Breakfast was on the table. Eggs, muffins and bananas. I had woken up early to go running while the kids were still asleep and before Patrick left for work. It was the middle of summer, and once the kids woke up any chance for ‘me’ time would disappear. I was at the kitchen table, sweaty from my run, opening up our Bible story for the day. That’s when Bentley climbed into my lap and handed me some coins. Twelve cents.

“Bentley, what it this for?”

“It’s for you, Mom”.

“Oh sweetie, this is your money. You can keep it.”

With tears in her eyes, she replied, “Mommy. I want you to keep it. I wanted to give it to you for all the work you do for us every day.”

My eyes swelled with tears, as my heart swelled with love.

“Wow, Bentley. Thank you so much. I will keep this $.12 in a very special place”.

She gave me a long, tight hug and took her seat next me at the table with a big smile on her face. She found great joy in sharing her gift with me. Her siblings complimented Bentley on how kind it was for her to give that money to mommy. The mood for the day was set by a precious six year old girl whose actions displayed a heart full of gratitude.

Parenting four kids has never been an easy task. Although I don’t really view it as a task. But it requires a balance of withdrawals and deposits. In our house, these withdrawals and deposits go in and out of our ‘love bucket’. We call them ‘fills’ and ‘empties’. The saying goes, “running on empty”. That phrase seems to sum up my life as a mom of four, author of a new book Over My Shoulder, board member, wife, friend, daughter and sister. I’m so busy trying to keep my kids’ love buckets full, that sometimes I forget about my own bucket. I know mine can be filled with a hug, a “thank you”, an “I love you”, a jog outside, an hour in the house alone, coffee with a friend, a date with my husband, visiting a sick patient, sharing life stories with others, and many more.

Bentley lives life filling love buckets. She does not hesitate to encourage or compliment others. Not a day goes by when you will not hear her say things such as, “I like your dog!” or “You have pretty shoes”. Witnessing her natural desire to lift up others makes me want to be a bucket-filler too. Often times on the drive to school, the kids and I talk about the love buckets of their friends. We talk about how, sometimes, the negative actions or words from friends can be an outward showing of a love bucket that needs filled. Then, each of us shares an idea for how we can fill a friend’s bucket that day.

I think it is true….sometimes a tiny act or word can be enough to fill to an empty love bucket. But, that’s just my twelve cents.