Making a Difference

Sometimes the pivotal moments in life, the epiphanies come out of nowhere.

Last Thursday we woke the kids up to watch an amazing lightning storm out on the horizon and then everyone went back to bed/reading/baking/TV.

and then … 80 mph winds, hail, tornados and craziness.

We ran out of our house to check on the neighbors, to run down our street in the rain – through calf deep water on our street, dodging branches and debris… we checked on the elderly couple across the street and saw their driveway completely blocked by trees.

the next morning

We checked on everyone, met neighbors we hadn’t met before and when we determined everyone was safe – listened to breakers popping around us – watched some more lightning, took a few deep, albeit shaky breaths and then Nathan and I took a very shaken Princess back inside our dark house and put her in our bed.  I checked on Monkey and actually laughed, I have always said that boy could sleep through anything – and I was right.

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful with blue skies and only a few cotton candy clouds in the sky.

We surveyed the damage and again, said a prayer of thanks.

We were lucky, we only lost part of our patio roof and our big old mesquite tree – the one in all those pictures of my kids

cowboy monkey


It was pulled up by the roots and thankfully fell into the yard (punching several holes in the grass with its branches) and not across our driveway and vehicles


Both kids walked out the front door with wide eyes and their mouths open in shock.  After a moment of taking it all in they looked between Nathan and me and then ran inside, put on shoes and went straight across the street to our elderly neighbors house and started dragging branches from their sidewalk, yard and driveway.


Nathan grabbed his chainsaw from the garage and we followed them across the street and started dragging, chopping and clearing until the curbs were stacked high with debris and the driveway was cleared.




I was so proud of my kids, watching them work hard to clear our neighbor’s yard and driveway.  I felt joy in my heart at the sight of the people that I see them becoming.  The moment of epiphanie came for me when Monkey looked up at me his little face dripping with sweat, his eyes shining and he said; “Mom, we’re good people, we’re helping others before we help ourselves.  That’s because we are being brought up by good people”

My heart skipped a beat and I felt a powerful tug deep inside

A moment later he looked at me again and said; “Mom, I’m talking about you and Dad”

I realized then, again, just how much they watch us.  How much they see, how they’re looking even when we don’t realize it.

We have a precious few years to make that impact, to guide them, to show them the way by our own actions.

Our summer will be fun and filled with family memories, laughter, sunshine, fishing, boating and joy; but it will also be filled with trips to the food bank, choosing a child to sponsor, and filling a few back to school backpacks with supplies for others.

I want to teach them, by showing them that making a difference can be done in big ways with donations, volunteering and time, but also in the smallest of gestures – a smile, a kind word, a prayer…

How do you teach your children to make a difference?




Thank you, Hallmark, for choosing me as one of their “Life Is A Special Occasion” bloggers and allowing my life and stories to be a part of their Life is A Special Occasion program. While I am compensated for my work with Hallmark as a Life is A Special Occasion ambassador, everything posted is original and real and from our life

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  1. Oh my gosh, I absolutely loved this post, Rachel! What a great example of how you guys are raising such wonderful and caring kids. I mean, how could you not?!? Glad everyone was okay.

  2. Neighbors helping neighbors helps build great communities! Your kids picking up on that lesson so young is a wonderful testament to how you’re raising your kids! Strong families raise children with good hearts and amazing character. You should be proud!

  3. You.Are.PHENOMENAL.
    I am crying at my computer.

    What a lovely thing to do—what an awesome way to teach your kids by DOING something, making such a difference. I love that.

    Keep up the good work, mama! I am sorry you lost your tree, but am grateful you all are okay and that no one was hurt.


    1. Erin, <3 <3 Thank you. My kids taught me that day, as well. Truthfully, they teach me every day. I am humbled by this job of being their parent.

  4. This post appeared in my Twitter feed via Erin Margolin, and am I ever glad it did. This has made my day.

    Thank you for teaching your kids so well.

    Best wishes,


    1. Hi Casey,

      Thank you! I adore Erin, I’m so glad that this post spoke to her enough that she shared it and it brought you here. Thank you for your words. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. My friend Erin had this posted on Google and if it got her attention I had to come read. I am so glad I did. It is so wonderful to see kids getting it, and simply because they see their parents LIVING it. Period. Simply beautiful.. and a new follower

    1. Thank you, Angel! I’m so thankful to Erin for sharing this! Thank you for your wonderful words and thank you for following! It’s nice to *meet* you 🙂

    1. Jennifer,

      God love ya woman, you always say the nicest things. I think you are pretty spectacular, too and I love watching your kids and family grow and change through the blog, and I love the rare moments we actually get to spend together <3

      <3 you

  6. and remember, Mary Lou, Dee ,Ted, other Granny and way too many of Nathan’s family are looking down on your family with smiles and tears at the job you are doing and have done. I simply watch with great pride and a sigh of reliel that at least we got two out of three kicked off right.

  7. Truth: this just made me start crying as I read. That is awesome! And so are you. And so are your kids. Happy weekend 🙂

  8. uhg, looks like our neighborhood after all the hurricanes a few years back. but, hey… mesquite wood for the bbq?!

    1. April, it’s amazing how quick they come and go! Definitely LOTS of mesquite wood for the bbq and for my hubby’s wood working hobby!

  9. This made me start crying too. You’re absolutely right. Our kids watch us and learn from us and sometimes, that’s easy to forget when life gets hectic, at least for me. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of how very important it is.

    1. Thank YOU Colleen. It’s really easy to get lost in the every day and forget how important every moment is and that they are viewing our every action as a map for how they should live their lives, too.

      Scary and humbling and wonderful, this parenting thing.

  10. I think sometimes as parents we spend a ridiculous amount of times wondering what to SAY to our children. Will we say it right? Will it be meaningful? Will it sink in? But our kids care so little about what we SAY. they are watching what we DO. You are awesome. Keep it up 🙂

  11. “Mom, we’re good people, we’re helping others before we help ourselves. That’s because we are being brought up by good people”

    My heart just melted. Keep up the good work!

    1. Kim, it honestly stopped me in my tracks. I was so blown away by that comment, and from my 5 yo… I am truly inspired to do better just so I can live UP to that.

      <3 thank you, hon.

  12. Actions speak louder than words and your actions are being reflected and replicated in your wonderful children. Your little monkey’s words to you during the clean-up however did speak volumes.

    1. Paula,

      Thank you <3 I'm trying. We all make mistakes, and I've made some doozies, but I'm trying to be the best I can... for them.

    1. Oh Bridget <3

      Thank you, I'm glad everyone was okay. Driving around the next day was unbelievable... the damage was unreal, yet there were no injuries and no loss of life. Such a blessing.

  13. That uprooted tree surely meant that it was quite a strong storm or gust of wind that hit you. Glad that you and the neighbors are safe, way to go in raising a caring family

  14. Your face must have had quite the expression on it for him to think he needed to clarify he was talking about you and Nathan. Good job Rachel. It is a daily struggle to figure out how to teach and show them and mold them, but it sounds like you are on the right path and that you’re good people. Also glad you are ok.

    1. LOL Laura! I know, I was just in shock that my 5 you could have such depth and then for him to clarify… it made me smile and tear up and laugh all at the same time. He’s such a gift.

      Thank you, Laura!

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