It’s In the Water

I’m convinced that a mother’s heart feels the depths of human emotion on a level that is unexplainable to anyone but another mother. The superhuman ability to feel another human’s emotions as your own can be overwhelming and devastating to the soul yet this is what a mother does. Day after day, sleepless night after night, we carry the weight of our own feelings and the full magnitude of our children’s as well. Mothers are truly remarkable.

I am lucky enough to be both a boy and girl mom. I have seen my fair share of princesses and superheroes and I think it was Spiderman who said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” You know where I am going with this, right? Mothers have superhuman abilities when it comes to our kids. That’s the power. The responsibility we choose to demonstrate makes all the difference.

As for me, I choose to pray. Actually, pray doesn’t feel like a strong enough verb. I choose to plead with the Lord on behalf of my children. I choose to wrestle between carnal desire and holy duty. I choose to cry out until the Heavens hear me. I choose to be persistent in my requests. And perhaps most importantly of all, I choose to believe that God is working on behalf of my children even when I can’t outwardly see it.

I had a sleepless night last night as I was pleading with the Lord and standing in the gap for one of my kids. I woke up with a heavy heart and I began thinking about Jesus own mother and wondered how she prayed for her son. She knew he was the perfect Son of God but I know that she prayed for him nonetheless. Her position was unique. She both recognized him as the child she raised and loved as herself and as her Savior, the Son of God. I think she demonstrated her role as both his mother and as servant of the Lord so clearly when Jesus turned water into wine.

Picture it. A wedding with celebration and many guests! I am sure it was the event of the year! The bible describes this in the book of John, chapter 2. The wine was gone and Mary went to Jesus just as I would imagine I might go to my grown son to help as well. She said, “They have no more wine.” She told him the problem and that was it. He replied, “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”

Still, his mother was confident in him. She told the servants, “do whatever he tells you.” And Jesus answered her request. The wedding had more wine and it tasted better than the wine they had served at the beginning!! This miracle didn’t save anyone’s life or heal someone. The day could have gone on without it yet he performed it anyway. It was a miracle that he performed because it was important to his Earthly mother and his spiritual daughter. She asked and believed it would be done.

He cares about what is important to us, as well. He cares about what is important to our children and he hears us when we cry out on their behalf!

I want to emulate Mary when I take my children’s problems to my Lord. She knew he would satisfy her need so she did not worry. She left him alone and counted on his to fulfill her request. She didn’t waver in her faith and she didn’t doubt he would come through. She wasn’t running around in chaos making a back up plan or trying to solve it on her own. She took it to the only one who could truly perform a miracle for the wedding.

Help us Lord, to believe like Mary. And God bless the mamas. You surely broke the mold when you made them.

Trophy Family

A battle is being waged and the prize is your family.  I’m going to tell you something and I hope you take it to heart..

You aren’t just being dramatic.  Your marriage-your family-is actually under attack.  You’ve got an enemy and he wants to wreck what you have.  Maybe now more than ever.

Maybe the first step in winning the war on your marriage is understanding what the enemy wants.  He wants to wreck you.  He wants to divide your house.  He wants your children to suffer and blame it on you.  He wants to take something that can destroy a person for life. He wants your mind.

I have what I would consider a great marriage.  I love my husband fiercely and he loves me right back.  Nonetheless, I am the product of a broken home.  And if I’m being truthful, the last time I remember feeling whole was when I was six.  And I don’t really remember being six.  At seven, my dad left my mom for another woman.  Another baby.

I can pinpoint the moment that I was shattered and wounded for life so vividly that I can describe some elements of the room and even what show was on the TV.   It was in those first years after divorce that I began to hate myself for sins I didn’t commit and grown up issues I didn’t understand.  All I believed was that I was so worthless that even my father didn’t want to stick around for me.  And so the struggle with acceptance began.  I got therapy.  It didn’t help.  Most likely because wounds inflicted on your soul are the ones that bleed in the most unexpected of ways.

I have spent all of my life searching for approval.  I want people to like me.  At times I have wanted it at the expense of my personal happiness or health.  I struggle with throat-closing anxiety when I feel insecure with my place in this world.

I have a great mother who supported my sister and I but she was so devastated by the deafening blow she was given that she spent years battling her own insecurities as well. I have found forgiveness and a relationship with my father as an adult.  He is a good man and loves Jesus with all his heart.

I have a husband who loves me unconditionally.  In fact, he is the only man in my life to love me and expect nothing in return.  There is no condition with him and even still, I struggle to feel his approval of me.  My insecurities affect my husband in the most unforgiving way.  My wounds bleed onto him quickly and without warning.

I have surrendered my life to Jesus and know he is where I find my worth.  I am a woman who is both broken and continually mended together by the potter’s hands.  I am a woman who knows where my help comes from and even when I have to answer to my insecurities, there are days when the emotions are so high, my marriage could become another casualty in the cycle of brokenness.

I often wonder who I would be had my life not been wrecked by the devil at such a young age.  He crept into my parent’s marriage and sank his teeth in deep.  Deep enough that even my children have to watch me fight against the remnant wreckage.  What if my dad had a strong relationship with Jesus then?  What if he was sold out for Christ and committed to making it work, despite his fleshly desires?  Would my struggles have been less?  Would I have to constantly fight so hard to keep myself above water?

My story, and the millions of stories like mine, are why the devil fights so hard for your family.  He wants to destroy you and the generations that will come after you.  My mental health has been a struggle most of my life because of feelings of worthlessness and if I didn’t have the saving grace of Jesus, I can’t even begin to think of who I would have become.

If you are a single parent or going through a divorce, I am in no way condemning you.  Life happens and some things just can’t be helped.   It is possible to raise children who don’t suffer so severely at the expense of a broken home and I fully realize that.  I am just telling you why-if it’s within your control and you have a fighting spirit that burns with the fire of Christ-you should fight for your marriage.

If no one has told you today let me be the first to say it.  You have a family worth fighting for.

Be the Light. And then, Shine Bright.

2020. Perfect vision. On the surface, it seems almost irresponsible to call 2020 the year of perfect vision. It has been riddled with chaos, confusion, fear and division.

Social media is a dumpster fire and people just keep adding garbage to it. Friends and family are turning on each other and feel justified in doing so. Political and religious arguments have taken center stage. What’s worse, we are now simply judged by our preferences in regards to politics and religion rather than the character and integrity that we have maintained all our lives. Information overload is taking over our screens and we are buying into the chaos hook, line and sinker.

I will be the first to admit that during the early days of the pandemic, and even still at times, I have felt the sinking weight of depression and anxiety take hold of me and refuse to let go. I am a creature of habit and I thrive on order and predictability. Then suddenly, and all at once, the America that I know and love was a bleeding artery, swiftly bleeding into every crevice of our nation.

“If you don’t heal what hurt you, you will bleed on people who didn’t cut you.” -unknown

Everywhere I look I see hurting people. And hurting people hurt others. I have wept for those I don’t know. I have wept for the loss of friendships and the misguided judgments being cast in every direction. I have pleaded with the Lord to stop the madness. I have begged him to come and take his church on home. I have grieved for the world that we are creating for our children and grandchildren. I have been fuming with rage, overcome with sadness and terrified by the all consuming chaos.

In wrestling with the Lord, as I often do, I have come to but one conclusion.

God is giving us a divine opportunity to press into him.

We are living in a world that has been overcome with evil. And the only way to overcome evil is to shine the light of Jesus everywhere we go. Show people his all consuming love. In trying to do this myself, I keep thinking of David preparing to face Goliath in battle. David was a shepherd and was a young boy when he decided he would be the one to fight this giant. When King Saul heard that David was willing to fight, he put David in his own battle armor. But David quickly realized what some of us have yet to grasp.

He didn’t need someone else’s armor to fight, he needed the armor God had already equipped him with.

David knew that he wouldn’t be successful if he wore the armor. David was not trained in a warrior’s armor. He was trained to be a shepherd so a shepherd’s gear is what he used. YOU ARE ALREADY EQUIPPED TO FACE THE BATTLES IN FRONT OF YOU. Jesus does not need you to try and arm yourself with weapons that aren’t meant for you. He will use the talents and experiences you have now to help you wage war against the evil forces we are facing today.

I’ll leave you with one last lesson from David’s life that spoke volumes to me. The bible tells us that as the giant moved closer, David moved QUICKLY toward the battle line! He did not pause or hesitate. He did not worry he would not be successful. He knew he was fighting on behalf of the armies of the living God and so he ran into battle quickly! Are you running into battle armed with the faith that God has already given you what you need to win?

2020 is not for the weak. It is filled with schemes from the one in whom no truth lies. The only way to overcome the evils that we are facing today friends is to move quickly in the direction of the battle with full confidence that God has given you what you need to be an over-comer, to have perfect vision.

Be the light. And then, shine bright.

And Still He Cried.

I’m an over analyzer.  I can take a situation and analyze possible outcomes until my brain throbs from information.  It robs me of the present.  It robs me of my sleep.  And, more often that not, it just leaves me afraid.

Through a lifetime of trying to calculate every scenario, I have discovered something about myself.  When I am scared I often misplace that feeling and rather than show vulnerability,  I lash out in anger.

I get scared that I am failing as a parent and instead of speaking softly, I yell.  Sometimes I feel insecure about the kind of wife I am being and instead of apologizing to my husband, I pick a fight.  Surely I am not the only one guilty of this?

In the middle of this pandemic I have been burdened by an overwhelmingly heavy amount of grief.  The conflicting information being hurled in every direction coupled with the sheer uncertainty of it all has completely wrecked me.  For an analytical person who thrives best when I know what to expect from point A to point B, this has been a completely unwelcome chaos.

I have cried.  Lord, I have cried.  I’ve cried out to Jesus when my mind is racing faster than I can keep up.  I’ve cried when people share things on social media that threaten my sense of security and freedoms.  I’ve cried when people have responded to my fear with sarcasm and hateful comments.  I have grieved for the practices my kids are getting to go to and the life that we had just a couple months ago.

The tears have flowed with each article I read about someone losing their loved one to this horrible virus or dying alone.  I’ve cried because I miss church and taking my kids to practice.  I’ve wept with my children and wept for my friends, dealing with sadness and grief of their own.

But I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t recognize the impact fear has had on me and those around me.  For as much as I’ve cried, I’ve also been angry.  I’ve taken my fear and done the only thing I know to do with it all.  I’ve balled it up into anger because unlike fear, anger seems much more predictable.  I have yelled when I should have spoken softly and I’ve been short tempered when I should have responded with grace.  And, in this area, I know I am not alone.  I see evidence of this same behavior all over my social media and in my own household as well.

In talking to my youngest boy the other night, I realized something and it has been lingering in my heart ever since.  Upset with himself for crying, he told me boys shouldn’t cry.  I told him that even Jesus, perfection in the flesh, cried.  In fact, he didn’t just cry, he wept.

When Jesus wept it was because he saw the sadness of those around him and it moved him to grief.  He knew he was going to call Lazarus back from the dead and their sadness would be gone. He was not afraid.  Even still, he cried with them.  For them.  Knowing the outcome did not stop him from experiencing the grief of those he loved.

This verse has wrapped me up so tightly the past few days.  It has convicted me down to my bones.  We are created in the image of God and so I have to believe that if we are walking in the righteousness of the Lord we should be sharing in the grief of those around us.  When we take our shift from Heaven to Earth, we begin to turn on each other.  We focus on our outward differences rather than the person behind the different views.  And it is so ugly.

At the heart of either side of this thing is fear.  One side is fearful of not doing enough and spreading the virus.  Some are fearful of freedoms and liberties being taken away.  Still others are fearful of it all (it’s me. That’s where I am).  It’s lonely.  It’s divisive and none of it is from the Lord.

Knowing that Jesus wept in empathy should be the very call to action that we all need.  He knew Lazarus would not stay in the grave, he knew they would experience joy again.  He didn’t meet their grief and fear with sarcasm and chastising comments.  He didn’t make a bad situation worse.  He simply understood and took time to share in their pain.

The one thing I know we can all agree on right now is that this is h-a-r-d.  We are tired and it’s easy to lose hope.  No matter what side of the road you stand on today, won’t you take a minute to weep with your friends?  To see past their opinions and look at their heart?

And one more thing, guys.  Jesus wept.  It’s ok if you do too.


I think it’s safe to say that everyone, to some degree, is struggling right now.  We’ve unexpectedly walked into a season of uncertainty and we’ve done it together, which is incredibly ironic given the circumstances.  This forced separation is perhaps the first thing in a long time to unite even the most undivided among us.  We are witnessing both a revival of life and a weeping and mourning for the lives we once knew.

I’ve seen the goodness in humanity return as people begin to shift their gaze from self to others; from self serving to servant.  I’ve seen large groups of people coming together to lift their voices to God, the only one who can heal our infirmities and cleanse our soul.

Families have been outside enjoying each other and dinner is mostly being eaten together at home.  The void of athletics and over-packed schedules is being replaced with family game nights and conversation.

Caregivers are finding creative ways to close the gap of loneliness that their elder family members are experiencing.  Nursing homes are being flooded with letters and cards and window visitors.

Churches are finding ways to worship and are finally embracing what it means to “be” the church, bringing the gospel to others no matter the cost.  Teachers are navigating uncharted waters and they are doing it with limited resources and the grace that only a few people can understand.

Make no mistake, this virus has taken so much. It has also taken the lives of loved loves.  It has taken the honor of a proper funeral and burial for some.  It has taken celebrations and freedoms that we once took for granted.  It has taken all of our resources; our essential workers and our supplies.  It has taken an income for many.  It has taken graduation and life experiences.  It has taken school, extracurricular activities and routine.   It has taken away the comfort of the familiar and thrust us into the unknown and the seriousness of it all is not lost on me.

But like everything in life, there is goodness embedded in the darkness.  I’m sorry to say it out loud but this nation that I love so much has become incredibly self serving and wicked.  Trivial matters were continually taking center stage and poisoning the minds and hearts of the people.  Internet sensations, the media and celebrities were telling the world what to value most and it was working.

Yes, this virus has taken so much.  It has taken the freedom to go-go-go at an alarming pace.  It has taken the ability to pack a schedule so busy that self care and mental health are placed on a back burner.  It has taken away the constant argument between parent and child over sports, achievement and ungrateful attitudes.  It has taken simple pleasures of entertainment that most of us rely on; the pleasures that pass quickly before we are looking for the next trip, event or trouble to fill the void.  It has taken away the mask of busyness we wear to hide our truths.

We are in uncharted waters, for sure.  There have been days during this quarantine that I have struggled to keep my head above water.  I’ve had to fight to keep myself from spiraling into a depression because my coping mechanism is to retreat when the weight of my load feels to heavy.  I’ve been burdened with fear so paralyzing that it has kept me awake at night.

And so I have done the only thing I know to do when I get to the end of myself.  I have thrown myself at the foot of the throne and asked God to give my unfaithful heart perspective and peace.  For all this virus has taken, God has given back and used for the good of those who love him.  He has given us the ability to create a new life out of the remnants of the old.  And what a gift that is.

He has also given us the one thing that we can never get back and that is time.  Time to make things right in your own heart.  Time to take your talents and serve others.  Time to spend with your children and spouse.  Time to come to the end of yourself.  Time to rise from the ashes.  Time to seek and search.  Time to be still.

Isn’t it just like God to give us the one thing we can never get back on our own?  Take this time and quiet the chaos within yourself and you will find peace around you like you have never known. 

**Ecclesiates 2:10-11**  

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired.  I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the sun.”

Friend or Pharisee?

Every now and then I’ll shop a little too much, I’ll be extra high maintenance and dare I say, act spoiled. It’s in these moments that my husband will gently say something like “I love you but don’t forget where you came from.” He will couple it with a bashful smile as if that’s going to make the reminder sting less. I’m always annoyed at his suggestion but it’s almost always spot on.

I’m ashamed to admit that just like my physical life, sometimes I forget where I came from in my spiritual life as well. In fact, I think we all do. Maybe that’s why there are spiritually starved people all around us while the church is simultaneously suffering as well.

From the outside looking in, it makes no sense. If the world needs Jesus now more than ever then why are so many churches struggling to stay filled and so many Christians unsuccessful in spreading the love of Jesus?

I once heard a pastor explain how to remember what a Pharisee was. A Pharisee, he said, was “fair. You see.” Simple explanation that packs a spiritual punch. A Pharisee enforced the laws of the land and at the expense of showing love and grace. When Jesus came on the scene, he showed love and grace but they were too stuck on the “rules” to be blessed. Jesus came to lead others to his Father, the one who passes out judgment, through himself and his sacrifice on the cross. Instead of being in awe and wonder, they began to inwardly despise him and hate grew in their hearts. They couldn’t get past not having the control of the law and it rotted them from the inside out, robbing them of their blessings. The Pharisees thought they were better than the others by the laws they enforced.

Many of us have forgotten where we came from when God called us out of our mess. We’ve mistaken being ‘set apart’ for ‘better than’ and it really shows. Even on my best days, I have to remind myself that when I was a sinner I loved to drink alcohol and play cards all night. I’d cuss you out in a heartbeat and not even lose sleep over it. When I became saved, I didn’t get delivered from my taste for alcohol or my sometimes untamable temper. No, I have to pick up my cross daily and follow him. It’s a choice that I make each day to die to my flesh and grab onto Jesus. I know that if I let myself slip up on reading the word and prayer, that if I let stress get the best of me I will get that urge to have a drink or run my mouth. And even though this is my truth, why do I feel afraid of judgment as I’m typing it? It’s because some of y’all have forgotten that set apart does not mean better than.

And if I feel afraid to share my truth as a woman who has been saved several years, I wonder if it’s possible that sinners aren’t confiding in us because they are already carrying the weight of their guilt and don’t want to carry judgment as well?

Maybe reaching the lost looks a lot less like shoving rules and regulations down their throat and a little more like showing grace, love and mercy. Maybe it’s telling them that the sin they are bound by once had you entangled too. Maybe it’s sharing your ugly past with them so they don’t feel alone in their journey. Maybe it’s trusting God to do the heavy lifting while we just spread the message of His redeeming love. Maybe, just maybe, If we trust God to convict hearts that are deep in sin, we won’t feel the need to judge them on his behalf.

Dear Husband, I See You

me and nick

Dear Husband,

We’ve been together almost as long as we were at home.  As I look back on our story, I want you to know that I’m so glad that no matter what has come our way, we continue to choose each other. The wear and tear on our relationship has, at times, been almost to great to bear.  Life has given us many chances to walk away and throw in the towel but love just wouldn’t have it.  Your love has been the glue that holds our hearts together and I am so thankful for you. 

When we were younger, I loved you because you made me laugh until my sides hurt.  I loved you because you were adventurous and I never knew what each day would bring.  I loved you because you were fiercely protective of me and I felt safer than I ever had before.  I loved you because your love for me was overwhelming and all consuming.  I still love you for all those reasons but I want you to know that now, all these years later, I love you for much more.  So much more.

I hope that you know that even after all these years, I love you deeper because I see you.  I’ve seen you trade your carefree youth for that of a man who carries the weight of a family on his shoulders.  I’ve gotten to watch you become a father three times and I’ve seen your love grow beyond measure each time.  I’ve seen you holding tiny babies in the wee hours of the night with such tenderness and calm that I’ve been envious of the poise you demonstrated under that kind of pressure.  I’ve been there when you have walked through the house with the heaviness of your workload wearing ever-so subtly on your face still silently wondering how we would pay our bills.

I see you when you are overcome with stress and worry when our children are hurting and we don’t know how to fix it.  I see you when you wrestle with our kids and make them laugh like only you can.  I see you when you act like it’s no big deal to sacrifice your time, energy and own needs so that the kids and I can have what we want.  I see you when you are packing your bags for work and you slip a picture the kids made you or a note I wrote you in your suitcase so you aren’t so homesick.

I see you when you lose sleep praying over your family and asking God to lead you so that you can lead us.  I see you get up early every morning so that I have hot coffee ready when I get up.  I see your frustration when you work is heavy, the kids are acting up and I am being too much.  I see you take that frustration and pour every bit of yourself into your family to make us alright again.

I see these things, and so much more, everyday that show me what real love looks like.  It isn’t in the candy, flowers or little gifts.  Real love is the million ways you love us in the middle of the everyday mess.

No matter how loud I am, how difficult I can be or how frustrated you get with my sometimes selfish, stubborn ways, you continue to choose me.  And I want you to know that I will always choose you.  In a dozen lifetimes and through every situation, you are the one I choose.  And I will choose over and over again, everyday for the rest of my life.

Beauty for Ashes

beauty for ashes

I wish I could look at 7 year old me and tell her that she would turn out all right.  That the stinging pain of rejection, chaos and confusion that she is feeling at the moment would one day be the broken pieces God uses to give her a testimony and help her find her truth.  If she could have only known then maybe she wouldn’t have spent so many years searching.  Filling the numbing pain and endless void with the approval of others-even at the expense of her self worth, Continue reading “Beauty for Ashes”

The Unraveling

I bought a pink and white quilt in college. It was one of my very first purchases that was truly my own. I carried that quilt with me through all four (okay five) years of college, it adorned my hospital bed each time I gave birth and eventually became everyone’s favorite blanket. Over the years it saw its fair share of spills, dirty diapers and everything in between. We used that blanket everyday, all day until suddenly and unexpectedly it had unraveled until it was not good for keeping you warm and cozy anymore. It actually became an unwelcome aggravation, trapping your feet in its tangles until you got frustrated and threw it down. And so it is with humans, too.

We go through the motions year after year, taking care of the people we love but in the midst of it all, we also subject ourselves to a little abuse and neglect along the way. Like any good human would do, we push through and continue to care for others the best way we know how. Until suddenly and all at once, we’ve become completely unraveled.

I have always had a unrealistic, overly optimistic view of this great wide world and all the people in it. My husband would continually tell me how naive I was. I like to think it’s one of the reasons he chose me-the light within me shined the brightest when I believed in the goodness of people. But somewhere in the last few years I’ve become completely unraveled. And it’s been messy. While running my race I’ve crossed paths with people who have completely destroyed my belief in humanity. I held tight to my family and my church and that was it. Perhaps thats why the last month had left me in such sorrow and despair.

My church, my home for over a decade, the place where I’ve brought each of my newborn babies to be prayed for, the place that I just knew I could be my messy, sometimes horrible self, it split. It was nasty and vile and I saw the absolute worst in the people whom I’ve sat shoulder to shoulder with in my church home. My prayer partners and friends left abruptly and without so much as saying goodbye. It kind of felt like an adulterous man leaving home, trading in his “wife” for a new one and then carrying on with business as usual, like his old family didn’t even matter. Although I’m sure not many people did things to hurt others on purpose, I was left with the sting of betrayal and abandonment. I reached out in hurt and confusion and was met with passive aggressive lectures and condemnation and was finally “un-friended” and blocked on social media. I’d like to tell you I prayed and recovered gracefully but I haven’t. I told my husband that I finally get why church people are the reason some folks don’t go to church. I felt like the foundation upon which I’d built my life had crumbled underneath my feet. I’ve contemplated quitting church all together and reverting back to my old ways, I’ve wanted to cuss and fuss at people, I’ve wanted to do all the bad things you can think of and then some. I felt a mourning and loss for myself because something within me had fundamentally changed. If church hurts, where do you go to get healing?

Yet in the midst of all my mess, God, being himself, was working on my behalf. He sent me some precious women who wanted my daughter and I to go to a Casting Crowns concert. I didn’t want to go. It was a school night and I get tired and cranky. But I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so I went. And right there in the middle of it, God wrecked me. Tears flowed down my weary face. The Holy Spirit gently tugged on my heart and the words of the music spoke to my soul. My healing came in the most unexpected place, in an unexpected way. God is a master weaver, have you ever noticed that? He takes unraveled, broken people and weaves their stories together. He weaves up our messiness and uses the expensive fabric. Beauty for ashes.

People are just people. They disappoint. They make choices and hurt people. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes by complete accident. And that is why we need God. He reminded me last night that we are made in his image so even when I feel disappointed by people, even when they hurt my feelings, they are still good. The goodness of people must exist because God is good. It was in this quiet revelation that God also reminded me that I have, on occasion, been on the giving end of someone’s pain. Sometimes I get a little carried away and let my mouth get the best of me. In those times I have needed others to show me grace and be quick to forgive, even if I hadn’t ask for it yet. And so now, I must do the same to those who have intentionally or unintentionally wounded my heart. People can evoke the best and worst feelings in us but feelings can be deceitful In themselves. We can either serve the God of our feelings or the God of truth but it is impossible to serve both.

I am still a complete mess most days. I do not claim to have all the answers or be the most righteous person in any room. I am a horrible sinner and I have to take up my cross daily. Sometimes hourly. But I refuse to let My unraveling be the final chapter in my story. I believe that warriors are made in the valley and that Gods love extends further than any church house. I believe that people are made in the image of our King and I believe that grace is new everyday. I am no longer bound to the idea that any one “place” is where we go to get our help. I believe that God sends us unexpected friends and takes us to unusual places to heal our wounds. And Above all else, I am thankful that perfection isn’t a requirement to get into Heaven.

Breathe it in, Mama.

Worn out from the Sunday funday activities, I laid my head down on my pillow, threw one leg half-heartedly over my husband and immediately was sound asleep.  Then, ever so faintly, I heard our oldest child quietly calling out for me.  I felt confused for a moment because he never needs me in the middle of the night anymore but as soon as I heard him again, I sprung out of bed and went into his room.

“My stomach hurts mama.  Will you lay with me for a minute?”

I asked him if he needed some medicine and he shook his head no so I crawled in the bed with him. At 13, when he wants one of us to lay with him, he rolls over as far as he can on the other side of the bed and just wants to talk until he falls asleep.  Although it’s unspoken, both of us know that with each passing day, he is crossing the threshold from child to man, needing me less and less.  But on this night, the night when his stomach hurt and he wanted his mama, he rolled over next to me and gently laid his head on my shoulder.  His messy hair tickled my nose but instead of turning away, I breathed it in. I imagined for a brief moment that he was that chubby toddler who always wanted “under my wing, chick” and would drop anything he was doing for a chance to sit in my lap and just be held.  He seemed more settled, having me there, and my heart felt the contentment that only a mama’s can.  Just as I was about to fall back asleep, my eyes popped open and I thought to myself, “what if this is the last time he snuggles you like this?  What if that was the last time he calls for you in the night?!”  The thought made my heart race a little and I squeezed him tight and kissed him on the forehead, determined to etch every detail of the moment into my long term memory-just in case.

And so I’ve been thinking, as my children grow older, why don’t we worry and plan for the “lasts” in life like we do the “firsts”?  We talk and obsess, plan and prepare for their first words, first steps, first night sleeping in their big bed alone, first day of kindergarten.  Always the firsts.  And the are important.  But as a mama in this season of life, I want to be just as concerned with the “lasts”.  When was the moment I last held my toddler and packed him around on my hip before he became a little boy, to heavy for mama to pack around?   I’m sure it happened when I wasn’t looking and was over so quickly that I didn’t give it a second thought at the time.  When will my daughter need me to put up her hair in a ponytail for the last time?  When will she ask me to play American Girls with her for a final mommy and me play-date before her preteen years call for her with unrelenting persistence? Will her words hit me with the importance and force of a child leaving one stage and entering the next or will I be so preoccupied with something trivial that her words come and go like the blowing of the wind?

And God forbid something happens to my husband before we’ve lived out all our dreams and are well into our golden years.  Will I pick up his clothes from the floor and grumble words of disdain under my breath for the last time?  Will I know to savor it and  linger a little longer than normal if we should share a kiss before one of us goes on to be with the Lord, our time together ended abruptly by life and circumstance?  Lord, help me to breathe in the “last” moments with my children and husband as much as I breathed in their “firsts”.

When I want to clean and gripe about the house being a mess, Lord help me to pause and just breathe it in.  When I want to blow my teenager off when he asks me to watch him play video games, help me to remember that one day his desire for me to watch will become nothing more than a memory.  When my baby girl needs her mama to listen to her tales from school, help me to savor her words, storing them away in case her teenage years silence the chatter.  Help me Lord, to remember that my baby boy still wants to climb into his mama’s lap to get some snuggles and read a book-and that is more important than a sink full of dishes.  And Lord, please help me not to forget that when my precious husband wants to take me out for the night, I should always go, even if it’s pain to find a sitter.