The heartbreaking thing every mom is ashamed to admit


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…



How to make a difference when your hands are full

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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.


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A rainy day at the zoo with my loves.

What I Never Knew about the Father Heart of God

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To my eyes, nothing but a masterpiece of love

No matter what the day holds, there is something I know to expect as my children climb into bed at night.

There is something about seeing my children rest their heads down on their pillows at the end of the day…  Something about the curves of their faces, and the bend of their eyelashes, the rise and fall of their chests… Something about the way middle daughter pulls a blanket up to her chin… Something about the way my eldest easily pours out all the words for which the day ran out of space… Something about the way my son sighs deep and smiles soft and nestles close, body and soul… There’s something about the way my toddler wiggles in her bed until I tuck her in just so…

No matter what chaos precedes, there is something in this moment, each and every day, that summons a thousand kisses and a tender tuck of the curl behind the ear.  Something inspires me to cup the face and whisper the word of blessing and affection.  Something calls for my fingers to outline the angelic faces and scratch the satiny backs.  Something invites me to forget the offenses of the day, the heaviness of my eyelids, the weariness of my soul…  and to remember only the ferocity of my love, the integrity of my acceptance, the vastness of my gratitude.


And it all spills right out of me.


The impassioned tenderness I would feel for my children is a thing I simply did not grasp before becoming a mother.  I never knew how my heart would enlarge with every miracle of life.


And looking back, I see that before I climbed into the heart of a parent, I had not well-imagined the father heart of God towards his children.


There are dimensions of God’s love for us that cannot be contained in our limited understanding…but, nevertheless, as I feel the kind of love for my children that seems unable to be squeeze into the limits of my heart, the picture I have of God’s love gains new color and contrast, new depth and beauty.


Far more often than I’d like to admit, I see an image of my heart towards God reflected in a toddler who refuses to receive help, or a little one who cannot seem to submit to my authority.  I see how easily I trust my own judgment over God’s, despite knowing better.   I assume God is against me when I don’t get my way.  As I have the parental wisdom that my child should not run in the street, no matter how their little bodies long for the freedom, my God has a higher perspective of the things that will hurt my heart, no matter how I might long and ache and moan.


As I sometimes need to press my little one into her carseat for the buckles she resists, sometimes, the gentle hand of my Father God restrains me, and says “Not yet” or “Not in this way.” And,  I squirm with all of my irritation and assumptions about how He must not be that good.  As parents, we lovingly set boundaries for our children – to keep them safe or guide their hearts.  As my children push and resist and defy, my heart cries out with “Hey, I’m on your team!  I am FOR you!  Trust me!”


In the same way, I feel God’s call for me to trust the depth of his love, the purity of his will.


The first time a child of mine fell asleep in my arms was the last moment I considered feeling guilty or ashamed for falling asleep during a prayer.  As I felt the joy and adoration of my child’s body melting into mine, I saw afresh that God’s heart towards me is exceedingly tender.


The first time I watched my child fail on the journey to learning something new – like the thousand falls on the way to learning to walk – that was the last day I perceived impatience from God towards my weakness.


The first time I saw my child run his heart out and lose, or the first time he proudly offered me a mishmash work of art as a gift specially designed for me… these were the last times I felt from my God that I hadn’t been good enough to please him.  Jesus covered our sin, and God’s heart towards us is pure delight.


I still forget sometimes, but there’s a new truth in me…


As I watch my children stumble into new broken revelation about who God is, and why he made them, I am assured of God’s pleasure as I seek him with my limited understanding, with my confused and often incorrect theology.  In the same way that I love to hear the name of Jesus come out of my daughter’s tiny mouth, even if to say “Jesus is so cute!” or “Jesus is in my sippy cup!,” I see that God simply loves to hear me call on his name.  He delights as I lean my breath of a life and my ephemeral body of dust into his mighty eternal chest.


As I watch my children face life’s brokenness – the kind that is not at all good – I feel God’s heartbreak over the way our sin and the brokenness of the world has brought us pain and suffering that he did not design.  I feel His eagerness to hold me, to bring comfort and healing and redemption, when I face hardship.


Being a mama is changing my view of the father heart of my God.


As I imagine God’s heart towards me now, I imagine the tenderness of His hand as he leads me through life’s broken places.  As I beg my own children to trust me, I am endeared to God’s caring, and my own lack of understanding and perspective.  I know the reality of his higher and broader and deeper understanding.  I feel his unwavering longing for my good.  I sense the weight of the eternal perspective he has on my heart and life.  I feel his wisdom in allowing me life’s trials for the sake of my freedom, for the sake of winning my heart.


My eyes are becoming clearer to see that yes, love is the force that drives me to tell my child not to run in the street, or to allow their little failures for the sake of their growth and refinement…and likewise, love is the force that drives my God.



As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I see him holding out gifts for me to take and open and enjoy, and I hear my childish whines about how I don’t like the color of the wrapping paper.


As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I think of the magic and fun of genetics — how the features of a face, the color of eyes, the shape of cheekbones are passed between generations.  I think of how my husband and I study the faces of our children saying “He has your mouth” or “She has my eyes.” And I feel God studying me, his image bearer, proudly proclaiming: “She looks like me!”


My husband and I go on a date and end up looking at pictures of our kids.  We can’t stop thinking about them when we’re away.  It’s a little embarrassing, but we are fiercely grateful and mildly obsessed with these amazing little people.  How much more does God’s love for us never end, and our name never leave his mind?  As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I think of a father who is beautifully preoccupied with me.


As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I hear his words of blessing infusing me with courage.  When I embark on a new challenge or adventure, I feel him speaking confidence to proceed, and gently warning me not to wander too far.   I can almost hear His voice echoing in my own encouragements and cautions, as I send my sweet ones out on their bikes.  Only His voice is pure love, free from anxiety and fear.  His voice makes me long to rest in his covering.


Though God is the picture of a perfect parent, and I most certainly am not, I find that I can relate to God’s heart in this holy time of parenting young children.


The father heart of God is a beauty to behold.  I invite you to let the tenderness you feel towards your children endear you to the heart of God.  Let your imagination rest on His pure delight in you.  Imagine His eyes exploring the curves of your face, and wondering at the beauty of your soul.  Imagine His warm giggles when you lift your broken works of art to Him.  Imagine his bent knee to lift you from your failures and skinned knees.  Imagine his tears over your heartbreaks, and imagine him gently catching those from your cheek in a bottle.  Imagine his pride when you are his hands and feet on earth.  Just like you pull out a photo of your child to show to a friend, God loves to show the world His glory and goodness in your very face and life.  Soak in his tenderness, and let it change you.  Let it put a bounce in your step, like that of a child who knows he’s loved.


My beautiful friend, today, let your imagination wander to a Father God who is kind of obsessed with you.

Mama, this is how you know God is after your heart… (And a GIFT!)


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This morning I woke swimming in the mystery of life and motherhood…so heavy with burden and responsibility, so light with games of peek-a-boo and spontaneous dancing.  So emptied out of energy and time and space and refreshment, so full of laughter and wonder and silly conversation.  Despite the palpable beauty and the irrefutable blessing, there is a darkness that can cast shadows on a mama’s joy, and that leads us to live a shadow of the blessing intended for us.

There is the feeling of invisibility and having no visible achievement to show for the mothering of the day. There are sleepless nights and impossible pressures.  There are fits and messes, and the hurry of the world clashing with the maddening sloooow of children who don’t see the big deal about putting on shoes. There is the crushing inadequacy, the fear of the dangers and hardships our children could face. There is the tension of being a mom, with enormous influence and utter lack of control over future and faith and safety.

There are the yoga pants and minivans, the feelings of smallness and un-chicness. There is the lack of understanding from the boss or the dinner party host. There is the impossible-to-explain importance of a naptime. There is the intense grind of chores and meals and sports schedules, and endless driving. There is the hopelessness of keeping up, the discouragement of failure, the laying down your life in the most imperceptible ways. There is the absence of instruction or feedback. There are the postpartum hormones and breastfeeding struggles that everyone has but no one likes to admit, and everyone seems to forget by the time their youngest is out of diapers.

Something in me cries out for someone to see, for someone to understand the chaotic mystery I’m trying to live, somehow with intention and purpose.  Maybe like me, you yearn for someone to understand the strangeness of stumbling for coffee and trying to piece together a seemingly sloppy mess of moments into a story leading little souls to the feet of Jesus…shaping the next generation with the same handful of moments that can so easily be shaped by prolonged fatigue, grumpiness, and the inexplicable experience of “mommy brain.” All we’ve learned about life and faith and work seems to short-circuit in days of pure survival with tiny people.

And yet, our lives will be made up of a series of these mostly ordinary moments.  What might it look like to live these moments fully alive?  What might it mean to find God in the mess, instead of waiting for the mountaintop?


The days of a mother are full of things to distract us or keep us from the gift… I have to think that the secret to joy is not in pretending they aren’t there.  I have to believe that a feeling of purpose and fulfillment is not in finding enough affirmation.   I think the joy and peace and purpose we long for are just on the other side of surrender.

The key to unlocking joy and abundance in the midst of this motherhood thing – it lies hidden within our deepest cries and our desperate longings.


I believe God whispers to our hearts in the places that cry out the loudest.


As I open my ears to hear, I begin to notice God’s gentle whisper beckoning me to his heart – into deeper intimacy with Him – through the very things I thought were there to steal my joy.  I invite you to tune in and listen to how God is calling to your heart right in the middle of your mess…

As your human limits slap you right across the face…when two eyes, two ears, two hands are never enough to meet all of the needs… When you crash into bed like a force of nature despite the mound of things you “should” be doing…  When fatigue, lack of control, the inability to “fix it” for your kids overwhelm you… May these things drive you to submit to God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty.  Through our fleshy and finite humanness, God calls us to know his omnipotent kingship.  God beckons our hearts through our weakness.

As you feel claustrophobic with small people hanging on you or talking ceaselessly, may you feel wooed into the safety and quiet of God’s presence. There was a time it was sheer discipline to remember to seek quiet in my day… it now feels like survival. I think of Jesus with the sick and desperate crowding against him as I feel the constant needs of my children assailing me. I think of newlywed days in a crowd and wishing to be alone with my love. God calls to our hearts through the pressure of our days…may you feel the longing ache to draw away and be alone with Him, the Lover of your soul. God beckons our hearts through the relentless pressure. 

As your sense of identity seems to slip through your fingers…  When everyone talks to your baby as if you are merely a backdrop…  When no one notices that you never got to sit down for the meal… When so much of your life, worries and fears, longings and hopes, service and heartbreak – so much is unseen… may you hear God’s whisper that he sees.  We are drawn into a life of self-sacrifice, before one set of eyes, the eyes of Our Heavenly Father. We are invited into a secret romance with him, and it’s all a dance of worship. God beckons our hearts through invisibility.

For this generation, there is a relentless unspoken law of “good mom.”  When the expectations to do everything right are crushing you, and your constant failure bombarding you…  If you fail to be the mom you want to be, and you are haunted by the thought of sweet little eyes seeing you do it all wrong… may you be washed in the truth that our shepherding is about our imperfection pointing to the perfection of Jesus, our weakness pointing to Christ’s strength.  May you be beckoned by the whisper that says it’s all about grace.   God calls us to security and confidence based not in our performance, but in our identity as His daughter. We are transformed by a keen and constant understanding of our need, and an hourly dependence on our Rescuer Jesus.  God beckons our hearts through our failure.

When you are frustrated by your child’s agonizing slowness and distractibility… may you be beckoned by the invitation to wonder and delight.  When you struggle to get them to focus, may you melt into their intoxicating giggles.  Children are Jesus’ example of the liberation intended for our hearts.  We are invited back to the magic of a butterfly.  We are beckoned by an enthusiastic attitude of “Do it again!” We have a picture of the faith Jesus describes, in which our confidence comes from knowing we’re loved, not by our performance. Accepting grace comes easily, love is assumed.  They move slow, are open to interruptions, are infinitely forgiving.  This posture opens up endless possibilities for encountering the Spirit of God, living in gratitude.  Children delight in every little thing of God’s creation.  God beckons our hearts through our child’s eyes of unhurried wonder.

As parents, we have everything to lose.  Fear of real or imagined danger and loss can be debilitating.  Every time we must let our children go to some new adventure or unknown circumstance, it is as if our hearts are ripped right out and given legs.   We are all Abraham laying Isaac on the alter because we believe God keeps his promises, and have nowhere else to turn (Genesis 22).  We are all Jochabed putting Moses in a basket on the Nile because we have no other choice (Exodus 2).  We could let this feeling trap us and paralyze us from joy-filled living, or we can listen for the whisper that gently says “I set the stars in place (Job 9:9, Psalm 8:3).”  We could tune into the voice that says “I know every hair on their heads (Luke 12: 7).”  We could listen for the One who says “They can never leave my presence, and I am the only one able to hem them in (Psalm 139).”  Though we don’t have a promise for perpetual safety and ease, we have a promise that God is near, and God is good.  God beckons us through our desperation for His covering over our children.

Days and nights full of laundry and dishes and lunch boxes and diapers and driving…they have a mind-numbing repetitiveness.  We could spend them waiting bitterly for a better life to begin, but I’m beginning to see that the mindless tasks can become like repeating a worship refrain. As we build up our muscle memory for folding shirts and loading the dishwasher, we can build a spirit memory of openness and adoration.  We can fold a shirt giving thanks for the one who wears it.  We can pack the lunch or scrub the pot giving thanks for strong arms for our task.  God beckons us with the repetitive refrain of our day, inviting us to sing a song of worship with our hands.  

God is after your heart, Mama. I pray for eyes to see the wild pursuit.








How to proclaim to the world that children are a gift


I’ve always struggled a bit with taking up my space. I’ve never wanted to inconvenience or overwhelm, or bring too much need or heaviness.  I’ve measured my feelings and passions, and most definitely my requests for help.  I now know confidently that God has a sweet obsession with winning my heart and a significant sense of humor…

He gave me five children in seven and a half years. I got a crash course in taking up a lot of space.

Children take up their space unapologetically, with wild freedom.  Though their parents are presumed to be responsible for ensuring that they don’t interfere with anyone else’s space, the reality is that as your family grows, the space you take up in surface area and sound waves and need grows exponentially.

If you have ever walked into a restaurant, a grocery store, a library, or an airplane with children, you know the reactions can be mixed. I’ve seen everything from a joyful exclamation of blessing to an eye roll to an audible scoff. I’ve had strangers question if I know how to prevent pregnancy, or murmur things like “Some people just need to know when to quit.” Our family is undeniably avoided on airplanes and in a variety of other places. And I get it.

We are a lot.   For me too!  But no one needs a reminder that children are a blessing more than a mom!

These experiences with mixed reactions and projections of too-much-ness have highlighted my insecurities, but they have done something much more profound as well.  They have sparked a flame in me, and given me a deep passion to proclaim loudly and proudly that children are a gift. As mothers, we know it, but sometimes we don’t live it that way.  Messages of annoyance or inconvenience can oppress us, if we let them.


In these years with tiny kids, I’ll be honest, most of the time my brain feels like it might actually explode. Life is so sweet and full, but also completely overwhelming. I cry out to the Lord to grant me wisdom, peace, joy, the ability to slow down and soak in the moment, grace for my children, self control to use calm and kind words. I am metaphorically on my knees every second of the day with my utter depravity. I cannot pull together so much as an hour of righteous living, maybe not even a minute. I am stripped down with sleep deprivation and endless chores and prolific whining…and questions.

Oh the questions.

But at the end of the day, I want more! More of my children, more laughter, more of their magically unique personalities and amazing little faces…faces of light and life and freedom. I want to know them more, enjoy them more, drink them in more. I want more of the toddlers running shamelessly after bath time, resisting those confining pajamas. I want more sweet little hands cupping my face and telling me I’m the best mommy. I want more of watching the beautiful mystery of identity and spirit unfolding in my older children. I want more silliness and animal noises and living room dance parties.


Light and darkness are at war over these best of years.


The little old women keep telling me to love every minute, and my friends with a youngest child barely over five-years-old keep telling me to hang on for dear life a few more years. “Long days, short years,” they say. I think the truth and the secret to joy rests in some sloppy mess of both.


We do need to soak these years in. We need to deeply and truly celebrate all the firsts of things and the dependence and the spongy learning and the snuggles and the silliness. We need to slow down and taste it and chew on it and let it change us.


But we also need permission to say that this thing is really stinking hard. I want to tell those little old ladies that they don’t actually remember very well what it felt like not to get a good night’s sleep for a decade. And I want to remind those who look judgmentally at me with my occasionally out-of-control children, that they too were once a child and that my children deserve their respect. And for the love, I want to scream from the rooftops that sometimes moms have to take their kids to the grocery store. We weren’t trying to slow you down or ruin your day or run over your toes with the shopping cart. We just ran out of milk and peanut butter and we can’t go on without those, and this is just when the grocery store had to happen. So be nice. Please.


I have found that I need to be prepared to respond well to the comments and reactions that oppress my spirit.  I need to be prepared to take up my space in a joy-filled, life-giving way.

The most common thing that is said to me throughout my days is “Wow, you have your hands full!” Though seemingly harmless, the constant flow of this message leads me to feel sorry for myself, or to feel defeated under the seeming “too much” of my life. If it constantly looks like I need help, then I must not be ok, right? A sweet friend encouraged me to find a thing to say back that helps to combat the influence this comment was having. So now, every time (usually at least three times a day, depending on how many errands I run or places I go), I say in response “In the best way!” or “Yes, sir, I am blessed!” or “My cup runneth over!”

Cheesy as it may sound, having a positive response transforms these moments of defeat into moments of victory. And it proclaims over my children – to their listening ears – that they are a blessing and a joy.


During pregnancy, it was the continuous flow of “You’re about to pop!” or “Wow, you’ve really gotten big!” These threaten to steal my joy, make me feel frumpy and insecure, and to be honest, make me want to say all kinds of cruel things. I needed an armament for this one too. I came up with a few phrases like “Must be a healthy boy in there!” or “Can’t wait to meet him!” so that these comments didn’t pour self-consciousness all over my blessing.


Last week, a man saw me out and about with my little flock and said to me in real life ”Wow, you must be a glutton for punishment.” Without thinking, I responded: “Maybe…but I get it all back in joy!”
Infinitely more important than the puzzled looks I sometimes get, my children hear me declare that they are a blessing.  And when I am prepared with these joyful “comebacks”, the words that threaten to make me feel overwhelmed, insecure or less-than Do. Not. Stick. Hallelujah!


Today, let’s celebrate our children out loud for the world to see. Let’s celebrate their slow wonder and their unreserved delight. Let’s celebrate their bubbling joy and their shameless freedom. Let’s celebrate their unquenchable curiosity and their endless teachability. Let’s celebrate their enthusiasm and their presence.  Let’s celebrate their incredible courage, resilience, and flexibility. Let’s celebrate the clarity of their love, and the purity of their faith. Let’s celebrate their fearlessness and their reckless abandon. Let’s celebrate their comfort and familiarity with their need, and their absolute dependence.  Let’s celebrate that Jesus said children are worth celebrating.


I want to challenge myself and other mamas to go convince the world that children are worth our celebration and our blessing. They are worth listening to. They are worth our lingering looks of acceptance.  They are worth our smiles. They are worth our patience as they try to figure out how to do things they’ve never done before. I want to embrace them together. If those inconvenienced deliver scoffs and scolds and sharp glances, I want to let them roll off and I want to lean into the beautiful mess of it.


And maybe, as the world sees moms delight in our children, it will be softened towards them.  Maybe we can deliver a powerful blessing over this next generation.
What do you say, Mama?  I say let’s give it a shot.


What to do when you want to be an unflappable mom

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My children bounced out of their rooms, arms spread wide, ready to cover me in their exuberant love …joyfully screaming things like “Breakfast time?!?!” or “It’s Muddy Monday!!!” or just “Mommy!!!”

One heart can hardly contain it.

I grip my chest with the shear abundance of sweet voices and reckless love and youthful life held in a four-foot wide hallway. Waking to this sight and sound is rich and full and beautiful. But today, friends, I wasn’t ready for what would swiftly and inevitably come – what always comes, but can feel wildly different, depending on the state of my heart.


Not ten minutes after our joyful greeting, the needs had mounted, arguments ensued, required items were missing, sweet tones became shouts and whines, nerves were frayed, little hearts were heavy with leaving mom all day. The voices that sang excitement and joy now held frustration, questions, stress, needs to be heard, for snack to be packed, shoes to be tied, all of the things to be done. As words of greeting were pleasant to all of my senses, like delicate harmonies and lovely aromas that bless my soul…. ceaseless demands and questions feel like shots fired from all sides.

Head spinning, I was unraveled with impatience and the urge to run. I feel fickle and shortsighted to allow myself to be given over so quickly from experiencing life as rich and beautiful to overwhelming and wearying.


How is it that these same honeyed little mouths hold the power to deliver me to extravagant delight and crushing strain, to vitality and to exhaustion, in an instant?


The simple answer: they shouldn’t.


My children should not hold the power, with their tone or behavior, to determine the state of my soul and spirit. They were never meant to be the ground I stand on. And if I am to guide them to steady ground, I can’t ride the wave of their emotion with them.


I’ve heard it said that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.  Of course, our hearts break with a child’s broken heart, we hurt their hurts, and celebrate their victories…

But if I allow my children’s tumultuous feelings to be the driving force of my life, I will be in an almost perpetual state of misery.  From a missing orange crayon, to illness, injury, or friendship struggles, it’s highly likely that someone is in some level of crisis.  At any moment, someone is probably crying, pouting, whining, or otherwise not engaging in the joy that is mine to claim.

If we aren’t careful as moms, we can inadvertently hand the reigns over to the tiniest or noisiest person in the house, and let them determine the state of our hearts, of our day, of the culture of our homes… This is a burden far too heavy, and one they were never meant to bear.  And this is equally important with one child or seven.


My mistake today was simple: I was unprepared. When I’m unprepared…

I react, rather than respond.

I worry, rather than pray.

I feel attacked and inadequate, rather than equipped.

I feel claustrophobic, rather than abundantly blessed.


So today, after learning again the hard way, thankful for a God who doesn’t hold my weakness against me, I am recommitting to arm myself for the battle of my day. Whether I rise for a quiet hour before dawn, or I pause for 3-minutes with children piled on my lap in the chaos of the morning, I am making a commitment to prepare myself for the task I’ve been given.

I see today with clear eyes that I am in battle. Marching onto the field unarmed is a surefire way to get beat up.  There is a way to be stand on rock when the ground around us shifts. There is a way to be stable in the midst of volatility and unpredictability. There is a way to keep peace while the flaming arrows fly.

Mama, you can be unshaken. Unflappable.

The Bible describes for us the armor of God that can enable us to stand firm as lies swarm and darkness creeps in. I’ve always loved the words of Ephesians 6, but I’ve needed to personalize it a bit for these unique days as a mom of little ones…


  • The Belt of Truth is rejecting the lies that make me feel sorry for myself, and proclaiming that my children are a blessing. I find myself complaining with other mamas, comparing horror stories of fits and sleepless nights. I love that our authenticity helps us to not feel alone, but I sometimes strap on a belt of self-pity instead of the belt I want. As I pull on my jeans or yoga pants in the morning, I’m putting on truth. I’m rejecting a complaining spirit and tongue, and claiming my children as pure gift.
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness is owning the beauty given to me by God, and shedding the shame and self-talk that says I’m a terrible mom. I am called “righteous” from the moment I believe in Christ, so I can walk with dignity and regality, as if I am wearing a long flowing robe of righteousness. I reject curses spoken over my body that tell me that I’m flawed and less-than. I can walk with confidence as God’s creative work of art, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a vessel for miracles of new life. As I slip on a shirt, or I zip up a hoodie sweatshirt over my chest, I put on God’s delight in me, claiming that I am pure, righteous, and lovely simply because God says so.
  • Worry and hurry can feel like a mom’s best friends…but they’re not the ones I want. Strapping on Shoes of the Gospel of Peace means that I am ready for the unexpected things… the delays and tantrums, skinned knees, blow-out diapers, fevers and tears. As I put on my shoes, I ready myself with the eternal perspective that brings peace to the momentary struggle. God’s rescue plan is in place.  Nothing can snatch me from the love of God. The pressure is off. God can handle omnipresence. I am free to aggressively eliminate hurry from my days, and forcefully reject the worry that cannot add a single hour to my life, or the lives of my children.
  • Taking up a Shield of faith means that my eyes are fixed on the unseen, choosing to believe in God’s goodness and sovereignty.   “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11: 1).” God is able to hold my everything…my dreams, my fears, my hopes, my people. As I throw my purse or diaper bad over my shoulder, I take hold of trust that God sees the whole story in a way I cannot. I pry my hands open and place my children into the tender loving hands of the Father God. I empty my hands of control and desperation to protect, and grab hold of faith.
  • Motherhood shines a light on my weakness like nothing ever has. I put on the Helmet of Salvation by believing that I am not the hero of this story. I am free to be weak and imperfect. I can refuse to be browbeaten by perfectionism and never being enough. My weakness clears space for my children to look to Jesus to be the perfect hero of their story. As you do your hair today –maybe in a messy bun or a wet braid, like me – put on the belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection was enough for you, and enough for your children.
  • I take up the Sword of the Spirit by readying myself with the truth of God’s word, to fight against the lies that steal my joy. When I feel bitterness bubble up, I know that the last will be first (Matthew 20: 16). When I’m desperate for someone to see all the thoughts and prayers and needs and schedules I’m juggling, I know that my Father in heaven sees me and I store up for myself treasures in heaven (Matthew 6). When the work is hard, and my body exhausted, I proclaim over myself that in view of God’s mercy, I offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, and all things of my day are as worship (Romans 12: 1).   As I face my weakness all day long, I hear God saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). Like it or not, the item in my hand more than any other is my phone. Most of the time, the goal is to put my phone down. But when it is in my hand, I like to take it up as one way to wield my weapon of God’s word. I share truth over texts with friends, proclaim it on social media, look up scripture, ask my friends to share it back with me. Other ways I’m taking up my sword are posting scripture around the house, leaving my Bible out on the counter, keeping scripture memory cards in my car for moments when I’m sitting in carpool lines, or simply saying out loud the truths I know instead of the things I feel. Find your truths, sweet sister, and take up your sword.


When I’m clothed in this armor, my nerves and careless words are quieted, my emotions are stabilized, my pace is slowed, my feet are steadied…and I am held. I believe the unflappable mom I have envied is steadied not by superhero strength, but by the hand of God. Not by greater ability, but by greater dependence. Not by standing stronger, but by setting her feet upon the rock and not the sand.


When you need to be birthed into a more human way of living

The hours and days immediately after birth, I felt spilled out like the hidden contents of a purse. I didn’t know I had anything to hide until I felt so poignantly exposed.

It wasn’t the physical nakedness so much as the nakedness of writhing in pain before an audience, the rawness of screaming and pushing, the humility of losing control of my bodily functions, the shear humanness that I had no idea about…the things that I had no concern for in the moment, but afterwards made me feel like a wild animal who could not regain her dignity as a “lady.”

I treasured and cherished the days that followed my first birth.  But the tidy, middle class American life I had known floated up into the stale hospital air, as I was birthed into the fleshier side of things.  My everything ached, and my body felt strange and foreign, my belly suddenly a bowl of Jell-O, and nursing this little stranger with parts of my body that had never served this purpose. I felt bizarrely empty missing the life that had dwelled within for so many months, and abundantly full holding this member of my family, with whom I suddenly couldn’t imagine life without.

In the subsequent weeks, hormones flared, emotions spilled, joy and sadness, elation and terror, blessing and loss of what was known, giddiness and despair all collided in a messy heap in the walls of a physical body I did not recognize.  And the normalness of the experience – that most women have been through it – did not make it feel an ounce more normal.

This…is motherhood? I would never trade it, but this feeling that I would never be able to climb back into the skin and spirit I used to walk in – it created a flurry in me that I couldn’t ignore.

The world began to spin with a new depth and beauty and heaviness and fear – life with a new fleshiness.

If your mama’s story is one of adoption, I imagine your first days felt similarly messy. Showered with congratulations, while wrestling with feeling raw and exposed with all the feelings and fears, questions and invisibility of the experience that feels so much the same and so much different from other birth experiences.

Birth, new life, growing a family – it’s divinely beautiful, transcendent…

but not tidy.

For me, the experience has become a bit of a metaphor for life. There are these moments when we are faced with a loss of innocence, learning that life this side of heaven can be painful and grueling, that our bodies are fragile and temporary, that God’s intention cannot be for us to keep it all together and do our best to avoid the hard parts.

There are these moments when we realize the ones we love can hurt us and can be hurt, and that we actually cannot make guarantees for tomorrow.

We come to learn that our life and interactions with one another here on earth look less like painting a slow and well-designed landscape and more like splattering our mess of vibrant and contrasting color at the canvas of God, and letting him make it beautiful.

In the untidy days after birth, and the days like them, there is a freedom in the spilling out of our humanness – physically, emotionally, spiritually, as our pain and faith and questions and joy and discomfort collide.

Life is messy. Joy is lost when we fight against it, and struggle to squeeze ourselves back into the metaphorical skinny jeans of being tidy and dignified. In moments like this, perhaps freedom is found in letting ourselves be birthed into a more human way of living.

Perhaps freedom is found in admitting that we have never had it all together, even when we pretended to, and we cherish the sacredness of these fully alive moments.

Perhaps joy flows when we let it, rather than creating a buffer so that we feel more in control.

Perhaps there is a love that now bubbles over the rim of a heart that has not fully grown to the new size required of it, and we don’t have to try to fit it all in.  We can just let that love spill all over the floor. Perhaps we let the tears flow, and snuggle all night if we need to, and get on our faces before the Lord with the overwhelming rush of it.

Perhaps we hand our heart over to allow God to hold it and change it’s shape, rather than trying to put it back together in it’s old way.

All of this language, even as I write it, feels a bit lofty and ethereal, even vague, but I believe in the most concrete of ways that there is an intentional “letting go” required, in order to experience the joy and blessing of these messy days.

And maybe all the days are messy – more like birth – if we let them be.

We have to choose to submit our spirits to a God who created us in this unbecoming way – from dust-to-dust. To take any other way is to miss an opportunity to live some of the most alive days we will ever have a chance to. I’ve not lived a lot of years, and I know I’ll look back in another 34 and laugh about how much I thought I knew. But with each year of living, I see a bit more that real life happens in the untidy places. It happens in the deep soul grief, in the moments of uncontrollable happiness, in the spaces where love for someone makes you vulnerable enough to be squashed, and in the moments when you can’t “keep it together.”

I think of King David dancing before the Lord, much to the chagrin of his embarrassed wife (2 Samuel 6: 14).

I think of an undignified father – heart bursting – running and kissing his prodigal son returning home (Luke 15: 20).

I think of a woman anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair in the most unbecoming fashion (Luke 7: 36-38).

I think of a group of friends shamelessly lowering their loved one through a neighbor’s roof in order to reach Jesus (Mark 2: 4).

I think of sitting in a puddle of tears with a friend in grief.

I think of jumping with joy after God has performed a great miracle or answered a desperate prayer.

Real living happens in these untidy, undignified, spilled-out moments.

So, my sweet sister, my heart for you in the days after birth, and all the days that feel like them, is for you to be gracious with yourself, and let the enormity of the Lord wash over your smallness.  Lean into the sloppiness of it.

Whether or not you have ever given birth in the physical, or ever will, let yourself soak in the moments of your heart not being large enough to hold your love for your people… the moments when you feel your humanness and the mess of life spilling out all over the place, and invite the big-enough God to hold you. Climb into His lap like a toddler after a nightmare.

Let Him minister to your quaking heart.


Surprising joy when you feel you’ve lost your life

My in-home expert on surprising joy

A seed falls, and we do not weep for the death…but rejoice for the promise of life to come.

There’s a beauty and a trust as we witness a dying that brings life. This is, perhaps, one of those sweet hints in nature that points to a deep truth that echoes throughout the earth and reverberates in our very souls. Nature gives way and, each year as the winter chill sets in, the death holds a promise. We wait. We eagerly expect. We anticipate with full confidence that new life will spring forth in due time. And we know that without the death, the life would be cut short, cheapened, lost. As nature sways with the secret winds of the One who made it, we watch and celebrate it’s majestic beauty.

Life from death.

In the same way, I walk in the hope that Jesus not only died to pay the penalty for my sin, but that he rose and is alive. And because he died, I have life. He came to serve and not to be served, and He leaves an example of a life of sacrifice that brings life.

Research has shown time and time again that the happiest people are the ones giving their lives and resources away to serve others.

But if I’m honest, I think I have had an idealized sense of what a life of service looks like. I’ve imagined that the kind of dying to self that makes us feel like we’re really living can only happen in the big things.

I’ve dreamed of missions and living among the poor. I’ve partnered with beautiful organizations doing beautiful world-changing things. I’ve grieved that I don’t have more capacity to serve now that I’m home with young kids. I still deeply treasure these opportunities to serve the poor and needy, and celebrate all those doing this significant work.

But I have thought less of life as a mom. It often feels small and insignificant. I have fought against the way it shrinks and simplifies my life, and I have sometimes been frustrated by the way it fills all of the spaces and leaves no room.  As we fight against it, and wish for bigger better things, we allow seeds of resentment and bitterness to be sown.

But, in the last couple years, the truth of the life I’m living as a mom has slapped me right across the face. Sometimes, quite literally. The truth is that mamas die a million small deaths all day long. Perhaps the life of service and sacrifice that I’ve dreamed about is right in front of my face. Perhaps leaning in and reconciling with the dying that fills my days could be the key to unlock the life I sometimes feel I’m missing.

Friends, we mamas might have all the worldly comforts that make us feel like our days should be easy.  We might enjoy the comforts of beautiful homes, and minivans, and organic meals, and Starbucks stops. But, there is no peace for the mama who won’t die a thousand times, on a thousand days.

As we are willing to die in every corner of ourselves, we open ourselves up to new and better and fuller life.

Perhaps not whipping my body into shape after giving birth is not a failure, but an opportunity to discover life and joy in the death of my vanity. Dying to self is giving your very body to be stretched and scarred and changed. I give my body.

Perhaps I’m not less-than because motherhood has killed brain cells. I have frantically looked for a child who I’m holding on my hip. True story. But perhaps my distraction and preoccupation is not a sign that I’m now less worthy. Dying to self is giving your mind to organize and facilitate seeing that the needs of everyone else in your home are met before your own. I give my mind.

Dying to self is cleaning the messes that threaten your basic human dignity – the ones that leave you looking for the emergency biohazard hotline.  I give my dignity.

A place in me that once cared about some respectable thing now holds the lyrics to the Wild Kratts theme song. Dying to self is giving yourself to care about the little things…the names of all the dinosaurs, the microscopic boo-boos, the math homework. I give my interest.

I can feel embarrassed by my swift tears or sudden panic when it comes to my children. But dying to self is giving your heart to care about the big things…the illnesses and injuries that make our heart stop, the heartbreak and the grief of watching your children suffer or be in danger. It’s the giving of your heart in a way that you can never take back. The giving to a love that makes your heart beat right out of your chest, and makes you feel wildly alive and wildly in danger of being crushed. I give my heart.

The daily grind of chores doesn’t make my life small. Dying to self is giving all of the in-between moments to launder and clean and feed. I give my hands.

Dying to self is letting your family change and shape your goals and dreams, whether you are working tirelessly juggling work and home, or you’ve given up a hard-earned career to stay home.   I give my dreams.

Dying to self is being the rock against which my children can crash the wild waves of growing up. Dying to self is keeping steady for their uninhabited and unfiltered and underdeveloped BIG feelings to find their boundaries in the safety of my arms. I give my comfort.

Dying to self is looking with grace-filled eyes after being slapped across the face by a tiny person. It’s shepherding in love after being yelled at for some horror like offering the wrong lollipop color. I give my pride.

Only as I lean in and give myself away can I find peace and freedom. If God sees me, and I’m within his call to the life of sacrifice, I don’t need to fight to be seen. I don’t need to resent my husband for his freedom to leave the house, or my children for their ingratitude. There is a harmony in the song I’m singing.

And it all feels like worship.

My spirit gives a resounding “Yes!” to overseas missions and living among the poor. But I long to see us mamas shout a similar “Yes!” over the life of sacrifice that lies before us as we simply open our eyes in the morning (or in the night), with a willingness to do another day.

Nature points to this deep truth that we only find our life by giving it up. I long to see us fall each day like the seed, treasuring the promise that our death will bring new life.

As I talk with my mom friends, we still find ourselves feeling like being a mom is supposed to be easy and fun. The words of little old ladies who tell us with screaming toddler in grocery store line to “cherish every minute” echo in our heads. But I’ve watched my friends give up careers, and hobbies, and personal space, and clean shirts, and the last brownie. I’ve seen them die a million deaths. We get dirty with it.

And yet, somehow the world has us convinced that we’re doing it all wrong. Somehow we feel it doesn’t matter. We feel we need to do more, and better. And get out and serve in a way that counts.

Stepping into motherhood is risky in a ultimate sense. We allow the Lord to rip our heart out and give it legs. Ladies, this thing requires faith! I don’t say any of this out of pride, but to proclaim out loud that the devil, the Enemy of our hearts, has no right to steal the joy that comes from motherhood being a service unto the Lord.

If we are willing to lean into the life of self-sacrifice that is laid out before us, mamas, we can spend our lives in the sweetness of those feet-washing moments. You have an opportunity at every moment of the day to give your life away. And sister, your Father in heaven sees you!

The world fights against this motherhood thing with a force of self-indulgence and self- advancement. While some positions come with power, influence, lofty titles, impressive salaries, something to say at a cocktail party. Motherhood comes mostly with messes, failures and invisibleness. I think this is no surprise to God.

So, let’s let the seed fall. Let’s die the million deaths, on purpose. And let’s watch and wait as new life and joy spring up in your days.

My dining room table is under there somewhere