This week I asked my friend Heather to share the story of how she chose her daughter's name, Alice. These are Heather's words.
When Alice grows up, I'm going to tell her the story about why I picked her name. I hope she likes it.
In fifth grade I had to do a report about Teddy Roosevelt, but when I Googled him, I was more interested in his daughter Alice. While her father was in office, Alice worked to help people with tuberculosis, even though her family told her it was dangerous. Alice was rebellious and did things like climb on the White House roof. She was fearless and had a pet snake. But though she was a rebel, she was kind too, and she cared about other people.
I chose to name my daughter Alice because I want her to be strong, independent, and outgoing like Alice Roosevelt. I want her to be self-confident and fearless, but also caring and kind.
I hope my daughter Alice will stand up for what she believes in. I want her to know that every human life has worth, and I hope she will help others because it's the right thing to do.
My daughter inspires me because I have social anxiety, and when something bad happens, it shuts me down. The other day Alice fell off the kitchen step onto the carpet. She cried for a minute, but then she went back to what she was doing. She didn't let it ruin her whole day.
And she's happy to meet new people. Since she turned a year old, she's not afraid of meeting new people anymore.
I want to tell my daughter that it doesn't matter where your family's from, you can still do your own thing.
My prayer for Alice Marie is that she will be fearless, confident, happy to be herself, and appreciative of all that makes her unique.
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1).
How did you choose the names of your children? Do you have an interesting story about what makes them special?
I know the past was more difficult than you deserved.
You learned to adapt to your constantly changing circumstances. I pray you remember that life is always moving. Have the courage to travel to new places, learn new lessons, and seek new adventures.
I know you were forced to take on responsibility beyond your years.
You learned to work hard, set goals, and look forward to success. I pray you have faith in your deep reserves of power and strength. Never fear your freedom to choose your future and create the life you want to live.
I know you sometimes felt alone and afraid.
You experienced the grief of loss and uncertainty. I pray you understand the importance of showing compassion toward others in pain. Remain forever thoughtful, caring, and kind. Be cheerful, generous, and unafraid to love again.
I pray you always know the value of your life to God and trust him to give you all you need. Be true to the Spirit that calls you, see the good in others, and believe in your unlimited potential. Bring hope and grace to the world, have confidence in your abilities, and be grateful for everything you receive. Always, always know you are loved.
Towering above Hannibal, Missouri, 244 concrete stairs lead up the hillside to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.
We ground through the laborious climb, one tortuous step at a time, gripping the metal handrail and gasping in the humid air, until we finally stood, swaying, on the topmost step.
We journeyed for the view from the top. Through a break in the trees we watched the Mississippi River flowing peacefully far below.
We barely had time to catch our breath before starting back down the 244 steps to the street and the car, but we managed to find a few insights along the way.
We built courage.
A fall on the sharp, stone steps could have been back-breaking. To complete the climb we had to keep looking forward, stay focused on the beacon at the top, and patiently plod toward our goal. We confront our fear of falling when we look past the cracked and crooked steps and just keep climbing.
We helped our companions.
The walk is too long to tackle alone. To make it all the way we need a hand to hold onto, someone to pull us onward when we grow tired, a friend to encourage us when we feel like giving up. Friends propel us forward when our goal seems distant and difficult.
We gained perspective.
When we look down from above, the world seems still and silent. The sky is cool and clear, the wind blows the trees, and the river's dark currents flow without our consent or command. We realize that our power is very small, the world is bigger than we imagine, and only God gives us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.
We will always have new mountainsides to conquer and steeper steps to climb. The only way to appreciate the view is to muster our courage and make the grueling trek to the top. We can never guess what we will discover when we get there.
Where is your climb taking you today? Who are your companions on your way up?
Long ago a lonely girl lived with her father in a lighthouse. On a scrap of paper the girl wrote, "My name is Esmerelda. I live in the lighthouse on Petri Island. Write to me." She put the paper in a bottle, sealed it with cork and wax, and threw the bottle into the ocean waves. Months later the mail boat brought Esmerelda a letter from the boy who had found her bottle on his beach. Esmerelda and the boy wrote letters for many years. One day the boy arrived in a rowboat and took Esmerelda away to be his wife. They lived happily ever after.
I don't remember when I read that story, but at ten years old, I went with my family on a summer trip to St. Louis. I took along my school picture with my name and address written on the back, put the picture inside an empty cough medicine bottle, and flung the bottle into the Mississippi River.
I remember the gray water slurping at the black mud on the shore and the gray sky stretching above it. The bottle bobbed downstream. I went home and eagerly awaited a letter from my new friend.
I'm still waiting.
I often feel I'm pitching my prayers out to sea and watching them drift away, only to wait and wonder when my rescue will arrive. But I'm developing a few strategies to help me be patient while I anticipate my answer.
Enjoy the view from the beach.
The sun rises over the water each morning. Warm breezes blow. Birds call, circling overhead. The world is bright and beautiful. I rest and appreciate the calm of peaceful skies and the rhythm of turning tides.
Use whatever washes ashore.
Driftwood endures the turbulent waves, abrasive sand, and battering rocks to emerge polished, smooth, and shining. I am grateful and collect all I receive to build shelter from the rains. I have more than enough for fires to warm the dark night.
Answer another's S.O.S.
Sometimes a message from another castaway floats into my harbor and lands at my feet. Then I paddle my little raft through the choppy seas and carry my companion to a new, more comfortable, and safer shore.
I have made many friends since that summer on the Mississippi River bank. We are no longer alone, but huddled together, calling for the Captain who commands the wind and waves, and scanning the distance for signs of his arrival.
I think I see a ship on the horizon.
What are you waiting for today? How can you answer another's call while you are waiting?
"You just loosen this bolt and take off the cover. See how dirty the air filter is?" Greg held the dusty filter up toward the light. He dropped a clean air filter into the tray, replaced the lid, tightened the bolt.
My classmates leaned forward to watch Greg's callused hands work quickly under the car's open hood.
When I got my first car, I learned how to fill a gas tank and turn a key. No one told me to check the oil, the coolant fluid, the brake pads. For too many years I bought old, cheap cars and drove them until they croaked. Too many times I had been stranded outside the laundromat or the grocery store. My small hometown did not have a bus system. I needed a running car to get me to work and school.
I enrolled in Greg's "Do-it-yourself Car Maintenance" class. Greg showed his students how to check oil levels, change the oil and filter, gap spark plugs, change tires, and replace a battery. He lectured us about the importance of brake fluid, antifreeze, and new wiper blades.
I learned something significant from the guy with the callused hands and greasy shirt.
We have to work to take care of what is important to us.
When I take care of my car, it lasts longer and gets me where I need to go. When I nurture my friendships, I build strong relationships with people who support and encourage me. When I honor my goals and priorities, I grow and move forward toward my destination.
With regular maintenance our lives move more smoothly. Cars run better. Relationships flourish. Goals become reachable.
Neglect only leads to more problems. Cars break down. Relationships crumble. Progress stalls. When we neglect to maintain the important things long enough, we get stuck and abandoned on the side of the road.
God never leaves us alone on the roadside. When we work to maintain our faith in him, he will pick us up and drive us wherever we need to be.
What is important to you today? How do you maintain it to keep it running well?
Single moms have always made amazing accomplishments. We have worked hard to raise our families and fulfill our dreams. Below are ten well-known single moms whose stories have inspired others.
Chris Affleck divorced when her son Ben was 11. Years later she accompanied Ben to the Academy Awards when he won the Best Screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting.
Maya Angelou became a single mother when she was 16 years old. Angelou wrote a best-selling memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She recited her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" at President Clinton's inauguration.
Mary Kay Ash raised three children after her first marriage ended in divorce. Mary Kay went on to establish Mary Kay Cosmetics and to inspire thousands of beauty consultants to achieve success.
Naomi Judd supported her two daughters by working as a waitress and a secretary. Naomi and her daughter Wynonna later became the Grammy Award-winning country music duo The Judds.
Virginia Clinton Kelley lost her first husband in a car accident, and her second husband was a physically abusive alcoholic. Virginia's son Bill became President of the United States in 1993.
Coretta Scott King, continued to work for civil rights and raise her four children after her husband Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Toni Morrison raised two sons while working as an editor and college professor. She also wrote award-winning books including: Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye.
J. K. Rowling was divorced and living on government assistance before writing the best-selling Harry Potter series. She is now one of the wealthiest women in Great Britain.
Debbie Phelps worked as a middle school principal and raised three children after her divorce. Her son Michael won 22 medals for Olympic swimming.
Sofia Vergara raised a son after divorcing her high-school sweetheart. She received four Golden Globe nominations for her role as Gloria on Modern Family.
Millions of single mothers work hard every day to support their families and pursue their goals.
Whose story inspires you? Who encourages you to be an amazing single mom?