Thursday’s Thread

The Preacher said it one Sunday morning like it was something you hear every day. My mind keeps grabbing his statement as my chest wrestles with it’s truth and it find its way into every corner of my life and conversation over tables with the breaking of bread and sharing of souls.

Although the preacher continually speaks truth into my life he also happens to be the one I’ve vowed my love to. His words have a mysterious way of making me think….simple yet deep.

He said…

‘The children of Israel needed their own experience with God, they couldn’t rely upon their parents’ God-experience of the parting of the Red Sea without God giving them a faith experience of their own…’

When I was 6 years old we moved to Maine. I grew up in Maine always knowing about God but not really knowing Him.

My parents became Christians when I was around 10 years old. As I grew up my faith wasn’t grounded in seeing God work through my own life. Instead I often saw where God wasn’t active where I felt a void, instead of where He all along was crafting opportunities for me to see glimpses of Him. I can remember when I was in my early twenties and I began recognizing Him powerfully working in and around me. My parent’s conversion wasn’t enough for my faith to grow. Like the children of Israel I needed my own faith journey for me to really know God.

What about you? Do you feel restless in your life? Wondering if God sees you and really knows you? Do you often feel like He’s your parents long time friend?

But friend, God is for you-He’s not just the God of our ancestors. He’s a personal God here for us!

Just 40 years before Joshua and his army had their own experience of parting waters- their parents, grandparents and families would have seen the waters of the Red Sea climb up to the sky and be held back by God for them to cross. And just years later God declared another rolling back of waters to allow their kids to KNOW God and be KNOWN by God.

So many times I’ve tried to feed my children MY experiences with God but…..

Oh God come and let them live through a faith of their own!! For a shared faith with you God is one that lasts! It’s one in which we stand firm upon for a lifetime.

So as we pray for our children navigating them through our prayers of safety. May we pray bigger prayers for them to see God. Let us not mince our words asking God only for their protection but give God space to usher waves of His grace into their lives.

As I sit by the ocean this beautiful autumn day in Maine…with the wind blowing my hair off to the side and as the smell of salt water is lining my nostrils one can recognize that the beauty of the ocean is not found in the smallness of waves but in the growing of their size as they fall. To know our God held back their strength not only for a nation’s safety but for a nations children’s faith.

You see we don’t see the power of our God in places of safety but in the midst of travesty and trials.

What hard is knocking on your door these days?

What pain seems to much to bear?

Know the God who held back hallways of water holds them back for us as well!

And for our sons & daughters they may have to suffer in order to know Him, their struggles are not in vain. None of our hardships ever get wasted by Him. We’re made richer through our pain. For it’s in these times we are able to see our need for God.

The giant steps I’m leaning on today lead into a vast deep ocean which have were handcrafted by a loving God who kindly chiseled them out for our feet to look upon His greatness.

God has sweetly carved Himself into our world and desires to do the same upon our hearts.

And we can rest knowing….within our children’s brokenness & hard they’ll find their Father calling them nearer!

Thursday’s Thread

When we started this thing almost thirty years ago I was dragging around a bag full of regret and pain. I had no idea what life was like without it strapped onto my back. It came with me everywhere I went. It was full of what I wish I hadn’t done & what I could have done better…..I thought it was how life was supposed to be.

I said ‘I’m sorry’ so many times a day I couldn’t have collected them all. I was sorry for just about everything under the sun, passing around apologies hoping to relieve a bit of the guilt that was piled up within. I didn’t know it wasn’t mine to hold onto.

It wasn’t until I began living free in the arms of God’s grace that I was able to shed responsibilities I never was meant to own.

We don’t have time to pick up what was never intended for us to haul around. Our lives have a purpose far more impactful than bathing in regretfulness.

As we drive down the road today headed toward all God has laid before us I can openly say-I’m not lugging around regret.

How did I get here from there?

Well I must say there’s been a lot of letting go mixed in with a whole lot of receiving of the goodness of God.

I remember the day like it was yesterday when I was sitting one leg tucked under another while my other leg was swung over the arm of the overstuffed chair in my son’s bedroom. We were opening up our hearts that day letting our wounds kind of spill out when the words seemed to be building up ever so much. They were dammed up in the center of my chest as I was trying to make sense of them all in my head before I let them gush forth. Finally when I couldn’t hold them back any longer I spoke aloud…’You know for far too long I expected perfection when I should have taught you to live in the rhythms of God’s grace…I’m sorry bud, I didn’t know but now I’m learning it myself. You see God doesn’t work with equations. It’s not the ‘if…then’ I’ve been preaching to you all these years. You see God is so much deeper than that. He cares about the inner beating of our heart more than our outward actions. I know we’ve read this in His word a million times but somehow between reading it and believing it- it got complicated. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m still learning this thing so I’m sorry if I’ve somehow scrambled up His sweet message of grace.’

And you know what happened when I let this wild thing spew out of my lungs it somehow began flooding my life with some of His deep soul healing. Somehow the truth God intended to set me free with got spun into a tangled mess of lies when in God there’s no room for regret.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…..”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:10‬ ‭

Now we’re driving down this road twenty some years later looking through the window ahead not feeling the need to glance in the mirror of regret. God’s removed the urge to spend my days glancing at the past -He keeps directing my eyes to what lays ahead.

When we choose to let Him have and heal our brokenness we live life in a w-holy place.

So sweet Mommas as fast as transition seems to be coming down our roads choose not to live them smothered in regret but live them free in the grace He has for us.

We can get further & further down the road full of regret and miss what He designed for us.

Our road ahead will be just as dear as the one we’ve traveled. The memories we’ve made so far will get sifted through grace and will all be made perfectly beautiful in His time….living backwards from today will never get us to the blessings of tomorrow.

So if you’re like me leaving the days with your arms full of kids or you’re right in the middle of the crazy of it all- stay in the moment and risk all you have to do the something bigger He’s calling you to. And in the process we will all get a little closer to Jesus!

Thursday’s Thread

If our home could speak it would tell you stories of hard, loving imperfection.
You see it’s in our imperfections we see our desperate need for a Heavenly Father, when we have nothing left to reach for but the grace of God.
As memories are running rapidly through my thoughts these days…as beds lay empty and rooms are all too quiet, I have a lot of time to ponder the full days of the past.

Our dinner table brings back so many memories of shared meals and conversations that have overflowed with laughter and hardship. My husband built our table in our first year of marriage, it cost $60 to build…$60 I’d spend over and over again to have the gift of its conversations.
It was the first thing he built for our home. I had no idea the rich and sacred conversations that would be shared around it. Conversations of faith, wrestlings and decisions as our sons studied their way to the waters of the baptistery around this table…decisions to not give up but to continue on.
Oh and the laughter and fighting that has settled around the edges of this table all hold our secrets and our pain as well. Days where courage and faith have been chosen in spite of deep brokenness and pain that found its way into our home. Around this table as high chairs met its edge the memorization of God’s word began. Never realizing the depth of decisions it would fight for one day. 

It was Thanksgiving break.
We had one son newly married, another son just arrived home from West Point where he had just begun his second year, a son who was a Senior in High School and a son who was in the eighth grade.
My life felt as full as the table I set.
I loved having them all home, but trying to find unity in the diversity of paths they were traveling-I felt a bit undone.
My son who was attending the military academy came home from a rigorous environment that often caused him to return home  quite bound up. It often took him more days then he was allotted to unwind and the process was a bit taxing on every one of us. The newly weds were still adjusting while attending their last semester of college while the senior in high school was seeking God’s direction for his life and the eighth grader was enjoying his freedom in the mix.
As we circled around our Thanksgiving feast my husband called them to all pause for a moment.
One of the boys piped up with, ‘please tell me we aren’t going to do that thankful thing’. I exhaled a sigh, thinking ‘really, isn’t there blessings upon blessings you can recount with us?’ All the kids laughed in his response and it took some moments to gather their attention once again.
Our new daughter in law piped up with a list of her blessings, striving to regain some sense of order. Hoping for the others to follow suit, we continued prepping the conversation. After many foolish responses said in laughter we made it to one more blessing given by our oldest son striving to set an example for his younger siblings but to my growing frustration it only caused more jokes to flow. Finally in exhaustion I said ‘I can’t even have my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving I’ve always wanted’ and just as those words left my weary lips through tears I laughed realizing that’s just what we had. Norman Rockwell one of my favorite artists who depicts common day life in a satirical style couldn’t have painted a better picture of Thanksgiving dinner than this.
So you wouldn’t be surprised our Christmas card that year held a similar picture as we tried multiple times to get everyone to cooperate for a picture that communicated ‘peace and joy’. After much ado I finally decided on this pose to show what really happens when our family tries to capture a photograph.

I was surprised by the responses we received that year to our Christmas card they were greater than any other year. You see it wasn’t another pose of our family being happy instead you’d see a Mom reaching for some sense of order and yet finding I had no control in my grasp.

Isn’t this where God does His greatest work?
When we release the messes we have and we trust solely in Him? 

When I was a younger Mom in the ‘then’ of our lives as our four sons were continually searching for adventure I’d sink into bed every night from the pure exhaustion of corralling them. I hoped the words I had often fumbled my days through along with my mess-ups and mistakes would somehow get righted on Heaven’s doing.
And as I am sitting in the ‘now’ of our lives I can tell you my sweet younger sisters, God somehow graciously did this for me.
I am no different than you…tired yet striving for God’s best for our families, praying courageous prayers to break generational sin that seems to be biting our heels all too often and just begging God for all of this He’s entrusted to us will all turn out okay. 

Trust me younger sisters He’s got you as He so sweetly has me!
The God of Heaven is holding you and sees you…you do not travel this road on your own…He is accompanying  you on this journey and He-will-see-you-through. 

Seek Him first, trust Him (even more than yourself) and pray hard!

The God of Heaven has you…He’s fighting for you, for your sons and for your daughters and He will see you through the ‘then’s’ all the way to the ‘now’s’!

From a broken sister a few steps ahead of you on this path, God can be trusted.
As I ponder through the past and recount His faithfulness to us, may I encourage you to stack rocks of His merciful faithfulness to you-
marking His kindness throughout your parenting
….it will fill your memories with His grace and mercy in the days to come. 

Thursday’s Thread

Why do we live like there’s only so much beauty, creativity or talent to go around?

God made this universe with an infinite amount of it all and yet we often hold back speaking kind words, afraid if we pass it out it might mean there’s less to go around…
That perhaps one day we will be in need and we’ll find an empty bucket rather than a full one.
It’s funny how scarcity experienced in one small space of our heart can overflow into every arena of our lives.
We learn this at a young age!

I remember trying to crash in on my brother and sister’s birthdays, they were one day apart and mine was stuck in a month of its own. 
I mean after all who really likes watching someone else get the big gift, the special attention, the birthday hugs with the pretty cake? 

Even as adults we struggle with this. 
I’ve seen parents standing on the sidelines thinking it was their sporting event. Yelling at their sons and daughters to do what their deep soul was ‘needing’ them to accomplish. Sometimes we have a hard time living out our own lives so we live them through our kids. I’ve watched parents knock down and yell for their significance, shouting words they wouldn’t ever get back. 

It really doesn’t matter what age we are…there’s always the chance we will exchange our identity for someone else. We become identity thefts at best.

I’ve seen it happen more than once the louder we are the more attention we’ll get…sadly it’s not always the looks we were hoping for.

I left the stadium once sick to my stomach knowing the boy down on the field hadn’t heard the last of how he missed a pass or messed up… because his Dad was looking for his own worth in his son’s performance.

If only we could live our lives with a little bit of truth etched upon our arm daily reminding us-we are more than enough!

There’s never too many pictures to adorn, or headlines to read, never enough pages written or stories to impart.
Because in our vast and endless world there’s never too many amazing people to celebrate…each one made and designed with their very own fingerprint to leave upon this world. 

When we live our lives where there’s more than enough room at the table, we live like God intended for us.
Each note gets played because the one He meant to play it,
is given their chance.

True harmony of souls happens when we celebrate one another rather than trying to steal the show. 

So friends, reach into the lives you pass every day and share your table long enough to learn how to celebrate one another.
It’s in these beautiful spaces we learn to dance to a rhythm of someone else! 

Because people can too quickly forget that there’s more than enough to pass around and plenty of people needing you to beat the drum for them. 

Sadly we’re often too busy looking in the mirror of not enough we miss counting off our blessings.

Because a quick glance in the mirror has a way of telling a woman she isn’t enough…pretty enough, trim enough and all the other ‘enough’s’ we foolishly accept. 

You know there’s plenty of Mothers tooting their child’s horn making sure they’re seen in a class of their own. 
We must stop brewing this message. 
They need to hear there’s more than enough to go around.
I’ve never seen so many people liking so many people’s stories as there are today.  

When we list out our blessings and count them day by day we speak the truth that there’s more than enough to go around again and again.

Eventually I grew up and learned my birthday coming once a year was more than enough for me to celebrate…

If we will just look around & live our lives out of a place of abundance we’ll find ourselves breathing out a whole lot more gratitude and praise. 

Friends may we enlarge our circles and spend our days celebrating those around us…inviting, multiplying and spreading what we’ve been entrusted with!

Thursday’s Thread

Sometimes it’s hard to hear a voice that  cuts deep into our habits but if we’ll listen it can often be the very thing that consecrates the depths of our souls.

I came face to face with this when my oldest son was around 18 months old.
A good friend who was walking through infertility warned me of how I was holding onto my toddler like there was no tomorrow.

Justin, my son was incredibly shy and didn’t like leaving my side and to make matters worse I was struggling through the ache of multiple miscarriages. By this time I had experienced two and was on medicine in hopes to prevent any further ones from occuring. (Unknown to me just weeks later I would miscarry once again)

My friend looked me square in the face and told me she thought I was holding onto Justin tighter every time I lost a baby…
Ouch, not what you want to hear in the middle of loss, but it was sadly true.

Sometimes this kind of insight hurts more because we know the truth of the words spoken.

I remember barely responding loud enough for her to pick up on my words as I told her she was probably right. I was holding on tighter to him with every loss I was somehow hoping to heal my deep wound.

In the days following this incident I began trying to loosen my grip on his little self bit by bit. It was interesting the more I let go of my son, the further he traveled from my knees and
the more independent he became.

The nonverbal messages we communicate to our kids, even our toddlers can cause them to think we can’t survive without them when this is our moment to lean into God more. 

As I experienced yet another miscarriage soon after this, I remember holding my friend’s warning close, knowing my son’s need for me wouldn’t ever be able to heal my busted up heart…

Loss has a way of causing us to gasp for air before we reach for the oxygen God has for us. As I began to let go of Justin and let him be the child he was created to be and took my aching heart to God I began to find the healing I needed. Sometimes we go to others when our heart is in need of a healing only God can bring

Eventually my story took a hope filled turn as I got pregnant again, although I miscarried the baby’s twin God blessed with another healthy son, in fact He blessed us with four boys in all. Its crazy how such gifts could come from such a difficult time but God has a way of doing the unthinkable!

It was in these years God first began teaching me the beauty of releasing our sons.

And the lessons continued to come whether they came when the boys were learning to walk, heading to Kindergarten or going into their middle school or High School years. At each bend in the road God seemed to be calling me to loosen my grip and entrust them to Him

Now as we stand smack in the middle of a new transition with our youngest son beginning his first year at college (two states away) and having 4 sons in 4 states (KY, IN, MO and one in Alaska), I can see God’s hand helping me release each one of our kids little by little every year….continually letting go of them and trusting God in every release.
For within every transition there is loss...whether it’s the loss a new mother feels when her baby is born and she’s no longer pregnant, or the transition of watching a child move from the awkward stages of middle school to applying for college.
All of these changes bring a loss of what life was and yet they bring something new as well. 

It’s when we are able to grieve our loss
and look for the blessings within the new beginnings that we are able to find peace within our days.
Some losses though are hard to see past like the death of a loved one or the loss of a dream that accompanies singleness or even the devastation of betrayal. And yet even inside the hurt of these losses there is hope
and healing that makes us stronger for the days of transition ahead. 

Pain has a way of giving us a’ve probably seen this on the news when a brave soul speaks through their pain and a story unfolds from one side of the country to the other or maybe you’ve experienced the open ears of friends who are hushed by the hard days you’re living in. Struggles have a way of gathering crowds and allowing the ones in the middle of it to be heard….the depth of pain, the louder a voice can be heard. 

God has a way of allowing nothing in our lives to be wasted, not even our pain. 

As the power of our ministry is often tried in the crucible of pain its also here where our ministries get birthed. 

Although so many of us Mommas would rather cuddle up with our kids and get lost within the throngs of Disney movies this is not what God designed us or our children for.

Friend, this is not what our children were made forthey were made like us to further the Kingdom.

Our children have been given a purpose of their own to thrive in.

We are their Momma’s their greatest cheerleaders, whether they’re in our presence or apart from us. 

Our kids will not grow into the courageous young people God intends for them to be to impact our world if we don’t freely release them. 

There is beauty watching our sons & daughters grow into godly adults who do crazy awesome things for the furthering of the gospel!

So let us let go knowing we are letting them go and live out the calling that is upon their life and may we enjoy watching them live this out well!

As we stand upon the porches of our homes waving good bye to these amazing kids God has allowed us to nurture and grow may we graciously release them back to God’s work as Hannah released Samuel and as Moses’ Mom released him.
Mothers have been releasing sons and daughters for years, in fact you are one who was released. 

So sweet Mommas as your heart aches for the days of the past know you have played a pivotal role in the story of God for this generation and generations to come-we are making history as we let go of our children and entrust them in the capable hands of our heavenly Father!

Thursday’s Thread

As we are driving down the road headed to take our youngest son to college, knowing the drive home will be the first time in 27 years that we’ve not had to go home to a schedule jam packed with two a day football practices, gathering endless school supplies while attending meet the teachers and ‘experience’ life as a High School student again. The battle of constantly choosing between which event was ‘more’ important than the other will be gone as well as scurrying to make lunches the night before. Joe and I will now fill our time getting to know one another better, learning a new rhythm and finding new interests we can share together. 

Twenty-seven years is a long time to spend investing and shaping young lives and although we will miss their footsteps running down the stairs every morning, the empty jugs of milk left in the refrigerator and even the mounds of laundry
-we are confident the best is yet to come!
Last night on the eve of taking our youngest to college Joe looked at me and tenderly said, ‘it’s just the two of us babe!’.
We know this road will take some getting used to yet we also know it’s not the end of our family, merely a time for some adjusting and recalibrating…God has a way of shaping hearts in times like this. 

Change has been visiting us all along,  this one just came quicker than we thought and seems to be shaking us up a bit more than expected. 

Children have a way of becoming a gauge for our heart. 

We see our truest self staring back at us in some of the ugliest and most beautiful ways. 
A child has a way of drawing us out…the good and not so good too. 
I once read they are a way to holiness. 
I get it, somewhere in between the sleepless nights and the frustating quarrels we find grace.
On this road we can often carry a load of regrets
-too much said and others of not enough.
And yet through it all if we keep our eyes fixed on what really matters when we come to this bend in the road we’re able to trust God a little bit more.

Sweet Mommas know….
The same God who has loved us through our hard and holy days is traveling with our sons & daughters. 

My fingers recently traveled through the pages of Deuteronomy 11.18-21 where I found a place to rest my soul during these days of transition.  

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;
Teach them to your children,
talking about them when you sit at home
when you walk along the road,
when you lie down
when you get up.
Write them
on the door frames of your houses
and on your gates,

so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.’

These words may stir within your chest a holy place of resolve, perhaps a place of beginning for new parents to set their hearts as it was for us so many years ago. 
And now within these days as we prepare to hug our son’s neck and as he begins his many steps towards adulthood I am feeling sweetly held in the whispers of my Heavenly Father.
You see all those years even while some felt quite unproductive they were actually tender moments of investment in the hearts of our sons. 
The many nights I lingered longer on the edge of their beds lying beside them listening to their hearts and working through things with them or sometimes just cuddling, investment was still incurring.
All of the times we’ve sown seeds of God’s words into their little and big hearts, it was happening…as we etched Gods words on the walls of our home it was happening too.

You see this scripture tells us to spend our days ‘teaching, talking and writing’ about the things of God. It tells us us to fix these words upon our hearts sweet Momma’s. So whether you’re in the thick of it or just beginning in parenting, seize these moments!
As I read these verses the other day rather than having a heart full of regrets I rested. Not because I’ve done it all perfectly or even half perfect, but because throughout the last 27 years this was our desire….the days something shook the heart of our child and busted them up and we had to reset our schedule to hear the brokenness of their hearts or the nights it felt like a struggle to get everyone in the same place all at once it was in all of these moments God was doing His miracle work in the lives of our sons and our family.

So as we launch this last arrow of ours, I’m choosing to rest my heart upon this truth, what we sow will eventually take root and flourish into a beautiful display of God’s working.
And in no way are we finished, our children will still lean into us and ask us for guidance, they’ll still want us actively in their lives but the days of washing their faces and tucking them in bed are behind us.    

But its inside these days where grace extended becomes forgiveness given and our relationship shifts and becomes what God intended all along. 
And within the years we’ve spent making memories there’s some mistakes that’ll need some redeeming too. So name them when needed and turn them in for some wisdom to guide you in the days ahead. 

I’m never going to stop releasing these arrows from my grip because arrows were designed to fly and sons were created to leave as well….love always experiences loss.

I once left my parent’s house to make a home with my ‘One for a lifetime’ and now its time for the passing on of a new generation to be birthed. 

So, my Son as you venture into this adventure of your life, know we couldn’t be more excited for you! And tomorrow as we unpack all the treasures you’ve collected for a lifetime remember the ones that really matter are the souls you collect in heaven. The ones you pour yourself into, loving them beyond your own capacity and as you dip into what God provides remember nothing is really yours anyway. 

I pass on these 9 words handed straight out of your own Grandpa’s hands….if he were here with us he would tell you these simple truths.

God is Real-even when you hurt so bad and you can’t feel Him, He is still as real as when He created you. 
(The) Bible is True-no matter what other’s might tell you, truth is only found in Him.
Jesus is Alive-and because of this we have the opportunity to live forever with Him. 

So Son, be strong and courageous in the Lord-He is with you!

Love, your one & only Momma….

Thursday’s Thread

Ironically as I’m writing this today my heart is being held together by a strand of twine as I’m just days away from packing up our last son to head to college.

I’ve learned the deepest message of our own heart has a way of ministering in its’ rawest state…
So, if you’d give me the honor of talking openly with you for a few minutes pull up a comfy chair and scoot in for an open conversation with me about the transition so many of us are in the middle of right now.  

It’s been 27 years of raising these boys, knowing far ahead in the distance one day I would release them into their own lives. But so many times when this reality crossed my path somehow the truth of it got lost in the gathering of school supplies and pulling wads of cash out, emptying jars of change to pay for all of their activities. I may have been choosing denial or was truly in a state of feeling overwhelmed when it slipped my mind and was pushed aside to process at a later date. Each time we let go of one of our three older sons there was always another one at home that needed my attention, so my grief  would often get distracted and swallowed up in our busyness.
And forget the trying task of keeping close to the ones who were far away living out the call placed upon them.
And here we are now just days away from packing up the last one and driving him to college, hugging his neck and telling him all the last reminders we have a way of passing out hoping we’ve said and done it all. 

If we’re honest so much of parenting can be fueled by fear….It’s what has us hanging on tight and not wanting to let go of the reins at times. 
We spend so many days protecting our kids that we can forget to prepare them for their departure. 

I remember the years of having young sons and their infatuation with weapons particularly a couple of them who loved bows and arrows. They felt powerful and like a courageous warrior gripping their bows and launching their arrows at targets. Their love for this grew into an even greater love for other weapons in particularly nerf guns. Nerf wars were one of my favorite memories. The boys could launch those bullets into every corner of our house. The one rule I had was they had to pick them all up at the end of their wars. The funny thing was no matter how hard they worked to do that, there were always bullets I’d find for months. It’s still this way in my house even though my youngest is getting ready to begin his first year at college. Please forgive me as I  was thinking about this illustration my mind got sidetracked to the overflowing tubs of nerf guns that we will soon be loading up with all of our youngest son’s college stuff. I’m not sure how they will assist him in the weeks and months ahead in fact dorm parents I’m sorry for any trouble this causes in your dorm! I’m awaiting my first call….No but in all seriousness just as there were days even though they’re quite faint in my memory when I had to cock their guns for them, load their bows so they could use them. Whereas now they’re the ones cocking my guns for me and pulling back the string on the bow so I can launch an arrow. 

In Psalm 127.4 it tells us our children are like arrows, what a beautiful metaphor this is for us as parents.

                                                  ‘Children born to a young man, 
                                             are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.’

A warrior never holds on to their arrows but rather when the right time arrives they must release them,  for arrows were created to fly!
Everything about them down to their intricate design was fashioned to soar. 

As is, with our children they were given to us to send out.

Sisters believe me I know this is hard stuff!
It’s not an easy process as we love our kids and we naturally want to keep them inside the rooms of our homes. 

But just as arrows were not designed to remain in a quiver neither were our sons & daughters created to stay home forever. 

Missional Parenting speaks a different language than the message of our hearts.

Although many of us want to raise our kids to ‘need’ us because it somehow communicates our importance in their lives.
We look at their need for us as an expression of their ‘love’ but this isn’t what God intended for them. 

When we choose to raise our kids knowing one day we will send them out for God we prepare and raise them to carry out their callings and the furthering of the gospel. 
This doesn’t mean we won’t have tears and sadness in the process as we grieve through our losses but it gives our tears purpose as we’re able to see firsthand the beauty of our labor. 

                ‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.’ Psalm 126.5

We will have tears sweet Mommas but God will redeem them into songs of joy as we watch Him ever so faithfully work in the lives of our children.

Maybe you’ve been experiencing the days and weeks leading up to the release of your sons and daughters involving some strain and tension in your homes, I know I have.
For a time I wondered if this was something that was unique to our family yet as I spoke with several friends I learned it was happening in their homes too. 

It can be a hurtful season if you let your heart get too involved in their process of leaving and transitioning into independence. 

You see they’re needing to peel away from some of their dependency on us to survive the days ahead. Us Momma’s can sometimes wonder how they’ll ever survive without us but I can assure you after releasing three other sons and leading many college students through this process they find their dependency deeper on God in these days.

What I’ve found at the heart of this process for myself is
do I trust God with the life of my child?’.
Having the pleasure of watching God navigate each of my sons along the way has reminded me inside these days to lean upon Him more and more and it teaches my son to lean on Him as well….In these sacred moments our kiddos see God is more than enough for us as they witness evidences of our faith being real and tangible!

Gregg Harris says it like this as he likens this process to arrows:

‘When you aim the arrow and release the arrow, beware–the greatest tension in your
relationship with your children will often be just before you release them.
Because it
 feels to the arrow like it’s going backwards when it wants to go forward.
The tension is 
building in the bow, the warrior is aiming, and then there’s the   release.
From that point
 on, the guidance system that is in the arrow itself is what keeps it on track.’

Did you read that last part?
The ‘guidance system that is in the arrow’ keeps it on track,  not us!
As our children leave we’re released as God becomes their primary guidance system. We can’t choose this for our children, it’s now their choice…yes, this can be a scary place to leave our children it’s here in this holy crevace where we must entrust them solely to God!

A good reminder to hold onto:
God will never call us to something that He won’t give us what we need to accomplish it and He never sends us, nor our children out without going with us!

Perhaps we feel there’s more work to do within our child’s heart or feel as if we’re sending them out a bit undone.
that God will finish what He first began through us in the lives of our children, He will complete what He first began. 

This beautiful blessing that we have been tasked with is a road that He will continue to travel with us on and with our children. We aren’t finished as parents our role just transitions into a new phase and finding beauty in this season is the beginning of our releasing of them. 

The conclusion of this season for us of having our beds full of boys is ending but I’m holding onto the beautiful beginning it is for our son, whose life is aimed toward the exciting future God prepared long ago in advance for Him to do.
His heart’s steadiness is greatly affected by where I place my trust, my hope and my identity these days… sisters I’m choosing to place them in God alone.

When we see our parenting as a gift from God to live out, a mission of our own sort we see our children’s lives not as ones we hoard for the feeding of our own identity but as lives God created and graciously gifted us to share with the furthering of His kingdom. 
It’s our natural selves that want to hold onto them but when we love them like God loved His son we are able to offer them as a sacrifice for His glory and have the greatest pleasure of watching them live out their God-given purpose!

So brave Mommas let’s get our bows ready for the days ahead and allow God to give us the strength and courage to pull back and release our children to soar into what God has prepared for them out there.
They truly fly when we let go of them and allow them to take off as they were made to do!

Thursday’s Thread

I’ve been spending a lot of moments reflecting lately
Looking back, searching over times in the past.
Not wishing to buy days back just ‘remembering’…..
God called the children of Israel to ‘remember’ and He calls us to do the same.
To look behind us at His faithfulness, to look back at when He’s brought us through some devastating things and see His provision, to see His goodness.
As I have shuffled through the years full of amazing memories and some hard & holy moments too I am continually strengthened from seeing God’s constant presence through it all.

Past suffering has a powerful & useful role in our lives.

Even though they’re not enjoyable in the moment, its crazy how productive they prove over a lifetime. In fact many times when we are first called to something difficult we begin looking for an exit plan, a way out of our struggle. I know I do!
Sometimes even our busyness or filling of our time is a way of escape from what God is calling us through….running is sometimes our way of escaping.

Many years ago I remember studying about the life of David and the struggles he had to endure ever before he became King. I remember the phrase being pulled off the pages of his life that God called David to go ‘further still’ through his suffering.
You know those days you wish would end with a release or some kind of relief but instead God calls you to go a little ‘further still’ through the trial?

These are the seasons our spiritual muscles move from mush to muscle. Our worn out and tired state gets strengthened as God uses our perseverance through our suffering as the very thing He delivers us with.
Friend, our heavenly Father never calls us through something He hasn’t first prepared us to be able to endure. Sure we may feel weak and ill-prepared but we can be certain if we skim back over the days that have led us to here, we will see His tender prepping of our hearts from way back….
This is where we must draw our strength from. 

Eight years ago, Joe and I were comfortably serving college students in Oklahoma when we received a call to move to Dallas. We’d always lived in the country enjoying the simplicity of its benefits and I wasn’t sure about leaving it for the city. We had four boys we were raising and our oldest had just graduated and would soon be leaving for college, it all felt a bit overwhelming. But for some reason God was calling us to move.

The hard and holy things that came through that move both ministerially and personally have led us to some rough but blessed days. The friendships God swept up from the ashes of the church’s past are some of our most treasured blessings along with the DNA God has given our church. I never realized the joy that exists in diversity and everyone not looking like me. Oh what an awesome creator God we have!
Our church has become a reflection of God’s heavenly design, even in its continual need of healing. When we see church as a gathering of broken people, a place our hurting world can feel welcome to step into no matter their ethnicity or circumstances, where love and grace meet all….it is here we taste the goodness of what God is preparing for us. 

I am reminded of the fact that God’s ways always have a purpose for good even when they might feel really bad.

Our sufferings although momentarily hard is doing a good work inside of us. 

The space between what is hard and what is used for holiness can be a struggle to walk through…and yet the time between our rescue and redemption is where God does His mightiest work. 

The days we see God working things out, the day the miracles arrive are the easier days to trust in Him but the moments we are crying out for those days to arrive, are the ones when our heart is drawn into His courts and we are able to remember His faithfulness. 

What has you down on your knees trusting God today? 

For me it’s believing that what He’s gotten me through before He will take me faithfully through again. The impending loss that will be coming in the next couple of weeks with our youngest son heading to college will be filled with His mercy and grace ever so beautifully again.
When we can recognize these moments have so much less to do with the shifting occurring within the rooms of our homes and much more to do with the stirring of our heart we can receive them better.

It’s trusting God to finish the work He’s begun in our church to continue healing and restoring it as He continues to nurture and grow us into the church He intends for us to be.

It’s trusting God to heal broken relationships, to restore lives and breathe life into them again as He has done so many times before.
It’s trusting God that what He’s called me to He will carry me through….
All of this brokenness is where He does His masterful work,  where His creativity shines…it is what causes our world to stop and take notice of Him….it’s what He uses to draw our hurting world to Him…our suffering becomes an offering to our broken and hurting world.

So, friend when life seems overwhelming and you’re wondering why it has to be full of so much heartache and pain…remember God’s faithfulness, site His working throughout the years and trust He will do it again & again, for as long as we surrender the broken spaces of our lives He will heal them and use them for His work. 

Rise up from your grave of despair sweet soul and choose to site the times God has proven His trustworthiness.
For the hope that gets unwrapped when we choose to look inside our past is what carries us through the days ahead.…and every struggle now leads us to a new season of becoming strengthened. 

Thursday’s Thread

We can get so busy doing life we overlook what is really needing our attention….

As I was recently studying Psalm 51 the familiar lament of King David after his affair with Bathsheba I was struck by something new. Right in between David pouring out his heart before God he begins singing a new song. A song filled with hope…a song asking God to do something powerful inside his damaged heart.

I wonder how many of us allow ourselves the space to get past our sin enough to ask God to recreate our brokenness within us?

How many times instead do we get knee high stuck in mud recounting our failure filled with shame…feeling unworthy of God’s restoration?

Yet past our struggles and sin lies a sacred place where brave songs get penned.

It was here in this space that David knew there was hope beyond his pain.

What hard thing are you walking through right now that keeps tripping you up day after day, week after week?

I know what it was for me – it was unmet hurt.

In the summer of 1987, I was a northern girl who found herself in the Inner City of Philadelphia when I first met him. He was a Youth Minister from the Midwest who brought his students to the Inner City to serve. We were from completely different parts of the country and upbringings yet something drew us together.

How has it been 31 years already?

I was so young and shattered in the secret places, where do I even begin?

It is in beauty-filled moments like these that grace alone is responsible for what happened.

When love brought us together I thought it alone would be enough…..I thought marriage would somehow soothe my aching heart.

But there were nights when pain had its raid on my fractured heart and I let it make a mess of things.

Pain is a marker that brokenness exists. 

We promised to love and to like one another forever but my struggle was turning my stomach and causing him hurt. My love was evident but my twisted pain was a miscommunication of dislike. My hurt morphed into a defective shell I hid behind. We have a broken way of being critical when we’re aching deep within.

A critical Spirit is an indicator of a broken heart.

In the earlier days of marriage Joe often told me divorce wasn’t an option for us. He’s had to tell me that more than once, because sometimes all I wanted to do was run and hide.

I remember the day I drew a line in the sand and stood beside him in this commitment…I had to decide I wanted my husband beside me more than I wanted to hold onto my brokenness alone….

I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and causes you to look over your life and wonder how you’re still struggling with the same ol’ junk almost 30 plus years later.
I’ve struggled with what to do with my pain so many times.
I always thought my problem had more to do with anger or the anxiety that would grip my chest but as I chiseled down deep within my soul, I found it was my wounded spirit that needed healing.
You see when I looked in the mirror I saw my anger left to itself was leading me into sin and was harming our relationship.
I deeply desired to heal and find a better way of dealing but it seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure it out.
Unbridled words seemed to fling carelessly from my lips when all I wanted to do was cry and show someone the pain my heart was holding. I prayed and begged God to help me reel in some self-control while my heart ached quietly within. Never putting the two things together and realizing both were linked together keeping me bound in unhealthiness.
And even though I’d grown in many ways throughout the years, I still felt quite stuck in my struggle.

One year ago this week I decided to explore what was really at the root of my brokenness….I wanted healing on the other side where I could grow. Pain became my invitation to find healing.

So I sat down with my Bible, a note book and a work book on resolving conflict and began journaling about my feelings of hurt that seemed to be continually encircling my heart.
Doing inventory on the shelves of our hearts always exposes what we’re needing.
And as I began uncovering my hurts I found feelings of being pushed aside and overlooked were at the root of my pain.
These feelings were twisted with years where I told myself lies, messages that I was unwanted and unloved, even forgetting what it felt like to be chosen. These lies settled themselves within the hidden crevices of my chest walls convincing me to the core that I was unwanted.

Even as much as Joe would tell me and show me his love for me I struggled to receive it. My broken heart was too shattered to be able to receive love in its fullest…the hurt had created a vast emptiness within me.
I knew God’s love was the only thing that could heal my unmet needs.

I resonated with the woman at the well who Jesus met and breathed life into her lungs and gave her life value, the only one out of a whole town He chose to speak to that day.
I too needed Jesus to breathe His truth telling love into me.
When I quit wishing Joe would fill my emptiness and let God heal my brokenness something happened…I was able to receive his kind words for what he spoke them to be… less distance found its way between us at night and love seemed to have a way with me…when I stopped wishing he’d be more I found he wasn’t made to fill my vacant spaces.

I chose to pursue permanent relief for my pain rather than a temporary quick fix. 

A year full of reading 8 verses a day (1 Cor.13.1-8) was the prescription my broken heart needed all these years.

For better and for worse my man had swept me up and loved-me-all-the-same. In the ugly & unlovable state he had a way of reminding me of my beauty.

What I thought was wrong within him, was really brokenness within me.

The times he could have wounded me more instead he chose to love me more….
Love is a powerful healer!

….Night comes now with me able to feel his loving arms around me as my brokenness is healing. 29 years of bringing our stuff to God every night and He’s never once turned us away-what a gracious and loving Father He is!
No burden nor pain too small to offer.

His heart meets mine as we lie down at night both weary from the day’s burdens.
He shares his long days of doing God’s work while he patiently listens as I retell the small and big details of my day, both sharing until the moon tucks us in.

Living love together isn’t always pretty in-fact so much of it can be hard & holy moments, but as long as we are fighting in the same fight, God’s got us!

When what seems impossible gets traded in for God’s grace, it finds healing.

Two lives become whole when they go to the same place to lay their stuff down…there’s something sacred about laying it down together. Somehow you quit keeping track and just help the other person carry their stuff to the altar too.

Last night as I scrummaged through a forgotten drawer tucked inside it was a card that said…’I love the life we have together….I love you more every day!’

It’s funny how God can let someone get so close to us that even what should be seen as ugly is seen as beautiful when the Father’s holding our hearts.

The same God who likes and loves us to death is the One who can heal our hearts so they can hold enough love for another.

As life brings us changes one after another these days it’s comforting to know I have someone who loves me like God does….someone who sees past my broken heart and finds wholeness and healing inside it.

As the pain has subsided I’m finding life is beating within it again. And by the grace of God I’ve been able to encircle and give my heart over to God for Him to gently mend its’ holes. It’s been beautiful to gain some distance between my wounds and to freely be able to love and be loved as God intended for me to be.

When our brokenness gets embraced by the loving kindness of God we begin to heal and find our shelter to run away to when hurt and pain come our way…

This verse has really been comforting me these days may it bring you peace too.

Thursday’s Thread

One day I started typing words to find myself in the pages of my story and what I discovered was someone very different than who I was when God started writing my story.

You see growing up I thought a girl’s beauty was in the numbers around her waist...I was deceived into thinking that numbers somehow measure our worth, yet the deeper I fell into this trap the more I felt suffocated by the lie that I wasn’t enough.
I starved myself thin hoping it would somehow define me more….there’s a downward spiral one falls into when we strive to be more.

…We women are good at wading in these toxic waters, striving to be more. 
We are full of regrets, comparing ourselves always selling ourselves short.

The broken part of me somehow believed I could make others love me more. 

The day I began learning I was more than the markings on a measuring stick I discovered the writings of our heavenly father were written for me too. I began etching His sayings upon my heart and found the more I filled my thoughts with His words, the quieter my destructive thoughts grew. His words were what truly began healing and rescuing my broken heart…there’s a time in our lives we can all use this kind of saving. I found embracing my pain within the pages of God’s word brought sweet relief.
There’s power in knowing we are worth living and dying for.
When our brokenness meets truth there’s something exponential that happens, even the most broken of people need this kind of rescue!
A rescue that finds us in the hurt of our wounds and tells us there’s more to live for. 

I found when God drew a boundary around my heart I could live more freely with those He was calling me to.
God began showing me my wounds were not the entirety of who I was.
That He holds together who we are with His truth, hemming us in with His love and grace. 

Our worth is never measured by our ability to manipulate what others believe about us but is only measured by our Father’s love for us!

If we put our identity in what we do not have rather than in what our heavenly Father says of us; our identity shifts with the numbers on the scale which never seem to be what we are aiming for.
It’s a game with death that doesn’t care if we live or die-our life has no value in its entanglement. 

Its funny how that happens…we all feel a bit lost in this thing called life, sometimes we’re just stepping into the footprints in front of us hoping they lead us to where we want to go.

And yet God designed us for so much more than this.
Not to play another person’s role but to embrace the life He’s given us, with us in mind.

Have you ever noticed how different we all are?

My wise father in love used to say,
everyone’s odd but God
…He had that right, look around and you’ll see a world full of people so unique and different in every way-no two of us exactly alike- not even twins.
Each one designed to to be set apart to live out their own unique purpose.

But we don’t get that most of the time.
We’re constantly mimicking and imitating one another somehow trying to blend in.
We look to trends to mandate the styles we wear and the steps we take.
And yet at the very same time we long to stand out and make our mark in this world.

God designed us to find rest in the skin He laid upon these bones of ours….every curve that delicately outlines our bodies down to the wrinkled lines growing upon our faces…they all give us distinction.

He even chose our hearts and placed them into the depths of our chest to make us who we are!

So unique are our organs that Drs have found our specific qualities being transferred from donors to recipients….people who’ve discovered with their new organs comes new cravings and passions they’ve never had before….
friends this shouts the work of a creative designer with the intention of our uniqueness…

Because truth is:
God has a plan and a purpose for every single one of us in His -story.

Take my friend Alyssa who’s making a God-sized ripple with her  #sowkind movement, calling people to write down their words of encouragement and share them in brave and beautiful ways…or Brice and Amanda who are cultivating & growing leaders across the Islands of our world…and you my friend the way you loved that person the other day who’s overlooked most of their life, or when you wrote and mailed that card this week, or the beautiful way you opened your home up and even that simple prayer you whispered for the brokenness surrounding you: all of these are beautiful acts of love which God designed you for!

These tiny acts are where God does His mightiest work because we never know the impact we are making in another’s life.

The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary when God meets someone through the humility of their hands.

Every small little ripple here can create a Tsunami on the other side of the world. Love given in big sized proportions cause a catalyst in people’s lives.

The way we really make a mark on our world is by leaving fingerprints of our Heavenly Father all over the places God sends us.

What part of our vast universe has God called you to love to death?

Jesus made His mark on us when He loved us like that!
His love was so big that He submitted Himself to death, SO THAT we might live….
this is where Jesus’ mark has made more of an imprint on humanity than any name we will ever make for ourselves.

That’s what my son recently taught me when he preached the biggest boldest sermon my ears needed to hear. He reminded me life is not about making a name for myself but rather making Jesus’ name known.

So when you feel forgotten or overlooked remind yourself this one life you’ve been given is not for you to be remembered by but for God to be seen through!

Friends, may we let this be what bounces us out of bed every morning and breaks us to our knees, until our world hears and knows He’s come to love them through every brokenness and pain they bear. Because God wants to write every person into the lines of His story and has created each one of us to play a role in His master plan.

And when life seems to keep messing you up making you feel like a loser remember you were made and you matter deeply.
Your life matters!

Our lives find purpose when we extend them to others.

Take my friend Jason who decided the forgotten and overlooked kids of Louisville needed purpose too. So he got together with some of his friends who had made it to the big leagues and asked them to go back to their neighborhoods to tell these kids there’s more to life then stealing , selling and surviving. Purpme goes into schools and passes out hope, helping young people find their way and find their purpose in life. You see we all have a part to play….each given a role and chosen with us in mind.

So start today friend outlive and outlove the ones God has placed beside you and you’ll find your burdens lessening and your hope being restored.
There’s healing found here…

My journals bind the pages of my broken journey finding healing through my heavenly Father’s words…writings exhaling my unspoken thoughts.

God saw, God heard and God came to my need and He hears, He sees and He meets you here too.
Discover the writings of God which were written with you in mind, specifically to minister to the secret places of your soul….one day you may find too that the person you first began your journey as has become the person God intended all along for you to become!