Thursday, May 24, 2012

Web Wisdom

I'm still soaking up the writerly vibes of the Blue Ridge Mountains Writers Conference. And oh ya'll, it's been awesome!

But we're still focused on motherhood this month, so I wanted to share a couple of my favorite places on the web. 

Places that help me be a better mom.

These aren't websites that will tell you how to make your own laundry detergent (nothing wrong with that - I tried it - I liked it) or how to teach your kids to read before they can walk (please don't get me started) or even how to save money (which I am all in favor of)!

No, these websites help me be a better mom because they help me grow in my faith. I have no greater responsibility than to share my passion for the Lord with my children. But I cannot share what I do not have. The enemy floods the world with things designed to distract me from the wonder of what God has done for me.
These websites remind me.

Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island
If you want to be challenged to be a bolder believer, if you want to be encouraged in your walk, if you want to be equipped to tackle cultural issues from a Biblical perspective, you need to be subscribed to Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island. My dear friend and sister in Christ, Lori Roeleveld, writes with conviction and passion and a heart to encourage believers and reach those who don't share our faith.

I wish I could write about social and doctrinal issues with the clarity and insight she does each week. I pray for a fraction of her boldness and a smidgen of her heart. Someday, I'll be saying "I knew her when" but I'm thrilled to be able to say "I know her now."

There is no better thing we can do for our children that to deepen our relationship with our Savior, and Lori's site is a great place to start.

A Holy Experience
I fully admit to having a writer crush on Ann Voskamp. If you haven't read One Thousand Gifts, then we need to talk. I read a lot, and it's been a long time since a book has had such a continuing impact on my daily life. Her writing is achingly beautiful and her posts leave me longing to know my Savior more, love my children better, and relish every single moment God has gifted me.

Our children live in a dark world. I want our home to be a place of joy and gratitude. A place where we notice what God has blessed us with and take the time to thank Him.

Ann's book and posts help keep that fresh in my mind.
So take a few minutes and check out these websites. Then leave me a comment and tell me some of  your favorites!

Monday, May 21, 2012

When Callings Collide

When this post goes live, I will be at Ridgecrest getting ready for the first full day of classes at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I’m both excited and terrified.

Excited to hang out with writing friends from all over the country. Terrified because my husband and kids will be doing life without me this week. This is the hardest part for me. Desiring to be the best wife and mother I can be—which is my number one calling—while also following God’s call to write for Him.

My dad, sister, mother-in-law, and several friends, are taking time off from work and rearranging their schedules to help with childcare. It puts a lot of pressure on a girl to have people who love her and believe in her so much that they are willing to seriously inconvenience themselves on her behalf.

I don’t like inconveniencing people.

Which is why I’ve meal planned, done laundry, cleaned out cabinets, and generally made myself a basket case, all in an effort to make this week go as smoothly as possible for the ones I’m leaving behind.

But the resistance has been fierce. Anything I touch turns into a disaster.

I am the anti-Midas.

Try to move some furniture? Scratch the floor.
Try to potty train a child? Clean the floors—a lot.
Try to put up a baby gate to protect our tiny mountain climber? You guessed it, fiasco.

I can’t think clearly, I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, and questioning my own sanity. What on earth made me think leaving my kids for five days was a good idea?

It took a dear friend who pointed out that “Satan is on the prowl this week” to wake me up. My enemy has succeeded in distracting me, keeping me so busy that I’m missing the bigger battle.

Because there is most definitely a bigger battle.

I’m not leaving my family, asking people to jump through hoops to make it possible, and working myself into a frenzy to prepare just so I can chill out for five days.

I truly believe that I’m called to write, and that I’m supposed to be at Blue Ridge from May 20-May 24.

I have no idea why.

I don’t know what God has in store for me this week. I don’t know how He plans to use my writing to further His kingdom. I don’t know if I’ll ever see a book with my name on it, or if His plan for my writing will affect people on a different scale.

I do know that whatever He’s doing, Satan has caught a whiff of trouble in the air.

Seems like the enemy has noticed that I climbed out of the boat.


I covet your prayers both for me and my family this week. When mommy has a calling, the family does too. In my case, even extended family and friends have taken this calling and made it their own! I’m so thankful for all the support and love they show me. Please pray that we will keep our eyes focused on the One who said “Come” and not on the circumstances and difficulties in our way.

If you want to follow my Blue Ridge experiences, I’ll be posting to Facebook and Twitter (#BRMCWC) during the week.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review :: Give them Grace - Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Every now and then, the title of a book speaks to me.

Give them Grace - Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus is just such a book. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do this, right?

The back cover copy is equally compelling. “All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good” and is “being good” really the point?”

I read this book as a part of our AM2PM (Affirming and Mentoring Preschool Moms) group at church. I love reading books as a group…it forces me to read critically and to grapple with issues that I might otherwise choose to ignore.

In Part One - Foundations of Grace, mother/daughter team Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson cover the Biblical basis for how we should parent. From the law to grace, from prodigals to pharisees, the discussion is intended to shake up the way you think about parenting, how you define success and where you find your strength to parent in a Biblical way.

In Part Two - Evidences of Grace, the focus becomes practical with chapters that cover specific areas of disobedience and conflict common to all children, reminders of the importance of prayer as we parent, and advice on how to navigate the murky waters of sleepovers, modesty, TV and movie choices, and friendships with children who do not share your child’s beliefs.

The Appendix has several excellent charts with ideas for handling some of the most common childhood issues with Gospel centered grace.

What I liked: The “scripts” in the Appendix are a great way to start thinking about how to use the Gospel in your everyday interactions with your kids. I also appreciated that they acknowledged that each time you talk to your child, you won’t necessarily have time to present the full gospel. But, when there is time, I have a new way of thinking of these teachable moments. The chapter on sleepovers, modesty, and TV viewing was worth the price of the book.

What I didn’t like: The biggest complaint in our group was that some of the explanations were wordy. (I know, I know. I’m one to talk)! But this came up repeatedly, especially in the opening chapters. The biggest point of disagreement with the book came from the way they recommend you speak to your children who have not yet accepted Christ as Savior when you are correcting them. The recommended approach and suggested scripts seemed cold and, frankly, graceless.

What blew me away: Here’s the main reason I would recommend this book. I’m a believer. A Christ-follower. But I’m not sure that my parenting has been gospel based. It’s been morally based. But truly Biblical? I think my parenting has been more focused on getting my kids to behave (which makes me look good) than on getting to the heart issues that will show them their need for a Savior and teach them to rely on God’s grace to do what’s right (which makes God look good)!

What I want, more than anything else, is for my children to know and revel in the lavish love of their Savior. To fear, honor, and hang out with the God of the Universe. To listen for, recognize, and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Give them Grace - Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus has given me some much needed tools to encourage them in that relationship—the most important one of all.


So, have you read Give them Grace? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, May 14, 2012

When You're Tired of Cleaning Up the Mess

Motherhood has surprised me.

I never imagined how much I would love to feel a tiny hand in mine, or how I would thrill when they want me—and only me.

I never realized how each child would bring a whole array of new experiences—new favorites, new skills, new firsts.

I never knew this level of dependence. How much their tiny selves require of me and how I can’t fathom my own life without them.

Of course, I also never knew how much poop could come out of a seven pound baby or how much pee could be sprayed around a bathroom by a three-year-old boy. I never realized how many times a child can watch the same episode of Mickey Mouse without losing interest or that my culinary skills would get such a regular workout—dicing hot dogs.

And I never anticipated that playing house would be so—repetitive.

I used to love to play house. I was the bossy mommy telling everyone what to do. (I was good at it!) But in real life, playing house gets old.

Didn’t I just wash this shirt?
Didn’t I just fold these towels?
Didn’t I just sweep this floor?
Didn’t I just unload/load this dishwasher?

Didn’t I just. . .

Some days, I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to put my feet up and pretend that someone else will take care of the mess. Because honestly, I’m tired of it. It’s not like it really matters. They’re just going to trash the place again. What’s the point?

My thoughts were running along those lines a few weeks ago as I ran my Swiffer Sweeper Vac (love that thing!) over the kitchen floor—again. But then my thoughts jumped to what I had read earlier that day.

I’ve been hanging out with the prophets lately. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea…and while there are some encouraging nuggets (Lamentations 3 anyone!) there is an awful lot of the same, repetitive story...

My people refuse to obey.
They have chased after idols and made a mess of everything.
I’m about to come up in here and clean house.
(Lynn’s paraphrase)

All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that God never gets tired of my mess! I run away. I worship idols of my own making as I search for my significance in the approval of others. I expect the people around me to meet my every need and then lose my temper when they don’t.

I blow it.

Again and again and again.

But when I stand before Him, dripping in failure, He never says, “Why should I forgive you when you’re just going to mess it up again. Probably within the hour.”

Instead, nail-scarred hands reach for me and my Savior says, “I’ve got this. I cleaned up this mess a long time ago.”

And I return to my day, dripping in grace.



Moms aren’t the only ones who need grace to get through the day. Regardless of what you’re facing, how would your world be different if you splashed around in grace instead of wallowed in defeat? Give it a try. There’s more than enough to go around!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One More Time

I usually only post once a month at The Write Conversation, but this month's topic required a two-parter!

So please join me, again, at The Write Conversation where we are talking about the "essential" items every writer should take with them when they head to a writers conference.

(And yes, I do consider my pillow to be essential ... )

Be sure to stop back by on Monday when we will dive back into our month-long theme of motherhood!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Motherhood does not make me special

For the month of May, I’m going to be focusing on motherhood—the joys and challenges unique to this particular calling. But before I do, I want to make one thing clear.

Motherhood does not make me special.

I know. Mother’s Day is in six days. (For the men who read my blog—and I really appreciate that you do—you have six days. Get cracking.) I’m all in favor of taking a day to honor mothers.

But there are a lot of women who are not mothers. Some by choice. Some by circumstance. Some okay with it. Some heartbroken.

I live in the kind of place where the norm is for a girl to go to college, get married, work for at least a few years, and have some babies.

And I said the norm not because that’s what every woman does, but because that seems to be the expectation.

Now, I’m not going to talk about how any woman should be content in her singleness. Or how any woman should be patient as she waits for a child she longs to hold. I wouldn’t go there because if I did, any one in those circumstances could point to me and say, “What do you know about it?”

And they would be right. I met my husband at nineteen. Got married at twenty-three. Had our first child at twenty-eight. Then quit my job as engineer to stay home with her and the little brothers who followed.

What I am going to talk about it this…motherhood does not make me any more special than any other child of God. My role as "mom" does not grant me special access to God or endow me with super-sensitive spiritual hearing. I do not believe that motherhood provides some sort of inside track to closeness to God or that God keeps special “behind the scenes” insights that are for parents only.

God uses whatever circumstance we find ourselves in to reveal Himself to us.

For me, He often uses the triumphs and challenges of motherhood to speak to my heart. But for you, it might be the joys and frustrations in your work environment or the difficulties that your neighbors present on a daily basis. If you're a single woman over the age of 21, it might be the aggravation of dealing with that friend of your mother’s who wants to know when you’re going to “find you a good man to settle down with” or asks “isn’t it about time you had a baby” every time you see her.

(Side rant: So help me, the next time someone says that, I’m going to throw a New Testament at them and ask them if they’ve ever read the part that says it’s better not to marry. I know some singles who are changing the world for the Kingdom and all anyone can do is wonder why they aren’t married. Burns me up. OK. Rant over.)

So…I’m inviting you—single, married, widowed, divorced, lots of kids, no kids, male, or female—to join me this month. My theme may be motherhood, but my desire is not to make you wish you were a mommy, too.

It’s to encourage you to long to know your Savior more.

Join me?


Are you taking the Joy Dare with me? Since November 1, 2011, I've counted over 600 graces...
May 7th - Three gifts about your home...The view from my bedroom window; the soft carpet upstairs; the people I share it with

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Thursday, May 3, 2012