What I Hope They Remember: Life is Not a Selfie

Open book with hand drawn landscape on wooden deckA few years ago, a sweet friend of mine battled breast cancer. After a Stage 4 diagnosis, I was shocked at how quickly her life slipped from us even though she fought to the bitter end. She was so convinced that she would overcome it, that even her family believed she was improving and would be released from the hospital just two days before she died.

During those last weeks with her, someone mentioned to me that I should try to get her to write a letter to each of her children. It seemed so personal a thing to request of someone, and though she was my friend, our friendship wasn’t intimate enough to where I felt like I had the right to even suggest such a thing. I mean, this woman was a fighter. And even though I brought my laptop to her bedside, I couldn’t make myself ask her. I didn’t want to do anything that might suggest she wasn’t going to make it. Even when it became apparent that she wouldn’t.

It’s one of my many regrets in life.

For months after, I thought about the letters she might have written. Her funny way of thinking about things, and her deep love for her children. I worried about what she might have wanted them to remember. Words of wisdom she would have wanted to pass on. I became so consumed with it, that I even wrote a novel about a mother who leaves her daughter letters to read as an adult. It overwhelmed me to say the least.

Because of her, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to the idea of what I’d want my children to remember about me. I’ve often considered how the day-to-day duties as a mom can become so overwhelming that we get caught in the getting-it-done mode and often forget that the window we have with our children is a small one. A fleeting one.

Yes, I want them to remember that I stood by them through everything. Yes, I want them to remember the fun things we did together. And yes, I want them to remember the many ways I tried to make their birthdays special.

But, more than anything, I want them to know this about me:

For me, they were the dream.

Though they watched me chase things in life like my design career, my writing and speaking ministry, and even being a business owner, at the end of the day, none of that mattered to me as long as at the end of the day they were there.

They were my dream come true.

The dream I had as a child to be a mother. The dream of our lives together as I held each of them for the first time. The dream of the family I’d always wanted, and prayed for my entire life.

And in a society filled with selfies, and six-second video snapshots, and 140 character tweets that only promote the best side of everyone as if they were living a perfect dream life, I saw every single side of them: the lovely, the brokenhearted, the successes, and the failures—

And they were still the dream.

lifeisnotaselfie_cutoutBecause life is not a selfie. There is not time to pose, and repose, adjusting our lives to look just so, so that we can find the precise moment of perfection and display it to the world. Life can be a mess, with heartbreak, and disappointment, and highs and lows that happen so quickly that before we know it our babies have gone from 16 months to 16 years in the blink of an eye.

It’s more of a picture that exposes slowly. A bigger picture we’ve managed to capture that is so completely, outrageously, and deeply loved that we can look back and see that it was our dream come true. And though we could never even fathom a love like that, they gave it to us without even knowing what they were doing.

So, to my beautiful Saige, and my kind Knox, and my sweet Cullen: thank you for allowing me to live my dream. To expand my heart. To learn to love.

Want to hear other stories of moms and what they hope they’re remembered for? Check out the blog hop at Proverbs 31 Speaker, Suzie Eller’s blog.

suziepic_hopetheyremember_oct

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on facebook!

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My Risk: Trusting God to Stick by Me When Others Ran Away

Free happy woman enjoying nature sunset. Freedom, happiness and

Today I’m linking up with my sweet friend, Suzie Eller of Proverbs 31 Ministries, to talk about taking risks in our lives. Make sure to follow the link below to discover more risktakers in faith. 

It felt like looking over a ledge I once visited in the mountains of North Carolina. As a teenager, I’d gone camping with a group of friends to Hanging Rock State Park. At the top of the trail, was a literal rock-and-a-hard-place. Two sheer cliffs if you asked me, that you had to climb between and wedge yourself into in order to reach the peak to see the best view. It was risky.

I remember being terrified as I approached those cliffs, but having to act like I wasn’t. I remember it being cold in between those rocks. And, I remember looking down as I climbed and thinking no one would be able to catch me if I lost my footing and fell. I did it out of fear, mostly, because after hiking to that point, I didn’t want to be left behind.

Near the top, you had to leap almost from one rock to the other in order to reach the final steps. If you closed your eyes, you risked falling. And so you had no choice but to go through it wide-eyed and scared, knowing that if you made it you’d be privy to the view that had become legendary. Even if standing on the edge of a cliff to witness it was almost as scary as the path that got you there.

Leaving my marriage felt much the same. Stuck between a rock-and-a-hard-place for years. Uncertain of what lay ahead and fearing falling back into where I’d come from as a child. Because where I’d come from was a train wreck. A family so broken by divorce that the pain still lingered as if it’d happened the day before. A father so angry at everyone involved, including the children, that he’d disowned me the day I got married for asking my step-father to also be a part of the ceremony. So broken that when my grandparents on that side of the family (whom I loved deeply) died, I was banned from their funerals.

My greatest fear—and single mission as a mother—was to avoid such a fate for my own family. And yet there I was—between two cliffs having to make a choice to leap to the other side and trust that God wouldn’t let me down. Not easy for a girl who’d learned early in life to trust no one. I felt like I was losing my grip, and that my children and I would surely plummet, hitting every painful crevice on the way down. It seemed out of control. And terrifying. And, more alone than I’d ever been.

I clung to God like I clung to life itself those first few months. And every movement felt fragile and small. Some days I couldn’t move at all. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t do anything, really, except cry to God. That’s when a friend suggested that I ask God for a life verse for this season of my life.

I’d never done such a thing before but at her urging I prayed and asked Him to give me something I would know immediately was His verse for me. As I read my Bible each morning, and came across verses through social media and other avenues, I wondered how on earth I’d even recognize it when it came to me. I mean, I was hanging on by a thread. Every verse I read seemed relevant and necessary in my life.

Until I came across:

“God is within her; She will not fall;” Psalm 46:5

And, you know that feeling you get sometimes in life, where your heart soars because someone has made it abundantly clear that they love you for you, and will always be there for you, and you get all squishy inside at the thought of finally—finally—being understood? Yeah. It felt just like that.

In the midst of this unexpected turn in my life. In the middle of my heartbreak over what me and my children were facing, God made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t climbing that rock alone. We were climbing it together. And God doesn’t fall.

And while moving forward—away from what I’d always thought my life would look like—seemed like the riskiest thing I could do, I knew it was where God wanted me to be. And just like the moment after I reached the peak of that cliff as a teenager and saw from that vantage point that the world was so pure. So beautiful. So simple. With crisp blue skies and treetops that sat so close to one another that they seemed more like rolling hills of green, and gold, and amber. I marveled at God’s vantage point of my life now and how he could love a girl who desperately needed to feel loved, in tangible ways.

Nearly a year into this journey, I realize how big a step that small leap was for me. It was risky in my mind. And how a girl who’d been disowned, and banned by her own family probably should’ve chosen to protect her heart instead. But, I’m thankful that I didn’t. That I jumped wide-eyed into the path that God pointed me toward even though it was the last thing I wanted in my life. Because it’s allowed me to trust Him completely. It’s made me stronger realizing that He won’t leave me in the hard places. And I cherish the fact that we’re climbing this peak together.

Because I understand the risk in climbing while you’re afraid. It’s where the very best views—not seen by everyone—can be revealed. And that those sometimes come at the end of a breathless climb toward the edge of something we fear the most. Because God is always ahead of me, and behind me. And for someone who learned to trust no one, I finally see there is One who is trustworthy.

I’ll take that risk again any day.

What about you? What risk is God asking you to take in your life?

risktaker

 #takearisk  #risktaker

Looking for encouragement as a single mom of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.<3

 

 

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How to Make Mom Friends that Stick by You

Happy mother

It’s one of those little secrets about motherhood that people won’t tell you: making mom friends is hard. In fact, it can feel impossible at times. Years after leaving high school, moms often find themselves going through the same feelings they struggled with as a teenager: anxiety about fitting in, and feeling like there isn’t a “group” they want to be in anyway. The truth is, moms can be very competitive, and it’s difficult to find ones that are sincere.

The bad news? There are a lot of moms that are simply trying to be the queen bee.

The good news? There are a lot of moms just like you that want nothing more than a good girlfriend.

So, how do you find these gems?

Faith Matters

Moms of faith have an advantage in friendships: our hearts are similar. While you will certainly have friends that don’t share your faith, make sure you surround yourself with some that do. Approaching life with the same world view can remove a lot of barriers that exist in other relationships.

Start with Your Children’s Friends

You can learn a lot about moms through their kids. Since your children likely reflect your values, they will tend to make friends with kids who do as well. In turn, their parents will likely have qualities you admire in a friend. Start by looking at your children’s friend’s moms (say that three times, fast) to see if there is one that you wish you could get to know better. This is called improving your odds.

Wallflowers Should Rule the World

Let’s face it, the moms who aren’t tackling the teacher to get to bring the cupcakes on party day are typically the nicest ones in the room. While some moms long to befriend the cupcake-bearer (because she wields power?) it’s the moms who don’t get into the fray that can make the best friends. Why? They know how to avoid drama, Mama. Priceless in a friendship.

If You Want Something, Get it Yourself

Moms live by one hard and fast rule: doing it yourself guarantees it’s done right. This can become a problem in things such as housework where you need help, and showing a little grace can actually allow others to contribute. But, with friendship? It’s the answer, baby. To find a friend worth sticking by, you have to make the effort and take the first step.

So, don’t wait any longer! Find that mom that you’ve always admired and ask her to lunch. Maybe she’s the one who is friendly to everyone but doesn’t necessarily have a “mom-clique” (hint: she probably chooses not to be in one, just like you), or the mom who has mentioned getting together before, but the two of you never got around to it (social anxiety is real for many moms). Putting yourself out there is the first step to a lifelong mom friendship you’ll turn to again and again.

Looking for more mom insight? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thechristiansinglemom

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The Land of Not-Where-I-Want-to-Be

Open roadIt’s been nearly a year of taking a break. Of withdrawing from ministry, and blogging, and essentially life to heal the broken parts of me. It was not too long from this date one year ago that I realized my marriage was ending, and that I would soon be plunged into the land of Not-Where-I-Want-to-Be. I wanted the dream. The happy family. The loving husband. The growing old with someone I’d spent a life with. But instead, I was looking into the future in shock. Barely holding on as I faced my new reality.

It’s been a year of growth, and learning, and revelation. Of learning how much I can do that I never thought I would even attempt (can you say fix a washer/lawnmower/toilet? Woot!) Of realizing that there are people who really care deeply about me, and others I thought cared who have slipped out of sight. Of growing up abruptly as rumors flew through my small community and I had nothing to stand on but my integrity.

It’s been harder than I ever thought it would be. And yet, I’ve not done it alone. Beside me, behind me, and in front of me, God has been there holding my hand. And holding my children.

If you’re a single mom you know. You get it. And your heart probably breaks for me, just as mine does for you. There is no one that should have to go through this. And yet, here we are, nearly 16 million of us, struggling to raise more than 22 million children.

And it’s harder than we ever imagined.

But only nine months in as a single mom, I feel God leading me to help others walk this path as well. That seems ridiculous because I have no idea what I’m doing in this role. Except that I hear him whispering to me that I’m exactly the kind he uses for such a thing: someone who is willing, but doesn’t know how. Because that allows room. Room for him to work. For him to lead. For him to change me.

I don’t have to have all the answers on this path. Neither do you. In fact, we shouldn’t even try to. Instead, we need to follow his lead. To leave margin for Him. To pull up the roots that have been our lives even if it knocks us on our rear because it’s time to start with fresh soil.

A new beginning.

And so I step out, knowing that the things I dread most in life are always the things that God uses. The most painful moments in my life become the most beautiful in his story. I hope you’ll join me here and at my new Facebook page for single moms of faith: https://www.facebook.com/thechristiansinglemom

Sweet Blessings,

Laura

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This Gift of Plate Twirling

bigstock-Plates-Spinning-on-Sticks-49069412Sometimes we surprise ourselves with our talents. You know, the ones that kind of creep up out of nowhere—and you’re really good at. Like, realizing you can rock a hula hoop, or that you have a natural gift for baking that no one taught you. Or, plate twirling. I’m totally awesome at that.

I’ll bet you are too. Only you don’t even see all those plates in the air you’ve been managing for the last (insert number of years you’ve had children) years. We moms wrote the manual on plate twirling, and have the fewest number of breakages worldwide. Seriously, I’ve done the research online.

So, this explains—doesn’t it—why we’re so exhausted? All these plates constantly spinning in mid-air can wear a girl down over time. Until we finally realize what is going on.

Last week, I walked away from my plates. These things I’ve been terrified of letting even wobble, I let them drop.

Just. Like. That.

And you know what? The earth did not tilt one degree off normal that day. In fact, my world appeared normal for once. I stepped off the stage, and decided that I’m only going back when God firmly places me on it himself. And I think I heard my family breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Because I realized that in all this plate twirling, and scheduling craziness, and worry about getting everything done, I’m actually missing time to do the one thing I know that God’s called me to do. And when we do that, we aren’t honoring him, or impressing him, or anyone else with our prowess of abilities.

We’re simply failing to do what he’s asked.

A wise friend guided me through this (aren’t they the best kind?) and her words have stuck in my mind ever since. “When we continue to do something that we dread doing for God, it’s because he’s lifted his grace from it.”

Whoa, sister.

Did you get that? Have you been there too? Begrudging the very thing you sign up to do for his kingdom? Wishing your turn to serve the nursery, or usher, or even lead bible study was over? Then, feeling guilty every single second for even thinking that way? All the while pretending to be a cheerful giver, as if God can’t see through to the truth.

But, consider this: maybe you feel that way because it should be over. Maybe it was just one step of obedience in what God has called you to do. And, continuing to do it out of obligation feels awful because his grace has been removed.

The grace that blesses our offerings of service. The grace that fills us with joy to serve. The grace that allows us room to do our very best.

You see, often we agree to things in ministry simply because we’re asked, without realizing it’s not where God wants us. And we agree to do good things—in the church and elsewhere—and assume that it is right, because it serves the body of Christ. But, that’s not always true. We have to be more careful of the plates we put out to spin. We have to make certain that the one asking us to do it is God. Otherwise, we’re not only not doing what he wants, but we’re possibly taking an opportunity that he’s meant for another.

In our agreement to serve, we need to ask ourselves: are we leaving room for God to place us where he wants us? Or, are we saying yes to so many plates that we can’t step away from them to do what he would have us do, for fear of the others falling?

How many plates are you twirling right now? Which one’s turn is it to drop?

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Being a Parent is One Big Party

© Wilmy Van Ulft | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Wilmy Van Ulft | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This past weekend, I celebrated my 31st birthday party. No, I didn’t turn 31. (Can you hear that? It’s my friends choking on their laughter). I’m talking about the 31st party I’ve thrown for my kids. We’ve had some great ones, some rowdy ones, and some way too loud ones. And as I watched my seven-year-old regaling in the joy of sugar-induced-bonding-with-friends, I couldn’t help but think back to my very first attempt at a kid’s birthday party.

My daughter was turning four. Of course, she picked a theme that no party store stocked—it’s like they know, isn’t it?—causing me to stretch my creative genes and get to work. It was the first cake I’d ever decorated that had a cartoon character on it. The first invitation I’d ever made and printed out on my computer. The first all-out-decorating of my home in pink balloons and green streamers, and anything that remotely resembled her favorite character.

As that Saturday rolled around, I was ready. I’d been prepped for days, had the goody bags lined up in a row, and the room we would hold the party in stocked with food, drinks, and decorations galore. I even had party games planned. Awesome ones, too, because I’m the kind of mom that hunts things like that down on the internet so that my daughter’s friends will enjoy themselves. I had a plan, and I was sticking to it.

Then the little monsters arrived.

For some reason, no one would stay in the room I’d taken special care to decorate for their enjoyment. No one waited until the specified snack time to eat the goodies I’d prepared. And, most shockingly, they didn’t want to play my games. My carefully researched games.

Instead . . .

They ran around the house and yard with wild abandon like sugar-addicted savages. They ignored me as they swept by the food table grabbing snacks on the go, leaving a trail of crumbs for mice to later discover. They laughed in my face—the kind of evil laugh that makes you shudder—when I told them that goody bags were not to be opened until they got home.

It was utter chaos.

Chaos, people.

The little beasts destroyed my dreams, my home, and my sanity in a mere 90 minutes.

But, my daughter?

She was in heaven. Beaming as they discovered her favorite places in our yard. Sweetly pointing out all of the things she loved about her room. Loving her moment in the sun. Her chance to be the center of attention. Her opportunity to be a host.

I realized something that day about motherhood, that I have to say is still true at party #31:

  1. Nothing is even close to what you might expect.
  2. They greatest lessons learned are learned by me.
  3. Chaos can bring joy like you’ve never experienced.
  4. The things I’ll do to stretch myself, make me a better person for the rest of the world.
  5. My plans are just starting points in the adventure.
  6. Sometimes you have to let things go so that things go best.
  7. If I’d have known what life would be like with my children, I’d have done it sooner.
  8. It’s the simple things that matter, bring joy, and will be remembered.
  9. I can never say “I love you” enough.
  10. Until my children, I never realized how much I could love.

The best part of this realization? God feels the same way about us. Celebrates us in the same way. Loves us in the same way. In fact, the same list can be used regarding him. Try it.

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When Your Breakthrough Doesn’t Come

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-no-image11590733There were more than thirty of us in the room.

Each of us standing before God, declaring war against the one thing we felt was holding us back the most. The one thing that had become an obstacle on our path to serve him. Like warriors, we were preparing for battle, revving up to overcome it once and for all. To defeat the enemy, with God leading the way.

I’d been struggling with mine for years.

Maybe because I didn’t grow up in the church, or because I’d only been a Christian for the last 10 years, the enemy used it as a tool to nip and gnaw at me when I was most vulnerable. It kept me on the sidelines more often than I’d like to admit, and held me back from pushing forward with ministry opportunities I wanted to pursue.

I was ready, and willing, to give it the boot. To overcome it once and for all.

This feeling of ungodliness.

I psyched myself up, prayed continually, and stood toe-to-toe with the enemy, ready to take it down.

Nearly thirty went before me, accomplished their task, and celebrated.

When it was my turn, I was the only one who failed.

The. Only. One.

It felt cruel to me, this failure. And almost as if my obstacle was being thrown in my face. My struggle with feeling ungodly around groups of Christians had actually manifested in real life. In front of everyone. A roomful of sold-out-for-Christ Christians.

As everyone celebrated their victories, I was embarrassed. And hurt. And, just plain mad.

For whatever reason, God had shown up for more than thirty people, and left me standing alone. I could feel the enemy breathing down my neck, poking and laughing at me, telling me that I should have listened to him instead.

I left the room and didn’t want to come back. I visited the nearby bathroom and threw a little pity party. I listened out for an explanation from God, but found only silence.

Again.

My mind played tricks with me that day. Did God have my back? Was I even his? Why would he leave me there like that? Why did he help everyone but me?

I let the questions flow this time instead of holding them in their proper place. I accepted the fact that it just wasn’t my turn somehow. And put on a brave face.

As I drove home from the event, I had a long talk with God. Okay–so, it was completely one-sided, and gave no room for input. But I wanted to know:

What was I doing wrong?

Was I being selfish?

Was it a pride issue?

Why wouldn’t he show up for me like he did for all the others?

How could he leave me there like that?

Didn’t he know that was my one THING? The THING I struggled with the most?

Did he like me this way? Did he want me to feel less than?

Did he care about me at all?

 

Then . . . a whisper in the corner of my mind.

 

I’m still using it.

I sat stunned. My running mouth momentarily shut.

The very thing that haunted me the most. The single thing that seemed to hold me back again and again, was something God found useful. And I realized something new:

God won’t allow a breakthrough on something that he is

still using to mold us.

It made me think of other breakthroughs I’d prayed for in my life:

  • Breakthroughs . . . in relationships with family members
  • Breakthroughs . . . in finances
  • Breakthroughs . . .  in my marriage
  • Breakthroughs  . . . with friendships
  • Breakthroughs . . . in my ministry

All denied at times when I was sure a breakthrough was coming.

All used to mold, and shape, and sometimes painfully carve me into the person he wanted me to be.

While I pouted, and sulked, and felt tiny and unworthy to God, he was busy using these very things to create the woman he saw inside. Stronger and more fit for his service than I’d been before.

A new woman who:

  • Became more vulnerable with other women so that she could be used to help them
  • Reached to learn more about him so that she could in turn teach others
  • Felt small in this world so that she could help others to reach toward something bigger than anything she could ever offer

And so today, I thank him for the breakthroughs that don’t come.

For the desperate prayers that don’t get answered. For the cries in the night that ask him to fix it all. And the mornings when they’re not fixed.

Because he knows that what he has for me is much better than what I’m asking him for myself. And he won’t settle for giving me less than his very best. He won’t allow me to come out of the fire half-baked. He won’t grant me the things I long for most, if those are the very things that he is using to make me stronger.

What breakthrough are you praying for right now?

 

 

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Say it Ain’t So

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-young-woman-screaming-image19241717As I helped my daughter prepare for her first day of high school this week, memories came flooding back to me. The nervous energy that first day. The friendships formed. The social experience.

And . . . the unrelenting, constant scrutiny of other girls.

Anyone?

Some of my most painful memories came from that time in my life. Where gossip (even if it wasn’t about me) could destroy a girl in a moment’s notice. When offhanded comments and truth-twisted sayings could make or take a girl’s self-esteem in one fell swoop.

As I watched my daughter taking those first steps, I prayed for better for her.

And as I drove away, I thought: I’m SO GLAD THOSE DAYS ARE BEHIND ME.

But then, it occurred to me: Are they really?

The truth is, as an adult, when I’ve gathered with girls in social circles much of the same rules still apply. Because the uncomfortable truth between women is that it’s nearly impossible to have girlfriends without gossip.

There. I said it.

Anyone?

Over the years, this dirty little secret has reared its ugly head more than once in my life:

  • I’ve felt uncomfortable in groups that have nothing to say unless it’s about someone else.
  • I’ve opted out of gatherings where the women talked only about the ones who couldn’t make it that night—knowing that I’d be fodder for conversation too.
  • I’ve literally hidden in bathrooms at family gatherings where I couldn’t take one more comment about another loved one, spoken from someone they believed loved them too.

And, I’ve been guilty of all three.

And completely torn apart at the realization that this is what women do.

This is how we relate.

And, it’s wrong.

In a society where women are no longer shuffled to the kitchen to keep them out of the conversation, I wonder if we even recognize how powerful our voices have become. While our mother’s may have only drawn the ears of other women, ours have the power (and long-reach thanks to the internet) to affect hundreds if not thousands with a simple phrase.

And, what are we doing with this power?

Building others up? Or tearing them down?

Do we willingly participate, or feel isolated when no one seems to relate to us otherwise?

In Genesis 1-3, we get our first glimpse at the power of words. God simply spoke, and the heavens and earth, people and creatures, time and seasons—everything—was created. With words alone.

Is it coincidence that God “said” these simple words and our very universe was created? Or, is it a lesson to be learned?

That our words have power beyond our own imagination.

Because the truth is that just as God created the universe with His words . . .

We create our lives, our relationships, our very world—WITH OUR WORDS.

How are you using yours?

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Showing You the More

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-mannequin-image7603483Sometimes people are surprised to discover that I can’t sew. I mean, I’m a fabric designer. Don’t all fabric designers have a little room filled with fabrics, a sewing machine, and a dress dummy?

Um, no.

In fact, my sewing escapades have been quite the ordeal. When my daughter was much younger, she decided that she wanted to be a Power-puff girl for Halloween. Not just any Power-puff girl. The blonde one. Of course, the Halloween costume companies on which I relied decided that little girls would only want to be the brunette Power-puff girl. There were no blonde costumes.

And so I broke out my little sewing machine.

Oh, the many ways a mother can fool herself.

I was fully aware of my lacking skills, so I kept it simple. I made a straight jumper out of blue sequined fabric, and then attached a small cape to the back. My demise? A wig. Out of yellow yarn. Yes, really. Because the blonde Power-puff girl has piggy tails, Mommy. That’s why.

I can’t say that I was proud of my creation, but I thought it would suffice. After all, my daughter believed she was the Power-puff girl of her choice, and so my job was done. I even felt a tinge of pride at my work knowing that no other little girl would have the same costume.

Then we went trick-or-treating.

At the very first house we visited, and I mean the very first, a woman opened her door, looked at my daughter and said:

“Oh, look! It’s Dolly Parton!”

Ahem.

So, you can understand, can’t you, why I’ve shied away from anything remotely related to sewing since then?

Until . . .

A couple school years ago, my kids all needed new pants. All of them. And, for reasons unknown to all mothers, manufacturers can’t seem to understand that our eight-year-olds are not seven feet tall. Every pair of pants I purchased for every single child hung past their feet at least six inches.

With our finances tight, I calculated the cost of taking that many pairs of pants to the local alterations place. And rather than take out a small loan, my sewing machine came to mind again.

I broke it out, reluctant that I was about to ruin perfectly good, brand new clothes. I sent my kids out of the room so that no witnesses would testify to what I was about to do. And, I cut and sewed with baited breath.

And you know what? When I was done, they looked good. I mean, really, really good. Like, maybe I was meant to be a fashion designer instead of a fabric designer. Maybe I could do this mommy thing better than I thought. Maybe I was capable of more than I believed I was.

And then it hit me.

In the time during our struggles over the last years, maybe God was proving to me that I could do something I never believed I could before.

Could it be the same for you?

Maybe God has placed you in the situation that you are in to specifically show you that you are stronger than you think, that you can do the very thing you are afraid of, that you are more than you believe yourself to be.

And so today, I thank Him for the “more”.

For showing me that with Him, I can do more. That in the midst of my struggles, the very ones I’ve feared my entire life, that I can move through them and come out on the other side better for it.

What are you experiencing in your trial that you never thought you could handle before? Is God using it to show you that His idea of your abilities are more than you believe you’re capable of? Is He showing you that you are worth more than you believe?

Matthew 10:29-31 says:

“Jesus said, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

 

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Failing godliness

Women Bow And PrayI’m just your average Christian girl.

One who tries her best. Stays connected with God. And, strives to do what she can to bring others to Jesus.

But, sometimes, I feel like I’m failing this gig. And, I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.

I don’t know what it is about being a Christian that makes us afraid to admit when we are struggling with our faith, our identity, or even depression about our situation. Maybe it’s the fact that we are fully aware that others are always watching. That we may literally be “the only Bible some will ever read.”

So we put up this valiant effort. To be a good example, a godly example. And we hold it up there for a while, believing we’ve found the groove that all Christian’s want to fit into. The one in which we reflect Jesus.

Until we make a big mess of it all. We do something that we feel has put us at the back of the line again. And we secretly start to feel like the rest of the world: that it’s unattainable.

Except that it isn’t. This groove with Jesus. It’s just that we’re looking at it all wrong in the first place.

We’re more concerned about the numbers. The things we volunteer for. The way our children reflect our faith. We want it all to look perfect so that everyone will understand how important He is in our lives. Because He truly is. And we begin to beat ourselves up when we can’t do it all—this unattainable example of godliness. Even though we truly want to.

It’s in those seasons of want to, that we may be missing the point entirely. And it’s when I’m failing at it, that I’m most reminded of that.

Jesus came here to show us an example knowing that it was the pinnacle. He loved us so much, He knew we needed a better understanding of how to live this life for Him. And yet, He understood that what we have to do here can feel overwhelming and impossible at times. He wanted us to seek godliness, knowing we would have to rely fully on him in that process.

Because godly people struggle with their faith. They question whether or not they believe enough. Are close enough. Trust enough.

Godly people struggle with their identity. They have pasts to deal with. Some which are truly ugly. Ones that make them question who they are in this world, and if they even deserve what Jesus offers.

Godly people struggle to hold it all together. The world can be an awful place at times, overwhelming us physically and mentally even as we tell ourselves it shouldn’t. It still does.

The only difference between us and the rest of the world is that we have this huge safety net to fall back into. As we fly high, and flip, and show everyone our tricks, at the end of the day we know we’ll be caught by His grace.

And what the rest of the world, or even other Christians, think doesn’t matter one bit.

Jesus surrounded himself with people just like us who struggled in their faith. People who needed a Savior to guide them. People who knew they wouldn’t measure up and received open arms instead of self-righteousness. People who made bad choices, and received mercy instead of judgment. People who exposed their messes, and received healing instead of a lecture.

Are we being that kind of Jesus to others? Or is striving for godliness getting in the way?

 

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