I Will Let You Go- A Letter To My Daughter on Her First Week of Kindergarten

To My New Kindergarten Baby,

When you were in my tummy, I prepared a room for you. I spent hours choosing colors and painting furniture. I even hand-made a chandelier. I worked on our little nest, I prayed for every detail of your being, and when you came I cried hot tears of joy mixed with the grief of knowing my job is to let you go.


You grew. We still rocked with your head on my shoulder, but your feet kept moving; long strides as they inched across my body and over the side of our glider. I hugged you and you felt solid, grown. When did this happen? The c-section scars faded, and yet, I still feel like part of me has been taken out and set to run the world.

Squeaky new sneakers skip daintily between tile squares. I watch your movements, seeing the tiny tremble underneath; the tremble only a mom can see. You move forward in boldness, your eyes drinking in every aspect of this new season.

Your classroom glows fun. Tiny chairs and lockers punctuated by puzzles, books, games. You float from one excitement to the next, pressing fingertips as if to test for the sturdiness of your surroundings. You explore, seemingly forgetting me, and then you run back, pressing your face into my belly; you’ve always had to check in. Lonely checks, we call them. You move about with boldness, you’ve always been so brave. And yet, the invisible tether that binds you to me draws you back for just a moment.

I’ve never not been there. The first time you stayed away over-night we returned to each other’s arms and stared—green eyes to brown—as if to be sure the other was real. Now we stand together in this room. A room that has been nested. A room filled with things prepared, tidy and just-so. A room for you. But I did not prepare this room. I smile at the woman who did. I squeak out my name and breathe a sigh when she bends low to high-five your hand.

I watch you flutter around, watch you twist up the corners of your skirt when the nerves jumble in your tummy. I stand, I exhale, want to leave my essence in this room. Create immediate memories with you so when you walk into it without me, you will remember I was here. Remember, mom sat with me in the beanbag chair? We read those books and toppled those blocks. Mom was here, this is safe.

I grasp for tiny glimpses of comfort. The Bible verse in a frame. The way your name is already on so many things. Not my nest, someone else’s: but it’s time to let you go, let you fly; let that tether stretch down the block into this giant classroom in these halls for giants. When did you get so giant?

Then it happens. After an hour of exploration we trickle out of your new digs and you beam with joy! This room is SO cool!! We head down the hall, getting our bearings.

Here’s the bathroom! Right next to your classroom! The doors are aqua! Your favorite! The potties sit low…but wait, they’re self-flushing. We stop and stare. Brown eyes flush with fear. “Let’s practice,” I say.

“I won’t be here,” words I’ve never said come quietly, “you’ve got to try it on your own so you know that you can do it. Jesus tells us he gave us a heart that is brave not afraid, he can help you.”

Bottom lip quivers and eyes brim. All brave-face is lost. I slide my back down the wall, on your level I gather you up. My voice chokes as I whisper, “we can do this”-—and I preach to my heart more than this moment. “I’ll go first, watch me, now you, that’s it! It didn’t flush! Now you have the control, push the button! You did it!” We hug. Your tears dry and mine sink back into my throat for later.

You are so brave.

I watched you face your fear, watched you conquer it, watched you turn to Jesus when your sweet tiny world got rocked. I’ll let you go because I know He promises a place for you at His altars, and it’s there I will continue to build our nest.

I love you with my whole heart,

The Power of Flesh

My mind is weighty with new old truth. Does the gospel ever just hit you fresh and fiery like the first time again? It’s like digging a well you’ve dug for years when suddenly, fresh, cool water streams in, turning dry cracked earth back into fertile life-bearing soil.

Incarnation: a word that typically brings to mind tunes from Nacho Libre and stirs up Chipotle cravings (don’t ask why my brain is wired this way- just roll with it). Today, incarnation has begun to take on flesh. Today, incarnation does something in the pit of my belly that stirs my heart and mind.

God made man. Then God becomes man. He wraps the fullness of himself in the flesh of the beings He created.

Incarnation: All God packaged as all man.

(“PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS . . . itty bitty living space.” —-Name that movie— )

I’m reading about this truth in Knowing God while my four-month-old stirs next to me in her bed. Looking at her tiny frame; she’s so helpless. So completely dependent on me for all things. She has no life apart from me—I am her source. Me. Broken, weak, grumpy, tired, sinful . . . This is what she looks to for all of her needs: a faulty finite source.

God made baby. Not just human with frailness; but human in most dependent form; baby with symbiotic relational need. Giving his life wasn’t just in death—it was in life—all of him subject to all of our vulgar, lazy, selfish ways. All of God subject to the failings of human parenthood. All of God bowed low in tiny babe so that we might look up into hugeness of grace.

Then I remember the story that has always troubled me—Jesus, the tween, hangs out at the temple while mom and dad look frantically for him. In my brain with all of its preconceptions this feels wrong, disrespectful somehow. Come on, tween Jesus! Don’t freak out your mama!

Yet again I am missing something. Jesus, culturally and religiously, stands on the precipice of manhood. His parents have proudly discussed and prepared him for the coming days of accountability. Soon he will be responsible for the state of his soul.

(On a side note: can you imagine being Mary in this moment? Not only are you dealing with the terror of a missing child for THREE days, you are also keenly aware of the fact that you have misplaced THE MESSIAH! Talk about some serious mom guilt!)

Jesus has lived as a child in the home of Mary and Joseph for twelve years. Now, as religious society begins to accept his manhood, he reveals his true nature. He will be considered a man—responsible for the commandments and the state of his soul; he is showing them that he is God—The Word, taking on the weight of all souls.

As happens repeatedly throughout Jesus’ life, he tells people directly why he is there (he is there to do his Father’s business), and they don’t understand. How can they? We have the full picture, literally spelled out before us in a variety of editions, and we struggle to comprehend. This however, is not the part that causes my breath to catch today.

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” (Luke 2:51 NIV; emphasis mine).

This idea that Jesus in his unfathomable power became so indescribably weak is not a new revelation. Today, though. Today the reality of the incarnation changes everything. To love like Jesus means to live outside of myself. When everything in me revolts against the very real, everyday need to submit myself to mundane service. While dishes and diapers do not compare to saving the world, Jesus taking on baby form pushes me to stop grumbling. Who am I to believe I should be placed on a pedestal for all of my “many” acts of service?

My prayer is that as I grow to comprehend this mystery I will accept suffering, humility, submission, even pain, as gift—that in these moments I will hear shouts of deliverance resonating in place of my groaning.


Featured photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash
“Knowing God” by JI Packer


Child’s Pose

Anxiety is there when I wake. I crawl out of bed, the sick baby who slept in my arms stirs and cries. I stumble into the kitchen to pour cereal and make coffee. Now two of three of my children are crying, the third is so glued to a screen she is oblivious to the others. The husband woke up with the older girls to let me sleep in, gracious and thoughtful, but my mind still groans under the weight of sleeplessness.

“I may need you more today than most days, Jesus.”

Then I think, “Well, that’s a dumb thing to say, I need you desperately every day.” But it rings a little true as I try to keep up with three people’s immediate needs while neglecting all of mine. I need coffee, I need food so I can take medication, I need to pee, I need Jesus.

Just Jesus.

“Sustain me, fill in where I lack. I am not enough and I feel like I am about to break. You are greater than my mind, greater than my brokenness.”

Every morning starts this way.

I get to the settled part, the moment when everyone’s needs are momentarily satisfied and they run off to giggle and play. I get to the quiet, and my mind’s noise consumes.

I turn on some worship music and tuck my knees under me on the floor, head in hands. I need to posture myself in submission, to accept his grace and remember that I don’t have to stand on my own two rickety legs. I tuck into “child’s pose” because I am a child. I need His arms to wrap around me.

Tiny feet pad down the stairs. Tiny ponytail standing straight up. She crawls next to me on the floor, whimpering. Pushing herself under my chest, she curls into a ball and rests her head on my arm. Tears still cling to her cheeks, but I feel her body relax. I feel the wetness of her dress, the cause of her tears­­—she’s had an accident. Mouth covered in the crumbs of stolen cookies, her clothes wet and smelly. I pull her close to my chest, my own child’s pose wrapping around hers.

Her mess cannot deter my love.

We rest there, breathing in each other’s air. I am her and she is me. We roleplay the state of my heart right there in my living room. My mess does not stop Jesus’ steadfast love. It comes at me, violent, tearing up the world to curl itself around my filth. HESED. Covenant love is one way. Covenant love cannot be repelled or repulsed.

He has traded His good for my sorrow.

And so, we start our day.


Dawn Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
Cover Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Finding Jesus

My eyes welled as they scanned the words−each one spreading salve on my current situation. I had just traveled through a dark valley, overcome by depression and wracked with physical sickness. I had spent the night before crying on my bathroom floor to the God Who Sees. I poured over Psalm 116, reliving the big emotions I had felt only hours before, this time with the hindsight of one rescued. He had heard my cries as I begged him to pull me up from the darkness of my little world as it crumbled around me. I woke that morning with a renewed joy, not free from circumstance, but rescued all the same.

Psalm 116 was perfect for my current dark valley, meeting me where I was−but there was more. You know those sweet moments when Jesus stretches you from your little bitty worldview into His BIG one? The words of this Psalm did that in me. My eyes began to see a bigger picture in the tapestry of the words.

“The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:3-4, ESV).

My trial, and God’s merciful response to me, was just a tiny picture of what He did for me on the cross. I have been rescued from death, pulled from the very pit that threatens to swallow up every one of us. I have been graciously included in the great Rescue Plan of God.

Of all the things to love about God’s Word, my favorite has to be the little sneak peeks God placed from beginning to end revealing to us His plan for our rescue. He is never lacking; from Old Testament to New, from our personal testimonies to our present day struggles, He has hidden models of the Gospel within the folds of our human existence.

You see, while we tend to see the Bible as a two part system−Old Testament, New Testament−there is, in fact, an intricate cohesion throughout. “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1) and that Word was Jesus. We are told everything was made through Him and He is the light that darkness cannot overcome. Jesus was part of the plan from the very beginning.

Soon after all things were made, Adam and Eve chose to believe the lie we all live−God doesn’t really love us−and they took on the covering of death. God meets them in their darkness, sending them away from His holiness, but with a promise of rescue. [1]

Years later, the whole world is hurtling headlong into hell, while Noah and his family build a boat. God, yet again, reveals His pattern for salvation: sin leading to destruction; provision of a narrow, but sure means of escape; the promise of a new creation. [2]

God’s people find themselves again, staring into the hungry mouth of death, but God sends Joseph on ahead (through suffering and betrayal) to prepare a way of rescue for His people. [3] He then leads them both into and out of bondage in order to connect their hearts to the necessity of sacrifice. In Egypt they see the death of a son and the covering of sacrificial blood are their one means of escape. God paves the way out of slavery by way of innocent sacrifice. Outside of Egypt He orders their daily lives around this need for atonement, that they might not miss His heart for them. [4]

Rahab and Ruth, both outsiders−not called children of God, are not only rescued, but patched into the people of God by way of His mercy. [5] The Psalms are ripe with God’s rescue plan, played out through the daily trials of the Psalmist. The Prophets all but spell out God’s intricate, intimate, life or death plan of salvation. Look at Hosea, his entire story is to show God’s tireless pursuit of the unworthy in order to make them right again.

Even when Jesus finally steps on the scene, He is consistent in dropping hints of what’s to come. He raises people from the dead and says they’re sleeping. [6] He straight up tells His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to be killed and then raised back to life three days later (and they don’t get it!). [7] God’s plan for salvation is mysterious on so many levels, but it is not hard to find!

God has been gracious to us from the beginning of time, not hiding His purpose to gather His people back to Himself. He has given us types of the Gospel throughout His word, Jesus shows up EVERYWHERE!  We must learn to mine for them, to train our minds and hearts to see them the way we did with Where’s Waldo when we were young. I encourage you, as you read to mark these places where you see Jesus. Discipline yourself to find Him in the places you least expect.

As you cultivate these new found Gospel eyes in your daily study, you will be surprised by how wide the periphery of your vision stretches. Just as my recent dark trial revealed to me, you will see that He has woven the Gospel into the miniscule moments of everyday life. Those little hiccups and dark valleys, those moments of rest and rejuvenation, let them become the words of His Rescue Plan sung over your world. Let them ring out through the wrinkles and grey hairs. Let them shine from behind your eyes, and be the gut-cry of your heart: “I love the Lord, because he has heard me…” (Psalm 116:1a).

Seek out these treasures and hide them in your hearts for those rainy days.






[1]Genesis 3:15

[2] Genesis 6-9

[3] Gen 39-41 and Psalm 105:20-22

[4] Exodus 12:33-50

[5] Joshua 4:22-23, Ruth

[6] John 11, Mark 5:35-43, Luke 7:11-17

[7] Matthew 16:21


A Newborn Mom’s Guide to Getting Ready

I have now conquered 2.5 weeks of being a mom of THREE GIRLS>>>>

I would say there are few words to express the joy and exhaustion that blend themselves into my reality, but there are plenty of words… I am just too tired to remember them. These days are both quiet and soak-worthy while somehow boisterous and all consuming. I sat on the edge of my husband’s bath the other day, feeling my shoulders slump forward and my hair reach for the sky. “I have become the most basic form of myself,” I muttered. “If there were a missing link that was slightly more ape than human, I would be it.”

The beauty of self-forgetfulness is that it is a privilege to the terminally selfish. I have prayed to be selfless, and God over the last year has definitely answered. I offered myself and he offered me Eisley Rae. However, in the moment when weariness and the need for a shower collide, I cannot help but feel a kinship with all other mammals that leaves me feeling slightly less than human.

So for those of you living in these stinky, glorious trenches of newborn motherhood… I have created a quick getting ready checklist…

A Newborn Mom’s Guide to Getting Ready:

  1. Sleep walk to the bathroom, fill that ever dignified perry bottle and have a seat. Accept the screaming infant your glassy-eyed husband brings in. (You know your mommydom is officially established when you breastfeed on the throne.)
  2. Stare longingly at the shower. Imagine the hot water running down your back: how long has it been? Now push that thought out of your mind and switch baby to second breast to free up your dominant hand.
  3. Grab your husband’s deodorant. Between the intense postpartum sweats and that lingering poo smell, it’s no secret you need that industrial strength stick. Apply to your one available armpit. Make a mental note to hug people only on that side today.
  4. Boogie Wipes are the Magic Eraser for your face. You might not be sure when you last applied that makeup, but a quick Boogie Wipe once-over will remove that deteriorating mascara, revealing your new, trend setting smoky under eye.
  5. Walk to kitchen, careful to keep one arm under that terminally nursing baby, pour yesterday’s coffee into a possibly clean mug. Place directly in microwave next to the cup you lost on Tuesday. Walk away.
  6. Your baby has fallen asleep, now’s your chance! You might not get a shower, but at least your clothes will be clean. Open your drawer, breathe in the scent of freshly laundered athleisure, and savor the moment… turn to see your toddler burying her new sibling under a mountain of stuffed animals. Moment over.
  7. Your clothing choice is now relegated to the scratch and sniff test. Scrape at the unknown goobers, if they come off, great! If they don’t…well, let’s be real, the scratch part of this test is just for show. Now give it a good sniff: on a scale from mild BO to goat milk past its prime, how wearable is it? Is the majority of the spit up on the back or the front? Depending on stain location and intensity of smell, decide how many more days you can reasonably wear this shirt.
  8. Spray enough dry shampoo into the air to create a decently translucent cloud. Walk through it, wafting it around your body, add a little spin if you’re feeling fancy. You just gained that shirt an extra day!
  9. Remember you have hair. Immediately forget.
  10. You’re ready to conquer a few errands, or maybe just a coffee run… oh, wait, baby just realized it has been 20 whole minutes since her last feeding. Accept your short-term milk dispensing status, turn on Netflix and curl up on the couch with your littles. You will get out tomorrow.

Onward mommies! Solidarity is sanity!

The Sloth Raising My Kids

I am a creature of comfort. I love my bed, naps, and temperate weather. Ask my husband: I freak out over twisted bed sheets and transform into a snarling, wild-eyed, beast when hangry.

I nest smalls comforts around myself (Facebook, coffee, isolation) with the ever echoing excuse of “I need to stay sane enough to survive the day (morning, hour).” My desire for comfort devolves my thought time into fantasy, fueled by need for escape. I long to be alone, long to be on vacation, long to crawl into bed and never look through that revolving door of  laundry, dishes, sticky faces again. Motherhood feels like monotonous repetition: wrestle, wipe, wallow, repeat…

Do you ever have those seasons when God is chipping away at something? Every couple days it seems He reaches a new layer of my hard heart, and I think, “OH, now I get it!” Then He starts over again- for months. I am there. Each revelation has been subtle-a moment of peaceful release- until this week.

This week my pastor, JR Vassar, spoke on sloth. This week, after an 8 month whirlwind of life in the raw (preempted by me saying, “God, help me to stop being selfish”), Jesus whispered and it rattled my cage to the core.

This week, I saw what drives me: and it is ugly.

Vassar defined sloth (this is my loose paraphrase from hurried notes) as, “Hating the place, the responsibilities, and the design that God has placed upon you.” So here I am. A mom of 3, blogger on behalf of moms, a stay-at-home advocate for motherhood and childhood in all it’s glory and grunge. Here I am confessing to you (the internet): deep down I have hated my purpose.

I have an odd dichotomy when it comes to the view of myself versus other mothers who do what I do. I respect and honor their sacrifice, while disdaining my own. In my youth, I wanted to travel, to be a missionary and give my everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to Jesus by way of great adventure. Now, when someone so innocently asks me “What do you do?” I inwardly cringe. I stumble out some version of being “just a mom” and then try to pad my answer with a more honorable resume. Then I walk away, feeling belittled by my own prejudice.

In the last weeks as selfishness is revealed and aching heart clings, I find myself clawing at comfort and left wanting. Weeks of staying home with sick children drives me to social media and I wallow in my lonesomeness. I look in the mirror at my bulging, aching body, and can’t see past the ill-fitting shirts to the co-creation happening below. My clothing is composed entirely of spandex and snot (or is that bananas? It’s hard to tell). So I wrestle.

I fight at my purpose, picking at it like an ugly scab that maligns my self-image. I shirk my responsibilities because they feel unimportant. I ignore my children because they need me, and I want to not be needed. The image-bearer forgets she is made to love and clothes herself in self-indulgent grief. He holds up a mirror and I realize: I am the sloth in my home.

In believing my design is boring and insignificant, I am believing the Designer is as well. Vassar said there is no virtue without repetition. “My life is a revolving door”, I think, “I’m the holiest donkey in the world!” (if you haven’t seen the video, sorry for the obscure reference). Then Jesus whispers, “Faith without deeds is dead;” virtue without love is empty.

 Gracy Olmstead says it better in her article, Don’t Dismiss Housework, “In his book You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith argues that our daily habits reveal what we truly love. The daily rituals of virtue (or of vice) that we cultivate are most often happening “under the hood” of our consciousness. There’s a “liturgy” we’re repeating with our daily actions—one that informs our most basic desires and wants.”

My very DNA means I have creation built into my marrow. I can create, birth, and nurture LIFE in the quiet inner sanctum of this temple. Will I embrace all that comes along with this honor or will I spend my days in the rinse-repeat cycle of escapism and survival? Will I find joy in the unseen, private sacrifice of bringing order to chaos within the walls of my home?

I hear the whisper again, “I would have left the glory of heaven even if you were the only one who needed my sacrificial love.” My brain bites at this thought, so contrary to our human economy. The reality of leaving all glory and honor and comfort for such a “minuscule” and ordinary purpose rakes against my natural inclinations.

He gave His everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to show me that the very essence of motherhood IS my great adventure. He saw the wholeness of His children as ultimate. He entered into the pain and heaviness of relationship because His nature is composed of love. He brought cosmos from chaos, and each morning sings it over my burrowing, fearful heart again. Now He whispers into my restless sloth: “Join me.”

Trustworthy Intentions: Seeing Suffering Through the Lens of God’s Character

When the walls of life crumble, as they so often do, I have yelled and screamed at the violent wind and fire storms, so exhausted by my indignant anger that I miss the quiet whisper almost entirely.

In August my family and I started a trek through what I call our “season of plagues” . After finding out about a surprise pregnancy (not part of the plagues btw) I was immediately plunged into 4 months of debilitating morning sickness. I could count on one hand the amount of times I left my house. One night I sat at the table around a meal I could barely look at, my husband, who was working full-time and keeping us all afloat, kissed the top of my head and said, “I miss you.” “I miss me too,” I thought. I was a shell of myself and felt isolated and separate from my life.

Around Thanksgiving the clouds began to part and I started to feel like myself again. My husband though, did not. What started as a toothache quickly turned into dangerously high blood pressure, the flu and then pneumonia. He was out of work for nearly 3 weeks and locked away in our guest room, now a shell of himself, while I tried to piece together our life that I had been absent from for so long.

We left for the holiday and as soon as we returned I became sick and soon broke out into hives from the bottoms of my feet to the top my head. My body swelled and itched despite high doses of steroids and Benadryl. The day I woke with hives my husband had to return to work (it had been almost a month). He walked out the door and immediately my youngest daughter started vomiting and my oldest showed me a grotesque infection festering under one of her fingernails. A week later I drove our limping family to Oklahoma for Christmas day, my husband pale and shivering in the passenger seat after a night of violent stomach illness (which I came down with hours after we arrived).

Today my oldest daughter is lying in bed with a stomach bug, my youngest is on Benadryl for an allergic reaction from ant bites, and I…I am walking my floors, Lysol in one hand, holy water in the other. I joke with my friends that I feel like I am in a low-budget Job remake. We haven’t lost any lives or cattle, but it sure does feel like a season of spiritual warfare rather than a rough patch of illness.

Yet, something in me has changed. If this had been my lot in life even a year ago I would have collapsed in entitled anger and railed at God for not lifting this burden from those He loved. I would have questioned His integrity and His goodness, and ignored His gentle reasoning. I would have selfishly seen my suffering as far more painful than those losing lives and homes overseas, and wallowed in my privilege and self-pity.

Not anymore. After searching out what it means for God to be good in the face of suffering, I’ve learned to trust his character in a way I never have. Last Sunday in church the guest speaker, Christian Rose, spoke on suffering. He said that suffering is the confirming mark of those in the family of God. He also said that we should not be surprised when God does amazing things despite suffering, but rather, that He does purposeful and miraculous things BECAUSE of suffering. We should view our suffering as a distinguished seal of belonging. We should rejoice in our suffering because it is one of those most powerful tools we have to reach a world in darkness. And as I will discuss in a coming post, it is the location God calls us to when He asks us to meet with Him.

I have found these last few months that God’s loving, good intentions toward me are not only met, but also steadfast in how he relays them. He is just as good and loving in my hardship as He was in my times of rest and rejoicing.

Because I know this now, I find that when I am faced with another trial, my heart is drawn into Him rather than away from Him. My knee-jerk response is no longer unrighteous indignation, but worshipful submission. I trust His heart toward me to always be for my good, and I am working on letting go of what I expect that should look like.

So while I continue in this path, come hell or hives, I will rest in the character of Jesus, knowing full well that whatever comes, He is with me. He does not allow suffering go to waste, so I will bring all my pity to Him, knowing full-well He loves me deeply and has a gone before mapping perfection out in scars.



How to Throw a Pinterest-Worthy Pity Party

I am the QUEEN of the pity party. I can go from “My life is awesome!!!” to full-on Bridget Jones with mind numbing speed and expertise. For years I wore my self-loathing like a badge of honor. Humility, in my mind,  was mastered through self-loathing, and I had a doctorate in humility displayed proudly on my wall.

Self-pity is unattractive and yet, so alluring. When it belongs to us, it’s like a warm comfort blanket, but worn by someone else, it becomes rancid and repulsive. Either way, it wraps its claws of isolation firmly around its victim, whispering soothingly as it squeezes life away.

We know this. We are fully aware of its detriment, but find ourselves repeatedly wrapped in its cold embrace. It tells us we need it. It tells us we deserve it. It tells us the lie that defines us: “God does not love me.”

God cannot possibly be good in the mind of one wrapped in self-pity, because a good God would never put you in this situation.

It’s like transcribing a Dear Diary page;  writing on self-pity. Years and years of my life spent railing at God for this discomfort or that inconvenience.

Yet, pity has a place. Even biblically, pity is not foreign or without purpose. There are definitely times in life when you look around at the wreckage and there is no other emotional option-you need to be pitied. Self-pity is destructive and putrid, and seeking pity never feels good, so what are we left with?

How do we handle those Job moments when all you can think is “why?” How do we take the pity party to Pinterest-level dignity and usefulness? Lucky for us, the Bible is way ahead of social media in laying out a plan.

The Solitary Pity Party (bring your pity to someone who cares)

Two stories stand out to me as I find myself lately in familiar pity party territory. The first is found in Luke 7:11-17. Jesus had just entered the town of Nain and happens upon a funeral procession. Being Jesus, he notices the grief-stricken woman and knows her story and takes pity on her.

I want to point out a few things here:
1. Jesus knows her. He recognizes that she is a widow and that this is her only son. In this time, if a woman had no husband, she had to rely on her sons to care for her needs. Women were not able to be self sufficient because of the culture of the time. (A side note: Luke’s gospel is rich with stories specifically focused on celebrating and pointing out interactions between women and Jesus– I will write more on the sheer awesomeness of this later, but so encourage you to check it out for yourself!!) He knows, that despite the crowd around her, this woman was utterly alone. She had plenty to feel sorry about.

2. Jesus sees her. “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” I love this. If you remember, in the famous scene where Jesus weeps, it is in response to seeing Mary and being moved by her grief. In the story of the widow, she does not even know to seek Jesus’ help, and yet he finds her at her darkest hour.

Jesus sees you in your pitiful state (even when you do not see him) and has compassion on you.

Charles Spurgeon puts it this way, “If you would sum up the whole character of Christ in reference to ourselves it might be gathered into this one sentence, ‘He was moved with compassion.'”*

Next Level Pity Party (It’s Gonna be OFF THE CHAIN!)

The other pitiful soul is the leper found in Mark 1:40-45. Lepers, like women of the time, were low on the societal totem pole. His disease made him unclean and unable to be involved in community life. I imagine he had spent long hours indulging in some pretty pitiful thought patterns- I would have!

He sees Jesus and comes near to him. He knows well his miserable state, and is keenly aware of the only one who can rescue him. “If you will, you can make me clean.” A simple statement that says so much about the man behind it. He’s on his face before the only one who can offer pity that matters, saying, “All you have to do is want it, and I will be healed. Please, want it.” Humility here does not require self-loathing, but rather a recognition of the one who sees your worth. If anyone is going to pity you, let it be Jesus.

Jesus does what Jesus do and reaches out to join the man in the filth of his wrecked life. By touching him, he essentially takes on his uncleanness and becomes a leper. His pity moves him to act, his love drives him to trade places with the man, and his Godliness empowers him to give the man back his life.

Rescue from our pitiful state is not enough, Jesus instructs us all in further healing; to leave the party of the pitiful with style and purpose.

1. Further sanctification through liturgy: Jesus tells the man to go to the temple and follow the laws to complete his cleansing. Participation in worship and ordering your daily life around Jesus is the only appropriate rhythm for a stellar pity party.

2. Rejoining community: It’s time. You have survived the darkness and the chaos of pity, you have taken it to the One who knows you, sees you, and has compassion on you. It’s time to step back into the light. God created us for community, and the indulgence of self-pity removes us from the thrum of its heartbeat. It’s time to take your heart, weary and wounded as it may be, and plug back in. You were not made to suffer alone. Jesus’ compassion should always lead us back to the warm blanket of Godly community for rest and renewal.

Party on, my friends.

* http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/3438.php



Who Really Won the War on Christmas?

As parents and believers, this time of year is a struggle. We long to see the wonder in our child’s eyes at the “magic” of Christmas, to watch their cheeks aglow with the soft light radiating off the tree, and hear their excited footsteps sneaking around on Christmas morning. Yet, there is a natural tension as the world around us, wrapped in consumerism and Santa, forgets Jesus. Something deep within us is troubled by a season so vibrant, yet so out of focus. Naturally, when tension tugs at our gut, we turn on our defenses and prep for combat.

The “War on Christmas” has caused media outlets and youtubers to unite in tiny battle. We fight coffee cups, correct verbage, and emphasize our once friendly greetings with an air of indignation. As a mom, I have tiptoed along the front lines of this warzone. Playdates after Thanksgiving naturally invite conversation about holiday plans, hard to find gifts, and whether or not Santa and Jesus should share a byline in our Christmas traditions. All sides of the controversy are represented even in a small collective, and all sides feel the need to defend and promote their position.

So we war.

A tiny Jesus, wrapped in the soft skin of infancy obviously needs defending against a world of red cups, jolly generous old saints, and ambiguous holiday greetings. Consumerism and greed bare their ugly teeth at this swaddled babe and we raise our fist in outrage.

Have we forgotten that the tiny child birthed long ago is not God reduced, but God voluntarily restrained [1]?nativity.jpg

He did not come to us weak, hiding away in a forlorn manger, in hopes that our pity be stirred and we flex our human muscles to protect this puny God-child. Choosing to send His ultimate weapon, wrapped in frail human flesh was not God provoking us to stand up and fight. Friends, we had already lost (we lost in Eden). We were owned. Our very DNA under occupation by a force we had readily handed ourselves to.

You see, we were not created to be a king’s army, protecting his interests. We were created as an extension of His love nature, a byproduct of an all-powerful God who by definition is Love. His enemy came after him by attacking His weakest point: us. “…A terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: ‘God doesn’t love me.’” [The Jesus Storybook Bible]

God stepped into this lie, wrapped in our insubstantial flesh, to join us in our broken and oppressed state.

God with us, Emanuel.

Like a Trojan horse, He moved in next door to defeat the enemy that dwelled inside of us. Our manmade hierarchies, our lists of laws and forced morality, our battle cries and self-righteous indignation had failed. We were God’s enemy.

That is why Mary, teenaged virginal everyday Mary, does not cry out, “I am woman, HEAR ME ROAR!” when her station is flip turned upside down. She doesn’t dig into her stockpiled arsenal to enlist, but gives the trembling victory-cry of a POW seeing her first glimpse of genuine light. She waves the flag of the One who set her free and runs to be protected under his merciful estate.

It is why Simeon leans in to whisper over a week-old baby, “This boy is meant to tear down nations, rend and reap what has long been devastated in darkness. Brace yourself, mama, you’ve just given birth to a Warrior.” [loose paraphrase mine; Luke 2:35]

Christmas is about a war. A war that started in a garden and ended on a hilltop. We still live among the rubble, but as unworthy victors reveling at being set free.

The drummer keeps time not for us to join ranks, but to march in a parade as spoils of war. A parade that calls others out into the streets to gather up piles of mercy—because we all know how parades end: The Big Man is coming, and we don’t want any to miss out.


[1] Taken from a sermon by JR Vassar. Click the link to hear the whole thing.


When God Changes Your Plans

I have two amazing girls, ages 4 and 1. They are brilliant and spunky, and most days, more than enough for me to handle. I love being a mom; love staying home with my kids; love that I am learning the hard lesson of selflessness through raising them. But the last several months I have been burnt out. My patience and joy flickering as I trudge through my days.

Grasping for any strength or stamina Jesus might hold out to me, I sent my oldest to my moms for a few days. Two days into my “vacay” I sat in a Target bathroom stall, staring disbelieving at the plastic stick I had just peed on. Those two neon blue lines seemed to magnify my weariness rather than lift it. I cried, I praised (because new life is still new life!), and I wandered the aisles in a daze while my youngest stared at me with the quiet concern of a toddler wise beyond her years.

It’s not that I don’t want more children, or that I don’t enjoy my children. It’s just that it wasn’t part of the plan. And this new plan, well, I feel ill-equipped for this one. Adoption had stirred our hearts months ago and I had allowed myself to nestle into this new (and surprising) direction for our future. Pregnancies mean long days of nausea and vomit followed by severe postpartum mental issues. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the newborn stage. Love nursing and snuggling. Yet, there is something about that first year of life that feels isolating and all-consuming. That first birthday is always a sigh of sadness and relief. I just breathed that sigh four months ago. And now, now I’m staring at the hard water lines of my toilet bowl thinking, this was not the plan.

Morning (read all day) sickness kicked in right away, and my family hurtled headlong into survival mode. When mom, who keeps the little ecosystem we call home, alive and balanced, is no longer functioning, things get real fast. So here we are, floundering in “real”.

So why am I writing this? I don’t wish to use my blog as a “Dear Diary” or a place to vent my frustrations. I am telling you this because, sometimes, it’s not about us.

Sometimes God changes our plans. Sometimes we find ourselves in the deep end of the pool and our life raft just deflated. I love control. I love feeling like I have things together. I love when I look back on a big task and see that, I, yes me, made that happen. I am woman, hear me roar!

But, this roaring woman is laying at the base of her uncleaned toilet, crying out to the God Who Sees, because it is not about me.

My dear friend shared her similar story with me, finding she was pregnant with her fourth. Her husband was out-of-town and she was barely keeping her head above water at home. She threw on some grilled cheeses for dinner, ran to the bathroom to throw up, and came back to toasty black cheese bricks. “How am I going to have four kids, I can’t even make a grilled cheese sandwich!!?!?” She wailed over the smoke alarm. (Her children are grown now, and they laugh about this often.)

You see, we all find ourselves in times where God has changed our plans. We don’t get it. We can’t wrap our minds around his timing or his purpose. We cry out, “How am I going to_______ when I can’t even_______?!?!?!”

So if this is you, and we are sitting in lonely corners of similar life boats, take heart! Say this with me (because I’m preaching to myself more than I am to you!):

“Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (Ps 116:7)

He has given you all you need. (*Said to myself*). He has equipped us to carry out HIS plan (ours-no, but HIS, absolutely.) Better yet, he promises to stick with us as we walk through the waters! So return, O soul, to Him who is your rest–He is all you need.