Mom Talk: Trick or Treating with an Easter Basket

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23 NIV

pumpkin

I am super proud of myself because all of my children already have their Halloween costumes AND candy buckets three full weeks before Halloween. To fully appreciate this you would need to understand that, last year, I forgot the buckets and sent my kids door to door with old Easter baskets.

Trick or treat! (Also, He is risen). Whatevs – in my day, it was perfectly acceptable to use an old pillow case. You know what, it held WAY more candy than a plastic bucket with a handle that breaks before you get to the end of the street.

It was a confusing time and more than one person commented on the unusual choice – as if I had the two options before me and decided to go with the blatantly inappropriate one. Sometimes, a girl is just doing the best she can, y’all.

scarycookies.jpg

When you see that mama at the store and her kid is screaming in the buggy and folks are giving her the stink eye? Yeah, she’s doing the best she can. No one needs to comment on how her kid would never act like that or that child should be at home taking a nap.

The other day I saw a woman at the store and she had two kids dressed in boots and jeans like it was about to be a blizzard, two kids in shorts and flip flops like they were on their way to the beach and one child still wearing what she slept in the night before. That poor woman – fine, it was me – was doing. the. best. she. can!

So, if some sweet child knocks on your door and says, “Trick or treat,” while holding a frilly basket decorated with Easter eggs, just give her some candy for crying out loud. And, if you are one of the ones who choose to hand out oranges or toothbrushes or mints from the Olive Garden (true story,) we will know that you’re doing the best you can.

sisterhood.jpg

It’s all any of us can do – the best we can. Our kids may still make bad choices. We will still make bad choices. We will wish for do-overs and have to settle for grace overs. We will say things we regret and regret the things we didn’t say.

Here’s my promise to you. When I see you fall, I’ll lift you up instead of laugh. I’ll listen to you instead of judge you. We can love each other without looking like each other. I will try to understand even if I’ve never stood where you stand.

We can do this thing together doing the best we can.

You are loved. ❤

When Hope Smells Like Death

Do you ever look at your life and think, “What in the world happened here?” Does the pain of what could have been weigh heavy on your chest? Are there daily reminders that something is not {and may never be} the same? Does everything seem broken?

It’s a tough place for sure.

IMG_0192

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is the Valley of Dry Bones found in Ezekiel 37. {A very important tip when reading Scripture: read aloud and slowly. You will be amazed at the things you catch that otherwise would have been skimmed over.} Take a moment and read {aloud and slowly} Ezekiel 37:1-14. It’s okay. I will wait.

Did you do it? Great.

In verse 1-2, the Lord leads Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones. As he takes it all in, Ezekiel notices that the bones are very dry. They had been there awhile, y’all. Can anyone relate to being in a valley for longer than they care to admit?

What really got my attention, however, was verse 11. The bones in that valley represented the whole house of Israel. The stench in the valley was the death of hope. And that hope had been dead for quite some time.

rainy day

{Luke 24:13-21}

There were two men walking along the road. They had followed a man named Jesus. They had listened and learned. They had believed. They had hoped.

Yet, the man named Jesus had been handed over to the rulers. He had been mocked and beaten and crucified. It was three days later and their hope now held the stench of the grave.

Sometimes, y’all, hope smells a whole lot like death.

Perhaps, you had hope for your marriage. Yet, your spouse still decided to leave.

Or, maybe, you had hope for healing. In the end, however, you had a funeral.

It could be that you desperately hoped for reconciliation or, at the very least, closure. Instead, you got a cold shoulder and some fresh wounds.

Whatever it is that caused your hope to smell a little funky, there is good news. God is in the resurrection business.

You may think it is too late. In your heart, you are thinking that it has been too long. You think it sounds nice but, like Martha, you want to say, “Lord, it’s going to stink (John 11:39.)” My hope has been dead for so long that it is going to stink. That is okay, my friend. God can handle the stench of your decaying hope.

He is God over the grave.

I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. – Ezekiel 37:12 ESV

He can open the grave that holds your hope hostage. Not only that, he can raise it up and make it live again. It will be a tried and tested hope. It will be a hope that follows God and no longer fears the grave.

Your hope will have tasted death and lived to tell about it.

You have gifts. Now, use them!

I was watching a show the other day and one guy said to another, “Good on you.” Now, basically, it’s just the equivalent of “good job” or “congratulations,” but it just has a little something more to it. I’ve decided that I’m going to start using it more in my encounters with other women and moms.

For instance…

You monogrammed your child’s diaper bag, onesies, diaper covers and sippy cup sleeves? Well, good on you.

You just ran ten miles while pushing the toddler in a jogging stroller, nursing the baby and eating homemade granola? Well, good on you. 

breakfast dishes

Women have, somehow, bought into the lie that “good on you” has to mean “bad on me.” The enemy has distorted our view of things until we are unable to acknowledge the gifts in another woman without feeling envious of her or disgusted with ourselves. The reality is that you and I have different gifts. Not better. Not worse. Not the leftover gifts that no one else wanted. Just different.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. – Romans 12:6

Having gifts. You have gifts. I have gifts. All God’s children have gifts. Some women sew. Some women cook. Some women are excellent listeners. Some women {ahem} overshare in an attempt to make other women feel better. Some women can make people laugh. Some women can soothe the weary with a word.

God did not say, “If you happen to have a gift…” or “If I remembered to give you a gift…” or “If you were good enough to receive a gift…” No, God said, {okay, technically this is Paul. but it is totally inspired by God}, “Having gifts…” There is the assumption that you have gifts. It’s easy to be so distracted by other people’s gifts that we fail to see our own.

That differ. We do not have the same gifts, y’all. We just don’t. I have friends that are home birthing, natural birthing, grit-your-teeth-and-push superstars. Do you know what I say to that? I say, “Good on you and pass the epidural” all in the same breath and I don’t even feel guilty. Pain tolerance is not one of my gifts. {In my defense, all of my babes were c-sections so it wasn’t an option. I know, however, that pain medicine was going to be in the picture regardless.}

There is freedom in acknowledging our differences, friends. And freedom feels good.toys in the floor

Use them. Right next to the assumption that you have gifts is the command that you use them. You were given a specific gift {or gifts} for a purpose. Maybe that purpose somehow benefits you. It is more likely, however, that you were given your gifts for the good of those around you.

Look at the gifts Paul lists.

Prophecy.

Service.

Teaching.

Encouragement.

Generosity.

Leadership.

Mercy.

These are all gifts that bless the people who are on the receiving end. To stay in the shadows and pretend that you have no gifts is not humility. It is selfishness.

So, the next time you are tempted to be intimidated by someone else’s gifts, learn to say, “Good on you.”

All together now.

Good. on. you.

Five Things Friday: 5 Things You Don’t Say to a Tired Mama

I am taking this week off for the holiday. Please enjoy this oldie but goodie. It is my most shared Five Things Friday post ever. Apparently, there are a lot of tired mamas out there. So, watch yourself! 🙂

******

My first three babies were great sleepers. I’m talking sleep through the night at ten weeks old kind of sleepers. I’m not gonna lie – it. was. awesome. Then, I had baby number last 4. That sweet babe of mine did not sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time for nine months.

Sophia - Dedication PhotoThen, I understood. All of those tired mamas on Facebook suddenly made sense to me. I nodded in total agreement how coffee had become a necessity and showering a luxury. I repented of every time I had judged a mama wearing pajama pants at the grocery store. Instead, I applauded her for even making it there. I began having people tell me things that, though well meaning, were either irritating or (worse) discouraging.

So, on behalf of all tired mamas out there, I’m going to tell you 5 things you should never say in response to a post or statement about being tired.

  1. My baby is six and still doesn’t sleep through the night. Nothing will make a tired mama feel worse than the suggestion that there is no end in sight to the physical and mental exhaustion she is enduring. Some days, the only thing that enables us to make it through the day is the hope that tonight may just be the night. Please don’t stomp all over that hope.
  2. My sweet angel sleeps twelve hours every night. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that this may get you blocked on Facebook. Oh, I kid. Sort of.  If your friend has a child who doesn’t sleep and she hasn’t had the energy to bathe in two days, it is not the time to brag about how well rested and wonderful you feel.
  3. Just enjoy it because you’ll miss these days. I will miss having barbies in my bathtub. I will miss having a toddler sneak into my bed at night. I will miss night time snuggles and footie pajamas. I will miss story time and days at the park. I will not miss being so exhausted that I wash my hair in body wash and mistake diaper cream for hand lotion. When you say this to a tired mom, you instill a sense of guilt in her because she is just tired and wants to wiggle her nose and be at the next stage.
  4. What you should be doing is… This is just a no-no. Mothering is such an intimate thing. The moment you tell another mom what she “should” be doing, it can seem like a condemnation of what she is currently doing. Now, I’m not saying that you never give advice. Just be aware of how you say it. A proper way would be: All children are different, but something that worked for me is… Or maybe you read something helpful. You could say, I read the neatest thing the other day. Have you ever read… Just be aware that a tired mama is a sensitive mama and speak accordingly.
  5. You look exhausted. We tired mamas like to think that we don’t look like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck. So, when you see us out and about at the store or church, just say how great we look. Seriously. We will know you are lying and we will love you for it.

If you are a tired mama, I applaud you.

You can do this.

You are a rock star.

You go, girl.

And you look fabulous!

You Can Bring Your Lonely Here

I keep bumping into them online – women who are lonely. They are laundry folding, nose wiping, boo boo kissing, grilled cheese making machines. They are single ladies working 9 to 5, sitting in on meetings and swapping jokes around the water cooler. They volunteer at church. They are classroom moms. They are doting grandmothers. They are all ages and in all stages of life  – and they are lonely.toys in the floor

One sweet lady silently slips an email into my inbox asking for prayer. She reaches out to a stranger on the other side of a computer screen. One whispers, late at night, “I have no one who cares.” It is heart wrenching.  I wish we could just sit down over a cup of coffee. I long to look each of them in the eyes and tell them they are not alone. But what can I do? I’m just one woman and a tired one at that. I’m just a mom with toys all over the floor and peanut butter on my keyboard.

Can I tell you something? I care. I’m a hot mess and I do not have all of the answers. I’ve made mistakes. I have been a selfish mom and a bad friend. I am just a woman in desperate need of grace. But, I care. And you are welcome in this place. You can bring your lonely here. I won’t judge your baggage or call you a drama queen.

It doesn’t matter if you have had a chance to shower. We can meet here, in my living room, among the toys and laundry piles. Dora the Explorer is probably going to be playing in the background. You can talk and I’ll listen. Or, you can just sit silently. Maybe, you just need some company. That’s okay, too.

I can not fix your problems. I can not take away your pain. Here is what I can do. I can see you and I can hear you. Suffering has a way of making us feel isolated and alone. We become desperate for someone to look our way.

Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am alone and afflicted. – Psalm 25:16

I promise, He is looking your way – and so am I. Scripture tells us that God sets the lonely in families. Here, in my little corner of the bloggy world, you and I are family. You are not alone.