Grace For Real World Women

To Do List-

I think women are tired.

  • Tired of feeling not enough.
  • Tired of being pulled too many ways.
  • Tired of getting to the finish line only to discover it was moved.

I think women need someone to offer encouragement that there is something more.

  • More than treading water.
  • More than the same failures over and over again.
  • More than dishes, laundry and driving our children to their activities.

I think women are hungry to know that progress is attainable and okay and perfection is exhausting and impossible.

  • Desperate to hear that good enough for today isn’t a cop-out or a resignation to mediocre, less-than life.
  • Desperate for someone to figure out a way to gently say, “You’re doing great and I know you can do even better,” without making us feel like a failure.

We want to know where the checklist is for women who are like us.

  • Women with little margin.
  • Women with limited resources.
  • Women who want to make their lives and homes beautiful and meaningful, but aren’t sure how with all the other things that are crowding in.

For the woman who needs a real world to-do list:

  • Do make time to listen to God’s Word.
  • Do ask God to order your day in a way that is life-giving to you, your family and others.
  • Do something  that makes you come alive
  • Do offer grace to yourself and others.

 

Driving Around & Misheard Lyrics

Because Sometimes Your Kids Hear The Lyrics Wrong And It's Hilliarious!

With three children ages 11, 9, & almost 7, I know how to have a good time. When I really want a grand adventure, I get in the minivan and drive around.

If driving around doesn’t sound magical to you, you’ve never sat at home with your baby, toddler, or other aged child on an afternoon when you knew they wouldn’t be napping and everyone is out of sorts and Daddy isn’t going to be home for HOURS. The only way to get through this is to get the kid(s) in the vehicle and drive. And so, I’ve been employing this parenting hack for the past 11 years.

My kids also will claim that fast food tastes better when we eat it in the car. Another benefit of driving around, I guess. But, since I feed them a strict diet of whole, organic, gluten free, free-range, grass-fed, dairy free, full-fat kale, I can’t image why they would say such a thing.

Anyway.

The thing about driving around is that we often are listening to the radio. We rock to WAY-FM. There is nothing cool about that, but it is my truth.

Sometimes the kids mishear the lyrics and hilarity ensues:

Exhibit A several years ago:

From my eldest child- “Mom, what are “lobster lonely people”?

Me:- “I have no idea.”

Apparently, this was a lyric he heard in a song on the radio. After a bit of sleuthing, I discovered the original. It was a line from “Does Anybody Hear Her?” by Casting Crowns. The original line was: “With all the lost and lonely people.”

 

Exhibit B:

I overhear my youngest child singing along to the radio and this is what he is singing:

“Haunted by ghosts that live in my PANTS.”

This one was clear. In fact, he was currently singing along with Big Daddy Weave’s song “Redeemed”.

Pants? Past? It’s all the same, right?

We still sing the wrong lyrics when we hear this song on the radio because it’s especially funny to a 6 year old.

Exhibit C:

This one happened last week and is fresh in my memory.

This time the offending party was my sweet daughter. In the middle of a  song, she casually observes, “It sounds like they are singing about cheese puffs.”

Let me sing a few lines for you:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

 

There are not many places in that song where you can mishear the words as “cheese puffs”. Leave it to one of my children to discover that the name of our Lord sort of rhymes with “cheese puffs.”

So, it’s your turn. I’m sure you have a funny story of misunderstanding lyrics! Leave me a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

Help! I’m Failing At My Read Through The Bible In The Year Plan

I wanted to be able to read through the entire Bible in a year.

I started last July and I stuck with it and only missed a few days here and there. I was a rock star Bible-reading-plan-follower! But then, sometime in February or March of this year, when everyone else was super motivated in their resolutions, mine fizzled. I have 8 weeks to go and I’m 15 weeks behind. Math isn’t my strongest subject, but according to my calculations, I need to read about three day’s worth each day in order to catch up.

To put it another way, I’m 8,971 verses behind.

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See? It’s May and I’m working on January. Y’all. That’s a lot of verses.

I’m not going to try to finish this by July. Is that alright? I considered ditching this plan altogether, but I’ve made more progress than I ever have in the past. Honestly, one of the things I need to get better at is not giving up on something because it seems like I can’t do it perfectly. So, I’m sticking it out one day at a time.

Take this with a grain of salt, since I have yet to read through the entire Bible, but I really doubt I’m going to find any passage that mentions the Biblical discipline of reading through all of the Bible in one year. Yes, there is value in making it through the entire book, but if I’m just doing it quickly to get caught up and get it done, I’m not getting much out of it. That misses the point.

What good does it do you to read through the entire Bible in a year if you’re only doing it to check off a box?

So, fellow Bible reading slackers, you are my people. You might not read through the entire Bible this year, but I think you can spend more time in the Word this year than you did last (if you’re anything like me, anyway). Here are some resources I think are helpful:

 

The SOAP study method

She Reads Truth– There are some great reading plans that include short devotionals.

YouVersion Bible Reading Plans– You can use the app on your device or you can simply log on to the site on your computer. There are tons of reading plans to choose from.

Women Living Well– Lots and lots of Bible reading plans and resources.

 

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Whatcha doing for your Bible reading? Do you have a plan? Are you doing something that works?

 

 

To The Mom Whose Kid Is In Crisis

02.14.2016

 

Some days being a parent of a child with big emotions is like riding a roller coaster in the dark. You never know when the bottom is going to fall out from beneath you. This is how it feels when your child is in crisis. 

 

More precisely, it’s like accidentally finding yourself on a roller coaster, in the dark, and you thought you were enjoying a nice, leisurely Sunday afternoon drive.

 

So many parents I love have kids in crisis right now. The bottom has dropped out from under them. The thrill-ride has taken a terrifying turn. Heart-breaking. Soul-sucking. Frustrating. Humbling. Exhausting.

Maybe that’s your story today. If it is, pull up a chair and listen-

Sometimes life simply stinks.

I’m sorry.

You are loved. Your child is loved.

This is not the end of the story.

I believe in a God who redeems and repairs. Someone is holding up your arms when you can’t hold them yourself(Exodus 17).

The Holy Spirit himself is praying for you when words fail:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”- Roman 8:26

 

You are not alone.

 

“There is nothing that moves a loving father’s soul quite like his child’s cry.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

 

Moments of Hope

Saturday Sundries- For The Person Who Needs To Laugh

Happy Saturday! I’m so happy you stopped by. This week has been heavy and it’s asking for some levity.

You know a blog post is amazing when you remember it two years later and hunt it down to read it again. That’s the way I feel about this post by Melanie Shankle.

“In other news that you aren’t going to believe, I think I may be living out my very own version of E.B. White’s Charlotte Web. . . “

You’re going to need to click the link to read the rest of the story. I promise you will laugh out loud.

 

How about some graduation bingo? Just in case you need something to keep you busy while 1,572 names are called.

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Because dog-shaming is kind of funny:

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And finally, the real reason we have children:

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(Comic credit)

 

When Your 7 Year Old Asks What A Virgin Is In The Middle Of The Sermon

There are worse places than the church sanctuary for a child to start asking questions of a more personal nature than you’re ready to answer, but at the time, I couldn’t think of any.

 

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It was Christmas Eve, 2012. Our very first Christmas Eve service in Tennessee. When the candles were handed to us as we walked through the back doors into the worship center, I thought the most stressful part of the evening would be keeping our three small children from lighting themselves on fire. Hot, dripping wax and small children in close quarters with other people with flames. Who came up with that idea? Little did I know that would be the least of my concerns.

 

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I steeled myself for the lighting that was to happen later. Our minister began reading the familiar nativity story from the Gospel of Luke. My anxiety eased and I was full of feelings of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Mary and Joseph were heading to Bethlehem. Poor Mary. Weary from pregnancy and travel. The crowded inn. That’s when Pastor Zach paused and commented on the scandal of the virgin being with child. ** gulp**

 

It was at this moment, I realized we would be lingering at this part of the nativity account. I looked over at my children and calculated their ages in my head (7, 6 & 3). I was pretty sure the 6 year old and 3 year old weren’t paying close attention. However, I was a little worried about the 7 year old. It was the first time I wished my kids were not paying attention to the sermon.

 

You know the movies you remember fondly as innocent until you sit down to watch them with your mom or your small children only to realize they are full of sex and language? Apparently, that’s the case with the Holy Bible!

 

I started to pray, as one is want to do in a church service, “Dear LORD, Please help him to move on to the next verse quickly!”

 

Eldest child turned to me.

 

“WHAT’S A VIRGIN?”

 

My thoughts of peace on earth moved immediately to, “Shut it down. Shut it down, now!”  It took too long, but we finally moved on to the inn with no room and the shepherds abiding in their fields by night. A bullet dodged. Barely.

 

I feel like there should be a spiritual application you can draw from  this story, but I think it pretty much stands as a cautionary tale of what happens when you bring your kids to church without thinking through an innocent definition of “virgin”. Here are some suggestions should you find yourself in that situation:

  • Distract them with candy. I promise that asking, “Would you like a piece of candy?” at just the right moment will momentarily stun them into silence. It doesn’t matter if you have any or not. In fact, not having any confuses and distracts them for a longer amount of time.
  • Tell them you need to take them to the bathroom right at that very moment.
  • Or you could prepare to tell them that a virgin is someone who is very young and isn’t married yet, but you risk them asking additional questions and who needs that?

You are welcome, friends!

P.S. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced a situation like this. Leave a comment and tell me about your awkward church moment 🙂

Feeding Your Child A Cheeseburger Does Not Make You A Failure

Moms, I need to say it. We’re kind of crazy, right?

Maybe it’s because I didn’t pay attention before becoming a mom, but it feels like we worry about a lot of things people never worried about in previous generations. Things our mothers never gave a second thought. I had no idea there were so many ways to ruin my children.

I read a post recently by a friend who was discussing online mom’s discussion groups. She remarked that women actually spend time worrying about the right brand of organic almond milk they give their children. Another mentioned a mom who posted about feeling guilt over serving vegetables to her kids that were not organic. She had genuine, honest-to-goodness feelings of disappointment in herself that she had let her children down. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.

 

How in the world have we gotten to this point? Don’t we have enough real problems to handle?

 

You have not failed your child in some way by giving them a cheeseburger. 

There are about 5 million ways to mess up as a parent. Feeding them a cheeseburger from McDonald’s is not one of them.

When did we get the place where anything short of free-range, organic, unicorn tears was talked about the same way we talk about child abuse?

Cheeseburgers≠ child neglect.

 

 

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It’s time to jump off the merry-go-round of mom-guilt over things that will not matter later.

You don’t have the time or emotional energy to beat yourself up over vegetables or too many stops at the corner fast-food restaurant. If you enjoy grinding your own grain and growing your own organic garden you should do it. If you don’t enjoy it or have the time to do it, go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread and some canned green beans and serve it to your family with no shame.

One is not more spiritual than the other. This is not a sin issue that we need to repent of and there are no prizes being handed out to moms who shop at Whole Foods. There are no long-term studies that show that children who grew up eating non-organic fruits and vegetables were less able to meet their potential later in life.

 

And while we’re at it, let’s listen to how we frame failure in our conversations with our friends in person and on-line. Every single time I talk about how I failed my kids because I gave them a cheeseburger from McDonald’s I’m making a statement about what I believe about moms who feed their kids fast food. Is that really the message I want to give to the worn-out mom across the table or on the other side of the internet from me? No. I can’t be a grace-filled friend to others if I have none for myself.

Dear Mom Who Thinks She Is Failing,There are Approximately 5,346,512 ways to Fail Your Children. Feeding your Child A Cheeseburger From McDonald's Is Not One oF Them. (1)

 

Of course I’m not saying that we don’t do our best in feeding and caring for our kids, but maybe we could check how we talk about “best”.

I like the idea of “good enough”. Good enough isn’t failure. It’s where most of the world lives. Some days good enough looks like shopping at Kroger, canned green beans and hamburger helper.  If we give ourselves grace to be “good enough”, we don’t shame people who don’t have the resources we have. If we talk about parenting in a way that offers grace, we give ourselves room to breathe and energy to focus on what matters most: loving our kids and showing them God’s love.

 

 

 

Saturday Sundries- The Office Edition

Welcome to Saturday! Your reward for making it through this week is a post of things I love, make me laugh or think or just felt the need to share.

First of all, this is so perfect. This is how I felt when I was working on writing a piece I sent to my local writing group to critique. I was a mess. I stopped and started 4 different articles/essays. I wrote a couple thousand words. I procrastinated. Finally, I just decided to let it be the imperfect piece it was and ask them for HELP! Isn’t that what they are there for? Right? So, this image made me laugh:

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I could probably use quotes from The Office for most areas of my life.

Like this?

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And

“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”

Happy Saturday! Do something nice for your mom this weekend 🙂

What I Learned From Losing My Mom

8 1/2 years ago, I experienced the loss of my mom. Mother’s Day is less than a week away and my thoughts are with the woman who raised me. For better or worse, much of who I am is because of her. I have her eyes, her laugh and share her love for driving aimlessly around when there isn’t anything better to do. There are other mysteries about her and myself that I never figured out because of that sudden loss.

Because of those missing pieces, I’ve worked hard to make meaning from what I do have. I learned a lot from her while she was alive, but in losing her I learned some equally important lessons about life.

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Loss Clarifies What You Believe About God.

Nothing challenges your faith like standing in an ICU, with your mother breathing only because of the wonders of modern science. We begged for a miracle. We had faith. We believed, but her brain had stopped working and God chose to not heal her. When the machines were turned off, there was no earthly healing. No chance to say, “goodbye”. On Wednesday she had been told by her doctor her head hurt because she had the flu and was dehydrated. On Friday, she died from the combination of an undiagnosed brain tumor and blood thinner.

That will challenge what you believe about God. Mostly, it taught me that all the “right” answers were meaningless. I knew the right answers and I still felt shell-shocked and lonely. In that moment, “she’s in a better place” and “God is sovereign” didn’t comfort me. Or rather, I should clarify, it didn’t comfort me coming from someone who hadn’t lived through deep pain and disappointment. It meant something from the gentleman, who even though he didn’t know our family well, chose to drive an hour to the funeral so that he could tell my dad he had gone through a similar loss. He signed his card, “a fellow journeyman”. That’s the person you want to sit next to when your heart is tore out.

Time Is Short & You Aren’t Guaranteed Tomorrow.

My last conversation with my mom would have been different had I known it would be the last one. After a day of waiting for her turn to get an MRI and her head aching, I thought it best to give her time to rest and give in to the sedative. I told her to get some rest. I would be back later. I’m not sure I even told her I loved her. I went and sat in a waiting area with my dad and a friend of my mom’s and waited to get a call from the doctor with the MRI results. The call came. As the doctor told my dad the findings and that mom should be moved to the ICU, we heard a code called and watched a flurry of nurses and doctors run down the hall. We stopped and prayed for the unknown family in crisis and then decided to walk back to Mom’s room. We rounded the corner, hearts dropping to see the destination of the running nurses had been to my mom’s bedside.

My daughter often asks to snuggle with me in the evening before bedtime. I’m always in the middle of doing something else when she asks. Sometimes I put her off. More often than not, I stop what I’m doing and  say “yes.” My “yes” comes from a place of knowing I would give anything to have more time with my mom. I run it through the filter of this question, “If I didn’t have tomorrow with my daughter, what will I wish I had done?” So we snuggle. I tell her all the things I long to hear from my mom. I hope it all sinks deep into her heart.

Compassion Is A Gift That Often Comes From Pain.

Lysa Terkeurst, in The Best Yes, says, “There is a silver lining I’ve discovered in those moments: a compassionate kind of wisdom I can’t get any other way.” She’s talking about what we can learn from our mistakes, but it applies to those who experience loss too.

Losing someone changes you. Some changes you choose and some are forced on you. Change that comes from loss is inescapable, but the direction the change takes is in your hands. I’ve seen the transformation go both ways: an angry and cynical person emerges from the smoke or one with more compassion. I’ve been both. I hope I’m moving toward compassion and wisdom.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, my heart is with the motherless daughters. May God be near. May He bring you unexpected joy. May this missing piece be a catalyst to move you closer to Him and give you more compassion for others. May you have space to grieve and to celebrate in whatever way your soul needs. You are loved.

Other helpful links:

When you still need your mom and she’s not there anymore, by Lisa-Jo Baker.

Pre-grieving Mother’s Day, by Ann Voskamp