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When you can’t find Jesus in the daily grind

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Word of the day:  BECKONED

If you’re a mom, and you don’t drink coffee, you’re kind of like a superhero to me.  I could give it up if I had to, and I have for periods of time, but I actually believe that on many days, my cup of coffee in the morning is a pure vessel of God’s grace.  And just like when the cute guy was the reason you went to Young Life club when you were 15, or the free breakfast was the thing that got you out of bed to go to the church where you found a family, God beckons me into his presence…sometimes with the smell of coffee.  And I feel fine about that.  He is gracious with me and my weary body.

He greets me with the warmth of those first sips, with the freedom of new mercies, with the safety of his delight.

The truth is that the shape of God’s pursuit of my heart is ever changing, deeply personal, brilliantly transfiguring.  His invitation to “Come” takes all kinds of strange forms in these days with little ones.  As I’m summoned to the restroom by a tiny voice, for some undignified duty, I hear God beckoning me to lay my life down to find it.   As I’m called to the kitchen sink by the towering mound of dishes, or to the dining room table by the endless piles of clean laundry to fold, I hear God beckoning me to do everything unto him, to find purpose in the secret romance between us.  As joyful pregnancies left uninvited marks on my body, I’ve heard God beckoning me into the freedom of my image-bearing identity as a co-creator of life.   As I’m faced with my weakness all day long, I’m invited in, to walk in Christ’s strength alone.  As I’m drawn to the nursery by the midnight cries, I am beckoned to a God who sees me – who renews my strength, even when sleep cannot.  As I’m charmed to the play room by my children’s giggles, I feel God’s joy over me drawing me in for a Fatherly kiss on the forehead.  I’m invited by the maddening slow of toddlers into the unhurried wonder of the Spirit.  In the million questions that could never quench my children’s endless curiosity, I am beckoned to enter into a sweet humility and thirst for understanding before my God.

We are ever and always beckoned to see God’s relentless pursuit of our hearts – in the moments that can’t be rushed, in the places where no one else sees, from the underbelly of our shame, by the captivating faces of our children, by all of creation…

Beckoned.

Tune in today, Sister.  God is coming for you.

 

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:12

 

When you feel like you’re in the desert…Why you might need to look for a burning bush

Now Moses was tending the flock…There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”  When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”  “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.  

The Lord said…”I am sending you…”  

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go…?”  

And God said, “I will be with you…” 

Exodus 3: 1-12 (Paraphrase)

 

No matter how many words I spill about how we mamas don’t have to be the perfect heroes, because we have a perfect hero in Jesus…  No matter how I breathe in freedom that God chose me and delights in me and offers me his never-ending, ever-sufficient grace… I still rise in the morning and sit to this keyboard, feeling like I should offer strength, bring wisdom, do it better.  I wish I could tell you how to make it all easier.  I wish I could tell you that I figured it all out.

But truthfully, I grasp for my own encouragement as I sit with a heavy body, a burdened soul, a fickle heart, a cluttered mind.  Perhaps you feel the same as you grasp for a quick minute to read words that you hope can encourage you for your day.

I used to think being a mom was just about making good decisions, about doing it right, about meeting needs and saying “I love you” and guiding and disciplining with wisdom and patience and grace.  Yes!  To all of these things, yes….

But it felt so straightforward.

And then I stared back at these little eyes staring at me.  Eyes that didn’t look like mine and needed me to tell them who they are.  Eyes that longed, wondered, tested, and needed more than I could give.  I looked at a little body that was sick or hurt, and I couldn’t fix it.  I saw these eyes that stung when I was not patient.  I watched my unique children experience the same events, transitions, words completely differently — one laughs, and the other runs and hides.  One has days of tears and irritability after a change, and the other seems to have only relief.  I peered into little souls that were afraid of things that we could not control.  I have sent my heart out on legs into unknown places and watched them be scared, face hardship, get hurt, feel confused.  I faced eyes of tiny people who just wanted to know I was pleased, and I sometimes felt my face contorted into a scowl that I never wanted to have on my face.

At some point I was faced with the question that perhaps parenting was about something other than doing it all right?

In the midst of my soul searching God’s over the mystery of having children — a road of failure and uncertainty and giving beyond my limits and letting go beyond my comfort — I have become aware of a quiet invitation This invitation was set ablaze in me.  And in these wildly arduous and agonizingly beautiful days with little ones, I want no mom to miss this thing that now burns in my belly and drives me to keep spilling these words.

I hear a voice calling — in the middle of deserts of inadequacy and invisibility and uncertainty and mind-numbing repetitiveness – God’s voice is beckoning me to come closer…

When I feel weak, He says “Come, let my power be made perfect in your weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12: 9)

When I feel invisible, He says “Come, let me tell you how I see you…” (Psalm 139)

When I feel tired, He says “Come, let me renew your strength…” (Isaiah 40: 31)

When I feel pressure, He says “Come, cast your burden on me, and I will lift your chin and lighten your step” (Matthew 11: 30)

When I feel ashamed of my failure and inadequacy, He says “Come, let me cleanse you in my grace, and you will give away what you receive.”  (1 John 1: 9(

When I feel worried and anxious, He says “Come, let me give you my peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4: 6-7)

When I feel worn by the dishes, laundry, diapers, arguments, words, He says “Come, whatever you do, do it all unto me.  The work of your hands is as a song of worship to my ears.”

The very things that make me feel like I have nothing to offer…these have been a door to find God’s heart for me in motherhood.  The very things that stretch us beyond our limits and make it feel just too dang hard…these seem to be a key to unlock the elusive joy and peace and freedom we all know we should have.  When I feel like I’m wandering the desert, the Lord says “Come.  Draw close.  Fear not.  I am calling you.  I will be with you.  Though you feel weak and unimpressive and never enough — I am sending you to be my ambassador to my people…these tiny, adorable, royal bearers of My image.  To these, you will be a vessel of MY love, a mouthpiece of MY truth, a fountain of MY grace.”

Take off your sandals, Mama.  You are on holy ground…

My friend, whether you have little ones or grown ones or simply dreams of a full home in the future, listen today for the voice that beckons you through the things that you might think are in your way.

 

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A sweet moment of invitation from the weekend… And the Lord says “Come.”

(Free to Fly Friday) When you need to break free of a scarcity mindset

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  

2 Peter 1: 3

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When my middle daughter was a toddler, and we would give her two mini M&M’s for going potty, she would always find her big brother and give him one.  Every. Single. Time.

If we asked her to share a toy with a friend, she would say “You can have it forever.”

Her heart burst open at the seams with the desire to give away what she was given.  As a parent, you can’t teach – or even dream up – that kind of generosity.

But there’s something so beautiful about that fearlessness to give.  Something in me longs for the freedom to hold my hand so open.

My feet hit the pavement this morning, a new day’s sun hit the corner of my eye, and the thought of what I’ve been given as a mother to my children – the weight of it hit me afresh.  And I wonder, as I often do, if there will be enough of me to go around today.  I think of the sweet pitter-patter of tiny feet that will soon greet me, the look of tiny eyes that will bid me to tell them who they are.  And it’s easy to feel too limited, too weak, too broken for the job of being called their Mama.

How do I hold the job and not hold the burden?  How do I convince them that their identity rests in bearing the image of God, when I have a hard time believing it for myself?

There are only 24 hours in a day, only two hands at the end of two arms, only so many words that can be exchanged.  But there’s something that holds my hope, if only I can believe…  Friend, there is a deeper truth than my brokenness, and yours.

Though we may feel inadequate, God says he has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3).

Though we may feel weak, God says we have been brought to absolute fullness in Christ (Colossians 2: 10).

Though we may sometimes feel like the very least – possibly the worst mom ever – we   truly have unsearchable riches in Christ (Ephesians 3: 8).

These days I’m trying to live a bit more like that daughter of mine, who gives with an innocent desperate love, and never worries that she will have enough.   Though we may reach the end of ourselves, our Father God never will.  We need never fear that the grace for another day, another moment, will run out.

You are free.  Today, break off all the “not enough’s” — not enough time, not enough energy, not enough patience — and believe that you have a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50: 10).

Go ahead, sweet friend, Mom your little heart out.

 

More on parenting generously in my latest posts:  Why you don’t need to be afraid to give it all  and How to experience the deep riches of generous parenting.

 

How to experience the deep riches of generous parenting

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Wednesday Word of the Day:  
Generosity

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 11: 24-25 ESV

Sometimes it feels like motherhood is a journey of never enough…an endless poverty of time, energy, sleep, capacity.  The needs don’t stop coming, and social media says everyone else is doing it better, and somehow we missed the memo that every mom is actually supposed to be Superwoman.

When I’m tired and I start to feel like I’ve given enough, I tend to get a little stingy with my children.  “Just one book tonight.”  “Ugh, are you sure you really have to go potty….again?  Right now?  Really?”  “No, we can’t go to the park today.”  “No, you can’t play that sport, go to that birthday party, do that thing, make that mess, have that snack right this second…”

Just “No” because I’m overwhelmed and tired and I need the world to stop spinning for a little while, please?

Of course, there is a healthy and appropriate place for “No.”  Of course, we have a responsibility to teach and shepherd our children, as well as show them that the world does not revolve around their needs and desires.  However, the types of “No’s” I’m describing are not in pursuit of healthy boundaries, they are plain and simple fatigue and exasperation.

My grip tightens, my patience shortens, my capacity shrinks, and I just don’t want to give anything else.  And you know what?  The tighter my grip, the more miserable I am.  Every request is an inconvenience.  Every need is an overstep.  Every touch is an annoyance.  Every bump in the road is catastrophic.  I get to where I’m just over-touched, over-noised, over-stimulated, over-needed, over everything.

Tell me I’m not alone?

From this fraught and empty place, I have eagerly looked for another way…  I have looked for the wealth of riches, the endless wells of grace, the renewed strength, the joy and life I’m meant to find when I give it all away.  I have looked for God’s promises in this sacrificial and often invisible life.  The way I’m finding is impossibly simple and profoundly obvious and completely life-altering.  And I don’t think I could have found it until I ran completely out of myself.

 

The other way is simply this:  Cheerful giving – the kind that requires faith.

Once in a while, when I run out of myself (which happens quite regularly, now) I step in faith and give from the places that I think are empty, and I watch the Lord keep filling me up.

I’m not really talking about giving of our finances, though the Bible has a lot to say about that, specifically.  I’m talking about this powerful thing that happens when we give out of the places where we feel most impoverished.

When I feel impoverished of energy, I can choose to bring my measly offering and give of all the enthusiasm I can muster for our breakfast song of blessing, or our evening dance party, because we all just need to smile… and I reap bountifully of joy.

When I feel penniless in attention because my brain is full and my inbox is full and my calendar is full, I can choose to bring my offering and listen generously to that little one’s nonsense story, with the same fervor I would bring to the most critical subject…and I reap bountifully of connection.

Friends, in whatever ways you are feeling spent today, I invite you to join me in this different way of parenting generously. 

Because we have a generous God who has great riches in mercy and mighty power to restore us, we are free to cheerfully throw our two copper coins in the bucket, and trust that we will reap bountifully in our hearts and homes.  

Mama, may you sow bountifully and reap bountifully in your home today.

 

The point is this:  whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one much give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  

2 Corinthians 9: 6-7

 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)

 

Why you don’t need to be afraid to give it all

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A short-antlered buck gnaws at the lime green leaves of our freshly planted dogwood, and the fresh anxieties of the day begin gnaw at my heart.

My first sip of hot coffee touches my lips with all it’s promise of a boost of energy for the day, and the first cries of precious voices touch my ears, and my heart opens desperate wide for a touch of grace from my King.

Yesterday was one of those days when I drove my van sputtering into the gas station after my gas light came on way too late to be helpful.  And last night was one of those when my body and soul came sputtering into bed, having run the last few hours on empty, as well.  I should have noticed the needle creeping down on the fuel gauge, and I should have seen the signs of my patience and grace wearing thin.

But sometimes we just don’t know what we need until it’s almost too late.

And I want to think that these are just little insignificant moments, but then life is just a collection of little insignificant moments, and what does it looks like to live them well?  These few short years when my kids are here and listening…what does it look like to give them my best?

Sister, it frustrates me to no end that I sometimes try to function like I was made in the image of my gas tank – when, truly – you and I were made in the image of the Almighty God of the Universe.  Our gas tanks and our hearts are actually nothing alike.  We don’t have to use up all our resources, only to hit empty with sputters and short-fuses and failure and fatigue and desperation.  We don’t need to refill with some magical boost of energy and wisdom that will last us the next week or two.

We are far more like a branch on that sweet little tree in my front yard, with roots that grow further down and sit steadier and drink deeper and stay connected.  Unlike our gas tanks, we can choose to keep our souls attached to the source of grace, trusting that the supply will not run out.

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There is a still small voice that beckons and pursues our hearts, and offers a lot more grace than my gas light.  We can listen and align and drink and stretch to new heights, as we give the refreshment of that grace away.  

As a mom, I often feel like I’m giving away what I’ve had for about two seconds.  I wake and decide where my spirit and attitude rest, then my children wake and I set the tone with that thing I just decided.  In ugly moment, I have to stop and breathe, and receive the grace not to react – and in that very moment, I get to give away the grace I’m receiving.  My children ask me what’s wrong as I hang up the phone, and I have an opportunity to speak out loud the truth I am deciding to believe right in that very moment about the news I just heard.  The truths we speak reshape our hearts.

 

There is a time to draw away and be alone with God, yes… seek and pursue this!  But a mama’s reality is that often when we wish to draw away, we cannot…and so, we are invited to give away not what we received yesterday, last week, or even this morning, but to give away God’s grace, as we are drinking from the fountain that never empties.

Don’t be afraid of running of steam today, sweet sister.  Go ahead, give your service, your attention, your caring, your patience, your grace.   Not in a way that is resentful, or martyr-like, or neglecting self-care, but in a genuine fearless offering of yourself through those moments when you are needed beyond what is comfortable to give.

As you give your life away, you will find it in your Savior who gave his for you.  

There is an ever-flowing, never-emptying fountain of grace available for you, sweet friend.  As you pour yourself out today, don’t empty out like a gas tank… stay connected to the source of refreshment.  Breathe and drink of God’s grace right there in the midst of your moments, believing that the water only gets sweeter and the color of your life only get’s richer, and the heights of your joy and peace only get higher, and the fruit only gets more plentiful.

How to let your children be the beautiful miracles God made them to be (And a free gift!)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” 

Philippians 1:20-21

 

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Typical driveway decor. :). They said it’s the name of their “band.”  

Left to their own, my thoughts dart around, raising my blood pressure and making me reach for another cup of coffee.  Pinballing from child to child, to overdue items on my To Do list, to unmet needs and forgotten homework, to sports and tutors and appointments and ideas I heard and meant to incorporate, to conversations I meant to have, and friends I want to see — my mind swirls with passions and dreams wriggled up with the needs of the day and the weariness of my bones.

The honest way I navigate these blessed and beautiful and broken days – the way I grow and straighten out a bit of my twisted up places – it happens drowned in grace and one day and a time and almost never linearly.  I experience breakthrough and setback, I remember truth and then I forget.  I’m soaring with passion and then crushed with discouragement.  And as I stumble through, I am ever in need of our unchanging, faithful God.

I wonder where you sit as you read these words, sweet mama.  I’m imagining all the ways that you laid your life down in service to your family today, and what might be swirling in your mind and heart.  I wonder if you are relishing in giggles or if you sit with a heaviness about your failures or disappointments.

If you hid in the bathroom for a moment of respite during the dinner hour, or if you had to check to see if the windows were open for that moment when everyone yelled things they didn’t mean…Sister, I am so with you.

I wonder if you are desperate to love this motherhood thing, but you haven’t slept in months, or you long for a nice dinner conversation, or defiance has you worn to the depths, or your child’s hardships have you tied in knots.  I wonder if you have a tangled mix of excitement and dread for the summer ahead.

Maybe your mama’s heart beats deep today for a child grappling through school, a newly discovered learning disability, a troubling change in behavior, or a diagnosis that feels like a shattered dream.  Maybe you haven’t felt connected, you don’t understand what makes them tick.

I wonder if you’ve had expectations, like I have — about ease in sleep or growth or health or school or friendships,  that your children might love the things you love, or naturally connect with you the way you connect with others, that they would claim faith as their own at a young age, or behave in the way you’ve taught.

I wonder if you’ve found yourself- like I have – sometimes needing a bit too much from them, expecting to have a bit more control than reality allows.

In my last post, I shared about how my wrong expectations of myself and motherhood have sometimes chained up my joy.  You can read more about how I’m finding that as I begin to release my expectations, and trust in God’s sovereignty, I discover a road of beautiful adventure and freedom with God.

But even more…the thing that makes my eyes blur and my soul quake… the thing that really makes me want to fight for truth is the way my unrealistic expectations can chain up my children, hurt our relationship and keep them from living in the joy and freedom they were made for.

Several years ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks that there was a fabric being woven by a million tiny interactions that I didn’t mean to have, weaving together a pattern and life and relationship designed by unfair expectations and too little grace.  I was overwhelmed by my life and the house that needed cleaning and the baby that needed feeding and all the things I felt like I should be doing, and so I’m plopped my needs right down on the tiny shoulders of my children.
I found creeping into the corners of my heart this silent need for my children to fit in the metaphorical box I had made for them, taking up the exact amount of space that I had to give, which was sometimes infinitesimal…

The evidence was in my subtle disapproval over clothing choices because I didn’t want them to be teased the way I was, my quiet repulsion over table manners that I didn’t have the fortitude to endure with grace, forgetting to offer tenderness and back scratches when I felt like I was running on empty, too many words of correction and instruction and too few words of encouragement and blessing, unintentionally guiding my children to the activities with which I was comfortable, talking too much and listening too little, expecting my elder children to mature in accordance with my need.

As my capacity shrunk with each child we added to the mix, or each time daddy’s work schedule ramped up, I was shrinking the space for needs and moods and unpredictability that my children were allowed to have in our home.

I tried to fit my children’s needs into my life in predictable and methodical ways.  I wanted their growth to be linear.  I wanted their behavior to be ever-improving, their independence to be ever-increasing, their knowledge and understanding to be visibly multiplying.  I wanted to know how much of me mothering was going to take today.  I wanted the chores to be done because I had a plan, and I implemented it, and I needed it to work.

You and I both know, it doesn’t go that way.

We get them sleeping and then they stop.  We get that behavior worked out, and then there’s a new one.  They get over their separation anxiety and then it springs up tenfold.  Friendships are working for them, and then they suddenly aren’t.  We had big plans for the day and then a fever.  They usually bounce out the door for school, but today they don’t want to go. You dreamed of football and he wants to dance.  You imagined dresses and hair bows and she wants sneakers and t-shirts.  Today he’s not sure about all this God stuff.  Yesterday that joke was funny, but today it hurt.  Family time feels impossible because someone is always punching someone.   Reading just hasn’t clicked.  It’s hard for him to make friends.  Or maybe you’re a mama who just longs for the “normal” struggles because you can’t take a single day or milestone for granted with your child’s health or special needs.

Our children and their circumstances and their days are beautifully tragically humanly predictably unpredictable.

But with painful clarity, I began to see that my wrong perspective left no space for my children’s development to be messy and erratic and rarely linear, like mine.

High standards for our children can be a blessing that calls them into the fullness of their potential.  But needing them to meet those standards for our sense of well-being is a dangerous game. 

As I began to look beneath my constant barrage of corrections and frustration, what I saw in myself was fear:  lack of trust that my children’s stories were the Lord’s, fear that there would not be enough of me to go around, fear that their behavior and performance reflected my failure, fear that they were not going to live up to their full potential, and it would be my fault.  I think the struggle to extend grace seems to coincide with the place where our fear and shame rests — where we can’t let go.

I’m finding that at the core of most of the “needs” I have of my children, there is a lack of faith.

Though many parents share it, the need to control our children isn’t just a quirky part of motherhood to expect – at the heart, it’s a sickness of unbelief.  Our earthly expectations become our comfort.  When we try to stand on them, we aren’t believing God can walk our children through their own hardship and unknowns.

Our assumptions are not solid ground on which to stand, but there is a kind of expectation that is secure…

We can surely expect that God will never leave or forsake us (or our children). 

We should expect that God gives us (and our children) ultimate victory. 

We should hope with absolutely certainty that God is making all things new, in our lives and the lives of our children.

We should expect that any momentary affliction is preparing for us (and for our children) an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

We can expect that God has good plans for us, and for our children — that he works all things for our good.

Though everything else is uncertain, our expectations and our hope rest securely in Christ.   His promises are for our children, too.   God sees them directly— not just through our eyes, but through His own Adoring Father’s eyes.

In this light, we are free to guide them warmly through change and failure.  We are free to trust God’s handiwork on them, and believe He can handle their trials.  We are free to shed our expectations, and begin to explore and discover them.  We can stop striving, and we can look up into God’s heart, the One who knit them together and knows every hair on their heads, and apprehend His delight in them.  We can step into the beautiful adventure of mothering one or a few of God’s people.

I have a renewed sense, the way I did when each of my children were newborn strangers that I long to study them, see God’s creative originality on them.  I want to be introduced to the parts of them that scare me, to break them out of the comfortable box I put them in, and trek into the uncharted territory of their unique spirits and characters.

I’m still at the very beginning of this parenting journey — bigger failures, tougher decisions, higher stakes are ahead.  But as I stand today, I am trying to loosen my grip on my plan, and let the far more creative and ravishing story God is writing for my children begin to unfold.

Trust in God’s covering is fortifying me, allowing me to be a more stable mom —to become a rock for my children to bounce off of through all of their volatile stages.  I can be less emotional about the failures and surprises, and simply take the hand of my child and one step at a time, as God’s Word and Spirit lights our path.

If you need some ideas for breaking free from unfair expectations of your children, here are a fewThese are some habits that are helping me loosen my grip on control, helping me walk in freedom to allow my children to be the mysterious and unique and beautiful unknown miracles they were made to be.

Here’s your gift! Click to download your free printable.

Revelation 21: 5, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, Philippians 1:20-21, Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

 

The heartbreaking thing every mom is ashamed to admit

 

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Not quite the photo I envisioned. 🙂

The painful honest shameful truth is that I was disappointed in motherhood from the moment I saw that second little pink line.  When I expected a rush of pure joy and excitement, what I got was a sloppy mix of fear and unworthiness, speckled with elation. I didn’t feel the way I expected to, or felt I should. Many of even the sweetest moments of parenting have been mixed with something sour and strange.

I felt disappointed when I didn’t have the clarity of mind to soak in my first moments with each new baby.  I felt disappointed that I cared about things that don’t matter – like what someone else thinks about my parenting or the way pregnancy and breastfeeding would effect my body.

I felt disappointed in myself for not cherishing my swelling belly, and instead worrying about how I would look after giving birth. I was disappointed in myself for stepping on the scale too often.  I hated that I cared…but I did.

Warring thoughts collided:  the blessing and the cost, the privilege and the sacrifice.

Even as I type, I fend off the thought that my words appear selfish, ugly, harsh to your eyes.  I write in faith that you might need to know you’re not the only one.

There have been moments when I felt I should be relishing in ecstatic bliss over my children, and instead I felt empty, lonely, lost.  There were postpartum days when I felt crazy and feared I would never feel like myself again. There were days when I looked upon a child I birthed, and they felt like a stranger.  There are days I feel like it’s barely worth it to try to have fun together, because we’re so likely to end in tears.

I’ve felt disappointed each time the idyllic scene I pictured when I planned an activity for my children was lost to a scene of whines and wet pants and bloody knees.

I felt disappointed the first time it didn’t come naturally to throw my arms around my child – the first time I had to choose to be affectionate towards them because some distaste for their behavior had crept into my spirit. And I think the heaviness that can rest on our shoulders as mamas so often comes because we thought it was supposed to look some other way.  We thought we would burst with fondness for them every minute. We thought we would remember every minute what a gift our children are. We thought we would stop caring about trivial things when they stood against the immense value of raising up the next generation. We thought we would never yell, or even feel inclined to. We thought we would have more patience and grace. We thought we would look different, feel different, be different as a mother.

The weight of it can ravage our souls.

No space exists for these feelings when mamas fight for years just to get one of those second pink lines.  No space exists for these thoughts when we know so profoundly that children are a gift, a heritage, a treasure.  And so, rather than give these thoughts and feelings any space, they silently breed shame, and wreak havoc on our sense of self-worth.  They discreetly curse us and tell us we’re unworthy of the children we’re given, convince us we’re the worst mom.

We need to hold fast to gratitude.  But not as a bandaid…

And friend, there’s no denying, I brought a lifetime of expectations into this motherhood thing, and face a million little heartbreaks over the ways I don’t live up, or the ways my life doesn’t look like I thought it should. A million moments of envy of the mom who seems to be doing it better.  We need to never lose sight of the blessing, but in order to thrive as mamas, I think we also need to validate the pain and disillusionment of this journey looking so exceedingly different than we thought it should.

Only as I recognize, grieve, and release my expectations… Only as I make peace with my actual life… am I beginning to taste freedom and experience the fullness of joy in the reality of my days as a mom.  

I know some of you have faced the deepest pain and tragedy on your parenting journey.  If you have lost a child, faced infertility, or have a child with special needs and face the ongoing grief of missed milestones and experiences, I see you… our Father God sees you.  My heart breaks with yours, and I know God’s does too.  I know that your fractured hopes and expectations and dreams are a present reality in each day of your life this side of heaven.  There are real pains that leave real holes.

But there are these other pains that just come, just blow in with the wind, idealistic expectations simply a result of not knowing better.

I think many of us just thought this road would be easier, that we would be stronger.

Though I’m sure everything looks reasonably close to perfect from the outside, in my motherhood journey, I have often flip-flopped between bliss and angst.  One moment, I feel the abundance of blessing and joy.  The next moment I feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped and beaten down.

My real-life mama story is often a journey of failure and weakness, and strength in Christ alone.  My real-life default is to drown in worry and fear, and I am in continuous battle of surrender, entrusting my children to God’s care, over and over.

In my real story, I am often disappointed, and I have to lay my expectations down each and every day, so God can show me the the gift I was missing.

My real days are full of gathering up grace for each moment, because I’m desperate for it.  And when I let go and see the world through my children’s eyes of wonder, real life moments of magic and euphoria surprise me.

My real story is one of discovering some of the ugliest corners of my soul, and letting God’s light shine on them.  In my real story, I sometimes want to run away, and it is pure sacrifice to enter in.

And in my real story, when the world says I’m trapped because I can’t pee by myself, I say I’ve never been more free.  In my real story, I’m discovering things about myself that make me feel I was absolutely made for this.  In my real actual life, my dreams and goals and ambitions don’t disappear, but grow and morph and bend with each season of my family.

In real life, joy comes in dying to myself, abundance comes in sacrifice, peace comes in surrender, fun comes only when I set aside the relentless pressure to live up to my expectations and the ones I perceive from the world.

In my real story, motherhood has driven me into deeper intimacy with my Father God than I ever could have imagined.  Truthfully, the extraordinary privilege of raising my children pales in comparison to the deep intimacy with my King, the sweetness of dependence, trust, surrender that motherhood has required of me.     The greatest joy has come when I can get over myself and my expectations, and I embrace my imperfect children as their imperfect mama on our imperfect journey together.

And I realize it’s ultimately the same journey for every one of us…whether we have children or not, whether we run a company or a country or a classroom or a home or some tangled mix…it’s the same journey of God winning our hearts.  It’s the same call to lay our life down to find it.  

So mamas, what if we’re not doing it all wrong, and this broken and sloppy road is exactly what God intended for motherhood?  What if He knew in His ultimate sovereignty that the only way we could stop trying to BE the Savior, and start pointing our children to their Savior in Jesus is if we were sickeningly aware of our weakness? What if this is what God meant when He said to Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”(2 Corinthians 12: 9)? What if our lostness is where we are found? What if our shattered dreams are what drive us to be the mothers that God intended? And what if we release our children to be the miracles God made them to be as we let go and let them be unique and different with desires and dreams and traits way outside of our comfort zones?

I’m not saying that God delights in making our journey difficult.  He is near to our hearts, and leads us tenderly (Isaiah 40: 11).  But I believe that our expectations – the ones that say that motherhood is supposed to be easy, pretty and fun in all the moments – these expectations steal our joy, and rob us of God’s joy and grace in the difficult but immensely beautiful days with young children.
I believe God has a bedraggled and beautiful adventure for you today, sweet friend.  Rather than holding onto the story we thought we were supposed to be living, let’s consider being led on a journey of surprise, adventure, and deep intimacy with our King.

 

More on releasing our children from our unrealistic expectations next week…

 

 

The one word you need to get through your day

yield

I have a bad habit of pushing myself to the absolute max.  For most of my life, my default answer has been “Yes” and my default custom has been to stay up too late, wake up too early, do too much, and rest too little.  I know I’m not alone and books are being written and we’re all talking about how we need to slow down, and you are right there with me with days too full, nights too short, eyelids too heavy, and schedules bursting at the seams with too much of everything.

 

I push hard knowing that coffee and eye liner will be there for me in the morning.  I push hard because I feel like I’m supposed to for my children, for God, for community.  There is a time to push.  We need each other — and let’s be honest — if we never pushed, we wouldn’t see each other much.  And yet, I also know the truth that we were made for rest…pure and simple and free of agenda.  I know that our bodies were made for sleep, and we were made to believe that the world keeps spinning if we stop for moments in the day, and seven or eight hours at night.  As much as I resist, somewhere deep down, I believe that our need for rest and sleep is a God-given daily source of humility, a life-line to remind us that He’s God and we’re not.

 

I’m sometimes inclined to think that my opposition to sleep is a result of being a grown-up with responsibilities, but than I see even the tiniest people resist it.  Every mama knows the maddening vexation of watching an exhausted child scream or wiggle with “I’m not tired!”.  How many times have we seen another question, another book, another kiss, another blanket, another song, another back scratch, another drink, another trip to the potty, another anything to restrain from being overtaken by relaxation?  One of mine will hold an arm in the air or bounce a leg off the side of the bed for minutes on end, unyielding to the calm.  Another child of mine often says she just “can’t” close her eyes – doesn’t know how.

How many times have all the moms said “Just go to sleep!”?

There was the boy on the road trip the other week, who said sleep was impossible, leaving me simultaneously frustrated by his noncompliance and struck with the truth of what he said…  because he was absolutely right.  There is no amount of obedience or work or doing that could render sleep.  It cannot be forced or rushed or demanded.

 

It is pure, unbridled surrender.  It does not come unless we let go. 

Sleep can’t go on your To Do list, because you can’t do it.  You have to let it undo you.

 

Perhaps that’s why it is sometimes so hard for my little man of passion and action and concrete solutions, and why I can’t seem to get myself into bed on time, either.

How curious that sleep never seems like a good idea until it’s too late and we’re left with our heavy bones and sticky eyelids.  And how curious that the same is true of all the things that require our surrender.

Because it’s hard to be told what to do, but it’s even harder to know that there is nothing we can do but “let go.”  I think surrender and letting ourselves be undone might just be the hardest thing.  Waving the white flag feels like defeat in the most miserable of ways.  I think we will always avoid surrender unless we believe there is a greater victory on the other side.

We say “No” to one more thing for the greater “yes” of being refreshed and having new life breathed into our bones. We say “No” to doing all in our own strength for the greater “Yes” to Christ through whom we can do all things.

I’m so painfully aware that all the things I might be inclined to do, to say, to write…that they will be empty unless I simply abide.  Jesus says that apart from him, we can do nothing.  We, the branches, can bear no fruit apart from the vine.  All the things with which I could worry myself to no end… All the things that keep me up at night…  All the things I tell my sweet ones I need to finish before I’m ready to play or snuggle or read or get the snack… there is no lasting fruit apart from Christ.

But abiding in Christ, remaining in him, waiting on him…it requires the deepest and fullest surrender.  As sleep requires our physical surrender, so abiding requires our soul surrender.  We surrender our swarming thoughts, our burgeoning need for productivity and efficiency and impact.  We surrender our agenda, our pride, our worry, our control.

As sleep refreshes our bodies, so stepping into quiet submission to the King of Heaven has the power to refresh and recharge our souls and spirits, the power to change our perspective on our day.  God has the power to change the lens through which we see the circumstances of our day.

If you’ve had to stop reading this post a couple times to wipe spit up off your shoulder, take someone potty, break up an argument, or race to chauffeur your people to the next thing, I am so with you.  If you have to rally three or four people to do your job as mama in order to get away for a couple hours or days, I am so with you.  If you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, and it feels like your home and everyone in it would crumble if you let yourself breathe, I am so with you.  If you have an incessant list of things running through your head about the medicine you need to remember to give, the food you need to remember to pack, the babysitters you need to remember to find, the ride for your child you need to request, the diaper rash that needs a better cream, the meal plan you haven’t made, the errand you are procrastinating because you remember the chaos of last time, the behavior or ailment that you wonder if you should be concerned about, the sport or class you worry you should be signing your child up for…I am so with you.

But when I sat on a plane with my daughter yesterday afternoon, after a weekend away with sweet friends, and the stewardess reminded me to put my oxygen mask on first, my spirit said “Yes, ma’am and amen.”  I have nothing to give without a source.  I must believe that yielding to the Spirit of God in the middle of the unyielding pace of my day is the only way for my life to yield enduring fruit.

 

Yield… this is the word that has me tied up in knots and spreading my wings.  This is the word I think might just be the answer to everything our souls need and our spirits cry out for today.  

Yield   | yēld | verb
1. to produce, provide, deliver
2. to relinquish, surrender, relent

 

How tremendously lovely and rich and mysterious that the same word means both surrender and productivity, both to admit defeat and to deliver results, both achievement and relinquishing control.  How beautifully ironic and perfect.

As we lose our lives, we find them.  As we yield ourselves, we yield beauty in our lives.

Whether or not you can get a good night’s sleep tonight, you can choose to yield to the Spirit of God in the midst of your crazy day.  You can yield to the belief that drawing away with God is the one decision that yields the most fruit.

Today, I’m not going to resist the moments of my day that make me feel small.  I’m surrendering my pride and laying my life down a million times over, in faith that God will give me His.

Today, even as I work, on laundry and food prep and shepherding and emails, I’m choosing to relinquish my hyper efficiency and drive for productivity, in faith that the Spirit of God will enter into my openness and deliver moments of beauty and grace.  I am letting go of the unrelenting push, and choosing to be interruptible. ”For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8: 35)

How to make a difference when your hands are full

christian mom blog
The privilege of my life to be this little guy’s mom.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2: 8

My eyelids were heavy on this Monday that came around a bit too quickly, with it’s dimly lit sky and it’s drizzly rain that says “Stay under the covers.”  Sweet ones were unready for the hurry of the morning, drowsy bodies in slow motion.  But the clock doesn’t wait, and time just keeps ticking on tempo with deadlines of school bells and appointments and naps and To Do lists.

On the days when I’m just muscling through to get to the end of it, I’m a smidge desperate for my life to mean something.  I think we all are.  We’re made with a longing for the things that endure.  We yearn to do something that will be remembered.  We long to be exceptional, to make someone’s day, week, life a little better, to grow God’s kingdom, to offer the world a unique idea or message or mission, to run a family, a non-profit, a school, a company, a church, a country, a home…in a way that’s never been done before.

I want to make an impact on the world, but some days I can barely get my weary body out of bed.  You too, mama?

I was squarely in the Monday grind, and thinking about what it looks like to be a disciple and make disciples when you are so dang tired, and your hands are so dang full.  It is the privilege of my life to be called “Mama” by my little ones, but I wonder how to bring an energy to it that bears fruit?  How do we live a life of purpose, and not just survive our days?

I write today (and most always) about things of which I claim no particular expertise.  I’m humbled and often hesitant, as I have little in regards to earthly credentials.  I am simply compelled to share a thing that God has granted me the great privilege to do, and a work he is doing in my heart.

There is this one thing that I believe is making my life and love bigger than the walls of my skin, and it has nothing to do with expertise or high capacity or doing it all right.  There is one thing that is encouraging my heart to believe that I have a God-given unique and valuable role to play in the body of Christ and on planet Earth.  And you do, too.
A key that God is giving me to unlock purpose in my life is letting go of perfection, control, striving…and stepping into the light, to let the light of the Lord in me be seen.  I’m letting go of trying to make my life look put-together and pretty enough to be worthy of making a difference and I’m giving away the sloppy, messy, sleepy, and redeemed life I’m living.  I’m giving it to my children.  I’m giving it to those who might want to enter in.  And I’m giving it to you in the ashes of a mess of words, in faith that God just might make them into something mysteriously beautiful in you, as he is in me.  What if we don’t hide in shame over all that we cannot do, but give away what we have…a broken and sanctified life, hidden in Christ.   

About six years ago, at the very time logic said I was too busy and too exhausted to have anything to offer — with a fitness business to run, a ministry in Young Life, a husband running for public office, and a toddler and a newborn at home (seriously)— God offered me an opportunity to invite someone in.

A recent college grad was looking for a family to live with.  In the middle of our crazy, we simply said “Yes.”  We gave a whole pile of qualifications about how we were in a wild season, and it’ll be messy, and I have nothing to offer, and I’m not sure how it will go, but she could come in and be a part of it, if she wanted to, and we could just see what God would do.

And you know what?  He did a miracle.  He changed a life.  Several, actually:  ours and hers.  And I began to catch a vision for how God could use my brokenness to pour out his strength. When I give my empty, He gives his fullness.  When I give my weak, He gives his strength.  When I give my story, He gives his healing and redemption.  When I die to my comfort, he gives true, abundant life.  When I give my mustard seed of faith that I truly am an ambassador of Christ, He moves mountains.

I spent too much of my life trying to make the tree of my life look prettier, and more worthy of bearing fruit.  I wanted my impact to come from the tidy and beautiful corners of life.  We can decorate the tree of our lives with twinkling lights and ornaments, trying to impress each other, or volunteering for things we don’t want to do.  We can live ashamed of the behind-closed-doors truth of our lives while we offer a tidy and beautiful corner to the rest of the world, but we’ll end up feeling like a fraud and we’ll mostly leave others feeling jealous and insecure.  

I’m beginning to see that true enduring fruit only comes if we are willing to live authentically, planted and rooted where God puts us, when our roots lie deep in the secret places of intimacy with our King, who gently prunes our branches and refreshes us with the rains of his daily mercy and provision.  His delight shines down like the sun to revive our spirits, and we surrender to being used by him, given away just as we are, believing that Christ’s work on the cross was enough to cover all our splintered places.

Purpose is unfolding in the middle of overfull days when I swing my doors open and let a few come in and watch God at work in my mess – let them watch me apologize to my loves, watch me sweep the same floor and fold the same clothes again and again, watch me fail and be washed anew in God’s grace, watch me hope only in the Lord and soar on wings as God renews my strength, watch me need Jesus every hour.

Friends, though we struggle, God calls us pure and blameless and white as snow, in Christ.  We are free to claim that, as we follow Jesus, we are worth following.

If the Spirit of God resides in us, than we ought to confidently proclaim, as Paul did, “Watch me and do what I do!” (paraphrase).  When we know we’re the worst of sinners, and we boast only in Christ, we have nothing to fear in giving our lives away.  We have nothing to fear in opening our doors.  We have nothing to fear in letting someone walk alongside, and believing we will have something to offer.  We have nothing to fear in letting our light shine.

If we believe the light is in us, as the Bible says it is, then we ought not hide in the shadows.

When your life is messy and your hands are full, you serve as a perfect backdrop for the vibrant and striking life of Christ to be made known.  When you feel emptied out with nothing to offer, you might just have made room for the Spirit of God to pour through you and do something groundbreaking.

I’m beginning to see that as I come out of the shadows, and invite a young professional to spend the day with us or another mama to come and do the real life bedraggled and beautiful mom thing side-by-side or a 20-something to come live with us, we create space to encounter a God who left heaven and put skin on.  Humbly…I’m watching God change lives when I give away my mess of brokenness, and trust in a Jesus who made us his hands and feet.

Friends, I have sat to write this post a dozen times, and stopped short the last eleven because I’m on my face over the thought that you would feel for one minute like there is one more thing you need to do.  Mama, if you are in over your head and dragging your weary, unshowered body to the coffee pot in the morning, I am right. there. with. you.

But even more, I can’t bear the thought that you would miss out on this miracle that I believe happens when we shake off the shame, and share our lives with whoever might want to come along.  It’s a precious treasure, burning a hole in my pocket, and I don’t want even one of you to miss it.

My encouragement is not for you to take on commitments that you don’t have time for.  My encouragement is that you open your door and let someone come in to see exactly what you are already doing, to believe that God could do something miraculous.  And if this is already your habit, then carry on sister!  And never let shame tell you that you’re not enough.

When Jesus invited men to be his disciples, he never stopped his what he had set out to do , he simply said Come along.  Be with me.  Walk with me.  Watch what I do, then do it.  Our example for making disciples is one that says “Come along.”

If you’re like me, it’s hard to imagine that anyone on earth would be interested in spending time with you and watching you change diapers and fold shirts and send small people to Time Out.  This is a step of faith.  It’s a choice to believe that there is something going on in the heavenlies as we serve our families unto the Lord.  It’s a step of faith to believe that, as we trust God with our muck and invite God’s grace into our homes, it is a precious sight to behold.  It’s a step of faith to believe that we are chosen, redeemed, ambassadors of Christ, royal daughters of the King of Heaven.

Maybe there is another mama for whom you’ve been mopping your floor and saying you are loving every minute of being a mom….stop doing that.  Just let her in.  Maybe it’s a colleague, a neighbor, your kids’ friends, a high school or college student (try connecting through your local church or ministries).  Step out of shame, and consider sharing the life you are already living before the throne of grace, not leading from your strength but from Christ’s strength in your weakness.

If you follow Christ, you are worth following.  You’re a world changer.

 

christian parenting blog
A rainy day at the zoo with my loves.

Living in a Friday World with a Sunday Hope

handmade wooden cross
And “I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.”
 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 
Philippians 3: 10-11

It was one of those warm and drizzly April mornings.  I still feel a bit damp from the vernal kind of rain from heaven that spits right in your eye.  And I’m still marveling at the mystery of a God of Heaven who let his mockers spit right in his.

 

I still have this fresh and cavernous knowing about where I would have been on that messy, ugly, beautiful, good Friday 2000 years ago because I know where I was a few days ago, on this most recent Good Friday of remembrance.

On Friday, I was a mess of broken.  On Friday, I was overwhelmed by a hurting world, and a hurting home, and hurting kids who didn’t know why they shouldn’t have their way, and a hurting mama who didn’t know why she shouldn’t have hers.  On Friday, I was mocked and disrespected by my own…not in the same as our Lord, but in a way that points to how he might have felt.  And on Friday, I spewed harsh words, and came face-to-face with my own depravity that hung Jesus on that tree.

 

I’m still carrying some heart wounds from the ugly moment my big-hearted boy and I had, and I’m still mending some heart wounds that I caused.  On Friday, I felt it – the lost and broken and despairing “Not yet” of the world we live in and the fragmented hearts we live with.  On Friday, I felt the longing for Sunday, for all things to be made new, for all things to be set right, and to escape this broken and shattered soul of mine.

 

On Friday, during the short recess between the altercation and reconciliation with my son, I went to the garage and nailed together a small wooden cross.  I held the hammer and the dark metal nails and the splintered wood, and I pounded it together with my own hands.  I had this holy encounter with the Spirit of God as I engaged the strength of my body in the act.  As I ruminated on the fact that I was right there chanting and accusing, and Christ was right there loving me and forgiving me…I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.

 

And I wonder how we live with the hope of Sunday morning, remembering that Jesus conquered sin and death lost it’s sting, when we still live in a world that hurts with hearts that malfunction.  I wonder how we keep taking the next step when loved ones die, and diagnoses are given, and marriages wrench and break, and there’s division and hatred and terrorism and an underworld of slavery.

 

Christ is risen, but I think the earth still thinks it’s Friday.  There is still a broken mess of ash being made new slowly, in the power of the resurrection.  There’s still a kingdom of God coming to earth, that has not yet fully come.  There’s still a Christ who will return and reign, but is not yet here.  There’s still an enemy who is defeated but has not yet been thrown down.  Promises are left not yet fulfilled.  We still suffer and ache and sin and get sick and feel the death and heartache of Friday.

But Sunday is coming.

 

Almost immediately after my son and I reconciled, he joyfully spilled out a prolific pile of art with crosses and rays of light and empty tombs and hearts.  He made a request for our family to take communion together when daddy got home, “to remember what Jesus did for us.”  He named it and said he was nailing his ugly moment to the cross.  And I said I was nailing mine too.

 

Once again, our brokenness led us right to the cross.  The more I walk in weakness, the more I’m open to Christ’s strength.  The more I walk in death to myself, the more I’m open to the power of the resurrection.  The more I surrender, the more I’m sustained.

 

On Sunday morning — Easter, divine and triumphant — our children woke to fun surprises, and we all got dressed in our Sunday best, the kids in their matching outfits and their matching hairstyles and their matching smiles.  But by the time we pulled out of the driveway, their mom and dad felt a bit like frauds, having wrestled mind, body, and soul through the messes and arguments, the pressure for perfection that distracts from the meaning of the morning, the little attitudes that we try to force into a “joyful gratitude” box rather than gently shepherding, the ugliness that bubbles up in our own hearts as we see things going differently than our expectations.  On Sunday morning, we hurt each other’s feelings, and I walked a teary baby through a sermon I longed to soak in.  On Sunday morning, I wiped the remnants of chocolate eggs and a bit of spit up from my Easter dress.  And it was all sweet surrender.  On Sunday morning, I needed to lay down my comforts and expectations, control and pride, and let joy in.  It’s the death of mess and brokenness that open me up to encounter the Risen Christ.

 

Monday’s gray sky today feels like a stark contrast to yesterday’s bright, hot sun, and the messiness of my weekend stood in stark contrast to the joy of the resurrection.  But there is no short cut to Sunday morning.  There is no Sunday without Friday.  There is no resurrection without death.  The light and joy of the morning must stand in contrast to the night.

 

So, how do we live in a Friday world with a Sunday hope?  I’m right here in the muck with you, but here’s some truth to which my messy weekend and my gracious God are leading me.

Get low…  If we want to know Christ, we will share fellowship not only in his resurrection, but also in his death.  As we lay our lives down with his, we are raised with him.  As we share in his cross-carrying suffering, we then share in the joy and fully-alive life of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10) .  If we want to bear fruit, we must die to ourselves, as the grain of wheat dies to produce a harvest (John 12: 24).  We have to get out of our own way, and out of the way of a God who loves to fill us when we are emptied out.  We get out of the way of a God who loves to offer us his grace and mercy and provision as we stop trusting ourselves or our resources and start trusting him.  As we decrease and make peace with our emptiness and weakness, Christ increases in us.

Throw an anchor… On Sunday, we swam in a beautiful ocean of posts and texts and proclamations that said: “He is risen!”  My lips and spirit echoed the ravishing truth.  But the rest of what’s true is that it takes an intentional move of mind and heart for those words to make it from my ears or my lips into the mess of my real life and my real quaking heart.  I need to acknowledge the pain of promises not yet fulfilled, pain not yet healed, habits of sin not yet fully broken, and I need to proclaim this truth as a hope that anchors me in the midst of a world that still feels a whole lot like Friday.  To keep walking in these days that hurt, we need to have an anchor of hope to keep our feet secure.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised to never leave or forsake us.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised us forgiveness through Christ for our shortcomings past, present and future.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised us a glorious inheritance.  When the curtain tore after Jesus’s death, God promised us access to deep intimacy with him, that we can approach his throne with confidence.  Our anchor of hope is in God’s promise that we will not always ache, that he is making all things new, that he will bring beauty from ashes, that he will wipe every tear.  Our anchor of hope is in Sunday morning’s risen Christ.

Open your mouth… The Sunday proclamations are still ringing in my ears, and I believe they are a key to unlocking joy.  We have to go ahead and say it:  “He is risen!”  Hallelujah!  It’s the greatest news, the core of our faith, the source of our hope.  We rejoice in what God has done for us, what we believe He is doing, and what we believe He will ultimately do.  Regardless of our circumstances, we have a charge to “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” (Philippians 4: 4).

And when we rejoice that the immovable stone was rolled away, we are given immovable joy. 

So today, let’s get low, throw down an anchor of hope, and open our mouths in praise.

Easter egg hunt
Pure joy.
easter
My little loves.
communion
The sweetest of meals.
real life easter mom mess
On real life Easter, you have to spot clean the outfits between events.
handmade wooden cross
And “I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.”
 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” ~Galatians 2: 20
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” ~Philippians 3:8 
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” ~Luke 9:23 
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” ~John 12:24
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:1-2
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ~Galatians 5:24
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…” ~Romans 6:8
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” ~Revelation 21: 5 
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ~Hebrews 6: 19-20 
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ~Hebrews 4: 16