Posted in Momming

“I See You, Mama” Seeing Ourselves and Each Other this May

My Darling Sister-Mom,  have you ever felt invisible?

I’ll go ahead and answer that for you, yes you have.  I mean…you probably have. Have you?  Because I have.

My friend Leah put it like this:

“Today I felt invisible.

On three separate occasions, and three different times of the day as I was dropping off and picking up children, groceries, etc., cars just turned out in front of me or almost into me. Like they never saw me. Like I wasn’t even there.

And it got me thinking just how often I feel invisible.

Today I felt invisible. I swept the kitchen floor but my daughter pointed out the dirt on the bathroom floor.

Today I felt invisible as I watched my sleeping daughter with my hand on her chest as she coughed in her sleep, trying to ascertain if her cough was from allergy drainage or something more. Maybe *fingers crossed* we should skip dance class tonight? But no. She woke up and complained about the leotard she was wearing because the others were in the dirty laundry.

Today I felt invisible as I tried to pay bills holding my fourteen month old son in the throes of an ear infection. Over and over I heard the automated prompt: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” I will try again tomorrow. Maybe there won’t be so much “background noise.”

Today I felt invisible as I changed my EIGHTH poopy diaper (yay antibiotics) and complained to my husband via text that I felt like I was reaching my breaking point. He texted back the bill amount for his truck repairs.

Today I felt invisible as I showed up at my mom’s house, tired and done, handed her the baby, and she pointed out that he didn’t have socks on. And looked tired. Or hungry.

Today I felt invisible as I served nuggets and tots again. Because today was hard. As my days often are. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have it all together. I’ll get more rest than usual after collapsing into bed early tonight *if the stars align and my children don’t fight bedtime.* I’ll make time to wake up and wash my hair, put on makeup, cross one more thing off that never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. Maybe tomorrow someone will notice me.”

 Did you find yourself wanting to stand up and shout, “ME, TOO!” as you read that?  Did you also want track Leah down and hug her neck and shout, “I SEE YOU, MAMA! I SEE YOU AND YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!”

That’s what we’re going to do here together next month.  I mean- not all of us tracking Leah down and hugging her because that might be a little *awkward*.  Although if any of you happen to live near Leah and want to give her a hug for me, I’ll take it. We live across the country from one another and it’s SUCH a drag.

What we are gonna do is spend the month of Mother’s Day looking around us at the other moms and making a concerted, intentional effort to make them feel SEEN.  We are also going to make a concerted, intentional effort to allow ourselves to take up space in our own lives, to become visible, if only to ourselves.

As Moms, nobody knows the realness of our struggles quite like we do.  We are in a unique position to minister to each other’s hearts from a place of GETTING IT in a way that the rest of the world around us just doesn’t.  Who better to reach out to one another and lift each other up than us?

Now, not all moms are the same.  Not all moms are going to be in a place of feeling invisible and not all moms are going to respond to the same kinds of love that would make us feel uplifted.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

What it DOES mean is that the “homework” I hand out to y’all in the coming weeks does not need to be executed exactly as directed. You each need to put your own stamp on it and tweak it as-needed based on what you know about the moms around you.

But the end goal is the same:  To give another mom a moment of feeling SEEN in the middle of her invisibility.  It’s work worth doing.

So follow this blog, follow me over on Insta. And let’s do this thing. Let’s lift each other up, on a wing and a prayer. See you next week!

Posted in Uncategorized

“You’re trying, and it matters,” -God

Today, I loaded my kids in the car and we went for a walk at a nearby nature park.

That doesn’t sound like a particularly momentous thing for a mom with two littles to do, but for this particular mom on this particular day, it required A LOT OF sucking it up and putting on of the proverbial big girl britches.

It has been a rough few weeks over here for various reasons, lots of growing pains for all of us combined with a cold virus that has packed a powerful punch of fatigue.  I didn’t feel like doing anything but throwing a movie on for the kids and laying on the couch wallowing, but we had already done that EVERY OTHER DAY THIS WEEK, so it felt like a change of pace was the grown-up thing to do.  And we all know that being a grown-up is severely overrated at times.

When we got there, the kids took off running. They got sick before I did and so of course are feeling better before I am with all of the energy and enthusiasm that I lack, bless all of our hearts.

First, they started noticing that someone had put brightly-painted rocks along the path and the kids were SO EXCITED ABOUT finding all of them.

 

Then we stumbled on a path we hadn’t taken before and Cam declared that we would be embarking on “The Mystewy of the Mystewious Path!” (be sure to read that in your most spooky voice to get the full effect)

I mean, there I was surrounded by the bright beauty of a brand new spring with happy, excited kids who were being delightful and hilarious and my heart just would. Not. Lift. I didn’t feel good in either body or spirit and I couldn’t get myself to the place I felt like I should be, to the place that I felt like would have been honoring to God in light of the blessings of that moment.

I decided that as long as I was there with nothing else to do, I might as well pray. I couldn’t muster much, so I went simple and lifted a few short prayers for those around me who are DEFINITELY in the middle of some very heavy seasons that make mine look like a day at the beach: My friend with the daughter who’s having seizures, the friend with breast cancer, another friend who just lost a cousin to an overdose, my friends in the throes of divorce, someone near to me with an upcoming surgery.

It felt like a dismal, paltry offering and I was almost ready to throw in the towel when of a sudden, God spoke into my mess with words of glittering, glowing grace:

“You’re trying,” He told me.  “And it matters.”

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That was a counterintuitive message for me in that moment. When the going gets tough, when the path is dark and difficult and our footsteps stumble, we are quick to chide ourselves, to deepen our despair with a recounting of our failures. Not to mention that the enemy of our souls loves to capitalize on the moments when we are down, whispering that we aren’t enough, that our prayers aren’t enough, so why even try?

But that isn’t God’s way.  He just happens to be the best parent that this world and the next have ever seen and He sees our circumstances and struggles for what they are and loves us right through them.

Kind of like Mister Cameron learning to ride a bike without training wheels.   We see it, we know how hard it is, and when his attempts fail and the tears start, his Daddy whispers to him, “It’s hard, buddy. But you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

Miss Kendall is probably 3/4 of the way potty trained now, but the first few days were rough. She would have accidents and break down in tears, but I would help her change, clean up the mess and say, “Accidents happen, honey.  Learning to use the potty is hard, but you’re trying and that’s what matters.”

There are also moments when we say to our kids, “I know you can do better than this,” moments where we don’t back down from expecting their best because it’s our job to push them to step up and grow.  But, if we are on our parenting game, those are NOT the moments when they are tired, not feeling good, having a rough day, or facing a task that is really difficult for them.

And my sisters, God is ALWAYS on His parenting game. He can read our hearts even better than we can because He knit them together in our mother’s wombs and He has numbered our steps.  He has also walked on this earth and lived among us humans in the person of Jesus. He gets it, He knows, and His vision isn’t clouded, even when ours is.

In those tough moments, when the best we can muster is going through the motions and saying the words even if our hearts don’t seem to follow, He will meet us where we are. He sees us trying and CHOOSING HIM, even if we aren’t that great at it in the moment, and it MATTERS.

So be brave, my sisters, and try. Whatever you’re facing, whatever your battle or dark season looks like, choose to do the right thing, put one foot in front of the other, and approach Him with whatever strength you’ve got.

Because He looks on us with eyes of a Father, can reach down and meet us in our struggles and fog, and can Himself fill in that gap between earth and heaven.

Your trying matters, Mama.  So keep it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Styling

#NormalizeBigEarrings: Why Every Mama Need Some!

Ladies and Gentlewomen, if you had told me two years ago that I would be writing a blog post in praise of big earrings, one that INCLUDED PICTURES OF ME WEARING BIG EARRINGS, I would have told you you were crazy.

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Yes, y’all. I’m a recovering jewelry-phobe.  It’s not always easy to confess that, but embracing all parts of our stories is part of the journey we are on here, right? Right.  I even have photographic evidence:

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Jeff and me, ready for date night, circa Spring 2015. Don’t you just wanna accessorize me? Bless my heart, I didn’t know any better…

So, then I became a Noonday Collection Ambassador and everything changed.

I have learned the POWER of big earrings.  I have learned that I can roll out of bed, throw on a pair of big earrings, barely get my kid to preschool on time, and have other moms say to me, “You look SO CUTE today!”  All because of the earrings.

I now believe to the depths of my being that EVERY woman should own a few pairs of BIG, FABULOUS EARRINGS- particularly those of who are raising tiny humans who seem to make a hobby out of eliminating all opportunities for us to put ourselves together.   And yet many women fear them- I was one of them!

Ladies, the time has come to remove the stigma and #NORMALIZEBIGEARRINGS, embracing all they can bring to our lives.

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So I’m going to share with you three of my favorite  Noonday earrings that elevate my (limited, unfancy) wardrobe! Don’t forget that when you wear Noonday Collection, you’re doing something nice for someone else on the other side of the world while looking fabulous so you absolutely CANNOT go wrong.

Mystique Earrings = Instant Style

These leather beauties from India are my favorite earring from the Spring 2017 line and could possibly be my favorite piece of all.  These are my “turns anything into an outfit” earring. Whether it’s a sweatshirt and trucker hat at preschool drop-off or a plain white t-shirt and plaid button-up in my blog headshot, these beauties tie it all together and make it look like you did it on purpose.

Nebula Earrings = “I’m so fan-caaaaay, you already know…”

These hand-beaded shoulder dusters from Guatemala represent the moment I realized I had turned the corner when it came to big earrings.  When the Fall 2016 line dropped and I spotted these in a preview video on Noonday’s founder, Jessica Honneger, I knew they HAD TO BE MINE.  Just like Mystique turns anything into an outfit, these turn anything into a special occasion. And they make me feel like a bad@ss when I wear them. And you will, too.

 

Aventura Earrings = The Darling of Spring 2017

I’m sharing these with you because they are far and a way the best-selling piece among my customers this Spring.  Crafted of brass with the pop of teal from Chrysocolla stones, these beauties hail from Peru and errrrrrrybody wants a piece of these this spring. They are fabulous with a dress, a t-shirt, or just hanging out in your kitchen with a jar of mayonnaise that you ordered from Amazon.

So there you have, them, Sister-Moms.  Three earrings that will rock your world.  Take a risk and get you some.  When you rock a statement piece that feels a little outside the norm, one of two things will happen:

  1. Nobody will even notice, which lets you know that it wasn’t as outside of your norm as you thought it was, so carry on!
  2. People will notice and will ask you about the earrings- which gives you the chance to tell the stories of the brave, hard-working artisans who made them.

Go forth and #normalizebigearrings my beauties.  Make your day more fabulous.

 

 

Posted in Mom Power

“What U Workin’ With?” Sage wisdom from Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani

Are your kids as into the movie Trolls as mine are?  We are a little late to the party since we didn’t see it in the theater (because we can’t hold still that long yet), but we just got the DVD and although we are late, WE ARE VERY MUCH AT THE PARTY!

Kenzie runs through the house shouting “NO TROLL WEFF BEHINE!” multiple times daily.

And the soundtrack- OH, THE SOUNDTRACK!  Cam has it on his iPod and it’s become my go-to when I need TWO CONSECUTIVE SECONDS OF PEACE in the car.

It was just such a moment, one in  which the Trolls soundtrack was giving me a blessed break from sibling squabbles, that the most amazing lyric jumped out at me like a Bergen at Trollstice.

“What U Workin’ With” is basically a kid-friendly club anthem, the usual “move it and work it” narrative with family-safe spin. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, scroll to the end of the post and click “play” on the video and listen while you read.

But at the end of the bridge, Justin Timberlake drops the following truth bomb”

“It ain’t about, ain’t about, it ain’t about what you not. So what you workin’ with?”

Let that sink in for a moment…

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Thank you, Justin, for pausing with us.

But you guys, do you realize that that quote is EVERYTHING!?!?!

“It ain’t about what you not!  So what you workin’ with?”

Women, AND PARTICULARLY MOMS, spend an awful lot of time focusing on what we are not.  We aren’t organized enough, patient enough, skinny enough, put together enough, you name it.  There’s always SOMETHING that someone else is that we aren’t that we feel like we should be.

But how often do we stop to take inventory of what we ARE working with, the wonderful things that we- AND ONLY WE- offer to those around us often without realizing it? I know for me the answer is just about never.

We live in a performance-driven culture in which we are always being urged to move to the next thing, to be better, to do better and to keep our eyes on the prize. Self-help books and blogs, meetings with our supervisors at work, for teachers like me the ever-increasing standards for my students- it all pushes us upward, keeps us focused on what we could be doing better. I have a list a mile long of all of the things I’m not, all of the things I need to get better at, and all of the things I admire in others.

But that list doesn’t tell the whole story.  That list makes Gwen Stefani angry.

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BECAUSE IT AIN’T ABOUT WHAT I’M NOT!!!!

So…the existential question: what AM I workin’ with?

THAT is where my heart and mind should be dwelling.  THAT is what I should be focusing on and running after. Not the things that I’m not, but the things that I AM! What is it that I bring to the world, to my family, to the Justin Timberlake/Gwen Stefani dance party of life? If you’re like me and have a hard time finishing the sentence, “Well, I’m really good at _______” or “My best quality is ________,” then we may be better suited to approach it from the angle of, “I feel most like myself when I am _______________” or “________________ comes naturally to me.”

For those who are Bible-readers like me, scripture tells me that we are formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), God takes great delight in us (Zeph 3:17). I mean, I have to be actually pretty wonderful because GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK!

“IT AIN’T ABOUT WHAT YOU NOT, SO WHAT YOU WORKIN WITH?”

If we all wrapped our brains around that and worked to live into what we’re workin’ with and stopped worrying about what we’re not- can you imagine what that would look like, a world full of  moms who aren’t held down by thoughts of what we are not and are walking through the world basically throwing sparkle all over the place like that troll who sings in Autotune and toots glitter?

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Now, I’m not saying we should abandon self-improvement and ignore areas of opportunity for growth, that would not be helpful at all. But if we saw those things as ways to IMPROVE on what we are already workin’ with, ways to become even better versions of who we were created to be? The lies that the world has to tell us about not being enough would be SHUT DOWN and would hold no sway over us. NO SWAY, I SAY!!!!!!

So let us take the sage words of Stefani and Timberlake into the world with us this week, and the next, and the next. It’s not about what we aren’t, it’s about what we are. About what we, AND ONLY WE, are workin’ with as only we can.

Now please enjoy some tunes. And dance in front of a mirror. It’s good for you.

Posted in Momming

Confessions of a Worn-Out Brick Wall

I’m exhausted today.  I mean…I’m the mom of two kids under five, I’m exhausted most days. But today, it has REALLY gotten to me and I’m just plum tuckered out.

It’s not like anything epic or out of the ordinary has happened in our lives, you couldn’t look at our days lately and pinpoint any one big thing that should have me feeling more worn down than usual. We’ve not been sick, our schedule has been normal, no big life events or crises have popped up in the last couple of weeks- and yet here I sit, absolutely exhausted and staring down the barrel of the week to come, lifting mine eyes unto the hills for the oomph it’s gonna take to launch myself into this next seven days.

What has me worn down at the moment is The Brick Wall Routine.  Every parent knows it, or at least they should.  It’s the one where we set a boundary or expectation and we hold fast to it despite an at times intense onslaught of pushback and testing. And when I say “at times,” I mean pretty much all the time with my older child. Not only is his attack on our defenses intense and calculated, his staying power is also remarkable.  I’m exhausted from day after day of basically re-enacting the Battle for Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings, with myself in the role of Theoden King and my kid as exactly all of the Uruk-hai.

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Nobody told me it was gonna be this hard.  I mean, people certainly stressed for us the importance of setting boundaries and being consistent, and it was something I already believed in whole-heartedly  from a decade of teaching elementary school. I was prepared to be a hard-ass, both Jeff and I were.

What I was not prepared for was how exhausting the work of setting and teaching those boundaries would be.   I mean, I didn’t expect that we would never struggle. I harbored no illusions that my children would respond to my every correction with copious “mea culpas” and then immediately go forth and sin no more.  BUT I WAS NOT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST BIT PREPARED FOR HOW HARD MY KID WOULD PUSH BACK. AND FOR HOW LONG. AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN WITH EVERY SINGLE THING.  I did not realize what an endurance sport this would be. They don’t tell you about this ridiculousness in the parenting classes.

And to top it all of, I am SO MAD at my pre-kids self right now.  And embarrassed.

See, back in those days when I would would see kids running around in the grocery store or being loud or interrupting their parents, I would naively think to myself, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. If their parents didn’t stand for that it wouldn’t happen.”  I had NO IDEA that their parents were in fact probably not standing for it one little bit- but that it wouldn’t stop the kids from trying. Over and over. It never occurred to me HOW LONG window of time could be between the onset of the behavior and the final extinction of said behavior.  And that while some kids learn with just a few repetitions, there are others who have to try again and again and again and again to the exact same result before they FINALLY get the picture that whatever they were trying to make a THING was NOT going to happen.

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SHAME ON PRE-KIDS ME FOR THINKING I KNEW EVEN ANYTHING  AT ALL ABOUT THE REALITIES OF PARENTING!

I mean, we’re making progress. We are. At almost five, we are seeing the fruits of our labors to some extent.  There are times these days when Cam will respond almost immediately to us shutting something down because he has seen in the past that we do indeed mean what we say and that it is in his best interest to just go with it.  But it doesn’t happen anywhere NEAR as often as it feels like we should have EARNED by now with all of our efforts- and also there are two of them now. On her own, she has a much more natural respect for boundaries and authority than he does. She’s loud and intense in the moment when something doesn’t go her way, but she gets the picture quickly by comparison.  When they get together, however, they completely tune me out and get so wrapped up in each other that it’s a whole new ball game. A LOUD ball game. A really, REALLY loud ball game.

The fact is that I am mostly just sharing all of this in the interest of venting my own frustrations, and also because I think there’s a solid chance that someone else out there might be going through the same thing. I can’t be the only parent who is bone-weary from standing firm amid what at times feels like a CONSTANT and UNYIELDING onslaught of pushback.

This is me basically giving a salute of solidarity to the other parents out there in the trenches, holding the line.  We are fighting the good fight. All the books, the experience,  and the inch-by-inch progress I’ve seen adding up in our family is showing that forth. And don’t get me wrong, there are indeed times we need to give grace, times a hug works better than a frown, and times we just plain need to take a different route to avoid the conflict altogether because the CONSTANT fighting isn’t good for our family either.  But in the end, the boundaries stay firm, the kids are better for it, and the parents drink #allthewine.  It’s Monday, “And so it begins….”

Posted in Faith, Momming

The Sacredness of Struggle: REALness over REELness

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Picture it: Monday morning about 9:30, me dragging my doughy physique reluctantly into the gym, a scowl on my face and a complaint in my heart.  It had NOT been a good morning in momland- at least not in this mom’s land.  Not one but BOTH of my kids had melted down spectacularly in plain view at preschool drop-off  and goshdarnit I had to take one of the little balls of angst with me when I left because only one of them actually attends the preschool where they both melted down. Oy.

I was feeling the realness of the struggle that morning and it was NOT sitting well with me. As I sat stretching before my workout (a loathsome task that reminds me how painfully little flexibility I actually have in comparison to the yoga queens all around me), I allowed a little prayer to grudgingly escape my heart. I’d love to be able to say that I had leaned into the call to praise The Lord in all circumstances but really, this was more like me complaining to the only person around to listen. “UGH!  God why does it have to be HARD? I mean…am I not busting my rear end over here with these kids?  Like, I’m trying my hardest to raise them right- WHY CAN’T IT JUST BE EASY!”

Now, being that God is a WAY better parent than me, when I bring my complaints to him, he does not snap back that HE is not the complaint department and whatever has ruffled my feathers is NOT his fault so he could do with a little more respect from me, thank me very much.  No, he actually acts like he’s just grateful I finally decided to actually talk about it rather than walking around under a storm cloud like I’m Eeyore or something (Huh. Maybe should try that with my own kids sometime).

As I sat there with my hands barely clinging to my toes and my nose resting way, way, WAY above my knees, he poured out grace and mercy and understanding all over me.

“Mom life is hard because it’s supposed to be.  Without the struggle, why would you seek connection?”

 

My mind was instantly flooded with images of the moms I love so dearly, the ones I have connected with over their struggles and mine, and it was laid bare for me in those moments the way the realness of the struggle of raising baby humans is the glue that binds moms together.  I mean, this is true for humans in general.  Anyone who has walked through a challenging season in their marriage (or any other relationship) and come out the other side having worked things out can tell you how powerful struggle is when it comes to bonding humans to one another.  Even groups of strangers who are together during a traumatic experience tend to bond to one another.

But for moms, it feels like there’s something deeper there. Particularly in our culture of social media highlight reels, the Mommy Wars, and Something-to-Prove Motherhood, the struggle can nudge us toward deeper, deeply NEEDED levels of connection- the stuff that sisterhood is made of.

Struggle makes moms NEED one another in a way that abandons pretense and evokes authenticity.

It’s one thing to post a pic on Instagram of me and my mom friends out for some “desperately needed girl time!   #momsnightout  #lovethesegirls” and quite another to sit across the table or computer screen from them asking them what in the heck I’m doing wrong since I CANNOT get my child to stop hitting me.  The way my struggles have forced me to open up to my friends, to lay down my “got it all together” and to really be ministered to by their “me, toos” and their words of experience has bred an authenticity in our relationship that wouldn’t be there any other way.  I mean yeah, we need each other for companionship, release, and reminders that we are something OTHER than the sum of what the people we live with need from us. But when words of love and reassurance from other moms are all that stands between me and desolation and what pull me back from a place of desperation- the realness of THAT struggle is something sacred.

Struggle makes moms real and accessible to one another in world where highlight reels feel like the law of the land.

I remember the early days of motherhood where I would sit with my phone in my hand while nursing my son, stalking the Facebook profiles of the other women in my online moms’ group, CONVINCED that they had it all together and that Mrs. Hot Mess Express over here had  A LOT of work to do to get on their level and be worthy of their friendship.  Slowly, however, that began to change as these women shared their struggles and they began to seem a lot more like me.  This mom had a struggle in her marriage, that mom could NOT get her daughter to potty train, nursing just wasn’t working out for this mom’s second baby, how was that family going to pay the bills and why couldn’t this mom seem to keep her house clean.  It was through seeing that other moms struggled as well, seeing the REALness behind the REELness (if you catch my drift) made them seem like real people, folks I could be friends with.  I mean, some people may be drawn to the girl who seems to have it all together, but she intimidates the heck out of me and being in her presence makes all of my own warts seem larger than life.  If it weren’t for our struggles and SHARING those struggles, we might all walk around looking like the girl who’s got it all together, our sister-moms not feeling like they could draw near to us and become our friends.

As I awkwardly bumbled through the rest of my workout, I grudgingly gave way to a modicum gratitude for the things in my life as a mom that make it less than perfect. The things that cause me to lean on my sister-moms, the things that make us able to relate to one another, the things that make authenticity and the only option. I mean, I wish it didn’t have to be so hard, but I BELIEVE in the power of mom friendships and I’m grateful for whatever it is that makes them deeper and more plentiful.   I’ll take REALness over REELness any day- preschool meltdowns and all. But I would like to be able to touch my toes more easily.  Better get to work on that….

Posted in World Changing

That’s My Girl- Cheering on My Sisters in 2017

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written over on my very own blog. I’ve been blogging twice a month for the Mother Manifesto blog and helping to manage their FB Community, workin’ my Noonday business, and trying to keep my kids alive and my house in a condition in which one can walk in a straight line safely and cook a meal without contracting food poisoning. Plus also HOLIDAYS.

But I wanted to hop on over here for New Year’s Post to talk about something that is heavy on my heart right now- heavy in a GOOD, GOOD way. I feel a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL burden as the new year emerges, and it all centers around one thing: My. Girls.

It’s been awhile since I’ve added any mood music to a blog post, but I think this calls for one:

Y’all, God has blessed with some amazing women in my life. I’ve got ‘em comin’ at me from truly every aspect of my life:  my family (my mother and aunt are the kind of women that make the devil say, “Oh snap! She’s awake!” each and every morning), my friends from childhood and college, my Sister Moms, my Noonday Ambassador Sisters, my Church Girls- I’m not even lying when I say that my world is a smorgasbord of Female Ass-Kicking Talent (and they all either cuss a little or love me even though I do, so I feel like I can safely say that without shocking any of them).

My beautiful and exciting burden in the new year is to cheer. them. on. Because you guys, they are doing the Lord’s work, each and every one of them, whether they know it or not.

The Bible tells us that we were all created in the image of God and my relationship with God has made that feel so very really real for me. There are things about me that I know I couldn’t have mustered myself and when I see His reflection in others, it is BLINDINGLY beautiful in ways that nothing else is. It’s a real, REAL thing.

The problem is that we live in a culture that seems to be more focused on what it wants from women rather than on what God wants to show forth through them. The World has taken Glorious Image-Bearers of Our Almighty Creator and attempted to condense us in to easy-to-digest, bite-sized morsels of easily consumable “femininity,” a product whittled away to the sum of our uses.  It is so easy for us to get so distracted by pursuing what The World seems to want from us that we lose touch with the still small voice that is whispering to us of who we really are.

When women bravely step into and run after the call they feel on their hearts, it deals a powerful blow to the current order in this world- and to the enemy of our souls. When a woman steps into her purpose, first of all, she is giving one of the greatest gifts imaginable to everyone in her life and in the world at large. God created us each of us unique and different, with gifts and talents that only we have- and He did this ON! PURPOSE! The Eternal I Am knows exactly what His creation needed, needs, and will need and He put gifts in each of us to fill those needs as only we can.  When we pursue the fulfillment of that, we are building His kingdom and everything that is and and is to come benefits from that.

Second of all, when a woman bravely steps up and steps out, she is basically taking a metaphorical sledgehammer and dealing out a crushing blow that leaves a CRACK in the walls that have been built around women.  Because not only is she doing it, OTHERS ARE SEEING HER DO IT.   Her family is watching her, her friends are watching her, other women, men, CHILDREN- everyone is watching and y’all, that changes the status quo. When any woman looks at the things that are holding her back and holding her down and says ENOUGH, she is creating space for other women to do the same.

So in 2017, I’ll be spending the year cheering my little arss off for the women in my life as they do the brave and hard things

And my Sisters, let us be very clear that what constitutes the brave and hard and important and necessary things that need doing in your lives will differ from woman to woman, from girl to girl. Just as we and our lives are distinctly different from one another, so are the things that need doing in order to fulfill who God created us to be.

One person may feel called to start her own business or pursue a career she’s always felt called to and another to leave her job to stay home with her kids.

One may decide to fight for her marriage and one may decide she’s fought long enough and it’s time to break free.

One may be bravely pursuing the dream of motherhood amid obstacles she never even imagined and yet another might be struggling to create an identity for herself distinct from her children.

One may be fighting slavery, poverty, trafficking and injustice all across the globe while another is focused on changing hearts and minds in her own family and circles.

One may need to leave behind toxic relationships and another might bravely pursue friendship and connection in the face of crippling social anxiety.

One may decide that this is the year she finally sheds pounds and changes habits to get healthier while another decides to finally stop striving and love her body just as it is (although, we should ALL love our bodies, whether we are called to change them or not).

There may be a woman out there deciding that 2020 is the year that she will be elected the first woman President of the United States while another may be deciding that this week she will leave her house and walk to her mailbox despite fears that seem larger than life- and both of those women are doing brave and hard things that are shifting the atmosphere and making room for ALL of us to live into everything we were created to be.

And y’all- each of those women need their sisters cheering for them because they’re not just doing for themselves, they are doing it for all of us.

So please excuse me if I embarrass the heck out of you by being basically being the Sister Mom version of THAT MOM in the stands at the basketball game who’s all, “THAT’S MY BABY! YOU MAKE THAT BASKET, SWEETHEART!” That’s basically gonna be me shouting, “THAT’S MY GIRL! YOU GET IT, SISTER!!!! I KNOW HER!  SHE’S MY GIRL!!!!”

Run, Sister. I’m cheering you on. Will you do the same for me? Let’s do this.

#thatsmygirl