Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to have the Worst Valentine's Day Ever...

It's Valentine's Day.  You couldn't possibly forget it, because social media is right there to flood your feed with All of the Pictures.  Homemade cards. Breakfast in bed.  Original poems. Surprise dates.  It's supposed to be a day to celebrate love - any and all kinds of love.

There are so many articles out there on how to make the most of your Valentines Day... On how to WOW them with your love.  But I want to cover something no one seems to help us with.  I want to make sure you know how to have the WORST Valentine's Day ever.

WIVES:

Compare your husband with other husbands.  Why not?  Their wives are posting pictures and all the juicy details.  What's wrong with YOUR husband?  Why didn't HE cry actual tears while professing his love for you, catch them in a tiny glass vile and give it to you on a necklace, like Lisa's husband?  I mean, sure, your husband has great qualities.  He loves you faithfully, he is a hands-on dad, provides for the family, helps around the house, speaks highly of you to his friends and family.... Celebrating who he IS instead of who he is NOT is just way too easy.  Take the time to really hold him up against other men on this one specific day.  Identify where he doesn't measure up.  Oh, and to really seal the deal, tell him!!!

HUSBANDS:

Compare your wife with other wives.  Randy's wife got up and cooked him a heart shaped breakfast, and your wife was still in her jammies with yesterday's leftover makeup smudged under her eyes when you left for work.  Why couldn't she have put forth a little more effort?  I mean, sure, she was up really late helping the kids with their homework last night.  She's such a good mom, she holds down the fort at home while you work long hours in your business... she has her own side business too, but makes sure all of your needs are met.... She is an amazing wife, mom, friend, and daughter... But dangit, why didn't she surprise you and cut a tiny lock of your hair when you were sleeping and wear it in a locket around her neck today like Jim's wife? Now THAT is romantic!  Or at least that's how it seemed, based on the post you just read about it!  Speaking of posts, why didn't your wife profess her love for you on social media like so many other wives did today?!

MOMS and DADS:

Compare your kids Valentines with other kids Valentines!  Oh man, Stacy had the whole breakfast table decorated with red and pink hearts.  A gift sat at each place setting perfectly wrapped, almost overflowing with goodies.  You threw frozen waffles in the toaster, but for the love, you better believe you didn't just spray whipped cream on top - you applied it in the shape of a heart!  No one can say you didn't try!  But woah, Jenny clearly Moms so hard!  She hired someone to make the PERFECT Valentines for her kid's class.  Each gift had a clever "pun" attached, that perfectly ties in the themed gift with the Day of Love.  YOUR child's reusable Albertson's bag filled with miniature Nerds boxes that barely fit her name them?  Ha!  Enjoy taking that walk of shame to the classroom!

------------------------

OK, sarcasm done.  ;)

Bottom line?  Everyone has different gifts.  It's a lot of pressure to be All the Right Things on one specific day.  Give grace.  Enjoy today.  Your way.

And as a reminder: Today is not for the top 2%.  Today is an All Play!  If you have life and breath?  There is something to celebrate today!  LOVE is found in a romantic gesture, yes, but also a kind gesture. A compassionate gesture.  A sacrificial gesture.  Find a homeless person and give them a meal.  That's love.  Bring your best friend their favorite coffee.  That's love.  Give a compliment to a stranger.  Spread love.  Celebrate it!  Love is worth celebrating.   Not Lisa's love or Jenny's love or Randy's love or Stacy's love.  Their love is beautiful because it is THEIRS.  YOU celebrate YOUR love. YOUR way.  Fancy?  Simple?  Loud?  Quiet?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  You do you.  No right, no wrong.  Just Love.






Friday, February 2, 2018

That Time My 5 Year Old PREACHED To Me...

A small children's chair from our upstairs loft had somehow made its way downstairs today.  At the end of the day as we were tidying after dinner, the last item at the bottom of the stairs, waiting to be taken up, was the chair.  Reese ran over to it and said, "I'll carry it up!"  I had to hold back my laughter.  Sweet Reese is 5 years old but she looks about 3.  ;)  She is in the 6th percentile for height and weight and is as petite as they come.  But her heart and spirit?  Oh man, they are fierce!  "No honey, I will carry it up," I replied.  But she frowned at me and insisted she could do it.  The other kids all went upstairs to get ready for bed and I returned to the kitchen sink to wash the final pot from dinner.

About 30 seconds later, I heard her.  She was out of breath.  There was a strain in her voice.  Each word had about 2 seconds between the next.  She spoke to herself through gritted teeth.  "Just.. because.. it's hard... doesn't.. mean.. God's not here."  My eyes grew huge.   My eyes filled with tears.  Oh sweet baby girl, may your whispered prayer, through gritted teeth, steady your heart not just for this moment, but for all the moments of your life.
I turned around to see my baby giving all she had, to get the chair up just one stair.
Her words rung in my ears.  "Just because it's hard, doesn't mean God's not here."  She pushed.  She pulled. She lifted.  She struggled.  She sat for a rest.  And finally, big sis Taylor, on her way downstairs for a glass of water, offered to help.  Reese accepted the assistance, this time with gratitude.  And together, they got the chair safely up the stairs.

Sometimes God gives us supernatural strength to get through something beyond what we ever could have thought we could handle.

He is present.  Empowering. 

And sometimes God sends people to walk alongside.  To support us and hold us up.  To cheer us on, and sit in it with us, and to share in the heavy lifting.

He is present.  Providing tangible support - His hands and feet.

And sometimes, God just sits with us in the warm sun.  Toes in the sand, with blessings flooding our thoughts, and peace that goes beyond our understanding.

He is present.  Providing rest and goodness.

When life is easy, God is here.
When life is hard, God is here.
He Is With.
Always.

Sometimes we have to look for Him.
Sometimes we have to pause and listen for Him.
And sometimes His presence is an undeniable force we can't dismiss.

But then there's those other times.  The times we don't see, and we don't hear, and we don't feel, but we KNOW.  We know His character. We know His promises.

And so we wipe the sweat from our brow, take a deep breath, and through gritted teeth, we declare the Truth and choose to let our faith conquer our doubt.

"Just because it's hard, doesn't mean God isn't here."






















Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You Can Do ANYTHING. But Not EVERYTHING...

I was 26 years old and I sat in a stranger's living room, holding my 11 month old baby boy on my lap.  I had recently joined this community group of young moms as a way of linking arms with others in my same life stage.  There is nothing more powerful than hearing the words, "Me too," and boy did I need to hear that as a new mom!  The past year had been a whirlwind and I was exhilarated and exhausted all at once.  The moms had chosen to read through a book written by a well known "stay-at-home mom" and author.   We all marveled at the author's candid honesty, her wit, and her ability to write about poopy diapers in a way that made us laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, about poop!  She talked about the balancing act between being a mom and a wife.  It sparked conversation between us in the group about what that balancing act looked like in our own lives - with all the hats we wear.

And then she said it.  A girl in the group I really didn't know said something so off-putting.  "You know, ladies.  You can't have it all."  I was so annoyed.  And offended.  Um, yes you can! You see, I had been happily married for 5 years, had traveled Europe for 3 months, singing for our U.S Troops with my newlywed hubby, and had a thriving singing and speaking schedule.  And when I became a mom and had my baby boy, I just put him on my hip and continued with my lifestyle.  At 11 months, my son had been on 34 flights!  Sorry chick, but you are wrong! You CAN have it all!  I was wife-ing, and mom-ing... and speaking, and singing and traveling and etc... etc..   Besides, this author whose book we were reading?  She was a stay at home mom!  She poured into her kids and hubby... and also had a thriving speaking ministry, as well as top selling books!  I "got" her.  We were crushing it!

However, a few years later, as I continued reading and meeting with other moms, I began to have more of a pit in my stomach.  I now had 2 kids and they were entering school.... and I knew I couldn't keep the same pace or lifestyle.  My son wanted me to be "room mom" and my daughter wanted me to take her to dance class.  There was soccer and t-ball every Saturday.  And the reality was, I couldn't be in more than one place at one time.  (duh.) So what would win?  The bookings and honorariums and hotel rooms?  Or my presence at home.  Around the dinner table.  And at the school jog-a-thon.  "You can't have it all!"  It still annoyed me.  And yet I suddenly found myself in a season of loving the power of "No."  Saying "no" to opportunity and invitations became empowering.  Because although I was saying "no" to something good, I was saying "YES" something great.  This Greater Yes became my drive.  It became my heartbeat.  Now don't get me wrong, I didn't say "no" to everything, but I definitely cut back to find a balance, and weighed everything against what I believed was my Greater Yes.

Fast forward a few years and a few kids later, and there I sat at a Leadership Conference.  I was there to attend, not to speak.  To listen and learn.  My now 4 kids were with grandma for the day, and I wanted to take a day for self care.  A young mom and well known author took the stage as one of the keynote speakers and I leaned in, excited to glean wisdom from a mom in a similar life stage.  She boldly challenged us moms to not sacrifice, but to get out there and pursue our passions.  That we would have regret if we didn't.  And yet I sat there once again with a pit in my stomach.  But this time for a different reason.  "But, how?" I thought.  How do I not sacrifice?  Something has to be sacrificed.   You can't "have it all."  BLAST.  That annoying phrase was haunting me again.  This speaker was doing it all, wasn't she?  What was wrong with me??  I wanted to find her afterward and pick her brain. I stepped outside the conference into the gift shop and that's when I saw it.  THIS.  A wall hanging.  I stopped and took a picture.  THIS is what that other girl years ago probably meant.  THIS made sense.  THIS made me exhale.





I wanted to find the speaker and say - I know that to be here speaking, you're away from your kids for a few days and it takes a toll on your family.  Right??   And also, I was just hired to write an article for a parenting magazine, and I know how many hours it took me to get that done and edited to the perfect word count... time that my husband had to manage the kids on what used to be our date night.  So this high selling book you just released HAD to have taken its toll on your family, right??   Why aren't you saying that part??  It's OK!  It's OK that there is a cost!  But don't pretend there isn't one at all!

Fast forward to today, and the pendulum has swung once again.  The same authors and speakers are now confessing to strained marriages, sacrificed time with kids, and admitting to the physical toll "the hustle" has taken on their bodies and families.  They point back to the past few years of writing and speaking and traveling and they are now pulling back.  Choosing rest.  Saying no to the hustle.  And saying yes to more simplicity.  Ahhh... Yes!  THIS.  This is what I was wondering!  I had been so frustrated.  I had felt so misled.  For years I had sat in circles with other moms, and together we wondered how all these moms in ministry were "doing it all."

And yet the reality was, they weren't!  Something had to give.  They just weren't talking about it.  Moms, women... heck, men, anyone -  each one of us can do ANYTHING!  But, we can't do EVERYTHING.  Those authors were choosing which "anything" they wanted to partake in.  We have that choice too! And friends, you know what?  There is no right or wrong!   There is just a choice to be made.  Every day!  WE get to choose!   I look back on the first year of being a mom and part of me loves the jet-setting life I chose.  And part of me regrets that I didn't just soak him in a little more.  And now I get to let those learnings and feelings impact my present decisions!

Now please hear me, I am not speaking to the financial aspect of life.  This conversation is not about working moms vs. non-working moms.  It is about the pressure to be all things to all people at all times.  And to keep up the facade that it's all glorious and seamless and there is no cost.  The reality is, there is a cost.  And that's okay!

Today, I find that I myself have let the pendulum swing pretty far in the other direction... and I need to find a middle ground once again.  In an attempt to find balance, I think I have let go of more than I should have.  I have let that "empowering no" become an excuse to stay comfortable.  None of us is perfect.  We are all on a journey.  Mine has me pondering, at 1am on a Monday night, what "Everything" I need to release and what "Anything" I want to embrace.  What is it for you?  What hustle do you need to let go of?  And what passion or calling do you need to lean into?  What are you willing to sacrifice to make that happen?  And once you pray and listen and decide, join me in guilt-free obedience.  There WILL be a cost.  That's ok.  And if we start down the road and it doesn't feel right?  No shame.  No judgement.  Pray again.  Re-assess.  And start again.

Choose your Anything.  Release your Everything.  2018, here we come!