Sunday, June 29, 2014


Last Friday was the last day of school. What better way to celebrate the conclusion of a year of school than with a picnic at High Park with the Clary kids. Followed by ice cream, of course. A simple but perfect evening.

To the two 4 year old boys who have graduated from Junior to Senior Kindergarten, well done, little men! And to the 6 year old boy who has graduated from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 1, way to go! Congratulations on a great year, little ones. We love you all so much.

Friday, June 27, 2014


It's Sunday morning and I'm rushing to get out the door on time. Breakfast is finished, the kitchen is cleaned, and the kids are all dressed and ready to go. Because we're having people over after church, I'm not just trying to get us out the door but also trying to keep the house reasonably tidy in the process. I pop upstairs quickly to get changed myself and to grab an extra change of clothes for the newly potty trained 2 year old. As I'm doing this I hear the voice of my 4 year old calling up to me. "Um, Mom, you should come down here. Ella's doing something crazy."

Sighing and glancing at the clock, I come downstairs and into the kitchen where Josh is standing looking rather helplessly at the scene unfolding in front of him.

The kitchen floor is covered in tin foil, saran wrap, and parchment paper. It's everywhere. I can barely see the floor underneath. How is it even possible that she made a mess like this in a mere couple of minutes? 

Because we're rushing to leave, because I'm a parent who struggles with impatience to begin with, because tin foil and saran wrap and parchment paper aren't cheap, and because I'm just plain old annoyed that Ella has chosen this moment to do this new thing, I feel a surge of angry frustration. 

I'm quick to become angry with my child.

In that moment, for reasons that I can't explain or maybe just because of His intervening grace, I didn't immediately swoop in with angry words and impatient gestures. I just stood there in silent frustration.

In that moment of quiet, Ella turned to look up at me. Her sweet, impish face was sparkling with joy and, with a sweeping gesture to the shiny curly twirly "mess" around her, said, "Look what I made for you, Mommy. Isn't it beautiful? I made it just for you."

The Slow-to-Anger Parent Doesn't Assume Heart Motive

Why are we so quick to assume motive and assign malicious intention when it comes to our children? In other relationships in our lives we are more careful to at least try to hope the best about people. And yet with our precious often innocent little ones, we can be so quick to assign motive and assume that the reason they've made a mess or done whatever it is they've done is because they're just trying to be little jerks messing up our plans. I mean, of course we'd never actually say that or even think that. But when we jump to conclusions and are so quick to get angry at them, that's essentially what we're doing.

We're assuming the worst about small people who have given us every reason in the world to assume the best. My children love me. Your children love you. Sure they're not perfect and they even sin against us at times. But when we're honest, so many of the times when we respond in quick, ungracious, angry impatience, our children have been innocent of any wrong heart motive. That should matter to us. Our children's hearts should matter to us. And sometimes when we're quick to become angry we don't even allow an opportunity to find out the motive of their heart.

The Slow-to-Anger Parent Replaces Anger with Love

When I think back to that moment in my kitchen with my daughter, it wasn't just that being slow to anger was a right response or a wise response. It was also a life-giving, love-producing response. When we're slow to get angry, sometimes this beautiful exchange happens. Our anger isn't merely repressed or replaced with indifference. Often in that moment of quiet, of slowing down the response, anger is replaced with compassion and tenderness.

We might still be annoyed. But when we're willing to change the rhythm and pattern of our instinctive anger, it's almost like we're given a moment to clearly see the amazing little person standing before us. With Ella that morning, I was still annoyed at the mess, in some ways. But I wasn't angry. In pausing, in being slow to anger instead of reacting in anger, I was given the time to listen, to see, to love, and to change my response to one of grace.

That morning in my kitchen, as Ella and I cleaned up her creative expression side by side and put things back in their proper place, the words of instruction and discipline were likely much the same as they would have been if I had spoken them in anger. The content probably wasn't all that different, but the tone was altogether changed. Instead of angry sounding words, they were soft, gentle sounding words.

The Slow-to-Anger Parent has a Perfect Fatherly Example

One of the most beautiful descriptions of a father is found in Psalm 103. We see this picture of a Dad who is patient, kind, gentle, and compassionate. The words of this song remind us that our Father has compassion on us, in part, because when He looks at us He remembers our frailty and weakness. Shouldn't we do the same? Shouldn't I, as a mother, look at my 2 year old or 4 year old or 6 year old and remember that they're children, that they're young, that they're learning? Shouldn't I have a heart controlled not by anger but by compassion?
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:13-14
That's our model. In our parenting, we imitate Him. We look at our children in the good moments and the bad alike, and we're compassionate toward them. A few verses earlier in that same psalm King David writes these words about our Father:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. ~ Psalm 103:8
In Christ, that's the Father each one of us belongs to and that's the kind of earthly parent each one of us should long to more and more become. Merciful. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Four year old Joshua is one of the most affectionate, sweet people that I know. He readily and regularly speaks words of love and affection. But on occasion, when I've told Josh how much he means to me, rather than reciprocating the affection, he'll simply share with me what's on his mind at the moment. 

If you're reading these stories years from now, Joshua, I just want you to know that you're one of the most loving, affectionate children I've ever met. These two moments were simply moments of delightful, childlike honesty where, rather than you telling me what was socially expected, you shared with me what was on your heart. I loved these conversations. I loved them so much that I'm writing them down here so that I don't forget.

The Brown Blanket

Between the ages of 2 and 4, Josh had a brown blanket that he cherished beyond all other possessions. He loved this brown blanket of his. It was soft. It was cuddly. It was warm. He needed it every night to go to sleep, and every afternoon for naps. Each morning he'd come down the stairs with his brown blanket tightly wrapped around his frame. This brown blanket traveled with us on every family trip, and was a treasured item that we'll tuck away and save, so that Josh can pass it along to one of his own children one day. 

His love for this blanket is the context for this story.

One night after bedtime stories I was tucking Josh in and, hugging him close, I whispered, 'I love you so, so much, Joshua James Galotti. I am so thankful for you, my son." Joshua rearranged his arms and hands around my face so that he could whisper a response. As his face came close to mine, as he leaned in close just as I had done, he whispered, 'I am so thankful for my brown blanket!'

One of my Favorite Things in the Whole World

The three kids and I were walking home from school. Ella was in the stroller, Jake meandered up ahead a little bit and, as usual, Josh walked along beside me, holding my hand. For a small guy, Josh has big hands, and I love the feel of them safely held inside my own. 

As we walked, I found myself enjoying the feel of his hand nestled in mine, and I told him so. 'You know what's one of my favorite things in the whole world, Joshy? Holding your hand.' Giving my hand an affectionate squeeze, Josh responded. 'You Know what's one of MY favorite things in the whole world, Mommy? Motorcycles." 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


It's hard to believe that another school year is drawing to a close. Even though we're so excited for the upcoming weeks of summer holiday, there's always something a little bit bittersweet about the marked passing of time as a school year comes to an end. For our family, this year, the bittersweet quality is all the more pronounced since we will be saying goodbye to the amazing community of Indian Road Crescent Public School. We are so thankful for the staff and faculty of this school, and will remember these early years of school with such sweetness and fondness.

Below, their wonderful principal, who knew both boys by name before they even started kindergarten. She's been a wonderful leader in this school, and we give thanks for her.

We're also so thankful for the boys' teachers this year. Jake, with Ms. Vandermeer, and Josh, with Ms. Maddison.

And of course, such a central part of life for me and Ella has continued to be Ms. Lesley in the Parenting Centre. Since Ella and I will be back next year, this is only goodbye for the summer. 

Below are some pictures of what Jake and Josh do every day after school: pick up soccer with a bunch of their buddies. 

Below are the pictures from Jake's Sr. Kindergarten Graduation this morning. It was such a sweet time of celebration

Thursday, June 19, 2014


A couple weeks ago my little sister and I spent an evening watching Toronto’s National Ballet Company perform Cinderella. It was exquisite. Everything about the evening was as close to perfect as could be. My sister and I were together, the city was bustling with the energy of summer, inside the theatre the orchestra’s music swelled and filled, and the dancers were magical in their retelling of a timeless fairytale.

The closing curtain fell and my sister and I stood to applaud. When a performance is magnificent, when the dancers have left everything onstage, when they’ve invited us into their world and we’ve let them into ours, there’s almost a mystical connection. Though they danced for a full house, for an audience of hundreds, they also danced just for us. It’s personal, somehow. My sister and I clapped until our arms hurt and our hands ached.

As we left the theatre and began walking through the downtown of our city, my sister looked at me and said, “Why don’t we do stuff like this more? We live in a city that has symphonies and operas, musicals and world class ballet companies. If we were tourists, we’d do as much of this as we could. It’s so easy to take it all for granted. We should start living as though we don’t live here.”

We should start living as though we don’t live here. 

Those words have lingered because my sister’s right. She’s right in the literal sense that, as those who love the arts, we should enjoy what Toronto offers. But the truth of her words apply much more broadly, as well. They’re words that are true about life.

We should live life as though we’re visitors on this earth, as though we don’t live here, as though our time here is short and precious. We should live like we’re tourists passing through town because that is what we actually are.

Our time is finite. We live short lives with eternity stretching endlessly on either side. We inhale. We exhale. And then like a breath we’re gone.

If this is true, why do we spend so much of our time doing things with little value? It’s a timeless question with a variety of answers. But one answer is this: Maybe we squander the gift of time because we fail to realize what a precious gift it actually is. Maybe we need to start living as though we don’t actually live here.

We fail to do this whenever we wait till tomorrow to enjoy what He holds out to us today. Tomorrow I’ll change. Tomorrow I’ll slow down. Tomorrow I’ll choose what is right. It’s a common refrain, isn’t it? We promise ourselves that tomorrow we’ll live differently, enjoy deeply, or make the right choice.

But that’s not how time works. Time is always in the present. Today. Right now. This day’s time is a finite gift with infinite possibility because of limitless grace. The promise of I’ll do it tomorrow is always elusive because the only real choice for how we use our time is right now.

If I ever move away from this city I call home, it would be so sad to look back and see a pattern of missed opportunities and wasted time. I may never move from Toronto, but I will surely move on from this life to the next. I want to live on this earth—this day—as though I’m a tourist passing through town.

What does that mean, though? What ways should I start living life as though I won’t live here forever? What ways should I better use the finite time I’ve been given?

Should I read to my children more? Should I be on Facebook less? Should I call my Dad and Mom more often? Should I spend less time online and more time communing with my Creator? Should I rest earlier each night and rise earlier each morning? Should I pray longer and read God’s word more? Should I spend less time serving myself and more time serving others? Should I go to the ballet with my little sister again soon?

Though simplistic, in some ways our lives can be reduced to fractions of time that, when pieced together, create the whole. Right living is often not about creating new categories or radically changing everything, but about changing the ratio—changing certain things from less to more and other things from more to less.

It’s a timeless lament, these thoughts about how quickly time passes and how to use the time we’re given. But it’s pure grace when we feel how finite it all is because sometimes it’s only then, only when we feel time quietly passing by, that we start living life in light of eternity.

Because really, we’re all just visitors passing through.

Monday, June 9, 2014


For mothers with young children, there seems to be a trend in the message that we speak, hear, and read about our days in motherhood: it’s hard. I’m deeply thankful to belong to a generation of women and an online community of moms who are not afraid to honestly speak about the challenges and sorrows of motherhood. In the many moments of struggle, it’s a source of encouragement to know that I’m not alone and that my struggle is common and shared.

But while it’s a blessing, for sure, to belong to this generation of honest, transparent mothers who aren’t pretending life’s a breeze, it sometimes feels like the pendulum has swung a little too far and that there’s become a bit of an imbalance not just in the articles we write and read or the things we say, but even in our own hearts.

It’s almost like we’ve imbibed this motherhood mantra that goes something like this: “motherhood is hard, but it’s rewarding.” And while that’s true, and while it’s a good thing that we never pretend perfection and readily affirm the challenges, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bit of an imbalanced message.

Motherhood is not just hard but rewarding, motherhood is also a lot of fun!

Sure, not all days are picnics and playgrounds and stories. But a lot of days are. This season of life with young kids will pass quickly and we don’t want to get to the end of it and realize we’ve spent more time meditating on the difficulties than reflecting on the joys.

We want to honestly acknowledge that days spent with young children can be hard. But we want to be balanced and make sure we’re also talking about the fun, lightheaded things that fill so many of our days.

Do we too quickly affirm the “hard, but worth it” challenges of motherhood but then forget to also affirm how crazy fun this job is? It’s not one or the other. Motherhood is both.We don’t want to miss that.

As mothers, we want to cultivate hearts that overflow into words voicing both the challenges and the joys of this job. We want to remind each other that this job we get to do is not just gruelling and hard, but often light, wonderful, funny, playful, and fun.

A couple days ago my two kindergarten aged boys had a day off from school. After cleaning up from breakfast and doing a few chores around the house, we packed a bag with snacks, a picnic blanket, some books, and a couple of softballs and gloves. Then we loaded the bikes and stroller into the car and drove down to the water. We spent the next four hours down by Lake Ontario in the warmth of a beautiful June day, walking, riding, playing, reading. At some point during the day it struck me afresh how this—walking along the water, reading to my kids on a blanket under a tree, eating fresh strawberries and cucumbers, watching the ducks and swans beside three of my favorite people in the world—is my work! Taking care of my children all day is, albeit sometimes hard, a pretty awesome job.

Balance is key. Some days motherhood is hard and we’re stretched thin; other days motherhood is light, fun and playful. We want to be women who write and talk about both, because sometimes we'll be used to encourage others not only when we show empathy, but also when we show enthusiasm. In my own life, I've been encouraged not only by those mothers who transparently share their struggles, but also those who have an infectious joy and excitement about what they spend their days doing.

Life isn’t a picnic, except that sometimes it actually is. And when it is, we want to be happy and give thanks.