Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Only Time I Will Ever Give Mothering Advice

You know what I NEVER think about? I mean, never.

You know what I NEVER get asked about on forms I have to fill out? 

You know what NEVER gets talked about at anyone's funeral?

Nobody EVER says, "Mrs. So-and-so was a good woman, she had all of her children potty trained at...(insert whatever age you want)".

Nobody says that because nobody cares. 

And you know what?! I NEVER think about how old I was when I was potty trained. Never.

Young moms get so much pressure. From books, magazines, PINTEREST, other moms, grandmas, random people at the grocery store and from themselves. It's ridiculous. 

Everyone has an opinion. But the thing is, God isn't going to mention how long it took my kids to stop having accidents or stop sucking their thumb or walk or sit up on Judgment day. You aren't a delinquent mom if your kid isn't potty trained until they're 4. Because, guess what?! God knows your heart. He knows you love that kid. 

I had one super easy kid to potty train. The rest were older and took a little longer. Two of them were downright tough and I had one who really wasn't potty trained for realz until they were 4. 

I wish moms...I wish I would stop listening to people tell me what my child should be doing. The things I'm most proud of as a mom, I had to buckle down, ignore all the noise and just do what my gut told me was right. The thing is though, I can only name a time or two when I did that. 

Our "babies" sucked their fingers until they were 8. I listened to the stories from other parents who had moved heaven and earth to get their kid to stop sucking their fingers and nothing worked until the kid decided to stop sucking them on their own...when they were around 12 or 13. For real, I don't know how many people have told me they were 12 or 13 when they stopped sucking their fingers. Anyway, I decided pretty early on that I was not going to stress about it. People made their comments and rolled their eyes but I just ignored them. And you know what?! They stopped sucking their fingers with very little effort on anyone else's part. There was absolutely zero stress, no tears and no sneaking behind my back. 

And you know what else? Nobody cares. It NEVER comes up in conversation. Except this one. 

I'm not saying don't take advice. Absolutely seek advice. But listen for the advice that you have to seek out, not the advice that is in abundant supply. Proverbs is filled with warnings about people who enjoy sharing their opinions and about how wise people are more judicious with sharing theirs. Also, peers can give support, but older women who are passed this point in their life will have a more long term vantage point. They will be able to see the effects of things instead of just what might work in the moment. 

Over the last year I have changed a lot as a mother. I have almost entirely stopped yelling. I do have slip ups but they are fewer and farther between all the time. The thing I realized? I was "freaking out" about really stupid things. I felt so much pressure all. the. time. I was getting all bent out of shape over things that ultimately don't even matter. So, I've started asking myself, will this matter in a week? A month? A year? Will I think about this on my death bed? If the answer is no to any of those, it's not worth getting upset over. Even if someone else is pressuring me or getting upset themselves. 

I don't think I've EVER heard an older woman say that they wish they had potty trained their kid younger. You know what I HAVE heard? That they wish they hadn't been so hard on their kid about potty training, or sucking their thumb or any number of things that we put kids on a timer for. 

Okay, I'm going to go back to NEVER mentioning this. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I deleted my personal Facebook account a while back. I ended up reactivating it because my Spotify account is linked to it and I love Spotify. So it's there but I don't check it.

I made the decision after getting some advice from an older woman.

I had recently asked for advice about something in a status update and I received a lot of really good responses but she suggested that instead of posing the question to, mostly, my peers, that I should seek out older women to ask.

I had actually been contemplating it anyway because Facebook triggers a lot of my character defects. Mostly, my insane inclination to compare myself to others. And so, after that conversation I made the decision to stop getting on my personal Facebook page but to keep my writing one.

The thing is, God has done so much for me. He has taught me, changed me. I honestly never thought that I could really change as a mom. But I have. In tangible ways.

The more I learn, the more I realize that I am deeply flawed and in need of His grace.

I desperately want Him, more of Him in me.

I want my soul's sole focus to be Him. Not me, not what I am capable of...I want to just act with my eyes on Him. Not the wind, not my head knowledge that I am entirely incapable of performing the task at hand. Him.

I want my thoughts to be centered on Him. I want every word, every action to spring from the well of Living Water that feeds my soul and molds my thought life.

I want my feelings to reflect His goodness and the peace that passes understanding.

I want to not ever seek my own good or glory but only His.

I want to shed the weights that hold me back while I'm running.

I just want Jesus. I want to weed out everything but Jesus.

It is my intention to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, to hide God's Word in my heart, to study and meditate upon Him, to seek God with my whole heart, to set my eyes on Jesus--the Author and Perfecter of my faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have a vision of my goal, the intention to journey the path and the means to get there.

God is good and powerful, He will do it. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Being Vulnerable...and Transparent

When I was growing up in the Central Valley of California we lived on a half an acre or something. We had a huge garden, a swimming pool, ducks, rabbits, chickens, several dogs, cats and a separate building that my dad (who is a preacher) used as an office.

He had so many books and didn't want to take up all the wall space with bookshelves so he created a maze of books in one corner. It was like a square enclosed in a larger square with books on all sides. The room also sported a large white board for my dad to work out sermons on.

I would lie in wait until I knew my dad was either gone or busy elsewhere and I would sneak out there to put together my own sermons and then preach them to my imaginary audience.

I don't remember any of my sermons but I remember that it was one of my favorite things.

I've always felt a little weird about being a girl. Really only in a spiritual context because I have been drawn to things I was taught are wrong. Like teaching the Bible in any forum besides one on one or "disciple"ing anyone. I'm not sure if I was taught this or if it was just implied (or maybe I misunderstood) but it was iffy for women to talk about spiritual things at all...if there was a man anywhere in the vicinity it was better to just leave it to them.

I'm not criticizing this belief system...I'm sharing information.

(I want to stop right here and say this. I am completely open to being wrong on any topic. I will not defend myself or be defensive. If I'm wrong I want to know it. If my heart, beliefs and actions can't stand up to criticism or a difference of opinion then something is wrong. I'm done defending myself as a reflex.)

I don't have any desire to "preach" in the public assembly of the church and I would not be okay doing that anyway. But I do think that I have a lifelong passion and desire for teaching the Bible and discipleship. When I take spiritual gifts tests...those are the things I score the highest in. I have absolutely zero desire to teach math or science. It's specifically spiritual things. And it's so strong that I just wonder if God put it there. I've really felt like I was a man in a woman's body because of this, I've wondered if somehow it was some sort of birth defect that I was born a girl instead of a boy.  I've always brushed these desires and inclinations off as something that could never happen and should never happen because it was wrong.

I no longer believe that.

I'm not saying I should be teaching anyone or mentoring anyone right this second. Maybe I need to take more time to grow spiritually before I take any steps in that direction. Or maybe this isn't what God really has planned for me at all. I don't know. Maybe I score high in those things because I want to do them and not necessarily because I am or could be good at them.

I'm just putting this out there because I've been seriously thinking about what I'm doing here and I think this is it. I think that maybe this blog is an outlet for this part of me. Not that I think I'm really teaching anyone anything, I think I've made that clear. But it's a place where I can share thoughts. I can talk about spiritual things without bothering anyone. Whoever wants to read it can, and those that don't...don't have to.

I'm not sure what will come of sharing this information. I might lose some friends or be written off as a lost cause. I don't know. But it's out there now.

It's really too bad that I can't recall any of my sermons. But maybe sermons are like songs...if you write one and it doesn't get stuck in your head it's probably not a good one. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How I Know God Is Good

We're back.

Souls fed, hearts full, skin brown.

We stopped to play in the Gulf of Mexico before heading to our boat. This is life with five wild indians. Beautiful. But messy too.
Our first day on the boat. It was just starting to get dark. Can you tell how excited we were to be there? We counted down 214 days. For a while it felt like it would never get here. But it did.
We got to eat lunch with this view! God is an amazing artist!
 Michael took advantage of the water slide. I think he enjoyed it more than the kids did!
One of our favorite things was the "Dive In Movie". There was a big screen above the pools and you could sit in a deck chair or in a hot tube or the pool and watch the movie. We got to see Avengers 2, Inside Out and Cinderella! All movies we had been wanting to see! Soooo much fun!
This picture does not do the beauty of it in person justice. It took my breath away. God is awesome!
They were so excited to be able to say that they had been to another country!
Playing on the beach in Cozumel.
And how we got to the beach in Cozumel. We rented a jeep that I'm pretty sure really only seats 4 people. But we stuffed all 7 of our hiney's in this jeep. Probably not a good choice. I found it kind of ironic. It was kind of a running joke at my high school that at lunch we would count how many Mexicans got out of a car. It was amazing how many people they would stuff into a car. It was like Mary Poppins pulling stuff out of her carpet bag. 
Obligatory shot in front of the ship. :)
I was lying on the beach in Cozumel when I felt something brush against my foot. I looked over to see this sweet little baby sea turtle making it's way through the sand. 
We loved getting to sit down to a nice dinner every evening. We chatted a little with the elderly couple in the background. They were celebrating their 48th anniversary. They were so sweet to our kids. Nothing wins my heart like people loving my kids.
This was in Progresso. At a little restaurant on the beach. Michael and the kids swam in the ocean while I guarded our stuff and sat in the shade. 
Our kids discovered prank calling and found great delight in it. But only between our room and theirs. Michael got them pretty good once by putting on an Indian accent and claiming to be Guest Services. :) Their prank calling skills improved significantly over the 5 days. Of course, when you start with "This is a prank call! haahahahahahahaahaha" there isn't far to go to improve. I want to reiterate that they only prank called us. :) 

Isn't God's creation beautiful?! I took both pictures because I thought the first one with the storm in the distance was so metaphorical and the second was just breathtaking.

This is Uriah utilizing his dance skills. The serving staff did dances for us every night and Uriah enjoyed helping them out. He's a little Fred Estaire. I mean, he really is. He picked up the dances like a pro. And then there's Elisabeth. Special in her own way! :)
Our whole family really enjoyed the family friendly comedy shows. We went to two. This one was an
improv one like Whose Line Is It Anyway? Michael got called up on stage and it. was. hilarious!!!! Technically this picture is contraband. Lilla was quick to inform me after I took it. But since I already took it...:/
We had so much fun. It was so refreshing. I literally didn't think about anything but the 7 of us and the moment we were in the whole time. It's like the whole world outside of the 7 of us just disappeared for a little while. But we are back now, and we are ready to hit the ground running. Everyone is ready to get back to work and school and the daily grind. We are ready to face life again. God is so good to us! Several times during the cruise I looked around at my little family and just thought about how blessed I am and how good my God is.

You know what's amazing?! Seeing my kids being good kids when I'm not there to "make them" and they don't know I can see them. THAT MY FRIENDS is how I know that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He is totally and utterly good.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Our family is taking our first real vacation. We are super excited!!!

I am taking a complete vacation from my blog and all social media starting today through next Saturday, September 26. I am not going to fulfill my 2 publishes for next week. I will continue to write but I'm going to focus on my family and taking a soul retreat.

I hope you all have an amazing week!!

Comfort as an Obstacle

I've always considered myself to be blessed to be born in the United States. I've sat and pondered why I would be allowed to live here when so many others aren't.

I've also always considered myself blessed to be born in the time I was born. Thinking about some of the things that women have had to endure over the centuries...and some still do...is horrifying. But I live in a place and time when women are relatively free. I can wear whatever I want whether it's a burka or a bikini. I can divorce my husband if I want to for any reason I see fit to. I can drive through the drive thru for dinner. I can choose a career. I can be whatever I want to be...including a man. 

Women have never been free-er. 

But I'm starting to wonder if all of this freedom and the state of American society is really the blessing I've always considered it to be. 

I think that because my life has been pretty comfortable, it's easy to be lukewarm and/or spiritually lethargic. It's easy to blur the lines between godly and worldly. It's easy to mistake the American Dream for following Jesus. It's easy to see corporate worship as a routine drudgery when the only obstacle to me being there is the voice in my head telling me I could just sleep in. 

It's easy to forget that all good things come from God when I'm working my behind off for a house and a pool. It's easy to forget that there are people in the world who can't even fathom a pool, they don't even know where their next meal is going to come from.  And it's easy to forget that life isn't about climbing the corporate ladder or the house I live in or the car I drive...or even that pool. 

The thing is, just like everything else in the world, this is not a new-to-us problem. The Israelites had a similar problem. 

Just as they were about to go into the Promised Land, God warned the Israelites to remember where He had brought them from and what He had done for them. He knew that once they got into the Promised Land that they would be so comfortable that they would be tempted to forget and turn to other gods. So He warned them to remember and to tell their children.

That's the thing, I have to constantly be reminded. All of this, my very existence is from God. Everything I have is from God. And most importantly, my salvation is from God. He plucked me out of the clutches of Satan and Hell and hid me in Christ.

In all of my comfort and all of my freedom, I cannot forget. The American Dream and any other aspect of this world isn't the context of my life. My job, my house and my family are all enveloped in the context of Christ. Jesus is the context. He is the source from which everything else flows. 

This life has it's challenges, just like any other. Because some things are easier, others are difficult and sometimes hard to spot. Comfort can become an addiction and an obstacle to living out and even recognizing Jesus Kingdom. When I value my comfort over my or someone else's soul...it's a problem.

Yes, I still feel blessed. I appreciate my life and the freedoms it affords me. But I also recognize my own propensity to take things for granted, to forget and to lose my way. God has been good to me and I'm thankful for the reminder!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thinking About My Thinking

The deadline for fall submissions to (in)courage closed this morning. I didn't submit anything. It just wasn't even on the radar of things I've been thinking about.

I'm not afraid of repeated rejection. I just don't think that's what God has for me right now, and I'm not going to force it. If God gives me something to say, I'll write it and submit, but for now He hasn't.

That's a recent commitment I've made...if God opens a door I will thankfully and faithfully walk through it, but I'm not going to build my own. Unless all the materials for the door show up on my doorstep and it becomes clear that He intends me to. 

I've been struggling to remain faithful in my writing. I've been wondering if this really is God's plan for me. Because I do this basically for myself. People tell me it encourages them sometimes, but I do this completely on my own. Nobody asked me to. 

My husband gets asked to use his talents. I'm not jealous or resentful of that it's just an example of what I mean. He's a singer and he's great at 'sound'...and people ask him to do that. He gets asked to sing whenever singers are needed for anything and he gets asked to run the 'sound board' when it needs running. 

I have a cousin who is great at planning things. Like, she's amazing. And she gets asked to plan things. 

I don't get asked to write. I'm not pouting or upset about this, I'm just questioning what I'm doing here. 

Growing up, I didn't think I was capable of doing any really important job. When I took the military personality/aptitude tests in high school...they told me I would be a good senator or judge or college professor or pastor. If the test had had a face...I would have laughed in it. Not because I wouldn't have loved those jobs...but I was brought up thinking that politics or law school was out of the question for a christian and I also just didn't think I had it in me. And pastor was completely and utterly out of the question.:) Lately I've been thinking about possibly going to law school after my kids are grown just to prove to myself that I can do it. I don't know, like I said, I'm not building any doors for myself. 

Honestly, I thought that being a wife and mother were the only things I could do. I thought I would be good at keeping a home and caring for my children and husband. I'm not. It doesn't come naturally for me. I thought I would be fulfilled by it...and I love my kids and my husband so much that it hurts...but I find the itch to have something of my own to contribute to the world. Maybe that's a character defect. 

Maybe I'll get to the end of my life and my significant contribution to the world will be that my house is finally clean and I have gotten over my phobia of having people over. Maybe that's the point to all of this. 

I don't know. But these are the thoughts that have been rummaging around in my head. I'm going to be faithful to my commitment to write...even if it's only for the feeling of accomplishment when the year is over and I've kept it. 

God is good, He is faithful and I trust Him with my future, my family and all of you!