I want to watch Law and Order.
I want to eat coconut almond joy ice cream.
I want to wash every sheet and towel in the house.
I want to take a nap.
I WANT TO NUMB IT.
I don’t want to sit with the sadness of saying goodbye to the summer.
I don’t want to sit with the sadness of saying goodbye to my husband and children and their loves.
I don’t want to sit with the sadness of saying goodbye to the squeals of laughter from my most adorable grandson.
I don’t want to sit with the sadness of saying goodbye to the fireworks, the sandy flip flops, the bike rides and eating pizza without guilt.
BUT I WILL.
I won’t watch Law and Order at least until later tonight.
I won’t eat ice cream until tomorrow.
I might wash some of the sheets and towels, but not all of them.
I will stay awake, sit on the porch and make friends with this place I find myself in. I am sad and that’s EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.
I am also strangely okay.
Front porch, summer’s end, here I come.
“A time to laugh. A time to weep.” (Solomon)
And that’s when I heard it, “Hold space for them.”
“Hold space for them? What does that mean?” I asked God.
I sat there in my car in the parking lot of the addiction rehab I taught at and knew God was calling me to embark on a journey with these women. As I hung up the phone, I was caught by a sweep of His presence, as I felt the answer to my question settle in my spirit…Just show up every week and be there for them. Be present to their pain.
It’s been almost a year since I heard those words, “Hold space.” I’ve learned to stay present without a response. Without turning away from the pain of others. Loving without saying a word, giving each other space to feel. I’ve learned “holding space” is a beautiful way to sit with them in their pain. It’s finding the depth of love necessary to allow them to feel without judgment, without rushing in to clean it up or fix it. It’s standing beside one another offering hope without saying a word.
A few months ago, the Holy Spirit sweetly asked, “Yeah, but do you know how to hold space for yourself?”
Hold space for me? There’s no time for that.
I’m learning what this means. In a season of five active kids, a dad fighting for his life, and a husband with a demanding job I’m finding I need more time for me. Often times our own self takes a back seat during busy seasons. The thing is, we can’t afford not to take care of our own soul. This is why David spoke to his soul, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone” (Ps. 62:1,5). We live unawakened lives when we neglect our souls.
Join as I’m a guest on The Dolly Mama and the Millennials podcast where we talk about ways to hold space for ourselves and why it’s important. Laugh and cry with us for thirty minutes as we explore the need for soul-care and how to do that during this busy journey of motherhood.
Thank you for taking the time to listen! Please share this with anyone and everyone you know who has someone in their lives called children 🙂
What happens when our child spills their milk? Fails a fourth-grade test and hides it from us? Struggles with the more complicated teen issues? Join me as I interview Melony Bishop, a very kind, wise, brave hope-bringer of three children ages 12, 15 and 17. She shines some much-needed light on this parenting path that is not well-marked. Explore the idea of reciprocal trust with us, and how this forever changed our own mothering and why it is key in the raising of our children. Enjoy 30 minutes of laughter, tears and deep insight as you get a peak behind the scenes of our not-so-perfect parenting journeys. Find hope for your own!
CLICK ON PODCAST LINK BELOW:
Thank you for taking the time to listen! Please share this with anyone you know who is beginning the parenting journey, in the middle of the mess, or still navigating it all with adult children!! It’s powerful stuff!
“Yes, please get a new cup every time you get a drink of water.” (No Mom Ever)
I lie alone in my bed on a very normal Wednesday night at 11 pm here in our sleepy little town. My husband, the heart of my heart, is at his apartment 350 miles away, where he works three days a week. Our oldest is hopefully sleeping soundly snug next to her husband with her baby boy a few short steps away in his crib (praying he is not sleeping like a baby, but more like a teenager) over two hours away. Our blond hair, blue-eyed first-born son, is probably nodding off in his apartment after a really long day working. My away-at-college senior might just be tackling a paper he has procrastinated writing. My baby, 19 year old curly-headed musician, is the farthest away, probably jamming away with friends on guitars, keyboards and microphones. My house is empty and my heart is scattered all over the East Coast.
Only eight short years ago, life was completely different. On those weekday nights, after showers were taken, toilets were flushed, teeth were brushed, homework was done, video-game playing came to a close, hugs were given, “I love yous” were said, all five of these people who my soul loves lay their heads on pillows within 20 feet of my own. My house was full and my heart was in one place at one kitchen table under one roof.
Yet tonight, as I lie in my very empty house, and although my heart is scattered, it is not empty. My heart is FULL. Full because on the very ordinary day, I have been loved by all the incredible people I shared the better part of my life with in one place at one kitchen table under one roof.
“Thanks, Mom, for all you did for us today.” (phone call from oldest as she was finishing up dinner with her new family after I had spent time caring for her baby and doing their laundry)
“See you this weekend, Mom.” (reminder from third-born about Friday night)
“Shalom to you too, beautiful wife.” (text from hubby as he heads to dreamland after our discussion about what peace really means)
“Love you too, Mom.” (text from son in response to our discussion about us getting him a puppy for his birthday)
Just as I cuddle up under my covers and am about to turn off the light, I receive one last “ding” on my laptop. It is the last of the bunch, our “Bug,” as she is known in these parts. And it is for no reason at all.
Lest you get some crazy notion from all this loveliness that this is how it’s always been or always is even now, let me set the record straight. Under this one roof at one kitchen table in one place, we had our moments. Fights over the huge and minuscule (there was even one earlier this week and it was a doozy). Broken rules and boundaries. Critical spirits and hurt feelings. Addictions and mental illness. Slammed doors and silent treatments. Sickness and sadness. Harsh words and ignorance. All the things that make up normal FULL family life.
But as today reminds me, this is NOT all there was or is now. Under this one roof at one kitchen table in one place, there were also “I’m sorrys” and “I forgive yous.” Respect and authenticity. Forgiveness and encouragement. Freedom and healing. Open hearts and honest conversations. Health and joy. Kind words and understanding. All the things that make up normal FULL family life.
So, Fellow Ordinary Moms and Wives who are…
STILL UNDER ONE ROOF:
I see you. I was you. It’s hard. Look up, Sweet Mama. Keep up the good work. Hang in there. You are amazing. The days are long, but the years are short. You’ve got this. Your family is normal. These people you love, but are ready to kill at any given moment, are worth every ounce of love you can muster and are pouring out and into them. They will make it. You will make it. You will never regret it. It may seem like there’s no end in sight, and your stuff feels huge (AND IT IS), but it will (AND THEY WILL) be okay and even possibly wonderful. Never forget this one truth: LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT DECISION!
ALONE IN YOUR BED:
I see you. I am you. It’s hard. Look up, Sweet Mama. Our hearts are scattered, yet they reach more places. Our love that we gave and are continuing to pour out is multiplied beyond measure. Hang in there. It will feel sad some days. It does for me too. I miss those times under one roof at one table in one place. But it will (AND WE WILL) be okay and even possibly wonderful. Even though the end is in plain view (and possibly in the rear view), we must keep loving and giving ourselves to our people. Even though our houses are empty, our hearts can be full. Never forget this one truth: LOVE IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT DECISION!
(One heart-wrenching note: for those of you who have lost children, I can’t even imagine. Your heart has been shattered beyond belief. It’s hard for me to speak to you because I don’t understand. I really don’t. But I do know that the love you showed them while they were here is not wasted. It’s continuing to multiply over and over again because love is like that. You loved them with your whole heart. In turn, they loved others with theirs. That’s what this world needs and you have given it freely and sacrificially. Thank you for taking that risk we all are taking as we love our children with our fierce mom love. I’m so sorry, Sweet Mama. My heart is with you and all us moms collectively salute you and hug you with our hearts.)
When our daughter became pregnant with our precious grandson, I was giddy. Not because she was going to produce a grandchild to me, even though that’s a lot of fun, but because she was going to join the massive, never-ending “Mom’s Club” that I am a part of. There’s nothing like it. We understand parts of each other that no one else does. We take a gigantic risk loving this human being, but we can’t help ourselves. We give each other that look (maybe of desperation or joy) across the room and the other mom sees our hearts behind our eyes. There’s nothing like it. We turn to each other in times of great heartache and are comforted. When we can’t speak with our mouths because the joy or the pain is too deep, we receive unspoken affirmation through hugs from each other. There’s nothing like it.
So Sweet Mama, thank you for loving. Thank you for sharing your heart with another. Thank you for making your little world a much more beautiful and safe place. You’ve got this! And together, we’ve got this in spades!
“In all my travels, I’ve never seen a country’s population more determined to forgive, and to build and succeed than in Rwanda.” (Pastor Rick Warren)
Dear Mr. Kagame,
I visited your country this past week. It was the first time I had ever been to Rwanda. When I was growing up and then a young mother, your country was constantly in the news, and not for good reasons. There was strife among your people groups and the politics that surrounded them and then ultimately horrific genocide in the spring of 1994. Even I, an American child growing up in war-torn Ethiopia during the 1970s, would have been terrified to visit.
That was not the case about a year ago when I was invited to go on a clean water trip to your “Land of a Thousand Hills,” something I learned this past week was more true than I imagined. I was elated at the idea and said a hearty “yes.” About three years ago, having heard the basic story of the healing journey your people have embarked on for the past 20+ years, I became intrigued with your country and felt a pull to experience it personally and in detail. Yes, I wanted to bring clean water, but more so, I longed to learn and know your people and their stories of utter heartache and unexplainable hope.
Your country that is now known for its clean streets and touristy treks to encounter mountain gorillas descended into the dark hole of savagery in 1994, only 24 short years ago. Your nation was shattered beyond recognition. Your people turned on their neighbors, their friends, their own families. They murdered innocent men, women and children, leaving behind a completely decimated economy and environment, destroying themselves from the inside out. This genocide lasted 100 days and over 1,000,000 (roughly one out of every seven) of your beautiful Rwandans lost their lives.
When it was all over, there was a crucial decision that had to be made. What do you do with a nation where 70% of your children personally witnessed the killing or injuring of a family member, 80% lost somebody in their household and 90% were afraid they were the next to die? What do you do with a country where so many were perpetrators and even more were victims? What do you do when all the light goes out and darkness appears to have definitively prevailed?
Only the most ludicrous option remained for your countrymen: the excruciating, very personal and communal passage towards repentance, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. Under your humble and wise leadership, your brave people began their continuing journey towards hope and healing. This incredible and very rare approach to this cruel tragedy provided the essential environment where each man, woman and child who remained could experience life and love again, in all their fullness. Children could go to school. Parents could raise their crops and their families. Rwandan’s businesses could thrive. Your country could move from tragedy to triumph.
You have come a long way in just these 24 years. Your country is beautiful, the rolling hills once stained with blood, now dotted with crops and livestock. Your streets are exceptionally clean, unlike anything I’ve seen. Your people, adults and children alike, are filled with joy. Your neighborhoods are safe. Your unity and respect for each other, from the highest nobleman to the lowest pauper, abounds. Your visible equality among men and women in places of authority and leadership is highly telling of the mutual, inner esteem you have for each other. Your desire to become the first African nation where 100% of your people have access to clean water reveals the spirit of hope and excitement that I witnessed in spades. From your bustling capital of Kigali to the poorest, remote village where we dug our well, positivity and hope-filled energy permeated each person we met.
We were welcomed with bright smiles, waves and shouts of “Muzungu” (look that up on Google, you readers) as we rode past adults and children performing their daily tasks of fetching clean water, transacting business in the marketplace and taxiing their neighbors on the backs of bicycles and motorbikes. Never for a moment did I feel as if I was not wanted there. As I very sadly pondered your blood-stained streets only a few short years ago, I witnessed first-hand the miracle of this very “other-worldly” and one-of-a-kind route you and your people have taken.
Instead of revenge, you have given each other forgiveness. Instead of continuing hatred, you have learned to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Instead of war, you have an authentic peace that surpasses all human understanding. Instead of continuous destruction, there is marked restoration. I do not say this lightly. It’s palpable.
It’s as close as my eyes that saw church and political leaders working together, diligently creating plans to help the least of their countrymen. It’s as close as my ears that heard joyful singing of villagers as we watched together the water spurt out of the dry ground. It’s as close as my mouth that tasted the delicious fruits of your harvest, from bananas to coffee, sweet potatoes to cassava. It’s as close as my nose that relished the unique smells of the bustling city of Kigali to the rural countryside of the Ruhango District. It’s as close as my arms that received hugs and high-fives from soccer players and church goers, government workers and school children, the wise elders and the curious children. More completely, it’s as close as my deeply-transformed soul that I carry with me out of your beloved land.
From the bottom of my heart, I salute you and your people. You have courage beyond my comprehension. You have chosen great love in the face of extreme difficulty. Each one of you shines like a bright beacon in our dark world. Thank you. My heart has captured your dream to bring clean water to every Rwandan father, mother and child and wish to make your vision a reality: “hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary and love for a broken heart.” Godspeed, Mr. Kagame!
*If you liked this, please go onto social media and give me a thumbs up or a like. This one especially shares my heart and it would mean a lot to me.*
“Water changes everything.”
There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation’s most unique and precious pearl
And heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
To my Fellow Sweet Moms,
Each of our souls need blessing, someone willing something very good for us and asking God to grant it. As moms, we are constantly blessing those we love and live with. We give many times more than we receive. As your kids (whether they’re three or 43) enter another new “school” year, I long to speak this blessing straight into the core of your mom soul. I pray that God would fill your life and your heart with all the good things that God can give. One of my favorite words is “HOPE” (It was my WOTY in 2015) . True, authentic, God-breathed hope is the confident expectation of good in your life. This is my “HOPE” and blessing for you this year:
As you rise each morning, may you awaken refreshed with peace and hope for the new day that has been given to you (in your body, your mind and your spirit).
As you are getting ready, may your heart be excited about what gifts have been prepared by God’s hand, especially designed for you. May your time be expanded so that you are not hurried and that you are filled with joyful expectation.
If you have a little one, may they have slept peacefully through the night and be waking with a brilliant smile and a warm hug for you. May they respond with enthusiasm as you help them to dress, eat and be ready for their day ahead.
If you have school-aged children, may God speak words of encouragement to you during the morning flurry. May peaceful and cooperative spirits reign over the rush.
If your child is now a budding or grown adult, may God fill your heart with peace as you trust Him with their journeys and what they may be experiencing apart from you. May God comfort you as you wipe away the tears that come from missing them and may you experience joy as thoughts of them flood your mind.
As you walk through your day, may others speak words of kindness to you. May you also have wisdom to know exactly what God has for you as you pursue the things you love, whether for work or pleasure. May your labor bring much reward to you no matter what you endeavor.
May you and those you love have safety throughout the day. May each of you be protected from disease and harm. May you find yourself in a constant place of contentment and peace, physically, mentally and spiritually.
May you be filled with laughter and joy as you unpack the special gifts God has designed just for you. May you have times of seriousness and depth as well that speak to your inner being. May your friendships blossom, your body flourish, your mind be sharpened and your heart be filled with love.
May your pre-dinner time be filled with peace and joy, kindness and motivation. May those you live with work diligently to fulfill their responsibilities and be a help to you the best way they can. May there be times of play and refreshment as well that nourish and strengthen your soul.
Depending on what your evening’s activities bring you (family, a good meal, continued work, exercise, quiet, or friendship), may those who come in contact with you give you only words of comfort, understanding and support. May the mouths of others be shut if their words are critical and unkind. May your exercise (whether physical, emotional, relational or spiritual) be fruitful and bring life to you. May your loved ones bring you blessing and life.
When you have a break from the daily grind of work (weekends, vacation, Sabbath, etc.), may your time be filled with restoration of your mind, your spirit and your body. May you have understanding of what to fill your time with and when to rest, when to be with others and when to be alone.
As you wrap up your day, may your mind turn to thoughts of thanksgiving for the gifts that were so freely given to you that day by God’s hand. May all thoughts of despair and discouragement be banished from your mind, heart and soul and may they be turned to Christ, who has sustained and provided for you during this past day.
May your night be filled with dreams that bring you joy, recreation, laughter, hope, love, peace, kindness, encouragement, restfulness and even creativity. May God grant you the full and daily restoration that your body, mind, heart and soul needs during this time. May your whole being respond with healing and wholeness. May God richly bless you as you sleep!
Throughout all of your days, may you be able to see, feel and receive the love and grace that God has for you in abundance. And finally, “May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Sweet Fellow Mom, we are on this journey together, one that is filled with the beautiful and messy, the light-hearted and complicated, the bitter and sweet! We will keep trusting and moving ahead on this journey together!
From my heart to yours,
“Have a heart soft enough to give love and mercy, but wise enough to know boundaries.” (Kayil Crow)
It has started: Our daughter’s battle whether or not to put her four-month old down (cry it out) or pick him up when he is fussy. Believe me, both have been tried. (Don’t let the pics of the happy baby fool you.) The truth is holding him tends to calm him. He sleeps better. He stops crying. He is basically happier.
It continues: Our daily battle about how much to help our adult children (pick them up when they are “fussy”) or let them figure things out on their own (many times painful and uncomfortable). Believe me, both have been tried. For decades. The truth is helping them tends to calm them. They sleep better. They stop “fussing.” They are basically happier.
It never stops: My aging parent’s battle about how much to help their youngest son with the care of his children while my mom goes through radiation treatment during the next several weeks. This is a big one: he lost his wife about a year ago and the situation is complicated. They are 84. He is 56. It never ends. The truth is helping him calms the situation. Everyone sleeps better. The “fussing” is abated. He is basically happier.
If you are a parent, you can completely relate, no matter how old your child is. It can be teaching a baby to sleep by themselves, driving a forgotten homework assignment to school for your elementary daughter, purchasing a car for your new driver, allowing an adult child to live at home rent-free for a season, watching grandchildren for your middle-aged son, the list goes on and on. I’m sure you can add your own. The questions are basic: how much do I “pick up,” help, console, “save the day,” when my child has a need or even a want? How much do I let them “ride out the storm,” figure it out on their own, “put them down” so to speak? Where is that line drawn? When is that line drawn? How is that line drawn? What choice should we make so that we are promoting emotional health and good boundaries, yet making sure the other feels safe and completely loved?
I am becoming keenly aware of how daily of a battle this is, no matter how old the parent or child is. I am also highly in tune right now with how many opinions everyone has about this and how strong those opinions are. I also realize how often I go to others to ask this very basic question: what should I do in “X” situation with “such-and-such” child? Do I pick them up or put them down?
For many years, I went back and forth, always unsure if what I was doing in any given situation was right. I felt trapped. If I “picked them up,” I heard the voices that shouted, “You are doing too much. Your boundaries are too lax. They need to learn for themselves. This is unhealthy. This is bad.” If I didn’t help, I heard opposing voices, “You aren’t doing enough. Your boundaries are too rigid. They need to feel loved and not alone. This is unhealthy. This is bad.” Ugh. And if the truth is known, I still struggle with this and it is real and it is still almost every day.
Today, I share with you my “half-thoughts” on the subject. A “half-thought” is something I am still in process about and haven’t completely “landed” anywhere quite yet, but still want to share. I hope these bring you some freedom for the “back-and-forth,” trapped feeling you may find yourself in today:
- Even though the questions are easy, the situations are complicated. No two are the same and rarely is there a quick answer or fix. Rest in that.
- This dilemma is part of being a parent, period. There’s no getting out of it.
- Other parents are in the same boat. We all need each other, not to judge and give solutions, but to listen and give grace.
- Don’t ask yourself if the decision is right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. Rarely are decisions that we make all one way or the other. That’s an exhausting treadmill and only promotes fear, guilt and shame. Either decision will have both difficult and wonderful attached to it. Usually it’s some combination of beautiful and messy.
- Ask yourself these questions instead: What do I really need? Why do I want to help? What do they really need? Take the long-view and dig a little deeper.
- Change your mind if you need to. Take the time to re-evaluate and get counsel from others. There is great freedom here.
- Show yourself boatloads of grace no matter what you decide. Remind yourself that God loves both of you and He can come in and provide all that’s lacking no matter what decision is made in the moment.
- I leave you with my biggest one for this past six months because many days I just don’t know what to do. This verse comes up every single day on my reminders. I pray it every morning:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives GENEROUSLY and FREELY to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
I don’t think it ever ends. I am growing and being stretched and learning to love in a healthy, hope-filled, very complicated kind of way. I kind of like it.
“What did you do right today?” (You’ll find out – keep reading)
Based on the fact that there are about 17,000,000 apps and web sites out there to manage your to-do list, many believe that the crossing off of such a list is top priority. Get ‘er done. The feeling of accomplishment and thus a sense of peace is promised at the end of the day when it’s all finished.
However, if I’m like anybody else, and I know you people are out there, I was trained from a young age to spend time at the end of each day focusing, not on what I had accomplished, but on what I had done wrong, admitting it out loud and asking God for forgiveness. No matter how much good I had given to the world, my last thoughts as I said my bedtime prayers were how I had messed up and what I hadn’t done well and who I had offended (in many cases, this happened to be the God of the universe…yikes).
This line of thinking followed me into my adult years and into my marriage. I ended most days, as did my husband, with final thoughts of how much I had done wrong. For reasons I don’t remember, one night I changed it up and asked Allen this question, “What did you do right today?” Crickets. More crickets. Finally, after several minutes, he answered with something like, “I smiled at the store clerk.” If I know him at all, he had probably been kind, sought justice, served those he worked with, and treated everyone he met with complete dignity and respect, along with all the daunting tasks he had crossed off his list.
Appalled at how much of our day was taken up with negative thinking about ourselves, we decided to make this a best practice for the end of our days. We spent time each evening before we closed our eyes to sleep asking each other this question, “What did you do right today?” Instead of only beginning our days (which I do as you can see from the picture above…it’s my actual current list for the day I write this) with a to-do list, we ended our days with a “ta-da list.”
Although this was a really nice way to end to my day, something I enjoyed even more was when I slipped into one of my children’s rooms and watched them as they slept (something that still happens from time-to-time, even though they are literally giants at this point). My heart would be filled with love, joy and peace (after all, this was mostly the only time there was peace) and no matter what had happened during the day, both good and bad, it didn’t seem to matter any more. I was completely and utterly in love with them. I was just happy at the thought of them.
To tell you the truth, this sounds a little like the God I have come to know and love. While the to-do lists and the ta-da lists matter to us, they don’t seem to matter much to Him. He has bigger things on His heart that He wants to share with us, His children. He longs for us to hear His voice in the depths of our soul as He says to us at BOTH the beginning and end of each day, regardless of either of those lists, “I will quiet you with my love. I will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) This is what brings my heart the true joy and peace that I long for.
What did you do right today? What can you say “ta-da” about? I would love for there not to be crickets this time around. Comment below and/or share the link with those who might need to hear this question as well. I am off now to check some more boxes on my to-do list.
(One last thing, please check out my WORTH THE READ page and then tell me your favorite reads. I would love to get to know you more! You can either send me a note on my WHO ARE YOU? COME SAY HI page or comment below.)