Category Archives: Grace

My Heart Knows

originally posted in December 2011. 

Last night, I was singing to this boy, Jackson, at bedtime. I don’t often sing to them at bedtime any more.
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Sometimes we read. We hug and kiss. And we pray. Always, we pray. But I don’t often hold them and rock them and sing to them as I did when they were smaller.

But last night I did. I sang You Are My Sunshine and Jesus Loves Me.

And then I started in on Te-ell me why the stars do shine. Tell me why the ivy twines. Tell me why the ocean’s blue. And I will tell you just why I love you. 

Jackson leaned in closer against me and started humming along, singing a word every line or two. As I finished, I do be-lee-eve that God above created you for me to love. He picked you out from all the rest. Because God made you, I lo-ove you best, Jackson sighed and smiled up at me.

My heart knows that song, but my brain doesn’t know all the words, he said.

Tears sprang to my eyes. All the nights of holding a baby Jackson, whisper-singing that song to his tiny ears. All the nights of standing over a crib, patting his back, hushing his cries with this song. The naptimes I held his chubby toddler body and sang about God making the blue ocean and the climbing, twining ivy. The nights I cuddled in next to his preschool body, worn out from running and climbing and playing with his brothers, and I sang this song. All of that. All of it settled its way into his heart.

My heart knows that song, but my brain doesn’t know all the words.

Sometimes I feel that way about God. My heart, my soul responds to his song, but my brain doesn’t know all the words.

I see a beautiful sunset or the shadow of birds flying over a lake. I watch ducks bobbing along on the choppy water and feel the wind tickling my hair around my red cheeks. I sense His protection as that 18-wheeler swerves back into his own lane and the accident is narrowly averted. I sing that old hymn asking Him to bind my wandering heart to Him. I read a Psalm reminding me that I cannot flee from the Lord. I taste a juicy clementine. I see the redbuds blooming on the mountainside. I wake to my children’s giggles that turn to roaring laughter.

And my heart leans in closer to Him. Snuggles up against His side. And I hum along, unable to put it all in words.

My brain may not comprehend it all. I can’t explain it all in logical, scientific words. I can’t even explain it all in long, multisyllabic theological words.

But my heart knows this song. My whole life, my Father has been singing over me. And His song has settled its way deep into my heart.

Some days or weeks or months, I rush about or busy myself or go my own way. I don’t slow down and take time to sit with Him and listen to Him or maybe I even avoid Him, preferring to do my own thing for a while.

But when I finally do stop and listen, my heart sighs and leans in to the familiar tune. My heart knows that song.

Do you hear it? Does your heart respond? Do you lean in a little bit closer to Him? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of “Me Too!”

The more I learn about people and the more I learn about myself, the more I am convinced that one of our basic needs is to not feel alone. We are not meant to be alone. Not physically. Not emotionally.

In the dailyness, when I’m doggie-paddling and hoping to stay afloat, I long to hear a Me too!, to know I am not the only one. During moments of crisis and despair, I seek out the friend who says, Me too! I’ve been there, and I’m making it through. And her words wrap around me like a life jacket, hugging me tightly and keeping me afloat.

Are you sleep-deprived? Did you stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, to lift a crying child from a crib or fix breakfast for the preschooler who rises with the dawn? Does your house look like the Fisher-Price factory exploded all over the place? Do you even remember the last time you ate hot food? That was me. For years and years, when I was in the thick of having babies and nursing babies and chasing toddlers. That was me. I’ve been there, and it’s hard and the days seem long, but I made it through. You are not alone, Momma.

Do you feel like the worst potty-trainer in the history of potty-training? Sister, you are not alone. And trust me on this one, if there were some sort of contest for this parenting skill, you would rank higher than I did. At some point in the middle of it all, I realized that one of my life’s purposes was to make every other mother feel better about her potty-training skills. But you know what? It’s all good. All of my children have complete bathroom skills now, and we have no idea which of their school friends and soccer teammates were potty-trained a month or six months or even a year before mine were. Hang in there, Friend, you are not alone. 

Is your house a mess? Does cleaning house feel like trying to bail water with a teaspoon from a sinking ship? I have been there. Children can make messes faster than parents can clean up messes. It’s part of the law of thermodynamics or something. You may see staged Facebook photos of immaculate homes or peruse Pinterest ideas for organizing your clutter and feel as if you are the only person with piles of mail on the counter and crumbs around the table and an entire Little People zoo overtaking your living room. But believe me, you are not alone. 

Do you have a baby who won’t gain weight? A toddler with a developmental delay? A precocious preschooler? A child who can’t read yet? A child whose temper erupts spewing the hot lava of ugly words and broken toys and slammed doors all over your home? Are you struggling to parent a child who might be smarter than you are? Or a child who thinks she’s smarter than you are? Do you spend your late nights researching neurological disorders or medical conditions or curriculum options? Do you love your children more than a hundred-thousand delicious squares of Ghirardelli chocolate but wish they’d leave you alone long enough to enjoy just one square in the dark solitude of your closet? Oh, Friend, we are practically twins! 

If horribleness is raining down on you and your world is falling apart, let me hug you and -if you live close enough- offer you a casserole. I have been there. Me too, Sister! If all your dreams are coming true and life is sweet and the sun is shining, I have been there. Let me celebrate with you. Me too, Me too! If all your dreams are coming true, but it just feels blah and you feel guilty for not feeling more grateful, for not feeling more joy, then hear me say, Me too, Friend.  I have been there as well.

And whatever it is that you are feeling or wrestling with or wallowing in or hiding from or bravely conquering, if I haven’t been there, I’ve probably been close-by. Or I probably know someone who has been there. And you probably do too. You are not alone. Actually, someone you know is probably feeling or wrestling or wallowing or hiding or conquering or frantically doggie-paddling and is longing to hear your voice, your Me too! Me too! like a life jacket, wrapped tightly, hugging her above the waves.

One of the best things – the kindest, the most loving, the true-est things – we can offer each other is a Me too! Because none of us is made for being alone. And we need to know we aren’t.

 

Repurposed Pain ~ My Messy Beautiful

This essay is part of the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project. To learn more about this project, click HERE.  To learn more about Glennon Doyle Melton’s bestselling memoir, Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, click HERE

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No pain is ever wasted. Years ago, one of my mentors told me the story of losing an infant son. She said one of her friends had told her those words as they wept and grieved together. God never wastes a thing. He won’t waste your pain. And He didn’t. Again and again, throughout the years, this woman comforted and encouraged grieving young mommas with an empathy born only of enduring a similar pain.

I never forgot that story. And in my hardest, most trying days and weeks and months, I have remembered those words. That promise – God won’t waste this. God won’t waste this. God never wastes a thing. – has reverberated through my soul, weaving a web that holds me together even if everything around me seems to be falling apart.

The messes of life, the hard, hard times, the things we would never in a million, jillion years choose to endure – those messes can transform into amazing beauty when, later, we receive an opportunity to help or encourage someone going through a similar mess.

Five years ago, my husband nearly died when his heart decided to go a little berserk. What an emotional earthquake that was! For a couple years, the medical battle was intense. The hospital stays and expensive diagnostic tests, the information overload, the medication and surgeries – all of it was frightening and formidable. But the emotional battle was even worse. My young, strong, seemingly healthy husband suddenly confronted his own mortality. This independent, active man abruptly became dependent and unable to do most of the things he had always done. He was angry and depressed — understandably so, but still anger and depression are not much fun to live with. I shouldered the burden of extra work and extra care-taking and quickly grew exhausted and gradually grew resentful. Resentment isn’t exactly fun to live with either. Or so I’ve heard. His emotions, my emotions, the children’s emotions, the fear and stress and constant presence of the potential for death. It was a mess!

A few weeks ago, a friend’s husband had a stroke. And just like that, the emotional earthquake shook their lives. Rocked their world. Through a quickly-typed Facebook message, I shone my little light into the debris. My friend crawled to that light. And our shared pain yoked us together, my friend and I. Kindred spirits. Warrior wives. God never wastes a thing. My pain, my mess, beautifully recycled into hope. No pain is ever wasted. The other day my sweet friend wrote, “Thank you for going through this before me.” Well, it was not my pleasure. That’s for sure! But knowing that my messy dark days have been repurposed into a beautiful comfort for her – well, that is a pleasure, a strange kind of joy deep in my soul. None of it was wasted.

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Today, I’m typing this from a hospital room. Yesterday, my Silas, my 11-year-old boy, tried to go sledding down our basement stairs in a giant cardboard box. Because somehow in Boy World, that seems like a good idea. In the doctor’s words, “He broke the heck out of his arm.” What a mess! He snapped both bones in his forearm. One of the bones was an open fracture. Do not Google up pictures of open fractures. Trust me. You can’t un-see those images and you don’t want to hurl all over your laptop.

At midnight last night, some people in green scrubs and cloth shower caps wheeled my little guy into surgery so he could get some titanium rods inserted into his arm. I might have gotten three hours of sleep last night on the green, industrial, plastic couch in his room. My husband stretched out in the vinyl, floral print reclining chair. Relief from the pain medicine has come up just slightly short of the allowable dosing times. When Silas isn’t sleeping or engrossed in a television show, he is ranging from very uncomfortable to near-writhing in pain.

While Silas was getting a dose of morphine today, his friend Sierra was shopping for gifts for him. Two weeks ago, Sierra fell off a horse and broke her arm. In this same hospital, a doctor inserted rods into her arm and Sierra’s parents stretched out on this same vinyl furniture. Within the past 24 hours, Sierra’s mom has prayed for me and texted me, comforting and encouraging me with an empathy born only of enduring a similar pain. In that first text, she shone her light into our debris. And I crawled to the light. God never wastes a thing. No pain is ever wasted. Their mess has been beautifully transformed into a consoling help.

This is one of the cycles of life – we comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received. My mess metamorphoses into beautiful salve for someone else’s mess and pain, then her mess metamorphoses into beautiful salve for someone else’s mess and pain, and on and on and on. Beauty drawn from the midst of mess. A beautiful mess. A messy beautiful. No pain, no mess, is ever wasted. God never wastes a thing. He won’t waste your pain. Let this refrain reverberate through your soul, falling together and weaving a web that holds you together when your messy beautiful life seems to be falling apart.

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If they’d had Facebook, would Paul have unfriended Barnabas? (or Disagreements Among Christians)

Are you ready for the understatement of the year? Here it is — Sometimes Christians disagree with each other. As if you could spend any time on the internet and not realize that! Right?

We can read the exact same passage of scripture and pray over it and wrestle with it and come away with two (or three or four . . .) very different meanings. And I don’t claim to know how that happens. And the peacemaker middle children everywhere would probably much rather have God spell everything out exactly so there is nothing gray anywhere, then we’d all just get along already.

It’s not only our understanding of scripture that differs but our perspective and preferences and approach to life can also be quite diverse. Some of that can be chalked up to being at various points along the path of spiritual maturity, but some of it is simply because God doesn’t have one specific mold he presses His people from. We come from different places. We have different personalities. We have different passions and interests. We come at scripture from different backgrounds and with different mindsets.

Disagreements among Christians aren’t new. Believers have disagreed with each other ever since being a Christian became a thing. In the book of Acts in the Bible we can read about the very first followers of Jesus disagreeing with each other. You know, I love that the Bible isn’t a PR-spin for God showing the good and hiding the bad, but a book about real people with real quirks and warts and three-dimensional personalities. Sometimes those real people didn’t see eye to eye – which is refreshing and encouraging because I don’t always see eye to eye with every other Christian.

Early on, the first followers of Jesus were Jewish, and they thought the Church should reflect the Jewishness of Jesus (and themselves). These believers wanted new converts to be circumcised. Other believers reminded them that God was more concerned with a person’s heart than with his . . . you know. Some early believers wanted everyone to follow Jewish dietary laws. Others believed all food was fair game, so to speak, and people could eat what they wanted with freedom and a clear conscience.

Two early Christian leaders, Paul and Barnabas, even had a big argument about whether Mark could come with them on a mission trip. Paul thought Mark was an unreliable quitter; Barnabas wanted to show him mercy and give him a second chance. They had such a “sharp disagreement” that Paul took Silas and went one direction and Barnabas took Mark and went another. And the Bible doesn’t say who was right and who was wrong. It really doesn’t even seem to matter to God. He used Paul and his team and Barnabas and his team and got twice the work done in the same amount of time. Because God has that amazing way of using everything to bring good.

Sometimes, like in the case of the dietary laws and the circumcision issue, the early Church leaders met and talked it out and prayed it out and formed a compromise so as to protect and honor everyone’s backgrounds and preferences as much as possible. Sometimes God used men like Paul to encourage the people not to worry about who is right and who is wrong, but to focus on respecting each other and loving each other. He even advised the early believers who were right to give up their rights in order to better love others. It seems that being right about the nonessentials isn’t nearly as important to God as loving each other.

Paul, on authority from God, instructed those first Christians to stop judging each other in matters nonessential to the faith, to make every effort to get along, to be patient with the weaknesses and failures of others. He encouraged the believers to accept each other just as Christ accepted each of them. (Read Romans, chapters 13, 14, 15 for more on this.)

I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes I get caught up in debates. I want to be right, and I want to convince you that I am right. But when I read how those early Church leaders handled conflict and I read Paul’s advice, I want to do better. I want to be better. I want to remember that just as I am living out my beliefs to God, other Christians are living out their beliefs to God. We will all stand before God and answer for ourselves.

In the meantime, my job is to love my neighbor as myself and dress myself with Jesus — put on Jesus every day so it’s like I’m wearing Jesus, completely encapsulated in Jesus.

My job is to love, doing no harm to my neighbor. God’s job is to be God – to judge and to shake it all out for good.

The Grace Microwave ~ remix

When we moved to FL and crammed our 8-person family into an apartment surrounded by a bunch of other missionary families who were sometimes all up in our business, I quickly realized the beauty and humiliating pain of grace. In 2011, I wrote about it. 

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You know what’s the fast track for learning to live in grace? The microwave cooking version of learning grace? Living in an apartment building with a bunch of other missionaries. No, wait. Living in an apartment building with your children and a bunch of other missionaries.

Yeah, there’s no pretending. No putting on a show. It is what it is. You are what you are. And everyone sees. Or hears.

Shortly after we moved here, my girls were leaving their bedroom window open just a little. With no screen. It didn’t take long for the boys to discover this. And it took even less time for the boys to find great sport in tossing things from our third floor window to the bushes below. Legos, hair brushes, paperwads, Polly Pockets, the sisters’ panties.

I didn’t realize the boys were doing this until the girls looked out their window one day and spied their stuff, their embarrassing stuff, in the bushes. I don’t even know how many times I traipsed down three flights of stairs and around the building to retrieve army men and K’nex creations and American Girl doll shoes and embarrassing little girl underthings.

The boys also discovered tiny bubbles in the paint in the hallways of the building. Self-control is not the most natural character trait in most little boys — and certainly not in my boys. So they picked at the bubbles and peeled at the paint until we had a spot strangely resembling the state of Texas in our hallway. Yeah, there’s no hiding that.

When the fire alarm screams at midnight, there’s no pretense. We stand around outside with all of our co-workers in whatever we happen to be wearing at midnight.

If the children are asleep, I can hear my downstairs neighbor’s surround sound television. If my apartment is completely quiet, I can hear him sneeze. And you know what that means? He and his family can hear us. (Shudder!) Because I’m sure it’s quiet in their apartment a lot more often than it’s quiet in mine!

So when my boys run and jump and turn cartwheels and thump on the floor, the people downstairs hear them. And that very next second, when I shout, “Hey! No jumping! The people downstairs will think you’re falling through the ceiling!” Yeah, they hear that too.

When I completely lose it and go all DragonMomma and start breathing fire and smoking at the ears, the neighbors can hear that. People who don’t know me well often think I’m so patient and one of those have-it-all-together mothers. After living here for four years, I’m pretty sure nobody in my building believes those illusions of me.

When you live in a building like this, there’s no putting on the mask and playing perfect Christian family. There’s no way to pretend or act every hour of every day. Children behave like children; they make messes and noise and mistakes. And sometimes I am exhausted and out of patience and I react with lots of myself and very little Jesus.

And so I fall into grace. And there is something really freeing about not being able to pretend. I’ve had imperfect children and been an imperfect mother right in front of God and everyone, and the world hasn’t crashed down around us. Instead, grace abounds.

This living arrangement has been an intense tutor in my need for grace and in learning to give grace to others. (Because they aren’t perfect Christians either.)

We’ve also learned to fix windows so boys can’t throw their sisters’ panties into the bushes.

How about you? Have you ever been in the Grace Microwave? 

Leaning In

Some friends and I were talking (or texting) recently about a strategy we’ve been trying when one of our kids is having a moment — a meltdown or an attitude or some trouble following the rules. We pull that child into a hug, and we love on him or her.

I’ve been trying this off and on for a while now, and it’s a little bit counterintuitive. I mean, our natural inclination isn’t to lean in and be close when a child is throwing a fit or deliberately disobeying or just totally rebelling. Not that we withhold love from our children. At least, not consciously and on purpose. But I would say that our natural tendency is to pull back a little, harden ourselves a bit, firm up our defenses and steady ourselves for a battle of wills.

But sometimes, when one of my children is having an awful attitude, I will reach out and rub his back or step closer and pull her into a hug or ask him to come sit on my lap and snuggle. Or I’ll lean in emotionally and be intentional about spending more one-on-one time with that child or get a snack she likes or find a way to laugh together. And every time, I see a softening, a change. Maybe not right away, but in time. When I lean in, my child is drawn back in.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that is exactly what my heavenly Father does with me. When I’m hardening my heart or going my own way, when I haven’t gotten my way and I’m building up walls against future disappointment, when I distance myself from Him – He leans in.

He pursues me, leans in close to me, gently comes at me from all directions — verses in a morning devotion, words from a friend, part of a sermon, the lyrics of a song. Word upon word will remind me that my Father loves me, that He has good works laid out for me, that He lavishes mercy upon me, that His plans for me are absolutely beyond my wildest imaginations. God Himself leans in and His Spirit hugs me close and whispers to me that I belong to Him, that He’s never letting go, that I don’t have to be afraid or anxious or worried, that I don’t have to defend against Him because He is always good and He is for me, even when all the world seems against me.

Gradually, my heart softens. And just as my kindness draws my own children back in, His kindness draws me back to His side, back into step with Him.

I love that about my Father. And I want to love my kids the way He loves me.

Weak and Needy — right where He wants me.

I like to think I’m capable. That I’ve got things under control.

Often, I think that’s why God gave me six children. So I would need Him. Daily. So I would feel overwhelmed and incapable and needy. So He could be my strength.

In the early weeks of my pregnancy with Jackson, Number Five, I was sick. So, so sick. At the same time, Lauren and I were beginning our fist official year of homeschooling – Kindergarten. A couple months before, our roof had started leaking. We’d had soppy carpets and wet walls, and our tiny dining room had become a breeding ground for flying ants. After working everything out with insurance, which proved to be a lengthy task, we had hired a contractor to repair the roof and add a room onto our small house. They began at the end of the summer. Right when we were starting school. Right when morning sickness kicked into high gear.

I had a five year old, a four year old, a two year old, and a one year old. And contractors walking around my roof. And kindergarten to teach. And I needed to lie very, very still in a horizontal position or else the room started spinning and I started losing my saltines.

Looking back on those weeks, I think that is when life really started unraveling. I went into a sort of Survival Mode. The house got messy during that time and stayed messy for a few years. The “new” room would remain unfinished for more than three years. It was all just more than I could handle.

That was the turning point for me. My schedules and systems and plans were not enough. One of me was not enough. Honestly, that was the beginning of my being undone, when I began to fall into Grace.

But I am a slow learner. Evidently, learning this lesson once was not enough for it to seep deep into my soul. Over and over, I learn that I am not capable, that I am not enough.

I learned it then – lying on the couch, a toddler sitting on my legs, a textbook propped on my nauseous tummy, my kindergarten student kneeling beside me, men stomping on my roof, pounding, pounding, pounding.

Some three years and a few months later, I would learn it again – lying in a hospital bed, head spinning and stomach revolting from Morphine, a dear friend grabbing a bucket as I wretched then helping me brush my teeth, a simple, basic task I could not do on my own.

More than two years later and again and again for months on-end, I would learn my own weakness, my own inability to handle everything – standing by a hospital bed, wanting to be in two places at once, my heart torn in two, struggling to trust, fighting off worry, friends and neighbors taking in my children, taking out my trash.

And these past few weeks, I am relearning this, my life’s lesson. I am not strong on my own. I am not enough. My calendars and chore charts and organizational tactics are not my strength. I cannot rely on my own planning and strategizing. In the midst of a lingering sickness, I am weak. I cannot do all that needs to be done. The children and husband pick up the slack. And there is much slack. And what they don’t pick up remains undone. And the world does not end. I nap and lie around, feeling guilty and useless, or trying not to feel guilty and useless, hoping these weeks are not wasted, that these long hours of fending for themselves in the kitchen and caring for each other and bringing Momma trays of bland food are being used for good somehow. Some way.

As I lean against my stack of pillows, hoping the morning biscuit stays down, feeling the millstone weight of my limbs, there is no illusion of self-strength. That has fallen away. Again. I am weak. And the Spirit whispers to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And that Word washes over me. Suddenly, I am a small child in His mighty presence. I am weak but He is strong. 

And it’s going to be alright. I have been here before. Weak, undone, incapable. Every time, His strength has been made perfect. In the midst of a messy house, dirty dishes, piled laundry. In the midst of bored, arguing children who come to lie beside me to talk or snuggle, children who see that sometimes Momma is not enough. He is enough. He is strong. His power is perfect.

So I rest, weak and needy, in His strength.

New Mercies Bound Up In Love

For the past couple months, everyone in our family has really been going in different directions. Four different soccer teams. Diving lessons. Choir practice. Field trips. Homework and tests and projects. Even my husband and I have had commitments outside our home pulling at our energy and attention.

All good things. We’ve all been doing good things. Developing individual strengths and talents is good. But it can be exhausting. And it can be hard on family unity.

I can feel it. I can feel that everyone’s hearts have been focused on self. I can feel that we are facing outward, each doing our own thing, going our own way.

And now it’s time to turn around. Huddle up. Nurture each other. Love each other. It’s time to work together to get everything unpacked and in order at our new home. It’s time to spend more time hanging out as a family. Eating meals together. Laughing. Playing in the backyard. Weeding the flower beds. Dancing in the family room. It’s time to sit and snuggle and talk.

I have been short on patience, not enjoying my kids. They are annoying each other and easily annoyed. We are all behaving selfishly. So it’s time. Soccer season is ending. School is almost over. The outside commitments and time-sucks are falling away. Mercifully, summer is arriving.

Lord, give me grace so that I can give them grace. Draw our hearts back to You and to each other. Thank you for Time. Stretches of time to ease our way out of ourselves and back into our connection with each other. Give me peace so I can be steady tranquility in this home. Shelter me under Your wings so I can be their safe place. Give me joy so I can laugh and they can laugh. Replace our harsh tones and ugly words with giggles and sweetness. Fill our hearts with love, which covers a multitude of things. Yes, that’s it – blanket us in love. Bind us up in love. 

Aaaaahh, new season and new mercies. Just what this family needs!

Why I Need Mother’s Day . . . and you do too (even if you’re not a mother) 

I tend to see my shortcomings. My failures. I know my laundry is piled high. I know that two teachers texted me last week to get information from me because I forgot to return paperwork to school. Actually, I completely lost both pieces of paper in the move! I know that I yell too much. That I am impatient with disobedience. That I sometimes prefer robot children to actual children. That too often I forget to stop and look my kids in the eyes when they talk to me. I know that when my husband is out of town, I am a hot mess by bedtime and I cannot handle the trips downstairs for a drink of water or the last-minute search for the favorite pair of basketball shorts to sleep in or the girl wanting help studying for a Spanish test at 9:30 at night.

My brain zeroes in on all the ways I mess up this mothering thing. And I beat myself up. Because after almost 15 years, I should be doing a better job. At least that’s what I tell myself as I lie in bed and replay all the ways I blew it that day.

But then Mother’s Day comes along, and my kids and husband fill our Brag Board (props to Jen Hatmaker for the idea) with all sorts of lovely things about me.

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And they made homemade cards saying things like You are the BEST mom ever! I am so happy to have you as a mom! and You’re awesome, Momma!

And some of them even get the you’re and your correct! Which makes me feel like I really am succeeding as a grammar-geek-momma.

I have this one son who has especially been struggling with emotional and behavioral outbursts lately — this is the one I have most recently felt particularly unqualified and ill-equipped to be mothering. In the most beautiful cursive handwriting, this son wrote these words to me on Mother’s Day:  Thank you for . . . cooking, helping with homework, cleaning the house, helping with Jubilee (children’s ministry), teaching me about God, cheering me on at soccer games, buying me clothes. I love you! 

Another son chose these adjectives to describe me:  loving, sweet, nice, beautiful.

For real! They said that about ME! Even though I forget to sign permission slips and forget to send in lunch money and can’t keep track of their soccer uniforms. Even though I completely lost it and morphed into fire-breathing dragon-momma when they trashed the basement and had a wrestling match on top of piles of dirty laundry. Even though I can’t stay and watch diving practice again because I have to drive this other kid to this other thing. Even though I didn’t sign up to chaperone that event or this field trip. Even though I bought the wrong kind of yogurt. Even though I shewed them out of my room so I could watch Call the Midwife alone. And even though I shush them during American Idol because REALLY? Can we not be quiet during the songs?

In spite of all my mess-ups and failures and shortcomings, they love me. These little people view me through a lens of grace. Oh what mercy!

And I need Mother’s Day because I need to be reminded to view myself through that same lens of grace.

And you do too. Whether you’re a mother or not, you need to be reminded to view yourself through a lens of grace.

So consider this your reminder. Today, receive mercy.

This is your Mother’s Day, your You Day, whomever you are. This is your Brag Board. Read it and receive it.

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Are you weary?

I’m tired. Deep in my bones, deep in my soul – tired.

Do you ever feel that way? Exhausted from all that life demands. Weary.

Lately, my mind keeps returning to this sweet Bible verse

Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’

And so I wearily stumble back to Jesus. I need His rest.

Come on; stumble with me. We’ll hold each other up and help each other along. Jesus is gentle and He will give us rest for our weary souls. And I do need His rest. Because I’m tired. Deep in my bones, deep in my soul – tired.

Will you come with me to Jesus for rest?