It’s Saturday night. The kids are in bed, you’re sitting on the couch in your jammies with a cup of tea or decaf coffee. Or wine. Or straight whiskey on the rocks. Whatever floats your boat.
You’re scrolling through your social media feed and seeing posts showing what everyone else is up to this weekend.
One friend is out with a group of other girls, having drinks. #LoveTheseGirls #GirlsNightOut
Another is in Vegas with her besties from college #MomsWeekendAway #VegasBaby
Someone else is bragging about this crew of women she can always count on #rideordie #squadgoals
Your favorite blogger posted on Insta about a life-affirming coffee date she had with one of her favorite people earlier in the week. #blessed #relationshipsareeverything
Then you see that a group of YOUR FRIENDS have gotten together for a birthday and didn’t include you #HBDJen #Bestiesforlife
And there you sit. Alone. Just you (and maybe Carlo Rossi or Jack Daniels or Earl Grey), looking around the friendscape of your own life and finding it to be pretty bleak.
Nobody called to invite you anywhere this weekend. Or last weekend. Or the weekend before that.
If you had decided to up and go out yourself, you’re not even sure who you would have called.
Maybe you’ve got some anxieties gripping your heart and mind and you’re not sure you could have gotten up the gumption to go or would have had to leave early, even if you had been invited.
You think back to rejections and betrayals in your past, the hurts come rushing back and start to make you think there’s something wrong with you- or maybe there is something wrong with other people. You just can’t trust them.
And you head for bed, turning these things over and over in your mind, wondering why it seems so easy for everyone else and yet it’s so danged hard for you. And your heart is heavy, your soul is weary, and you are lonely.
Been there? Me, too. Girl, I have been there and back again.
And I’m here to share with you something I’ve learned along the way. Come a little closer…let me whisper in your ear…
IT’S. ALL. LIES.
Over at the Project Mother Blog this week, I’m sharing a few reminders for those moments when we scroll through social media and feel like everyone else’s life is soooooo much better than ours. Read more here:
Something that somebody says or does makes us feel pretty lousy about ourselves
Sometimes it’s unintentional, it could be that they unwittingly touched a nerve that triggered our insecurities
And sometimes it is intentional. When the enemy gets in people’s ears, whispering lies that they are “less than,” they may try to soothe the ache by putting us down to make themselves feel like they are better than someone.
But the common theme is the same: In that moment, the image of God in us gets obscured. Someone doesn’t acknowledge the Imago Dei in us, we lose sight of it in ourselves, and our crown feels like it slips a little.
But the thing about God’s truth is that it is ALWAYS true.
NOTHING changes our status as Daughters of the King. Nobody can take it from us, not even ourselves.
Just because someone else doesn’t recognize it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Just because WE don’t recognize it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
THIS is the truth that is waiting for us when we align our hearts with His and see ourselves and others through a Kingdom lens:
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.
1 John 3:1
So when you feel that crown starting to slip, run as fast as you can to your Father the King. Whether it’s coming from someone else or just your own insecurities that are making you feel “less than,” lay it at His feet and let Him flood you with His truth.
You are both created and called by your Father in Heaven, a chosen daughter of the King. Your worth is in Him and He is worth more than everything.
You were crowned by the King of Kings, so NOBODY can take your crown.
My sweet sister who is exhausted, sleep-deprived, and overworked from chasing a toddler, managing preschool tantrums, doing all things for all people.
You’ll never guess what. OK…are you ready for this?
IT! ACTUALLY! DOES! GET! EASIER!
I mean, they told me. They promised me. But I did not believe them because…well, when you’re in the weeds, you think the day will never come. I feel like it’s a coping mechanism of sorts, we don’t dare to think of a day when things will be different because it’s like being on a diet and thinking of a piece of cheesecake. We just have to pretend the cheesecake doesn’t exist to get through it.
But one day, you turn around and something got better. Got easier.
This week, I took my kindergartener to the pool to swim. I watched (as in sat on a bench next to the pool and WATCHED, like an actual adult) him frolic in the shallow end, practicing his swimming skills and splashing and playing with the other kids. Once I actually did get in the pool, he jumped in and swam to me a couple of times. He did not pull down my bathing suit top in a fit of fearful clinginess even once. It was delightful.
After about an hour, we got out and went in to shower and get dressed to go home. As he sat getting himself dressed and I went over to dry our suits and put away our towels, I had a deja vu moment, my mind traveling back to a much different time in that exact place.
Ironically, was two years ago tomorrow that I wrote this in a post here:
“I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids. I’m telling myself that over and over right now because Mister Cameron, who just turned four, had a screaming fit in the locker room of our gym yesterday after swimming because I wouldn’t get him dressed. He had a screaming and crying fit IN! PUBLIC! because I was busy so scrambling to dress myself that I couldn’t do something for him that a couple of months ago he would get furious with me for even attempting to help him with. And what’s even harder for me is that I couldn’t reach him once he got himself going. Nothing I tried worked until I had to give in and dress him myself and then walk him out of the locker room screaming. The older woman walking out ahead of us was so startled by him that she gasped and took the good Lord’s name in vain while looking daggers over her shoulder. In her defense, I don’t think she realized that this was a child whose poor mother was doing the best she could, I think she heard a yell and assumed he was unsupervised- because it’s only logical that a supervised child would not scream like that. Of course, one could argue that he WAS unsupervised because there certainly was nobody present whose authority and direction he was responding to.”
The contrast between that moment and the one I found myself in was staggering- and it happened when I wasn’t even looking. Memories came flooding back of earlier trips to the pool with a barely-walking baby and an uncooperative preschooler, neither of them the least bit independent. How tension would creep into my bones when I knew the time was coming to extract us all from the pool- would there be a meltdown? What would happen in the showers? I would go home exhausted.
But while I wasn’t looking, things got better. The kids have matured, gotten more independent, they have learned the going-to-the-pool drill, and those trips are more of a joy than a chore these days.
It’s easy to lose sight of the things that have gotten better in the wake of the whole slew of NEW problems that inevitably crop up as the kids grow. Now our meltdowns happen in the mornings getting ready for kindergarten. Every. Stinking Day. This season of parenting isn’t necessarily any easier than that one, it’s just challenging and taxing and frustrating in new and different ways.
But we have GOT to stop and recognize the victories, the moments when it has gotten better.
And it will. They always warn you that one day you’ll turn around and your kids will be bigger, and it’s true. But it’s not entirely a bad thing. You’ll also turn around one day and it’ll be easier.
I need that reassurance because there are days (MOST days) when I myself am still in the weeds. My kids are 6 and 3 1/2, it’s still a lot of work. So I guess this is a letter to myself as much as to you.
This too shall pass.
Note: My two babies are both developmentally typical kids with no medical issues or concerns. I know many a mom for whom it either DOESN’T get easier or the progress moves at a snail’s pace due to the unique challenges their kiddos and their families face. So as we count our blessings, let’s also hold in prayer those moms whose workloads and worry-loads don’t lessen at the same rate that ours do and be ready to show up to support them in any way we can. Because it’s what we do.
Easter has come and gone. This is the week after Easter and we are rejoicing in all the of the joy and promise and hope that the resurrection brings.
But last weekend…those hours between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday…
Every year, I find myself thinking about what those days and hours must have been like for Jesus’s people as they walked that journey with him. His friends, the 12 Disciples, his followers, his family, HIS MOTHER (oh, sweet Mary)…what must that have been like?
For us, we know that what they were experiencing was just a wait. It was “the meantime,” it wasn’t the end.
But to them, it probably felt EXACTLY like the end- and not a good one.
They loved Jesus deeply and believed in him with all of their hearts. It was no small thing for them to have put their lot in with this Renegade Rabbi, he was a bit of a polarizing figure. They had staked EVERYTHING on the belief that he was who he said he was. Many, probably most, perhaps even all of them had in mind their own version of what this King’s victory would look like and hanging to his death on a cross, mocked and scorned, was not it.
This didn’t work out like they had thought. Where did this leave them?
Obviously, two millennia later, we have the answer to that question. Breathtakingly and excruciatingly beautiful, the rest of the story is, for us Christians, the single most sanctifying, perfecting, and hopeful event in all of history.
But the meantime…how many of us have experienced a “meantime” in our lives that actually felt like an end?
The friendship we had spent years cultivating that fractured, leaving a hole in our life and heart. The pregnancy we had spent years praying and trying for that did not end with a baby in our arms. The marriage we had invested our whole heart into that ended in hurt and betrayal. The job we wagered our entire financial security on that dissolved and left us adrift. It feels like an ending. And a BAD one. Not good or holy or what we felt we had been promised as we walked in faith.
But the story of the Resurrection reminds us that God is NEVER done with the story. Those hours after the crucifixion must have felt like the end to those who knew and loved and followed Jesus, but it was most certainly NOT the end.
It was actually the meantime.
The miracle of the Resurrection and the truth of what that Jesus’s people went through in that season gives us a promise to which we can cling FIERCELY in the dark moments that feel like an ending in our life. God’s ending is always victory, even in death.
And it doesn’t mean that we won’t carry scars from our journey. After the resurrection, Jesus’s hands and side carried the wounds of the crucifixion. But the promise we have is that through Jesus, beauty will come from the ashes, the scars will sharpen and shape us into more of who and what He created us to be and whatever “meantime” we walk through will become a part of the beautiful fabric God is weaving in our life.
For us, darkness is the just the meantime. Victory is coming.
Let’s walk through the coming weeks and months with that lens fixed to our eyes and hearts.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
My church died this weekend.
I mean, I know that’s not an actual thing. It’s not scripturally sound nor does it reflect the actual future of our church family. But right now, that’s how it feels.
My husband and I have desperately and deeply loved the small, closely-knit community that has resulted from the faithful work of church planters who we have come to love like family. It’s the only church our babies have ever known and the only church where either of us have ever felt truly at home.
But we were faced with making a transition as a congregation that we were not able to weather and this week, we held our last service.
As I take stock of all of the feelings swirling around in my heart right now, two stand out to me- and they are two feelings that at first glance seem mismatched. Like they don’t go together and are somehow mutually exclusive:
Grief and Hope
As I opened my pastor’s email last week and read the words I had been dreading hearing for weeks, even months, I was hit with exactly the same sense of intense loss I had been expecting. But unexpectedly, I also felt God moving in my heart and filling it with a sense of the sacred, with a certainty of His goodness, the perfection of His ways, and the hopeful promise of His plan. Intermingled with the sorrow, I felt a deep and holy conviction that the work God was doing through this sad, sad thing that none of us ever would have chosen was important and good. And so hope was born into my heart at the same time that grief was.
It felt so strange to me to be holding grief and hope together in tension with one another, fully convinced that each is right and good and a fitting tribute to what I was experiencing. When grief and hope intermingle, our worldly selves can feel wrong or guilty about it. We can feel like the hope does a disservice to the depth of the loss we are experiencing. We can also feel like the deep sorrow, pain, anger, and other feelings that come with grieving are affronts to the blessed hope in which God calls us to trust. Surely we shouldn’t feel hope in such a sad time, and surely our sadness means that our faith isn’t deep enough.
But for Christians, Jesus’s life and death stands as our central example of the myriad ways that the Kingdom of God trumps the ways of the world. The passion and death of Jesus are a perfect example of how deep grief and sacred hope can occupy space together. God’s perfect plan for all of us was unspeakably sad. To walk through it yearly during Holy Week is heartbreaking, I can only imagine what it was like to live it. And yet, that desperately sad event also ushered in the greatest hope of all time. Proof that God can bring beauty from ashes, that even His good ways can be hard, and that grief and hope can exist together in the sacred.
I am writing this during the season of Lent, Holy week is coming in just a few weeks. The events of Holy Weeks will feel real for me this year in a new way. Grief and hope together are even more real for me this year- and in that, hope may start to win out.
I’m sure part of me will never fully stop grieving this loss. At the moment, I’m angry in my grief and a bit snarky with God from time to time. But the rest of the story for our church family has yet to be written- and we really are a family. We will continue to be a family and the blessings of what our pastor, his wife, and their team have built will keep unfolding.
And one of them for me is the total certainty that my grief and hope can coexist, that the feelings in our hearts and the truth of God’s promises are NOT mutually exclusive. It’s a message dripping with the same grace and warmth from the heart of God that characterized our church. Such a fitting tribute to our story, which is still unfolding- even as we turn the page.
This is not a drill. It’s almost time for THE OLYMPICS!!!!!!
Let’s take a moment to prepare our hearts, with the help of your friend and mine, Mr. John Williams:
I absolutely love the Olympics and I’m not even the teensiest bit ashamed. I love the events, I love the pageantry, I love the human interest stories, the sportsmanship, the culture, the national pride, and the way the world (and our divided country) all comes together for two weeks. It is absolutely my jam. And for the winter Olympics, I love that I get to see snow. I love watching the ski racers careening down the slopes amid falling flakes. I was seriously disappointed by the balmy temps in Sochi four years ago, I pouted.
In our house, as you know, we #watchallthesports. It is what we do. And when it comes to the Olympics, we do not discriminate. We are not the “Oh, I’ll watch skiing and maybe some figure skating” people. We watch the curling and the ski jumping and the ice dancing and that crazy thing where they cross country ski and then shoot targets. We also do it in the summer, when there are a lot more events. That’s just more to love for us!
This year, we are super excited to share it with the kids. Cam is almost six and Kendall is three and a half and they are starting to enjoy watching #allthesports with us. Kendall has added an extra element for us because she is super-aware of when it is GIRLS who are playing the sports and doing the things. She was only two and a half when we were watching softball and her eyes got big and she said, “Mom! Is dat a she? Doze are GIRLS wif da bats!” So making sure that we watch the women’s events as well as the men’s is a HUGE priority for us.
I’ve made this handy dandy little checklist to hang on our wall to keep track of all the sports we’ve seen and make sure we don’t miss any. Click here to download the PDF.
They aren’t exhaustive, there are far more divisions of some of those events than I included, but I tried to focus on the ones where my kids could SEE the differences, like the heights of the ski jump hills, the number of people in the bobsleds, and how many gates the skiers are trying to hit as they come down the hills.
Also, when you see N/A in the women’s column, it means that event doesn’t exist for women (four-man bobsled, doubles luge, and ski jumping). When you see it in the men’s column, it means that it’s a mixed team event (ice dancing, pairs figure skating, and the luge relay).
SO LET THE GAMES BEGIN! If you need me in the next two weeks, you’ll know where to find me.
Or at least that’s what my five-year-old tells me.
A “PokéMom,” according to Mister Cameron, is a Mom who plays Pokémon Go with her kids. And that would be me.
Before we started playing, I had heard all sorts of opinions about the game. Some see it as just another excuse for people to walk around staring at their phones. Some people see it as a fun way to get out and about and even to meet other people. I even heard about a friend of a friend who lost 15 lbs because he and his wife go Pokémon hunting every evening.
For us, it has been nothing short of a blessing. I know, weird, right? But, it entered into our lives at exactly the right time and has enriched the past six weeks for us in ways that were really needed.
My rise to PokéMotherhood began when our family spent a weekend in a beach house on the Oregon Coast with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and his family. My cousin, his kids, and even my aunt had been playing Pokémon Go for over a year now and it’s really, like, a thing for them. Cameron and I had visited my aunt and uncle in Colorado earlier that summer and Cam had a chance to spin a few Pokéstops and catch a few Pokémon.
To say that he was intrigued by the whole thing was an understatement. I mean, he’s five and it’s Pokémon. My stance on the issue, however, remained somewhere between responsible parent and first-rate stick-in-the-mud. The idea of introducing yet another screen-based activity that would have an impatient kindergartener clamoring incessantly for my phone sounded only slightly more appealing than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
But, with the weekend at the coast looming and the carrot of increased opportunities for family bonding dangling, I took the plunge and downloaded the app. If you ask Mister Cameron, he would probably declare this my single greatest act of parenting to date, surpassing in grand fashion even the act of giving birth to him in the first place.
Six weeks later, we have already reached Level 23. We got to Level 21 in almost exactly a month.
My original intention was for the game to provide Cam with a way to connect with his cousins. As it turns out, it has given us so much more. What follows are the true confessions of this PokéMom about the great things it has brought to our lives.
Because of Pokémon Go, I have had a chance to reconnect with MY cousin. Tim and I are the only children of a pair of sisters, but with nearly a decade between us in age and nearly 3,000 miles between us in distance, we haven’t exactly been as close as either of us would like. Pokémon Go has us texting almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day. Cam’s and my quick rise through the levels in the game has EVERYTHING to do the fact that we have been very well-coached. Tim is a PhD-educated archaeologist and professor of historical anthropology and he has brought the full weight of his intelligence and well-honed academic approach to bear on the world of Pokémon. I swear, he knows EVERYTHING about all of the “‘mon” and an understanding of the nuances of strategies that ought to land in him in the PokéPentagon, if there were such a thing. Both Tim and I play jointly with our kids and we frequently congratulate each other on what EXCELLENT parents we are to be so devoted to Pokémon Go “for the children.” Our grandparents would be so proud of us…
Because of Pokémon Go, both kids and I have logged more hours at more local parks this late summer and early fall than we ever have before, possibly collectively. The game is designed to encourage people to get out and explore their communities and it DEFINITELY done that for us. There is a diligently curated “nest map,” maintained by users in our area, that shows where different Pokémon can be found “nesting” near us and by using that to guide our Pokémon hunts, we have stumbled onto and spent time at really cool outdoor spaces in our community that we might never have explored. We will hit a new park, look around for Pokémon, and then Cam will inevitably hand me the phone and run off to play on whatever play structure is there or head down the trail system ahead of me to explore. Kenzie is with us some of the time as well, shes like to spin Pokéstops and catch the occasional ‘mon herself (her favorites are “da purple mouse” and “da fire unicorn”).
Because of Pokémon Go, my own fitness journey has been less miserable. I have continued the work on running and walking in the month since Portland to Coast happened (read more about that here) and Pokémon Go has been a nice distraction and guide for my runs and walks. By “walking,” you can earn precious candy to power up or evolve the Pokémon you choose as your buddy and you can hatch eggs as you walk that might contain rare ‘mon, so I open up the app as I log my miles on the road. I will sometimes locate my runs on trails where certain Pokémon we are hoping to catch can be found nesting so it’s helped me switch up my routes. Spinning Pokéstops as I run by and catching the occasional much-needed or less-common ‘mon along the way helps to break up the pounding of the trails and sidewalks.
Because of Pokemon Go, I ended up walking the streets of a historic town in Utah after dark with my favorite paranormal fiction author, which was both completely fun and exhilarating creepy. (Amy Kessler and I were bridesmaids in our friend Ashlee’s wedding and the little town where the wedding was held was filled with gyms and Pokéstops. Her “Here, Witchy Witchy” books are about my favorite thing ever)
Because of Pokémon Go, Mister Cameron is learning about things like reading maps and giving directions (“Mom, at the next street turn right. There’s a yellow gym), about saving up for things that you want and spending resources carefully (buying items with Pokécoins, saving up candy for the evolutions), about the long-term payoffs of resisting instant gratification (waiting to evolve your Pokémon until you have a Lucky Egg going to get double XP and other strategic moves), and about choosing carefully what times we go play and about sharing with his sister.
Because of Pokémon Go, Cam and I have had a hobby to share in a season when we really, REALLY needed it. He started kindergarten about a month ago and we’ve been walking through the adjustment process as a family. Playing Pokémon Go together has given us excuses to get out of the house and get active, and spend time together- not to mention providing a fantastic distraction for me while he’s at school. I’ve been known to hit the parks, with Kenzie and alone, in search of particular ‘mon I know he’s been hoping for. It’s been kind of like a glue that has helped us hold it together in this season.
I have no idea what lies in our Pokéfuture. At press time, we are about 43,000 XP from hitting level 24. We went out today and grinded out about 30,000 XP through Pidgey and Weedle farming and catching a new ‘mon while using a Lucky Egg. The weather is turning cooler and, inevitably for Oregon, rainier so it won’t be as easy for us to get out and about. Maybe we’ll keep going or maybe we will lose interest. We shall see. But it sure has been fun so far and we’ve made some happy memories.
But honestly, I’m not quitting at least until I get a Gyarados. You know, for the children. Because I’m such a good PokéMom…