Enough With the Mom Guilt!!!

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The other day, on my weekly trip to Costco, I was going about my business, pondering important life questions like “Where’d they move the yogurt?” and “Should I order one pizza or two?” You know, the big ones.

Suddenly my important thoughts were interrupted. While I was mid-debate, I had an epiphany. There is something about perusing the aisles of Costco that causes me to reflect on my precious children. Perhaps it’s triggered when I grab 3 boxes of my boys’ favorite cereal. Or more twirly dresses for my girls. Whatever the reason, my thoughts turned from food to heartache.

I have ruined my children’s lives. Forever.

The heart of my daughter is broken today, and I did it.

My son is struggling… and in my parental power-trip, I didn’t listen to his thoughtful insight.

The kids are in a habit of yelling disrespectfully at each other instead of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

(Again, that one can be pinned on me.)

So there I was, grabbing yet another rotisserie chicken, feeling the weight of my “mom failures” on my shoulders.

MOM GUILT.

If you have had a child address you as “Mom” at any time in your life, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s that thing that hits your heart after your kid walks out the door to school and you left on a bad note (read: YELLING at them to leave and slamming the door rather than kissing their head and waving while they get on the bus).

It’s that twinge of *UGH* that floods your conscience when you realize you actually said what you were thinking about them OUT LOUD instead of keeping it tucked deep inside where no one could ever see or hear those atrocious, frustrated feelings that come with raising little people.

Please tell me you know what I’m talking about.

I  love my children fiercely and will go all “mama bear” on anyone who messes with them.

But I am also human (read: BROKEN and imperfect). I have human feelings, human reactions and human baggage that I unintentionally drag with me everywhere that permeates throughout how I do life, whether I mean for it to or not.

My humanity is revealed to me often through my offspring, who peel me raw with THEIR humanity. They complain. They fight. They disobey. They YELL (I don’t know where they learned that). They defy. They can be lazy. They talk over one another. They’re MESSY, literally and metaphorically.

So when my humans act just like me (because I am ALL of those things), I don’t respond well all the time. And as a result, I feel GUILTY.

Maybe you feel the same way. 

But guess what. Guilt? It is not a burden we have to carry. 

We can be sad that we’ve messed up.

It’s okay, even good to be SAD when we get it all wrong; to feel remorse for what we did or did not do.

It is when we feel those things deeply, that we’re motivated to do things differently.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Don’t confuse guilt with sadness.

Guilt is tied to judgment; to condemnation. For some it is temporary and others it is constant.

But it doesn’t need to be.

If you love Jesus, you are no longer condemned for your wrongdoings.  You have been declared guiltless!!! Your screw-ups aren’t the end!

The Bible says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Jesus, the Son of God, who is fully God and also fully man (see: Desiring God for further information), perfect in all aspects, TOOK OUR PLACE. He took our guilt. He took our shame. He took our sin and every. last. piece. of our ugly… and put it on Himself. Then He died, taking all of it with Him to the grave.

But then.

Then He left it behind. He left the grave and ROSE from the dead, being fully alive again! And in doing so, He stands before God, pure and spotless, perfectly Holy, with us and says, “I took her guilt. I took her shame. I took that mistake (yes, THAT one) with Me when I died and I left it behind. She is now innocent.”

And God agrees.

Do you hear that in your heart, friend?

With Jesus, there is no longer any guilt or shame.

With Jesus, we move FORWARD, no longer being dragged down by our pasts or our mistakes.

With Jesus, “we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28)

That means that the mistakes we’ve made with our kids? He can turn them into something good. Something beautiful, in fact.

We are also told that His mercy is new every morning:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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With every sunrise comes a fresh start.

Can I get an “Amen!”?

Yes. I make mistakes. Yes, my children are often the unfortunate “benefactors” of those mistakes. But because of them they also get to see WHY we as broken, sinful humans need Jesus. They get to see Mom ask forgiveness. They get to see repentance in action. They get to see and also demonstrate grace, the bestowing of kind favor on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

They are learning and demonstrating LOVE because of this.

So, friends, the next time Mom Guilt creeps in and tries to take you captive, REMEMBER JESUS, who, while we were still sinners, died for us (Romans 5:8), that we may be set free.

Mom guilt comes at us all of the time, but friend, we don’t have to hang on to it.

❤ ,

Summer

So, about homeschooling….

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So I guess I should finally address this….

Okay, okay, I’ve heard from a number of people who have wanted to know how our first year of homeschooling has been going. Enough that I should probably give an update.

Here goes: We quit.

We made it 9 long weeks before the whole family agreed that, for us? Homeschooling is just not a good fit.

In those 9 weeks we all learned a great deal, me probably more than anyone else. Sadly, that might say something about my ability to teach my kids. Kidding. Kind of.

Among some of the things I learned were that I admire mothers who successfully educate their children at home TREMENDOUSLY. Oh my goodness. The women I met at the co-op we attended once-a-week were so amazing. They are smart, creative, organized, have hearts of gold, patience that I can’t even think of duplicating, and are great teachers.

They are also, in fact, human (perhaps super-human, but human nonetheless). They were honest about how hard homeschooling their children can be. They were truthful about the frustrations and difficulties that come with being around their kiddos 24/7. I was so grateful for that transparency because around week 3 (still in September, friends), I was wondering what on earth I had done, bringing my girls home.

I learned that these wonderful families don’t necessarily school their kids at home for religious reasons, but because it is the best choice for their families. Some travel a lot. Some have kiddos with learning difficulties that the public school system just isn’t equipped for. Others just really want to be with their kids. ALL are great reasons.

I learned about GRACE and giving myself a ton of it. Having grown up in the public school system, I have only ever “done school” a certain way. The freedom allowed by homeschooling, both in schedule and in structure, can be overwhelming to people like me who have never been educated outside of a classroom setting. So when I found our family falling behind from the schedule I had laid out, I was convinced I was ruining my girls, ensuring they’d never graduate, setting them up for lifelong poverty of mind and bank account.

Not so. These mamas always reminded me that the schedules are guidelines and that the kids WILL learn. They’ll learn more than I think and be just fine. “Give yourself grace!” they’d say.

So why, with all this learning taking place, was it not a good fit for our family?

All I had to do was look to my children.

One of my daughters is a natural leader. The girl thrives when she is helping others and encouraging them. I was told by one of her teachers in first grade that if she (the teacher) needed a sub, she could put my girl in charge and the class would do great!

This daughter grieved leaving school so badly. I watched my daughter wither. Sure, she completed her work, pushed herself and strove to do better than her sister (gotta love the sibling rivalry), but her spirit wilted being away from her school and friends.

My other girl is so much like her mother. She is energetic, uses a lot of words, has a will of iron and likes to be liked by others. Her love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. Homeschooling was her idea! She wanted to be home with her mama because, being one of 6, quality time with mama is rare. Couple that with the frustration of schoolwork AND having a baby & preschooler to compete with and what we found is that this girl didn’t need mama as a teacher, but to be mama.

Then there’s that phrase that really did us in: Homeschooling FAMILY.

In our home we have a lot of people. But one of those people, the tallest one with the deepest voice that is the provider, he’s gone a lot. Not just normal job “a lot”, but a LOT. Between work, commute and Air Force Reserve duties and trips, (sometimes being multiple weeks long), I found myself depleted. Two of the kids don’t sleep through the night. Two other kids have school, friend and youth group obligations. Two more have activities.

I. Was. EMPTY.

Empty isn’t even the right word. “Barren” might be better. I had nothing to offer. Not one thing to give beyond the basics. One can only run on 5-ish hours of sleep each night for so many years before running dry.

SO. When the girls mentioned they’d like to go back to school, I prayed, wrestled (was I giving up? Was the enemy trying to get me to quit so God wouldn’t get the glory for whatever success might come?) talked with my hubby and re-registered the girls for school.

And we’ve never looked back.

They’re thriving. I’m rebuilding. We’re all right where we should be.

There’s this “Christian-ese” phrase that says, “If He calls you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” Well, friends? It was evident that we weren’t “called” to homeschool.

AND THAT IS OKAY.

It is important, especially as followers of Jesus, that we trust God to work HIS way. So often we place these expectations on ourselves and others that HE NEVER MEANT TO BE THERE.

God is King. He is sovereign. His plans are good. If He doesn’t want a specific thing for us, why on earth would we try and force it to be so? Even if it LOOKS good?

I would LOVE to have our family be a successful homeschooling one, but it’s just not God’s plan for us at this juncture in our lives. I’m glad we gave it a try so we know that.

To all you homeschooling parents out there, you have my admiration, support and utmost respect. I pray God’s provision for your daily needs in mind, body and spirit and evidence of grace throughout your day.

To the rest of us? I say and pray the exact. same. things. This parenting gig is hard. But God is good. He loves our kids more than we ever could. He will work His will out in their lives; it’s up to us to trust Him to do just that!

Summer

Jesus Isn’t A Band Aid.

 

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One of the things that drives me crazy about Christians (and I AM one, so there’s that), is how, when faced with the troubles of the world, we say, “Just give it to Jesus” or “They just need Jesus” or, the most gag-inducing, “Give me Jesus and Coffee!” (it’s on a shirt, for Pete’s sake).

What are we even SAYING when we put a “Just” in front of Jesus?

Releasing control and placing our hope and trust in someone else isn’t easy, let alone someone you can’t see.

Also? Jesus isn’t an accessory.

He’s not something you put on when you have an “owie” and take off when it’s “all better”.

He’s not your arm candy.

Jesus isn’t something we throw on over our sin-filled heart to give us an outfit of grace every day so we can call it ‘good’.

I am so sick of it. And me, being fully human and 100% sin-bent? Well, that should tell you something. If I am sick of Jesus being portrayed as a holy band-aid, HOW DOES HE FEEL?

Jesus is the CHRIST (the anointed One; Messiah). The SON of the LIVING GOD (Matthew 16:16)

He is the WORD, who was with God and who was God at the beginning of all creation (John 1:1)

Jesus GAVE HIMSELF UP COMPLETELY, offering Himself as a pure, spotless Lamb to be sacrificed for our sins (the required payment for sin is death). His love for us was and is SO deep and pure and grace-filled that even though He cried out to God the Father to take the burden of bearing the sins of the world off His shoulders, He BORE THEM ANYWAY. (Romans 6:23, 1 Peter 1:19, John 3:16, 1 John 2:2)

So when we say, “I just need me some Jesus” or suggest to someone who doesn’t know Him to “JUST” put on a proverbial Jesus band-aid, it’s making light of the investment He made in us and what we really should make in return.

Am I guilty of this? Yes.

In the chaos we’re experiencing in our country right now there is a LOT of pain and confusion, anger and even hatred. The hearts of everyone seem to be very raw and filled with emotion. Rightly so.

What I see is a great deal of fear that our human leaders will not, in fact, save us, but will lead to our demise as a country and as individuals.

Placing our hope in mankind IS frightening. It’s downright TERRIFYING. There is no leader on this earth that can bring about peace to all. There is no political group that will please everyone. It’s impossible. Humanity, in its brokenness, cannot meet the needs of humanity.

That would be like asking a newborn child to nurse itself.

We cannot have a deep-rooted, life-giving need in our hearts that any human can satisfy.

When we put ALL of our hope in a human, we WILL be disappointed. Just look at your Facebook feed. Oy.

So. This is where Jesus comes in.

He is not a political leader. He is GOD.

Let that soak in for a minute.

GOD.

Creator of the universe. Painter of the skies. Master of the wind and waves. Designer of our souls.

He gave us free will, to choose to follow Him or to choose to follow our own fancies. It’s the latter part that got us into trouble and why our world is where it is today.

The SOLUTION? Jesus.

Not a band-aid.

When I plead with people to consider Him, I am not asking them to convert to “religion” or to start going to church or start speaking “Christian”.  I am asking them to investigate the person of Christ. Find out WHO HE IS. Was He just a man? Is He really the Son of God? Was He just a lunatic with zealous followers? Who was this guy? What makes Him so special that this lady says He’ll give me peace in this chaos?

Consider Jesus for who He was and is without the confines “religion” has put around Him.

Jesus isn’t just a temporary cover-up for our problems.

He is the FOREVER solution.

When we give our lives and our hearts to Him, His love transforms us. It renews us. It works out the ugly parts and replaces them with beauty… forever.

And these days? My goodness, wouldn’t we all like to see the ugly being whittled away and beauty put in its place? 

Consider Him. You won’t regret it.

<3,

Summer

PS

If you are interested in learning more about Jesus but aren’t sure where to start, I love the books More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I also recommend reading the Bible, but specifically the books of John and Romans in the New Testament. If you want more resources, please don’t hesitate to ask!

I Still Like You. Will You Still Like Me?

We all feel it.

The tension surrounding this crazy election is so thick that it truly feels like we’re tiptoeing around one another.

We find ourselves afraid to be honest with one another. We’re ANGRY at each other. We feel betrayed by those we *thought* we knew.

All because of a vote.

Over the past several months we’ve found ourselves faced with an excruciatingly hard question: Who will we vote for to lead our nation? Who will we elect to represent us? Who do we want to continue laying the groundwork for our children’s future?

And our choices aren’t that great.

But here’s the thing: who you vote for isn’t going to change my opinion about you as a person. You are still my friend. Some of us bonded while brushing our Barbies’ hair when we were still in pigtails. Perhaps we shared a middle school crush or had  inside jokes; took a road trip across the country or went Mermaiding in college. Maybe we dated. Perhaps I broke your heart (sorry!) or you broke mine (forgiven!). There were weddings attended and births celebrated; hugs shared and tears shed when our hearts hurt… and when they rejoiced.

We have done life together. Maybe not all of it, but you helped me become who I am today and part of me helped you become you. What a privilege, influencing the life of another. Thank you.

This is why, in these uncertain, division-filled, on-edge times, I want you to know this:

I VALUE YOU.

I AM GRATEFUL FOR YOU.

Our politics and beliefs may differ, but that doesn’t change that I think YOU ARE GREAT. And I STILL want to be your friend tomorrow, regardless of who gets elected today.

Here’s the thing: after all the votes are counted and the celebrating or weeping is done, we’re going to have to work together in order to succeed, as individuals and as a nation: UNITED.

Unlike the politicians we’ve seen drag each other through the mud, slinging words of division and hatred and disgust at one another, will you join me in taking the high road and respectfully disagree without taking personal offense? And encourage our kids and those in our circles to do the same?

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I commit to speaking gently.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32

I will be kind to you and have compassion on you, seeking to understand where you’re coming from and why you feel the way you do.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” -James 1:19

I will listen first. I won’t argue with you to be right, but I do want to understand your perspective, so I’ll listen.

We may disagree about the issues. That’s okay. But I will choose to love you and be kind to you regardless of the boxes you marked on your ballot. Will you do the same? After all, for better or worse, we’re going to wake up on November 9th and have to face the results of our choices together.

Let’s choose better. 

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Words of encouragement for mamas…

An oldie but a goodie!

The Transparency Project

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to jot down my many thoughts.  My days have been filled with camping, swim lessons, sleepovers and every other thing that a mom does to cram fun into the last few weeks of summer before school starts up again.  But that’s not to say I’ve not had a LOT of ponderings.  I have.

One of the things I’ve learned so much of these last few weeks of summer vacation is how much I, we all, actually, need grace.

If you’re a mom who stays at home with your kiddos, whether by choice or not, summer break gives you ample opportunity to screw up.  Heck, even if you’re a working mom, summer break can be challenging.  Can I get an ‘Amen’?

Before I go on I want to clear something up.  I LOVE my kids to infinity and beyond.  I LOVE summer break. …

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Happy Birthday, Baby!

A year ago last night the pains were beginning. The pain was much-anticipated and at the same time, much feared. Unlike the five other times labor had begun for me, this time brought a new sense of angst and worry coupled with prayerful hope and peace. It was the strangest combination of emotions.

As labor intensified over the next 12 hours, I was reminded of the heartache we had experienced earlier in pregnancy, being told that the baby I was about to deliver in just hours, would die. She had >1% chance of making through the first and second trimesters… but by God’s grace, she beat those odds.

Yet with the pain of labor I was knew that while we had experienced a miracle in my womb and she DIDN’T die, Phoebe would have a long road ahead of her during her first and possibly many, years of her life. Her heart was diseased and she would need open heart surgery within days of her birth.

The pains reminded me that once she was out of my body, it wasn’t just “me and her” anymore. I would have to share her. I couldn’t just cradle her in my belly and say, “I love you, little one” over and over, and whisper my thoughts straight to her heart. Now people who didn’t know her like I did, or love her like I did or cherish her like I did, would be taking care of her and making her well… we hoped.

The pains progressed to unbearable and suddenly we heard a cry. A LOUD, ANGRY, “I-WANT-MY-MAMA!” cry.

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It was beautiful.

Our little bright, radiant Phoebe was put on my chest very briefly before being rushed away for an echocardiogram and tests to check the condition of her heart.

Within a few hours she transported to Children’s Hospital, her via ambulance, me in the car not long afterward.

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So… this is new.

Several years ago, when our oldest was just getting ready to start kindergarten, I COULD. NOT. WAIT.

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At the time, we had 3 young children that always needed me. Always. Every second of the day (or at least that’s how it felt). My firstborn and I had some serious power struggles that made us both look forward to getting some breathing time while he was at school. We needed a break from each other for part of the day and school was going to provide that break. The teachers who cared for all the children in the classroom? GOD BLESS THEM!

I think many moms can relate. Maybe not to the specific issues, but as the first day of school approaches in our area (we start in September), there are videos and memes made expressing the joy that will be “THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!” All the kids will be out of the house for 7 hours a day and mom can finally breathe! Or go to Target by herself! Or any number of “Oh-my-gosh-they’re-gone! PARTY TIME!!!” moments.

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I get it. I have six kids. I. SO. GET. IT.

Way back in 2007 when we were preparing to launch our Bubba off to school, I was pouring my heart out to a friend hoping for empathy. Having a husband who has multiple jobs, is often gone for extended periods at a time, left me to deal with some pretty incredible and intense times with our boy. I was often left in tears, as was he. Parenting. (Sigh).

My friend, in whom I was confiding in and hoping for emotional support from said,

“You don’t think that’s going to get better by sending him to school, do you?”

My mouth dropped. I mumbled something about needing to go, turned on my heel and fumbled my way back to the car.

If you’re a parent, you pour your heart into doing what’s best for your kids. It’s not unusual, especially with your first one (or six) to wonder if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re going to screw them up somehow. When someone else questions how you’re raising your kids, even if it’s meant well (as it often is)? It can hurt. It can be brutal, especially when you’re already dealing with difficult things and doubting your own abilities.

So it came as a total surprise to this mama’s heart when, 9 years later, after 4 of my 6 kids had been in public school, I started feeling a nudge to pull some of my kids from public school and bring them home for their education instead. I was like, “NO. WAY. Not happening.”

My thoughts went back to the aforementioned interaction. The wounds were still there. Forgiven, but still sore.

I had unintentionally become a bit jaded regarding homeschooling. While I’ve had (and have) several friends who school their kids at home and are AWESOME, both in ability and overall coolness, I had seen others who made non-homeschooling families feel “less than” and were quite vocal about it. By choosing to bring my kids home, I didn’t want to be a part of an unofficial “club” that made others feel like I was made to feel; like a bad mom who was too self-focused to take on educating her children herself.

Or that made others feel inferior because “they can’t handle teaching their own kids”.

Both of which are utter nonsense.

Those perceptions were based on personal experiences and reactions and NOT to be confused with the actual act of educating one’s kids at home. Once I got over that, I still tried to push the notion away, but I kept meeting people who educated at home and LOVED IT. And they were so gracious about it.

Try as I might to deny it, the pros were outweighing the cons by a long shot.

Darn it. I couldn’t get away from this annoying tugging at my heart.

But, having always been a public school proponent, I felt like I needed to hear the voice of the Almighty shouting straight down from heaven, “SUMMER! You are going to begin homeschooling your children!” I mean, my husband and I grew up in public school and turned out alright, right? (If you know us personally, please just go along with this 😉 ).

We live across the street from our local elementary school. Talk about convenience! When the morning bell rings? Just push the kids out the door and into the classroom! Super easy. And there’s this old perception of who homeschooling families are… They’re often thought of as this:

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Or that mom and daughters will start dressing like:

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(Okay, I might wear a denim jumper, but it’ll be this one:

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Cute, right?! I digress.)

But, much to my initial chagrin, we did receive some pretty obvious confirmation from God that, denim jumpers aside, we were to begin educating some of our kids at home. There was no denying it, so rather than keep resisting, it was time to just do it and dive right in!

I am not really sure what homeschooling will look like for our family. I’m totally new at it. I’m a bit afraid of what I don’t know and bit afraid of what I DO know.

Ultimately, however, I know we prayed about it and because God HAS confirmed to us that this is the right thing for us right now, He will equip me to do this job well and find joy in it.

So here we are. I’m still a public school mama and now also a homeschooling mama… all wrapped up in one person. You get to read all about our journey, among many other things and thoughts I have, right here, just like always. (Thank you, by the way, for joining me!)

Would you please pray for us as we start this new adventure?  And, if you’re getting ready to start something new and would like prayer, let me know! We’ll pray for you too!

<3,

Summer

PS

I wanted to share with you that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my friend in the story above meant no ill-will toward us. She was unknowingly pressing into a painful area in our family with wonderful intentions, but I wasn’t ready to receive those intentions at the time. Please know, too, that I have no intention of telling you that you need to homeschool or send your kids to public school. My job is as mother to my kids, yours is to be mother (or father) to yours. If you’re wondering what to do? Pray about it. Pray in earnest. God will direct you as He directed us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 14-year-old made me cry.

Now before you go on thinking this is going to be a sob story about the woes of having a 14-year-old in the throes of adolescence, take a deep breath. It’s not. Well, maybe it is, but not in the way you’re thinking.

Yesterday our internet was down… again. It’s been happening a lot lately and has been super annoying. Don’t the people know that we need the internet like we need air?

The first few times it went out I was mad because I really do have things to do and only the internet can help me do those things. Like catch up on Facebook. Or hit that online sale. Or… really waste my time in other ways that disguise themselves as being productive. (It’s a problem, I know. But cleaning the bathrooms and folding laundry just aren’t as appealing 😛 ).

But this time something was different. Maybe it was because the sun was out and it was warm and I had just had the privilege of going on a field trip to the beach with our first grader and was finally feeling a little rested. Whatever it was, I started to look at the internet outage from a different perspective, like maybe an opportunity to get things done or to pause and look at life differently. Because yesterday, as I was on hold with our provider I experienced something that could only be called a divine mothering moment.

I know, I know, being a mother to a 14-year-old teenager that is obsessed with gaming and creating YouTube channels with his friends and making videos while arguing with his parents about all of the time spent doing the above doesn’t sound divine. But there are moments, and yesterday afternoon I had one.

Because of the internet outage (our 3rd in 3 weeks) I called our provider, which meant I would spend a lot of time on hold. So there I was, sitting on the back porch in the unseasonably, delightfully warm sunshine with an attitude of frustration. The hold music was staticky, but semi-soothing (smart move, Frontier). Then it happened.

My oldest boy came outside and meandered over to our raspberry bush. Because of the recent warm spells the bush has had an early bloom and we’ve already harvested some delicious sun-sweetened raspberries. (YAY!)

I started watching him, reaching his long arms over the tallest parts of the bushes and grabbing the berries and popping them in his mouth, totally unaware of his mom staring at him.

A few seconds in I had a flashback that just about killed my heart in that “Are you serious, this boy is my baby” kind of way.

I saw this little boy…

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… in this young man.

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*Cue all the emotions*

I sat there watching my man-child and the tears started flowing, one-by-one.

Watching him pop raspberries in his mouth just like he did when he was 3.

Back when he was certain he was Thomas the Train.

When he would crawl around on the ground rescuing Roly Poly bugs from imminent doom and collecting them in jars, naming each one.

When he would sit in the back seat of our van singing quietly to himself, “You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name… You are amazing God!”

That same little boy is now 5’8″ and has a size 11 shoe. Bigger than his dad’s.

That same precious blond boy who talked with a lisp and fumbled over his “R’s”now sounds like he’s 32 when he answers the phone.

The same one who now sits shotgun in the car but refuses to sing because it’s too embarrassing.

He’s still my little boy. And he still has so much to learn before he’s off on his own four years from now. There are so many things I want to teach him and speak into his heart.

For all the times the sweet old ladies would tell me “Enjoy every moment, dear, the years go by so fast” and I wanted to snap back, “BUT DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS?! I HOPE they go by fast because I’m drowning here!!!”, for all those times, I now wish I had a few more moments to snap up memories of my little boy.

So there I sat, phone to my ear, staticky music in the background and my own real-life memory montage flashing before my eyes. It was a gift; a Divine gift that reminded me that the days are indeed so very long, but the years are short. I can choose to plow through them, just trying to get to the other side, OR I can slow down and savor the moments, especially the precious ones.

This life we live is so full of distractions. When I am old and grey I want to make sure that the memories I have are filled with things that matter, like my wonderful children who make me cry, sometimes intentionally, other times just because they’re wonderful.

The 14-year-old boy looked at me with a goofy, raspberry-seed covered, teenaged grin and said, “Mom, what are you looking at?”

“You, Bubba. I love you.”

 

 

Life, Truth and the Almighty Google

Oh gosh, you guys, it happened. I did something I had previously only mocked. I have hit a new level of ridiculous. I know, it’s hard to believe that is even possible, but apparently it is. I have my reasons though….

There comes a point in life when things get so overwhelming or intense or even stagnant that we start to look for something, ANYTHING to give us answers.  Or at least point us in the direction which we should go!

Right now is like that.  I want answers to my many, many questions… When will I sleep through the night? (Yes, me. My sleep state is directly related to the sleep states of my youngest 2 offspring). When will I have the freedom to pursue MY dreams? How much longer will this last? When can we move on to the next adventure? Is it okay for me to long for more than what I’m doing right now as a wife and mother even though it is the noblest job on the planet?

So, because I live in the 21st Century and it seems as though no one in my immediate circles can answer these questions, I do what any semi-sane person would do in my shoes:is-google-making-us-stupid-3-638

I Google it.

Yes, you read correctly, I confess to looking for the answers of life’s toughest questions on Google.

And you know what?  Google doesn’t know them.

Sure, Google can give me statistics and tips about getting young children to sleep (many of which are contradictory). Google can tell me all about setting goals. Google can give me information about all sorts of things that are kind of on topic, but can it answer the really tough questions?  The ones that apply directly to me?

No.

Because Google doesn’t know the future.  It can’t know with 100% accuracy the outcome or purpose of any person’s life or circumstances.  Google isn’t God.

So why do I keep Googling?

It certainly isn’t for my own amusement, because it’s pretty stinking frustrating to not actually get any answers time and time again.

I think the reason I am seeking answers on the world wide web is because the uncertainty and open-endedness of life just isn’t comfortable.  Comfort is something we all crave, young and old. When we’re hungry we seek food to satisfy the ache in our bellies. When we’re thirsty we look for water to quench our parched throats. When we’re lacking anything we seek something to fill us, to make us complete again.

Where do you go when you’re lacking?  Where is that first place you run to fill the void?  To satisfy your thirst?

I wish I could say that every time I felt empty I ran to Jesus and He filled me up and made me better.  That would be the “Good Christian” thing to say. (Side note: Any Christian who is having a “Good Christian” day has to give full credit to God. Left to our own devices and efforts, most of us will need to ask for forgiveness from Him and/or mankind within minutes of opening our eyes in the morning.  We’re ALL sinners; it’s GOD who can take our mess and make it beautiful!).

But I’m not perfect and I don’t always do that.  I don’t often run to Him first. Oftentimes I run to other things… Google, Facebook, shopping, watching a foreign film on Netflix or any other temporal and temporary thing to fill those holes.

Do they satisfy? Sometimes, but only for a short while. After the bandaid falls off the hole is still there, waiting to be filled.

And it’s usually then that I go to Jesus. It’s then, after I have gone through a whole list of “bandaids” that I remember that the Maker knows my heart inside and out and knows what needs healing or dealing and when and how to heal it and deal with it. ❤

Isn’t that a comforting thought? That your heart is known in *such* detail by God that He knows how to mend up the broken parts so they’re like new again? Often better off than before?  That’s a balm of goodness to this girl’s weary heart.

Life is full of questions begging for answers, some of which we don’t get the privilege of knowing while we’re on earth. That is a fact, whether we like it or not. It’s up to us, however, to determine what or Who we look to for comfort in the meantime. Will the fix be temporary or permanent? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of temporary. It may take a long time, but I want the real deal; the permanent fix.

That means entrusting my life and the lives of my family to God and letting Him take charge of it.  He may choose to fill me in on His plan, providing answers to some of my questions, or He might not. He might just keep saying, “Trust Me. Keep your eyes on Me. I HAVE THIS. Let go.”

And I will have to let go and trust Him, resting in His promises to never leave or turn His back on us; that He SO loves us that He gave His one and only Son to die for us, bearing every one of these burdens we struggle with today on His shoulders. There is no greater love than that.

Step Away from the Google

So I challenge you: step away from the Google.

Close your wallet.

Get off Facebook.

Open God’s Word.

The more we get to know Him, the more comfortable we will become with entrusting Him with the uncertainties of this life and the more joy we’ll find when He surprises us with what He’s got in store!

❤ ,

Summer

 

Enough Already!

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I have been hearing it so much lately….

“I don’t have enough…”

“I would, but I’m not good enough…”

“I just don’t think I’m enough.”

If you are a wife, if you are a mother, if you are a sister, a daughter, a friend, an employee… a human, you have likely felt and BELIEVED that you are not enough.

Every day of our lives, from day one, we’re conditioned to believe that there is something or someone better than we are. There is someone more beautiful, more popular, smarter, more talented, more kind, more valued… MORE than you.

We spend our lives, whether we know it or not, trying to become better; trying to become  enough. We are told that if we wear the right clothing, have the degree, drive the latest car, have children, are married, have the house, the friends, the job, the picture perfect life… we will be enough.

Even if we do acquire all of these things, we feel a longing in our hearts for more! We feel like if we drop any of the balls we juggle or lose whatever grip on life we have, we would not be enough again and have to start all over. It’s dizzying and so, so exhausting.

This world is in the business of selling you the belief that it’s true: You Are NOT ENOUGH.

This world PROFITS, actually makes money from making you feel inadequate. It pits us against one another, making us compete to be better at this or that than someone else, and rewards us for it.

You guys, IT’S A LIE.

I need you to hear me out on this. It is vital that you do because I have just come to realize something personally that I think so many of us know so deep in our hearts but can’t identify it with our brains:

We were never made to be “enough”.

When God spoke the world into creation all that time ago, and when He breathed life into Adam’s lungs, God never said, “Perfect!” God never said, “Okay! I’m done, you’re on your own guys!”

No. When God created mankind, His plan wasn’t to set the wheels of our lives in motion and leave us to do life on our own because we were going to be awesome at it.

When God made mankind, He did so with the intention of having a sweet, fulfilling relationship with us. In the book of Genesis we see God walking through the Garden of Eden, talking, hanging out with Adam and Eve as the beloved Father.

When Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Father’s will for them, eating the fruit from the Tree in the middle of the garden (which would give them the knowledge of good and evil) Adam and Eve caused that relationship to be broken. They chose their will over God’s will and mankind has been in a constant battle with the same thing ever since (thanks, genetics!). (See Genesis 2:4-3:24 for the history).

Here’s where the wrestling match begins. Ever since then, which is a long, long time, mankind has constantly wrestled with ourselves. We have tried SO HARD to take God’s place. We have desired and fought to be in charge of our lives, to do our own thing, to be fiercely independent, successful, content, happy, lovely… all of it. By and for ourselves.

Does this sound familiar at all to you? Because to me, it’s all I hear every day, that “If I just… then I’ll feel amazing!” about myself, about life, about others.

But I don’t.

I can’t “just” anything!  “Just” just isn’t enough.

Let me tell you why:

“Just” doesn’t allow for what God intended to make us WHOLE.

What WE “Just” doesn’t make room for who JESUS IS or what He did for us.

Friends, hear me loud and clear:

To this world, you will never, ever be enough. It is impossible.

Now, if you’re like me, that thought is incredibly depressing. If I’m not enough, that makes me feel pretty aimless. Why am I striving to be enough if it’ll never happen? Why do I even want to be enough? What good am I?

Here’s where our stories get AWESOME. Are you ready?

While this world gets rich by making us feel ridiculously inadequate and craving stuff that will help us become “enough” for just an instant, there is Someone who looks at you just as you are and says,

“You are enough for Me.”

Stop for a minute and think about this very carefully… Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the One creator of the whole universe; God with skin on… says “YOU’RE ENOUGH FOR ME.” He calls YOU, the one the enemy has called “broken”, “spent”, “worthless”, “inadequate” and so much more…, Jesus calls you “Enough.” More than that, He calls YOU “BELOVED.” even better? He calls YOU “MINE.”  

“You were bought at a high price (Jesus’ death), therefore do not become enslaved by this world.” –1 Corinthians 7:23

Jesus looks at you, at me, at every person who was ever created with eyes of absolute adoration. What we see as broken messes, He sees as His favorite things!

OH MY GOSH!!!

You guys, we will never, ever, ever, ever find what we’re looking for here because we’re looking in the wrong place!

Our identity wasn’t meant to be found here on earth. Our identity, who we are in our hearts, our worth, our innate value, EVERYTHING about who we are is meant to be measured in how Jesus Christ values us!

Some of us may not know how He values us, so let me tell you:

This man, the Son of God, came from heaven and lived on earth for 33 years, He saw your heart and said, “Her. I want to give My life for Her. I LOVE HER SO MUCH that there is nothing that can separate Me from her.

John 3:16 says, “For God SO LOVED the world (that’s you), that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus) so that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) won’t die, but will have eternal (forever) life.”

Do you see?!  You are loved/cherished/valued  by the God of ALL creation in a crazy sacrificial way!!!

You don’t have to look to what people say about your skills, your looks, your life, your job, your house, your accomplishments, the number of kids you have or do not have, your marital status, your bank account, your ANYTHING for validation about whether you make the cut… because GOD says “In Me, you are WHOLE. You are made complete.”

There is no other avenue to this wholeness we so desperately seek. Jesus says, “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life. No one comes to the Father except through ME.” (John 14:6)

Wholeness comes from Christ alone. It’s HIM that’s enough. It was never meant to be us alone. We are made whole BECAUSE of Him. THROUGH Him. BY Him.

Jesus is Enough

When we recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior (because we’ve all screwed up and need saving from something, whether we like it or not… Romans 3:23 says “For ALL have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God”), we are free from the “Not Enough”s. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” 

Do you see that?! NO CONDEMNATION!!! That means that when we belong to Christ, all those “not enough”s? They don’t exist anymore. YOU ARE SET FREE!

And guess what? When we are set free from the bondage of this world’s chains of comparison and discontent we are unstoppable forces for Jesus.

So today, dear, beloved friend, I want you to consider something. I am asking you to do this because whether I know you personally or we’re friends because of this Transparency Project community, please consider Jesus. If you don’t know Him personally, or even know what that means (perhaps you think He’s just an old Jewish guy from a couple thousand years ago), please reach out to me privately or to another friend who knows Him personally as their Savior. I long for you to know Him. I would be the most selfish person on the earth if I didn’t long for your freedom as I did for my own.

If you already have a relationship with Jesus but are struggling with the “not enough”s, please go to Jesus and ask Him to replace those with His truth about who you are because of His sacrificial love for you. He will not deny you that and will bless you abundantly for your willing heart!

Friend, you are so, so beloved. In Christ alone, you are enough. In Christ alone, you can be made whole. In Christ alone you will be set free.

Right now, go look in the mirror. Look at yourself and say out loud, “In my brokenness I was enough for Christ’s love and now I am enough BECAUSE of Him.” Friend, He wants you for Himself. I pray you’ll say “yes!”

Love,

Summer