why you should just be you & I should be me (because who are we kidding anyway?)

I grabbed a shopping basket and headed to the produce. Note: I grabbed a basket. I have no idea why, other than I had a brief lapse of identity – which led to this post. I’m a mom of 5. I haven’t used a grocery basket since college. In fact, once upon a time, I had two 2 year-olds and a new baby, and I finagled two carts – pushing/pulling with one cart for the baby in the car seat and another for actual groceries, with one two year-old in the front of each cart. Those grocery trips inevitably ended in tears and meltdowns. My tears and meltdowns, that is. So anyway, there I was, with a cute little grocery basket on my arm. And, I was wearing a white coat, a lovely, tailored-looking thing with big buttons. I should mention it is a hand-me-down, as I’d never spend money on a red juice stain waiting to happen. And, suddenly, I feel quite put together and professional – and, well, not like a mom of 5. But. Then, I saw the kids’ favorite snacks on sale for 3 for $5.00. I just couldn’t help myself, shoving them all in the basket. Then, my heart warmed at the popcorn, after all, it was a cold day and we could have a family movie night. (Always more ideal and smiley in my mind’s eye.) And then, well, Maggie just loves bagels in the morning, which called for cream cheese as well. And, Samuel, yeah, he’s had  rough spell and strawberries always make his day. Not to mention, I’d need to feed the tribe...

Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

A Lame Christmas

Christmas celebrations and seasons have changed throughout the years, but one thing in my childhood home has remained the same: the nativity. It is one of my favorite parts of Christmas, but also a favorite part of “home.” As a child, I stared at the details of the nativity for hours. When I was old enough to touch it, I would rearrange it, deciding which king should present his gift or how far away the shepherds might stand. One flaw to the nativity has been there as long as I can remember. The lamb is missing a leg. Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s missing the plaster on the leg. The wire frame is there, so it can stand up on its own…with a bit of teetering. My mom knows how special the nativity is to me, and she was thrilled to come across a old-looking sheep that was about the same size as this one and would fit well with the other figures. She bought it without hesitation. When she got home, she discovered something. Somewhere between the store and home, the sheep’s leg was broken. It, too, was lame. I took it home to incorporate into my own nativity as a reminder. We don’t have to be perfect to approach Jesus. We need to come as we are. Humility is difficult, because it reveals our weaknesses. But that’s where He meets us. That’s where He serves us. That’s where He saves us. He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: “When you are invited by...

Beating the Pains of the Past

When I was in 3rd grade, I was so self-conscious.  I don't know what it was.  Maybe it just the weird stage between girl and woman. Maybe it was because my frizzy hair was too big to go unnoticed.  Maybe it was because my reading skills were lackluster. It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason. But, what I do know is that I sat at a very vulnerable place of life – a place where the prick of another's words had the power to wound deeply. Today, I can't remember the majority of the words that hit those dark places, but I do remember the feelings and my actions. I remember that I felt less than, not as good as everyone else, hurt by degrading words, unappreciated, left out because I wasn't as smart, scared to go to school, made fun of, punished and angry. I remember those things. I remember sitting on the side of the sidewalk alone while others jumped rope. I remember wandering around my yard wondering if God saw me.  I remember faking sickness to get attention.  I remember others laughing at my big nose. I remember lying to gain approval from my classmates. I remember the fear of another school day. Those things I remember. The thing about the past is – it lasts. Somehow as a child, we are under the delusion that when we grow up, we grow out of these feelings.  But, what happens is these things grow up with us – and then they grow inside of us. They grow bigger and bigger in our mind as we replay events, words and circumstances that hurt us....

Living in the Tension

Tension:  The state of being stretched tight or mental or emotional strain. That definition sums up what I feel about my life most days; a constant state of being stretched beyond what I feel like is humanly possible. As a wife, I live in the tension of being the best spouse possible by meeting my husbands needs without losing myself in the process. As a mother, I live in the tension of loving these little people so fiercely that I want to protect them from harm at all costs and knowing that my job is to prepare them to live in this broken world, where they are almost guaranteed to feel pain.  As a Christian, I live in the tension of walking out what I say I believe on a daily basis. As a friend, I live in the tension of finding time to nourish friendships with a schedule that is borderline chaotic. As a woman, I live in the tension of finding the time to tend to my body, soul, & spirit without feeling guilty. As a student of life, I live in the tension of questioning what and why I believe what I believe about God, people, relationships & myself, while being open (and teachable) to new information. I am constantly being stretched…but it is in the tension of the stretching that I find myself. I love being a wife. My husband is amazing. We spend a lot of time and energy taking care of each others needs spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This is our relationship today… In the past our relationship has been extremely unhealthy. We...

A Tale of Two Women and the Rest of Us In•between

She wore her issues like a coat. She entered my life one Christmas season. It was apparent upon meeting her that the road had been a rough one for her and her children. Her brokenness was visible. As we came into relationship and I learned more of her story, it was apparent how rough it actually had been. Circumstances led to poor choice after poor choice, but her heart longed for different, she just didn’t know what different could be. As we all know, the broken road is a hard one to walk and unlike the 30 minute television drama, life doesn’t always wrap up in an hour, or in a season for that matter. It was the night that I received the call that I realized just how shattered she was. She called from the back of the police car. She and her boyfriend were being taken to jail for physical abuse against her son. She called to ask if I could come get him. I met him at the hospital and my heart was ripped in two. The issues that led to her brokenness continue to this day. BROKEN.  She was the picture of perfection. Her life looked perfect from the outside. It screamed perfect. In all honesty, I avoided her for some time because the perfect-ness was intimidating and a bit off-putting. Perfect hair. Perfect kids. Perfect marriage. Perfect life. Perfect seasonal porch decor. PERFECT. Our lives eventually intersected and we came into relationship and I was given a peek behind the perfect curtain. As we all know, there is no REAL life that resembles perfect in...

No More People Pleasing! It’s Okay To Be YOU!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 ESV Do you want everyone to like you? Do you spend time trying to make sure everyone is happy? Does it worry or bother you if you think someone doesn’t like you? Then chances are, my friend, that you are a people pleaser. Oh, I am right there with you on this one. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure when it started for me but for the most part, I can remember that most of my entire life I’ve wrestled with wanting people to like me. I guess it was one thing when I was an awkward teenager, or the constant “new girl” in school (yep, went to 3 high schools), but for crying out loud, I’m a grown woman now: what’s the deal? It wasn’t until the last few years, particularly this last year, that I’ve really started to wrestle with letting this whole people pleaser thing go. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is or has wrestled with this, so let me share with you what God has been teaching me about what’s wrong with being a people pleaser. I’m not being true to who God has called me to be if I’m trying to be something I’m not. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) I am not perfect. (Romans 3:10) I can’t make other people like me and it’s okay if they don’t. (Galatians 1:10) Listen,...

It’s Your Basic Identity Issues

Maybe insecurity isn’t an issue for you. But I’m betting that if you clicked on this post, it nags at one corner of your heart. Don’t must of us live under some weight of insecurity? It’s the nature of fallen humanity. There’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant. A tightrope between knowing there are areas you need to improve versus focusing only on your weaknesses. We often don’t measure up, whether to our expectations of ourselves or to other’s expectations of us. Yet when we are successful it goes to our head and pride can so easily seep in. Question: can you name five things that you like about yourself? Second question: what are the five (specific) things that define who you are? Are your answers the same? Which question was harder to answer? Do you actually believe your answers at the core of your being or are they your answers simply because you know they should be true or others say they are? It can be convicting to make a list of who you are, what brings you life, and what makes you, you. Not in a vague, Jesus-loves-me kind of way, but in a very tangible, specific, way of articulating the uniquely defining pieces of your identity. Not in a prideful way either. Because at the end of the day, a correct view of our identity is rooted in who we are, and who we are has nothing to do with us or some innate goodness. A correct view of our identity points directly and unequivocally back to Jesus. If you have trouble writing this list then consider going through letters...

Grace In The Vacuum Cleaner Aisle

 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 2 Corinthians 4:15 NLT A few weeks ago while in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Target I was given the gift of grace. She was hurt, I was hurt. It was a misunderstanding, to say the least, but months had gone by and no communication. This was a ten year friendship that went off the rails fast and in the middle of ministry, motherhood and marriage it fell off to the side. In a season of hurt and frustration it was just not something I could deal with at the time. Sounds harsh, I know and I hate that, but when you are in the middle of a storm and life feels like your ship is going to go down, the first thing you start to do is throw things overboard. Off the side went things like; the gym, friendships that were outside the day to day bubble, and pretty much anything else that might lighten the load so you don’t go under in the season of storms. I’m not proud to admit it, at all actually, but I had to share with you what God did next. After wading through that season life got busy and although I wanted to reach out it was hard to take the chance of getting hurt again. I wanted to talk to her but I was too afraid. I would look on Facebook every so often to see how she was doing, looking...

Dead of Winter

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple [Isaiah 6:1 ESV] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And, I (Isaiah) said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips….” [verse 4,5] for I have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” **One of the seraphim flew to Isaiah, having in his hand a burning coal that had been taken with tongs from the altar. ‘And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” [verse 6,7] **Isaiah is encouraged and reassured by the touch of the burning coal. He is at freedom to respond to God… And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” [verse 8,9] For the past month, I have been in the temple with Isaiah…imagining this overwhelming account of seeing and hearing the LORD. I’ve found myself stung by Isaiah’s response…it seems almost involuntary. As I remember a particular moment of my childhood, I swell with thoughts and memories. You should know…as a young girl, I was painfully shy. I wasn’t the one who would raise her hand to give an answer, much less volunteer for anything. The thought was terrifying to me. But, one day, when my teacher asked a question,...