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Category Archives: Mommyness

The Eyes My Mom Gave Me

Where did she get her beautiful blue eyes?!?

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People have asked this about my daughters more than once. I usually look at them (with MY OWN blue eyes) and say, “My mother-in-law has beautiful blue eyes, too.”

Then I smile and walk away laughing. Sometimes to myself. Sometimes laughing at the stupidity of the question.

I have to admit it would be really fun to mess with someone next time. Like, “Oh my gosh!!! I have no idea!” I mean, ask a stupid question…get a stupid answer.

Because eye-color is something you can’t get on your own. It’s inherited. And, even though I don’t understand genetics, I know that two brown-eyed parents don’t (usually) bear a blue-eyed child.

I didn’t get the color of my eyes from my mom. She’s got brown ones. But there are other things about her eyes that she gave to me.

Like her eye for finding a way to help others in times of need. While I was growing up, my mom was always making food for people who were in some kind of need. Whether it was having a new baby or a death in the family or someone recovering from surgery. She has always had a knack for finding a way to help. And she passed that on to me.

And, although I certainly did not inherit physical eye-characteristics from my mother-in-law, there are things in her eyes that I long to acquire.

Like the way she sees life. Differently. As if looking through the eyes of a child, she is always able to make up a fun new game to play. Or make special crafts out of recycled trash.

That’s why moms matter. Because not only do they (sometimes) give us our eye-color, they give us the tools we need in order to look through those eyes and see what we need to see. Life as they see it. By using their eyes, they teach us to use them too.

And now it’s my turn. To teach my two blue-eyed wonders how to look through the blue and see life.

Lord, help me to teach them to see as You see. Give me eyes to see what You do and the wisdom to show it to them.

When You Worry You’ve Messed Up Your Kids and It’s Too Late To Fix Things {Guest Post by Lisa-Jo Baker}

I sat in Starbucks that day I let my mama soul bleed out through my fingers as I told you part of my story. The ugly insecure, doubt-I-can-do-this-motherhood-thing-sometimes part that screws up and doesn’t know what it’s doing. Then I introduced you to my friend and the words God is using to speak truth to that weary soul of mine.

But today, I get to introduce her to you in a whole new way. And. I am so. excited. Because, in honor of Mother’s Day week, today, I have the honor of welcoming my friend Lisa-Jo Baker to this little place I call home on the web. I can’t wait for you to see first-hand how real and amazing her words and her work are. But, even more, I can’t wait for you to be encouraged in your deepest parts.

by Lisa-Jo Baker

The thing is, we wonder all the time if we’re doing this motherhood thing right.

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Every night once the kids are in bed I try to ignore the annoying voice in my head that screeches through the list of things I should have done better. Every night. I can’t seem to turn it off. Especially when I’m surrounded by the daily mount doom of school paper work, projects and permission forms.

I’ve talked to other moms about it and they tell me it’s normal. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

Some days it seems to me that motherhood is a series of getting things wrong and trying again. Every day. Forever. On repeat.

It’s a lesson in how utterly imperfect you are and how bad your temper can scare you.

It’s a never ending, vividly imagined list of all the ways you could possibly mess up a tiny human.

Some nights I lie in bed and it’s hard to breathe. I used to think newborn sleeplessness was the worst. But I’m graduating into elementary school panic and that age has awoken a host of new worries.

Because now they can remember how bad I messed up.

This thought terrifies me. I’m guessing some of you are living in that reality right now. The one where she’s in her room and you’re at the computer wishing you could get a take-back.

Do-overs and doughnuts seem to be the bread and butter of parenting.

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But last year I heard a story that’s crawled under my ribcage and offered some hope.

I heard my favorite author of books about boys tell the story of a father who’d messed up. Messed up good and proper for years. Messed up more than just missing a few soccer games and home work assignments. He’d missed life. For years. Until his three girls were grown and were growing families of their own, reinventing the word.

They’d taken for granted the fact that he’d checked out of their lives.

And that’s when he decided to check back in.

When bridges, doors, and expectations had all been burned, that dad whose kids had outgrown him came back for another try.

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Trying again is always awkward. It’s so uncomfortable to keep trying to find new ways to say I love you. And I’m sorry.

He called all three of his daughters and asked if he could come and visit them. They were surprised. A lot surprised. They wanted to know what kind of agenda he was expecting. And he said he just wanted to come and be part of their routine. To fit into the nooks and crannies of their lives so he could understand how they looked from the inside.

And the women were skeptical. But they opened their doors anyway and their dad, he showed up throughout the year, paying them each a visit. And true to his word he tagged along for everything. He was there for breakfast and car pool and pick up. He watched homework get done and games get squabbled over. He came to sports matches and helped make the macaroni.

He quieted himself so he could hear what was going on in the big, wide world of his daughters’ lives.

He was present.

He was interested.

And a parent like that is hard to resist; hard to write off.

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This dad, he gives me hope because he should have been too late. But instead his girls, they were fascinated by how fascinating he found them.

And on the last night of their do-over weeks together he would take his daughters out to dinner. And over dessert he would ask them each a question.

He asked his grown up, no longer wearing pig-tails, raising-kids-themselves daughters,

“What do you dream?”

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I was standing in the very back row of the over-crowded hotel conference room and you could have heard a pin drop as 200 moms let that question run around their heads.

In the midst of all our every day to-dos it’s rare to have someone ask about dreams that may have been lost in a thousand miles of car pool.

He wasn’t too late. It turns out that this dad arrived in time to remind his daughters of a time when they dreamed wild and free as only children can.

You’re not too late either.

No matter how hard you fought or slammed that door or disagreed or stormed out or said things you wish you could take back. No matter if you threw his math book across the room or if she declared you the worst mom, like, ever.

You’re only too late once you give up going back for another do-over.

You’re only too late if you stop trying again.

Too late isn’t too late until you walk out and don’t walk back in again.

You’re only too late if you’ve run out of tomorrows.

So tonight, I will set my alarm and get up ready for fresh donuts. Or Cheerios as the case may be.

And do-overs.

Definitely do-overs.

 

{To see the video reminder of why all mothers are braver than they know, click here}.

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This guest post comes with love from Lisa-Jo Baker to our community in celebration of Mother’s Day.

If you haven’t already – treat yourself, your mom, your sister, your BFF or your grandma to a copy of her new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom.  

No matter what stage you’re in when it comes to motherhood, we promise it will encourage. And remind you that you are braver than you think.

Five Minutes on Paint

I always wanted to be a painter. So today when I saw Lisa-Jo’s writing prompt for 5-minute-Friday as I sat in the art room at my kids’ school, I was excited and inspired and a little nostalgic for the day when I believed I could actually use paint to make beautiful art.

The word is paint.

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They come individually throughout the morning. five and six-year-old kindergarten wannabe’s. Some of them don’t really wanna’ be, though.

I sit at a table awaiting their arrivals. One by one, they show up in the art room for the vision screening I will help with today. I think it’s because I’m a parent of a sixth-grader, but I’m not really sure.

It’s the art room that plays my office this morning. The art room at the bottom of the stairs in that little school I call the private school I don’t have to pay tuition for. Just one class per grade, all the teachers carefully chosen for my children, I feel. So thankful am I for this sacred place they call theirs.

And the art hangs on walls all around me. It colors the bulletin boards and inspires my children.

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The teacher who calls this place her room is coming and going today. So I can share her space as I help introduce these tiny people to the world that will be theirs in a few short months.

I have lots of down time in between customers, so I pick up my phone and click a few pics.

And paint and colors surround me and I love the inspired and the fresh that I feel when I walk through these halls where my children learn to live and make art with their living and their friendships and their conversations and their heartbreaks.

The smell of poster paint and construction paper and glue takes me back to a time when I believed I could do anything. Before Mr. Bukoszky chided my work in high school and led the rest of my painting class in a laugh-fest over the colors I had chosen.

That’s when I found a different way to paint my world. I found words and photos and learned to mold those things I felt confident with into things I knew nothing about.

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I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker today for Five-Minute-Fridays, where a whole bunch of brave writers throw caution to the wind and write unedited for five minutes straight before sharing it with the world.

Five Minute Friday

How Motherhood Surprised Me {and a Book You Must Read}

**This post contains affiliate links.

Surprised by Motherhood

We hung out a lot before kids. Back when our husbands and our houses and our careers and schooling were the whole of our lives.

We led college students together. Taught a class at church and hung out a lot. Mostly on Friday nights with pizza and The Matrix and whatever else presented itself to our group.

Then she and her husband finished their graduate work and moved to Ukraine for more study and life while my man and I stuck around and started a family.

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Just before we moved to Paris for a four-month stint, Lisa-Jo came for a visit. We sat on the floor of the play-room surrounded by my two kids and too many toys as she told me the stuff that might help me transition to life overseas.

She also told me she was going to be a mom. The surprise of which was not lost on me. Since I’d known her, she’d sworn she would never be one of those.

But now, eight years later, my friend Lisa-Jo Baker has birthed three children and a book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom.
Each of which will no doubt change the world in their own ways. Because God is alive in that woman, and He uses her words to speak life and courage into moms all over the world.

Even me.

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See, I’m not an insecure person. I mean, I used to be. Then God convinced me His was the only approval I needed. So I plugged my nose and dove off that cliff of real faith that trusted what He said about me and lived accordingly.

Full-on real life, no looking back or wondering if I was good enough or had what I needed to do whatever He’d show me to do from day to day.

Then I had a baby.

And somehow that baby introduced me to an entirely new level of insecurity.

What if I really don’t know what I’m doing? They said I would just instinctively know my own baby’s cry, but what if I don’t? Or, even worse, what if I do and it doesn’t make my heart jump to attention like I know it should because I love her so much? What if I don’t love her enough? What if loving her isn’t enough?

She wouldn’t eat those first few days, so I wondered what I was doing wrong. What if she never eats? What if my body wasn’t made for this nursing thing and I don’t know when to just give-in and feed her a bottle? What if I feed her a bottle and I screw up her life forever because I haven’t nursed her for that first year like all those books say I should do, and what if she gets sick every week for the rest of her life because I deprived her of my breast milk and the immunities it gives?

By the time that baby was three, she was convinced she knew more than me. And she was starting to convince me. She could question my motives with one three-letter word and have me spiraling to the depths of motherhood hell in three seconds flat. All because I couldn’t tell her why she needed to wear the blue shirt instead of the green one.

At five, that baby had me yelling at the top of my lungs one day in order to prove that I had not been yelling at her. “Stop yelling at me” she had said. And that spun me into a red-faced, blood-curdling yell that the neighbors probably heard even with the windows closed and the acre in between us. “I am NOT yelling!” I screamed. “THIS is YELLING!”

Not my shining moment.

When her sister came along, my insecurity grew. Because I didn’t know how to do siblings and rivalry and can’t we all just get along? And why do I still not know what I’m doing?!?

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I’ve had a few moments of motherhood greatness to be sure, but somehow in my brain they’ve been overshadowed by those insecure shaky times that live right there at the tip of the file marked “The Kind Of Mom I Actually Am”.

I’ve read books by James Dobson and Kendra Smiley and Lisa Welchel that have helped me find principles and ideas for dealing with my children.

But until my friend Lisa-Jo wrote Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom, I have not really learned how to deal with me and my mommy insecurity.

When I read Lisa-Jo’s words, I feel the camaraderie, and I know I’m not the only one. And the surprises of my own insecurity and every other surprise that motherhood has presented feel somehow okay.

Her words spark hope that God is using to actually convince me that maybe I do have what it takes to grow these little people and show them how to really live.

Maybe you can relate?

If you’re a mom, I would be willing to bet you can. I’m guessing you know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have what it takes to be a mom.

Or maybe you’re a dad who’s trying to figure out why your wife struggles so much with this motherhood thing.

Or maybe you have a mom with whom you’ve always struggled.

May I suggest you take Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom and let God use Lisa-Jo’s words to encourage you where you are in this journey. Wherever that might be.

You can click this link: Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom and order it right on Amazon. Or at Christian Books with this link: Surprised by Motherhood

Or, if you prefer the audio version, click this one: Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom

Three Words That Changed My Morning (One of them is ashes.)

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The morning was rough.

With my youngest home another day from school, just sick enough to stay home, and we haven’t had a full week of school for both kids since 2013.

We sit with our Bibles, and the oldest decides she’s not happy with my mothering skills and uses her critical thinking to make me question my every move.

It doesn’t go well.

I have to journal my way through the anger while she sits reading in the chair across the room. And still, I am hurt. I’m the needy mom who wishes she could at least convince her 12-year-old she knows what she’s doing.

But I don’t.

I wave to her as the bus drives away and can’t see through the storm door’s solid frost from winter’s return yesterday.

The wood pile on the porch is covered in snow, so when I grab it my fingers freeze and my sweatshirt gets wet, and when is spring coming, anyway?!?

I go to start a fire and the bottom of the fireplace is thick with ash and coal from yesterday’s burn. So I grab the little shovel and the pail on the hearth and I remember three words I’ve heard sung and recited. Straight from God’s heart through the pen of His servant Isaiah.

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I can’t remember it exactly, but I know three words, and I know it’s a promise.

. . . beauty for ashes . . .

I shovel out the soot and try to remember the words to the song. The words God gave Isaiah. I remember a Beth Moore Bible study and the talk she gave about the promise of new and beautiful. I remember the truth that to God I am beautiful already. And this ashy, sooty, sometimes hard-morning place will someday be crowned in beauty when He’s done with His deal.

I crinkle up the paper and throw it in the stove before stacking the snowy wood inside. My heart is singing the words it remembers.

. . . beauty for ashes . . .

And the rest of the words get lost in my brain, which is actually okay because I never really liked the tune. But I hum it anyway because it’s what my brain does, and I can’t wait to grab my Bible once this fire gets going.

I look for beauty and find the reference. Isaiah 61. That’s when I read the first few verses, the ones surrounding the phrase my heart suddenly can’t let go of . . .

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair.

And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD to glorify Him.

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God uses the thick ash on the bottom of my fireplace to remind me of His perfect plan. And three words of promise change my dark morning into a song for my heart.

Because I realize the ashes from my anger and the sometimes strained interactions with the 12-year-old love of my life are God’s fabric for some kind of glorious beautiful.

I start to see the frustration of another out-of-routine week, another sick day for the youngest as beauty’s fuel for the artwork God is painting with my life.

How To Study the Bible and Help Your Kids Find Real Life {Free Printable}

(This post contains an affiliate link.)

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The school day starts really early in Germany. Last year when we lived there, we went through seasons when it was almost still dark as the school bell rang.

So we had to leave home at like 7am to get the girls to school on time. Like ready to go. Out the door. Coats, hats, scarves and mittens on. Breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, shoes on enough to walk down the apartment building stairs without tripping. By seven o’clock in.the.morning.

That was a challenge. Also, aside from this early morning deal, every day held unique difficulties of its own.

Because we lived in the land of foreign, and so much of life was uncomfortable for us that year. We were foreigners in the land where morning bus commutes involved personal-space violations that would send most Americans running for open, breathable air. Also, my mono-lingual kids went to school where only German was spoken.

It was hard.

There was nary a morning when we didn’t have uncomfortable staring us down as we got out of bed and ready for the day. We cried a lot. Especially in the morning.

But God used those unsettled everyday mornings to point us to Himself. We found ourselves, as a family, needing to hear from Him regularly. Just to make it through the day. Consequently, we found ourselves in God’s Word together before 7am every day before heading into the day.

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I was finally the Christian I always thought I was supposed to be but somehow never really became because I’m not a morning person and studying the Bible at o-dark-thirty was something I could do at o-mid-morning-thirty and why was I doing it anyway if it was only just to say I did it? I mean, God doesn’t give out stars for reading the Bible early in the morning. At least I don’t think He does.

But last year in Germany, every morning, before getting ready, the four of us would read the day’s selection from the kids’ version of Jesus Calling. It would start with a piece of something from the Bible and go through a sort of challenge for the day. Help us understand what that particular passage meant.

It was almost uncanny how often the day’s reading applied to our very situation.

But we left Germany last June, and our comfortable returned and the mornings got a lot less scary and our very real and obvious need to hear from the God of Life kind of slipped into the background.

Because there is never a time when we don’t desperately need His input, His life, His Word speaking into our every moment. But sometimes that need gets covered up by the comfortable we find ourselves in. Last year’s vacation from comfortable just made us more aware of it.

Still, here we are inside November, six months in to our new life after a year abroad. And while the settling in is nice, there are pieces of our life over there that I am unwilling to part with.

Like afternoon coffee.

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And helping my kids realize how desperately they need God’s Word every.single.day.

So last week we went back to our German-living ways. (Yes, as a matter of fact I do still enjoy afternoon coffee. Every day. But I’m not talking about that.) After the Mann left for work, the girls and I got out our Bibles before getting dressed and brushing our hair and putting on our deodorant. And we all read something different from the Word that is God’s life spoken straight to His people.

I let them choose what they would read, but I asked them about it when they were done. I quickly realized, however, that sometimes it’s difficult for them to figure out how God might want them to use that truth today.

Like when my almost twelve-year-old decided to do a survey of the Bible’s shortest books and started with Obadiah and Haggai. (For which I owe her props for figuring out a way to push the boundaries even in this.)

So we argued calmly discussed how it’s my job to teach her how to look to God’s Word for how to do life. I assured her I was not out to torture her but that I actually want to see her love God and His Word with all that she is because I believe His is the only real way to live.

Then I replayed that conversation in my brain for a few hours. Somewhere in the middle of that replay, God gave me an idea.

Remember the verse in 2 Timothy 3 that talks about Scripture and why God gave it to us?

The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone. (vv16,17 TLB)

Well, I used it to come up with some questions that might help. It’s a little printable that, if she ever decides to use something I created, will lead her through each part of God’s purpose for any portion of His Word.

Because I want my kids to know why it matters that God included Haggai and Obadiah and Jude and every other everything that’s in the Bible.

Because what if God wants to use my kids to change the world? I want to do everything I can to help them listen for the Holy Spirit and recognize His voice. I want to teach them to pursue God’s truth and live it and know it in their every day.

I want to point them to God’s Word for how to do life today. And this is the best way I can figure how to do it.

I’m pretty sure He does want to use my kids to change the world. And I believe with all my heart He wants to use your kids too. That’s why I’m sharing this tool with you. I hope you’ll show it to your kids. I hope you’ll tell your friends about it. I hope you’ll even use it for yourself if you want to.

Because all that stuff about God’s Word changing our kids’ life? Well, it’s true for me and you too.

Anyway — I am so, so excited about this, and I really hope you find it helpful because finding life inside God’s Word is something I am super passionate about. And I desperately want that for my kids. And for your kids. And for you.

**You can click these words, and you will find the Lets Study the Bible Today Printable which you will then be able to download or print. Happy Bible studying!!

I really want to have a discussion about this in the comments today. But, in all honesty, I’m kind of afraid. Because I am fully aware that a question like How do you point your kids to God’s Word in the every day? could easily lead to comparing or shaming or seeing other parents as maybe better than each other. But I want to ask it anyway. And in asking I hope each one of us can find encouragement here in this place. Because, really, aren’t we all just trying to point to Jesus anyway?

 

When You’re Afraid of Your Dreams

Last year in Germany, God pulled me through a season of ripping off chains I didn’t even know I wore. Chains that looked like fear and anxious and opposite of peace.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He used abrasives sometimes. Like morning bus rides full of Germans and afternoon bus rides with people I did not understand.

Other times, He gently peeled away the layers of my afraid. Like when I’d walk into the butcher shop and she would greet me with happy words and smiles and helpful hands. Always helpful serving hands. Even though I couldn’t understand most of her words, the Metzgerei’s friendliness helped peel away pieces of anxiety chains so I could know what real life means.

The kind Jesus promised I could have if I’d trust Him and fear God alone.

So a few weeks ago in church, when we studied the story of Barak and how afraid he was of doing what God asked, I really didn’t think I had many fears left.

Until the end of the service when it was time to name my fear.

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It was a fill-in-the-blank deal. We each had a piece of paper that read just like this: “I fear ____________________” And we were supposed to write down what we were afraid might happen if we do what God asks.

I sat in my church seat and asked God if I still had fears I needed to hand over to Him.

Then He gave me an answer in the form of a thought, and I knew what I needed to write on that line.

I fear screwing up my kids if I go all-in with my writing.

I have long dreamed of being a writer and a speaker, writing a best-seller someday, speaking to groups about real life in Jesus Christ. But until recently it has only been that. A dream.

And now suddenly it seems I am faced with the realization that the dream was actually put there by God. And it’s what He wants for me.

And all the what-ifs of those dreams becoming reality are starting to surface.

I already knew that following Jesus meant giving up my life, trusting Him with every ounce of everything I have. So I thought I was denying myself by offering Him my dreams. Because I know He called me to be a wife and a mom first. And in my head I haven’t been able to reconcile the two.

How could I be both really well at the same time?

What I had not considered was the truth that following Jesus means offering Him both. My dreams and my family.

I’m not the one who decides. He is.

I’m not saying God wants me to deny my family. But I believe He is calling me to trust Him with the time issues that will be required of me if I go all-in with pursuing this dream.

I have long struggled with the idea of doing ministry so hard I ignore my kids and my family. Or I make them hate God for calling me to it.

But until that morning sitting in church, I had not considered that trusting God with my dreams, denying myself, might just mean He helps me keep it in balance. He doesn’t let me turn my writing or my dream into an idol that steals time from my family.

I had not considered that by denying my full-on chasing of the dream for fear of making it an idol, I was making my family an idol all its own.

I hadn’t even thought about the fact that by not going all-in as I pursue this dream to make Jesus known, I have been disobeying Him and trusting my own understanding of how I think it’s going to work.

What about you? Is there a dream God has given you that you’ve been scared to chase? Is there a passion you have that you’ve long ignored because you thought it would be selfish to pursue it?

Do you think you could trust God to figure out the details?

 

**I’m thinking of doing a Wednesday series here about dream-chasing. Do you like that idea? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

How to Leave a Legacy of Life. Unafraid

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I read this post about raising brave kids by Jen Hatmaker a few weeks ago, and it kind of messed me up. I read her words like, “I want to have to say to my sons, “Only boys would think something like this up,” and pretend to be put out when really I’m enamored.”

And my heart got all excited as I remembered how I used to think I wanted five little boys so I would be forced to be that kind of mom. Because I admire such motherhood bravery.

The kind that teaches unafraid and risk-taking. And lets her kids actually live.

I’ve always wanted to be a mom who doesn’t hold my kids back for fear of something bad happening.

It sounded awesome. Until my daughter climbed to the top of that reeeeaaaallly tall slide at the age of six, and all my mind could see was a paralyzed kindergartner in a full body cast for a year.

The truth is, I haven’t been good at teaching my kids unafraid until recently. In fact, He’s used this time in the land of Deutsch to show me the amazing of kids who live unafraid.

 

He has given me a new legacy to leave for my children.

The legacy of life. Unafraid.

We’re talking about it today over at my friend, Becky’s blog. Join us? Why not poke around a little while you’re over there? She’s doing a series this month and next about the legacies we leave. Good stuff.

Come on over . . .

 

**Have you signed up for my (free) e-book yet? You can click right here, and I’ll send it right to your inbox. Enter your address up there in that subscribe box where it says, “Sign up here for your free e-book and email updates.”

When The Kitchen Becomes A Sanctuary

My head feels explosive and the living room’s closing in. The laundry pile has grown into the actual Tower of Terror, and the to-do list has become a minor threat to my sanity.

The kitchen’s a mess, and snow boots fill the hallway like a party’s going on in here. Only it’s really anything but a party.

My kids feel my stress, so the mood gets tense as soon as I let on about the almost-exploding head. I don’t even say a word. All it takes is one look, an extra deep sigh, then a tightened-jaw-bone reaction, and my secret is out. Every square meter of this tiny German living space fills with the less-than-gentle prodding of a mama in a fit.

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And that makes me feel worse. The power of a mom to change her home’s thermostat just like that. With a simple blast of frigid overwhelmed, the temperature of an entire home drops from warm to stinkin’ cold in three seconds flat.

I’ve felt it coming for a while now. The winds in my heart have been blowing cooler as my focus has gotten blurred. The mornings have changed. The routine’s gotten lax, and somehow lifeline with God has morphed into work and making deadlines. I find it easy to justify, too when I write about God. Studying the Word and then writing what I find. But somehow finding God inside His Word has turned into mere words from my own mortal hands.

And I don’t know how to stop it, so I just start a new blog post and keep writing.

But my soul needs its Lifeline. The words need the Word. They are pointless when they have no One to point to. And motherhood’s not that if not for the kids. And the calling is just a job if only to-do’s and deadlines. And life is only breathing if it’s merely survival.

I stand to go start dinner, breathing deeply. Subconsciously overly dramatic. I know the house is cold. Because my soul is.

I peel potatoes over the sink, and I start to pray. I tell God I need Him while I flick the dirty peels. Picking out the brown spots, I ask for His help. Ask Him to breathe fresh into my spirit.

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And when I confess my own destitution that brought this chill into my home, the kitchen becomes a sanctuary and Living God shows up.

I admit the empty that stole the grace right out of my mommy-love, and I feel my heart start to soften like the old potatoes I just threw out.

I think of Asaph’s change of heart. The turn-around perspective when he entered God’s sanctuary. When he re-found God’s presence, re-focused his blurred eyes. I remember his refreshed, and I hope my potato-peeling heart whispers are enough for the same kind of turning because, man, do I need it.

My bathing daughter calls for me, requesting shampoo. I breathe and I go and I wonder is it different. Can I serve with Grace. Can I answer my call more warmly now?

Then I remember Proverbs from last month’s devotions series. The pride and the fool and the broken and the grace.

I remember He hears the broken I-need-You’s that call out for help. And I grab the shampoo and feel the warmth start to rekindle.

The Parenting Post I Never Thought I’d Write

I knew I would learn a lot living in Germany for a year. I had no doubt my kids would, too. I did not, however, realize I would learn so much about my kids. Nor did I think I would grow so much as a parent.

So imagine my surprise when my turn came up to write a devotion for the Everyday With God blog about discipline and children and wisdom and such. Proverbs 29 is the chapter today. Here’s a bit of what I wrote . . .

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In June of last year, my husband’s employer offered him a chance to move across the world for a year. So we picked up our two kids and re-located to a small city in Bavaria, Germany. We saw it as an opportunity to teach our kids, and us, more about life than we could have if we didn’t go.

We knew it would be hard on them. Sending our kids to a German-speaking school, making them live like foreigners for a year. Yes, we had no doubt it would be difficult in many ways for our two kids.

When we first arrived, I had a bit of trouble remembering it was good. So I sort of spoiled them and tried to make up for what my kids were missing at home. You know, the comfortable and easy that they would be enjoying had we not come.

Then school started for them, and I couldn’t spoil them out of what we all knew they had to conquer — five hours of German school, everyday, five days a week.

Click here to read the rest. (I think you’ll like how it ends.)