Saturday, February 18, 2023

Phil the Fridge

About a month ago, I decided to undertake a low-scale kitchen renovation. I figured it'd be about $500-1,000. Three weeks and countless hours later, I'm at more than double that budget and am nowhere near completion. Anyone who owns a home knows that's typically how it goes. Yet we still dive headlong into projects every time with the same illogical optimism and then are shocked when our entire world flips like Dorothy over the rainbow.

Despite the chaos and frustrations and setbacks, I've had my eyes opened to a few things. I'll share just one of them here. It has to do with my fridge, whom I'll refer to as Phil.

Phil's whole world is the kitchen. And it's a consistent one, with invariably the same view, people, routines, purposes, etc. But then out of the blue, one day I waltz in and prime over the yellow walls. Now it's ugly. I'm sure he wondered what could have possibly compelled me to walk into a space that was perfectly fine and disrupt the peace?

Then I painted my walls green, which is when I discovered how badly that particular shade clashed with my gungy old brown cabinets. Poor Phil had to be so confused. This is the "improvement"? How is this better?

Oh Phil, it gets worse! Next up was blue painter's tape. The window sills, trim, and railings were primed and eventually painted white, further highlighting the unsightliness of the rest of the room.

Let's sprinkle in the demolition and removal of the chimney, just for kicks.

After that, every door on every dingy cabinet was removed, exposing mismatched dishes, spices, pantry items and other dishevelment previous hidden. And if that wasn't enough, out came the hand sander to make things even weirder-looking and dustier!

Then I bought a cabinet that doesn't even match anything. To top it off, I switched the location of a current cabinet, which damaged it AND left a hole in the floor, beautifully spotlighting the 1969 avocado green laminate underneath.

Phil's world has effectively been dismantled. It is undoubtedly worse: chaotic and messy and broken. The changes are slow moving (it's SO slow, y'all). And the worst part is, Phil had no say in it and no power over it. Why would she do this? How could this be "good"?

But what he doesn't know is that I have plans. I know the cabinets will be restored and the green will be complimentary to them. I know it will all tie in with fresh counter tops and back splash. I know we busted out that cabinet to make space for *drum roll please* a dishwasher! I know there is life and newness and beauty that I am orchestrating and piecing together.

But right now, Phil is stuck right where he's at. No perspective. No ability to understand my plan.

I think about Phil's woes and consider times in my life that God has seemingly pulled the rug out from under my feet-- primed my walls or taken a crowbar and sledgehammer to my chimney. When there's dust everywhere. When all I see is hopeless ruin. When there's not a thing I can do to change it.

He's a creator, an author, an orchestrator, and. . . a carpenter. He measures what He builds into my life. He knows what is good.

Hang in there Phil. And Laura. And all my struggling or suffering brothers and sisters out there. Keep hoping and believing and standing in the mess. He's in there with you. But you know what? He's not standing still; He's making all things new.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Mama mumblings

Editor's Note: I came across this tonight. I don't know when I wrote it, I don't remember writing it, and I don't know where I was going with it. But it was interesting to me, so I'm publishing it untouched. :)

I was chatting with a friend today about parenting. She has a 6-month-old, and I have 3 kiddos who were once 6 months old (not all at the same time). We talked about how we were raised by strict parents. She couldn't say "butt", and I couldn't wear pants. Oh how times have changed. We brushed on the topic of swearing in music and found we weren't in agreement. It wasn't a big deal, because our friendship is awesome that way.

I thought about how many different parenting styles there are. I don't think I'm in complete agreement with any of my friends on all the ways we parent. I have some things in common, of course, but not everything. Because we have different personalities and giftings, and because we have kids with different personalities and giftings. No two families are or can be the same. What a disservice we do when we try to mimic the way another family lives life.

Anyway, I was thinking about levels of strictness and how we choose rules for our kids. Really, most of our rules have come from experiencing things we didn't want to see continue. For instance, when our kids were little and blew bubbles in their milk, they got their straws taken away. Now we have to say things like, "no screen time before bed" and "no media devices in your bedroom behind closed doors." We create rules to protect our kids from themselves in ways they don't otherwise care about.

Parents have the choice to micromanage (which is necessary with a toddler but destructive with a teenager), be entirely hands off (which my social-worker friend can tell you often leads to a termination of parental rights), or fall somewhere in between-- which most of us do.

But no matter how lenient or open we want to be with our kids, we will eventually have to make some kind of rules to keep our kids from hurting themselves-- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Because we have a propensity to wander. A propensity toward self-destruction. 

I got to thinking about that. I remembered being a new mom and having all sorts of ideas about how I would raise my babies. Of course, everyone without a toddler (or teenager) knows how to parent them. I knew I would parent very differently than my parents did. We'd have open conversations, my kids would know that I'm for them, they'd share everything in their world with their awesome parents, and it would be beautiful. They'd experience grace and truth hand-in-hand. They'd love each other. They'd be respectful and mature. We'd build forts and be creative and go on hikes and support each other and do everything together with such closeness and camaraderie.

And there have been moments of that. Snippets. My hope is that as I pray them through their second half of childhood and continue to try shaping them with the time I have left, we will one day have most of those things. But as I sit on my couch typing right now, my husband and son are playing a video game in one room, and my girls are watching a show about an unsolved murder in another. AND there's a dog by my feet. Who dreamed this up? Not me.

I am not the parent I thought I would be. I'm not even the person I imagined I'd be. 

Parenting is not what I expected. And I love it. I have never experienced a fullness, a sense of purpose, or fear like this.

I have learned that I cannot parent much differently than I was.

Actually, while I'm thinking about it, I think "pray and adapt" would really be the best parenting advice I could give anyone. Huh, interesting epiphany. Thanks!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Faking it, hoping to be "making it" soon

I know I told everyone last night not to read my post. But wow is it weird to log in and literally see zero views. Nicely done, internet world. Nicely done. :)

I just finished a great read called Eat That Frog. It's a fairly popular book, so you may already know it's chalked full of tips and tricks to teach yourself not to procrastinate-- transforming regular people into super duper, high-performing mega humans.

Many times throughout, I thought about this blogging journey. So when I finished the book, I set it down and picked up my laptop to write. Nope, that's a total lie. I picked up my phone to play games (hey, that candy ain't gonna crush itself!). #Irony

It's hard to want to do something you aren't good at. And right now, I'm not good at this. Which, oddly enough, is exactly why I need to be doing it. *Insert toddler-like protest*

However. . .

At this point, I've waited too long, and I'm sleepy. Tomorrow's alarm is set for 5:15 (check out our church live-stream-style at 10:30), so I should head off to bed. I'll return later. . . I'm sure. :)

P.S. I'm not sure I want to be a super duper, high-performing mega human. I enjoy the thought of slowing down. Savoring. Being productive? Managing time well? Yes. But maybe not going 300 mph faster and more efficiently than everyone else. Maybe God wants more for me than speediness. Right now, I think He wants me to sleep, lol. G'night, friends.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Disorganized Snippets

Hello! If you're seeing this, it means you signed up to follow me. . . literally years ago. I was stunned tonight to log in and see how much time had passed since I first started and last wrote in this blog. Stunned. Time is truly a thief.

Anyway, welcome back. :) You have my full, complete, and total permission to stop reading right this very minute. I despise I'm-going-to-be-a-blogger posts. I have no such illusions. I understand it is a long haul. That there are ups and downs. That sometimes 2-1/2 years can pass before the next post, lol.

However, I have an old friend who has asked me to write for him, because he wants his content to be "great" (Is it silly that I'm completely intimidated by those 5 letters?). So I'm writing. Because the more I write, the better I get. This is a proven, identifiable fact in my life.

Also, this is a gifting. I know that. One I've allowed to rust. Why hasn't God closed the door on the "ark" of publication for my book? I don't know. I'm not even in the same stage of life I was when I finished it. So much would need to change. I think that experience has hurt my willingness to write. I need purpose, even if it's small. I don't have to reach thousands of women (though I so very badly wish that book would have accomplished that), but I do need purpose.

Honestly, I'm in this weird cross-roads-y part of my life. I'm not a stay-at-home mom anymore (insert absolute heartbreak), but I'm not really a working woman. Busyness interrupts my ability to be great as a mom, while wistfulness interferes with being great at my job. I have a foot on each side of the fence, and I'm discontent.

What I long to do is sit at the feet of Jesus and hold fast while the world whisks around me. I want Him to fix things while I rest with Him. But He doesn't work that way. I'm pushed from my comfort zone into the mix-up of life. And I need to live in the tension.

Be a wife.
Be a mom.
Be a friend.
Be a boss.
Be a sister and daughter.
Learn what it means to be the masterpiece of God.

How? How can He take pride in a canvas so very blemished with insecurities and sinful choices? How am I am called "holy" and "righteous" while holding this propensity to return to my "vomit"? How can He willingly sign His precious, powerful, beautiful name across my life? Why would He do that?

Grace. *sigh* Beautiful, beyond-logic grace.

Father, I'm glad we had this chat. :) Please help me as I learn to write again. You are great, and Your greatness is the strength within my weakness. I love You. Thank You for Your nearness.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The power of joy

" I'm in such a good mood that nothing could bring me down today."

Have you ever said something like that? Exuding joy is like walking around as Mario with star power. There are no circumstances, thoughts, or temptations you cannot conquer. Empowering others even becomes effortless when you're owning the real estate of joy.

But we have an enemy, and he wants to strip us of our power. All power. If he can steal away our joy, we're left susceptible to innumerable attacks. In fact, when I get to heaven, I'd like to [respectfully] call the apostle Paul out on excluding this critical piece of spiritual armor from the list in Ephesians 6.

When we feel defeated or anxious or overwhelmed, the chances are low that we will make the call to go volunteer in the soup kitchen or cook up a meal for another family. We aren't going to offer to mow our neighbor's yard or take a friend's kiddos so they can enjoy a date night. When we are not joyful, we are not generous.

Unfortunately, joy is not a thing that can be conjured up-- especially the kind that brims over and leaves us feeling invincible. But there are things we can do to cultivate it.

The first strategy is simple: prayer. The Lord promises to grant us things we ask in His will. Being joyful is within that will. So asking to be filled with joy seems like a good place to start. :)

The Bible uses the words "joy", "glad", and "happy" a total of 370 times throughout and the word "sad" 6. I thought those were interesting factoids. That was free.

Moving on, it is helpful to identify joy-robbers in your life. Maybe it's a task, a person, an activity, or your in-laws' Christmas party. If you can't avoid the situation, try gaining a new perspective by injecting positivity into it. If you start to sweat every time you encounter your boss, see if you can learn something about him or her. What is their hobby? Is there a gift or an act of service you could give as a way to connect and brighten the relationship?

A third way to add joy to your life is to just smile. Slap on a big, cheek-squishing, eye-squinting smile for no reason at all. It triggers happy things in your brain AND it's contagious! Google it.

Here's a personal illustration. Just today I was working with my 10-year-old on math homework. After an hour transpired without completing even one problem, she stormed off to her room. By that point, I was ready to slam some doors myself. But since I'm writing about joy, I thought it wise to sample my own advice. So there I stood, angrily scrubbing dishes, wearing a phony, stupid smile. Through the plastic grin, I complained to God about how annoying and fake it felt, which actually made me laugh. So "point" for God. Bring on the authentic smile.

As a parent, I have a responsibility to lead my daughter and set a good example of how to handle difficulty. If I can't go into things with a good attitude, I certainly can't expect her to. I'd love to report that we reunited over bowls of chocolate chip cookie dough and the math homework solved itself. It didn't. There was still a lot of hard work ahead. On our second go-around, however, I was calmer, and she was naturally more receptive. There were no more tears, and I'm pleased to announce that homework is completed for the whole weekend. *fist pump*

Finally, like I said before, there is an enemy who is after every one of us-- believer or not. He'll rob us of joy and laugh at the ensuing domino effect. Because unfortunately, joylessness is also contagious. So kick that guy to the curb, and smile-- even at complete strangers.They may think there's something up your sleeve or you've missed today's dose of meds. That's okay; smile anyway.

I find it interesting that in 1 Thessalonians 5, the words "rejoice always" are followed up with "pray continually" and "give thanks in all circumstances". Based on this, I don't think it's possible to maintain a joyful spirit without prayer and thanksgiving. Fight the enemy, and choose joy.

*******Side note********
If you're wanting to ignite heat seeking missiles against the joy-robbers in your life, I recommend reading the book Boundaries. It is useful for identifying how we allow people or situations to wear on us, slowly eroding our ability to recognize where we aren't protecting our time. We find too many things to say "yes" to and then find ourselves at an emotional deficit-- confused and frustrated. The book is instrumental in helping to understand ourselves and our limitations so we can remain in a healthy state of mind, giving joy the freedom to resurface.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

Today I'd like to take a few minutes to bring honor to my parents. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary this week, and I think that's worthy of public acknowledgment.

Earlier this week, I popped onto my phone to send a quick "congrats and happy day" text to them, and I was blindsided with a sense of gratitude.

Through the years, I've watched my dad grow in the ability to keep his head in difficult situations and walk away with the positives in hand. I know that hasn't always come naturally for him, so I really appreciate seeing it.

In contrast, my mom can be a little high strung (just a little, Mom. ;) ). I have countless memories of sitting in the back seat, observing her spaz about xyz while Dad continued to eye the road, sometimes sporting his weird little mustache-y smirk. Occasionally she'd catch him and reach over to whack him on the shoulder with an annoyed but playful, "Da-vid".

They make it look easy. I've never witnessed a blow-out fight. Nor have I heard either of them hurl insults or attack the other's character. Knowing myself (and, good gracious, my siblings), I'm sure there were plenty of "discussions" behind closed doors. We were not the easiest bunch to parent.

I can imagine there have been rough patches through the years. Times they felt strained to the max with outside stressors and then came home to join moody teenagers around a table in a shoe-box-sized kitchen piled up with papers, dishes, and Little Debbie's wrappers.

But they did it. They came home from work every night, not stopping at bars or keeping long hours at work. They came home. To us. To each other.

In lieu of our culture's growing weariness with commitment, I am proud to spotlight a couple who has persevered. My own marriage has not been without trials and difficult times. But thanks to their example, I have a clear understanding of what my expectation is to be in this union.

Additionally, my parents were not believers when they got married. They came to know Jesus and took that faith seriously enough to drag our family to church three times a week and sacrificially pay for us kids to attend a school that supported those believes. While I do not agree with everything I was taught (does anyone?), there's no way to know who I would be without that kind of bedrock foundation in my life. And I'm eternally grateful for that springboard into my own relationship with Jesus.

Because of their commitment to God and to each other, Rodney and I are able to raise children saturated in these same truths. Their influence didn't stop when I moved out of the house. They are impacting my children and, Lord willing, the generations after them.

So Mom and Dad, congratulations. And thanks. I love you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I don't want to be a good mom.

This afternoon I had to apologize to one of my kids for losing my temper and yelling. Agian. This same apology was made just yesterday. And three days before that. What a humbling example children are of granting unconditional forgiveness.

This particular morning started off too quickly-paced. As a result, I skipped over investing that first sacred slice of morning with my Creator. So after a day of craziness and then my selfish uncorking, I decided it was time.

Down to my room I went. I apologized to the Lover of my child's soul and asked Him to make me a good mom. Almost before my sentence was out, I sensed Him silencing me with the words, "You are a good mom."

Ugh, He didn't even let me finish. But I knew it was appropriate, because I was praying in a direction I shouldn't have been going. So He shut me down-- with affirmation. Because He's cool that way. :)

For years, I've been trying to avoid that prayer altogether. Being a "good mom" is easy to say and want, but it can only be measured from one comparison to the next. Am I a better mom than she is? Am I too protective like that mom? At least my kids don't do _______.

Additionally, I have no control over whether my parenting style is ultimately resented or appreciated. So what use is it trying to be a "good mom"? Really?

Instead, I ask to be shaped into the image of Jesus. As I draw closer to the light of His face, I will reflexively mirror His attributes onto those around me-- inclusive of the three precious tinies I've been entrusted with. I will see them as He sees them. I will be gentle, patient, and kind. I will love them as they are, because Jesus loves me as I am.

As I am.

The conversation in my bedroom continued, and I considered the paradoxical truth that the Father cherishes me exactly as I am-- faults and all-- yet calls me to change.

What does that look like? How do I rest in confident contentment, knowing the eyes of the Father see perfection in me, and yet acknowledge the invitation to be sculpted by the Master Whittler? And if I accept this prompting, how do I resist the temptation to strive for achieving a better to-do list? How do I escape the performance roller coaster of feeling loved for good deeds and shamed by mistakes?

The answer is to hover in a perpetual tension. To "keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16)  and be guided by His voice. I must remember that although I inadvertently slip back on the handcuffs of Sin, I cannot forfeit the grace He's poured over me. I am broken and messy. Thankfully, this isn't about who I am; it's about who I'm becoming.

I can let go of who I've been. Tripping over what's behind me is not only lunacy, but it's devoid of value.

I can rest in who I am-- a redeemed daughter of the King, a princess, an heiress, a saint.

I can choose to see myself as God does, from my victorious future and not from my blunderous past.

So I will make the choice to get up, brush off the proverbial dust, and ignore the screaming accusations from my enemy that I will never be "enough". Most importantly, I will continue to climb into the lap of my Father every day to renew my mind and be transformed into so much more than a "good mom".