Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting Out There

I was really honored when my prayer buddy and good friend invited me to come speak to the mamas at her church.  Even though there were 50 women gathered around, it felt intimate and welcoming.  It was a special morning and one of the women took really good notes and even wrote a gorgeous blog about it- what a gift!

It's been really special for me to be invited to speak my heart at 3 churches so far this Fall.  It's been a long time since I felt like my gifts and passions were honored and invited.  After listening to an audio recording of myself I realize I have a ton of room to grow- but I'm thankful for the chance to try and learn.  The true gift is the way that my heart just explodes when I walk into these gatherings- a sense of God's love for the women there and myself is always so present.  I love mornings with grace and coffee and girls.  Does it get any better?

If you want a taste of my heart for imperfection, friendship, and community in motherhood- here it is.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Prayer for the Victims of Isis

My heart has broken in sheer pain and empathy for my brothers and sisters and their

I cannot even type the word "children" without my eyes welling with tears and stomach tightening. The terror and brutality of Isis right now, this moment, against Christians is overwhelming.  The beheading of children. Unmitigated evil, unconscionable violence.  Crimes against humanity.  Crimes against God.  My heart doesn't know how to hold these stories.

I know I will wake my own beautiful blonde headed children up in a few moments from a sleep that was guarded and safe and sweet.  They'll have matted hair and sleepy eyes and nothing but hope for the day to come.

I know we will go to church and worship God in truth and love and freedom this morning. And I will raise my hands and say God is good and mean it with my whole heart even though I have invisibly dried tears staining my face.

I know I will stop crying in a moment, and later today I will giggle or laugh and this heavy, sacred empathy will be far from me.  I may even go to Costco.  That makes me feel guilty.

I know that even with all the theological explanation, I don't fully understand how God could see his children and his children's children in this kind of pain and not rain down fire and vengeance from heaven.  That makes me question him as a good father and that question makes me feel guilty.

I know God is a good father, not just to his children who are being persecuted but also to me.  That truth is too large and weighty for my small hands to grasp well.  The inability to hold weight that I know God is holding makes me feel loved and free and safe and want to pray.

If, like me, you don't know how to hold the pain of our brothers and sisters who are being brutalized and persecuted and killed, I'm inviting you to pray these words and promises of God with me.

Stop "reading" for a moment.  Reorient your heart.  Welcome God to this space, the pain, the confusion, the questions.  Open your heart to him. Allow a moment of silence.

Psalm 34:15-18

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.

God I believe that you see and hear your children around the world.  All of us.  You are unprotected from the horrific images and cries of pain. You delight in the beauty of uninhibited worship and expressions of love and freedom.  You hold them all.

16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

I trust you to be judge.  I am so thankful that you are a righteous judge who hates evil.  So many fear your judgement, but crimes like these remind us of our desperate need for a judge to bring justice to our world where politicians and brilliant minds and big hearts have all failed.  This is beyond us.  Please, God, in your righteousness, cut off this evil and even the bitter root of memory of this evil completely from our earth.  Quickly, please.

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

God you are mighty to save.  I trust that your spirit is close to my brothers and sisters in a way that I don't understand.  Their boldness and resolution in the face of great danger and terror speak not only to their faith but also to your presence.  I trust you to love them and hold them and strengthen them, and in some cases hold their spirits tightly as they enter into eternity.  I trust you to be good in ways I don't understand.  I trust that you are close and that you see the pain, that you can deliver and save and redeem.  Please God, even if I cannot feel the love you have for them, fill them, cover them, flood them with your love.


*Luke 21:10-19 Can also be prayed back to God as a prayer in a similar way.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why Perfection is Poison

There is a great deal of danger in becoming a perfect mom.

Did you just choke on your coffee?  Ya I know, being too perfect is not high on my list of concerns either- but here's why it shouldn't even be on our list of goals.  Imperfection is a gift, it's where we meet grace AND each other.

For all you moms who aspire to the perfect body, home, parenting style or whatever, relax. You are closer to happiness than you think.  For the elite who have reached mommy nirvana- open your eyes.  You may be missing your perfect life by being a perfect mom. 

Perfection poisons Empathy

When something works for you, you may be tempted to assume that you are somehow skilled, gifted, smarter, or just plain better than other mom's who can't quite get it together.  If only they could do it your way.  

When nothing works for you, you learn the frustration, humility, and pain of motherhood.  If you look around and feel like you are having a harder time than most, keep looking.  I guarantee there are other mamas having a hard time too.  As a broken woman you have unique eyes to see hurt, loneliness, and shame. If you can step out of your own shadows, you will realize you have developed a unique voice to relate to a sisterhood who desperately needs to hear they are seen, understood, and loved.  

Perfect mamas, please remember that all of our situations, support systems and kids are different.  At the end of the day, we don't need advice the same way we need love.  Perfection doesn't have to succumb to pride.  Look around and see community instead of competition or incompetence.  True perfection is always marked by love, just ask God himself.

Perfection poisons Desire

There is something beautiful about need, desperation, and longing.  It's where we meet God.  It's where our hearts are softened and transformed by grace.  Jesus taught that those who feel deep need are blessed.  David proclaimed that God is near to the brokenhearted.  To feel true satisfaction we must sink into God and be surrounded by his grace.  

Counterfeit joy and peace are easy to come by in a "perfect life" when what you do, what you have, and what people think about you create a false sense of self that feels worth clinging on to.  Just.  let.  go.  Perfect mamas have to work hard to dive to the depths of grace.  Perfect or imperfect, we should all examine what we are using to define our identity and how we are satisfying our need for purpose and love.

Perfection poisons Friendship

Perfect moms make disingenuous friends. You may not realize, this, perfect mom, but that mama who came over for a play date this morning thought extra hard about what she and each of her kids were going to wear.  She chose the snack she was going to bring and the container she'd put it in carefully.  She didn't tell you what was truly on her heart or even her mind- she learned her lesson last time when you made her feel patronized and ashamed by your well meaning advice or story of how you have it all figured out.

Friendship is hospitality of the soul.  Being able to think aloud with another person.  Being able to truly be and become your true and best self.

Perfect mama, you may be accidentally achieving a sense of perfection that is closer to a J.Crew catalog than your own god given design.  You may unknowingly be distancing connection as you minimize or silence the messiness of humanity, failure, and motherhood.  Imperfect mama, you are not off the hook.  Ceaselessly striving for perfection in a way that your failures produce bitterness instead of humility is just as dangerous.

No matter where you fall on the perfection spectrum, we all have to choose to meet each other as each other, our true selves, and love one another in that grounded, messy reality.  It's the only way we can do life together, and motherhood is meant to be done together.

You have been warned.  The "perfect" home, body, parenting skills, or hobbies are more likely to poison your soul than satisfy you.  Accept humility.  Strive for love.