Growing up, whenever someone made me mad, my mom would make me say 10 things I liked about that person. You know, to focus on the positive and remember the reasons I’m thankful for that person. To think about why it is that I love them.

I hated it.

Lots of times, I could only (begrudgingly) squeak out one or two good things about someone before I would need to start a whole new list in my head of 10 things I like… about my mom. For making me play such a horrible game. Obviously.

Now I’m a grown-up (or so they say.) And a mom. I may or may not have made my children do the same thing. I’m not admitting to anything.

Sometimes you need a 10-list for life…

-Maybe it’s because someone caused your “Mama Bear”-ness to kick into high gear and you’d like to teach that person a thing or twelve. Just. Breathe. 10 things. 10 reasons NOT to rip their face off… And yes, you know you’ve been there.
-Maybe you were hurt and ready to quit and you forgot that there is good or how to smile, so you just needed a little smile-reminder.
-Maybe you got to a point where you felt like what’s the point and who really cares anyway and all this work is just turning into more work and I’ve had it up to HERE with it all. And who would even notice if I just drowned in it, because it’s already at my chin and will reach my eyeballs soon… but by then it will be too late.

Or maybe, just maybe, you said too many things that tear down, and it’s time you forced yourself to say a thing or two that builds up.

I may or may not have experienced all of the above these past few weeks. But I’m not admitting to anything.

I’m reminded I need to get back to journaling my Gifts of Grace. The things that remind me how much my God loves ME. That his grace is big enough to hold even me. And even more than that, He takes great delight in meHe delights in Me. Why does that surprise me every time I read it? And when my fists shake and my heart aches and everything is anything but still, He quiets me with his love.

Here are some of the love gifts of grace that have quieted my soul these past few weeks. Things that have made me remember to smile when I didn’t feel like it. My 10-list for life right now:

1. A teacher smile. While correcting a measurement test, I got to a question on appropriate units for measuring temperature. The Super Tall Kid in my class answered in three words: “Fair In Height.”

2. I was blessed to attend several graduation parties for students I taught for two years. I was Miss Kuzina their 4th grade year and Mrs. Priestman for 5th. They threw a shower for me at the end of 4th grade, and a few even attended our wedding that summer. And now? They’re all growed up and heading off to college. I know, I know. I couldn’t possibly be old enough to have former students graduating already. Or to have others already graduated, married, and with kids my own son’s age. Just… whatever.

3. Annalise is also growing up and would like me to stop using baby words on her. I told her that the belt needed to go around her tummy. She said, without a hint of disrespect in a totally serious and surprised-I-didn’t-already-know-it tone, “It’s called a waist, Mom.”

4. Jacob and I were having a conversation about obedience. Every day. Every 3 minutes. Forever. In one of those conversations, I said he had disobeyed. “No, Mom. I unbeyed.” Exasperated, I asked him what he was talking about. “When I do what you ask, it’s called O-beying. When I don’t do what you ask, it’s called UN-beying. Mom, it makes perfect sense.” Yes. Yes it does.

5. Matt’s parents took the kids for a couple hours one Sunday afternoon just for fun, which gave me time to work. I somehow found myself alone on the patio in the sunshine with good coffee and a good book. Who needs work? Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!

6. Annalise and I had a discussion about a behavior pattern she (we) are working on. Proverbs 29:11 “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” At first, she felt the verse didn’t apply to her, because she’s not a man, of course. Um, no. So I read it again. “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” I waited. She thought. And then she grimaced. “Mommy! I do not want to be that fool. Because you know why? His house went SPLAT!”  You know, because it was built on the sand, and the rains came and… you know the rest. Splat.

7. One of Jacob’s favorite people on earth is Pastor Phil. While getting his haircut the other day, Jacob informed the hairdresser he “wanted his hair short, but not as short as Daddy’s.” She asked how short Daddy’s hair is. “Weeeeeally short. ‘Cause he doesn’t have any hair!” She laughed. He continued, “Just make it like Past-oh Phil’s. I want it dat short.” She responded, “Make it like Buster who?” He repeated his request and told her all about his “buddy” and our church. Mom Smile.

8. When I picked Leesie up from ballet today, she was given her ballet pictures along with several wonderful compliments from different grown-ups about how she is doing in tap. My girl stood there and beamed. Sometimes, those are the things that fill a Mama’s heart the most. I can’t wait to see her perform this weekend.


9. The kids were invited to ride on a tractor in the Farmer’s Day Parade with THE Pastor Phil. (I thought Jacob might die.) He loved every second, but he was seriously cool as a cucumber once we got there. And while it was no carriage, it was the perfect chance for Annalise to master her princess wave. photo(66)

photo(67)     photo(65)

10. Friends. Friends that bail you out in a pinch. Friends that encourage. Friends that are more than willing to take your kids, even when they’re all sugared up from way too much candy being thrown at the parade. Friends who laugh with you when – after we momentarily lose our daughters – one comes outside of the building saying the other is still inside in the bathroom but has “a paper towel stuck to her bottom.” Just don’t even ask. Friends starting their day in matching hats…

photo(63)…and ending their day in matching birthday suits…

photo(64)And really, how can you not smile when you see those two faces?

Oh yes, and a bonus item. I guess it’s an 11-list.
Getting my phone to find a picture and instead finding this:


38 of them in all. THIRTY-EIGHT. Plus several videos of her singing just exactly like she’s the star of a Broadway production. Dancing and singing… a song about Princess Annalise, of course. The videos won’t be shown without her permission, but they were just too hilarious not to mention.

And so I leave you with this… A sampling of the many faces of my girl. May it bring a smile to your face too:

photo(74) photo(73) photo(72) photo(71) photo(70)

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