Blocks Gotta Go

“Mom, she’s so mean. I don’t know what to do,” daughter says, while 14 darling two-year-old children scramble around her feet.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Everyone calls her Dr. Rude.”

“How so?”

The blond-headed curly-top two-year-old baby girl seated at the table stamps her finger-prints on the construction paper before her, forming a flower.

“When we ask questions,” says my daughter, “the teacher looks at us like we are so stupid. But once I told her that I didn’t have a question for her, and she said to me, ‘You will fail.'”

I find myself transforming into Mama Bear, but I stand there and listen as my girl’s forged and unfounded list of insults against her grows longer and longer.

DSC_9222 (2)More tiny fingerprints cover the construction paper before the children.

“One time my friend had her earbuds in before class started, and the teacher jerked them out of her ears.” Daughter shakes her head. “She goes from super happy to mad. She yells. Students cry. And I once took my backpack with me to the bathroom (for unspoken good reason) and when I returned, she said that she would count me absent for the day because I had taken my backpack.”

My daughter and I stand there dumbfounded, an incredulous look overtaking both our faces. The accusations and offenses continue to soar, as my daughter proceeds. The list dangles from our hearts to the dirt below.

When every single area of your life has been insulted. And it hurts.

DSC_9220 (2)“The teacher is so disrespectful, Mom.”

For so long, the teacher has gotten away with this. For so long. My daughter is just one among the many casualties.

Hearing my daughter out, I somehow feel like “I’m” being bullied, and there is absolutely nothing I can do. What can I do? Mama Bear feels like she’s been caught in a snare and altered into Mama Snail.

You didn’t do this. You didn’t do that. You did this. You did that.

“You have been nothing but kind … you have been nothing but you,” I say. “You can’t be anything but you. You did you. It’s difficult to stand against the teacher, but I know God will use your actions, your responses, your kindnesses to make a difference, somehow, some way. Because God is God.”

Like a toy Weeble that wobbles, my girl has taken the punches, but she doesn’t stay down. She is grounded … in her faith, in the love that is steady and certain, in the 1 Corinthians 13 love that keeps no record of wrongs, that allows rebounds.

DSC_9218 (2)A two-year-old boy kicks a cardboard block, causing it to land right on two-year-old curly-top baby girl’s leg. Tears spring into baby girl’s eyes as she reaches to comfort the pain.

My daughter bends down to baby girl. “You’re okay. It didn’t hit you too hard. It could have been so much worse.”

It could have been so much worse.

Baby girl stands straight and pulls herself together. “It could have been worse,” she repeats.

“Let’s put the blocks up,” says my daughter.

Baby girls nods. “Blocks gotta go.”

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Rejection, insults, and accusations hurt. I love peace, and it is hard to be still and wait on God when everything inside you wants to make it right. But sometimes we just can’t make it right. I’m thankful my daughter only had to endure the hurt for a short season. What do you do in a situation like this? Do you find it hard to be still and wait on God, too?

The Right & The Left Unite For A Merry Christmas

The phone rings. It’s my girl.

“Hi, baby,” I say, using my softest tone reserved for my girls.

“Mom, I don’t know what to do. I’m scared. I’m shaking.”

“What’s up?” My legs begin to tremble, and the hair on my arms raises.

DSC_9533 (6) - Copy“I’m in government class, and we’ve broken up into groups,” she whispers. “My group has decided to do a discussion about an issue that I can’t support. They all support it. But Mom, I’m afraid to speak up. I don’t know what to do.” Her voice drifts off into a lonely place. Surrounded by people, yet lonely. I’ve been there.

My heart plunges into my gut and begins to jostle around for freedom, for peace, for strength. Freedom, peace, strength for my girl. “Baby, you have to speak up. If you don’t, everyone will think that you believe it’s okay. And you won’t be okay with that.”

“I know, Mom.” Determination laces her voice. “But … I’m so scared.”

“You’ve got this. I’m praying for you.” Because we can let some things slide, but some things have to be man-handled. Girl-handled.

DSC_9511 (5) - CopyThe phone rings.

“Hi, baby.” Hurry words … assure me. God, let her be okay.

“I did it, Mom. I think several in the group were glad I spoke up. I think they believed like me, but they were afraid, too. The leader decided that half can discuss that topic, and the other half can discuss another topic. She didn’t seem too happy about it, but …” She pauses.

I exhale a sigh of relief, then laugh. “That’s great, Baby. I’m so proud of you.” Yes, you are discovering who you are, what you believe, and that it’s okay to have a different opinion.

“One girl from the group kept glaring at me through class.”

DSC_9519 (6)DSC_9516 (6)Weeks pass.

I step into Chick-fil-A and take a seat across the booth from my girl.

“Mom, government class discussion went so good today.” She bounces on the bench. “Someone just had to bring up another controversial topic.” She nearly slumps. “But, Mom, we had such a good talk.” She straightens and smiles. “Those of us against it gave our side. We just told them that though we didn’t agree, we don’t dislike them for having a different opinion. We aren’t mad at them. One guy said that he didn’t understand why we felt the way we did, but he told me that he liked how kind I was about everything I had to say on the issue.”

One hand extended and the other accepted. The aisle between disappeared, leaving only people. Beautiful feet. Good people. Kind people. Because difference doesn’t always have to equal division. Surely, difference can be united with love.

“And Mom, he said he’d never met a Christian before.”

“He’s met one now.” I nod.

“At the end of class, we all walked out of the room, smiling, high-fiving, and talking with each other. Happy. Friends, Mom. And when I glanced over at our teacher, he shook his head, smiling in amusement at us.” She giggles. “He said, ‘Y’all are the best class I’ve ever had.'”

I shake my head gently, my lips pressing into a smile. My girl is my hero. Oh, yes. Making friends with non-likeminded people. A beautiful concept. Because one might lean right and one might lean left, but we can all lean in with kindness.

DSC_9530 (4) - CopyI wrap myself in the warmth of my jacket. “Baby, that’s so awesome. I’m so proud of you. I think people should be able to disagree, but love.” We mingle together in this sorted world constantly. And why not?

“Yeah. God fought the battle for me, Mom. It was such a great day. Even the girl who had been glaring at me has been smiling at me instead.”

My heart glows–my girl is acknowledging her Savior. All those years of teaching, trying to help her see and understand … yes. Thank you, Father.

Because when the soft strand of the right sweeps over the doubled over strand of the left, with a gentle reach and a little heart-tug, they come together to make the most gorgeous bow. If one tends to be right-handed. And when the soft strand of the left sweeps over the doubled over strand of the right, with another gentle reach and a little heart-tug, they come together to make the most gorgeous bow. If one tends to be left-handed. Because it’s all in the reaching, the softness, the kindness–the sweetest Christmas present to this mama, for her girl. Love bestowed by and on her girl in the difference by the different. Yes, Lord, yes.


Do you have a story of kindness to share? Merry Christmas, Y’all.

A Lady Still Longs For a Gentleman

“What do you think about a gentleman?” I ask.

Her eyes shine, a smile inching across her face, and she gathers her knees to her chest. “I love when Harry rises when Ginny walks into the room.”


Dear Daughter …

When many say that in our day chivalry is no longer demanded, wanting not your heart to believe the lies, I’ll be a little more candid.

When searching for the qualities to seek in this modern age, Daughter, let’s open wide the Bible and respectfully turn the page.

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When you are weak, needing strength, and struggling to see this thing thru, He will take your lifeless body and breathe life back into you.

When you’re feeling abandoned, lost, not knowing what to do, He’ll offer you his hand, giving counseling and guidance, too.

When past mistakes try to compress the air from the weighted chest, He’ll cast them all away, as far as the east is from the west.

When bad choices seem to define you in all the perceived land, He’ll push back your attackers, drawing a firm line into the sand.

When your simple, best attempts somehow seem to become divine, it’s because he’ll turn the humble water into the choicest wine.

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When needs are short, supplies are few, and takers come in droves, He’ll take the little you possess and multiply the loaves.

When your downcast face reveals the painful details of your day, He’ll listen to your earnest heart, hearing every word you say.

When you’re dying inside, a harmful action could surely kill, He’ll sooth your heart with gentle words; His loving touch will heal.

When you are blinded by the enemy’s daily, constant lies, The Gentleman’s hand will grace your face and open wide your eyes.

When at the end of all your self, conviction jabbing like a knife, He’ll give you hope anew that day by laying down his life.

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Oh, Daughter …

When you feel confused, Dear One, you needn’t wonder any more; simply knock, and He will answer, opening every door.

When He treats with favor, rising with your entry to a room, know these are the gracious actions of a gentle, treasured groom.

When you hear the world’s many false complaints against the God-made plan, Daughter, fix your eyes and take the strong hand of the Gentle Man.

©shelli littleton

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“God created man in his own image …” –Genesis 1:27


I’ve heard men say that some women won’t let them open the door for them. Unreal. I want my daughters to value those kind actions … to seek that gentleness and respect, because there are ladies who still treasure those actions. What do you want young people to know?

What Alzheimer’s Can Never Take Away

Sweet, familiar faces greet me at the glass screen door. Through tender hugs and peering over beloved shoulders, I begin my search for her. It’s hard to believe this day is here. I’m amazed. Her kids weren’t sure she’d live to see this day. It’s been a rough road lately, I hear. But she’s entered into the hour of her 80th birthday.

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The last time I was here, she conversed with me. She won’t be able to today.

I see her. I take in her sweet details from a distance.

She’s so loved. Disease can take so much from a person. People can give up on you, and one can choose to give up on themselves and others, but from where I stand, Alzheimer’s can’t take away your loves. She is curled up on her side, on the couch, cuddled into her pillow and blanket. So much princess pink. Her loyal Maltese blends in to the white cotton pillowcase, taking up more pillow space than my aunt’s precious face is. The beloved caregiver beckons the help of my cousin, the daughter, and they ease her to standing at the walker. The caregiver cups my aunt’s face in her hands and kisses her forehead.

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She’s so strong, even in her weakness. Because she’s all heart–all heart that fought for grandkids, that survived cancer, that survived the loss of two beloved children, that survived the loss of a husband, that fought and survived so much more than I’ll ever be privy to. Her fragile fingers grip the walker rails. Because Alzheimer’s can’t take away a fighting spirit. Time after time, her kids wonder if she’s being escorted away into the arms of God, but to everyone’s surprise, He wonderfully escorts her wandering mind and body inch by inch to the table through the hands and feet of Christ. She takes a seat at the queen’s chair, the candles are lit, and everyone gathers around her with love, in love.

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She’s so tiny. Always has been. But a recent chest cold pummeled on top of Alzheimer’s leaves her frailer than ever. Her beautiful skin clings to her precious cheekbones. Yet a glow emits from her eyes, as her two remaining daughters sprinkle her face with kisses. She looks, in part, like a ten-year-old with her sweet braids. The room fills with the fragrance of a struck match and a rising melody, happy birthday over her. And the words we know so well since childhood seep from her lips … happy birthday to you. “She’s singing,” I say. “She’s always singing,” says her caregiver, smiling. She is. She sings hymns with her sisters–my mom, my other aunt. One voice begins and hers will blend, like always, because Alzheimer’s can’t take away your treasure. A tiny package containing years of stored-up infinite treasure. Childhood treasure. Leaning-on-the-everlasting-arms kind of treasure.

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She’s so determined. She sits there, wobbly. But she will see this through. Her daughter opens the presents before her, for her. Chocolate and more chocolate. Giggles disperse. I think back over my conversation with my cousin, when I’d inquired over what I could possibly get my aunt for her birthday. If time is short and space is limited, what can I give her? “Chocolate,” said her daughter, my cousin. “She can still eat chocolate?” I asked, surprised. After the week she’d had, being so sick … “She sure can.” Would you look at that? My cousin places a slice of cake before her, crackers and Coke. All her favorites. She parts her lips for one tiny bite after bite, one tiny sip after sip, because Alzheimer’s can’t take away your favorites. 

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She’s so … Heading home, I ponder my aunt in admiration. I can’t quite put my finger on the situation. My oldest says, “Mom, did you hear what Aunt Novie said when we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ … when we sang ‘and many more’?” My daughter giggles. I glance at her through the rearview mirror. “No. What?” I say. My daughter gasps for air, trying to compose herself. “She asked, ‘There’s going to be more?'” I laugh. That’s exactly right. Because Alzheimer’s can’t take away your humor.

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And that’s when I put my finger on it, really put my finger on it–when it seems one doesn’t have a lot to go on, one goes on what they’ve got. Illness can take away much, but some things found in this life can never be removed without authority–love, treasure, a fighting spirit, determination, humor, Coca-Cola, chocolate, and best of all, Jesus. 

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Do you know anyone suffering from a disease like Alzheimer’s? What can you add to the list that can never be taken away? 


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©Shelli Littleton

Grace

Once upon a time
there was a
mother.
She made a catastrophic decision
to build her home here …
 
 
 
 
The house was darling.
Right on the instruction manual,
the house was declared to be danger free.
But, unbeknownst to the mother,
 it was a dangerous place.
It was intended to be a tearoom, not a home.
The structure was weak,
and the location
left them vulnerable to predators –
predators that would steal, kill, and destroy.

There were three little ones.
Then there was one.
And now the little has been abandoned.
It will never thrive.
The End.
 
 
 
 
As mothers,
upon close inspection …
the mistakes are many.
 
 
 
 

Peer more closely to see
mistakes that have hurt
ourselves,
our children,
our families,
our futures.
Costly mistakes.
 
 
 
 
Closer examination reveals … 
the past can’t be changed.
But the future can.
 

 
 
This Mother’s Day,
offer grace to your mother.
Offer the same grace that you need extended.
 
And ask for grace.
We all make mistakes.

Don’t miss the opportunity to give and take grace.
 
 
 
 
Resentment and bitterness are predators
that steal and kill.
They’ll rob your heart,
your peace,
your joy,
your family.
They’ll “turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt 7:6).

But …
make no mistake,
purely and simply,
grace is a happily ever after beautiful gift.

How will your story end?

May your Mother’s Day be graced.