Tag Archives | motherhood

What I’m Learning: Winter 2018

This practice of reflecting and recording what I’m learning each season is a vital habit for me.

Lately, I’ve been reading some past writing, and so many times I’ve thought to myself, “Do I know this girl?” God has met me again and again on the pages I’ve written (or typed) with my own hand.

This season has been a warm invitation to intentionally remember what I already know.

I read an article by Alia Joy that you must make time to read. The very last line resonated with me deeply: “…sometimes He meets us in things we wrote and believed and somehow forgot.”

I’ve thought about quitting these “what I’m learning” posts, but I can’t. A disciple is a learner. And so to rehearse what God is teaching me—from the big ahas in His word to all the little things I too easily dismiss—is to keep myself in His love.

Here’s my short list of what I’m learning…

“I was wrong” is more powerful than “I am right.”

In The Friendships of Women, Dee Brestin explains how she got some things wrong in the first edition of the book. Two decades later, after walking through the death of her husband, she now has a completely different and fresh perspective.

Priscilla Shirer wrote the bible study Discerning the Voice of God eleven years ago. In the first edition, the theme of obedience was an important element, but as Priscilla has grown in her faith and in her calling, she shares (in this current edition) how she now recognizes obedience as not just a small part of hearing from God, but rather the key to hearing from God.

There’s beauty in admitting when we get it wrong. “I was wrong” means we place a high value on trusting God to help us get it right. It’s evidence of growth and maturity, and a phrase I’m unashamedly adding to my vocabulary.

I actually enjoy cooking.

This is shocking to me. (Really, it is.) A friend’s vibrant instagram photo and her insightful words reminded me that creativity is all around us. Cooking a new recipe once a week for my family just happens to be how I’m exercising my creativity lately. Our new favorite is this 30-minute Honey Roasted Chicken Sweet Potatoes Skillet: 

Photo by Creme de la Crumb [click photo for recipe]

Sometimes freedom looks like breaking your own rules.

In God’s economy, rules are loving boundaries intended to protect. Each one is the pathway to divine blessing. Yet, in my backwards thinking, I often create my own rules and turn them into restrictions that keep me from freedom rather than enabling me to walk in it.

Lately God has been showing me the difference between rules I create to try and measure up, and the provisions He outlines in His word. These habits are for my good. Things like rest, trust, and surrender. I’ve found such freedom in examining my own list of “rules” and scratching them out one by one. With every strikethrough, God is breaking its hold on me.

My kids’ biggest failures offer priceless opportunities to point them to Jesus.

I don’t want to raise perfect kids; I want to raise kids who trust in a perfect God who never stops loving them, forgiving them, and guiding them. Most days, this is easier said than done. But I’ll keep saying it and saying it to myself because this one matters.

Sometimes what you expect to be hard is easy and what you expect to be easy turns out to be hard.

I thought potty training my youngest would be tough. It wasn’t. I thought painting our home would be easy. White walls? No brainer, right? Nope. Turns out there are more shades of white than any other color.

Letting go of expectations has helped me to enter this season with a desire to learn more about God through the refreshingly easy assignments but also the difficult, unexpected circumstances. I’m learning that I can’t foresee what’s ahead, but God takes great care in preparing me.

Scripture I memorized in the last season has specifically become my sword of truth for my current days. I didn’t know I’d need it in this way, but God did. And man, am I thankful to be holding onto to His truth today.

My truest identity is daughter of the King, and anything that rivals this must be shed.

It’s not the remembering that’s difficult; it’s the shedding of all the good and precious things that are not and will never be Christ in my life.

Do you have a habit of reminding yourself what you’re learning? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Kelly

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The Ministry of Morning Dew

As we walked to the bus stop, they asked the usual big kid questions (how, why, when) concerning the tiny droplets of water covering our lawn and everybody else’s. I reached way back to retrieve a solid explanation from my science teaching days. The word condensation left my lips (or was it precipitation?) with the same amount of grace I muster up each time I try to fold a fitted sheet into a neat square stack.

After completely confusing them, I finally said, “Guys, I’m not really sure. Dew just happens overnight, when we’re all fast asleep.” We moved onto a new topic, but I was aware of the sense that they had settled.

We all knew I hadn’t really answered the question.

When dew shows up the very next morning in Psalm 110, I prepare myself for a better explanation of the early morning mystery. I record verse 3 in my journal, a little confused yet trusting I’m on the verge of something sacred.

Photo by Jonas Weckschmied on Unsplash

Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. Psalm 110:3 ESV

Psalm 110 depicts God the Father speaking to God the Son.  I learn that it is one of the most cited passages in the New Testament. Yet, in my bible (the one I’ve read for the past seven years) not one verse is underlined. The margin where I normally scribble illegible notes to myself is completely blank.

I settle in, curious as to how these very words quoted by Paul, the gospel authors, and even Jesus Himself could have slipped through my grasp. How could I have missed this? Matthew Henry explains that the dew of your youth “is a numerous, illustrious, hopeful show of young people flocking to Christ, which would be to the world as dew to the ground, to make it fruitful.”

Dew is refreshing, but also purposefully mysterious.

I start thinking of my oldest girl’s tender heart, how she leans in to drink the things of God. A couple months ago, she claimed Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Her King and Priest, as this passage also declares.

Photo by A&A Newborn Photography

When we went to meet with sweet Miss Maggie, her Children’s Minister, I panicked when I realized I never wrote down the date of her life-changing decision. It was summer, or had school started? I couldn’t remember. The conversations spread out over days, months even. This giving her heart to Jesus was a long time coming. It occurred in the hiddenness of her own heart prompted by her own seven-year-old prayer.

As we sat there with Miss Maggie in October—everything got pushed back a bit thanks to Hurricane Harvey—I started to categorize this as another “mom-fail.” Then ever-so-gently, God assured my momma heart that my girls’ decision to follow Him stretches far beyond a single day, a single moment, a single prayer.

He’s been pursuing her heart for her whole entire life. This, too, is a phenomenon like the morning dew; it’s hard to pin down a certain date, a certain starting place, a certain measurable quantity. God knows the exact moment she handed Him her heart.

The hiddenness defines the beauty.

Eugene Peterson, in his book As Kingfishers Catch Fire, connects the phrase from the womb of morning to Mary’s womb delivering Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s covenant and refreshment of hearts. Gorgeous if you stoop low enough to notice, yet much easier to miss. Peterson relates the spectacular, dominating metaphors of royal king and holy priest to something altogether unexpected: the early morning birth of a baby who came to save the world.

Like dew, we celebrate His arrival every December, marvel at His beauty, share in His glorious refreshment. It suits Jesus to use an overlooked metaphor. Most days we walk right by unless we’re paying close attention. But those of us who dare to lean in a little get a sacred glimpse of His power and righteousness in this tangible phenomenon that greets us morning by morning.

On the soggiest winter morning, this brave girl of ours was baptized by her daddy in front of all her family and friends.

Outside under heavy fog and in full view of the glistening dew, she got to show everyone she loves that she now belongs to Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 ESV

Jesus loves you,

Kelly

 

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Eight Words I Hope My Kids Say About Their Mother

Sometimes a momma needs a day to remember, truly remember, that all those little things aren’t quite so little after all. It’s easy to let big things sidetrack us and run us off the road every now and then.

I stumbled across these words penned by David, the man remembered for his heart. A man after God’s own heart. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about this shepherd boy’s upbringing.

As the youngest, he was overlooked by his own father. His brothers were threatened by him, so they insulted him and made all kinds of wrong assumptions about him. But David had a solid faith in God, and God chose Him to be king.

David recorded these words in Psalm 116:16: “Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.”

“I serve you just as my mother did.”

Eight Words I Hope My Kids Will Say About Their Mother

These eight words may not sound all that profound. They will no doubt mean a whole lot more if you have a mom like mine who planted seeds of faith early in your young heart. Maybe it’s isn’t your own mom but another woman who’s had a significant impact on what you believe about God today.

Or maybe that mom is you, passing down the love of Jesus as best you know how.

Scripture doesn’t mention King David’s mother’s name. I’ve looked. I’ve searched, but it’s not there. David’s mother was a significant part of God’s redemption story, and we can be, too. These eight words tell us all we need to know.

Behind this God-fearing man was a mother’s enduring faith.

When we’re tempted to believe we’re doing everything wrong, let’s remember that what matters most in this life is that we point our kids to Jesus, whether they’re five or fifty. My mom demonstrated her faith, one simple act of love at a time.

My mom mothered us like we belonged to God but were entrusted to her care.

My mom chose hard things over trendy things.

My mom showed me how to love in spite of differences.

My mom spoke the name of Jesus over me whenever I was afraid.

My mom let me ask questions she didn’t know how to answer.

My mom is still ok with saying, “I don’t know.”

My mom aligns her life to the Word of God.

My mom prays.

My mom doesn’t hide her tears.

My mom has demonstrated how God can use suffering to strengthen a rock solid faith.

My mom applauds my accomplishments but celebrates me.

My mom wholeheartedly believes that if God is with me I cannot fail.

My mom worships Jesus unashamedly.

My mom listens.

My mom says, “I love you,” and “I’m sorry.”

My mom forgives.

My mom taught me that mommas don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus already is.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women in my life!

I serve you as my mother did.

To the mother with the child whose heart’s been hardened by this world and all its brokenness:

Jesus sees you. He knows this hurt. If you’ve grown weary under the weight of this world’s crazy expectations, demands, and heartaches, don’t give up; give it to Him. Our God can do so much more than we could ever think, ask, or imagine. None of your love will never be wasted in His hands.

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I Am Not the Mom I Used to Be

I love how a simple connection with someone can push you headlong into something deeper without even asking your permission.

Like, at a birthday party, how a random question and your off-the cuff answer can simultaneously surprise you and force you to accept the bittersweet truth that you are not the person you once were.

We were deep in conversation about the mother of all topics: scrapbooking.

Six years ago, I had reached my peak as a digital scrapper. I had the latest software and people paid me to teach them how to make beautiful books out of all their precious memories. Some very trusting people asked me to make books for them. I loved every single part of it.

“Are you still scrapbooking?” she asked me.

The simple answer to her simple questions is: No, I haven’t touched any of it in at least two years; the more complicated question she didn’t ask is: “Why not?” That’s the question I asked myself on the way home.

I’m slow to process, and I always think of what I want to say days after the conversation. But this is how I’d answer that question today:

I am not the mom I used to be.

Scrapbooking, in so many ways, helped give me the courage to tell my story. In the same way that teaching fifth graders gave me confidence to lead women of all ages, scrapbooking has been foundational to my calling.

That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but I am a firm believer that God uses anything and everything for our good. And scrapbooking was so very good for me.

The journaling aspect helped me sift through the many parts of a story and decide how those parts fit together. Scanning thousands of images on my computer gave me perspective.

I found it both thrilling and challenging to choose just one word to describe a moment. (I still do!) Then I’d usually explain it all down to the letter in about 100-200 words in a teeny tiny text box, just because.

I met so many good friends and mentors through this hobby of mine. I can’t deny how it prepared me to begin a blog nearly seven years ago. God seemed ok with me doing my thing on that blog for a spell, but I’ll never forget the day He gently reminded me that it was His.

All of it.

The story I thought I owned—yeah, that’s His. My time, my life—even my fears and failures—all of it belongs to Him.

So, here I am… so much has changed, and yet so much hasn’t.

I’m still writing, taking my lead from Him. I’m still doing my best to connect with others using what He gave me. I’m still struggling with the reality of a daily surrender. I still question, and I still doubt.

So, what’s different? I’m more ok with this thing not being about me.

That casual conversation at the birthday party with that precious girl who knew me way back made me realize something huge: I was scared back then.

I would have never in a million years admitted that to you privately or even out loud at all, but I was terrified I’d get it wrong.

Overcompensation fed my fear that I was never enough.

Between my perfectionist, approval-seeking nature and my belief that infertility had disqualified me and made me late to motherhood somehow, I tackled every single challenge, every moment, every part of being a mom with such intensity that it exhausts me to even reminisce about that girl.

Oh, I still struggle. I’d never want to paint a picture that I have arrived or I have it all together, because I don’t. Just ask the people who really know me. Ask the ones living under my roof.

I think I’ve just come to accept myself… flaws and all. I’m good with here, and I’m good with now, and I’m good with the way God continues to change my heart. Because however broken I am, I’m also His.

In the past five years, more than anything, I’ve come to understand more of God’s grace—what it is and how badly I need it. I’ve learned how important it is for my kids to hear me say, “I’m sorry.”

His grace covers my mother fears, my mother failures, and my whole entire mother-load.

No, I’m not scrapbooking anymore, but I’m still sharing my life, my story. I’m still committed to my people. I’m still learning about God’s grace. But my desire to measure my mothering has lost its appeal.

Scrapbooking is a beautiful and meaningful hobby, and not everyone suffers from the same kind of striving that I do, so this is just me being honest… about my struggle.

Scrapbooks were my go-to tool to measure my kids—their growth, their development, their lives. It was my tangible measuring stick of me as a mom.

I’m done chasing some unrealistic poster-expectations of motherhood. These days, I’m clinging to God’s immeasurable grace. Let’s just say, heaps of grace, or as my son says, “pant-loads”! (Borrowed respectfully from his favorite book, Dragons Love Tacos)

This third child of mine will one day realize that while her brother and sister have a book with almost 100 pages for every year of their life up to age four, the journal I kept on her nightstand as a newborn has dates that lapse over a year.

But, I hope all my children experience the effects grace has had on my mothering… that they feel the warmth and ease of grace’s touch and see the courage it takes this momma to accept grace as she clings to Christ.

Grace gives me the courage to be the mom God says I am.

God is still working all this out in me, and He’ll continue to the day I see Him face to face. I pray Jesus never stops rescuing me from myself. Five years from now, I can only hope that my heart will hold even less of me and so much more of Him.

Jesus loves you,

Kelly

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The Most Difficult yet Necessary Act of Mothering

I didn’t expect tears on the first day of school. Honestly, I didn’t. But after saying goodbye to my two smiling kindergarteners, my own tears nearly drown me in a sea of unexpected emotion I couldn’t quite explain. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother having her own private ugly cry from within the confines of her now empty vehicle.

I guess I should have seen it coming.

For the better part of a week, I tried my hardest to get out from underneath the tension of it all. No matter how prepared you think you are, certain moments in life suck the wind right out of you, and I’m learning to accept the normalcy of it.

The Most Difficult yet Necessary Act of Mothering

The moments that take our breath away also make us feel most alive.

I looked up the word kindergarten, because that’s what you do when you suddenly find yourself immersed in a silent house with your own uncontrolled emotion and a toddler who hasn’t started running her mouth just yet.

The German word, kindergarten, literally means “garden of children.” The word is rooted in kindness. When I kiss my girl and my boy goodbye each morning, I can’t get this picture out of my mind. I have an unsettled awareness that feels a whole lot like waiting for seeds to grow.

The seeds, no longer in my grasp, are tucked deep within the dirt where real growth will take place. I can’t see evidence that they’re growing just yet. I can’t protect them or hold them; all I can do is watch and wait. This is part of their journey, and it is part of mine, too.

So much of motherhood takes place in life’s waiting room.

Shadows of the unknown loom large and scary overhead in these moments. When I pray, an answer comes in the form of two simple words. Let go. I cringe every time I hear them.

From those first steps across the kitchen floor to the ones down the aisle in a pretty chapel, letting go initiates every new season in a mother’s life. Our role is to let go and let those seeds fall into place. It is the most difficult yet necessary act of mothering.

On days I feel particularly uncertain or even unwilling to let go, I rehearse this truth: Seeds must be planted in order to grow. Though the sower must provide water, sunlight, and good soil, the sower has very little to do with what happens underneath the surface.

The dark, unseen territory of growth belongs to God.

Paul used this same analogy in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) As moms, we nurture those entrusted to us.  Taking our instruction from Him,  we teach them the best way we know how. Who they grow up to become is God’s business.

Some days I remember this well, and other days I want to kneel down and dig until dirt cakes underneath my fingernails. I want to feel the assurance and comfort and control of those seeds in my hand again. I want so badly to believe it’s all up to me.

Digging up seeds in an attempt to ward off change only interrupts the beauty of God’s design.

I’ve been telling myself a few things when my fingers start to get that itch to dig. Maybe these words will calm your restless fingertips, too, because God knows we’re all in this together.

God’s got this, and God’s got them. Everything He does is always good. Change, though unsettling to any mother-heart, is part of God’s design. Yet there’s such peace in knowing that God Himself never ever changes.

His love for our children is greater than our own. His protection and provision for them extends farther than we can imagine. God’s purpose for their lives is much greater than our comfort zone.

Letting go is the equivalent to surrender, and surrender always leads me back to Jesus. When I think about who He is and all He has promised, I remember that I can trust Him… completely. And so can you.

Jesus loves you,

Kelly

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