Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Category: Family (page 1 of 10)

Supporting Your Kid’s Interests

spell bowlDo you ever have moments where you wonder how your kid can be so different from you?

Recently, I’ve had several friends post pictures on Facebook of their kids reading by choice during their free time. As someone who values books, I indeed find these photos share-worthy. I will admit, when I see them, I have this small, fleeting thought of, “Where did I go wrong?” I have my library science degree, read all of the time, and neither one of my boys could provide me a photo opportunity like this. They are both excellent readers, and my oldest read voraciously until the end of fifth grade, then it came to a halt. He read his tail off all of his fifth grade year to earn an award for a reading program they have at their school called Accelerated Reader. The previous year they had honored the top ten readers at the awards ceremony at the end of the year. They decided not to give that award this particular year, so all of his hard work went unrecognized. He refused to pick up a book all summer long. As a former teacher, I felt horrified that my kid went a whole 8 weeks without reading a single thing, but I worried that forcing the issue would only make him resent it even more.

My husband was an amazing trumpet player. One of our kids plays, but can take it or leave it. It’s not a passion. I didn’t participate in any sports, but my oldest enjoys track. I didn’t love sitting in the cold rain a time or two for meets, but I’m pleased he wants to be a part of a team and do something physical.

Our youngest wants to be on the spell bowl team. This requires studying 25 words a night, every night for about six weeks with no guarantee of making the team. I was a good speller, but never had a chance to do something like this. I may lose my mind quizzing him on the words, but I appreciate his interest and perseverance.

I have a friend whose daughter recently made the cheerleading squad. She confessed that just about everything about cheerleading is unfamiliar/unappealing to her (her sport was swimming), but her daughter loves it, so she is along for the ride.

Sometimes what we envision or hope for our children doesn’t become reality. Sometimes our kids’ interests push us outside of our own comfort zones. What is most important to me, as their mother, is to shape my children into the people God created them to be. And, I suppose one of the reasons I care about this topic is because as a teacher I saw some students forced into activities that they didn’t enjoy or care about because it was their parent’s interest, and not their own.

Admittedly, it is easier to cheer your child on when you share the love of the activity, but don’t let your passions overshadow your child’s. Kids can do amazing things when they are allowed to pursue the things that naturally drive them.

Letting Your Light Shine

“Mom, will you help me fill out this question? It says, ‘Describe the qualities you possess that would make you a good ambassador.'”

My youngest was completing an application for school for a role that is in some ways like a student council member. He was the ambassador for his other elementary school in second grade and loved the job. He was taking the process quite seriously.

I gave him a couple of examples of things to list so he knew what was expected. He carefully and painstakingly wrote out his qualities. I walked over and looked over his shoulder. It read, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, trustworthy, and brilliant.” A smile crept over my face.

Initially, I thought about saying, “Hey, buddy. Brilliant might not be the best word in this situation.” But, I stopped myself. Why not? Of course, as his mama, I do think of him as brilliant, yet somehow the word has a bit of a bragging tone to it, right?

“Ahhh!” he exclaimed. “I was supposed to do it in cursive. He began furiously erasing the words, and then proceeded to even more carefully make his list.

Later, after he had already packed it away, I went to take a picture of it (that’s what bloggers do when they think they might have a good blog post in the works). When I looked at the paper this time it said, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, and trustworthy.” Brilliant was sadly out of the picture. Somehow, without me even saying anything, his gut told him it shouldn’t be included.

One of the definitions of brilliant is to be exceptionally clever or talented. Even if we are truly brilliant at something, our culture teaches us not to share that out loud with other people. We might describe our family, friends, or even strangers with that word, but certainly not ourselves.

However, there is another definition of brilliant which is “very bright or radiant.” This is something I think everyone of us should strive for.  In Philippians 2:14-15 we read: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Additionally, Matthew 5:16 tells us: “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

If you are reading this and you are a Christian, you are an ambassador. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, it actually says this: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

There has been crazy stuff in the news lately about people claiming to be Christians, yet spreading messages of hate. This is in direct opposition to what we read in scripture. Our light is to shine brilliantly, pointing the way to a Creator God and displaying His glory.

Friends, regardless of your religious beliefs, we all have a light. We can all shine in such a way to spread kindness, inclusion, acceptance, and grace. Who are you not to be brilliant?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. —Marianne Williamson

Together, we can make a difference.


Handprints on the Window

When is the last time you waited for something with eager anticipation?

I doubt many of you reading this enjoy spring cleaning, but I’m sure there might be some of you out there that get excited about it. As of this week, spring has officially sprung, and with that brings the need for a few extra tasks around the home. One of the main tasks that usually tops my list is cleaning the windows inside and out. Ugh.

Our front window in the living room is the biggest and tends to get the dirtiest. I sighed as I began to clean off the handprints and fingerprints coated on the inside. Not only was I having to clean the window, but the curtains too. Grubby hands had pulled them back one too many times, and who knows what stains were contained in the fibers.

“I have a 9 and 12-year-old. When in the world will they stop smearing their fingers all over the place?” I wondered as I sprayed the glass cleaner.

Suddenly, as I scrubbed, I felt a powerful nudging in my heart to be grateful for those little prints. First, they are an indication of life inside our home, and more specifically, the life of young people that are growing all too quickly. There will come a day that I will be sad to have immaculate windows. Truly, I will.

Secondly, and a thought that was even a bit more sobering, was that those prints represent anticipation. How did they get there in the first place? They got there from the times my kids ran to the window to see who had arrived at our house. Long minutes spent waiting for friends coming over to play. Standing at attention as they longed for their dad’s truck to pull in the driveway coming home from a business trip. Hoping for the mail truck to arrive (do postal workers realize how much joy they often bring people?). Birthday party days where the boys eagerly awaited family and friends to join us. Hands pressed against the window as one or the other of them waited for grandparents to show up and take them somewhere. I can hear the calls from the living room…”How more minutes, mom?” “When did they say they would be here?”

Over the years, time has been spent at that window watching the garbage truck do its job, awestruck. Watching construction equipment in neighbors’ yards. Gazing at the moon or at a sunset. Observing a snowfall or rainstorm.

I long for that kind of anticipation and wonder in my life. Why do we lose it? Does it slowly fade, or is it there one day and gone the next? What is it in us that disappears that no longer spurs us to place our hands against the glass?

My mind wandered to this topic in relation to my faith. Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Is this true of you? Could you honestly say this? Sometimes I think I get too complacent in my faith. I need to make known the things that I yearn for to God, then sit back in hopeful expectation. I miss the childlike days of longing.

Think about it. What are some things you anticipate? What do you long for? If that question is hard to answer, maybe, like me, you need to make some adjustments. Call a friend so you can look forward to having dinner or coffee. Plan a get together so you can await your guests. Sign up to volunteer somewhere so you can wake up ready to make a difference in someone’s life. Investing in others can be a great cure for a lack of excitement or purpose. I feel that anticipation on Thursdays when I am getting ready to meet the teen girls that I mentor. Also, on Friday mornings, when I walk in the church where my roomful of young mamas will be and I wonder just how God is going to show up that day to prompt them to make changes in their lives and in their homes. I can picture myself on those days with my face pressed up against the glass.

I love how God can take a moment of frustration and turn it  into something beautiful. Remember, many of the messes we deal with exist because of the beautiful life that surrounds us.


Those fingerprints on the window
Made by sticky hands
Make you shake your head right now
But one day you will understand.
Palms pressed longingly to the glass
Made with an eager heart
Waiting for dreams to be fulfilled
You will miss them when they depart.
As you wipe them away offer praises
For they will disappear by and by
Soften your heart to anticipation
Let it become your soul’s cry.





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