Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Year of Growth

"Observing my own children, I was compelled to acknowledge the potency of the human soul, the power of its DNA over any conscious efforts to create a progeny in one's own image. There was something irreducibly given in their characters which created an independence that you could not reach. There was something irreducible in human character itself that rebelled against efforts to direct it too completely. You could encourage children, set an example for them, provide them with opportunities and support. But you could not program them to a desired result."  -David Horowitz


I decided to blog today and as I read my last post I realized how much I have matured as a parent in a year's time...

What happened? Am I just more comfortable with the changes in my children? Has their behavior improved? Am I more confident in my ability to lead them? Or am I just more realistic?

I still have daily doubts but I feel a new confidence in my ability. Being a person of faith, I pray for myself and my children. I feel prayer is an integral part of my new self-assurance but it isn't the complete reason for my change of attitude. I feel liberated in the reality of my task. I AM NOT IN CONTROL!

I am a very logical person. I know there are time-tested methods of parenting that produce desirable results. I have observed families I feel are on the right path. I have conversations with mothers about what they do when confronted with certain parenting situations. I read. I listen. I think about my own behavior... what am I modeling in my every day life for my children?

I am human. I am not perfect and neither are my children. I shouldn't expect parenting perfection or perfect progeny. The reality of humanity is we are extremely and excessively imperfect. It seems to be the pursuit of perfection that defeats our souls. The "letting go" has freed my mind and allowed me to walk down alternate paths previously hidden by my "ideal."

Other mothers have suggested I write a book. If I wrote a book, it would be very short. Every family is different. Every child is unique. There is no magic formula.

I believe there are three words to achieving the "ideal" in life.


However, making good decisions 100% of the time is an impossibility!

This is where love comes into the equation. Discuss mistakes. Teach and demonstrate repentance. Practice forgiveness. Talk about changes that can produce better outcomes but never expect perfection. Allow failure. Teach your children to learn from failure. Be honest about your own failure.

Seems simple, right?

I am in a good place with my parenting at the moment. I know I have a lot of room for improvement. I will never be a perfect parent and I am fine with this thought. I have been liberated to live in freedom. Freedom is always risky but freedom is the best way to live!

Live in reality.
Love your children.
Make good decisions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Imperfect Perfection

Or should I title this post "Perfect Imperfection?'

As I plunge into 2015, I find myself treading the waters of parenting with trepidation, doubt, and a bit of cynicism.

Does it matter? As a leader of the three human beings put into my care, I wonder how much my influence matters... the hug and the "I love you, mama" validates my efforts... the eye-rolling and the "Mama, just let us listen to the song without your constant analysis" makes me question my power.

Here I stand. Wondering.

To love so intensely and deeply is a scary and humbling thing. To realize the powerlessness of my power is all at once liberating and terrifying to me.

Saying, "It's out of my control," is a universe away from believing it.

So, my children are all at once perfect. Then imperfect.

And, isn't that human nature? In one moment, we are changed from a reflection of our Creator into making clothing out of leaves to hide our shame. This is the struggle. Keeping it all in perspective. Loving through it all.

Being a mother is a tightrope walk in the circus tent where every seat is full.
Balance. Focus. Calm strength.

Will I make it to the other side?

Or will there be a gasp from the spectators as I fall...

Thank God, there's a net.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Unplanned Blessing

My daughter, Eden, turns 10 today.

She has blessed my life with a decade of love.

She is special to me because I didn't plan her. God did. He loved me beyond what I deserve when he placed this child in my life. He decided. He provided. He told me who was in charge.

It's not that I didn't want a large family. It was how sick pregnancy made me. It was almost unbearable. In fact, upon realizing I was pregnant for the third time it was something I believed I couldn't physically endure again.

However, God provided me with the help I needed. My family supported me through four months of sickness and we were all blessed with Eden on December 12, 2004.

Eden observed the world through wide eyes from the moment she was born. She was the final piece of our family puzzle... fitting in perfectly with her older brother and sister. Those busy years are now a distant memory but they were so foundational in all of our lives. We became a complete family and learned how to help each other along on our intertwining life-paths.

She and Lilli are only separated by 22 months. "Irish twins" is the phrase I've heard used...

She is taller than her older sister which presents a bit of a challenge in their relationship. Walking this delicate tight-rope of sisterly love and sibling rivalry has been a test of my parenting skills. I remember occasionally fighting with my sister (you know... knock down, drag out style) so I guess it's "payback" time!

She's a hard worker. Sticking to a task until she figures it out. This makes her a math whiz. "Math is easy-peasy," she says. It also makes her an excellent swimmer and a mesmerizing pianist.

She's also very black and white.
Kid love her. They think she's funny and she likes it!
She has a fierce love for God... she loves to read the Bible with me.
She loves to dance and sing.

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. As my sister said the other day, "She's there with me but she's thinking about something else." Her teacher thinks she will be a scientist one day. Eden says she wants to be a swim coach and a math teacher.

A decade of Eden has brought me so much joy. I'm definitely looking forward to the future. I wonder what she will accomplish. What will she be doing when she's 13? 16? 20? How can I best love her? What is my purpose in being her mama? Why did God give her to me? I'm always asking. Praying. Seeking the answers.

Happy Birthday, my baby girl. You intrigue me. I love you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I am missing my Grandmother today. Sometimes the feeling of loss is overwhelming. It's a feeling I had never experienced before she passed away. Loss grips my heart and squeezes tears from my eyes. I talk to her... telling her how much she is missed.

I suppose my grief is a result of our close relationship. We were 52 years apart in age but sometimes I felt like her best friend. We shared many enlightening conversations. We belly laughed together too many times to count. She shared her knowledge of cooking, sewing, gardening, and managing a home with me. She also loved my grandfather, her children, her siblings, her extended family, and her neighbors. She was gracious. A woman of inner beauty who radiated kindness to all who knew her.

Many times I would pop in for a visit with her and she would be reading her Bible. In her last six months of life, I read her Bible to her about three times a week. As I read to her, I realized the task was as much for me as for her. I was overwhelmed with peace. And joy. The process of caring for my beloved Grandmother fed my soul and filled my heart. It gave me a purpose. 

She passed away at the end of July. I still can hear her voice. I still love her and I think about her every day. She lives on in my heart. My prayer is she will live on in the way I love my own husband, children, siblings, family, and neighbors. 

In Christ she sleeps. In Christ she will awake. Until that day, I miss her. 

I love you, Grandmother.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Parenting 101

I love my children.

I love them because they are mine.

I love them with a fierce, bold love.

I don't view them as perfect because I am aware of their nature.

I know they will make LOTS of mistakes.

I have taught them to be kind to others. They can be mean.

I have taught them to practice self-control. They can lose control in a flash of anger.

I have taught them to be honest.  They can lie.

I fully expect them to fail. However, I hope they learn from their failures.

I fully expect them to blame others. However, I hope they don't really believe it's someone else's fault.

They are...


I am in my children's lives every day. I have made mothering my life's work for awhile now. Some days I feel accomplished and nearly perfect. Most days I feel exhausted and doubtful of my ability to raise three human beings.

I know them so well. At times I feel like I can read their thoughts. I want to make sure I teach them every thing they "need to know" before they leave my home. And it is in these moments I doubt I am even touching the surface of what they need to know...

I guess all they really need to know is love.

I love you, Asher.
I love you, Lillian.
I love you, Eden.

I love you with a healthy diet, clean sheets, instruction, humor, music, reading out loud, limited television, plenty of rest, vacation, trips to the library, taking you to church, walks... snuggles, long talks, hugs, kisses, games... loving your dad...

I hope I am patient. And kind. I hope I am not rude. To you. Or anyone. I hope I am not easily angered. And I hope I "get over it." I hope I am truthful. I hope you feel protected by me. I hope you always feel you can trust me.

Love never fails.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mama's Report Card


Three meals per day, suitable clothing, company, toys, and LOTS OF LOVE!

I suggest cutting out some time one day a month and cooking (or making) something you have never cooked/made. If you agree/don't agree check the suitable box.

Eden's Clothes:  
I prefer t-shirts over blouses, long shorts over short shorts, yoga pants over jeans, and my dresses have to be un-itchy, above my freckle, and below my knees, and I have to be able to run in them.

I would like to be with my friends some more because if I'm not doing something I get SUPER bored. These are the places I can walk/bike to... (list of names).

I HAVE TOO MANY!!! (but don't get rid of them.)



With lots of love,  Eden

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nurture and Admonition

Nurture - the process of caring for and encouraging the growth of someone or something

Admonition - authoritative counsel

Walking through the 8th grade hall yesterday, I was greeted with smiles and "Hey, Mrs. Hamlin!" and "Hi, Asher's mom!"

"He's right over here." I saw him standing in his Geometry classroom doorway with a slightly puzzled look on his face. This was only the second time I had ventured into one of his middle school classrooms during school hours.

I showed him the brown paper bag that contained his lunch as I walked over to him. "Thanks, mom."

"No worries," I said as I walked right past him while saying "hello" to a few more of his buddies. I walked into his classroom and up to his teacher's desk. She was busy talking to a few students (the bell had sounded to end the period so I wasn't interrupting instruction time) so I waited patiently for my turn.

When she looked up and acknowledged me, I asked how Asher had done on his quiz the day before... a "B." I asked her about his behavior so far this semester. "Well, he continues to goof around... which is negatively affecting his grade. He's a smart guy who needs to pay better attention in class. I almost wrote a referral for him last week."

Enter Asher. Smiling. Perfect eye contact with me and his teacher... "I've been a better listener. I'm paying attention." Oh dear. I physically see his teacher soften. I understand. This is what he does to me. He has an uncanny ability to smooth talk his way out of undesirable situations.

I informed the teacher I wanted to know if Asher's behavior didn't improve immediately. (I followed up later that afternoon by sending her an email reminding her I wanted to stay on top of this matter.)

As Asher and I walked to his next class together he again thanked me for bringing his lunch. I said, "You can thank me by doing your best."

"I love you, mom."

"I love you, Asher."

Asher is a good kid. He's fairly responsible for a 14-year-old. He makes decent grades. (He COULD make all A's. Which frustrates me and his dad.) Coaches, teachers, friends' parents all tell me what a respectful young man he is... so, what's the issue?

He could be better.

Better? How?

By being on honor roll every semester? By using his athletic abilities to compete and win? Maybe I listen too much to society's standards. Maybe I'm not listening closely enough to him.

What are my expectations? More importantly, what are God's expectations?

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - that it may go well with you and that you many enjoy long life on this earth."

So, that's what God expects of Asher. But, the instruction doesn't end there. Now it's my turn...

"Fathers, don't exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord."

One teacher on the subject of parenting said, "Moms. Don't nag. State your expectation once. Let reality be the teacher."

It's so hard to let reality be the teacher when it includes failure. But, what is failure? Is it working below your ability? Or something else?

Asher has challenged me at every stage. However, he has always loved me, thanked me, honored me... my love for him can overwhelm me at times. My heart aches when I love him through something difficult. At other times, my heart almost bursts with joy as I watch him with wonder. Secretly celebrating the man he is becoming.

As Mary watched Jesus grow physically, grow in wisdom, and in favor with God and men, she "treasured all these things in her heart."

Maybe I listen too much to society's standards. Maybe I'm not listening closely enough to him. When I disapprove of him, what is my standard? Is it important enough for nagging?

This morning as I drove Asher and a friend to the middle school I said to Asher, "I expect perfect behavior in Geometry today. Listen and learn."

"Mom, no human is perfect. Only Jesus was."

How do I respond to that?

"Love you, Asher. Do your best. Have a good day. Bye!" (With nurture and admonition.)