Why I Stopped Whining About My Husband’s Hunting Trips

Children bring poetic justice to a marriage.

Legendary Whitetails Hat

Last week, my hubby planned a hunting trip to the cabin. And our seven-year-old was not happy.

“Daddy, don’t go!” She pressed her nose into my husband’s shoulder, clutching his arms and staining his dark shirt with tears.

“Hey, lovey, you’ll be fine. I’m only going to be gone for a few days!” He smoothed her hair and let her climb onto his lap.

“But Daddy, I’m going to miss you!” Her nose dripped onto his camouflage vest, and she squeezed her leaky eyelids in heartache.

“I’m going to miss you, too, sweetheart.” My husband raised his eyes to mine, looking for solidarity or assistance, or both.

Okay fine.

“Come on, sweets, Dad has to go now. It’s getting late.”

“Nooo! I want Daddy to stay.”

“Alright,” my husband caved. “I’ll stay here until you fall asleep.” God bless him, he tucked our daughter into bed with a stash of tissues and sat beside her until she stopped sniffling.

Sweet girl. I felt her pain. Truth—I was darn near smug about her pain.

Because it’s my pain, too.

And she could freely express what I could not.

Drawing of Dad

I’ve never been a big fan of hunting trips. Not because my husband doesn’t need the time away—he does, I support it, and he’s a happier guy for it. But let’s be selfishly honest. I miss his company when he’s gone, and mommy life is easier when he’s home to share the load.

So when my daughter fell apart, I agreed completely in my heart, but as her mom I had to buck up and preach the opposite of what I felt. As if my mouth and my brain were at odds.

What I said: It’ll be alright.
What I was really thinking: I hate it, too.

Said: Daddy needs this time to recharge. It’s good for his soul.
Thought: Where’s MY forest hideaway?

Said: I know you’ll miss Dad, but we’re going to have a really fun week together!
Thought: Three days on solo mom duty—heaven help me.

Said: And when Dad gets home on Friday, he’ll bring you a turkey feather. Won’t that be cool?
Thought: Then he’ll feed you frozen pizza for dinner while I escape to Kohl’s for shopping therapy.

When my daughters were younger, I used to mope whenever my husband left overnight. Now that the girls are old enough to miss him, too, they do the moping for me.

And my role shifts.

Instead of pouting, I must be strong.

Instead of complaining, I console.

Instead of expecting to be served, I serve.

Huh. Who does that sound like?

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them,” (John 13:14–17).

This passage comes from the last supper, the final gathering of Jesus and his twelve disciples before he was arrested and crucified. He chose that opportunity to deliver a key lesson—the importance of serving one another in humility.

Now think about that. Jesus knew he was about to go to the cross. So if anybody had a right to throw a pity party at that moment, it was him.

But he didn’t.

He chose instead to look with urgency to other people’s needs—weaker people who needed guidance and wisdom. People whom he knew would need to trust him when everything tanked.

And what did he tell them?

Do what I do. Forget whatever you think you’re entitled to and serve each other.

And then—you will be blessed.

As I read those words in preparation for Easter last week, I couldn’t help but apply it to my own hubby’s-gone-a-hunting grumbling. Jesus is saying that when I shift my eyes from my own wants and heartache to the needs of others, I will be blessed. And it’s true.

Consoling my daughter forced me to find a brighter perspective on our circumstances. Yes, major bummer that Dad is gone, but hey! We can go out for supper and skip the dishes! We can watch movies and eat ice cream! We can have a slumber party in Mom’s bed! And when Dad comes home, he’ll be less stressed and extra happy to see us. What a bonus!

Do you see? Children give us a built-in opportunity to see our lives in a more positive light. When they fret, we cheer. When they fear, we fight for their courage. And somehow we parents glean a little cheerfulness and bravery of our own in the process.

My husband returned on Friday to a messy house and three smiling girls—two daughters, one mom—and together we discovered that caring for each other is, in itself, a form of happiness.

That, and ice cream is a breakfast food.

Amen, sisters?

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like Moms Grow Up, Too; He Called Me Beautiful, So I Cleaned the Basement; and Oh But I Used to Work in Marketing.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

For Inadequate Mothers Everywhere

Last week somebody asked me to describe what it means to feel inadequate as a mom.

Somebody, I should add, who does not have children.

I didn’t know what to say.

It wasn’t an awkward question, considering it came in context of shooting a testimonial video for church. Inadequacy is what I live and breathe—this imperfect mommy existence, the one I wrestle with and fight for, love and lament, the life around which I’ve built a ministry and a fire in my gut.

But how could I explain all of that to someone who hasn’t lived it or walked closely alongside it, and therefore couldn’t possibly understand?

Truth is, I’m not so sure I understand it myself.

For Inadequate Moms Everywhere

How do I describe how my heart aches just to gaze at two beautiful faces, a reflection of God’s image with their mother’s nose and Daddy’s chin, and wonder if I’m giving too much attention to my to-do list and not enough to their chatter and their questions and their silly made-up songs.

Or those moments when impatience bubbles up my chest and spews out my mouth in harsh words. How on my worst days I think they’d be better off with a mom who doesn’t yell.

Or the hours I just want to shove cotton in my ears and curl on the sofa with a novel instead of peeling oranges on demand and breaking up sibling fights. Is it terrible to confess that sometimes I just wish the noise would stop?

When repeat commands to brush your teeth now go unceremoniously ignored and my voice has no strength or authority. Then all it takes is one word from Dad and everybody’s lining up at the sink like soldiers. What the heck?

Inadequacy? Really? Doesn’t it start from the moment a child slips into this world, rooting for a milk supply that never comes, staring unfocused at a post-partum crazy woman who can’t stop the tears from leaking down her cheeks. A child whose desperate mother orders any expert baby book off Amazon that claims a no-fail method for shushing, soothing, feeding and sleeping.

Did I really want to divulge how often I cried on the sofa with a wide-eyed child in my arms, blaming myself for my own fatigue? Or the panic that gripped me while standing at the bay window waving bye-bye to Dad, swallowing butterflies down my throat, wondering how oh how was I going to do this alone.

Yes, I survived the endless, isolating routine of diapers, potty stops, crust cutting and boo-boo kissing. I battled the guilt of rolling Play-Doh, sliding down Chutes and Ladders, reading Brown Bear for the sixteenth time and not enjoying it as much as I thought a good mom should.

Then one day my firstborn grew into a lanky school girl learning to eat lunch away from home, learning to respond with grace when a friend insults her hair or her glasses. A whole new era of parenting envelops me now, and the best I can do is equip my dear ones with Bible verses about courage and kindness when really I just want to sit in the shrimpy desk beside my child and absorb every shock, deflect every cruelty, hug away every insecurity and heartache.

I can’t.

That’s inadequacy.

And you know what?

It’s not a bad thing.

Because a sense of limitation, of lacking, only reminds me that I can’t do this alone. I need God—to teach me, hold me, empower me, fill me, and to care for my children in ways I cannot.

After all, these little people are not just mine. They’re his. They’re on loan to me. God himself has assigned me the privilege of raising them.

He always knew I’d need his help.

Why should I expect otherwise?

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him,” (Philippians 2:13, NLT).

Isn’t that good news? When God gives us a job to do, he will also give us the tools to see it through. I’m still learning how to wield mine most days—peace, patience, kindness, self-control. And even though I had a hard time explaining all of that to my child-clueless video friend, I find comfort in knowing God needs no explanation.

My Heavenly Father understands me.

He understands you.

He knows our children, their every thought and need.

So where we run short, he overflows.

That’s the beauty of being inadequate.

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If this post encouraged you, I’d be blessed if you’d share it. You might also like Don’t Lie to Me, No You Are Not Failing, and The Day I Get New Carpet.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, Things I Can’t Say, and Coffee for Your Heart.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Why I Let My Kids Watch TV

Some moms serve breakfast at the kitchen table. I serve mine in front of the TV.

Or the iPad.

Or a Boxcar Children chapter book.

Why? Because I’m lazy and indulgent?

No.

Because I want what’s best for my kids.

Why I Let My Kids Watch TV

“Mom, can I play on your iPad?” My seven-year-old clamped her teeth and grinned, hands clasped beneath her chin in a pleading pose. I’d seen that look before. It means Daddy just installed a new LEGO app and we can’t get enough of it.

“Yes, but you need to eat your cereal, and when the clock says 7:20, it’s time to put down the iPad and get dressed.”

“Ok!” She grabbed my tablet off its docking station and settled on the sofa, where I placed a breakfast tray beside her.

“7:20.” I pointed to the clock. “Got it?”

“Yeeeees.”

I migrated to the kitchen to pack pear slices and pretzels into sandwich baggies. When the clock struck 7-2-0, I called out, “What time is it?”

“Awww, Mom! Just five more minutes, please?”

“Nope. We had a deal.”

A deep sigh blew from across the room. Then I heard the click of a cover flip, and my girl yanked off her pajama top in exchange for school clothes.

“Thank you, lovey.” I paused in the doorway to the living room. “You handled that well.”

Here’s the thing about technology and entertainment of all kinds. It can suck up every spare minute and still be hungry for more. More of our attention, more of our fascination, more of our daydreams and our should-be-sleeping hours. Our children are growing up in the pioneer era of social media, Kindle apps, QR codes and iTunes. With each passing year, shiny fun distractions are only going to further infiltrate their lives, demand their time, and risk their character. They need to know how to handle it.

They need to know how to control it.

Yes, yes, conventional parenting wisdom says don’t hand them the iPad in the first place.

But biblical wisdom says—teach them self-control.

And how will they do that if we don’t let them practice?

“In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside, (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, TLB).

What’s our ultimate goal? To raise a child who obeys everything her mother says, or a child who understands the difference between right and wrong?

Do you even realize those are two different things?

As parents, it’s our job to teach our children discernment—good from bad, better from best. But then we must give them opportunities to exercise it. So I create parameters around fun and games rather than prohibitions. I allow my children to live inside the freedom of permission granted so they can learn—sometimes the hard way—how to regulate themselves.

Today it’s an innocent LEGO app. Tomorrow it will be Facebook, YouTube, text messaging, and Lord only knows what else. By the time my children are old enough to choose distraction vs. studying, electronic communication vs. personal human contact, and the things of this world vs. pursuits of eternal worth, I pray they’ll own a deep conviction toward the better call.

That is a gift I can give them.

Coloring book

“Mom, can I bring the iPad in the car on our drive to school?” My daughter emerged from the bathroom, hair combed and teeth brushed.

“No, sweetie, not in the car.”

“Can I play with it after school?”

“What do you think?”

She twisted her lips and considered for a moment.

“Mom, you know what? Too much screen time is not healthy. I should really practice my jump rope.”

Well, glory halleluiah. It’s working.

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If this post encouraged you, please pass it on. You might also like When Left to Their Own Devices, So What’s That New App Worth to You, Really? and What a Watermelon Taught Me About My Control Freak Tendencies.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

What Your Child’s Behavior Says About You

She tucked a lock of chestnut hair behind her ear, listening intently while she bounced a good-natured baby on her lap. This fellow mom and I met three weeks ago in the sportsplex where our daughters take the same ballet class. For 45 minutes on Monday nights, we chat about meal plans and bedtime routines and toy organizing projects. She is gentle and kind. I like her.

I want her to like me, too.

Ballet class

From the corners of our eyes we monitored our younger ones running through the gym. Her two boys chased my four-year-old daughter from one basketball hoop to another, shrieking and panting in a jagged game of tag. Suddenly my daughter dodged the fun and ran up to me, pouting.

“What’s wrong, sweets?” I turned my face toward her and reached to stroke her arms. The boys caught up and stood beside us.

“I want you to play hide and seek with me, Mommy.” She stuck her thumb in her mouth, a clear sign she was tired.

“Well, it’s a big open space so there aren’t many places to hide. Why don’t you play catch with your friends instead?”

“No!” She stomped her foot and scowled. “I don’t WANT to play with them anymore. They’re ANNOYING!”

Whahh?!?!?! By sheer reflex—I let out a horrified gasp. Then I grabbed my precious angel and sped to the opposite side of the bleachers for a little pep talk.

“We do NOT insult our friends, especially right in front of them—and their MOTHER!” I hissed in her ear. “That is not nice!”

“Hmph!” She popped her thumb back in its socket and buried her head in my shoulder.

“Look. I know you skipped a nap today, so you’re tired and cranky. But that is no excuse. Tell your friends you’re sorry.”

We locked eyes until she blinked. I marched her back to the bench where the “annoying” kids sat beside their mom.

“What do you say to your friends?” I nudged my daughter. She clutched her elbows and loosened the thumb from her mouth.

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings,” she whispered.

“It’s ok!” The boys chimed in unison. Of course. Their mother taught them to be gracious. Apparently that’s more than I can say for myself. I turned to my new mom friend and frowned.

“I am so sorry. We’re working on playing well with others.”

She waved her hand, dismissing my apology. “Oh, pfff, don’t even worry about it. I understand.”

Do you? I wanted to beg. Do you really? Because your kids look like a couple of happy Smurfs compared to my Gargamel. And now I’m afraid you will think of me as THAT mom—the one with rude kids.

I know very well how moms avoid other moms with rude kids.

Like the child who bit my child in Sunday school, for example. His mom should control her son.

Or that boy who can’t sit still in class and disrupts my daughter while she’s taking a spelling test. Hasn’t his mother ever taught him manners?

And of course there’s the kid who sneezed all over the party bowl of popcorn and kept on eating it. Where is her mother? Apparently nobody else wanted any popcorn tonight. Ewww.

Do you see how easy it can be to judge another woman? Until we’re the one in need of grace.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31).

I was mortified to hear my child hurl insults at innocent friends, yes—but not so much because it made her look obnoxious or even because it hurt somebody else. The ugly truth is I was more concerned about what my daughter’s behavior said about me.

If she is unkind, then I have failed at teaching her kindness.

If she is defiant, then I’m terrible at training her to obey.

If she picks her nose, then I’ve obviously neglected to point out why she shouldn’t.

As if every poor choice my children make is somehow evidence against my good parenting skills.

Oh really now.

Consider God. He is the Perfect Parent, and yet his kids messed up pretty bad in the Garden of Eden.

Did that change who he was? Did their misbehavior somehow render God less good, kind or wise?

Of course not.

But it did unleash his master plan of grace.

Sidewak Chalk on the porch

So next time that child acts up—your child or anybody else’s—here’s a novel idea. Try following God’s plan. Let’s all extend some grace to the naughty kid and her poor, exhausted mother.

When ballet class ended, I shuffled my girls into our van and headed home. At the first stoplight, my four-year-old piped up from the back seat.

“Mom, what does ‘annoying’ mean?”

Uhhhh. “Sweetheart, you don’t know?”

“No, Momma. What does it mean?”

“It means someone is bothering you. It’s not a nice word.”

“Ohhh.” She thought for a moment. “I’m really sorry I said that to those boys.”

{Sigh . . .} Me, too, darlin’.

So much for those “good mom” efforts like virtues training and Godly discipline. Looks like I need to start with vocabulary lessons.

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like If You Were in My House Today, How a Wiggles Movie Changed My Life, and No, You Are Not Failing.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

 

Can Somebody Strap a Muzzle on Me, Please?

I have a terrible habit of talking over people.

If I’ve done this to you, I apologize.

I don’t mean to be rude. I just get so excited about what you’re saying that my brain hurls thoughts at my mouth until they shoot out like projectile vomit. Then halfway through my first sentence I realize you’re still talking—louder.

At that point a smart girl would shut her trap, but somehow I continue spewing until we’re in a shouting match.

I’m sorry, were you saying something?

Listening

This little interrupting problem of mine first came to light when I read The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin. She claimed good listeners are rare, and of course I agreed. I mean, really, think of how many self-absorbed people you know who are always talking about themselves and never stopping to breathe or to ask how you’re doing for a change. Sheesh.

But then the book suggested that good listening skills might be one of the first things other people notice in a genuine believer.

Ouch.

I’m a genuine believer. I am. But do people see it when they talk to me? Or do I come across as—{gasp!}—one of those self-absorbed blabbers?

“To answer before listening—that is folly and shame,” (Proverbs 18:13).

Taming our tongues involves more than choosing the right words and tone of voice. It also means knowing when to clamp that tongue altogether and switch the action to our ears. God tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), so even if we spout the most profound, encouraging, heartfelt words but deliver them at the wrong time, they can just translate as insensitive.

Why? Because good listening is one of the simplest displays of love we can offer another person. Selfless, compassionate, wide open ears say, “I care about you, and your thoughts matter to me.”

God does it for us.

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry,” (Psalm 34:15).

I sure am grateful God listens to me. Aren’t you? So the least we can do is pay it forward to other people. After all, God loves them as much as he loves you and me. They are worthy of our attention.

Now, about my annoying interjections. Next time you tell me about your prayer journal, or your brownie recipe, or your opinions on chapter five of that book we’re both reading, I promise not to jump in with my own stories or perspectives until you’ve finished your thought. Better yet, I’ll mute that input a while longer and instead ask questions that lead to more talking on your end and more listening on mine. What a concept!

Hey, I need the practice, friends. Call me—I can hardly wait to get started.

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Put a Little Love in Your Voice, My Life as a Smelly Truck, and I Know Why Dinosaurs Are Extinct.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

When Words Go Down the Toilet

Butt. Toot. Burp. Poop.

Lately my kids are fascinated with all words potty mouth. And it’s driving me nuts.

When Words Go Down the Toilet

“My bootay! My bootay!” My four-year-old danced through the kitchen in a bent squatting stance, slapping her bottom like she was riding a horse. I swear I never taught her to do this.

“I’ve told you—that is not appropriate. No more bootay dancing.” I pursed my lips and gave her a don’t-you-test-my-patience glare.

“Sorry, Mommy! I love you—poopy!” Peals of laughter rolled from her gut. Which, incidentally, is another hilarious word in our house. Guts.

My children manage to insert bodily functions into ordinary conversation whenever possible.

“Excuse me, I tooted! Did you hear me? I tooted. Excuse me.”

“Today at recess my snow pants got wet and my BUTT was soaked and I had to change my UNDIES because my BUMPER was soooo wet! Can you believe that?”

“Mom, this is so funny, listen to this song—Twinkle twinkle little butt, how I wonder what you toot! Hahahahahahahaha!”

Heaven help me.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” (Ephesians 4:29).

I may not say “poop” anymore, but I sure have my own variety of unwholesome talk. Like last night when I snapped at my husband. Or this morning when I barked at my kids. Or anytime I cave to the temptation to complain, criticize, nag, or vent to someone who is not going to hold me accountable.

Do you do it, too?

The truth is none of us outgrows our potty mouth. We just label it something more socially acceptable, like I’m outspoken, or I’m brutally honest, I’m grumpy or tired. But does anybody really benefit from hearing our unwholesome words? Do they build others up or more likely tear them down?

Thankfully, God the Father has just the right kind of soap for scrubbing out our tongues. It’s called his grace.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7, NLT).

If we have Jesus, then we have what it takes to curb the bad language habit—however it manifests in your life. Just keep digging into the Good Book, praying, and hanging out with people who can call you on your poop stuff.

Kind of like I do for my kids.

“Mommy, I burped!” My daughter giggled.

“What do you say?” I prompted her manners.

“Uh . . . It tasted like bananas!”

Yep. We have some work to do.

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When Your Kids Hurt Your Feelings, He Thinks He’s Being Helpful, and No, You Are Not Failing.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

Why God Is Not a Traffic Cop

My husband and I installed a GPS in our minivan because, silly us, we thought it would be helpful. It’s not. Darn thing just gets me into trouble.

Why God Is Not a Traffic Cop

“Mom, you’re going over the speed limit.” My seven-year-old piped up from the back seat. I glanced at that know-it-all black nark box suctioned to the dashboard. Hmmph.

Speed Limit: 30. MPH: 37 (Note the bold, red digits for all literate passengers to behold.)

“Actually, the speed limit here is 35, sweetheart. The GPS is wrong.”

“But Mom, 37 is still two more than 35.”

Ooookay. Sometimes advanced math skills are not an attractive quality in children. But rather than lecture my daughter on the nuances of speed limit enforcement, I decided to humble myself and encourage her obedience.

“You’re right, lovey. Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I’ll slow down.” And then we crept the rest of our route to school, while other vehicles passed us on both sides.

Since my daughter began scrutinizing my driving, I’ve taken to climbing behind the wheel in trepidation, as if a squad car is trailing me everywhere I go, eager to pounce with a ticket and three points off my license. This might make me pay closer attention to my speed, but it’s really no way to live. I’m just waiting for the billy club to come down on my head at any moment.

Do you ever see God that way?

Like he’s some stern, cosmic traffic cop with tickets in hand and a quota to fill. He watches your every move, hungry to nail you for any minor—or major—offense. So you keep your eyes on the rearview mirror and travel cautiously, anxiously through life. As if God gets his kicks out of punishing you.

Really?

I used to think that, too.

But let’s meet the God of the Bible.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth,” (Psalm 103: 8–11, NLT).

I think it’s hard to imagine God as he really is—compassionate and overwhelmingly forgiving—because we don’t actually know any people like that. People complain. People find fault with each other. People hold grudges and keep score. Even the “nice” people struggle to forgive “bad” offenses.

God doesn’t.

He isn’t like us.

His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9)

He is eternally trustworthy (Proverbs 3:5-6)

. . . always good (Psalm 107:1)

. . . and never changing (Hebrews 13:8).

He doesn’t keep a record of our mistakes. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

He loves us in spite of them. (John 3:16, 1 John 3:1)

Isn’t that good news?

So if your picture of God doesn’t match the picture painted in the Bible, it’s time to toss your old assumptions and dig into the book. Get ready to encounter an amazing God—one who loves us like crazy, forgives us beyond measure, and sent his perfect Son to die on a cross so that we can live forever, without fear or shame. Even when we happen to drive a couple miles over the speed limit, or worse.

Oh, and by the way? I found a setting on my GPS that shuts off the MPH display. Yeah—I’m totally using it.

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If this post encouraged you, please share it! You might also like Because We All Get Sent to the Principal’s Office Sometimes, It’s Not a Yawn It’s a Hiccup, and What’s Better Than a Bed Full of Teddy Bears?

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

 

If You Were in My House Today

If you were in my house today, you’d crunch graham crackers under your socks as you cross the kitchen floor. Then you’d lift your foot and find a pile of crumbs that I may or may not sweep before my children plow their Tigger riding train right through it.

If You Were in My House Today

If you were in my house today, you’d hear me barking at my kids to brush their teeth while I clank their empty cereal bowls on top of last night’s dishes still piled near the sink. Five minutes later, you’d hear me barking again while the toothbrushes stand dry in their cups and my kids beg for PEZ.

If you were in my house today, you’d trip over a heap of past-due library books my children still haven’t read. Tomorrow, we’ll return them to the library along with three dollars in fines, which I’ll have to borrow from my daughter’s piggy bank, raising my total promissory note to $162.

If you were in my house today, you could catch me snapping at my husband over some ridiculous, imagined offense that I’ll forget an hour later, after the damage is already done. I’m learning to love as God loves. But sometimes pride trips me up.

And if you were in my house today, you might detect a doorknob click as I lock myself in the bathroom to cry. Why? Well, why not. Too many deadlines on my desk, two dozen cupcakes to decorate for school, and we’re all running out of clean underwear. Sorry you had to see my drawer full of Zantac bottles and cherry-flavored Tums, my trusty warriors against another stress-induced stomachache.

Oh, and just a little tip when you walk in the living room—look up, not down. Or you might notice my carpet hasn’t been vacuumed in eight days, maybe nine. Okay, fine, ten. At least the cobwebs on the ceiling aren’t quite as glaring.

Then after a day or a minute in my house you might think, “Really? This girl writes devotions? She’s telling ME how to live? But her world is just as messy as mine.”

And you’d be right.

Which is exactly why I write devotions.

Because I need Jesus—desperately, day by day, hour by hour. And I know you need him, too. So I seek him in my ordinary wreckage, and I point you to him in yours.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It’s taken me a long time to understand this, but I get it now. Our weaknesses are not something to hide.

They’re something to share.

Not only so we know we’re not alone in this family life juggling act, but also—especially—so that others can see the power of Jesus working in us. His grace gets me through the day. So if you enter my front door, you might find pretzel crumbs on the sofa and a preschooler still wearing pajamas at noon. But you’re welcome here. Because we all need open friends, kindred spirits, sisters who learn as much from our flaws as from our wisdom.

I’ve got lots of those flaws. You, too?

Excellent.

Come on in.

Because if you were in my house today, I hope and pray you’d find Jesus in the midst of it. Loving us, teaching us, forgiving us, and laughing—at the plastic zombie glasses my daughter insists on wearing to bed. Eh, I pick my battles. Now grab an apron and help me frost these cupcakes, amen?

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like No, You Are Not Failing, The Day I Get New Carpet, and We Are More the Same Than Different.

Linking up with: Coffee for Your HeartPlaydates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

When the Bees Sting Out of Season

“Mooooooooooommmmyyyyyyy!”

My daughter’s blood-chilling wail rang down the hall. I tossed aside my makeup brush and poked my head out the bathroom doorframe when I saw her round the corner, tears streaking her hot cheeks.

“Mommy, I got stung by a bee!” She teetered on one leg, her mouth contorting in pain. “On my foot! It hurts bad!”

“What?! A bee?! In the house? Let me see, sweetheart.” I cupped her foot in my hands and searched the swollen site. “It looks like the stinger is out, baby. Mom will make it better, don’t you worry. Did you see the bee?” We hobbled to the kitchen where I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and some Tylenol.

“It was on the carpet, Momma.” She sniffled, calming now under my tender, watchful care. “I just sat down to watch TV before breakfast, and then I felt the sting. I looked at my foot, and the bee was crawling on it.”

Dangitall. In the middle of winter—who worries about bees? The little suckers must’ve been nesting dormant somewhere near our crawlspace, and one squeezed his way into the house. It’s not exactly what a six-year-old expects to find when she wakes up for school on a February morning in Wisconsin. So, naturally, Mom wanted to cry, too. I felt her hurt. I should have protected her, prevented her pain somehow. But the bee came out of nowhere. How was I to know?

When the Bees Sting Out of Season

That’s just how life goes, though, isn’t it? Everything is moving along smoothly, ordinary, according to habit, then a fastball clocks us out of left field, and we’re stunned. Our security crumbles. What used to be predictable is now uncertain and scary. Nobody wants to sit in the proverbial living room anymore, for crying out loud, because what if there are more bees?

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10).

Last week alone, my sister lost her father-in-law to a sudden heart attack. A friend’s healthy son suffered a seizure out of nowhere. Countless families in our community dropped one by one to stomach flu. It happens everywhere, to anyone, week by week, hour by hour. Life changes in a flash, in big ways and small ways, and we’re left scrambling for balance, perspective, and answers.

We may never find them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Because while we mere humans put one foot in front of the other, walking linear through our days, God sees it all in full context—past, present, and future.

Nothing surprises him.

The real question is—can we trust him?

Does a good, ever-faithful, all-knowing, fiercely loving God really have our best interests at heart, even when the bees sting out of season and nothing makes sense?

He says he does.

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,’” (Jeremiah 29:11–13).

When pain and heartache surprise me, I find comfort in knowing God not only saw it coming, but he allowed it—which means it must fit into his big-picture plan. And somehow, even in the darkest circumstances when any glimpse of light seems miles and miles away, God’s plan is still good.

We really can trust him.

Think about it. Would you rather trust yourself? You—me—with our finite brains and nearsighted vision. Us, the women who burn toast and lose car keys and forget to call Grandma on her birthday.

I like that lady a lot. But I can’t always rely on her genius.

So I choose to lean on God. He knows more. He loves more. He is perfect where I am not.

Will you choose to trust him, too?

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Just Watch the Movie, Why Mom Makes Everything Better, and When God Controls the Remote.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.

For When You Need a Little Wisdom

Just when I think I’m getting smarter with age, my kids teach me how dumb I really am.

“Mom, how do I make oatmeal?” My first-grader poked her head inside the shower curtain.

“Hi, sweetie,” I squinted through shampoo suds dripping down my forehead. “You’re up early. I can make you some breakfast when I’m done in the shower.” (Can you tell we’re used to sharing bathroom space in our house? Nothing is sacred.)

“No,” she shook her head, “I want to make it myself. I just don’t know how much milk to put in.”

“About a half cup,” I said. “Then cook it in the microwave for one minute, thirty seconds. Do you know how to do that?”

“One three zero, got it.”

“Oh, and be careful when you take it out because the bowl will be hot.”

“Okay! I will! Thanks, Mom!” Then she buzzed into the kitchen to prepare her very own breakfast while Momma earned a few extra minutes in the shower. Good deal.

For When You Need a Little Wisdom

Funny how kids need instructions for the simplest tasks. We grown-ups can take for granted all the knowledge we’ve stored in our brains over the years, until we’re asked to impart it step by step to our children. You’d think this process of teaching and mentoring would make me realize how smart I am.

Except it doesn’t.

Because I’m a child, too, really—a child of God. And just as I know tons more than my daughter about how to make oatmeal and tie shoes and capitalize the first word in every sentence, it occurs to me how much more my heavenly Father knows compared to my puny wisdom. Sometimes I forget, when I’m struggling to find the answer to one of life’s tricky demands, I simply need to do what my daughter did.

Ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you,” (James 1:5).

What’s the first thing you do when you hit a snag? Do you worry? Freak out? Blow up, stuff in, shut down, or eat a heaping bowl of chocolate chunk ice cream? Yeah, me too. Next time, though, let’s try this.

Pray first.

Ask God what to do. Search his Word for guidance. It’s all in there, you know. Sure, God holds mysteries we may never understand, but for the most part the answers to life’s questions are laid out for us in the Bible. The more you get to know it, the more you get to know God, who is willing and able to teach you how to cook the oatmeal. And he is gentle. He’s loving and kind. He won’t slap you upside the head for needing help, patience or practice before you get it right.

I guess that’s why he’s called the perfect parent.

So let’s take advantage of the privileges he grants his children.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).

“Lovey, was that you I heard clanking dishes in the kitchen?” My husband laid his palm on our daughter’s back as she stood on a chair to reach the microwave.

“Yep, I made my own breakfast.” She smiled wide and proud. “That’s what big girls do.”

“Don’t grow too big just yet!” My husband teased. “You’ll always be our little girl.”

And you’ll always need a teacher, I thought. Because nobody on this planet will ever grow old enough to stop asking for wisdom.

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Why I’m Not Raising Independent Kids, The Cure for Whatever Ails You, and When God Controls the Remote.

Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Wifey WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Thrive at Home Thursday, and Things I Can’t Say.