Just Like Her

I discovered quite the treasure while purging the house this week. I found two of my great-grandmother’s Bibles. I gently put them on my lap and opened them to find a trove of mementos, hand scribblings, and history.

My beloved Mamaw would always act surprised when I reminded her that I had never met her mother, Nellie. “You’re so much like her.” She would affectionately tell me. I’ve always held this remark as my greatest compliment.

Nellie was an extraordinary woman of faith. She loved her family, friends, and strangers fiercely. She was an amazing cook who made the family a gigantic breakfast every morning. Out behind the house was the coal shed, which she would clean out and turn into a playhouse for her 7 children in the summer. During the day, she would bring them little play meals (modern day snacks). My mamaw always marveled at how her mom did all that she did.

I own the chair that she would rock my dad in when he was a youngster. She would read from these very Bible’s to him in hopes of laying a foundation of love for God and his Word.

The alley behind the house, where my Mamaw lived, the house I loved to visit most until she died, there used to be a railway. This would bring drifters to the back door in search of a hot meal and a little encouragement. Nellie was always at the ready to offer both freely. My Mamaw kept this quality and could always put together a meal at a moments notice.

Caddy-corner from the front of the house was a tavern. The legend goes that my Great-Grandmother would sit on the back porch with the tavern in eye shot and pray for hours for every soul that entered and exited the bar. It wasn’t the sin that concerned her as much as the heart state of the sinner.

Nellie was small in form but grand in love. A genuine example and heritage that I hope to embrace and pass onto my children, grand children, and great-grandchildren.  What joy it shall bring to flip the pages that were so dear to this precious lady and read her thoughts on the Word that we both hold so dear.

Love God and Whoever He Puts In Front Of You

 

“Frances has 2 Billy Bob and Dickie”
That’s my Mamaw, my dad, and my uncle.

 

I found a Valentine that my great-uncle had given her when he was a child.

 

The oldest treasure I’ve found: 1902 postcard mailed to Nellie

 

 

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Hope For Transition

"It's going to be okay." All I can hear in these words is that you're right, it's not okay right now.

Moms for years have struggled to send their children off to school. It marks another year, more growing up and we feel the sting of the years slipping through our fingers. They're beautiful, but their refusal to slow down continues to leave us baffled for a solution because we know it's right and good. This natural progression of time leaves us in its wake. For somehow we are acutely aware that this season of parenthood will be over before we know it.

When Lauren was four, I can still see this clearly in my mind, I got down on my knees in our living room and told her she was going to have an extraordinary life. Her little voice asked me, "What is it?" I repeated that it was an extraordinary life. She asked me, "Will you be in it with me?"
"Everyday", was my answer as I hugged her.

We had just made the decision to homeschool her for kindergarten and my heart was full at the knowledge of spending all my days with her. Year by year, we evaluated if homeschooling was still the call until habits formed and we found our little way of life. It's been amazing, extraordinary as promised.

Ten years later, at 14, she is heading off to public high school. There is so much good to be found in this, but I am also feeling great loss. I'm like the kindergarten mom dropping off her baby, which is hard because she's taller than me! This change is not the end, but it's the end of something very precious to me and I'm grieving the loss of it.

I'm so grateful. So grateful for a decade of delay, but as that first day approaches, I'm overwhelmed with the deep truth that it's not enough. I want more. There's the rub. I'm trading my all day, everyday for before and after. The weekends become hot commodities and breaks are golden. I'm not saying anything new to the masses here, but it's all new to me.

We will adjust, but on this last day before school starts, I don't want to adjust. I want to meet her in the living room on my knees and ask for a redo. Not that I would change much, I just want to do it all again.

The truth is, I'm heartbroken.

So, heartbreak is a good place to ask some questions:
What do you want to say to the world?
What do you want to say to Lauren?
What do you wish someone would say to you?

World, please don't eat my baby! Don't take her kindness and her innocence and chew them up. Don't take her soft edges and create calluses that cause her to stop caring about others.

Lauren, I'm going to miss you, but I'll be right here to help you, come what may. This is so hard for me and I'm amazed at how much faith life requires. In my lack, I am afraid, but you will be amazing. I'm so proud of you.

I need to know that the testing of my faith also produces sleepless nights, endless tears and painful reflections of all the wonderful that we've had. I need to know that it's okay to be falling apart and that it is a reflection of my deep love for my child. I need to know that it's tricky to hold the good and the bad at the same time. What I really need to know is that while it's not okay right now, "it's going to be okay."

Those words may not satisfy, but they do give hope and hope in the presence of the unknown is life giving.

For any other mom's out there with the heartache of transition and change, I just want to say you're not alone in your tears and sorrow. For all the mom's that have been doing this every year for awhile now, I simply ask for a little grace as I open my hands to something new.

Letter To My Teen is a post I wrote when Lauren turned 13. Transition and hope are the ingredients of our season.

Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You

The Making Of Little Women

I always thought I would mother boys. My deep love for the outdoors, adventure and disdain for drama seemed to fit the mold of my immature mind. In fourteen years of mothering girls, I have discovered the beauty and perfection of God’s plan in these three little women of mine. They inspire me with their kindness, diligence and sense of wonder. I have not walked this path alone, but have found inspiring mentors for myself and my girls along the way. The results have been extraordinary.


Ms. Karla came into my life when I was first pregnant. She met with me every week and taught me how to care for my home & my growing family with cooking skills, knitting, sewing, prayer, patience and a resolve that allowed room for God’s plan to be present in times of hardship. She changed my life and in turn, changed the lives of my girls as well.

The season of life changed and as I took on homeschooling, my time for meeting grew shorter and shorter. The needs of close friends rose and Ms. Karla stepped into their lives in consistent and loving ways. Years passed.

Homeschooling is the realm of unrelenting overachievers; present company included. Nowhere have I found the desire to achieve excellence in 12 different subjects all while feeling like you’re not doing enough! Last semester, it hit me that I wasn’t getting in all the crucial skills that Ms. Karla had taught me.  I was out of time and energy, but it just so happened, that after decades of service in teaching, Ms. Karla had retired. #Jesusforthewin Her husband, who I consider to be one of the greatest men on earth, had worked with Jason on a very special gift for Ms. Karla. In return, she was looking for a way to extend her gratitude to us when my e-mail arrived. In short, it read, “Would you be willing to host my girls once a month for some knitting and baking lessons.” Overjoyed at the answer to her plea, she quickly agreed.


My girls and I now share a mutual love and admiration for Ms. Karla and her time and presence in our lives. We have also found ourselves, in return, wondering how to say thank you to her.

In October of last year, Canadian Dr. Jennifer Wilson visited our church to share her revolutionary work with birthing mothers and babies in Ghana. Her education based missions work taught mothers and birthing assistants how to clear the airways and resuscitate newborns. It has literally saved the lives of hundreds of Ghana babies every year since. We met Dr. Wilson after the service and asked what we could do to support her work in Ghana. She asked the girls what they enjoyed doing and they responded with, “We are taking knitting lessons and love to knit.”


“Baby hats”, Dr. Wilson explained would be wonderful. Even though it is Africa, the babies heads need to be kept warm.

We spend at least an hour a day in homeschooling where I read aloud to the girls. We call it “Coffee Table Book Time”. Since our meeting with Dr. Wilson, the girls have used this time to knit hats for babies in Ghana. The time has come for the hats to make their way to Canada as Dr. Wilson prepares for her 7th summer in Africa.


We are donating our 25 knitted baby hats in honor of Ms. Karla as our loving thanks for the time she has spent pouring into our lives. We also pulled out hat #26 to be sent to her newest grandchild, baby Joy, who also has an extraordinary story and inheritance because of the presence of Ms. Karla in this world.

Ms. Karla, you have changed our lives.

With love and appreciation we honor you,

Your Little Women

Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You

To learn more about Dr. Wilson’s work in Ghana or to support the work there, click here.

To donate balls of yarn to the Ghana knitting circle, please contact me at malissawaterford@hotmail.com

 

God Is Love: Our Favorite Advent Ever.

God Is Love: Our Favorite Advent Ever.

If I can convey even a part of what we experienced tonight, words will have surpassed their power. For tonight, for the first time, someone loved Christmas. 

This precious student that I tutor 3 days a week came over tonight thinking we were simply attending a candlelight service together. We surprised her with a beautiful dinner. The evening started with tears. Partly because she had not eaten lunch and mostly because it was all done for her and she couldn’t believe it. Honor isn’t found easily in her up-hill world.

After dinner and accolades of how proud I am of her and her decisions, she was told that there was more.


We brought her into the living room, pointed to the fireplace filled with presents and watched the tears fall as she heard that they were all for her. Total shock was followed by an enoirmous amount of tears and giggling.

The next 45 minutes brought the Waterford ladies face to face with awe-inspiring love. Bag after box were filled with good gifts. No pocket was left empty and treasures were found everywhere. We are happy to share videos and photos with those who participated in giving this child a Christmas she will never forget. (Send me a message for footage!)

If God is love, than this was a Holy Spirit encounter. We were literally on the edge of our seats, holding our breath as each gift revealed these truths to this lovely girl:

You are seen.

You are known.

You matter.

We believe in you.

You are cared for.

You are loved more than you could ever know.

And we watched as her tears fell and she fell, for the first time, in love with Christmas. It was magical and I’m humbled to have witnessed it.

She would like to say, “Thank you for loving me, for believing in me and for giving me hope.”

Your gifts were cherished. The look in her eyes as she opened them and felt the thoughtfulness, told the story of the deep capacity that we all have to be loved. A hard road softnened, for even a little while. Her heart opened and was flooded with gratitude and an overwhelming love that shook her awake to truths she’d only dreamt of. They hung in the air like a blanket of stars demanding awe and wonder.

We finished and loaded the love gifts into the trunk.

A quick stop at Starbucks set us up for the candlelight service at church. My family has spent 24 days giving to others and waiting for Jesus’ birthday to come, but He came early. Christmas has arrived and we all agreed, if we had no presents tomorrow, we have already had the best Christmas ever.

I listened to the music and heard the prophets stories told and come to pass. My heart was overjoyed the entire service because only a loving God could pull off a night like tonight. Only a loving God would decide on an earthly Birthday so He could Be the gift for all mankind. All, everyone He places in front of us.

After church we drove around to see Christmas lights and enjoyed a little more time together. We sang Christmas songs loud and faked knowing some of the words, but it didn’t matter. Love was still overflowing over the weaknesses, the hardships, the broken places and the needs. All was right in the world for those moments and we had only their embrace around us.

To those who gave: You did more than give a child some Christmas presents. You took 3 Waterford girls and their mother and offered them a front row seat to the miracle of Christmas. Before our very eyes we witnessed something beautiful and we ourselves were changed because of it. 

We couldn’t have done it on our own, but we were never called to do so. If we all Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of Us, I believe mankind will wake tomorrow and the next tomorrow to find that Love came, Love comes and Love will come again. This gift of Jesus has been given, but we get to give it even now, an inheritance of love.

One daughter said tonight, “Mom, I understand why you love gifts so much. The joy in giving is so much greater than the receiving.” 

One girl got a Christmas to remember and we got a Christmas we will never forget.

Thank you for following us on our advent adventures this year. We have enjoyed sharing part of our lives with you. May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas. 

We sure have.

Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You 
*Monthly and sporadic adventures through the year will be posted on the blog and Whoevers In Front Of You facebook and instagram accounts only. Follow us today at http://www.whoeversinfrontofyou.com 

Stay A While!

We had a lot of people stopping over today for various reasons. We decided to bake cookies and spend the day giving what we can not keep, our time.


We got to meet a friend’s new baby.We deepened relationships. Wood Den customers brought bonus gifts for the girls. It made for a neat day! 

We also thanked the trash man for his year of service to our family!


Thanks to everyone for stopping over and coming in! We loved our time with you today!

Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You 

Beauty Reveals Kindness 

Good and thoughtful gifts are my love language. They really mean something to me. Most of my extended family could care less about gifts. It changes part of Christmas for me in the giving and the receiving. I wrap up something that I think matters, something that says, “I thought of you, I paid attention, I know you.” I’m truly handing you “I love you” tied up with a ribbon.

Oftentimes, gifts are cast aside or shrugged off. It’s hard to send messages of love that go uncared for.

Every now and then, I’ll receive a gift that jolts me full of love. A piano students mom got me this bracelet and I cried tears of thanksgiving when I opened it. Her words that followed the gift were humbling and life giving. It’s one of my prized possessions because it reminds me that kindness is worth it. 


I’ve got a sweet one at home that’s not feeling 100%. She burnt her tongue badly late last night and it’s made eating today hard. 

I had to run an errand, so I picked her up a frosty. At the drive thru I had an internal battle moment. I paid for the frosty and waited to move forward, but I kept feeling the prompting to pay for the car behind me. Finally, I relented and got the cashiers attention. I paid for the car behind me. When I finally pulled forward, she paid for the car behind her.

Because oftentimes, kindness reveals beauty.

I believe that our kindness changes things. The person who receives the kindness is changed, even in a small way. That trajectory continues on and on and on.


So be kind, give good gifts and Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You 

Mail Call

Mail Call

Today’s Advent is dear to my heart. For the last three summers, I’ve left my sweet family and traveled 2,500 miles west to help run a kids camp on the Lummi Nation Indiana Reservation. Through those years I’ve fallen in love with the kids there. This year I was privileged to spend time with one family before camp started. It was an amazing day that none of us will forget.


The Boxwell-Rosario family and I drove up Mt. Baker to have a snowball fight, in June! It was awesome! I love and miss these guys so much.

A family from my church heard my post-camp kids presentation and asked if they could buy presents for a family. I was already sending a box to this family, so it was truly the more the Merrier Christmas!

So, we boxed up goodies for a family who works hard, but doesn’t have a lot. I wish I could send gifts to all the kids from camp, but that’s not in the cards this year. Maybe another advent.


While I was waiting in line at the post office, a lady two people in front of me couldn’t get her debit card to work. It had been locked for some reason. Now, nobody wants to stand in a post office line twice at Christmas. So, I handed her the money and covered the cost of her shipping. Sometimes advent comes to you.

As I drove away, I couldn’t believe Christmas is in 4 days. The anticipation of celebrating Jesus coming is growing so big, we Waterford’s might burst! I asked myself the question, “How generous would we be if we knew it was all completed in four days? We couldn’t take any of it with us.” I like the thought of a giving world. One that really cared for their fellow man to the point of emptying themselves out for one another.

More thoughts on that a different day.

Thank you, postmen and women, for taking boxes of love all the way to Washington and working to get them there by Christmas. I’m thankful that the ladies packages will arrive on time too.

Love God & Whoever He Puts In Front Of You