Regarding women who think they can’t get along with other women

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I was sitting in a coffee shop yesterday when I overheard a woman across from me say very matter-of-factly,  “I just don’t get along well with other women. I never have. I’ve always gotten along better with men”.

Hands raised if you are a woman who has ever heard that comment before.

Okay, hands down.

I hear that comment all the time and my reply is usually something like:

“Wha??” Followed by a head nod. Nodding my head when I am completely baffled, seems to put people at ease and make them think I can totally relate.

Confession: I cannot.

Here is why:

  • I am a woman. I don’t often find myself in conversations with people who I do not get along with. So when another woman tells me they don’t get along with women, the statement leaves me confused and unsure of the status of our relationship. I want to lower my voice a bit and whisper, “we’re cool right?”
  • She is a woman. I don’t know if it’s a weird byproduct of a patriarchal society, but I’m pretty sure, in every other context, blanket statements that imply disapproval of an entire people group are called discrimination. It’s 2014 ya’ll, that is not cool. Even if you are a member of that group. I am sad that women have been so well branded that even other women don’t want to associate with them. Ya’ll, each woman is unique and different! God hasn’t typecast or branded women into a single group and neither should we.
  • God is a woman. Oh relax. I know God is neither male nor female. But He does encompass all the wonderful characteristics that make men men and women women. In fact, He made both men AND women in His image.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

I whole-heartedly agree with that woman in the coffee shop and other well-meaning friends that say women are difficult to get along with. But I won’t stop there. Men are difficult to get along with… and don’t even get me started on children.

People in general, God bless them; are sometimes very difficult to get along with.

Try anyway.

Women have a unique and beautiful opportunity to change the world by how we minister to each other. No one says, “I don’t get along with women because they are too kind and encouraging” and yet, that is exactly the kind of woman YOU and I have the opportunity to be.

As women, we can be teachers of good things. Things like self-control, love, kindness, purity, respect (Titus 2:3-5). Ladies we cheat ourselves of this amazing opportunity when fail to “strive to keep a spirit of unity and a bond of peace” Ephesians 4:3 (to get along) with all of God’s children.

Radical love is not easy but it’s worth it. Take a chance on someone this week, you just might make a friend for life.

xoxo,

S

Are you a woman who doesn’t get along with other women? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions. I value you and your contribution. Look forward to hearing from you.

Embracing the “mom cut”

Beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised

Proverbs 31:30

I cut my hair.

You know what they say, “as the kids get older, the hair gets shorter”. I don’t actually know of anyone that says that, but it seems like something “they” would say. Who the heck are “they” anyway?

Anyway, I did it. I got the mom cut. I’d like to think it’s more of a Katie Holmes/ Victoria Beckham kind of mom cut, but a mom cut nonetheless. It has taken a little getting used to it as I first had to mourn my long shampoo model locks that were mostly in my head rather than on it. They were really painful to loose.

Why do people make such a big deal about the mom cut anyway? It’s as if there is this unspoken fear that the people who see moms in the grocery store will know that they are moms and not young hipsters by their haircut. OH THE AGONY. As if that magical flowing hair would have hidden their children who are undoubtedly with them in that store! Or okay, not hidden them…but at the very least the long hair says “she’s cool, she’s like a young, hip, mom”. And every mom wants to be a cool mom right?

Eh, cool is overrated. Motherhood is not. When my kids were babies I wore their barf like a badge of honor. Later… and still, I wear bags under my eyes to remind the world that I get less sleep than my kid-less counterparts. And now, I will proudly rock a mom cut or any other tell that screams, “she’s a mom people”.

I love being a mom. I love being their mom. They, my two little gems, are my heritage, my gift of grace, and my proudest achievements. They tell the world that I have labored, and loved, and live a rich life alongside two perfectly imperfect little people.

Maybe it took cutting off my hair to realize being a mom isn’t about giving up youth and beauty; although there is a fair amount of that. It’s about labor, and love, and the legacy you leave behind.

I’m embracing the mom-cut ya’ll, but more than that… I’m embracing the gift of being a mom.

Look out mom jeans and t-shirts with my kids face on them; here I come! God, please no!!!!

Praying for you moms especially this week. That you will learn to love each wrinkle on your forehead, stretchmark on your stomach, and every other little tell that lets the world know how richly you’ve been blessed!

And for those of you who aren’t moms but made it to the very end, GO YOU! And let me encourage you too. Fully embrace the season you are in! Be sure to give as much, if not more, attention to your character as you would your haircuts. Whether you ever rock a mom cut or not, beauty is fleeting, oh girls, but a woman of godly character can change the world.

Xoxo

S

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Amazing Grace

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“You’re like God”.

His words took my breath away.

I had heard of kids saying similar things, but this was my kid and, well…quite frankly, he knew better. He had to be confused…or maybe I misled him. Man, did I ever mislead him!

My mind flooded with memories of all the mistakes I’d made in his short life. The time when I fed him sweets and then forgot to brush his teeth, and the time when I forgot to feed him at all. The numerous times he’d seen me lose my temper, raise my voice, or storm out frustrated.

He’d seen me rude.

He’d seen me impatient.

He’d seen me unkind.

Unloving.

Unforgiving.

He had to know I was imperfect in every way.

And I was his, “like God”?

In that moment, it was hard to imagine a less suitable comparison. This picture of an imperfect God my son had painted over a lifetime living with an imperfect mom had to be corrected. Still saturated from the flood of emotional memories, and barely audible,  my own voice somehow managed to reply simply:

“How so, babe?”

His answer challenged me.

“Well, you always love me. Even when I sometimes don’t listen, or I throw a fit. Or even if I have to go to time out, you always love me the same. That means you are like God. That’s the same as like he love’s me”.  And suddenly I understood.

Grace.

Favor unearned, undeserved, and inexplicable apart from a holy God.

It was grace.

My son wasn’t confused, nor was he misled into thinking his mommy was something more than what she was. He understood God was perfect and he wasn’t trying to create Him in my image the way I’d sometimes done when I loved something. To him, I am “like God”, because I am covered in grace.

And my love for my children is just a reflection.

If you do everything else wrong sweet mommas, do this right. Teach your children about grace. Teach them that it was by grace that they are saved (Eph 2:8-9), and that their confidence is found in it (2 Cor 1:12).  Tell them God is able to make all grace abound in them, that always having all sufficiency in everything, they will have an abundance of grace for every good thing they do (2 Cor 9:8). Teach them grace was given to each of us (Eph 4:7), that we are justified by it (Titus 3:7), and stewards of it (1 Peter 4:10).

Look, I know you have a lot of things you need to teach them. Teach them those things too! But teach them to value grace above those things. And if you do that, precious friends, your children wont just receive grace, they will distribute it.

And THAT has the power to change the world.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” 1 Peter 1:2

Did this blog encourage you? Why not share it with a friend? And while you are here, you might also enjoy, Surviving Elly’s World.

Praying for you! That you will walk in grace, and that the world will know from where your confidence comes!

Sooner than I am ready for

empty swingsToday I took my 6-year-old son to the park dressed like a Power Ranger. I suspect, this is the last time I will get to say that.

Today came sooner than I am ready for.

When we arrived at the park, several of the neighborhood boys were already there playing. Nicky, my son, said nothing, but his face said more than I was ready to hear. His private thoughts betrayed him as his cheeks flushed red-hot:

Why did I insist on wearing this costume?

What if they make fun of me?

Will they like me?

Will they accept me?

I admit, some of those questions might be projections of my heart, and worry for a son I can’t always shield. But that moment revealed a vulnerable side to my normally secure and wild-hearted little boy. Not surprisingly, after only a few minutes, the Power Ranger costume was off and in my hands. He played it cool, assuring me that it was the heat that demanded the wardrobe change and nothing more. But as he laid the costume on my lap and ran off to throw the football with his new friends, I couldn’t help but think,

“Lord, today came sooner than I am ready for”.

I wasn’t ready… I AM NOT READY to watch my son grow up right before my eyes. But today, I would have to learn to trust God with my oldest child because ready or not, he was growing up. I could actually imagine a day when my son would want to go to the park without me (shocking, I know). And it brought tears to my eyes to think of a day when I wouldn’t be his best friend, his confidant, or his playmate anymore. Oh I know I will always be his mother, and hopefully his most trusted advisor. And when he is grown, God willing, we will share a friendship that adults share with their grown kids. But these days, just as they are now, are numbered.

I wondered if I had poured enough of myself and of the Lord into his impressionable mind. Or even if having done my part would be enough to protect him and guide his decisions and choices. I wondered, just for a moment, if I could snatch him up, run home, change him into his footy pajamas and freeze time. I decided that might cause a scene.

I wondered if I could ever be ready.

Isn’t that just like life? One moment you are walking to the park in March with a 6-year-old blue Power Ranger, and the next moment you face the reality that nothing is in your control! And you’ve got to wonder, “Who is calling the shots here?” Honestly, if in those moments escaping reality were a practical, life-giving, option, the majority of us would run like mad! But neither you nor I can opt out of moments like these. Some lessons can only be learned by living them.

Maybe for you, it wasn’t your child growing up before your eyes that came sooner than you were ready for. Maybe it was something else. Bad news from a doctor, a death in the family, a relationship that seemed beyond repair, a job cut that stripped you of your financial security. Life is full of moments like these. Moments that demand our attention and remind us how our insufficient and feeble grasps on the world around us are just that: feeble and insufficient. These are the moments that will bring us to our knees saying:

“Lord, today came sooner than I am ready for.”

And it’s in these moments when God whispers in our ear:

“I know, but I am always ready.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I choose to trust the Lord in these moments. I rest, sometimes uneasily, but always assured, knowing that God is always in control. He is working today his plan for tomorrow! So what that means for you and me is this:

We can trust God for our today and believe Him for our tomorrow! His work is good and He has been busy!

Praying for you this week, that Christ would be more and more at home in your hearts, living inside you as you trust in Him! (Eph 3:17)

Please leave a comment, I love to hear from you! What are some moments in your life that came sooner than you were ready for?

The Marriage Race

A high profile divorce made headlines again yesterday, and I prayed for you. I prayed for you and for me, for anyone who is or will be married in this generation or the next. I prayed for the future of marriage in general because sometimes it seems like the gates of hell are set against it.

The gates of hell, will not prevail. Matt 16:18

So I prayed for us, and then I wrote this blog.

A marathon is a long race. I’ve never run one. The closest I’ve come to a marathon is a 5k and it nearly killed me, but the two races share a common goal, just keep running, and finish the race. Even if it hurts, even if you are tired, just run.

When I ran my first 5k, my friend Janae ran the entire thing with me. You should know, she could have ran circles around me, but chose instead to serve as my own personal cheerleader. It was 19 degrees and there were many times I wanted to quit. But each time, there was Janae, smiling next to me encouraging me to just keep running. Her boundless energy drove me to insanity, but I knew she wasn’t going to let me quit. I venture to say had I tried to quit, Janae may have thrown me over her shoulder and carried me to the finish line. By the end of that race, I was running better than at the beginning, and all I really remember about it was how great it felt to finish, and how thankful I was Janae hadn’t let me give up.

During the race there were moments of joy and excitement, but it was at the finish line when I realized it had all been worth it, that I received my reward.

Marriage is like that. A race. For some a marathon, for others a 5k, only God knows the distance you’ll have to run but the principle remains the same.

Just keep running.

The reward of marriage isn’t realized instantly, although there are so many moments of great joy, the reward comes when we realize it is worth it… all of it. We cheat our spouse and ourselves when we lose sight of the reward and drop out of the race.

Just keep running.

Run past the hurdles. Few go into marriage blind, assuming there won’t be any trials, they assume instead they will be strong enough to jump over them… most are wrong. Truth is, we aren’t that strong. On our own, our flesh is the only strength we have, and like it or not, our flesh hates marriage.

Don’t be fooled, your flesh can’t love your spouse; it can only love the way your spouse makes you feel. Your flesh is dangerously narcissistic. Once that feeling of love is gone or challenged, a heart ruled by the flesh is ready to quit the race.

Just keep running.

Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. You have everything you need to push through life’s hurdles. Submit to the spirit in you and let Him fight for your marriage.

Just keep running.

Submitting to the Spirit might mean lightening your load (Heb 12:1), getting rid of anything that threatens your race. Look, the message of this world is this, “if it doesn’t work you can always get divorced and there won’t be any consequences”, drop out, quit the race. This message weighs down any marriage! Each time a trial comes, you’ll find yourself wondering if this is your marriage not working or thinking it might be time to bail. Have you heard that message? It’s everywhere. If it’s in you, ask God to clean it out, and run.

Just keep running until you finish the race.

How long is the race? Until death separates you. That’s what you promised. That’s what you agreed to when you said I do, on that day when forever didn’t seem long enough.

You don’t have to run alone.

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He will never leave you or forsake you. He knows each tear you’ve cried. He is your ever-present help in times of trouble. He will bind any brokenness, and carry your burdens. His name is Jesus, and He knows your name too. Hold Him close to your heart, and He whispers in your ear, “keep running. I am your reward”.

I haven’t finished this race; I’m only eight years in. But I am still running. When hurdles pop up… and they always do… and when sin weighs me down, and it sometimes does, by God’s grace and strength I choose to keep running. Every time I have a chance to quit and choose to run instead, I grow stronger; we grow stronger, faster, better. There is great reward in being faithful.

Just keep running.

I don’t know what kind of hurdles you will face, and maybe it seems overly simplistic for some scenarios. But ask anyone who’s finished and they will tell you it is worth it in the end. God won’t give up on your marriage, and He is willing to carry you across that finish line, if you need Him to. However you make it across, He is cheering for you every step.

Believing God for radical marriages that change the world. Praying for you this week.

You can read how death saved my marriage here.

You Scared Me…Fear Lost

Have you ever let fear win?

Tonight I caught a case of writer’s block. At least that’s what I thought at first, until I realized I was just afraid.

The first step to beating your fears, is to acknowledge them.

I was afraid of you.

I was afraid because every time I write, or speak I become vulnerable to your critique. Now I’m sure you would never behave ugly or say rude things, but imagine for a second you know the person who would. Aren’t they scary?

For a second I could hear them snickering, “Oh yeah, she is changing the world one run-on sentence at a time”, and then laughing in a high-pitched voice. (High-pitched voices sound much more sinister in my mind).

Fear wins when we walk away.

I put my pen down, and decided I would never write another word. I let fear win.

I decided to stop writing and something interesting happened; the fear went away. The mocking stopped. The voices were silent. But instead of feeling peace, all I felt was defeat.

So, I did what most defeated women do, I ate a half a bag of Halloween candy that I swore I’d never touch. Incidentally, that did not help… and…now I have to buy more candy or endure the wrath of my 4-year-old. Despite my stomach revolting against me, I was still able to gain some much-needed perspective, “I’d rather fight fear that comes from steps of faith, than live in defeat from letting fear win.”

We don’t have to live in defeat.

Still feeling defeated (look, it takes more than cheap candy and an epiphany, those things just help steer me in the right direction), I picked up my pen and started to journal a prayer. I took comfort in the words of a “weeping prophet” who said, it was good to wait quietly for the Lord’s salvation (Lam 3:26). So I waited, and then it came. Yet another reminder, that we have the power to change the world.

“If God is for us, who can be against us… we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Rom:8:31,37

Challenge your fears with Truth.

Steps of faith are sometimes scary and often met with opposition, even if it’s just voices in your head. Learn to silence them with truth. God is for you! More than a conqueror speaks of victory through oppositions, not just over them.

Christianity is about faith, not fear.

Don’t let fear win.

What is one fear that you have that keeps you from taking a step of faith. Are you willing to acknowledge it and let God give you victory over it?

How can I pray for you this week as you go out and change the world?


I’ve been tired.

I’ve been tired. I’ve spent a lot of time just me and the kids lately. My kids are great. Arguably two of the cutest, sweetest, and all around awesome kids I know. But sometimes, I’ll admit, their awesomeness overwhelms me and I O.D. on quality time. When my son mentioned for the 100th time how much he missed daddy, I couldn’t help but think, “I wish you would miss me, because that would mean I was somewhere without you”. Compassionate right? Trust me, there are times when I am even less charming. The truth is, sometimes life, even a great life, is exhausting. Both physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s sometimes hard to think of anything but rest.

So I took a rest.

  • Physically.
  1. I let the laundry pile up until I couldn’t see the floor (okay so not that), but I stopped obsessing over my need for perfection.
  2. Skipped the gym a couple of times to eat chocolate and popcorn in my pajamas. (even my diet took a rest although I will point out I feel better when I am eating well and exercising, sometimes you just need a rest).
  3. I took a nap.
  4. I stopped letting the fear of losing momentum keep me from ever taking a break.
  5. I remembered that even God took a rest (Gen 2:2).
  • Emotionally.
  1. I quit beating myself up over selfish or rude thoughts. Instead, I started rejoicing over all the times I didn’t say those things out loud. Funny thing happened, my thoughts were gentler when I released their hold on me.
  2. I was kind to myself, extending the same grace and love I extend to others. God is gracious with me, I ought to be gracious with myself.
  3. When my own thoughts discouraged me, I took them captive.
  4. I stopped wrestling with my mind; I was too tired for that. Instead, I locked up my self-loathing in a box and purposed to trust God with the only key and the task of cleaning it out.
  5. I remembered that the mind controlled by the Spirit of God is life and peace (Romans 8:6). That sounds restful.
  • Spiritually. I waited. I listened. I read. I prayed. I trusted. I believed. I humbled myself enough to lay down in peace knowing He alone keeps me safe, sane, calm (Psalm 4:8).

Physically and emotionally I had to take a break to get rest, but spiritual rest is active. I had to actively shift my focus off of me being tired and put it back on trusting God’s word as truth.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

Isa. 26:3-4

Are you tired?

Tired is okay, because Jesus gives rest to the weary. Whatever it is that makes you tired, God knows it and He wants to give you rest in the midst of it. Don’t be duped into thinking rest is for the weak. Rest, my friend, is for the wise. Focus on Him. And believe that true rest flows from the heart, to the head, and through the body.

Praying for you this week. That God would be your resting place.