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.


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

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.


A Reflection On The Strange And Beautiful Mystery Of Wanting A Baby


I cuddled that sweet six-pound baby boy in a dear friend’s hospital room, and for the first time, the miracle of it all – new life – meant something new. In a landscape of stiff chair cushions and drab white walls, freshly‐mopped tile floors and the aroma of antiseptic, I felt my imagination rest in the stale air, on just one thing:


When might it be my turn?


My heartbeat quickened. I snuggled, and dreamed, and ached with joy-filled wonder, for a child that looks like some beautiful, mysterious mix of my husband and me.


This, the first truly animal-like instinct I could name: I wanted a baby.


It’s so strange, really. To wake up one day and decide we want to give up our full nights of sleep and our freedom to travel lightly or sleep in on Saturday mornings. A desire to go through the pangs of pregnancy and childbirth, and to be needed deeply and desperately and physically, each day in varying degrees for the next six or seven thousand days…


But this beautiful thing lies deep within – in the part of us that reflects the creativity of our Creator…reflected in our longing.


We long to create, to nurture, to teach and leave legacy, to see the next generation do it better. We have eternity written on our hearts, so we have our strand in the great eternal cord hanging down from heaven….


and we want ours to count.


From the first moment of desiring to grow our family, fear crept in. What if I couldn’t get pregnant? What if it took a long time? What if God didn’t intend for me to be a mother at all? What if I’m a terrible mother? What if I miscarry? What if I gain 100 pounds? What if my husband doesn’t like me pregnant?

Even the thought of becoming a mother opens up a world of fear and anxiety, worry and turmoil that I never knew existed.


This fury of unknowns swirled, and some mysterious new beat drummed in me.


A day or two later, without naming my change of heart on our old claim to wait 3-5 years, I looked into my husband’s eyes and talked about the newborn I had snuggled, with a desperation that I couldn’t name, for fear that I couldn’t withstand rejection in it.


Somewhere in the preceding days I had transformed from a halfway reasonable and pretty highly functioning person into a wild, audacious, gratuitous feminine beast, who just…


Wanted. A. Baby.    I was scaring myself.


I hoped that my motherly longing would look somehow beautiful to him, and he would melt into a sweet daddy puddle, in which he would surely proclaim that he wanted a baby, too.


But somehow, undaunted by my newly mother‐like eyes, he offered a tender but logical and stoic statement about how fun it would be someday after we got financially stable and had time to “just be married.” His words moistened and hung in the air, and suddenly the room felt all hot and sticky.


For some number of months, my gentle ache sat in silent retreat.


And then one day, my tenderhearted husband declared that he wanted to grow our family. The ever-moving target of 3-5 years suddenly shrunk to “How about today?”

My heart soared, and then immediately sunk into terror of infertility and miscarriage and unfulfilled longings.

One part in me felt like beating my chest and demanding it of the Lord, and another part of me shrunk down in an unworthy heap, believing God would be fully justified to never grant me a pregnancy.


I’ve laughed with friends about this strange maternal thing that comes over some of us – I felt crazy and ashamed and confused by it. But I can’t say I’ve seen it treated as anything more than an extraterrestrial-like phenomenon, for those of us weak enough to succumb to it. But beneath the embarrassed admissions, I’ve wondered if instead it’s all a part of a unique and lovely design of an Almighty God.


I’ve heard the confused ache in the voice of dear friends who have struggled with infertility. They are surprised by their reaction…deep grief and longing. They always assumed, like so many of us, that if they couldn’t get pregnant, they would simply accept it, or “just adopt.” The words feel sharp as I type them, and think of the deep wounds I’ve felt with these friends.

There is so much more than a matter‐of-fact reality that some procreate and some do not. There is an undeniable thing written on our spirits – a longing to join with God in this piece of creation, and a part of our identity is deeply entwined with it.


I know that not every woman feels this way, and that God has clearly and graciously set some apart for an exponential capacity for career, ministry, spiritual mothering, adoption, or another beautiful purpose.

But there is a commonality among so many women, and lies of weakness and shame and smallness have attached to it…that do not belong. Science can call it a “biological clock,” but what if God meant it for beauty and purpose and love? What if the God of the Universe designed for women to share in His image in this particular way? He created us out of the love of the Trinity, in His image. And He granted us with this miraculous ability, biologically or spiritually or both, to do essentially the same thing – to create out of ourselves, in our image, as an overflow of our love for one another as husband and wife, and/or between God and ourselves. Giving life through love – a heavenly notion.


I see women without children birthing spiritual children by the droves, and I am saddened that there is little freedom to call out the beautiful maternal-ness of that, either.


I admit that I’m squirming with political incorrectness.  But I can’t ignore the beauty that lies here begging to be uncovered.  We might need to sweep away some dust left from seeking equality in all the things that make a woman the same as a man, and call out something that makes us beautifully different.

For our treasure lies substantially in a most certainly equal, but different place.

Women have something unique to offer in every space we fill. Whether a woman ever has a biological child, or ever wants one, there is a thing that makes her a woman that lies far deeper than anatomy. As I sit today, on the other side of five children, I desperately long for the world to give space to this thing, and to attach beauty to it.

I believe we mamas have a battle to fight, a critical duty to live and walk in the beauty and joy of what we are…being a mother is only one part, and one version of a woman, but it is a beautiful one.  A child comes from a place of intimacy, vulnerability, and complete dependence on divine intervention. It is raw mercy.

Those of us who have been given the gift of conceiving and giving birth to children may claim no pride or right to have done so. And the same is true for those who have applied and interviewed and prepared and waited and received and loved an adopted child, not of their own blood but allowed to completely intertwine with their hearts and souls and homes.


It is purely and simply miracle.


Even in the longing to have a child, there is a beauty and a joy to be found in the way that we reflect the Creator, in the way we long to grow and multiply, and love new loves.


Motherhood – from dream to empty‐nest and beyond – has been draped with shadows, and I want to cast them off.


There are shadows of fear…of failing or being small, of losing a career or body or freedom, of wasting our lives.

There are shadows of insecurity…about how our bodies and babies and honor students compare, about their behavior and performance, about what kind of mom we are or are not.

There are shadows of shame….around our bodies, our failure to get our baby to breastfeed or sleep, our toddler to potty train or stop biting, our school-aged child to read or to stop wetting the bed. And the stakes just get higher as they grow. I see shame around working or not working, having children too early or too late, too few or too many, too close together or too far apart, too “on purpose,” or too “by accident.”

Let’s not let these things cast a shadow on the radiance of being a co-creator of human life.

If we are given an opportunity to mother, and we believe it is for our blessing and the blessing of our children, than it ought to be a journey of joy.


So, today, I’m celebrating the strange and beautiful mystery inside of me that led me to this place of motherhood. I’m choosing to believe that it was put there on purpose to reflect the incredible, abundant love that drove the Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –to create us, his children.


Ecclesiastes 3: 11, Galatians 5: 1, Genesis 1: 27

When you feel like a hot mess and it’s hard to fight for friendship

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Dear friend,

I’m not a good friend. I’m not. Perhaps there was a time when I was. But the truth is that being my friend today requires a good portion of patience and heaps of grace. Being a mama to my little flock requires much of me. Sometimes, it feels like all of me. And, though I’m eager to connect, and I love you from my depths, friendship feels hard.

I desperately want to be there for you when you need me. I want to be dependable. Consistent. Punctual. I want to be truly present. I want to remember your birthday, and all the days that matter to you. I want to be distracted by nothing when your heart is hurting and you need my listening ears. That’s my heart, as it always has been.

I want to be the best of friends to you.

But these little people who need me, and this other side of my heart where the light began to shine eight years ago…it steals me away. And the scary truth of my beautiful, messy life now…is that I never, ever stop being mama.

I forget to call. I forget to respond to emails and texts. I sometimes forget to follow up after an important conversation.

My thoughts are muddled. I cannot remember how to speak in full sentences, because it has been eight years since I finished one.

When the school called while we’re out to coffee, I answered. When I heard a crash in the next room, I sprang to my feet in the middle of your sentence. When one of my people got hurt or sick, I canceled our time together. I backed out of commitments when I saw things get unbalanced in my home. I never wanted to do that to you.

I have packed up lunches and children and arrived at a playground picnic only to leave 45 seconds later with a handful of bee stings to tend to, and a van load of tantrums. I once left your tender moment when a child of mine mistook a playhouse chair for a potty. Yup, that happened.

I grow frustrated that even your tears or deep pain can’t find the shelter of my uninterrupted focus.

I have arrived without someone’s shoes. Without enough snacks or Band-Aids. We have been overtaken by whining, and potty breaks, and questions. We have been defeated by the shear noise.

I know you understand.

It’s not convenient to be friends. And it’s not safe. We could start to think that friendship needs to just be put on a shelf until our children are older. But some deep down place in us knows better.  Doing it alone is not the answer.

Despite the best of intentions and sometimes what feels like monumental efforts, I fail you. And I recognize that I really can’t make you any promises. The truth is my promises were always weak – my dependability was always reliant on the grace of God. But I really know it now. I know it in the flesh because I have failed you time and again.

It was not always a crisis that stood in our way, friend. It’s just that my little flock took all of me. My heart’s eye zoomed in a bit, and my other loves fell out of focus for a moment. But I need you to know that your friendship – right there in the mess – it keeps me going.

We must fight to believe that it is so very worth it. As we balance the needs of these precious little people, we must offer one another grace upon grace to believe that our love for one another remains.

I want to say “I’m sorry” for not being a good friend, but I can’t say it in good conscience. I see that God made you and me with one fleshy body and 24 hours in a day, and a mind and a heart that can’t keep all the things in focus, the way that He can. And I see that He gave us these little flocks and a job to do. So, I really can’t say “I’m sorry,” because I will fail you the same way again. And please don’t say “sorry” either, because I want the same for you.

I need you to know that I am trusting a gracious God who can keep your heart in focus all day and night – that He will tend to your heart when I can’t.

I need you to know that even though I fail to be there, that I am with you. I see you. And I believe in you.

I’ve never gone to war, but I imagine that the dearest soldier friends are comforted by one another’s presence on a battlefield. You and me are like that. The soldiers are unable to keep an eye on one another as they fight, but their hearts belong to one another. They are empowered by fighting as one. And, as soon as the dust begins to settle, their eyes dart around looking for one another. They are prepared to tend to one another’s wounds, and carry one another out of harm’s way, if they need to. I’m fighting alongside of you, friend. And I will always come looking for you.

I never stop being a mama…but I need you right next to me. Will you stay?

I know you will.

I want to ask you to trust that I treasure your presence in the middle of it all. You help keep the beat – the rhythm of my life. And your partnership makes me strong.

The inconvenience, the risk, the interruptions, the mess, the utter failure to connect when distractions mount – I wouldn’t trade it for doing this without you. To keep fighting for friendship feels dangerous, but doing it alone is far more so.

We must keep fighting.

Motherhood brings these unique challenges to walking in community. There is no water cooler or office party, where we share our successes and grievances. There is no performance review that helps us feel confident that we’re on the right track. Our “direct reports” are not likely to offer any helpful feedback or thanks for many, many years…if ever. And the only job description is an unwritten “Do All The Things.”

We are often hungry, worn down by sibling squabbles, messes, and discipline challenges. And we are oh, so very tired. In the long days full of little people who don’t speak in logical sentences, with carpool and nap schedules, with frequent interruptions, doing it alone can feel easier. But the more alone we are, the heavier this thing of motherhood feels.

Alone, we start to think we’re the only one. The only one struggling. The only one who yells at her kids. The only one who locks herself in the bathroom for a break. The only one who can’t stop nagging and criticizing.  The only one who finds it so difficult to try to switch from Spit-up Covered Mama to Sexy Wife.

Alone, we might believe that lie that every one else is doing it better.

Alone, our hopelessness might get the best of us.

Alone, our shame has no accountability. The darkness of isolation hides and feeds it. Shame can hold us down in those dark spots where we believe we’re the wrong one for the job, and our children are doomed.

Alone, we forget to pray.

Alone, we forget to laugh.

Let’s not do it alone.

This is why I’m so grateful for the understanding we have between us. When it comes to those social graces we learned in elementary school, about eye contact and not interrupting. We’ve let those go. We know a million times over that it’s not personal.

We both know the struggle of a heart that is always, always divided. That never stops being a mama. Our hearts are one, yours and mine. We’re fighting on the same battlefield, and we’ll come looking when the dust settles.

We know and believe that it’s worth the struggle. That we need each other.

This kind of friendship is something magical. Sister, our hands are full, but our spirits are walking hand-in-hand.

And I couldn’t do it without you.

With Love,

Your Not-So-Awesome Friend, Who Will Always Come Looking