You Don’t Have To Be A Foster Parent To Change A Foster Kid’s Life

Imagine that you have fallen into deep waters, but it’s your first time to swim. Fighting just to get a breath in; & then someone hands you a screaming child, a stack of paperwork, a bunch of trainings & appointment reminders. Then imagine being expected to complete it all while keeping yourself & that terrified child above water. Oh, & you can’t get the paperwork wet because, of course, it has to be legible when you turn it in.

Continue reading You Don’t Have To Be A Foster Parent To Change A Foster Kid’s Life

Child Abuse Is The Social Justice Issue We’ve All Been Overlooking

I listened to a podcast today that talked about how, in the Bible, there is no concept of separate justice issues. There is only JUSTICE and INJUSTICE. Preach! 

When you start talking about injustice, child abuse doesn’t really jump to the forefront of your mind. Because it hides in plain sight, and like a deadly bacteria that works its way deep into the crevices of your body, child abuse is an insidious destroyer of a sense of self.

Continue reading Child Abuse Is The Social Justice Issue We’ve All Been Overlooking

Listen to me. We are NEVER going back (R-rated)…

Let go of the people who say they love you but hold everything against you. Because true love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

Let go of the people who tear down your dreams with wild words of incapable fears. Because real love always hopes. Continue reading Listen to me. We are NEVER going back (R-rated)…

The Meaning of Motherhood: Honest Words to Myself

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.

6 Thoughts on Young Shooters

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.

5 Lessons I Have Learned About Discipling Children

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!

All That Matters Most

After awhile

you start to see

that beauty

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

of admiration.

.

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

valuable thing

in existence.

.

After awhile,

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

finally understand

that real love

is more than two words

and a cake:

it is more like

two lifetimes

given selflessly

over and over

and over and over

until you leave

a legacy.

.

And you stop

caring so much,

about the noise

of opinions –

because actually, an opinion

without kindness

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

are memories.