"Some days I wish I could go back in life. Not to change anything but to feel a few things twice." ~ Anonymous
Johnny and I would both tell you our boys, these amazing children we've been blessed by God with are the greatest gifts of our lives. Joshua and Micah are by far the most precious blessings to come from the merging of our lives and families. I often say I'd love to have a couple days a month with our children, as little boys again. Just one or two a days a month to experience our boys as the small little arrows they once were... to hold them, to brush their curly locks for a moment or cuddle up and read them bed time stories together one more time. If only we could right?
For 20 years Johnny and I have raised our tribe, our arrows. Teaching them both to shoot straight, be humble, kind and to be fully and completely themselves. We have worked hard to keep them covered under a tent of unconditional love, stitched together by God's grace and forgiveness. But the truth is we've failed them many times and we've had to patch up holes from the many storms that have come our way. We've dealt with the simple wear and tear of time and of course the enemy tearing at the bottom of our canvas. As parents we've worried, been concerned the shelter we've provided hasn't always been strong enough to protect our tribe from the outside elements. But in spite of all that angst, God has always been faithful. But I'm also a mama who has never backed down from protecting our cubs. Together, Johnny and I have always put their safety, and needs before our own. We've loved our boys fiercely and unconditionally. And I pray our boys, now men, have seen in us an ability to survive, to fight and to defend our home, our family and our tribe with a love that's known no bounds. As a mama, "I am a wolf: It's in my nature to be kind, gentle and loving...BUT KNOW THIS: when it comes to matters of protecting my children, my family and my heart - don't trifle with me for I'm also the most powerful and relentless creature you will ever know."
From the very start, our children have been our number one priory. Looking at all the pictures above I see love, joy, happiness and a bond unique to our own little clan, our tribe and our band of rag-a-muffins. We've certainly had our share of adventures, hardships and escapades. Our home has not been perfect in any way, but it's been a happy abode. Under our tent, inside our walls we've strived to provide a place to renew our spirits, unburden our souls and to always be ourselves. From the days spent wandering the zoo, riding roller coasters side by side and fishing off the pier together to split milk, tears and unexplained heartaches, we've done it all together. If I could freeze time and go back and watch my kids grow up all over again I would. Raising our arrows has been a gift, like none else. We've shared both good and bad times, difficult or extraordinary, it has always been TOGETHER. The days have passed too quickly for my liking but they have never felt anything less than a blessing. Today, our little arrows aren't so little anymore for certain. They are more like the archer preparing to carry their own quiver of arrows one day. And while Johnny and I are well aware our arrows will leave our tent soon, setting off on adventures, carving out a life and a home of their own soon enough we're not afraid. All we can do now is trust God we have done all we can, raising them to be steady, sharp and skilled arrows with a Bodkin point. I see the love we've instilled in them and I know they are on their way to becoming honorable and good men. Through the years our boys have learned to take their time, to be kind, gentle and forgiving. They know how it feels to be trampled on but they also know the value of generosity and thoughtfulness. You see, Bradley Miller was correct, "Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar." And that lesson will continue to reap blessings for the rest of their lives.
Life Lesson #128 ~ Raising My Tribe is not about the highs or the lows of raising children. It's not about being the better parent or taking pride in a quiver full of strong arrows. No, this is simply a reflection of the days gone by and a glimpse into the hope yet to come as we think of our arrows becoming archers themselves. What Johnny and I have learned by both trial and error is simply what Karyn Purvis believes, "We cannot teach our children something we do not live." And so I pray just as I have done so each and every day of my babies lives, to be an example of Christ to them. Imperfect yes, but with a heart full of unconditional love, and a desire for our children to become strong men loving a great God. Psalm 127:3-5 says, "Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep." And Joshua and Micah are God's best gift, they have given us so much love, hope and even more joy than we could ever describe. They are our arrows, keeping our quiver full, continually pointing us back to His grace and goodness every day. Raising our tribe, well it has been the greatest blessing of my life. One I cannot fully detail without the feelings of gratitude and thankfulness overwhelming me. Our legacy together is found solely in God's generosity. Aim high, shoot for the stars and keep your eyes always on Him our sweet, beautiful arrows. And never forget how much I love you, our family and our tribe!
"You are precious in every way, the sunshine in my day, the joy in my soul and the love of my life." ~Mom