Nobody Notices When I Sweep the Floor

“Great job on the siding, Bob!” We stood in our neighbor’s driveway admiring his new vinyl  exterior. A small crowd of friendly faces had wandered from summer yard work to enjoy an impromptu chat. This time of year, the conversation often centers on home improvement jobs.

“Hey, Joe, I saw you put up a new play set. How do the kids like it?”

“How big is that pool you installed in your yard, Dave?”

“Is that lumber in the garage for your deck expansion, Chuck? How’s that going?”

And I got to thinking of all the projects my husband does around the house—noticeable projects. The finished basement, the fresh stained fence. Brick landscape edging and a tidy cut lawn.

“My husband repaved the driveway, and all the neighbors commented on how nice it looked,” a friend told me recently. “How come nobody congratulates me for folding laundry?”

Amen, sister. Why doesn’t a woman’s work get the same kudos as her man’s?

Nobody notices when I sweep the floor

Don’t get me wrong—I realize some of you ladies sweat over glorious flowerbeds or climb the roof to hammer shingles yourselves. Bravo if you do.

But for many of us moms, our usual household contributions are a little more obscure.

Nobody notices when I sweep the floor.

Nobody applauds when I mix oatmeal for breakfast.

Nobody drives by our house to admire my sidewalk chalk drawings or the rebate forms I filled out and stuck in the mailbox.

Just once, I want my kids to say, “Mom! You did a fantastic job grilling this cheese sandwich! You are one seriously talented woman.”

But why?

Why do I need praise? Does it give my labor greater significance? Does it prove I’m a good mom?

Well, let’s consider this picture in Matthew.

“Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River,” (Matthew 4:23–25, NLT).

Wow. Talk about a hot topic in the neighborhood. Jesus displayed supernatural healing powers and drew swarms of followers everywhere he went. If anybody had the right to boast, Jesus surely did.

But do you know what comes immediately after this passage?

The Beatitudes.

“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. . . . ‘God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth,’” (Matthew 5:1–2, 5, NLT, emphasis mine).

Really? Jesus just performed a spectacle of public miracles, and then he delivered a lesson on humility. Not praise. Not power or validation.

Humility.

What does that say about how we should approach our work?

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” (Colossians 3:23–24).

Praise from people doesn’t make our work more important. Knowing who we’re working for does. And God doesn’t just pat us on the back—he promises a reward! An inheritance! Can a friendly neighbor’s compliments come anywhere near as cool as that?

So let those men have their repaved driveways and their shiny green lawns. The Lord sees our laundry. He sees our grocery shopping and our scrubbed bathroom floors. Next time you flip that grilled cheese, ladies, tune your ears to imagine this—the Lord of the universe is cheering you on.

My child! You did a fantastic job! 

Thank you for serving me today by taking care of your family. 

You are one seriously talented woman. 

I know—because I made you that way.

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Encouragement from the archives. You might also like and Oh But I Used to Work in Marketing, On Dreams, Contentment and Spaghetti, and Why I Stopped Folding My Underwear.

When the Kids Wear Pajamas ’til Noon

Hi, friends. I’ll be traveling, restoring, and soaking up my kids for the next few weeks before summer slips away, so I’m taking this opportunity to share some encouragement from the archives. It’s been three years since Time Out first carved this little space online, and I am so thankful for each of you whove joined me on the journey. If you don’t yet subscribe to these weekly devotions by e-mail, I’d love to see your name on my subscriber list. Just enter your e-mail address in the “Subscribe” box on the blog and watch for a verification message in your inbox. Blessings to you and your families!

When the kids wear pajamas til noon

My kids wrote a summer bucket list. It’s filled with fun and educational activities—gymnastics class, library reading club, play dates, the zoo. Most days, we check at least one item off the list.

Some days, we don’t.

And those are the days I hear the voice. You know her. I’ll bet she lives in your head, too.

“You’re wasting your summer,” the voice whispers. “Shouldn’t you be planning some Pinterest-worthy craft or taking your kids on a scavenger hunt or something? Really, my dear, just look at them over there, lounging in the living room watching Sprout and eating popsicles. Don’t you have anything better to do?”

I peeked at my girls snuggled in front of the TV, laughing, slurping and dripping blue Freeze Pop juice on the carpet, and I realized—no. We do not have anything better to do. Not today.

This is what summer is about.

Freedom.

“I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls,” (Jeremiah 31:25, MSG).

For nine months, school laid siege to our household. The academic schedule dictated everything, from wake-up calls to bedtimes and all activity in between. By the time June finally arrived, we desperately needed a break.

So I won’t feel guilty for taking it.

Structure is good for kids, yes. I orchestrate enough summer activities to keep my daughters occupied and learning, and you probably do, too. But when did we start believing that down time is less valuable? Sometimes my girls just want to run barefoot in the yard and squish toes in the sandbox. They want to build forts and play house and mix mud pies. They want the security of home, knowing I’m here watching over them without taking over every hour of their day.

So I’ve decided it’s okay to spend a morning cleaning house while my kids play make-believe grocery store in their pajamas until noon. It’s okay to sit on a patio chair reading while they practice cartwheels in the grass. It’s okay to have nowhere to go and nobody to see and nothing impressive to post on Facebook, because an open day is a gift to unwrap and explore. We all know that when September comes, those gifts will hide away. Let’s grab them while we can.

Rest. Restore. Enjoy.

You’re not wasting your summer. You’re making the most of it.

Last night, after I tucked the girls in bed, I climbed over two heaping laundry baskets to reach the sofa. My husband slid a disc into our Blu-Ray player and grabbed the remote. Then I heard the voice again.

“Shouldn’t you fold those towels?”

This time, I answered.

“Zip it, lady. I’m watching a movie. You’re not welcome here anymore.”

* * * * * * * *
Encouragement from the archives. You might also like For Inadequate Mothers Everywhere, I Should (Not) Do That, and How to Get the Life You Always Wanted.

Next Time, Hold the Gummy Bears

“Mom, I think I’m full.” My seven-year-old grimaced, stuck out her tongue, and shoved her cardboard cup across the table. We were enjoying a rare trip to the frozen yogurt bar, in which Fun Mom and Dad allowed the kids to dish up any flavors and toppings their little stomachs desired.

Next time, hold the gummy bears

“How was your concoction?” I peeked inside my daughter’s cup, still half full of candy bits floating in a runny pool. “Goodness sakes, what did you put in this thing?”

“Um, just some good stuff.”

“What yogurt flavors did you have?” Tough to tell, since at that point they’d all melted to a gooey shade of gray.

“Oh, I got cake batter, pink lemonade, and rocky road.”

“Yum,” I gagged. “And I see some Skittles in there.”

“And peanuts, cookie dough,” she counted off her chosen toppings one finger at a time, “M&M’s, Heath bar, Butterfinger, rock candy, Nerds, sprinkles, blackberries . . . .”

“Gummy bears,” my husband reminded her.

“Oh, yeah, gummy bears, and whipped cream!” She grinned, flashing a jigsaw puzzle of missing teeth, then wrinkled her nose and slid back in her chair. “I have a tummy ache.”

No kidding. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with cake batter yogurt or gummy bears in general. On their own, they’re quite tasty, I’m sure. But pile too many good things on top of one another, and you’ve got a recipe for indigestion.

Every sensible mom knows this about sundaes.

But what about our weekdays?

Gummy Bears

Take one glance at my calendar and you’ll see plenty of “good” things. Bible study, book club, worship team, freelance work, conferences, exercise class, coffee dates, prayer groups, speaking engagements, dinner with friends, play dates for the kids, and the constant carpooling to tennis lessons, tumbling class, ballet and school. Individually, such excellent pursuits! But toppled into a heap of a day or a week or a year, this kind of to-do list can settle like a rock in my gut. Literally.

Stress for me manifests as stomachaches. When my schedule trips a threshold, I can measure my diminishing mental and physical margin by the quantity of Rolaids I reach for at bedtime. So just like my daughter swallowed too many treats at once, trying to consume too many activities at one time can also create a serious case of belly rot.

Or worse.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Don’t you want to know God’s heart? To catch a glimpse of his desires for your life? I sure do. The better we get to know God, the better we’ll be able to discern his will—which is good, pleasing, and perfect! Sign me up, right?

But how can we really get to know him if we’re too busy to stop and say hi?

Women today are blessed with a bounty of opportunities. I’m grateful for modern equality and the potential it allows. Trouble comes, though, when we stand at the smorgasbord and fill our cups with too many opportunities at once. The “pattern of this world” tells us we ought to stuff ourselves, that it’s no longer enough to care for our family’s basic needs. We must enrich every moment with technology, extracurricular activities, volunteering, social commitments, work and personal development. Why? Because we can! It’s all available to us now, and we buy into the lie that if we don’t keep up then we must be missing out—or worse, lazy.

So we fill up on striving, and ruin our appetite for God.

No wonder the Bible urges us, don’t conform to that lifestyle. Busy is not better. More productive does not mean more purposeful, more accomplished, or more accepted. Instead, God says, “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Take a break, a rest, a Sabbath (Genesis 2:3). And choose the Lord above your task list, Martha, old gal (Luke 10:38–42). Then once we do take the time to meet with God, we’ll discover he is wonderfully counter-cultural. And that might be the best news a busy mom needs to hear.

When we got home from the fro yo bar, my daughter stuck her leftovers in the freezer and ate them the next day. “Mom,” she mumbled with a mouth full of goo, “Skittles are hard to chew when they’re frozen.”

“Yeah? How about those gummy bears?”

She thrust her spoon into the cup and chiseled an icy chunk. “I think next time I’ll just get M&M’s.”

“Good idea, my love.” I planted a kiss on her forehead and smiled. “So will I.”

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If this post encouraged you, it would bless me if you’d share it. You might also like The Trouble With To-Do, If You Give a Mom a Minute, and On Dreams, Contentment, and Spaghetti.

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

And now for a word from our mentors . . .

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3–4).

Best-Advice2

“Momma, what do we do when we have to go potty in preschool?” My four-year-old posed this question one morning last week. Next month she’ll begin 4K at her big sister’s school, and we’ve been talking it up all summer.

“Well, there’s a bathroom right inside your classroom,” I assured her. “All you have to do is ask your teacher.”

“You have to hold up two fingers!” My seven-year-old called from down the hall.

“What?” My four-year-old ran to her sister in the playroom and stood at attention for more details on this highly important topic.

“You hold up two fingers, like this.” Big sister raised her hand and made a “V” with her index and middle fingers. “That’s the sign that you have to go to the bathroom. I remember that from when I was in the preschool room.”

“Oh, thanks!” Little sister mimicked the potty sign with her right hand. “Like this?”

“Yep. That’s it.” Big sister nodded. “Good job.”

Isn’t it great to have a mentor? Somebody who’s gone before us and can share the insights we need for daily survival. I’ve been blessed to have several such mentors in my parenting journey. Over the years God has brought a few key women alongside me who’ve filled my heart and soul with their wisdom and encouragement to get up and do this mom thing another day—and to do it well, with love, grace, and godly intention.

Today I want to share those mentors with you. Last month on Haven Help Us, we featured a different mom mentor each Monday in the form of a Q&A session. These ladies are so God-soaked and wise, I couldn’t keep them all to myself—they ought to be paid forward again and again. So please, take a few minutes to click through these posts and read their words of wisdom and encouragement. I know they’ll bless you just as they’ve blessed me.

Ruth Foss
Tammy Muller
Tami Ziegler
Cindy Kirkpatrick

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

When Your Net Is Empty, Keep On Fishing

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I don’t call that insanity.

I call it faith.

The definition of insanity

There’s a story in the gospel of Luke where Jesus is sitting in Simon Peter’s boat speaking to a crowd along a lakeshore. When he finishes preaching, he tells Simon to put the boat out into deep water and let the nets down for a catch.

“Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets,’” (Luke 5:5).

Can’t you just picture Simon rolling his eyes? Oh, come ON, Jesus, we already spent the entire night on this useless boat and I’m telling you, the fish aren’t biting. Been there, done that, ain’t gonna happen.

Again and again, Simon and his fishing buddies had tossed out their smelly old net with no results. Eventually they decided the fish had won this round, rowed back to shore—probably exhausted—and washed out their fishing gear. Time to go home and eat breakfast, right? So why does Simon drag his net back out anyway?

Because Jesus said so.

And look what happens.

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:6–7)

Wow. Jesus didn’t only give Simon what he hoped for—a net full of fish—but two boats filled with fish. So many fish, the darn boats couldn’t handle the load!

Peter could’ve chosen to tell Jesus no—there’s no point in rowing out again. But he didn’t. He trusted him even when the circumstances appeared fruitless. So Jesus rewarded Simon for his faith by giving him immeasurably more than he could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

What are you asking God for right now?

Where in your life are you tossing out your net time after time with no results?

For my fellow moms who hauled their tired limbs out of bed every 90 minutes last night—and the night before, and the night before—to feed a hungry baby who still can’t smile. You’re just waiting for that first three-hour stretch of sleep, glorious sleep.

Or the mother who juggles the physical and emotional demands of caring for a special needs child. Day after day, you pour out your heart with little return.

Are you doing the hard work of repairing a hurting marriage?

Or praying—every—single—day—for your prodigal child? For miraculous healing? For two pink lines to appear on that stick, even though month after month of infertility tells you it’s not going to happen. This will never change.

That’s not insanity.

It’s trust.

Because at any moment, God could decide—today is the day. I’m going to fill your nets so full, your boat won’t be big enough to carry all my blessings.

“For nothing is impossible with God,” (Luke 1:37).

Do you want to know the most interesting part of this story? In the end, after Simon had caught the biggest haul of his life—a catch that probably could’ve earned him a month’s or even a year’s worth of wages—he chose to walk away from it all.

“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him,” (Luke 5:10b–11).

In our family life, we think we’re waiting for the big haul of fish—for the baby to sleep through the night, for the wayward child to behave, for the illness to heal or the marriage to be restored. We imagine that’s the goal, the answer to so many hard-fought prayers.

But Jesus says, not so. He has something more important in mind.

A chance to follow him.

Maybe the purpose of your “insanity” is to draw you closer to your Savior. To discover how he fills your needs and knows everything you don’t know. Whatever your challenge is, even as you get up again tomorrow and face it all over again, will you trust him? Will you believe that one day he’s going to fill your net beyond capacity? Then maybe, just maybe, when that gift is in your hands, you’ll realize it’s nothing, really—compared to knowing the Giver.

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If this post encouraged you, it would bless me if you’d share it. You might also like For Inadequate Mothers Everywhere, Just Watch the Movie, and When God Controls the Remote.

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

Photo by the lovely and talented Carol Grandlienard

Follow the Rules of the Road

Last week, I went on a refreshing five-mile bike ride—with my seven-year-old daughter.

Understand, she’s only been off training wheels for a month, so this was quite an ambitious trek. My daughter is building stamina and learning the rules of the road.

Quite frankly, so am I.

Follow the Rules of the Road

“STOP!!” I shouted to the purple helmet five feet ahead. My daughter swung her head toward me and slammed her breaks, just as a car came around the corner. I hurried into the road to steer her back to the sidewalk, waved sorry to the car’s driver, and immediately scolded the bike shorts off my daughter’s little behind.

“Did you look for cars before you rode into the street?! You can’t wheel into the road without looking for cars first! You know that!!”

She lowered her chin and pedaled up the sidewalk ramp, quiet. “Sorry, Momma.”

“Didn’t you hear that car coming up behind us? You need to LISTEN and LOOK. Those are the rules. Do you understand me?” I barked at her heels.

“Yes.” She biked slowly for another half a block while I peddled close behind her. I watched the pink and blue streamers flying from her handlebars, and my heart lurched.

“Lovey, stop for a minute, please.” She anchored her sneakers to the ground. I placed my hand on that tangled red hair escaping from beneath her helmet and squeezed her shoulder. “You know why I scolded you, right? It’s because I love you so, so much. If you don’t pay attention to the safety rules, you could get hurt, and I don’t ever want that to happen. The rules are there to protect you.

Yep.

I think God and I have a similar conversation sometimes.

Sure, Lord, I know you told me to think about whatever is pure and praiseworthy, but will it really hurt me if I watch this movie just once?

Or if I indulge in a harmless compliment from a male co-worker because hey, my husband isn’t telling me stuff like that and it’s nice to hear, plus I said it’s harmless, right?

Or can’t I just snap my child’s head off right now because grrr she made me so mad, I mean, if you’d heard what she just said to me, you would totally snap at her, too, I’m sure of it. Sometimes I just don’t want to bother to pay attention to the rules, okay?!

Oh, darlin’, the Lord sighs. Please don’t steer into that road. Trust me. I see what’s coming around the corner. My words are designed to protect you.

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 3:5).

When we take our eyes off God, our travel guide, we can all too easily veer toward oncoming traffic. We might not even mean to do it. Sometimes all it takes is an absent-minded moment, a distracted or careless decision and we neglect to follow the rules. Then we become an easy target for harm.

But thankfully the Lord still peddles behind us, ready to yell “STOP!”

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Where in your life are you wobbling off the road? Are you listening to God urging you to look both ways before you cross? He doesn’t do it to burden or annoy you. He does it because he loves you. And when faced with his way or ours, God’s protection is always the better choice.

My daughter and I made it home from our bike ride with aching legs and high-fives on our hands, proud of our five-mile accomplishment. And I was proud of her for learning—albeit the hard way—to keep her eyes on the road and steer wisely.

I hope God says the same thing about me someday. Don’t you?

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like How My Walk of Faith Is Like a Stroller Ride, Learning Is Messy, and He Called Me Beautiful, So I Cleaned the Basement

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

When Your Children Love You Too Much

My kids adore me.

In a smothering kind of way.

When-Your-Children-Love-You-Too-Much

Like when most mornings they wake up too early and climb in my bed, then insist on sharing my pillow until our noses touch or I’m shoved to a five-inch strip of mattress.

Or how they beg me twenty, thirty, fifty times a day to pick them up and squeeze them—sometimes both at the same time—and if I delay for more than three seconds, they take it upon themselves to jump and clasp their hands around my neck until somebody is either choking or stumbling off balance to the floor.

And if I try to formulate a thought or carry an adult conversation, my beloved little people interject every half a minute—“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mom, Momma, Mom”—followed by some urgent request to serve them food, play a game, watch them dance, or answer a burning question about dinosaurs or adopted kittens or how to spell “amazing.”

This is all very endearing, of course, until I want to go to the bathroom—alone. Or take a shower, sort the laundry, talk to their father, or just generally live.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling tired or introspective or crabby or bloated, the last thing I feel like doing is hauling a 35-pound sack of potatoes to the sink when I know she’s perfectly capable of walking there herself. Yes, she just wants to hug me, how wonderful, how sweet. But I told her five times to brush her teeth and go potty and put her pajamas on and she’s just procrastinating, can’t you see that, people?! GIVE ME SOME SPAAAAAAAACE!

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,’” (Luke 18:16).

Such as these.

What if I behaved like my kids? If I crawled into the Lord’s lap, just to be near him, to feel secure in his strength and rest—would he shoo me off?

Never.

He’d draw me closer.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11).

I want to be that kind of parent. Don’t you?

Yes, I know, I get it, we’re exhausted, we want some privacy, we’ve had our fill of arms and legs climbing over our communal bodies all day long. Sometimes a mom just yearns for a little physical and mental margin. But the question is—what’s your default? When the kids want a hug or a piggy back ride or your undivided attention, more often than not do you tell them “just a minute” or “not now” or “give your poor mother a break”?

Next time our children lean in for the snuggling, even if it’s a terribly inconvenient moment, what if we chose to squeeze them even tighter? How would that affirm their sense of worth and security?

We are their parents.

Their safe place.

Stuck deep in my memory bank is one particular morning when I was probably 10 or 11 years old and my dad stood at the door to leave for work. I reached up to give him a goodbye kiss and he sighed, annoyed, and said, “You don’t have to kiss me every time I go.”

Now granted, my dad’s workplace was right next door to our house, so he came and went often throughout a day. And he’s human—he was probably tired or distracted that morning just like I often am. I get it now, as a parent. I don’t blame him.

But I do wonder why that memory sticks with me.

I wish it didn’t. Because I remember feeling rejected and embarrassed. Like my dad wanted me to love him less.

I don’t want my kids to feel that way with me.

Dear Lord, what if they already do?

I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m determined to start rebuilding my children’s memories. Outside our family doors, the world is all too eager to tear them down at every turn. Let home be the place where our kids are loved unconditionally, with fierce and unmeasured affection. Besides, someday soon my kids will no longer want to sit on my lap or cling to my leg. They’re growing more independent every day, and these years of intense mommy love are fleeting. So I’m going to relish it while it lasts.

Will you?

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like One Good Reason to Spoil Your Kids, If You Give a Mom a Minute, and When You Wake Up with a Foot in Your Face.

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

Just Have Faith (Well, Duh!)

Sometimes I forget what I know.

Last week, after the final school awards program, I joined my daughter in her classroom to collect her supplies and snap a few farewell photos. First grade has been a fantastic experience, thanks to a loving and gifted teacher.

Since preschool, veteran parents told us this year would be special. Mrs. H is amazing, they said. She’s so laid back and great with the kids. She has boundless patience and creativity. The students adore her. So of course we eagerly anticipated a school year filled with blessings, and we were not disappointed.

Life is so much easier when we know what to expect, eh?

Just Have Faith (Well, Duh)

But next year. Ugh. Two weeks ago our school bulletin announced the second grade teacher is moving to a different role, so my daughter’s upcoming shepherd will be a new hire. An unknown.

Immediately the list of frets rolled through my mind.

Will she be sensitive to my child’s needs?

Will she load us down with homework?

Will she call me when my child has a stomachache?

Can I trust her?

I lingered in the classroom chatting with the grandma of another first-grader. “I hope next year is a good experience for the kids. I guess we’ll find out, huh?”

“Oh, it will be.” She nodded. “I have faith.”

“You think so?” I crinkled my eyebrows.

“Of course I do.” She looked at me straight on. “Just have faith.”

Hmmm.

Just have faith.

Well, duh!

Yeah, have faith. Helloooo! Isn’t that the definition of my life as a Christian? I live by faith, not by sight! Yet still, after all I’ve learned, time and again I default to worry.

Busted.

Have you heard the popular maxim, “Fear is the opposite of faith”?

The first time I read that, it crushed me. Because the concept implies if you have fear, then you must not have faith. Which I then translated to, if I’m afraid, then I must not be a Christian.

You know what the Bible says about that?

Hogwash.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38–39, NLT, emphasis added).

Isn’t that good news? Fear does not erase our faith.

But it does waste it.

When we fret, we choose to rely on ourselves instead of God. And that’s a really dumb choice. God knows more, cares more, and sees so much more than we ever could. One of the benefits of a personal relationship with God is the invitation he gives us to tap into his sovereignty. Believe it. Trust it.

And we will not be disappointed.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

Imagine if we approached every situation with total confidence that it would turn out okay. Not just okay, but good. How would that change our outlook? Our blood pressure? Our sanity?

I left that classroom feeling humbled and relieved—filled with a reclaimed sense of peace that God has everything under control. And even if the second grade teacher is horrible (which is highly unlikely), God will use that experience, too, somehow for our good.

We can’t go wrong with God.

Duh.

So let’s remember who we are—people of faith—and start living like we mean it. Amen?

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like Nobody Loves Her Like I Do, Kindergarten Is Not a Big, Green, Ugly Monster, and What’s Better Than a Bed Full of Teddy Bears? and Why I’m Not Raising Independent Kids

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

Why Is Mom So Cranky All the Time?

Last week, my husband relayed an interesting conversation he had with our seven-year-old daughter.

Interesting in a sobering, stab-me-in-the-heart-why-don’t-you kind of way.

Their talk went something like this.

“Dad, why is Mom so cranky?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart, why do you ask?”

“Because she yelled at me when we were making popcorn, and I don’t know why.”

“Oh, Mom didn’t mean it, lovey. She’s just tired.”

“Yeah, Dad. I think she needs more sleep. Because Mom is always cranky.

Why Is Mom So Cranky All the Time?

I’ve got plenty of excuses for my less-than-stellar mom moments. This house is too noisy for my introverted psyche. I’m weary from a long and busy day. My to-do list is out of control. I’ve got a lot on my mind, okay, people? And if these kids would just cooperate and brush their teeth and pick up their crayons and stop climbing on the sofa when they’re told for crying out loud—then I wouldn’t have to be so crabby!

Right?

Well . . . .

Not exactly.

Think about it. We moms are children, too.

God’s children.

Would he treat us that way?

I’m pretty sure I disobey and disappoint God all the time, yet great is my Father’s faithfulness. His compassions are new every morning, and he loves me with an unfailing love.

God wouldn’t snap at me for turning the popcorn crank too slow.

Recently I told a trusted friend and counselor that I’m just in a rough season. I’m busy, overwhelmed with freelance work, ministry, the end of the school year, family demands. One thing on top of another is crowding my white space and making me a little cuckoo. But it’s just a season! I’ll pull through!

Her reply?

“Becky, you’ve been in that season for a long time.”

Ouch.

She’s right.

Cranky has become my norm.

A bad day is understandable. We all have them, and God’s grace blows through the house to help pick up our mess and start fresh the next morning. But when one bad day transitions to another and another and another ad infinitum, that’s no longer just a bad day.

That’s a legacy.

And I don’t want my kids to define me as their perpetual crab.

So I listened humbly to my husband, inhaled deep, and wrote these familiar words on my kitchen chalk board:

“Love is PATIENT, love is KIND.” (I Corinthians 13:4a, emphasis added)

It really is that simple. In this house live the people I love best. Therefore, they should be granted the greatest claims on my kindness. Not my crankiness.

Yes, I’m bound to slip, maybe even tomorrow—or today. You probably will, too. But the key for us moms is to be aware of how our words, actions and attitudes are stacking up—even in the midst of constant external pressures—and to make deliberate efforts to pile on more patience, more smiles, more softness, more hugs.

And definitely more popcorn.

Tonight, it’s time to start rebuilding my legacy as a loving mom. I will invite my seven-year-old to man the popper while I cheer from the kitchen counter. And one day, I hope my girls will remember me not as that cranky grumpy snarky old hag but as the kind and easy-going mom who let them sprinkle way too much nacho cheese into their popcorn bowls.

Especially since I taught them to share. With their mother.

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like Put a Little Love in Your Voice, When the Wrong Words Come Out, Cut Me Some Slack, Little People, and The Witch. I Hate Her.

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

Why I Don’t Plant Petunias in January

Kids are like seedlings. They need a certain amount of tender care before they’re strong enough for transplant.

That’s not a popular parenting philosophy these days.

Instead, I hear this one a lot.

Kids need to learn how to live in the real world. You can’t shelter them forever!

True. But when does “forever” begin, exactly?

Kids are like seedlings; our homes are the greenhouse

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of gardening season in Wisconsin. Garden centers and hardware stores statewide are bustling with eager growers, ready at last to dig some dirt after a long and brutal winter. Here in the frozen tundra we hold off on planting until late May because premature attempts mean risking frost or, worse, snow. Any home gardener worth his spade knows you can’t plunk petunias in the ground until they’ve spent half the spring building muscles in a greenhouse.

It’s the same with kids.

Release them to the “real world” too soon, and they might not withstand the elements. Television, books, Internet, even other kids can uproot our seedlings before they’re grounded firmly in the soil.

But if we take the time to nurture them first, to protect and fertilize them until they blossom in wisdom and strength, they’ll be far more likely to thrive one day among the weather and the weeds.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,” (Romans 12:2).

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we shouldn’t expose our kids to modern media or friends from different backgrounds. And this isn’t a debate of public school vs. private school vs. home school. All are good decisions when made with the right motives by loving, intentional parents.

The key is how we’re establishing ourselves as primary influence. Because parenting is our job, not the world’s. Are we monitoring what our kids see on TV and hear from our lips? Are we modeling kindness, selflessness and discernment? Are we granting mercy for their mistakes, and coaching grace and confidence when other kids are mean or teachers are unfair? Are we making ourselves available to talk when our children want to talk—and even when they don’t?

In a world that so readily disrespects our faith, are we pointing our seedlings always to God, who loves them and defines them above all else?

That’s not sheltering.

It’s incubating.

And every child needs it before they can bear fruit.

So just like my flowers, which are finally ready to stand on their own, I hope my children—and yours—will one day bless many people with the unique beauty God gave them. But until then, I won’t be ashamed to protect it for a while.

Will you?

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like Why I’m Not Raising Independent Kids, We Can’t Protect Them From Everything, How to Raise a Timid Child, and What Is Cleavage—and Other Questions Kids Will Ask.

Linking up with: Playdates With GodBad Mom MondaysTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving ThursdaysThrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.