Posted in Five Minute Friday, Friendship

#FMF: Include (This one Made Me Cry)

It’s Five Minute Friday! Or in my case, Five Minute Saturday because life.  And also kids.  This week’s word is “Include” and if I’m perfectly honest, I may have been putting this off just a bit.

Inclusion/Exclusion are a big deal for me.  There’s a story to tell there, and I don’t know how much I’m ready for and how deep into it I’m going to get…

But I’ve been for a run, I’ve got “Stronger” by Britney Spears blasting on repeat in my ears, and I think I’m ready to do this.

*fastens big girl britches*



Those are loaded words for me.

Words that have carried so much meaning and heartbreak over the years.  Words that also carry hope and empowerment.

I have been the seventh grader in class on Monday morning with all the kids around me talking about the birthday party they went to, realizing I was just abou the only one who wasn’t invited.

I have been the 18-year-old girl, the week before her freshman year of college, sitting on the floor of her dorm room listening to her Rush Counselors tell her that not a single sorority on campus had asked her back for the rush events that night.

I have been an adult, watching as friend groups have congealed around me, feeling like I should be a part of them and desperately wanting to, and feeling the weight and conviction of my own failures to fit in, to be include, that followed me into adulthood.

I have felt the sting and condemnation of exclusion.

But then…but now…God has changed my story.

This is Five Minute Friday so I don’t have time to get into the details, but since I became a mom, inclusion has allowed me to break free of the chains that exclusion had wrapped around my heart. I have seen how the healing power of audacious, extravagant INCLUSION can create a space for growth, for healing, can help us break free.

And so now here I am, preaching inclusion. In the Kingdom and in the world.

Because I believe that inclusion changes lives, it’s changed mine.

GAH! I wasn’t even ready for that…

There’s more there, some day…thanks for reading.

Posted in Friendship

5 Moms You Meet in the Comment Section (And How to Respond)

Warning: This post is a little salty.  Kinda sweet, but mostly salty. Bless my heart…

Ah, the comment section of social media posts, where common decency goes to die. The intoxicating combination of strong opinions and unrestricted access to a keyboard causes grown adults forget their manners AND their Jesus all over Ellen or Jen Hatmaker or Today Parents or KGW Newschannel 8 or whoever has evoked their righteous opinionation. I wonder what would happen if, at the end of each day, everyone had to show their mom what they commented on Facebook.  I’ll bet things would look a lot different.

This is particularly true of PARENTING POSTS. Almost everyone has either had a parent or been a parent and so eeeeeeeeeeeeeeverybody has an opinion, experience, advice, etc.  I’m not just talking about strangers on the other side of a computer screen here. Sometimes the responses we get from our very own friends and family when we post about the realities of our parenting journeys can be disheartening. We get strong opinions and advice WHETHER OR NOT WE ASKED FOR THEM and too often they are not presented with much love and care.  For a mom whose heart is cracked wide open with love for her babies, who is tired and tender from the struggle she’s in, it can feel like a punch in the gut.

Over time, however, you start to notice patterns in these responses.  The same people say the same types of things, DIFFERENT people say the same types of things…and you start to think that maaaaaaaaaaybe, just maybe these comments that people are leaving are actually more about them than they are about us.

I brought this topic up to a group of moms who have solemnly sworn to be brutally honest with me as I write about motherhood (I’m lookin’ at you, TBMFers), and what follows are character sketches of five of the most common types of commenters we have encountered on our social media posts about parenting.

-This list is by no means exhaustive.  Good heavens, it’s nowhere NEAR comprehensive of all we’ve experienced as we’ve shared our parenting journeys out loud.
-It’s not designed to make anyone feel badly about the comments they leave for others. It’s meant to let other moms know they aren’t alone when they see these types of comments show up on their posts.  YOU! ARE! A! GREAT! MOM!  And don’t ever let anyone make you forget it…

  1. The Perfect Mom.
    On a post about formula feeding, she says, “Oh, I wouldn’t know. I breastfed all nine of my kids until they were five.”
    When a mom is trying to bring some realness about the struggle of keeping a clean house with kids in it, she says,  “My kids were all picking up after themselves before their first birthday. My house never looks like that.”

    This is the mom who seems to see another mom’s post as a chance to talk about great she herself  is. She doesn’t really have anything helpful to say, but she does see a chance to be seen and heard for her own parenting prowess, so she chimes in. This type of response is 100% about her and not about you. Whether she realizes or not, this mom feels like she has something to prove so she’s looking for any opportunity to remind herself and everyone else that she’s good at this mom thing.

    How to respond: Bless her heart and keep on scrolling.

  2. The Silver Bullet Expert.
    She shows up on the post about chronic constipation and simply says, “Prunes. Worked for my kids every time.”  I mean…really? CHRONIC constipation and you think we haven’t tried prunes?  Or when you’ve had a sleepless month (or several months) and just want some sympathy for your fatigue, this person shows up with, “Sleep training. We did it and Drizella sleeps perfectly now.”

    Whether you’re asking for advice or not, this commenter has it.  And it’s perfect. Worked perfectly every single time for every kid they ever had and if it hasn’t worked for you, you CLEARLY must not have tried it yet.  Also, this person rarely bothers with any fluff along with their sage advice. No, “I’m sorry you’re struggling.” No, “Oh, been there, girl!” Nope, this commenter just drops their wisdom in as few words as possible, drops the mic, and walks off to bless someone else with their infinite wisdom.

     This mom might actually think she’s being helpful. Maybe she doesn’t have time to add much more.  Or maybe she genuinely just does not GET. IT. that all families and all kids are different and what works for her might not work for the rest of us.  In any case,

    How to respond: Bless her heart and keep on scrolling.

  3. The “Just Waiter”
    There seem to be two types of “Just Waiters.”
    One of them is the seasoned parent who, for some reason, doesn’t want us newbies getting too big for our britches so always wants to make sure we know WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET, just wait…  When you’re dealing with pregnancy insomnia, she says, “This is nothing, just wait until the baby is born!”  When you’re crying at preschool graduation, she quips, “Just wait until he leaves for college…”
    The other “Just Waiters” are well-intentioned friends who are trying to share in our excitement, but miss the mark a bit. When your kid says, “mama” for the first time, “Oh, just wait until she says ‘I love you!’”  When your kid learns to pull himself up, “Just wait until he runs to you for the first time!”

    In either case, this type of response tends to sting a little because the moments feel BIG and BAD (or GOOD) for us, and it’s just not awesome to have someone come through and point out that it’s going to get worse (or better).  (And, for the record, sometimes they are wrong. Pregnancy insomnia was worse for me than newborn sleeplessness). While their intentions are often pure, sometimes they are doing their level best to be excited with us, the “Just Waiter” could stand to take a step back and just let us have our moment.

    How to respond: Bless her heart and keep on scrolling.

  4. The Veteran Whose Kids “Turned Out Fine.”
    “Rear facing until two? Hmph! In my day we didn’t even have car seats and my kids turned out fine!”
    “No solid food until after six months? Hmph. I fed you strained peas at two days old and you turned out fine.”

    There you are, doing your best to follow the latest research on what’s best for your kids, and here comes The Veteran to tell you she doesn’t understand the fuss over this newfangled flibbertygibbert, her kids turned out just fine without it so it must just be some witchcraft nonsense.  Truth be told, I can actually feel where this mom is coming from. Nobody wants to hear that the way they raised their kids wouldn’t fly by today’s standards.  But here’s the thing: I fully expect to experience the same thing when I’ve achieved Veteran status. I expect that science and progress will unlock better and safer methods for future generations of moms. But that won’t mean I was a bad mom, nor does baby-led weaning and back-is-best sleeping mean that the moms of previous generations were bad either. We all do the best we can with whatever information we have at the time. So I kind of want to hug the Veteran Whose Kids Turned Out Fine and tell her she was a great mom.  But also remind her that progress is a good thing in other areas and it’s a good thing in parenting as well.

    How to respond: Bless her heart and keep on scrolling.

  5. The One Who Really Sees You.
    Sometimes she has actual practical advice for you, and sometimes she just says, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this, that sounds so hard.”  When things are good, she applauds and gushes over your kids’ accomplishments and yours, and reminds you that you and your kids actually ARE every bit as special as you feel in that moment.
    She tells you you’re a great mom and that your kids are lucky to have you.

    This is the mom who shows up in your tough moments and makes you feel like you’re not alone, like you’re not ACTUALLY failing, and like you might just make it out of this season of parenting.  She’s authentic and honest about her own struggles, knowing that being herself will give you permission to be yourself.  Her goal is not to give the best advice or make you feel better about HER, her goal is to shine light into your darkness and make you feel better about yourself.  This is the kind of mom you want in your squad, the kind of friend you want to give your best love back to, and the kind of commenter that makes us feel like we just might survive the internet after all.

    How to respond: Bless her heart and hold on tight.  


In the end, we would be remiss if we hated on these moms too much. Fact is, their hearts are just as tender from their parenting experiences as ours are. And also, who knows but what we may have inadvertently stepped on someone else’s toes when we commented on their post either. So nothin’ but love, mamas. Nothin’ but love.

But the fact remains that we all need to be told we are good moms, that we aren’t screwing our kids up, and that we are seen in our struggles. If we are honest with ourselves, that’s probably why most of us post online AND the reason the above-described moms comment the way they do.  So the next time you feel led to comment on someone else’s social media post about parenting, throw in these six little words:

Sounds like you’re a great mom.

These words cover a MYRIAD of sins, mistakes we might inadvertently make, because they are dripping with love and grace and what everyone needs to hear.

“Sounds like you’re a great mom!  Have you tried prunes?  It worked for us!”

“Sounds like you’re a great mom! I haven’t been there, but I’m here if you need support.”

“Sounds like you’re a great mom. We didn’t have car seats when I was raising my kids, what will they think of next?”

If enough of us said this to each other, the comment section would become a much more encouraging place for moms to be- and Lord knows we need more of those spaces.

Go forth and love other moms.

Posted in Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Adapt

Every week, Christian writers across the internet join together to write for five minutes about a one-word prompt and share our responses with each other.  This is my second week participating. 

This week’s word is: Adapt


Adapt or Die is the title of a book about leadership principals written by former US Army General Rick Lynch.

It would also be a fabulous title for a book about parenting.

From the moment you go from zero kids to being responsible for a newborn to the moment they are grown, getting married, and having kids of their own (or so I’ve heard), you’re hanging on tight and trying to keep up with all the developmental changes their seasons of life are throwing at you.

Just when you’ve got them napping three times a day, they start to drop one of their naps…then the other…and then stop napping altogether, leaving you to ADAPT OR DIE,

When you’ve parented your way out of one behavioral struggle, they decide to start testing the boundaries in another way, leaving you to regroup the troops, formulate new battle plans and ADAPT OR DIE

In these seasons of rapidly-changing life, I am so glad I’ve got a God who is unchanging. The same yesterday, today, and always. Because if I didn’t have an anchor in this storm a safe harbor to run to as the winds and waves of ADAPT OR DIE are swirling around me, I would lose my ever-loving mind.

Father, thank You for Your unchanging grace and mercy, both for me and for my kids. Thank  You that Your mercies are new every morning, that Your truth is ALWAYS true, and that as life changes us around us, Your love and Your plan for us can be our foundation and our solid rock. Amen.

(And the timer went off thirty seconds ago, but I had to finish that prayers.)

See you next week!

Posted in Faith

When God Prunes Good Things

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Spring has (FINALLY!!!) sprung here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming, people are sneezing, and we’ve all begun sprucing up our yards.  This year,  Jeff and I decided it was time to stop messin’ around and hired a crew to come in and basically lay waste to our front yard.  The weeds were pulled, the grass was edged, the shrubs were trimmed.  But also, some stuff that we  (or the previous owners) had planted on purpose got ripped out as well, things we didn’t like, that were hard to keep up, looked messy, even things we were just kind of “meh” about.  Right now, our front yard looks neat, but a little barren as it waits for whatever we’re going to do next- and frankly, we haven’t even gotten that far yet. We’re gonna plant stuff, that’s about all we know.

As I watched this process unfold over the course of a few hours on a rainy Friday morning, it jogged something in my mind, a memory of what the past year of my life has looked like.  It was almost exactly a year ago that God began a process in me that looked an awful lot like what was happening in our yard that morning- and left the landscape of my life looking very similar to how our yard looked after the workers left: stripped down, a little empty, and awaiting new planting.

Over the course of the past year, God has gone on a pruning spree.  People, places, spaces, relationships, endeavors: Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone.  And it’s not just the weeds we are talking about here, we are talking about stuff I had planted in my life on purpose- even and especially stuff HE had planted- stuff I had cultivated, nurtured, watered, and grown in a way that probably made the plants in my front yard exceedingly jealous.

And unlike the workers in our front yard, I did not get to tell God what to take out.  As a matter of fact, He went for some things that I very much wanted to keep- and I fought Him tooth and nail as He took them out, digging in my heels, clinging until my knuckles were white, probably making quite the scene in the process.

I’ve prayed on multiple occasions over the years that God would do in my life the work that Jesus describes in John 15:2:

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa so that it will be even more fruitful.”   

But when I pictured God doing the work of pruning, I pictured withered branches, failing bushes, toxic weeds, dead weight. And I envisioned it feeling good, like having burdens lifted or split ends trimmed off. I didn’t imagine Him cutting off vines that still had lush leaves, ripping out shrubs I had planted and tended and even loved. And I didn’t picture it hurting so much.

I didn’t picture Him pruning GOOD things, and yet He did.  They were things that had been life-giving, iron-sharpening, and had changed me for the better in their season.

I have grieved for the things He pruned, I have experienced anger and even betrayal as they’ve been taken, and I have struggled mightily as some toxic weeds like resentment and bitterness have tried to take root in the empty spaces they left behind.

But God is always good, no exceptions. Through this season, He has taught me some new things about the times when He’s moving in ways I don’t understand.

  • Just because it hurts doesn’t mean it’s bad.  Because the pruning didn’t feel like I expected it to, it was quite awhile before I recognized God’s hand in what was happening.  As a matter of fact, there were times when I wondered where the heck God was as the landscape of my life was being uprooted in painful ways.  But God is everywhere at all times and just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t holy and blessed.
  • Just because things were pruned doesn’t mean they were bad.  Sometimes God prunes things because they weren’t good and we just couldn’t see it.  But even the most life-giving things can have an expiration date in our lives, a point when it’s time for them to give way to what’s next.  We don’t have to let the pruning cast a shadow on the graces of seasons past, what was good in our lives will always have been good, even after its time in our life is over.
  • Just because they’ve been pruned doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gone for good.  Some things are gone for good or will remain permanently as a shadow of what they once were.  But some things God trims so they could grow back better, fuller, and healthier.  Some things need to be gone for awhile but will sprout up again when their season in our lives return.  God can redeem, restore, and revive anything so I’m keeping a door open in my heart for these good things, maybe they will have their time again.

Unlike our yard, which still awaits us getting off our rear ends and planting new things, the empty spaces in my life are beginning to be filled in. Some new things are starting to sprout, some existing things are starting to expand into the empty spaces, all good and beautiful growth that was enabled by the painful pruning season. But some of the landscape is still blank, and much like our yard, it looks and feels little barren as it waits for whatever He’s going to do next. I feel like I’m only seeing a small piece of what He has planned, but my trust muscles were also strengthened through this pruning. I don’t know what He’s got planned, all I know is that He’s going to plant stuff and it’s going to be beautiful.

If this post resonated with you, check out this episode of Annie F. Down’s “That Sounds Fun” podcast featuring Tauren Wells, one of my current favorite musical artists.  In it, Tauren uses the term “divine expiration” to describe the end of the season of things in our lives  I can’t recommend it enough.

Posted in Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Stuck

Hi, Friends!  

I know I’ve been publishing only on Tuesdays, but as part of my efforts to grow as a writer, I’m going to start participating in Five Minute Friday.  (click on the link to learn more!)

Every Friday, I’m going to join with a group of other Christian writers who write for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt and share with one another the links to what they’ve written.   This week’s word is “Stuck” 

So here goes nothin’.  Setting timer….and….

Stuck. Mired. Stranded.

With one’s feet nailed to the floor, desperate to move forward, but unable to.

There are many definitions for the word “stuck,” but that was the one that popped into my head when I first heard the word “stuck,” because that is where I see so many of the people around me right now.

We feel stuck because nothing in our life is changing.

We feel stuck as we desperately wait for an opportunity to come along, a job, a discovery, something.

We wait, lonely and discouraged, to meet the love of our lives (been there) or to become a mom.

We feel stuck as the systems fail us as we desperately wait for justice.

We feel stuck as we wait for healing that seems long overdue.

We feel stuck as we wait for our kids to grow out of whatever difficult phase has taken over our lives.

We cry out for moving forward and wonder where God is in all of it.

But God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

He is working in the heavenly realms even when our circumstances seem stagnant.

I declare that now and YELL it and POUND IT INTO MY VERY OWN HEAD because it is so hard to remember that when we are stuck, in the mired moments and the stagnant seasons.

God is always working, even when we are stuck.  He grows us in the stuckness, He uses the stuckness to bring about the things in the world around us that we need to move forward, but ALWAYS He is with us. Holding us close to his heart, working all things for our good.  Even the Stuckness.

And there’s the timer.

PHEW! I survived my first Five Minute Friday!  See you next week!

Posted in Friendship

When Social Media Lies About Friendship


Let me set the scene for you:

It’s Saturday night. The kids are in bed, you’re sitting on the couch in your jammies with a cup of tea or decaf coffee. Or wine. Or straight whiskey on the rocks.  Whatever floats your boat.

You’re scrolling through your social media feed and seeing posts showing what everyone else is up to this weekend.

One friend is out with a group of other girls, having drinks.  #LoveTheseGirls #GirlsNightOut

Another is in Vegas with her besties from college #MomsWeekendAway #VegasBaby

Someone else is bragging about this crew of women she can always count on #rideordie #squadgoals

Your favorite blogger posted on Insta about a life-affirming coffee date she had with one of her favorite people earlier in the week. #blessed #relationshipsareeverything

Then you see that a group of YOUR FRIENDS have gotten together for a birthday and didn’t include you #HBDJen #Bestiesforlife

And there you sit. Alone. Just you (and maybe Carlo Rossi or Jack Daniels or Earl Grey), looking around the friendscape of your own life and finding it to be pretty bleak.

Nobody called to invite you anywhere this weekend. Or last weekend. Or the weekend before that.

If you had decided to up and go out yourself, you’re not even sure who you would have called.

Maybe you’ve got some anxieties gripping your heart and mind and you’re not sure you could have gotten up the gumption to go or would have had to leave early, even if you had been invited.

You think back to rejections and betrayals in your past, the hurts come rushing back and start to make you think there’s something wrong with you- or maybe there is something wrong with other people.  You just can’t trust them.

And you head for bed, turning these things over and over in your mind, wondering why it seems so easy for everyone else and yet it’s so danged hard for you. And your heart is heavy, your soul is weary, and you are lonely.

Been there?  Me, too. Girl, I have been there and back again.

And I’m here to share with you something I’ve learned along the way. Come a little closer…let me whisper in your ear…


Over at the Project Mother Blog this week, I’m sharing a few reminders for those moments when we scroll through social media and feel like everyone else’s life is soooooo much better than ours.  Read more here:

Posted in Faith

Nobody Can Take Your Crown, Daughter of the King

It happens to all of us at some time or another.

Something that somebody says or does makes us feel pretty lousy about ourselves

Sometimes it’s unintentional, it could be that they unwittingly touched a nerve that triggered our insecurities

And sometimes it is intentional.  When the enemy gets in people’s ears, whispering lies  that they are “less than,” they may try to soothe the ache by putting us down to make themselves feel like they are better than someone.

But the common theme is the same:  In that moment, the image of God in us gets obscured. Someone doesn’t acknowledge the Imago Dei in us, we lose sight of it in ourselves, and our crown feels like it slips a little.

But the thing about God’s truth is that it is ALWAYS true.

NOTHING changes our status as Daughters of the King.  Nobody can take it from us, not even ourselves.

Just because someone else doesn’t recognize it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Just because WE don’t recognize it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

THIS is the truth that is waiting for us when we align our hearts with His and see ourselves and others through a Kingdom lens:

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.

1 John 3:1

So when you feel that crown starting to slip, run as fast as you can to your Father the King. Whether it’s coming from someone else or just your own insecurities that are making you feel “less than,” lay it at His feet and let Him flood you with His truth.

You are both created and called by your Father in Heaven, a chosen daughter of the King.  Your worth is in Him and He is worth more than everything.

You were crowned by the King of Kings, so NOBODY can take your crown.

Posted in Family

Dear Mom in the Weeds- It Does Get Easier

Dear Mom in the Weeds,

My sweet sister who is exhausted, sleep-deprived, and overworked from chasing a toddler, managing preschool tantrums, doing all things for all people.

You’ll never guess what.   OK…are you ready for this?


I mean, they told me. They promised me.  But I did not believe them because…well, when you’re in the weeds, you think the day will never come.  I feel like it’s a coping mechanism of sorts, we don’t dare to think of a day when things will be different because it’s like being on a diet and thinking of a piece of cheesecake. We just have to pretend the cheesecake doesn’t exist to get through it.

But one day, you turn around and something got better. Got easier.

This week, I took my kindergartener to the pool to swim.  I watched (as in sat on a bench next to the pool and WATCHED, like an actual adult) him frolic in the shallow end, practicing his swimming skills and splashing and playing with the other kids. Once I actually did get in the pool, he jumped in and swam to me a couple of times. He did not pull down my bathing suit top in a fit of fearful clinginess even once. It was delightful.

After about an hour, we got out and went in to shower and get dressed to go home.  As he sat getting himself dressed and I went over to dry our suits and put away our towels, I had a deja vu moment, my mind traveling back to a much different time in that exact place.

Ironically, was two years ago tomorrow that I wrote this in a post here:

“I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids.  I’m telling myself that over and over right now because Mister Cameron, who just turned four, had a screaming fit in the locker room of our gym yesterday after swimming because I wouldn’t get him dressed.  He had a screaming and crying fit IN! PUBLIC! because I was busy so scrambling to dress myself that I couldn’t do something for him that a couple of months ago he would get furious with me for even attempting to help him with.  And what’s even harder for me is that I couldn’t reach him once he got himself going.  Nothing I tried worked until I had to give in and dress him myself and then walk him out of the locker room screaming.  The older woman walking out ahead of us was so startled by him that she gasped and took the good Lord’s name in vain while looking daggers over her shoulder.  In her defense, I don’t think she realized that this was a child whose poor mother was doing the best she could, I think she heard a yell and assumed he was unsupervised- because it’s only logical that a supervised child would not scream like that.  Of course, one could argue that he WAS unsupervised because there certainly was nobody present whose authority and direction he was responding to.”

You can read the whole post here.

The contrast between that moment and the one I found myself in was staggering- and it happened when I wasn’t even looking.  Memories came flooding back of earlier trips to the pool with a barely-walking baby and an uncooperative preschooler, neither of them the least bit independent.  How tension would creep into my bones when I knew the time was coming to extract us all from the pool- would there be a meltdown? What would happen in the showers?  I would go home exhausted.

But while I wasn’t looking, things got better. The kids have matured, gotten more independent, they have learned the going-to-the-pool drill, and those trips are more of a joy than a chore these days.

It’s easy to lose sight of the things that have gotten better in the wake of the whole slew of NEW problems that inevitably crop up as the kids grow. Now our meltdowns happen in the mornings getting ready for kindergarten. Every. Stinking Day. This season of parenting isn’t necessarily any easier than that one, it’s just challenging and taxing and frustrating in new and different ways.

But we have GOT to stop and recognize the victories, the moments when it has gotten better.

And it will.  They always warn you that one day you’ll turn around and your kids will be bigger, and it’s true. But it’s not entirely a bad thing. You’ll also turn around one day and it’ll be easier.

I need that reassurance because there are days (MOST days) when I myself am still in the weeds. My kids are 6 and 3 1/2, it’s still a lot of work. So I guess this is a letter to myself as much as to you.

This too shall pass.

Note:  My two babies are both developmentally typical kids with no medical issues or concerns.  I know many a mom for whom it either DOESN’T get easier or the progress moves at a snail’s pace due to the unique challenges their kiddos and their families face.  So as we count our blessings, let’s also hold in prayer those moms whose workloads and worry-loads don’t lessen at the same rate that ours do and be ready to show up to support them in any way we can. Because it’s what we do.

Posted in Faith

Easter and “The Meantime”

Easter has come and gone.  This is the week after Easter and we are rejoicing in all the of the joy and promise and hope that the resurrection brings.

But last weekend…those hours between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday…

Every year, I find myself thinking about what those days and hours must have been like for Jesus’s people as they walked that journey with him.  His friends, the 12 Disciples, his followers, his family, HIS MOTHER (oh, sweet Mary)…what must that have been like?

For us, we know that what they were experiencing was just a wait.  It was “the meantime,” it wasn’t the end.

But to them, it probably felt EXACTLY like the end- and not a good one.

They loved Jesus deeply and believed in him with all of their hearts. It was no small thing for them to have put their lot in with this Renegade Rabbi, he was a bit of a polarizing figure. They had staked EVERYTHING on the belief that he was who he said he was.  Many, probably most, perhaps even all of them had in mind their own version of what this King’s victory would look like and hanging to his death on a cross, mocked and scorned, was not it.

This didn’t work out like they had thought.  Where did this leave them?

Obviously, two millennia later, we have the answer to that question. Breathtakingly and excruciatingly beautiful, the rest of the story is, for us Christians, the single most sanctifying, perfecting, and hopeful event in all of history.

But the meantime…how many of us have experienced a “meantime” in our lives that actually felt like an end?

The friendship we had spent years cultivating that fractured, leaving a hole in our life and heart. The pregnancy we had spent years praying and trying for that did not end with a baby in our arms. The marriage we had invested our whole heart into that ended in hurt and betrayal. The job we wagered our entire financial security on that dissolved and left us adrift.  It feels like an ending.  And a BAD one.  Not good or holy or what we felt we had been promised as we walked in faith.

But the story of the Resurrection reminds us that God is NEVER done with the story.  Those hours after the crucifixion must have felt like the end to those who knew and loved and followed Jesus, but it was most certainly NOT the end.

It was actually the meantime.

The miracle of the Resurrection and the truth of what that Jesus’s people went through in that season gives us a promise to which we can cling FIERCELY in the dark moments that feel like an ending in our life.  God’s ending is always victory, even in death.

And it doesn’t mean that we won’t carry scars from our journey.  After the resurrection, Jesus’s hands and side carried the wounds of the crucifixion. But the promise we have is that through Jesus, beauty will come from the ashes, the scars will  sharpen and shape us into more of who and what He created us to be and whatever “meantime” we walk through will become a part of the beautiful fabric God is weaving in our life.

For us, darkness is the just the meantime. Victory is coming.

Let’s walk through the coming weeks and months with that lens fixed to our eyes and hearts.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!


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.