Posted in Christian, God, happiness, longreads, Uncategorized

Faithful Resolutions are the Key to Success

Faithful resolutions are so much better than the others. The expectations for the year are realistic and basic. With the state of the world these days, I’m confident that was the right move heading into the New Year. While resolutions are hard to keep, we know looking for more happiness in our life is always a good undertaking. Some days will be more productive than others, but we’re making progress. Progress is more than enough. 

What about your faith this year? What are you doing to grow that? Faithful resolutions are my favorite. Unlike the crazy variables in our spastic world, our faith will never let us down. In fact, it’s the rock that we can firmly stand on amidst the chaos in the world and our life. Faith is life. 

All you really need to do in your faithful resolutions in 2021 is follow this lead from Jonathan Edwards:

Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. 

I love it. Sure it sounds basic and simple, but at the end of the day pure faith and love are basic and simple too. The beauty of God is that he doesn’t track how many times you read your Bible or how many daily devotionals you complete in your lifetime. Yes, they bring His words closer to us but if we aren’t letting them sink in to become the core of us, I don’t think He cares how much studying we do. Our faithful resolutions require more action from us.

God Loves Faithful Resolutions

He wants people who love Him. People who know how to ask for forgiveness for mistakes and gracefully give forgiveness to those who wrong us. People who not only read or speak his words, but actively live them out. Love each other, help each other, and worship Him.

Say your prayers. Use the canned ones if needed, but speak to God honestly and openly from your heart. Tell him your mistakes, worries, and fears. If you cannot be raw and vulnerable with Him, who can you? Ask him for his help and mean it. Sit in the stillness and keep your heart open as you move through your day. He’s there, you just need to let Him help. 

Resolving to be more faithful doesn’t require anything flashy or special to achieve. It doesn’t require perfection or daily tasks to be checked off. There is no required purchase or equipment and no mandatory meeting to attend. This resolution is the easiest and will change your life deeper than any other. 

Live like he wants. God loves justice, love, and helping others. Speak up for those who cannot and be there for them in their struggles – even while you’re dealing with your own. The best way to grow your personal faith is to look beyond yourself. Doing His work and living his words is worth more than being able to recite verses. 

Don’t Stop Believing

Finally, even when the world around us seems to be losing its faith everywhere we look – hold strong to yours. It’s easy to love God when life is full of rainbows and sunshine. Loving God during dark and stormy times is where faith grows. Keep walking with God, even if no one else is, and goodness will be restored around you. 

“Forget the former things;

    do not dwell on the past.

 See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

 I am making a way in the wilderness

    and streams in the wasteland.”

~ Isaiah 43:18-19

This year, I’m not focusing on the mistakes or shortcomings I had in 2020 to make resolutions I likely won’t keep. No one should. Every day is a chance to start something new, to do good things, and to improve ourselves. Take them one day at a time and give yourself grace throughout the year. It’s ok if you miss a Monday, eat that brownie, or forget to do a week’s worth of reading. Life happens. 

Just stay focused on the good stuff. Wake up daily full of gratefulness for another chance at life and do good things. No matter how big or small they may be, do them in love. They’re the key to successful resolutions for a righteous life. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, happiness, longreads, love

Make Graceful Resolutions

We talked about skipping resolutions, but be honest – some of you still did it, didn’t you? I knew you would… so let’s be gracious in how we proceed here.

I hope you shall be in the 8% that keeps them (and is honest in their reporting to the people who track these sort of things). I also hope, whether you make resolutions or set smaller goals for the year that you remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace. 

In years past, I’ve set goals to work out and eat healthy but I was never kind to myself. I took away everything I liked, signed myself up for things I don’t like doing, and internally scolded myself any time I stepped remotely close to messing things up. The moment I actually made a mistake in my goals, I declared myself a failure at my resolution and gave up completely. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Why do we always focus on things we’re bad at in the New Year? We make a whole list of things we need to fix about ourselves without really stopping to look at all of the things that make us wonderful. Can a resolution or goal be to just keep being awesome instead of focusing solely on our flaws? 

This year, I challenge you to love you and be kind to you. You made it through last year, you made it through all the hard days, and you are still here. Celebrate those wins and build upon your goodness by growing your goodness and loving your imperfect self. I’m following this method for 2021:

  1. Take an inventory of what you’re really great at and do more of it. Be honest with yourself and don’t worry if others would agree – this is your list, not theirs. If you think you’re a great singer – who cares if you make it onto the voice? You love it, do more of it. If you are an amazing organizer, see if you can volunteer with a group or just help a friend get her crap together. Do more of what makes you amazing and launch that happiness into the world.
  1. Take an inventory of what you’d like to do and do more of it. You want to work exercise more? Then just do it a little longer than last year. If you do 1 minute or 1 hour more each day you’re doing it. Celebrate that win. You want to read more books? Get the Kindle app on your phone and stop scrolling Facebook in bed or on the toilet (don’t act like you don’t do that). If you read 1 more than last year, you did it! Whether you end 2021 with 1 book or 200 books read, you did better than 2020 and that’s a win. Do more of what your heart wants. 

3.    Smile. This one is easy. If you’re from the Midwest, we already do it. Make eye contact with people and smile. Smiling reduces your blood pressure, lowers your stress, and boosts your immune system. It literally makes you healthier with barely any effort (see more on its perks here https://www.henryford.com/blog/2017/10/health-benefits-smiling).

4. Live like Elsa. Just let it go. All of it. Quit yelling at people while you drive, fighting with strangers on the internet, and unfriending people with different political leanings than you. Just because someone says something you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you need to launch a verbal nuclear assault on them and their family. As my boy Thumper has been preaching since 1942: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Move on. 

That’s it. Low effort, big results, and completely doable. Focus on one day at a time, don’t bash yourself if you have a slip up – just try again. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

Let’s do 2021 with love. For us, for others, and for the world.

Posted in Christian, happiness, longreads, selfcare, wtf

Happy New Year

Please note: this was written as a three part series and supposed to post before the events in Washington D.C. on Wednesday January 6, 2021. The sentiment is still the same, but 2021 has already proven to be surprising.

Be realistic in your expectations for the New Year

My world is filled with people excited to be over with 2020. I agree 2020 will likely go down as one of the most difficult years in most of our lives. However, 2021 is not a magical cure for all of our problems. 

Celebrating the new year and making big promises for the new year is nothing new. Over 4000 years ago, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at their new year celebration to improve themselves so they could win the gods’ favor on their crops. If they were successful in their resolutions, they would have good crops and if they were not the crops would fail. My family would be very hungry if our ability to eat rested in my ability to stick to a resolution for a year. 

The Romans did the same around 46 B.C. They made promises to the gods of how to improve themselves and believed those actions were directly tied to their quality of life. Keeping of the resolutions would make an easy year for them and breaking them would lead them to a falling out with the gods. Again, I’d be in big trouble if life rested on whether I could actually stop drinking Coca Cola for a year (spoiler: I’ve tried many times, I crack by March). 

Of course, if it’s good enough for the Romans – our Christian church wasn’t going to be left in the dark either. “Covenant Renewal Services” popped up for people to repent their sins from the previous year and to also make new promises with God as a renewal of His Covenant with us. It’s great to examine yourself and reflect on how you’re carrying yourself in the world, but I’m also really glad God doesn’t attach strings to His love for me. Resolutions for any reason are hard. 

At this point, they’re mostly a secular thing and most people don’t even do them. Only 40% of Americans say they make them with roughly 8% reporting they keep theirs (I have no proof but I’d bet a few of those people are fudging too). I don’t make them any year, but this year in particular I think it’s best to skip them and limit my 2021 expectations for many reasons 

I have been disappointed enough over the last 12 months. Some decisions were my own and many were not. I did NOT see a global pandemic of this magnitude happening in 2020. Maybe some people did, I’m not exactly always up in the news as much as I should be, but last year went off the rails more than I think most of could have predicted. We all want it fixed, but problems this deep didn’t start overnight nor will they disappear overnight. 

The dropping of a sparkly ball at the strike ball at midnight does not mean the pandemic is over. 

We don’t have a fairy godmother waving her wand to put things back to normal at midnight. We can celebrate hope for 2021 but still need to be realistic in our expectations. The vaccines are coming but it will still take months to get them out enough to make a dent in the virus. People are still struggling to stay afloat while we wait to safely reopen places. We have new leaders coming in to try and heal years of problems. No single person can change years and decades of problems immediately either. 

We need to approach 2021 with hope and determination, not the expectation it will be better simply because it’s not called 2020. We have real work to keep doing as we continue having hard conversations, taking precautions to keep us all safe, and helping people around us. We need to just keep going and adding any more to our heavy burden entering 2021 just seems self-destructive at this point. 

I’m welcoming 2021 into my life calmly. It’s a breath of fresh air, we are closer to moving past a virus and stepping back into life more freely. But we aren’t there yet. Not with the dropping of the ball, flipping of the calendar, or changing of the year. We still have work to do. 

Let’s go into 2021 hoping things get no worse and enjoy the process of rising together. Last year disappointed most of us, but this year could surprise us. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, guest writer, happiness, longreads, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I had no idea 2 years ago when I started diving deep into my Bible journaling and studying what the next 18 months had in store for me. Marriage struggles (we’re good now), financial problems (also good), parenting challenges (still doing our best), depression dive (I’m in my comeback!), deaths close to us, sickness around us, and struggles for people we love. I have been through hard times before but 2018 and 2019 may have been the hardest years on my heart to date.

I came across many verses which continue to help me when I struggle and I am still finding new ones all the time. Even new meanings in old ones as I read them again. However, in 2017 I found two in Colossians and Thessalonians which speak to my heart so strongly here in 2019 that I wanted to share them with you. Both are really great books to read this time of the year, in my opinion;  full of beauty, hope, thankfulness, and truth. A little like me. 

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace and always be thankful.”

I look around the world, my state, my town, my office, my church, my family and I can find people I agree with fully. People who stand for what I do and stand up to what I do also. I love those people. They are easy to get along with, to be thankful for, and to work closely with. They fill my heart. 

I can also find plenty of people in each of these places I do not agree with at all. I find their stances to be unfair to many, hurtful, based in exclusion, omission, and rejection. Hearing them talk makes me want to cry for the world and apologize to my children. Sometimes, I actually do. I struggle to work with them and be thankful for their work in the world. They break my heart. 

There are also many people who walk the fine line between filling and breaking my heart. These are the people I love so dearly and support in so many ways, yet cannot understand how their heart sees the world’s issues how they are. I am roughly 50-75% thankful for these people at a glance, depending on if they are doing what I like or not in a given moment. They confuse my heart. 

Colossians 3:15 was an epic wake up call for me (also, if you really want to think about the body of Christ idea, check out this sermon from my church recently!). We are all different. We are not all the same parts, which can lead to some issues, but need to live in peace. We need to be thankful for the people around us. I do not agree on many things with a friend who spends a lot of time volunteering at a veteran’s hospital. He’s doing good, even all of his work isn’t what I want. People I wish would open their eyes to causes around the world volunteer at their churches to help the hungry. I’m thankful for that. 

We don’t have to agree to be thankful for one another. 

Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 

How hard is this one? I stared at this one for a long time when I first came upon it. It’s hard to be grateful in hard times. I think its only human to see the bad at face value. It’s easy to get lost in the sadness, hopelessness, and darkness surrounding hard times. If you’re anything like me, the easy path is the preferred one whenever possible. Life is hard enough without volunteering yourself for more, right?

In this case, that couldn’t be more wrong. Being down, brings you down further. Letting the sadness get too far, lets the depression sneak in and take over. Losing sight of the goodness and being thankful makes life a long, miserable sentence. Even in the hard times, there is something good in each day. 

Every night for as long as I can remember, I ask my daughter at bedtime “What was something kind someone did for you? And what is something kid you did for someone?”. Some nights she’s got more than one answer for each question queued up for me. Some nights she bursts into tears and we need to talk a bit to come up with two answers together. Some days are better than others. 

The point of this verse and the point I’m trying to make to her is this: there is something good in every day. Sometimes we have to look harder than others, but it’s there. Find it. Don’t let the hard times or sad times win. 

There are so many more, I could go on, but go find them for yourself. This year? I’m thankful for you, for healing, for my family, my friends, my job, my health, my cat, and all the hard things I have been able to overcome. I’m ready for whatever is next.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

Dear Teenage Son – I don’t know it all but I do know some.

Dear teenage son,

I am ridiculously excited to have a front row seat for the big, bold life you are creating and to be your guide for this part of your life. So excited, it’s freaking me out a little bit about how quickly you’re getting the hang of things on your own. You need me less these days. Which makes me proud and sad all at once. I still want to protect you and I can’t believe how big you’ve already grown; but don’t think for a minute you know everything. You’re not grown yet (even when you are, you still won’t know everything – trust me on that too).

You’re not the only one feeling a flurry of conflicting confusing feelings in your teenage years. They suck for you, I get that, middle school is literally the worst – anyone who claims otherwise as an adult has clearly blocked it all out. It’s really hard for the parents too, though. So hear me out and cut me some slack. I know I’m old and I don’t understand (just like grandma was old and didn’t understand me) but I really do know a thing a thing or two about where you are.

Let’s be honest: I really liked being your number one person when you were little. I was like a fabulous superhero mom. I still want to tell you the direction you should go, then swoop in to save you from any trouble I see. I want to warn you about friends or situations which could lead to heartbreak. I want to save you from the hard things but I know I can’t. As good as it might make me (or you) feel in the moment – it wouldn’t do either of us any good.

I know these things because I learned by living. I need to give you that chance too. Even if it sucks for us both. That doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Not all all. I saw the perfect saying the other day about it: There are three places you will always find me: in front of you guiding the way, behind you cheering you on, or by your side. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

I’m trying to lead the way for you. I want to show you right from wrong, that’s totally a requirement of this mom gig. I also want to show you its ok to stumble or make a mistake – just say you’re sorry and learn from it.

I want to show you that pure love exists. No matter where you go or what you do (even if I don’t agree), I will love you. The people willing to tell you the truth, even when it hurts, but still love you fully are the kind of people you need to cling to. Those are your people. I will always be that kind of person. 

I will always be behind you. I may not agree with all you do in life, but I am cheering for you. I hope it always turns out for the best. When everyone else walks away, even if I think we’re both crazy, I’ll back you up. I’ll cheer you on. I’ll be in your corner. I have seen you do amazing things, I know what you are capable of. If you’re all in, so am I. Tell me what you need me to do.  

And on those days when you are lost and don’t know what to do – I will be beside you. I may be just as scared and lost as you, but I will never leave you on your own. I make no promises I will know what to say to make you feel better (yeah, that’s right, I might be speechless). I may have no idea or suggestion to help with the situation, but I will not budge. Even if all I can do is listen, hug, and hold your hand – I will be there. Forever.

I will also hold you accountable for your actions or words. I will stand by consequences from other adults when you’ve goofed up with them. You will not always like what I have to say. There will be lectures, groundings, apologies, and arguments along the way. You’ll roll your eyes and hate me for an evening, but I am as ready as I’ll ever be for that. I love you more than life itself but that doesn’t mean this is the cakewalk portion of life (spoiler alert: I’m almost 40 and I’ve yet to find the cakewalk part; I’ll let you know if I do). I don’t plan on raising assholes and we’re bound to have the occasional growing pains getting there. I still love you though.

This is new territory for us both. I’m trying not to screw it all up but we already butt heads from time to time. I’m sure that will go on for years to come. I have never done this before as a parent, only as a kid. It’s a little confusing on this end of the spectrum too. I am doing my best, so cut me some slack if I get a little crazy trying to help, guide, or protect you.

It’s hard being your age and that’s coming from me (I have seen some shit, man). Navigating friends, teachers, parents, and all the other things in your life is crazy hard. I remember. I am doing my best to help you navigate and be by your side. Sometimes, it’s scary.  Then I remember this line from a book you and I shared long ago “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” 

Its like Dr. Seuss knew you were coming and wrote a cheer just for you. Or he knew how much I’d love you and wrote a reminder for me. Either way, he was right. You’re doing an amazing job and going in an exciting direction. You’re a good kid, becoming a good man. I am eternally grateful to be along for the ride – even on the days I have to control to get you back on track. 

I love you always, Mom

Posted in Depression, longreads, selfcare, Uncategorized

This is important: learn to step out of your comfort zone.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone. I like volunteering at my kids’ schools. I wish I loved it, but the idea of having a weekly commitment makes me itchy and takes the joy out of it for me. I’ve done the weekly commitments but sporadic volunteering is by far my strength. That is what I like. Specifically, the book fair. I like the book fair because I love books. And shopping. This combines the two for a good cause! Plus, I can score some great deals on Christmas gifts. It’s literally the perfect gig for me.

A few weeks back, was the fall book fair. I’m sure you’ve seen a similar set up before. Large metal bookshelf carts form a large horseshoe in the center of the school library. Brightly colored tables display books for every age. It’s a visual reminder to me of my children sitting on my lap with plump board books, now curled onto the sofa with chapter books I’m not a part of. Some books have memories and some I wish I had a child small enough to buy it for.

That night, I stood near a table of posters and books, watching families weave through the maze of shelves. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older man with a young boy walk into the library. Grandparents and grand kids aren’t an unusual sight at these events, but something about these two caught my attention. 

Most kids jog into the book fair. Or at the very least power walk. This boy walked in slowly, almost unsure if he should even be there. He paused next to the first metal cart, briefly inspecting the chocolate calculators no child can resist touching, before his eyes fell on a table full of his favorite books. 

Silently, he approached the table and began flipping through the pages of each book. I wasn’t the only one who took notice and soon his grandpa was by his side asking him questions about the books. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation:

“Do you like these books? Have you read them”

“My teacher has them. She lets me read hers. I read this one, but she doesn’t have all the other ones.”

“You can read them though? The words make sense and you like the stories?”

“Yeah, I like them a lot.”

“We should get you one. Everyone should have a book to read. Which one do you need next?”

“Are you sure? How much are these?” the boy held up the book and the man looked around the table for a price sign.

“I don’t know. I don’t see a sign and I don’t really know how books work,” he took the book from the boy, flipping through the pages and spinning it in his hands trying to spot a price to no avail. 

“Its ok grandpa, I can get it at the library,” he reached for the book to place it back on the table, but his grandpa pulled in back.

“No. This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important, we’re finding someone to help.”

It took all my self-restraint not to buy every book on the table for the boy. When grandpa and I made eye contact, I stepped in to tell them the price of the book they were holding. He asked if I could show him and his grandson “how books work”. I gave them a quick crash course on where to find book prices, what the book is about, and what number it is if it’s part of a series. Things I take for granted that my children and I know, were totally new info for the two standing before me. They paid for the book and left. I returned to where I was watching the book browsers but I couldn’t quite shake the older man’s words. 

“This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important. We’ll find someone to help.”

They could have said nothing and walked away. The grandpa could have been so ashamed about his lack of book knowledge he directed his grandson back out into the hallway. He could have just thrown the book on the counter and prayed the cost wasn’t going to be something out of his budget when it was rung up. Instead, he admitted he was not an expert, did not shy away from asking for help, and made sure they got what they needed before heading out that evening. Not only did he step out of his comfort zone – he bravely long jumped himself into the unknown.

That’s kind of how I feel about my journey in life and wherever this is going. I do not know it all. I am actively still in the middle of figuring things out. The only thing I am really sure of is how important it is to share, even if I need help along the way. I am not an expert on many things. I hold no fancy degrees in psychology, social work, Christian studies, writing, the Bible, marketing, or depression. I can still know those things are important. Instead of hiding away, I can find the help I need to get the outcome I want and share what I learn with anyone else in need. 

I think that’s something a lot of people allow to hold them back. I am totally guilty of it. I see people doing or achieving things I want to, then I quickly assess my progress toward those goals. If I am not on par with them or at least catching up, I immediately believe I am not as good as them. The idea of working through those feelings or getting help doesn’t cross my mind. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t, right? I know I’m not the only one carrying these ridiculously high standards with me.  

I wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on because I didn’t feel I was an expert at it soon enough. How many things have we all missed out on which could have helped improve our lives or the lives of others? Why do we let doubt and fear take the wheel so often? Why do we act like we can only do the things we already know? When you step out of your comfort zone, you take back control. 

If a man in his 70s can wander into an elementary school library and admit to his grandson, then a woman he never met before, he doesn’t know how books work – we can chase after our dreams. If he can stand there, surrounded by Captain Underpants, Dogman, and Baby Shark books while he learns where to find information on a book sleeve without an ounce of embarrassment – we can ask questions and allow others to guide us too. You just need to step out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t know how, but know its important – do it. Do it scared, unsure, shaky, and uncertain – but do it.

Posted in Christian, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting, school, Uncategorized

The Best Back to School Bible Verses – SheProclaims.com

The best Back to School Bible Verses to get you through the start of the year! Whether you’re missing summer vacation already (that’s me!) or sighing with relief as the school bus pulls away – these verses are perfect reminders for you AND your kids to get through the days! By no means is it a complete list but here are the best back to school Bible verses I like to lean on!

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Have a little faith, mommas. You’re raising great kids with great hearts. They know right from wrong. They will make make you proud. These lessons will carry on throughout their school days and lives. Keep up the good work

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As long as there is school, kids will face hurdles. Bombing a test, not making the team, or being left out will hurt and leave them feeling discouraged. It’s hard on your momma heart to watch them struggle, but remember the growth they are going through (you too!).

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”

Don’t gossip or bully. Never let the world harden your heart or take you off track. Find your passion, find your goal, and chase after it. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Starting anything new, even if it’s something as routine as school, can be scary. So can navigating friends, hard classes, and the unavoidable struggles that come with the territory. Remind your kids they aren’t alone and they will be ok, even if they’re sitting solo on a bus or at a lunch table. Remind yourself also they will be ok even without you by their side. They aren’t alone.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Be a good person. Do good things. Be in control of yourself. 

Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

Be the nice kid. Be the good you want to see. Easy peasy.

Proverbs 15:5  “A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”

Parents are stupid. Mine were when I was a kid and now, it appears, I am equally as stupid to my kids some days. I think that’s just the way of the world in most cases. However, I wish I’d listened more – they did know what they were talking about – and I try to remind my kids daily I’ve been where they are and can save them some struggles if they listen to my words or wisdom (or stories of epic failure – just learn from me!).

Proverbs 22:6  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

If you’re like me, the idea of sending your kids out into the world without you can be scary at times. I’m struggling extra with the middle school kid right now – that age is weird, this world is scary, and I just can’t even yet!!! I just remind myself they’re good people and will stick to that path we’ve started them on!

Colossians 3:20  “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

I know some of your classes are boring and the homework is stupid. Bedtime is lame and dinner is disgusting. I had all the same issues when I was your age going to school, so I totally get it. But have a little faith and trust me. I do it in your best interest just like grandma did it in mine. 

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Oh my sweet children. I see so much goodness in you. If more adults looked at the world through your eyes and with your heart, it would be a better place. Please don’t lose that and don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or don’t know enough to make a difference. Keep living your awesome lives so you can show the world what is possible with kindness!

What are your Best Back to School Bible verses for your kids or your momma heart?

Posted in happiness, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

To my eight year old daughter,

To my eight year old daughter,

I’m watching you swim in the pool surrounded by the summer sunshine for what feels like the thousandth time this year. Rainbow bathing suit, teal goggles, and sun-streaked blonde hair flowing wildly in the water.

Your twisted bathing suit straps look uncomfortable to wear, but you did it yourself. My offers to fix it have all been shrugged off; just another reminder that you’re growing up. Instead, you scurry up the ladder like a flash of freckles before splashing into the cool water.

This is the summer you could finally make it to the bottom of the deep end for the diving rings. It’s the summer you perfected your underwater handstand – sort of – but I clap every time your wobbly legs shoot into the air. This is the summer when all those swimming lessons came together and I don’t have to get in with you. I can relax poolside in my chair like the moms I was envious of just a few summers back. This is our first summer apart even though we’re together.

This is our first summer apart, even though we are together.

Your jumps are getting higher, your “tricks” more daring, but you stop to check the backs on your brand new unicorns earrings just often enough to remind me you are still my little girl. You look over and catch my eye before your next amazing stunt to make sure I see you. You want me present and watching every independent move you make. I can watch but not help. No, you remind me often you’re not a baby anymore.

Our conversations flow from talk of friends and Descendants movies to Paw Patrol and your nervous feelings about third grade. Some days, your never-ending chattering is almost more than I can handle. But today, among the splashing, laughter, and warm summer breeze I am taking it in. I’m trying to take you in. I want to keep this version of you in my heart forever.

I hope we can stay like this, you and me. Enjoying each other and our moments together. Sharing jokes, wishes, worries, and dreams while confiding in each other. I like being your rock. I like being home base. I love that you want me to see everything you do. You want me to be a part of all exciting things.

I also know, it won’t be this way forever. I know hard years are ahead for us. If they’re anything like my teen years, my heart will ache for relaxing afternoons like this one in the not-so-distant future. I’m trying to ready myself and remain realistic about how life goes for mothers and daughters. It won’t be anything be personal, its just how the teen years go.

Soon enough, you’ll want me in the house so your tricks can be shared with your friends. You look at me like I’m crazy when I hint about that possibility, but I’ve been where you are before. I love how pure your heart is. I love the bond we have created so far. I hope even when I’m not your number one person down the road, you’ll remember those feelings and let them help guide you back to me.

Remember you are always loved, even if it feels like the world is against you. You are strong and capable of taking care of yourself. I am cheering for you through wobbly handstands and difficult life choices. When you look over your shoulder at 12, 16, and 18 – I’ll be watching like I was when you were 8. I’ll be watching for whatever amazing things you do, even if they’re a little wobbly. I’ll be counting down the days until you settle into who you are and, hopefully, fall back into me a bit.

I hope you remember your bravery as you grow.

I hope you remember your bravery as you grow. I hope you take chances, share your heart with others, and feel comfortable to make mistakes because you know your mom is cheering you on. Your secrets, wishes, fears, and dreams are all safe with me. They always will be. Remember my love in your heart always.

I hope that someday, you’ll think back to the summer when you were eight with the warmest of memories and smile. We’re getting closer to the time when you won’t need me, or want me, around as much. I thought we’d have more time than this.

But for now, I’m taking in every freckle, giggle, and “mom look!” that I can. These days seem long but I already know the years are going too fast. I hope our days are creeping deep inside your heart whether you realize it or not. thank you for sharing your heart with me. I hope I’ve done the same for you.

Love, Mom

Posted in Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

Stay Strong Sister.

Dear tired travel softball mom,

Stay strong sister. When we spread our blanket on the beach near you at the end of a difficult day, I had no idea how happy you would make me.

We were on the last day of a family vacation. A vacation where I told my kids over and over to stop. “Stop what?” they asked. All of it. I needed them to stop it all.

Stop poking, hitting, and shoving each other. Quit yelling in my ear while wwre driving in the van – its Mario Kart not the Indy 500. Stop being full after five bites of lunch then begging me for snacks all afternoon. Quit announcing you are bored on tours you asked to go on. Playing hide-and-seek in the museums, and getting mad at me for not getting you out of a 350′ deep mine tour fast enough all needs to stop too.

We went to the beach that evening with one goal: wear these lunatics out so they go to bed without me losing my shit. They hit in the water and their land shenanigans carried on in the water.

“Quit going past the swim buoy”, “don’t hold each other under water”, “quit throwing rocks” and “you’re out too deep again” all came spewing from my mouth from my place on the warm sand. I could feel the dark, heavy weight of failure sitting on me like a wet blanket.

That’s when you turned in your chair, saw your son had buried himself to his bellybutton and you told him to “stop it and go rinse off!” in an all too familiar tone.

Our eyes met under huge sunglasses, you smiled, and I held up a fist yelling “stay strong sister!” From there, conversation flowed like the salve my battered mom heart needed so badly after a particularly draining week.

You were also hoping swimming would wear your son out. You cannot vacation without melatonin on hand, just like me. You needed to explain to a child how to rinse off in the water repeatedly as if this was a new concept. We agreed children are why wine was invented.

“You can tell yours are siblings, they’re doing normal sibling stuff” was one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard. All week they looked like heathens compared to the other kids and campers we encountered. The looks we acquired from the Judey McJudgersons made want to crawl under a rock.

The other families on the beach were laughing and playing together like I wish we were, but you didn’t seem to notice those people. Or care. Whatever.

Your shared misery, warm acceptance, and friendly commiseration pulled the heavy failure blanket from me.

This is what motherhood should be. Support, love, friendship, and laughter while we all stumble through the jungle of parenthood. Thank you for that reminder and refueling my heart.

Love,

Exhausted, but not failing, vacation mom

Posted in Depression, happiness, longreads, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized

F those people – they aren’t yours – SheProclaims.com

F those people in life, who will not understand you. They will think you are too much or not enough. No matter what you say or do or how you try to explain it to them – it just won’t make sense. That’s all ok. Those people are not your people. Fuck those people (yes, Christian mom and sometimes I cuss – that’s how I roll). Find different people.

Those people and their opinions are not paying your bills. They are not in charge of you or your life decisions. It is not your job to make them comfortable or contort yourself to fit the mold they want you in. Your responsibilities in life are to be kind, do good things, love others, and be happy. That’s it. You live your life for you and no one else. You don’t need to hate them or be mean to them or rude to them – just take a deep breath and move on.

I learned this the hard way.

Many years ago, I was in a relationship which was definitely not the right fit for me. I am not sure why this person seemed so important to me at the time, but my craving for acceptance was so strong I was willing to do most anything. I changed my personality, interests, and worked myself to the bone to keep him happy. Comparing pictures from the start or our relationship to the end, you can watch the light in my eyes slowly fade. 

When he dumped me? I was a mess. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked anymore. I had pushed away a lot of friends and felt like I didn’t even know myself anymore. I felt discarded, worthless, crazy, and unworthy of anyone’s attention (especially his). I mistakenly let someone else drive my bus. When he pulled over, hopped off, and walked away I had no idea where I was, where to go, or how to even drive the dang bus. 

I wasted years of my life trying to be someone else for someone else. I wished I could be different, better, more worthy for him. I was so busy chasing his dreams that I lost mine. I missed out on part of my life because I was so focused on trying to make his better. I didn’t value myself one bit, and in the end neither did he. 

There is no “happy medium”

I was too quiet when we were out with his friends (never mine), then I was too loud. I never did find the right balance so I stopped being included. 

I was too lazy when I wanted a night at home with movies, then I was too wild if I wanted to go out for drinks. I gave up suggesting and just where he wanted. 

I dressed like a slut, then like a frumpy nun. I let him pick my clothes to save the fight. 

I spent too much money, then didn’t buy him nice enough things. I couldn’t even have a debit card to my own account.  I let him decide what I spent. 

Repairing your soul takes time

I am still healing from the damage that I allowed him to do, 20 years later. The damage I invited in, encouraged, and tolerated. Looking back on it now, all I can say is it was bullshit. In every sense of the word. There were people around me who love me deeply warning me of the damage it was doing to me; but I didn’t listen. I decided they couldn’t stand to see me happy and pushed them away. They became the villains in my story. I wish I had listened to them instead.. 

What I have learned since then is that I do not live my life for anyone but me. I will be too much or too little for some people and that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with me or them, we just aren’t meant to be kindred spirits. I will be too loud, too liberal, too conservative, too outspoken, and too vulnerable for some people. That’s ok. My job is not to make you comfortable, it is to live my best life and do as much good as I can. 

I suffered in silence for years, dying a little each day, trying to keep my depression and anxiety away from the world. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, after all. Until the day I woke up and realized I was slowly killing myself this way. I was robbing my husband of his wife, giving my children only part of their mother, and hiding away my authentic self. The people that matter most were getting the least, because I didn’t want strangers to feel bad

F Those people.

Living your life for someone else is a waste of time. Nothing good comes from it, so I do not recommend it. I was a shattered, hollowed out soul when I found myself completely alone and regretting how I had allowed my life to go. Into a direction I didn’t want and didn’t enjoy. I missed out on fun times with family and friends because I was so devoted loving to someone who didn’t love me. Someone who didn’t let me love me either. 

Somewhere out there, I know someone is that place I crawled from. Ignoring the little voice in their head and the tug in their heart telling them they deserve more. They are feeling lost, unfulfilled, and adrift in a story they do not fully love. Maybe you’re the someone and you need to hear this. Maybe you know someone who needs to hear it from a completely unbiased source. This next part is important: take it in, share it, and live it. F those people who are holding you back.

Live your life

Do not live your life for someone else. F those people who try to limit your greatness or dim the light in your eyes. They are not your people, move along. Be kind, be loving, but don’t let others drive your bus. You do you. Be your authentic and original self. Shout your truth from the tops of mountains. You deserve happiness. The people who don’t “get” you are not worth worrying about and certainly not worth changing for. 

Wake up each and every day with a commitment to yourself to give your all to your own life each and every day. Bring the best and fullest version of you to the people you love. To the people who feed your soul. Those, dear friend, are your people. The people who see your messy, loud, quiet, lazy, crazy, true, real self are the ones that matter most. F those people who can’t handle your full life self.