Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Want My Girls to Know About My Marriage

It is a sobering fact to know that my children, these spunky little independent things, will take their cues from me as they grow.  Whether intentional or not, many of their attitudes and actions will imitate mine as they learn to love, get married, and start their own families. God have mercy on me.

There are a lot of characteristics of my wifehood and love that I would rather them not see.  There are a lot of traits that I'd rather not be ingrained in them. Grace, Jesus...please Grace.

Quite humbly, I admit there are some things I want them to grab hold of and take to newer heights. Here's the gist of it...

1.  The Strong-willed Fight.  They tell you marriage will be hard. There will be ups and downs they say.  But you won't know the struggle until you feel the sting of the tears on your face. You won't really know until your heart pounds so hard with the unknown that you physically hurt.  In that moment, I want you to know that you have been righteously injected with the strength of Christ. You are far more powerful than Satan's intent to destroy your marriage. Dig those pretty pink nails in, my dear. The value of that tie, that holy covenant is beyond worth the fight. Don't give Satan the satisfaction.

2.  Spiritual warfare is real.  Prepare yourself for it.  Satan is stunned with a mixture of fear and rage at the discovery of a woman after God's own heart.  He will use every snide and low trick he has to knock you down and make sure you stay there.  Do not leave yourself vulnerable.  Get your beautiful blue eyes in the word of God.  I pray that God gives you an unquenchable thirst for it, always needing more.  Cultivate your intimacy with our heavenly Father through His word and communication with Him.  This two-fold tool not only gives you the intimacy you ultimately crave with God, but also defends you when the enemy comes slithering around.

3.  Treasure the little gifts.  He put your coffee mug and sugar near the coffee maker this morning before he left for work.  Take a moment to notice the grooves, the design, the color of that mug.  Think about how his hard-working hands gripped that mug out of the cabinet and placed it intentionally just for you, even though he was probably running late to work.  In the quick departures, stop for an extra second to smell his hair, kiss his neck, and squeeze him tight.  Thank God for him.  Days come and days go.  Tuesdays and Thursdays drip mundane.  The rush can stretch you thin.  Never, ever stop taking note of the grace-filled favor of God in your marriage.

4.  Master the art of the sincere apology.  The temptation to push blame or justify can be as strong as ammonia.  Giving the silent treatment is more comfortable than saying I'm sorry sometimes.  Do not settle.  Please do not settle, my love.  Your husband deserves it.  Your Heavenly Father deserves your utmost.  His faithfulness and humility resides within you.  He deserves all you have to give.  Push and give your heartfelt, I'm sorry.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Prayer For His Wife


You have intricately fashioned this little being.  This small firecracker that is in constant motion with arms flailing and mouth shouting.  Dirt becomes him.  There is so much strength in him, and yet a tenderness that melts me when it appears.  As a five year old, he drives me in circles, but I know that soon he will break cycle and be off.  He will be a man, and my arms will grieve.

There is so much I want for him, Lord.  Will much of it be realized?  His wife, Lord....his wife.

Let her be a woman after your own heart.  Marriage is hard, Father, and I know it is not something I will be able to do for him.  Somewhere in the world, right now, she is a little girl.  Maybe not even born yet.  Surround her with those that point her to you.  Instill a quiet and gentle spirit in her.

Show her the inestimable value in a mommy and daddy who press in to you and never give up.  Give her all the love of parents who cling to Christ and make their marriage a priority.

Give her the grace of a security that is found in you and you alone.  Give her a thirst for you and your word.  As potent as the world is, as she grows, be the most intoxicating influence in her life.  Fill her senses with a Godly love that absolutely cannot be duplicated by anything this world has to offer: sex, materials, or earthly success.

Let her cravings be for you.  Give her a driving appreciation for the body you have created her to reside in.  Confidence, integrity, and purity.

Let her faith be so much more than mine.  And on their wedding day, let the same smile spread across her face that graced his today when I told him, we've prayed for your future wife.

"But, I don't even know who I'm going to marry!" he said.  Precious.  Neither do we.  But pray we will.

I love you too, Lord.

Your Daughter

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Grasping Grace, A Letter To The Spirit

Oh, sweet Jesus. My good, great almighty God. Was it six months ago that I chose my one word as Grace? For a time, the feat of grasping and understanding this heavenly virtue felt insurmountable. Change felt slow. I doubted whether or not I had chosen correctly.

But you, Lord. You chose this word for me. Now I know.

I know because you have jerked me to a life touched by grace. The eyes of my heart have been ripped open. 2015 will be a life-changing year.

This will be the year that I truly see the grace in my life.
This will be the year that I learn to extend it to others.
This will be the year that I extend it to her, Lord.
This will be the year of perspective shift.

Oh, Jesus this is big. So much bigger than me.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God 
and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

I'm fighting back the tears as I sit in this coffee shop. Fighting so that the elderly gentleman across from me does not feel uncomfortable. Fighting so the barista doesn't ask if I'm okay.

Because I'm not okay.

This truth of yours has slammed me hard this morning, Father. I'm so much better than okay.

An undeserved, uncontrollable grace that reaches down after me as one who has been adopted into your family.  It drenches and sweeps me off my feet.  There is no stopping it. I can't deny it or talk my way out of it. I can't be so modest that you slip it back in your pocket. This grace.

What I have deserved, I did not suffer.  That which I could never earn by merit has been delivered.  I can hardly wait to get to the end of this year. Your love is so wild, I can't even dream of what you have yet to do in me.

To think that I will look a little more like you. To think that grace will change my face...

Monday, May 25, 2015

What Happens On Your Knees

Whatcha doing, mama?

I opened my eyes and turned to see my four-year-old with a questioning look on his face. I was on my knees in front of my desk chair praying for a dear friend that the Lord had laid heavy on my heart.

I'm praying baby. Want to do it with me?

Yeah! His face lit up to be involved, so we kneeled down together and sought the Lord's favor in my friend's life.

And these are the moments that the Lord uses to redeem my horrible mommy moments of yelling and being impatient. Ohhh, legacy.

A lot happens when I get on my knees. It's a matter of perspective. When I am on my knees, my heart is softer, it's more humble. I'm coming to my loving and righteous Father as a tender and unassuming child.

Father, rescue me.

Father, love on me.

Father, lead me and guide me.

Father, thank you.

Kneeling is an act of lowering and humbling yourself out of massive respect and awe of the one who holds your life in His hands. And I feel that He meets me there in my state of humility. I feel that He lowers himself to me, cups my face in His nail-scarred hands and whispers, it is my pleasure, my child.

Immanuel. God with us.

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
Proverbs 22:4

He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.
Luke 22:41

It's also a posture of submission. 

My God, your will be done. My dreams, plans, hopes, and priorities shine so bright they almost blind me. To kneel is to realign my heart with the will of God. To refocus my eyes on the glory that shines not from my smallness, but from the greatness that is our creator.

This submission is the acknowledgment of His all powerful and holy sovereignty. Good God Almighty! Just the brush of my knees to the ground levels me.

Lord, I need and desire and crave...but above all, your will be done.

Kneeling to pray is not necessary. But, oh, the things that happen when I do.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Religion to Relationship

Somewhere along the way, relationship shrunk into religion.  It became do's and don'ts instead of desire.  Where is the desire? Faded?

Do you know where I encounter God most often? Between the thin pages of this book. It's not about checking off a spiritual to-do. It's not about lightening the guilt for another day or two. Communication happens here. Relationship happens here. It is magnetic.

Never. Ever. Have I experienced God's presence more powerfully than when I am in consistent study of His word. I don't expect to flip open the bible at random, slap my finger on the page, and discover why my son is so strong willed or how to raise him.

But, when I intentionally set out on a course of study, the flood gates open and my feet are often knocked right out from under me.

When I set out to read and study the bible, I don't carry a mindset of what I will get out of my obedience. I come to be taught by God. Let me stop for a moment, because that very phrase paralyzes me. Taught by God.

Taught by God.

Taught by God.

I come to become better acquainted with who God is and how God is. I want to know his character from ingesting His ways with the Israelites. I want to know Jesus from soaking in the letters of the early fathers of the church. I want to catch glimpses of my eternal future by lathering up in scriptures describing the second coming.

And somewhere in the midst of me seeking Him, He meets me right where I am.

In my study of Gideon, I acquired the taste that God does give us more than we can handle, because it gives Him the opportunity to shine.

In my study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, I connected with the madness and gladness of deep personal relationship with those you are leading and doing life with.

In my study of the ancient Israelites in general, I found relief in the truth that God has been unfathomably patient with His children from day one.

In my study of Mary and Martha, I found freedom from perfectionism and the fulfillment of right perspective.

I could write a whole book just on the sweet honey that has gushed at me out of Proverbs.

When I look at this priceless, precious book, my heart swells. So much love is contained within these tattered pages. Among the scribbled notes, the highlighted areas, a few tear stains, and one pressed flower (a gift from my son during a dark time), is the ultimate display of love.

I'm not crossing items off my religious check list here. I'm relating with my creator here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Rock Date Night on a Skinny Budget

(Found at

I'm just gonna be honest with you here.  My skinny jeans would fall right off our discretionary budget.

But date nights are so vital to our marriage y'all.  The small minutes at home are filled with bath times, bed times, and time outs.  There are three very needy miniatures.  Barbie shoes need to be found.  The villain needs to be defeated.  Hair needs to be washed, chicken needs to be cut up, and the right pajamas need to be zipped and snapped.

Not to mention in their wake, ketchup needs to be wiped, poop needs to be flushed, legos need to be gathered, and my little ponies need to be pulled from the dogs mouth.

Hi, how was your day? just won't cut it for connection.  I need more.  He needs more.  But how do we get that more when we have just about as much money as we do spare minutes?  Fortunately, we've been practicing.  Here's what we've come up with:

1. The Couch Date

Give me a big, fuzzy throw, a no-bake cheesecake, and netflix, and I'm on a date! The hubs and I are still making our way through The Office, enthralled in the lives of Jim, Pam, and the others. We spend so much time with them that we talk about them as if we actually know them. At least once every week, we get the kids in bed and then crash in a pile of comfy clothes, cushions, and something delicious. What series on Netflix, weekly TV show, or trilogy can the two of you share?

2.  The Longest Drive

We live in the middle of nowhere. It literally takes us about 40 minutes just to get to WalMart. So going to grab a little drive-thru treat is often a date in and of itself. We jump in the car and head toward town to get a coffee, a milkshake, a box of doughnut holes, anything. And on the way, we talk about whatever needs to spill out of us. The three car seats in the back are empty, so we can literally solve the world's problems just on the way to Dunkin' Donuts and back. Sometimes uninterrupted conversation is all the soul needs. Plus, coffee is my love language. If you're a city-dweller, drive across town to get your Starbucks or Cook Out milkshake. It'll be worth it.

3.  Long-forgotten Fun

What's something you used to get a good giggle out of, but haven't done in years? Is there a cheesy movie, childhood game, or mindless activity that would get you grinning? Did anyone else play hot hands or have thumb wars? How about M.A.S.H.? I think that was mostly a girl thing in the 90s, but I found a printable version of it on Pinterest and the hubs and I got quite a chuckle out of it. We found out how many kids we're going to have, where we will live, what kind of car we will know...the important stuff. Even just 20 minutes of pointless play time can bring out some of the biggest belly laughs.

It's not always about dinner and a movie. I can be proud to say that I'm a cheap date. Just give me some connection, maybe some coffee, and I'm set. The take-away is that answering to Babe, Honey, and Wifey are all just as important as answering to Mama, Mom, and Mommy. Don't get distracted from that.

There was a time that I let wiping hineys and blending baby food stiff-arm me into a ceaseless mommy mode. And my husband was left to his own.

Never again.

No matter the budget of dollars and no matter the budget of time, we have renewed the vow to not let anything come between us.

Will you?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Oh My Precious God, I Am Overwhelmed.

I come to you today, friends, without a humorous opening, but with a pounding heart and the presence of the Spirit that is so electric it is almost tangible.

A couple of Sundays ago, I shared a message with our church family, confessing my heart for us all to be utterly overwhelmed by Christ. Overwhelmed by our heavenly Father. But that wasn't all I confessed.

I painted a picture for them of my frustration in preparing that message in the weeks leading up to that very morning.  I told them about how I sat many nights in front of a blank computer screen totally discouraged and ungratified because encouraging words about being overwhelmed for Christ would not spill out of me. It was a most devilish form of writer's block.

I finally fell to my knees under my burden of frustration and just said, "What God? Why won't you move?"

And just like that, I felt a whisper in my heart that said...

You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot convey or explain what it looks like to be totally awe-struck by me, because you, yourself, are not in awe of me. You cannot give what you do not have.

And I sank.

Because there was a not-so-distant time when I was so head over heels in love with God for the power he shook my life with. I have lived through many events that just left me stunned for Him. Overwhelmed by Him. And here I sat, with a blank computer screen and a blank space where my passion should be churning.

I finished my message by reminding my small church family of parts of my story, and suggesting that those days, those battles, those victories should leave me totally ruined for Him. Nothing else should ever be able to satisfy me.

I encouraged us all to recount our own incredible stories, to soak in them, and to become overwhelmed by them.

And then today happened.

My study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Children of the Day by Beth Moore) required me to consider the last 18 months of my life.

I wrote the exact date down in purple ink. 18 months behind today. October 1, 2013.  Oh my precious God.

What horrific and painful and absolutely jaw-dropping, beautiful things have happened in the last 18 months. I have not succumbed to depression, but I have surely battled it. I have lived in spiritual warfare so thick, that I thought at any minute I would feel a cold, clamy hand on my throat. I have actually experienced first-hand the blinding glory of the heavenly Father swoop in and fight for me. I have realized and accepted that He takes any attack on me personally. Oh sweet Jesus. Can someone be excited with me?

Consider me overwhelmed.

What the heck is your story, friend? I just have to know! Someone come to coffee with me. Email me. Call me for heaven's sake and share in this fire.

How has God totally overwhelmed you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Just A Phase

From under the covers I said, "The next person who tells me, Oh this is just a phase, is going to get punched in the throat."

My husband laughed, but I fought back tears.

My season of life is exhausting. Having three small children at home should not be flippantly dismissed as just a part of life. There should be some sort of fabulous recognition, like a monthly Starbucks gift card or at least a brand new outfit each month to replace the one that has been stretched out, thrown up on, or torn.

I'm tired.  I'm tired of multitasking. I'm tired of the loneliness that motherhood sometimes brings.  Oh and I'm tired of the financial strain. Am I whining yet?

When my burdens bubble to the surface, they usually arrive in the form of...

I'm sorry we were late to church again.

I'm sorry I never called you back

I'm sorry you have to scrape goldfish and mine for juice pack straws just to find a seat in my van.

The generations ahead of me say, Oh this is just a phase. This, too, shall pass.

First of all let me say, I get it. I understand that one day I will wake up, I will be 49, my kids will be grown and gone, and life will look much different.

I get it. Even just six months from now life will look different. They grow and develop and gain independence at the speed of light when they are this young. It won't be long. I get it.

But today.

Today, I am exhausted and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is very dim. And it might be a train wreck on the way. Is anyone else stepping in this with me today?

Today, I want to be so much more for my kids than I am.  Today, I want to choose joy. I don't want to just push through to the next phase. Because that phase will have challenges all of its own, and if I don't choose joy now, I probably won't choose joy then, and one day I will wake up and be 49, and be regretful.

How do I break out? Gratitude. I cling to gratitude. What is it about this phase that I love? What about this phase will I miss?

I love their little voices. One day, their voices will have depth and will sound a lot like mine.

But today. Today, they are sweet and small. So when they cry and whine and scream for 8 hours straight, I will choose to cling to the sweetness.

I love those naked little bottoms.  One day, it will be awkward and inappropriate to have my offspring running around the house in their birthday suits.

But today. Today, they are round and chunky and just adorable.  So when potty training is unsuccessful and the laundry wreaks of urine, I will choose to cling to the adorable.

I love his preschool sense of humor. One day, he may be sullen and moody and listen to dark music.

But today. Today, he laughs loudly and tells jokes that make no sense. His smile makes my heart beat. So when he becomes obnoxious and pranks his younger sisters, I will choose to cling to his smile.

These days are tough.  And beautiful.  It just depends on what I'm choosing to focus on.

Jesus, this motherhood thing is hard. Hold my hand please? Show me the most excellent way? Pat me on the rear when I need to get going, and pat me on the back when I just need to try again tomorrow. I love you too, Lord.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ministry Envy

They're taking trips together to the Holy Land, instagramming seagulls above the Sea of Galilee and the olive branch wreaths they made while in the Garden of Gethsemane. Touching the places where Jesus, himself touched.  Walking where He walked. Soaking in a kind of presence that I may never know.

After a number of days or weeks, they will come home with a more intense love and passion for our Savior, and that passion will spill over into us.  Books, sermons, and studies will be the overflow.

And I am envious.

Do you ever covet the ministry that others have?  Maybe it's your favorite singer or songwriter.  Maybe it's the woman in your church who loves the children so well.  For me, it's my favorite speakers and writers for Christ.  I just want to spend hour after hour soaking in and pouring out like they do.  I want to reach thousands.

And then a post from one of my favs just soothed my soul.  She had just returned from speaking at a phenomenal women's weekend retreat and was immediately immersed in loads of dishes and an all-nighter with a sick little one.  So life goes on there too, huh?

What I have to remind myself is that ministry is not something we do outside of our messy lives.  It's not a life-changing weekend that ends when it is time to get back to real life.  Ministry is our lives.  It's how we walk out what we preach.  Some of the women who rock ministries that I long to have, also sit in long carpool lines.  They also change twin diapers, and tweak the budget yet again, and entertain overly-tired children at the grocery check-out.

My ministry is not something that I long to get to.  I'm here now.  I may only write a couple of times a week or speak a couple of times a year, but my charge of loving women, encouraging marriages, and strengthening mothers never gets turned off.  I'm here now.  I'm in the thick of it, and if my focus remains on just getting through to the next writing day, I'll miss the exhausted friend who desperately needs a hug and someone to hold her baby.  I'll miss the sister in Christ who needs someone to say, tell me more about what you're going through.

If my focus remains there, I will one day wake up in the land of glory without a published book or a following of thousands, and hear my Savior say, what did you do with the hurting hearts I gave you?

The extremely dark and grainy photo above is of me and my youngest daughter in the wee hours of the morning.  I'm studying 1 Thessalonians, and she is reading a book called The Easter Story.

This, too, is ministry.

Today I am writing to myself, but if you find yourself here too, drink it in.

Monday, March 2, 2015

4 Ways We've Kept Our Marriage Fun

1.  Shower Curtain Graffiti

Some people keep a toothbrush in the shower.  We keep a sharpie marker.

I like to leave little notes in unexpected places for my hubby.  You the toilet paper roll.  So naturally, one morning in the shower, that giant white liner was screaming, blank canvas! 

It started with my cell number and a note to call for a good time.  It moved on to a game of tic-tac-toe, and doodles, and messages of love.  Every so often, we add to it.  No one sees it but us anyway!

2.  Nerf Guns and Snow Balls

Then there's this I found on Pinterest:

And you guessed it...I put my skills into full effect. The front door cracked open and I watched from my hiding spot until I had the perfect shot. Then, chaos ensued. It was every bit of the meaning of the word epic.  We also have these pretend snowballs in our house which provide equal amounts of fun:

(Can be found at Walmart!)

3.  Movie Quotes

My hubby is a huge movie fanatic, so it's fun to throw movie quotes at him when he least expects it, and see if he can guess the title.  Anything goes from Beauty and The Beast, to The Avengers, to The Goonies.  Pumping gas into the van, driving to church on Sunday morning, or just before we fall asleep at never know when one of us might take on the voice and lines of Gandalf or Marty McFly.

4.  Couch Dates

I am in a large company of folks who believe that date nights after the I do's are vital to your marriage.  In reality, with two two-year-olds, a four-year-old, two very busy schedules, and a slim discretionary budget, dinner and a movie is scarce.

So we have dedicated every Tuesday night to be Couch Date Night.  We are currently unashamedly obsessed with The Office and are eagerly awaiting Jim and Pam's baby.  We have a glass of wine and eat cheesecake right out of the pan.  I wouldn't lie to you.  It's an oasis right in the middle of a stressful and exhausting week.  I look forward to it with great anticipation.

What do you do to keep the everyday fun and fresh?  I'd love some new ideas!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Truth About The Book I'm Writing

I'm writing a book.  Isn't that weird?  I almost hate for anyone to know because it feels pretentious to declare.

But on days that I sit in a coffee shop at a table strewn with scripture, pages, and pens I'm often asked...

What are you studying?

The problem is, I'm not studying.  Instead of soaking in, I'm pouring my heart out.  I'm ripping out pieces of myself and pounding them out on the keyboard.  Intense, I know.  But honestly, there have been afternoons that I've inconspicuously wiped away tears as my heart and brain align with my subject matter.

And that's the issue.  The subject matter.  When the conversation is cracked open to the truth that I am, in fact, writing a book, the question that inevitably follows is...

Oh, nice.  What is it about?

Even just typing those words makes my heart pound a little harder.  I usually smile and fumble my way through an explanation.  I recently told a friend that I really needed to streamline my answer.

The truth is a little lengthy.  The truth is a little startling for some.  The truth isn't very comfortable.  It's not really lighthearted coffee shop small talk.

This book lays wide open the destruction that adultery brought to my marriage.

Can't you just see the face of the coffee-drinking stranger that unwittingly stumbled into the path of my calling?  Well, okay then.  Have a nice day.

I chuckle a little now because that's not even it.  The more prevalent focus of this book is the miracle that God performed inside my marriage.  From devastation to a coveted depth.  From hopelessness to hope realized.  From just surviving to thriving.

We have had a burning encounter with God that cannot be reduced to one or two sentences.  Oh, the struggle.  

We have been touched by God in a way that has left His fingerprints all over us.  Who wants to be a part of this?

It is the single most incredible thing that I have ever had the honor to live through and I must boast!  Will you soak in it with me?

It is uncomfortable and glorious and everything in between.  My marriage story may make waves, but God has branded me with its urgency.  It is a tide of necessity for some dry and thirsty heart.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Redefining Productivity For Godly Mamas

When we sat to chat last week, I shared my heart with you over the issue of productivity.

"As Godly moms, on days that we feel unproductive, I think we should ask ourselves what exactly we are trying to produce.  If it's clean homes and compliant children, there's a chance I might be failing."   

That was my burden in a nutshell.  I offered the idea that, in light of the Great Commission, we may need to address our definition of productivity.  Here is what comes next:

Like every precious mama, I have a lengthy list of traits that I want my children to proudly bear when they walk out my door on that conclusive day that we officially say, they've left the nest.  Some of these characteristics will be realized, some just won't.  I'm at peace with the truth that I'm raising God-made human beings and not programmable androids.

But among my longwinded hopes are a few things that the Lord has really engraved upon my heart for my kids.  And those are the things I would like to share with you.

1.  A love of scripture.  I don't read my bible every single day.  I walk through seasons of deep, enthralling study and then dry seasons in which I set the Word aside for far too long.  But when I am consistently losing myself in the ever-teaching, ever-satisfying Word of God, I am at my best.  I want this for my children.  I want them to know the joy of scripture.

I want them to dig and pursue and taste the intimacy of being God-taught.  God-taught.  Can someone else be excited about this?  Let me hear you.  Because there is an element of closeness that is so indescribable that I struggle to write these very words.  To have the knowledge of God engrained in you straight from the source is absolutely inestimable in its value.

Our world holds Christ-lovers who harbor one or two preciously tattered pages of scripture with fear of being tortured just for possessing it.  And ours collect dust on a shelf.

I want my children to know what they have in the Word of God.

2.  The blessing of conversation with the Father.   My Father speaks to me.  Does he speak to you? For me, it is the summit of communion.  In a devotion, a podcast, a Sunday morning message, a treasured friend...he laughs with me, cries with me, comforts me, and corrects me.  Sometimes it's just a push in my soul, a whisper, or a deep breath that comes from deep inside.  It's a thought that I know cannot be my own because it is far too holy.

I want my children to be familiar with this.  I want them to be comfortable with communion with the creator of the universe.  We often share our lives through conversation, and I need my kids to know that they can share a deeply fulfilling exchange with the one who knows them and loves them better than anyone.  What a marvelous gift.

3.  The recognition of the Holy Spirit within them.  That whisper, that thought that is not my is the most treasured legacy of all.  The Holy Spirit thrives inside of every believer, and my recognition of his movement in my life has been what I've been most thankful for the last couple of years of my life.  It is a modern-day miracle that Jesus would choose to leave a piece of himself to inhabit me, cultivate me, love on me, and never leave me while I walk through this place that is ultimately not my home.  Can you feel the awesome energy of this?

For my children to leave my constant care without a foundational recognition of the Holy Spirit would be heartbreaking.  Because I know what depth it has brought to my life.

I beg God for all of these things.  I know that their salvation does not rest on my shoulders.  I will do my best to create an environment in which these things are shared and celebrated.  I will talk about them often and display what they've added to my life.  And then I will pray and watch as God takes over.

These are the fruits I want to smile over when my children leave my side.  I won't be proud of the fact that we could have eaten off the kitchen floor.  Who does that anyway?  I'll mop it one day.  But today is not that day.  And I won't beat myself up over it.  They have plenty to eat, clean underwear in the drawer, and thanks to my hard-working husband, a roof over their heads.  Beyond that, today my focus will be on the Great Commission, and what I ultimately aim to produce as a Godly mom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

For When I've Been Totally Unproductive

Mamas, do you ever feel defeated over your lack of productivity?

The day comes and goes, and not one project gets thoroughly completed. You battle dishes and laundry and poor manners all day, and when your head hits the pillow, you're left with dinner remnants still on the table, a load of wet towels still in the washer, and a preschooler who refuses to say thank you.

This reality has actually brought me to tears on really dull days.  I'm a stay-at-home mom.  Have I utterly missed my calling?

As Godly moms, on days that we feel unproductive, I think we should ask ourselves what exactly we are trying to produce.  If it's clean homes and compliant children, there's a chance I might be failing.

As Christians, we have been given a titanic charge no matter what our age, occupation, or phase of life.  We call it The Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20 

The Great Commission.  The title alone is epic.  It boasts of an adventure greater than baked-on meatloaf.  Our most important calling is to reach others and help them walk with God.

So as a mom, what does that have to do with a clean home?  Not a dern thing.

Don't misunderstand me.  There are holy purposes for a clean home.  Our families need to know that these brick and wood and vinyl structures we dwell in are a place of safety and provision.  They need to feel sanctuary here.  Sometimes God calls us and equips us with the gift of hospitality so that the broken and neglected can come into your safe haven and be rejuvenated.

But when I sink under my covers at night and feel totally dead and busted in my calling because there are 100 pieces of plastic play food still peppering the living room floor, there is a problem.

What am I trying to produce?  Children who know the Lord and are totally enamored by Him.  There will come a day not too long from now, when my children will no longer charge these front porch steps day in and day out.  They will be out the world...without me.

And I can tell you right now, I will not be proud of my accomplishments as a housekeeper if my children are not prepared for the war this culture will undoubtedly serve them.

As godly mamas (especially of young children), I think it's time to redefine productivity.

So what am I aiming to produce in my children?  More on that next time...come back and sit with me for a while.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dehydrated in the Shallowness of Relationship

Having a relationship with another woman can be adventurous.  Can I get an amen?

Women are passionate.  We readily engage our emotions and live within them.  We laugh hard and cry hard.  We overanalyze.  We put up walls.

And in the beauty of the mess we so desperately need each other.  I believe God created an empty space inside each of us that can only be filled by a sister in Christ.  He created us to be in community. A place where biblical love and accountability clash and mesh with real life.

"I have no one else like him..."
Philippians 2:20

Paul describes his friend Timothy to the Philippians with a passion that I fear many of us miss out on today.

I have no one else like him...My heart just grows and pounds in my chest when I consider the love from which this description came.

I crave it intensely.  In some ways, I possess it, and yet always yearn for more.  This intimacy with one who matches me step for step in my pursuit of Christ.  A loving friendship that just boasts of Jesus.

It's almost as rare as wisdom.  It's almost as precious as hope.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Matthew 18:20

When two souls align with matching purposes to bring glory to God in this life and beyond, the Holy Spirit's presence can be almost electric.  Palpable.  It's no wonder wars are started in the name of child welfare.  Mommy wars, we call them.  Cloth against disposable, breast against bottle.  Satan's weapon of choice to break down the bonds which hold enormous potential to further God's kingdom.

Really?  Are we filling Facebook with condescending judgements and upturned noses over how to keep the poop from hitting the floor?  Are we missing out on the divine power of the Spirit to conquer  Satan and Hell because of our short-sightedness?

Oh, Jesus, remedy this.

And what happens when a chasm is ripped open where the bond used to hold firm?  Because that happens you know...

Women can be fierce fighters.  It's what eventually happens when we lose sight of our purposes.  Toes are not just stepped on, but bruised and bleeding.  That glance, that silence, that status all works together for the demise of a heavenly partnership, a divine love.

Life is messy.  Sometimes, it's mucky.  In that light, will we still choose love?  Will we still choose a holy companionship in spite of sharp words spoken in insecurity?  Will we hold on tight in spite of emotions that run wild?

This kind of friendship, the kind that Paul declares that he has in Timothy, is set apart for the purposes of the heavenly Father.  How could we dismiss that glory in the name of pride or self-preservation?  How small will we allow our minds to shrink?

Women often feel dehydrated in the shallowness of their relationships.  This is a symptom that God has placed on our hearts to dive in deeper.  Drink in the fullness of friendships that could be so alive with the Spirit that they burst forth with advances for the Kingdom of God.

Oh, to soak and hydrate and moisturize my soul with a match-given-by-heaven that makes me say...

I have no one else like her.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Empty Space Is Made For God's Grace

Pushing the cart around, I saw so much I wanted to put in it.  Chocolaty breakfast bars, guacamole, those new chips.  You know, fun pantry stuff.  Instead, I grabbed two blocks of cheese, two loaves of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a few other essentials.  It was going to be a sandwiches-for-dinner kind of week.

I started to feel a little bratty, a little entitled.  But with every step of obedience toward the register and away from the things I really didn't need, God spoke to my heart.

You are well-loved.  Always provided for.  Never without.  You are my baby girl.  Boast in my provision sweetheart.

By the time I stepped out into the rain to rush to my van, I was excited about the challenge before me.  I was excited about peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Let's do this, God.

Our lack has always been blessed space for God to fill.  It has always been opportunity for God to love on us.

Our empty space is made for God's grace.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

The apostle Paul let this truth sink down into the very depths of his heart until it took up residence there, and he taught it to the church in Corinth with intention.  Only he wasn't concerned with queso and the latest coffee creamer.  He was being beaten and tortured in prison.  That alone makes me a little ashamed of the pouty face I carried through the grocery store.

It is that gap between what we need and what we have, that gap between where we are and where we need to be that allows the power of Christ to be magnified and seen.

And isn't that our purpose here on earth?  To bring glory to our Heavenly Father?

We are designed to live in a way that shines a spotlight on what God has done in our lives, how gracious He is.  And let's be honest, the spotlight is needed because those areas are usually pretty dark.

I am always amazed at the things God uses to shape me.  Like what goes into my grocery cart and what gets tossed out (my entitled attitude.)  Or how I react when I'm late and can't find my keys (or my self-control.)  Or any one of the countless other mundane details of my daily life.

What are you lacking in today?  What is your need?  Will you ask and allow God to fill it?  I promise you will fall a little more in love with Him each time you do!

Monday, January 19, 2015

When Fuzzy Platitudes Aren't Enough

" I don't always know what to say, but I'm always willing to listen.  Please know that we are here if you need us."

I had just shared with a friend some devastating news about myself.  Although there was no grand solution to my problem, her words gave me rest.

When those we love endure nightmares and heartache, we grasp at the air for the right words.  The compassion that God has instilled in us kindles our desire to soothe their pain through our call, our message, or our visit.

But sometimes we come up short.  Sometimes the only thing we can think to say is what we've heard a dozen times before.

She's in a better place.

He doesn't deserve you.

Everything happens for a reason.

And we get the vague sense that our words have somehow evaporated into the ceiling without piercing the broken heart before us.  Platitudes.

When the broken heart in front of you writhes with the unimaginable pain of faithlessness, devastation, cruel death, or broken promises, what do you say?  How do you stare into red, tear-filled eyes without their salvation in your pocket?

When life throws heavy things at us, it brings into sharp focus our need for a savior.  It allows Jesus to bust down the door where we are held captive in our fear or pain.  It allows us to fall in love with Him.

And that's where we begin when we come up short.  Pointing a broken heart back to Jesus always plants hope.

When those we love are beaten and ravaged by the world and sin, they don't need those phrases that have been said so many times that they've lost their meaning.  They don't need a pat on the back.  They need Jesus.

Our place is to remind them of how God loves.  Whether we demonstrate that to them through our service or it comes out of our mouths.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

And how does He love anyway?

He's the friend who takes you to dinner when your husband doesn't show up for marriage counseling.

He's the small group leader who arranges for meals to be brought to your home while you suffer the chemo.

He's the former addict who sits with you hour by hour as you wrestle with the demons of withdrawal.

He's the mother who holds your hand as you plan the funeral for your newborn.

When hearts are broken, there is no other specialist like Jesus.  He always knows what to say.  And what not to say.  And He lives in each one of us as believers.  When we don't know what to say, we pray. 

We pray for God to move.  To heal.  To soothe.  To calm.  To bind up the wounds.  And then watch as Jesus does what He does best.

When fuzzy platitudes aren't enough, we let God live and move through us.  He knows exactly what the broken need.

Monday, January 12, 2015

God Has Not Called Me To Be Super Mom, But A Sanctified Mom (With Printables)

I have a problem with lists.  I write everything down in accordance with my Type-A personality.  Copy paper, notepads, napkins, old envelopes, and even smug bills that I just feel like defacing...nothing is safe from my scribblings of meals, groceries, errands, bills to pay, rooms to clean, etc.

My scraps of paper are strewn from my desk to the kitchen, to my van and back again.  They often hide from me in said places and I end up creating duplicates.  Feeding the madness.

The startling number or inability to keep up with them is not my problem, however.

At the end of the day, when I look at my list and realize I've only crossed off half of my to-do items, the perfectionist in me gets ugly.

She doubts my calling, challenges my abilities, and makes me feel low.  She's ruthless.  Above all, she's grace-less.

My One Word for 2015 is Grace.  It's terrifying.  And it has already shown up in my lists.

Upon writing my to-do list last week, the Father whispered to my heart,

"Will you make room for me?  If a sick friend needs groceries at home, will you run for them and forget your own for a day?  If I call you to write, will you leave the germs to overrun that bathroom for another day?  When your children so desperately need extra doses of you, will you make that phone call, pay that bill, send that RSVP, or fold those clothes another day?"


So, I re-wrote my list.  I left room.  I split the realistic from the not-probable.  I included a reminder that my day belongs to my Heavenly Father and He shall do what He pleases with it.  I also included a reminder that I am not all-powerful, invincible, or faster than the speed of light.  A reminder that God has not called me to be super mom, but a sanctified mom.

Grace.  Sovereignty.  Right there on my To-do list.

*I made a few scraps of paper for you too.  Just in case you're like me.  Print them out and use them as a reminder of Grace and Sovereignty.  Love you friend.*

(This last one was inspired by Lysa TerKeurst's latest book The Best Yes.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

An Open Letter To The Child-less Critic

So you're in your twenties or thirties, maybe even a later stage of life, and you are without kids.  You see all these parents these days and you think, This is what's wrong with the world today.

Whether at the grocery store or visiting with your nieces and nephews, you realize that all this disrespect and disobedience is a product of lax and lazy parenting.  Maybe they are uneducated, maybe they are just too tired.  Either way, you can't wait to have little angels of your own so you can show them all how it is done.

You are so precious.  Let me enlighten you, dear one.

No childhood experience, babysitting job, or degree will shape your parenting beliefs, convictions, or practices like the twenty-four-seven immersion of a priceless little life that calls you mommy or daddy and looks to you for every need.

I have one of those little brats that you just wish you could get your hands on.  A week with him and you would have him straightened out, right?

Well, in our house, he's not a brat.  We call him strong-willed.  He's a boy who isn't easily swayed.  He doesn't accept ideas just because everyone else accepts them.  He's passionate and wild and lives life as full as he can possibly push it as a four-year-old.

That makes my job tough.  Adventurous, you might say.  But here's the thing about raising one of these little soldiers.  My goal is not to make him flawlessly obedient to my pre-conceived notion of how children should behave, what would make me look good, or what would make my life easier.  My goal is to introduce him to Jesus Christ.  And along with that comes grace.

I want him to know that Jesus paid an ultimate sacrifice for us even while we were still sinners.  We did nothing to deserve it.  Quite the contrary.  We pave the way for that understanding by the way we discipline him now.

I have absolutely no intention of breaking his will because that is the very thing that will make him virtually impervious to peer pressure as a young adult.  That is the very thing that will bolster his leadership.  That is the very thing that will mold him into a friend, husband, and father that will not back down in the face of Satan.  He will rise, he will fight, and he will be victorious when the world threatens and asks if he believes in Christ.

So while he is young, we will pray and follow the Spirit's leading on how to raise this little soldier for Christ no matter what your opinion is.  Don't worry.  We've got this.

While we are chatting, let's remember that children are a work in progress.  Barely on the earth for the blink of an eye and being rushed daily with how to live, behave, and love.  I refuse to look at my toddlers and preschooler and question whether or not they are good enough.  I refuse to question whether or not I am good enough as their chosen parent.

When they fly from my nest as young adults, I will see the fruit of the last 18 years of blood, sweat, and tears.  I know that I will make mistakes, and I know that I will have a lot of victories.  But above all, as I lean on my Heavenly Father for the strength and wisdom to be a Godly mother, I know that I will be able to rest easy when my task is complete.

Let's not forget that you, too, are a work in progress.  The Heavenly Father is not finished with us yet either.  Every day we are being molded, trained, disciplined, and loved into looking a little more like Him.  A dose of humility should do us all a little good when we think we could do it better than others.

God bless you, friend.  And I mean that.  Parenting is an adventure.  Buckle up!