When Disappointment Sits Near You

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My husband has been gone for most of the last month, and my semi-grand plans to honor Lent with the kids were shoved under beds and into dusty corners. Oh, I could tell you all the things I have done. Things like making an extra trip or seven to the orthodontist and dentist to deal with teeth problems. Things like dealing with car issues. Things like taking kids to swim team, shooting team, and band practice. Things like meetings for this and that. And of course, writing, writing, and writing some more.

When our nights finally wind down between 9:30 and 10, I’m reading a bit from the gospels to the kids. And on the more stumbling along, tired nights, we are doing well to whisper prayers. Not the end of the world, I know. But Lent is full of bountiful offerings, and I’m disappointed I’ve only taken an anemic portion. I’m not so much disappointed in myself as that I didn’t get to do all I’d hoped.

Oh, I know there is as much grace in a busy season as in any other. But I don’t want any insider’s glimpse from our lives to give the impression that Jesus isn’t a priority. I want to balance my daily responsibilities with the kids’ interests and still have our relationship with Jesus come out as the biggest part of our lives.

The good news? There is grace in knowing that life is measured over many seasons, not just a selective one or two. It helps to see my priorities within that lens rather than just the last month. And within that, hope lies beyond the disappointment.

Sometimes disappointment looks like not getting to do things you hoped to do. But often disappointment sits like a sack of bricks dropped in your lap by someone else. This last year has held this kind of disappointment for our family as well, in large and small doses. And maybe it has for you and yours, too.

As we spend this Holy Week remembering the choices Jesus made to live His Father’s will – choices that spoke of His unfathomable love for you and me – let’s keep in mind one truth about disappointment that blazes more brilliantly this week than any other:

Behind great disappointment follows greater hope.

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That disappointment you’re facing? God would only allow it if the hope waiting behind it was greater still.

“Your love has called me out, out of my sorrow, out of my broken places!

Hope has been renewed, ‘cause there on the cross, there on the cross

Love broke through.”  ~ Ellie Holcomb, “Love Broke Through”

Love breaks through, and Hope gets the last word.


How to Know When You Need to Step Away from Social Media

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We sit starched and sparkly in what my grandma would call proper church clothes: Button down shirt and starched pants for the boys, dresses with tights and boots for the girls. David, the kids and I are headed to a formal concert, and we have dressed the part well.

In the car on the way to the performance hall, I review appropriate concert behavior. No talking during the performance. No clapping until each piece concludes. No asking for bathroom breaks ’til intermission. My older kids (should) know this, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to remind them how their manners need to reflect kindness and respect to the musicians and others in attendance.

The concert saw both music and children in excellent form. Intermission arrived, so all three kids and myself took the opportunity to use the restroom. And that’s when I lost all credibility to lecture on good manners as I proceeded to exit the bathroom with my sweaterdress tucked up inside my tights.

Yep, awesome and classy: that’s me.

While my sanguine personality and I can easily laugh about it, my face still gets a little hot remembering. It was funny, but the looks I received had me regretting the decision to use the restroom in the first place.

Social media sometimes feels the same way. For example, I kindly and respectfully try to engage someone else in a conversation, but they don’t respond. I post something  on facebook or twitter {I find} witty or funny, and the response is Cricketville. While I have pure intentions in posting updates or tweets, I sit embarrassed when I get no response. I wonder if I walked into the “room” with my dress caught up in my tights by saying something ridiculous or unintelligent after all.

When we start to feel this way, it can only mean one thing:

It’s time to step away from the social media and step towards a healthy perspective.

1. Remember the social media room is crowded and loud. Recently, I attended a large party at a friend’s stunning, spacious home. While I waved and said hello to several folks and chatted with a few, many people I never spoke one word to. Many people I didn’t even see. The social media room is like this, but it’s endlessly big with new people walking in and out all the time. There’s no way everyone in the room is going to talk to – much less connect with – everyone else.
2. Remember we give to give, not to get. When we leave a thoughtful comment or message, it is a present we place in the hands of the person. We give the gift and move on. Maybe they’ll say thank you out loud, maybe only in their heart. Either way, we don’t stand around, tap our foot, and demand a response ~ we aren’t owed anything.
3. Remember why you’re important. You have worth because you have fullness in Christ, not because of so-and-so’s interaction and friendship. Put your hope in Him, not them. He is the only One who fills to overflowing and fully gets who you are.

I cherish online friendships, especially the ones that meander into real life. But even a relationship lover like me admits I can’t have one with every person that crosses my path. Neither can you. We all have families to prioritize. We have jobs to do, laundry to wash, words to read, toilets to scrub, walks to take, skies to watch. If we are meant to interact with someone on a deeper level, God will see that it happens.

In the meantime, when the chatter gets loud and you get lonely, take it as an invitation to step away from the social media. Write offline or read in a corner. Kiss faces. Wrap arms. Snuggle up. Love hard.

And when we do our thing online, let’s not get caught up in what others do or don’t do as it relates to us. Give a message with a smile, grateful for the opportunity to encourage. If your heart reflects kindness and respect to other folks, there is no need to dwell on your one-way conversation.

Not even if your sweaterdress is tucked up in your tights.

(this is an edited repost originally found here)


Month of the Military Child :: In Praise of Military Kids

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He said it more in passing from the seat behind me in our minivan as I drove him to his friend Landon’s house.

“Ya know, mama…” he begins. I look in the rearview mirror at his handsome profile, his eyes staring out the window.

“When people ask me where I’m from, I’m never quite sure what to say.”

I smile and tell him that’s a normal conundrum for military kids. This and so much more, I think to myself.

Earlier this year, my husband retired from the United States Air Force after serving well over 20 years. Even though he’s no longer active duty, I still witness amazing qualities in my kids forged during their many years as junior members of the military family, qualities honed in hard fought battles of their own.

Since April is Month of the Military Child, it seems doubly appropriate to honor all our past and present military kids. May my words below be a standing ovation for those youngest in the military family, those who didn’t sign up for this lifestyle but are born or adopted into it. Those who may not know “where they’re from,” but will always have a place – a family – to belong. 

In Praise of Military Kids

(“In Praise of Military Kids” free printable here)

In Praise of Military Kids

We honor you the military kid, the youngest of our unsung heroes whose daily choices are fed on courage and starved of complaints.

You whose shoulders slump with heavy realities you don’t always understand but whose feet still move one brave step at a time.

You who shows patriotism every time you wave goodbye to the moving truck or your mom or dad.

You who knows another move is around the corner but will still reach out to the new friend living across the street.

You whose roots may be shallow but support beautiful blooms just the same.

You who takes up the slack of a missing parent by not slacking off on household chores.

You who are practiced at making friends quickly even though you know goodbye will come just as fast.

This is for you the military kid, you who are more adept at conversing with grown-ups than some grown-ups are.

You who struggles in your new environment but doesn’t want to worry mom or dad with how you feel.

You who let the words and tears fall anyway.

You who wanders the halls of your new middle school desperate to make sense of your mixed-up schedule.

You who asks the new kid at school to sit by you at lunch because you knows how terrifying that initial walk into the lunchroom can be.

This is for you the military kid, you who memorizes your home phone and address just in time for it to change.

You who ignores your flip-flopping stomach on the first day of your fifth school in five years.

You who when asked, “Where ya from?” are never quite sure how to answer.

You who handles new situations with incredible adaptability but mature-beyond-your-years dependability.

You who knows that home is more about the people you’re with than the place you sleep.

You who unknowingly serves and sacrifices so much alongside your parents, never asking for anything in return.

You who knows that being called a brat is not an insult but a badge of honor.

This is for you the military kid, you who don’t expect a well-deserved thank you but earned one just the same.

To you we say heartily and exuberantly: thank you. Thank you for all the quiet ways you serve well. You are seen, appreciated, and wildly loved.

If you have a military child in your circle of influence, give them an extra hug or a high five today…

from you and from me.


What Nobody Tells You About Being a Mama

I was a weird kid who looked forward to babysitting. I mean, I loved it. So when Mrs. McDaniel would call on Monday to ask if my sister Sara and I could babysit her three darling daughters on Saturday, my answer was always an exuberant yes.

Created with The GIMPYou mean I get paid to hang out with freckle-faced little loves who like to play with my hair and take walks around the neighborhood and give big squeezy hugs? Heck ya, I can babysit.

From early on I adored children, so it’s not surprising that I couldn’t wait to have a few curtain crawlers under my own roof one day.

Fast forward a decade when my husband and I learned we were going to have not one but two babies, I couldn’t have been more excited – in a terrified kind of way. On a humid day in early August, those small babies arrived with big fanfare, and their wee little cries washed me in love and adoration. Man, was I ever smitten with those brothers born at the same time.

I still am.

But the first thing I learned after birthing those two 5 1/2 lbs wonders as well as their little sister? Parenting your own children ain’t nothin’ like babysitting others’.

Not by a long shot.

As my own mothering honeymoon wore off, it grabbed a hold of my idealized notion of parenting and scampered into the distance. And while I genuinely relished my mama role in so many ways (and still do), I couldn’t ignore the real picture of motherhood that stood in place of my idealized version. You know, the one that included children not playing with my hair but making me want to pull my own hair out.

The one that didn’t include sweet neighborhood walks but me chasing runaway kids down the neighborhood sidewalk.

And during a more trying season, the one where a particular freckle-faced love didn’t hug me but told me he hated me.

It didn’t take long for those bad moments to gang up on me and tell me I get an F for parenting, an F for Failure. And no parenting book I read talked about that or mentioned the incredible weight this would place on my mama heart.

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Another decade of parenting under my belt thankfully taught me that failed moments – or days or seasons – don’t make you a failing mother. No, no, no. Failed moments are not the end of the story, they’re a fruitful field for a fresh start. A fresh start that can begin now because God’s grace can be found right now. 

Right where you’re standing.

And right where you least expect it.

God’s grace is ours for the taking right when you lose your cool or keep your calm. Right over mile-high laundry and under butterfly bedspreads. Right when your teens need ferried across town and when your little ones need ferried to the bathroom. Right around the living room fireplace and through the bad moods. His grace is found inside the teenager’s haven’t-seen-the-floor-in-weeks bedroom and outside in conversation on the front porch. It’s there when you’re laughing ’til your side hurts over something your son said and crying your eyes out over something your daughter did.

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It’s God whispering, Take heart, mama. You’re doing better thank you think.

That is the version of motherhood I want to share with the women in my life, the version that says it is harder than any parenting book will portray, but it’s also more glorious than you thought possible. It’s a love affair and a holy invitation where the days are too long and the years too short. It’s a part of life that will humble you and teach you and move you to your knees, which is a great place to be.

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It will cause your heart to both break and burst as it bends to look more like Christ.

And that’s the best place to be.

Lisa-Jo Baker Surprised by Motherhood photoOne of my best girlfriends, Lisa-Jo Baker, released her debut book this week called Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom Unlike me, Lisa-Jo swore she’d never have kids. Surprised by Motherhood details the unlikely story of Lisa-Jo’s heart change from that mindset to having three children of her own.

I’ve read Surprised by Motherhood twice (so far), and whether you always wanted to be a mama or never imagined yourself as one, you’ll want to spend quality time with this book again and again. Written in gorgeous prose, this book is like the honest and hilarious girlfriend who gets the hard but glorious truth of motherhood. Its words will make you want to high five the mama closest to you as it floods your heart with genuine you can do this! hope. It will make you want to trade that F for Failure into an F for Freedom.

Here’s the straight up truth: this book is the one I wish I had 15 years ago when I was out-to-here pregnant with twins. Or 10 years ago raising littles. But it’s the book I’m glad to have today raising a tween and two teens. I give it 5 exuberant stars!

To learn more about Lisa-Jo’s book, watch the trailer below. You can find Surprised by Motherhood at B&N, Christianbook.comAmazon, and DaySpring.

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