Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I had the most precious, precious gift for a while.  A fleeting season, seven years long...and certainly some of the sweetest days of my entire life.  

And now it's over.  

When my son was a few months old, we prayerfully decided I wouldn't sign a contract to teach the following year...and the adventure began.  I was a (most-of-the-time) stay at home mom.  

It. Was. The. Hardest. And. The. Sweetest. And. The. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Done.  

Those days are still so fresh in my mind.  Trev and I read books, went to music class, did finger painting on his high chair tray, sang songs, made shadows with flashlights, and played with many a "cah," as he used to call them.

And then I got pregnant.  

All of a sudden, his previously attentive mama was exhausted, desperate to find anything that sounded good to eat, and busy running back and forth to the doctor during a high-risk pregnancy.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny became his new buddies...and, to be totally honest, my lifesavers on the hardest days.

Enter Liley, a little slice of Redemption Pie and a tremendous injection of joy into our family.  Now there were two little ones, and for a while it seemed they'd both be little...tiny, and here at home with me.

But before I knew it, Trev was off to Kindergarten, and Liley and I had our time alone.  And just like her brother, she went to music class, we read stories, ran errands, did puzzles, cooked together, and yes, kept up with our friends on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  

But when I was at home with Liley, there were a few pieces of the puzzle that weren't factors for me when Trevor was a baby:  An older sibling competing for time, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and putting on a Bible event.  I wanted to stay connected with friends and family, see what was going on with my mentors, and share my love for learning the Word and applying it to everyday life.  

But, y'all, I wish--desperately wish, even--I would have back-burnered some of that.  

Two weeks ago I packed two lunches and put BOTH of my children on a school bus bound for the elementary school they attend.  My pre-school days with my babies at home? They are over.  There was a little part of me that broke inside with a wave good-bye to the two little ones I thought would be little a little longer than reality allowed.  

I know my time with my children isn't over...I get that.  But a precious, PRECIOUS, can-never-get-it-back-again season in the life of our family IS.  It is!!!

When you have something like 2,555 days at home with your little ones, it is really, really easy to Facebook it away.  To Twitter it away.  To Instagram it away. To blog it away.  To TV it away.  To Event-Plan it away.  To CHECK OUT it away (Can I get a witness?)...

Believe me, I know. 

But before you know it, you're down to 817 days left until the last one goes off to Kindergarten, and then 260 days, and then 49 days.  

And then you're standing on the corner watching them drive away in a school bus while you're trying not to lose your stuff (that's the nicest way I know how to say that).

Be still with your babies today.  As one who wishes I could today, plunk down on the floor and play with your children.  Be purposeful.  Be intentional.  Put it all away and be totally, completely THERE.  Because, sure, you may still have several hundred, or even a thousand days left before you kids are off.

But these days...

Will become this day.
And these days...

Will become this day.

They weren't kidding when they say it goes by quickly.  

Make it count.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I won the "Worst Mom Ever" award this week.  Yup.

I was in car line at Liley's preschool yesterday and saw my little one waiting for me...wearing NOT what I'd dropped her off in.  I was puzzled.  A spill? An accident? Why would she have had to change?  I wondered.

"Hey, sweet girl--why are you wearing that shirt?" I asked as she pulled her school bag into the car and plunked down into her carseat.

"My teacher gave it to me.  Read the note."

Oooh.  There's a NOTE?

I nervously opened her folder and found the words awaiting me:

"Thea, We gave Liley a shirt since her dress was revealing too much."     

Aaaaaaaaand official New Low.  My daughter's PRESCHOOL sent me a note about her clothing being inappropriate.  What. The. Heck.

I'm not at all upset about their decision to cover her up, nor to send me a note about it.  Love her school, love her teachers. It was all frustration with myself.  I just *hate* being THAT MOM.  In my defense (yes, of course I feel the desperate need to explain myself!), it was the first time she'd worn the little sundress she was wearing, and she put it on herself, so I didn't notice that it actually does show a bit of her shoulders and back. I'd also sent her in with a sweater over her dress, but she said she got too warm at school, and ended up taking off the sweater. 

But still.  The fact that I had sent my baby to school in something deemed inappropriate?  It stung a little a LOT.

Later in the day I called and left a message for the teacher to apologize, but despite my valiant efforts to hold my stuff together, I ended up crying in the middle of the message.  So there's that.  Totally didn't even cry when I watched "The Notebook," but was a weepy mess on this call. Faaaantastic.

And I've spent the last 24 hours feeling like a really crappy mom.

To make it worse, I realized I forgot to send in her school picture proofs.  And the fundraiser packet.  Turns out when I set things in a special spot to be SURE I don't forget about them, I end up forgetting about them. 

And even though my son had his school folder neatly packed away in his backpack, I wanted to check something in the folder--and at 9am this morning I noticed the folder I'd pulled out of his backpack was still sitting on the kitchen table while my son sits at his desk at his school across town right now.

I am on one heck of a roll of parental awesomeness. 

On the way home from dropping my daughter off at school today (and ashamedly avoiding eye contact with the sweet car line ladies), my heart was heavy.  And for a moment I surrendered to the song playing in my car, the truth-drenched words a healing salve for my bruised Mama Heart:

I am found
I am Yours
I am loved
I'm made pure
I have life
I can breathe
I am healed
I am free

What a stark contrast to the lies I'd been chewing on all morning:

I am nothing
I am worthless
I am a bad mom
I am useless
I am a mess
I am flawed beyond help
I am nowhere near where I want to be

It's hard and humbling to feel like you've come up short in something that MATTERS SO MUCH to you.  Look, it doesn't bother me that I'm not much of an athlete, and I'm not rattled by the fact that I can't bake to save my life.  But it's because those things don't really matter to me.  But being a good mom?  There are few things that matter more to me.  

But I am found.
I am Yours, God.
I am loved.  Loved.  Even in my flawed state, richly loved!
I'm made pure.  Not perfect, but being sanctified every day.
I have life.  Gratitude!
I can breathe.  You grant me breath to try again!
I am healed.  I am not stuck in my brokenness!
I am free.  My flaws are not my fetters!

I need to be on my game better.  It serves my children when I am organized.  I have a long way to go.

But I am not a worthless mom.  I am who He says I am.  I am what He says I am.  I am not who I am going to be, but by His grace I'm not who I was.
Nor are you.  

Because the truth is, you are found.
You are His.
You are loved.
You're made pure.
You have life.
You can breathe.
You are healed.
You are free.  

Maybe it's a good day for you.  You're on your game.  None of your children will open their lunchboxes today to find you forgot to pack a juice box, you didn't have a knock-down, drag-out with any of your children this morning over what to wear, and all is right in your world.  

But maybe it's been a rough day.

Either are who He says you are.  You are what He says you are.  

Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"It's not authentic to only post 
from your Highlight Reel."
Kristen Howerton - Killer Tribes Conference 2013

If only life could be as perfect as a lot of us are making it seem in our social media feeds.  Seriously.

Because (let's be honest, here) a lot of us are posting from the Highlight Reel.  The good stuff.

Oh, I'll let you see the lunch note I packed for my son, the Pinterest-inspired flax seed blueberry muffins I made for my kiddos, the flowers my husband brought me, and the special craft I'm making with my daughter.  I'll post the pic from that passage in my Bible.  These, I'll gladly show you.

But what you won't see is a shot of the Little Caesars drive-thru where I'll pick up a $5 hot-and-ready pizza for the second time this week because I didn't exactly get a homemade meal ready.  Again And you can forget ever catching a glimpse of my cluttered car or my make-up free face because, well, ain't nobody want to see all of this without some mascara!  But that's the beauty of the Instagram feed: I can show you what I want, and nothing that I don't feel like having you see.

And this putting forth a certain persona is nothing new.  "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food" (Proverbs 12:9).  Maybe if Instagram existed back in Biblical days, people would have envied each other's pictures of Manna-Crusted Quail, or the cute new pair of sandals Sarai was wearing.  Maybe the idea of "pretending to be somebody" has endured the ages, and lives on in our posts and pictures.  

I'm not pretending to have a beautiful family whom I adore.  That's real.  But I can control certain elements of how that comes across, for sure.  I can edit and censor until everything looks prettier than the messiness and craziness of our everyday life.  

I've been chewing on this a lot the past few days.  I'm sure I'll keep sharing highlights from our life--but I want to be more mindful of WHY I am posting what I post.  If it's to try to create an illusion of a perfect house filled with homemade delicacies, time perfectly spent, and a flawlessly-fed family, then I need to check my own heart in that. Because that's not always our reality.

People aren't posting the shot of the carton of ice cream they finished off or the couch-fest that took the place of the workout that should've happened.    

Nobody posts pictures of their disappointed children who wish mom or dad would get the heck off their phones.   

We post the pleasant and leave the rest on the cutting room floor.  

But it's true.  It really isn't authentic to only post from our Highlight Reels.   

* Have you struggled with the tendency to tell a certain story through your posts/pictures that is prettier than the real thing? 

Father, give us grace today for the many ways in which we'll come up short.  When we try to appear to have it all together, that only keeps us from really getting the fact that we are in desperate need of You...daily.  Your power is made perfect in our weakness, and we can have hope in our failings because You do not fail.  


Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Anyone else remember this guy?

I have fond memories of watching Bob Ross paint "Happy Trees" with my dad.
And with every painting he painted, I'd always end up yelling at the screen:

"What are you doing, Bob??? No more--it looks great just the way it is!" or "Oh NO, Bob! Now you've gone and done it.  You messed it all up!"  

But, of course, he would take what I was sure was a mistake and make it even more beautiful than before. 

Come on, now.  The jump to things of faith is painfully obvious here.  I'm only saying it as a reminder if we're in the midst of what appears to be a mess.  We doubt God, we question why He has allowed certain details to be a part of the story.  We don't get it.  

But if we wait for a bit, we'll see the redemption of it.  For the life of me, I don't know WHY we doubt the 1,000th time when God has made a way for redemption in the previous 999 of our doubts.  I can't understand the patience of a God who loves me through the questions and fears.  

Does it seem like God messed something up by allowing something to be included in your story? Here--I'll go first.  YES, it does seem that way.  Honestly, I really don't get why certain things are part of the picture.

But in my doubts I am choosing to cling to the One I've seen make things right.  Again and again and again.



My weeks.  They're not usually like this.  But this one? I barely felt like I could fit it all in.  And the funny thing was, I kind of liked how it felt.  Almost like I was part of an elite club of those who are really, excessively busy. 

But here's what's interesting: It's not like I liked how it felt based on how much I nurtured important relationships, or invested in what will last.  It was more about feeling more....worthy, maybe.  

Seems sometimes people talk about their BUSY almost with a sense of pride. Almost as though a full schedule indicates importance and being in high demand.

But I don't know.

I kind of think it can be little more than foolishness. 

It makes me want to ask: We're getting a lot done.  But are we doing ANYTHING well? Are we doing work well?  Marriage well? Parenting well? Worship well?

Is it counting for what will outlast this life?  Are the people most important to us seeing little more than a blur when they look at us?

Sometimes I feel sheepish about an unscheduled block of time in my day, while I look in awe at those who juggle a hundred different things.  I'm easily wowed by all of the BUSY.  

And yet there is great wisdom in these words:

You must ruthlessly 
eliminate hurry 
from your life.

Wow.  Just take that in.  When John Ortberg asked his mentor how to live wisely, that's what his reply was.  Ortberg, ready to hurry on to the next thing said, "That's great.  What else?" His wise friend replied, "There is nothing else.  You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

BUSY and HURRY go hand in hand.  Your BUSY and my BUSY look different.  And the Holy Spirit will give each one of us discernment about what kind of BUSY and what kind of HURRY needs to go from my life and from yours.

Maybe there's something to this.  Even the wise Solomon looked at the toil and the amassing of fortune and the works of his hands and summed it up as Meaningless. A chasing after the wind.  

4I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harema as well—the delights of the heart of man. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
11Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2
So what does life look like less hurried?  What stays? What goes? What changes?

And who benefits?