July 9, 2017
I would have thought that over thirteen years into the gig, I would have this motherhood thing down by now. That somehow through the years and the kids, I would have it all together. The boys would immediately obey and never argue, fuss, or fight. After school moments would be filled with homemade cookies and giggles as we discussed the day’s events and relaxed in our spotless house. Oh, we know it’s all an exaggeration, but isn’t that what we imagine before the real life happens?
Surprise! Motherhood is often a mess.
Life, love, mess. Package deal. Sure, you start as a cute little pregnant lady basking in the glow of expectancy. But let’s face it, by month seven, you can’t see your toes and your emotions are blubbering all over the place. It doesn’t end at birth. That’s the beginning.
Birth? Hello, mess.
Face it. Raising kiddos isn’t exactly a neat process.
Newborns…welcome to the world of spit up.
Infants…um, this diaper’s leaking.
Toddlers…two year olds, enough said.
Fast forward to the teen years and start buying deodorant in bulk.
Mamas, we know messes. And we also know that sometimes you just have to embrace them.
Several nights ago, we plopped down in our creaky hand-me down chairs in the kitchen. The stained tablecloth was simply an attempt to cover the table’s scratches. We filled our plates with leftovers and contents of the way-back parts of the freezer. Piecing meals together in the summertime is a must. Who wants to go to the grocery store with three boys in tow?
That evening, I longed for conversation and manners. What I received were weird noises accompanied by dirty fingernails grabbing for the last dinner roll. But there were also lots of laughs and moments to savor.
Mothering is about loving them through the messes.
Some days, it’s helping them find a pair of socks under the pile of laundry. On other days, it’s pushing the stack of dishes aside to bake their favorite muffins. It’s leaving the pile of papers to show them that mama can still score on them in basketball.
Loving them in spite of the mess.
But it’s not just the disarray found on the playroom floor or the red dirt on the khaki pants or the sucker sticks in the minivan. Not just those messes. We all have Pinterest boards dedicated to stain removal, cleaning hacks, and odor blocking sprays.
It’s the mess that happens when an imperfect mom gives her all to raising imperfect kids.
It’s the potty mouth and the name-calling.
And the words you never imagined you could say to the ones you love so much. The syllables you wish you could pull back in even as they cross your lips.
It’s the anxiety concerning the decisions they’ll make.
And heavier, the guilt of the ones you’ve already made.
It’s the sound of little people who won’t listen.
And louder, the sound of my own voice raised in anger.
It’s the tears and snot resulting from boo-boos, hurt feelings, and tantrums.
And your own tear-stained eyes and worn-out knees from begging the LORD for His grace as you parent.
It’s the frazzled edges, fevers, fears, and failures.
IT IS A MESS.
But it’s a beautiful mess.
There are handmade cards with backwards letters and misspelled words.
There are forts, complete with every pillow and blanket, bonding brothers together.
There are snuggles that happily interrupt all to-do lists.
There are looks of forgiveness your teenager offers in spite of your mistakes.
There are heart palpitations when your son scores a goal in his soccer game.
There are tears of thankfulness to the Creator who entrusted you with these little people in spite of your own imperfections.
So as messy as life may appear, perhaps I do have something about this Mom thing down. Rough around the edges? Yes. Stained and smelly? At times. But my goal is clear: I’m an imperfect mom pointing imperfect kids to a Perfect Savior.
Because I want them to know that no matter the mess they’re in, they have a mama who can manage a mess. But they have a Savior who makes masterpieces.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
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July 3, 2017
Am I the only one who is not in the mood to cook? I’m guessing it’s summer and the heat. Or maybe a serious lack of a schedule. Whatever it is has me completely over the idea of planning a meal, much less fixing it. Give me a sandwich or a salad every night until September and I’ll be happy.
But these kids and the hubby. They like to eat. And one of their favorite kinds of meals is a build-your-own-type. So I’m sharing one their most requested meals…Nacho Ordinary Nachos. (Okay, I just made up that name.)
This doesn't qualify as a recipe, it's simply a little inspiration when you are fresh out of ideas.
Gather the ingredients and let everyone concoct their own creation.
Here’s what we typically have:
*Tortilla Chips (the only non-optional ingredient)
*Steak, cooked (I try to buy the thinnest cut possible.)
*Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
(Yes, you can have cheesed dip AND shredded cheese
in the same dish.)
*Lettuce and tomato (I’ve listed these together because if your
children are like mine, they will skip both. You may only need a little
*Mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
*Onions, chopped and sautéed
*Guacamole and/or avocado (Get both if you have an avocado lover in
Grilled chicken or ground beef are great substitutes for the steak. You could skip the meat altogether and use black beans.
If you’re feeling ambitious, serve some grilled corn on the side. (I like to cut mine off the cob and put it on my nachos.) If not, move on without it. Salsa counts as a vegetable during the summer!
Build your meal and crunch away. Enjoy the extra time you’ve gained from prepping a simple supper!
What's your go-to simple meal? Share with us! We could all use a little inspiration.
May 14, 2017
It was one of those mornings when I was home alone and piddling around the house…sorting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, trying to find a system to organize the one million pieces of paper that had made their way onto the kitchen bar.
I walked into the living room just in time to catch the last minute or so of a maternity fashion segment on a morning show. The mom-to-be I saw on the screen was absolutely radiant. But as my eyes focused on the TV, this woman who looked completely together, began to sway as her knees buckled. Within seconds, she fell, albeit gracefully, to her knees as the show’s hostess tried to help before the entire segment broke to a commercial.
Upon the return of the show, the hostess reassured me and the rest of the stunned audience that mom-to-be was fine as she patted her now-seated back. As a TV pro, she then cleverly wrapped it all with a comment about how the incident clearly models being a mom, “You have no control! Welcome to motherhood!”
Preaching it on a Friday morning! I quietly testified to her “out of control” statement as I looked at my living room, scattered with football cards, leftover Easter baskets, crumpled socks, and a gigantic toy airplane that doesn’t seem to fit on any shelf.
Messes are minor chaos that make me want to pull out my hair, but that’s not what brings me to my knees. It’s the times when I do feel out of control about motherhood that I fall before Him. Times when I fret. Times when I question. Times when I fall short. Times when I just have to wonder how this whole thing is going to turn out.
“Lord, show me. Please show me some fruit of my labor.” I’ve begged the Lord to show me that the mothering is worth it. That one day they will remember the lessons that I’ve uttered and repeated. And the values that I’m striving to model. That I’m not completely ruining my kids’ lives when I lose my temper. That they won’t fulfill every. single. one. of the fears the world throws at mamas. That an imperfect mom can point to a perfect Savior.
So this Mother’s Day weekend, can we relax? Okay, not too much relaxing. Someone has to wash the breakfast-in-bed dishes and wipe up the marker smudges from the homemade cards. But can we rest? Rest even though we may not exactly deserve that “Best Mom Ever” label we’ll receive, but in knowing that we are the handpicked mamas for these kids we’re raising.
And whether we find ourselves in a good stride, radiating joy or on our knees wiping up milk and pleading with the Lord for help, He’s there with us. Patting us on the back and reassuring us that we’re going to be okay.
April 24, 2017
A few weeks ago, some friends graciously gave us tickets to a local Laura Story concert. Love her. If you’re not familiar with her music, you are definitely missing out.
Along with the tickets, our friends reserved front row seats for us. Front pew, dead center. We were closer to Laura Story than anyone else in the building. So close that we basically could have high fived each other had she taken the notion to do so during the show.
Standing during the worship songs proved to be a little intimidating.(Sidenote:I cling to that “joyful noise” verse.) I stood hoping/wishing/praying that her own voice and guitar would completely drown out anything coming from my mouth.
During the concert, Laura referred several times to her playlist and her tendency to deviate from it. This plan was a handwritten list of song abbreviations she had placed by her feet on the floor. I’m telling you, we were close. Close enough to take the list and get it autographed after the show.
I haven’t figured out what all of the abbreviations mean, but I do know that Laura said that she didn’t follow her plan exactly.
I guess that’s the way concerts go. I know that’s the way life goes.
We can have life all planned out, down to the details of hours and minutes, but really, how often does the playlist end up matching reality?
Just the day after the concert, I had my evening all mapped out, complete with eating nachos and watching basketball from the couch. These people I live with had other ideas. A few minutes into a pity party, I recognized my selfishness and apologized.
My apologies turned into confession before God the next morning at church as I looked around me and was reminded of my own frivolity. A couple who sat behind us had buried their grandchild earlier in the week. A couple to our left raised their hands in worship regardless of the health battles they faced. All the while, my friend’s impending out of state move…the second within a year…with two preschoolers in tow…weighed on my heart.
Major changes to life’s playlists.
I’m as capable as the next believer to quote some Scripture and nod my head in agreement when someone else’s life faces change and upheaval. “His will…” rolls easily off my lips in an effort to encourage someone. “His ways are higher” I can remind another who’s enduring an unexpected detour from their plans.
But when I’m staring at my own playlist, do I remember the truth of His Word? When I’m asked to obey His directions rather than give in to my own desires, do I trust? Because that’s what it really comes down to, right? Do we trust Him?
Do we believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is in control? That He is orchestrating the show? That long ago, before our first breaths, He wrote down our playlist, the storylines that would compose our lives?
It’s one thing to be a steward of our time and our gifts and desire to use them to serve. It’s another thing to have a grasp on our plans and goals and dare anyone or even the One to make us change course.
Yes, there are plenty of times when life seems out of key. We stomp our feet in protest rather than tapping along in rhythm to the soundtrack of our days. The design may include songs we don’t want to sing.
And surely, it’ll be full of anthems of praise.
Remember friend, God’s playlist, His divine plan for our lives, turns out to be a beautiful compilation. Sing it out for all to hear.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
February 8, 2017
“Is it still winter?” my little guy asked. While the answer was, “Yes,” the confusion swirling around the question was understandable. After all, the sun was beaming down, raising the temperature to almost 70, enabling him to run around outside in a t-shirt and sandals with no socks. And his day in kindergarten had certainly encountered the month of February on the calendar. Didn’t feel like February. Didn’t feel like winter. Yet it was.
Not long ago, he was donning snow boots and gloves. We had enough snow to sled, build a snowman, and gobble up some snow cream.
The leaves of this bush were weighed down with the white stuff.
Now here it stands looking like a spring queen. A case of seasonal identity crisis.
Recently in a ladies’ Bible study, attendees were asked to write down what season of life we were in. Now that is a good question.
“Young married?” No, we’ve almost reached 18 years and we’re both starting to gray.
“Young family?” Tough one. I have a kindergartener but will also have a teenager within a few days.
Okay, cross “young” anything off the list.
“Retired?” Mentally, at times. In reality, way off.
So I settled on somewhere in the middle. A kind of in-between season.
In fact, I’ve known for several months that I’m in a bit of a resting season. Busy? Yes. I’m a taxi driver, top grocery purchaser, chief washing machine operator, and head chef among other things. Even though it often doesn’t outwardly look or feel restful, that’s where I am right now.
So often our lives are defined by the season we’re in. For many, the stage of family determines our season. Pregnancy and empty nesters and every phase in between keep us stretched. Career status, whether starting a new one or exiting an old one, can shape us. Our roles in ministry ebb and flow through the years. There are times when we seem to be involved in each opportunity that arises and other times when we aren’t as committed.
Then there are those stages we want to wish away. When the baby doesn’t sleep through the night. Or when there’s too much month at the end of the paycheck. Or when every line on our planners are taken.
But there are seasons when major family, career, or ministry changes aren’t present. Life has settled into a rhythm, an in-between season.
Are you in this season? At times, it may feel like wasted time. It’s not. You may wonder if you’re accomplishing anything during a down time. Here are three strategies to keep in mind…and keep you motivated while you rest.
Soak up the Word
While reading God’s Word is essential for any phase of life, there are seasons when we have more actual time to sit, read, and study. Often it’s during these times that we are nourished from the exhaustion of a previous stage or reenergized for what lies ahead. Time in the Word is never wasted time. Delve into personal study, beginning each day with a prayer for a hunger for God’s Word. Get involved in group Bible studies as well. Personal connections made during corporate study often grow some of the deepest roots. ("All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Be Reflective and Thankful
Quiet time gives fresh opportunities to reflect on where we’ve been, experiences that have grown us, and an overall spirit of thanksgiving. I’ve discovered more than a few times recently when my eyes have welled with tears as I’ve watched my boys. This restful season has allowed me to be more reflective on the blessings I already have. I’m not consumed with hurrying to the next step; I’m thankful to be in the present moment. Count your blessings. Thank God for His goodness. ("Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 118: 1)
So often we spend our lives waiting for the next thing or striving to get to another step. A season of rest is a time to do exactly the opposite. It’s not neglecting goals or falling out of all activity, but stopping and finding satisfaction in the moment. Take advantage of some down time to rest in the contentment found in Jesus. ("A heart at peace gives life to the body..." Proverbs 14:30)
Seasons come and go. One of rest isn’t likely to hang around for long. Make an effort to enjoy while it lasts. Rest in knowing that while life may seem dormant for a while, another season will soon be in bloom.
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