We drove to the beach yesterday and here is what I want to tell you about it.
You know what’s more fun than merging onto the beltline in the rain on a Monday morning?
Everything. Everything is more fun than that.
But there was this wonderful, glorious moment: Just as the caffeine hit my veins, the traffic cleared, and the rain let up – I saw a sign for the beach. It all converged into this one hopeful moment, and then AS IF ON CUE Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” came on the radio and I went from this…
I did not become an adorable Korean man. It’s a metaphor.
In related news, season 4 of The Walking Dead comes to Netflix on September 28. I will most certainly resume my live-texting (because I don’t want to annoy you with Twitter) of my Walking Dead thoughts to my friend Cindy, like a less public and less profane (mostly) Muggle Hustle. My phone will auto-correct CARL to all caps because I’m always mad at him for being an idiot, and DARYL to all caps because I’m always in love with him for being precious.
Back to the beach.
This place is the best. It’s 100% lovely and kid friendly, and to be both of those things at once is no small feat.
There is a little tiny room with windows on three sides, flooded with light, and puffy love-seat – the perfect morning nook. Its a coffee nook, silence nook, book nook, or prayer nook. It’s an all-of-the-above nook.
The art on the walls is by a little boy named Henry. I walked in and saw my son’s name written shakily in watercolor, framed and matted and I thought, “This is the place for us. Thank you, thank you.”
Guys. THERE IS A TRAIN TABLE. It’s like a Barnes & Noble kids section up in here. Glory.
There is no kitchy beach decor. Only white walls, natural light, giant floor pillows, starfish perched on the windowsills, big, bulbed lights strung over the porch, and a yard full of palms. I want to stay forever.
I took the kids to the ocean yesterday evening, even though the sky was threatening rain, because the beach is home base. Vacation doesn’t feel real until you see it. We needed to touch base.
My kids ran headlong into the waves, fully clothed, and they squealed and screeched and laughed and splashed and rolled around. Unbridled joy. Sam stood knee-deep in surf, balled up his little fists and shouted, “Come on, waves! ” as he punched the air with his twiggy little arms. A three-year-old version of “Come at me, bro.”
They woke up at 6:30 am because their circadian rhythms suck, but I made coffee and didn’t yell, so, victory.
I am speaking at a parent’s retreat weekend this month, and I wanted to share this little excerpt of one of my sessions, because I think some of you might need to hear it.
I remember my first Superbowl party after Madeline was born; she was one month old and we had some friends over to watch the game.
I remember one particular moment. I looked around the room, saw only myself, my husband, and our friends (all of whom were also in their early twenties), and I panicked. I thought, “Where are all the grown ups? They’ve left us with a baby!”
Next I realized that, even if there were “grown ups,” they would still defer to me, because I was mom.
In that moment I felt flush with fear and deeply okay at the exact same time.
I was afraid because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Was she going to cry? Was she going to get hurt? Was she going to sleep? Or refuse sleep? Was she going to gag on her own spit or choke on her own tongue? Were we going to have to go to the hospital and pretend like we were parents who knew what the heck we were doing? I was afraid because I didn’t know what was coming, and I knew that whatever it was – I was going to have to walk through it. It was on me. It was like standing in front of a closed door, knowing that when you turn the handle, whatever is back there, it’s yours to deal with. That’s scary.
The unknown is some scary business.
But I also felt okay. I felt okay because I knew that there was nothing I would need that I didn’t already possess.
If she needed to eat, I had milk. If she needed to sleep, I had mom-arms. If she needed comfort, I had my own breath and skin and heartbeat, which were home to her. If I needed help, I had my husband and my friends. If I needed answers, I had Google. If I needed a miracle, I had prayer.
I had fear because I didn’t know what was coming. But I also had courage – because no matter what the unknown turned out to be, I had everything I needed inside of me already.
I have since learned that this is all of parenting. It is, in fact, all of life.
I want to be very clear that this isn’t a message of self-sufficiency. This is a message of God-sufficiency. It’s the same reason I can say, “I’m enough! You’re enough,” even though we’re not enough at all. We are enough for God to love and save and redeem and use, though. Our not-enough is enough. His acceptance makes us enough. His work on our behalf is enough.
Similarly, we have everything we need because we have Him.
And if you don’t yet believe – if you don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus – you have everything you need in order to begin one. He requires nothing, only everything. Just you. You as you are, no more, no less.
You are not enough, but that’s enough.
You have nothing, but you have everything you need.
God’s love is big enough to fill the difference.
He created everything out of nothing. In the same way, He makes your nothing everything you need.
Christians are like seeds. We have everything we need for our perfect sanctification inside of us already, it just hasn’t matured yet. But it’s in there. It’s in there because Christ is in there. It’s in you.
(source: There is an oak tree in there! A GIANT, STRONG, TOWERING OAK. That seed contains every single thing it needs. The oak is insideof that seed! It just needs time and the proper circumstance – like you )
So it is with parenting as it is with all of life.
We are scared all the time because we don’t know what’s going to happen, ever. But we can also have this blessed assurance: No matter what happens, I have everything I need inside of me already.
This is the human experience. We have fear and courage, nothing and everything.
It is enough, and it is good.
I had an existential moment in the parking lot of Char-Grill this afternoon and I need to tell you about it.
Existential may be a stretch. But it was definitely a moment.
I left the house feeling very fly today, as I usually do. Not leave the house – I usually don’t do that. But I have high self-esteem that defies things like logic and reality, so when I do leave the house, I feel confident doing it.
I later noticed, courtesy of a store’s window front, that my outfit was not doing all the nice things for me that I thought it was doing. My shirt was puckering and sagging weirdly and it was making me look as svelte as a snowman. This happens all the time. Reality’s a drag.
It was too late to do anything about it – I was out for the day – and I needed to grab lunch and get back to work. What I wanted was 2 hot dogs with ketchup from Char-Grill.
But then I thought, “I can’t go in there and order TWO HOT DOGS looking like this.”
I spent fifteen minutes sitting in my car, racking my brain for:
-A place with healthy food that was close enough.
-A place with healthy food I could afford.
-A drive-thru where I could order food without having to get out of the car and show people my midsection.
I came up blank, so I was forced to re-evaluate the precepts upon which I was operating.
I need lunch. (True.)
I want two hot dogs from Char-Grill. (True.)
My clothes are being dumb. (True.)
I cannot get two hot dogs from Char-Grill because people will see my frumpy self and think things like “Maybe she wouldn’t look so frumpy if she didn’t eat TWO HOT DOGS for lunch.” (FALSE. Sound the alarms! **this is faulty reasoning**)
I realized that I did not feel guilty about wanting two hot dogs. I didn’t think that two hot dogs would break my diet. I know that two hot dogs are not indicative of my eating or my health habits. I felt very comfortable eating two hot dogs for lunch. I owned that desire (and the action) without a trace of shame. If I’d hesitated for health or financial reasons, I would have chosen differently, but that wasn’t the case.
The reason I didn’t want to eat two hot dogs is because I didn’t want people to SEE ME eating two hot dogs.
IS THAT NOT THE DUMBEST THING YOU’VE EVER HEARD?
Because who cares?
In my book I wrote a whole chapter about how it’s fine to care what people think about you – good, even – but you have to know whose opinions to listen to and when, because all opinions on all matters are not equal. Exhibit A: Strangers in Char-Grill making passing judgments (which they will forget in 10 seconds) about my health because I ordered 2 hot dogs for lunch DOES NOT MATTER EVEN A LITTLE BIT. Not even a smidge. Zero significance. It does not deserve fifteen minutes of deliberation and body shame that I will never get back. Oh my gosh, Kate, just eat the blame hot dogs.
So that’s what I did.
I marched myself into Char-Grill and I ordered two hot dogs with ketchup. And when the dude called out my order into the microphone, “TWO HOT DOGS WITH KETCHUP AND A LEMONADE,” I stepped forward and said, “YEAH, THOSE ARE MINE.”
And I walked to my car and enjoyed every delicious bite.
1. I plan on wearing my white skinnies after Labor Day and I don’t really care whether or not it’s kosher, because it’s still one million degrees here and I do as I please.
2. This won’t be a social media free weekend, it will just be a social media LESS weekend. I’ll still post my #29nicethings updates, and probably a #sundayconfession. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you should just know that that’s where a lot of the action goes down.
3. The giveaway for the mason jar tumblers is open until 8:00 tonight. You should enter here or here.
4. This weekend/week/ish I am working on the sessions that I’m leading for a parents respite/retreat shebang in Georgia next month. I’m so excited about it. I get to share a part of my story that I’ve never spoken about publicly before, and I get to work through the acronym B.R.A.V.E., which stands for “Beautiful, Real, Amazing, Valuable, Enough.” In case you are having trouble reading between the lines: I get to talk about beauty. Not female beauty, or all shapes and sizes beauty, but all-over-the-world-beauty – in creation, in love, in forgiveness, in bravery, in gratitude, and in the faces of children-beauty.
And I get to talk about REAL. Mercy. I can’t even.
And enough. And bravery.
It’s going to be good.
Happy Labor Day weekend, and happy Friday, folks!
Love to you,
When I leave a peach on my counter for too long, it gets all soft and smushy. It leaks a little.
When I leave a clementine on my counter for too long, it shrivels up until it’s as hard and dimpled as a golf ball.
When fruits age, they either get really hard or really soft.
I think the same is true of people.
When I was in high school, I learned that one of my best friends’ parents were getting a divorce. When I heard the news,I hit my bedroom floor with my knees and I started praying for him. I prayed for a lot of stuff that I can’t remember, but there is one bit that I do. I prayed, “Please let him draw closer to You, not further away. Please use this hurt to help him depend on You, and to find You faithful – instead of causing bitterness.”
I begged “Close, not far. Love, not hate. Soft, not hard.”
Because people who suffer become either very soft or very hard, and I didn’t want my friend to become hard.
The thing is, we all suffer. So we all become (at varying paces) very soft or very hard.
The longer we live, the more hurt we experience. That’s just the truth of it. The longer we live the more joy we experience, too. We’re all in this together! New mercies each morning! There is glorious hope! As Glennon Melton says, “Life is forever tries.” But we don’t get to cut out hurt, I’m sorry to say.
So as we age in this beautiful, glorious, hope-filled, unjust, hellish world, we ripen, like fruit.
I want to age into softness, not hardness. I want to be the peach. I want to be the kind of person that makes other people feel safe and important in my presence. Not for my glory – Lord, no. But because people ARE important, and I want to be the kind of person that reflects that back to them. I want to listen to people so softly, with such tender sincerity, that they feel heard. I want to allow myself to be moved and taught by people. I don’t want to play the devil’s advocate. I want to play Jesus. I want all the things my eyes have seen to make me accept more, not less.
This kind of soft doesn’t mean mousy or wimpy. It just means gentle, able to be affected – okay with leaking a little bit from around the eyes.
Listen, I am so far from this kind of soft. I haven’t ripened enough yet. But I am praying for myself the same thing that I prayed for my friend all those years ago:
I am trying to stop taking advice meant for the other side.
That’s the best way I know how to articulate this human phenomenon I’ve observed: we are all taking advice meant for the other side.
What I mean is, people who are natural fighters read an article about perseverance and “good things come to those who hustle” and they think, “Yes, I should fight more.”
People who are natural fleers (or at least natural pause-ers and analyzers) read about planning, or about learning to say “no,” and they think, “Yes, I should consider this longer.”
Fighters take advice intended to balance natural fleers; fleers take advice intended to balance natural fighters.
We do it in everything.
Married people are taking dating advice and dating people are taking married advice.
This means that married people are punking out on their marriages because they want their spouse to be a “perfect match” and they’re obsessed with their own happiness and fulfillment.
And dating people are ignoring red flags right and left and staying in relationships long past their expiration dates in the name of commitment and “nobody’s perfect.”
Consider our speech:
The speaker-uppers hear John Mayer’s “Say” (or Katy Perry’s “Roar,” depending on your taste) and think, “Yes! I should speak my mind MORE. I should tell MORE truth, louder!”
The suppressors (like me), read a passage about taming the tongue and we just keep bottling things up in the name of being wise or measured.
Collectively, we need to STRIKE THAT; REVERSE IT.
People have a natural bent. Each person’s natural bent is a little bit different, but collectively we all bend towards self-preservation. We use our different coping mechanisms, our different drugs of choice, all towards the same end: comfort.
The speaker-uppers feel heard and important when they speak.
The suppressors feel safe when they suppress.
The happiness-seekers feel hope and the assurance of joy when they pursue pleasure.
The blind-committers feel safe and secure at the avoidance of conflict.
To the louds, loud comes naturally and they bend towards it.
To the quiets, quiet comes naturally and they bend towards it.
None of that’s bad – it just is. The problem is that we are inclined to listen to the advice that supports our bent. We fall down our own rabbit holes. We operate like, if speaking up is good, then speaking up more is better! If quiet is good, then quieter is better! But that logic doesn’t hold water. That’s like saying, if one burger is good, 3 burgers are better. But three burgers will make you barf. And so will a person who speaks everything they see/think/feel at maximum decibels. And so will the anxiety of keeping everything inside.
I could talk all day long about keeping your mouth shut, and thinking before you act, and minding your own business, and taking the time you need to process things. That’s my natural bent. That’s all good advice, but it’s not for me. I need someone to tell me to SPEAK UP. Open your mouth, Kate, and call problems problems. I need someone to kick my energy-preserving INFJ self in the tail and get me to play dates so that my kids can have friends. The advice we live and the advice we give is not the same as the advice we need.
This is one of the gazillion ways that I am working on me. I am trying to stop hoarding advice that supports my natural bent. I am taking deep breaths and choosing to hear the voices that tell me to SPEAK UP, GET UP, PULL THE TRIGGER – not as criticism, and not as foolhardy, but as a precious challenge to my natural bent that will push me towards balance. Towards greater maturity and health.
The advice you live and the advice you give are not the same as the advice you need. In what direction do you naturally bend?
I still feel like a baby, like I am only playing grown up. Do we feel this way forever, like we are always just WINGING IT? Neither here nor there.
To celebrate my foray into the last year of my twenties, I am going to celebrate like I have never celebrated before. I am going to celebrate for an ENTIRE MONTH…
…by doing 29 nice things for other people.
I am celebrating today, too. I’m taking the day off and cashing in my free birthday drink on a Venti frivolous something that will probably involve caramel drizzle. But I also decided that my birthday is an easy opportunity to add some structure (a number, a timeline, and a plan) to a thing that I am trying to do in ever-increasing measure: love other people well.
I can’t expend myself for strangers this way all year, because I am busy expending myself for my family, for my inner circle, and for my do-for-one’s. But I think this will be a special way to serve with my kids on a day that is traditionally all about ME AND MY GLORIOUS ENTRY INTO THE WORLD!
Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing this month.
Bring quarters to the laundromat and pay for people’s laundry.
Buy the coffee for the car behind me.
Babysit for our neighbors.
Bring a meal to a new mom.
Volunteer with Madeline at the women’s shelter
Bring a surprise in for Madeline’s class.
Register for the bone marrow registry.
Collect/return all the carts in a parking lot.
Make cards and artwork with the kids for nursing home residents.
Collect litter along our walking route.
I’ll be documenting #29nicethings on Instagram starting this afternoon! You can follow along here.
Feel free to join! I’d love to see the ways you are loving your community.
Welp, off to the bloodmobile, which is the grossest-sounding thing I’ve written in a while.
I’m really excited about what’s in store around here next week and next month. I’m taking another #socialmediafreeweekend to gear up for it. There is a lot of laughter and writing and heart coming your way.
I ran a contest last month on my Facebook page where people entered the one thing they would add to my list of 10 Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls. I read all of the submissions last weekend and it was the greatest evening I’ve had in a long time. You guys are really, really smart. I was forced against my will to choose my 10 favorites (you can see and vote for your faves here), but I wanted you to experience the wisdom that I got to sit under last Saturday night.
The thing about “10 Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls” is- they’re the same 10 things I’d tell anybody. The application varies, but the principles are the same. The same is true of these reader submissions. Halfway through, you’ll forget you were reading things written to tweens, and take a whole Post-it pad’s worth of notes to self.
Last thing: These were all sent to me without their authors’ names attached so that I could choose objectively. If one of these is yours, let me know in the comments or via the contact form and I’ll add the attribution. You should have credit for your brain-babies!
Enjoy these runners-up! love, Kate
Don’t be fake, because that’s a hard game to keep playing.
I’ve seen girls who try to impress their friends by being in sports they don’t even like or pretending to have read every book in the library while they’re secretly just reading summaries online. Trying to impress their friends in these ways are harmful and tiring. Let people love the authentic you.
You don’t need to know the (your) whole story to do the next right thing.
Sometimes we want to know how things will turn out. Where should I go to college? Who should I marry? What career should I pursue? But those things come. You don’t NEED all the answers when you graduate high school. You need to know and do only the next right thing. The practice of doing the next right thing in little decisions makes the big ones more obvious, and it’s easier then to choose the right thing in the big decisions. So when you can’t see “around the bend” just do the next right thing.
Fairy tales are overrated!
Love shouldn’t magically happen. Love that you choose, and that chooses you back is sweeter and more beautiful than you can imagine. Love that you fight for will fill you up, full. This goes for friends and men.
The college guy you’re dating isn’t as awesome as you think he is.
If you’re a junior in high school, you wouldn’t be caught dead holding hands with the 8th grader down the street. Sure, the 8th grade boy is probably getting high fives all over the place, but your friends are considering an intervention. If there’s a cute, 5th year college senior sending you flirty texts, RUN. There’s a reason he isn’t dating girls his age and IT’S BECAUSE HE’S NOT AWESOME.
Find your thing and do your thing with all of your guts.
Having a hobby, a sport, an interest that captures your heart will form your identity and put you in a circle of like-hearted cool kats, and that, my friends, is a saving grace.
Find a way to laugh every day.
Laughing instantly changes your mood and lifts the mood of those around you. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you do, you just might miss an opportunity to be uniquely you and help others find their way.
Interact with people, not things.
Don’t take life for granted. The people you wished you had spent more time with can get taken from your life. Make memories with your friends and family while you can. Technology may seen like the best thing that has ever happened right now, but the things you will cherish the most are the times spent with people you love. You won’t remember all the selfies you take, but you will remember the happiness (and sadness) you shared with the people you care about.
Pretending to be someone you are not just to make a new friend is not worth it. You’ll attract the wrong type of friends AND exhaust yourself in the process because being someone you aren’t is a full time job.
Too many teenage girls so desperately want to belong that they will do anything to fit in, often with the wrong group. It is simply much easier to be yourself, stay true to yourself, and let common friends find their way to you. As a middle school teacher, I see this every day – a young girl exhausting herself trying to be someone she is not. It kills her energy and her spirit.
Don’t allow others’ expectations to define your risks; not foolish, life- and reputation-ruining risks, but risks that might go against your established ‘identity’. You’re the ‘smart/perfectionist/leader girl’? Don’t be afraid to do something you might not be good at. You’re the ‘girly girl’? Don’t be afraid to try out for a sport you love. Don’t let fear of other’s expectations of your identity inhibit your personal growth. Set yourself free! Your teenage years are awesome years of freedom where you can try new things and discover areas you might never have known you were gifted in or truly enjoy.
Work hard in EVERYTHING you do.
Your work ethic is being created now–if you learn to work hard now you will continue to work hard in everything you do. Also, how hard you work now will determine where you end up in your life.
Never compare what stage of life you’re in with where someone else is or where society says you should be. Every person’s journey is distinctly different and beautiful.
We often have a preconceived idea of when and how we should experience different stages in life. “I must graduate college at this age and have my career rolling at that age. I should be married by this age, and having children by that age.” But our stories are all different. Jesus obliterated any need for comparison. The Great Shepherd is leading and guiding us, and He knows exactly where we need to be and when.
Don’t treat your parents badly, because when you get older they will be your closest friends.
I think that so many girls push their parents away instead of embracing one of the closest relationships they will ever have. Parents care the most about what happens in their child’s life and will be there no matter what happens. They also have a ton of wisdom.
You can be remembered as the girl who got all the guys, the one who made straight A’s, the girl who threw the biggest parties, the “Christian” girl, the “mean” girl, the “jock” girl, etc., etc., OR you can be remembered as the girl who was KIND. Our teenage years can be all about self-discovery, self-fulfillment, self-esteem. SELF. How about making it about someone else, every now and then? Say hello to someone you’ve never talked to, before. Help a friend study for finals. Volunteer at a local church or charity. Pay someone a compliment. Make a donation. Thank a teacher. Thank a pastor. Thank a parent. AND REALLY MEAN IT. Spend a little time, each day, being nice. Just because. Practice kindness early. Make it a habit. Let it change you. Then, see how it will change the world.
Now go read the captions/descriptions (here) for the 9 quotes in the photo and the one I couldn’t fit in there (from Mary Kistler which says, “If you believe in fairy tales, learning to spin gold from straw provides a more certain future than hoping every guys is a prince charming). Their explanations are so good!
What she means, obviously, is that when theology is expressed poetically and set to music, something magical happens. As you roll that lyric over and over in your mind and on your tongue, your inner truth cat sits up and you get all swirly and emotional because it is at once SO TRUE and SO BEAUTIFUL. That lyric sums up decades’ worth of thoughts and experiences. It communicates your deepest truth so succinctly that you can only describe it as perfect. You think, “THIS. This is what I believe.”
I think that children’s literature is my theology.
I cried reading a Pete the Cat book last week.
I don’t mean that I “was touched” or I “welled up.” I mean that I had to stop reading, and shed actual tears, and my children became very concerned about me.
I’ve also cried reading the following:
- Little Blue Truck - Just Plain Fancy - The Empty Pot - Horton Hears a Who - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (OH MY GOSH, C.S. LEWIS, JUST KILL ME DEAD.)
- And every blame time I read The Jesus Storybook Bible
I can’t even handle children’s literature. My inner truth cat goes into a catnip-paper-bag-frenzied-joy-romp. I cry at least 50% of the time.
I like children’s literature because it’s simple.
You don’t have to impress children; they are filled with natural wonder.
You don’t have to persuade children; they are filled with innocent trust.
Children’s literature doesn’t contain logical fallacies or one million prepositional phrases or an excess of adjectives. Children’s literature just drops truth bombs in perfect, poetic ways and lets the truth stand on its own two feet.
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I believe that. I believe that little hearts and young minds can understand deep truths. Understand all of it? Of course not. Do any of us? But I believe that the biggest, most important truths aren’t that hard to understand; they’re just hard to live.
I am going to work on this kind of truth-telling. Precise and simple. Like poetry, like songs, like children’s literature.
Like Pete the Cat on materialism and contentment and living with open hands:
“I guess it only goes to show, that stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no.”
Yes, children of mine. Stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no.
Yes, HEART OF MINE. Stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no.
Do you have a favorite piece of children’s literature? Please share it! We’ll make a library trip this weekend to pick up some new theology.