The Gift

~Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

The date was October 3rd, 1992. After more than a year of trying to get pregnant, I was finally able to run upstairs and share the good news with my husband. We were going to have a baby! We could not wait to tell my parents they were about to become grandparents. It was my Dad’s birthday and we were all going over to their house for dinner. We decided to make our big announcement by giving my Dad a gift of all the baby paraphernalia grandparents would need, including a bib that said, “My Grandpa Loves Me!” What could possibly go wrong?

While we were shopping at the mall,  picking up our “grandparent supplies” and the ever most popular book, What To Expect When You’re Expecting, the unexpected happened. I began to show signs of a miscarriage, or so I thought. What are the chances this would happen on the very same day I found out I was pregnant? (I still often wonder today what are the odds?)

Jon and I decided to press on and continue our plans to surprise my family. After dinner and it was time for gifts, we handed my dad the bag of goodies. The minute he took out the baby bib and other items, my mother began screaming hysterically with excitement! These hysterical screams were interrupted by me bursting into tears and trying to explain my worst fears and disappointment. We decided the best course of action was to head to the emergency room and find out exactly what was happening. My husband, my mom, my sister and I piled into the car, and anxiously drove to the hospital. My sweet dad was left all alone on his birthday, eating cake and ice cream by himself.

I will never forget that night in the hospital. It was the beginning of a wondrous journey of motherhood. My husband and I watched as the ultrasound technician pointed out a tiny, little circle on the blurry monitor. At the time, I couldn’t have been more than six weeks along. The baby was the size of an olive. But there it was…. a microscopic flutter of movement on the screen. If you looked very closely you could see a heart beating! The only word to describe that moment is miraculous!

Fast forward twenty-five years, and that little baby just the size of an olive, that precious, little person with an amazing heartbeat, has grown into an extraordinary young woman. Our daughter, Hillary Paige, is celebrating her 25th birthday today! She has brought us joy, happiness, pride, and an abundance of pleasure! And yes, sometimes a little worry, concern, and possibly a few tears. (as ALL children do) She is smart, beautiful, genuine, sweet and occasionally even a little bit stubborn! (An inherited trait she received from my dad’s side of the family.) We have watched her grow, mature, and develop into a confident young adult who is spreading her wings and creating a life of her own.

However, Hillary isn’t just my daughter. She’s my best friend! She’s my GIFT! We talk on the phone daily, sometimes more than once. We like to watch movies together, go shopping, get mani-pedis , debrief in great detail about our latest television obsessions, eat appetizers and share a glass of wine on the deck. We currently live in different states,  but we still manage to enjoy our mother/daughter outings as often as possible. I am eternally grateful to God for entrusting me and giving me the great honor to be her mom!

Sadly, both of my parents have since passed away…. Hillary was nine years old when we lost my dad, and it was a short five years later when my mother passed away from cancer. I know they are smiling down from Heaven, beaming with joy and pride, and singing Hallelujah!!! Much like my mom did the night we told them we were expecting their first grandchild!

Today, Hillary Paige, we CELEBRATE you!!!!  You truly are a blessing from God and we love you more and more each day!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!



The Nest

We currently live in Central Minnesota where there are over 10,000 lakes, bitter cold winters and an abundance of wildlife. Although the temperatures and weather forecast do not show any signs of spring, my backyard tells a different story.

About the middle of March, birds begin returning to the towering trees outside our windows. I hear them singing in the early morning, watch them eat from the bird feeder and peck at the frozen ground for worms. We have beautiful cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, bald eagles, and red-crested woodpeckers that call our backyard home. We also have giant black crows which I refer to as the “bullies” of the neighborhood. They are loud, obnoxious and will dominate the birdfeeder at any given time.

However, it is these birds that have received most of my attention the past two weeks. The crows, two in particular, have been extremely busy and active in gathering twigs, leaves and tall grass to build a nest in a pine tree high above our deck. Each day, I watch them diligently choose long, brown weeds and tree branches left over from last fall. They seem to be taking such pride and joy in their nest, along with safety precautions to protect their newborn babies from harm.

It’s not just the birds who are providing their newborns with a warm safe haven this spring. This morning, my husband and our two dogs were abruptly woken up by the incredibly high, shrill sound of a fox in distress. At first we thought it was a mating call, which she did attract at least one other fox, but then after further investigation and an actual sighting, we realized she was protecting her litter from a juvenile bear. As you can imagine, this caused quite the ruckus inside our home with dogs barking and running from window to window. I am normally not thrilled about the fox family inhabiting the empty lot across the street from us, but today I found myself empathizing with the mama fox. She was doing what most mothers (and fathers) do. Protect your children from harm…..

It was twenty-five years ago exactly that my husband and I were “nesting” and expecting the arrival of our first child. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we busily painted the spare bedroom yellow, put up a generic teddy bear wallpaper border, bought a baby crib and called it a nursery. We relied  mostly on baby shower gifts to complete the rest of the necessities needed for a newborn. We were so proud of our “nest” and couldn’t wait to bring home our new baby from the hospital.

Much like the wildlife living outside my home, it was our job to provide a warm, loving and nurturing place for our kids to grow, learn, and feel protected. We provided shelter, food, guidance and most of all love. As a parent, you try your best to teach them right from wrong, good from evil, and the consequences of bad decisions. Most parents, I believe,  just want their children to grow up to be happy, healthy and productive citizens. We want what’s best for our children and will go to any length possible to protect them. Much like the mother fox did today. She felt threatened and called in reinforcement. She  was protecting her nest! It was her maternal instinct to protect her offspring and I respect her for it.

My kids are both grown now and living on their own. I’m proud to say they are happy, healthy and productive adults. However, at times the innate motherly instinct to protect my children still lingers. Much to their dismay, I can’t shake it! I wonder if the black crows, the mama fox, even the mother bear realize their babies grow up and will some day leave the nest…. Hopefully, their children will  know their mothers did everything in her power to protect them, love them and keep them safe.

I pray mine do!

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”

~ Agatha Christie


In the Blink of an Eye

Jon and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. I can recall that day, and every detail about it, as if it were yesterday. The truth is, twenty-seven years has flown by faster than we ever could have imagined.

During our engagement period, we read several marriage books which focused on expectations, ways to strengthen our marriage, finances, etc. One book in particular, discussed the four seasons of marriage:

1)    The Honeymoon

2)    The Childbearing Years

3)    The Child rearing Years

4)    The Empty Nest


We were twenty-three years old when we got married.  Our Honeymoon stage lasted just shy of three years. It was during this time we started “building our nest.” We didn’t have a lot of money back then, but we bought a townhouse and furnished it with odds and ends from Jon’s parents’ mini-storage. It was small but cozy.

We had our daughter when we were twenty-six years old and two years later our son was born. From that point on, life was a blur! It was busy, fun and never a dull moment of sleepless nights, crying babies, changing diapers, chasing toddlers, and trying to make ends meet. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!  It was also over in the blink of an eye!

The child rearing years went by even faster! They included school day routines, packing school lunches, musicals, gymnastics, basketball, football, track meets, spelling bees, homework, book reports, science projects, playdates with friends, sleepovers with friends, first loves, broken hearts, fights with friends, first dates, first high school dances, first driver’s license, first car accident, and again many sleepless nights just waiting to hear the front door open so you knew they were home safely. Then, college came knocking on our door.

The nest got roomier…. It was just the three of us for three short years.  Then, it happened again….college came knocking. Both kids were off living their busy lives and embracing the college experience. It happened in the blink of an eye!


Our nest was EMPTY! How did we jump from honeymooners to empty nesters so quickly?  The answer was simple…. God had given us temporary custody of our children. They really belong to HIM! We are the vessels God uses to love, nurture, teach and pray over our children.

We’ve been blessed to watch our children grow and mature into smart, kind, hardworking adults. We’ve watched them succeed AND fail. We’ve watched them achieve milestones AND struggle with poorly made decisions. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  Some days, it is an up at dawn, pride swallowing siege which most kids will not fully understand until they are parents themselves. It is also the most rewarding, invigorating, life experience you will ever have.

So, whichever stage you are currently in…. I encourage you to step back, take a deep breath, turn off the television, put down the cell phone, and embrace it! Because, I assure you it will be gone in the blink of an eye!