Attention Moms!

Attention Moms!

Encouragement Inspiration

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. ~Ephesians 4:15-16

IMG_20160403_160308748_HDRHey moms, it’s time someone sucked it up and told you the cold hard truth:

YOU. ARE. AWESOME!!!!!

Please go ahead and print the last three words in large type font, then hang them in every room of your house. Please. Because here’s the deal- your children are listening to your self talk. When you were talking about that extra baby weight you’re still carrying around, your daughter was listening. When you said you were no good at making new friends, your son heard that. When you said you can’t cook well, drive well, keep up with all the latest trends- the kids were listening. When you called yourself a ‘freak,’ they heard that too. And even worse, they probably believed it.

Now do me a favor- I want you to think of your bestie. You know that lovely woman you wish you were having coffee with right now? Tell me three strengths of hers. Go ahead. List ‘em off. Done? Great. Now tell me three strengths of yours… ?

[crickets chirping]

I have seen in my friend circles the ability to praise each other to the skies, but a complete inability to come up with even one strength about ourselves.

I am the same. I see all my friends’ strengths. I am blown away. I always think, Why can’t I be more like her? I’m even inspired – to be a better mom, wife, woman, worker. These women-friends of mine really have it all together! But here is the big secret- that amazing friend, she’s not hanging out with you out of pity. She’s thinking the same thing about you. You inspire her in the same way.

So here is your homework (yes, a blogger is giving you homework): you go ask that friend, sister, mom, random woman at church- “What strengths do you think I have?” In fact, ask more than one friend- and then write them down. Put them on your nightstand, reflect on them, pray about them! And if the woman you ask pauses and thinks about it, that’s good– because they are thinking deeply about the question. (I know if there is a pause, some of you are gonna be all ‘Oh no! She couldn’t think of anything!’ No, no, no. No more of that kind of thinking! I mean it. I will come and write Ms. Awesome on your forehead in permanent marker!)

We all have strengths- different strengths, and we all have weaknesses. But we need to take time to focus on our strengths. To let our children see our confidence. To let our children see what that looks like, how you live it out. To be an example for them. We really need to let our daughters gain some self-confidence about how they look. So I am begging you- enough with the fat comments. You aren’t 16 anymore. The freshman 15, it’s just real life. No one can be a bouncy teenager forever. We age, we sag in certain areas, but oh my gosh are we better for the years- we are better at life, better at forgiveness, better at blessing others, better at handling awkward situations (…sorta…?), better at applying makeup, better at driving- the list could go on forever. Do you really want to go back to middle school and do it all over again? Do you????

Don’t covet that friend’s strengths, cultivate your own strengths.

I always have to comment about the other side of the horse. This is not a call to puff yourself up with false pride (though I seriously doubt that will be an issue for most of you). Nor is this an excuse to not work on your weaknesses. We are ever growing, changing, and working our way towards Jesus. This is just a reminder to not focus on those weaknesses 24/7.

So go ahead, flex those muscles you have in hospitality, administration, kindness, listening, humor, learning, teaching, nurturing, etc, etc, etc… Be confident in who you are in Christ. Be confident in the woman God has made you, and even more in the woman He is making you into. And speak forth those things over yourself, and over your children. So that as you step out into the world, you are walking in love, confidence, and as someone who builds others (including yourself) up in the body, and in love.

Lord, thank you for the gifts you have sewn into my life. Please bless me to be more and more the woman you have created me to be. Open my eyes to the talents you have given me, my husband, and children. Help me to speak forth your blessing over our family and to proclaim your truths over each one of us. Help us to grab hold of You and your good things. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

The Journey

The Journey

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story ~Psalm 107:2

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. Mostly in my own head. I mean, I could share my ideas with those around me… but they’re all under the age of 10. They don’t get my jokes, let alone my contemplative thoughts.

Well, that’s probably selling them short. So maybe I should share more with them… but that’s a blog post for another day.

In my last post, I mentioned that our youngest had started having seizures. So life’s been a little wild and chaotic for a bit. A little scary. A week or two before his first seizure, I actually said to my husband, “We got it really good.” And he nodded, we were driving somewhere and he was distracted. “No, really,” I continued. “We got it reaaaaally good. I don’t like those sermons where people warn you that hard times come to us all. And I don’t want to predict that over us, but I feel like we aren’t appreciating the everyday mundane. We don’t know how good we really have it, because it’s been so good for so long.”

And then yeah, stuff happened, and we were just thankful that we were still a family of five. The first seizure was awful. I had the thought that I might lose a child right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.

So check out this little guy:

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You know where I found him? Right here:

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This is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. That little guy had been just hanging out in Lake Itasca- all in all a pretty calm lake. Life must have been a little mundane, but good. Then he somehow got through those rocks there. You can see them in the picture. Not a big deal for my kids who were climbing over them and getting soaked, heedless of their mother’s entreaties to keep their clothes dry. But for a little guy who fits in the palm of a child’s hand, those rocks must have been shocking compared to his life in Lake Itasca. And then I thought about what was ahead of him. He was going to keep floating down this river, towards the Gulf of Mexico. The realist in me thought he’d never make it. And another part of me wondered if I shouldn’t try and take him back to the lake and find a safe place for him, where he wouldn’t end up in the river again.

But as I sat and stared at that little guy, I began to think we had a little bit in common. I’d recently survived some rapids. Things have calmed down again for me, but I really don’t know what my future holds. I can’t even begin to imagine all that will happen. Sure I have plans for the future, but God has shown me time and again that my plans are small potatoes compared to his.

And then I remembered, again, the one thing that always calms me down. God is the same as he was yesterday, and as he will be tomorrow. He is good. His plans are good. He is merciful. And He does not give us more than we can handle.

So I put that little guy back in the river. Well, more accurately, I made a little boy put him back in the river. We were at the point where I foresaw that little guy coming home in someone’s pocket. So I did the mom thing where you use their middle name, and then I watched that little snail-thing lazily float away. And instead of sharing all my inner musings with my children, who probably would have been astounded, I laughed quietly at myself and returned to the age old tradition of mothers everywhere- nagging. Because who wants to drive home with a wet bum?

But all this to say, the journey is not always smooth or easy. But we are held in hands far stronger and wiser than that little boy’s. Wherever you are in the journey, you can trust in that.

Lord thank you that you see me, and you know me. You know right where I am at, and you know where I am going. You do not forsake us, but come after us time and again. Thank you for being so much better than I could ever imagine. Thank you that you are still in charge, even when it doesn’t seem possible. And I praise you for your wonderful creation- that mighty river that starts out so small and peaceful, that little snail I held in my hand, those wonderful babies you have given me. Thank you for all of that, and so much more. Everyday, more and more, help me to look around and to see your hand at work. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I see that there are run-on sentences in this blog post. Don’t worry, I see it. But writing how I talk is really hard grammatically. I’m a math major. With a lot to say. Writing is hard. The end.

 

I Sing Because I’m Happy!

I Sing Because I’m Happy!

Encouragement Music

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:29-31

this is obviously a microphone
this is obviously a microphone

Our neighbor recently had surgery, so he has been home in the middle of the day. I forgot about this when I walked outside loudly (very loudly) singing, “I sing because I’m happy! I sing because I’m free!”* Spotting him on his back deck, I froze in surprise. And embarrassment. So of course I did the adult thing… I pretended like I hadn’t seen him, and quickly high tailed it back into the house where I could snicker to myself.

My mom tells me that she can always tell if her children are doing well because we sing when we are happy. We really do. I want to get my brother the t-shirt that reads “I burst out into show tunes” for Christmas. (Don’t tell him, just our little secret) I can tell my daughter is happy because she sings and dances when she is in a good mood. My younger son is also a dancer, and starting to sing a bit. But my older son, while he sings sometimes, he’s not so much a singer. He can be very serious. But the other day one of my favorite songs came on the radio and he hollered, “Mom! Mom! It’s your song!” And then he turned up the radio and we had an impromptu dance party in the kitchen that surely would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos if we had taped ourselves. But I was so surprised that he was the one to start dancing. And I realized that he was happy. And with being in a new community and worrying about if the kids are okay, I felt really reassured.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.*

The song is a good reminder of our response to Jesus’ teachings.  When things aren’t going well, to remember that God sees us. Even when no one else sees us, He does. When we are sad, lonely, hurt, and even happy- God sees us. And He watches over us and cares  for us. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV) So He sings too! He sings over us- some versions say he sings loudly over us. He must be happy too.

I encourage you today to sing a song of praise to the God who loves you- even if the neighbors hear you! And if you don’t want to sing, then maybe try a dance party? But make sure to get that on video for us (hee hee hee).

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Thank you, God, that you watch over us, and that you sing over us. Thank you that you do not leave us or forsake us. Thank you that you find value in who we are. Thank you that Jesus has made a way straight to your throne room for us, and that we can come before you day or night, happy or sad. You are good, worthy, holy, and happy! We praise you for who you are, and thank you for all that you have done for us. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*This is the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow” by Cillvia D. Martin. You should listen to it. I don’t think you could find a bad version.

 

Parenting Choices

Parenting Choices

Children From the Authors

Parenting is hard.

turtleI sometimes joke that the hardest part of parenting is having a creature loving son who is always bringing animals of different varieties into our house. Bugs included!* Currently we have two painted turtles taking a little vacation in our fish tank, while we study their behaviors and research what turtles do and eat. The turtles are ok with me (a lot better than bugs!!). Except when you are surprised by one when you are getting into the shower.**

But really, dealing with creepy crawly creatures is easy in comparison to all the decisions a parent makes on a daily basis. Before becoming a parent, I never thought about all the little things I would have to do to help my children to grow (and I’m not talking about height here, but maturity, kindness, health wise, wisdom…).

Recently we had another fun episode.*** In public. Which always amplifies my parenting choices for me, because I feel like I am on display for other parents. And I wish I wasn’t so aware of myself, and more aware of my children. But I’m human, so I won’t beat myself up too badly. The situation was that another child took the things that my son was playing with. So my son decided to take one back. However, the other boy, seeing that my son was taking back one of the things he wanted, chased after my son and ended up falling and crying.

What to do?

Well, I have learned a few things about parenting in the last seven years. First of all, take a deep breath and don’t panic. That’s always a good place to start (and usually a miracle if I can manage it!). Second, ask questions. More and more I am not telling my children what they should be doing, but asking them what they think they should be doing. I’m always surprised at what they already know. So I asked what happened. I asked if my son thought it was okay. I asked what he thought he should do. And he had all the right answers. He even said he should apologize.

Lphone july to oct 2014 114But my heart was hurting too. Because my son has a strong sense of justice. And he knew that the other child had taken things from him. And second, he felt like he had done something wrong. And this beautiful child of mine, takes after me. So I know that if you tell him he did something wrong, he hears in his heart that he is wrong.

So all the parents got to witness our little interaction, and the resulting apology, and then the frustrated tears. What they didn’t get to see was the long conversation afterwards. We talked about how it was an accident, and that accidents are not a big deal, they just happen. Then we moved on to the importance of saying sorry, and why we say sorry. Which then brought us to our talk on justice, and finally led to more conversation on how we cannot control others or demand apologies. The other parents did not see the struggle we had to accept these facts. They only saw that tiny interaction we had at the gym.

All this to say, we need parent cheerleaders. We see so many parents doing a tiny fraction of their parenting in public. But we don’t know what they are going through on a day to day basis. We don’t know what conversations happen after they leave the gym, or the grocery store, or the playground. We don’t know.

What I do know is that encouragement can go a long way. And parents need to hear that they are doing a good job. They need to know that what they are doing is important. And it is! The things we teach our children will be taught to their children. It will help shape the future! And when we share the truth of Jesus with our children we have an eternal impact on their lives.

So hug a parent today. Tell them what strengths you see in them. And help them to realize how important their job really is. Thanks!

God bless you and keep you! I pray that God will show you your strengths, and bring you encouragement tody. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I guarantee you will never meet an adult more afraid of bugs than yours truly.

**In which case a blood curdling scream is perfectly acceptable.

***and by “fun,” I mean not fun. Not even a little bit.

All for Jesus

All for Jesus

Encouragement Inspiration

“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. ~Luke 8:39

We recently moved. Moving is not always easy, but often surprising.

One thing we have found difficult, is finding a new church to call home. In this case, it is because of a wonderful problem. The city we landed in seems to be overflowing with great church families! We just need to find our place in the midst of so many options. Isn’t that a wonderful “problem”? So many good churches to choose from? I wish I had more problems like this*.

But the reason I bring this up, is because of one associate pastor. I don’t know him, and I’ve only heard him speak twice. But when he speaks, it’s like his whole life is saying all for Jesus.

Well, let me back up. Start at the beginning. The first time we visited this church, the associate pastor got up front and shared with the congregation that he had his colonoscopy, and the doctors had found cancer. I felt hearts in the congregation breaking around me. It was a very sad moment for that church body. As my husband and I talked after the service, we were amazed how the associate pastor had shared the news. He asked for prayer, especially for his family. He was honest and upfront about the situation. But he had hope. Not false hope, but genuine hope that comes from knowing Christ. He said, “Even in the worse case scenario, I still win. I still go home to be with Jesus.”

On Easter Sunday, we visited this church again. They had a small drama, where kids (teenagers) were asking this same pastor tough questions about faith and science. One of the kids mentioned that Easter probably wasn’t the best time to question faith. But this associate pastor lovingly said, that questions are good. They are ok, and you should feel free to ask them at any time. Then he used his heart and brain to argue his case for Christ. And he even brought his stage 4 cancer into the debate. And my heart hurt to know that diagnosis, even as it soared. Because I heard it again- all for Jesus.

Given some of the worst news ever, he still pointed to God’s trustworthiness and goodness. I loved that he was addressing the hard questions to teenagers. I loved that he was in front of everyone giving God glory in the midst of something so personal, painful, sad…

But he wasn’t any of those things. Instead he was secure in his knowledge that Jesus has already won. And he was using his testimony to glorify God.

They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
~Revelation 12:11

Grandma Mabel
Grandma Mabel

I’m not belittling the pain that anyone has ever faced. I know how awful cancer in the family can be. Trust me, I know. This story is not about pretending like everything is okay, when it most clearly is not. This story is about trusting God in all circumstances. And I don’t know this man, but I am sure he has had plenty of emotions to contend with. When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer we went through the gauntlet of anger, fear, sadness, brief periods of hope, crushing moments of heartbreak….

But her last words, always give me hope: “Beautiful, beautiful…”

Hope is a beautiful thing.**

Lord, thank you for the testimonies of others that draw us nearer to you. Thank you that you are so holy, that you can use even the worst circumstances for good. Thank you that wherever we are and whatever is happening in our lives, there is always hope because of what your son did on the cross. Thank you that the tomb was empty, and that we now have hope in Christ. Lord, please increase our hope. Please help us to tell our own testimonies when needed. May we glorify You. In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

*Other problems I would like to have: too much cheesecake in the house, too many coffee shops in town, and a roll of toilet paper that never ran out. (I suppose that last one is not really a problem at all… but as long as I am dreaming.)

**But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. ~Hebrews 3:6

So you wrote a book?

So you wrote a book?

Book 1 Encouragement From the Authors

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Colossians 1:3

It has been such a great week for us (the book team), as friends and family encouraged us and showered us with their love. We feel infinitely blessed.

IMG_20150331_135231745We (my mother and myself) were very nervous to publish this book or even let anyone know that we had a book. Not because friends or family would have said anything against us, but because of doubts and insecurities within ourselves.

I think many of us struggle with insecurities. Talking about our faith is daunting. Probably because faith is so personal. It defines us. Sharing our faith makes us feel vulnerable.

So you see, your encouragement* and support has been more valuable than you can imagine. We all need support, encouragement, and cheerleaders**. And perhaps some of us (yes, me) feel the need for it even more than you would have supposed.

To anyone who is in doubt about sharing even a little part of your faith- I want to remind you of what Love can do, and what Love has already done. He did it on the cross and paid too high a cost to let doubts and fear of rejection stop us from lovingly telling others who He is. And also, I know how much we need the reminder of who we are:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He surround you with people who love Him and will encourage you. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*”Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

**Cheerleaders. My husband always wants to know why I cook such complex meals for my brother. It is not because I love my brother more (which was what my husband was teasing me about). It is because my brother is a chef-cheerleader! He always ends his meals at our house by saying something like, “Thank you. That was really delicious!” And that little compliment causes my spine to straighten, my lips to smile, and inside I think to myself, next time I’ll make him something even more spectacular. Encouragement has power (see above*).

***Confession: Yes, we totally posed the kids for the pictures. They aren’t candid shots. We are actual professionals now. (ok… not really, but we sometimes tell ourselves that… right before we laugh ourselves silly)

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