I have heard the voices say, there is no love for you. And long have I leaned into those lies, and soaked in the evil of all those words. Continue reading Still He Stays: A Response to Fathers Day
I’m writing this for me. I’m preaching to the choir. I need this today. Because, I need to remember that motherhood was never intended to be picture perfect or even halfway presentable most of the time.
Motherhood is hard hard draining exhausting work. X 100.
God gives us these little people and we hold them and hug them and those first tears we cry when we see them are just the start of the beautifully messy life unfolding before our eyes.
The spit-up and the diapers fade to fits and coloring on walls and before you know it they’ve lost their first tooth and you’re having conversations about the possibility of actually digging up treasure and they are sounding out words and asking you how babies are made. (All that happened to me this week, by the way.)
Some days I don’t even make it to bed because I fall asleep watching Friends on the couch with a bag of chips half eaten beside me. (My life is so glamorous…)
Today, I really need to remember that mothering is supposed to take a ton of energy. It’s supposed to be hard some days and really terrific other days. And it’s all OK.
And I need to listen to my friends when they tell me to give myself grace. Because productivity doesn’t equal value when it comes to personhood. And a messy home and a GIANT pile of laundry doesn’t mean anything except that we actually live here. Right?
Today, I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that God’s mercies are new EVERY morning. And they were new THIS morning…when I woke up tired and short on motivation. I need to remind myself that it’s OK to be tired and human.
It’s just OK.
And it’s ok for YOU too…
So, today I’m giving myself grace. I’m not gonna be lazy, but I’m also not gonna be so hard on myself. And mostly, I’m going to remind myself that my Heavenly Father sees me and knows me and this family he’s given me…
they are a treasure…
even when I’m exhausted and way too hard on myself.
It’s been a few days since the school shooting in Florida. The images are heart-wrenching. And honestly, I’ve barely followed the story. But I can feel the heaviness in the air and the weight of all the choices made that day and how they still linger.
A lot of people have a lot of opinions about young shooters (and just mass shootings in general)…and they should. People should think about the world and process the state of the broken and hurting in the country. Moments like this force us to ponder…
Here are my thoughts on the school shooting, but also just on young shooters specifically.
1. Hurting People Hurt People. No matter what, behind every abuser or killer there is a mountain of hurt and pain. When all that goes unseen, when entire generations overlook the broken, when ADULTS overlook the YOUNG…there is no where else for teens to turn but to hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Remember? We learned this once, didn’t we?
Here is my question to you….how are YOU loving young people and teens and the broken and the overlooked? When is the last time you stooped to enter someone else’s world?
If your answer is never or rarely can I say with all the love in me that you are part of the problem.
2. Policies and Laws have never been all that great at keeping abusers from harming others; people are changed when other people invest in them. Believe me when I say, that I have seen firsthand how “effective” laws are at keeping victims safe. Believe me when I say that ADULTS really don’t want to hear about abuse…not really…because then you’d have to do something about it. You’d have to face it.
Here is my question to you…do you even SPEAK to young people at all? Do you invest in the lives of the young? Do you offer financial assistance to programs and churches and missionaries who are in the thick and in the mud and in the unbelievable darkness of the lives of teens?
You can walk into just about any youth group in America and there will be stories of rape, of physical abuse, of depression, of teen suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and self-harm. It’s not new or shocking. You’ve just never looked.
3. Depression and stress are absolutely RAMPANT amongst teens. After five years of walking alongside youth in our community, and several years of Young Adult Ministry, and nearly eight years of consistent involvement in our church…I can tell you with confidence that depression is an enormous burden that many, many carry. If we struggle as adults and moms and spouses…how much more so must teens struggle?
No one can or should do life alone. Including you. Including them.
4. The church is on the front lines. If you’ve never been involved in church, this will seem odd to you. But the church has been, and is still, on the front lines of the battle for our teens.
In our small community alone, there are thousands of Christians who support, volunteer, and encourage youth. We still need more. We still need YOU!
Churches often have the gift of accomplishing much with little. Help a church in your community accomplish MORE!
But also know that the most impactful relationships are the ones forged in the day to day, over lunch, and alongside the ups and downs of life.
5. When you minister to broken hearts, your heart WILL be broken. My husband and I have cried for the youth in our church so many times. Our hearts hurt and ache when we see a student give up and start believing the lies that are literally dumped on them by our culture. When you love someone, you offer your whole heart to them. You cheer them on. You cry with them. Be that for someone.
6. This is absolutely a parenting issue. And love starts at home. Healthy homes do not produce hate and violence. And there might be very differing levels of parental responsibility case by case. But there is always an element of parental influence.
You don’t have to be a pastor to make a world of difference. Just step outside your comfort zone and love on a kid with all your heart. And you will see the world change.
Can I just share with you that discipline is an enormous learning curve for me?
I question and doubt myself until I am in tears.
Did I speak too harshly? Not sternly enough? Did that behavior deserve a swat? Should I offer MORE grace, LESS grace? Did I remember to hug and reconcile afterwards? Was he just tired or overwhelmed or not paying attention? Did I misunderstand?
All the self-doubt can be brutal.
God has kindly placed people in my life to show me what surrendered motherhood looks like, and Oh! how I treasure those relationships.
Here are a few lessons I have learned in the last 5 years of parenting.
1. Its impossible to strive for what you’ve never considered…
What do you hope for your children? What do you want to teach them?
You will make about a hundred thousand mistakes in your parenting journey, you will sin against your children, you will treat your spouse poorly in front of them, you will fail your children. You will. This is life and this is REAL life. The question isn’t how do I be a perfect parent? Because there is no such thing. The question is how do I honor God through this journey of parenting?
2. Your actions absolutely speak louder than words…
Want your children to be polite? Kind? Thoughtful? To have great friends? To pursue a life they love? To be confident? To have self-discipline, generosity, integrity?
Well honey…then YOU need to be polite, thoughtful, confident, self-disciplined, generous.
Yep. It’s hard. Actually, it’s kind of impossible…but go and do it anyway. And pray A LOT along the way. A LOT!
3. You’re not raising children, you’re raising adults…
That precious babe in your arms will one day be someone’s best friend, they will walk through joy and tragedy with those they love, they will fall in love, and have babies of their own.
We are literally raising the next generation. It’s a sobering and honorable task.
4. The pain of a moment passes away easily when your heart remains humble…
We have had some pretty awful days with our kids. Like days where you are pretty sure they drank two Red Bull’s and someone forgot to tell you…days where you are pretty sure you actually just lost your mind. Days when locking them outside seems like a fantastic idea…true story.
The pain and discomfort of the rough days and the hard moments of discipline really do fade when you keep your heart open toward your child.
This means, treating your child with respect and utmost dignity. This means not keeping a record of their wrongs. This means apologizing and seeking immediate reconciliation when you have wronged them. This also means standing up for your own worth and fully expecting to be treated with respect and dignity as well…and then freely forgiving when your child apologizes.
Discipline doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating or unhealthy. It can and should be conducted with integrity and all the love.
5. It really does take a village…
Parenting is much easier when you live your life in community. Not only do YOU get practical help but you also LEARN from those around you…and so do your children.
I am thankful everyday for the people in our lives who love us with grace and truth and honesty. We are uplifted and encouraged and when necessary we are confronted lovingly.
This is so good and important!!
Dare to live vulnerably in community.
Dare to discipline intentionally.
And dare to actively love your children as God loves YOU!
you start to see
isn’t always obvious
and that fast-paced
is no real way to make do.
And after awhile
you begin to notice
the ripple of a rain drop
over the sound
And you start to see,
Oh, you start to see,
how glass-frail breath is
and how air in your lungs
is really the most
you start to treasure
the way your lover
holds your hand
when life deals death,
because pain is frequent
and too weighty
to be carried alone.
And you start to
that real love
is more than two words
and a cake:
it is more like
over and over
and over and over
until you leave
And you stop
caring so much,
about the noise
of opinions –
because actually, an opinion
is just hate.
And after awhile,
you start to value,
the way your children
laugh with their eyes,
love with their heart,
find God with their souls,
over any other
dreams for them
you might have had.
But mostly, you learn,
that life is always shorter
than you hope, and
that the only things
you’ll ever really leave behind
My son Bear used to throw terrible fits in public. One time, he screamed to high heaven while pulling every article of clothing in sight as I attempted to leave a department store. I was mortified!
And then in the parking lot…he bit me.
Lord Jesus, save us all…for reals, I almost transformed into the Hulk.
I cried all the way home and then took so many deep breaths I gave myself hiccups.
I sent Bear straight to bed and he slept for THREE HOURS. He had been exhausted.
A New Perspective
After that day, I started realizing that the majority of Bear’s “fits” were actually just him reacting to stress.
He was overwhelmed. He was experiencing ANXIETY.
Ah! A word most of us know all too well.
Our Little Ones Have So Much Thrown at Them
Listen. Our kids have far too much thrown at them each day. They are surrounded by toys and all those toys make noise and are painted 117 colors. They have sports and preschool and extracurricular activities and expectations galore. Even their shampoo has more ingredients than a salad bar, and at every. single. moment. we offer them stimulation.
I am realizing that I don’t have to “parent like everyone else”. And you know what? I’m loving the freedom in that.
Get rid of HALF your toys. This might sound totally insane, but I promise you won’t miss not picking them up anymore. Let’s be crazy together. Donate them!
Strive to stay home 4 nights a weeks. More is GREAT. Less isn’t.
Eliminate three small stressors in YOUR life. For me this means, not matching socks, turning off all the noise, and getting outside. (I know…I live on the wild side.)
Live the Life YOU Want
You don’t have to do life like everyone else. Your kids have their own unique struggles and triggers and stressors and STRENGTHS, and so do you. And parents, we are the PERFECT people to help our kids, because we love them most and know them best.
After awhile of all this mothering, you start to see that all the small moments are the times that matter most. That all those times you smiled with fondness at them, soaked up a tear with a kiss…all the times you laughed when you’d much rather have shouted, all the times you chose to dance instead of tidy the kitchen, and all the times you let them sink their little hands into the hot, soap water next to yours, THOSE are the times that matter the MOST.
Chores are an inevitable part of life. Laundry must be folded, dishes must be washed, meals prepared…and on and on the list goes.
There will always be more to do. A L W A Y S.
And honestly, chores are really important. I’ve never been a fan of “good moms have messy houses”.
Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family have all witnessed my complete inability to manage the wave of chaos my children can create. And it’s ok! Seasons come and go. And I know that right now I’m in a very messy, and unpredictable season of life with three kids five and under. I work really hard to maintain my home, but right now, I am barely keeping my head afloat. B A R E L Y !
For me, creating a tidy, uncluttered home full of good food and joy is so important to me. It is what I strive for. But you know what? It’s also just OK that my home doesn’t look the same with three kids as it did with one. Phew!
And in those moments of frustration and will-you-please-stop-hitting-your-brother and can-I-just-go-pee-by-myself and oh my gosh, don’t eat that!…I am learning to find joy in all our crazy.
For us, this usually looks like a cup of coffee and a snack and several pages of ISPY (since it’s winter) while the sink overflows with dishes. Or maybe a 15 minute break to watch funny animal videos on YouTube – do not underestimate the power of some belly laughs to completely change your day around.
Go and do your chores. Fold that laundry! Declutter!
But also remember to PAUSE and DELIGHT in the childhood you are privileged to witness each day.