Monday, October 2, 2017

Our cover and shield


Hurting people hurt people.

There are times when words just don’t seem like enough, but they are all we have to offer.
In the wake of the tragedy of events that occurred in Las Vegas last night, my heart is heavy. I am not typically one to worry much when I pass off my children outside my care. But today’s drop offs were hard. I am torn up by the brokenness of this world. I can’t help but ask questions like “Why?” What brings a person to inflict such devastation on the lives of others.

I read the words of Psalm 3 this morning. It is a Psalm of David, written when he fled from Absalom, his own son, who was trying to hurt him:

“Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
     you bestow glory on me and lift my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.”

But you are a shield around me, O LORD.

I long to offer insight and comfort but today the words escape me. So, I will simply echo what is written in Psalm 3. When the things of this world surround and overwhelm us, let us always remember Christ is our protector. His covering over us is so great, we can lie down and not just take refuge, but sleep, the ultimate symbol of peace and rest. We need not cower in fear and trembling but can arise again, comforted and restored, sustained in Christ our Savior.


Peace, my Friends. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Created to thirst


In this world, we will be filling with longing. We will crave other than what is. We will want what seems unattainable. We cover these desires, stand in front of them as if to block anyone from ever knowing we are unfulfilled. “The family is great! The kids are fine. My job is fabulous. We are all doing well.”

But when we really, truly stop and examine our lives, are we being honest?

The idea of longing for something means to have a strong desire or wish; a craving for something not likely to happen soon or be attained; to want something very much. Synonyms for longing include yearning for, aching, hungering or thirsting for, and being desperate for.

In a culture that is richly blessed with material possessions, the longing we experience can often be mis-labeled as a “lack of contentment.” We audibly express voids where we are desperate for fulfillment only to hear we should “just be grateful for what we have.” Longings are wrong, a sure sign of weakness.

Undoubtedly, yes, there are many longings that would not necessarily be categorized as sacred (worldly goods as possibly being one of them). But these aren’t the kind I’m speaking of. I’m talking about the deep down, often-hidden-from-others desires of our hearts. I like to think of these longing as our “inner soul-aches.” We all have them, certainly you know the feeling to which I am referring.

I have always felt so ashamed of these inner soul-aches. For so long I have felt embarrassed to suffer from what my culture would tell me is “discontent.” From all outward appearances, we have it “all.” A great house, 3 mostly-healthy kids, and the ability to stay at home full time for the past 10 months. And yet, my soul aches for so very, very much more. How could it?

Recently, my perspective shifted. I was told I need not be ashamed of these longings. St Augustine wrote in his Confessions:

 “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and my heart is restless until it rests in you.”

So maybe the better question to ask of myself is not “Why do I ache?” but rather “How could I not?” If I have been made for Him than of course, OF COURSE I long for more. My humanity, my sinful nature, this broken world, they all create chasms between us, gaps that only He can bridge. These longings actually are a method of drawing me closer to Himself, of turning my eyes and mind and body toward him, the only place where true healing and redemption are found. We have been made for Him. We yearn for connection. We ache for peace. When things are broken and painful in our lives, we are desperate for wholeness. Longings are the very fabric of our being.

I was reading in the first chapter of Psalms this week. Verses 1-3 read:

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.”

I was struck by the very last part and was challenged to ponder how those who “delight in the law of the Lord” are like trees. This metaphor totally captivated me for some reason; I was immediately in love with the idea of likening our lives in Christ to the life cycle of trees.

As I let my imagination go to work, I thought about the roots of the trees first – how they are firmly-planted so that the tree stands unwavering in storm. I contemplated how this idea works similarly in my own life – when I have spent time in the Word, considering God’s promises to me, I am much less likely to falter and shift when hard times come.

Then I thought about the sheer beauty of the tree. They are a sight to behold, with their endless shapes and sizes. I pondered how many trees have seasonal colors and evident external visual changes. Immediately a tree in my own yard came to mind. This past winter, it’s branches hung barren except for a thick layering of green moss that seemed to be overtaking it. The tree looked diseased and unhappy and I was sure it was dead. Our family loved that tree, its shade extended over our back deck. And it was in its branches that we strung the white lights that created such a welcoming ambiance in the yard on warm summer nights. My daughter was tearful and distraught when I mentioned that we might need to level it.

“You can’t cut it down!” she insisted. “It’s not dead!” She’d grown to admire the display of white flowers it produced in the spring, just outside her bedroom window.

To the inexperienced eye, this tree was most certainly done for. I took my clippers to it and trimmed away many of its dried and cracked limbs. My husband removed the clusters of moss that had overtaken its trunk. But in the end, we left the tree standing. The pushback we received from my family was enough to give it one last shot at life.

Through the dead of winter, this tree stood its ground, branches laced with snow and ice from time to time. Limbs, larger this time, brittle in their diseased state, broke off and fell under the weight of the snow. I began researching shade trees that might make a suitable replacement. Months passed and to my surprise, along with the arrival of spring, came tiny sprigs of life, new branches and fresh green leaves on this tree. I had surrendered my hope of its survival, I had all but moved on. It wasn’t obviously alive and so therefore I had declared it dead.

Again, how this tree metaphor perfectly parallels my own life. Our family has been wading its way through a long and hard season, a season where we see little external progress, a season where we question whether we will ever feel fully alive. Just when we think “Hey, I think we might be finally getting somewhere,” another branch takes us by surprise as it cracks and falls. We beg and pray and plead with God for healing and growth and wholeness and for something to “just come easy” and much of the time His answer is quiet. And so, with withered hope, the temptation strikes to whisper it dead.  

But then I am reminded of how it says in verse 3 that the tree “yields its fruit in season.” This sentence is already underlined in my Bible. In the margin, in my own handwriting is written “not all the time but in it's right time.” I don’t know when it was that I penned these words but apparently I’ve been down this road before. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced the burden of questionable fruit, disputable growth.

There are certainly many moments when we wonder if we are getting anywhere. The dead silence of winter can feel so long. But, when we scale back and look at a tree over the course of a year or two or maybe five, we would be reminded that trees rarely look the same. Subtle change is always occurring. They may lose some branches here or drop all their leaves there. They may have a season where the spring blossoms are plentiful and another where the bees pollinate all the trees around them but pass them over. There are years where the rains are abundant and the greenery lush and others where their thirst is great and their appetite is unquenched. They may have seasons where their admirers turn their backs in neglect for what they offer in their foliage is no longer noteworthy. Yet these trees, throughout the seasons, are slowly enlarging, reaching upward toward the skies above. Though it may be slow, growth is happening.

I will mention one final observation that is noteworthy about the tree: it thirsts persistently. Certain trees can survive for a limited amount of time with very little water but they are always, always ten times greener and more lush when they have a river or stream as a nearby source. Their roots are unquenchable and, no matter how much they drink today, they will be thirsty again tomorrow or the next day or maybe next week or a couple weeks down the road. They cannot “store up” water for the future indefinitely. And this thirst is not a sign of inadequacy or failure on the part of the tree.

Rather, the tree was created to thirst so it would remember to drink again.

This is the life of the tree. Is it not also the life of you and I in our pursuit of Christ? These longings, these soul-aches for more – what better way to move us toward our God? On this side of heaven, we will never be filled and completely satisfied. We are filled to be emptied and then filled again. Even creation longs! What a gift.  

Oh, reader, are you thirsty? Are you longing? Then lean in. Return and drink.


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Friday, September 15, 2017

Body Talk: "BUT HOW DOES THE EGG GET FERTILIZED?!"


My daughter’s dreams finally came true. And no, it is NOT that she gets to be a big sister again. Let's just nip that one in the bud right now before any rumors get started. It's that she is now officially the proud owner of The World’s Creepiest Toy, the Hatchimal. Have you heard of them? If not, you are lucky. In a moment of sheer foolishness, I told her we would buy her one as her reward for successfully completing her sticker chart (instead of the live goldfish she insisted she no longer wanted). I was desperate. The girl went to school for 9 months last year and opted to actually hang her backpack on the hook and put her shoes on the shelf exactly ZERO TIMES of her own accord. Parenting this unmotivated child is going to be the death of me. Which is why I have delegated that task to her father. Good luck, Crozier!

So, I said YES ABSOLUTELY YES when this Hatchimal magical motivator entered the picture. I neglected to Google it first, this is how desperate I was. Never again y’all, never again. Did you know that real, functional, and contributing-to-society human beings pay $60 for this nightmare-inducing noise-maker? SIXTY DOLLARS!!! I about died when I learned what I had committed us to purchasing.

For those of you favored souls who haven’t yet been introduced to the Hatchimal, allow me to tell you a little bit about it. They were created by someone who must have thought to himself, I should turn a stuffed animal into an electronic and add creepy noises and eyes that flash (in what looks like hot anger to me, but actually just signifies the creature has the hiccups - my bad!) and it will be a best seller!” And surprisingly, he was right. The kids love it. The thing is terrifying, particularly in the dark when you see it in the pile of stuffed animals with eggs gleaming hot. So what does this have to do with eggs and fertilization and sex, you ask? Read on! 


Before you get to the enjoyable phase of actually cuddling the Hatchimal (Is it a bird? An owl? A dragon? A bear with wings? I still am unsure…), you first get to witness it hatching. You see, the inventor, though arguably mildly psychotic, was also ingenious. What better business idea than to sell an over-priced stuffed animal in a large plastic egg and make the breaking of the egg “part of the fun” so that, when all is said and done and the thing has hatched and the child loses interest and no longer wants the toy (which happens approximately 3 hours after hatching), horrified parents can’t even return to the beast and find themselves out sixty bucks. Perfect! Not that this was our experience or anything…

Admittedly, the hatching process was rather exciting. The creature has this hard, plastic beak (which makes it all the creepier if it was intended to be a bear…) and, if you keep rubbing and holding the egg, which needs physical touch just as much as the rest of us apparently, it pecks its way out over the course of about 20 suspenseful minutes. My kids have now witnessed the “birth” of two Hatchimal babies and I experienced some mild alarm as I heard them make all sort of proclamations likening the emerging of Hatchimals to the birth of real, live humans. God help us all, have I taught them nothing about their bodies this summer!? The most inflammatory statement came from my seven-year-old who announced to her cousins “Now you know what it is like to have a baby!” Oh child, I have no words.

I didn’t realize just how far backwards we had gone in the sexual education department until the end of the summer when my three-year-old saw a photo of me and his older two sisters and asked if he was there too. I told him that no, he was still “just an egg” in my belly and he looked at me with mild alarm. “I was in your belly!?! Inside an egg?!”

This was not the first time we’d had this conversation but obviously this takes numerous mentions to fully absorb. He took a few moments to process this information before he continued in all seriousness:

“Was I in there playing with all the chickies?”

Mic drop.

Why yes, Son, you all the baby chicks and un-hatched Hatchimals were having a grand old time in my belly. Thanks for asking. In all fairness, this reproduction stuff is rather complicated. Wait, girls have how many holes? What’s a uterus? Girls have hundreds of eggs but they aren’t all babies? The eggs need to be fertilized? What does that mean?

I’m a huge proponent of having one hundred, one-minute conversations about sex and not one, one-hundred-minute talk. We are making our way gradually toward that one hundred number, give or take a few. There is certainly nothing magical about having 100 sex-related talks but rather it’s simply the idea that we need to be having these short, frequent conversations. It feels like we’ve touched on this topic so many times, but in truth, I’m guessing we are only on conversation number 13 or 14. Which explains why our kids still have visions of little chickies dancing around with them in my uterus. Only 87 more conversations to go and I should have them set straight.

After refreshing my son’s memory about how girls have eggs but that they don’t become babies until they are fertilized by the daddy’s sperm, we continued with our lives. It wasn’t until we were in a massive hot tub with about one thousand other people at a waterslide park this summer that he decided to resurrect the conversation. Children always have a knack for selecting the most opportune times to discuss the act of sex. I have no idea how we got on the subject but he began reminiscing about back when he was in my belly. First, he wanted to know about how he made his exit and so I told him that I pushed him out.

This was obviously quite confusing. “You pushed me out!? How?” he asked. I could see the father sitting three feet away from us in the hot tub beginning to eye me.

Carefully, in the most hushed and intentionally-garbled tone I could muster, I whispered “Well, you know how when you have to go poop? Mothers push babies out of their bellies sort of like that.”

Oh perfect, I scolded myself inwardly. Likening the miracle of childbirth to defecation was probably not your strongest explanatory move, Kelsie. But what was done was done.

My son pondered this thoughtfully for a moment before taking the conversation backward 9 months to the egg phase. “So, I was an egg in your belly?” he reminisced. And then, as if it was the most common public hot tub conversation ever, he practically yelled his curiosity:

“BUT HOW DOES THE EGG GET FERTILIZED!?”

If people weren’t looking at me before, they certainly were now. I acted really cool and casual (read: I was DYING) as I surveyed my audience. They seemed to be ready to simultaneously grab their kids and bolt or send their offspring my way and disappear and let me do the hardest part for them. Though it was mildly tempting to educate the entire hot tub in one fell swoop, I restrained myself and through gritted teeth, told my son “This is a conversation we should continue in private” and we evacuated and made a run for our towels.

This little “incident,” one of many, reminded me of my need and desire to resurrect some notes I took from a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) talk I heard a few years back. The speaker provided a whole list of books that she recommended as a launching point for sex conversations with our kids. We’ve been slowly working our way through a couple of them over the past month and the kids are enthralled. My husband, though totally on board with the idea of educating our kids on sex and their bodies, is slightly less likely than I to volunteer the topic. But he is fully aware that I have peppered our household with all sorts of literature on the subject. He told me while laughing heartily that last weekend he walked in to the room to find our 3 and 6-year-old seated quietly together on the couch, each eagerly “reading” books about their bodies.

How does this sit with you? Where are you at with introducing your kids to the amazing way our bodies work? Maybe you’ve never had a conversation about sex with your kids and they think babies hatch like chicks. Or maybe you are 50 conversations in and your kids know more names for their anatomy than you ever did. Whatever the case, if you are feeling a bit leery about just jumping right in yet really desire to make this a safe topic in your home, perhaps beginning with a book would help. Here are a couple of titles I would recommend for starters to get you going:  




If you have other favorites you would recommend, I’m all ears! Happy reading. :) 



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Monday, September 11, 2017

The First Day of School, A Parody


Dear Mama in the Trenches,

(Especially all you new Kinder-moms!)

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, today is likely your little one’s first day of Kindergarten! Buckle up, Sister, you are in for a wild ride! Let me assure you, this week is going to be memorable and maybe not in exactly the way you were picturing.

After you have successfully battled the wills and finally gotten them to don that precious first day outfit choice, prepare thyself! They will inevitably spill blackberry jam upon it at breakfast and you will be forced to repeat the process at the 11th hour, coming up with a second “first day outfit” on the fly (from the hamper of course because, we are moms after all and don’t have time to actually do the laundry).

You swore you woke up plenty early enough, because, really, how long can it possibly take a five-year-old to get ready? SO. LONG. That’s how long. And if it’s a school morning, you might as well triple it. Oh Mama, do I know. You needed to leave for school like, yesterday, but there is enough excitement and nerves and ENERGY that you could probably drag a cat on a leash for a mile faster than it than it takes your precious cherub TO JUST PUT THEIR SHOES ON THEIR FEET. Please.  

The next hurdle you will encounter is that dang first day picture on the porch. Everyone else’s kid looks so put together in theirs so certainly this can’t be all that hard. Unfortunately, what those perfect little first day pictures you’ve been seeing all over social media neglected to capture was the audio. Which would have of course included a calm and loving mother rage-screaming in the background “JUST. SMILE!!!!” You had visions of an adorably-Pinterested chalkboard sign that read “First day of Kindergarten” in perfect calligraphy, along with the year and a list of all your kid’s favorite things right now. But you forgot to buy the chalkboard so you resorted to having your child make their own sign and they decided it was FINE to just use a pencil and no they did not want to add any color or stickers to jazz it up a bit, thank you very much. Perfectionist Mother, Kindergarten is torture for us.

Maybe your morning went nothing like this. Maybe yours was as smooth as butter, going off without a hitch. But then you arrived at school. Your sweet angel did his best to hold it together on the playground but then the floodgates released. He had to be peeled off of your body by the teacher when the final bell rang which basically secured your spot as the mom of “that kid” and now you’re sure no new mom friends are in your future.

Or maybe your typically-shy kid breezed into her classroom like it was nobody’s business and now you are all like “What the heck? You don’t even need me anymore?!” Cue the parental sobbing.

Now you find yourself at home, wringing your hands and making so many laps around your circular floor plan that the finish on the hardwoods is rubbing off in your wake. You have been waiting for this moment for 1827 days (approximately) and you are “so happy” and yet so very, very sad. This is what you wanted, right, free time and quiet? But now you don’t want it anymore. But you do. Oh wait no you don’t. Oh gosh why does being a girl have to be so harrrrrrrrrrd???????????

Let me assure you, each of these occurrences are NORMAL, whether you are the Nervous Nelly, the Emotional Emily, or the Jolly Jill. If you look around and are the only one sobbing on the school grounds, fret not. All the other parents are about to lose it as soon as they get back in the car. Or they already cried about it last night or last year or the year before. Feel what you are feeling and know that it’s OK. Don’t tell yourself that you’re “going to focus on the younger kids while the older is gone.” Because you aren’t. You are going to be a messy ball of random ever-changing emotions and that’s totally OK. Be gentle with yourself this week and month and year. You are adjusting. It gets easier and better, trust me.

And for those of you first-timers, a word of advice: September is not the month to make any major decisions. Nor is October. And you might want to skip November too. Actually, might as well toss out all of 2017 while you are at it. You are going to find yourself asking yourself a lot of questions you wouldn’t have previously considered in the days and weeks ahead. Some of these may or may not include:

Am I actually torturing my child by sending them to school? Is the school possibly torturing them?

WHY ARE THEY SO EMOTIONAL?

Is my kid really old enough to put on their own shoes? (Maybe my expectations are too high?)

Should I maybe have homeschooled?

Why are they crying and whining so much?

Maybe age 5 isn’t actually “too old” for the stroller (it would make walking home sooooo much easier).

WHEN IS IT GOING TO BE SUMMER AGAIN!???

Suffice it to say, things are likely about to get ROUGH here for a bit. Consider yourself warned. If not today then tomorrow. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. You won’t be able to do anything right. They will hate what you packed them in their lunch. They will whine like it is the end of the world when you ask them to put their shoes on the shelf and not just next to it. You will wonder if they are actually dying as they creep their exhausted little bodies up the hill toward home.
They will have nothing left for you. No kind words. No precious conversations where they tell you all about their days like you envisioned. They will be DONE.

D.O.N.E.

Don’t sign them up for soccer. Don’t register them for basketball. Don’t jump at that extracurricular activity that you know “they are just going to love.” They won’t and you won’t. They are finished and spent. They need a snack (NOW), some down time, dinner, snuggles, books and bed. That is all. No more.

My third grader is already begging to do everything. In the span of 5 minutes on Saturday night, she asked if I could please sign her up for dance class, rock climbing, Bible Study Fellowship and 4-H too. She whined about how I “never let her do anything.” We are three days into school, People! The answer is no. Ahem. Yes. You never get to do anything, my child. (Eye roll).

We have new routines to figure out and resting to do. We cannot possibly add anything else. Sorry all you Events-Kicking-Off-In-September. Sayonara! There is no space for you. For right now you can proudly wear the label of Mean Mom for turning down all their big dreams, but trust me, you will thank me later.

So, no matter how smooth (or not smooth) today goes, give yourself tons of grace and space to adjust to this new phase of life. And then, by all means, give the STARVING kid a snack!

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Good Enough Summer


I'm taking a break from my Body Talk series, because, well, summer is ending this week and I have a few things I want to say. I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately. I’ve been thinking about how God must have designed them to accommodate our need for variety and creativity. We long for the sunny days summer and, once they are upon us, our expectations turn toward the cooler days of fall. As humans, our attention span rarely lands in one place for any length of time. We like movement, rhythm; we are cyclical in nature.

Not 2 ½ months ago, I wrote about how desperate I was for the close of the school year which you can read about here. We were done with the schedules and the homework and all the things. We were ready for lazy days and for freedom. And now here we are two days from the beginning of a new school year and all I want is schedule and routine and order again. I’m totally over the chaos that accompanies freedom. I’m really to create systems and whip my crazy messy environment (read: my house) into shape.

Maybe it’s the constant nature of my home life that makes me long for school and space and time again. I simply cannot keep up with the perpetual questioning and requesting from the mouths of babes. The people-pleaser in me wants to meet each need. If I don’t consciously fight against it, it’s how I catch myself measuring my success (which, as a mom, is a sure-fire way to feel like a failure if there ever was one!)

Or maybe it is my filthy house - the piles 80 days high of paper and swim bags and craft projects and Lego towers, all stuff that has gone ignored and has accumulated with not a spare moment to address it, that makes me ready for a new season.

Maybe it is the fact that I currently cannot exit the house without three little cling-ons literally bolting to the door and wailing in their distress things like “Why do you ALWAYS have to leave us!?” I could be unlocking the front door to water the plants on the porch and they will come running. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!?” they cry, as if I make a habit of abandoning them. Suddenly the past 162 hours straight I have spent with them amounts to nothing in their minds. All they can think about is how I “always” leave. In my weaker moments (read: every time), I can barely handle it. Feelings of guilt threaten to take over. They send me reeling and I catch myself wondering for a second “Gosh, maybe I am actually a neglectful mom.” Heavens. Seriously?

Maybe it is the fact that I’m an introvert and we have been go-go-going and peopling and socializing all summer long. I sent the following SOS text to a friend recently and it provides excellent testament to my mental state: “All I need is like three weeks alone and then I’d probably like humans again.” Just a mere 21 days alone on a beach with a tropical beverage and I would be back up and functional again. But then 5 minutes after the company departs, I suddenly I feel desperately lonely. As my husband has been known to say, “Sometimes there is no winning with you.” Ha! You can say that again.

So, it’s time for a new season. And I think God designed us this way. Every time another season dawns, the newness might excite us. Or it might leave us feeling anxious and unsettled by the unknown. But it also draws our attention in a unique and needed way that keeps us on our toes. When knee-deep in any one season, it can be tempting to just glance up to take in our surroundings. We glaze over, disengage and stop paying attention because not much changes from day to day. Everything becomes a part of the scenery, losing its potency and so we begin to miss a lot.

We need a new horizon, a new vantagepoint. New seasons jolt us awake again. They alert us to focus in and take account, to reevaluate and check our game plan. They help us realize how worn we really are.

New seasons bring change. As much as we may claim to hate change, it serves a valuable purpose. Change is an inevitable force that presents us with two options: we can stand our ground and stay put, refusing to shift with the tides and grow stagnant and quickly irrelevant OR we can jump aboard the new program and adapt. We need seasons. We need a forced change in routine.

I’m thrilled for school to start on Wednesday. Beyond thrilled. Yet I know when I kiss my girls’ little heads and send them off to the classrooms where they will spend the next 9 months, I will be fighting back tears. They will be tears of sadness, yes, but also there will be tears of regret. A change in season can be exciting but, for some of us, the feelings are mixed. We may look back and not like the looks of what we see in the rearview mirror. While we may be elated about a new rhythm, it is all too easy to fall victim to feelings of regret and guilt for what has passed.

I know myself and, if I’m not careful, I know I will be overcome by a list of summer “shoulds” and “what ifs” on Wednesday. Suddenly I will think of all the things we “should” have done this summer but didn’t, all the ways I had hoped to pour into my children but that I never found the energy to implement. I will regret wishing them gone. I will most definitely question my worthiness as their mother. Suddenly the trips we took to the waterslides, to the wading pool and the lake, the morning snuggles, chauffeuring them to and from art camp and soccer camp and Vacation Bible School, the birthday parties planned, the meals out, the bike rides, the playdates and the berry picking – all these will go absent from my memory. The only things I will be able to recall are the things I intended but failed to actualize.

So, I am writing these words now, in a moment where I am not overcome by emotion, so I can read them to myself on Wednesday when I bid my older kids adieu: I am a good mom, no matter what guilt and regret might try to tell me. I love my kids and I even like them most of the time too. Our summer was good enough.

Does that phrase “good enough” just make you cringe? Oh, how it does me! Who wants their claim to fame to be that they were “good enough?” Or that they planned a vacation that was “good enough?” Well, I can tell you. Exactly no one. But, I am a firm believer that, as a culture, we need to turn this notion of perfection and ridiculous expectation on its head and grow to be okay with the good enough.

My kids had a blast this summer. My laundry mountain towers as evidence to it. They were cared for and loved. And therefore, our summer was good enough. Full stop.

Do you also need to be reminded of these words? Do you need to hear that what you did over the past 12 weeks was enough? No matter what has happened in your life this summer, there is bound to be something you didn’t get to. There is some outing or activity or art project that you had fully and absolutely intended to complete with your kids. And you didn’t. Or maybe it was visions of special one-on-one time with each child that didn’t materialize. Maybe you had hoped to snuggle them in bed every night and talk about their days but reality played out differently.

Mama, where did the time go? The days flew by and yet oh how they dragged on and now a new season is upon you. You might be wondering why you never made it to that new park or got together with that one person you said you would see all summer. Did your hours go toward comforting distraught children? Nourishing them with homemade meals? Cleaning their toilets (even if it was just that one time over the entirety of the summer?) Were you nursing boo-boos? Packing for trips? Folding laundry? Standing outside a bedroom door holding it shut to contain a tantruming child?

So often we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We kick ourselves needlessly. Our expectations are far too high. We wonder if we built enough summer memories with our children. Our minds go blank - did we have any positive interactions with them over the past 3 months? Allow me to answer that question for you: YES. Yes, you absolutely did. Your emotions may be clouding your view at this moment but trust me, you did.

Rest assured tired mama, what you did or didn’t do over the summer is in the past. Fight that twisted corner of your brain that might try and convince you that you “should” feel guilty about what went down. I don’t recall a single verse in the Bible that endorses guilt and regret. These are not from our God.

A new season is upon us. Go forth encouraged that, by the grace of God, you are enough.