If You Think You’re Small and Ordinary

“Which hand?” My younger daughter stood facing me, hiding both fists behind her back.

“Hmmm. . .” I played along, tapping my fingertip on my chin. “This one.” I pointed to her left arm.

If You Think You're Small and Ordinary

“Yes!” She swung her fist around and opened her palm. Nestled in the crook of her hand sat two tiny yellow flowers, each just millimeters wide but perfectly formed and detailed—delicate saffron petals with green stems like trailing embroidery threads. She turned her wrist and emptied the flowers into my hand.

“Sweetheart, these are beautiful!”

“They’re for you, Momma! I found them outside. I love you! Bye bye!” And off she ran, back to her toys and grassy yard adventures. I sat in my office chair studying those dainty gifts, so small and ordinary and yet—they might as well have been diamond earrings, precious as they were to me.

Sometimes the little gifts mean the most.

I need to remember that.

On the days when I feel like I have nothing to offer God. When my floor sweeping and lunch packing and smiley-face toast making seems pathetic compared to grander pursuits. I mean, I’m not building an orphanage in Haiti. I’m not delivering gospel tracts to homeless shelters or giving millions of dollars to world outreach. Heck, I’m not even making the money that pays for the Cheerios in my daughter’s breakfast bowl.

I’m just being a mom. Getting up every day and praying that God will help me to honor him with the way I treat my family. Putting one foot ahead of the other, one breath after the last, wiping those bottoms and cutting those crusts and texting “I love you” to my husband.

I am so very small and ordinary.

But to God, I am enormously special.

And so are you.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Wow. Think about that. God called us—he chose us (before time even began!)—to live . . . what? A mundane, nothing-to-offer life? No.

A holy life.

And not because we’ve done anything magnificent to prove ourselves. What we call ordinary—the carpooling, casserole-baking, homework-helping life—God calls purposeful. He calls it holy.

Huh.

Imagine that.

Yes, you’re a mom. And that means what you do matters. God sees it. He values it. He knows your heart and he gives you your blessings. Try counting them today, and see if you don’t start to agree that this small and ordinary life is holy indeed.

Later that day, my daughter pressed her hands against my cheeks and leaned in until our noses touched. “Momma? Did you love those flowers? The pretty ones from outside?”

“Oh yes, sweetheart. They are very special.”

“I just know you love them, Mom.”

“You do? How do you know?”

She patted my face with her palm and gazed straight into my eyes. “Because they’re from me.”

Ah. Sweet girl. She gets it.

Blessings,
Becky


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Cut Me Some Slack, Little People

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Did you know the Golden Rule applies to parenting? This never really occurred to me—until my daughter broke the rule.

Cut me some slack, little people

“Mom, you should NOT have done this!” My five-year-old stormed into the bathroom where I stood hooking silver hoops into my earlobes. She glared at me, her lips pursed and a fist perched on each hip.

“Pardon me?” I turned from the mirror to face her. “What exactly did I do?”

“You left the car door open all night!” she hissed. “Dad just went into the garage and saw it!”

Oh. I did? My brain rewound to the night before—a family dinner outing to Applebee’s. I recalled unloading two kids, two water cups, a bulky purse and a Styrofoam to-go box out of the minivan, so it’s entirely possible my juggling fingers forgot to push the button on the automatic sliding door. Sure, that sounds like something I would do.

“Well, I’m sorry. I’m human, and I make mistakes.” Annoyed, I held my accuser’s stare. “And I don’t appreciate your tone, young lady. How would you feel if I scolded you every time you made a mistake?”

Whoa. A sudden realization cut my lecture short. I do scold her for making mistakes. Darn.

There’s a difference between correcting and criticizing. We grown-ups know this. At work, in marriage, among close friends—accountability is healthy. But if somebody’s going to point out a weakness, I want them to be nice about it. Tell me the truth, of course, but please—do it with gentleness and respect.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2, NLT).

I’ve failed my kids at this. I didn’t even realize it until my daughter dished out a taste of my own chiding. How many times have I reacted to harmless errors with impatience instead of grace? I’m ashamed of the examples. Can you relate to any of these?

Me: Who took the masking tape?
Daughter: I’m sorry, Mom. I used it for a craft, and I forgot to put it back in the junk drawer.
Me: No more masking tape for you.
What I wish I’d said: We can all be forgetful sometimes. I’ll help you look for it.

Me: Ouch! You stepped on my foot!
Daughter: I’m sorry, Mom. I was practicing my ballet.
Me: Can you dance somewhere else, please?
What I wish I’d said: The kitchen is too small for pirouettes. Let’s go in the playroom so you can show me your fancy moves.

Me: Okay, it’s time to add the cinnamon.
Daughter: Here it is, Mom!
Me: Aaack! You just poured cumin into our cookie batter! Now we have to start all over.
What I wish I’d said: Spicy cookies coming right up! {Insert crazy peals of laughter}

When my daughter harped on me for the car door blunder, I heard my ugly, perfectionist self in her sassy mouth. If I expect my kids to cut their poor mother some slack, then I must set the example first. More kindness. More forgiveness. More grace.

In other words, less me—and more Jesus. After all, how can any of us give grace unless we receive it from him first?

“So I left the van door open last night, huh?” I groveled to my husband.

“Yeah, no big deal.”

“Really? That’s not what the minivan police said.” I slipped him a sly grin. “But I’m glad you forgive me.”

“Of course.” He paused for a second and leaned in for the jab. “If the battery had died, though, then I’d be mad.”

Oh, how I love this family. Even when they scold me.

Blessings,
Becky


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When God Doesn’t Give You What You Ask For

Hello, friends! I’ll be spending the next few weeks on limited media time, practicing what I preach by pouring extra love and attention into my family while summer is still in the air. Today’s post is an encore presentation, brought to you from the Time Out archives. I’ll be sharing some old favorites this month while I slurp popsicles and leap through the sprinkler with my girls. Thank you so much for reading and joining me on the mom journey with Christ as our guide. Blessings from my household to yours!

When God Doesn't Give You What You Ask For

I often wonder how my toddler’s mind works. And then I realize—it’s a lot like mine.

“Mommy, I have a good idea!” My daughter’s eyes sparkle, lit from a mysterious place deep inside her brain. Typically what follows is some sweet desire of her two-year-old heart, like, “I can wear my purple socks!”

Or. . .

“Mommy, I have a good idea! We can go to the park!”

Or. . .

“Mommy, I have a good idea! You can rock in my chair and I will go to sleep! I promise!”

When her idea seems reasonable, I acquiesce. Why not, eh? Initiative and creativity are traits worth encouraging. The little lady knows what she wants, and that’ll take her far in life.

But sometimes my daughter’s requests aren’t so healthy, and Mommy has to decline.

“Mommy, I have a good idea! I can eat pudding for supper!”

“No, sweetheart,” I crooned. “You need to eat your broccoli first.”

“No, Mommy.” She batted her eyelashes. “I really want pudding. It’s such a good idea!”

“Sorry, sweetie. Broccoli is better for you.”

“Hmmpf! No! I want pudding!” She stuck her thumbs in her armpits and scrunched her lips. I raised my eyebrows and opened wide for another forkful of my own broccoli.

Too bad, kid. Sometimes I just know better than you.

God says that to me on a regular basis.

“Hey, Lord, I have a good idea! You should bring us sunshine for our picnic on Saturday. No rain, okay?”

“Lord, I have such a good idea! You can give my husband a big fat raise, and I can stop clipping coupons!”

“I know, Lord, how about this. You take away my child’s fear of the dark, and the whole family can sleep again! Isn’t that a great idea?”

As if God is my short-order cook. I rattle off prayers according to my appetite du jour, and the Lord of the universe is supposed to whip up blessings like they’re a plateful of fluffy pancakes.

But sometimes, he gives me broccoli.

“Uh, Lord? What’s the deal? Didn’t I ask for pancakes?”

Eat up, kid, he tells me. Sometimes I just know better than you.

How do you respond when God doesn’t give you what you ask for? If you’re like me, you pout. Worry. Cry. Argue. Get mad at God. Cross your arms and scowl in true toddler fashion.

Maybe you even start to doubt God’s goodness.

“Lord, if you love me, why won’t you just give me the pancakes?! It’s such a good idea!”

Yes, my child. I do love you. And that’s exactly why I’m giving you the broccoli.

Trust me.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9–11, NLT).

“Mommy, why can’t I have pudding?” Still holding her arms tight to her chest, my daughter lifted her feet and kicked her booster seat in protest.

“Because,” I explained, “it’s not time for pudding yet. I know broccoli seems yucky, but it makes you stronger on the inside. Pudding is a reward for eating your broccoli.”

Ahhhh.

Out of the mouths of moms.

I get it, Lord.

{… Sigh …}

Thanks for the broccoli. Now maybe you could help me convince my toddler—sometimes there’s a better idea.

Blessings,
Becky


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Why Marriage Is Like Potty Training

I created a potty monster.

The first time my younger daughter tinkled in the potty chair, I cheered. For months I’d been desperate to slash the diapers from our grocery bill, and at last she had agreed.

Why Marriage Is Like Potty Training

“I’m a big girl!” She raised her hands above her head and clapped.

“Yes, you are!” I jiggled a happy dance on the bathroom tile. “And now you get a jelly bean!”

She earned six more jelly beans before that day was through. And again the next day, and the next.

Forget the diapers—now suddenly I dared to imagine scratching Pull-Ups from the shopping list, too. What a deal!

But then. About a week into our potty adventure, I lounged on a cozy chair in the family room. Kids were in bed, lamps were dimmed, and I reached for a book on the ottoman when a button nose poked around the sofa.

“Mommy, I have to go potty.”

“Okay, thanks for telling me. It’s past bedtime, though, so let’s make tinkles and go straight to sleep.”

“Yep, Mom, I sure will.” She smiled, squatted, and shuffled back to bed.

The next night, it happened again—twice. The following night, three times. Soon she was tapping my pillow at 2 a.m. insisting she had to go potty. Nature called on playground dates, shopping trips, chiropractor appointments, and car rides across town. One morning my daughter yanked down her pants every five minutes, expecting me to assist and cheer.

But I didn’t feel like cheering anymore. That potty chair was interrupting my life.

And I had asked for this?

Potty training is hard work, I grumbled. I should just slap a diaper on her bum and give up. Life was easier before the potty chair!

Do you ever feel that way about marriage?

At first, newlywed life is exciting. Surely I’ll be happy now, we think, with this man by my side.

But then one day that man leaves his socks on the floor. He forgets a birthday. He works late while his frazzled wife swaddles colicky babies at home.

And we discover—marriage is hard work. It begs forgiveness and self-sacrifice. It demands our attention, our agenda, and the deepest places of our heart.

Until sometimes we just don’t feel like cheering anymore.

He didn’t like my casserole? Fine. No more new recipes. He can eat hot dogs all week.

We’re tripping over laundry baskets, and he hasn’t offered to fold a single towel. Am I the maid around here? Well, this maid is keeping her uniform buttoned tight tonight, if you know what I mean.

I told him how I feel, and he laughed. Forget it. I won’t share my heart anymore.

Do you see? Giving up seems easier at first. But the risk of withdrawing is to wake up one day and realize our marriage hasn’t grown. It’s still in diapers.

Which brings me back to my potty monster. She’s five years old now and heading to kindergarten next month. Thanks to potty training perseverance, she’s been self-sufficient for a long time and ready to tackle the girls’ bathroom at school. Imagine if I’d given up two years ago. We’d be stashing Pampers in her backpack.

Without some necessary growing pains, we’ll never reach the next stage of maturity. And so it goes with marriage. When we persevere through the tough spots, our relationship grows up.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).

Now with the bathroom business far behind us, can you guess what’s next?

Learning to tie shoes.

Oh, yeah. Bring it on.

Blessings,
Becky


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Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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A version of this story first appeared as a guest post on Come Have a Peace. If it encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When Hubby Leaves His Socks on the Floor, Vying for the Driver’s Seat, and How to Marry Your Husband All Over Again.  

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Intentional at Home ThursdaysMom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

To Parents Raising Dawdlers

It’s official. I gave birth to two sloths.

Oh sure, they pass for human beings, with their swishy ponytails and their full English sentences. But don’t let them fool you. These children morph into slow-motion mammals as soon as you tell them to move.

To parents raising dawdlers

“Get your shoes on, girls. We leave for karate in five minutes.” I rushed through the house, packing snacks and water bottles, smacking on a quick layer of lip gloss and searching for my phone.

Five minutes later, my children had not yet unglued their bottoms from the sofa.

“Girls! What did I say? It’s time to go to karate. Turn off the TV and put your shoes on.”

“I don’t want to go to karate today,” groaned the second-born creature. “I want to stay home.”

“Too bad. You love karate. We’re going. Put your shoes on.”

“Do we haaaaaave to go?” Big sister sprawled her legs across the sofa. I clenched my fists, closed my eyes, blew steam out my nostrils and counted to five—for me, not for them.

“Girls, what is our family rule?”

“Obeyyyyy the firrrrrrst tiiiiiiiime.” If sloths could speak, I’m sure they could not drawl those words any slower. My children know this rule. Yet the space between knowing and doing is where I live and train and discipline—and sometimes drive myself straight up the wall, which wouldn’t be so bad if I had the sloth gene, too, and could hang upside down on the ceiling fan for a nice long nap.

How do I get THROUGH to these mammals children?!

Mom is on a schedule! GET ON THE BUS OR GET RUN OVER, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Hmmm. Stress much?

Let’s rewind and replay the morning at sloth speed.

While I was watching the clock, trying to squeeze in one last chore or e-mail or status update before the last possible minute to get into the shower or else run late (again), my girls were seated at the kitchen table drawing flowers and dinosaurs. “Mommy, look at my picture!” In a minute, I said. Mom is busy.

When they ate their pancakes and asked for more, I answered five texts, switched two loads of laundry, and completely spaced the update that my kids were still hungry. “Mom, my pancake? You said I could have another one.” Dang it.

And while I barked at them to brush their teeth and comb their hair, I stood half naked in the mirror still fixing my own hair and makeup, clearly not demonstrating punctuality by example. Perhaps I could’ve gotten ready ten minutes earlier so I’d have time to relish their pretty reflections and tell them how beautiful God made them.

Do you see the problem here? I expect my children to enter my world—my fast-paced, clock-ticking, hamster wheel existence. But I seldom bother to slow into theirs, to delight in their artwork or their silly songs, to answer their curiosity with more than half a brain of distracted attention in those moments when I have things to do and places to go.

And I suspect I’m not alone.

Do you do it, too?

Holding flower

Maybe their dawdling is an issue of disobedience. Probably. Yes. I will continue to work on that. I don’t have any brilliant solutions or magic words of wisdom. I’m struggling just like you.

But maybe. Maybe their dawdling is partly a digging in—a show of resistance against their mother’s crazy pace. And if that’s the case? I could learn a few things from my kids. Perhaps in the space between knowing and doing, I am just as disobedient as they are.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38–42).

What will you choose today, momma? Tasks and distractions? Or living in the moment, soaking up what matters?

Yes, I know those tasks need to get done, oh man don’t I know it. But we have to keep them in perspective—because Jesus says those tasks are not the most important thing. Let’s show our kids how to keep up by walking alongside them rather than harping from behind. Amen?

“Moooom, where are you?” My girls called from the garage, where they were now buckled into the minivan and waiting for me—oh the irony.

“Thank you for getting ready on time,” I said as I slid into the driver’s seat, running two minutes late as usual.

“What took you so long?” My five-year-old scolded.

“I couldn’t find my shoes.”

“Hahaha,” she cracked up, “Mommy, you’re just like me! I lose my shoes all the time!”

Heaven help me. She’s right. My dawdlers and I—we’re growing up together.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When the Queen of Sheba Comes to Visit, How to Love Your Family More Than Your House, and Love Your Kids, That Is All.

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Sometimes You Just Have to Face the Trolls

“Mommy, can I watch Tinkerbell?” My daughter clutched a stuffed puppy in her hand and climbed beside me on the sofa.

“Sure, we can watch a little TV before bedtime.” I grabbed the remote and flipped to my girls’ latest favorite—Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure.

“But, Mom, can you skip the part about the trolls? I don’t like the trolls.”

Sometimes you just have to face the trolls

The trolls? Ah, yes. There’s a scene where Tinkerbell tries to cross a bridge guarded by two nasty oafs who threaten to chew her for dinner.

Heck, I’d like to skip the trolls, too. I’ve known a few trolls in my life.

Marriage conflict.

Infertility.

Colic.

Call them all trolls—ugly obstacles to what I think should be a smooth life journey.

In Tinkerbell terms, though, those trolls are the turning point of the movie. It happens when an argument breaks out between the two troll buddies and escalates until one troll calls the other a “garden gnome”—the cardinal insult of trolldom. Here’s the dialog that follows.

“Say the magic words, go on.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Do you mean it?”

“Oh, absolutely.”

“Do you feel it?”

“Deeply.”

“Well then, I forgive you.”

“Friends?”

“Friends.”

And that’s when we learn the moral of the story: forgiveness. Tink realizes she’s been mistreating her best fairy friend, and when she finally apologizes, the two tiny pals work together to save Pixie Hollow from sure disaster.

All thanks to the trolls.

So—what are your trolls? What are they teaching you?

I hate arguing with my husband. But resolving our conflicts allows me to understand him at a deeper level.

Infertility was no picnic. But experiencing a season of waiting on God for a baby made me learn to trust him in ways I hadn’t before.

Colic nearly sent me to the psych ward. But it also taught me selflessness and the comfort of desperate prayer.

Yes, trolls are ugly. They threaten our peace. But when we face them head-on, we just might discover there’s a treasure on the other side.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

“Mom, is the part about the trolls coming up?” My daughter snuggled in my lap with her eyes fixed on the TV.

“Soon, yes. Do you want me to fast forward?”

“No, it’s okay.” She scrunched her nose. “I’m not afraid of them anymore.”

“You’re not?”

“No, they’re a little scary, but they’re a little nice, too.”

So true, my love. So true.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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This story first appeared as a guest post on Raising Humans. If it encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When Bad Things Happen to Good People, My Doctor Said the F Word, and When Your Net Is Empty, Keep on Fishing.

Summer scripture memory challenge

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

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If You’ve Never Heard of a Buterflagen, Read This

You know what’s missing in a lot of families?

Belly laughter.

It’s the kind of thing you don’t notice is gone until it shows up again, out of nowhere.

Buterflagen-More-Laughter

“Mom, can you stay in for a bit?” My five-year-old looked up at me from her pillow. Hubby and I had just tucked the girls into bed, and like clockwork our little one popped this question. Every night, my girls want me to stay, to sit on the bunk stairs. They want to know I’m there and watching over them while they fall asleep.

And what’s my usual response? Not tonight—Mom has work to do, laundry to fold, books to read. There’s an endless to-do list waiting for me beyond this pink and purple room, tasks reserved for the sleeping-child hours, or should I say hour, singular. Some nights that’s all I get before my brain taps out.

I need my peace and quiet.

But I need to relish my kids, too.

So one night last week, I looked at my daughter’s lower bunk and decided—heck with the to-do list. Mom is wiped.

“Sure, I’ll stay.”

“You will?” She gasped with joy.

“Yep, but you have to move over so I can snuggle in your bed.”

“Yay!” Both girls squealed.

I climbed under a pony blanket, and my baby girl flung an arm across me. Her eight-year-old sister lounged on the top bunk with a chapter book and a flashlight. “Mom,” she whispered, “do you know the German word for butterfly? It’s in my book.”

“Butterfly?” I thought back to my years of German language class in high school and took a wild stab. “It’s buterflagen.”

“What?” The girls giggled.

“Buterflagen.” Pronounced, boo-ter-flah-gen. Naturally.

“Bwaaahaaa!” They cracked up, completely defeating the purpose of bedtime. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing, too.

“No, Mom, it’s schmetterling!” My eight-year-old cackled.

“Buterflagen, schmetterling—same thing.” I rolled on the mattress, savoring the sound of their laughter.

“Buterflagen, buterflagen!” My five-year-old laughed harder each time she said it, presumably because “buter” sounds like “bootay” which is, of course, her second favorite word next to “butt.” After a few minutes, all three of us were roaring so hard, our smile muscles hurt.

“Hey, what’s going on in there?” My husband shouted from the living room down the hall.

“Nothing,” I called back. . . . “Buterflagen!!” Aaaaackhaaaaa! And we started all over again.

I know—it’s dumb, right? A silly word for silly kids. You probably had to be there to appreciate the humor. But the point is, I realized as a mom I take myself way too seriously most of the time. Do you? Maybe we all could benefit from a little more silliness.

“When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the LORD has done for them.’ Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (Psalm 126: 1–3, NLT).

Most days I’m focused on being the responsible adult, the one God put in charge of two little people who need guidance and training and discipline. I have lessons to teach and wild behavior to curb. Work to do, deadlines to meet, meals to sauté and toilets to scrub. I’ve got grown-up worries, okay, people? Parenting is serious business! No time for goofing off!

Except God has done amazing things for us, has he not? He created these miracles we call children and landed them in our arms to love and cherish. They are a joy. What joy!

Why then is it so hard to act joyful?

Yes, I know, sometimes the kids bicker, whine and disobey—and we don’t much feel like laughing. I get that, I really do. Yet it’s all the more reason to take advantage of the times when nothing is holding us back except our own preoccupations.

Laugh. Smile. Enjoy God’s amazing gifts. It’s okay, more than okay. It’s biblical. Did you catch what happens when God’s faithful ones laugh?

“And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the LORD has done for them.’” (verse 2)

When we are joyful, people see God in us.

Wow.

And can you guess who needs to see God in us first and foremost?

Our kids.

So laugh, sweet mommas. Laugh a lot. Laugh ‘til your stomach hurts. Make up crazy words like “buterflagen,” which in our house is now the family code for “Mom is super fun.”

My family is a joy. Your family is a joy. Christians should be the laughingest people in all the world. And yes, I just made up another word—laughingest—but hey, at least that one passes for English. My apologies to Frau Brunet from junior year German class. Although, let’s be honest, schmetterling? That’s weird, too.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
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Summer scripture memory challenge

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

For the Family: Are These Three Items on Your Summer Bucket List?

Here we are, the first week of summer vacation, and already my family has checked several items off our summer bucket list. Clean out the sandbox — check. Make s’mores over a fire pit — check. Have a play date with Ella — check. (Although I’m guessing that one will be repeated as many times as possible. Ella is co-captain of the spy team. We can’t play spies without Ella.)

Sandcastle at the beach with bucket and spade

But before we jam pack the calendar with secret codes and sandbox castles, our family is also building in some intentional time with God. (Seriously, if we don’t write it down, we won’t keep tabs on it. The bucket list is a summer spirit-saver.) This week we started our Summer Scripture Challenge, and I hope you’ll join us. But that’s not all. Join me today on For the Family, where we’re talking about three items every family should add to the summer bucket list. Click here to read the whole post. I’ll see you there!

Blessings,
Becky

 

Why Church People Need to Start Being Nice to Each Other

I’ve discovered only one disadvantage to following Christ. It makes you an easy target.

Not for atheists or suicide bombers. Those folks are predictable.

No, the most hurtful criticism comes from other Christians.

And I want to know why.

Why church people need to start being nice to each other

Recently I read a stack of survey replies about a church event I’d helped plan. Most of them were encouraging or constructive, but a few were shockingly mean. You know—the kind of nasty remarks that probably say more about the author than the subject. I tried to shrug them off, but it’s hard to keep a handful of pepper from ruining the whole jar of honey.

Yet the more I thought about it, I had to admit—haven’t I been a speck of pepper before, too?

Haven’t you?

Anytime we gripe about our church, our leaders, or our sisters in Christ.

When the worship service is too loud, too slow, has too many hymns, not enough hymns, and why do they let that guy with the neck tattoos onto the stage? Don’t we have standards here?

When the Bible study leader won’t cut off the chatterbox sitting across from you, when the snack table has too many baked goods, not enough baked goods, when the book they chose is too fluffy or too serious, too short or too long. Who are “they,” anyway? Can’t “they” choose something better next time, for the love?

What if the preacher has too many bullet points, not enough bullet points, or no clear point at all? Don’t we have a right to complain? To make sure the people in charge know they should work harder to meet our needs because, after all, they exist to serve.

Yes, yes they do. They exist to serve—God. And so do you. So do I. It’s a job we all share. That’s why the Bible calls God’s people the “body of Christ.”

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ . . . . The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’ . . . . If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 21, 26, NLT).

Has it ever occurred to you that your pastor, your worship team, your Bible study leader, your Sunday school teacher, the mom sitting next to you with a screaming child, that college student with purple hair, and every single believer in your congregation not to mention all other Christian congregations in the world are a part of the same body? Your body? Which means when we wield our complaints like axes, ready to whack a foot because we don’t like the way it’s walking, we’re actually chopping off our own foot.

Ouch.

In order to survive, a body needs all its parts working in harmony. And yes, sometimes that means we should get a check-up, a dose of medicine or even surgery. That’s what constructive criticism and accountability rooted in love can do for the body. That’s healthy.

But there’s a big difference between constructive criticism and self-serving complaints.

So next time you’re tempted to hack a body part, ask yourself—what’s my motive? Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, of course. But nobody is entitled to chop the body to bits. If your intention is to build up the body, then by all means, offer your thoughts with a spirit of encouragement.

But if your words are just going to cut and sting, please, please, please remember. You’re only hurting yourself—and God.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

Okay, then. Next time your church offers a survey, you just go right ahead and speak the truth in love. I will, too. Deal? But seriously. If you choose instead to be rude, then woman up and sign your name. The foot deserves to know which butt it ought to kick, amen?

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like We Don’t Want Your Glitter, ThanksCut Me Some Slack, Little People. and What Your Child’s Behavior Says About You.

Summer scripture memory challenge

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.

You Are Special But Not Because I Think So

“Raise your hand if you love me!” My five-year-old shouted from the back seat of our minivan. I popped two hands off the wheel and shot them toward the roof.

“I do! I love you!” Then I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my daughter had raised both her own arms, too.

You-Are-Special-Think

“I love myself, Momma!” She giggled.

“That’s great!” I smiled wide. “You should love yourself. God made you, and he thinks you’re pretty special.”

When will the world rip that away from her, I wonder? This innocent self-love and unquestionable confidence. When will she, like every female since Eve, learn to doubt her inherent beauty and worth?

The first time a kid makes fun of her shoes at school.

Or she notices the other girls have thicker hair or thinner ankles.

When she struggles in math or soccer or singing.

When a particular boy overlooks her—or pays her the wrong kind of attention.

Will she wish to look or act or be different from the person God created?

Probably.

And yet . . .

Not if I have anything to say about it.

And I like to think I do. WE do. You and I—we’re parents. We’re the first impression our children have of the world. We may not be able to control social drama or bad hair days, but we sure can devote day after day to infusing God’s truth in our kids’ hearts. And I’m not talking about a shallow, egocentric self-esteem. I want my kids to possess God-esteem—to know they are lovely and loveable simply because God says so. It’s an irrefutable truth. Nobody else’s opinions can change it.

Not even their own.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13–14).

Crocs and training wheels

Let’s not just tell our kids they’re beautiful. Tell them God made you beautiful.

Don’t tell them they’re smart. Say God made you smart.

Our children are not special because we think so. They are special because God created them. He crafted every single one of us with sovereign intention and flawless affection. We are each an original, divine masterpiece.

So I have to ask.

When did you begin to doubt?

God’s unconditional love isn’t just for our kids, you know. You are special, too.

Loved, beautiful, valued, victorious and chosen. You are all those things in Christ and more.

Maybe it’s time we moms reclaim the faith of a five-year-old. Amen?

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
Don’t miss a post. Sign up here!

If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like If You Think You’re Small and Ordinary,  The Beauty of a Naked Lion Chase, and How a 40-year-old Woman Can Look 20 Again.  

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.