The License Plate

This past weekend we were at a new church due to being on a mini vacation upstate. The pastor was telling a story about how he got to his sermon analogy and he did a flare with his hands and said “Wait for it…(claps his hands) sermon analogy!” and while I cannot relate with the “sermon” bit I do get the “ta-da blog idea!” Little gems tucked within life and I believe it’s my job to bring them on here and tell you how I saw them.

Like, for instance, Zack loves reading bumper stickers and license plates while driving. This works for me because I can’t usually read the small printed bumper stickers and I honestly forget a license plate exists until key moments (which I try to avoid in life)

Tonight the car in front of us was a little Toyota with a license plate that said “Lexus”. Zack commented that was weird and he didn’t “get it”, I got it. Or well, to me I did but I did not suggest we follow said little car to find out. But here was my takeaway and you can make your own assumptions.

To me it was saying that no matter what the outside world thinks we are, it’s about what WE think we are. I will never be amazingly beautiful to the world, but I can feel beautiful. I might never be famous or the best at anything but I can’t think I am great and that’s what matters.

Heart matters, labels don’t.

For the past few weeks, as part of my silence here, has been kicking around the word label. Or maybe the “theme” labels. We all have them. We all give them. I can name off several that build me up and possibly even more that knock me flat on my rear end and I am sure you have your own lists too.

Some of my favorites are: Wife, Mom, daughter, sister, friend and most importantly Child of the Living God. In the end it’s that last one that matters most. It’s the one that sets me a part; that binds me to a love that is greater than anything earthly. But I forget that label sometimes when the not so lovely labels are thrown my way. Sometimes I need the reminder that I am the better make and model, not better than others, but better than I was.

Labels I carried around that were always bulky and never fit right were things like: unloveable, hot tempered, ugly, fat, and less than…I could go on but I don’t want to cry. You get the idea anyway.

When those things are spoken or implied over us it almost brainwashes us to think that’s all we are, but it’s not all that we are.

1 John 3:1 says:

Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are. For this reason the world doesn’t recognize us, and it didn’t recognize him either.

*Drops microphone*

The world doesn’t recognize Him or us so when the less than lovely names are hurled at us we have a shield, a name. We are already identified and called holy. Sacred. Loved. Set apart. Redeemed. Chosen. Gifted. Treasured.

And that…is enough. Write those things on your license plate, carry them with pride.


Grace: The Normal Cycle

Each of our lives have a rhythm and routine, more so when you have kids in the house, but I would imagine even when you don’t have kids there is a system to life. Because of this routine that you find and settle into you feel confortahbe just to assume things will stay along the same predictable road. Things like: your husband keeping to his pattern of cleaning out his pockets before putting his dirty clothes in the hamper or you checking his pockets before dumping the basket in the washer.

Tip #1: iPhones are not washer friendly.

I bet you can’t wait to see how this turns into more than just about an unexpected expense. But I can! Because…that’s what I do.

In the rhythms of life we turn on the normal cycle and progress in the typical. That is until the typical goes through the washer and comes out fried and useless.

Tip #2: if you have a Go All Day phone case, it will make it though the washer unscathed. 

Then your normal cycle self-sets to one of the other 9,000 pre-programmed options and your life and wash may or may not ever look the same again. Clearly this is unfortunate. I mean, who wants to step off the known and embrace a life, or in Jim’s case 3 days, of the unknown. Chaos in these situations meets you all bedazzled and ready to further see to your normal cycle being ruined.

There is good news though. We are programmed to be able to find a new normal. That’s how we survive loss. That’s how we weather storms. That’s how we handle your spouse washing your iPhone.

On that fateful day so many emotions could have washed over us. Blame could have been dispensed in equal measure but instead we found a new normal with the help of offering grace to ourself and to each other. Grace is a superhero, it saves the day. No, grace can’t fix the ruined phone or even the tilted life but it gives us a soft place to land. Grace fills the gap and carries some burden. Grace offers a new normal cycle. God gave us grace as a gift and its meant to be given and received.

So the next time you mess up or someone else messes up offer to switch to the cycle of grace. Turn the dial, and say it’s okay.


The Ride of Life

Ride of Life

Who’s ready for another rabbit hole brought to you by me and my sometimes overly emotional self?

For the parents out there, lets talk parenting for a minute. It’s hard, right? But it’s also so worth it!

I mean, when they are little you’re just trying to keep them alive and teach them not to put things up their nose, to say please and thank you, and maybe if you’re lucky a few educational things too. On a good day if you got all four of those things in you were winning. I mean…stand up, take a bow, and help someone else have a winning day because YOU are a rockstar! Tomorrow is a problem for tomorrow.

And if you hit consistency…that deserves a victory lap! Several days in a row of potty training success, Mom and Dad deserve a cookie…forget about the kid, you’ve beat the system!

Once they’ve started school a win is everyone was kind and some work was done. Because the school years go on for so long they make the worlds craziest rollercoaster look like It’s a Small World ride at Disney. These years can be best described as parenting in the trenches. Learning to balance distance and closeness all at the same time; showing them that you are always close by but giving them the freedom to make some mistakes. Allow them to make mistakes, those mistakes will serve as guides as well. Don’t be afraid to be close enough to remind them to shake off the bad days so they too can try again tomorrow. School is where they truly learn to be a good human. Ideally they’ve learned about this at home but now those sacred lessons are translated out into a our fallen world. It’s the rhythm of sowing and reaping, they are taught kindness and then sent to give it to others. These are the years when life and scholastic lessons equally matter. Remind them that love is the greatest of all things. Remind them to do good. Remind them that being tender to a new student is life giving. Remind them grades matter but effort matters more. Remind them grace fills in the gaps because perfection is not expected or attainable.

The years (and tears) will twist and wind on. And then high school hits. Having a high schooler is a lot like having a toddler except they don’t pee on the floor. There are a lot of words that come from this age group though many of them are blurted out and not really evaluated for accuracy. I had no idea it was even possible but there are even more emotions that expel from every part of their being than there are words! How is that even possible? They are wonderful and confusing. They test your ability to be rational (which mine is pretty low, fyi) but then they are so sweet!

Link arms with your tribe of fellow parents and stand firm, it is only a season. The highest of highs and lowest of lows will most likely be experienced during these four precious years.

“Mom, come snuggle with me.” age 16.

“Dad, we should watch that movie together” age 14.

Show up. If you are granted the gift of words like these drop everything. Don’t hesitate. Be there because there will come a day when they love you but want to be in a million other places instead. Right this second everything else can wait, press pause on life just for a little while.

Let me let you in on a secret that I figured out: you are doing exponentially better than you think you are. I promise. I see you. I know the effort poured into these people. It’s hard to accept this truth, I know. You feel like you are walking into more walls than you are clearing them. You feel like you’ve missed significant moments and maybe sometimes you have but the fact you are even caring about that says you are missing less than you are present for. Be gentle with yourself.

Another secret: they are a lot more clueless than they want you to think, their humility-o-meter isn’t fully in tact yet so they aren’t wired to tell you that you are right sometimes. But you are.

I want to give credit where it’s due: Jim and Diane…I never could have been the Mom I am without you both in my corner. You are extraordinary people. You are my tribe. You are my squad. You are my sanity. You make tears turn to laughter. You pull my head out of the sand and remind me that I was created to be these kids Mom.