to my flesh as worry and anxiety.

I hate what they do to me.

The worry often starts so small and I label it is “concern” or “wise discernment” rather than seeing it for what it truly is.

“This worry is microscopic,” I think to myself, “What harm could it cause me to carry it around for awhile?”

And then it festers.

I half-heartedly and periodically tell myself that I should stop worrying. I should let it go and trust God. I should pray about it and remember that the Bible says “Do not worry.” But often my attempts at removing it are in vain.

Finally, I come to a point where I must make a decision. Will I leave the thorn of worry in my flesh and allow the infection to win? Or will I put some water on the stove and bring it to a boil in preparation for some surgery?

Either way it hurts. That’s the nature of a thorn in one’s flesh. But when I take the time and make the effort to get rid of the worry—that nasty enemy to my soul, then the healing process begins. When the perpetrator is gone, it can do no more harm.

And I know my Father who watches over me will be pleased with my reaction, because I have replaced a thorn in my flesh with not a Band-Aid, but with trust in The Great Physician.


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My Heart Will Go On.

DSC_0452Author Elizabeth Stone is quoted as saying, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

I would like to add that seeing the Kindergarten-sized version on that heart get on the bus for the first time is just plain painful. At least it was for me.

I will never forget the emotions that welled up inside of me the moment I saw that big, yellow beast come bellowing toward my son. Ok, maybe it wasn’t bellowing, but it was getting closer and closer. And when it stopped in front of us, with it’s little red stop sign flippantly waving hello, I thought I might be a goner.

How could my sweet little baby boy, the one who smelled like bath lotion and rice cereal, be walking up the bus steps? Did school really have to start today? Couldn’t we wait until after Christmas… or five or six more years? Is it really that important for our kids to know how to read and write and draw a triangle?

Alright, I guess it is important. And as I watched the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round with my baby boy inside I tried to hold back the tears. My husband, who was going into work late that morning so that he could be there to watch this momentous occasion, shook his head and grinned at me as if knowing he’d dare not say his thoughts out loud. Mommy is fragile right now. Handle with care.

But low and behold, my baby boy made it through his first day of Kindergarten with flying colors. And what’s even more amazing is that I survived too!

I guess it’s just like Céline Dion says. Near, far, wherever you are… even if it’s off to your first day of a new season of life….my heart will go on!

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This is an “oldie” but I thought I’d share it again as a new school year begins and many moms are feeling emotional (whether it be sadness or joy!) about sending Kindergartners out the door.

I wrote this about sending Karson to his first day of Kindergarten and now he’s in 4th grade! This year I sent my second child to Kindergarten, and it was another emotional day for me! But I’m happy to report that I’m surviving just fine with only one child at home now. And though I miss my older two, I’m really excited to watch them grow up!

It’s a mixed bag of emotions for me… can anyone else relate?!

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