When I Need to Step Off the Porch

A few weeks ago, during the last half of my spring break, I was at a teacher training. The nerd in me can’t get enough learning. Prince Charming Jokes I could be a professional student. He’s right.

The days filled my brain and my heart.

The training was intense, but meaningful—filled with affirmations of what I already do and equipping me to be even better. Good stuff.

So many nuggets of truth float in my brain from those few days.

But one Truth struck deep.

A fellow teacher spoke words of encouragement to another at the training. The teacher called the woman across the table a porch light.

A porch light.

Maybe you’ve heard the term or are familiar with the connotation.

It was new to me.

The teacher went on to explain how porch lights are those people who shine bright for others living in the dark shadows of their own personal nights. The porch light illuminates the path so the hurting and suffering can see their way to hope.

I’m reminded of my first days spent in the dark. Days when I really didn’t know who I was or why the shadows closed so tight. Lost and confused, I retreated deep into myself.

Withdrawn, I didn’t know where to begin looking for light.

A phone call came. A crack in my shield.

We’re worried about you. You’ve withdrawn. You’re not yourself.

We’re here.

Suddenly, with those words, I began to see flickers of light. Light in the distance waiting to warm my heart.

My friends were porch lights.

With them, I could be honest, transparent—myself. I could struggle in a place I wasn’t alone.

But here’s the thing about porch lights. If I had to walk down darkened street to glowing homes with their lights on, I’m not sure I would have made it.

I’m not one to reach out for help. I’m not one to beg for a life raft. I’m not one to walk to the porch with the brilliant glow. When you’ve been in the dark for too long, the light hurts. It hurt to get close and reaching out wasn’t something I could conceptualize.

So my friends stepped off.

They stepped off the porch and into the dark—bringing their torches with them. Then they held my hands, step-by-step, walking me their way. Their bright, radiant way.

In this world, we are called to be light for this great, big, scary world.

The Message version of the Scriptures brings this truth: “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

We are God’s light in the darkness.

But sometimes we have to step off our porches.

Is that not the mission of Christ on the cross? Did He not leave the Light of heaven? Did He not step down into our darkness, carrying His torch to the broken, the hurting, the shadow-dwellers?

We must welcome others with our porch lights. We must keep open our homes.

But.

I know in my depths I need to do more stepping off and reaching into the darkness with my torch. Because some people won’t come toward the bright—it hurts too much. No. Some are waiting. Waiting for us to remind them they are worthy of God’s great love.

It’s impossible for me to bear my torch into the dark places of every shadowed corner. Yet I can bring candles. Candles of hope in gestures of compassion.

A card. A meal. A phone call. A message. An errand. A balloon. A kind word. A hug.

I know this—Light shows up. It shows up and darkness cannot stay.

Friends, we don’t have to blaze an inferno. We can just show up with our candles. And sometimes we can show up with torches. The point is, we show up and we bring light.

The porch is a beautiful place, warm and inviting. A place for community and communing, rocking chairs and lemonade. A place of brilliant light.

But porches were never created as a space to stay forever. We can’t live on our porch.

Sometimes we need grab courage and step into the dark.

There is a world desperate for our lights—lights illuminating the path to Hope.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Easter, Hope, Joy, Struggles | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

For Our Daughters…A Celebration of Womanhood

Daughters of Ours,

Spring green has touched the tips of the trees, edging its way to leaf centers. Plum and pink Azaleas have yawned into March’s morning light.

Because Florida.

And before we can sneeze the oak pollen from our lungs, the temperatures will soar into the 90s. So relish these moments of newness. These moments of life awakening from winter’s sleep.

Because daughters, you are spring.

And I wonder if you know how to savor this beautiful time, if you know what a splendid bloom you are.

I wonder if you know you can show the world your stunning spring hues and your intelligence and your gifts, if you know you don’t have to hide who you really are.

I wonder if you know the glory of being born a woman?

Do you really?

Because sometimes we forget the distinct splendor of the feminine. We often hide from the beauty of being created woman.

We may all bemoan those days each month when our bodies seem to rebel and quake under the pressure of our design. But really? Our bodies are life bringers. Our turmoil and pain yields humankind.

Womanhood is not something to shrink from or deny. It is to be celebrated.

Celebrate the feminine. Celebrate the strong, the tender, the fierce. Celebrate them all because they all are the woman.

Don’t shrink, dear daughters.

I watch as you make apologizes for your intelligence and attempt to hid your strength. My heart beats sad when you play dumb for the boy in the next chair.

Listen close, Tender Flower ready to bloom.

A man who doesn’t want his woman strong and smart and brave is not a man I want for you. You are worthy of being loved as you are. The authentic self needs no glittery wrapping paper and jeweled bows to be loved.

Your worthy of so.much.more.

The man who loves the truest you? The one willing to pursue your truest heart? The one fighting your battles beside you?

That is the man you cling to—hold tight. Because he is the one it’s okay to need. Because he needs you, too.

I watch through the halls, and I see myself so many years ago. Wondering. What is it to be woman?

Maybe you love glamour and heels and shiny lips and dresses – all things girl. Maybe you would rather live in your flip-flops and jeans and t-shirts and ponytails. That’s okay, because on you? They’re all things girl, too.

One day you may want to be a stay-at-home mom. Or maybe you may want to have a career and be a CEO.

One day you may want to be both.

One day you may marry. Or maybe you won’t. And that’s okay, too.

One day you may decide you want ten children. Or maybe you may decide to have none.

Whatever you decide, don’t allow the world to shame your choices—your higher calling.

There are evils that use physical power to trap and chain women. Evils that lurk to strip the female of her security, her safety. Evils that pounce shouting shame into your thoughts. Evils that pound a hammer of fear to shatter your femininity—your identity.

Don’t be afraid to fight back. Know those evils are not your shame to bear. Those broken pieces you didn’t break? They can be part of your glorious stained-glass story.

Held up to the Light? You will always glimmer color and shimmer sun.

May we clutch to each other, welding metal, piecing together our stained stories. Because we’ve all been broken. Our cracks reveal our light. Our strength. Our dignity.

Many will shout into echo chambers that we’re less than. Less than because we have hips and curves and breasts. Less than because our emotions are a mystery. Less than because we nurture the broken and our minds never stop.

Don’t believe the lies.

Those lies are wrong.

Wrong, because God the Father created both male and female in His image. Both. In His image. Oh, daughters. The fingerprint of God is stamped into our very being. We are His created beauty.

You need to know we are His painted sunset—His final touch on all of creation. We have purpose. The Master Artist makes it so…

Be proud of your womanhood. Take hold of your feminine self.

Don’t be afraid to smile back at the mirror every morning.

You. Beautiful you.

You are God’s creation, too.

We Love You,

Your Sisters

Posted in Beautiful Life, Beauty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

On Your Way to Work: The Teaching Paradigm

I hate the sound of my own voice. Anytime I hear myself on a recording or a video, I cringe. Do I really sound like that?

According to a friend, Christian, there’s for real scientific evidence about why our voices sound so strange to us when we hear them outside our own heads. It’s something about jaw vibrations and our inner ear and the way sound travels. My friend is super smart, so I’m taking him at his researched-word.

Not that it matters because I still shudder when I overhear my recorded voice.

Even so, I took part in my very first podcast this weekend. My friend, author and respected career mentor, Rick Whitted, is passionate about people. He is committed to helping others grow in their professional and personal lives. He has been a source of great encouragement for my own writing and teaching career.

I’m honored Rick invited me to join him in his podcast, On Your Way to Work. Today we discuss teaching and some of the current paradigms taking place in the culture of education. I’d love for you to listen into the discussion!

Please click one of the following options to join our conversation on “The Teaching Paradigm:”
iTunes, Stitcher, Live stream from website

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Because Valentine’s? It’s Just a Day…

Valentine’s Day.

A day I’ve loved to hate.

A day I’ve loved to love.

But really?

It’s just a day.

There were the tortured years. Years I weighed my value on the scale of this Love-Day. This day that loved to remind me I was unlovable.

Very few places can rub your nose in the single-with-no-significant-other mud like the dirty, gray hallways of high school.

Every. where. you. look. Balloons and stuffed bears. Candy hearts and pink roses. Declarations of love at every other locker.

I hated every moment.

Right or wrong, as a teen, Valentine’s Day only served to remind me I was insignificant, invisible, and alone. And while none of those were actually true of me—I felt they were.

Even now, after decades of having my own Valentine, the 14th of February always comes with emotions that conflict and feelings that confuse.

There are so many lovely parts of this day for hearts. It’s a day that reminds us to cherish one another. There are also candlelit dinners and whispered words of passion. Not to mention love notes and chocolate and exquisite bouquets.

What’s not to love?

A lot.

Forgotten women. Teenagers with lonesome eyes. Overlooked children. Broken hearts. Unmet expectations. Feelings of worthlessness.

See what I mean?

Here’s the thing. Boycotting this day isn’t the answer. We should celebrate each other—our romances and our friendships.

I could be cliché and mention that the celebration should be all year long, but then I will also mention we’re human and apt to have days of grouchiness and lamentation.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I just hate the way it plays with our emotions—especially as women. We have a deep desire to feel beautiful, to be noticed.

But a day can’t define our worth, whether we have a lover or not.

That’s the lie I often allow my heart to hear.

When the truth is, only the Love borne through arms stretched across splintered wood can make me know, really know, I am worth more than rubies.

A day can’t tell me my soul was purchased by a heavenly King.

But the self-doubt struggle still exists. And February 14th only seems to point out my cracks with pin-point accuracy.

I remember my first V-day with Prince Charming. He, no-joke, earned extra cash by helping deliver arrangements for a florist during the peak season.

I lived in a sorority house where I watched bouquets of roses arrive all day, my sisters ooo’ing and ahh’ing over each one. Every time the doorbell rang, my heart skipped a beat. I hoped beyond hope my favorite delivery boy would arrive.

I waited all day.

And I may or may not have gotten a bit angry.

Where were my flowers?

When they finally arrived? I wasn’t disappointed. It was like a scene from a movie. I soaked in the squeals and giggles as I walked those gorgeous pale pink roses up the stairs.

Sweet Lord, I was in heaven.

I felt loved. I felt cherished. I felt valued. I felt important. I. I. I.

And there it is. The struggle of this day has always been because, well, I make it about…wait for it…

Me.

What if this day torments and frustrates because I tend to focus on what I get out of it? What if, instead, I use Valentine’s Day to focus on loving well?

Tomorrow is just another day. A day I can practice loving those inside my circle and out.

A note or two for colleagues. Candy for my students. Gifts for my Prince with no expectations in return. Coffee for a stranger. Words of encouragement.

Acts of kindness.

Changing how I see Valentine’s Day requires I pour my heart into others.

It doesn’t mean moments of loneliness won’t lurk and sadness won’t creep. It does mean, dear sisters, that we can fight back against the dark. We fight with the way we love.

So love deeply—not just tomorrow, but every day.

Because you are worthy. You are valuable. You are cherished. You are a treasure. And you have buckets of love to pour out and over a world humans desperate to know they’re worth loving, too.

Because real joy? The joy that wells from deep within? It doesn’t bubble and overflow from what I get.

But from what I give.

Posted in Joy, Love, Struggles | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dear Mom. I Get it Now…

In honor of my Momma’s birthday and her steadfast love.

I get it now.

I understand why you never had new clothes or pretty jewels. It makes sense that you didn’t have a fancy car or a passport full of stamps. I know why romantic trips with Dad rarely happened.

The homecoming dresses and sports lessons and youth trips and birthday parties and school clothes and winter jackets.

There wasn’t a nickel left to call your own.

I know why I may not have all the nice things. And I’m okay with that because you always were.

I learned sacrifice is easier when it means your kid looks for you when he shoots a basket. Did you see that, mom? I want you to see what I did.

When I wipe down the top of my refrigerator or remove table-top knick knacks to dust, I may still bemoan my existence. I may still hate cleaning above all other things. But now I know why you taught me to bleach a toilet and mop a floor early in my years.

Taking pride and care in my home comes with cleaning the messy and scrubbing the dirt. The drudgery has purpose and the effort has meaning—this care and keeping of the place our babies sleep.

Comet will always be my friend.

I get why you didn’t share your fears. You didn’t want them to be mine.

When Ella was just three and inhaled the scent of a well-loved book, I knew. When Caleb chose the library for our afternoon date, I knew.

I knew the reason you said that while there might be days I’m alone, I will never be lonely if I love to read. I understand why you carried bags of exhaustion and stories out from the library.

The love of knowledge is now my constant companion and teaching my own Ella and Caleb is my lofty goal.

I would get so angry. So mad for every.single.thing you made me rework or revise. My temper welled, as I removed a stitch or rewrote essays filled with mistakes.

Even now when I want to avoid striking a word or phrase from the thoughts I write and just hit submit. When revision is tiresome and tedious. When I just don’t want to give any more effort. Your words stand firm.

Any thing worth doing is worth doing right.

I use your words with my own two babes. Because excellence is worth the work and correction is a gift.

All the no’s despite my tantrums, my rants, my raves. All the firm boundaries I pressed against with sheer force of will. All the ways you kept the reigns tight. They protected me from myself—from the parts of me I didn’t yet know were there.

Those boundaries taught me I don’t always know what’s best, and I’m never entitled to my own way. Because life isn’t fair and the world doesn’t revolve around me.

There were battles I wanted you to fight in my stead. Wars I wanted you to win. Hard steps I wanted you to take for me. But instead?

You watched as I struggled and clashed. Why couldn’t you have just done the hard for me? Why couldn’t you save me from the bruising and scars?

I get it now.

And I’m grateful.

For while you didn’t fight my battles, you never left my side. You dressed me in armor even if you didn’t raise the sword. There are battles that we must fight on our own so we can be our most courageous selves—to be our best selves.

You knew that when I didn’t.

Now, I stand by my own two treasures handing them helmets and Truth. I never want to cripple them because they don’t know how to fight.

I get it now. The standing by? It yanks your heart out and beats it bloody on the muddy ground.

And sometimes the strongest, bravest step you can take is to just stand by.

Because strength is what we want to raise.

I get it now.

Strong is the only way to mother.

Strong is rising in the tender hours just before dawn to kneel down before the One who loves your children more than you ever could. It is praying the promises of scripture over the heads of the babes you bore. Strong is trusting in the plans Jesus has for your children and not in your own.

Strong is knowing you can’t mother alone. Strong is knowing we are weak.

Strong is acts of selflessness. Standing firm and standing by. Teaching and preaching even as exhaustion drips into your veins. Never giving up on the lives you birthed—even when they may bite with words that chew on pieces of your soul.

Strong is grace. It’s tenderness and compassion when the whining never ends. Knowing when to let go because your child refuses to learn from your mistakes. Unconditional love when it isn’t returned.

And never having a new pair of shoes.

Strong is the only way to mother.

I get it now.

Because strength mothered me, and I learned to mother from her.

My mom is a definition of strong.

I will learn from her the rest of my days.

Her children arise and call her blessed.
Proverbs 31:28

Posted in Beautiful Life, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude is a Game-Changer

My Court Jester, my Caleb, loves his shoes. He is seven and spends his birthday and Christmas money on new kicks. The boy is particular—like over the top—about what shoes he wears with what socks and what outfit.

On the flip side, I missed the female shoe-love gene. I’m happy in my Birks or a pair of flip-flops. The last thing I want to shop for is a pair of shoes. But not my Caleb.

Shoes are his serious business.

So when my little man needs a consequence for behavior, he looses the privilege of picking out his shoes the next day. Strange, I know, but it’s effective.

A few nights ago he got in trouble and had to endure the consequence. I told him I was picking his kicks the next day.

Oh the horror! Oh the cataclysmic travesty! His life was over.

The alligator tears and sobs lasted for, well, let’s just say longer than they should. They lasted through the bed-time routine and halfway through the reading of Horton Hears a Who, where “a person’s a person no matter how small.” The irony was lost on my sobbing second grader.

Finally. He curled up next to me, took a deep breath, and shared his newest revelation.

Looking up at me from the corner of his eyes, he mumbled, “I have a terrible life. My parents make my life terrible.” With a half grin and a shaky breath, he pressed into my side, and I smothered him with hugs and kisses.

Yes. His life is just awful.

It didn’t matter he had a momma reading a book to him in a soft bed. It didn’t matter he was cozy and warm. It didn’t matter he had a fully belly or that he was surrounded by toys to play with and clothes to choose from.

My sweet boy only focused on what he lacked. And this focus dictated his perspective. And his perspective ruled his emotions.

Caleb is not alone.

I often join him in my grumpy, dramatic tantrums. I only got six hours of sleep. Ugh! I don’t have time to finish reading that book. There are too many essays to grade. How can we not have ice cream in this house? Is there ever a month when I can stop worrying about bills? Sick—again!? But I just bought pointe shoes three weeks ago. How can they be dead? Is there a night this week that I can just be home?

My list of complaints and whines and moaning can go on. And on. And on.

I’ve written about it here and here and here. Ann Voskamp symbolizes the very word. Scientists confirm it.

Gratitude changes our perspective.

An attitude of thanksgiving brings joy. When we focus on our gifts and our blessings, we are able to see our lives in a new way. We realize that maybe our lives aren’t so “terrible” after all.

There’s a miracle recorded four times in the Bible. In this miracle, Jesus uses five small barley loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of over 5,000. Tucked away in this story is a truth I have only just seen thanks to this podcast by Steven Furtick.

John 6:11 states, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”

Do you see it? Jesus gave thanks over the scarcity.

Facing a crowd of thousands, Jesus and the disciples only had the small portion of bread and fish.

Yet.

Jesus was grateful for even that tiny offering.

He gave thanks over the scarcity—the miracle occurred in the scarcity. Had there been no need, a miracle would not have been necessary.

When last did I show gratitude over our family’s financial struggles because those struggles give me an opportunity to trust God more?

When last did I thank God for such a little time left in my day because my hours were filled with the care and keeping of my family and my students—an honor and a privilege?

When last did I thank God for stacks of laundry waiting to be folded because I had laundry to fold?

My perspective changes when I view my life in terms of what I do have instead of what I don’t. On the days my anxiety rises and I stomp angrily through the hours, I need to ask myself where my focus has been. Those moments when my frustration reaches the pinnacle, what peak am I viewing my life from?

Having a perspective of giving my God gratitude changes everything.

Thanksgiving is a day-changer, a game-changer, a life-changer.

And today? This week? I was desperate for the reminder.

Because I have so much to be thankful for…

Posted in Beautiful Life, Gratitude, Joy, Struggles | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Tis the Season for Crazy

Last night my husband and I sent the Court Jester to Family Reading Night at school.

Without his family.

Prince Charming was helping with our church Christmas program, and Princess Ella rushed through two different rehearsals. Where was I? Starbucks. At a meeting. What was I doing while I was meeting? Sewing pointe shoes.

At least I was surrounded by women I love, and there was coffee.

Did I mention my son went to a family night without his family?

Yeah. The mom guilt was thicker than my grandmother’s fruitcake. Even though my meeting was for my daughter’s ballet school and I was sewing her ballet shoes, the Court Jester still got lost in last night’s seasonal shuffle.

‘Tis the Season for Crazy.

We all know it. We all experience it. We all attempt to stop it.

This week, I’ve lived through four late nights, three long meetings, two stacks of essays, and a partridge in a pear tree. My crazy is normal.

After leaving my meeting last night, I walked to the car, pulled the handle, and opened the door. It wasn’t until I was half-way in that I realized the car wasn’t mine. Yeah. I’m that woman this time of year.

Or maybe I’m that woman all year.

Ella will turn 14 in less than a month. This morning? That sweet child of mine continued to give me grief for not having an Elf on the Shelf when she was younger. The Court Jester continues to talk about Snowflake, his classroom Elf.

Caleb – Why can’t we have one, mom? Because he freaks me out. Who wants a creepy Elf staring at them all day?

Ella – Well, when I have kids, I’m doing Elf on the Shelf for them. That’s fantastic darling. You’ll do an amazing job, and your children will be the luckiest in the world. (unlike you, apparently…)

I told Ella I was just making sure she would get her money’s worth as an adult when she has to seek counseling for all the ways we screwed up her childhood.

(Side-note: I’m not anti-Shelf-Elf for any other house—just mine. Only because I couldn’t possibly keep up with moving an elf every night when it’s evident I can’t recognize my own car.)

Every Christmas I race into the madness and promise myself I won’t do it again.

Then I break my promise.

Year. After year.

I want the slow and the nights of hot cocoa while drinking in the lights adorning our tree. But slow is not the reality in this season of my life. I have a teenager and a seven year old. I’m a teacher with mountains of papers to grade. I’m in love with a man whose responsibilities equal my own. Slow isn’t really an option.

Sure, there is the busy of my life I can control—and I do. I have learned to say no. (Halleluiah. Amen.)

Still, there is the busy of my life I can’t control.

The slowing and breathing in of Christmas is beautiful. I’ve written about it every year. I crave the quiet moments of the season when I draw my children near, and we whisper of the newborn King.

But this year? I’ve realized that just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I can’t embrace this magical time.

Because Christmas is woven into the very fabric of my life.

And my life? It’s messy. It’s crazy. It’s chaotic.

It’s also beautiful.

Christmas exists with or without my crazy. One might even say Christ was born because of my crazy, because of my broken. The more hectic my life gets, the more I need my Savior—my Emmanuel—my God with me.

The meaning of Christ’s birth is threaded into my soul—knitted together with all I do and all I am.

Christmas resonates in the middle of my frenzy. There will be scattered moments of stillness, but mostly I will be keeping pace with the hustle and bustle. In the midst, Christmas will be there. It’s always there. Because the Joy of this season is the Gift lying in a manger sent because my Creator loved this world with all He had.

My Christmas may be a bit crazy, but the true beauty of this season isn’t lost.

Rather, I need it more.

So I choose to see, even when life won’t slow.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Christmas, Joy | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let My Words Be Few…

Friends…God never promises easy. And there have been times when the fear of losing my dreams has been so real, I can smell the acrid smoke and ash as flames destroy the path I was walking.

But I’m learning. The hardest times? They’re my invitation to trust. To trust in a Jesus who wants my best.

Today, I am honored and down right blown away by the invitation to be a guest on my friend Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation. Join me there?

I can’t remember a time when my pencil didn’t scratch across paper or my fingers didn’t tap, tap, tap on a keyboard.

Writing is part of the air that fills my lungs and allows me to breathe. Crafting sentences into ideas is the way I express my most authentic self. I’m sure you can relate.

So what happens when God whispers, stop? 

To continue reading, please click here: The Write Conversation

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She Did What She Could…

I watched as the Keurig drip, drip, dripped the bitter liquid into my mug. Energy to get me through the next two periods.

Desperate measures were needed. Okay…maybe not so desperate and not so out-of-the-ordinary. But still. Even after grading hours over Thanksgiving break, I still have two stacks of essays and five classes of journals to go.

As coffee brewed I lamented to one of my dearest colleagues. The one who teaches me daily of grace and kindness.

“She did what she could,” my friend whispered.

I nodded and agreed. It’s all we can do, right?

Then she stopped me in my tracks. “It’s one of my favorite scriptures. I have it circled. On days like today, I tell myself over and over—she did what she could.”

Wait. How have I missed these soul-saving words? These words of healing balm for the anxiety-ridden heart.

Where? What story?

“It’s when Mary anoints Jesus with perfume.” My grace-giving friend smiled, and we headed to our classrooms.

But all day long, the phrase she spoke circled in and out of my thoughts.

She did what she could.

The story in scripture is beautiful. Mary ventures into a crowded room with a bottle of expensive perfume. Not just any bottle, but one of great value. Alabaster.

To the shock and disdain of those around, Mary broke the bottle and poured the lavish perfume over Jesus.

His words stopped the rebukes that fell heavy on her shoulders. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

While her actions may seem strange to us, in the custom of Jewish burial, a body was rubbed with oils and perfumes. What Mary could not have known was the crucifixion of Christ was to take place only days later.

Her offering—a sacrifice of immense value—ministered to the Creator of heaven and earth.

But did you hear His words?

It wasn’t the value of her gift. Jesus’ response was that Mary did what she could. It was her complete surrender. For Him, that was enough.

For us? His words are freedom.

Even thought I need constant reminding, I’m free from the chains of anxiety. Anxiety that has been thick these last few weeks. Anxiety that has chased close, yapping and barking—telling me I will never get it all done, that I’m a failure.

My task list keeps growing. Midterms peak their evil heads around the corner. Countless errands and chores around my home add to the weariness. The Christmas season intensifies my pounding heart. And I’m fraying in all the wrong places.

But.

If I live with my Jesus in mind, if I work to serve His purpose, and if I do what I can, then it is enough. Because, friends, Jesus makes it enough.

It wasn’t Mary’s offering that was enough. It was that Jesus made it so because He saw her heart—a heart of sacrifice. She selflessly did all she could when she broke the jar and poured out what she had.

The same is true for us. When we give Jesus our all, He will make it enough.

She did what she could.

Allow those words to sink into the depths of your tired soul.

Do what you can.

And then rest.

Because truly? I can never be enough for anyone. Nothing I do will ever make me a perfect wife. I could move mountains for my children and they will still require more. I could work 80-hour weeks and never be everything my students need.

I am never enough.

But I can do all I can.

Jesus whispers that my offering is plenty.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Relationship with God, Struggles | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Bedtime Chaos and Some Thanksliving…

I’m sitting in the dark with my Court Jester scooted as far away from me as possible. I’ve told him no to a request, and his world has crumbled into dust.

He blames me for his own catastrophic Armageddon.

I want Daddy to put me to bed. I want Daddy to put me to bed. Over and over again from his grumbling mouth tucked beneath blankets.

He’s even put a pillow between us. Muffled and angry. Huffs of frustration and hot tears. He hasn’t gotten his way.

I’m standing my ground.

Sort of…

Does ignoring him count? I feel like I could write my own Thanksgiving version of Twas the Night Before Turkey Day…

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring. Oh wait. Can’t do that because my very own Caleb-turkey is thrashing and rolling, which definitely moves us past stirring.

Peaking over my shoulder, Caleb just asked if I put indentions in my paragraphs. (um, no?)..He’s reading my words, smiling, and snuggling close.

Just like that, the show’s over.

But even in the chaos of bed-time or the freaking out because the real turkey is still stone-cold frozen or the midnight run you make to Walmart for that one. last. thing–even in those moments, Thanksgiving is possible.

The Court Jester is now silent. His body still, and his breathing slow. The deep breath I’ve waited for all day comes.

This is the thanksliving.

Living and breathing thanks despite our frustrations, our tears, our tantrums. Because beauty surrounds when we look close.

Daily graces peek through covers and shine light into our dark nights. Gratitude for those moments shifts our eyes heavenward. Focusing our vision on the God Who Sees us in the midst of our hard, in the midst of our painful.

Learning to live out our thanks in those moments?

Joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. Joy in the midst.

And Thanksgiving comes alive. It’s no longer about a day–but about our living, breathing existence.

So this Thanksgiving I pray morning wakes fresh with gratitude in your hearts for even the smallest graces and moments of brilliant light.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. Shall we journey to walk with thanksliving together?

 

Posted in Beautiful Life, Gratitude, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments