On the journey of parenting (so far)


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Well, here’s another post I’ve been sitting on for awhile.  I am loathe to write it but God keeps bringing it to mind so here we go.  I think the reason this is so hard for me to write about is because parenting is such a personal thing.  Our kids are all such unique individuals. While I want to share a little about our journey, I DON’T want you to think this is what you need to do for your kids or, quite frankly, judge us for how we have chosen to do things with ours.  I often say that loving parents are all doing the best we can on any given day.  God has called you to your children and He has called us to our children and so we can rest in knowing He’s going to equip each of us to minister to our unique children with their unique giftings and struggles. With that being said, let me share a bit of our journey.

Due to the way we built our family, the early childhood years of our children were different than most.  The years of visits with birth parents and therapy appointments and managing the emotional fallout of all of the above took a lot out of us.  We had zero time to develop any kind of intentional discipleship plan.  I mean, we would read The Jesus Storybook Bible with our girls at bedtime.  We chose many books that reinforced our values and would read those throughout the day with them.  We also chose to listen exclusively to worship music for years.  One of our favorite songs was called “Love Song.”  Our girls dubbed it “Paint the Sky” and whenever we were driving and saw a beautiful sunset they would call out, “Paint the sky!”… we would turn on the song and all sing it loudly…”You walk on waves, You run with clouds!  You paint the sky for me to see Your majesty!  This is my love song to You.” We wanted them to see God in the everyday because…

Because my husband is a pastor and our kids attend a Christian school, we have been very aware of the fact that our kids are saturated with cultural Christianity.  They memorize scripture for school, they go to church every Sunday and now our oldest is at youth group (the one her dad leads) every Tuesday.  She does mission trips and retreats.  We’ve wanted to guard as much as possible against pharisaical living-knowing scripture as merely rules or words and not as the life giving Word.  But how do we do it?  Newsflash: we are still trying to figure that out.  Because the human heart is the human heart.  (Side note: for the love of all that is good, don’t ever expect more from your pastor’s kids than you do from your own kids.  If you’re a banker, you don’t expect your kids to balance a checkbook by age 9.  You may want to impart a love for numbers to them, teach them a few age-appropriate money management tools as they grow…but they aren’t going to be bank president by age 15!)

Anyway, here’s what we know.  Every child is gifted with their own mind and their own heart when they are born.  Their heart and mind is unique to them.  I can’t motivate my 12 year old the same way I motivate my 9 year old.  And our 5 year old is different than both of them.  They each have insecurities and strengths unique to themselves, and in order to even begin to understand how the Lord wishes to mold them requires more prayer and listening than speaking and scolding.  We do know that our children will be discipled by something, though, and as they get older we know that we need to be more intentional.

We happen to have three girls, and more often than not a girl will open up more to her mom than her dad.  Because of this, I recently started more focused discipleship with our girls.  I wake up early two mornings a week, one for each of our older girls.  Right now, I’m making them hot chocolate and myself some extra coffee, and we’re going through scripture based devotionals found on the YouVersion app.  I chose devotionals based on what they are working through at this stage of life.  Each week I also give encouragement and issue a challenge, a way to apply what they’re learning in our time together.  It takes about 30 minutes depending on the discussion time.  I once heard a pastor say that when you’re running in the right direction on this journey of faith, you’ll almost always come up against opposition.  This has proven to be true for me!  I want to sleep longer, a child is driving me crazy and I don’t want to sacrifice sleep for them… their little sister wakes up and it’s not the cozy quiet time I had imagined, or they don’t want to get up, and more and more.  There is always a reason why not to do it, but the thing I keep telling myself is that we only have these few years to walk beside our children in this way-they’ll grow and need to make their own choices, and I want so badly for them to know the best way to do this.  When I put things in that perspective, some missed sleep or a not-so-ideal setting isn’t really a big deal.

Now, this is not to say that my husband isn’t involved at all! Far from it! If he’s home in the morning, he helps keep the baby sister occupied if she wakes up so I can have that quiet time.  He also is very intentional about his time with our girls-he’s the one who takes the girls on an hour long drive for a cheesesteak and has “ask anything” times.  He listens to all manner of music with our oldest and helps her think it through.  He is currently working though James with one of our girls at bedtime and he also walks them through different ministry opportunities while modeling the right attitude to have in it.  He’s also super good at quality time-it’s a rare thing for one of our girls to ask him to play a game/play outside/color/read a book, and I hear him say no.  He is available and present when he is home.

So, this is where we’re at now.  Here’s the other lesson I’m learning (and re-learning, and re-learning)…  because God has gifted each of our girls with minds of their own, they have minds of their own. He’s done the same for your children.  They have the ability to hear all of this and still do what they choose.  This is somewhat frightening at times.  Just because a parent does what they think to be all of the right things does not mean that they will raise a child that will DO what they think are all of the right things.  You and I, we can trust God with our children.  It’s a brutal laying down of our own expectations and surrendering our children to God -sometimes daily, sometimes minute by minute. I recently read a thread on Twitter from Kristie Anyabwile, another pastors wife, and I shouted YES as I read it.

She says this: Some thoughts on parenting: Your children’s sin is not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of their hearts. You can’t change a heart by your parenting but God can use your parenting to change a heart. The difference in perspective makes all the difference in how you shepherd your child’s heart. Some parents do “all the right things” and their children become wayward. Other parents know they’re flying by the seat of their pants but their children live faithfully before the Lord. God is at work in both cases. If you pride yourself on your parenting because of how your kids turnout, be careful not to take credit for what the Lord has done. Don’t shame families whose children haven’t followed in the ways their parents have attempted to teach them. Scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Remember this is proverbial wisdom. It’s not plug-and-play parenting. Self righteous parents are worshipers of the idol of self. Christians are called to live righteously in the world based on the merits of Christ, not their own merits. Our righteous deeds are as soiled garments before the Lord. Parents too often rely on their teaching/training, friends, books, tv, and when they’ve tried everything and everything has failed then they try Jesus. We gotta flip the script.

I’m called to be an ambassador for Christ to our children.  This means that they need to see me model the unconditional love of Christ to them, as best as I am able by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It means that I tell them almost every day that I will love them the same on their worst day as I do on their best day.  I tell them often that there is nothing they can do to make me love them more, and there is nothing they can do that will make me love them less.  This is how God loves me, and He only knows just how much I mess up or get ahead of Him or fall too far behind Him.  (Newsflash: I can be a little feisty at times and it’s not always good. He’s still working on me.)

I have no clue at what the next 10-15 years of life will bring.  No clue about what our parenting journey will morph into, or what our kids lives will look like when they’ve reached adulthood.  When I stay too long in the end-game, I worry too much.  My friends who get my freaked out texts?  They know what I mean.  And they tell me what I really need to know-what we all really need to know as we walk this path of parenting… that God is good and He loves our kids more than we do, and He’s got this.  Grace for each day, friends.  He’s got it for us.  Remind me of that when I need it, ok?

On kids and chores


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Ok, so we are not a chart family.  I remember when the kids were younger we bought one of those cute Melissa and Doug wooden ones and about a month later we couldn’t find the pieces because one of our kiddos ended up playing with them and I was too tired to care.

We’re at a stage now where there’s laundry for 7 and a much bigger house to clean, as well as children who are older and more capable and also want to do other, fun things.  Until about a month ago, we were very much the “everybody pitch in on a Saturday and do whatever they’re asked to” kind of gang.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  I wish with every fiber of my being that we were able to be that family.  For us, though, there’s got to be more structure.  I wanted to see how things looked after we had this structure in place for a few weeks, and I’m happy to say that it’s working well! Someone had asked for the template we’re using so I thought I’d just put it up here in case it’s helpful for anyone else.  Let me be clear, though-things are very seasonal around here.  Once sports start up again and even as the kids grow, this may change.  Don’t fence me in, is all I’m trying to say.

We have three groupings of chores.  The older two rotate each week, but our youngest pretty much has a fixed list.  Here are the groupings the older two rotate through: First grouping -clean your bathroom (toilet, mirrors, floor, counters) sweep kitchen floor after dinner, plan and prepare Wednesday night dinner.  Second grouping-laundry (fold, swap loads), trash (gathering trash from the entire house as often as needed, also taking trash out on trash day). For our youngest, she is responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher, and straightening up the living room each night.  Each girl is also responsible for keeping her room clean.

Then, after all of those things are completed to mom and dad’s satisfaction, they can do “extra’s” to earn some money.  Dusting the living room/our bedroom is good for $1, as is cleaning out the fridge.  Mopping floors will get them $2.  And if they spend any decent amount of time cleaning the basement or garage with positive results, they can earn $5.

We have had pushback from one of the kids on this, but the other two have actually thanked us many times for giving them something to do.  And the one who has given pushback has figured out that she likes even the most unpleasant chores when she’s listening to fun music on her dad’s old phone.

Overall, I’m really pleased with this.  My husband has remarked on how much it’s helped the girls, giving them some ownership in our home and also an appreciation for the work it takes to run it.  These are all skills that we want our girls to have-and if we had boys, they would be right in the mix as well.  One of my dreams for our girls is that their summer jobs when they get older would be in landscaping.  That’s another skill set that I think they would benefit from.

So, that’s where we’re at right now.  This chore thing is one very small slice of the parenting pie, but for now it’s a pretty sweet slice. I’ll take it. What about your household?  What are your chore tips?  Any funny chore-related stories?

On spring and things


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A few years ago, because I am an optimist sometimes, I purchased a Nutri-Bullet.  I made green smoothies in it for about 2 months and then a few years after that, I made them again for about a week.  This morning I realized the only thing I use it for anymore is to grind my coffee beans.  Still valuable, I say.

I just finished walking through the Sermon on the Mount with a group of ladies at our church, and yesterday we spent a few minutes talking about what our biggest takeaway was.  I’ve been thinking about it more since then, and something that has changed in me is the idea of living with intentionality and awareness.  I need to live aware of what kingdom I belong to and who my King is, and I need to love others intentionally.  And you know what else sticks?  God was under no obligation to make a way for us to know Him, but still He did.  He came, fully God and fully man, and He allowed people to see Him and touch Him and know Him.  What grace! Next week we’re starting another study by the fabulous Jen Wilkin, this time working through the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  I’ve got some hope in me, this year.

Around this time last year is when I started the anti-depressant I’m on.  I had just started exercising and eating better and really taking care of myself.  While I did slack a little with a few things over the winter, I feel much better right now that I did last year.   I have been working very hard for my winter body-lots of sitting and coffee with creamer and pastries and carbs-so it’s hard to give it up.  But I must.  So, I started walking again and have cut most sugar and carbs out of the diet again.  I purchased a spiralizer so I can kid myself with zoodles.  And I’m happy to report that since I’ve been walking and eating healthily for about a week I look better than Jennifer Garner at the Oscars last night.  Isn’t that what we do, though?!  “Oh my WORD!  I feel so great!  I totally deserve that entire dish of pasta because I am golden right now.”  When, in reality…. not yet. So are the days of my life.

All three of our girls are playing soccer this spring and it is by far my favorite sport to watch.  Partly because the non-playing kids can run and play during the game and not be restrained, and partly because I just love watching this sport.  It’s just delightful! I didn’t play the game but my husband did, and so while I yell alot he actually knows what’s going on.  I always say that what I lack in knowledge, I make up for in volume. The next month will be pretty busy with soccer starting and my husband prepping for the Easter services at church.  It’s  a fun season, and I love the constant resurrection music in our house during this time.

Whether you’re doing anything different for Lent or whether you’re just surviving right now, I do hope that you are able to rest in the presence of God this season and really love the people He’s given to you.  Hope your Monday is not the worst, and maybe even a pretty great one.

On plate size and grace


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After I got home from taking  the kids to school  this morning, I attempted to close the garage door by first opening the sliding door on the van, then closing it.  Next, I opened up the liftgate on the van, and closed it.  Finally, I actually closed the garage door.  This week, man.  Josh has had two early morning appointments that have meant that I need to take the kids to school.  In and of itself, that’s totally doable.  But those mornings have coincided with Grandpa’s physical therapist coming for 9am appointments.  This means getting myself and the kids out the door by 7:30 (and this morning a backpack was forgotten so we had to turn around and go home to get it which also meant one of the children was very anxious about being late for school).  This also means getting home, getting Grandpa up and dressed and breakfast for Grandma and Grandpa all wrapped up by 9am.  I also realized yesterday that my registration and license are expired so I quickly renewed them online at 6am today.  Because my car inspection is ALSO expired and I don’t want to get a triple whammy if I get pulled over.  Know what I mean?  (Hi, mom.  I know you’re reading this and kind of freaking out but don’t worry because the car is scheduled and now I am a legal driver again. xoxo)

My husband has been out a lot this week (he has several evening commitments and also those early morning ones) but do you know what he did yesterday on his day off?  All of the laundry.  Washed it.  Dried it.  Folded it.  Put almost all of it away.  Honestly, he’s amazing.  I had a bunch of other appointments out of the house this week as well and so we’ve been like, “Hi! Bye! This kid did this and this kid did this and I love you!” Also today begins no more gluten and sugar for me.  When I told this to my mom her immediate response was, “WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN” and after I assured her they could still have such things she felt much better.

I’ve been thinking about plate size a lot lately.  Not my dinner plate, but my life plate.  There are seasons where I can have many different smaller servings on my plate, and then there are seasons where only have a few servings will fit because the portions are, shall we say, generous.

This is definitely a season of generous portion sizes.  Marriage, children, grandparents, church life.  They are hogging my plate this season, and that’s ok.  But every commitment I make, every relationship I am willing to spend time on, has to be like the salt and pepper on top of those portions.  It should only enhance and if you overdo it, the whole thing is a mess.

I’ve been waking up during the night for any number of reasons lately, and my typical go-to is anxious thoughts.  They’re usually very comforting.  (I kid.)  I just started repeating truths about God when I wake up instead, and let me tell you the nights of sleep have been so much sweeter.  “He is good.  He is faithful.  He is always with me.  He loves me.  He is holy.”  On and on.  It’s helping, I’ll tell ya.

I know so many of you mamas who are reading this have been nodding and saying yes ma’am because you all get it.  Some of you have husbands who deploy for months at a time.  Some of you have husbands who travel for their jobs, weeks at a time.  Some of you mamas travel while your man holds down the fort.  And all of us just want to do our best.  We want to love our kids and our man and our family and honor God while we do it all.  I hear you.  I’m with you.  We are all trying to figure out our plate size and the portions that go on it.

Just know that on your best day and on your worst day, you’ve got a Father who loves you the same.  There is nothing you can do, when you are in Christ, that can ever separate you from your Father’s love.  There’s also nothing that you can do that can make Him love you more.  So we don’t need to fix all of the things or beat ourselves up over all of the things.  There’s grace for all of it.  He’s got me, and I know He’s got you.

Also, thanks be to God for the sensor that doesn’t let the garage door close when there’s something underneath it.  Because someone, somewhere may forget the liftgate is up on the van when they’re closing the garage door and that’s just not something that person needs on their plate. Hypothetically.


On being ridiculous



Friends, I just saw a situation through that is very thoroughly me.  Let me explain.

I wear contacts.  I am a terrible contact wearer, as I always wear them longer than I am supposed to.  I like to call it “taking care of everyone else so I don’t have time to take care of myself” but that’s wrong.  It’s actually “not really feeling like calling to schedule the appointment when there many other things to do right in front of me and most of them are more enjoyable than even a short conversation on the phone.” Also, the last time I was in my eye doctor read me the riot act and told me I would have to see an eye specialist if I keep wearing my contacts too long and told me it would be very expensive and I should take better care of myself. Shame, for me, is a terrible motivator.  So, when it came time to call to schedule my appointment this past year I was all like, “Meh.  Let’s organize another closet and besides, she was really kind of mean the last time I was in.”  I did that for a few months until my one eye started to get all red and hurt a little bit.  THEN I was like, “Oh my word.  She was totally right.  I need to schedule before I have to get sent to the specialist and bankrupt my family.”

So I called and scheduled the appointment and layered on the deodorant because I am a nervous sweater, you guys.  And I went and sat down and said, “I know that my eye looks terrible and it’s all my fault because I wore my contacts too long and I take full responsibility for it.”  And do you know what she said?

“Well, you’re better off than the last woman that was in and couldn’t see for a few days before she called me.  You’ll be ok.  It’s not that bad.”

Well.  Ok, then.  Praise the Lord that my family was not bankrupted due to my own ophthalmic negligence.  But some consistency would have been nice, doctor.  As some strange penance, I wore glasses for the last month or so because I wanted to give my eyes a chance to heal-there was something viral going on in there but I was assured it would clear up.

Today I picked up my contacts and let me tell you that I feel like a new woman.  I feel the wind against my eyes and contact lenses do not fog up when opening the oven door which is a beautiful thing.

I think sometimes we build things up in our head and let fear/anxiety keep us from things that aren’t actually things.  This whole eye doctor issue is my real  life in a nutshell.  Perhaps other grown people don’t do this but I am thinking maybe some of you do and maybe it’s good to hear that sometimes it’s not as bad as we think it will be.  Sometimes it is… but sometimes it’s not.


On the state of things


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So, God has me in process on a lot of things right now.  It’s been a hard season for me- lots of things coming my way to stir up my anxiety and not a lot of wise choices being made on my part to control that. I haven’t written a lot because, while I know I don’t need to write from a place of perfection, I do need to write from a place of perspective, and that’s something I’ve been lacking.

I think I’m climbing my way out of this, one rung at a time, thanks to the ladder my good Father has thrown down into the pit of my own making.  Rung after rung, truth after truth, one step at a time.  One of the best things in life right now is the knowledge that there is no thing I can do to earn God’s love, and also that there is no thing I can do that will keep me from His love. That just floods my entire being with peace.  I am secure in Him.  When all of the other things are exploding or imploding or just plain crap, I am able to stand in the midst of it and know I am secure because of Christ.

I heard someone speak recently on John 15:1-11, where Jesus speaks about being the vine, His Father as the vinedresser, and His followers as the branches.  Eddie, the speaker, asked us to notice how often ABIDE is repeated.  I think I counted nine.  Nine times in eleven verses.  Abide, according to some online dictionary I used, means “to remain, continue, or stay.”  If we remain in Him, stay with Him, continue with Him, we will bear much fruit.  And here is the other thing Eddie pointed out… we are called not to produce the fruit, but to bear the fruit.  It’s not going to be anything of our own creation, we will have had nothing to do with it other than choosing to abide.  Do you know how much peace that gives me?

I can’t manufacture love or joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness or faithfulness.  Gentleness is not conjured up by my own self.  My efforts at self-control, on my own, would be laughable-and have already proven to be so.  But I can indeed choose to abide with Jesus.  I can choose to remain in Him, continue to walk with Him, and seek Him each day.  I can remain in Him while chaos swirls around me like an F5 tornado, but my secure foundation will withstand what comes.  And not only withstand, but the flower boxes on the house may even bloom.  Only by God’s grace, because of the complete work on the cross, can I even begin to imagine this.

YOU GUYS.  This is pretty amazing stuff.  Amazing undersells it, but do you catch what I’m trying to say?  I’m just really grateful. He really does love me, and He really does love you.  And nothing can separate you or me from that love, once we are in Christ.  That really is some good, good news.



On foster care and trauma


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I read something recently about disruptions in foster care and it stirred some things up in me.  A disruption is when a child is removed from one foster home and placed in another.  I hate disruptions, and I know sometimes it’s the only safe option for the sake of the child, but they still just break my heart.  I wonder sometimes if we really understand what to expect from these kids, the ones who have been hurt.

If a child has been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, you can probably throw your baseline out the window.  On any given day, a traumatized child can go from their actual age to their traumatized age in a matter of seconds-due to a smell or taste or color or sound that neither one of you even understand to be the trigger.  This can happen multiple times in one day.  You may have a child with a chronological age of 14, but they can go back to 5 *like that* and then back to 14 again.  This will exhaust you and you will not understand it and it will push you to the edges of your sanity.  But what do you expect from a traumatized child? This is the point where you realize this must be a calling, not just some sweet desire to do good.  What besides a calling will keep you in it when the going gets not just tough but brutal?  There’s so much sadness and anger when a child is forced to leave their birth home, directed at the system AND at their birth family.  These are feeling that so many adults will never have to deal with, yet these children do.

So you take that traumatized child and you remove them from their birth home.  Then you not only move them from their birth home but MULTIPLE foster homes, if there are disruptions.  This results in more trauma. Homes with different family structures, different rules… some nice people, and some not.  The pain this child carries goes untouched, other than adding more.  Why won’t this child connect with anyone?  Why won’t they listen to rules?  Why are they acting so strangely? How is it that they could sell ice to an eskimo but they freeze out their foster parents?!  There are lots of scientific reasons involving the amygdalae or the prefrontal cortex or the hippocampus.  This explains some things well-better than I could.

Do you know how many kids need someone who is willing to fight for them?  How many kids need an adult willing to say, “This is where you are staying unless you go back to your birth family.  You cannot scare me, you cannot yell loud enough or wreck enough rooms in this house to make me waver in my commitment to love you.”  Because, deep down, these are children who are longing for that-no matter how much they push up against it or how much they make it seem like they hate you…these are kids who NEED you.  They might not even know it.  But you need to know it for them until they can know it for themselves.

These hard behaviors are symptoms of a problem.  That problem was brought on not by choice of that child but by the choices of the adults around them.  Your child gets a fever as a symptom of the flu, and you help the fever go down while you ride the flu out.  A child lies and manipulates and is violent because they’ve been wounded so deeply and don’t have any other way to express it, so you manage the behavior while you work through the healing. It’s hard work. But somebody needs to do it.

I read stories about children who are placed in care for various reasons and the behaviors they exhibit and how adults respond to them.  I often think that if we put most adults into those situations they would emerge with scars and likely some negative behaviors… why are we surprised when children do?  What do we expect?

But how do we deal?

To the trauma mama’s who are reading this… my heart is tied to yours. You are reading this and you are like, “Sister, you don’t even know.”  You are in it, and it is just more than you know how to explain.  But I want to tell you this- for every percentage and risk factor and number assigned to your kiddo-know that there is a Creator who can make crooked paths straight, even in the brain.  He knows the science of your child’s mind more than any PhD ever could and He is more than able.  This may require hard work from you- sleepless nights and explosive days- but He will carry you through it if He has called you to it.  Don’t let those numbers stick and don’t believe for anything but the best for your child.  That may not mean college  but it might mean being employable.  It might mean autonomy or it might mean leading a Fortune 500 company.  Believe the best for them, even when no one else will.

And find a way to laugh. Maybe it’s putting some music on and listening through your headphones while your child rages and you are there to make sure they’re safe.  Maybe it’s choosing C-Span during your time-in’s just because you know it’s more boring for your kiddo than for you.  Maybe it’s being playful with that tough child when you feel like giving up, because then you can each see each other in a new light.

And you receive the grace you need for every second of the day.  Because you will not always respond in a therapeutic way.  You will lose your cool or after staying in it for a long time, even gain a lovely version of secondhand PTSD.  You will receive grace and you will seek the help you need to be healthy for yourself and for your family. You are not alone in this-seek community, and make sure they’ll be empathetic not just towards you but your children as well.

Edit: I wrote this and had it sitting here for awhile, not sure when to post it.  In light of the most recent school shooting, I felt like now was a good time.  Traumatized children are OUR problem.  They don’t belong to someone else.  They belong to all of us.  It takes a strong community to walk through these times with our children.  I watched the videos these students shot, shaking hands raised in the air as the police came into their rooms.  These children will be affected by this.  They experienced the sounds of a war zone in their classroom.  So pray for them, my gracious yes.  But may our lament lead to our action.



On listening


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There are lots of things in this world that are shifting right now.  There’s a new awareness of issues that have been buried for a long time-ignored, deemed unimportant, or simply denied.

Some of us may think we don’t need to listen, don’t need to hear the stories.  An unwillingness to listen, in my opinion, signifies an even greater need to listen.  When we feel like we know it all, we need to dig deeper and look for more-particularly when it’s something we’ve had no actual experience in ourselves.  For example, if you are white,  you might say Black History Month is overkill and it’s all water under the bridge and there’s a lot of overreacting going on.  My question would be, have you listened to any black voices on the current racial climate in America?  Have you sought out writings or interviews from black men and women before you assume you understand their experience? I think the motivator for denial, a lot of the time, is fear-that we may have to change if we really do dig in deep… that we may need to repent or shift the way we live.

The same can be said of the #metoo movement.  Men, are you willing to sit and listen to any woman on her honest experience in life?  If you do, you will likely hear story after story of harassment or assault or uncomfortable encounters with men who just assumed their touch was wanted.  It will open your eyes, it will shift the way you see things.  And while you may have never been one who has offended, your heart will begin to ache when you become aware of how often this occurs and that discomfort is something that will cause you to change and change is hard, even when it’s for the better.

You understand, hopefully, that listening to the voice of someone with a differing experience doesn’t negate or lessen your own voice/experience.  I really feel that when we listen well and seek to understand it brings greater value to our own voice and our own experience.  It rounds it out, makes us all richer, helps us to see the dimension God created when He created male and female, different races and nationalities. We need to listen to those with different levels of ability and income and housing and education… When we acknowledge the image of God in those around us-the right to be treated with dignity and respect and simple kindness-we are better for it, they are better for it, and quite honestly, the world is better for it.

The beauty of listening to stories is that we can take what was an issue and replace it with a person.  This changes how we approach things, then.  When we truly listen-without the immediate desire to argue or change the other person-we are invited into the life and heart of another person, and again-we are better for it, they are better for it, and the world is better for it.

Listening is scary and hard, but it is also full of beauty and goodness.  I want to do those things-the hard and the scary-because I also want to experience the beauty and the goodness.  I follow Jesus, you see, and He asks me to be a reconciler.  But I can’t do that if I don’t know what’s broken to begin with.


On all of the things


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Well, it’s almost February.  Which means we’re one month closer to spring, which means I can soon dig in the dirt and play in the flowerbeds.  Goodness, but these winter months get long for me.  We have bird feeders all around our front yard, and I think the reminder of life and activity even in these months is good for the soul.  Also, did you know that you feel better when your diet isn’t solely cookies and chips and dip?  This is true.  I know because January’s eating looks a lot different than November and December and I feel better.  The more you know, friends.

I’m teaching a class at church right now for some ladies and we’re studying the Sermon on the Mount. I loved studying it on my own-I feel like it’s a great reminder for this season, about where our true citizenship lies if we follow Jesus, and how that needs to inform how we interact with this world.  This past week’s lesson touched on the topic of anger, and I was thinking I’m not really struggling too much with anger in this season but here we are and I feel like I’ve become very aware of all of the anger I have not dealt with well.  I wish there was a passage on how we don’t deal well with Chip and Joanna showing up at our houses and throwing a beam or two up and relocating our entire kitchen and shiplapping all of the things.  Because then I feel like my loving Father could teach me a lesson by having them show up and do those things so I could work on how I would handle it.

I’m spending less time on social media these days because it’s not a good place for my soul.  Twitter, in particular.  This may be related to my quest to control anger, now that I think about it.  I also won’t be watching the State of the Union address, which could ALSO fall into the category of Controlling My Anger for $200, Alex.  (I haven’t watched one in a loooong time, because it’s just a lot of predictable clapping or booing and lying.) I have this policy with social media that every once in awhile I need to ask myself if I should take a break.  If my response to that question is, “No, I’m fine!  It’s good!”, accompanied by a rapid heart rate, then a break is needed.

I just ordered cards from Shutterfly for friends and family.  I am over the idea of Christmas cards, but we had some really nice photos done of the girls this past summer/fall and I hated that I didn’t do anything with them.  So, folks may be getting a little happy new year card from us.  I think I may do this again, because I DO like giving cards (just not at Christmas) and also Shutterfly typically has a great sale on them in January.  I got them for 75% off, which was pretty great.  Right now it’s dropped to 50% and maybe an extra 20% on some things.

Something else that’s making me happy is that my husband has ordered The Road Back to You, which is a book on the Enneagram and understanding your personality type/who God created you to be.  We’re going to take the test and figure out our types, and learn more about how we can grow together.  This is a very fun thing for me, and I’m so looking forward to doing it!  I’m a 4, according to a brief test I took.  I fall into the INFJ with Meyers-Briggs, and learning this stuff has been key for me in understanding my strengths and weaknesses and how I relate to others.

It’s been so good to write again-I’ve missed it.  If you read this, I do hope it’s beneficial in some way for you-even if it’s just a needed brain break.  I hope you’re weathering this winter season well.  I’m praying for all of us that struggle in the colder, grey months.  Let’s look for hope in each day-I know it’s there!

On a Mary Poppins Roomba and letting the horse manure fly and other things


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So, after last week I was really ready for routine.  Friday afternoon I was consoling myself with the thought that we will have a “normal” week next week  when I got an email that talked about the girls’ basketball team having a team-building activity on Monday.  I was puzzled by this, and wondered why the school would let the girls out early for such a thing when I realized that they actually have no school on Monday.

Our two youngest children are away for the afternoon and the oldest has a friend over. I was talking with my husband and said I was trying to figure out what to do with my time.  “I could maybe organize the coat closet or keep working on the girls’ room… I thought about taking that closet door in the bathroom off of the hinges to make it more usable for the hamper…”  And I named a few other projects I thought of until he said, “Or, you could just do nothing.”  Right.  Why didn’t I think of that? He’s a smart guy.

Currently, I am wishing that those Roomba things came in a Mary Poppins model.  This particular model would load the dishwasher and clean the counters and also my floors. It would do this quietly and only take about ten minutes.  Anybody want to work on that?

Beth Moore said something over on the Twitter yesterday that just shifted the course of my day.  She tweeted, “I’m thinking about just being happy today. Oh no no, not regular happy. The kind of happy where you don’t have a care in the world even though you have a thousand. Just for a little while, saying to heck with it. Let the horse manure hit the fan. Let it fly. I’ve got an umbrella.”  I love it.  Let the horse manure hit the fan.  I feel like this will be a solid practice for me in 2018.  It doesn’t come natural, so any of you out there who have my number can shoot me a text every now and again reminding me that maybe it’s a good day to let the horse manure fly.

Our youngest two girls just got a bunk bed in their room.  This has produced both tears and joy.  I had underestimated the effect this change might have.  The first night they went from ecstasy to neither one spending a full night in their bed because it’s “just not the same.”  By this morning, though, our middlest was using her bottom bunk as a stage and singing the Newsies soundtrack.  The youngest is still unsure.  We’re gonna make it work, though, because my husband didn’t toil for hours with an allen wrench for naught.

After a holiday season of plentiful cookies and carbs, I am back to eating vegetables and protein and drinking water.  Every day I ask the Lord for my 21 year old metabolism but He has yet to take care of that, so here I am.  My kids are astounded at how many meals I can get out of one spaghetti squash.  I’m kind of amazing, I know.

Alright, well…I hope each of you can get into a rhythm this week and maybe find a day or two to be intentionally lighthearted.  I’m gonna give it a go.