My Daughter’s Holey Heart

I’ve never kept from her the relationship I had with her dad.

When she asks me questions, I’ve always answered her as honestly as I could and I’ve never told her I didn’t want to talk about it.

Mike came into our lives when she was two. She’s always known he wasn’t her real dad.

She was so jealous of Smart and would ask Mike if she could call him dad too. We always told her no.

That is until we got married. She was five then.

Oh, she was so stinkin’ excited to celebrate that first Father’s Day with him!

I was surprised how much it meant to her.

Years ago, my mom had made me a scrapbook of the kids. Oh my gosh, they were so little.

But imagine my surprise when I flipped a page to see a picture of me and Butterfly’s dad, together.

Then imagine what it was like to have my daughter sitting next to me, asking who he was.

She’s asked to see that scrapbook several times over the years. I know why she wants to look at it. Sometimes I get it down for her. Sometimes I don’t.

Today was one of those days. It was funny, she ran into my closet and pulled it from my top shelf before I could even get in there.

I didn’t realized she had become tall enough to grab it without a chair, and because she knew exactly where it was, and I didn’t, made me think she’s gotten it down herself before.

She entertained me by starting at the beginning and pointing out each of her brother’s as she turned the page.

She finally turned to the page that held the only picture I have of him.

I don’t even remember the questions she asked, but suddenly I found myself telling her he’s in prison.

She was shocked to have learned I had googled him.

“You can do that?”

Yes, you can, and I found him.

Even after all these years, I still fear him showing up in our lives.

He was a master manipulator, and at one time in my life had taken everything I had.

I wanted to know where he’s at.

My fear was he would take her one day too. Not necessarily, physically, but definitely emotionally. My fear is one day, when she’s 25 he will walk into her life and take her for everything she has, with guilt and shame to the point where she feels trapped, just like I did.

Immediately she had wanted to know what he had done, was he in Arizona, and finally…

Can she see him?

Ahh…

Hadn’t quite planned on that.

My daughter asked me if I thought it was weird that she wanted to know about her dad.

I told her I didn’t.

But I didn’t understand why she wanted to see him.

“Honey, you have tons of people who love you. People, who never would have been in our lives if we hadn’t gotten away from him. Our lives would be so different. Why would you want to see him?”

Tears welled up in her eyes, as she told me with a seriousness I was not accustomed to hearing from my ten year old,

I know I have lots of people who love me. But I NEED this one to love me. He doesn’t even know me.

Well there it was.

A need I can’t fill. A need he won’t be able to fill.

That desire for something more.

We all have it. It looks different with everyone. But we all carry that hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God. And yet, like everyone else, thinks it can be filled by something else.

In her case, it’s knowing her dad. If it wasn’t that, it might be if she was only thinner, or more outgoing, or if she had a boyfriend, or if she was married, or if she had children, or if she just had…

…then she’d be happy.

And so her journey is about to start.

I told her I didn’t know which prison he’s in. If he’s even in Arizona. I did tell her if something revealed itself, and that information became available, then I would take her to meet him.

But in order for that to happen, she needs to start learning about Boundaries, and what and who she is responsible for, and what she’s not.

If this is going to happen, I want her to be protected, and prepared. But honestly by showing her now; by teaching her about how God made her and what is hers and what is not, is the best defense I could give her not on only against her dad, but also against anyone else who tries to fill that hole for her.

So, I will choose not to pass my fear unto her, but will empower her by sharing my faith in the only one who can fill her soul.

Lord, I lift my daughter up to you. I understand that hole my daughter is feeling. I understand that feeling of something missing from her life. We are all born with that deep desire for more. Lord, I pray she searchers you more. I pray she studies how you’ve designed her and realizes how much love and value you’ve put into her and she is worth being protected. She is worth fighting for. So much so, that when other people or things try to fill that hole, she immediately recognizes they are not making her hole smaller, but actually making it bigger. Lord, you are the only thing that can satisfy our deepest desires and fill our holey heart. Equip me to help her know that too.

In your Son’s holy name, please protect us, AMEN.

Prejudice, the Absence of Love

To end prejudice, I believe it takes more than teaching our children not to hate.

We really need to teach them to love.

Love, especially those who hate you.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! – Matthew 5:44

I never taught my children to hate. I never taught them to be prejudice, but they have learned it just the same.

Due to circumstances of a divorce, three of my boys went to an inner city school where they were of the minority who were targets of prejudice. I’ve written about their experience before.

And although my daughter never went to the same school, she too, has similar experiences at another one.

My biggest regret in that whole season of our lives, is I never taught my boys to love; to love those who hate, to love those who are hard to love.

My daughter on the other hand, I taught her to pray for those who teased her and called her names.

After trying to fix the injustice for my boys by talking to their teachers and going to the principal, I learned nothing was going to change. I felt helpless and hopeless. And even though they were getting a great education, I transferred them to a lower performing school so they could feel safe.

But they never did feel safe again. They had already learned fear. They had already learned not everyone supports them. Not everyone cares for them. And in fact, there are those who are out to get them and mean them harm.

All of that has followed them into their new schools even though the threats are gone and have been gone for a long time.

So when I learned of my daughter experiencing something similar, I became heartbroken. I immediately felt helpless and hopeless all over again. I knew there was nothing I was going to be able to do to fix this, to make her feel safe.

I told her we’re going to have to take this to God. We were going to have to pray for those who hurt us, because we know those who hurt, are hurting too.

Since then my daughter has shared stories with me of her classmates; horrible stories. Stories of pain and suffering no child should hear, much less experience. Stories of neglect, and abuse. Stories of children living without a home. Stories of children living without a mom or a dad. Stories of homicide and of suicide.

Stories that I would never allow my child to watch on TV or see in a movie are being lived out in real life by my child’s classmates. These are eight, nine, and ten year olds sweet children of God.

My heart hurts.

These children are hurting. These children are lashing out. These children need to be loved on, not punished. These children need a hope for their future.

Maybe that’s why my boys didn’t receive much sympathy when I tried to address the issue. In light of what other children were experiencing, our concerns were small in comparison. And to resolve our present situation would require the situations of other children to be addressed as well. And for that, they had no answer, no solution.

But in school, there is no hope of a solution because there is no God there.

So I taught my daughter to pray.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. – Luke 6:29

One day I was sitting in the principals office talking about a little girl who was threatening to cause my daughter physical harm and two weeks later, as I was driving up to the school to drop her off, she was yelling this little girl’s name out the car window, implying for her to wait for her.

I was surprised. I was confused.

In the matter of two weeks of prayer from my little girl for this little girl, God revealed a story that softened my daughters heart to show love instead of hate, and from that love grew an unlikely friendship.

I’m so proud of my daughter. Her strength amazes me. It is not easy to pray for someone who hurts you, and yet she still does. Every night at prayers, I listen to a long list of names she has asked God to share his grace and mercy with.

I know there is not a lot we can do as individuals, but maybe some little girl or boy who is living a nightmare right now, can see a glimpse of Jesus’ love through the prayer and actions of my little girl. What if through a little girl, who looks different than them, showed them genuine love, like no one who looked like her, ever did before?

What if there were more little boys and girls like her? What if we all showed more love instead of the absence of hate?

Yay Day!

It was three years ago, when my then seven year old daughter informed me she wanted to celebrate Yay Day. She had been watching one of her favorite TV programs.

Having no idea what she was talking about, I agreed to the celebration thinking it was something she was quickly going to forget.

However, a few days later, she brought me a colored poster she had designed that showed July 24th as Yay Day.

I looked at my husband and whispered, “Oh crap! She’s really expecting us to do something on July 24th!”

So, having absolutely no idea what Yay Day was, or what we were going to do, I started with at least requesting that day off from work.

When I asked her how we were suppose to celebrate it, she looked at me as if I was being ridiculous and should have already known, “With our friends!”

Oh great, I thought. Not only am I suppose to figure out how to celebrate Yay Day, I need to somehow convince our friends this is a good idea, and they should too.

So, this is how it started.

And this is what it has become.

Yay Day is an unadulterated holiday that celebrates people not things. There are no fancy gifts to buy or expensive decorations to put up. No retail promotions that quickly turn a nice gesture into a financial burden. Or high expectations to turn its value into hollow meaning.

It comes with hats made out of paper plates, a couple of boxes of cookies and a Yay Day picture frame we make out of foam board.

We then load up our suv with a slew full of kids, a list of friends names and we head out looking to spread cheer and love to our friends, family, and quite frankly, anyone who will let us.

This includes the ladies at Circle K, where we always stop first thing to pick up doughnuts and drinks for breakfast.

But if also includes the staff at whichever fast food joint we swing by for lunch.

Sometimes, we even reach out to total strangers. There have been a time or two, where we’ve run into someone down on their luck at intersections or street corners, where we’ve wanted to share what we have with them; a cookie, a hat and a little Yay! Ok, maybe not the hat, sometimes that gets weird.

But otherwise we hit up our friends, whether they be at home or at work. Work is always fun, because we get to celebrate with other people we weren’t expecting and we leave with them thinking their coworkers are a little bit weirder than they originally thought.

People often ask me why I do this? Quite simply, I want to share my daughter’s love for life. People are important to her. She could care less about things; she is more interested in relationships. We could lose everything we own, and I know she would be fine as long as we had people who love us.

She cares about feelings and attitudes. She cares about touching each other and sharing what we have. She cares. It’s plain and simple.

And it’s about fun. It’s about being silly. It’s about taking a break from this harsh world we live in and just loosen up. For us, it’s the whole day. For most is just 15 minutes.

Let us all stop for just 15 minutes a day to welcome a friendly face, share a cookie together, and take a picture in remembrance of this one moment in time where the world stopped turning, and love was waiting there.

Yay Day is a day of gratitude. It is a day we have set aside to show people we are happy they are in our lives and that their life is important.

They bring us joy and we hope that whatever they are going through in that moment, on that single day of July 24th, that they can pause for a moment with us and celebrate the Yay!

Do you know? Do you know? DO YOU KNOW what our friends do to this momma’s heart every time they invite us to celebrate with them? Whether it be an invite to their house, or work, or a picture of them celebrating Yay Day on their social media because they live in another state; my whole heart SWELLS!

Yay Day for me is the celebration of my daughter,  and when I see people celebrating with her I just feel this explosion of love grow from her and I’m lucky because some of it splashes all over me.

I hope you will consider celebrating Yay Day with us by inviting us to your home, or sending us a picture of how you celebrate the Yay.

In light of everything that is going on in the world around us, I’d say, Yay Day is coming not a moment too soon.

YAY!

Summer Read

So, I’m so excited I got my little girl into reading! Finally!

She’s hates to read, or so she says. I just think she hasn’t found the type of books she’s into, yet.

Today, she followed me around the house, just getting into everything I was trying to do, while she was trying to entertain herself.

It wasn’t working. This is going to be another long summer!

Last year I tried to get her interested in learning Spanish. I found some workbooks for her that she flew through, so I also dug out my computer based Spanish program thinking, Ha! score! But no.

It kept her busy for about a minute. She lost interest quickly.

So today, while tripping over her, I asked if she would like me to take her to the library to pick out a book. She’s older, you know.

Well, she was super excited, so imagine my surprise when once we get there, she tells me she doesn’t like to read.

She doesn’t like to read…like that’s even a thing. She knows she’s my daughter right? She can’t possibly be serious. I read books like I drink water. I love books.

After fighting with her for what seemed like forever, I finally had to pick a book I thought she would enjoy. She was being less than helpful.

We had one of her brothers with us too. Yeah, he didn’t help. The entire time I’m trying to convince her to even consider reading something, he’s in the background whispering, “Just hit her.” And she’s responding in a not so whispering voice, ‘Grow up and get your own kids to beat. ”

A lovely day at the library, I must say.

After grabbing something I thought she might like, I quickly escorted my two loving offsprings out the door and booked it home.

Why did she even want to go to the library in the first place? I don’t know. I stopped asking.

While continuing our argument in the car, I inform her that she needs to read at least a chapter a day. And if she doesn’t read it, we will be reading it together every night.

While sitting at stop lights, I start to read her chapter one. Her brother tries to convince her she’d like the book if she’d give it a chance.

“Oh, how do you even know?”

“Because it’s about the same crap you watch on TV!”

Still not helping, but thank you… I think.

We stop by a Circle K so Justice could buy himself a soda, and I have a captive audience, so I continued reading.

We get home with only two pages left in chapter one.

“Two more pages, Butterfly. You only need to read two more pages tonight, before bed.”

Well, just as I’m about to head for my room for the evening, I remember the book. Crap.

I turn the TV off so I may finish reading it to her and get to bed and NOW she wants to read it…

Out loud….

To me.

So, I’m not sure if she really wanted to read it, or she just wanted to read it out loud, to me to put off me getting to bed.

I compromised with her. I read a page, then she did.

Well, somehow I got hustled into us reading not only to the end of chapter one, but all of CHAPTER TWO AS WELL!

We really did have a good time reading together. I wish it was a little earlier in the evening, but by the end, she made us read the last page of the chapter together.

It was great. She is actually getting into it!

Oh how great it would be to find her something to do all summer! Bonus if we can do it together!

I am encouraged. Maybe there is hope still for a little girl who claims she hates reading.

AND for a little girl who has a crush on Charlie. We’ll learn more about that, tomorrow in chapter three!