When I was too angry to pray


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During the summer my boys wake up to the dogs pouncing on their bed, slobbering kisses all over their faces. No annoying blaring alarm clocks, or worse, no annoying mom repeating ‘get up and hurry’. I found the key to boys rising from bed in a pleasant mood. Let the dogs be the alarm and quickly mention the breakfast menu.

The morning was typical, nothing out of the ordinary. Bristol and Macy, our Schnoodles, jumped on Andrew’s head and licked his face mercilessly. He laughed through eyes clenched tightly shut, not ready to come fully awake. His hands groped to find the dogs and pull them close into him.

I made mention of food, he hopped out of bed, we chatted happily down the stairs. All so normal. He plopped into a chair, and his eyes kind of glazed over. I kept chatting about nothing in particular. I caught sight of his face again and took pause. Right before my eyes, I watched his facial expression transform from happy to downright mad. He turned to me and said, “Why are you making me turn into a bad attitude?”

Inside my head I screamed. Inside my head I stomped my feet and pounded my fists. Inside my head I railed at God, “Why???? Seriously, why? I did everything as ‘right’ as I could. Why does he have to be so difficult at times? Can’t we have one morning of peace here?”

I turned to Andrew, and with all the calm sweetness I could muster, I answered, “Andrew, I’m not turning you into a bad attitude. You are in control of your own attitude, not me. You are the boss of your attitude.” (Side note, I found a trick with a strong willed child. Show them what they are in control of that can be used for good. On this day, it didn’t work.)

The other boys came down the stairs expecting the same chipper mom they’d seen minutes earlier. Instead they found a snappy, irritated crazy woman just wanting some peace in the morning. There are times I hear God’s still small voice, and there are times I silence Him. He likely whispered to me, “Remember how you told Andrew that he is control of his own attitude? Well, you are too, my daughter.” I didn’t hear it, didn’t want to hear it. I wanted Andrew to fix his behavior and that was that. We forged on.

We had 2 friends arriving at our house for VBS carpool. (Side note- it’s a week of double VBS. A morning VBS at another church and evening VBS at our own church where I’m also volunteering. What’s about to go down happened not at our home church.) I loaded 5 boys in the car and we set out. Andrew continued to be difficult and disrespectful. Handling right in the moment was difficult as we were running late and had a couple of extra kids. So I just held my breath and hoped by the time we arrived, he’d snap out of his funk.

The check-in girl greeted me with the most cheerful smile. Jealousy told me that she likely hadn’t dealt with what I’d dealt with that morning. She printed off name stickers, I passed them out to each boy, Andrew looked up at me with defiant eyes, ripped off his name tag, placed it on the ground, stomped on it, looked back at me with defiant eyes, crossed his arms, and loudly proclaimed, “I’m not going to sports camp today!”

I glanced around wondering how many moms were staring at me, how many were thinking I had the biggest brat on the planet, and how many wondered if I knew how to parent at all. Been there before? I knelt down, pulled his ear to my lips, and said, “Yes you are. Now let’s go.”

He followed me down the hall and up the steps ranting, “I’m not going. You can’t make me. I hate this place. I hate everything.” Ya’ll it was humiliating. Mamas passed by holding babies and toddler hands. I listened to sweet sentiments shared. I listened to mamas using gentle tones and watched as they planted tender kisses on the heads of their angels. And all I kept thinking was, “Just wait til they get older.” Real spiritually mature, right? Super Christ-like. I was angry. Angry because my child turned into this totally different person in an instant, and I was powerless to control his heart and attitude.

Again, I silenced God’s still small voice. I bet He whispered to me, “Daughter, I love you. Love my son well, shower him with grace and mercy. Speak gently to him. Pray and let me take over here. I don’t want you to do this alone. I want to do it with you.”

Nope, I put my hand up. Didn’t want to hear it. We got to his hallway, he stopped, crossed his arms, I carried on. His teacher greeted me with a super chipper smile. I told her he refused to enter. I thought back to the baby/toddler days when I could physically place them in another’s arms crying and walk away knowing all would be well. I realized that I physically can’t place a 52 pound 6 1/2 year old in the arms of anyone without endangering their life. My anger began to boil. I was powerless. I had no control. I asked her if he had behaved. She looked surprised at my question. “Andrew? He’s behaved perfectly. There are others we’ve had to get on to, but not him.” Lovely.

I marched back to Andrew, knelt down, through gritted teeth I said, “Fine, let’s go home. You win. But this will be one of the worst days ever! You will not behave like this and come home and play and have a day with mommy. You will sit in your room all day, no toys, nothing. This day will be so boring, you will wish you’d stayed at camp.” I’m not proud of this moment. I wish I could erase it.

His stubborn eyes met my stubborn eyes. “I don’t care.” We proceeded to the car. I passed a sweet friend and spewed my frustration on her, she gave me a hug, I drove home and placed Andrew in the guest room, which lacks toys and books.

God tapped my shoulder. “Pray, daughter. Pray.” I told God no. I couldn’t pray. I was too angry to pray. I wasn’t in a holy frame of mind to pray. I just wanted to be angry, and I wanted to get my way. Oh, sin. Sin that is always crouching at my door. An enemy always waiting to attack and knock us off course.

I texted a friend, she asked if I could talk, I called her and cried. Cried. I told her it’s exhausting parenting a strong-willed child. I cried that if he acts like this at 6, what will 15 look like. The longer I talked, the more I realized the roots of my anger. Fear. Fear of Andrew following a path that leads to destruction. My fear makes me hold tight and try to control his behavior. And when I see how powerless I am, so many of my sins come spewing out like a volcano. I hold them down and keep them dormant until something shakes them awake.

I hung up the phone and sat in silence. I felt God tapping me again asking me to pray. I told God I needed to calm down first. God did what any good parent does. He got creative. If asking me to pray isn’t working, He’d try another method to get me on my knees. I walked around the corner and saw Andrew standing in the hall.

“You are not to come out of your room.”

“Mommy, I need God to help me be a good behaver.”

“Yes, you do. You need to pray that God helps you to behave.” I love that God is kind and compassionate. He didn’t blast me by telling me I’m a hypocrite and how could I tell my kid to pray and ask for help when I myself couldn’t do the same thing. Instead, God works on our hearts.

“Mommy, but I need you to come and pray with me and to help me ask God to help me.”

I didn’t even realize God was working to get me on my knees. In fact, my pride stayed puffed up as I thought to myself, ‘Good, glad God is working on Andrew.’

We got on our knees, bowed our heads, I placed my hand on Andrew’s leg, and I began to pour my heart out to God. As I prayed, I physically felt God softening my heart. I physically felt God lifting my burdens and removing my fears. I felt the walls of pride and fear crumble. And my prayers changed. I prayed for us both.

As I prayed, I could hear God telling me that just like I want Andrew to obey me, God wants me to obey Him. When He asks me to pray, He wants me to obey. He doesn’t want me to wait until I feel like it. That may never happen, and then I lose out on unleashing God’s power to change the course. I felt God reminding me that just like I became angry over Andrew’s attitude, which led to his disobedience, I myself had allowed my circumstances to control my attitude, which led me to disobey God.

My bad attitude clouded my vision. My bad attitude placed foolishness where wisdom wanted to reside. My bad attitude caused me to disobey. Just like Andrew’s bad attitude caused him to disobey.

Andrew is no different than me. He is a sinner just like me. Because he’s accepted Jesus as his Savior, he is forgiven just like me.

I continued praying with Andrew something like this, “God, just like we are learning in VBS this week, help us to follow you wherever you lead us, help us to trust you no matter what, and help us to stay on track by keeping our focus on you and not our circumstances. Lord, your Word tells us whenever we turn to the right or to the left, we will hear in our ear this command behind us saying this is the way, walk in it. Isaiah 30:21.

I left Andrew’s room feeling like a new person. I felt free. The weight of my sin had been lifted. I laid it down in prayer. I’d asked God to forgive me, and His Word assures me He always forgives.

The rest of the day my eyes were open to the gifts He had in store for me. Gifts I might have missed if I’d continued in my disobedient path.

Here’s a sampling of the gifts I received – Andrew came out of his room a new person as well. He looked at me with the most tender eyes, eyes completely opposite of the ones that stared back at me defiantly only hours before. He said, “Mommy, I love you so much. From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. Thank you for praying with me.” My heart melted, but at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder if he was simply manipulating me. He grabbed me in the tightest hug I’ve received in months and held tight. I whispered thank you to God over and over in my head. Andrew never hugs me anymore. This was a gift from the Lord.

I told Andrew that I forgave him and there is nothing he could ever do that I wouldn’t forgive and reminded Him of the kind of forever forgiveness of God. I followed it up with, “But you still must stay in your room today.”

“I know, mommy, I don’t want to come out. I just wanted to hug you and tell you I love you.”

Another time in the day, he showered me with kisses. I can’t remember the last kiss I got from him. One day when he was 5 he decided he didn’t like kisses, and they came to an end. His kisses were a gift from the Lord.

Somehow I managed to clean my entire house from top to bottom in super record time. A gift from the Lord.

I had incredibly rich conversations with Jacob later in the day. A gift from the Lord.

All 3 of my boys fell asleep for 2 to 3 hours that afternoon, and I had the peace I desperately wanted that morning. This time God freely gave me that peace when He allowed all boys to fall exhausted into bed in  the middle of the day. (It’s a week where the boys are in a sports VBS in the morning then we all go to our VBS at our own church where I’m also teaching. So we are a little more tired than normal.) Sleep and peace – a gift from the Lord.

When Andrew was allowed to emerge from his extended time out later that day, he was a transformed little boy. It was true, genuine change that ONLY the Holy Spirit can accomplish. A gift from the Lord.

This time I could hear that still small voice of the Lord speaking to me. I believe He said something like this, “Daughter, I have the power to change a heart, an attitude, and a mind. And when I change it, it is true and right. When you hold tight out of fear and try to control your circumstances around you, you will wear yourself out and you will not get the results you want.”

When I finally prayed, God’s power unleashed in our home. Everything looked different.

I know I will forget this lesson. I know I will find myself directed by fear rather than walking in obedience again at some point. I also know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me enough to enter into every tiny detail of my life. Down to giving me kisses through my 6-year-old that I’ve longed for.

Later that night I tried to talk to Andrew about our day again. I wanted to get to the root of his refusal to go to the morning sports VBS camp. I explained that it was never about me forcing him to go to something he didn’t enjoy, but it was his attitude and behavior that I disciplined. I told him that if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to go back. He responded, “No, mommy, I like it. It was just my bad attitude.”

I nodded. I get it. My bad attitude makes me behave in ways that I am later ashamed of. Going forward I hope to remember this lesson quicker and pray in the middle of my bad attitude so God can change my heart before I walk in disobedience to Him.

As I lay in bed that night I thought back to the day. God blesses obedience. I know this to be true. God showed me that day when I let go of the reigns of my life, and surrender my need to control, and invite Him into the details, everything changes. When I became obedient, God worked out what I was powerless to work out. The rest of the day rained blessings I might have missed if I’d continued in the path of disobedience.

Parenting for me is more about learning how my Father loves me and cares for me more than it is training and loving my own children. He never stops parenting us. Often these lessons come to us through our very own children.

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When our boys thought feeding the poor was their favorite summer memory

Sharing Words of Encouragement

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17

Sweat dripped off our bodies as we all jumped in the car, and I impatiently waited for the air condition to put me back to comfortable. I sat with my face nearly pressed to the dash allowing the air to blast at full speed. 98 degrees and I are not friends. Neither are 48 degrees and I. I get along best with about 72, but in North Carolina you pretty much go from winter to summer with only a few glorious weeks of spring in between.

Jacob and Zachary clambered into the back. “You know, that was more fun than if you had taken us to a movie and bought us popcorn, cokes, and candy.”

I waited for the “Yeah, right” but it never came. Turning from the arctic blast, I looked at Zachary. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, mom, I’m so serious.”

Then it was Jacob. “Yes! It was so awesome. I want to do it again. When can we?”

Those were not the responses we were expecting, but isn’t God good like that? It’s in those moments I wonder if He is saying, “Renee, trust me more with your time. Watch what I can do and grow if you give it to me.”

Time. That’s really what it comes down to. I want to serve more, but that time thing always seems to get in the way. Honestly, the time issue would have stopped us from feeding the homeless that day as well if Steve hadn’t encouraged us to intentionally take the time before the time took us. When he saw the opportunity to serve, he asked that I schedule the date and make it a priority. That meant we declined playing in a baseball tournament double header. That meant we didn’t attend the free festival in our neighborhood that our kids had been asking to attend. That meant I had to decline an invitation for lunch.

Time. I really don’t need more time, I just need to be intentional with the time I’m given. Isn’t summer a great time to refocus?

Given the choice to give money or time, many of us choose to give money. In the culture we live in, our time has become almost more valuable to us than our money. We are running frantic daily, we are squeezing in as much as we possibly can. When we see pockets of time, we want to guard it, hold it closely, protect it with everything in us. It’s the world we live in, but our model did the exact opposite. He gave it all away, including his very life.

If we want grateful kids, we train them to serve. If we want respectful kids, we train them to value others above themselves. Will this happen overnight? No. Will we see these traits daily in our kids? No. Parenting isn’t for the short-sighted. We parent hard daily to produce adults that love the Lord with all their heart and love others well. This takes time. It all comes back to time.

Several summers ago we began what we called Mission Mondays. You can read about it here. Mondays were reserved for serving others in various ways. Many of our mission projects, while wonderful in so many ways, were projects where we served from afar. We collected money through our hard work and sent it overseas. We created packages for homeless children and sent them away. We sponsored children in poverty stricken countries and sent gifts and letters. While these are vital, we could do them from a distance, we could feel good about what we did, we could remain in our comfortable world, and life for us went on.

I began to ponder something. The people I know who serve with everything they have to give, have a deep love for others. A love for others I wish I possessed. The people I know who love others well usually step right into their lives.

So I wonder if to truly love others deeply, do we need to enter into their world?

When we enter into the life of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the homeless, the needy, the sick, something else happens. We see into their eyes. We see the person created in God’s image. Sending a check or serving from a distance, we miss the eyes, we miss hearing a voice, we miss a story told firsthand. We can’t stop serving from a distance, but we can do both.

Serving a Meal

Packed and Ready to Head Out

Last weekend we served with Bread of Life with other members of our church. Volunteers boxed up lunches, loaded a trailer, and we headed to a grocery store parking lot in downtown Charlotte. We opened up the doors, opened up the window, and within seconds the homeless and poor made their way for refreshment.  We took Jacob and Zachary with us, and they were put on drink duty, which they took very seriously. Filling cups of lemonade and water as we prayed each individual would come to seek living water.

Before we passed out food, we gathered across the street in the parking lot of a restaurant, we joined hands, and we were led in prayer and worship by Freddie Powers of Keeping Hope Alive Ministries. Bread of Life goes to this area a few times a year, but apparently Freddie goes every Sunday. The homeless and poor in the area knew her. Someone was investing in these people who might otherwise be looked over all day long. Someone was telling them they are loved and cherished and they have value in the eyes of God- these people who feel devalued because of a society who can judge a person’s worth based on their surroundings. These people who live in a world most of us can’t imagine.



Afterwards, we served food, drinks, and Bibles. Volunteers prayed with each person who was willing. It was hot, so very, very hot. We are in a 2 week stretch of high 90’s reaching 100. All I could think is how these people who either lived on the streets or possibly in homes with no air this is their reality. These people who are dearly loved by God. I don’t understand the why’s of this world, but I do know that it isn’t simply because of my hard work that I’m not in the position they are in. It’s not that God favors me over them that I’m not living on the street. It’s not that their life holds less value than mine. No, but our society can be quick to say, “Well, I’ve worked hard for what I’ve received.” Yes, maybe, but the hardest work can sometimes turn upside down and inside out. What we do know, is the Lord loves the poor, and the Lord desires we serve the poor, and the Lord is near to them.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:10-11

Later that night our family sat on the lawn in our small town listening to music, throwing a football with friends, eating food we had of plenty. It was just me and Jacob sitting there at the moment. He was quiet, looking off. I placed my salad on the blanket and watched him for a minute. “Hey, Jacob, are you ok?”

He looked back at me and smiled. “I’m fine. I’m just thinking.”

“Everything ok? Just thinking or worrying about something?”

“I’m just thinking about all those people we met today. That’s all.”

Me too. It’s hard not to think of them. Several of their faces continue to scroll through my mind. I see toothless smiles and grateful eyes. I see a mom’s face with her 2 daughters, all took a Bible and food, and I can’t stop praying they will come to know the Lord if they don’t yet. I think of the family that brought their 3 young children. Those sweet, precious, innocent eyes that met ours as they each said thank you. I see the man on the bike who told Steve he’d biked a great distance to come. I watched as he drank 2 cups of liquid in record time. I’ve thought back as well, my boy.

Entering into their world was a completely different experience for us. Seeing into their eyes, hearing their voices, it changes you. And you see Jesus. That’s it. That’s how we love more deeply in order to serve wholeheartedly. We see Jesus.

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Summer Is For Simple Moments


I guess it goes without me saying, though it dawned on me I should say it, I’m taking a blogging break while my boys are home this summer. I will still blog, but much less frequently. Rather than 2-3 times a week, you might only hear from me once a week. Summer is for discarding a schedule (unless you have a job with a boss).

Last summer I felt a tension within myself that I did not want to experience again. A tension between my primary ministry (my family) and my writing ministry. I wanted to write, I had so much to write, yet finding the time felt impossible. No longer did I have napping children or children who went to bed at 7:00. I’d lost my pockets of writing time. So I tried squeezing it in while they were with me, but that only led to frustration when I found myself in the middle of a piece only to have to stop to break up a sibling battle or assist in a crisis moment. I found myself becoming frustrated and losing sight of my ultimate vision and goals. Sometimes when tensions mount, simplicity whispers that something must be loosened. Summer is for setting goals and accomplishing them in the simplest of ways.

I learned from my mistakes and decided this year I’d adjust my expectations. I expect to love on my family this summer, to invest in them, to encourage them to the best of my abilities, and pray that God will grant me those surprise moments of time to write (like right this very moment). Writing  is such a time of connection for me with God. He knows I need it and desire it. But I have to keep it in the right order. Summer is for realigning priorities and goals. Why wait until January?

I already feel as if the summer is slipping away, but I keep reminding myself that many haven’t even started summer yet. We are in week 4 of 12, the honeymoon phase has ended, some sort of schedule is beginning to emerge, and we are fully invested in spending as much time together as we can.


Last week Jacob took a 14 hour trip with my dad to Missouri on a fishing trip. The memories he created are priceless. In particular is the 28 hours they spent together in the car. That is what he continues to remember. It’s all about time. Summer is for taking back time.


All the boys wrapped up their spring baseball season. Andrew’s first season of machine pitch ended with a championship win! Andrew is in the front row, dead center, 3rd from either side. Summer is for championing for our families and friends. For cheering and celebrating life.

We have logged a good 100 hours of audio books and hundreds and hundreds of pages read over endless hours. Trips to the pool, campfires in the backyard, Bible study with friends, weekend visits from good friends, a trip to Georgia twice.


Our dear friends from Virginia visited us over the weekend. This is their 5th annual visit to see us. We lived in Virginia for only 2 & 1/2 years, we’ve lived in North Carolina for 4 years. Our friends have visited us for twice as many years as they even knew us in Virginia. Summer is for friends. Summer is for simply investing in life-giving relationships.

A lot has been packed into 4 weeks, and we realized we haven’t even made our bucket list yet. While my kids love to make a bucket list, I prefer to make a simple moments list. The simple moments of summer end up becoming the memories that truly fill their tanks and mine. They don’t realize it, but I see it. Summer is for simple moments.

The bucket list items – the trips to the zoo, the trips hiking, the backyard campouts, boating – we love them, we want them, we take pictures of them and document them.

The simple moment items, they can happen spontaneously, they need no planning or at least very little planning, they are often free, they are easy to replicate repeatedly to carve deep memories in their hearts. The simple moments of summer are the ones that fill their daily love tanks. The simple moments of summer are the ones that I treasure most.

The simple moments of summer can pop up like a summer thunderstorm with little or no warning. Those are my favorites.

Here’s a few of my favorite simple moments:

sitting on the porch watching a storm, stopping in the middle of what I’m doing and playing checkers with one of my boys, catching one of the boys when they are sitting somewhere alone and joining them in their daydreams, taking a walk, cooking together, talking, talking, and more talking -about everything, hitting the tennis ball on the driveway, playing catch in the backyard, looking through photo albums, telling stories, watching the Braves play.

The list goes on and on. My day is packed full of opportunity if I see the opportunity. I don’t need money or extravagant trips and camps to give them a summer to remember forever. The simple moments will not wow our kids, but they tend to stack one on top of another burying into the deep parts of their souls. The simple moments remind them they are loved and cherished, accepted and known. The simple moments give space for grace to enter. The simple moments soothe the rush of the year. The simple moments provide the stability in a culture that attempts to pull them away. The simple moments are not to be discounted. Summer is for slowing down and simply being.

When my kids are asked if they’ve done anything super cool or exciting this summer, these simple moments won’t make the list. When they are asked what they’ve done this summer, they won’t say their favorite moment is listening to mom read on the screen porch or share embarrassing stories on long car rides, or taking evening runs together. But I know that when they are grown and they look back at their childhood summers, these simple moments will resurface.

These simple moments have power to bond families. Summer is both simple and complicated. Summer is both empty and full. Summer is for reclaiming time lost in the first half of the year and stocking up for the 2nd half.

Like all of life, summer is a gift.

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We Only Have 18 Summers


Last week was an emotional week full of activity. Thursday Andrew graduated kindergarten, Jacob and Zachary each won awards in their grades that had me and Steve sobbing messes, and Friday ended the school year.

Saturday I attended the senior graduation ceremony at our small christian school. I expected it to be like any other graduation I’ve attended. Basically a reading of names, a quick inspirational speech or two, the passing out of diplomas. We expected to pop in, show our support to our senior class, and quickly escape to Andrew’s baseball game. I took Jacob and Zachary with me to show them what they have to look forward to one day.

I didn’t expect to sob for an hour over children who aren’t mine. That was quite a surprise. I embarrassed the daylights out of Jacob, who asked me numerous times to stop crying, or laughing, or showing any emotion for that matter. (I think it’s the 11-year-old in him).

Life is fleeting. It will pass at a speed that will blow us away. I can’t pause time, but I can fully enter it. I can be all in when I’m in.

I knew it before my children were born. I’ve been told by every mom who has reached the point of letting go. Not one person has ever told me that time crawled. None. No one I’ve ever talked to told me when they sent their child off to college that the years were slow. Instead, it’s been “Hold on. Don’t blink. You won’t believe it when it arrives.”

I believe these people. I see the tenderness in their eyes. The pause of contemplation. The grins that tell me they don’t want to tell me how painful it will be.

I listened to 8 seniors (it’s a tiny school) stand on stage and express their hearts to their friends, families, and teachers. Each student shared words from their heart that parents long to hear. Thank you for modeling Christ to me. Thank you for educating me. Thank you for encouraging me and supporting me even when I didn’t show you gratitude. Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.

I could hardly hold it together.

In those 8 faces, I saw my little boys. They will stand on a stage one day, Lord willing. I will look at their man-sized bodies and see the little boys we’ve raised. I will reflect on the years I held chubby hands to cross a street, sat side by side reading aloud for hours on end, tucked into bed praying our hearts out together.

I will miss it. Deeply.

I’ve said it before – Lord willing, we only get 18 summers with our children. That’s it. 18 summers.

I do believe that living intentionally allows us to move from stage to stage with a deeper sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing we chose to live fully in the moments. Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but we can at least look back with fewer regrets over how we spent our time.

When my children stand on that stage, I won’t reminisce on the bickering. I won’t remember the exasperation from telling them over and over to clean their rooms. I won’t remember the irritation of a staircase piled with toys, books, and clothes. I won’t think about how tired I was. I won’t be grateful that there will be no handprint smudges up the white walls or holes in sheetrock from a baseball gone wild. At least I don’t think I will.

Because when I watched those 8 seniors, all I could see was love, joy, and gratitude. If it were my boys standing there, I’d be thinking, “My goodness look what God has done with you.”

It’s officially summer in our home. Today I thank God for another school year. For the beginnings of another summer. For hot days and lazy mornings. For a slow pace and curiosity driven explorations. For legos and army men. For bike paths and healthy legs. For wild blackberry discoveries. For time.

Summer is the burying of “Hurry up!” or “Let’s go, we are late.” Summer sees no alarm clock. Summer is for sitting on the couch with Bible and journal until the first boy appears groggy-eyed at the bottom of the stairs. It’s for snuggling as we start our day in His Word together because the clock stopped bossing us around.

Summer is for lingering longer at dinner, not rushing away for showers and bed. Summer is for water tag, horse, or pickle after dinner. It’s for going to bed sweaty and tired, exhausted from a day well played.

Summer is for books read aloud on the couch for hours because we have no place to go.

Summer is for noticing. Noticing what happens when I move slower.

Summer is for backyard campouts, bonfires, and lightning bugs.

Summer is here for now. It will not last long. Like the rest of time, it refuses to halt at my command. I only get 18, so I will take each moment this summer. I’ll hold it, taste it, feel it, fully enter. We will laugh hard and play loud.

With each passing moment, I will say, “Thank you, God, for just one more.”

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So How Was Your Mother’s Day?


I’m always embarrassed when I enter the checkout line at Trader Joe’s. It’s a small store with small buggies, and I roll in with a cart overflowing. My grocery items made known I was indeed a mother, so the checkout girl scanned item after never-ending item and asked, “So how is your Mother’s Day so far?”

I’m sure she was expecting a complaint. After all, I was at the grocery store, not exactly a massage or pedicure. She asked with hesitation, holding her breath anticipating my response.

“You know, my children are alive, they are breathing, I have three boys. I couldn’t have a better Mother’s Day.” The young man bagging my groceries paused, glanced up, and continued stuffing bags. “It’s neat you look at it like that.”

I wanted to say more to this young man, but I knew if I opened my mouth, he might get more than he bargained for. Like a 38-year-old woman crying over realizing she is ungratefully blessed most days.

Mother’s Day. If I had spent much time on Facebook, I may have been tempted to feel cheated out of “my” day. Selfish, right? I would be lying if I didn’t admit there were a few moments I felt that twinge of jealousy that another mother was being pampered while my day felt just like every other day.

That is when the Holy Spirit spoke louder.

Another day of this. This life of laundry, groceries, church, baseball games, arguing, laughing, crying, tasting, feeling, moving. Life. Happy Mother’s Day! That’s the moment I understood. The celebration is in the ordinary.

I didn’t need to be showered with gifts, pampered with affection, or catered to. I had this day, this life, these children. This is my gift.

I thought back over the morning. Beautiful graces all morning long. A sweet note tucked in my purse from one son, another son clearing away piles from the stairs – without being asked, a husband writing me precious words and jumping to do all he could to show me he appreciates what I do.

So I battled in my mind, which is where the fight for peace happens. I stilled the shouts of the world, and listened for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Surrounded by blessings almost missed. Like any other day, I’m always tempted to miss the biggest blessings right in front of my eyes. A smile, a hug, a kiss, a breath.

When I took my eyes off of myself and placed them on God, my eyes were opened to the blessings in an ordinary day called Mother’s Day.

Steve apologized several times for what he felt was a “not-so-great” Mother’s Day. I couldn’t disagree with him more. It was the best Mother’s Day of my life. Simply because it was an ordinary day. The gift of one more day to do this thing called mothering.

And just like God, He waited until the end of the evening, after speaking into my heart, really getting into those deep places and moving me, to give me another Mother’s Day gift. A simple moment with my son.

Steve was upstairs reading to Andrew. Zachary was listening to Narnia I’m sure, Jacob was outside, and I cleaned the kitchen. The house was a complete wreck. The screen door opened, and Jacob peeked his head inside, “Hey, mom, can you come pitch to me.”

I glanced at the dishes in the dishwasher, the ones in the sink, the food needing to be wrapped, baseball clothes strewn all over the place. Grass clippings making trails through the kitchen.



The mess isn’t going anywhere, but he is. He is growing up. I never know when the last time I’ll hear the words “Mom, will you pitch to me?” might come. So when the invitation arrives, I will accept.

I pitched, we laughed. I’m not good, and I’m scared of the ball. He’s ok with that. We sat on the driveway. An ordinary moment. The chatting began. He told story after story. I asked no questions. Just listened and laughed. No nagging, no prodding, no arguing. An absolute treasure of a gift.

He heard another brother approaching, and I saw the disappointment in his eyes as he realized our private time was coming to an end. No earth shattering conversations. Just ordinary.

The day was exactly the day the Lord had made.

Because the day was simple, I was able to receive the gift the Lord had for me in those simple moments that I will hold onto forever. Moments that might not have happened. An understanding that wouldn’t have come.

When I take my eyes off me, I see Him, and I see the gifts that parade in the dailies of my life.

My mother’s day was an ordinary day, which made it the best Mother’s Day possible.

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Enormous blessings hidden in ordinary moments


I laced up my running shoes after Andrew was in bed, the older boys getting settled down for the night. For years running has been “me” time, time alone to think, to get away. As the boys have gotten older, that is changing. Funny, how you don’t notice the change sometimes until it’s fully upon you. Now instead of trying to get away from them, I’m trying to figure out how to have time with them.

When Zachary asked if he could join me on a run, I was quick to say yes. It’s hard fitting in one-on-one time when you have three boys, and they all play sports, and school, and therapies, and life, and me and Steve taking time for each other. We periodically plan special outings individually with our kids, but more often we use the everyday, ordinary times and turn them into intentional times of togetherness apart from everyone else. Like a run. Like a walk, like a sitting on the porch together, like a bike ride to get ice cream, like a trip to Home Depot and only one goes along.

I have to shut down the Facebook and Pinterest images of the fun and exciting date nights I see others taking and remind myself that any moment can be made special when we are simply together, enjoying each other. The moments don’t have to be extravagant and post worthy. We just have to be together. Usually the simpler, more spontaneous ones are the ones that I hold dearest to my heart.

I love being alone with my boys. They are different creatures completely when they don’t have someone poking a weak spot or shimmying their way in the spotlight, when they don’t have to be the most interesting to be heard, or the loudest, when there are no starts and stops. I feel like when I have my boys alone, I see who they really are.

So Zachary and I set out for the trails taking Macy, our 2 year old Schnoodle, along. By the way, do you know how funny it feels to run with a lap dog? Macy runs. Fast. She never tires. It is an odd feeling to run and have passing cars slow to watch you run by with this little white lightning dog. Sadly, my run is so slow, she looks more like a fast walking dog than a running dog.

The first half mile, we were at a great pace. Zachary is full of conversation. Macy is trying to pull us faster along the trail. We get to a point of deciding left or right. Right would be a three mile run. Left would be just over a 2 mile run. Zachary chose left, and we continued on our way. I made mention of running slow. He responded that yes, I was indeed very slow, and he was having to force himself to run slow so we could talk. Finally, his energy and young legs got the best of him, and he decided he would do sprints. Sprinting ahead and back to me where we could keep pace together until his next sprint.

Seriously?? I’m getting old, old, old. 

We came back to the earlier point of the trail where he chose left for the short run. I thought we would head right, right back home. He chose to continue on adding an additional mile to our run!

Oh my dear. When did my children get to the point they can truly smoke me on the trails? 

Then it hit me. My son is running. My son with Lyme disease is running. As I watched him sprinting back and forth, laughing in the wind, Macy tangled in a leash, him jumping over her laughing the whole time, I was overwhelmed.

5 months ago his knee was so filled with fluid, he couldn’t walk. He cried like I’ve never heard him cry before. “I just want to run again, and play with my friends.” My heart ached for those things too, but fully trusting in the Lord’s good purposes. Watching Zachary begin to express that he felt God allowed him to get Lyme to help others. My heart bursting with this unexplainable desire to take it all away but at the same time thanking God for showing me just the smallest opening into Zachary’s heart being used by God.

Feet pounding pavement, heart pounding out of my chest, and absolutely overcome by thankfulness that I had this moment with my son. To watch him run with ease, to watch him laugh with no pain. To see no fear in his eyes, only sheer joy. And this realization that each moment is an utter gift. I don’t want to live in fear of what may come for him, I want to live moment by moment grateful for the Lord’s work in his life, no matter what it may look like.

Honestly, it’s what I want for everything in my life. An awareness to the gift of each moment God brings my way. Some moments are so obvious, but some take a bit of hunting down or digging out. He is in each one. My constant prayer is that I’m wildly aware of His Presence.

9 more days of school for my boys. They are almost home. So many more of these ordinary, everyday moments lie ahead of us. A summer of intentional moments waiting to give birth. We aren’t making bucket lists this year. We aren’t making elaborate plans. We are simply going to enjoy the moments we have, taking hold of each one and making the most out of what we have.

We would appreciate your continued prayers for Zachary. He is doing so well and the Lyme has caused no further complications. The doctors have said it could remain dormant or wake back up. We rejoice in his good health and pray for continued health and our faith to squash the fear of what if.

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Entertain Your Kids For Hours – And Feel Good About It


About 5 years ago, Jacob received what I consider one of the best Christmas gifts he’s ever received. The radio theater presentation of The Chronicles of Narnia.

My boys have always loved the Narnia series. When they were young, we read the picture book versions. They also have the boxed set they’ve read countless times.

From the time they were about 1, 4, and 6, our boys have listened to hours upon hours of this radio theater collection. It’s never gotten old. It’s been on long car rides (22 hours of drama). It’s provided hours of entertainment during the long hot days of summer. It’s warmed hearts on snowy days. It’s listened to at night as they wind down for bed. It’s played when they clean their rooms. It’s taken the place video games would like to hold.

My boys go through phases with everything. Everything except Narnia. This is no ordinary audiobook. It’s not a reading of the books. It’s an actual drama presentation. As you listen, you are swept away into the land only the mind of C.S. Lewis could create.

This set is targeted for ages 8-12, but in my opinion, it crosses all ages. Adults and children of all ages will be entertained, enlightened, and inspired through this collection.

When Jacob received this set for Christmas, we had no idea how well-loved it would be in our home.

The other night as Zachary wound down for bed, he said, “Mom, I don’t know why, but when I listen to these CD’s, they just seem to calm me. I feel so relaxed and at peace.” Over the weeks, he has begun to share the connections he is making to his spiritual life and what he is listening to.

What we feed our mind, we feed our soul. What a privilege to intentionally invest in feeding the hearts, souls, and minds of our children. 

If you are looking to stock up for the summer on intentional tools to pass the time while investing in the hearts and minds of your children, I highly recommend this set. It would be a great “Happy Summer and great job this school year!” gift. I also think it’s a great gift to give the recent grad who will be heading off to college, possibly spending hours in the car. If you are taking a cross country trip, this will absolutely captivate your kids, and you will hear far fewer ‘are we there yet’s?’


***As we head into summer, I’ll be sharing more of our very favorites. Some of the links I provide are affiliate links. Through affiliate links, I’m able to cover a small portion of the costs associated with running a website. I only recommend products I absolutely love, and I do appreciate you shopping with these links. ***

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