A Gift From the Heart

When it comes to gift giving, it is often said that it is the thought that counts. This is especially true when a gift is given from the pure heart of a child. A toddler who extends their chubby hand clenching goldfish in a gesture to share their snack with you is one of the most genuine gifts in the world. They have nothing else to offer and they most likely are not aware of when they will get another snack, yet they still want to share with you what they have. While crackers being offered by a small child that have been God knows where may not be appetizing, the heartfelt offering certainly feeds the soul.

A few weeks ago, Margot did not have school due to parent teacher conferences so I brought her to my school for the day. She loves helping in the art room, but grew wary of being gushed over by middle schoolers. Towards the end of the day, she joined the kindergarten class at my school for afternoon recess. Margot has some really good friends that attend my school and enjoyed meeting and playing with the other kindergarteners too. When my last class was over, I walked to our elementary building to meet Margot on the playground. She was busy running around so I visited with the other teachers while the kindergarteners continued to play.

One of my students spotted me and came over to ask me more about Margot. This little girl was curious why she wasn’t at her school today and came to work with me. I explained that her school wasn’t open that day. She then started questioning me more the way five year olds tend to do. Where does she go to school? Why was it closed that day? and then….Why couldn’t her daddy watch her and where was he today? This is always a gut punch. As much as I hate that my girls lost part of their innocence when they lost their dad, I hate for other people’s children to be aware via our lives that bad things happen in this world. Still, kids are smart and more understanding than we often give them credit for. When talking about Taylor with my girls or their friends I try to be direct and keep my answers simple. They are genuinely curious, but don’t need to know any more than what they are asking. I bent down and told this little girl very matter of factly, “Margot’s daddy, my husband, died so he is in heaven now. This kindergartener paused to take in the information, and then took off.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

I got wrapped back up in conversation with the other teachers and then all of the sudden the little girl was back. She held out her hand and presented me with a little treasure…flowers and grass picked from the playground wrapped up in a shiny piece of foil that looked like a discarded gum or candy wrapper. She placed this gathered bouquet in my hand and told me, “This is for your husband dying.” As I was telling her thank you, a second kindergartner appeared to hand me a similar creation and a few pebbles. She offered a similar sentiment and then they both ran off to go play. I was awestruck that in hearing something sad about my life this child’s first reaction was to immediately want to offer me consolation in the best way she knew how. Not only did she scavenge her available resources to find and create a gift for me, but she also recruited a friend to do the same.

This weekend many of us will celebrate the greatest gift ever given, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there’s one scripture that sums up the gist of the Christian faith it is John 3:16. The gift that God gave us of his one and only Son is truly incomparable. The best part about this gift is that the sacrifice Jesus made for humankind on the cross is an invitation to share in His inheritance for all of eternity and this invitation is for every single one of us. I hope you will follow the lead of my student and recruit a friend to share in this gift. If you haven’t already invited someone to join you for worship on Easter Sunday, I hope that this serves as a reminder that one of the best things you can offer someone else is an outstretched hand.

Love, Molly

Copyright © 2022, M. Marley, LLC

I Have to Call My Husband

Charlotte checking in with her husband on the way to school.

I have two young daughters who have always been particularly imaginative. I guess the beauty of having a sibling so close in age is that you always have a built in playmate. When siblings also share a close friendship, the games never stop. Every morning I feed my girls breakfast and help them get ready for school. They relish every minute that they are ready before we need to leave because that means they get extra time to play before stepping out into the real world. If I tell my girls they have five minutes before we need to load up, they excitedly will run off to their room to build something they are working on or play barbies just a little bit longer.

When we get in the car, the game of pretend will continue on the way to school and then again when we get home in the evenings. If I have dragged them with me on an errand, they will just make up a game on the spot and are continuously engaging in conversations about their imaginary world. This sometimes looks like sitting in a waiting room somewhere and pretending that their separate chairs are their houses and they are neighbors or (and I’m confident they’re not alone in this) screaming “the floor is lava” as they jump from tile to tile at the grocery store.

Both girls have each had lots of imaginary participants in these games over the years and for about the past six months, my three year old has been regaling us with stories of “her husband.” By the way, he is a dinosaur and they have five children….who are also dinosaurs. Charlotte likes to check in with him several times throughout the day by announcing, “I have to call my husband.” Sometimes she wants privacy to make these phone calls and other times it is in the middle of dinner or in the car on our way somewhere. She always insists that her sister and I are quiet while she talks to “her husband.” She will even go so far as to pull her open palm away from her little ear and make this request with a sharp, “shhh. I’m on the phone.”

“I lift my eyes up to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

It amazes me that every time Charlotte checks in with her dinosaur hubby he is always making dinner at home, cleaning the house and taking care of their dinosaur brood. But the craziest thing about these phone calls is that as my child role plays in her imaginary world I can’t help but hear all the ways her husband is helping her and think that must be so nice. I know the strains of single parenting are wearing on me when I am envious of the support my three year old gets from her imaginary dinosaur husband. We all need help in our lives every single day, for the little tasks, like shuttling carpool and getting our kids fed, and especially for the big picture to-do items.

We can’t all be as blessed as my preschooler is when it comes to an extra pair of hands around the house. We can, however, turn to God who promises to be our helper. God calls us to humble ourselves before Him with a childlike innocence. In the same way my three year old has faith that “her husband” is always going to answer the phone when she puts her palm to her ear, David expressed that same childlike faith in the Psalms- faith that God would answer and provide whenever he called upon Him. God is our refuge, our provider and our helper. Just as the Lord made us, He has already made a way for us when it comes to every single task we tackle, no matter how monumental some may seem from our perspective at the mountain base. His helping hand is always outstretched before us and waits for us to take take hold. We were never meant to go through the struggles of life alone and no matter what you are facing today, God’s hand will provide you that respite.

Love, Molly

Copyright © 2022, M. Marley, LLC

Empowered Women Empower Women

I consider myself beyond blessed to be the mother of not one, but two little girls. Little girls who will one day grow into women. When they came into this world, I never could have imagined that I would one day be left bringing them up alone. Parenting as a single mother, I have learned how important it is to surround my children with good influences, both men and women, because I know they are taking in the world around them and paying attention to the adults in their lives. I have learned how important it is to be the kind of woman myself that I want my girls to emulate and surround them with strong and faithful adults.

Click here to read my latest article written for Fort Worth Moms: Raising Strong Girls as a Single Woman.

Love, Molly

Copyright © 2022, M. Marley, LLC