Where I am From
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. I John 4:12 (NAS)

When I became a mom for the first time, 15 years ago today, I was overwhelmed. Not just by the amount of time and attention my baby needed, although that almost did me in. One of the hardest parts was the overwhelming love and responsibility I felt for my little guy. It literally made me cry to love someone that much.

As the years have past, there have been so many things I wanted for my son. I've wanted Joshua to grow up knowing he was loved, valued and created for God's purpose. I think because I'd grown up with uncertainty in our home and insecurity in my heart, I prayed most consistently that Joshua would find security as a child of God and stability through a sense of belonging in our family.

Over the past 15 years I've been such an imperfect parent. God knows I deal with a lot second-guessing and mommy guilt. Don't we all? Recently though, He showed me something powerful while writing a chapter about overcoming perfectionism in my book on finding confidence in Christ. It's a truth I am hanging onto as a woman and as a mom (and it's one of my chapter titles): Because God's love is perfect, I don't have to be.

Isn't that good to know? The other day I was talking to Joshua and apologizing for using a very critical tone with him about something he'd done. He told me he forgave me and assured me that he usually doesn't even remember the next day. I was reminded of God's perfect love that helps my son keep no record of my wrongs.

Another gift of God's assurance came today while I was reading through some of Joshua's writing assignments. He gave me special permission to share one of my favorites with you...

Where I am From

I am from being outside.
I am from friends playing together.
I am from trampolines and wooden forts.
I am from imaginations combining together to create something marvelous.

I am from early Christmas mornings in front of the fire.
I am from Halloween in the back of a pickup.
I am from Easters at Grandmas.
I am from Uncle Bill’s lake on the 4th of July.

I am from red beans and rice while watching Moby Dick with a friend.
I am from eating huge piles of cheese fries from Outback with a former NFL player.
I am from crawfish and crab at Grandpa’s house after catching them.
I am from homemade chicken noodle soup that could be mistaken to be from heaven.

I am from mistakes and successes.
I am from fun times and sad times.
I am from wonderful memories.
I am from a wonderful life.

And it’s not even halfway done.

By Joshua Swope
October 2009

This poem is a scrapbook of my child's life in his own words. Not a picture of a perfect life, but several snapshots of memories that have given him security, stability and perspective. It's the faces of family and friends, it's special traditions and God's grace. It reminds me that I don't have to be a perfect mom, just an available and intentional mom who tries to live and love well.

Today I celebrate 15 years of memories, big and small, that fill my son's heart with laughter and hope. And I thank God for the thread of Grace and Love that He handed us at Joshua's birth to weave into the tapestry in his life.

Happy birthday Joshua!! I'm so proud of you. Thank you for letting me share you with friends here and through Ms. Rachel's blog carnival. You are the most amazing 15 year old I have ever known. I can't tell you what an honor it is to be your mom!! My favorite memories always have you in them.

I love you forever,

Aster's first playdate
Aster had her first "play" date recently. We have some friends who are both from Ethiopia and they let us watch their son one Saturday, a few weeks ago. It was fun to have two little ones and watch them play together. Andrew was right there in the middle of them.

Isn't that the sweetest smile?

It didn't take long before Aster decided she needed to show him how things worked.

Eventually, he gave up. I don't know if Aster was happy to have control of her farm animals music board again, or if she was sorry she'd chased her sweet friend away. Control, we want it but then we don't, or do we? It's so hard being a girl!


Final She Speaks scholarship give-away!!

Wow, can you believe it!? Cecil Murphy is giving away one final scholarship (that will be 10 total!) to She Speaks 2010!! Please visit our P31 home page today for more details!! {http://www.proverbs31.org/}

Sunsets, picnic blankets & Sunday afternoons
I came home tired and spilled out from an amazing women's conference in Illinois. We were all tired but JJ had read Aster's post and knew I wanted to celebrate, so we got creative yet kept it sweet and simple.

Since the boys had youth group, JJ and I decided to take Aster out on a mommy/daddy date Sunday evening. It was so much fun having her all to ourselves. Then, when the boys came home, we did one of my favorite things. We threw a blanket on the ground in our backyard and hung out as a family talking and throwing a tennis ball across the yard as the sun went down.

Not everybody was thrilled with the idea (ie. the 15 yr old), but I pretended he was glad to be there. It was so peaceful. Funny how much I love doing this yet it's been so long since we have. That will be changing. It's such a perfect way to end a weekend and begin a new week, together. Next to my time with Jesus, sitting on a blanket watching the sunset with my family... it just fills me up in a way nothing else does.

What is something you enjoy doing with your family? When was the last time you did it?

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