The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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A mighty view December 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 2:28 pm

From his balcony, he looked down over the houses of all his subjects–first, over the spires of the noblemen’s castles, across the broad roofs of the rich men’s mansions, then over the little houses of the townsfolk, to the huts of the farmers far off in the fields. 

It was a mighty view and it made King Derwin feel mighty important. (from The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss)

I can’t include this passage without also quoting from the very next page, where we see Bartholomew Cubbins looking from his little hut toward the castle:

It was exactly the same view that King Derwin saw from his balcony, but Bartholomew saw it backward. It was a mighty view, but it made Barholomew Cubbins feel mighty small.


Has this ever happened to you? You are standing in line at the grocery store, paying with money you worked hard and honestly for, and you notice the person in front of you messing with her smart phone with professionally manicured hands before she pays with a food stamp card? Before you can stop yourself, judgement floods your mind. You inwardly scoff. How irresponsible! How wrong! If she can afford a smart phone, why does she need food stamps? Your view makes you feel superior, smug, and smart.

Does it occur to you that you actually don’t know a thing about her situation? You don’t know if she has a job or what kind of job she has. You don’t know if the card is her own or if she is doing a favor and shopping for a down and out neighbor. You don’t know if the smart phone is work-issued or if was purchased and put under contract before hard luck hit. You don’t know if her sister is in cosmetology school and practices on her nails. Perhaps you are so privileged that you have never known what it might be like to not have anyone teach you priorities or fiscal responsibility, to not know the kind of fear that accompanies generational poverty and therefore you cannot put yourself in her shoes. Maybe she is irresponsible but has never been taught differently or maybe she is working as hard as she can and she never thought she would be in this situation. Does it occur to you that it might make her feel mighty small to pull that food stamp card out in front of everyone?

My friend, Cassi, and her young sons have been lending a helping hand to a group of homeless people in their town. Not surprisingly, some people who have heard of what they have been doing have cautioned her to “not help too much.” They’ve passed on their judgement like germs on a shopping cart and assumed they know the character that leads to homelessness. But Cassi is both braver and kinder than to allow it to infect her. She said this in response to them today: “We can’t get on our high horses and pretend that we know anything about anyone that we have never taken the time to get to know personally. And besides, what if the stereotypes WERE true for everybody? They all of sudden become less deserving of grace and love and help? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we be reaching out even more so to those folks?”

Cassi could have chosen differently. When her son expressed his desire to help a homeless person, she could have said, “No, honey. That man is clearly an alcoholic and anything we give him will just be wasted.” But she didn’t. Instead she chose to teach her children (and her friends) that mercy and grace are not to be earned and nothing given in a spirit of love is ever wasted. She chose not to sit in her beautiful home and feel superior or to drive by in her nice car and turn up her nose. She chose to set aside the mighty view, to cross the distance so that she was face to face and eye to eye with a person in great need. And, in so doing, she probably made that person feel bigger. Thanks for the lesson, Cassi.


Match up November 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 10:45 pm

She shook her head and laughed. “Glory, sweetie, our hands aren’t a thing alike. But they match up pretty good.” (from Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood)

Lovely little reminder that our hands don’t have to be the same to match up well or work together. It’s true in marriage, friendship, and work. If all of our hands, personalities, and abilities were the same this life would be dull and nothing would thrive. Diversity of talent, opinion, background, passion, and gifting is the beating heart of community, industry, church, education and home I think. May we remember to seek out hands that are different and clasp them to our own in friendship and cooperation. And may we see our differences as a blessing and a benefit not a hindrance or division.


A lot more interesting November 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:38 pm

If you’ll let me tell you what I imagine about myself you’ll find me a lot more interesting. (from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

I know, I know, everyone talks about this and here I go reinventing the wheel. I can’t help it. I’m going to talk about social media and the lives we put out for the world to see.

Our real lives (plain, old, unromantic real lives) often don’t seem interesting enough to share in a culture that is all about sharing. We are supposed to share the minutiae of our days but only if it makes everyone else “like” what we post. So here we sit, fingers hovering over keyboards hoping to find something to say that will be interesting enough. We post pictures taken from the right angles to show the cleanest corner of the house and only one chin on mama and it’s like saying, “Please like me. Please think I’m interesting. Please call me Cordelia?” We think we want this validation of our day-to-day but I believe in our hearts we are looking for a Marilla out there who says, “Anne is a fine name and nothing to be ashamed of.” Someone who will risk a relationship in real life even though we show our double chins and messy rooms. Someone who isn’t at all interested in what we imagine about ourselves.

Some months ago I was spending a lovely afternoon with several friends and we pulled up one friend’s maternity pictures on a computer. A couple of the girls who are into photography started touching up the pictures–lengthening her eyelashes, brightening her eyes, smoothing the skin on her forehead. She was thrilled. We were all impressed by the skill and the technology. But something about it made me mistrust every professional picture my family has had taken. Were my son’s eyes really that blue or were they brightened later on a computer? I found myself searching our photos for small wrinkles, fly-away hairs, and unflattering creases in my dress. Searching for something that would say, “This photo is real. This was a real moment in our lives. We are real people.” See, I want to break free of this need to look perfect. I want to be real. For my kids, for my friends, for myself. Real.

In The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the Skin Horse says, “Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I think we have a harder time being real in this culture of sharing. I mean, there’s probably always been an expectation of putting your best out there (the company towels and all) but now that everyone’s a casual voyeur we have to put our best forward all the time. That’s exhausting. And it creates a snowball effect where we compare our worst to everyone else’s best and they do the same with us and nobody tells the whole truth. I was listening to the leadership team at my MOPS group introduce themselves a couple of months ago and so many of them said that drop in visitors give them major anxiety because they either don’t have the house together enough or themselves together enough for someone to drop by unexpectedly. Drop by visitors are my favorite friends. They are the ones to whom I can say, “I am trusting you with my real life. If you go in my room right now you will see a pile of laundry waiting to be folded. If you go in the craft room, you should fear for your life. But what kind of tea do you want?” If you come into my real life house when I haven’t had time to prepare the company towels for your arrival, I need you to be okay with what you find here. Sometimes my kids are still in pajamas at lunch time. Sometimes there is laundry on the bed. Sometimes we don’t do the dishes right away. Sometimes it looks awesome (well, the craft room never does) but sometimes it doesn’t. Please come over anyway.  My friend Sarah has been known to call and say, “DON’T clean your house before I come.” Even if she’s giving me enough notice that I could. My friend Erin jokes that I always serve one of two lunches. This is because those are my fall-back, always have the ingredients on hand for drop by lunch guest lunches! She is one of the few people who actually takes me up on my come by any time policy so she gets to experience those two lunches over and over. Meg is a friend who is allowed into my craft room. That is probably one of the best indicators of closeness and trust.

So to my “friends,” I will continue to tell you the fun and funny parts of our lives because part of me really enjoys the “likes.” But if you want to be real life friends, please just text when you’re on your way over so I can unlock the door and avoid you having to ring the bell and wake the baby (that way we can talk with fewer interruptions). And if you do ring the bell and wake the baby, I won’t be mad at you. I’ll be very glad to have a friend there on a day when the baby’s nap was too short. If you come over for lunch and I am just now running the dishwasher from last night’s supper so I’m out of clean plates, just wait a sec while I hand wash a couple. Or we could eat from kiddie plates OR we could eat from the good china! Which would you prefer, real life friend?


Looking forward to things October 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:46 pm

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” (from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)



Kindness October 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:30 pm

Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo. (from Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne)


The only thing to do October 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 1:53 pm

She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all her might and main. (from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)


My splash of gold October 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 2:05 pm

Years rolled on again, and Wendy had a daughter. This ought not to be written in ink but in a golden splash. (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

Yesterday was my daughter’s heartbeat day. This is the day we first heard her little heart beating through the ultrasound when she was in the womb. We were so excited to hear that little whooshing sound and to wonder who she would become. When she is older, we will celebrate her heartbeat day the way we do our son’s, with heart shaped food and heart themed books. We’ll show her ultrasound pictures from when she used to live inside of me and we’ll talk to her about the kind of heart we want her to have. She’s a bit young for all of that this year but we still pause to thank God for making her and for making her ours.

When I was pregnant with June Elizabeth I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I didn’t really enjoy the pregnancy like I wanted to. I was anemic almost the whole time and dealing with my three-year-old son and my two-year-old nephew every day. I potty trained my son and broke my toe while I was pregnant with her. It was an exhausting time. I also had some depression during that pregnancy. All of this combined to give me some anxiety about my relationship with her. I was actually afraid I wouldn’t feel as connected to her as I did to my son. When I was pregnant with Benjamin I was constantly aware of his presence and always thinking about him and planning for him. With June Elizabeth I would actually forget I was pregnant for a few hours and then be surprised to feel her kick. This made me feel guilty and worried. I just thought, what if I don’t love her enough? What if I don’t feel that connection?

In a strangely uncharacteristic moment of transparency I shared this concern with our friend, Trey. Both of our families were out taking pictures in a field of bluebonnets and their second daughter was still very young. I told him I was worried that I didn’t seem to feel as connected to my unborn daughter as I had felt to my son when he was in the womb. He told me that he knew it would be okay and that that moment of connection would come. He told me the moment he felt that deep, true connection to their second daughter was very different than the moment he felt it with their first. And he reminded me to pray about it if I was truly worried. (Have I mentioned before that my greatest talent is finding really great friends?) He gave me hope in telling me that my bond with my daughter would not be diminished if it came with time rather than immediacy. My friend Erin, without being told of these fears, told me a few days later a similar thing. When I told her of my fears she said she would pray for my peace in knowing that I would be a good and loving mother for this baby girl and that the connection would come in its own time.

And then June Elizabeth was born and all of my fears seemed so strange. She far exceeded my dreams and I had so much joy in holding and caring for her. She came to us like a golden splash of sunshine, all silky dark hair and fluffy cheeks and coos and dimples. She was a perfect nurser and a cuddly little bundle of dimples and sighs. I received not only the peace I had prayed for, but a huge amount of delight in mothering her. She has been such a joy from her first moments. She is a gift I do not take for granted and I am thankful for her life and the joy she brings to mine. But I am also thankful, when I remember her living in the womb, for the friends who lifted me up when I was worried and afraid. And as we celebrate June Elizabeth’s heartbeat day, one of my highest hopes for her heart is that it will be cushioned by the support of good and honest friends. It is a hard world and we all face many difficult things. I want her heart to be tender, but to also be strong. When my own tender heart has been nearly unable to stand this life, my friends have lent me strength.


Octobers October 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 8:34 pm

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? (from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

Yes. Octobers.

Today was the perfect October day. It was cool and cloudy and full of the warmth of friends. We filled our kitchen with the smells of baked things and bacon. We filled the seats around our table with neighbors.


We filled our stomachs with good food and we enjoyed the sounds of many children playing. We held babies. We laughed and we made plans and we worked puzzles with the kids and we just had a lovely morning.

Then we went to the pumpkin patch because…October.



The kids ran around trying to pick up pumpkins while we ran after them trying to get good pictures. They rode a little train pulled by a tractor while we nervously prayed they wouldn’t tumble out and wondered about the driver who appeared to be about pre-teen age. But they just seemed to be having the time of their lives so we held back our fear a little and let them enjoy their childhood.


Then it started pouring cold, heavy raindrops and we ran to our cars laughing, leaning over seats to get the kids buckled without getting soaked. In Texas you don’t ever complain about rain. You just laugh and enjoy it and tell the kids you’ll buy pumpkins another day. Then you spend the afternoon resting and playing board games and just enjoying October.



To be forgiven October 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:17 pm

It gives you a lovely, comfortable feeling to apologize and be forgiven, doesn’t it? (from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

You can expect quite a few Anne quotes this month because fall just puts me in an Anne-ish mood.

I thought of this one today because this week at our house has been all about apologies and forgiveness. We have our most important family rules posted on a wall where we see them often. The family rules are for all of us, not just the children. The one that I am most often guilty of breaking is “Answer gently.”

A couple of days ago my son left the bathroom door open and our 17-month-old got in there and emptied the contents of the diaper pail all over the floor and tub. It was disgusting. I lost it.

Not only did I not speak gently, I actually screamed at my son for leaving that door open. Screamed. I was scary. And I had to apologize to this four-year-old for my extreme overreaction, for showing him such anger. We both cried a lot and there was lots of cuddling. While I scrubbed the bathroom with bleach, my husband fed the kids dinner and I just cried and prayed my son wouldn’t remember me that way. I prayed he would not learn this from me instead of all the good things I have tried to teach him. And I told myself that this one episode would likely make a much bigger impression than many months of kindness. I texted a wise friend because I needed another mama to pray for me and I knew I could trust her. She told me to remember that showing humility to our kids when we apologize is also teaching them a great deal. And I thanked God for the extreme grace of that truth. Benjamin forgave me and my friend helped me forgive myself.

This morning I went to take a shower and I reminded Benjamin to keep the bathroom doors closed, that mommy was going to be in the shower for about 10 minutes and he needed to be very sure that June couldn’t get into any bathrooms. While I was in there he knocked on the door and asked if he could get something from the pantry. I answered through the door to please wait and make sure the outer bathroom door was closed. He didn’t. When I came out a few minutes later the outer door was open and I could tell June had opened a drawer but it didn’t look like she had gotten anything out. About two hours later we were cleaning up for lunch and I picked up a towel from the living room floor and saw a jolly roger drawn in red lipstick on the cream colored carpet. This was not June. She doesn’t know how to draw jolly rogers. I was absolutely beyond angry but I kept my cool. We talked and I scrubbed (which didn’t work). He lost privileges (all of his pirate toys are locked up in the shed now) and he apologized and admitted that he knew it was wrong when he did it. And it was my turn to forgive him. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to find forgiveness in your heart for a four-year-old but we have lived here for only three weeks and it’s RED lipstick on CREAM carpet. Seriously. And I wasn’t completely convinced that he felt the full weight of what he had done. He just didn’t seem as contrite as he should have been. But the level of his contrition is not relevant because forgiveness isn’t something you earn. It is gifted, not earned. It is grace.

To apologize and be forgiven is lovely to the soul and to freely forgive is as well. Someday I believe he will cringe and laugh as I remind him of this red jolly roger, cream carpet incident and maybe by then I will be ready to laugh about it too.


No harm October 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 1:58 pm

I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got. (from The Lorax  by Dr. Seuss)

My family is on a journey, taking baby steps as we go, and our ultimate destination is to live fairly in this world. We have learned a lot over the past couple of years about the ongoing problem of slavery worldwide. In fact, most experts say there are more people in slavery now that at any other time in history. This shocks and saddens me and the part that keeps me up at night is that my own culture has such a large hand in this. We drive the supply with our demand for more, more, MORE. I am not here to tell you that my family has arrived. I know we still use products with the footprint of slavery, but we are taking steps and eliminating our part of the demand. It is a journey. Some changes have been more difficult than others, but less difficult than sleeping at night when I know that our luxuries have come at the expense of another’s freedom.

Today, because it is October, and I know that many of you will stock up on Halloween candy this month, I want to gently urge you to join us on this journey and use your dollars to support ethical candy makers. I don’t really see any reason to re-invent the wheel and other writers have done a great job of explaining the enormous problem with West African chocolate and slavery. If you would like to learn more about it, Rage Against The Minivan has an excellent post from last year. In the post, she also links to resources for an ethical Halloween. So I’m not going to tell you the statistics about chocolate, but I will share a little bit about my own feelings and actions.

We don’t buy chocolate from any of the major companies (Mars, Hershey, Nestle, Cadbury). When we buy chocolate that is not certified organic or certified Fair Trade, we take the time to look up the company’s website and find out where their chocolate is sourced. If it’s sourced out of Belgium or Venezuela, we feel good about buying it. If it’s sourced out of Ghana or the Ivory Coast, we do not buy it. This is the decision we’ve made based on the reading we have done. When we crave, as we sometimes do, something we used to buy that we now know is tainted by slavery, we find a way to make an alternative ourselves. I have made chocolate hazelnut spread (instead of Nutella), chocolate covered peanuts (sub for peanut M&Ms), chocolate peanut butter cups (Reese’s Cups), hot chocolate mix, and homemade brownies and cakes to avoid unethical chocolate. I don’t grill people at parties to find out where the chocolate they used was sourced and I will eat something someone gives me, but when possible I sign up to bring chocolate items to events or parties so that I can control the sourcing.

I am not a blind optimist. You may be thinking, “Do you really think it will make any difference?” Will the chocolate companies notice a difference in their sales if a few families stop buying their product and opt instead for the Fair Trade alternatives? I don’t honestly believe they will notice the difference. I think it would take an awful lot of consumers changing their spending habits for this to show up on the radar of Hershey or Mars. So why do I still do it? Well, it makes a difference to me. William Wilberforce (who I admittedly only know of because of the movie “Amazing Grace”) said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” We are taking these steps and changing our spending habits regardless of the effect it has in the world, because we believe in the effect it has on our own souls. I can’t eat a Snicker’s bar in good conscience when I know how it was produced. And now that I have told my children about this, I can’t let them see me eat that.

My children are young, so it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for them. Except for chocolate milk. My son LOVES chocolate milk and most specifically he loves Nesquick powder. He asks me every time we go to the store if we can please buy some of the chocolate milk with the bunny drinking out of the straw. And every time I say no I think about saying yes for just a moment. I think about how it’s really not going to make a difference, about how I made my own chocolate milk powder and it was expensive and he didn’t like it. But then I think that somewhere in west Africa is a mama who has a son not much older than mine and she doesn’t see him much because he is doing the dangerous and exhausting labor of a child slave in the cocoa fields. And I tell my son no and then I tell him why. And he accepts it. The next time we go to the store he will probably ask again and we will have the same conversation again, but for now he accepts it.

In my son’s room I mod podged a huge world map onto a board to hang on his wall. Before I got it all glued down, he used a crayon to embellish it. I didn’t want to leave the crayon markings there because the map was kind of expensive and I think we might be able to re-sell it someday when he has a different kind of decor in his room. So I cut a bit of paper into a fancy shape and wrote a verse from the Bible in calligraphy to cover it. It says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Benjamin noticed it immediately and asked me what the words said. When I read it to him I explained that it would be a reminder to love the people of the world more than we love ourselves. He likes to point to different parts of the map and ask me “Where’s that land? Do we know somebody that lives there?” It’s really fun to talk to him about the world this way. I pointed out Ghana and the Ivory Coast the other day and I told him that’s where they make children work too hard for chocolate. I said that one way we could love the children of the world better is to not buy chocolate made by people who hurt kids. He said, “Well, mom, maybe we could find another map sometime, just like this map. And then you can write the words about love one another on that other map and we can send it to the bad people who hurt the kids and then they will know better. If they know better they won’t do it anymore.” I love his innocence. I love that he assumes once we know better we act differently. That’s why we don’t buy slave chocolate even though I know that realistically it won’t make a big impact on the chocolate industry. I know better so I should behave differently.

There are many other products and industries tainted by slavery and it seems every time I turn around I am learning about another one. I am doing the best I can with the information I have and trying to give myself and others a great deal of grace where the changes are slow. I haven’t completely transferred all of our spending to fairly sourced products but I’m working on it little by little as we learn. I hope you don’t feel lectured or condemned but I do hope you’ll stop and think for a minute before you buy that chocolate and choose instead something that has been made by free hands fairly paid.