Wednesday, February 10, 2021

I am a Mom. I’m also a lumberjack.

Bless it all, y’all. This morning I studied my way into a whole new view on parenting AND IT HAS FLOORED ME. 

When my kids were little, I was tired. Sleep deprived. They were up all night and all day and never coordinated naps or nightmares or thunderstorms or stomach viruses. Sleeping through the night was a long forgotten luxury and my eyes felt like they had sand in them literally every day of my life. Every.single.daaaaay.

And a dear friend who was juuuuuust ahead of me in her own stage of parenting told me “Katie, you can and most certainly always will be tired in parenting. It’s just going to be a different kind.” She went on to explain that as her family had grown out of diaper leaks and nose bulb suctioning and humidifiers, she was now in a season of weary with her emotions. With her spiritual parenting training. With her soul. And I can remember thinking then that if I could just get 6 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep I would be renewed enough to conquer the entire Christian Parenting World AND BLESS MY HEART, I really believed that. Mercy sakes alive, I really didn’t know. 

I didn’t know that worrying about hearts and minds and personality traits and habits could be as exhausting as potty training. (Although less messy, hallelujah and amen FOR THAT.) I didn’t realize that training my kids to make good, Christlike decisions would be as tiresome as forcing them to eat their three bites of broccoli off their plastic tractor plates. Finding ways to encourage my kids to sink their roots into a soil that is tended by our Master Gardener is work too, y’all. It’s not the same as watching your toddler button their own jacket or make their own beds for the first time, but it’s got its similarities. 

I’m knee deep in Joshua these days and this week I’ve started studying the Israelites conquest of Canaan. I jumped right into Caleb WHO IS THE MAN, and loved every minute of his request in Chapter 14 to take Hebron DESPITE THE LITERAL GIANTS WHO LIVED THERE. He “followed the Lord fully” and conquered the land, drove out the inhabitants and gave his family a safe and secure place to live. Bless. 

I moved on though to Chapter 17 and got to the tribes of Joseph’s sons, bless their hearts, who were not as gung ho for the work required to settle their land as God instructed. There were lots of forests to clear and scary people living there with chariots of iron and weapons they didn’t think they’d stand up against. They went to Joshua to ask him if he’d give them more land to settle, AND HE FLAT TOLD THEIR PRECIOUS HEARTS NO. He said “You’ve got great power, the land you’ve been given is yours. Even though it’s a forest, YOU WILL CUT IT DOWN, and you’ll drive out the Canaanites even though they have iron chariots and are strong.” (Loose paraphrase of 17:17-18) 

Joshua knew they could do the hard work of making a land that would be safe for their families. He knew it would be hard, he knew it would take lots of work, BUT LIKE CALEB DID, he knew it was possible. And that’s what’s encouraging me today. I haven’t hit the Teenage Age of Parenting and I’m already laying the Thickest Layer of Prayer over that phase, but I also know that today, while I’ve been given these hours and days and seasons with my older, younger PreTeen kids- I can do the work to clear those forests that are trying to spring up in our land too. I can chop down anger and discord and selfishness and fighting. I can root out the desire to scream at one another and can put the attitudes of entitlement and self centered ness straight into the wood chipper. I can clear the land of media and movies and games that would plant seeds of trees I don’t want to have to uproot later. I can stand firm in my fight against influences that would undermine our aim to give our kids a Firm Foundation. And y’all it’s OK to be tired while I’m doing it BECAUSE I SUPER CAN BEEEEEE sometimes. 

So whatever phase of parenting you’re in: know that you can chop down those trees right along with me and Ephriam and Manasseh. Because Caleb already showed us that it can be done. Let’s just have some extra coffee and prayers for strength before we pick up our axes, m’kay? 
::turns on a second pot of coffee::

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Isolating or Insulating?


Quarantine has been amazing, y’all. 

I’m not being sarcastic. 

This last week and a half have really, truly, honestly been a blessing. I mean, I wish I could zip out and head to the beach or the library or the Walmart or the park whenever I want- but it’s not killing me. 

Not one tiny bit. 

My living room rug has been picked up every single night before we go to bed. 
My sink is empty. 
Pots have been washed. 
AND DRIED. 
AND PUT AWAY. 
I haven’t hollers one time about school work not being finished. 
My laundry baskets are nearly empty. 
Folded clothes are in dresser drawers. 
Our Psalm 119 memorization is almost done. 
The veggies we planted last week are growing and changing every day. 
We had a blue jay at our back yard feeder yesterday. 
(Don’t know where they’ve been, and honestly they’re kinda jerks to the finches and cardinals- but it was still good to see them. Bless.)
Family games and movies have happened every night. DOS is a little confusing, but it’s super fun once you read the directions twice and then watch a YouTube video explaining the rules. 

Our house is peaceful. 
Not quiet. Obviously. 
But it has been FULL OF PEACE. 

It’s also full of noise and bickering and fighting sometimes, but my Momma Heart has been calm. For at least 2/3 of the day. When a kid doesn’t cut open a gel pen on our wood floors. 
Sweet merciful heavens. 

It hit me yesterday- I HAVE NOT RUSHED ONE SINGLE TIME in the last 10 days. I haven’t barked or fussed or stressed about the clock or the schedule or the chores in almost two weeks BECAUSE IT NO LONGER MATTERS. We aren’t flying out the door to be on time for anything so I’m not freaking out that the kitchen sink is full or that there are clothes I forgot to fold.

And don’t misunderstand- we have plenty we can worry and stress over. BUT I AM NOT CHOOSING THAT. I’m choosing read alouds and sourdough biscuits and tickle fights and painting. I’m choosing sidewalk chalk over anxiety. 

Quarantine has isolated us but it’s insulating us as well. 

And I’m choosing that blessing instead. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Bigger Danger Than Covid-19


Friends- I FELT IT, TOO. 

That small rush, the relieved exhale that happened when I opened my email earlier this week and read of our church’s cancellation of Bible Classes Wednesday night. They’ve cancelled classes on Sunday as well and are reviewing and responding as the CDC and the White House advise and update the Covid-19 situation. 

I was mainly excited because that meant NO RUSHING OUT THE DOOR WEDNESDAY LEAVING CHICKEN CASSEROLE PLATES ON THE ISLAND UNTIL 9PM FOR ME THIS WEEK! 
::jubilant celebrations:: 

I’m kidding. Mostly. 

But then I caught myself. BECAUSE MISSING MY CHURCH FAMILY SHOULD HURT MORE THAN THAT. Y’all Sundays and Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week! I’m going to miss the fellowship and the friendship and the sweet ladies that smuggle my kids sugar free gum between class and worship. The recipe swapping. All my free chicken raising advice.  

As much as we’ll miss the PEOPLE we worship with, maybe the bigger worry is that we’ll miss the WORD as well. For some of us, the only time we touch a Bible is on our way to church. It might live on the backseat of our cars so we don’t forget it. The only time we spend studying His Word might be when our bodies are in a building that has pews and a baptistry in it. 

And y’all, that’s a crying shame. 

Covid-19 might separate us from our friends but allowing it to separate us from our Bibles is approximately one million times worse. One hurts our hearts but the other harms our soul. 

Our aim could be to use this extended time at home to deepen our family ties (Stress  eating chocolate in your locked bathroom is TOTALLY encouraged. Google ‘Skinny Chocolate’ and you’ll get a buncha superfoods in with your chocolate fix, too.) and to find ways to study and worship not only for ourselves personally but with our families too. Think of how much stronger our habits could be if we focused some of the time we’ve been given at home on staying in The Word. 

Our crew has been working to memorize a big chunk of Psalm 119. Our family reward was going to be to head to town and celebrate at a restaurant but now it’s looking like we’re gonna need to revamp those plans. Bless our quarantine hearts. Either way- we have been planting scriptures in our hearts as a family. And Covid-19 can’t stop that. 

————————————————-

**SIDE NOTE: Let’s cut our church leadership some slack, m’kay? 

They have literally NEVER IN THEIR LIVES shepherded a church family through a nationwide pandemic. For every person that is calling them all upset that they’re canceling services, there’s surely another one waiting on the other line complaining to them that they shouldn’t. They’re probably fielding phone calls and text messages and faxes and carrier pigeons every.single.hour asking about service plans. They’re watching the news and meeting and pondering and watching and praying. THIS HAS LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE so instead of complaining about how they’re handling things- pray for their discernment instead. 



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

If John the Baptist Had The Internet


Man, I’m just hitting the New Testament in my Chronological Bible Study and EVERY TIME I move between Old and New, I get a current favorite. When I’m knee deep in Israel, learning from their examples and growing in David’s advice- I AM OLD TESTAMENT TRUE. I can’t imagine loving any scriptures more than Esther or Ecclesiastes or Nehemiah. 

BUT THEN I START THE NEW. And I immerse myself in The Gospel Accounts. Elizabeth. John. Mary and Joseph. The shepherds. Herod. Flight to Egypt. Simeon and Anna and the Lost Jesus of 12 years old. (Mary gives me so much hope as a Mother in this one, BLESS HER HEART.) And as I dive headfirst into Jesus’ Story, I can’t imagine loving anything more and I have to admit anew- I’m a New Testament Girl. 

I do this switch every time. IT IS EXHAUSTING. 
Bless. 

But I stumbled upon a Truth Nugget this morning that blew my mind and warmed my soul about John the Baptist. THAT GUY ROCKED, y’all. His life- his entire purpose- was to point people to Jesus. To guide people. To influence people. Encourage them. To work hard and teach and preach and obey for the sole purpose of and then TURN IT ALL OVER to Jesus. When I think about the love and the confidence and the humility he must have had to allow God’s Perfect Plan to be alive and working in his life in that way- there’s no way I can read his story and not walk away encouraged. 

Because I think about what so many times can happen to us in our lives. ESPECIALLY on social media platforms. It’s so easy to quantify our worth based on how people on the internet treat us. Or “like” is. Or “follow” us. I mean, I HAVE DONE IT. Plenty of times! It’s nice when people are nice to you, but when someone is rude or hurtful or doesn’t pick you first for social media’s version of Heads Up Seven Up- IT CAN HURT. Man, it can hurt. Mercy. 

But I think about John the Baptist. And I think about what John 1:36-37 says: 

“Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said “Behold, the Lamb of God!” And the two disciples heard him speak, AND THEY FOLLOWED JESUS.” 

John the Baptist didn’t care about numbers. He cared about hearts! He cared about pointing people to Jesus- and Jesus’ first converts here didn’t follow Jesus because Jesus called them- THEY WENT BECAUSE JOHN POINTED THEM TO THE TRUTH. I wonder how much humility it took for John the Baptist to push his followers, the group of men he had been training and teaching and working to grow for all those years- to take active steps to acknowledge Jesus as greater than him and to ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO LEAVE HIM AND SEEK CHRIST. 

I can tell you this: John wasn’t worried about numbers. About followers. And in our online, social media world of relationships- I am blessed so much more when I point others to experts than when I worry about seeking a following of my own or trying to worry about looking like I know it all. 

I  mean, DO NOT GET ME WRONG- it is amazing to have a group of friends on socials who support and love and encourage you. THIS IS WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT. But for me to get the most out of what that Online Blessing can be- I have to make sure I push Pride and Selfishness AS FAR AWAY FROM MY HEART AS POSSIBLE. 

There are so many whip smart and wise and amazing people out there and when I don’t know an answer or when I see one of them rocking their Path- I LOVE TO ENCOURAGE THEM. My cup fills so quickly when I’m so busy filling others I forget to check it’s water line. THAT IS WHEN IT OVERFLOWS. Socials can grow narcissists like weeds. I know I’ve had to root out several sprouts in my own heart a time or twelve. But socials can also grow a beautiful garden too. It all depends on what you plant. And for me- I’m working on sowing seeds with humility instead of pride. 

And that’s how studying John the Baptist’s story encourages me to point people to others when others have more to give than I do. If there’s a friend who is rocking in an area of her life and she’s on fire with creativity and spunk and is working hard at what God has called her to to- CHEER HER ON instead of sulking quietly or dissecting her efforts. If there is someone out there who ::gasp:: KNOWS MORE THAN YOU- don’t be afraid to point people in their direction! 

It’s easy for us to develop Social Media Tunnel Vision and when that happens, I believe so much of the joy and light and encouragement that can be found online fades. And that’s a cryin’ shame y’all. There is enough love to go around IF WE ALL SHARE IT. 

I’d rather be a Barnabas than an Ananias any day. 

Blessssssss. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Death was Your Best Gift


I was sweeping my front porch when I got the call. 

At 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday, you had the Best Day of your life. 

And we’re devastated. 
The air left my lungs and my head spun as your name swirled through my brain- someone was telling me you were Gone. 

It hurt and the pain sank in my chest as I reached out to friends we were close to- begging them for prayers of peace and comfort for your family left behind here without you. 

My eyes were hot and my throat ached as I came inside to tell the kids your News. It was when I sat down in my living room- the same place you’d always sit on Fridays for our Bible Class- it was THEN that I really lost it. Picturing you, sitting right there where a kiddo was snuggled under a blanket and knowing that you’d never drink coffee in my kitchen again broke me on a level I can’t explain. My heart has a hole in it. 

But yesterday- you left me with a Gift.

Because instead of staying there, in our tears and in our pain- YOU LET US WORSHIP. You let us praise Him in our grief for the Promise of salvation that you had just laid hold of hours earlier. You gave me another chance to teach my kids The Gospel in it’s most intended way. YOU LET THEM EXPERIENCE HOPE. As they stopped, and thought, and listened to me explain to them His Plan for death, and the Victory we’ve been given through it- the room changed. The heaviness lifted. Our spirits lightened. 

We began to laugh as we spoke of you. In Heaven. With Jesus. RIGHT NOW. Imagining what amazing comfort and perfection you were seeing. Wondering who else was there with you. If you had seen King David or Abraham or Martha yet. (The kids have questions by the way. We should start making a list.) 

We talked about how much God loves you. How glad He must have been to welcome you Home yesterday afternoon. And how, when we become Christians WE GET TO MEET YOU THERE. To have someone they know leave, and to watch them realize that they’ll get to see them again BY FOLLOWING IN THE PATH YOU MADE- that’s the greatest gift you’ve ever given. 

My kids know you are waiting for them. And they can’t wait to see you again. Thank you for giving me the gift of The Gospel through your life and service and dedication to Christ. 

We are broken for your family left behind. We are hollow and shattered. Our lives are irreparably fractured by our loss. We will comfort and care for your family here. We will make sure they don’t walk alone. But we will rejoice with you- knowing that this isn’t goodbye. It’s “Come and meet me here.” 

And that’s the kind of gift I want to give someday, too. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Remember Memory Verses?


Growing up, on Sunday morning my palms would sweat like crazy. 

Because we had to recite our weekly Bible verse IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION. When Sunday School was over and before worship would begin, our teachers would walk us into the auditorium and we’d sit as classes on several of the front pews. Our awesome preacher (my Dad, wink) would call everyone’s attention and then we would stand up AND TURN TO FACE ALL THE ADULT PEOPLE and repeat that week’s memory verse aloud. Sweet merciful heavens I’m pretty sure that’s what gave me my first ulcer. 

But not really. 
Just almost. 

What is it about Bible classes for kids and memory verse recitations? I mean, I’m a teacher now and my kiddos get one every week. Still. And all these years later, I’ve come full circle in the Verse Memorization Cycle. 

AND I THINK IT IS FANTASTIC. 

“Incline your ear to hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to My knowledge;
For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips. 
SO THAT YOUR TRUST MAY BE IN THE LORD,
I have taught you today, even you.” 
Proverbs 22:17-19
(emphasis mine. Obvs.) 

When did WE, as adults stop learning memory verses? I mean, LOOK AT VERSE 19. The whole point of studying and learning and reciting and remembering is that He wants us to use that to BUILD OUR TRUST IN HIM. 

When is the last time I memorized a new verse? 
::gulp:: 

I am a HUGE FAN of verses on index cards. And PostIts. In my kitchen. And living room. And bathroom. And pantry. I’m pretty sure I’ve put them in the garage before. Bless. 

Here in our new house the paint is different and tape WILL NOT STICK like it did at our old house. I’ve used some PostIts on doors secured with ticky tack and removable glue dots but it wasn’t successful so I sort of journaled my new favorite passages and just stopped there. BUT NOT ANY MORE.  I just went into my online grocery buggy and added WASHI TAPE to my list. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that 16 months ago!! 

::face palm::

IT IS ON. 

I am planning on filling my doors and light switches and windows and mirrors again with His word. The ones at the kid’s eye level I’ll print in bigger, more easy to read letters so they can get in on the action too. Matt’s gonna come home again to rooms filled with Sll The Scripture. Maybe I’ll put one in his office! A super mushy one from Song of Solomon. 
::heart eyes::

You see, I’m learning and healing and trusting so much in this season of growth God has placed me in. I am grateful for the lessons and discipline He has put in my path because they’ve made me better. And now it’s high time I bring back my Sunday School Sweaty Palms. Bless my nervous heart. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Mamas, They Are Watching



Mamas, they are watching us.

Every day.

When our back is turned or we’re washing the dishes or chopping onions or putting away laundry- they’re there. In the bathroom? At the door waiting. Taking out the trash? On your heels? Speaking to an automated telephone system? Always in the background interrupting the prerecorded menu selections.

They see how we spend our time. They peek over our shoulders to look at the Pinterest recipes we save and the funny videos we watch of kittens trying to jump off couches or the Golden Girl GIFs we text our friends. They watch us add items to our online grocery order and delete the 749 Yankee Candle emails that are clogging up our inbox. They see all things, y’all.

But what else do they notice?

This girl has been getting up every morning, spreading out a blanket and gathering every index card and post it note and hilighter she can put her hands on. She grabs her pink Bible, spreads it all out on our living room rug and then asks me to come sit with her so she can study “like you do in the mornings, Mama”.


::heart explosions::

Well, IF THAT DOESN’T PUT THE WEIGHT OF MOTHERHOOD ON MY HEART, nothing will. And sweet merciful heavens, it’s heavy.

She’s hilighted her way through Genesis and John. She’s found some verses in Psalms that she’s copied to help her when she’s having bad dreams or a hard time going to bed at night. She’s reaching out to Him for help because she sees He is the anchor in my life.

Knowing how far reaching our examples are is big stuff, y’all. It’s humbling to know that there are three souls in my house who’s view of the world is being directly and primarily shaped by ME. A woman who forgets laundry in her washing machine for two days and one time thought it would be a great idea to Armor All her car floor mats. It was like driving with your feet in grease.

THIS is why I want to study every morning. This is why I have to spend time in prayer before the kids wake up. Beginning my day with Him ensures me that all the million ways I can mess it up are covered by His Grace. Christ is the only good thing about me. Without Him I’m a hot mess. Let’s be honest- WITH HIM I AM A HOT MESS. It’s just less glaring.


Y’all, I don’t know what 2020 holds for me- but I can tell you that I’m paying a lot closer attention to the path God is laying out for as I walk it this year. And I can’t wait to see where it leads us.