If you find you’re missing posts from me, like this one
or this one
or this one
it’s because Facebook wants you to prove your interest in this blog. Facebook is skeptical and high maintenance, but we love her anyway, like a high school girlfriend. If you want my posts to show up in your newsfeed, here’s what you must do to prove your love to FB:
1. Go to my page (here).
2. Click the little gear-looking doo-hicky in the top right corner, and select “add to interest lists.”
Presto! Now you won’t miss posts like this one.
or this one
Next week I’ll start posting opinion/polling/research questions for the books. I would love all of your input, so come be a part!
Thanks for connecting with me, I love you so!
I fight tooth and nail to show my children grace. Grace is greater than fear, grace endears their hearts to me. Grace shows them Jesus, and the gospel. This was a timely reminder in my fight to be a gracious, Christ-like mother. “Childish vs. Sinful”
I loved this because I was not a baby-person. I was the “Do you want to hold my baby?” “NOPE!” And now, with a soon-to-be-kindergartener, I still don’t want to babysit children over the age of 1. Ironically, as a parent, I’ve felt quite a bit of hurt and coldness from people just like me – people who don’t much like other people’s kids. A great article in light of our increasingly child-intolerant society. “Other Peoples Kids”
This was all over last week, and it’s a good word on how social media takes popularity and the comparison game to the next level. Our sweet teenagers and their hearts – what a world they live in. “A Word about Instagram”
I share this because I just had a baby, and it is so, so legit. I know breastfeeding is great for baby and whatever, but I do it because 1: it’s free and 2: it burns 500 calories a day. This lady knows whats up. ”10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons To Breastfeed”
On Faith & Culture:
This article is so precious to me. I fall somewhere in the middle ground, never having had many of these thoughts (or experiences) personally, but the pressures are real, and several of her objections could have come straight out of my own brain. I’m so thankful to Mary for sharing this perspective. “I’m Sick of Hearing About Your Smokin’ Hot Wife”
This resonated with me because it told my story. I am pro-life in an impassioned, unashamed way – except for that I’m reluctant to associate with the movement in any way, and I only discuss it in face-to-face conversations with friends. Here’s why. ”Does The Pro-Life Movement Need A New Strategy?”
This sparked my interest because LU is my alma matter. It is a beautiful read and an accurate representation of my experience there. (It echoes the heart of The Unlikely Disciple, which is an account of a student at (the very liberal, Ivy league) Brown University going “undercover” for a semester at Jerry Falwell’s “Bible Bootcamp.” Talk about a social experiment. I can’t recommend it highly enough.) “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University”
This week-long “Writers Boot Camp” from Margaret Feinberg was just fantastic. It encouraged and inspired me, but mostly, it put me in my place. It buckled me down and forced pen to paper. Her experience and advice is valuable. Day One starts here: “Writers Boot Camp Week: Why I Hate Talking About Writing.”
And if there is any chance you haven’t seen this (which would mean you haven’t been on the internet in a week), you must. A social experiment: “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think”
And this, from Francis Chan. So simple it hurts.
Me Other Places:
I answered a few questions about writing and my road to publishing last week on my friend, Christine’s, “Everyday Author” series. There are three posts that start here: “Everyday Authors: Meet Kate”
My friend, Amanda, wrote a post about what to write in a sympathy card, and I weighed in on what was and wasn’t helpful for me during a time of sadness. ”What To Write In a Sympathy Card”
My friend, Aliesha, is doing a fanstastic series on hospitality. I LOVE entertaining, having a home full of people, drop-ins (when I’m wearing a bra), and feeding people. Unfortunately I hate cooking. In this quick post Aliesha shares ways to practice hospitality without serving meals.In it she shares one of my go-to recipes from my “Woman vs. Kitchen” series. ”Showing Hospitality When You Hate to Cook”
I’m taking a less traditional approach. I’m leading with,
“Can you say, ‘Mommy is beautiful?’ Mommy is BEA-U-TI-FUL.”
Because, first of all, why not? Am I right?
But beyond the obvious perks of this being my son’s first sentence, there is some very intentional brainwashing training going on over here – some world-view-shaping, if you will.
I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I am aware that when my kids are teenagers, their culture (by “culture” I mean the voices in their media, music, friends, and hormones) will undermine me, the parent, at every turn.
I know this because it was true for my parents’ generation, for my generation, and it will continue to be true when my babies turn 12 (even though this is never going to happen because they are going to start heeding my instruction and stop growing). I will be the most embarrassing breed of parent: the stay-at-home mom. And this is my determination: I will not add fuel to that fire by planting “Mommy is a mess” seeds in their heads at this tender age. How unfortunate that insecurity prompts so many mothers to shoot themselves in the feet in this way!
Not I. I will see to it that my children grow up hearing that their mom is a smart, capable, skillful woman.
I will never forget the day that I sat across from a fellow mom as we waited to pick our kids up from school. At the time, Madeline was my only child, and I was vain and stupid. I thought that I was hot stuff because I was wearing real, daytime clothes and makeup, unlike so many of the other stay-at-home moms in the pick-up line. As I chatted with this mom, I discovered she had 3 kids, all under the age of 4. During the course of our conversation, she said off-handedly,
“I could do one child blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back.”
I remember sitting in awe of her. I had one kid, and on most days I felt like it would kill me. I thought, “I could never do what you do.” And I was right; at the time, I couldn’t have. Why? Because she was a pro and I was a novice. Because she had skills – time management, people-management, and manual skills – that I hadn’t yet acquired.
There is physical skill involved in all-day, every-day parenting. There is muscle memory. Strategy. Method. Rhythm.
Now that I have three of my own, I get it. One kid is hard, it is. (See here.) But now I can say that I could handle one kid blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. Because I’ve logged 48,212 hours of this stay-at-home mom gig; I’m a professional.
THIS is why I’m changing the dialogue around here. Because my yoga pants are not indicative of “letting myself go;” they are my uniform. Perhaps I’m a weird mix of idealist and feminist that, funnily enough, operates within the conventional female gender role – but it’s important to me that my kids see my yoga pants as a sign of expertise, which is quite the opposite of letting oneself go. I want them to know that just as my role isn’t lesser than a business woman’s (or a business man’s), neither are my skills. Neither is my beauty.
I am not a mess. I am a professional mom – a beautiful one.
The words we label ourselves with matter; they stick. I do my best to frame myself (with attitude and words) as a skillful woman that deserves admiration for the food particles on her clothing, not consternation.
When Madeline asks me why I’m “not in my daytime clothes yet,” I do not say (under my breath or any other way), “Mommy is tired,” “Mommy is busy,” “Mommy is a hot mess,” or “Mommy has let herself go.” I say, “Because I am a great Mommy, and sometimes I work so hard that I don’t have time to change clothes.”
If she asks how I know what worms eat, or how to sing that lullaby in French, or how I know what she was about to say even before she said it, I say, “I am very smart. Mommy went to school for a long time and Mommy is a very smart lady.”
If, as we stand in front of the mirror, she asks why I have stretch marks on my belly, I tell her, “Because Mommy’s body grew THREE WHOLE BABIES in there. It was hard work for my body, my skin GREW (whoa!), but I did it. Pretty cool, huh?” And you know what? It is.
I am not a perfect mother; there are a lot of things that I don’t do, can’t do, or try to do and fail impressively. But I am a darn good mother, a professional mother. So in this house, Mommy isn’t tired, haggard, old, frumpy, frazzled, out-of-touch, or a mess. In this house, Mommy is beautiful.
Truth be told, I felt like I wasn’t quite hipster enough for it, like Instagram would judge me for loving my trouser jeans as much as my skinnies. I mean, I JUST got an iPhone a few months ago. The first version…that came out in 2007…it was 99¢.
Add to my preexisting insecurities the “Instagram purists.” You know them, the people who snub users that photograph three subjects and three subjects only:
1. Their food.
2. The weather.
3. Their kids.
I’m a stay-at-home mom who sits on her butt and writes in her spare time; what the heck else am I supposed to photograph?
But in recent months I’ve made peace with Instagram. Moreover, I love it. I don’t love Instagram because of what I can create, or even share.
I love it because of what I can preserve.
I don’t make art with my Instagram account, or create images that go viral. But yesterday, I took this picture of Sam.
We were sitting in the car pool lane, waiting to collect Madeline from school, and when I said,
“Hey Sammer, are you ready to get Madeline?”
(still a man of very few words), he responded,
This picture, were it not for Instagram, would not exist. I now have, not a Christmas picture, vacation picture, or even a Sunday morning picture, but a “sitting in the car seat on a Monday” picture that captures just how happy he is when we pick up his big sister, his best buddy, his play mate.
My Instagram photos aren’t all framers, but they are framer-in-my-hearters. They are a collection of the small moments that tend to fall through the cracks of time. In 10 years I will remember the car pool line, or at least remember having done it, but now I have this snapshot – the color of his car seat, his face, his cheeks. It wasn’t a camera-worthy moment, but it was a phone-camera-worthy moment, and I preserved it.
Just like I preserved Madeline and her princess tunnel. Sam and the shadow puppets. Madeline’s 5-year-old heartbreak. Henry, my bed buddy.
I’m crafting a nest of these tiny, would-be overlooked moments. A place to snuggle up – to be comforted and warmed when my babies are grown and I can’t remember this season perfectly enough (though I know it will never feel perfectly enough, I love it so). I try never to sacrifice a moment for a picture, but I believe that Instagram is an excellent supplement to my fallible memory. I recall the emotion, the smells, the love; Instagram recalls the lighting, the dimples.
And that’s how I made peace with Instagram, or rather, why I did. Because regardless of hipness, these precious faces, these moments, are worth preserving.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” [Psalm 16:6]
Some of the best gifts in life are the gifts you didn’t think to ask for.
The thing about Henry is, I didn’t plan him. I wanted a third child, definitely, but I didn’t want to find out I was pregnant on the day we told our church/town/family that we were moving states. Or the month I accepted a 3-book offer from a publisher. Or before Sam’s first birthday.
But the thing is, if I’d gotten pregnant a year from now, there is no guarantee that our chromosomes would have matched up in exactly the right way to bring me Henry. I would have had another child, but he wouldn’t have been Henry.
Henry was chosen for me; he is my grace-gift.
And now, I can’t believe I didn’t think to ask for him. He is my favorite thing. Holding him on my chest and nuzzling his baby hair while he snores is my favorite thing. Why did I not think to ask for this? To beg for this? If I had been in my right mind, I would have begged.
What I’ve found is that this grace-gift sucks every opportunity to whine right out from under me. Because no matter how many children are crying all at the same time, I can never say, “Why did we think we could handle this!?!?” Because we didn’t. God did.
In my most blind, frustrated moments I stillcannot say “We made a mistake with this three kids thing!” Because we didn’t. This was not shortsighted planning; this was in spite of our planning. This was an “I know better than you do,” straight-from-God gift. There is no room left for frustration – only gratitude. Because what if we had not been given this gift?
Some might say “I can’t imagine my life without him,” but that’s not true for me. I canimagine my life without Henry, and it makes me sick with anger. It turns me inside out with ache and longing and loss. That life would have less love in it, and how could anyone ever go back to less love once she’s tasted it?
Henry is the good thing that I did not deserve. He is the good I did not foresee, the good I did not think to ask for, but was given because God has lavished sweetness on me. Lavished.
We’re going on a Lion Hunt! (We’re going on a lion hunt!) We’re not scared! (We’re not scared!) Look what’s up ahead! Tall grass! Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Gotta go through it.
Swish, swish, swish.
“Going on a Lion Hunt” is still a favorite story of mine; it’s rhythmic and suspenseful and fun. But now, as an adult, it is also my mantra: what I whisper to myself when I feel the tendrils of despair start to curl around my heart.
All of my favorite people have been through some stuff – terrible, awful, heartbreaking stuff. I’m proved right every time I meet a new person whom I instantly like; the more I get to know them, the more I learn about the stuffthey’ve been through: chronic illnesses, serious depression, betrayals, affairs, ugly divorces, deaths of children, addiction, cancer.
I like them, I’ve learned, because those terrible circumstances create something beautiful inside of us. Something precious is forged in our hearts as we walk through the difficult, painful places. The gauntlet strips off pretension, pride, insincerity, piousness, and anything false. Underneath we find gentleness, humility, wisdom, compassion, bravery, and indomitable strength. Refined by fire, the Bible calls it, burning off the dross, leaving the gold.
There are no shortcuts to that beautiful, beautiful countenance. You have to go through some stuff to get there.
Just like there is no shortcut to a baby; you have to go through labor, and morning sickness.
Just like there is no shortcut to a Thanksgiving table full of well-adjusted grown-up children; you have to go through the Terrible 2′s.
There is no shortcut to seasoned love; you have to go through the fights – all of them – no giving up.
There is no shortcut to forgiveness; you have to feel the pain to get to the other side.
There is no shortcut to health; you have to trudge through the pain, the meds, the therapy.
There is no shortcut to healing, to moving on, after a catastrophic loss; you just have to keep walking through.
When it comes to the tough stuff of life, the best way out is always through.
So if this season of life seems so hard you can’t breathe, know that while you might come out weary, broken, a little worse for the wear, you’ll shine. Refined, like gold. Take a deep, raggedy breath, say a prayer, and steel yourself.
Because you can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go around it. You gotta go through it.