Maybe this is a good place to start

  Every time I see another person say “suck it up” or “stop whining and move on,” I feel more bereft than before—because those statements show that people don’t get it. This isn’t about politics, and suggesting that my sadness isn’t valid is belittling. Honestly, this response only underscores the reasons I’m upset in the ...

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Every time I see another person say “suck it up” or “stop whining and move on,” I feel more bereft than before—because those statements show that people don’t get it. This isn’t about politics, and suggesting that my sadness isn’t valid is belittling. Honestly, this response only underscores the reasons I’m upset in the first place.

Since hearing someone else’s story always changes my understanding, I’m sharing mine with you. I’m sure there are plenty of people who are whining and pouting and just like to be mad. But there are lots and lots of other people who, I think, feel much like I do. Our rights may not be compromised, but we see that those of others might be, and we feel the pain on their behalf.

If anything unusual happened during these past few months, it is that people went public with their thoughts and opinions and our social media environment helps remove social filters. Which should be good. We want honesty and authenticity, right? Except that in so many cases the thoughts and opinions exposed were ugly. Downright hateful and mean and insulting.

(I know this goes both ways, although among my friends, I’ve seen next to nothing of the sort coming from the liberals and tons of bashing from the conservatives—but many of the conservatives I know tell me that all the liberals are hateful and violent. And that’s exactly my point. When we make broad generalizations, we’re insulting actual, specific individuals. Most of us are not extremists, and general statements like that are, quite simply, not fair. And I’m genuinely sorry I didn’t realize that sooner.)

Am I happy with the outcome? No. I accept that Donald Trump will be my President, and I will try to give him a chance. But my political disappointment is no more extreme than that of a conservative when Obama was elected. About half the time, simply because of the way democracy works, we will all be disappointed. No big deal.

Am I grieving? Yes. But the reason is not because “my” candidate lost the election.

It is not because Donald Trump was elected. It’s because grief is sometimes the appropriate response when something is lost. It’s right to feel sad when you see wrongs and injustices.

These past few months, we all witnessed new levels of hatred and division, name-calling and bullying. As I watched the results pour in on Tuesday night, I started to cry because I realized that the conclusion of the election will not conclude the problem.

We’ve seen too much to go back. We’ve seen who we are—as a country, as different political groups, as a Church. Maybe Trump didn’t cause the ugliness in individual people but he inherently, by his own words, gave permission to people to speak out. They felt comfortable letting others see parts of themselves they would have once kept hidden. And now millions more feel acute rejection—because even if, as a Trump supporter, you’re not hateful or bigoted, Trump’s victory seems to many to be an endorsement of those traits.

When people are hurting, we—as Christians—should feel empathy and sorrow. It’s not sadness about Democrats “not getting our way.” It’s about having compassion for the millions of hurting people who need to know that even though Trump won, we believe they have value. We see them.

Here’s just a little bit of what else we’ve seen.

  • Many people—who are anything other than straight, white, middle class Christians—are feeling justifiable fear. Countless individuals are being taunted, facing hatred, and experiencing violent backlash simply because of their ancestry or a stereotype.
  • Millions of women are victims of sexual abuse, and many men simply cannot understand what mainstream acceptance of sexism and abuse does to a woman’s soul.
  • Not all Christians believe the same things—or if we do, we choose to live out our ideologies very differently.
  • Many Christians (and to be fair, probably many other religions, too) feel threatened by those who believe differently.
  • Nobody likes to be stereotyped; we want to be evaluated on our individual merits and behaviors, not someone’s opinion about a group we belong to.
  • Our actions have a real impact on others’ perceptions of who we are—especially as Christians, who are called to show God to the world. People (within and outside of the Church) are questioning if Christianity is all they thought it was, and if our God is worth following if His followers act this way.
  • Minorities and differences are not as accepted as we thought.
  • Thousands (probably millions) have spent their lifetimes feeling ignored, so when Trump made them feel seen, they responded to him. At the same time, countless others feel unseen now because of the number of votes for a platform seemingly opposed to their beliefs or lifestyles.
  • Because so many voted “against” rather than “for”—we know that negative emotions like dislike and distrust are extremely powerful motivators.

These issues aren’t about politics but basic human decency—the lack of it and the necessity for more of it. Now that we know, it’s not as simple as just “dropping it” and moving on.

This could be a really good thing. It could. When something is hidden, it can’t be addressed. Hidden things hold a dark kind of power over us.

But now we can change.

So, as a liberal, am I packing my bags and leaving the country? No. I won’t deny that in the midst of my emotions, I didn’t wish I could. But I don’t usually run from a problem, even if I could. So instead I’m spending time with trusted friends who make me feel safe to be me. I’m talking to God and trying to come to terms with our new reality. I’m praying for insight and direction and inspiration.

And I’m hoping—fervently, passionately hoping—that this will be the start of something amazing. That this will not be an era of hate, but that people will pull together to find the good. That we will work together to help people who aren’t just like us feel they belong. That we will learn to look beyond our own experience and be aware of someone else’s.

Recently, we’ve focused on our differences, but if we look harder, I believe we can find more to bring us together. And if we believe what our faith teaches us, we all have work to do.

  • As Christians, we have to forgive—not because it’s our gut response or because we’re feeling magnanimous but because we were first forgiven by Christ.
  • We have to love others—because we were loved first with an extravagant love whose depths we cannot begin to fathom.
  • We must stop judging because God is the righteous judge. We must stop casting stones because we are not without our own sin.
  • We need to accept others, because Jesus turned no one away. God’s love is freely offered to everyone.

But it’s not all hard stuff.

  • We get to hope because God alone brings hope into impossible situations.
  • We get to remember that these trials in our world are nothing for a God who is not limited by place or time or circumstance. No need is beyond his capacity for repair or his ability to procure.

We do know this, right? Then let’s act like we believe it. Let’s build genuine relationships with all types of people and not be afraid of that which is different. Let’s attempt to understand where those we disagree with are coming from. Let’s not get bogged down by despair but let’s do find more, better ways to extend kindness and generosity with sincerity and grace. Let’s show God’s love in more genuine ways. Let’s acknowledge that the Church will never be perfect because it’s made up of imperfect individuals—but that doesn’t mean we can’t be better.

It’s not all on us as a country or community, though. We each have our own personal work to do—getting to know God better, seeking Him sooner and more often. Turning from selfishness and ignorance toward the light of His understanding. Putting our trust in God, who never fails us. (He may do things we don’t like, but He doesn’t fail us.)

So even though I am mourning and hurting, and even though I’ve been insulted and am disappointed in others, and even though I’m overwhelmed with despair, I will keep trying to do what’s right. Because I know that someone else’s misbehavior doesn’t justify my own. Lashing out to hurt someone else doesn’t heal the wound they inflicted on me.

I have to believe that mankind is better than the examples I’ve seen lately. I have to trust that every insult directed at (pick one) liberals/Democrats/Christians/women isn’t a personal attack. I have to give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I don’t want to, even when it would be easier to skip church or cancel lunch with a friend or unfriend someone on Facebook. I have to be all right with knowing that lots of people don’t understand me and never will.

And it’s okay. Because in the end, I don’t have control over anyone else. I can only be responsible for myself, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t want to hold grudges and be bogged down by despair. I want to be better. I want to let other people know they matter. And I want to be able to look God in the face and hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I want His best. I want Him. I want to be quick to embrace and slow to take offense. I want to live true to my faith and convictions. I want to see that in you and I want to develop that in myself. And that, my friends, is something that goes way beyond politics and elections, and it provides a solid start on a place in which we can agree. I hope you’ll join me there.

Prayer for my teenage boy

My 15-year-old son goes back to school tomorrow, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how weird it is to see him growing up. So I thought I’d share this prayer with you today. Lord, when people told me there is something special about the relationship between a mom and her son, they were right. But ...

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My 15-year-old son goes back to school tomorrow, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how weird it is to see him growing up. So I thought I’d share this prayer with you today.

Lord, when people told me there is something special about the relationship between a mom and her son, they were right. But as much as I adore this boy, I admit that there are times I have absolutely no understanding of him. He’s like an alien creature inhabiting my world.

When I go to wake him up, I marvel at the way that this child of mine stretches completely across the entire mattress. When he talks, I’m amazed at how deep his voice is. When girls flirt with him, it makes me laugh. He’s still my baby, that little boy that pulled my neck towards him to hold my face in his chubby hands and kiss me. The one who threw temper tantrums and hid behind furniture. The one who played with Legos while singing adorably mispronounced song lyrics.

But yet… he’s almost 6 feet tall. He’s stinky and has whiskers and hairy legs. He’s never without a phone in his hand—unless he’s playing video games or sports—and he takes 400,000 selfies a day for SnapChat and can’t talk about anything but cars. One minute he hugs me and the next he wants nothing to do with me. He still needs his mama but he wants his dad to teach him how to be a man. He needs direction but wants independence. There’s a part of him that is still soft inside, still vulnerable, still tender, but he fights that because it’s not what he thinks a man is supposed to be.

Lord, help me to be the kind of mom he needs me to be. Let me be his safe place to be himself, without any pretense. Let me be the source of unconditional love and fierce mama-bear protection. Let me always be the one he holds doors for. Thank you for letting me be the person who gets the way his brain works, who knows what will make him laugh, who is willing to set him up for all of his sarcastic responses and nerdy jokes. But help me to hold him to a high standard (and still show him love if he doesn’t live up to that). Help me let him know his value without inflating his ego.

But more than that, Lord, help him to embrace becoming the man You want him to be. Never stop talking to him, whispering to him to make smart choices and be true to who he is. Help him choose his friends wisely, and surround him with people who bring out the best in him, who challenge him to work harder and be more kind and generous. Let him shoot high when he sets goals, and help him to learn from his mistakes but have the perseverance to try again. Let him know that he doesn’t have to hide his brain to be popular. Help him to be funny without ever being mean. Teach him to gauge his worth in You and not care about his relative popularity among his peers.

Hold tight to him, Lord. Give him the courage to put You first. To let others see how much he loves You. To go to You first for advice and direction. To stand up and be a man and to look at Jesus as his ultimate role model. Whatever he does in this life, let his love for You be clear to others, and let his service to You be done gladly and passionately. Keep him centered, Lord. Because You are the rock. Of his salvation and of mine. You are the anchor that holds us all in place. You are the source of our strength. You are our hope and our redeemer. And You are able to do all things. There’s no one else I could trust with him (or with my girls).

You are my everything. And my greatest prayer for him is that You will become his everything, too. Amen.

My Summer Prayer

Dear Lord, As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real. I’m used to having some space to ...

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Dear Lord,

As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real.

I’m used to having some space to myself at home—a desk that I clear in the mornings and which remains clear unless I clutter it again. I’m used to being able to sit all day without turning on a TV so that I can work, to let my thoughts and ideas incubate in the silence. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. But this quiet space is where I create. I’m used to juggling appointments and errands and the items on my to-do list with limited restrictions, which normally center on drop-off and pick-up times at school.

But now there are bodies in my house. People talking, sitcoms on television, questions about what’s for lunch and can I go here and oh-no-I-forgot-I-need-to-be-there-in-five-minutes!

My kids are older now: more self-sufficient, less demanding of my attention. So really, this summer is going to be different than those in the past. But this feeling of dread I associate with summer remains in me still.

So, Lord, I am asking for Your help.

With each drive to the school for basketball or soccer or conditioning or summer PE, let me not feel inconvenienced, but instead let me enjoy the time with my son while he’s still too young to drive himself. Let me marvel at his changes, enjoy his music, listen to his off-the-wall insights.

When I sit outside, let me soak in the sunlight and relax my mind, rather than thinking about all those other things I should be doing. There’s enough time to think about those while I’m actually doing them, and the added stress doesn’t help anyone.

When there’s nothing to eat and everyone’s hungry, let me notice the blessing of abundant food and the luxury of turning up our noses at leftovers. Let me remember what a privilege it is to have these people in my home, and let me teach them how to be more self-sufficient.

When I can’t walk through the living room because of the clutter, when on each trip through the house I gather armloads of empty cups, when I trip over the piles of shoes by the back door, and when I’m overwhelmed by the piles of laundry, let me stop and take a deep breath. Let me trust You to keep my mind free of the clutter I’m experiencing physically. Impress on me the awareness that this is not a trial. This is not a bad thing. This is all here because we have a home and a family and a full life.

Help me, every morning, to set my sights on You. To filter my thoughts through Your word. To lean on You for strength. To turn to You for calm. To rely on You for provision. To revel in Your nearness. To see summer as a time of beauty, a season of abundance, a time of joy. Help me equate sunshine with Your glorious light. To see the lushness of the landscape as a reminder of Your extravagant grace. To wake each morning with a sense of peace, and to end each day satisfied and grateful and knowing that I accomplished exactly what You put before me to do that day.

In short, let summer be what every other day of my life should be—and can be—with You.


Prayer for the mom without a mom

Dear Lord, Mother’s Day is hard. It’s difficult to celebrate this role when the one who taught me the most, the one whose opinion mattered so much, isn’t here any longer. It’s hard to think about how to be what my children need when I face this gaping hole, an absence where it still feels ...

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Dear Lord,

Mother’s Day is hard. It’s difficult to celebrate this role when the one who taught me the most, the one whose opinion mattered so much, isn’t here any longer.

It’s hard to think about how to be what my children need when I face this gaping hole, an absence where it still feels like my mom should be. When, even after several years, I feel lost… adrift… permanently damaged, even as I go about my days. I’m not depressed. But I miss her. I feel perpetually lonely without her.

On a day like today, all I can think about is what my mom did for me. How she—even through her criticisms—was my unconditional place. My biggest supporter and strongest cheerleader. How she saw what was bad, misguided, or just plain wrong in my actions—and didn’t hesitate to say so—because she believed I was capable of so much more. Because she thought I was so much better than that.

I wonder now—when I rebelled, did it hurt her the way my own kids hurt me?

Did she stand firm in her opinions anyway, simply because there was no other choice? Because she had to be the mom she knew I needed, rather than the one I thought I wanted?

Did she lie awake at night, wondering if she was doing right by her kids?

Did she fume all day when I yelled at her unjustly?

And even so, did she defend me, instinctively, against any and all criticisms?

Did she mourn over her inability to protect me from people who would hurt me, injure my opinion of myself, break my heart?

I’m certain she did. As a teen, I was oblivious to that. As a parent myself, I now understand her better. Lord, You gave me wonderful mom, and I’m so grateful. And You’ve blessed me with remarkable, amazing children. So why do I feel more like crying than rejoicing?

Because I fully recognize all that I lost. All that she was to me. All that a mom should be to her child. And I’m afraid I can’t live up. I’m afraid I’ve already failed irreparably. I’m afraid my kids will never understand the depths of my love for them. My desperation to shield them from all that could harm them. My unlimited hopes and aspirations for them. They may never understand how deeply I feel the things that hurt them. Or how much I believe in them.

Maybe they’ll get it when they have children of their own.

Maybe someday they’ll cling to You when they realize they don’t have control over their own kids’ lives. Maybe they’ll live in awe of a God who loves us with a Father’s love. Maybe they’ll understand that we are forever connected, whether we’re both on this earth or not. Maybe they’ll grasp the reality that parenting well involves huge risk. It involves making unpopular decisions and hard choices and knowing that we can’t fix everything. It requires being hands-off sometimes when our instincts tell us to cling tight. It consists of a love so great that it isn’t changed by circumstances, actions, achievements—or by disappointments or failures. Our hearts are forever tethered to each other.

Lord, as I write this, I feel my heart loosening. My gratitude welling up. My sadness is still there but not bringing me down… instead, it’s lifting up my head, directing my sight towards You. Because I do have reasons to celebrate. Reasons so much greater than flowers and gifts or the perfect card.

I have You. And I had her (and will always have her, even if she’s not here). And I have my kids.

And I do have joy… in spite of the sadness. But on this day, with Your help, I will let joy prevail. Thank You, Lord.


Slowing down and paying attention

Poor me. All I’ve talked about for weeks is my elbow. I’ve spent the last week with my right arm immobilized in a brace. Most of the time has been spent half-snoozing, system full of pain-killers. Mindless Netflix episodes. A couple frivolous books. Trying not to criticize my husband for not doing all of my ...

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Poor me. All I’ve talked about for weeks is my elbow. I’ve spent the last week with my right arm immobilized in a brace. Most of the time has been spent half-snoozing, system full of pain-killers. Mindless Netflix episodes. A couple frivolous books. Trying not to criticize my husband for not doing all of my usual tasks exactly the way I would do them. Eating isn’t even much fun when it’s all about getting enough in your stomach to keep the meds from making you nauseous, and having someone else cut your food, and then shakily balancing food on an awkwardly grasped fork, hoping to end up with more in my mouth than tumbling down the front of my shirt.

Several friends, upon hearing about my injury, asked if it’s my writing hand. Yes. But I spend so much time typing that I didn’t think it would bother me much in that respect. Oh, what we take for granted. Signing a check or charge slip. Jotting new activities and kids’ sports practices on the calendar. Writing quick reminders on post-it notes. Grocery lists. Addressing an envelope. Filling in the answers in my Bible study book. Scribbling insights in the margins of books I’m reading. I typically spend lots of time with a pen in hand. A Tul medium point blue gel pen, to be precise. I love filling pages of any kind with my handwriting, smooth and glob-free thanks to my trusty pens.

But I jot things down because I can’t remember everything and there’s always so much to remember. Maybe I need to slow down and simply remember.

Interestingly enough, I just now got an email notifying me that a blog post of mine just went live on Devotional Diva, a site I’m excited to be writing for. Prayer for the Overwhelmed. The words I wrote weeks ago minister to me now. Huh. Funny how that happens.

I have no doubt that God is trying to teach me something. Slow me down and teach me to lean on Him in new ways. The first of these lessons I’ve already seen.

Friends — people I think a lot of but don’t know well — have sent me cards. Actually stopped what they’re doing after seeing my posts on Facebook, and sent me cards. I’ve gotten texts and gifts and food.

Apparently, there are still a lot of loving and thoughtful people in this world. People so much kinder than I am.

Friends with chronic conditions have shared their tips and encouragement. A woman with so many more health issues than I have has sent up prayers and offered advice for how to lean into the pain and not fight the body’s natural response. More people than I can believe have empathized, mentioning the time they had arm/shoulder/hand/knee surgery. (Where was I? How did I not notice or remember? Am I really so self-focused?) One friend has been without a voice for two weeks, unable to work — and yet SHE sends ME a get well bag of goodies. My sister tells me about the people from her work and church who ask about me. (On a side note, the people at C’ville’s First United Methodist Church and all the staff at Spencer Dermatology are among the nicest people I know.)

But the most humbling moment came when my friend Sherry walked into church Sunday. She has several serious medical issues and recently fell, hard, further injuring her already painful, messed-up back. She came into church, leaning on a cane, grimacing from the effort. Yet she threw her arm around me, hugged me, and said she’s been praying for me and worrying about how I’m doing.

She. Has been worried. About me.

I think that when we’re hurting, when we are facing a big change (whether tragic or emotional or physical), our natural response is to close in. Our world gets smaller. The pain defines us and gives us blinders to everything else.

But the people who make a difference are those who uncurl themselves, who come out of their circle of pain to reach out to others. Those who are not defined by their circumstances. Those who use their experiences to embody their compassion for others. Those who understand that even in pain, even in sorrow and hardship, God reigns. He never leaves. He’s not angry and punishing them. He loves and soothes and comforts and forgives and teaches and reveals and enlightens.

He reminds us that no matter how lonely we might feel, we are not alone.

We are not forsaken. We should not despair. We should, quite simply, love.

LORD, don’t let me waste this time. Don’t let me fill it with mindless noise and fail to hear Your voice. If I have to slow down, let this time have a new kind of value. Let my mind slow and my soul learn to wait. Remind me to listen. And teach me this kind of generosity of spirit. Help me love like You would. Amen.

Luckily, I prepared the April prayer calendar before my surgery so it’s here and ready to go!


Time to stop being a control freak

Recently, on a night when I was hosting my book club, my husband walked in to the living room and started gathering our dirty dessert plates. I started off by rolling my eyes—of course he wants to take credit for being this great husband. By the time everyone left, the kitchen was clean, and I ...

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Recently, on a night when I was hosting my book club, my husband walked in to the living room and started gathering our dirty dessert plates. I started off by rolling my eyes—of course he wants to take credit for being this great husband. By the time everyone left, the kitchen was clean, and I climbed into bed, furious.

As I sat there, I started wondering why this made me so angry. Was it about him getting “credit” for what he did? Was he showing off?

No. I was mad because I could have done the dishes. I was going to. And every time Tim does something like this, I take it as a rebuke. I read into his attitude anger, disgust—the conviction that he had to step up because I didn’t fulfill my obligations.

And then I thought about Tim. And realized there was no way that’s what he meant. He was probably just trying to be helpful. Not criticizing my lack of action.

OK, so maybe hormones played into this a bit. But still, even taking that into account, I knew I was out of line. (And for the record, I apologized.)

A couple weeks later, my daughter called me, nearly in tears. She was back at college, and she needed to find her black dress, and she had seen it that day, but couldn’t find it now. She had already looked through all her clothes. She was frustrated, didn’t like any of my suggestions, and took it out on me.

There may have been some stress and hormones going on here, too (hers and mine). But I hung up the phone, upset, ranting in my mind. I wasn’t there. What was I supposed to do? And why did I feel like such a failure? How could the fact the she lost a dress make me feel as though I had personally failed her?

These two moments keep coming back to my mind. So I’ve been examining them, examining myself, wondering what they say about me.

The simple answer? That I’m a control freak.

When my kids or husband call me that, it makes me angry. Because someone has to make sure things get done. Someone has to pay attention to the big picture, and be sure that the details are handled, too. If not me, then who?

What I’ve discovered in the past 22 years of parenting is that it’s a whole lot harder to fix something after it’s done wrong (or too late) than it is to just do it myself.

But what has that taught my kids? To lean on me and not do it themselves.

What has that taught my husband? That he can’t win, and it’s not worth it to try to help.

What has it done for me? Raised my blood pressure, primarily. The things it has done are not good. It’s exacerbated my stress, added to my too-long to-do list, kept me from getting enough sleep, made it hard for me to relax, and strained my relationships. The people in my life have to be frustrated with me, and I’m tired of feeling like I have to pick up the slack.

So I’m done.

No, I’m not running away. But my mantra this past couple weeks has been “Don’t do it.” Forget Nike. I need to design a new logo with this much-more-catchy tagline: DON’T DO IT.

When my son had a paper due recently, I nudged him all day. And evening. And night. To keep moving. To hurry up. I drove him crazy—and justified that he needed someone to prod him because he wasn’t moving fast enough. It’s entirely possible that some steam may have escaped out of my ears. And even though I’m certain he thinks I was being controlling, I nagged much less than I wanted to, and I didn’t sit down with him and try to help.

I’ll call that a win. Even if he didn’t finish the paper until almost 1 am.

When my husband finished loading the dishwasher without me asking, I didn’t go in and say, “I was gonna do that.” Instead, I finished reading a chapter of my book as I sipped on my coffee.

The fact that these are ridiculous examples just goes to show how skewed my thinking had become.

I want control. I want to make sure things work. I want to accomplish stuff, check things off my list. I want to achieve, excel, succeed. I want to be the best. Do the most. I want to make it happen.

But I cannot control everything. I wrote a little about that last week, and I’m still trying to learn this lesson.

I have tried to do too much, and in the long run, it hasn’t helped anyone. Least of all, myself.

So I find myself saying no. Not out loud, necessarily. But just telling myself—OK, shouting loudly in my head to be heard above the chaos that reigns in there—NO. Don’t do it. Don’t volunteer. Don’t take over. Don’t worry if it’s not done just the way you want it.

Do not control everything.

Because it’s impossible, and it only leads to more frustration, more feelings of being inadequate, more failures. And because it’s not my job. It’s God’s. The Only One who can bring change. Who can impose order.

The One whose job I need to stop taking.

Calling all SuperMoms. Especially those who aren’t [giveaway]

Today is the release day for my friend Becky Kopitzke‘s book, The Super Mom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood. I got to read it early, and I loved it. Even though I’m kind of tired of everything related to being a mom. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. And you never ...

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Today is the release day for my friend Becky Kopitzke‘s book, The Super Mom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood.

I got to read it early, and I loved it. Even though I’m kind of tired of everything related to being a mom. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. And you never stop being a mom. But I am past the “kid” stage so I wasn’t sure how I would relate, even though I knew I would love what Becky had to say, because she’s awesome like that.

But I loved it. Here is my official review:

As a mother of three, I am sick of all the messes, whining and complaining (mine, not my kids’). I try not to worry about all the ways that I have failed in this holy role God granted me. But in The SuperMom Myth, Becky Kopitzke pairs her stories with God’s words and wisdom to soothe, convict, and repair my tired, tattered soul. She somehow climbed into my head and heard my excuses, justification, insecurity, and guilt—and helped me leave them behind. She is real and relatable, and did I mention funny? Her gentle answers reveal Biblical truths and fresh insights that every mom needs to hear. She points us all to the only Superhero who is infallible, reminding us that, by ourselves, cape or not, we can’t save the day. I’ll gladly serve as faithful sidekick to the One who can.

If you still have children at home, you should read this. If you know someone who has children at home, you might consider this as a Christmas gift. It’s a fun read—the material has depth, but you never feel like you’re having to slog through. It’s in bite-sized pieces. And it’s real and loaded with wisdom and truth. It’s the book I wish I’d had when my kids were younger and I was struggling with learning how to juggle the craziness that is life. You can order it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

I like this book so much that I’ll tell you what: Leave a comment below before Saturday, December 5 and you will be entered into a drawing for a free copy. My treat :-).



The best way to love someone? Through prayer.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6, NIV When you sit down to draw a still life, you have to be careful to maintain a consistent position. If you get up to stretch and sit down a few inches ...

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6, NIV

When you sit down to draw a still life, you have to be careful to maintain a consistent position. If you get up to stretch and sit down a few inches to the right, the scene will look different. The spaces between objects will have changed, relative proportions shifted. Lines moving away from you will be at different angles. Even if you’re not an artist, you’ve probably seen this is another way. When your family poses for a Christmas photo in front of the tree, it might look as though it’s growing out of your son’s head. But if you shift a couple feet to one side, that is no longer the case. Because you found a new perspective.

When I decided to keep a prayer journal for one month (from Thanksgiving through Christmas) for my friend Peggy, I knew it would be a meaningful gift. But I didn’t realize it would be a gift to me, too.

Peggy’s life intersects mine in so many ways. She and her husband pastor our church. Our children are about the same ages, and we grew up attending the same school together for most of our lives. When I went forward, wanting to be baptized, in sixth grade, it was during Peggy’s slumber party (she’d taken us to her church’s revival). When I later found my church and discovered what it meant to have an intimate relationship with Jesus, I learned much of it from watching her.

Peggy helped me discover the power of prayer. So often we tell people we’ll pray and promptly forget, though. I wanted a tangible record of my commitment to pray for her.

So I chose a small journal and sat down every day to write out my prayers. I prayed for a different aspect of her life each day—her children, husband, ministry, leadership, faith life, friendships, extended family, work, finances, and health.


When I intentionally prayed for Peggy and her family, asking for God’s protection and intervention, guidance and leadership, I got a new glimpse into Peggy’s life—her faith, her struggles—that I hadn’t seen before. In turn, I found a renewed sense of gratitude for her gifts—her joy, her welcoming kindness, her fun-loving personality. A greater respect for the weights she carries and for the responsibility of her position. A new awe for the strength of her character and the depths of her faith. And it made me a better friend.

Amazing things happen when we pray. God draws nearer. Rough edges are made smooth. Hardened hearts are softened. It was easy to pray for Peggy because I already cared about her. It may not be as easy to pray for someone you don’t particularly like—someone who hurt you, makes snide comments, lies, cheats, or can’t be trusted. But here’s the hard truth about Christianity: we’re called to embrace the teachings and practices of Jesus, and that isn’t easy.

Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). To pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6).

But not just any old prayers will do. We’re to pray with thanksgiving.

Lucky for us, prayer and gratitude go hand in hand.

Pray for your enemy (or rival, or the person who offended you on Facebook) and you will discover that there’s more than one side to every story. Pray for the wife of a man you’re attracted to, and before long, you have one more good reason to avoid getting too close to him. Pray for the boss who sets a negative tone in the workplace and you might find yourself shouldering some of the emotional load he carries; your newfound compassion may change the dynamic of your relationship. Ask God to show you ways to give and you may realize your financial situation isn’t as dire as you thought.

The greatest gift you can offer to someone is your heartfelt prayer. Along the way, you will begin to see that, whatever your view, God is there.

And gratitude will bubble up. No matter where you are sitting.

(First published on the Tyndale blog, November 17, 2015.)


A letter to the women at Allume

Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
 and evil actions are all sin. Proverbs 21:4 Can you forgive me? I don’t like to admit this, but the reality is that I judged you. I looked at your skinny legs in your skinny jeans, at your fashionable tall boots, at the stacks of bracelets wrapping your slender wrists, ...

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Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
 and evil actions are all sin.
Proverbs 21:4

Can you forgive me?

I don’t like to admit this, but the reality is that I judged you. I looked at your skinny legs in your skinny jeans, at your fashionable tall boots, at the stacks of bracelets wrapping your slender wrists, at your taut, luminescent skin. I listened to your gracious southern drawls talking about intentionality and living life in grace and nurturing your precious babies and the holy calling of being a mama. I looked at your popularity—how many people you know, how many followers you have, which publishers you are with, what you have accomplished. You sang popular worship music and knew all the words and I made assumptions about your churches and faith.

In short, I walked in with a judgmental, divisive spirit. You came in to the conference as empty vessels, preparing to be filled up. I lugged in bushel baskets of ugly. I looked through lenses of envy and jealousy. I let my longing to be better ignite my insecurities about my weight and age and the church background I come from. I assumed you weren’t interested in anything I might have to offer, so I held tightly to myself.

I pride myself on my ability to look for similarities, to focus on what people have in common rather than dwelling on the differences. So I’m feeling especially appalled and ashamed that I fell so far and so quickly.

True, I may be in my late 40s and you might be 23. I may have a muffin top and no excuses while you wear a FitBit and manage to work out even with a little one (or two or three or four). You may be especially stylish and I may feel frumpy. But since when has surface stuff mattered to me? And why did I let it consume me?

Maybe it’s this: I sense that you are genuinely that selfless and gentle and kind, and I’m just not as nice as you are. And I don’t like it when I become—what was it Logan said?—Judgy McJudgyPants? And the more I didn’t like me, the more inferior I felt next to you.

But when I took the time to fight through my feelings, when I turned again towards God and away from the master liar, I rediscovered the beautiful truth: We’re not that different. We both love God—love Him so much that He has become our source. We’re not in competition. We’re on the same team, and we’re representing the same Kingdom. We’re inspired by the same Source, and even so, we’re not meant to be exactly the same.

What you’ve found with God does not in any way diminish what I have found or what remains available to me.

You will have stories I won’t, and you will use them to reach people I can’t. That’s good. It’s how it’s supposed to be. Forgive me for succumbing to the falsehood that there are not enough pieces of pie for each of us. Please grant me forgiveness for my ugly—and unfair and unfounded—thoughts.

We all know the story of the woman at the well. She went in the middle of the day, alone, because she was an outcast. But Jesus met her there. He saw through her charade and spoke truth to the innermost part of her heart, and she discovered something in the water He offered that she had never found anywhere else.

When I picture the women who taught us, I can’t shake this image: Women who draw their strength from the well of life, which is the Word of God. The idea that won’t leave me is that of each of you casting your bucket into the well with abandon—and withdrawing life-sustaining power. You don’t drink of the leftovers or rely on others to bring it for you. You lower your buckets and when you draw them back to you, they’re overflowing with living water, and you bathe in the overflow. Even more impressive, you go back again and again. And again. Because you can’t get enough. You’re not content to merely survive. You long to grow, to thrive. To live.

I spent so much time dwelling on this idea that I missed something. Apparently, I am the woman who walked alone to the well, certain that I would be judged, and I almost missed taking a drink because I made such an idol of who I thought you would think I was.

But you? You welcomed me with kindness. Your face shone with the reflected glory of God as you shared your stories. I spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider, but that’s not your fault. I could have gone to the well early in the morning, like the other women of the village. But I chose not to.

The beauty of it all, though, is that Jesus still met me. He still waited and He still had something to offer.

Because He always does. He whispers the truth of who He is, and who we are when we belong to Him. He reminds us that this life has nothing to do with other people and everything to do with Him. Period. I need to look upward, not sideways. I need to ask Him to change me, to help me learn to be content, to instill in me such a confidence in His love for me that I no longer measure myself against others. He sees me—with all the ugly on the inside—but He doesn’t run away. He pulls me closer and tells me the truth about myself. And reminds me what I already knew: I am forgiven.

So now I need to forgive myself. I hope you will forgive me, too.

I went into Allume focused on promotion and meeting people who could help me further my career. And boy did I miss the boat. Because this conference wasn’t about success, or even really about publishing. It was about nourishing the souls of women who write about God, about feeding the desire we each have to connect more deeply with Him through knowing others.

And it was a learning opportunity. A place where God could show me my weaknesses in His ongoing efforts to prune me, to refine me, to redeem me and mold me into His image. I have a long way to go. But you know what? I’m feeling a surge of gratitude in my heart that I have the opportunity to walk alongside you on this path.

I’m finally feeling what I should have felt from the start.

I’m thanking God for the beautiful women He allowed me to connect with—in spite of my insecurities and inner turmoil. And I’m asking God to nurture you, to open doors and allow you prominent platforms from which to tell your God-stories. I’m praying for your success in publishing, and I’m trusting that God will reveal new things to you along the way. I’m in awe of your authentic relationships with Him and I’m inspired to renew mine. I’m pledging my help to you, in whatever ways I can, from a genuine desire to see you go forward, to see you change lives.

It’s how I’m turning my prayers upside down today. With each pang of insecurity I feel, I’ll pray for all of you. And I believe that in the process, God will transform me. Because He’s good like that. Oh so good. And I’m so grateful.

Words you may need to hear: You are not alone.

Not ever. Even when it feels like it. Even if you haven’t heard from God for a long time. You’re not alone when you’re struggling. Or when you’re rejoicing. Wherever you are, whatever pain or struggles or loneliness or brokenness you’re feeling, God never leaves your side. Trust me, I know there are times it’s ...

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GRAPHIC you are not alone

Not ever. Even when it feels like it. Even if you haven’t heard from God for a long time. You’re not alone when you’re struggling. Or when you’re rejoicing. Wherever you are, whatever pain or struggles or loneliness or brokenness you’re feeling, God never leaves your side.

Trust me, I know there are times it’s hard to believe that. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. But I believe with all of my heart that God always eventually reveals Himself. He always shows up.

Yesterday I asked friends on Facebook to pray for a friend of mine who was feeling alone and abandoned by God.

You can say what you’re praying… or what you hope God will do… or that you’ve felt abandoned too but later discovered God was working… or just that you’ve taken a minute to lift her up in prayer. Just something so she knows that she is not alone, that God hears her and maybe His answers will come through a stranger’s words for her? OK… go! (And thank you!)

The responses were so real. So true. Words from people who have been there. From those who have struggled. Some people simply lifted up my friend in prayer, and some shared advice. A few people have told me how much these stories and words of encouragement meant to them, even though they may not have been “for” them. But I beg to disagree.

God often answers our prayers through the words of someone else. And He may answer more than one person’s prayer at the same time—like when I finally sold my house, and realized that he answered my prayer by also answering the prayers of the woman who bought it. We build our faith when we share our stories, when we open ourselves up and reveal the pain—because those are the things that connect us. So I’m posting all of the responses (minus the names of the posters) below. Maybe one of these things is exactly what you‘ve been needing to hear!

  • I know the feeling of abandonment. There have been times in my life that I felt all alone only to discover that God’s been there the whole time. Don’t give up! Just give it to God. It’s all in His time.
  • Let go, let God!
  • There are people around you who care. They just aren’t saying so. Ask someone for a hug. Many people assumed I was ok until I told them I wasn’t. I guarantee there is at least one human who will stand by you.
  • I’m praying that God gives you a sense of peace and love. I pray that he also gives you strength and wisdom! I pray that you never feel alone again and know God is always with you! I Jesus name I pray… Amen.
  • Give yourself time to overcome your problem. Sometimes you end up happier in ways that you never considered. Reach out to a friend.
  • In the darkest night, know that the still presence of God exists for you.
  • When I was born, I was born abandoned, no one wanted me… IKR: How could anyone abandon a baby?? Well they did… Thanks be to God he placed me in the care of great parents who adopted me… However that feeling inside, carried way up into my adult life;aAt about 25 I was PRAYING and God spoke to me and said; “Don’t you know that from your very first breath, I have been the one taking care of you? What makes you think I’m gonna stop now?” He feels the same way about you! I am a witness he’ll carry you through! 🙂
  • God is with you all the time and many others care for you. I will pray for you.
  • Jesus knows our feelings and is an ever present help if we just sweetly speak His name.
  • Dear Jesus I thank you, because of you, we are never alone. You are our strength and our joy in the time of sorrow and disappointment. I pray comfort with your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
  • God will never leave you ! He will NEVER give you more than you can handle. BELIEVE. Prayers lifted up for you.
  • This isn’t for me, but I needed to see this today. I didn’t even realize I needed to see it, as I sit here in tears. Thank you Kelly. I’m soaking in these words.
  • Praying for your friend to find peace, comfort and courage in Christ and his presence.
  • Praying for your friend to know that God is with her and that God loves her. He is holding her in His loving arms.
  • Trust his power and never doubt his strength… GOD is always there even when we are away from him…
  • Sweet friend of Kelly’s, you’re never alone. Jesus is always with you.
  • Just prayed for you to feel the love of strangers going out to you and for JESUS to envelop you in his arms to give you peace. AMEN!!
  • Dear friend of Kelly’s, since you are a friend of Kelly’s I know you love the Lord. Look up, and say,” Thank you Jesus for all the blessings (name as many as you can) you have given to me today.” Take in a deep breath of air and let it out slowly, and thank Him for each breath.He loves you so much and will never leave you. Tell Him how you feel and how you want to feel. Let Him take on your burdens and sorrows. If you can, smile as you think of how much you love Him and He loves you. Now, I pray that Jesus will give you strength and comfort and take away your sorrows and troubles and replace them with joy and happiness. In Jesus’ holy name….
  • Dear Kelly’s friend: I am going to tell you that life can really feel bad. I am going to tell you that we can feel alone, forsaken, hurting, bewildered and bitter and God is the same. He is the same as when we feel loved and nurtured and peaceful. I am going to say that you are blessed beyond measure because you are loved. I am going to tell you that you are being lifted up by total strangers because Kelly is such a lovely person and she loves you enough to reach out to all of us on your behalf. I am tough loving you because I have been in the depths myself and I know that GOD is the same and that you will come through this because you can and will find your strength in Jesus… It’s the way of faith. Believing for things that ARE NOT SEEN. But your time of healing will come. Now I am going to send you one of those crazy facebook hugs and whatever gives you joy I say GO DO IT! Our lives are short…lets do this together! <3
  • Praying and asking God to strengthen you at this time. We are all His creation and He loves us all! Just remember you were fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • I am in a season of rejection and living with a wounded heart. And yet. And yet. God has not rejected me and I am living in His love. The important thing was not to be right (or to be well thought of) but to love.
    Paul states that he was abandoned by t
    hose close to him—those he trusted. But then he focused on those who were faithful.
    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. —Galatians 6:9
    So how can we love others as Jesus loves us and participate in the kingdom work to which we are called? By loving others when its hard, when it costs us something, when it’s not convenient. By choosing to be loving even when we are wronged, misunderstood and rejected.
  • What a blessed soul you are,with Kelly, busy as she is, calling in all who understand your pain. All these people and more, are reaching out to you as best they can—in so doing all of us are being lifted.We are the Body of Jesus Christ, His hands extended. I am thankful for your need being shared today, because it has drawn all of us closer to each other, and to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Keep on believing, never give up. You can make it. <3
  • Feel, deal, HEAL…. allow yourself to grieve,then figure out how to deal with it (might include asking others for help), & then the healing will begin. Blessings and prayers for a better tomorrow….
  • My husband has recently encouraged me with the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Long story short, when Naomi and Ruth went to Bethlehem, Naomi wishes to be called “Mara” because she felt God had forsaken her. God showed his faithfulness and provision through Boaz in a time when Naomi felt she had lost everything (husband and two sons). Sometimes we will never know or understand God’s plan or what He is doing, but His promises are true. It sometimes does take constant reminder and encouragement. Thank you for posting this, Kelly. I pray all of this support and encouragement fills your friend’s heart with warmth and reassurance.
  • I don’t know your name or your circumstances, but God does. I don’t know the trials and agonies of your heart or the journey that brought you into the moment you are in. But I do know that God knows. And that His knowing, and our FEELING like He knows and cares, don’t always match. But it doesn’t make it any less true. Over time I’ve come to learn how He works and speaks in my life, and to recognize when He’s present…….so I pray that you learn these things about your relationship with Him, too, if you don’t already. Learning to keep my heart open when I want to close down, was challenging, being open to other possibilities and a bigger picture than the one I was seeing/experiencing, was challenging….but it’s been well worth it. You are not alone, even tho I get that it feels like you are. You’ve got unmet, silent friends out here, lifting you up. Keep inching…and as crazy as it sounds: Sing. Sing your pain, your fear, your doubt, your anger….whatever you’re feeling, sing it out loud….and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
    GRAPHIC we build our faith
  • Always and forever He is with you. His rod and staff comfort You. He leadeth you beside the still waters. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all your days. He is your Lord and Shepherd. He will not abandon you or leave you defenseless. He’ll fight for you, hide you under His safe protection. LOVE wins.
  • Prayers for your friend.
  • Life is a challenge. Remember those who care and love you can help
    you through!
  • Whoever you are, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God. God has a plan for you and although life can be tough and we don’t understand the trials, He can use our weakness and give us a peace beyond understanding. Please know you are loved and being prayed for by many.
  • Joshua 1:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you. We can ALWAYS count on God! He loves us more than we can imagine! Just bring your cares to Him….He is the only one who can take care of us.
  • Lifting you up in prayer. Pain and struggle are His way of getting our attention about something in our lives. Our perception of loneliness or abandonment my be His way of reminding us that we are never alone and if we abide in Him we ARE ENOUGH. Sending peace
  • Praying for you. I believe that God’s grace can see us through any trouble. God bless and keep you in the palm of his hand.
  • This scripture has been vital for me for years…it is my go-to scripture… “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  • What I know for sure is that God is listening. Give it to Him and let Him do his work in you and for you. Lifting you up.
  • I saw this earlier today and have been thinking about it… all I can say is that I have felt abandoned by God many, many times in my life. But I’ve tried my best to maintain some sort of Faith in Him even when I didn’t feel like doing it. And He always comes through for me. Not always the way I wish He would, but He has given me everything I needed for every single day of my life. Keep praying. Keep trusting. He’s there. He never goes away.
  • For this one day, let go and let God.
  • My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • Do you remember what you were doing last year on this day? Last December 19th? Whether it was a fabulous day or a regular day it is now a memory. Whatever your struggle is now, it will be history in the blink of an eye. Abide. Watch. Amazing things are ahead.
  • Sometimes God seems oh so far away. He is silent when I think I need answers. Or, He answers but I don’t like it. Sometimes I just don’t WANT to hear from God. But, whatever the situation, I have found Him to be faithful. His love is relentless and we who belong to Him will always find our way back to Him. It’s just the way God works. Praying for peace and clarity in whatever situation you find yourself.
  • God is the only one who will never leave us or forsake us we have to have HOPE—Having Only Positive Expectations of what God is doing in us and through us. He will bring good out of all circumstances and trials Romans 8:28
  • You are so covered in prayer by all of us FB prayer warriors. We are a team that know God is real and our Creator. I can assure you He cares for you because He made you in such a precious image. He stands by you and you can’t see Him. He hears you and whispers sweet breaths of love and comfort to you. He will bring forth a mighty answer in a gentle way. Be ready.
  • I don’t know you but will be lifting you up in prayer and asking our good Lord to wrap you in his healing white light!!!! Kelly, thank you, what an AMAZING group of prayer warriors you have. I have read every wonderful comment and your friend Jama’s post really spoke personally to me. I literally felt as if he answered an unspoken prayer for me through her post, even though it was not intended for me! So thanks for that and God Bless <3
  • God is our refuge, the lily of the valley. He is faithful to see us through. Keep praying daily. Keep the faith and I’ll be praying for you.
  • I pray strength for you for I know it’s not easy and more important GOD knows. Our strength is in God. Where else would we go, so we run to Him. His arms are wide open waiting on us to cry on his shoulders and when the crying is done he fills our heart with strength. He says when you pass through the waters I will be with you. You will make it through and there is strength on the other side. Jesus is our Strength.
  • Life breaks and falls apart, but the Cross says these are all places where grace is. Whatever is happening in your life, it will not be unredeemed…
  • To your friend—2 Corinthians 3 & 4—Blessed be the God and Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. God created you, so you have to be very beautiful. God will not leave you, He is with you all the way. You may not know this but God is carry you. (Praying)
  • To your friend: You are an amazing person, and through your struggles a light seeks you. It has me and I am still working to fully accept the light. Be strong. I am stronger now than before because of the struggles I have faced and you will be too. Keep your head high and praise our holy Father because without him we would be nothing. Bless you darling and have a great day. Enjoy your struggle the solution will find you.
  • “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10 ESV

But don’t let it end here. What would you say to my friend? And to others?

Christ’s community is powerful when we all pull together in love. There’s so  much strength to sustain us when we open our hearts to each other. Thank you for sharing your love. It started as a gift for my friend, and ended up being a gift to many.

God: always magnifying, always illuminating, always multiplying. Amen.


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