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Father’s Day Superhero Gift


I was on the hunt for a simple, creative and fun idea for Father’s Day this year, and I found just the thing.   I used these printables from AlphaMom to put together a superhero box for the superhero of a Dad that lives at our house.


It was a lot of fun picking items to go with each label.  I ended up making a few of these gifts for different people and it was fun to customize it for each person.  I couldn’t find a wood box that worked, so had to settle for a plastic box instead.  I lined it with white tissue paper so you couldn’t see what was inside it, and it worked out just fine.

This is what it looked like when it was “delivered” to our superhero:


How was it received?


The kids loved watching their Dad open the gift, and gratefully he was funny as could be as he went through each item.  What made the whole thing really amusing was that I thought he knew all along that we had put it together, but it wasn’t until he got to the very last item in the box, a cold can of Hero Juice (Dad’s root beer) that he realized I didn’t just order the box from somewhere.  What tipped him off?  The can was cold.  We all laughed and the group hug he finished with brought a smile to my heart.


One thing I like about these printables is that they don’t actually say anything about Father’s Day on them, so you could use them for a birthday or anytime you need a little thank you gift or pick-me-up for the superhero at your house.  It wasn’t a fancy gift, but it did put a smile on our faces, and the snacks were much enjoyed by my husband.  It was a great gift!



It sums up my heart and life right now.  That one word.  Raw.  And yet there are a thousand words that want to come spilling out, words I’ve buried over and over again, words I wish I could hear, words I wish I could say, words I’m proud of not saying, words I wish I hadn’t heard and hope to forget.


I planned for the school year to end like a race.  You reach the finish line, pause, look around, enjoy the moment a little, then pack up and go home for a few days of quiet while the dust settles and you get back to normal.  I planned it that way, but it certainly hasn’t happened that way.  The past week has been more like a high speed collision of two worlds.  Spinning, merging, clashing.

I’m feeling so many extremes lately, and recognize the Lord’s hand in both the adversity and the little drops of sunlight that keep me going even if they also threaten to break the dam of emotional vulnerability that has built up.  There are so many ways in which we get feedback about our lives, and I suppose having 8 children naturally invites more of it.  There are more people to be commented on, more mistakes to be made, more relationships to maintain.  Little wonder, I suppose, and yet… I am just one person, one mother with one heart.


I have felt lonely and suffocated, forgotten and remembered, isolated and crowded, happy and sad, useless and serviceable, helpless and influential, bitter and grateful, empty and full, embraced and forsaken, calm and chaos.  So many opposites bumping up against each other, sometimes within minutes as I run from one social circle to the next with different children.  The sum of it all?  I feel rubbed raw.  Emotionally, mentally.

I don’t feel strong but must act it anyway because I have no choice but to be it; neither dare I show my weakness to those who feel obligated to remind me of my flaws and those of my children as if we ourselves are clueless about our imperfection.   So you absorb more feedback and move on, tears stinging in your eyes as you blink hard and walk quickly away.  They have no idea how hard I’m trying.

Tonight I was alone in my backyard for a few minutes.  I wandered among my peonies, marvelling at the size of the flowers and beauty of the blooms.  Their beauty brought the tears that life’s slaps couldn’t summon as I wondered honestly if I  could carry on right now in a world without flowers.  I realized that life’s much like gardens, usefulness and beauty growing up right next to the weeds and thorns.  We don’t forsee the thistle that pokes out among the flowers any more than we forsee the challenges that often spring from the midst of our best efforts.  If it is true that we need opposition to appreciate the good and the beautiful, then I’m thankful for such a colorful world right now.  Much as I’ve disliked the stomach ache I’m living with, I would not want a world of gray.


A few lessons I’ve learned:

-How much people do or don’t advertise their problems has NOTHING to do with the number, size or severity of their problems.  Just because they don’t talk about them with us doesn’t mean it’s our job to make sure they know they have them.
-The world has sped up and often feels out of control for many of us.  Because of it, we’re carrying lingering feelings/struggles from one place to another because our lives are without margin.  We’re all experiencing these extremes in our emotions and experiences.  We have no idea when someone is about to snap, so it’s best to just assume that everyone is fragile and treat them gently.
-We will never be sorry for the times we withheld judgement, or on the other side, withheld a scathing reply.  A compassionate or generous word isn’t something we regret.
-Focus on what’s going right.  There’s an awful lot of it if we look around intent on finding it.
-Happiness really does come from within.  And happy people have hard days.

I am so grateful for the generosity of the Lord in my life.  Flowers, children, food to eat, a roof over our heads, a husband who lets me spill the pain of it all in his lap and still loves me, and best of all, a God whose hand firmly holds me at the edge of the cliff, letting me hurt and learn and discover but never sends me hurtling over the edge.

I lay in the grass and looked up at a deep blue sky as I thought about whose opinion really matters.  Not strangers, not friends, not family, not community members who hardly know us.  I care about these opinions, but in the end the one that matters is the Lord’s.   It’s hard to hear his voice when we have so many others speaking loudly next to our ears, but I know it’s in there somewhere.  Tomorrow my #1 job will be to tune the others out and tune in to what he’s saying.  Maybe I’ll hear the whisper I’ve been craving:  “I know you’re doing your best.  You’re doing a good job.  I will help you make your best better.  I love you.  You are good enough for me.”  I know He can do it.  He is, after all, the God who carpets our world with flowers.


Because of that realignment of voices and volumes, I remember that in the not-so-distant future this will all be a memory.  Things will have settled in their proper places and life will have moved on.  Hopefully we’ll be better people for it, and hopefully I’ll be a kinder person because of it.  Everything will turn out and we can be certain that God will always give us opportunities to grow.

For that I am grateful.

P.S.  My lavender is budding… happy sigh!


I Believe in Santa Claus

Sometimes we feel like there are two opposing messages of Christmas; the religious celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth and the commercialized worship of Santa Claus.  I love the book,  I Believe in Santa Claus (by Diane G. Adamson and illustrated by M. Chad Randall) because it focuses on ways in which Santa teaches us about Christ.

With very simple sentences, this book compares six basic qualities of Santa with six basic qualities of Jesus.  In each comparison we are invited to consider how Santa reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.

For instance, on one page we read of Santa:  “He loves little children.”  When, in turn, we are invited to think about what Jesus is like, we also read, “He loves little children.”

The closing of the book says, “Santa Claus is a symbol of Christmas.  The symbols of Christmas can remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.  The symbols of Christmas remind me of Christ.  So, I believe in Santa Claus.”

A few of the things I like about this book:
Very few words, and straightforward statements.  I also like the illustrations, the list of Christmas symbols and scriptures at the end of the book, as well as the statement by the author at the end.  I love having another tool in our home to merge the idea of Santa Claus with the message and meaning of Christmas.   My children enjoy reading it and it provides opportunities to discuss attributes of both Santa and the Savior that we can strive to emulate, such as being the kind of people who give good gifts and who love others.

And, for the record, I, too, believe in Santa Claus!

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