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

Empty Handed

Empty Handed

Encouragement Inspiration

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
~Isaiah 61:3

IMG_20160821_122753I went camping this weekend with two very dear friends. I know I am blessed when it comes to friends. So very, very blessed. I wrote about it in a post way back when, but I was reminded of it again this weekend. To be with people who love you just as you are is a priceless and unmatchable gift. To be with people who are willing to sing and dance with you when you reach the highest part of your hike*… well, that’s just icing on the cake.

These girls love me, and oh do they love God. So it is always great to get their ideas and feedback on life. To have their added wisdom and insight.

This weekend I was able to talk about an old issue that had recently popped back up in my life. Someone had hurt me, and it seemed like I still hadn’t fully forgiven them. Here I am, years later, and I was still upset. Still hurt. Still mad. And one of my lovely ladies asked me what would God give me, if I chose to forgive. And I had a mental stumbling block. Mostly I just don’t want people to think that they can negotiate with God. As in “If I do this good thing, then I can negotiate something worldly from God” kind of thinking. (I hope that makes sense, but I don’t want to camp out on this thought, so that’s all I will say.)

IMG_20160820_201921I was thinking about what she said, and what unforgiveness looks like. And in my mind I saw myself with my fists tightly clenched and pulled in close to my body. I realized that at times we might choose to cling tightly to fear, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. When we do this, our hands are full. We can’t grab on to things like peace, when we are holding so tightly to these other things. But when we start to say “I forgive” and “I trust You, Lord,” then we start to release fear, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. As we slowly unclench our hands, and we find our hands suddenly open and empty- when we stand empty handed before God, that is when He can start to put His Gifts into our hands, and we can start to receive the things He has planned for us.

I’m not saying forgiveness is easy, not by a long shot. Neither can you always do it the first time around (case in point: me). Sometimes it is an active process of letting go, an active process of returning our grievances to God a second, third, fourth (or more) time. An active process of choosing not to desire what might seem right or fair. It’s hard. Really hard. And it might even leave you feeling empty handed at times. But being empty handed before the one who spoke you into being- that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes that can be the beginning of everything.

May the Lord bless you to realize your own areas of unforgiveness. May the Lord help you to release the old feelings that you have clung to, and give you the strength and support you need to press on. May the Lord God bring healing and restoration to your hearts as you open up to Him about your struggles. May the Lord place into your open and empty hands His peace that surpasses all understanding. And may God bless you with friends who love you right where you are, who can speak life and truth into you life. In Jesus strong and mighty name, Amen.

~Lindsay

*Totally serious. I hang out with ladies who sing praise music on mountaintops. (Well, at least the biggest hill we can find in the vicinity)**

**We also play on jungle gyms and debate when middle age starts…? Is this the part where I hashtag a number in the 20-somethings and say 4eva?

IMG_20160821_080939

Muffins for Everyone!

Muffins for Everyone!

From the Authors
daughter in the corn pit (it's a Midwestern thing... I think?)
daughter in the corn pit (it’s a Midwestern thing… I think?)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. ~James 3:13

I recently signed up to bring muffins to a pot luck. This was not one of my brighter ideas. I really don’t enjoy making muffins. I only have one pan that doesn’t burn muffins, and have never gone out and bought another pan… so making more than one batch of muffins was going to be time consuming. And also… I am a procrastinator. In this case, I told myself that day old muffins are no good, so that was my excuse. But in all honesty, it was my procrastinating-nature at its finest. So the night before, I was scrambling to make muffins. Really nice fancy muffins that would impress the other moms and let them know that I care about health and am an excellent chef (and somehow convey the message that I am a good person? do you ever get that feeling at potlucks?). I was looking for something that had flax seed and berries. Not having either on hand, reality came calling, and I decided to go for the applesauce and banana bread muffins. Mostly because I had all the ingredients, and if you add chocolate chips, my kids will eat them (my kids will eat anything if chocolate chips are added… I suppose that is also true for me). Well, long story short, I had one batch done. And the idea of starting over was… annoying. So I did what any respectable woman would do- I called my man. I asked him to pick up muffins and bring some home with him. Then I smiled to myself, and patted myself on the back. “Job well done!” I may not impress the other moms, but I would be going to bed on time. So there was reason to celebrate.

Then my husband came home with two boxes of muffin mix.

I looked stupidly at those boxes, then at my husband, and then at the boxes again. Sensing that something was wrong, he tentatively asked me what it was. I just blinked, “Didn’t I ask you to bring home muffins?” He nodded, adding that he knew I was making muffins for the potluck tomorrow. And I just kept staring stupidly at those two boxes, not willing to reach out and grab them. Then he asked that dangerous questions all husbands must bravely ask from time to time, “Are you mad?”

IMG_20150919_094548280_HDR
I don’t care how old you are, flying kites is the best. Well… I suppose right behind coffee and pie.

And for once, thankfully, I could say, “No.” I was just amazed. I can finish this man’s sentences. We have been married for more than ten years. He will call up from the basement, “Do you know where the-” and before he can finish the sentence, I am telling him where the thing is. So it just amazes me that we can still have these moments of colossal miscommunication.

Now, I know, muffin mix is not a big deal. But, trust me, we have far worse communication mishaps all the time. Communication is one of those things that boggles my mind. I always think I am so clear about something, only to find that the other person was apparently having a conversation with a totally different person (because I sure don’t remember the conversation going that way). Or even the way we misinterpret body language. I recently was trying to figure out why a woman was so mad at me, only to have her come up and give me a big hug two minutes later. So I’ve been puzzling through how I could be a better communicator. And I just had some of my best friends over for a visit, and was reflecting about their communication skills and wondering why we did so well at communicating. And I made a little communication list (to get you started, by no means a complete list- also not a list complied by anyone with any kind of degree in anything beyond math…) to help me out as I am trying to make new friends in a new town*.

  1. be honest
  2. be kind (no brutal honesty)
  3. repeat back what you think you heard (“So what you’re saying is [fill in the blank with your take on the conversation]”)
  4. make sure you clear up confusion right away (“When you said [this], did you mean [fill in the blank]?”)
  5. if you’re hurt or confused- say so!
  6. make sure you tell the person you care for them regularly (and probably you should give them pie or something so they know you love them, cupcakes work too.)

Now let me just say 5 was a real hard one for me. I was still in elementary school mode in my twenties, thinking that if you ever tell a friend they hurt you, they would leave. But I learned from one of my dear friends, that in a real relationship this isn’t true. Early on in our friendship she came and told me about something that I had said that hurt her. And it was shocking to me the first time. Because, of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her. But it was nice that she got it said, I could apologize and clear up the situation, and it’s started a solid trusting foundation in our relationship.

you know that time you take your kids to the park, and the wind is so awful that you turn into a popsicle at the bottom of the slide?
you know that time you take your kids to the park, and the wind is so awful that you turn into a popsicle at the bottom of the slide?

Why is communication important? Well, I could argue so that you don’t end up with box muffin mixes when you wanted muffins-without-all-the-hassle. But what I will say is, how are we going to communicate the love of Christ to others if we can’t even tell the person we know best what we want him to pick up at the grocery store? How?

And how did the muffin dilemma end, you wonder? One of my children and I just ran to town and bought the muffins and a treat for ourselves- a fun date! And the next day, I got myself and the kids all ready and bundled into the car and off to the potluck right on time! Only to realize I had forgotten all the muffins at home [picture me banging my head against the steering wheel in the car (at a stop light- don’t worry!)]. So we stopped and got even more muffins and brought those to the potluck**. The next day my husband brought all the forgotten muffins (now a day old) to work. Muffins for everyone!

Lord, thank you that you have given us words and ways to communicate. Help us to communicate with our loved ones in ways that honor and glorify you. Help us to learn to communicate clearly, so that through our words you could be glorified around the world. Help us to be willing to be vulnerable and authentic with others. Bless our words. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Uhm, we moved. And I talk about it a lot in the blog. So mentioning it in detail again seemed… boring. :)

**disadvantage of living 20 minutes outside of town.

 

Where God Wants You

Where God Wants You

Encouragement From the Authors

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
~Isaiah 55:8

We moved recently. Everything is up in the air (or stuffed away in a box). Trying to find anything is difficult. And that’s just the stuff. We have to find a new church, the kids need schooling, my husband has a new job, we need to meet strangers and somehow make them into friends… the list goes on and on.

We are in the middle of change.

So I started praying more. Because that’s what happens when you struggle. And all the devotionals, Christian books, and scripture I’ve read, point me right to God’s Will. So, as hard as it is, I have been trying to surrender up my will, and ask simply for His Will. And in my prayers, I usually remind God that, while I know He doesn’t usually send out five-year-itineraries, I would very much appreciate one.

Because I am lost. I don’t know what to do or where to go… lost.

So then, to make a long story short, I got a random phone call. Which was odd enough. Even odder, was that she was calling about carpooling to a meeting, but I didn’t know her. And the most odd of all, was that I actually talked to her*. And do you know what she said to me?

“You are right where God wants you to be.”

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My friend and I have three children each. All of our children were born within a few months of each other. Can you tell which ones are siblings?

 

It was right after this, that God did some major connecting the dots for me. There was a time, about nine years ago, when I was a little confused about what was going on. Feeling disappointed, and like nothing was going my way. Enter the new youth pastor at our church. He was pretty cool, but it was his wife who caught my attention. She was amazing! And somehow we became friends. And then we had children at the same time, who could be friends with each other. She also brought into my life her sister-in-law, more friends! And the list goes on and on. (The list really does go on and on, but it would just confuse you and make for a really long blog post. So trust me, God did some amazing stuff!)

But all this to say, that in one blinding moment of clarity, God made something very clear. Nine years ago, I was praying, and feeling very similar to how I do now. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was also praying, and praying for me to find friends (really good ones, apparently). And while I was lost and looking for God’s Will, He was saying, “Just wait! Just wait! If only you knew what I was sending you! Just wait!”

I am right where God wants me to be**.

Thank you, Lord, that you have a will and a plan. Bless us not to run ahead of You, or lag behind. Help us to trust in You more each day. Help us to connect the dots, and see the good You have already done in our lives. We thank You, we praise You, we trust You! In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*New people, and phones are two of my bigger phobias.

**And in about ten years, I will probably be able to connect the dots and write a follow up blog for you. Stay tuned!***

***That was sort of tongue-in-cheek.