When Your Motherhood is Tired

Hey, Momma.

I know.

I know those tired eyes and that sleepy soul. I see the dirt smudges on your knees from crawling through playground tunnels. I hear the sigh you heaved after changing your second diaper in five minutes.

You bind imaginary wounds with superhero Band-Aids. You can be found jammin’ out to the Fresh Beat band—not realizing you’re actually alone. You’ve scraped sticky-sweet syrup from the floor ten times this week, even though you can’t remember when last you mopped. What’s the use?

You have days when your motherhood is tired.

Are you tired, sweet friend? I’d love for you to head on over to Orlando Moms Blog today to be encouraged. Because your job? An exhausting-but-worth-it calling.

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When You Need to Move Forward

I don’t handle change well.

Does anyone?

Over the last two weeks Prince Charming and I packed up our home of 14 years. We scrubbed dirt and relived memories. We kept with the daily and added it to the moving of our lives.

On Monday we signed bank documents, sold our home, handed over the keys.

And more than once, I forgot to breathe.

The sale is nothing short of a miracle—a God-breathed shift in our lives.

But just because God moves doesn’t mean moving on is easy.

I keep trying to wrap my mind around the change. Knowing my traveling home will be different, and my entire landscape has shifted.

With this bend in our journey, emotions flooded. New opportunities for our family bring excitement. But as I sifted through the memories of a life lived within the brick and mortar of my home, I realized part of me didn’t want to move on—or move forward.

Because there is a deep comfort in staying where I am.

The hard work of moving forward makes me want to lock myself in my bedroom and stay under the covers, eating chocolate chip cookies while sipping triple-shot mochas.

Packing up the life I’ve known for 14 years, the longest I lived anywhere, overwhelmed me. Where to begin? As with any moving forward, I began with one step. One picture at a time came down from the walls.

Moving forward always begins by moving one foot forward.

And then another. And another.

With each step I felt my grasp on the past ease. I spent the last few weeks with arms reaching into the darkest corners of cabinets, pulling out glassware and plastic cups I forgot were there. How many glass 9×11 pans does a girl really need?

That’s part of moving forward—choosing what needs to be left behind. Realizing there are pieces better left in the dark corners. Chunks of our memories and experiences that may just need to be let go.

One night I dug through my hope chest, a cedar box of dusty recollections.

Pulling fragments of my past out, one after the other, I smiled and I cringed.

I also let go.

An unmarked envelope floated in the midst of my memories. As my eyes traced the words written over 20 years ago, I felt the bitterness I’d held onto loosen its grip. I released what I’d carried for so long, the weight lifted in the pen and paper lightness of the letter.

Sometimes moving on is about leaving things behind. Pain. Bitterness. Anger.

And in the midst of packing and letting go, you can completely break. I did that too. Because there’s this field trip to the zoo I won’t be able to attend. But it’s okay to be broken. When we’re banged up into bits and pieces we realize how desperate we are for the Creator to hold our fragments in His tender hands.

And then, when you know there’s nothing stopping this train of moving on, and you don’t know if you’ll ever be ready—friends show up.

They skip church and bring trucks and serve with their strong arms showing what the Body of Christ is all about.

They stop by to pack your pantry and remind you that you’re not as alone as you thought in this journey.

They watch your kids and pay for your dinners.

They lift the heavy burdens in cardboard boxes as your life spills out of one place into another.

They drive hours to make sure you have what you need the first night of your new life.

They drop off donuts to welcome you home.

Because if I’ve learned anything over the last few weeks it’s this: You can’t move forward alone.

Change is messy. It’s newsprint-blackened fingertips, cups broken from careless handling, and wondering if you’ll ever settle into the new.

But you have a choice.

You can either cement your feet to the ground, refusing the shift, or you can bring one foot in front of the other—ever determined to keep moving forward.

Joining my incredibly brave-because-God friend, Suzie Eller and learning to #livefree. If you want to read more brave sister stories, please follow this link.

More than you imagine

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To the Momma Who Works Outside the Home

Last night I broke.

I’ve been fragile lately, because we all get that way sometimes. The normal chaos of life has been compounded by a move across town. Packing and sick children and wrapping of memories and car pools and car loads of boxes have worn me down. My cracked places have been held together by thin strips of tape.

And then.

Prince Charming and I realized neither of us could go with our son on his field trip to the zoo in a few weeks. Like impossible. Like I would lose another paid day and my PE teacher husband is in charge of field-day on the same day kind of impossible.

And then

The guilt I feel because I haven’t been to a single event for the Court Jester all year, I can’t volunteer, and I can never be room mom, bubbled up and over the buried places of my heart.

And then.

My cracked places shattered and the ugly cry that came after still leaves me weepy around the edges this morning.

I’ve been a stay-at-home momma. Now I’m a full-time working momma. Believe me when I say SAHMs—you work. Hard. I know. Your job isn’t any easier because you don’t work outside the home. Anyone who says otherwise is blinded to your reality.

But.

Full-time working momma? Our struggles are different, and it is your heart I want to cradle just for a minute or two.

Because whether working is a choice or not, our hearts will always break when we can’t be there for our children. A mother’s first instinct is to protect her children, guide them, nurture them. When work keeps us from being able act on our instinct, the internal conflict is palpable.

Yesterday, when I realized my son would be walking through the zoo without his father or me, it wasn’t okay. And nothing anyone can tell me will make it okay.

There are a million rationalizations we give ourselves just to be able to leave our children and go to work. We say remind ourselves of things like:

  • He’ll be having so much fun he won’t even think of me.
  • My friend will be chaperoning, so I know he’ll have a good time with her.
  • Times like these will teach him independence and self-sufficiency.
  • He won’t end up in therapy because I miss one field trip.

Most of the time these are accurate. They’re true. Most of the time they’re enough to keep us putting one foot in front of the other as we do our jobs, our important jobs (because they are.)

But sometimes, the truths we remind ourselves of, are not enough to ease the ache.

It just hurts.

I won’t tell you to suck it up. I won’t tell you it will be okay. I won’t attempt to ease your mind with platitudes that do nothing to bandage the wounds of our momma hearts.

Instead?

I’ll tell you it’s okay to be hurt and cracked and torn.

I’ll whisper in your ear—You’re not alone.

We’re a tribe of mothers, whether we work outside of the home or not. We all hurt when we can’t meet the needs of our children. We’re never alone in that pain, because there will always be moments when mothers can’t fix the lives of their babies.

The burdens we bear as mothers are heavy and words on a computer screen will never be enough to lighten the load.

But we have a Jesus that will scoop up the broken fragments of our hearts and cradle them close. And it’s okay to cry in the arms of Jesus. And it’s okay to hurt. We don’t have to be strong. We have a Jesus that is strong for us.

So, today, working momma?

It’s okay to not be okay.

DSC_0521Linking up this afternoon with my friend Suzie Eller…If you would like to read more stories of women grappling with difficult moments of life so you are reminded you’re not alone, please click here.

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When Friendships Keep Us From Drowning

Hello friends! Technology was not my friend…My links in this post earlier this morning didn’t work. My complete user error. They should be working now, and I’d love to have you join me over at (in)courage today!

I was only ankle deep in mothering when I knew I needed saving.

Looking into the black-night eyes of my firstborn, a gift without instructions, I realized the new momma skin I was wearing would scorch under the heat of parenting without a covering or shelter.

Despite the support of my rock of a husband and the wisdom of women whose babies were grown, I felt an ache of loneliness. My arms were filled-up with the newness of life while a hollow craving sat deep.

I needed the sisterhood of those walking my same road—the same road right then.

As much as I soaked in advice and read the books and relied on my Prince Charming, I needed more…

Friends, today I can barely contain my excitement. I’m downright giddy and honored to be sharing my heart with the women of (in)courage by Dayspring. Please follow this link to finish reading how friendships tether us to the shore when life threatens to pull us under. Praying you’ll be blessed.

If you would like to receive the blessing of daily encouragements from other (in)courage writers, follow this link to subscribe.

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The Clouds of Good Friday

My Grandma. The one who pinched my nose between the bones of her fingers, smiling with eyes lit and gleaming. The one who called me Shuga’. The one whose tender love was often confused with weakness.

She carried Jesus in her heart and thin-spread, southern superstitions around her edges.

As a little girl who endlessly climbed her porch columns, I allowed most of her sayings to float gentle and breezy in the air around me, most landing soft on the ground below.

Except one.

One floated in. Thirty years later I still pull her words out and unwrap them slowly. Maybe this one superstition rooted itself deep because I would always find it true.

Grandma always said every Good Friday afternoon clouds over.

Good Friday Clouds

She was right. It does.

Since my hair was worn in two bouncing pigtails, I’ve looked for the darkness of Good Friday. Not once in all the years—even on cloudless mornings—have the clouds ever failed to drift over the sun at some point in the afternoon.

As if nature still mourns the tragedy of the cross.

Yet sometimes, we must experience darkness to recognize Light.

Because for healing to come, the body of Christ had to be broken.

Because for Easter’s morning sunrise to break through the dark crack of night, the cross was required.

Because sometimes we have to understand the hollowness of a black-dark tomb before we can experience the light of a resurrection.

My Grandma knew about resurrection because she knew what it was like to be beaten down by the world. She knew her own black-dark tomb—the one that swallowed her whole.

But she met Jesus there.

That’s what Jesus does. He goes into our tombs, our dead places, and He meets us there.

He meets us
…in the grip of depression.
…when our jobs shatter us and we think I can’t do this one more day.
…in the ashes of a burned-out marriage.
…after addiction has stripped us from every fragment of love we ever had.
…when disease multiplies and eats through our bodies.
…in our anger.
…after our choices expose who we really are.
…when tragedy leaves us alone.

He meets us in the tomb.

He meets us there because our cries are often loudest when the pain is the deepest—echoing off the empty walls of our souls. He meets us in the tomb so He can show us a new day. And while that new day may not be on tomorrow’s horizon, it is on the horizon.

Because the stone-weight of our burdens can only be lifted and rolled away by the power of a Savior.

I look for the gloom of Good Friday. I look for the clouds. I look for them because in their strangeness, they remind me Heaven was only trapped deep in the tomb for so long. Our pain, our suffering, while it seems to be endless, will ease.

Darkness can cloud our souls. But it can’t stop the light from breaking through.

Nothing can stop light.

Light reminds me of the Hope Easter brings.

Because one day? The burdens we carry? They will find an eternal grave, and the Jesus we cling to will lead us out of our dark world, into Heaven’s light.

This girl? The porch climber with pigtails in her hair knows this Hope because her Grandma left a legacy of Good Friday clouds and Easter morning sunshine.

I’m praying this Easter weekend you discover the Hope of Christ in a way you’ve never known before. May His peace rest heavy on your soul. And if this Hope is still a mystery? May my Jesus use His willing people to share His Light with you.

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Why I Refuse to be Embarrassed by My Kids’ Mistakes

We call Caleb the Court Jester. He’s funny, full of silly antics, and loves to entertain. Often he walks a wire-thin line between trouble and hilarious.

Target is one big playground for my little guy. He skips through aisles. His voice can carry from the lady in accessories to the teenager in electronics. Everything on the shelves must be manhandled and examined by his curious nature. And before I know it, he’s climbing onto stacks of water bottles.

“Mommy! Look at me!”

Caleb Water BottlesI’ve often felt the side-eyes of judgement when walking with him through the store. People who shake their heads at me and my boy. I come home weary.

My Ella, now eleven and a sweet Princess of a girl, has grown out of the tantrums of her early years. As someone with very real Sensory Integration issues, she made my trips to the store no less exhausting.

Her sensory meltdowns, complete with ear-piercing screams and alligator tears, would bring looks from all customers as I rushed to hide my embarrassment and console her, all while piling groceries in my cart.

We all know the feeling—the one when eyes bore into our backs and all we want to do is hide in the lingerie section remembering when we used to shop there. Alone.

I’ve never met a perfect parent. I imagine you haven’t either. And I doubt those staring me down in the corner of the supermarket had perfect kids.

It’s the statement all puffed up with indignation that really leaves me undone–the one that begins with, “Well. My children would’ve never (fill in the blank…) I think, what if they’re right? What if my kids really are the only ones?

But deep down in my momma heart I know all children make mistakes. All children misbehave.

For too long, I’ve allowed strangers, who judge my parenting skills, to cause me to feel embarrassment over my kids’ actions. Ultimately? How dare I? How dare I allow a stranger make me feel badly about my beautiful children? Or make me feel less of a parent because of their disobedience?

It hit me the other day, somewhere between my fun-loving Court Jester skipping down the aisles and me threatening to take away every electronic device in the house (and we all know who that punishes more), somewhere between there, I decided.

I will no longer allow my children’s mistakes to embarrass me.

Why?

Because what you see in Target for five minutes is but a snap shot of who my children really are.

And they’re spectacular.

The other day? The one when my Caleb climbed on a tower of water bottles and pulled every blessed food item from the shelves to tell me we needed to buy it? He also picked up items dropped by strangers, handing them back with a smile. He also jumped into my arms to say he loved me. And he also used all of his manners throughout the store.

Strangers don’t often see the amazing that happens in between the chaos.

Yet we allow those same strangers to tell us we’re horrible parents because they witness a sliver of a glimpse into our lives.

My children misbehave. They’re disobedient. Prince Charming and I correct them for their mistakes. But sometimes my children need to be corrected a thousand times before it sticks. And sometimes, no matter what course of action we take and how much consistency we have, our kids will still choose the wrong. They just will.

But our children also choose right.

This is the reason I will no longer be embarrassed. Because I’ve got two amazing kids. They love with their whole hearts. When given the chance, they sacrifice for others. They give to others in need. And they passionately follow their beliefs.

I couldn’t ask for a more incredible son and daughter. They are my joy, and I love them with an unworldly fierceness.

Oh, yes. They will fail. And sometimes their failings are my fault. But more often than not, my husband and I are doing a pretty darn good job.

So when they misbehave in public? I will no longer be embarrassed by the stares of those who don’t know a single thing about my two beautiful miracles.

Instead?

I may just turn around. Smile. And say, “They’re pretty amazing, don’t you think?”

 

PS…I need to also remember my own words when I’m about to judge another momma on a sliver of a glimpse of the behavior of her kiddos…Yeah. That too.

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The Sweet Mercy of Spring

Traveling down roads we’ve been on before can jar the soul. They can shudder us, shut us down. Because those road have a history—our history.

Driving through a painful past can keep us from our horizon dreams.

We get frozen on the path of our past mistakes, broken down and stranded.

On the way to an appointment the other day, I found myself driving down a backroad on my way to somewhere—a road paved with darker memories. The sun was shining and the branches of trees swayed softly. But I wasn’t thinking of the light or the wind.

I was surrounded by the haunting memories of my past.

The house-lined road with its curvy path was one I would’ve never known if not for an unhealthy relationship. A relationship I only associate with pain, secrets, and sin. A relationship leaving winter’s icy frost on my soul.

The wheels of my car were rolling steady while my heart stood still.

But then.

Then I saw the stop sign, signaling I could make a turn. A turn away from my past. And I was reminded…

Spring is here.

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Spring filters light into my soul in a way no other season can.

Leaves, hidden beneath the bark of stoic branches, unfurl their bright green hue warmed by gentle rays of the sun. Blooms burst up from the black, rich earth thawed by the rising thermometer.

This season ushers in the new. I’m so often in need of just that.

The bursting freshness of Spring, its awakening of life connects me to the deep mercy found in Easter—the cross remembered and the empty tomb celebrated.

I can’t separate the emptiness of the tomb from Spring. I need its brought-back-to-life victory because winter so often reminds me of the pain in life.

Flowers buried deep under frozen black earth. Trees stripped bare by winter’s icy wrath. Everything green is pulled into itself, hiding from dark of those cold months. I know what winter feels like. When life scars me, I want to shrink away. I look for ways to escape, ways to shelter myself from the harsh consequences and memories of my mistakes.

Guilt freezes the soul.

But the empty tomb calls me out of winter’s grasp. It thaws the glacial claw of shame clutched tight on my wrists—chaining me. It reminds me I’m not created to stay buried beneath my past. It tells me mercy is waiting to embrace me with soft blooming petals.

Spring is here.

Jesus entered earth to pave a way for humanity. To create a path through our sin, our shame, our darkest days, so we could know Him. And when we know Him?

Spring unfurls in our souls.

Newness comes to our lives.

Mercy warms the hidden, frost-withered places of our hearts.

Christ bared the raw lashing and harsh beating on His road to the cross. He stretched his arms across the rough wood of the cross. He broke forth from the cold, dark tomb. He defeated death and its icy grasp.

All of this?

To bring Easter to our lives.

When Easter bubbles in our hearts, when the mercy of its message becomes real? We can have the courage to break through the frozen layers of our hearts with the gentle rhythms of Spring.

This season reminds me I can be whole.

Sometimes I find myself traveling back down the roads of my past, living memories that stop the beat of my heart. But I don’t have to stay there. I don’t have to put on the breaks. Instead?

I can dwell in the mercy of Easter and celebrate the empty tomb.

The mercy of Easter tells me I am a new creation. I’m not doomed to repeat the frozen winters of my past. I can lift the fragrant petals of my soul to the heavens, claiming Spring is here.

The mercy of Spring is here.

To stay.


 Excited to be linking up with the amazing Suzie Eller and some other awesome women for #livefreeThursday. Join us as we explore mercy, what it means, how it can sink into our souls allowing us to breathe.

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The Rush and Slow of Being Busy

It feels as if the time since our last conversation has stretched too long, friends.

Busyness sucks the air from my soul. I know you understand. This rushing drags our weary bodies across the sand and throws us into pounding waves. Again and again we’re crushed by the never ending rush of the surf.

We long for the calmness of a spring field or the mirror-lake with its tranquil waters.

Voices call at us from all directions. “Slow down!”

But sometimes, friend? We can’t.

We just can’t.

We have responsibilities. Someone must do the laundry because who wants to run out of clean underwear? Then there are those blasted mildew rings around the toilet.

Grocery store runs. Kid school projects. Meals to make. Carpools and soccer mom brigades. Job responsibilities. Church to attend. Friends that need support. Service projects to organize. Helping the hurting. The list is endless.

There are seasons in which slow isn’t possible.

So how do I cope?

I remember standing in the office of a seminary professor with fellow students. We were lamenting the busy and how it never ends, this cycle of to-dos.

Someone finally blurted, “What if this is it? What if this is the full and abundant life Jesus talked about?”

Instantly, I dug my heels in and refused to agree. Wrapping my mind around the idea my life would always be busy? I just couldn’t be convinced this was it.

I mean, were is the space of time I can sit on a mountain lodge balcony reading my books drinking my coffee for days on end? Or what about sinking my toes in sand on the lakeshore for like, the rest of my life? Where are those wasted days?

Yet, I don’t want wasted days. I don’t want any day of my life to be worthy of a trash heap.

I believe my seminary friend was right—kinda.

Vacation days? Never a waste. Our souls need the restoration of rest. I will never feel guilty for those. Restoration is not waste—ever. Watching birds float along the ocean air breezes and hiking languid across mountain trails with my children will always be the slow that replenishes an abundant life.

But busy days? They’re part of the fullness too.

Because busy can be meaningful.

The hustle and bustle brings me a life worth living. As much as I lament cleaning my home, I have a home to clean. Homework and carpools and bickering in the back seat make up the fabric of motherhood. Lugging papers to grade back and forth from school to home remind me I have a steady income.

While there is busy in our lives we could avoid—need to avoid, there is also busy that is part of this life. Ingrained into our humanity.

Ocean WalkDSC_0304Spring GreenPapers and CoffeeI can lament the hectic or I can find meaning in it.

So I’m left to find ways of breathing in the midst of busy. Because living a fast-paced life doesn’t mean I never slow.

Noticing the beautiful spring-green on leaves. Deepening relationships with other mommas in the dance studio as we wait for our daughters. Writing an encouraging word to a student on her paper. Stopping to take the Court Jester to a play date at the park and enjoying the company of my friend as we watch our sons zoom past. Talking with my Princess and her sweet friend as we carpool. Kissing the brow of my beloved as we cook dinner together.

Beauty can be found within the busy. When we find it? We begin to understand this full and abundant life promised us by a Savior so wise.

He knew the fast pace we would lead. He knew the seasons of blur we would face. And He knew the glorious beauty we could find there.

I’m learning to breathe significance into the busy.

It’s not easy, all red-faced and panting from the marathon days I sometimes run.

But it’s worth the search when I can find meaning in the midst.

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Tired of Looking for Answers

My husband’s a finder.

Lost keys. Misplaced paperwork. Hidden toys. If I don’t know where it is, my Prince Charming will find it.

When something goes missing in our home, I spend wasted hours hunting, searching, seeking. Then I get angry. Shoving drawers closed and stomping through rooms. Because I can never find anything. Never ever.

My husband uncovers the lost in minutes.

I spend half my life searching, looking for the hidden. But I’m no good at the finding—even with the practice I have looking for answers.

Answers for why my son develops a fever on the worst-time-to-miss-work-ever days. Or why my girl suddenly outgrows all her winter clothes when the bank account and the weather forecast sit at zero. Or why a nail pierces a new tire and the water heater dies within two weeks of each other.

I also want to know the reasons friends face tragedy. Then there are the injustices of the world and human trafficking and murder and so many of the things that cut our hearts, leaving us bleeding with nothing to staunch the flow.

And I want to know why my plans veer off the path I plot. Why family members struggle with life-threatening disease. Why depression drags me into the darkness. When all of these things—I want to know why.

I look for answers. But I’m not the Finder.

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For the last year I’ve been searching for an answer. An answer to a question that has burned and flamed and blistered my soul.

Because I’ve been asking—What next God? What is your dream for me?

Over and over I’ve begged Him to answer, to tell me what He wants. I’ve been looking, hunting, searching and coming up short. Nothing. No inkling of the next step my life is to take.

I’ve mentally slammed doors, thrown papers, and crashed through piles of junk—all a fruitless attempt to discover a resolve to my question.

I’ve been looking for answers. But I’m not the Finder.

God is.

During a worship service a few weeks ago, the quiet voice of my Jesus whispered His words in my heart. Words that stopped my questions and quickened my soul. Whispered words of grace.

Daughter, you’re looking for answers when you should be looking at me.

Peace flooded and warmed my being despite knowing the searching and seeking had been in vain.

The gentle whisper of wind filled the cracks of my humanity reminding me I can never discover how my life fits in this great-wide world if I haven’t climbed into the palm of my Creator’s hand—surrounding myself with the deep crevices of a Savior’s love.

The cure for futile searching?

Looking at my Father.

Seeking my Jesus calms the anxious search for the missing. The God who taught the flowers to bloom and the sun to shine and the waves to lap the shore is the God who knows my story from beginning to end.

When I seek the presence of God, my nervous need to find answers turns up missing.
Peace soothes the edges of my soul.

In truth? A face turned toward the cross uncovers answers only when they need to be found. And it is a courageous step to trust when you’ve spent a lifetime hunting for the missing.

I want to be a different girl—the one tucked safe, secure in the arms of the God with all the answers, even if He doesn’t share them with me. The girl who bravely trusts in the future she cannot see, in a world she cannot understand because she loves the One who plans her future.

Because who wants to spend all her time searching when she can already be found?

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An Orlando Moms Blog Post…

Hello friends! (Especially email friends.) Today I’m over at Orlando Moms Blog sharing one of the major struggles I had as a new momma with my son and my daughter. So if you’re comfortable with reading all things breastfeeding, feel free to click on over here. I hope that it will be an encouragement to any new mom or cheerleader of a new mom…

(But since some of my readers are former students, you may just want to skip this one…love you guys! *wink*)

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