Tuesday, January 30, 2018


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!

1 comment:

  1. It’s good to wake up to a challenge of love.
    I need to figure out what my choices even are. I mean... nobody and I mean nobody is clamoring for me to jump onboard. For the first time in 20 years I have stepped out and into a group of women I’ve never met to study the Bible and learn how much alike women’s issues are, and at 63 re-introducing myself feels all kinds of different ways.
    I can have anything? Probably not. I can have everything? Definitely a no, thank Gid! But I can have Something! What will that something look like in 3 months? God already knows, and I’m trusting that it’s something good! Thanking Him for your sleepless night. Maybe you can catch a nap today?