Posted in Faith

On Grief and Hope

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

My church died this weekend.  

I mean, I know that’s not an actual thing. It’s not scripturally sound nor does it reflect the actual future of our church family. But right now, that’s how it feels.

My husband and I have desperately and deeply loved the small, closely-knit community that has resulted from the faithful work of church planters who we have come to love like family. It’s the only church our babies have ever known and the only church where either of us have ever felt truly at home.

But we were faced with making a transition as a congregation that we were not able to weather and this week, we held our last service.

As I take stock of all of the feelings swirling around in my heart right now, two stand out to me- and they are two feelings that at first glance seem mismatched.  Like they don’t go together and are somehow mutually exclusive:

Grief and Hope

As I opened my pastor’s email last week and read the words I had been dreading hearing for weeks, even months, I was hit with exactly the same sense of intense loss I had been expecting.  But unexpectedly, I also felt God moving in my heart and filling it with a sense of the sacred, with a certainty of His goodness, the perfection of His ways, and the hopeful promise of His plan. Intermingled with the sorrow, I felt a deep and holy conviction that the work God was doing through this sad, sad thing that none of us ever would have chosen was important and good. And so hope was born into my heart at the same time that grief was.

It felt so strange to me to be holding grief and hope together in tension with one another, fully convinced that each is right and good and a fitting tribute to what I was experiencing. When grief and hope intermingle, our worldly selves can feel wrong or guilty about it.  We can feel like the hope does a disservice to the depth of the loss we are experiencing. We can also feel like the deep sorrow, pain, anger, and other feelings that come with grieving are affronts to the blessed hope in which God calls us to trust. Surely we shouldn’t feel hope in such a sad time, and surely our sadness means that our faith isn’t deep enough.

But for Christians, Jesus’s life and death stands as our central example of the myriad ways that the Kingdom of God trumps the ways of the world.  The passion and death of Jesus are a perfect example of how deep grief and sacred hope can occupy space together. God’s perfect plan for all of us was unspeakably sad.  To walk through it yearly during Holy Week is heartbreaking, I can only imagine what it was like to live it. And yet, that desperately sad event also ushered in the greatest hope of all time.  Proof that God can bring beauty from ashes, that even His good ways can be hard, and that grief and hope can exist together in the sacred.

I am writing this during the season of Lent, Holy week is coming in just a few weeks.  The events of Holy Weeks will feel real for me this year in a new way. Grief and hope together are even more real for me this year- and in that, hope may start to win out.

I’m sure part of me will never fully stop grieving this loss. At the moment,  I’m angry in my grief and a bit snarky with God from time to time. But the rest of the story for our church family has yet to be written- and we really are a family. We will continue to be a family and the blessings of what our pastor, his wife, and their team have built will keep unfolding.

And one of them for me is the total certainty that my grief and hope can coexist, that the feelings in our hearts and the truth of God’s promises are NOT mutually exclusive. It’s a message dripping with the same grace and warmth from the heart of God that characterized our church. Such a fitting tribute to our story, which is still unfolding- even as we turn the page.

Posted in Faith

Simply and Honestly Ourselves

“That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for, those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him.” John 4:23 (MSG)

 

I’m a part of a group of women who are going through the gospel of John and sharing our thoughts in a Facebook group. I’ve been doing my Scripture reading out of The Message for the past couple of months and so it’s that translation I’m reading through this time.  Sometimes reading out of a different translation than I’m used to is just interesting rather than profound, but today was one of those days when it reached right out and grabbed me

The story of the Samaritan Woman at the well in chapter 4 is probably a familiar one to just about anybody who has studied Jesus or attended church for any length of time. In it, Jesus meets a woman at a well and asks her for a drink. She learns that he knows all about her difficult and sin-filled past (and present), he tells her about the LIVING water, and she goes off and tells the people in her village about Jesus and many come to believe because of her witness.

As is the case with EXACTLY ALL of the stories about Jesus’s words and deeds, there are layers and layers of good things to unpack and digest and be fed by.  I could take just that story and write a month’s worth of posts on it. And then come back in a couple of years and see it with new eyes and do the same all over again.

What stuck out at me this time, though, didn’t have as much to do with the content of the story itself as it did with something Jesus said about the nature of God and of worship and of what we are called to- something that Eugene H. Peterson, writer of The Message, thought about in a way I had never had.

Here’s the text from the New International Version, what I’m used to reading and hearing”

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

And here is The Message’s version of this verse:

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

 

 

Being ourselves before the Father.  Being MYSELF.

Worshipping out of our true selves.  MY true self.

 Wow.  My true self.  Who is that even some days?

 

This fallen world is full to bursting with messages about who and what we SHOULD be. As a woman, as a mom, as a CHRISTIAN, I live constantly in the middle of a veritable “should-storm” of ways of being, looking, thinking, feeling, dressing- sometimes who  *I* actually am, how I was created, gets lost in the shuffle. And if I’m perfectly honest, some of the messages I hear seem to tell me that who *I* actually am is wrong.  The world has very different standards from The Maker.

This verse is a reminder of the value of my true self to the One who made me.    Our Father very intentionally made us each as we are, and He did so with greater purpose and intentionality than any of us can muster in our own processes of creation.  And He did this because how we are pleases Him, delights Him- and furthers His kingdom.   He made us just right, y’all.  Just EXACTLY right. Down the number of hairs. on. our. very. head.  He KNIT US TOGETHER HIMSELF, just as He planned for us to be and when we come before Him in worship, He wants to

But in a world that tells us plenty about who we SHOULD be, that divine invitation to come as we are can actually feel quite problematic.  If it comes right down to it, do I even really know HOW to come as I am, just as He made me?  I mean, what is OF ME, THE WAY I WAS MADE BY GOD and what is OF THE WORLD and is part of what has landed on me from the “should-storm” that constantly rages around me?  Do I even know the Truth of me that God wants to see well enough to bring it before Him?  It almost feels like yet another SHOULD being thrown at me.

But God’s requests and invitations stand in stark contrast to the demands of the world.  Just like everything Jesus put out there for us, I know that if I run after it, it will be good. The “shoulds” of the world are a fire that consumes and destroys, the divine biddings of God are a fire that refines and purifies.  If I seek to worship Him out of my very being, then my very being, the one HE created just as He intended, is what I will find.

This challenge, to come as I am before God, is one I’m going to take seriously and really lean into.  I mean, God knows WAY better than I do and I’m quite certain His version of who and what I am and should be is FAR superior to whatever notion I’ve concocted in my head.  And what better, safer, more loving place to do the work of letting down the guards I’ve put up for the world and slipping back into my truest self than in His presence?

Will you join me?  Will you work with me in this season on worshiping God out of your TRUEST self, the way He made you to worship Him?  The things He calls us to are holy, sisters, and I’m glad to be doing them with you.

 

Posted in Faith

New Year’s Resolutions

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!

 

Yes, I know it’s September and we don’t actually turn the calendar to 2018 for four more months (2018!!!! I mean, what?  When did that happen…).  But honestly, between being in school myself, teaching school, and then having kids in school, September has always felt more like the start of something new to me than January ever has.  Consequently, September has always been when the REAL New Year’s Resolutioning has happened for me.  

This year, the resolutioning feels weighty in a way it never has before.  See, we are at that point in the kid-raising where things are ramping up a notch for our family.  Cam (our older) is starting full-day Kinder, Kenzie (our younger) is starting preschool, he’s doing soccer and she’s doing dance, so all of a sudden we have one kid in REAL SCHOOL, both kids in SOME KIND OF SCHOOL, AND evening activities.  Feels like we are getting thrown into the deep end of the pool and we had very well better have our flotation devices ready or have finished swim lessons or something.

I’m self-aware enough to know that being regimented, scheduled, and super-organized is NOT among my spiritual gifts and so this is going to present a major challenge for me and for our family.  Is anyone else in that place? Puh-LEEZE tell me that I am not the only one who feels intimidated by what lies ahead of me this year.  My insecurity is envisioning everyone sitting reading this like, “Psssssh, girl what is wrong? With? You? For REAL women this is our MOMENT!”  If that is you, I’m envious of you, happy for you, and praying you can love me even though I’m over here like this at the thought of what’s to come.

giphy (11)

Recently (how recently I am slightly embarrassed to admit, it may or may not have been within the last 48 hours), I finally moved past the weeks of mounting dread, of fretting and Pinteresting,  of “YOU DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES” panic moments and into the actually PRODUCTIVE space of praying for discernment about what I need to get in place for our family for the coming months.  Took me long enough, right? Always does.  Bless my heart, God loves me just as I am…

As I prayed about what my New Year’s Resolutions should look like, God really surprised me with what He came back with.  He didn’t talk to me about homework routines, organizing our space, making a family calendar or anything like that- although all of those are important and on His list.  What He impressed upon my heart was that what this family was going to need more than anything was for ME to get MY game right inside of me, get my heart and head in order, because nothing was going to go the way it needed to if I’m all scattered and scrambling and adrift all the time.  

Mind= Blown

giphy-downsized-large

He urged me to sit and think about (and also ask HIM about) what little things in my life I needed to change or firm up in order to put myself in a place of strength.   As I mused and prayed, prayed and mused,  I realized that my real question for myself was not what things about my life needed the most fixing, what things about me were the most contraindicative to success in the coming months and therefore needed to be rectified IMMEDIATELY, the question was

What are the things in my life that, when they are in place, make me feel the most like I’ve got my you-know-what together?

  1. Tighten up my Heavenly Connection Game–  If I attempt to walk through my days not sufficiently connected to God, I basically end up like a piñata being battered, smacked around, and ripped wide open by the fallen world around me.  It’s amazing what big things don’t even faze me when I’m rightly anchored and it’s equally as amazing what little things do get me down and set me off when I’m adrift. Truly there is no such thing as ENOUGH connection to heaven this side of eternity, but that’s part of what makes our faith journey such a refining fire- we are constantly working to get better at being closer.  For now, two of my girlfriends and I are walking through the “Enjoying Jesus” study from IF:Gathering that unpacks the spiritual disciplines and guides us toward implementing them in our lives.  I’m excited to try them out and really work on finding pieces that will strengthen my daily routines that anchor me to God and keep the lines of communication and connection open. I’m guessing I’ll be blogging about that.
  2. Commit to MY bedtime routine–  In the book Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist (I love her, do you love her?  We are besties.  Only she doesn’t know it yet) talks about making a resolution NOT to sleep in her clothes.  She decided that taking care of herself meant actually putting on jammies at the end of every day and I can relate to that on such a deep level.  At the end of my days, I am usually EXHAUSTED and just ready to be done, I will throw on jammies, quickly brush teeth, and leave #allthethings just as they are in my desire to just be done. The problem there is that I wake up in the morning to a messy floor, mascara under my eyes, and basically start the day two steps behind.  It makes A BIG DIFFERENCE to me if I taken ten minutes at the end of my day to pick up my room and bathroom, set the living room right for the morning, actually attend to my skincare routine, maybe throw some oils in the diffuser, and basically don’t neglect stuff.  I wake in the morning feeling like I’m already all over it just by waking up.
  3. Meal. Plan.-  This family runs on food.  *I* run on food.  I have discovered over the years that our entire life can be in ashambles, the house can be a mess, we can be MILES behind the 8 ball, and yet if our meals are easy and on time and locked down, it’s somehow manageable.  And for me, if I have no idea what I’m doing for breakfast/lunch/dinner, the entire day seems like so much work.  I LOATHE taking the time to meal plan. I am a Big Idea Person, I would rather be solving the problems of the world than taking my brain space to attend to painfully dull minutiae like PLANNING FRIDAY’S DINNER ON SUNDAY. But I like my life so much better when I do it.  And also, if I plan ahead I can ORDER my groceries for the week from Fred Meyer and PICK! THEM! UP! Without even setting foot in the store with two children.  So, meal planning it is.
  4. Exercise-  If you know me at all, you know that physical activity is not my jam. I didn’t play sports in high school, I dislike exerting myself, I am not super into doing long stretches of repetitive things like CARDIO and STRENGTH TRAINING REPS- It’s not my thing.  But, much like meal planning and washing my face at night, I feel better about my life when I do it. And also, I’m about to be 39 1/2. Which means in six months…well, you know what it means.  I’m about to start needing things like regular mammograms and I already know I have several risk factors for bone loss- I basically need to start taking care of my body before stuff starts falling apart, actively working to maintain my health for my family.  And if I just *happen* to look slimmer and trimmer as I put my childbearing years behind me, that also would not suck.  So, 3-4 times a week it is.  Uggggggggh…

So, there you have it.  Four small things that are actually HARD things that if I do them, will make me feel like I have my ish together enough to run the show. If I do those things, they will lay a foundation for the other things. Allllll of the other things.

So, my sisters, what would be your Big Four? The things self-care items that you feel like will help you come from the place of strength your family needs from you as the coming months march on? Share them with me!  Let’s hold each other accountable, encourage one another, commiserate when we fail, congratulate when we nail it, and be better people together.

Posted in Faith

“You’re trying, and it matters,” -God

Today, I loaded my kids in the car and we went for a walk at a nearby nature park.

That doesn’t sound like a particularly momentous thing for a mom with two littles to do, but for this particular mom on this particular day, it required A LOT OF sucking it up and putting on of the proverbial big girl britches.

It has been a rough few weeks over here for various reasons, lots of growing pains for all of us combined with a cold virus that has packed a powerful punch of fatigue.  I didn’t feel like doing anything but throwing a movie on for the kids and laying on the couch wallowing, but we had already done that EVERY OTHER DAY THIS WEEK, so it felt like a change of pace was the grown-up thing to do.  And we all know that being a grown-up is severely overrated at times.

When we got there, the kids took off running. They got sick before I did and so of course are feeling better before I am with all of the energy and enthusiasm that I lack, bless all of our hearts.

First, they started noticing that someone had put brightly-painted rocks along the path and the kids were SO EXCITED ABOUT finding all of them.

 

Then we stumbled on a path we hadn’t taken before and Cam declared that we would be embarking on “The Mystewy of the Mystewious Path!” (be sure to read that in your most spooky voice to get the full effect)

I mean, there I was surrounded by the bright beauty of a brand new spring with happy, excited kids who were being delightful and hilarious and my heart just would. Not. Lift. I didn’t feel good in either body or spirit and I couldn’t get myself to the place I felt like I should be, to the place that I felt like would have been honoring to God in light of the blessings of that moment.

I decided that as long as I was there with nothing else to do, I might as well pray. I couldn’t muster much, so I went simple and lifted a few short prayers for those around me who are DEFINITELY in the middle of some very heavy seasons that make mine look like a day at the beach: My friend with the daughter who’s having seizures, the friend with breast cancer, another friend who just lost a cousin to an overdose, my friends in the throes of divorce, someone near to me with an upcoming surgery.

It felt like a dismal, paltry offering and I was almost ready to throw in the towel when of a sudden, God spoke into my mess with words of glittering, glowing grace:

“You’re trying,” He told me.  “And it matters.”

FullSizeRender 7.jpg

That was a counterintuitive message for me in that moment. When the going gets tough, when the path is dark and difficult and our footsteps stumble, we are quick to chide ourselves, to deepen our despair with a recounting of our failures. Not to mention that the enemy of our souls loves to capitalize on the moments when we are down, whispering that we aren’t enough, that our prayers aren’t enough, so why even try?

But that isn’t God’s way.  He just happens to be the best parent that this world and the next have ever seen and He sees our circumstances and struggles for what they are and loves us right through them.

Kind of like Mister Cameron learning to ride a bike without training wheels.   We see it, we know how hard it is, and when his attempts fail and the tears start, his Daddy whispers to him, “It’s hard, buddy. But you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

Miss Kendall is probably 3/4 of the way potty trained now, but the first few days were rough. She would have accidents and break down in tears, but I would help her change, clean up the mess and say, “Accidents happen, honey.  Learning to use the potty is hard, but you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

There are also moments when we say to our kids, “I know you can do better than this,” moments where we don’t back down from expecting their best because it’s our job to push them to step up and grow.  But, if we are on our parenting game, those are NOT the moments when they are tired, not feeling good, having a rough day, or facing a task that is really difficult for them.

And my sisters, God is ALWAYS on His parenting game. He can read our hearts even better than we can because He knit them together in our mother’s wombs and He has numbered our steps.  He has also walked on this earth and lived among us humans in the person of Jesus. He gets it, He knows, and His vision isn’t clouded, even when ours is.

In those tough moments, when the best we can muster is going through the motions and saying the words even if our hearts don’t seem to follow, He will meet us where we are. He sees us trying and CHOOSING HIM, even if we aren’t that great at it in the moment, and it MATTERS.

So be brave, my sisters, and try. Whatever you’re facing, whatever your battle or dark season looks like, choose to do the right thing, put one foot in front of the other, and approach Him with whatever strength you’ve got.

Because He looks on us with eyes of a Father, can reach down and meet us in our struggles and fog, and can Himself fill in that gap between earth and heaven.

Your trying matters, Mama.  So keep it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, Family

The Sacredness of Struggle: REALness over REELness

Image result for the struggle is real

Picture it: Monday morning about 9:30, me dragging my doughy physique reluctantly into the gym, a scowl on my face and a complaint in my heart.  It had NOT been a good morning in momland- at least not in this mom’s land.  Not one but BOTH of my kids had melted down spectacularly in plain view at preschool drop-off  and goshdarnit I had to take one of the little balls of angst with me when I left because only one of them actually attends the preschool where they both melted down. Oy.

I was feeling the realness of the struggle that morning and it was NOT sitting well with me. As I sat stretching before my workout (a loathsome task that reminds me how painfully little flexibility I actually have in comparison to the yoga queens all around me), I allowed a little prayer to grudgingly escape my heart. I’d love to be able to say that I had leaned into the call to praise The Lord in all circumstances but really, this was more like me complaining to the only person around to listen. “UGH!  God why does it have to be HARD? I mean…am I not busting my rear end over here with these kids?  Like, I’m trying my hardest to raise them right- WHY CAN’T IT JUST BE EASY!”

Now, being that God is a WAY better parent than me, when I bring my complaints to him, he does not snap back that HE is not the complaint department and whatever has ruffled my feathers is NOT his fault so he could do with a little more respect from me, thank me very much.  No, he actually acts like he’s just grateful I finally decided to actually talk about it rather than walking around under a storm cloud like I’m Eeyore or something (Huh. Maybe should try that with my own kids sometime).

As I sat there with my hands barely clinging to my toes and my nose resting way, way, WAY above my knees, he poured out grace and mercy and understanding all over me.

“Mom life is hard because it’s supposed to be.  Without the struggle, why would you seek connection?”

 

My mind was instantly flooded with images of the moms I love so dearly, the ones I have connected with over their struggles and mine, and it was laid bare for me in those moments the way the realness of the struggle of raising baby humans is the glue that binds moms together.  I mean, this is true for humans in general.  Anyone who has walked through a challenging season in their marriage (or any other relationship) and come out the other side having worked things out can tell you how powerful struggle is when it comes to bonding humans to one another.  Even groups of strangers who are together during a traumatic experience tend to bond to one another.

But for moms, it feels like there’s something deeper there. Particularly in our culture of social media highlight reels, the Mommy Wars, and Something-to-Prove Motherhood, the struggle can nudge us toward deeper, deeply NEEDED levels of connection- the stuff that sisterhood is made of.

Struggle makes moms NEED one another in a way that abandons pretense and evokes authenticity.

It’s one thing to post a pic on Instagram of me and my mom friends out for some “desperately needed girl time!   #momsnightout  #lovethesegirls” and quite another to sit across the table or computer screen from them asking them what in the heck I’m doing wrong since I CANNOT get my child to stop hitting me.  The way my struggles have forced me to open up to my friends, to lay down my “got it all together” and to really be ministered to by their “me, toos” and their words of experience has bred an authenticity in our relationship that wouldn’t be there any other way.  I mean yeah, we need each other for companionship, release, and reminders that we are something OTHER than the sum of what the people we live with need from us. But when words of love and reassurance from other moms are all that stands between me and desolation and what pull me back from a place of desperation- the realness of THAT struggle is something sacred.

Struggle makes moms real and accessible to one another in world where highlight reels feel like the law of the land.

I remember the early days of motherhood where I would sit with my phone in my hand while nursing my son, stalking the Facebook profiles of the other women in my online moms’ group, CONVINCED that they had it all together and that Mrs. Hot Mess Express over here had  A LOT of work to do to get on their level and be worthy of their friendship.  Slowly, however, that began to change as these women shared their struggles and they began to seem a lot more like me.  This mom had a struggle in her marriage, that mom could NOT get her daughter to potty train, nursing just wasn’t working out for this mom’s second baby, how was that family going to pay the bills and why couldn’t this mom seem to keep her house clean.  It was through seeing that other moms struggled as well, seeing the REALness behind the REELness (if you catch my drift) made them seem like real people, folks I could be friends with.  I mean, some people may be drawn to the girl who seems to have it all together, but she intimidates the heck out of me and being in her presence makes all of my own warts seem larger than life.  If it weren’t for our struggles and SHARING those struggles, we might all walk around looking like the girl who’s got it all together, our sister-moms not feeling like they could draw near to us and become our friends.

As I awkwardly bumbled through the rest of my workout, I grudgingly gave way to a modicum gratitude for the things in my life as a mom that make it less than perfect. The things that cause me to lean on my sister-moms, the things that make us able to relate to one another, the things that make authenticity and the only option. I mean, I wish it didn’t have to be so hard, but I BELIEVE in the power of mom friendships and I’m grateful for whatever it is that makes them deeper and more plentiful.   I’ll take REALness over REELness any day- preschool meltdowns and all. But I would like to be able to touch my toes more easily.  Better get to work on that….

Posted in Faith, Fun

That’s My Girl- Cheering on My Sisters in 2017

fullsizerender-4

It’s been awhile since I’ve written over on my very own blog. I’ve been blogging twice a month for the Mother Manifesto blog and helping to manage their FB Community, workin’ my Noonday business, and trying to keep my kids alive and my house in a condition in which one can walk in a straight line safely and cook a meal without contracting food poisoning. Plus also HOLIDAYS.

But I wanted to hop on over here for New Year’s Post to talk about something that is heavy on my heart right now- heavy in a GOOD, GOOD way. I feel a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL burden as the new year emerges, and it all centers around one thing: My. Girls.

It’s been awhile since I’ve added any mood music to a blog post, but I think this calls for one:

Y’all, God has blessed with some amazing women in my life. I’ve got ‘em comin’ at me from truly every aspect of my life:  my family (my mother and aunt are the kind of women that make the devil say, “Oh snap! She’s awake!” each and every morning), my friends from childhood and college, my Sister Moms, my Noonday Ambassador Sisters, my Church Girls- I’m not even lying when I say that my world is a smorgasbord of Female Ass-Kicking Talent (and they all either cuss a little or love me even though I do, so I feel like I can safely say that without shocking any of them).

My beautiful and exciting burden in the new year is to cheer. them. on. Because you guys, they are doing the Lord’s work, each and every one of them, whether they know it or not.

The Bible tells us that we were all created in the image of God and my relationship with God has made that feel so very really real for me. There are things about me that I know I couldn’t have mustered myself and when I see His reflection in others, it is BLINDINGLY beautiful in ways that nothing else is. It’s a real, REAL thing.

The problem is that we live in a culture that seems to be more focused on what it wants from women rather than on what God wants to show forth through them. The World has taken Glorious Image-Bearers of Our Almighty Creator and attempted to condense us in to easy-to-digest, bite-sized morsels of easily consumable “femininity,” a product whittled away to the sum of our uses.  It is so easy for us to get so distracted by pursuing what The World seems to want from us that we lose touch with the still small voice that is whispering to us of who we really are.

When women bravely step into and run after the call they feel on their hearts, it deals a powerful blow to the current order in this world- and to the enemy of our souls. When a woman steps into her purpose, first of all, she is giving one of the greatest gifts imaginable to everyone in her life and in the world at large. God created us each of us unique and different, with gifts and talents that only we have- and He did this ON! PURPOSE! The Eternal I Am knows exactly what His creation needed, needs, and will need and He put gifts in each of us to fill those needs as only we can.  When we pursue the fulfillment of that, we are building His kingdom and everything that is and and is to come benefits from that.

Second of all, when a woman bravely steps up and steps out, she is basically taking a metaphorical sledgehammer and dealing out a crushing blow that leaves a CRACK in the walls that have been built around women.  Because not only is she doing it, OTHERS ARE SEEING HER DO IT.   Her family is watching her, her friends are watching her, other women, men, CHILDREN- everyone is watching and y’all, that changes the status quo. When any woman looks at the things that are holding her back and holding her down and says ENOUGH, she is creating space for other women to do the same.

So in 2017, I’ll be spending the year cheering my little arss off for the women in my life as they do the brave and hard things

And my Sisters, let us be very clear that what constitutes the brave and hard and important and necessary things that need doing in your lives will differ from woman to woman, from girl to girl. Just as we and our lives are distinctly different from one another, so are the things that need doing in order to fulfill who God created us to be.

One person may feel called to start her own business or pursue a career she’s always felt called to and another to leave her job to stay home with her kids.

One may decide to fight for her marriage and one may decide she’s fought long enough and it’s time to break free.

One may be bravely pursuing the dream of motherhood amid obstacles she never even imagined and yet another might be struggling to create an identity for herself distinct from her children.

One may be fighting slavery, poverty, trafficking and injustice all across the globe while another is focused on changing hearts and minds in her own family and circles.

One may need to leave behind toxic relationships and another might bravely pursue friendship and connection in the face of crippling social anxiety.

One may decide that this is the year she finally sheds pounds and changes habits to get healthier while another decides to finally stop striving and love her body just as it is (although, we should ALL love our bodies, whether we are called to change them or not).

There may be a woman out there deciding that 2020 is the year that she will be elected the first woman President of the United States while another may be deciding that this week she will leave her house and walk to her mailbox despite fears that seem larger than life- and both of those women are doing brave and hard things that are shifting the atmosphere and making room for ALL of us to live into everything we were created to be.

And y’all- each of those women need their sisters cheering for them because they’re not just doing for themselves, they are doing it for all of us.

So please excuse me if I embarrass the heck out of you by being basically being the Sister Mom version of THAT MOM in the stands at the basketball game who’s all, “THAT’S MY BABY! YOU MAKE THAT BASKET, SWEETHEART!” That’s basically gonna be me shouting, “THAT’S MY GIRL! YOU GET IT, SISTER!!!! I KNOW HER!  SHE’S MY GIRL!!!!”

Run, Sister. I’m cheering you on. Will you do the same for me? Let’s do this.

#thatsmygirl

Posted in Faith, Family

On Surrender: A Kitchen Epiphany

Do you ever have those moments where God uses your kids (or anything else for that matter) to smack you upside the head with an object lesson?  Well, this morning that happened to me, right there at the kitchen island after breakfast.

Cam and Kenzie had finished their Cheerios and were doodling in coloring books and dry erase boards while I puttered around the kitchen, still trying to render  myself fully awake (I may have mentioned before that I’m not a morning person. If you missed it, here that is.)

I wheeled around at the sound of an instantaneous cry of desperation from Kenzie.

“Can you fix it, my board?”  She said tearily.

I walked over to the counter to find that her dry erase board had shed its pink plastic border, which didn’t impede the functionality at all but still feels like a crisis when you’re two and you think you’ve broken something.

fullsizerender-2

“Sure, honey! I’ll bet I can fix that!” I replied reassuringly, as I walked over to where she was seated to take the board from her and commence the motherly magic that would restore her board to its glory and basically save her morning from the clutches of disaster. You know, like the superhero she still thinks I am.

Apparently Kenzie’s plan for getting the board fixed and mine did not jive.

“NONONONONONONO!  No teekee board!”  She objected as I tried to take the board out of her hand to fix it.

OK, I thought to myself, sometimes we can fix things while they are still in the kids’ hands.

A quick assessment of the jigsaw puzzle of 8 separate pieces that made up the plastic border to this board led me to the conclusion that this was NOT one of those times.

“Honey,” I replied in exasperation, “I can’t fix it if you don’t let me have it.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, here came God with nudge and a chuckle, “YOU SEE?!?!?! DO YOU SEE HOW IT WORKS? I can’t fix it unless you let me have it #boomgoesthedynamite.”  (I totally think God can use hashtags, by the way.  I mean, why wouldn’t He?   He abides in all things that are, have been, and are to come.  #NoExceptions)

He also drew my mind to the DOZENS of times that similar things have happened with Mister Cameron, aka Clutch McGrabbyhands.  Cam has always been insanely handsy and has to touch ALLTHETHINGS and learn everything about them.   He wants to know how everything works, fix things himself, and it can be physically hard for him to let things go, even when it’s clear it needs a grownup’s touch, because he wants so badly to figure it out himself.

I wish I could say that this interaction with God yielded a broad-stroked epiphany, that I am forever changed, and I descended from the mountaintop with a stone tablet-worthy list of “Top Ten Failproof Ways to Surrender It All to God.” Wouldn’t that be nice?  Unfortunately that is not so much the case. Not even a little bit.

What it did give me was yet another reminder of the importance of surrender- and also a loving and perfect acknowledgement that my Father in Heaven knows how hard that can be for me.  He is infinitely more perfect and loving than we are, so as tender as I can feel toward Kenzie as she sat heartbroken over her fractured dry erase board, and toward Cam who just DESPERATELY wants to figure things out for himself, I can multiply that times infinity when I picture Him seeing me holding fractured and broken pieces that I just want to put back together somehow.  As always, when God convicts me, it felt like a warm breeze that lifted me up on its wings even has it opened my eyes to a way I can do better in my walk with Him.

But it also came with what felt like the heavenly equivalent of that look I give Cam when I need him to know that I mean business.  Like, “I love you so much, but SRSLY,  you need to get on this.”  I hadn’t figured on “surrender” as my word for this week- I’ve been much more focused on things like “diligence” and “perseverance” lately. But isn’t it just like God to sharpen my focus to something that is less about me and more about Him?

So, I’m going to go forth into this week focusing on surrender.  Surrrrrrrrennnnnnnderrrrr. Let it roll off the tongue and sink into my heart.  Relax. Sit back.  Make like Elsa and let it go, knowing that as I let things pass out of my hands, they rise to infinitely more capable hands, hands that can make sense of things that to me are a jumble, hands that can bring order out of chaos and beauty from ashes, and hands that can tenderly and lovingly minister to my wounds and my needs as only a parent can. If I come up with any stone tablet-worthy epiphanies, I promise y’all will be the first to know- but don’t hold your breath 😉