Thursday, March 05, 2015


Took the long way home from work today. The drive only adds about 7 more minutes to my commute, but it's significantly more beautiful than my usual route.
As I drove, unhurried, I wondered momentarily why I don't do this more often - why I don't take the longer way, even when I know I enjoy it so much more. The question was answered as soon as I wondered it.
I usually don't have 7 minutes to spare.
Not even just a 7 minute margin, for beauty's sake.
Margins on a page give space for a story to come to life, to take shape, to be comprehensible.
Margins in a life give space for our story to come to life, to take shape, to be comprehensible.
Without space it's too easy to lose what gives meaning to our lives.
Margins are for beauty. I'm carving out space for more.

Monday, January 28, 2013

This Little Mommy Went to Market, This Little Mommy Stayed Home...

After spending the last 7+ years as a stay-at-home mom, I recently returned to work on a full-time temporary basis while my husband stays home with our kids. I have learned a few surprising things during this time, and I hope these lessons stick with me. Here are a few:

  • I have a new appreciation for the value of the hard work that my husband does outside the home to provide for and sustain our family.

When I’ve spent the whole day at home with the kids, I am typically counting down the minutes until my husband walks in the door. It’s not at all uncommon for me to have one thing on my mind in that moment – “I want a break!” Caring for children is hard work, emotionally taxing, and physically exhausting. But I have not appreciated as I should the blessing of a hard working husband. My husband’s job is physically demanding, and he carries the weight of responsibility to not only do his job well, but also to provide for our family’s needs. He lays down his life for us every day, and one expression of that is his devotion to work hard. I don’t want to take that for granted anymore. I don’t want to consider my role at home as the important one, and his work outside the home as an interference. Yes, the work of a husband and father goes far beyond earning a living, but the work he does matters more than I have shown. 

  • Until now, I have underestimated the impact that can be made simply by trying to have the kids calm and dinner ready when my husband gets home from work.

Please don’t throw anything at your computer screen. I know I’ve heard this kind of thing before and thought “Yeah, right! Why don’t YOU come to my house and try to make dinner with 5 kids underfoot. And give your best shot at trying to get them to stop fighting before Daddy walks in the door. Good Luck!” I’m not saying that I will, or even should, have everything perfect every day when he gets home from work. But I am confident that I haven’t given this the effort that it deserves. When I come home from work to find the kids at the table and a delicious hot meal waiting for me, I feel incredibly grateful, and incredibly humbled. After a full day at work, I am tired and hungry. (Much more tired and hungry than it seems I should be after just sitting at a computer and talking on the phone all day.) I know that he’s tired too, and yet I walk in the door and find our kids’ needs being met, and my needs anticipated. In that moment, food and happy kids are my love language. After the first few days of working, I thought silently “Why don’t I do this for you? Why don’t I work harder to make your homecoming a good one?” 

  • Work is invigorating, and that doesn't diminish the value of motherhood.

As much as I am learning about things that will directly impact my mothering, I’m also gaining perspective that it’s ok that there is more to me than simply being a mother, even in this season when my kids are little. I am surprised by how much I like my job. I get to learn new things every day. I talk to many people, and almost all of them have the ability to speak in full sentences and comprehend what I say. I get up early and get dressed every morning, and even do my hair and makeup. I really enjoy going to work. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation and sense of accomplishment. I like that I can complete a task from start to finish in one sitting. I enjoy work in a way that doesn't have a counterpart in my mothering experience. But my enjoyment of work does not diminish my enjoyment of motherhood, and it certainly doesn't diminish my value as a mother. 

  • Being present in my kids’ lives is necessary. Being omnipresent in my kids’ lives is impossible, and attempting to be so is inadvisable.

  • When he’s out of the home all day, I need to talk with my husband more about what’s going on with our kids…and that’s ok.

  • There are other people who love my kids besides me, and it’s good to make space for some of them to have a place of influence.

  • When he’s out of the home all day, I need to talk with my husband more about what’s going on with me…and that’s ok.

  • A mother's discipleship is not only for her children – there is a world full of people that need us to shine the light, speak the truth, and walk with them as we follow Jesus.

I was offered the opportunity to keep my job on a permanent basis, with an increase in pay. I turned down the offer. As much as I love my job, I know that once my husband returns to work, the place I am most needed in my family will be at home. When my temporary position ends, I will return home to be a full-time mom. I will not for a moment regret my decision to walk away from work and back to my kids. But I’ll be a different person when I go back. Hopefully less self-centered and self-righteous. I will appreciate the time a little more. I will appreciate my husband more. I will judge working moms less. I will appreciate working moms more. I will work a little harder. I will pray a little harder, and play a little harder, and hopefully laugh more. I am thankful for the gift of this season, and I look forward to the next one with great anticipation.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How will they know Him?

       When my oldest daughter, Abigail, was less than a year old, I felt overwhelmed by the task of raising this little girl to know and love Jesus. It was my most earnest desire as a mother, but I felt a bit daunted by the weight of significance.

       At that time, we had a young man named Caleb living with us. I felt the Lord ask me “How does Abigail know Caleb?” She, of course, knew Caleb because he lived in our house. She saw him every day, she heard our conversations with him, she observed our interaction with him, she talked with him and played with him. His mere presence in our home meant that it would be pretty difficult for her not to know him. Of course, her knowledge of him and relationship with him differed from ours, since in her youth she lacked understanding in some of the things that we adults could know about one another. But nonetheless, she knew him, as well as she could know anyone, simply by living with him.

       I felt the Lord encouraging me that what I am longing to see in my children in terms of knowing and loving God will not be primarily a matter of “teaching” her to know the Lord, but mostly the result of simply living in His presence. If His Spirit is truly filling our hearts, if we talk with Him daily, if we tell the stories of all the things He’s done throughout history (even before we were born), if we reminisce about special times we’ve shared with Him…then He will be as real to her, and as knowable, as any other person who resides in our home.

       I was simultaneously encouraged and challenged by that invitation, and I think I’m feeling that same kind of longing right now. I’ve been thinking about the humanity and divinity of Jesus a lot lately. I am hungry to know Him – to really, really know Him. “From Patmos” (learn about it here; or watch it here) gave such a tangible picture of Jesus in the flesh – a man who was knowable, just like I know any other friend. I want that longing for the Messiah to come (again), and that awe and joy and confidence that the Messiah is my friend. Is He really as tangible to me as the people I can reach out and touch with my hands? I know He is a person, not a collection of ideas, but am I really engaging with Him on that level on a moment by moment basis?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

     Jesus is Alive! We have reason to celebrate! I hope that you, dear visitor to my little blog, know the hope that is found in Jesus.
     God Himself, come to dwell with men in the flesh, has defeated sin and death and showed us perfectly the character of God. The Servant King, the Holy One, humbled Himself even to the point of willingly submitting to death. He didn't submit just to the idea of death (as in death as a result of the breakdown of the human body over time) but specifically a form of death intended to torture and humiliate (the cross). But He is not defeated. He is Risen! He really died, and he really was resurrected. After defeating death, His physical, resurrected body walked on the earth, among many witnesses. He now dwells in heaven with the Father, and He will come again to the earth to establish His kingdom.
     One very real day to come, every knee will bow (including your own) and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. This won't be spiritual knees in some ethereal fantasy land. You, my friend, will have a body on that day, and you will bow before the King of the universe.

     He desires that you know Him and worship Him now, in your brief life on the earth. By His very real death and resurrection, He has made the way for you to have True Life. To know God and be transformed into His image. You do not have to be a slave to sin!
     This is what we celebrate today.

    An egg hunt might seem like a silly way to celebrate, but there is something to be found in the symbols of searching , finding hidden treasure, within eggs (representing new life), and the opening of that egg to find a surprise gift waiting inside (like discovering the open tomb, and the surprise gift of the resurrection of the Messiah).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Bread of Life

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, 
and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

I didn’t get to spend time sitting with my bible yesterday, but the Lord totally spoke to me while I was working with Abigail on her Bible homework. It was a good reminder that giving myself to the Word doesn’t have to follow a certain comfortable and familiar formula (i.e. me + bible + comfy chair (+warm drink if possible)) For her class each week we memorize a verse and do some meditation time. While we were meditating, the Lord gave me this picture:

     I saw Jesus standing in front of a vast, endless ocean of loaves of bread. He was smiling. Large, hefty loaves of bread were piled up behind him, and they went as far as I could see, out to the horizon. I knew it was showing His inexhaustible resources. I was struck with the understanding that the supply needed to be inexhaustible, because we need to continually be fed from His hand. The elimination of hunger that resulted was not because of some magical quality within the bread. In other words, it was the coming to Jesus that resulted in being filled and hunger being satisfied. This was not a matter of acquiring something that would once and for all bring satisfaction. Being fed was a natural result of coming to Him, but once having been fed we were not then able to walk away without experiencing that same gnawing hunger once again.

     I knew there were many people before Him, but I only saw one person, right at His feet. I felt this was speaking to Jesus’ intimate knowledge of the needs of each one who came to Him, and the way He tenderly cares for each one of us. He was not simply tossing food into the hungry masses. He was personally and intimately providing exactly the nourishment that was needed for that specific person at that precise moment.

     I had a brief picture of Jesus turning around to the immense pile of loaves and searching for a specific loaf, but I knew in an instant that this was a picture of my own distorted understanding of His ways, and not the true nature of what God was showing me. I asked the Lord for understanding, and I saw the searching through loaves as somehow representing Jesus looking for a thing outside of Himself to give. I saw myself flipping through my bible, looking for just the right verse that would really speak to me in the moment. It was as though I was identifying the “bread of life” that quenches hunger as being embodied within a specific encouraging word, a scripture, an impression, etc. I was seeing His perfection of knowing of me and his perfect resource as being hindered by a delay in connecting me with just the right “thing” that would satisfy.

     Suddenly I was looking at him again, and He was shining brighter than before. Whereas before the sense was of a room full of light, where He was out of place, this time the light was clearly emanating from Him. He was luminescent. He began to reach his hands into his own belly, and as He did the ocean of bread disappeared from behind Him and the most intense light I’ve ever seen burst out from the place where He reached inside Himself. I instantly knew that the bread He was giving was not simply available to Him to give, it was within and of Him. He Himself is the bread of life. We are nourished by His very essence, His character. In coming to Him we receive of Him, and this alone is the bread that satisfies.

     He was meeting the very specific needs and satisfying every cry of hunger within those who came to Him, but it was not by means of anything external to Himself. He reached inside Himself and from within came forth what was needed to give life. Now, I don’t mean that what He gave was the same for each person from that point on. There was still distinction in what He gave. But there was no hesitation, no searching, no pondering what would be needed, and nothing added apart from what He Himself was. He simply gazed lovingly in the eyes of the one before Him, reached into Himself, and brought forth exactly what was right.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When words are both weapon and salve for the wound

She wasn’t the first to receive a lashing from my tongue today. Razors on my lips, cutting little tender hearts. “What are you doing?! You’re standing right by Lucia’s door and shouting! If you wake her up I am not going to be happy!

Mommy, don’t ever talk to me like that!” The quiver in her lip reveals the damage I’ve done, but I hear the anger in her voice and call it rebellion.

My fuse has already been lit, and I could close my mouth, but I don’t. Isn’t my own rebellion really the fuel for this fire seeking to destroy us both?

Don’t you ever tell me what to do!” My voice is large and powerful, but inside I wince even as I’m still forming the words. Oh! Where do words like these come from? That tone of voice. The daggers in my eyes.

The quivering lip can’t hold it in now, and the wounded one shrieks as she runs to her bed. Tears spill onto her pillow, as my own tears sting my eyes. The bitterness of failure biting the edges, as I struggle to see, to grasp for Grace.

She crumples on the bed, I crumple to the floor. We both quiver with liquid prayers flowing over faces and hearts.

     It’s here, right here in these moments, where I am learning to find Jesus. In the weak places. The broken places. The ones that make my heart reel and my head spin with pain over what I’ve done. When I see my sin for what it is and I cannot hide it from my eyes. 

     I’m learning to hear Him in the dark and lonely places. The places that used to make me cower in fear and shame. When that accusing voice calling me a failure as a mother sounds true, because what kind of mother talks to her daughter like that? When the tempter comes with his searing whisper “You’ve tried and you’ve failed. You’re beyond hope now.”

     But lies aren’t Truth, no matter what I feel or how I fail. And I’m beginning to see that the One who is Faithful and True has been speaking the whole time. But what He says seems so impossible, for so long I didn’t dare to believe Him.

He has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, Is. 61:10 

     Here in the mud and the muck of my heart, God Himself has claimed me as His own possession. Jesus paid the highest price for my freedom, all so that He can clothe me with His finest garments. 

    And yet, I’ve slipped and fallen in the mud again. Hasn’t He done enough? Hasn’t He tired of me continually needing rescuing? Shouldn’t I be stronger by now, able to walk on my own without tripping and stumbling again and again? 

      And this, THIS is the lie, the one that makes hopelessness inevitable. The lie that I am supposed to be able to do this on my own.

     When I come out of hiding, that sweet, still, small voice never fails. “Come to me.” 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

     The ease doesn’t come in me finding my own strength, it comes from being yoked to Him. Somehow I wandered, tried to carry a load that I thought was mine to bear alone. But as my tears and His voice draw me home, I turn my heart again to the One who is forming me into His own likeness. I have no strength to bring, only the one thing I can give, my heart. If I don't give up, I win!

     In the coming to Him, I go to her. The sobs have quieted, but her voice still shakes when I come near. Low and gentle, on my knees by her bed, I offer my sincere repentance. And she too, washed by Grace, holds me tight as we let Love heal us and repair the breach.

For more on the power of words, read Ann Voskamp's fabulous post today, 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The joy of salvation comes through repentance

I don’t want to construct a life that displays my earnest effort to avoid the need to repent.  I want to delight in the mercy of God and display the truth of His goodness!  

Repentance is a joy, and forgiveness is exhilarating!  

He is so good to me!  Jesus came to set me free, today!  I haven’t matured beyond my need for His mercy.  I need Him today, and I’ll need Him tomorrow.  And just because He wants to, because of who He is, He’ll be there to answer when I turn away from sin and turn to Him and ask Him to cleanse me again.  

There is no sin that can defeat me when I really bring it to Him and say “This sin is mine.  I don’t want it anymore.  Please get it out of me.  I can’t do it myself!”  JESUS WINS!  Every. Single. Time.