A Mothers’ Thoughts on Graduation

mortar-board-32277__180By Jennifer Hallmark

I wrote this article back in 2004 when my daughter, Mandy, graduated. I didn’t write another three years later when my son, Jonathan, graduated because the sentiment was the same. Hope you enjoy it.

It was Saturday; the day after the Lady Hornets won the state 2 A championship in basketball. Our family had made the long trek down to Birmingham with the other Hornet faithful and watched a well-earned victory. Sadness lingered, as most of the athletes were seniors, girls soon to venture on to college, careers, or possibly marriage and a family.

I thought back to my daughter’s first day of kindergarten when I said I wouldn’t cry. She would enjoy school and I wouldn’t have to hear her and her brother fuss all day. It would be quieter, I reasoned. When I arrived at her classroom, I had to fight back tears. Life was going to be very different from this day on. I cried all the way home.

Elementary school was an adventure: nap time, strips pulled for disobedience, harvest festivals, beauty walks, cheerleading, fourth grade and the endless fund-raisers. My child grew from a tiny five-year-old to an excited, somewhat awkward pre-teen. Sixth grade graduation came and went. We purchased the nice dress, snapped tons of pictures, and tried to hold onto all the good memories we could.

High school proved to be a whole different story, full of struggles and victories. My daughter wanted to be grown and independent, yet needed a security beyond my ability to give. Our days overflowed with band competitions, ball games, “going out” with boys, and endless school and church events that turned my time into “taxi” service.

Her sophomore and junior year sprinted by at a speed I didn’t think possible. Her classmates grew and matured into men and women ready to master their world. The class drifted apart as some attended trade school for half the day. Classmates stayed absorbed with sports or societies, while others worked part-time. Some of the class moved, and a few dropped out of school.

diploma-309947__180The senior year finally arrived, bringing with it elements that unified the students. Starting with school pictures, and later ordering invitations and cap and gowns brought a sudden realization that this was it. They’d really made it. Senior meetings and discussion of prom blurred as my daughter crammed study, work, dates, and church into twenty-four hour days. I told her to enjoy it. Senior years only come once. After graduation everyone goes their own way, and reunions are not the same.

At times, the ups and downs of high school flabbergasted me. Again and again I had to remind myself that I was once a teenager too. Overall my child gained knowledge and experience that has served her well. I learned so much myself during these school years and I found the years ahead better and fuller because of what we learned together.

At one of the last ball games, I spoke to another senior mother. I mentioned how hard it was to believe our children were graduating. Emotion choked me as déjà vu hit home. My life would never be the same again. I’d always said I wouldn’t cry when she started kindergarten. Or at graduation. Something told me I’d better carry plenty of tissue anyway.

I’m glad I did.

There is Beauty in the World (Kindness Blog)

JCMAnother great post from my friends at the Kindness Blog. This small act of kindness is written by Jennifer Cramer-Miller.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

~ Mark Twain

My daughter Liza opened the passenger side door and jumped in the car. I had just picked her up from Art class. She was between eighth and ninth grade, so the class was one of her summer activities to fill her school-free days. A bright blue sky was above us, showcased through the wide-open sunroof. Being Minnesotans, our brutal winters enhanced our perspective—so we fully appreciated these sunny July days. We were well aware that beautiful days were a gift.

The music from the radio was interrupted with an abrupt buzz. My Bluetooth setting allowed the incoming call to cut the song, and Liza and I both saw the name flash on the digital dashboard.

Green neon letters lit up on the charcoal screen in front of us. Transplant Clinic.

I whipped my head and looked at Liza,

“Oh my God.” slipped out of my mouth, and then I froze.

I was on the list to receive a kidney transplant. Could this be the call we had been waiting for? I wondered.

“Answer it!” she said with urgency.


“Hi Jennifer, it’s Mary from Transplant. We may have a match for you. The preliminary testing is favorable.”

“Wow…really? I can’t believe it.” I said to her with astonishment.

The wait had seemed endless until this one fantastic moment. I found myself hearing Mary’s words without being able to fully grasp what she was saying. It seemed unreal. Could this truly be happening? I hoped I wouldn’t wake up from a dream.

It was not a dream.

This was happening.

Liza started dancing in her seat, and her smile was electric.

Mary proceeded to tell me that an anonymous donor from North Dakota volunteered to donate his kidney.

His donation was altruistic, meaning he wasn’t directing his donation in exchange for a loved one to receive a kidney from someone else. He simply walked into that transplant clinic one day and offered his kidney out of the goodness of his heart.

He was twenty-five years old.

“It is a really good kidney.” Mary continued. “He has been thinking about doing this for a while.”

“He’s twenty-five! How long could he have been thinking about it?” I said with wonder and awe and explosive gratitude.

Mary and I discussed the next steps, concluded the call, and the music started up again.

Macy Gray’s “There is Beauty in the World” pumped through the car speakers. At this point, I joined Liza in her car dance. Together we swayed side-by-side in our seats and sang along with Macy’s raspy voice. Our arms were flailing, and our hearts were full. I was overcome with an impossible-to-articulate-joy knowing that a total stranger in this world was willing to improve our lives so significantly.

I will never forget that moment. Gratitude was oozing from my pores.

The world’s trampoline had bounced us into the air, and we flew high into the elevated space above it all, where everything looked gloriously interconnected and magnificent. I felt attached to a universal good that was rushing like a river of combined currents of genuine kindness, chronic hope, compassion, Karma, and faith.

Recipients cannot meet their donors, but letters can be written and delivered through the transplant clinics. Although I won’t ever meet this man, I was allowed to put words of thanks on a note. Words on paper? How could I possibly define my expansive feelings with simple words? Thank you?

Dear Donor,

I have never met you, but of this I am sure—you are a hero. I am overflowing with gratitude because the world for my family and me is changed dramatically because of your generous spirit.

Thank you for all the good health and time you are giving to my family and me. How does one quantify the value of your gift? It is impossible to measure. The gift of time. The gift of travel. The gift of enjoying what I eat and drink. The gift of energy. The gift of eliminating the wear and tear on my body and soul from five to six life-sustaining dialysis treatments a week.

How can I possibly thank you for something so overwhelming? You gave me the gift of easy laughter and happy days.

I so wish I could adequately convey our gratitude—but in several attempts, I realize words cannot express my emotion and thankfulness. You are a remarkable person, and the world will forever be a better, brighter place because of you.

All the best to you and your family,

Forever Grateful,

Your Recipient

The letter, sentences, and paragraphs seemed inadequate, but I had to try. Like the beautiful Minnesota days we cherish after cold winters, my donor melted away the hard season we were enduring.

That was five years ago, and his gift continues to impart the sweetest possible fragrance that floats above our newfound blooms.

He has most definitely illuminated for my family and me; there is beauty in the world.

Beyond Ourselves

It’s time to move out of our comfort zone…

Betty Thomason Owens

lonely-273629_1280If you live your life for yourself alone, never reaching out to others, it is as though you sleep. It’s a great waste of a life.

Opportunities arise, just to be ignored because you just want to be left alone, to live your life and be comfortable.

I want that, too, but I can never be comfortable with that itch irritating me.

The itch to do something real.

To reach out to others and help them past a difficult time.

NewbornPhilMothers know how it is. Once that tiny creature is in your care, you know you’re locked in for a certain number of years and maybe, forever. All your life, you will be Mother. Whether it’s the middle of the night, or halfway through your workday, when they call, you have to answer. You have to go and see to their needs.

I made it past some obstacles in life…

View original post 530 more words

Small Acts of Kindness: Food on the Table


By Stacy Stone

In August of 2012, while our family was at an annual cookout, we got a call.  My mother-in-love, Betty Lou, had been to the doctor and something wasn’t quite right; they would be running more tests.  Our hearts were heavy as we finished up our evening and the next day went over to visit.  She was a little nervous herself as the doctor seemed concerned.  Eventually the culprit of her pain was named:  Stage 4 cancer.  Our hearts were broken.  Further testing came and the cancer was fast-moving.  At best, she had 6 months.


Gen M Moms

Earlier in the summer, I had been asked to attend a meeting at my church.  A new ministry was forming, Generation M.  This vision was given to a dear woman who saw multi-generation moms coming together for Bible study.  As she shared the vision of this ministry, using scripture to describe the tasks of each area, my heart began to beat quickly as she went over the duties of the Bible study leader.

I knew that feeling – it was the Holy Spirit looking for my attention and response.  I really wanted to blame it on the chocolate chip cookie – but I knew better than to leave without a resounding “YES!” that I would be glad to serve as Bible study leader.  For this first year it meant I would be writing study questions for our study on the women in the lineage of Christ as well as teaching once a month.   I was all in and thrilled at this new opportunity.  Strangely, I did not feel compelled to back out as this family crisis arose.  What God allowed was for these precious women to watch me as I leaned into Him during this hard time.

These precious women.  I was serving in Generation M with about a team of 8.  It had been a while since I’d served on a team of women and God quickly gave us an incredible love for one another.  God was helping me keep my head above water as my mother-in-law went through her battle with cancer.  He was so kind to lead me each morning through tasks that would set me up to be able to feed my family when we returned from staying most of the day at the hospice center with my MIL.  One week I was surprised with a phone call alerting me a few of the team was stopping by.  These precious women had taken their time and resources to bring me freezer meals for my family.  I was overwhelmed by their kindness.  I stored them in the freezer, thinking I wouldn’t need them for a while….but I was wrong.  They continued to be a source of help as our time with Betty Lou was nearing its end.

During this time, I was also a busy kindness (1)homeschooling mom of two boys and we were active in a local home school group.  These women have been such a beautiful support of me and my children.  This group of women supplied our family with meals after Mom Stone’s passing.  They also scheduled meals for me during a hard stretch while caring for my dear Father-in-law, who came to live with us after Betty Lou passed.

I am so grateful for how God tenderly cared for me and my family through the hearts and hands of others during these difficult and painful times.  His faithfulness to us causes us to love Him all the more.  It also helps us to be sensitive to His leading when we need to the be the hands that help others through a difficult time.

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

FB_IMG_1445656931495Stacy Stone is a wife to a great fisherman and mom to two fun and active boys!  She is a Jesus Lover and looks for Him in all His Creation.  She enjoys sweet tea, reading, writing, music, and exploring nature.  You can find her sometimes blogging at Joie de Vivre and on Twitter @joyfulmom2boys.

Support Whenever We Need It.

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day, which I always enjoy. Every year it gives me a special reason to let my mom know how much she means to me. We’ve always been close and even to this day I consider her to be one of my most trustworthy friends.

 Mom at Amicolola Falls


I can share anything with her, knowing she truly cares and will listen and encourage me when I need it most. So today, Mom, I thank you publicly for your love and continuous support in everything.

I think most of us have someone (whether it’s our mom or someone else) we appreciate who’s been there for us in good and bad times. How do you show them how much they mean to you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Let’s keep the conversation going.


The Invictus Games

invictus games

Symbol of the games

By Jennifer Hallmark

Acts of kindness can range from sending flowers to visiting the sick to large-scale outreaches. One significant undertaking that touches many lives is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel called the Invictus Game. According to the Invictus Games Foundation website, London hosted the Inaugural Invictus Games in 2014.

wheelchair-369734_960_720The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. Sports can be a means of recovery and rehabilitation for service men and women who suffer from life-changing injuries; a way to help themselves and each other.  Everyone is a winner, regardless of placement, in these games. The foundation also has a blog where service men and women can share their stories of hope and healing.

The poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, is featured on the website.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.


The 2016 Invictus Games will take place in Orlando, Florida on May 8th through the 12th. You can find ticket information here. You can also volunteer and support  the people who have given so much to us all. The events will be broadcast on ESPN and include 40+ hours of coverage, beginning with the Opening Ceremony on May 8th at 8 pm Eastern Time.