Monday, March 12, 2012


     The snags in the blue-stained carpet held my rapt attention, as I tried to find anywhere to rest my eyes, except on the women talking near me.  It was impossible not to hear their private sharing; and I had nowhere else to go but the seat I occupied in the waiting room.

     Although their conversation had begun with weary words of how exhausting their lives were, it soon had led to the details that left me surprised.  The first woman shared her "busyness" which consisted of pedicures, hair appointments and back massages.  The second description was not very different.

     Within moments, it seemed the air became more stale than it had been and the sunlight streaming in the windows dimmed its bright and cheery effect.  What changed?  Only my heart and its response to some strangers description of see, I fell feet first into a comparison trap.

     What's a comparison trap?  A device that is used frequently in our lives -- so often, that we may not even notice its stellar effectiveness that leads us away from the things with which we are already blessed.  In fact, there are traps of this nature set around our lives daily and we must navigate them with extreme caution.

     Ease of life?  Children?  Personal dwellings?  Spouses?  Wardrobes?

     These areas and many more can either be examined with a warm heart of thankfulness for what we have, or a cold heart of emptiness that comes from what we don't have.  Our attitude will determine whether we fall into the trap of comparison or step over it with a giant step of gratitude.

     You must know your own weaknesses for the comparison traps in your world and be as vigilant as a soldier on duty.

     How did my blue-stained carpet afternoon end?  I quickly sensed God remind me that my life, too, would have aspects of ease to it also, depending on the person that would overhear one of my conversations.  It was not for me to judge, nor wallow in self-pity; but to stand up and recognize the greatness of EVERY good thing I enjoy...even if it's not over a pedicure.

"Make a careful exploration
of who you are...don't compare
yourself with others." 
Galatians 6:4


Sunday, March 4, 2012


     I had "my" day all laid a garden planted in perfect rows, the hours of "my" day were going to flow in ideal order, UNTIL...

     The "until" came early on a Saturday morning, as my youngest child stood beside me in the parking lot of a store and gazed dreamily up at a snow covered hill.  "Mom," he asked softly, "wouldn't it be so fun to sled down that hill?"

     My honest answer would have been, "No, I don't like getting cold nor wet, and I have a numbered list of things I am going to do today."

     BUT, my heart stepped in to speak before cold-hearted honesty did, and my real answer to those captivating, baby-blue eyes was, "Yeah, it would, but we're not allowed to sled there.  How about we go to an even bigger hill where we are allowed to sled?"

     In an instant my list flashed before my face and I knew all those boxes waiting to be checked off in systematic order were going to remain empty today.  I grieved silently for a moment, then loaded my kids in the van and headed home to grab sleds and snow-pants.

     The hours that followed were filled with smiles, laughter and bone-weary hikes up the tobogganing hill -- and you know the ending, right?  I wouldn't have traded it for the world when we were done!

     Then why was it so hard to leave my tick-boxes blank if I was trading them in for such perfection of experience?

     I see it as an ongoing challenge of's the never-ending balancing act of blending "our" wants with "their" needs.

     The reality is, we couldn't live our lives on the snow-covered hills every day; but for me, my tendency is to err on the side of responsibility over and over, and forget to have the fun.

     Chances are, you are either nodding your head up and down vigorously at this moment because you know exactly what I'm talking about OR you're shrugging your shoulders with a "what's the big deal" response, because you're the one who needs more time with tick-box days.

     God has created each of us uniquely, as moms, and yet we are all called to do a similar job.  A job that consists of raising children, keeping a home, making multiple daily meals, caring for injuries, shuttling lesson-goers, and on and on.

     Where do you land, Mom?

     Do you know how to discern your wants from their needs?  Do you see that the truth is we will NEVER get this perfect as a balancing act, regardless of whether we are "box-checkers" or "shoulder shruggers"?

     Every day is a new day -- one to be delicately balanced with memory-making and real-life working.  Don't beat yourself up trying to get it perfect.  All we can do is our best; to evaluate what each day needs AND what you are reasonably able to offer it...then enjoy it, while you make some memories along the way.

     "There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity
under the heavens."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Saturday, February 25, 2012


     I love "before and after" pictures!  Maybe it's because my husband has a renovation company -- I've watched with wonder, for years, what happens when permission is given to tear down the old and replace it with new.  The results are always amazing (and so is my renovator).

     But this week, I experienced a new type of "before and after", while visiting with a friend.  She introduced me to their rock tumbling machine, showing me what the rocks look like before they go in and then the gorgeous examples of what comes out at the end.  The "after" is so stunning, it's hard to fathom they came from the "before" rocks.

     When I learned the process takes a whole month of their machine running non-stop, 24 hours a day, only pausing to add different grades of grit, I was even more impressed.  That's 720 hours of being tumbled.

     Have you ever felt "tumbled" as a mom?  I have.  In fact, I relate to the 24 hour a day feeling too, don't you?

     Sometimes I feel like one of the rocks in my friend's machine.  I think these tumbling experiences will never end...I'm sure the "grit" I'm dealing with couldn't possibly do any good in my life...and I'm positive the end result may look worse than the beginning.  But that's because I'm the rock; not the operator.

     God is the "operator" in our lives and He allows us to be "tumbled" from time to time because He's in the process of making something very unique and beautiful in each of us.  Often we can't see past the grit and chaos to appreciate the beauty; but it's there.  The "before" and "after" pictures promise something stunning...but we can't quite see that far yet.

     That's the joy and challenge of motherhood.  We're often being "tumbled" but our wildest dreams can't conjure what good could be in this for us...but God can!

     As I've stumbled through certain weeks, I sometimes find myself wondering if God remembers that He's left His tumbling machine turned on, with me in it.  But the Bible tells us in Romans 8 that, "In ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him," and this truth reminds me that God never tumbles anything in my life without reason and purpose.

     If you're feeling "tumbled" this week, take time to stop and reflect on some truths from God's Word that will remind your heart that God is in charge.  He will not let you be tumbled longer than necessary.  But He is in the process of creating a masterpiece of a mom!

"So (Jeremiah) went down to the potter's house, 
and I saw him working at the wheel...
then the word of the Lord came to me.  
He said...'Like clay in the hand of the potter, 
so are you in My hand.'" 
Jeremiah 18:3&6   

Thursday, February 23, 2012



     You've sat in one of those groups of moms, haven't you?  You know, the circle of chatting women who are sharing the heroics of their perfect kids, modeling the perfect hair-do, while all you seem to be able to pull off is trying to subtly check your breath to see if you remembered to brush your teeth before staggering out the door this morning?

     I've been there.  In fact, I own a few different sizes of that t-shirt, because you know what?  Life can be hard as a mom.

     Every stage of mothering brings new challenges that we've never been through.

     Every child brings new difficulties that we've never faced.

     Every day has problems of its own. you want to know how to conquer the emotions of those circles of seemingly "perfect" women?  Do you want to know the secret of silencing the lies that whisper, no SCREAM, in your ears on those hard days?  You need to say HOORAY FOR MY WEAKNESS!

     I don't give this advice lightly.  In fact, it's taken me a long time to reach the point of confidence in my own weaknesses to say this.  And, it's not just my own opinion; it's actually biblical.

     Paul, the "super-apostle" of the New Testament, experienced an epiphany moment with God of this very same nature, in II Corinthians 12:9.  Look at the conversation that occurred between God and Paul...
      "But He (God) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I (Paul) will BOAST all the more gladly about my WEAKNESSES, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

     Do you hear Paul's determination swelling as the excitement in his heart grows?  He got it!  And as moms, we need to get it!

     God will rush to our side, bringing His awesome power to our situations when we are, ultimately, bragging about our failures and struggles...not when we are touting about the greatness of ourselves or our children.

     Be honest with yourself -- who do you enjoy hanging out with more?  The mom who tells you how you too can "have it all together" if you just do X, Y & Z, OR the mom who shares with a humble smile how she forgot to pick up her child from the bus stop three afternoons this week?  It's a no-brainer, we all find safety in the honest, real mom.

     We all have strengths and weaknesses; and both are needed in our homes, our marriages and our friendships.  Share from your strength in gentle ways to help a friend, but be equally willing to let your hair hang down - long and shaggy - and be real about your weaknesses.  You may be amazed at the doors that will open, the lies that will stop pounding in your head and the joy that will return to your steps.

     You are an AWESOME mom!  You are the one God chose for your children!  You have what it takes IF you combine it with God's amazing power as you say HOORAY for weakness today.

"If I must boast, I will
boast of the things that show 
II Corinthians 11:30

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


     The ability to hear...what a gift that I often take for granted.  Until recently.  Our youngest has had some minor issues with his ears, and though it looks like it will resolve itself in the near future, it has brought a new outlook to life lately.

     "Did you put away your toys?" demands responses like, "What boys?"

     "Did you finish your Math?" comes back with, "I don't want a bath."

     The worst, though, is certainly when my questions are followed by nothing. Silence.  Not because of being ignored but simply an inability for him to hear at all.

     It's caused me to ponder something on a deeper level -- how often does God speak to me and find a similar experience?

     He speaks to my heart and shows me someone who has a need and I respond with going to the store and buying something for myself.

     Maybe He prompts my heart to call someone on the phone and I click on my email to see if there are any messages.

     Or worse, He waits for me to take time with Him and I rush through my busy day never stopping to acknowledge Him at all.

     God has made each of us for relationship -- not just with those around us that we can see and touch, but with HIM!   He speaks to our hearts and wants to tell us that we are loved.  He offers important tasks that He wants us to carry out on His behalf, but we sail on by missing the opportunity altogether.

     How can we clear our ears to "hear" what God has to say to us?

     Often it's by pausing and simply remembering to listen.  It's also in taking time in His Word and asking Him to speak to us.  And just being willing to follow that still, small voice when you know you're being encouraged to take a step.

     May our ears be open and our hearts be ready to hear from our God.

"Listen and HEAR my voice;
pay attention and HEAR
what I say."
Isaiah 28:23

Thursday, February 9, 2012


     Have you ever noticed that one thing leads to another?  It seems to work with both the good and the bad.

     Think about a choice of a cookie for breakfast or a banana -- which one leads to a healthy lunch?  Usually the banana.

     What about speaking to our kids in a gentle voice or losing it -- which one leads to a calm response later in the day?  Usually the gentle voice.

     But when we're totally honest, it's hard!  There are "cookie days" when it's just easier to reach for a cookie than a banana.  There are "losing it" days when it's just easier to let it out than hold it in.

     Those are the days I see my desperate need for God and His grace and I'm filled with wonder and thankfulness for who He is because of who I'm not!

     Have you experienced God's grace pouring out in your life, Moms, or are you too busy dumping heaps of guilt over your head like buckets of icy, cold water?

     The enemy of our souls is thrilled when we berate ourselves for our weakness and failures, but God is NOT -- He sent Jesus to cover all the "cookie" days and the "losing it" days!  He loves us as much after the cookie package has been ripped into as He did before.  He loves us as much after we've let our voices reach loud levels, but we don't get it, do we?

     We live in a culture that tells us value and worth are based on our performances; whether we realize it or not, we are all holding a red pen in our back pockets getting ready to tick the "F's" on our own report cards.  Take out that red pen and snap it in half -- it's mocking the grace that God extends and wants to extend in our lives.

     Yes, when we are His, God continues to call us to holiness - to becoming more like Him - BUT He does not condemn us when we fail, He pours out grace like sweet smelling bubbles in a warm bath.  May we listen for His voice in our lives and not the voices of everything else that surrounds us.

     Sink into those bubbles and let Him heal your heart.  As we accept His grace, we'll become ready and wanting to reach out for His help -- then those days will slowly become fewer and further apart, and we'll discover new levels of grace and blessing.

"From HIS fullness we have
all received, grace upon grace."
John 1:16


Saturday, February 4, 2012


     We clean toilets.  We scrub juice stains.  We kiss little cuts.  And every once in a while we wonder, Am I really doing anything of importance?  Is there any lasting value in my life?

     In one of those recent moments I sensed God's whisper in my heart -- "What if small is the new big?"

     What if all these little things that we do in the daily grind we call motherhood really are HUGE? 

     We carry out millions of seemingly trivial tasks every day and yet rarely pause to reflect on how we are affecting the future.  Each step, each act of love is investing in a whole new generation.

     God sees each effort...each occasion that we feel is insignificant.  Yet, He sees with different eyes.  In Luke 16, Jesus tells us that whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

     I want to be trusted with much.  So do you.  

     That makes this the season to be trusted with little.

     Faithfulness is the foundation of life.  We are changing the world, when we change diapers with love.  We are impacting the world, when we impact a four year old heart.  We are positively influencing the world, when we positively influence our homes and families.

     Don't let discouraging thoughts darken your small tasks -- think of them as the new big!  You are making a difference in the world, one faithful moment at a time.

"Take a good hard look at Jesus.
He's the centerpiece of everything
we believe, FAITHFUL in everything
God gave Him to do."
Hebrews 3:1&2