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

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.

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.

3 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

3 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

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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.

Starting to Finish Well

Starting to Finish Well

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A new beginning. A fresh start. A clean slate.

Have you ever noticed how so many people get fired up about New Years resolutions? For the first few weeks following that epic 10 second countdown, the gyms are filled, healthy habits are started and new ventures are begun. The excitement of a new start is exhilarating. The idea of bettering yourself is empowering.

I ashamedly admit that I am one of “those” people. I get hyped for oh, about 2 weeks and then…life. Life doesn’t suddenly look better or the transformation doesn’t happen overnight (or at least within 2 weeks), so my full-forced run becomes a sloppy jog. And then it looks like a slow walk (kind of like that picture of Bigfoot swinging his arms through the woods. You know the one.) Until…I throw my hands in the air, fall face first on the floor and give up.

Quick side note: I’m using a running analogy here, but I am not a runner. At all. The only way I will run by choice is either a) a bear is literally chasing me, or b) some yells “free coffee!” And even then, I’d ask what size the coffee is.

How many projects have I started but quit? How many friendships have I made but didn’t invest enough energy into? How many times have I vowed to myself that I would do better, work harder, push myself, step out of my comfort zone…but then didn’t?

Too many times to count.

It’s easy to get caught back up in the rhythm of my day to day routine. And when I do, the spectacular firework emotions that got me started, begin to fade. No longer are emotions enough to propel me towards my goal.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve really been drawn to the people around me who finish things well. Because the way I see it, when it comes to starting well or finishing well, finishing well is by far the harder of the two. Generally speaking.

Emotion doesn’t carry me very far. Discipline drives me further than I ever thought I could go. Discipline will help me finish well.

There are even some things, some goals, that for years I thought I simply failed at. But I’m reevaluating that perspective. Some of those things I didn’t fail at, I gave up. Why not pick up those things and start running with them again? It’s a lot harder to live with the regret of giving up than it is to pick up that heavy thing, throw it over your shoulder and starting walking towards the finish line with it.

It’s easy to say, I want to live life well. But it takes discipline and endurance to make all the little decisions that will add up to create a life lived well. Oh, I long for that.

So that’s my heart focus right now – finishing well. Maybe you have something that you’re trying to finish well. Maybe it takes all your energy to simply finish a little piece of the big picture. Well those little pieces add up. Maybe there’s something that you thought you failed at, but maybe…just maybe…you didn’t fail…you gave up. You can do it. So let’s do it. 

Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out. Ecclesiastes 7:8 (MSG)

Lord, help us to finish well today. Help us to keep moving, even when the emotional motivation is gone. Help us to finish the little things. Because they add up. Help us to finish the big things. Because they take so much discipline. Thank you, Father.

How to Keep Your Home Immaculate While Living with a Toddler

Clean-House

For years, I struggled. I worked tirelessly to have both worlds – children and a clean house. As someone who struggled with keeping an organized and clean house before kids, those cute little ones added a whole new element to the already impossible task. I would do what I like to call “The Run Through.” That’s where I would speed around like a wild woman in each room, picking up as much as I could in the least amount of time. If I made good time with “The Run Through” (my best time being 7 minutes, 48 seconds), I would even begin on the laundry. However, 9 times out of 10, I would turn around and see what looked like a F5 tornado (also known as a toddler) had hit the entire house again when my back was turned. Well, the struggle is over. I have discovered 9 Simple Tips that solve every momma’s clutter problem and if you follow them, you too can have an immaculate house while living with a toddler.

1. Carpets

The cleanliness of your carpets are threatened by a few things. But one of these things surpasses them all. Oh sure, at first glance it seems harmless…pretty even. But looks can be so deceiving. Glitter. Once the little bottle tips over, that stuff flies through the air and it looks like a shimmery atomic bomb went off. You will find it in the carpet for the rest of your life. And just for good measure, stay away from all crafting and messy projects. Glue sticks, Play-Doh, markers, paint. I shudder to even think of what they would do to the carpets if left in the hands of a toddler.

2. Clean Windows

To keep clean windows, it is imperative to keep curious little hands and inquisitive faces from being pressed against the glass. If a firetruck drives by, a flock of birds lands on the patio, or it begins to snow, discourage the child from looking out.

3. Furniture

To keep the furniture spotless, restrict all eating to the dining room table. This includes sippy cups, suckers and all snacks in general. And no jumping. No shoes. Only sitting.

4. Living Room

The living room is the most important room in the house because that is where you will most likely socialize with your guests. As awesome as it would be to throw all the cushions on the floor and pretend that they are boats floating down a raging river, don’t. Dragging in the dining room chairs and placing them in a circle, then covering them up with sheets and blankets would make for an epic fort. But then your toddler will want to have fun. And fun is messy.

5. Laundry

Use the time that your toddler is quietly reading books or practicing algebra to make sure all laundry is separated, washed, dried, folded and hung.

6. Bath Time

To keep the floors dry and the bathtub looking neat and tidy, keep bath time simple and uneventful. No bubbles. No toys. In and out.

7. Walls

Because children’s hands are always sticky (regardless of whether or not they’ve touched something sticky) your walls will inevitably have little handprints on every wall of your home. These smudges are at exactly hip level and come in a variety of colors and textures. To avoid your walls looking like your toddler gave 6,000 sticky high fives to your home, have your toddler wear gloves at all times. No exceptions.

8. Potty Training

There’s no getting around it…this is strictly an outside-hire job. If the carpets, furniture and bedding are to stay clean, dry and poop free, potty training can not take place within the house. If the potty training child has to stay on the premises, the majority of said training should happen outside. Laying down newspapers in the child’s playroom will also work as an absolute last resort.

9. Organization

One word – Pinterest. Not only will your DIY organizers be functional, they will also be gorgeous. While you’re watching your toddler in backyard having the time of her life painting rocks, (with water, not paint of course) pull up your Organization board and get sewing! The projects are so easy and cost/time efficient. You’re sure to nail every project every time and walk away feeling really good about yourself. In only four hours, voila! You have yourself one fabric-lined, shoebox-sized organizer. Thank you, Pinterest. Thank you.

Ok, ok. So these tips are…ridiculous, to say the least. But really, I think that’s what I would have to do in order to have an always clean, always organized home. If you’re like me, you struggle to keep clean underwear washed for your husband, much less perfectly clean or organize anything in your life. There are always at least a few dishes in the sink and toys are always strewn around the house. I can’t see through the bottom half of any window or glass door of my home because the toddler handprints, face smudges and dog nose marks have fogged them all. 

But you know what my home does have? Giggles. And lots of them. We laugh and we play and make messes. Our adventures are unrivaled and I know our playtime together will not last forever. One day, my little people will grow up. My windows will be clean and the house will be more organized. My heart aches to think about it.

Oh, weary momma. Don’t feel guilty that you juggle playtime and housework all day long and feel like you have nothing to show for it. Don’t measure the success of your day by the size of the dirty laundry pile. Don’t worry that your bed is always unmade or the sink always has dishes in it.

You try so hard. You work so hard.

Did you and your child giggle today? Then you did today right.

Are there handprints still on the kitchen table from working on today’s masterpiece? Then you did today right.

The giggles. The adventures. The dance parties. The glitter explosions. Those make up the memories that your children will carry for the rest of their lives. They won’t remember how clean the windows were. They will remember all the fun you had taking turns making each other laugh by smashing your faces against the glass.

You’re awesome, momma. The mess is just for a season. So enjoy this season.

Now, go make that epic fort.

Grieving Good Friday

Cross

Good Friday.

The day Jesus died.

We know the story. And we know what happens 3 days later.

For years, I read through the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a steady rhythm with the resurrection already in my mind. It eased the sting of the words. It made it a little happier to read. I resisted soaking in the visual of my Savior being mocked and tortured…for me. My stomach churned to settle into that place.

Oh yes, Sunday was coming. But Friday came first.

The explosion of Christ’s glory was coming. But his blood came first.

I wonder how “good” the day Jesus was crucified looked to his followers.

Their King, their Savior, was betrayed, captured, mocked, spit on, tortured, then crucified. That doesn’t bring the word “good” to mind.

It looked like it was all over. It looked like darkness had won.

The Messiah; the one they had hoped for, the one they believed in, the one they gave everything up for; was now hanging lifelessly on a cross.

The forehead that wrinkled in empathy for the hurting and the lost; the forehead that crinkled when he laughed and smiled, was now wrapped with a crown of thorns. Blood poured out, streaming down the length of his mangled body.

The strong arms that had embraced little children were now stretched out. The same rough, carpenter hands that touched blind eyes to give them sight and that washed the feet of his disciples, were now nailed to the cross.

The feet that had walked countless miles to bring hope to the hurting were also now nailed together.

The voice that commanded the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be still!”; that called into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”, was now crying out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We have come to call today Good Friday. We call it good because that day changed everything.

On the day He died, we were brought to Life.

My heart and mind settle into that raw place of his crucifixion. My stomach still churns knowing He took the punishment I deserved. And my heart aches with raw gratitude knowing how desperately I need his salvation. It breaks me. It brings me to tears.

Chants of victory are coming…

…but groaning cries of bitter mourning came first.

So today, allow yourself to grieve and feel the weight of that day – the day that changed everything.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

So Tired and So Happy – Encouragement for Every Mom

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“Motherhood is an experiment in how long your body can function without adequate sleep or nourishment and fueled only on adrenaline, caffeine, and baby smiles.” — Unknown

“Being a mom is the absolutely beeeeeest!” my friend squealed as she closed her eyes and covered her heart with her hands. She began describing all the wonderfulness of her new title of Momma. I had been married for less than a year, so babies were not yet in the forecast. I did however, have a puppy name Rowdee. I knew I would be able to relate to my friend, because babies…puppies…same thing. The only difference is with a puppy you are horribly inconvenienced because you can’t take a puppy into the grocery store with you.

“When she sleeps, she smiles and coos and it’s just the cutest thing ever!”

I totally get that. My puppy is adorable when he sleeps. Especially when he dreams of chasing a squirrel and his little legs start running. Ah, that’s the best.

“She’s not sleeping the best at night though. So I’ve been up with her a lot. But once I pick her up and see that sweet little face. It makes the tiredness worth it.”

I had to wake up at 4 in the morning last week to let Rowdee out to pee. His scratching at the back door totally interrupted my REM cycle. Man, I was exhausted the next day. I can totally relate.

“I’ll look at her and our eyes will connect. It’s just…indescribable!”

Rowdee looks at me when he wants a treat. Like, right in the eyes. So cute.

“She has these blowouts though. And the noises that come from that little girl! Wow! It’s kind of funny. We go through so much laundry every day.”

Yeah, Rowdee pooped in the floor the other day. Not funny though. I don’t get that one.

“I just stare at her and think, ‘Wow! I helped make that!’ I see so many of my features in her!”

Ok, that one’s all you.

When someone tried to explain motherhood to me before I was a mom, I smiled and nodded, thinking I understood. But really, I had absolutely no idea. I couldn’t possibly understand the depth of the word “momma” until I was actually there. I couldn’t comprehend such a fierce love until I held my child for the first time and my heart felt like it was going to melt right on to the floor.

As mommas, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we’ve been stretched and pressed and pulled in every direction imaginable. And still we emerge stronger, better, braver. Not just as mommas, but as women.

You’re doing it, friend. You are a good mom.

 

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” –Tina Fey

You wake up in the middle of the night to rub hurting tummies and to kiss sick little foreheads. Tired aching feet, make their way into dark bedrooms, so you can play the role of knight in shining armor, scaring away bad dreams and shadow monsters. You stroke sweet heads and hum soft lullabies to calm scared hearts. You bounce, you rock, you walk and sway for miles upon miles, trying to get restless babies to rest. On a daily basis, you are faced with the dilemma, take a shower or sleep for 15 more minutes? The latter usually wins.

You do without, so they can have.

Momma, you are selfless.

“A mother is a person who, when seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” — Tenneva Jordan

With the precision of a skilled surgeon, you carefully pull out splinters from tiny, kicking feet. When fun adventures take a turn, you bandage and kiss scraped knees. You hold wiggly arms and smile at crying faces during doctor’s appointments. With complete confidence, you reassure hurting little hearts it will be ok, even when you desperately need to be told that yourself. All of their aches, pains, bruises and scrapes hurt you more than them and sometimes it’s hard to stay strong. But you do it. Sometimes you feel like there is no strength left. But the moment they need it, you somehow always find a little more. Because you are their strength, also known as their momma.

Momma, you are strong.

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” — Linda Wooten

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is not weak or easy or safe. You see the darkness in the world. You see the dangers. You see the pain. And if you could bubble wrap your babies for the rest of their lives, you would. But you know you can’t. Your task is far more difficult than simply keeping them safe. You have to teach them to be brave. That will include them experiencing pain and heartbreak. Simply the idea of them hurting in any way feels like a dagger in your heart. But you know a pain free life isn’t the ultimate goal. It can’t be. There’s no such thing. The goal, as a momma, is to raise little lives that will be bold, courageous and brave. Voices that will yell into the darkness, “I am not afraid!”; hands that will grow strong because they are constantly helping the weaker; feet that will lead others to freedom; hearts that will help carry others’ burdens to Jesus.

And at the end of the day, despite total exhaustion washing over you, when you hear that tiny, raspy voice say, “I wuv you, momma”…it’s all worth it. And you’re ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

Momma, you are brave.

Yep, you’re doing it. You are a good mom.

“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” — Elizabeth Stone

Forgive and Forget

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Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me.