Category: Boys & Marriage – 31 Days 2017

Skip the Instructions


There is no manual that comes with parenting.  That said, my son, I will fail you.  I came into parenting with preconceived notions, as I do in many situations, and I realize I don’t have a clue.  But I do know I must learn to study you.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Play in puddles.
  • Jump on the trampoline daily.
  • Love dogs.
  • Enjoy books.
  • Share a common interest.
  • Explore everything.
  • Have no fear.
  • Experiment doing things yourself.
  • Voice your opinion.
  • Slow down and swing twice a day.
  • Laugh so hard until you don’t remember why you started.

Photo by Betsy Markwald



Webster defines fraud as “an act of deceiving or misrepresenting” or “a person who is not what he or she pretends to be.”

I came across this term twice in one day by two different authors–Sheryl Sandberg and Brene Brown.  I never really gave the term a second thought until now.

When I speak in Spanish, people assume I’m fluent.  Fraud.

When I write each day and hit “Publish,” what do I hear?  Fraud.

When I talk with a friend who is struggling in marriage…Fraud.

When I brainstorm creative ideas and how to improve the world around me…Fraud.

When I voice my opinion…Fraud.

When I consider using my talent in a new way…Fraud.

When I discipline my son…Fraud.

How do we battle the onslaught of this particular lie?  Remember who you are.  So much of our energy is spent trying to prove something or worrying what others will think.  Remember where the lie comes from so you can fight it with truth.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”    John 10:10 (AMP)

My Next Fix

next fix

I’m a “next thing” junkie.  Always looking forward to the next trip, the next activity, the next social event, the next fix.  When I don’t have it, well, I’m bored.

When I moved to a new country, sure, that was one long “next thing.”  But the high wore off when I realized how limited I was without language, work, friends or family.  I was frustrated every time I wanted to do something and couldn’t communicate my desire or find where I wanted to go.  So I found myself alone and bored a lot.

Oswald Chambers says “A true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.”

This season has been teaching me just that.  I have to work at cutting myself off from “the next thing.”  I am learning to stop hunting the extraordinary and stop fighting the ordinary.

So yes, my days may be spent on hold with customer service or hours waiting at the vet.  Definitely nothing extraordinary.  But I’m seeing what’s in front of me as I begin to recover.  There are people around me who are in the ordinary, and alone too.

Who are we in the ordinary moments?

This Is The Day


Many mornings throughout my childhood, I was awakened to blinding sunlight as my mom sang “This is the Day”.  In response, I would groan, hide under the covers and wonder where she got that annoying joy from each morning.

Now, as an adult and a mom, I realize it’s a choice.  More importantly, it’s a discipline.  In my experience, it’s much easier to vent in search for sympathy rather than to think about my words or attitude.

King David in Psalm 34 declares:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

We see David practice this discipline throughout his writings in Psalms.  What would it look like if praise was always on our lips?

He goes on to to invite the afflicted to join him.  What?  I’d like to think I am one to practice praise and thanksgiving.  In reality, I’m more prone to do so when or if things are going well, rather than in the midst of affliction.

When I complain, I’m inviting others into my misery.  I’m rarely considering how I can invite them to praise.

Author, Greg Ogden, states, “If we see praise only as giving God compliments, then we miss the everyday nature of praise.  Enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise.  We go to an enjoyable movie and speak its praises.  When my wife and I take a Sunday-afternoon drive on a spectacular day, we keep saying to each other, ‘Look at that.’ Praise not only expresses our joy, it completes it.”

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord.  May we be complete in Him.

Thank You?


Thank you letters were non-optional in my house growing up.  It was a good lesson in practicing gratitude for the kindness of others.  Nowadays my gratitude seems to be more along the lines of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank-You Notes.

  • Thank you, Multiple Drivers, for cutting me off, when you can clearly see I’m mid-turn.
  • Thank you, Poorly Constructed Roads, for potholes requiring monthly tire repair.
  • Thank you, Fly, for laying eggs inside my dog’s skin that hatched into full-on worms.
  • Thank you, Taxi Driver, for zooming ahead on the left into oncoming traffic to make a right-hand turn in front of me before the light turns green.
  • Thank you, Woolly or Bear, for urinating inside again.
  • Thank you, Power Company, for cutting off power for twelve hours at a time.
  • Thank you, Litterers, for the mountain of debris outside my house.
  • Thank you, Charades, for being usual when my limited Spanish fails.
  • Thank you, Police, for standing in the middle of the road for random traffic stops while not directing traffic.
  • Thank you, Son, for removing every pot, pan and tupperware right before bed.
  • Thank you, Tropic of Cancer, for 12 hours of daylight year-round.
  • Thank you, Ants, for multiplying and leaving my house scented “Bug Repellent”.
  • Thank you, Roof, for leaking in five places in one room, including right over the bed.  Good thing rainy season is only six months out of the year.


God, Are You There?


Faith is a gift.  I don’t have it.  I thought I had it.  But my gift seems to be more along the lines of doubt.

Maybe it was starting over in a new country or the reality of marriage or years of infertility or a recent miscarriage but it felt more like my faith was diminishing versus thriving.

But then I realized I’ve been redefining faith.  It doesn’t mean “you wish, therefore it is.”  Rather, faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

I wanted to believe that if I had faith, I would then get what I requested.  And as disappointments increased, my faith began to decrease.  Why ask?  Why hope?  It only seemed to bring greater heartbreak.

Now as a parent, I see how limited faith is immature.  My son requests things and generally believes he will get them.  He also doesn’t understand when he doesn’t get what he asked for.

Similarly, I don’t understand the “No” or “Not now” and my confusion brings frustration, anger and doubt at times.  But I also know that He is with me, even more than I am present for my own little loved one.

“Yes, Cindy, I AM here.”

Photo by Cindy Haughey

Come and Sit


“Come” is the most recent command my son is learning.  With four dogs in the house, he’s grown accustomed to hearing it regularly.   He’s more liberal in using the command than obeying it.  Of course, the dogs don’t understand him but it doesn’t minimize his urgency.

The beauty is when I don’t demand that he draw near is exactly when I’ll find him cuddling up next to me as I am reading.  Throughout the day he’ll randomly wraps his little arms around my neck or grab a finger to reassure that I’m here and not going anywhere.  These fleeting moments in my day render me speechless.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  What I love most about the cuddles with my son is that they’re unprompted.  I’m in his presence and he’ll just initiate the hug, the finger grab, the face hold.

Why then is it so hard for me to take the same unabashed approach with My Father?  He is always present.  He desires to give me the rest that I so long for though seem to search for everywhere else.

As my son reaches for me today, may I be reminded to seek comfort and peace from My Father.



Making Moments Memories


I was a sophomore in college when my first nephew was born.  Over the years as the babies continued to multiply, I couldn’t make it to all the family gatherings.  One tradition I most regret missing was the summer family camp.  My parents planned games, songs, crafts and skits for one week every year.  The best part was the annual family t-shirts that my dad designed to commemorate the occasion.

Unfortunately, those days have been outgrown by most of the family now.  And though we didn’t get the chance to experience family camp with our own son, I’m still so grateful for my parents’ example to make every moment a memory.

Today I treasure the few times every year when we can be surrounded by family.  These moments are more valuable to us now as parents but especially because we have so few of them.  We don’t get to share in cousins’ birthdays or nieces’ sporting events or nephews’ plays.  We miss parents’ anniversaries and emergency visits to the hospital.  So when we do get those few short days together, we want to make memories.

Photo by Betsy Markwald

Hermit or Hero?

Hero or HermitIn 2010, I moved to a new country, one with the highest murder rate per capita in the world.  Not exactly my vision of where I would raise a family one day.

Years later, I began teaching at a local high school.  Impacted by the increasing violence, I wanted to challenge my students to be part of the solution.  So I polled my twelfth graders, “How many of you would help a victim on the street?”  Less than 4 students out of 100 said they might help.  If the victim was a family member, the poll results flip-flopped.

It was much easier for me to pose the question than to answer it.  I didn’t want to admit that it’s more comfortable to be a hermit than a hero.  And now, as a parent, I must face my lack of courage more honestly.  I can no longer do one thing and say another.  I have a real and daily audience now.  And I want to teach him to be courageous.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asks, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

Will you?

We’ve Been Robbed!


As the youngest of six, I grew up hearing stories often enough that it was hard to remember which ones I wasn’t even around for.  One of which was when my mom was walking my brother home from school with a classmate and his mom.  My brother, bounding in the door first, immediately rushed back out yelling, “We’ve been robbed!”  She tried to ignore his call for alarm but there was no way to minimize the concerns of the others without proof.

To my mom’s chagrin, she ushered them into the kitchen, the scene of the crime as she left it just thirty minutes prior.  Open cupboards, overflowing drawers, half-prepped ingredients, dirty dishes in the sink and pots and pans were all part of the debris.

Today was that day.  Most days, I do my best to maintain order.  Well, at least the parts that will be visible, right?  I often try to do the same thing around people, present my best side.

Both are exhausting…the mess and the order.  Which is why it’s freeing to just say, “This is today.  Yes, it’s been nuts.  And no, I have not been robbed.”