When New Becomes the Normal

When New Becomes the Normal

mom-love

This particular feeling of transition is familiar to me. The waiting game. The anticipation. The dreaming and preparing and eagerness and anxiety. The constantly being on edge, while trying to distract myself and not think about how I’m constantly on edge. It’s e x h a u s t i n g .

Oh yes, I know this feeling well. It’s a mixture of heartache as well as over-the-moon excitement. A haze of surrealness that we are in the last days of being a household of 4—transitioning to a household of 5.

I felt this right before each of my daughters were born too—this strange place of savoring every moment of how life currently is while impatiently awaiting what will become our family’s new normal.

I can’t remember life before my youngest daughter. It is like she has always been here. And I surely can’t remember life before my oldest daughter. I am convinced life started the day she born and it is the life that I have always wanted to live.

However, these were not my sentiments right before they were each born. During the days leading up to their births it was more of an, “OH. MAN. How the heck am I going to do this? I barely have my act together right now. Like, barely. And I’m supposed to add another human life into the mix!? This is not going to be pretty.”

But sure enough, after a little bit of time (and tears and small victories and slowly conquering the learning curve) I moved from the scary newness to a more confident rhythm of life. Trust me, we still had those days. We still have those days. I don’t think the frequency decreased. I think maybe I just figured out how to handle them better. I’m not sure. Either way, I’ll take it.

And soon…it was normal. Life with a baby was normal. Then life with 2 kids was normal. And now, with faith that that truth will continue, I know life with 3 kids will become my new normal. And eventually, the details of life before our son will become foggy. Because he will be the perfect puzzle piece that our family was missing.

As I was drying my girls’ hair this morning, (there really is nothing like the smell of fresh babies right out of the bath) one was swaying back and forth singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the top of her lungs—the other one was playing a music game on my phone. And as I ran my fingers through their hair, I held my breath a little. My lungs captured that air so very tightly. And I didn’t want to exhale. Because I loved that moment. And I love our family dynamic right now. I love my full days with my 2 little best friends. And even though those full days can be hard and wearing full days, I love them just the same.

But eventually I had to let out that precious breath and when it did my heart exploded with these words…

You are losing nothing and gaining so much. The joy of life is going about to be multiplied. Life will look different, but it will be better.

I am settled into that place—that place of absorbing the right-now as well as the soon-will-be. And I am thankful for both, because both make me a mom.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Confessions of a Quitter and Giving It 51%

Confessions of a Quitter and Giving It 51%

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An early morning a few months ago I found myself standing in front of my kitchen sink that was once again full of dirty dishes. I was talking to my sister on the phone just staring at the task in front of me.

(I’m not sure who breaks into my house every single night just to dirty every single one of my dishes—leaving me to clean them in the morning—but if I ever catch the dirtying culprit, I’m popping him right in the nose. And I have raging pregnancy hormones right now, so it would be epic.)

My one year old hadn’t slept for oh, her entire life. Which meant this momma hadn’t slept for her entire life. Every night for the past 15 months had been broken up into sleepless segments. And then the entire previous week, 3am had become our I’m-Up-For-The-Day.

I wasn’t just sleepy, I was e x h a u s t e d—physically, emotionally and mentally depleted. I think most mommas know the place I’m talking about. And boy oh boy, I was in that place.

And on this particular morning as I stood in front of that sink of dirty dishes, I became totally overwhelmed. That sink was just the beginning of what I needed to get done. I don’t remember exactly what our topic of conversation was, but it wasn’t a serious one. However my response to whatever she said just burst out of me—and with a shaky voice attempting to hold back tears, I said,

“I don’t finish anything. I just quit…everything…all the time. I start and then…I quit.”

My vision began to blur with tears. And then I began to go down the list of all my failures and all of the projects I had started but for one reason or another, had quit.

Nothing like an early morning, lighthearted conversation with your sister, right?

My physical and mental exhaustion had stripped away my excuses (along with my good attitude and normally happy demeanor). And that rawness had suddenly and violently stirred up this regret and frustration about things I had quit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled procrastination and quitting—always wishing to trade in those habits for ones of persevering and finishing. I’ve written about my journey of recovery before. This struggle isn’t a new thing for me.

Big life events…small every day tasks…friendships…ministries…workout programs. You name it, I’ve quit each of them at least once.

I would feel alone in it all. I’d watch other women who seemed to have it all together. Every detail in their lives seemed to be in place. Every project completed. Always on time. Always floating, not walking. And I would wonder why I couldn’t seem to get my act together since others seemed to do it so effortlessly.

And honestly, I still feel that way sometimes. Why the heck can’t I just figure this life thing out? Not just with keeping up with dishes (which would be a beautiful miracle), but with…projects…dreams…life.

Shortly after my dish-hating/I’m-such-a-quitter meltdown in my kitchen, I heard about a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit and got an early copy of it. I love the author and the title practically screamed my name so I was eager to dive in. The book follows the life of Ruth from the Bible and pulls out truth and examples of how her steady faithfulness changed countless generations.

This book has been such an unexpected game changer for me. You know those times where you don’t need advice, or a coach or a teacher or a drill sergeant…you just need a friend? Yeah, this book has become my friend. The kind of friend that says, “Yep. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I’ve not figured it all out, but I’m on my way. Let me share with you.”

There have only been a handful of times in my life where I can look back and honestly say I feel pleased with how I stuck to something. I’m talking about the kind of somethings that took a lot of time, a lot of energy and…gulp…a lot of persistence (for like, more than a week).

But what if my definition of success simply meant staying consistent?

This book is jam-packed full of goodness. But 3 of the things that I walked away with after reading 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit:

1.) I am not alone in my struggles

2.) There is hope to change my quitter-habits and replace them with finisher-habits

3.) If I can’t give 100% that day, give 51%

That last one was a big aha moment for me. And looking back at the times I actually did finish well with large tasks, that’s sort of what I did. Even if I couldn’t hit some amazing goal that day, I did just one thing that kept me moving towards my main goal. And sure enough, enough days of doing one little thing led me to finishing that big thing.

In her book, Nicki writes about the power of 51%:

If success can be redefined as “not quitting,” it’s this idea that if we can just stay 1 percent above 50, we are heading in the right direction.

So, while you determine in your spirit you can’t handle Jillian Michaels’ bossy commands today, you choose the 51 percent route and go for a quiet walk. No, you didn’t give everything you had, but you gave it 51 percent, and so that’s a step in the right direction.

I’m really excited about the tools I learned from 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit. Particularly learning how to identify why I quit and then figuring out how to reform habits that have become obstacles. (I highly recommend snagging a copy if you too struggle with finishing things. There are too many gems in it to talk about in a short post, but it really is worth the read.)

Some days, I just don’t have the energy or time I wish I could fully devote. But instead of an all or nothing mindset on those days, I’m excited now view consistency as success. Eventually all that movement forward, despite the speed, will lead me to that finish. And I’m already seeing the benefits of those newly formed habits! How awesome!

So to all my fellow recovering procrastinators and quitters, we can do it! One habit, one step, one word, one consistent forward movement at a time.

Click here to buy a copy of 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, by Nicki Koziarz.

5 Habits cover

A Love Note to the New Momma Who Just Gave Birth

A Love Note to the New Momma Who Just Gave Birth

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Dear New Momma,

You did it, momma. You created a little piece of perfection—carrying and growing and nurturing that life for 9 months.

You persevered through morning sickness, swollen body parts that you didn’t even know could swell and Hulk-like mood swings—becoming a sacred vessel of holy life.

Then the day your heart pitter-pattered in anticipation for finally arrived…birth day.

All of heaven paused. And in one glorious moment, the child that listened to your heartbeat from the inside, now laid on your chest to feel it’s beat from the outside. And your soul was completely captured by the most beautiful being you’ve ever seen. You memorized every inch of that baby—counting fingers and toes—eager to claim responsibility for various facial features. You thought you would physically melt into a puddle on the floor from all the emotions that took over your body…and it was then that you realized what unconditional love truly was.

Maybe you were able to come home right away. Or maybe you weren’t able to come home immediately. Maybe your hospital stay was longer than what your heart felt like it could endure—just wanting everything to be ok and normal. Having to wait stabbed at your heart. The sting wasn’t for yourself, but for this new little piece of yourself breathing in your arms. And your first supernatural act of momma strength—a new selflessness and fierceness—carried you both through. And you did it. You made it. And now you’re home…

Welcome to your new normal.

At first, you will worry about whether your baby is peeing and pooping regularly, eating well, swaddled correctly, a comfortable temperature…and you know…breathing. Even the smallest of details will worry you. You are, after all, responsible for keeping an entire other person alive now. That’s not exactly a job for the faint of heart.

Don’t feel silly about worrying. Or stressing out. Or melting down in moments of I-Have-No-Idea-What-I’m-Doing. Don’t panic when all the tips and advice you’ve been given don’t help you like you thought they would. Remember, all the information and guidelines you read in those articles and books are just that…guidelines. And maybe the perfect way that your mom or your Aunt Sue or your best friend did something, isn’t going to be perfect for you. And that is more than ok.

Every human being is different. Every baby is different. All of your previous ideas and convictions and set-in-stone plans will most likely be reevaluated, readjusted or completely thrown out the window at some point. Pacifier or no pacifier? Cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Breastfeeding or formula? Ibuprofen or no ibuprofen? Yes, be knowledgable, but listen to your momma intuition. Figure out what works for you both and then go with it.

The best advice I ever got as a new, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived momma was, “Your daughter isn’t going to go off to college with a pacifier. She will be potty trained, she will be eating on her own and she will be sleeping through the night. So just do whatever works for you both right now.” The realization that choosing cloth diapers or disposable diapers wasn’t an life-altering decision, really freed me. And from that day forward, I’ve really tried to carry that “do what works for you both” mindset.

Some days you’ll flow in the new rhythm of your new life and you’ll look around and think, “Oh my goodness, I’m doing this thing.” And then other days, that rhythm will feel more like abrupt, robotic movements as you just try to survive. Both are normal.

You’ll have a tiring day and a sleepless night that blends into another tiring day and night—becoming one, unending rotation around the sun. Because momma’s don’t get to clock out at 5pm and babies don’t always sleep at night. You will stare straight at that baby monitor at 3am and pray in the name of Jesus’ that that child will just go.to.sleep.

It will get better.

Nap when you can. Cry when you need to. Eat cookies when you want. Even when you can barely keep your eyes open, go sit outside in the sunshine or stroll the neighborhood. It does help. Give the baby to daddy and go sit in the closet with some chocolate and your Bible and just…be. Ask for help when you need it. You’ll still be exhausted, that’s just motherhood. But you won’t feel so alone and maybe, just maybe, you can sneak in a nap or a shower.

There will be times you and your husband will feel like you’re not only on different pages but in totally different books…and in different libraries. And there will be moments you will want to kick him, ironically enough, in his baby maker. Don’t do it. (For one, there may come a day in the far, far future that you want more babies. So it’s a good idea to keep everything in proper working order.) Keep talking to each other and remember he’s new at this whole parenthood thing too. Ask for grace. Give grace. Keep stealing moments alone with him even if it’s for 5 minutes.

Know that you can’t do it all on your own. You weren’t meant to. That doesn’t point to any kind of inadequacy. No, not at all. You are a wellspring of beauty and life that pours out in many directions. Wife. Mother. Friend. Woman. So take care of yourself. If you want to be a good momma to your baby, then be good to his/her momma. Love her well. Give her grace and find some time just for her.

You are on one of the most incredible rides of your life. There’s hard stuff, sure. But what life changing adventure is easy? You will learn things about yourself that you wouldn’t otherwise know. That is a gift even on the days it doesn’t feel like one. Motherhood refines you, sharpens you, grows you. You will be an all around better person because of your baby. His/her heart will forever grip yours. And vice versa. Your love for them will be fiercer than anything you’ve ever known.

In your desire to keep them safe from harm and heartache, learn to trust Jesus more. Let Him show you His heart and character in deep, profound ways. As you worry, know that He loves them even more than you do. (Can you even imagine that?) And He knew the exact mom that your baby needed…and it is you. You are equipped with everything you need to love that child well and point him/her to Him.

You did it, momma. And you’re doing it.

And remember you’re not alone—we’re in this momma journey together.

Love, The momma standing next to you

To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

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I saw you holding your little boy’s hand as you briskly walked into the store. How old is he? Maybe 4? You both looked like winter pros as you braved the cold weather and harsh wind bundled in thick jackets, scarves, gloves and boots.

My girls left the house with coats and boots and gloves too.

But my 1 year old refused to keep her boots on. And only 70% of their other winter apparel could be accounted for before we even got out of the car.

So my littlest one was just wrapped in a fluffy blanket like a pink burrito.

Motherhood is all about improvising and going with the flow, don’t you think? I do. So I counted the burrito wrapped baby as a total win. But just so you know, my mom-experience appreciated how put together you both were. Not one element of your assemble resembled a food item. Impressive.

You stopped at the end of our aisle and said something to your son. I was slowly browsing towards your direction in search of a cutting board and knives. (I love to cook and make amazing dinners every night. Just kidding, I hate cooking and they were for my chef of a husband.)

I noticed you take both of your son’s hands abruptly and bend down right in front of him, getting right on his level. You leaned in and literally couldn’t get any closer to his face. His eyes immediately honed into you and his attention was all yours. I couldn’t hear what you were saying, but I assumed by his short little nods and your very intentional tone that he was being reprimanded. So I looked away and tried to give you both privacy and space. Well, as much privacy and space as possible in a crowded store during the height of the Christmas season.

I scanned the shelf trying to decide which cutting board was the prettiest—because I’m sure esthetics is the most important feature of a cutting board and I wasn’t going to let my husband down. (You’re welcome, babe.) As I spotted the one, I took a couple steps forward and bent down to grab it. As I reached out, I could hear you. Very clearly. And what you were saying brought me to tears.

You were right in his face. You even gave your son’s hands a few shakes. “I am so incredibly proud of you. Do you know that? You are amazing and that was just awesome. Man, I’m proud of you!”

He was staring at you, shaking his head. Absorbing it all.

I was absorbing it all.

Right there in the middle of the retail chaos and the hustle and bustle, among all the speeding carts full of “stuff” that won’t last and “things” that just don’t matter—you were giving your son the most beautiful gifts. Things that will last. Things that do matter.

Affirmation. Appreciation. You were giving love.

And your son wasn’t the only one that walked away from that conversation with a fuller heart. I did too.

Oh, momma. In a world that can feel so cold, so harsh, your words warmed my very soul.

You truly are changing your part of the world.

Keep speaking words of life to him. Keep telling him how amazing he is. Keep telling him how proud you are of him. Keep taking the time to stop in the middle of life’s chaos to show him how appreciated and loved he is. You’re affecting him. And you’re affecting those of us lucky enough to be standing in your same aisle.

You’ve challenged me to stay focused and chase what matters. To stop in this moment and find what is right and beautiful and good—and openly acknowledge it. And I am forever grateful to you.

Merry Christmas, fellow momma. Stay warm. And stay you.

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

dirt and grass

Here’s some honesty for you: A few months ago I lost my makeup bag. Not misplaced it. Not set it down somewhere I don’t usually keep it. I straight up lost it. I couldn’t for the life of me remember when I had seen it last (meaning I couldn’t remember when I had actually put makeup on last.)

I sometimes very often find myself standing in the middle of my kitchen just staring at the overflowing sink full of dirty dishes and wonder, How? How can 4 people make all these overnight? And how in the world are there 47 dirty sippy cups in here!? We don’t even own 47 sips cups, yet here they are.

And my bedroom almost always has at least one pile of laundry in it that’s just begging to be folded and put away. My reaction to its pleas are always the same. I kick it out of the way to show it who’s boss and sternly remind it that it’s lucky it even got washed.

Ok, ok. My examples of missing makeup bags and condescending laundry piles may not totally resonate with you, but hey, I’m a mom to 2 littles (and one on the way.) So my makeup-less days really are filled with wiping, scrubbing, changing and washing. And an occasional, “Spit that out of your mouth!

But I’m not just talking about housework or mommyhood. This happens to me as a wife. And a friend. And a woman. And a human being in general.

I feel like I’m constantly moving—yet not going anywhere. Like I’ll be stuck in a certain place with a certain routine forever.

My days become this constant, repetitive spinning cycle. And if I let it, I get caught in its rotation and forget to…you know…breathe.

My point is this. It’s so easy to just do routine. To get what needs to be done done. And one day, you pause and look around and think to yourself, Where am I? How did I get here? I used to have the energy to put on makeup everyday. I used to have time to finish things. I used to be so confident as to what direction to go in life.

But what the Lord has been showing me recently is that life comes and goes in seasons. Nothing lasts.

And when I grasp that perspective, it makes it a little easier to push through the hard days and causes me to more fully savor the good ones.

I’m sure there have been seasons of your life that have felt endless, but looking back at them now, you can see they didn’t last forever.

There were times in college where I literally thought a class was going to kill me. The work was hard, the professor sounded like the guy from the Clear Eyes commercial except not as interesting. (I probably just dated myself with that reference. If you’re a little young thing, please smile and nod…then watch them on YouTube so we can be on the same page.) I had to work my tail off in those classes just to make an average grade.

But that time didn’t last. The class really did end and eventually it became a faint memory that still makes my eye twitch. It was a season that passed.

After college I went through a huge emotional shifting. I had to figure out life very quickly when my entire world felt like it was crumbling around me. I didn’t know what to do or where to go or if I would make it out in one piece.

But I did make it—more whole than I ever could have thought possible. In that dry land of unknowns, I cultivated strong friendships. I learned more about myself in that season of difficulty than I had in any previous season of ease. That time didn’t last. It became a season that passed.

After my husband and I got married, there was so much to figure out and get used to. Thank goodness he put the roll of toilet paper on the right way, so that wasn’t one of the battles. (The correct way is over…not under. Ever.) But we still had a lot of other important decisions to make. Jobs, moving, finances, transition. And then there was the general settling in to our new married roles. There were many times that we didn’t know what was around the corner or if our rent would even get paid.

But we made it. The hardships sealed us together in the most beautiful way. We had to lean into each other and rely fully on God during that season. It was scary and wonderful and life changing. I wouldn’t want to do it over again, but I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Because we learned to quiet ourselves to hear His voice when we desperately needed direction, we recognized His voice when He called us into the next wonderful season. And every year we’ve gotten strong and stronger.

Four years ago and 2 years ago, I miscarried babies. We went through a season of grief and rawness. I ached for my babies and I cried every day. There were no answers to the whys or guarantees for the future. But those times changed me. My losses stirred up strength. The brokenness brought wholeness in some ways.

And although the scars will always be there, the initial sting lasted a season.

Life is not a solid line stretching from point A to point B. It’s fluid—constantly moving, changing and shifting.

If you are grieving deeply and feel like nothing will ever resemble anything close to normal again, remember—there will be life again. There is a future and it is filled with more seasons. Healing is on its way.

If you find yourself in a place of confusion and you’re wondering whether you should move forward or hold still, remember—this is a season. Listen to His voice. Clarity is coming.

If you can’t find your makeup bag for 4 days because you barely have enough energy to do anything besides chase adorable little people around the house and wash their 47 sippy cups every night, remember—little people grow up and one day there won’t be sippy cups to wash. So savor the chaos. Forget the makeup. It will soon be a season that passed.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Something Bigger Is Happening

Something Bigger Is Happening

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I am not an avid news watcher. Hours of death, destruction and hatred—then at the end, throw in a story about a squirrel that can water ski to lighten things up. I’m sorry, but there aren’t enough water skiing rodents in the entire world to lighten the burdens of the evening news. I just can’t do it. But whether or not we actually sit down and watch a news broadcast, the many devices and social platforms we have definitely keep us plugged into worldwide happenings the instant they occur. There’s really no escaping it.

My family and I went to lunch the other day. And about 5 minutes after we sat down, our waitress asked, “Did you hear about the shooting? My sister just called me and said there’s an active shooter near the hospital.” Her next question was, “And what would you like to drink?” And in one of those weird moments where you say something you never thought you’d hear yourself say, I replied, “Oh my goodness, I haven’t heard anything about the shooting…and…umm…I’ll take a Coke…”

My husband got on his phone and sure enough, every local news station was covering the story but very few details were available. We just sat there, unsettled by the fact that there was a shooter loose in our city.

And this story isn’t isolated. My newsfeed and heart have been completely overwhelmed lately with horrendous stories of a pastor’s pregnant wife being murdered in their own home; crowds of innocent people being targeted with bombs; families being driven out of their towns, forced to leave behind everything they know. My mind can’t comprehend the pain, devastation and brokenness that other humans are experiencing at this very moment.

And sometimes, I have a really hard time with it all.

Lord, how does this happen to the innocent? To people who love you? To children? None of it makes sense.

I battle and I pray and still…I just don’t understand. I will never understand. And when all feels like chaos, I desperately cling to the truth that the only place my heart will remain secure is in Jesus. Even when I don’t understand why. Especially when I don’t understand why.

There is something bigger happening here. And I desperately long to perceive it on a deeper level.

In a heartbreaking situation where a man’s wife was brutally attacked then murdered in their own home, his reaction was one of forgiveness…and love. How can a man respond like that to something so hellish?

There’s something bigger happening here.

When bombs went off and the lives of thousands of people were forever changed in the matter of seconds, it would seem that was the end of the story. Yet numerous reports of kindness, selflessness and unity are surfacing from those unlikely moments of devastation.

There’s something bigger happening here.

People who are making their way across foreign lands—who have lost children, parents, and siblings because of the God they worship—refuse to forsake His name. They are struggling to just to stay alive, but will not reject the Savior they serve. He is all that they have. They’ve literally had everything and everyone they love taken away because of their unwavering faith. Yet, they hold steadfast in proclaiming His name.

There’s something bigger happening here.

With all of the fear that surrounds these evil attacks that have been carried out by evil itself, I know that peace—real peace—will come only from my Lord. And when the uncertainty of tomorrow is too heavy to hold, I will meditate on the One who is already there. When nothing can be trusted, I will place my trust in Him.

Because there’s something bigger happening here.

The continual existence of evil and the pain of the innocent still doesn’t make sense—but when the voices of the broken speak of things like hope and forgiveness and wholeness, it’s clear that something bigger is happening within the raw details and moments of their lives. And that bigger thing is the power of Jesus.

Blessed be the Lord!

    For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

    and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;

    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:6-9

When a Cup Becomes More Important Than the Person Who Is Handing It to You

When a Cup Becomes More Important Than the Person Who Is Handing It to You

red coffee

I really like coffee. There’s nothing quite like that first cup in the morning or wrapping my hands around a warm mug on a cold day and sipping on it’s hot contents.

That being said, I’m really not an avid Starbucks coffee drinker. And although I haven’t agreed with every statement or viewpoint that Starbucks has held, the reason I don’t frequently drink their coffee is simply because it’s not my favorite kind of coffee.

I’m not boycotting or advocating. Every person has the right to decide whether or not they will walk into a Starbucks and spend their time and money there.

But maybe you’ve seen the video that is spreading across social media like digital wildfire. It was made by a man who noticed this year’s Starbucks cups are simply red—void of any kind of festive decoration—saying it is a direct attack from Starbucks on Christmas. He decided to go in to Starbucks, buy a drink and tell the barista that his name was “Merry Christmas” so that the greeting would have to be written on the cup.

He says that he’s not boycotting, but starting a movement and calls for “all great americans and christians around this great nation” to join that movement. And at the end of the video he speaks directly to Starbucks saying, “just to offend you, I made sure to wear my Jesus Christ shirt into your store and since you hate the second amendment, I even carried my gun.” (There’s a link to his video at the bottom of this post.)

Now, I’m all about speaking up for those who don’t have a voice, for fighting against injustices and for banding together through persecution. But as believers, we need to be able to discern what are actual battles and what is actual persecution. We have to know the difference between a cause that deserves our action and is worthy of our voice—or simply a differing opinion that is trivial.

I have a hard time envisioning Jesus walking into a Starbucks and trying to figure out how to prank or trick the person behind the counter—looking directly in the barista’s eyes and whispering, “Followers of Jesus say ‘what?’” When the barista falls for his clever trick by asking “What?”, he responds, “Ha ha! I got you! You just confessed that you follow me!”

Now that’s how you get someone to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, right?

I know my example is extreme and ridiculous and is dripping with sarcasm. My point is this, Jesus would not trick anyone into anything. Period. Seriously, it’s nonsense. So if we say we desire to be Christ-like, then let’s be like Christ. I have to wonder how many baristas have laid awake at night because of this “movement” and thought to themselves, “Gee, writing ‘Merry Christmas’ on that cup today really got me thinking about eternity. I think I’ll start learning more about this Jesus guy.”

From what I’ve learned about the heart and character Jesus Christ through God’s Word, I think it’s much more likely that he would have been getting to know the barista behind the counter—listening to his/her story. He would have been so focused on their heart that I don’t think he would have cared or even noticed whether or not a coffee cup said Merry Christmas on it…

Because Jesus was about people, not making political or religious statements.

When a cup becomes more important than the person who is handing it to you, we’ve completely missed the mark. Having an “I’ll show them” attitude towards the high-up executives sitting in offices far, far away by tricking or indifferently interacting with the person directly behind the counter does not make sense. Whether or not you support Starbucks, the baristas that will make your coffee had nothing to do with a cup’s design or creating company policies. Many are just trying to work and make a paycheck for themselves and their families.

If Christ had the attitude of “since you’ve offended me, I’m going to intentionally offend you”, the Gospel would look very different. In fact, it wouldn’t exist.

May we never fall for the lie that says being a “good conservative” = being a “good christian” or vice versa. Wearing a shirt with the image of Jesus on it does not mean we are truly bearing his image. And our opinion on gun control doesn’t determine how holy we are.

What makes us Christ-followers is how well we love others. It’s relationships and service and truth in love. It’s looking at the person, not their past. Loving them where they’re at, not where they’ve been. It’s accepting a person as an image bearer of God himself. And that’s when hearts change, lives transform and truth is revealed.

Fight for what lasts and what matters for eternity. Love well and don’t be easily offended by things that simply don’t matter. The world is full of hurting, hopeless and hungry people who desperately need an encounter with the love of Jesus. Let’s go to those people. That is time and energy and love well spent.

Watch the video here.

5 Things to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage

5 Things to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage

5 Things to do for Someone Who's had a Miscarriage

As many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means the odds are either you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage.

As a woman who has lost 2 babies, I can attest to the healing power of other’s loving words and supportive actions. Although I have experienced loss firsthand, I still struggle to find the words to say to someone else who has lost a baby. Each loss is so unique, just like each woman who is grieving is unique. But as with any heart that is hurting, comfort does not come from a perfect sentence or flawless sentiment. A grieving momma just needs to know that you are available and that she is loved.

Don’t allow the uncertainty of knowing what to say keep you silent.

Here are 5 things you can do to support and love someone who has just experienced miscarriage.


1.) Send a Card

It may seem like a small gesture, but acknowledging her loss and telling her that she’s on your heart will mean a lot.

2.) “I’m so Sorry for Your Loss”

It’s hard to know what to say, but a simple, “I’m so sorry for your loss” can be powerful. Sometimes it’s the only thing that needs to be said. The same goes for “I’m praying for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

3.) Listen and be Present

It is easy to feel isolated after losing a baby, especially in the weeks and months following the loss. Simply inviting her out to coffee and asking how she is doing helps her not feel alone or forgotten in her grieving process.

4.) Ask to Bring a Meal

It’s the going thing to do for someone who has just brought their baby home, but what about someone who doesn’t get to bring her baby home? It can take all the emotional and mental strength she can muster just to make it through the day. Not having to worry about dinner plans allows her to focus energy on other sensitive things she needs to tend to.

5.) Remember that the Daddy Lost His Baby Too

So many times, the man gets overlooked because the miscarriage physically happened to the woman. But he is also grieving. Extending the same kind words and support to him validates his feelings and grief as well.


It doesn’t matter if you completely understand what a mommy or daddy is going through after a miscarriage. What does matters is your willingness to love and support them through a very difficult time. It is your kindness that their hearts can absorb. And that is a very precious gift to them.

Dare to Be Beautiful

Dare to Be Beautiful

sparkler

“You look beautiful! I love your hair! And your earrings are so pretty.”

Any time I was given a compliment, I instinctively pointed out something flawed about myself.

“Oh…well…thanks. I have such bags under my eyes today and my hair is a total mess. And these earrings? Ugh, I’ve had them forever.”

WHY!?

Why did I always feel the need drag myself down when someone was lifting me up? Why did I need to partner every kind compliment with a negative comment?

You are beautiful. You look lovely.

I felt like the person would eventually discover one of my many imperfections so I might as well point them out first.

“Why do you do that?” I was once asked. “What?” I replied, unaware of what I had done. “You never accept a compliment. You always say something negative about yourself.”

It was true.

I never simply accepted a compliment. I felt so flawed that compliments actually made me feel…uncomfortable. And I realized it was because I didn’t feel worthy of such statements.

Beauty=perfection. And since I was far from perfect, I must be as equally distant from any kind of beauty. Right?

Do you find yourself doing that same thing? When someone says something kind to you, do you feel the need to say something unkind about yourself? When a piece of your beauty is complimented, appearance or character, do you instinctively counteract it?

If we’re honest, it’s really really easy to feel inadequate in our culture. It’s easy to feel we aren’t beautiful enough. Or talented enough. Or smart enough. It’s easy to feel like we just aren’t enough in general! We criticize ourselves. We complain about our flaws. We become discontent. We grumble about our chunky thighs, our fluffy tummies and our lack of defined calf muscles.

I get it. I so get it.

My definition of beauty was based on something that doesn’t exist. The standard to which I was holding myself was a mirage. Worse than a mirage…a complete lie.

It can be a long and difficult journey learning what beauty really is—and believing that we really are beautiful.

But dear friend, please hear this…

You are beautiful. And you are enough.

And it’s not because of the image you’ve created, but because of Whose image you were created in.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

From the moment He began knitting you together in your mother’s womb, He has been telling you…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Every day, every night, He is singing over you…YOU ARE LOVELY.

And in the quietness of your heart, He is whispering this truth…YOU ARE WORTH IT.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Oh, precious friend. You are beautiful.

3 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

3 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

mom daughter

I love the different forms that motherhood comes in. Each one is so beautiful, so unique. And each one is hard work! Raising a little person is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. I mean, who in their right mind cleans poop all day long and is ready to do it the next day again? Let’s be honest, poop is the least of our worries. We’re raising a human being here. A one-of-a-kind, opinionated, independent, persistent, hilarious, wobbly emotioned, wonderful human being. We’re doing our best to help them grow into the best versions of themselves. Kind. Strong. Compassionate. Bold. Loving.

No matter what our different journeys of motherhood look like, the one factor that unifies us all is that we love our child(ren) and we would do anything for them. As you love and raise your little one(s), there are 3 things you need to hear.

1.) You Are the Exact Mom That Your Child(ren) Needs.

Of all the babies in all the world, throughout all of history, your child(ren) was assigned to you. You are the mommy they need. The Lord has equipped you with everything you need in order to love and nurture and teach and guide those crazy little people. I know you don’t always feel equipped or able. But it’s true. You are enough. You. You are enough.

2.) Taking Care of Yourself Is Not Selfish.

This one is a tough one for me. Probably the thing I struggle with the most. There’s always so much to do, so if I take time for myself, it’s very easy for guilt to swallow me up. There’s always something that needs to be scrubbed, folded or straightened. There’s always someone climbing up my leg or pulling at my sleeve that needs my undivided attention right now, right now, right now. But our babies need more than someone to keep their daily routine flowing. They need more than clean socks and a vacuumed floor. Of all your child(ren’s) needs, their biggest need is you. So take care of their mommy and her emotions.

3.) It’s Ok to Have a Bad Day…or Week.

There are days that my patience is running low, my stress is running high, my emotions are running wild—and my kiddos are caught in the middle. But even my failures are opportunities to help grow Jesus-loving, well rounded human beings. My kids need to see that I’m human too. Even mommies need to apologize for their mistakes and ask for forgiveness—from them and from Jesus. It’s ok to have a bad day. And when that bad day turns into a tough week, it’s still going to be ok. It will get better. I want my kids to see that it’s not the end of the world when we mess up. There’s always forgiveness. There’s always a fresh start.

You are doing an awesome job, momma! You’re not alone. We’re in this thing together.