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,


Blogger Jess said...

I love you, Josh!! You are an amazing...AMAZING person (one of my favorites) and I hope your birthday is wonderful...(hopefully you'll get some good books... :) )

miz h

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Oh, how precious - that he wrote that poem, beautifully. That he carries so many good memories to fill so many stanzas. And that through it, you got to see your prayers being answered.

I think this is so terrific.

Happy Birthday, Josuha!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. I like the part about since God is perfect, I don't have to be. What a relief! Since I will never be perfect, not while I am on this earth at least.

Hope that he enjoys his birthday!

Blogger Kim said...

Happy Birthday Josh! What an amazing poem! It really touched my heart. Blessings to you and your family!

Blogger Deanna said...

Love this, but I couldn't help thinking, "he ate crawdaddys, yuck!" I'm so greatful that God is perfect, because I'm nowhere near perfect!

Blogger Robert and Carolin said...

What a beautiful post! With my oldest son just recently turning 13, I can relate to so much of what you wrote. Oh, the poem is amazing! It all brought tears to my eyes. You are all blessed! Happiest of birthdays, Josh!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to Joshua Swope! and thank you for this lovely and warm poem, God bless you.

Sedou Madi

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Joshua. Hope that you had a wonderful day.
Renee I am so happy I found you as I look forward to your writings. I live in The Bahamas and wanted to attend the writers conference - but I won't make it due to finances.

Take care and God bless you as you motivate women to stay focus on God's calling


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww...sweet friend, this moved my heart and made me cry. How wonderful to have the love of such a child and to give it back! I think God thinks of us like that. Remember the love that moved you to tears and know that God loves you so much it moved all of heaven and earth to tears.

Blessings on you, my sister!


Blogger Bonita said...

Happy Birthday, Joshua! You have one awesome mom!

I LOVE that poem!!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so amazing! You have something to be proud of...an amazing something to be proud of!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing such an inspiring, happy, and emotional post. Josh has such a secure and happy outlook on his life. Renee, thanks for reminding me of the important qualities of a mom!


Happy Birthday Joshua! I'm praying that this year ahead is filled with wonderful moments and incredible memories for you and your amazing family. I loved your poem. Keep writing and maybe one day you'll have your own published book - just like your mom :)

Birthday blessings,

Blogger KELLY WILLIE said...

That is wonderful! It's the simple life that makes memories! You are a wonderful Mother! Happy Birthday to Joshua!

Blogger Victoria said...

How wonderful! How I pray my son knows the Lord as well, and thank God for His covering always. You must be so proud! God bless.

Blogger Mel C said...

Happy Birthday Joshua!!!

Blogger Joanne@ Blessed... said...

This must be matted and framed and hung in a place of honor in your home. Consider it a stone of remembrance each time the enemy tries to remind you of mommy-failures. What a blessing to have a son who can look back at so many blessings of "moments". I just love it. Good job friend.

Happy birthday to Joshua, your almost grown son.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your son. What a blessing!
Thank you for sharing a part of him with us.
I too am glad I don' t have to be perfect! I will gladly leave that up to our heavenly father.

Blogger Playing Sublimely said...

I am so happy to have found you, it is a joy to meet you. I just loved my visit here and your heart.

Blogger Playing Sublimely said...

It is very nice to meet you. I have so enjoyed my visit here...love your heart.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Joshua! Poem was terrific! Thank you for a very moving post.


Blogger lisasmith said...

Okay.. you say that's not a snapshot of a perfect life but I think that's pretty close! and pretty stinkin' amazing!! happy birthday, again and still ;) Josh (we blog ladies know how to party)

what a great young man you have for a son, Renee. I love his poem!!

Blogger Kimberly said...

What a beautiful post, Renee! I love Josh's poem! I so often wonder what "snapshots" my girls are taking...the ones they are tucking away in their hearts for a life time.

I definitely battle with the whole issue of perfectionism. (Maybe I will read that chapter of your book first. hee hee) :) Thanks so much for the sweet reminder that we do not have to be perfect because God already is!

Love you! Happy belated birthday to your sweetie!
K :)

Blogger Andrea said...

Rene, I am in love with your blog. It is so beautiful and poetic in its own right.

Your son's poem is very moving. It reveals your precious love for him and your godly influence in his life.

I guess we all have some "mommy guilt." As a grandmother, I now think about the many things I would do different for my sons were I given the chance to do things over. I hope they learn from my mistakes.

We nonetheless have a wonderful, loving relationship. And, I thank the Lord for His love that covers all our mistakes. Yes, God is good! We don't have to be perfect! :)

Thank you for your wise words.


Blogger Blah, Blah, Blah! said...

Thank you for sharing your "mom heart" with all of us. I, too, am so thankful that because God is perfect, I don't have to be! Whew!!! Don't we just have the most amazing gifts because He is our Father?

Blogger Lelia Chealey said...

OH,that's awesome! All of it, the poem, your truths, all.
Thank you for sharing. I have a quote written down from him in my purse from a previous blog post of yours. I'll just have to dig it out & let you know what it is...it's from the story of your mom and her glasses and what he said. Made me all teary eyed. :)

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