Posts By: Admin

How To Keep Your Heart Alive

At sixteen it all seemed so obvious. You either had a cross around your neck and a Bible in your locker, or a drink in your hand on the weekends. Back then, it was follow Jesus or party. My best friend and I slid each other Bible verses on scraps of paper in between class, just to remind one another to “stay the course.” Both of us had had our typical high school experience interrupted by this God-man — the wide-eyed nature of young adulthood was still working its way through us.

Walking across the stage, receiving my diploma and still professing Jesus felt like a tremendous mile-marker. I’d survived high school and was still reading my Bible.

Twenty-plus years later and the threats against the vibrancy of my faith are far more subtle.

But they’re there.

Read the rest of this post over here…

The Illusion of Fame

My sister was on homecoming court two years in a row.

For many, that means nothing, but when you grow up in middle America (where the best of life happens under the Friday night lights), homecoming court makes celebrities out of seventeen year-olds.

I was in the seventh grade then. And I knew I wanted to follow her. This was before she breezed through college and landed a lifetime career and found her husband. In the seventh grade, I saw my sister sitting next to the cutest boy in the school, atop a decorated convertible, circling the football stadium for the whole town to applaud, and I wanted to be her.

Really, I wanted her fame.

Except, I never made it to the final five when I was seventeen. My friends rode the convertibles with the cute boys while I leaned against the fence that lined the stadium track and watched. Celebrity evaded me.

I’ve since distilled high school down to one box of photo albums, varsity letters, yearbooks and an old pair of Birkenstocks, but the memory of my friends circling the football field while their names reverberated through the PA system into the autumn-night sky still hangs in my memory.

Continue reading here on The Edges Collective…

Hidden {… but not unseen}

Sometimes you need to live a moment three, or four … or seven times, before you see that it’s purposed.

We were 23 minutes late for the party that was only planned to last for two hours. I know, because I counted each minute that passed and had eyes only for the digital clock in my car at every single stoplight, calculating and re-calculating the time we might arrive. My children tumbled over the seats and out of the car, one by one, disheveled and grumpy. We’d skipped naps and snacks and we were still late.

I was received by a crowd of friends and some strangers — all holding full plates of food with their manicured hands and with their children playing, happily, and who seemed already to be carrying an ownership over this party that wasn’t theirs. Some had brought finger hor d’oeuvres and others had hung decorations and still others had arranged boutique-like bouquets of flowers. It seemed that everyone was a contributor to this event for which I’d arrived but barely managed to dress. They were chit-chatting and my mind was roiling.

I exchanged a quick hello with my friend hosting the party. She had a simple request of me and I was preoccupied — lost in my own head — I said “no” (when it wouldn’t have been very hard), and in less than three minutes I had disappointed her. Not as much as I’d already disappointed myself.

Less than two hours later, a handful of sweaty-bodies with sticky fingers piled back into the car and I pulled away from the party wondering: what happened?

Not with the party … but my life. {Continue reading over here —>}

Why the Times You Feel Unseen by the World May be the Best Times of Your Life

“He said He loves me, Mommy,” my daughter Hope told me as I tucked her in, her words whispered with her hand to her mouth and cupped around my ear. Apparently, it was a secret. And I remembered her first dance recital, not long after we’d adopted her.

She had practiced her routine in and out of class for a semester. Every one of us in our family knew the steps. She’d spent weeks pirouetting through our kitchen with a dishcloth in hand, performing with confidence on our living room hearth.

But the night of the performance, I could feel her hand shaking in mine as I walked her down the hall to her lineup. I hurried back to my seat in the auditorium as she waited for her group to be called. I was nervous for her. I so wanted this night to be a win.

 When she relevéd out on stage among twelve other girls, I, like all the other parents, narrowed my eyes onto just my child. But several beats into the routine, I widened my scope and realized she was a step or two behind. Then three. Then four.

The other children moved in synchronized motion while my beautiful girl carefully performed her routine, too focused on her steps to notice how far behind she was. Too inexperienced to skip steps to catch up.

For seven minutes, I looked beyond her slippered feet—out of sync, arms moving in one direction while her classmates’ moved in another—and fixed my mind on her story. Alongside the others, my daughter may have been out of step, but she was also stunning. Light and joy cascaded out of her with every twirl. She had come through the fire of loss and death and hardened dreams, and tonight she was dancing.

From my seat, I could see her counting steps, her expression serious and focused. But her eyes were alert and glistening under the stage lights, not dull and weighted as they were when we’d first met her at the orphanage months before. She wasn’t posing as someone she’d learned to mimic—a common orphan survival skill. She wasn’t dancing to impress others. If she had stopped to notice others, she probably would have frozen in panic. Instead, she was costumed in God. He was making a dancer out of a street kid. This was a child who was learning to be loved.

“He said He loves me” weren’t words Hope had learned in a Sunday school song. They’d  {oh, ya’ll, I have the privilege of writing over on Ann Voskamp’s blog today. You can continue reading this post over there –>}

At 40, What I Would Say to My Twenty Year-Old Self

My diploma was still in an unopened manilla envelope on my apartment desk when I stood in front of a crowd of 300 sets of smiling eyes to tell them about what I’d committed to doing for the rest of my life. Though I didn’t say it in so many words, at twenty-two I knew I wanted to change the world for God.

It was the night of our ministry fundraising banquet and I was in high heels and a brand new pencil skirt, dressed like I felt. Pulled together, tight, and ready to inspire.

I arrived at the hotel just before the banquet started in a flurry. I brushed past moms of teenagers and grandmothers who were on the committee of this organization and business men and women who had careers about which I knew nothing. Tonight we’d converged around the truly significant. I didn’t think much about what they’d left outside the door in order to be here. We had vision to impart.

At 20, I was a sprinter. 40 felt old and 30 not yet worth considering. I’d known God for a few years now and time was already lost — there was so much to be done for Him. I was full of vision; never-mind an entry-level position when there was a front of the pack.

I wanted my life to show up on the map. My name, written across lives and stories and kingdom-impact. (My laundry could wait.)

And this was all before social media.

I could blink and I would be right back there, except now what I remember about that night is the greying 50 year-old who grabbed my hand after the evening was over and told me she’d been praying for me in the dark of the morning. The worn creases along the corners of her eyes looked like pencil markings, years of experience shadowing the fire behind them. I remember the mother of four who had a dignified weight to her countenance but yet spent her days carpooling teenagers and unpacking back-packs and warming the sidelines of soccer games. I remember the sixty year-old business man of very few words — must be boring to be him, I thought back then — who, many years later, taught my husband how to pray through his own dark night.

I’m days away from forty and scanning that crowd, all over again. Except this time I’m not behind a podium, wanting that each person in that room would give their lives to something significant. I’m standing in the back, valuing all that isn’t seen but which holds great value — great opportunity — in a room like that, on a night like that.

At 20, what I couldn’t yet see was that things like having a name, being a point on the map for someone’s life or their day, wouldn’t sustain me until 40.

At 20, I didn’t know that three hundred sets of hands applauding would never come close to how I would feel when I got a private whisper from God, a look my way from the One who made me.

I hadn’t considered, at 20, that being snubbed by a friend or overlooked by a leader wasn’t actually the end of me, but the beginning of a conversation with Him that would alter my insides. I didn’t realize that hasty judgment by man could be turned into great validation from God.

All these things that felt like roadblocks at twenty, ended up being the very circumstances that made me find Him. In the tireless paper-chase for adoption that didn’t include ultrasound pictures — about which few friends could understand — I found His eyes on me. When the big church with the beautifully profound vision we helped to start, folded, I saw Him … seeing me. While I was turning out the lights in a mostly-empty home with mostly-empty bedrooms at night, He was most near to me.

God gives a gift in being hidden. Himself.

I didn’t expect that I could find Him, just as much, in sweatpants scrubbing the grout along the corners of my bathroom tub on a Saturday as when I was hearing scores of teenagers tell me that I’d changed their lives. (I didn’t know that His sending place, for those who actually do change the world, often happens in the rooms without doors or windows, with just Him.)

The “likes”, the applause, the fanfare and recognition — we crave it because we were made for it. We scan our social media feed, subtly wondering how we might posture ourselves to be seen and yet (let’s just admit it) so often ignorant of the reality that only one single set of eyes can validate the parts of us that He uniquely made.

We resent being overlooked … and yet, could it be that He hides us just so that we might find that single set of eyes? Masked, by Him and for Him.

At 40, I’m finding the craving for that set of eyes on me is the only deep-unto-deep passion that can keep me up at night and make me reach toward changing the world, but perhaps in a way that can mostly — only — be validated by Him.

At 40, I’m becoming a distance runner.

When I was 22, I ran a marathon. The hardest part of the 26.2 miles was when the spectators thinned and fatigue set in. I’d been pounding the pavement for hours and now no one but the other racers — fatigued, themselves — could see or cheer or celebrate. Though I was mentally prepared for this stretch, I can still feel the tiredness in my bones when I think of running that stretch, unseen.

Just after I finished the race, I likened the last stretch before the finish line, where there were wall-to-wall fans (including a dozen who came just for me) to my wedding day. It had been one of my top five best moments of life. The unhinged cheers of fans whose brothers and girlfriends and children had trained for months for this — sometimes even two times a day, running and forcing their un-trained bodies into a submission of the road ahead of them — were knowing. They celebrated from a place of understanding. And I loved that celebration. I was received into the finish-chute by volunteers who had been versed in how to care for ones like me who had given months of their life to this. That last stretch was powerful.

At 40 though, I look back on that race with different eyes.

It’s mile 21 that I revere.

Months of work, both mental and physical, planning and prayer, and only One saw the point at which I wanted to quit. Only One could truly know how Saturday long-runs at 6am in the dark danced in my mind as I considered forfeiting it all, 21 miles in.

At mile 21 I met with God — in a way I didn’t when the crowds swelled with applause.

It’s in that unseen, hidden stretch, that I moved from being a runner to a marathoner.

Now here I am, near-forty, and being unseen is no longer drudgery. I can’t wait to find His eyes on me, there.

We are made in secret. (Psalm 139:15)

In just a few days, a book I’ve written — and lived — on the gift of being hidden in a world that loves to be noticed will be released via Zondervan. We’ve made a short film and even a blink of a 30 second preview to tell the story behind this story.

Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves To Be Noticed

[Zondervan, August 29th, 2017]

 

 

Jesus Calls You Beautiful

When I heard from Dee Brestin that she was writing a book about His love for us as demonstrated in the Song of Songs I thought: “I have to get my hands on this book.” And it did not disappoint. Several times as I read the pages of her book it was as if He was near enough for me to feel His breath on the back of my neck …tender and fathering me through His own words in the Song of Songs. If you’re hungry for a fresh brush with Him in His Word, Dee’s book will take you there and give you a grid. Today I have the honor of hosting her, here, on the blog –>

Hearing the Voice of Jesus in the Song of Songs

I love speaking in women’s prisons. There is a deep hunger there I seldom see outside the prison walls. I leave tingling in amazement, thinking: O God, you are still making the blind to see. It happened again in a Wisconsin prison with something only God could have orchestrated.

I’d been sensing that I should teach these new believers from the Song of Songs (also called Song of Solomon). But as I made the long drive, doubts clustered like storm clouds:

What am I thinking, presenting such a challenging book to babes in Christ?

They’ll go back to their cells, pour over this book, and think: “What in the world? What could this intimate love story have to do with Jesus and me?”

I went through security and walked down the cement hall to the chapel. When the women caught sight of me through the plexi-glass window, they began jumping and clapping – cheering as I entered the room. How I wished we were allowed to hug! There’s no bond like the bond of Christ – stretching across age, ethnicity, and social class. Their enthusiasm melted my doubt and I plunged ahead with my plan.

THE BEST SONG

I asked them to open their Bibles to a book at the heart of their Bibles, a book they might never have read: the Song of Songs.

It’s called the “Song of Songs,” because like “Lord of lords,” or King of kings,” it means the very best. And what is the best song? It’s always the gospel, the love song of Jesus to His bride. And we, as believers, are His “bride.” He sees us both as individuals, but also as a body. And oh, how He loves you and me!

Love-starved, they were listening intently. So many were victims of abuse and neglect.

The Song is a Cinderella story of a great king who falls in love with a peasant woman. It is an earthly love story, but it is intended to shed light on a much deeper mystery, the love story of Jesus coming to earth to woo, win, and eventually wed His bride. When the king first meets this woman, she is so aware of her unworthiness. She’s been working all day in the vineyard and she asks him not to gaze at her because she feels dark, not meaning anything about her ethnicity, but about feeling sunburnt, sticky, sweaty – anything but beautiful or worthy of a king’s attention.

They nodded. I didn’t have to explain to them what it felt like to feel unworthy.

She says, “Don’t gaze at me…” (Song 1:6) but he can’t stop. He tells her how beautiful she is to him, calling her, “O most beautiful of women.” (Song 1:8)

Julia, a slim blond seated near me, gasped and began to tremble visibly. I didn’t want to embarrass her by drawing attention to her, so I kept teaching.

You can see the gospel here – for she feels dark, but he tells her, no, she is beautiful – as pure as a lily. A theme throughout the Song is her beauty – he says: “You are altogether beautiful, my love. There is no flaw in you.” (Song 4:7)

Now Julia was sobbing. A woman passed her a roll of toilet paper, a staple in prison Bible studies. I paused and said, “Julia, do you want to share what’s going on?”

She nodded vigorously. We waited while she composed herself. Finally, she said:

All of my life I wanted someone to tell me they loved me – that I was beautiful. It didn’t happen in childhood, but when I got older, I determined to make men say those words to me – I’d do whatever they wanted – just to hear it. (Tears) That’s how I wound up in here.

The day before I was to be incarcerated, I looked in the mirror and screamed: “I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU.”

I saw women nodding. How they identified! Julia continued.

But in here, Jesus found me. Just this morning I told Him, “Jesus – You are so beautiful.” And then … I thought He said, “Julia – you are beautiful.” I wondered if I’d imagined it. I pleaded: “Say it again!” But there was only silence. Then tonight, you come in here, open your Bible, and … He said it again!

We sat in silence, sensing this holy moment. Finally, I said, “Julia, you’ve just been kissed by the King.” I explained how the Song opens with her pleading to be kissed – and how, according to Rabbinic tradition, “a kiss from the King” is a living Word – like when a verse leaps out at you, giving you exactly what you need, or when circumstances so align that You know God did it. I said, “In fact, we’ve just all been kissed!”

They nodded. God had met us all.

How badly women in prison need this message of His love – but it isn’t just women in prison. We all tend to look at our hearts, our failures, and doubt that God could love us. We keep losing our grasp on the gospel.

Up until the early 1800’s, the Song of Songs was the most preached on book in the Old Testament, for nothing, pastors thought, was more important in overcoming temptation and trials than understanding the depth and breadth of Christ’s love. Today, you seldom hear it preached on, but if you do, it is almost always primarily on the earthly picture of marriage, with a brief addendum at the end to singles, to remember that Jesus in their Bridegroom. Yet there is a fresh wind blowing that sees both pictures, earthly and spiritual, as essential. When both pictures are seen, they illumine one another. Marriage and the marriage bed is seen as beautiful and sacred, but the mysterious relationship of husband and wife, as Ephesians 5 tells us, is intended to illumine a more important and lasting mystery, the relationship between Christ and true believers. How badly we need to recover this lost book, to restore our confidence in the depth of His love, and to respond to His call:

Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
And come away,
O my dove, in the cleft of the rock
In the crannies of the cliff,
Let me see you face,
Let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.

Song 2:13-14

As a young woman Dee became known when her book The Friendships of Women was released and went on to sell over a million copies. Other bestsellers include Falling in Love with Jesus and A Woman of…series. Dee is perhaps known best as a Bible study author and speaker. Her studies are beloved for their penetrating questions that help women experience the power of God. She publishes a free weekly Bible study on her blog (www.deebrestin.com) that has thousands of readers from around the world. She has a prison ministry and a video curriculum for women behind bars. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and has studied at Covenant Seminary. She is the mother of five and grandmother of thirteen. She lost her husband to cancer in his fifties, but is so grateful for the marriage they had. She believes passionately in the power of gospel-centered teaching. She has seen the power of the gospel to set women free – not just from the wrath of God, but from debilitating sins. He Calls You Beautiful (Hearing the Voice of Jesus in the Song of Songs) was just released. See the trailer here: Movie trailer for He Calls You Beautiful

When You Find Yourself Hopeless on Mother’s Day

There’s one kind of woman that still makes me cry.

She stretches big bows around pink wrapping paper and makes casseroles when the mama is still hobbling the stairs and bleeding after-birth and she might as well start a pinterest account just for one year-old birthday parties — she’s been to so many.

But her womb is empty.

She laughs as parents recount toddler antics and celebrates when that gurgling little thing becomes mobile and holds her friends’ babies in the back of church … but it’s not just her womb that’s barren. There’s a hollow part of her heart that’s been carved with each new month of waiting. She has more questions than answers. The God she knew at 19 seemingly granted to her friends health and wealth and happiness and she wonders what it was that landed her with this curse.

Life isn’t like that present anymore — wrapped in a big bow. Hers has been unwrapped. Shucked. And she’s not sure what was even underneath it all, anyways.

Her eyes cloud over in worship and she sings the words out-loud next to her friends with big bellies all the while asking more questions on the inside.

This friend, this me, this woman who is living one big riddle is wrestling with question of all of life: why would I ever subject myself to hope?

+++

It was in an email, not in person, that a friend shared these heart-felt, deeply considered lines that all could be summarized with this one statement:

It’s time to accept what you have and not ask for more.

She wrote what so many had thought. She was bold with what others danced around. She cared enough to want my heart to stop bleeding at the hands of forever-uncertainty.

She put words to my own wrestling: Why keep praying for God to heal my body?

Why let this shucked life — this unwrapped mess of a story — stay this exposed to the elements? Why hurt this bad, over and over again? Why give myself over to some crazy notion of hope, month after month, only to throw ten bucks, and another plastic test, away? Again. Why even ask when the answer 43 times before was “no”?

He is sovereign. He rules over all and is the only Sovereign. His plans and purposes can not be thwarted. Every part of my story was under His watch and direction and decision. And it was under this authority, that my womb was vacant.

As this vacancy moved from months into years — brushing a decade — why did I still buy pregnancy tests and chart my temperature and look at bellies-bursting women with any of sort of longing or desire?

Why did I still pray prayers in secret that God would do the seemingly unthinkable?

You see, I absolutely adored the (then) four children God had given us through adoption. These were minethey were children of my own. They were an answer to years of longing and waiting and we were (are!) crazy about them. If this was the case, why did I still pray prayers in secret that God would do the unthinkable?

Because God made me for fellowship with Himself.

He made me so that He could enjoy me.

And He enjoys it when His people ask Him for the unthinkable. Faith for the unseen is His paradigm for relationship that delights Him. 

So, you — with your womb that has an echo — what if your decision to “accept” where you are and stop asking Him for what you really desire isn’t coming from some stalwart understanding of God’s hand, but is really just an attempt to preserve your bruised self? 

What if you’re wrapping yourself right back up, with broken scraps and a tight explanation — clamping down your heart — only to miss the thing for which you were created? What if the nexus of this barren womb and your insides, alive with hope in the God of the unseen, is how He made you to bring Him glory?

What if all this is less about a baby and a plan and a neat-and-tidy life and more about moving the heart of God with your … hope?

At twenty-seven or forty-eight — if your womb is still empty and you’ve spent years wrestling through hope — what if it meant that you allowed your heart to remain soft to the God-Man who spends every one of our days calling us into the unseen?

This season so full of unconventional pain that 90 percent of your world can’t understand isn’t “just” about a baby. It’s about a Man who witnesses every single tear you cry when no one’s looking and is moved because one more day, barren for you, meant one more chance that you’d call Him the God of the impossible and ask Him to do what you physically can’t conceive. 

You have a chance to walk out what few on the earth can.

You have a chance to believe that who He is is greater than what you can see right in front of you.

 

Is today your day to live in that uncomfortable nexus of physical limitations and an internal, steadfast expectation for the unseen God? Barrenness — in any area of life — when you lean into it (instead of dismissing the desire underneath it) invites Him to breathe life into the dark crevices of your heart. 

The juncture of barrenness and hope (you know, the intersection we all want to avoid) grows a lost little waif into a daughter who expects good things from her Father.

Barren woman, is today your day to live?

For Your Continued Pursuit: Hebrews 11 | Ezekiel 37: 1-11 | Romans 5:5 | Isaiah 54:1-17 | Psalm 27:13

I Share a Bloodline With The Children We Adopted

“Look, she’s calling you mommy!” said a beautifully well-intentioned friend, wanting to celebrate just how quickly we’d become a family.

My little girl was building with legos in the corner and her less-than-nimble fingers needed help piecing them together. She called me mommy when she was hungry and when she needed help in the bathroom, too.

We adopted our first two children from Ethiopia at 1 ½ and 3 ½. We were their parents and they came to us potty trained. We were parents and yet we’d never changed diapers or done 3am feedings. The first day we met them, the only words they knew in English were “Mommy” and “Daddy” – and for all they knew, these were our first names.

The reason I remember this friend’s celebratory words were that I wanted to celebrate then, too, like she did. Couldn’t calling me “Mommy” mean that my little girl knew all of what that that name meant — couldn’t it mean that we were more of a family than a mere three weeks of knowing one another might otherwise imply?

As a new mom, then just having crested my twenties, adoption was what I’d seen on Christmas cards and in “Gotcha Day” videos where teary-eyed parents met the children they would spend their lives raising and wide-eyed children met strangers holding gifts and crying.

Sure, I’d read the adoption literature. I knew the stories. But I still was not all that different from my friend. When my daughter called me “mommy”, I ascribed more weight to those words than I did to the fight soon coming to win her to knowing the fierce love behind that name.

Our language betrays how quickly we want to declare victory. How quickly we want to move past pain.

When we adopted our first two, we had scores of friends and family who wanted to agree with what we’d already hoped – that the transition would be smooth and that any past trauma would have left very little imprint. We all wanted that piece of the vacuous American dream “healthy and happy children.”

We all secretly wanted “normal.”

So my little girl – the one I’d only just met – calls me Mommy and we all breathe a sigh of relief, as if this somehow indicates we are well on our way there … to that empty and elusive state of “normal.”

Girl MJ

Mommy is a tender responder to ouchies who fiercely fights for the hearts of her children and is relentless in her love for them, even when they hurt her out of their own hurt. But what I didn’t know at thirty was that the reasons why the ones who called me mommy (we now have four that we adopted) might struggle to believe me as such were entry-points for all of us into the heart of God.

As a culture, we want to stamp “done” and “fixed” over the things that hurt and the parts of us that still bleed. We want to bandage deep wounds without cleaning them first and label “complete” over the parts of us that still need His healing touch.

We want to celebrate a child who calls her caretaker “Mommy” as if this one day in which they were adopted means that all the past was forever erased.

And this is, perhaps, because we don’t yet have a grid for God as the deep Healer of our wounds.

He heals.

We don’t want to bleed because we‘re not yet quite convinced that He, Himself, bandages.

Perhaps we are called (in James 1:27) to care for the orphan and the widow because something happens to us when we get closer to a wound that’s still bleeding. We are opened to a side of God we cannot see when we’re spending our days trying to tidy our lives before Him who promises to be near to the ones who actually aren’t all that tidy, the God who promises to be near to the broken-hearted.

Morning run glory. Waking up expectant. I'm gonna see Him today.

Not too long after we adopted our second two, my husband said to me (about one of ours with a history that still leaves me in tears) “you know, you weren’t all that different from her, when I first met you.”

Excuse me?

This particular child bristled to the touch and averted her eyes when confronted with affection. She retreated down a long corridor of vacancy when she felt shame and shame seemed to be what she wore, no matter how we spoke otherwise to her.

When my husband met me at twenty-three I was more savvy. I hid those emotions that my child wore front and center. I stuffed them down deep, far from sight – except to those who were on a path to really know me. Indeed, I was messy underneath my carefully-groomed exterior.

These children who are now ours, but who were once orphaned, have brought our home a little closer to the mess. Not just theirs but closer to the mess inside of us, the mess we Christians like to tidy. Real fast.

James 1:27 has not been, to us, a call to powerful and strong believers who are wearing badges of rescue and saving the broken ones. Rather, it’s been our introduction to the way we humans bleed. All of us humans. And, even more than that, the God who uses this place of bleeding as an entry-point into our hearts as healer.

I couldn’t begin to know God as healer until I admitted my desperate need for healing. I’m just a few steps ahead of my children, in that. That’s the bloodline we share in common.

For When You Are Fresh Out of Amazing

I managed to crumple into a heap on my bed while holding the babe. I was still a mother, even in this melted state. I finally released the kind of tears you cry when a dozen times previous they’ve been stifled.
 These weren’t just today’s sobs.
The questions I’d been evading for weeks, perhaps even months, fell into my mind like bombs being dropped by planes overhead, strafing across my otherwise rational thinking.

Who was I to think I could live my life well—this life right in front of me—and with any sense of joy?

At what point did I move from having a good handle on my priorities to just surviving my days?

Have I just messed this all up? What is wrong with me that I’m here, now, unable to hold it together?

I clamped my eyes shut, over the tears, as if I could somehow close the door on all the questions, the insecurity, the creeping sense of failure, and go on to make a fantastic gourmet dinner in a spotless kitchen. As if I could even press pause on the swirling around me for long enough to pray, or even form a sentence or grab a tissue.

They were shut for five seconds before the baby cried, joining me in my meltdown and reminding me that I didn’t have the luxury of time to gain perspective on this internal rift. And then a knock at the door and I heard a squabble down the hall, between which there was a lineup of blocks in primary colors scattered across my hallway.

How did I get here? And what do I do now?

Continue reading this post over here –> 

The Antidote to Comparison

Three sisters share a bathroom, a closet, hairbrushes and the nightly bedtime recounting of the day. They know each other’s strengths just as surely as they know one another’s morning breath. All the girls know that Eden can sing and Hope can dance and Lily can paint. They celebrate each others’ differences readily. They wouldn’t want to forfeit what’s theirs — and doesn’t every girl have their one thing? You’d never catch Lily in a leotard these days and Eden’s paints have long since dried up.

But in the everyday things of life they share – the writing, the reading, the piano playing … oh, and the hair – they often give each other the side-eye. The celebration of one another is a struggle. It’s work to rejoice over a sister’s longer hair and longer books read, and new writing pieces. On these, their natural bent can be to be silent.

Not all that different from us mamas, if we do what’s “natural”, isn’t it?

A friend who’s a triathlete or another who’s in sales or still another who plays the violin masterfully – they’re all easy for me to celebrate. I could spend a whole summer at the pool without getting my head wet, I like to buy (and not sell) and I’ve never once held a violin.

But what about the mom with children the same age as mine? Or (for me) the other writer, the other speaker, the other adoptive parent?

It seems harmless to remain silent at another’s successes – to look sideways and feel better about who we are because our successes might be bigger or to feel worse about what we’re not in light of their gold. It seems harmless to cast the side-eye and to stay silent. I mean they are, after all, succeeding – surely they don’t need celebrating in addition to enjoying all that so-evident fruit.

Within my heart, however, they do need celebrating.

When I don’t see the people in my world with the understanding that God has given to each a unique role within His body and that my job is to feel with another when they’re weak andto rejoice with another when they’re honored, I miss out on the beauty I was meant to receive from that person.

And I miss out on the sweet whisper of God telling me, uniquely who I am in Him.

We dress up comparison like we dress up our pet demons – “oh, it’s not that bad. It’s just a function of motherhood — just a function of a being a woman.” But what it steals from us (in ever-increasing increments over time) is the ability to hear His vision for our particular life and for our particular calling.

It all gets cloudy. And fast.

Comparison is the masqueraded thief  {continue reading this new post over here –>}