When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Happy 9th birthday, Parker

Dear Parker,

As the years rush past, it becomes more and more difficult to write this annual birthday post.  Not for lack of material, mind you.  I am no longer simply recording physical milestones and cute anecdotes.  You are such a complex little/big guy these days.  Your heart and thoughts run deep.  Your questions are thoughtful and hard to answer.  

You are changing every day.  It seems the bend in my elbow when I rest my hand on your head is a little more pronounced each day.  Your legs nearly touch the floor when you sit on my lap.  How is that possible?  You can run and play and sweat in this Singapore heat and humidity for hours on end, launching Nerf attacks, swimming, and exploring with your friends.  

You are into music and video games which we strictly monitor.  There is plenty of junk out there that you will hear and see soon enough.  You've been exposed to bits of it here and there, but for the most part, you maintain a sweet innocence that brings tears to my eyes.

You are a humble leader.  You love to lead a little gang of "troops" around at school and in the neighborhood and are quick to make sure everyone feels included.  You are still my sensitive guy who can be wounded by the unkind words of a peer.  

It is hard being the oldest in the house.  There are times you want to watch shows that your siblings find boring because they aren't animated.  You often have one or two brothers begging to tag along in your war games.  Your Lego creations are unintentionally destroyed by tiny, playful hands when you are at school (and mom is busy).

You are a master negotiator, an experienced fort builder, a young seeker of truth and God, a cunning business man, a loyal friend, a Lego master, a terrible liar, a kind brother, and the best 9 year old son a mom could ask for.   It is my joy and my privilege to be called your momma.

All my love,

Your last night as an 8 year old 

Your family birthday picture.  Sorry.


Keeping my phone a phone

Hello, my name is Jessie, and I'm addicted to my iPhone.

I resisted smartphones for many years.  I am not technologically savvy.  I didn't want apps.  I didn't need bells and whistles.  However, when it took me twenty minutes to return a text because I had to press the number 7 four times to get to the letter "s," I relented.

I naively thought I would simply use the phone, texting, and maybe the camera, only on special occasions, of course.  Ha!  Four million pictures (and Facebook posts) later, I find myself jumping at every "ding," as texts come through confirming or canceling playdates, doctor appointments pop up, and field trip notifications blare.

Enough, iPhone!  Enough!  Uncle!  I cringe when you are dropped.  My heart skips a beat when you are caught in the rain.  I have lost you more than once, and the panic that ensues may very well be the cause of at least some of my white hairs.  You have been my constant companion for too long.  You follow me on dates (so I can be available if the sitter needs to reach us), and then tempt me with you Facebook notifications while I order.  How many times have I mumbled, "Uh huh," while a sweet little voice prattles on beside me, meanwhile my eyes are trained on a tiny screen and my fingers are tapping to reply to that Evite invitation for so-and-so's birthday party?

I say it again, ''Enough!"  You were designed for me.  Not the other way around.  Somehow in my fear that I would miss something, that the balls I'm juggling would fall, that I would offend someone by not responding quickly enough, I allowed myself to become your slave.  I can no longer justify my continual state of distraction.  No more!  I will be present - with my God, my husband, my kids, and my friends.

And you, iPhone?  You are on probation.  You can stick around for now.  Your new place will be on my desk with the ringer turned up high.  If someone needs me, they can CALL.  If someone texts me, they can WAIT.  (I will take a set amount of time each night to read and respond to texts and emails.)  I'm going old school.  I'm going to carry around a little notebook, and as I think of things I need to do throughout the day (emails to return, gifts to mail, play dates to plan), I will *gasp* WRITE IT DOWN.  It can be entered later.  That calendar hanging on the wall in the kitchen is about to get a lot more attention.

You can join me when I'm out and about...in case the school (or someone else) CALLS.  You can be my camera from time to time, but you can't be my friend anymore.  And if I can't stick to my new rules, who knows?  I may just need to get a flip phone again...