Where to Run

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Sometimes I feel like running away.

Away from dirty dishes. Piles of laundry. Full schedules. Late nights and early mornings.

Away from difficult people. From unfair expectations. From the hardest parts of my day.

Yes, I sometimes wish I could escape all the not-so-fun, wearing-me-out, breaking-my-heart part of life.

And I wonder, do you ever feel the same? Continue reading “Where to Run”

When Joy Slips In

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What if I told you making the most of your time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?  At least, not in the way you and I often carry it out.  Especially those of us who are task oriented. We see what needs to be done, and we don’t stop until it’s done. Until we can mark it off our to-do list, we are not satisfied.  And that’s a good thing -until it becomes the only thing that matters. Continue reading “When Joy Slips In”

God, it’s me.

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Good morning, God. It’s me.

I’m up a little earlier than usual this morning. I’ve made my coffee. I’m seated in my office, at my small black desk, to meet with You.

As usual, the house is quiet this time of morning. All I hear is the ceiling fan above my head, an occasional car passing by my front window, and the faint snore of our favorite Jack Russell sacked out in the living room. No doubt he is curled up next to one of my littles who are sleeping soundly after last night’s late movie – a fun, relaxing way to spend a Friday night with family.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t keep my eyes open. Not long into the movie, I retreated to my room to find sleep. So here I am, awake at 5:30 a.m., sitting in the calm of the morning with you, Lord. Exactly where I need to be. Continue reading “God, it’s me.”

Imperfect, Lovely You

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Searching for my true identity is where I’ve been. Examining, one by one, all the labels I’ve claimed ownership to over the years. Taking myself back to the basics – to the very core of who I am- of who God created me to be.

In doing so, I’ve come to realize I have purpose, value, and meaning. Despite my many flaws, my endless insecurities, I matter.

Why?  Because I am His.  And because I am His, I am loved.  Not because of what I’ve accomplished, or the successes I may attain next week or a year from now. I am loved simply because I am a child of the one true God. Continue reading “Imperfect, Lovely You”

Saying No

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Oftentimes, it’s difficult to utter that tiny little word, “no”.

I ponder this shortly after I’ve agreed to yet another task I should not be tackling. But it’s too late. I’ve committed myself, stretching myself too thin once again. In an effort to please everyone, I end up exhausted, weary, and longing to hide from all who pursue me.

I somehow pull myself together. I trudge forward, determined to finish what I’ve started. When it’s done, I vow to never step into that trap again.

I repeat this cycle until a startling realization hits me: Continue reading “Saying No”

This is My Motherhood

I didn’t awaken that morning expecting my life to change. I knew some things would be different. There would be diapers to change, extra laundry to wash, another mouth to feed. But true change? As in a shift in perspective change? As in a how-did-I-ever-make-it-without-you change? Yet there it was, covering me like a warm sweater. Fitting perfectly.

And I almost missed the significance of it.

My first day of motherhood.

Like many young girls, I had often dreamed of marrying my prince charming. Together we would create the perfect family which would, no doubt, include an adorable baby girl with a closet full of pink dresses and lacy hair bows.

In this dream, my prince charming and I never disagreed. The sweet baby never cried. Money was never scarce. I always looked put-together in my career suit, high heel shoes, and polished fingernails.

It now occurs to me how this childhood fantasy skipped from the start of marriage, family, and career and sprinted straight into a never-ending state of bliss. Never once did I consider the life destined to take place between the beginning and the end.

So there we were, my beau and I, planning for parenthood as best we could. Early November would bring with it a small bundle of joy. I would stay home with our baby girl for two months, and then return to work. Life would carry on much the same as it had.

And then she arrived.

To this day, I’m not certain exactly what happened.

This everything-must-go-according-to-plan woman was knocked off track by a 7 pound, 5 ounce baby girl packaged in pink.

I never saw it coming.

Not through years of dreaming and planning. Not through nine months of loving her through pregnancy. Not through hours of laboring to get her here. Not until I held her in my arms for the first time.

I had become a mother.

It was within that moment I began to see life differently. I began to sense the call to motherhood, and in accepting that call, new experiences became the norm.

Motherhood brought with it much learning. I quickly realized not every little girl is fond of pink and lace. And that some two-year-old boys can easily outrun their mothers despite their tiny legs. That even the youngest of children can struggle with shyness. That some toddlers have a will stronger than their adult counter-parts. And that an ordinary rock or weed can become a special gift when given from the lovely heart of a child.

If not for mothering, I may have never become an expert at capturing crickets, toads, and frogs. I most certainly would have never owned a pet rat (affectionately known as Mr. Rat), nor would I have willingly housed lizards, guinea pigs, or hamsters (or the babies they were never supposed to birth).

I’m sure I would have never carried on a conversation with the one lone fish who lived on my kitchen counter. Nor would I have taken on the large number of dogs and cats we’ve loved through the years. No, my entourage of pets would have been much less if not for motherhood.

Living as a mother has also stretched me in more important ways. It has caused me to question, at times, much of what I thought to be true. It has forced me to think hard, and to pray more. What has worked with one child has not worked with another.

And the heartaches, oh how deeply they hurt. I wonder whether a deeper pain exists than that felt by a mother whose child is struggling, or rebelling, or hurting, or leaving, or one who has already gone.

From the first child of my dreams, to the two boys who followed, on to a second daughter, and then finally, a baby boy. Five children. Five blessings. All with similar traits, yet uniquely themselves. All very much loved. Each one an important, vital piece of the life nestled between my start and finish. The in-between part I never considered as a dreamy little girl.

This is my motherhood.

Yours may look completely different. Regardless of how it looks -whether your expression of a mother’s love is given to your own children or to others who need it- please know you are making a difference. And, in turn, you are being made different, too.

Welcoming the Unchurched

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What message are we communicating to our unchurched neighbors this Easter?

I hope it’s one of hope and love and acceptance, but when I read some of the church signs I’ve seen recently, I can’t help but wonder.

Signs that suggest that coming to church on Easter is a bad thing – if you don’t show up on other Sundays as well.

Those signs make my heart hurt for those who will read them and feel shamed by them. Perhaps they were thinking about attending church this Easter, but now feel unwelcome. I can’t say that I blame them.

When did we become a people who criticize others when their church attendance doesn’t match up with ours? When did we lose sight of the wonderful opportunity Resurrection Sunday brings? The opportunity to extend God’s love, grace, and compassion to those who aren’t sitting in our services regularly. What a tragic mistake on our part.

I suppose this matter resonates with me because there was a time when I also attended church only on special occasions. I have family members who still do this. I also have family and friends who never attend, not even on Easter. How thrilled I would be to have them join me at church sometime, anytime, even if it’s only once a year.

My challenge to you, my fellow church-goers, is this …

When you notice unfamiliar faces in church this Easter, give them a sincere welcome. Silently lift up a prayer on their behalf. Rejoice in your heart that they are there. Who knows, maybe your kindness will make them feel as if they belong, or at the very least, fill them with the hope of belonging. Maybe your hospitality will tear down the wall guarding their heart, enabling them to breathe easier and hear a fresh word from God.

Maybe they’ll experience enough goodness to bring them back. If not next week, maybe the week after. Or three months from now. Or next Easter. Regardless of when, or even if they return to a specific church or building, the love and truth shown to them on Easter Sunday will not be forgotten.

But before this message can be conveyed within the church, it must be conveyed outside the church. On the signs mounted in our parking lots. In our attitudes as we talk and do business within our communities. In our actions as we choose to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Let’s work on creating a message that sounds something like this —

Yes, we are open on Sundays. Won’t you please come and join us?