Over the past few months, the Holy Spirit really convicted me about my spirit of defense. I frequently felt the need to deflect, deny, or defend, instead of trying to listen with an open heart or empathize with someone’s pain. So many times, I rolled my eyes at something on social media, only to feel a tug in my spirit: Your experiences do not negate someone else’s. So I finally sat down and spent some time in prayer.
This morning was chaotic. We were late for church, and I was trying to get my daughter’s messy hair into a quick braid. As I combed through one of her tangles, she tensed up and yelled, “Ow, ow, ow!” I quickly kissed her head and said, “You’re fine,” as I rushed out the door to finish getting ready. She followed me out and tugged on my dress. As I turned around, my 3-year-old looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “No, I’m not fine. It hurts.”
“One day we will all stand before Jesus.”
I hated this phrase growing up. Every time I heard it, my stomach would drop, and the enemy would whisper in my ear, “You will be judged, and you will fall short.”
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a post talking about abortion. It encouraged people who consider themselves pro-life to show grace to mothers who did choose life, but didn’t do it in a conventional way: the teenage girl who dropped out of high school to have her baby, the married woman who gave her baby up for adoption, the unmarried woman who had a baby with her boyfriend, or the woman using food stamps at the grocery store to support her five children. The writer shared that all of them chose life, yet still get judged by the people who claim to be pro-life because they have a non-traditional lifestyle.
I watch you glance at the clock. Because for now, life runs on time. And your days just don’t seem to have enough. It’s time for a bath and bed, and it’s okay when you feel guilty that you’re glad. I give you just enough energy to make it through the splashes and tantrums. And I hear every word you softly sing over her. I am already answering those prayers for her. Mama, you just wait to see what I do in her life.
Your to-do list is almost complete. And even after all of that, you still come meet me on the couch. I understand that you can barely hold your eyes open, but Mama, my Truth is just the refreshment you need. My Word is the energy you need to love hard tomorrow. And all I need you to do it open it. I’ll do the rest. And I’ll give you rest.
You did more Kingdom work today than you will ever know, sweet Mama.
And you will never know how proud I am of you.
—“Dear Working Mama” by Jessica Satterfield (excerpt)
Three years ago, as a brand new mom in the throes of postpartum depression, I gulped these words down like they were water for my parched soul. Over and over again, I would go back and forth between these words and His Word. My whole life I had been an over-achiever, and it was devastating to not live up to my own expectations.
I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Mexico with Operation Christmas Child. I had the opportunity to visit with several local pastors and lead a team of staff members as we all got to experience the joy of thousands of children hearing the Gospel for the very first time.
One of my favorite things about being a mom is how God uses parenting moments to give me better insight into His relationship with me.
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our daughter’s third birthday. After he picked her up from preschool, she came barreling in the door asking for a “birthday lollipop.” I told her no because we had plans to surprise her with a trip to an ice cream shop that had 20 flavors and 50 toppings to choose from. She immediately burst into tears, devastated that we wouldn’t let her have a lollipop. As she melted into the floor, accusing us of hurting her feelings, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, “If you only knew what we have planned for you!”
“Jesus may have said man shall not live by bread alone, but He said nothing about moms living by caffeine alone,” I joked to my husband while sucking down my second cup of coffee after a hectic morning. Icy roads, school delays, and blow-out diapers had not set us off on the right foot. I was frustrated because I was going to be late to work (again), but in the midst of the craziness, I felt a gentle prompting in my spirit to meditate on Nehemiah 8:10:
For the joy of the Lord is your strength.
I remember my son’s first cry clearly… because it was immediately followed by silence.
Neither of our birth stories went the way my husband and I had planned. I was in labor with our daughter for over 24 hours when her oxygen levels started dropping, leading to an emergency C-section. With our son, we had a scheduled C-section, but I went into labor four weeks early, so it ended up being another emergency operation.
I have prayed about this post for a while before putting it out into the world.
Since the ruling in New York, I’ve seen a lot of posts about abortion on my social feeds. I’m not going to debate the morality of abortion, because at the end of the day I am pro-life, but I do want to point out that when the crowd was ready to stone the woman, Jesus didn’t join them just because they were on the right side of the issue. Instead, He stood against the crowd and invited them to self-reflect.
I’m honored to share this beautiful testimony from my sweet friend, Tiffany, who will always hold a special place in my heart. She was my daughter’s nanny for two years, and my husband and I consider her part of our family. Every single day, she was intentional about showing my baby girl the love of Jesus and I will be forever thankful.
For out of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16
“The Lord keeps giving me a vision of being in the middle of an ocean. I’m treading water and barely surviving. There’s no land in sight; nowhere to go. I begin to get more and more exhausted as I try to carry my life on my shoulders. My past crashes over me like a wave. The pain of sexual abuse, fear, and unworthiness creep into my lungs while I desperately fill them with air. I push my head under the water every few seconds to rest. But then I pop back up, gasping for air, and take up the weight again. I never stay down long enough to let the water fill my lungs.
“Who’s in charge?”
The other day I found myself asking my toddler this question after she repeatedly refused to put away her new Christmas toys. Usually, she responds with a sullen, “You are.” But this time she smiled at me and said, “Jesus is!”
It was pretty hard to argue with that logic, so my new parenting motto is: Until Jesus comes back, Mommy’s in charge.
For the past few weeks, bedtime has been a hot mess in our family. Our toddler has been crying every night for various reasons: she’s scared, she wants a hug, she needs a drink, or she has to go to the bathroom. The night typically starts with me gently comforting her and ends with me yelling, “Stop whining! You’re fine!”
She’s usually a pretty good sleeper, but there’s something crazy about this time of year. We are all exhausted, and I’m quick to lose my temper because we are in a season of over-spending, over-scheduling, and over-worrying.
This will be our first Christmas without the matriarch of my family—my Meme. So many things remind me of her. The other morning as we sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful” at work, I found myself singing the Latin words, and all I wanted to do was call and tell her how much I missed her Sunday morning Latin lessons.
Even watching my kids open their presents at my parents’ house this weekend brought me back to my own childhood, waiting impatiently on my Meme and Papaw to make their way to our house so we could open our gifts. She was always there to rejoice with us over every present.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.
Over the past weekend, I was home with two sick kids during a snowstorm and—I’ll admit it—we watched a lot of movies. I tried fun games, hot chocolate, cookie baking, and dancing around in the living room, but somehow all of that only took two hours, with a very long 46 hours to go. So I just accepted the impending mom guilt and turned on Netflix.
The good news is that God loves using those moments when I’m wallowing in guilt to lay His Words on my heart. This weekend, it was all about the happily ever after. Movie after movie had the implied happily ever after we all know and love… for the good guys. But what about the bad guys?
I grew up believing a lot of things about God and about myself that weren’t true. I never felt like I had a good relationship with Him, but I wasn’t sure why. A few years ago, I decided to finally open up about these struggles to my husband. We had just taken on a mortgage, and here are the words he shared with me:
Imagine that you know the person who owns our mortgage. You owe a massive amount of debt to them, and you know you can’t make a payment this month. If you see that person at the grocery store, are you going to run up and talk to them, or are you going to sneak out and hope they don’t see you?
These words came at the perfect time because that’s exactly how I saw God—as someone to whom I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.
I had been basing my right-standing with Him on whether or not I’d made the payment that month. My confidence in His love for me was only as strong as my “bank account.” Going to church or memorizing scripture was like making a deposit and messing up or missing the mark was like making a withdrawal.
For years, I felt like my relationship with God was dependent on whether or not I had money in my account.
In John 19:30, after Jesus had been hanging on the cross for hours, He said, “It is finished.” In the original Greek, those three words are actually one word—tetelestai—which means paid in full. Once my heart accepted that Jesus paid my debt and that my salvation was based on His works instead of mine, I was finally able to grow in the genuine, intimate relationship with the Lord that I had been seeking.
I’m sure that for a lot of Christians this is common knowledge, but for me, it was a concept I just couldn’t grasp. I let guilt and self-doubt get in the way of truth and grace until my husband helped me break through those lies.
So just in case anyone needs this reminder today:
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
– Colossians 2:13-14
When I was in high school, I remember walking out to my car one morning and seeing the words ‘You’re a whore’ written on the window. I think we can all agree that the saying Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you is a complete lie. Those words hurt me a lot. And I carried them in my heart for years, wondering if that’s what people thought of me.
Until I came across four very important words in Mark.
“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Take courage!’ they said. ‘Get up! He is calling for you.’ Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus.” – Mark 10:49-50
Throwing. Off. His. Cloak.
As a child, I struggled with OCD-induced anxiety. In an attempt to protect our kids from a similar experience, my husband and I agreed to always reassure them after spills or messes. Life isn’t perfect, and that’s okay was our parenting motto. That turned out to be especially important for our daughter, who would seek affirmation after doing something she considered bad. Every time she knocked over a drink or tipped over a plate full of food, she would ask us things like, “But it will be okay, right?” or “But we can fix it, right?” and we would usually respond with a quick, “Yes, it will be alright, but let’s try to be more careful.”
I assumed she only asked those questions to make sure she wasn’t in trouble until one day after a few cheerios fell off of her tray, she looked at me and asked, “But you still love me, right?”
I have always hated the saying, “You can’t win them all.”
In the interest of transparency, I admit that I am a recovering people-pleaser. I hate the idea of offending or upsetting anyone. I sometimes lay awake at night wondering if I could have phrased something better or if I should have handled a situation differently. Years after a negative confrontation, I can still feel my ears heat up when I think about it.
All this to say, I very badly want to win them all. I want everyone to like me, even though I know that’s not a realistic expectation, especially when I share my personal thoughts on a public platform. That’s just the life of a blogger.