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

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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.

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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.

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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. ❤

American Ninja Mama

I am a huge fan of shows involving obstacle courses. I love to cheer on the underdogs and, perhaps, I’m a little pleased when the overly proud ones slip early on and eliminate themselves. I am not even remotely athletic so I’ve always wondered why these types of shows appeal to me so much. Then, I took a shower last night and it all made sense. Every time I enter my bathroom it’s as if I’m participating in an obstacle course without ever signing up for it.

If you’ve ever gone to the restroom and realized (after the fact) that someone used the last roll of toilet paper and failed to replace it – then you know what I mean. You jiggle. You shake. You yell to see if anyone is within earshot. (They never are, by the way. Not unless you’re opening a candy bar.)

Then, there is the shower obstacle. You attempt to place your feet somewhere in between the Barbie dolls and the Hot Wheels. Just the other night, I pushed all of the toys to one end of the tub but failed to notice the white, rubber ball which blended quite nicely with the white tub. That was almost the one that eliminated me from any further competition.

A photo by David Cohen. unsplash.com/photos/wD5LMt3ElT4

My personal favorite part of the show is when I attempt to wash my hair and must determine which bottles actually contain shampoo and which ones have been filled with week old bath water. Trust me, getting that one wrong is quite unpleasant.

Let’s say, by chance, you are one of the superior competitors who survive the shower scene. That’s about the time you open the linen closet and find that the towels have all mysteriously disappeared. Oh, sure, there is one limp, slightly damp towel laying on the floor. Do you dare?

Why is the towel wet? Did it dry a clean body fresh from the shower or was it used to mop up an overflowed toilet? You take a quick sniff and go for it. This ain’t your first shake yourself dry on the potty, almost die from a rubber ball in the shower, wash your hair in dirty bathwater and dry yourself off with a questionable towel obstacle course.

No, ma’am. You can do this thing.

Mom Talk: A Remnant of Grace

My heart broke as I listened to story after story. The things that go on in schools these days are terrifying. Even the so-called good kids make bad choices and what is our world coming to when children can’t just be children. Mamas afraid to put their children on a school bus and dads having to have conversations about drugs and s*x with kids who should still be innocently giggling and jumping rope.

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As I sat there, I thought of a verse in the book of Romans. Paul is reminding his readers of the time Elijah was convinced that he was alone in the world. The people were worshipping other gods, the prophets were all being killed and Elijah’s own life was in danger. He cries out to God, “I am all alone in this!” But the Lord is quick to set him straight.

I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Romans 11:4

Elijah panicked and ran because he was convinced that he was alone. You can read the whole account in 2 Kings 19. My favorite part is, as Elijah is hiding in a cave, God comes to him and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

God sends him back to where he came from and He gives him the names of people who are still standing strong. There is Hazael, and Jehu and Elisha. Also, there are seven thousand others. Elijah was never alone.

Paul tells his readers that, just like in Elijah’s day, there is a remnant chosen by grace (Romans 11:5.) It may have appeared as if the Jews were all rejecting Christ but there was always a remnant of believing Jews who would not abandon their faith. Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse describes this remnant as people who were “chosen from eternity in the counsels of divine love to be vessels of grace and glory.”

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We may look at the environments our children are having to navigate and be tempted to think they are all alone. As a fellow mom who has the same fears, I can promise you that they are not alone. There will always be a remnant chosen by grace.

Your child may just be a part of that special group chosen from eternity to be a vessel of grace and glory. We need to cover our children in prayer. Let’s ask God to reveal some of the others who are still standing for Him just like He did for Elijah so that our children know that they aren’t alone.

Perhaps, it’s you. In the workplace. In the gym. In the playgroup. On the campus. Wherever you are – you’re not alone. You are a part of a remnant chosen in love to carry His grace and glory to the darkest corners of the world.

Carry on. You are loved.

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How to Hear From God When Life is Loud

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Life is crazy loud. Do you know what I mean?

For instance, at this very moment, I have some men remodeling my bathroom upstairs. I also have one child watching her 35th episode of Doc McStuffins, one child listening to a math lesson on the computer, and two children playing in the play room. I also have one potty training toddler who just peed on my foot and demanded a treat.

I also have had some devotional thoughts that I have wanted to share but I’m saving them for my newest devotional project which will be coming out next year. Every time I am tempted to blog them I have to remind myself, “You can’t tell those stories.” It’s kind of like when Kramer sold all of his stories to Elaine’s boss to be used in a book. Then, when Kramer went to tell a story to his friends, Elaine stopped him and said, “You can’t tell that story. It now belongs to Mr. Peterman.”

Sometimes I’m desperate to hear from God but I’m all, “Lord, what did You say? It’s too loud up in here!”

Then, I read this verse.

Be silent in the presence of the Lord God…  Zephaniah 1:7

It occurred to me that my world doesn’t have to be quiet in order for me to hear from God – I’m the one who needs to be quiet. Everything around me doesn’t have to suddenly be still – I’m the one who needs to stop and listen.

Maybe that speaks to you, too? Does life seem so loud that it drowns out the voice of the Father? I promise you that God can speak over any noise you have going on right now. It isn’t your home that needs to be silent, but your heart.

You are loved. ❤

Fear of Failing as a Parent

One of the areas where I am most sensitive is my role as a mother. If my husband asks something homeschool related and the girls don’t know the answer, I immediately feel like I am failing them.

I just want so much for them. I want more for them than I, with my human limitations, can provide. I am afraid that I am a bad mother. I think that is the appeal of things like Instagram. We can post a picture of something we have done well, receive affirmation and feel good about ourselves in that moment. Please do not read any judgement in that. We all need someone to say, “Good on you.” every now and then.

As I live intentionally unafraid this year, I am tracking fear through Scripture. I am amazed at how often it is mentioned and I haven’t even made it out of Genesis.

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I have been thinking about Hagar for a couple days and how she was sent off into the wilderness with her child, Ishmael.

And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. – Genesis 21:14 ESV

Eventually, the meager supplies she set out with ran out. Hagar, convinced that the boy is about to die, places him under a bush. Scripture tells us that she “sat opposite him, lifted up her voice and wept.” Is there any cry quite like the cry of a mother who can do nothing to help her child?

Something about the story kept coming back to me.

And God heard the voice of the boy…

“What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.” – Genesis 21:17

Do you see it? Hagar is the one crying out and twice in one verse we are told that God heard the boy.

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It’s as if God is reminding Hagar that she is not the only one watching over Ishmael. We are afraid to fail as parents because we are, often, under some delusion that we are the ones ultimately in control of their lives.

We want to take all of the credit for their successes and all of the blame for their failures. We forget that the God who knew them before He ever created them is more than capable of caring for them.

We can know that, whatever mistakes we make as parents, God hears our children where they are.

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Stacy ❤