Unoffendable Heart

Hey, moms.
Sometimes we get our feelings hurt. As a large and in-charge momma bear, I have seen my kids left out of things or be uninvited to birthday parties. I’ve run into groups of their friends doing things my kids were not invited to participate in. I think, “What is wrong with my child? Why don’t you include her? Why haven’t you invited her?” Those kinds of thoughts run through your head.
Why do people reject? Why don’t they work to be more inclusive? I have spent four years praying my kids would be preferred. I prayed they would have good, godly friends who pursue them and prefer them. It has not been easy. I have wept many tears in my pillow at night.

When I was talking to Spencer one time, she said, “Mom, I am not offended by being left out of this. Don’t take up an offense for me.” I realized when we become offended at other moms or our husbands or because our children aren’t included or are left out, we teach our children to be easily offended. It’s what we do that they do. It’s not what we say that they do.
Moms, my question to you is: What are you doing? Are you easily offended? Do you cut people out of your life when you are hurt by them? Do you build walls to protect yourself? Are you your own defender even though God tells you to love others as you love yourself and He will defend you? When you step up and defend yourself, you lose the best defender. It’s like trading in the best defense team in the country for an accident lawyer. 

Is there someone you need to call today and reconcile with? Is there anyone you need to apologize to for building walls or being easily offended? Why don’t you examine your own heart like I will be examining mine today. Let’s make some phone calls. Reconcile. Kick bitterness in the butt. Let our kids see an unoffendable heart.
I learned a long time ago that being offended isn’t the problem of the person who said something to offend me. It is my sin. Offense is a sin. Being offended is a sin. It’s a sin because it’s saying, “Hey, what you said hurt me.” What you don’t realize is that your own filter has been shaped by life events and makes you sensitive. We need to get a God filter by cleaning out our filters so we can filter through His truth, His Word, and make every thought obedient to Christ. Every single thought. If you are thinking about excuses and making assumptions about people, then you’re not filtering through God’s Word. You are filtering through past circumstances and past behavior.
Give somebody a clean slate today. Start your friendship over. Make those roots deep. Be loyal. Be loyal to a fault. Be kind to people. Don’t throw away friendships like they are garbage. Don’t throw away people. Be unified. Have a godly heart. Be one with people. When they hurt you, work through it. Your friendship will actually be sweeter than it ever was before. It has the chance to be like an oak tree with roots that are deeply planted and not coming up. 

Every time you toss someone out the door, you are uprooting the tree you have planted, and you have to plant a new one. It’s like a new home. It has all new trees planted around it, and none has any stamina or girth. It’s easy to plant new trees. It’s difficult to water them every day and to see them grow and become a hundred years old.
Consider doing this in your life so your daughters and sons can see you have long-term healthy relationships in Jesus’ name.

What Relationship Means

Being a homeschool mom, I have a lot of time with my children. I’m with them for hours every single day of their lives, but just because I’m with them doesn’t mean I’m actually engaging with them in their hearts. I can be commanding them to do things, issuing orders, telling them what to do with school, giving them tasks and challenges, but all the while, not truly connecting with them and their hearts.
The question is what is the most important, quantity time or quality time with our children? I would argue that it’s neither. Greg Gunn of Family-iD first introduced me to this concept that it’s not about quantity time or quality time; it’s about quality of relationship. When you have a quality relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes together or an hour. When you connect with each other with your hearts, that is what makes the relationship continue to be woven together and glued together thickly.
How can we relate that to God? In my own home, I have a choice with God. I can choose to spend a lot of time with Him and acknowledge Him. I can choose to have a quality relationship with Him. That’s a very different thing. Having a quality relationship with God involves listening.
I think sometimes we feel guilty about going to God and asking Him for something and telling Him what our needs are because we think, “Oh, I haven’t spent enough time with You. I haven’t read the Bible enough. I haven’t prayed enough. I don’t feel worthy to ask You this.” But it’s not really about the time; it’s about the quality of your relationship with God.
I think it’s important for your heart to bow down in thanksgiving to Him continually, like when you see the sky and the beautiful sunset or the puffy, beautiful clouds and you acknowledge the Creator. I mean, that’s quality relationship right there. It’s not a work. It’s recognition. It’s honoring God. I want to encourage you to seek a quality relationship with God and your spouse and your children.

Seasons of Motherhood

You have a newborn baby you love to hold and let them sleep in your lap. It’s such a sweet time!

And then around eight weeks, you are at the end of yourself. You are exhausted, you’re like, “Where’s my help? Someone let me sleep through the night!” “Hold the baby, rock the baby.” “Bring me food.” It’s time for some help. 

I remember meeting my husband at the door. We had really small children. I just was saying like, “Thank God you’re home from work! I’m running.” And here he thinks, “Oh no. I’m driving going home because my wife is going to meet me at the door with all these kids. I have to go from work to work and somehow she gets from work to rest.”

Then there is the toddler season that is like, “Oh, you’re so adorable and annoying at the same time!” You can’t go to the bathroom without them sitting on their potty at the same time you are. You can’t go to the bathroom without them knocking, asking questions, pushing stuff under the door, trying to show you things. They want to be where you are.

Then, of course, at four or five years old, they are old enough to ask you zillions and zillions of questions. Whenever you get on the phone, they constantly talk to you, “Oh mom! I need this. I need that. I need this. I need! I need! I need!” They are right in the middle of your business, and when you get off the phone then they want to go play. You get back on the phone and then boom. It’s like an alarm. They’re right back at it. You getting on the phone when your kids are awake—it is not gonna happen.

There’s that season when you need your baby to nap. You need your child to nap. It’s like, “You cannot fall asleep in the car. Do not fall asleep! I’m going to roll the window down!” So yell, “What? Stop! Stop! Wake up! Wake up!” Roll the window down. Throw some soft stuff at them. Pop them in the head with some French fries. “Come on! Wake up! Stay awake!” And they fall asleep right when you pull in the driveway. It’s like, “Is it too hot to leave them in the car? Is it too cold to leave them in the car? Okay, I’m going to leave them in the car. They have to finish their nap today because I need my peace and quiet. It is necessary. I need the nap.” And there’s the time where you pad their baby gates, pillows everywhere. You tell them to stay in this room and you get your face planted into the couch, exhausted, and worn out.

Then there are school days, school work, and homework, busyness, and activities. You spend a good majority of your season driving them from place to place—activities, play dates, and meeting in the mall when they are little. When they are older, you drop them off at a friend’s house, and then their friends are dropped off at your house. You’re cleaning up popcorn on the floor, vacuuming behind them, and saying, “Clean up. Please clean up your stuff. Clean up your own little mess.”

Then they get old enough and they start wanting to meet at, say, a coffee shop or some place in the middle. “Can I be dropped off early so I can have this social time? What about youth group? How early can you drop me off? I want to be there early.” You start getting a little bit less and less of their time. They are having sleepovers, spending the night, and wanting to be around their friends.

Before you know it, you are riding with them and they are driving. They are driving everywhere. They want to be in the car with you. They don’t miss an opportunity. The year before, they’re like, “Ah, I’ll just stay at home. You go ahead and take everyone.” Now, they want the experience, to practice to drive. So they are with you hours and hours of the day. They go everywhere with you to drop off every kid. They want to drive. They want to be with you.

You have all these great car times and you are intimately bonding. Your hearts are connecting. But they are actually beginning the disengagement process, the weaning process. They are riding with you for a purpose. It is so they don’t have to ride with you anymore. They are memorizing roads and getting ready to get off on their own.

Right before they get ready to leave you, they basically amp up their time with you. It’s in the car, it’s sweet. It’s intimate. It’s just this really awesome time with them and then all of a sudden, it’s just cut off. It’s gone. They are driving now. It’s like, “Hey, I don’t have to leave. Mom doesn’t have to ride with you.” “Oh, you’re going to go pick up your friend and do what? What time will you be back?” That weaning process begins. And it’s hard.

It’s crazy how with children our hearts are on our sleeves. You think the days when they are little and you are not sleeping, or the days when they are exhausting eating cheerios and dropping chocolate milk on the floor are long. They are long days, but they are fleeting years. I remember my neighbor, she said, “Don’t wish it away. Enjoy every moment. It’s gonna go by so fast you’re not even gonna know. It’s just going to be gone before you know it.”

I can’t believe I’m about to have a senior in high school and about to have a girl graduate who wants to move away and has plans, desires, and hopes. I can’t believe I’m here. After all of those exhausting years and the days of saying, “No problem,” when she spilled milk four times, I can’t imagine how much I have invested in my kids and how much I have loved and enjoyed every moment and I have to let them go. I have to let them grow up and I have to let them pursue their dreams. I have to let them start their own family. I am on my knees, praying, “God protect them when I am not here. God, direct their steps. God, bring them home. Give them the desire to come and visit me. Don’t let me be that parent who throws guilt trips on their kids and makes them come out of obligation. But bring them to me because they have a heart’s desire to see me and to know me.”

Man, after all those awesome years of having them in your lap, reading to you, the years of snuggling, and the days they would cuddle and kiss your lips, get slobber all over you, and hug you with their little noses rubbing against your neck—it’s so quick before those days are gone. They’re just big and all grown up. They fly out the nest. They don’t truly need you that much anymore. All you are left with is being an influence when they ask and when they need it. You are just left with, “How much impact did I make and did I do it right?” You just have to let them go, let them fly or sink.

Father, I thank You for these beautiful blessings You have allowed me to raise. I pray, Father, they would soar because they choose You and ride on your wings, in Jesus’ name, amen. 

What Will You Choose?

Skinny fat girlthat’s my story.
I’m a tiny girl with way too much body fat. The strength in my body is practically nonexistent. It doesn’t matter what your size is if you can’t sustain the weight.
I’m a tiny girl trapped in a fat body. I have wrestled with my weight for years. It has been up and down in a yo-yo pattern since I had kids. I lost all of the extra weight after baby one. I lost it again after baby two. I lost the extra weight after baby three until my mom died. Ever since then, my weight has been a yo-yo.
When my mom passed away, I had been on Weight Watchers, trying to have some accountability to encourage me to lose the last part of the extra weight from my third and final child. It worked fairly well. The thing about Weight Watchers is that it doesn’t make you give up the processed foods and sugary treats that you crave. You just cut back on them and have a little bit less.
But the truth is that over time, as you age and your hormones change, you can’t maintain a healthy weight with junk food. It’s impossible. It’s impossible to maintain a good body if you are not eating well, even if you work out. Eighty percent of your body makeup is taken care of by food.
I know how to eat healthfully. It’s not for a lack of knowledge that I have struggled with my weight. I even enjoy healthy food. The trouble is that preparing healthy food takes time and energy. You have to get fresh and raw food from the store, and it’s not ready to eat.
Who has time for all of that? Being a mother is exhausting. If you do make it to the store to get healthy foods, then you have to clean them and cut them. You have to think about how to store them to keep them fresh. By the time you get around to eating them, chances are they’re already black. It’s so frustrating. I’ve thrown away more fresh and raw food than you can imagine. I’ve thrown away brown bags of fresh and raw food that we just never ate or that spoiled quickly.
I know how to cook raw food—100% vegan raw. I’ve taken classes from Chef Mandy in my hometown. I learned how to make raw pizza out of carrot and almond flour. I know how to make a tomato paste that is to die for and spaghetti out of zucchini. I’m not talking about spaghetti squash, no. It’s not cooked. It’s all raw. Spiraled zucchini with a splash of marinara. It tastes amazing.
I love healthy food. I love it. But my habits tend to go in a different direction. I’m not hungry, so I don’t eat. Then suddenly I get really hungry, and I start to get very testy. As my blood sugar goes down and I get hungry, I get frustrated and a little bit more on the edge and annoyed. It’s like my flesh wants to throw a hissy fit whenever I start to feel hungry. To keep myself from losing it, I reach for the first available food, and usually it’s not cut vegetables.
That said, at those times in the past when I was in good shape, I did go for the vegetables. I put them in ziplock bags and carried them in my car. I have the knowledge. I know how to be healthy, and at times I’ve been successful.
There came a point when I was raising my girls that I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen every day. One week I calculated how many hours per day I spent in the kitchen, meeting all of their little snacky needs. I had to try to figure out what they wanted to eat; I had to prepare snacks constantly and cut mountains of vegetables. I found myself in the kitchen for up to six hours a day, cooking and cleaning and slaving.
We even juiced. I’ve done the juice fast—raw juices, apple juices, kale juices, beet juices, cucumber juices. I love healthy foods. But when I found out that I’d been spending so much time in the kitchen, I eventually gave up and went for what was easy, just so I could have a chance at some moments of life that didn’t involve food preparation.

Separation Anxiety

I thought I had picked out this great day care. I was really excited about it.

You know, I’m a first-time mother anticipating my first child while balancing a career. I’m working my way to being a partner in my firm. I’m now a manager. I worked really hard to get where I am, and I want desperately to continue my career and be a mom.

In anticipation of this baby, I’ve been planning and preparing. I’ve got her life planned out for her. I’m going to stay home on maternity leave for ten weeks. Then I’ll take you to this great day care, where I know you’ll be loved and cared for. We’ll spend our evenings and weekends together. In just a few short years, you’ll be off to school. I can come home early in the summers and spend time with you. We’re going to have this great life.
I am sure this is how it will be … until I stay home for ten weeks and realize that I have never loved anyone like I love my baby girl. I didn’t even know this was possible. When she was born, it was like my heart was unbound and it exploded and grew. I love my baby so deeply.

At the end of ten weeks, I wake up and get myself ready for work and get her ready to be dropped off at day care. I’m ready to go back. Let’s get this thing started.

I walk in, carrying her in her car carrier. I talk to everyone. Shes asleep in the car seat. I ask, “Who wants her? What shall I do with her?” They tell me, “Take her out of her car carrier and lay her down in the crib. She’ll be fine in there.” These cribs are plain; they are like jail cells. All I could picture was my baby crying, like, “Mama, let me out!” You know, those babies behind bars.

They say, “Just lay her down in her bed, and she’ll be fine. We’ll get her when she needs us.” I look around. I’m in this room with infants in their cribs, and none of the workers are in there. Everyone’s in the adjacent room. I pick her up and hold her. I start to weep. I don’t think I was made for this. I don’t think I was designed to take my baby and lay her down and leave her for someone else. 

I hold her for a really long time. I start to weep silently, soft sobs. No one can tell. The tears aren’t flowing. No way. I don’t want anyone to see this tough business woman as sensitive. I’m dressed in my suit, ready to kill that day. I lay her down in her crib, but I hesitate to leave. The crib looks cold to me, looks lonely. I stand there for a minute with my hand on the side of the rail. Can I leave? How am I going to leave? How do I do this?

Silently, without even a single day-care worker saying anything to me, I pick up my car carrier and walk out. I slowly make the walk down the hallway and out of the building. I put the car seat in, get in my car, and sob and sob and sob. How will I go through an entire day with her being in this place, where I’m confident those people will not take care of her the way I would because I was designed to be her mama?

Only a mama knows. God designed us beautifully for this love affair, and that’s why it hurts our hearts. Happy Mother’s Day to the women who lay down their lives every day for future generations! 


Milk Spill? No Problem

When I was young, everything got negative attention. Every negative thing I did was highlighted with a flashlight. When I became a mother, I vowed never to treat my kids in that manner.


One day, Chandler spilled her third cup of milk all over my floor—the carpet, of course. I thought I was going to lose it.


Chandler’s milk spill actually happened later on the same day I vowed not to lose it. So every time she spilled her milk, I responded with, “No problem.” I really said it behind gritted teeth because I did see it as a problem. I didn’t like the spilled milk everywhere; I was the one who had to clean it up. Still, I refused to respond out of my emotions, so I said, “No problem.”

God had something more to teach me through this. When my daughter spilled her milk for the third time, I realized that the spill did not define her as a person. She wasn’t a klutz. She wasn’t a spiller. She wasn’t negligent. She wasn’t irresponsible. She simply spilled her milk.


Chandler and I laughed together. We talked about the fact that God and I loved her so much and that would never change. No matter how bad the milk spill was, no matter how bad her mistakes were, God would always love her and so would I.

While I was sitting there, laughing and having a wonderful conversation with my child, telling her she’s not defined by her mistakes, I realized I did not fully believe that about myself. Deep down, I had based my whole identity on my mistakes. The constant criticism I received as a child played within me like a broken record. Every single time I failed, I was treated to that inward refrain: “You’re a failure.” Whenever I had the opportunity to try something new, I would turn it down. I would think, “Oh, I’m not good at that. I don’t want to try it because if I do, I may fail.” I wasnt willing to take risks or venture outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid of failure.


Then I read Jeremiah 1. God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (Jer. 1:5 NIV). I also read in Ephesians that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4 NIV). God chose me; He formed me. God strengthens and protects me. He equips me to follow Christ, even when it’s outside of my comfort zone. That is my identity. I am not defined by the mistakes I made. What matters is who I am in Christ.

Now I take captive all of those negative thoughts and the broken record of parental criticism, and I replace them with the truth of God’s word in Jeremiah and Ephesians.


Now I choose to believe by faith in the truth of who God says I am, even when I don’t feel that way. I know I can rely on my identity in Christ. I know who I am. I am not defined by my actions. My mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I take negative thoughts captive in my own mind, and it makes me a better mom every time the milk is spilled.

Today I can tell my children without reservation, without gritting my teeth and grappling with frustration, that their identity is in Christ and a milk spill is no problem.

What relationship means?

Being a homeschool mom, I have a lot of time with my children. I’m with them hours every single day of their life. But just because I’m with them doesn’t mean that I’m actually engaging with them in their hearts. I can even be commanding orders at them or telling them what to do with school, just giving them tasks and challenges, but all the while, not connecting with them or their hearts.
The question is what is the most important, quantity time or quality time with our children? I would argue that it’s neither. Greg Gunn of Family-iD first introduced me to this concept that it’s not about quantity time or quality time. It’s about quality of relationship. When you have a quality relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes with them or an hour, when you connect with them with your heart, that is what makes the relationship continue to be woven together and glued together thickly.
How can we relate that to God? That’s in my own home. In my own home, I have a choice with God. I can choose to just spend a lot of time with Him and acknowledge Him. I can choose to have a quality relationship with Him. That’s a very different thing. Having quality relationship with God is listening.
I think sometimes we feel guilty coming to God and asking him for something and telling him what our needs are because we feel like, “Oh I haven’t spend enough time with you. I haven’t read the bible enough. I haven’t prayed enough. I really don’t feel worthy to ask you this.” But it’s not really about the time. It’s about the quality of your relationship with God.
I think sometimes your heart can just continue to bow down in thanks giving to him. Like, just when you see the sky and the beautiful sunset or the puffy, beautiful clouds and you just acknowledge the creator. I mean, that’s quality relationship right there. It’s not a work. It’s recognition. It’s honoring of God. I just wanna encourage you to seek a quality relationship with God and your family and your children.
 
 

Separation Anxiety

I thought I had picked out this great day care. I was really excited about it.

You know, I’m a first mother anticipating my first child while balancing a career. I’m working my way to be a partner in my firm. I’m now a manager. I worked really hard to get where I am and I want desperately to continue my career and be a mom.

The anticipation of this baby—planning and preparing—I’ve got her life planned out for her. I’m going to stay home, on maternity leave for ten weeks. Then I take you to this great daycare I know you’ll be loved and cared for. We’ll spend our evenings and weekends together. In just a few short years, you’ll be off to school. I can come home early in the summers and spend time together. We’re gonna have this great life.
Until I’ve been home for ten weeks and I realized that I have never loved anyone like I loved my baby girl. I didn’t even know that was possible. Literally, when she was born it was like, my heart was unbound and it exploded and grew.

I had loved so deeply and at the end of ten weeks, I woke up and got myself ready for work and got her ready to be dropped off at day care. I’m ready to go back. Let’s get this thing started.

I walk in, I carried her in her car carrier. I carried her inside and I talked to everyone and I asked—she fell asleep in the car seat. I asked, like, “Who wants her? What shall I do with her?” They told me, “Take her out of her car carrier and just lay her down in the crib. She’ll be fine in there.” These cribs were just plain; they were like jail cells. All I could see was like, “Mama, let me out!” You know, those babies behind bars.

They said, “Just lay her down in her bed and she’ll be fine. We’ll get her when she needs us.” I looked around and I’m in this room with infants in their cribs and no one’s in there. Everyone’s in the adjacent room. I picked her up and I hold her. I start to weep and I just think—I don’t think I was made for this. I don’t think I was designed to take my baby and lay her down and leave her for someone else. I picked her up, I held her for a really long time. I started to weep silently, soft sobs. No one could tell. The tears weren’t flowing. No way. I didn’t want anyone to see this tough business woman as sensitive. I’m dressed in my suit, ready to kill that day. I lay her down in her crib and I hesitate to leave. The crib looks cold to me, looks lonely. I stood there for a minute with my hand on the side of the rail. Can I leave? How am I gonna leave? How do I do this?

Silently, without even a single day care worker saying anything to me, I picked up my car carrier and I walk out. I slowly make the walk down the hallway out the building, put the car seat in, get in my car and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. How will I go through an entire day with her being in this place where I’m confident those people will not take care of her the way that I would because I was designed to be her mama.

Only a mama knows. God designed us beautifully for this love affair that’s why it hurts our hearts. Happy mother’s day to the women who lay down their lives every day for future generations!! 

Milk Spill? – "No Problem"

When I was young, everything got negative attention. Every negative thing I did was highlighted with a flashlight. When I became a mother myself, I vowed never to treat my kids in that manner.

One day, Chandler spilled her third cup of milk all over my floor—the carpet, of course. I thought I was going to lose it.


The day that Chandler spilled her milk was later the same day that I had vowed that I would not lose it. So every time she spilled her milk, I responded with, “No problem.” But every time I said ‘no problem,’ I really said it behind gritted teeth—because I really didn’t like the spilled milk everywhere. But I refused to respond out of my emotions. So I would say, “No problem.”
God showed me, when she spilled her milk for the third time, that in this moment, the spill does not define who she is. It doesn’t define her. She’s not a klutz. She’s not a spiller. She’s not negligent. She’s not irresponsible. She spilled her milk, for goodness’ sakes.

So Chandler and I laughed and talked about the fact that God and I loved her so much and that would never change. No matter how bad the milk spill was, no matter how bad her mistakes were, he would always love her; and so would I.

Later, I read in Jeremiah 1 about who I am in Christ. In Jeremiah 1:5, that he chose me, he formed me in him before the creation of the world. I realized that in myself, I did not fully believe that I wasn’t defined by my actions. I actually believed that I was defined by the mistakes I had made.

So I was sitting here laughing and having a wonderful conversation with my child, telling her that she’s not defined by her mistakes, that inwardly feeling like that’s what I had based my whole identity on—was being defined by my mistakes. The constant criticism that I received as a child come back in my life as a broken record. Every single time I failed, “You’re a failure.” Insert Jeremiah 1.

So when it came time for me to try new things, I would say, “Oh, I’m not good at that. I don’t wanna try it. Because if I do, I might fail,” and I honestly wasn’t willing to do that.

Today, I take all those negative thoughts and those parental tapes captive and I replace them with the truth of God’s word in Jeremiah and in Ephesians.

And today, I believe by faith, even when I don’t feel like I am God who says I am, I know who I am. I’m not defined by my actions. My mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I take these thoughts captive in my own life and they make me a better mom every time the milk is spilled.

Today, I can tell my children without reservation, without gritting my teeth and there’s no frustration—I can tell them who they are in Christ and that the milk spill is no problem.