Friday, July 14, 2017

Guest Post on With Our Favorite Books That Build Self-Confidence

What seems so normal within the walls of our house – eating crackers with peanut butter, mayo, and pickle relish, wearing costumes, or using family nick-names – can all be threatened by social norms when our kids go to school or play with friends. When kids are young they don’t think about other people’s opinions, but this slowly changes as they grow. Join me over at for a list of some of my favorite books for teaching little ones how to be confident in who they are and how to treat others who are not the same as you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Life is a classroom and a playground

Caution! My children are learning and playing in daily routines

We are running around the grocery store…It is six degrees and we have not played outside in weeks. We are not pulling things off shelves, we are not screaming, we are not eating food out of containers. I know you came to the grocery store with your list and your podcast hoping to get in and get out and not have to wait on someone to get out of your way. I will not apologize for my child who is pushing his own cart through the grocery store. He is learning to watch out, he is learning to walk on the right side, he is learning that there are other people who should get to go first. I will not apologize for grocery shopping with three small kids in tow…we need food too!!!

We are loud…it is typically from excitement. Little things like cookies with icing AND sprinkles in Kroger, snow falling, mommy finding their favorite t-shirt that has been missing, a Spiderman balloon…well, Spiderman anything; getting hot chocolate, pancakes with chocolate chips, getting to decorate the discarded Amazon boxes with paint or our favorite song playing. I will not apologize for laughing or singing loudly. We are celebrating, we are happy, we are joyful and it is spilling out of us. I am not sorry that today in this minute we are happy because we won’t be in three minutes so don’t ask me to quiet their joyful sillies because I also won’t apologize for their screams when I carry them out of the store kicking me!

We are messy…not intentionally but sometimes by necessity. We are still learning to feed ourselves, we are still learning how to pick up without being asked. We are still practicing how to hold things and understanding Murphy’s Law which says that if a full glass of milk is on the table it will be spilt! We don’t understand organizing and putting things back because we will always play with them again.

We are enthusiastic…about everything! We are easily excited and easily angered. When daddy walks in the door it is the best part of our day and when someone marks a dot on our crayon masterpiece it is the worst part. We experience best and worst moments a hundred times a day. Our enthusiasm doesn’t pick sides it rears it’s head for the happy and the angry. I will not apologize for their emotions. They are learning how to express them, how to understand and name them. They are learning how to feel them. They will eventually learn to have self-control but not until they can experience the emotion because they will not teach them to ignore the emotion.

We are hungry…all the time. It is not because we are bored, it is not because we love banana bread and you just made some. We run around constantly, we are growing, we are learning about the world, about people, about emotions, about math. We are sponges that soak up everything in it’s path and that takes an immense amount of energy. I know it is not typical for your food to evaporate at such a rate and then be asked for more as soon as the dishes are done. We are hungry and though we can live without food every two hours we will not apologize for asking for more or eating what is given.

We are tired. We don’t get tired slowly. We don’t know when we will be tired. We are immediately tired. We go from one extreme to the other faster than you can blink. Remember we are growing, remember how we are learning, remember how we are loud and messy? We get tired and need sleep and we will not apologize for running around for twelve hours and then crying ourselves to sleep because we can’t articulate our thoughts enough at hour eleven to tell you we should start winding down.

We have opinions. We are learning who we are in a family of five, how we are different and how we are the same. We were created as individuals. We want to choose the song, the road we take home, the snack at the grocery store and the way our PB & J is cut. Yes, we are obstinate. Yes, we are not very flexible. Yes, we are confusing. But, we are learning who we are, what we like and why. We will not apologize for learning to explore and communicate and be confident in our differences.

We have lots of questions about everything. A child who asks over and over again for one-hundred things is confidant they are loved, is confidant someone cares and knows what it means to have their needs met. They don’t get everything they ask for so I will not apologize for saying “yes” when you hear their ridiculous request.

We are friendly…with everyone! I know you walked into this restaurant for a dinner and not a show. I know you didn’t want to hear a knock-knock joke or play twenty questions about your job that you just want to finish. We are learning what strangers are since we have never met one. I will not apologize because we are learning how to be polite and say thank-you and not point.

I know we get in the way and make things slower and louder, we also make things more fun!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Living in His Abundance

I suppose this idea of living abundantly has really captured my heart lately because I seem to be writing about it unintentionally often! Life can wash over us like a flood some days and I suppose I have left a very long season that felt like drowning more than living. This verse has challenged me to think about what I define as life and what God does. Even those seasons that overwhelmed me were for a purpose!

John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Jesus came to bring life, but we don't define what life is…He does. I fight this. I want to define life, I want to create my world and live up to my high expectations.

I had big dreams, ones that didn’t come true. There are areas of my current reality that I never dreamed of and now I would not want taken away. They are all gifts God gave and life He breathed into being I never imagined. So why do I fight for control? Why do I so easily forget that if He is good then the life He gives is good? If only I would take off my blinders.

He is life.
He is the beginning
He Is the end
the in between is orchestrated by His hands.

Abundant life is not what most of my days look like. Abundant life is not waking up exhausted and making coffee before you make butterfly shaped pancakes for your daughter half-heartedly. Abundance overflows. But, it doesn’t overflow out of exhaustion, stress, fear, anxiety, chaos and my own effort.

When I don’t leave time to enjoy the gifts God has given me, when I can’t make time to pray or be in quiet with Him, when I have said “yes” to too much and “no” to too little I find that the thief has come.

We can so easily take on too many “good” things that we aren’t able to enjoy any of them. We can spend so much time taking care of our family, friends and coworkers that we forget we didn’t take care of our-self. We can be so distracted by involvement with beneficial things that we forget the purpose behind why we do them. Our heart grows numb. We feel stuck and broken.

But there is still hope! God didn’t leave us stranded…He sent a rescuer. One who pulls us out of addiction, depression, and sin and then gives us life! He doesn’t want us to be bored, He doesn’t want things to just be okay…He wants to give us life abundant!

I don’t think this means He is going to give me the abundance of that beach house I want, or the shiny SUV I would like to drive. I do believe that His gift of abundant life is what brings hope and life into the mundane routines of life. We still have to do the dishes, we still have to go to work, we still have to budget our money. 

But, His life is a perspective that allows us to do these with purpose and joy

His way gives us someone to trust when there isn’t enough money, enough time or enough patience.

The life I dreamed up was about me…what I wanted, how I would feel, how I would be praised…He gives us abundant life so we can turn around and praise Him instead! That is a life I want to live instead. One that when it hurts doesn’t leave me alone, one that when it is chaotic doesn’t leave me anxious, one that when I fail doesn’t change that I am also loved!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Life Abundant: Lick the Bowl

A kitchen towel hangs on my stove that says, “You only live once-lick the bowl.” It is a reminder to me in motherhood, in life, in marriage…to enjoy, to relish, to live fully.

It doesn’t mean walk in selfishness, follow your own dreams and make an island of yourself. It does mean that this God-given life we have was meant to be lived. John 10:10 says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Isn’t that what licking the bowl is?

When was the last time you licked a physical bowl or plate? Mine was three weeks ago when my husband made eggs benedict and the hollandaise sauce was just lemony and buttery enough and the toast was gone! I licked the plate clean sitting at my kitchen table with my three kids watching in shock. It was delicious, I wanted to stay in the moment, to remember it, to savour it.

I haven’t experienced a lot of freedom in motherhood. It is most often a battle of comparison between my expectations and reality. It is fighting my emotions of frustration. It is not doing things the way my family did, my friends do or culture says and wishing I did.

I try to find the balance between my need for quiet and their intense desire for loud, wall shaking noise. I struggle between what I want and they need. I lay down dreams I once had for needs they now have. My freedom was laid down the moment they were conceived and I haven’t learned how to pick it back up again or find it in a new way.

All this need and sacrifice whisper lies that I am nobody anymore. That my worth, my interests, my dislikes are to be thrown overboard. That life becomes about these little people alone.

The truth is they do need a lot. I do need to sacrifice a lot to meet their needs and desires. But that is such a tiny sliver of the truth. If we eat that sliver alone it chokes us. We drown in our inability to give everything they need and their inability to contribute to what we need.

The bigger truth is that life is now about creating a family. A team. A bigger unit. Life is now about us serving each other, learning from each other. Experiencing life, God, love, sorrow, joy, adventure TOGETHER.

When we see that picture, it is life-giving. It bears excitement. It is not as lonely a view as the lie that says it is up to us to make everyone happy, safe, healthy and content.

That lie that it is all my responsibility makes me forget that they have to experience me just as much as I have to experience them. I have to learn who they are, what they need, what energizes them and where they are sensitive about. BUT, it is just as important for them to know that I LOOOOVE dance parties, that Whitney Houston makes me sing at the top of my lungs and that riding bikes to the beach in the warm sun makes me feel alive and hiking through the woods quiets my mind. It is important that they watch me mop a floor, weed a garden or plant flower pots because I love productivity and making order and beauty. They need to know that I want to cuddle up and read books with them just as often as they want to.

But, they will never know if life becomes all about them. If we say “yes” every time they ask to watch a show, take a walk, push them on the swing, cut an apple, or build LEGO. They won’t know that you want to skip the zoo for an art museum. They won’t know how delicious pineapple is, they won’t ever watch a play or see a concert or roll down a hill.

Our desires as women, mothers, friends, homemakers, workers create the environment they live in. Our experiences give them theirs. They don’t have a bowl to lick if we don’t give it to them.

So often, we see our job, family, kids, house, marriage as things that overwhelm us, frustrate us or leave us discontent. They leave us bitter and in that state of mind we refuse to enjoy anything else. We are like a toddler whose mom made them the peanut butter and jelly sandwich they asked for but when she cut it into triangles instead of rectangles we shove it back across the table.

When we push things away we are building walls and growing numb. We are disengaging from our emotions, circumstances and the people that surround us.

We must choose instead to engage, to lick the bowl clean, to experience. To allow people into our hearts and minds. To bring our kids along through our life instead of making it about theirs alone.

We have to experience our sorrow at the loss of our baby. We have to include our spouse in our hurt feelings. We have to embrace our kids in their disobedience and work with them to change their actions. We have to walk outside in the sunshine and ignore the dishes. We have to then come back in and wash all the dishes being thankful we have any at all.

Our perspective has to be to live well the life God has given us. To feel deeply the emotions we are having but not to be ruled by them. To work hard at the tasks set before us trusting that the ones tomorrow we will have strength for then. To lick the bowl clean instead of have none because we can’t bear to wash the dish after the ice cream is gone.

*This post has been shared at Faith Linkups...
 Grace and Truth Linkup
Faith n' Friends
Fresh Market Friday
Tuesday Talk
RaRa Linkup

join us for more encouragement!

Guest Post on With Our Favorite Books That Build Self-Confidence

What seems so normal within the walls of our house – eating crackers with peanut butter, mayo, and pickle relish, wearing costumes, or ...