Love Wins

One of the best gigs I had as a freelance journalist was a weekly parenting column in the local paper. Mostly anecdotal, I shared funny stories, parenting hacks, and humbling experiences. Occasionally, however, I would touch on something serious.

A column I wrote in August 2014 was just that. Serious and hard and sad. As the Ferguson riots played out across our television screen, my oldest asked me some tough questions about race relations in this country.

I was raised by a single mother who came of age in the 1960s. She was a self-proclaimed hippie, and she marched for civil rights. She taught me that everyone should be viewed as equal, and my husband and I are raising our children to know the same thing. So, when my son asked me those hard questions, I wondered whether we’d stepped back in time.

I answered everything. I told him that racism is a major problem, maybe not in our community — which is a beautifully-woven, multi-cultural tapestry — but in other states and regions, racism was showing its teeth. Then I wrote about our conversation in my column. When it went to print it also appeared on the newspaper’s website. I shared a link to the piece on social media (it’s been archived, otherwise I would share the link here).

Later that day a contributor to a national television network that often features pundits and talking heads responded to my post by telling me I was adding to the unrest. I literally rubbed my eyes and reread the comment, sure that it would read differently. It didn’t.

I debated whether to respond. I had all manner of words ready to volley back at this person. It took everything I had not to explain how wrong they were, but in the end I decided it wasn’t worth it. This person thought that I was contributing to the tension because I pointed out the obvious — racism hasn’t been eradicated and in some cases, it defines entire communities.

M and M

But if every family in this country decided to raise their children to love everyone, racism would cease to exist.

In the end, I didn’t regret telling my son the truth.

It’s one of the hardest parts of parenting.

John and I want to raise kids who become world-changers and we can’t do that by covering up facts.

In light of that, in opposition to the horrible things playing out in this country…

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

[Remember that] hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12)

Our children need to know that someone can’t be a Christ-follower and a racist at the same time. Hatred and bigotry go against everything Jesus represents.

[Remember that] whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. (1 John 4:20)

Our kids are watching and listening and taking their cues from us.

 

Note: A special thanks to Elizabeth Shafer for allowing me to use a picture of her sweet kids. To learn more about Elizabeth’s multi-cultural family, visit her blog, “Embracing and Thriving.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer

 

IMG_0586Um, I looked at the calendar and realized that there are less than three weeks left in summer break. What is this crazy vortex I live in that makes time move at hyper speed?

In an instant I went from “super chill summer mode” to “GET ALL THE SUPPLIES AND BUY ALL THE BACKPACKS AND CLEAN OUT EVERY CUPBOARD!”

Now I’m on a mission to squeeze every last moment out of the dwindling break.

I have a love-hate relationship with summer. Desert summers are so hot it’s stupid and that means I can’t really get outside, which is something I enjoy. I do love that all six of us are on a break together and we don’t have to worry about rushed mornings, homework, rehearsals, tournaments, recitals, etc., etc.

We’ve done some really fun things since the school year ended. We’ve escaped to the beach, played at the lake, gone roller skating, watched a movie at a drive-in, had countless game nights, spent time at the library (free air conditioning!), stayed up late, and slept in. As far as making memories, I think we’ve done a solid job of that this year.

But this summer has had some sharp edges also. Last month John was in a serious auto accident. The damage from being hit landed his car in a wrecking yard two months after we got it. He said he looked at the grill of the other car, time slowed, and he thought, “This isn’t how I thought I was going to go.” The car took the impact, but in the aftermath we all felt emotionally crushed.

The month before that, during a self-check, I found a lump. With my mom’s history of breast cancer and her death from ovarian cancer, I am pretty diligent. I wasn’t ready for it though, and I worried. By “I worried,” I really mean “I lost my mind.” If I’m being honest, there was no faith in God’s plan or peace that things would be okay. There was only, “Who will dance with my son’s at their weddings?” and “I won’t be able to help my girls when they have babies of their own.”

The next day, volunteering as a stage manager, I sat in a dark corner behind a curtain while nearly 1,000 kids celebrated the first day of our church’s annual week-long VBS camp. I kept stealing away to make appointments and email John. I was able to see my doctor that afternoon and he referred me for the proper tests. Three weeks later (I know!) I went in for my appointment. I couldn’t help but notice that all of the other ladies sitting near me — all waiting for the results of their own diagnostic tests — walked in for their news and one-by-one, walked out smiling. I was sure the odds were against me, so when my name was called I prepared myself for the worst. I almost didn’t believe it when the doctor handed me my report and said everything looked just fine. “What you found was totally normal,” she said. “Always be watchful, but never assume the worst.”

Right. Talk about emotional whiplash.

For a long time I thought summer had some whimsical superiority over other seasons, and was disappointed when it didn’t meet my expectations. I’d spend half the school year dreading it, and the other half dreaming about its lazy days. The fall is my absolute favorite season and it’s not unusual for me to begin counting down the days until summer gives way to pumpkin everything.

A few weeks ago I stole an idea from Instagram and made a bracelet that reads, “SUMMER.” I’m wearing it because the calendar already moves so fast; wishing away the heat or complaints of boredom or focusing so much on what’s next is a sure way to miss what’s happening right now. This simple bracelet acts as a reminder that we’ve had some great summertime experiences, and even in the ugly stuff, God has always carried us through.

But blessed is the man who trusts God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees planted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers —
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.
– Jeremiah 17:7-8 (The Message) 

 

 

Choosing battles and pursuing dreams

My oldest is starting high school next month and it’s bizarre. Wasn’t I just in high school (flips hair over shoulder)?

The last three years have been rough. Seeing him through middle school was a balance between holding my breath, walking on eggshells, and, at times, forcing him out the door in the mornings.

It’s because he hates school.

So much of parenting is mastering the art of choosing our battles, but for the longest time I fought Ryln as he complained about going to school. We knew bullying wasn’t the issue — trust me, we looked into it — he got A’s and B’s, has a solid group of loyal friends. I just didn’t get it.

“You need school,” I’d tell him. “College will be here before you know it.”

“I’m not going to college,” he replied every. single. time.

I remember the first time he said it, worry swept over me like a swarm. Even though some of the smartest — and happiest — people I know never went to college, even though I know that God uses people regardless of their education, I still freaked out.

“College is pointless,” he would call after me as I walked away fretting and wringing my hands.

His mentality, in part, comes from the fact that he’s a teenager and apparently teenagers know everything, but part of it comes from a true place. College isn’t for everyone.

Ry with clubRyln doesn’t want to go to college because he wants to pursue his passion (I understand that he’s only going to be a freshman, but the years go by lightning-quick). Ryln’s first words were “golf ball” (true story). As a toddler, he’d drag clubs, twice his height, all around the house. In elementary school he took lessons, practiced with his dad, and discovered competitive golf. He spends entire days at the practice facility, honing his skills. He wants to focus on his game after high school and eventually try to play professionally. Frankly, if there wasn’t a golf team at the high school, the next four years would be unimaginable.

I’ve changed my mind about college for Ryln. I edged my way there with tentative steps; now I’m at peace.

A few months ago I was sitting across from him at a restaurant and he was telling us all, again, why school “is so dumb.” I reminded him that I went back to school to get my master’s and how I didn’t think it was dumb. “I don’t get why you did that,” he said. “You’re a phenomenal writer and that’s what you love doing.” John and I exchanged a look; he silently said to me, “See, he likes you.” Ryln’s biased because he’s my kid, but in terms of choosing a “safe path” rather than one with inherent risks — he hit the nail on the head. Kids are brave in ways that adults just aren’t.

Something shifted that day though, and I firmly planted one foot in Ryln’s camp.

A few weeks later I was talking to someone at work and they were asking about my degree program. As I was explaining it to her I said, “I can’t wait to be done. I love teaching, but I really don’t like being a student. I never have.” I have no idea what she said after that because as soon as the words left my mouth, I realized how much like Ry I sounded; I mentally shook my fist toward the heavens. It’s humbling, realizing the annoying things your kids do actually originate with you.

The tipping point came when I was watching a documentary — FINE! I was watching The Voice — and a participant’s mom was explaining that her daughter is passionate about music; even if it meant postponing college, she would support her kid. “As a parent, why wouldn’t you want to see your children step into their dreams?” asked the mom.

“Whatever, random lady from Lansing,” I thought.

But she was right.

Last month I stood on the threshold of Ryln’s bedroom door, one hand on the wall to steady myself, and told him that no matter what, I’m in his corner. “If you want to take a gap year, or (gulp) forgo college all together in order to do what you really love, I’m fine with that.

“And son,” I added, “you have the talent and the dedication to succeed.”

Because relenting and supporting aren’t the same. “Go ahead, do what you want,” isn’t the same as, “You can do this, I believe in you.”

He didn’t know what to make of it at first, but now he knows I’m sincere.

A few weeks later he made a passing comment about going to college if he gets a full ride.

Reverse psychology wasn’t my intention, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit relieved.

Either way though, he has our support. Everyone deserves to be cheered on as they step into their dreams.

Ryln walking to DW

 

Life in Progress, Part 4: To be continued…

If I had written the final post in this series last week, it would undoubtedly sound different. That’s because grief is a beast, and there’s no instruction manual for this particular situation. It’s also because I learned a valuable lesson, one that I’ll share before this post ends.

If you haven’t read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 in the Life in Progress series, I would. I just think the story makes more sense in order.

I ended my last post explaining that I decided to chase my mom’s story, which meant John and I were going to Oregon. I questioned the choice a hundred times before we actually left. I thought maybe it was too “Lifetime movie” of me to get on a plane and fly to a city I’d never been before, to go interview friends of a woman who, let’s face it, I really didn’t know. I mentioned my idea to a friend who said I had to go, and as the days went on, I told more people about my plan. Not only were they encouraging, they were taking care of the details.

Since having our first child 12 1/2 years ago, John and I have never been anywhere, overnight, without the kids. Flying to another state was a huge stretch for me. This was a milestone trip for several reasons.

As I prepared to leave, I made some phone calls. I spoke with my mom’s pastor, who organized a breakfast meeting with several of her friends. I was given all the details of where her ashes were spread. I was encouraged to attend her favorite Sunday service at church. Her people were helping me in the midst of their grief.

I was still reeling from the loss and all of the unanswered questions when John and I left our four babies with dear friends to fly to Portland.

It was late when we arrived. A friend’s husband works for a rental car company and set up our reservation. All I had to do was pay our charges and get the keys. As we waited at the counter, my physical and emotional exhaustion began to consume me. I noticed the agent stop what he was doing and lean closer to the computer, with his hand over his heart, and read notes on the screen. Eventually he looked at me and whispered, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Little things like that happened the entire weekend. Friends making sure I was cared for, and Jesus showing me His love.

20150710_134532_001On the first full day of our trip we went to Newport, Oregon. There’s a lighthouse there, and a heart-shaped cove where sea lions gather. It’s surrounded by a wall of craggy coastline, and you can feel the wind fill the entire space. That’s where my mom’s ashes had been spread less than three weeks before. I waded into the water, and cried.

The next morning at a restaurant, I met my mom’s pastor and his wife, along with five of her close friends. They asked me a lot of questions, some of them hard, some of them out of curiosity. They said my mom spoke of me, but they didn’t know a lot about the estrangement.

I have reversed the roles so many times on this journey. If I had passed, and my mom had shown up in my town, how would my friends react? In light of that, I was very, very careful. They knew her so much better than I did, and they had just lost their dear friend. But they were so gracious. They cried with me and prayed for me. They shared funny stories and hard stories. They recounted my mom’s final days and her deep desire to live. They said she was known for her eclectic fashion, her heart for widows, and her propensity for saying exactly what was on her mind. She also loved crepes with strawberries and whip cream. That came up when I ordered the exact same thing; it’s my go-to when eating out.

John and I have spoken often of the people my mom was in community with. They are solid, Bible-believing, faith-filled lovers of Jesus. Not only did God honor my prayer to surround her with Christ followers, He surrounded her with people who are passionately pursuing Him. They were perfect for her.

Before leaving for the trip I’d mentioned to the person handling her estate that I would like her Bible, if possible. I thought of it often in the days leading up to the trip. I told several people that I didn’t want to leave Oregon without it. When the representative emailed back and said that her belongings couldn’t be distributed at that time, I was disappointed.

As I sat among her friends at breakfast, John asked her pastor whether he was confident that my mom had genuinely found faith in God. He responded, “Without a doubt. She loved Jesus.” Turning to me, he continued, “There’s something I think will help you. It’s a note she wrote in her Bible…I have her Bible for you.”

And I lost it. Right there in that restaurant, I sobbed. Someone pulled some strings, I didn’t ask any questions. I just knew I’d be able to return home with something tangible that pointed to her faith.

John and I spent a lot of time walking around town, visiting bookstores and little shops and historical landmarks. We found an amazing seafood restaurant and spent hours there, two nights in a row.

IMG_20150712_112628On Sunday morning we attended her favorite church service. Before he began the message, her pastor handed me her Bible, showing me the note she’d written inside. It’s too private to share in its entirety, but it does say, “God entered my heart and soul. I feel it in my core like a bolt of lightening…I am God’s plan.” It’s dated March, 2010.

I sat next to my husband, in my mom’s usual seat, at her regular service, holding her Bible, two weeks after she died, 20 years since I’d last seen her, and mourned an amazing stranger who also happened to be my mama. It was a full circle the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

I wish I could tie up this series with a big red bow. I wish I could say she left behind a letter, any explanation at all for the choices she made. The truth is, this story is to be continued in more ways than one. Over time I believe I’ll learn more about her. For the most part though, I think my questions won’t be answered until the other side.

This situation has drilled home the truth that people will always disappoint us. No one on this earth is perfect. No one can be Jesus to us, other than Jesus. I can only tell so much of my mom’s story because I didn’t actually learn about her last years and her faith until after she died. Any kindness toward me I assigned her, I did because I couldn’t stand the idea of her dying hating me, or worse, nothing-ing me.

That’s why I have to stop focusing on her story.

I have to tell my story. That’s the valuable lesson I learned.

I had a mother who fought emotional and psychological demons for most of her life.

She wasn’t the greatest mom.

We parted ways, and it broke the already-broken pieces.

I found the Lord.

I prayed for her salvation for 20 years.

She fell in love with a man who took her to church. Then she fell in love with Jesus.

And for years, neither of us reached out to the other.

I will always wish that the Jesus-loving version of my mom was in my life.

But now I have to move on to the next chapter. I have to face head-on the areas I struggle with on this earth — many of which came from my relationship with my mom — while honoring her faith, and thanking Jesus that He always does what He says He’s going to do.

 

 

 

Life in Progress, Part 3: Surrounded

In my post Life in Progress, Part 1, I shared that my mom passed away this summer. In Part 2, I laid wide open our difficult past.

I feel like the hard part is over; the rest of the story is a relief.

For nearly 20 years I prayed that God would surround my mom with people who believed in Jesus. Surround her with scripture. Surround her with worship music.

I prayed that word — surround — over my mom for two decades. Initially, I did it because I knew she’d need to be consistently confronted to stop long enough and consider what God was offering her. Eventually, the idea of her being enveloped into the hearts of Christ-followers gave me hope.

The last time my mom and I saw each other was 1997. After that, we had a handful of conversations over the phone — in 2000 when my grandparents were being moved from their home into assisted living, and again in 2002 when my grandfather died.

In early 2004 I called my aunt, my mom’s sister, to check on my grandmother. My aunt told me that my mom was sick. About two years prior to her 60th birthday, and after having breast cancer at 42, my mom had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“Surround her,” I prayed to God.

In January, 2006 I spoke to my mom on the phone. She had just turned 60, and to celebrate the milestone, along with one year being cancer-free, she and her sister took a trip to China.

She had kicked cancer. Again.

We spoke a few more times when my grandmother passed away. I think we were both seeking something normal, whatever that looked like for us. Still, tension and resentment tainted every conversation.

I mailed her a picture of my children, she said they looked like I did when I was little. I sent a set of pot holders my toddlers had finger painted. She said she’d use them.

A brief conversation, nearly 10 years ago, was our last.

I had two more children, and changed jobs, and we moved, and life kept me filled to the brim.

“Surround her,” I always asked on her birthdays, my birthdays, every Mother’s Day.

Then, this June 21st, I sent my cousin an email. It was pretty out-of-the-blue. I had questions about my mom’s medical history. I wanted to know about her cancers, her treatments, etc. I asked her if my aunt would be able to fill me in. She replied later that her mom was out of town, and would call me when she returned.

On July 1st I thought about emailing again, since I hadn’t heard back, but the next morning I awoke to find an email from my aunt, asking me to call her.

The message was vague, and that spoke volumes.

I called, and my aunt gave me the news.

That trip she had been on, was a trip to Oregon, where my mom was living. She was at my mother’s bedside, nursing her through her final weeks of life.

More than 10 years since my mom’s first bout with ovarian cancer, the disease came back with a vengeance and took her.

She passed away on June 24th, three days after I sent that random message to my cousin. I sent a message asking questions about a disease that my mom was dying from, at the exact time I inquired.

What?

It was too unbelievable, so my aunt walked me through it. My mom was diagnosed in September, 2014. By February, 2015, she was doing better. She started feeling poorly again at the beginning of June, and by the 24th, she was gone. I had no idea she was even sick; she didn’t want me to know.

But then she told me that my mom’s life during the last several years had changed quite a bit. While RVing in Phoenix, she met a man. They became friends, and for a few winters they’d see each other at the same RV park. Then, he asked her to travel to Oregon, to the place he called home. And she did. And they fell in love.

“And she started attending his church with him,” my aunt said. “His faith was very strong.”

Even though he had cancer, they married. Nine months later he was gone. [Cancer is a bastard]

“She kept going to the church though,” my aunt explained. “She was really active there. She even went on missions trips.

“The friends she had there meant so much to her,” she added.

I was shocked. Who was this woman? My mom had become a virtual stranger, one who was able to maintain friendships and freely give her heart away and stopped hating the Church. Even her name had changed.

“So she didn’t die alone?” I asked, choked with tears.

“Oh no,” my aunt replied. “She was surrounded by her people from church.”

And I nearly dropped the phone.

Surrounded.

I was speechless. The kind of speechless that comes when Jesus is at work and it’s palpable. When you realize that twenty years of the same prayer was just answered.

When you clench your fists and your heart fills with regret for all the lost time.

I listened to everything my aunt said, and before we’d even said good-bye, I’d made up my mind.

I was going to Oregon. I was going to chase my mom’s story, and get to know this woman who walked her own Damascus Road and finally found peace, and I was taking my husband with me.

phoenix planeAnd that’s exactly what happened…

Next week I’ll post the 4th and final part in this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Life in Progress, Part 2: The God-shaped hole in my mom’s life

On the far left. One of the few childhood pictures I have.
On the far left.
One of the few childhood pictures I have.

I ended Part 1 of my 4-part “Life in Progress” series by saying that one would have to know the beginning of the story I share with my mom in order to fully understand her ending.

Since my mom’s death in June, my perspective on my childhood has changed. I’m realistic, but now I see it through a different set of lenses, lenses that filter with forgiveness.

I was 5 when my parents divorced and my mother and I moved to Central California. She battled depression for many years, and once we settled into our new town, the alcoholism that had snaked its way through my family tree caught up to her.  She was wildly discontent. I know now that she was searching for anything that would fill the God-shaped hole in her life.

A friend once told me that she didn’t want to have kids as a way to cure boredom. I understood, because that’s how my mom ended up with me. By the time I was in first grade, she had checked-out. A single parent without a support system, battling addiction, doesn’t make for the greatest care-taker, especially with a handful of a child.

Without the minutiae, my mom put my physical safety at risk a number of times. The emotional and psychological warfare was constant. And every argument, every threat was a brick in the wall I was building around my heart.

She experienced things that should have prompted her to get better. Her AA sponsor committed suicide. Money became a major problem, as in, there wasn’t enough of it. At 42, she had breast cancer. Still, nothing served as a wake-up call.

And she was a runner. When things got hard, or she wasn’t content, she’d run away.

The summer before sixth grade we moved to Southern California. The summer before high school, we moved to another part of our community that landed me in a new district. While I tried to settle in, my mom’s depression and mania grew worse. Any friends she had, began to retreat.

When I was a sophomore, she sat me down one day after school and told me to make arrangements, to “have a place to go,” because she was at her absolute end — emotionally, mentally, she was done. She said her only way out was death. I remember being raging mad, storming off and slamming doors. We rarely spoke of it again, which probably seems INSANE, but was indicative of our dysfunctional existence.

She’d make threats, and I’d compartmentalize them. Lock them away in my mind under, “Too hard to think about.” I was my mother’s daughter.

For a year after that, she stayed mostly in bed, didn’t work enough to cover our bills, took large sums of money that didn’t belong to her, and was putting together a stockpile of prescription medication.

By my junior year in high school, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I left.

Less than two weeks after I moved out, and just prior to my emancipation hearing, I found myself at a church service. I was at rock-bottom. I didn’t have my home, or my mom. I lacked the life skills that parents should model for their children. It was bad.

While teaching me to loathe organized religion, throughout my childhood my mom dragged me to all manner of churches and spiritual centers. It wasn’t uncommon for her to hand me a deck of tarot cards after I’d had a bad day, or tout some New Age philosophy.

I could tell though, sitting in that service, that what I was hearing had nothing to do with religion or spirituality. For me, it still doesn’t. I didn’t like religion then, and I don’t like it now.

For me, it had everything to do with truth and a relationship with Christ.

So on that day, April 13, 1997, I became a Christ-follower.

In my last post I wrote that my mom’s death was not the biggest part of our story. The decision I made to follow Christ, however, completely changed the narrative. That choice, combined with my very difficult childhood, are integral plot points.

And eventually, years after we parted ways, a divine encounter between my mom and a stranger in a Phoenix RV Resort started in motion a series of twists that I never could have anticipated.

That’s the beginning of the best part of the story…

Truth Reflected (a spoken word poem presented at Southwest Church, Nov., 2013)

mom-child-walk-425jh101209

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a five-letter word.

M.O.M.M.Y.

I’m not sure what you thought I meant.

I as mommy look different than you as mommy,

It’s not good or bad.

It’s different.

No mother is perfect.

Walk a mile in my shoes,

I’ll drive a mile in your minivan,

and we can meet somewhere in the middle

and quickly learn

that we all birth replicas of our hearts.

They lay in our arms,

Crawl on our floors,

Run through our homes.

Yes, we birth tiny versions of love,

and that is common ground.

Over our swelling hearts we prayed.

In labor we cried out to God.

Through scrapped knees, snotty retorts and missed curfews,

we implore Jesus to help.

So when we walk the aisles of our stores,

and trek through the halls of our schools,

and sit under the roof of this Church,

let us not compare our labels to other women,

since the only thing we know

for certain

is that we serve Jesus and are called according to His purposes.

There is another word.

Not a good one like “mommy.”

It’s four letters.

It stings like the wasp that got me the day I grabbed the hose too fast.

It stings me, right here, every single time.

It’s how I introduce myself,

describe myself.

It’s the reflection I see in a sink full of dirty dish water,

how I define myself when I look into the eyes of my sons and my daughters.

It’s four letters.

J.U.S.T.

I am just a wife.

I just take care of the house.

I don’t work, I just serve at the church.

I am just a mother.

That lie digs deep.

It steals our joy,

and preys on our insecurities.

We are more than just.

So much more.

We are His workmanship.

His chosen ones.

His children.

Tiny replicas of His love.

The sheep of His pasture.

We all gather and kneel at His altars.

We are His.

He owns me and I am totally okay with that.

Also, we are broken.

Hairlines and fault lines and heartache.

Tokens of past mistakes that cause us

to pluck the strings of our hearts

like guitars

and sound a mournful tune of errors made.

So I ask:

How has evilness wrapped its hand around your throat?

What’s your label?

What do you see

as your identity

that makes it so hard to breathe?

A drunk? a user? a cheater? a liar?

A bad wife? Just an okay mother?

Too heavy? Too ugly? Too dumb?

Just so you know,

those are lies.

Every single one.

Forget just.

It’s in the past.

Our past mistakes aren’t even a part of the story reel

that plays today.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has passed away.

We should count ourselves blessed to have friends

who will remind us of that everyday.

So you can stop calling to mind the former things,

or ponder things of the past.

We’re called to let it go,

lay it down.

Not lay it down while you’re wrapped up in it like a blanket.

It’s more like, burn it and run.

Christ is our defender

and tomorrow’s freedom

will only come from today’s surrender.

We are broken,

but our God, our Potter, He makes us whole.

Sometimes He takes us to a place of brokenness

to perfect His work in us.

At His wheel He shapes and creates.

In wombs He knits.

Were created in His likeness.

Oh yes, there are times we feel battered and are left bleeding,

but we are worth more than

the lies.

The lies that say we’re just….insert something here.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay and You are our Potter

and all of us are the work of Your hand.

He designed us to live wholly, without cracks that slice through and leave

pain in their wake.

In the trials that hurt, we have to see God in the mending.

But the wheels come off and

We forget

That our identity is in Christ.

We drown in the comparisons,

putting the focus on our differences

instead of seeing them for what they are.

They are God’s fingerprints.

We are all loved and pursued by Him

Equally.

A new four-letter word.

Free.

It’s on the parchment.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free

so stand firm

against the enemy’s schemes.

Do not let evilness

tell you that you are not good enough.

Do not let the world set your standard

for attractiveness.

Do. Not. Conform.

Be rebellious against the enemy.

It’s his fist that

beats us down,

but our names are inscribed on the hands

of the One who wears the crown.

And I get it.

Life can be boring.

Laundry and homework and meals and toilets.

Just hear this,

the days are long but the years are short.

Until our tiny heart replicas march off on their own adventures,

they are our adventures.

They are our tears of joy and the reason we cry,

“I love you!”

and

“Knock it off!”

in the same day.

We should see them through the eyes of that friend

who always says,

“Seriously, you have good kids.”

They’re a gift.

We are their mothers.

We should all seek to see that truth reflected

in the eyes of our sons and our daughters.