For the Moms: Why What Nobody Ever Sees Matters More Than Anybody Ever Knows

building a foundation

We talk a lot about how the everydays matter on this blog. Why?

Because we forget.

Because it doesn’t FEEL like it matters.

building a foundation

It doesn’t feel like wiping our kid’s nose, one more time, matters in the great and grand scheme of things.

It doesn’t feel like fixing one more meal, that will be gone in half the time it took to prepare it, and 46% of which will end up on the floor anyway, makes a difference.

It doesn’t feel like interrupting one more project to put on the shoe that came off again {seriously, how does this happen??} is actually that important.

This is not the stuff of captivating memoirs, interesting stories, or even indelible memory. We’re not going to think about it when he graduates high school, or when she walks down the aisle. We moms probably won’t remember these moments…and our little ones certainly won’t.

We are bombarded, on a daily basis, with people’s big stories and great breakthroughs and impressive accomplishments.

What we don’t often remember, see, or get to hear about are the moments and hours and years and decades when there was no big story, great breath-through, or impressive accomplishment.

And, we definitely don’t hear about the nights the newest star’s mom walked the floor, trying to help him sleep, or the days when she was really tired but made his dinner anyway, or the days she spent in the doctor’s office or waiting for the piano lessons to end or holding him when he cried because he just couldn’t figure out that middle-school math problem.

It’s all part of the process…but all we see is the product.

It’s behind the scenes…but all we see is what’s on stage.

It’s the foundation of building…but all we see is the finished business.

 

You are laying a foundation, Mom.

No one gets to see the foundation. It’s not the pretty part, or the show-stopper, or the winner of Better Homes and Gardens contests. It’s underground.

But the foundation is the future of everything else. Without the foundation laid down, there’s nothing on which to build.

Every single diaper you change, snack you fix, and bath you give.

Every tear, and prayer, and whispered “I love you”.

Every “get down!” and meltdown and showdown.

Every complaint we hear, success we cheer, and future we fear.

Each matters. And each is just one more layer on that foundation that is going to support something Beautiful, and Good. Another layer of support, love, and knowing that they’re worth something. Another layer of growing and preparing.

Your foundation-laying makes it possible for them to be world-changers, and love-givers, and people-builders.

Every time we show them how to do it, even if we’ve already done it, one hundred million times, it counts.

Every sandwich we make, every toy we pick up, every kiss, every sigh, and every time we answer another question that beings with “Why?”

These are the moments, the hours, and the days of foundation laying. It’s tedious, sweaty, dirty work…and nobody ever sees it.

Who invites the construction crew to the Grand opening? When does the concrete mixer person show up at the ribbon cutting?

It simply doesn’t happen.

But here’s the thing: the sign or the steeple, the logo and the bright lights, the fresh paint, the new carpet, the design and the window treatments…all the stuff that gets attention? None of it would ever have existed without the laying of the foundation first.

These days that nobody sees or applauds? They are the ones that let all the rest of it happen.

This is cause for flag-waving, for stand-up-shouting, outright celebrating…because it all counts.

Lay your foundation, mama. One layer after another. One moment after the next. Wash the next load of dirty socks, kiss the next scrape or bruise, and be confident that it counts. It all matters, it all makes a difference, and it’s all creating a good and glorious future.

A Monday Manifesto: The Everydays Matter

Even laundry overflowing on a Monday has meaning.

Do you know why there’s a picture of my laundry here, today?

Even laundry overflowing on a Monday has meaning.

Let me tell you why there’s a picture of the laundry here, today.

It’s because life is messy, and not perfect, and too short to pretend that it is.

It’s because to-do lists are real, and styled photos aren’t, and I’m not good at photography.

It’s because our everydays matter…not just the red-letter days, the days we get it right, or the days we remember. They all matter.

A calling, contrary to what we’re often taught to believe, is less about Doing the Big Things, achieving our dreams, or Accomplishing Great Things For God.

It’s often just doing the next thing in front of us.

It’s taking the next step.

Monday shoes

It’s being with Jesus, right here, and right now.

The calling is less about where it takes us, than what we’re letting it make us into.

What are you called to, today, friend?

Are you called to get the laundry done?

Are you called to be sick in bed, and rest?

Are you called to do a lot of things for a lot of people who are counting on you?

Are you called to small things?

It matters.

Tired, post-Sunday mom…your Monday matters.
Student, the next assignment, the next class…it matters.
Working girl…that next mindless task makes a difference.

It all makes a difference, because of the difference it makes in you.

God had this Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday,  in mind, just for you, to make you more like Jesus. That counts.

Choose to let your Monday matter, not because of what you accomplish inside of the day, but because of what the day can accomplish in you…how it can draw you closer to Christ, how it can teach you about grace.

Choose to let your Monday matter, not because of how you’ll remember it, or what you’ll get right…but because Jesus made this Monday, and He put you in it, and that’s enough.Monday dishes
Give yourself permission to believe that it matters…what nobody will ever know about your day, what no one will be able to applaud.

Trophies gather dust, and praise pulls at our pride. But believing it matters anyway is faith, faith in God and His plan and purpose for you. And faith makes a difference for today, and for tomorrow, and for eternity.

9 Things to Hear When You’re Pregnant and Not Excited

9 Things to Hear When You're Pregnant, but Not Excited

My husband and I had been married for 34 days when I got pregnant.

9 Things to Hear When You're Pregnant, but Not Excited

This was not part of the plan. To say I was devastated is an understatement.

We were in our mid- and late- twenties, deeply in love, and chasing some very big dreams – this unexpected pregnancy was like a prison sentence to me. In addition, I carried a lot of guilt – as a Christian, I had learned all my life that children are a blessing from the Lord.

My blessing didn’t feel like one.

However, there were very, very few people with whom I could talk about these feelings. People expect that if you’re married, and pregnant, it’s because you wanted to be. People expect you to be happy about it. Christian people expect you to trust in God, and that’s supposed to be that. They simply don’t understand that it can be much more complex and layered than that.

I do understand this.

Dear friend, who does not want to be pregnant:

These are the things I would tell you, if I could sit across a table from you, hear your story, and hold your hand. These things, some of them can be hard to hear…but they can also bring hope. This is my prayer for you – that you can walk away with fresh hope.

When You're Pregnant and Not Excited

Here are 9 things you need to know, when you are pregnant, and not excited.

1) It’s OKAY that you aren’t happy.

I’m gonna say it again, because you need to hear it again.

It. Is. Okay.

Give yourself permission to acknowledge the unhappiness. Recognize that there is no law that says you must be happy about your pregnancy.

Also know that there is a deep difference between “happy” and “content.” More on that later. For now, just know that you are allowed to have emotions that are not pure joy.

2) You absolutely have the right to take time to adjust.

Nobody, no matter how excited they are, should force you into false celebration. Nursery decorations and name-picking can wait. You should, nay, MUST go at your own pace.

This is YOUR baby, and YOUR motherhood journey, and YOU get to make the calls. Do not forget that. Those who truly love you will respect your need to go slow, no matter how thrilled they are.

3) Your worst fears will not all come true.

You may be feeling right now that the very fact that you are pregnant proves that your worst fears are materializing. Let me put you at ease. Just because you feel helpless today does not actually mean you are.

Your baby is not going to hate you, run away when he’s 15, or turn you into a different person. You will not give birth on the side of the road {probably}. You will not go under financially. You’re not going to be forever sleep-deprived, permanently overweight, or never able to be alone with your spouse again.

Some of these things could happen, but it doesn’t mean they’re inevitable. The statistical probability of getting pregnant is much greater than any of these fears coming true. 

You actually have a great deal of power and control over most of what you fear. Not all. But most. You can learn about sleeping schedules, healthy eating, tight budgeting, and wise parenting. {You can even research how to deliver a baby on the side of the road.} You can do something about almost anything. At this time in your life, when you feel like everything is out of your control, take heart, and take comfort in this.

4) You need a tribe.

It doesn’t need to be large, but your tribe of people must be solid. Intentionally surround yourself with people who are willing to support you in going at your own pace, who want the best for you and your baby, and who will show up, physically and emotionally, when you need them to.

My prayer is that this group includes, first and foremost, your husband or the baby’s father. This may also include your close family members. This may be a random group of friends who are willing to walk with you through this. Whoever these people are, whether just one or two, or a whole pack, you need to be able to count on them.

This one is hard. You’re may be a do-it-yourself-er, a driven person, a goal-setter. You’re going to need help, and you probably don’t like that.

But I think one of the reasons we have babies is so that we can learn we aren’t MEANT to do it all alone, aren’t SUPPOSED to, and aren’t EXPECTED to, by people with a grip on reality. God created us to need Him, and one another. You need others, just like your baby needs you.

5) We live in a self-centered culture.

This is vital to recognize.

Everything in post-modern culture points to self-fulfillment, self-celebration, and self-focused lifestyles. Children are thought of as obstacles, instead of objectives.

If you’re like me, you may need to ask yourself if you have perhaps subconsciously bought into this lie. It’s a creeping and subversive propaganda. And it can ruin your perspective on motherhood, parenting, and life in general.

This point deserves an entire post all it’s own, but for now, let it suffice to say that recognizing the fact that we live in a self-centered culture is part of the solution. Be willing to ask yourself a hard question: how much of my heart is centered around myself…and is this affecting how I feel about being pregnant?

6) Emotional pain is not meaningless.

Sweet girl, this is going to be a time of growing up for you. This is a good and beautiful thing.

Do not mistake the pain in your soul for something without value. Just as the pains in our limbs at 8 or 10 signified growth and strengthening, take your heart-pain as a sign that good things are happening – things you don’t necessarily understand yet, and that will require time to discover. A lifetime, in fact.

Believe it is a good journey.

7) Some people would give anything to have this fiery trial through which you walk.

Do know that you needn’t feel guilt for your own grief.

But do also realize that there are those who look at what is your burden, and wish to bear it – to them it would be nothing but blessing. Like you, some women cry themselves to sleep…but it’s because their body can’t do what yours can. 

This does not detract from your pain – but it does provide a wider lens through which to look at your circumstances. Just as you wish others could understand your feelings, seek to understand others’, and hold compassion out to them.

I personally believe God gives each of us the struggles He knows will help us to know Him better. He does this out of compassion. For some people, this is infertility. For some of us, it’s a pregnancy we’re not ready for.

8) Gratitude is your new secret weapon.

If you have never learned the habit of giving thanks, it’s time to cultivate it. Or, maybe it’s time to relearn it.

No matter what your relationship with gratitude in the past, developing it now is crucial. Learning to be intentionally grateful will protect your mind from needless negativism on the hard days, and make the happy days that much more beautiful, because you’ve learned to look for the blessings.

Thankfulness is like a muscle – work it out, and it will grow stronger. Neglect it, and your ability to be grateful will actually diminish.

9) There are days of joy ahead.

This package of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood brings some dark hours with it. But you know what? That happens through all of life. There will always be dark hours. And we don’t get to choose when, where, or how they happen.

The beautiful truth, my dear friend, is that there will always be hours of light and gladness, too. I can honestly tell you that I am utterly thankful for my son, that he is a continual delight to me, and that I have come to a much better and deeper understanding of myself and my God through the whole journey.

It does get better. It will be worth it. 

 

This is not part of the list of 9, but I feel compelled to include it. If you are not decided, as yet, whether or not to give birth to your baby, I ask you to consider this resource; it may provide some guidance and encouragement.

I am not a professional counselor, but I seek to be a listener. If you would reach out to me, I would consider it an honor to talk with you, or pray for you.

Words of understanding and encouragement are candles in our dark places. If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, please share it with them. It may be the easiest thing you do today, and it may also be the most impactful.



How To Ruin Valentine’s Day – For Singles

guy holding bouquet of roses

Want to really make V-Day TD this year?

Read on!

guy holding bouquet of roses

Here are 5 easy ways to trash V-Day:

1. Scrutinize all the social media posts from your friends in relationships.

Obsess over their gifts and dates, avidly comparing all they have with all you haven’t.

In fact, it’s probably a good idea to stay glued to your phone all day, so that you can really feel the full strength of discontentment. Don’t forget to search the hashtags on Instagram for “epic valentine’s date,” etc.

2. Feel sorry for yourself.

This is the crème de la crème  of celebrating V-Day for singles. To quote Nike, just do it. A melancholy playlist is a must.

Wallow in the self-pity, justify the entire pint of ice cream, and don’t forget to watch a romantic movie and have a good cry.

3. Be convinced that you are a 2nd-class citizen because you aren’t in a relationship.

This is a no-brainer. OF COURSE people think there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have a man yet, and OF COURSE the ones who think this actually have an opinion that matters. Dwell on it.

4. Fall for “Me-Day.”

Completely swallow the belief that this day requires that money be spent, even if that means you spend it on yourself. We are all entitled to everything, in this woke age, so absolutely rationalize blowing your whole paycheck. You deserve it.

5. Ignore the truth about your amazing amount of freedom as a invalidated single person.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT celebrate the fact that you have a lesser level of responsibility to enjoy than those in serious relationships, and a lot of time to spend as you please. Don’t focus on any positives, whatsoever {like the fact that nobody else is affected by you what time you eat, the laundry you ignore, or if you spend your evenings working out instead of keeping The World intact. Like your mom does.} Choose to forget all this, and give gratitude the boot.

Bonus: 6. Do believe that Valentine’s Day will someday be the fulfillment of every romantic dream you’ve ever cherished.

Cling to the fantasy that it will meet all your dreamy expectations, and that it will truly be significant validation of your personhood.

In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the game, go ahead and skip over to the “How to Ruin Valentine’s Day {For Wives}” post. You’ll be even more prepared for the Big Day, Someday.

Send this to all your single-with-a-sense-of-humor friends, and share the lovelessness!

How To Ruin Valentine’s Day – For Wives

red roses

Ah, Valentine’s. All the world is bathed in a rosy glow {it’s all that red-colored stuff reflecting out the department store windows}, and all forms of media, social and otherwise, continuously remind us that That Day that is fast approaching.

Hoping to absolutely ruin your Valentine’s Day celebration? Continue reading!

red roses

Here are a few easy steps to guarantee Valentine’s Day discontentment.

1. Embrace the marketing world’s definition of celebration.

Ardently dedicate yourself to being a disciple of the following philosophy: “Truly celebrating Valentine’s Day involves candy, cards, gifts, the color red, and spending money.”

Seriously. What have you, if you have not these things?

2. Do not, under any circumstances, communicate any suggestions of how you would like to celebrate the day to your spouse.

No hints, no notes, and ESPECIALLY, no open conversation! Leave it to them to sweat it out, desperately guess, and hope you won’t be too disappointed. Remember, angst is a non-negotiable part of this important holiday.

3. Be rigid and inflexible with how you would like to celebrate.

Going right along with no communication, make sure your plans are set in stone. There is, after all, ONLY ONE REALLY RIGHT WAY for you to properly celebrate this day, so be sure to pick something that you really want to do, but that is equally hard to predict. Then, make sure that the expectation cannot possibly be met, unless Every. Single. Detail. is in perfect place.

4. DO NOT read this article. {Just Don’t.}

It WILL ruin the shallow, self-centered meaning of Valentine’s Day for you, by explaining the conveniently forgotten origin of the holiday.

Finally…

5. Do think it’s all about you.

This is a must. Do concentrate on yourself, all you hope to receive, and all the feels you want to feel during this celebrated occasion. Be extremely careful to not think about anyone else – not those outside the family circle, and especially not your spouse.

BONUS: 6. When all your expectations are thoroughly disappointed, be sure to complain passionately to your girlfriends about how neglected you feel.

Posting a vague, yet clearly depressed, status update on Facebook {hatred for Valentine’s Day, the commercialism, etc.}  is also a great idea.  And, do not forget to give your husband the cold shoulder for the next 12 days. 

7. Remember that Valentine’s Day is the most important indicator of the quality of your marriage relationship.

This is it. If your Valentine’s Day doesn’t surpass all your hopes and dreams, your marriage may be in danger. Call a counselor today.

There you have it! Following this checklist ought to really guarantee a miserable Valentine’s Day in your household! And hey, for your single friends, there’s a {Single’s Edition} of this post for them – check it out.

Comment below on anything I missed.

If you enjoyed it, do please share it with your friends!