Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Used to Know A Lot of Things

I used to think I knew a lot of things. Enough important things to fill the Epcot Center Globe at Disney.

Things, I thought, nobody else knew--things that people were just waiting to read in my book titled "All Things You Could Possibly Want To Know In The Universe."

Then when I got married and started having kids, that book slowly condensed over the years to the length of the Copy Right sentence: "There's Really Just One Thing I Know About And Here It Is..."

I thought I knew all about the love of God, but then I became a mom and a wife.

And I realized there is nothing quite as spectacular as the miracle of a child's/parent's/spouse's unconditional love.

To share life with a spouse whom you continually choose to love is a miracle.

It's easy to unconditionally love your kid. Especially when she's ready to meet THE Princess Belle for the first time ever!!

And when both of them are smiling and happy and cute and their clothes are clean and they are so grateful to you for taking them to Disney World...

But then that loving gets a little inconvenient at times...

especially when it's 90 degrees and we've just waited for an hour to meet Rapunzel.

Or when kids start to get tired and don't want to wear their crown or Mickey Ears or their clothes or stay in the backpack or walk on the ground anymore.

But even when love becomes inconvenient or tiring or a bit more self-less than we initially signed up for...

...God has given us the Big Unconditional Never Stopping Love to get us through those sleepless nights or the fever-pitch screaming in the line of "It's A Small World".

And like childbirth, you tend to forget the tough times when you get to kiss little cheeks like these.

A little laughing always helps, too.

All those things I previously thought I knew so much about (marriage, parenting, health, church, friendships, relationships, blah blah blah) began to pale in comparison to the ONE thing I've learned in the past (almost) ten years of marriage and parenting.

Love is a big deal.

Loving God, loving others, loving Mickey.

So while I know far less than I used to, I believe I've come to learn more about the One Thing that could affect and change our lives forever.

And I'd like to thank my husband and kids for helping me learn that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Be Rich

We have a lot of birthdays at the Goodwin Household.

Actually, only four, but they do come once a year, so we're looking at quite a few birthday parties.

And each birthday party comes with the obligatory gifts from all the friends and family of the birthday recipient. Including lots of cake.

While Canaan and Shiloh would love to have birthday presents and eat their cake too, we decided to go a different route.

Each year, we give up our birthdays.

At first glance, it may seem like we're the type of parents that don't let their kids watch that one Disney Movie where if you watch it in slow motion something PG-13 happens or we boycott Cabbage Patch Dolls because of some political stance that happened back in the 80's. Or those parents that tell their kids watermelon is actually a dessert and aren't you lucky to eat as much of it as you want.

We do let our kids eat cupcakes. Especially to celebrate our favorite people.

And we do have Cabbage Patch Kids.

We just feel like there's more to life than stuff.

Could a birthday party just be a celebration of life?

And while we're at it, bring a pool toy to donate to our local kids-at-risk home, the TurnAround Kids.

A lollipop, two cupcakes, the jumpy thing in the lake, and all your friends are better than getting eight more Barbies.

Okay, maybe a few presents since they've been desperate to have a Rapunzel dress and a new teapot.

But what if every friend brought a gift for our kids? That's a lot of stuff.

Sure, kids love stuff. I love stuff. Everybody loves stuff.

But what if we could put all our stuff together to make a BIG difference in someones life? When all that stuff is finally released (from our hands/wallets/closets/pinata) it could make a life-changing impact.

And what if your friends and family saw the impact that has? What if THEY started doing it too??

A ripple made by a little girl is just as powerful as a ripple made by us grown-ups.

Ripples made by two little girls are even better.

Because their ripple has changed the lives of these kids.

Of Kelsey and Sedrick and Yasmeen and Cibias and Quentin and Caden and Antoinette...

We'd like to leave an impression on our kids to "do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share" (1 Timothy 6:18)

And giving away our birthdays is a great first step.

We encourage your family to give and serve--to be rich in good deeds. The TurnAround Kids is a local home for kids and can be found at . Watermarke and all the North Point campuses have launch an awesome campaign to partner with local organizations to give and serve. Check that out at

Whatever you do, do it big.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


In our family, love is a big deal. So we try and teach that a lot.

Fostering a sense of sisterly love: it's like Will Ferrel's Motivational Juggling Routine in The Office.

While balancing Shiloh in one arm, seven barbies in the other, walking up the stairs to get the laundry, making sure Canaan doesn't fall down the stairs since she's donned the Belle Gown and her pumps, at the same time as making a motivational speech about how biting someones finger and saying "I thought it was a snack" is not ok--that is the Motivational Juggling Routine I live.

Holidays such as the Fourth of July provide a perfect opportunity to encourage our motto, "Love God and Love Others (primarily your sister right now.)"

We use a variety of techniques to instill love, such as the old Comparison of Your Situation Discussion, "You think you're mad about not being able to sit in the left stroller seat since Shiloh's sitting there? Think about how the Patriots during the American Revolution felt after their taxes were unjustly raised! LOOK!! A Fair Tax float coming down the street right now!!"

A good float can make anyone feel more loving.

And also the 107 degree weather dulls the senses so that you don't really feel much of anything else.

Loving others includes babies like Dawson (Cassie and Craig Gentry's little boy). Loving is easy when the recipient sleeps 95% of the time.

I think that's why God chose to teach us about the unconditional love between a parent and a child beginning when the child is mostly asleep for the first few weeks.

Because unconditional love is put to the test when there are major messes involved. Of course I still love you, but do I like the fact that I just ________ (swept, mopped, gave you a bath, cleaned this kitchen, vacuumed that carpet, cleaned out the car...) and now there is ________ (ground up crackers, unexplainable flour scattered, finger paint smeared, lentil beans squashed...) everywhere?

Is "unconditional like" similar to "unconditional love"? Completely different?? Not sure.

But then I look at this little face and the noodle-shrapneled floor and I think, "This is what it's like when, despite the messes we've made in our life time, God still looks at us and says, 'I'm crazy about that kid.'"

Love for our friends: Canaan learns this lesson aboard the boat with the Bardin's.

Despite the fact that her life jacket was circa 1972 and Gracie and Joy's had sassy designs and met the Coast Guard weight/height requirements, Canaan learns an important lesson: love knows no fashion.

Is it okay to love someone especially more if you're secretly hoping he'll marry your daughter one day? Is that, in fact, the epitome of "conditional love"?

Love between a Pop-pop and his granddaughter is very genuine--poor guy had three sons and now has three granddaughters with little to no previous experience of dressing Barbies or matching crowns to earrings or h0w to deal with high pitched screaming fits. But love covers a multitude of shortcomings. Good thing, too.

You may be familiar with the trusty "Five Love Languages." In our household, we've added a few more.

The Goodwin Family Love Languages

1. Danger--we both give and receive this one. Perching your young children on a tall rock for a photo shoot shows that a.) I love you enough to take a picture one handed while spotting you with the other, strategically out of the picture so I won't need to photo edit later. b.) you love me enough to trust me when I say, "If you fall, we'll probably have to call 911." Danger provides that perfect opportunity to show how much we really love each other.

2. Squirrels: when we see a squirrel, we are reminded of our high energy three year old. Constantly on the move, thinking of and implementing a "great idea", and able to jump great distances without a thought as to if I'm going to make it or not. We also think of our crafty one year old, who can hide items in places that will be sure to remain hidden for a few months or so. Like the Little People we find in coffee cups, or the cow in the bottom shelf of the fridge, or the blocks in the cat's water bowl.

And so squirrels remind us of the crazy love we have for our girls.

3. Tickling: a favorite among the younger children, tickling produces instant happiness, thus erasing the negative feelings related to time out, or the loss of the mermaid's tail under the couch again, or the frequently heard "No more sugar for you" response, or the fact that I do have to change your diaper many times a day whether you like it or not, or even the old Nemesis: Bed Time. Tickling makes love easy.

4. Cleaning up your own mess: one that Tim looks forward to every day of his life. Whether it's using a fork the entire meal or not taking apart the sandwich and just licking the jelly off one side or simply wiping your own face after dinner, this love language speaks especially loudly for him.

But despite the daily (and insanely numerous) messes we clean up every day, life is full of way more love when those kids are in the picture--jelly smeared face and all.

Before kids, I thought I loved other people pretty well. But in the back of my mind there was usually a condition, "As long as they..."

Having kids proved that I had no idea what unconditional love was all about.

Poop under my fingernail again? Not a second thought. Perpetual ants under your high chair thanks to throwing food on the ground every day? No problem. Not as much time to do what I want to do anymore? Somethings come up that's a little better than that.

Loving others.