That swirl of comments, the wonderfully kind ones as well as the obviously aching and sad ones reminded me of one part of our reunion I forgot to write about (the other parts of the reunion are here, here and here).  
It was our sunset lantern-set-off.  Before I even begin though, and get people mad at me for littering our beautiful earth (which would be awful), I must say that these were 100% biodegradable lanterns.  (You can get more details about them or buy your own here.)
They were beautiful.
But what I liked most about watching them lift gracefully and some not-so-gracefully into the air was what thoughts were going through my mind as I watched them.  
You see, each family got a lantern to set off.
The goal was to light them all up and watch them all float up and drift away together.  

But it happened to be a little bit windy so we had to maneuver ourselves together to help the flames stay lit.
We used blankets and our bodies to guard the flame against the breeze.

Once we had that flame good and lit, we oooo’d and ahhhhhh’d as we watched those beauties sail off, one by one, into the silky night sky.

Some of them were easier than others.  
Some came close to crash-landing into the shallow water on the shore, and I think two actually did.  
But we pulled them on out and were still able to set them free, chasing the setting sun on the other side of the lake.
This green one below got a little wet but still took off with a little love and patience from my brother.

But my favorite was this yellow one:

Some overanxious grandchild got overzealous about opening the packaging so it was torn at the base.
Some gave up on it quickly and moved to another lantern.  Others stayed and coaxed it on until it could fly.
Then we all cheered as that injured warm glow floated up, gasped when it started to sink, and cheered with more vigor when it stabilized and floated up and up and up.

(see that little tear at the bottom?)

I paused for a moment as my mind wrapped around the beauty of working together to lift our lights higher and my thoughts on that matter:
We all need each other.  
Some float more easily than others.  
Some seem ready to fly but end up with internal secret worries that drag them down to the water in mid-flight.  They need more help.  They need more love.
Others just chug along steady and sure.  And could still use some love.
And still others start off with real, in-the-trenches issues (the one that was torn) and need an army of love and help to lift them up.

We can be that army of love for each other.  Whether it is smiling at a stranger on the street (their light glows brighter) or caring meticulously for someone in need, or simply keeping something to ourselves that may cause hurt feelings, we all have the power to lift.

And we can all lift in our own uniquely God-given ways.

I want to thank all those sweet commenters the last couple days for lifting me up.  I wish I could write everyone a personalized note of thanks.

And also those who helped me see a better, higher perspective that was lost with my apparently “easy-sailing” point in time, who maybe need a little lifting themselves.

I wish I could give them each a hug, tell them I’m sorry they are hurting and help them in a way that would lift them up.

I want to tell them they are not alone, on a dark horizon, even if it seems that way at times.

There is light all around us if we look.  Especially if we look up.

All those comments, happy and sad, helped me remember, once again, that we all have different lights.  God loves each of us and wants us to help each others’ lights shine a little surer.  Lift a little higher.  As we do, we lift our own lights a little higher.

Just like those lanterns, glowing as they sail up (because of the care and love they got) to light the darkening sky.

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  1. I want to THANK YOU for the post you wrote about your home building experience. We just moved in to our new home this week after seven months of the craving for balance you described in your post. Your description of your life and the part of your life that you want back brought tears to my eyes. I have never posted on a blog before, but felt to tell you that I will forever take it that your post was for me. I felt normal. I felt heard. I felt like someone "got" why I have not been myself completely during this process. Having had just three days to get back in to my old routine again has been so peaceful and a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful for what I have learned in my process, and as I listened to you speak, I heard you expressing gratitude too. Thank you for being real and for making me feel real too.

  2. I love this post. I love your blog too. 🙂 My husband and I are trying to have our first baby and believe me… more than once I've said "On this blog I stalk…" follwed by one of your awesome kid-raising ideas. I am filing them all away for when we do finally have a baby (seriously… the paying for half your clothes rule is pure genius).
    I'm sorry for the hurtful commments left on your blog. I find you, and your family, to be an example. You use your money to visit India and help kids that aren't privilaged. You use it to raise money to help kids like Lucy who may lose their sight. You use it to grow your kids into better people. I'm not sure how someone could call you selfish for that. I hope one day I am a mother like you. <3

  3. Shawni (yes? No?) it sounds right to me 🙂

    Thank you…thank you for inspiring me with each of your posts. Thank you for being honest and open. Thank you for not pretending to be a "Superwoman," but a Mom who makes mistakes like the rest of us. Thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty that are our children (sometimes a moment seems so hectic I want it to pass quickly, but then I remember it's a moment I will never have back. I learned this from you…) Thank you for reminding me that it's OK to say "no." Even though it appears to be hard for both of us 😉 Thank you for taking the time out of your busy, busy life to teach me something each and every day.

    I am also sorry…sorry that you feel the need to monitor what you write in your blog. This is YOUR blog…your diary, and I'm sorry folks have made you feel badly for what is going on in your life. I don't read your blog because I'm looking for your faults, I read your blog because I learn from you. I LEARN FROM YOU. I learn to be more patient…I learn to look at things from others perspectives. I learn to pay more attention to my husband, and not to forget about him during the hustle and bustle of the rest of our life.

    Thank you. Thank your entire family! I'm sure it is scary to put your life out there…but know it's making a difference in others lives.


  4. Love this post. Miss seeing you and your sweet family. You've always been such a great example to me and I'm sorry for all the hurtful comments. They obviously don't really know you. I honestly cant wait to see what you've done to the house. So excited for your family!!!

  5. Tears streaming down my face, and chills on my arms. Such perfectly beautiful true words. Some days I'm the lantern that sets sail right away, able to give and bring joy to others, and some days I'm the torn and broken lantern that needs a little love to get going. Thank you for the beauty of your words.

  6. This is beautiful. I love reading your blog. Our lives never would have crossed before this digital age, so I feel lucky that you let me peek into your life — thank-you for lifting up your readers!

  7. A beautiful perspective. Seeing the "light" in all that's good and hard around you. You took the higher ground and by that, you are encouraging others around you to do the same. There is light and good in everyone, some may have a harder time seeing it, even in themselves, but it's there. Thank you for your example.

  8. And this is why I follow your post so fervently. At the end of the day, at the end of the nonsense, at the end of the whatever – you boil it down to what matters most . . . family. Love. Support. God's love. Clearly you are blessed and do your best to NOT take that for granted. You are an example of a mother I hope I am being for my son.

    Thank you.

  9. I've never posted before but must tell you how much I love your blog and your genuine, heartfelt posts. I have never read I post that I didn't appreciate and enjoy. Thank you for being real! We as women need to be honest and true to ourselves and to others. You are a great example of that!

  10. Bravo! You are an example to me of how to be gracious under fire…and you have done it more than once! Thank you for not changing who you are just because others judge you. I have had some similar situations in person and have thought of you and your reaction. Your example helped me to be a better person and I thank you for it! I LOVE learning about your new home, your family's challenges and triumphs, and your perspective! Keep it up!

  11. What a beautiful post. This really shows what a wonderful woman you are. It is remarkable that you were able to look past the posts like mine (which I deleted after I realized how wrong it was) and see the pain the people like me are in. Your post today has brought me to tears each time I read it today (and I have read it many times). Thank you for you understanding.

  12. Dear Shawni,
    I know you have had a billion comments the past three days, but I would love to add my thoughts as well.
    I was raised on your parents' words of wisdom. I was enrolled in Joy School and then TCR. My parents used the book, "Teaching Children Responsibility", as a their child rearing "bible". (I actually just inherited my mother's copy.) I love to read your posts about family laws, the family bank, and tutors and tutees, because I was raised with them. Of course my parents tailored everything to our needs and situation, but sometimes I sit and chuckle when I read your blog because I feel like I am reading about my family!
    I am a stay at home wife and a young mother of two of the sweetest babies ever. My husband's job has taken us 2,000 miles from any family. Even though we have been blessed with a wonderful home, job, and beautiful children, I sometimes feel lonely and frustrated living so far away in the "trenches" of young motherhood.
    I am grateful for your blog. It often brings sunshine to my day. I love when you write about the good and the not so good. I admire your perspective on life, parenting, and motherhood. I also love your beautiful photography. Thank you for keeping it real and sharing your life with others! It has made a difference in my life. 🙂

  13. Your words always amaze me. You are all of the above positive comments and more. So gracious and I'm so thankful you've came into my life through this blog. Please know that I'm a better friend and mother due to your positivity and thought provoking comments. Thank you for your words.

  14. Shawni you are very generous and brave in giving your time and opening your family door to give us a taste of a harmonious loving spiritual family life that can be achieved with hope and inspiration. Through generations of sheer hard work (or hard yakka as we Aussies would say)we are rewarded and set examples upon our children of what else can be achieved and in turn to give it back to society of which you have already done so

  15. You are such an amazing inspiration to me an many many others who read your blog. Keep your head up and continue being who you are. Thank you for putting things into perspective for me on a continual basis!!

  16. I have always loved how you write with such honesty and I hope you continue to write as you please. Not everyone agrees with everything we write but that's what makes us what we are. There will always be somone with more or less than us both in terms of material goods and also good fortune and we have to respect all. Good luck with your new home I would love to hear more about it and will only feel happiness for you and your family on your new home.

  17. I think whoever took the photo of the lantern where you can see the tear is brilliant. To capture a moving object from an angle like that so clearly is a feat.

  18. I just have to say you are awesome! What a beautiful reflection and what a great way to turn around what I am sure was a painful experience (mean comments) into something lovely!! That is why I come back and back and back to you daily, you are such a source of inspiration to me!

    Happy Blessed Sunday!

  19. I LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for sharing that thought. What a great way to end my Sunday.
    Thank you for sharing and for being such a great example, even if we are strangers…we are all still "heavenly family" as the RS lesson said today.

  20. This is why I LOVE your blog, family, parents, books and anything else you are involved in. You are humble, you rise up and you are so inspiration. Thank you for all you do for me as a woman, wife and mother. Your example is very important to me!

  21. This was such a wonderful post it even brought tears to my eyes. We light these last year when I lost my mom to cancer and they really healed me when I watched them fly away into gods amazing sky where I knew my mom was now.
    Thank you for such a lovely blog you have a wonderful family and you are such a wonderful mommy, a amazing inspiration xxxx

  22. Ever since my daughter and I saw the movie Tangled I have wanted to have this experience with her. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful time your family had with these…especially the torn one. I am also so happy to hear that they are environmentally friendly : )

  23. I was just catching up on your last few blog posts, and so I am a little late to comment … but I just wanted you to know that you are such a great example to me. I am always impressed with how you handle negative comments and criticism – you never counter-attack, but always have kind words and build others up.
    Thank you for this beautiful post comparing the lanterns to our inner lights. Your light shines BRIGHT! And I truly believe that you are a force for good in this world.
    And P.S. – I look forward to reading more about your home and seeing pictures of it's progression! That is a HUGE task!
    Thanks you for always "lifting" me "higher"!

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