Connection, Hope

She Hopes

She Speaks Photo Book and Nametag

Heart hammering, I edged my way through throngs of busy women sporting identical teal tote bags. Which was more terrifying? Being a first-time attendee, knowing no one, or being a green-as-grass writer at a writers conference? As panic set in, I settled for a three-way tie.

We all arrived filled with hope. Many literally toted hope in the rustling pages of book proposals for prospective publishers. Others hoped to make life-long friendships. Like me, some hoped to feel qualified enough to be there and to find a place amongst so many accomplished women. And yes, we all hoped to find a friendly meal partner!

Last weekend, hope was palpable in the air like the thick North Carolina humidity blanketing the conference center. The She Speaks Conference had begun!

Riding waves of emotion, I asked myself…

What am I doing here?

How did this science girl end up at a writers conference?

I suppose only God can answer those questions. But I do know that the road there has been weary, full of almosts, broken dreams, and crushed hope. Yet that same road has forged my imperfect story that I was there to learn how to share.

I soon learned that my tattered story also had companions to spare.

In an attempt to quell my raging nerves and seek peace in some sort of connection with at least a sliver of the 800 perfectly coiffed and accomplished women surrounding me, I started asking questions.

Do you have any publisher or agent appointments?

What is the subject of your book proposal?

Little did I know that these questions would build a beautiful vulnerability bridge between us.

Each She Speaks sister seemed to have a story like mine. Stories that dethroned the mythical lives I’d assigned them minutes earlier.
• An adorable young mom shared the devastating loss of her husband.
• Another bubbly sister recounted how her young son passed unexpectedly.
• Beautiful single moms shared the pain of divorce.
• An accomplished writer revealed her struggle with the shame of being a teen mom.
• Some sweet moms shared struggles with their faith and their journeys back to God.
• A spunky mama and I even bonded over toilet training our teens with special needs.

But even as heavy as these conversations became, they all returned to God’s grace, the gateway to hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Each story underlined God’s power to transform our troubles into a door of hope (Hosea 2:15). These simple truths became our unspoken anthem. They reverberated throughout the conference center with as much power as the mammoth amps bathing us in Elevation’s praise music.

So, my She Speaks sisters, may God’s grace dwell within you as you fulfill your calling.  Run your race with grace as the Holy Spirit fills you with His power. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV 1984).

I’ll see you before your door of hope when we meet again!

Learn more about the ladies of She Speaks! Visit this link now to be connected with their blogs, all on one page! Be sure to swing back frequently, as more blogs will be added through August 31st!

Reflect:
1. How have hope and God’s grace intertwined in your life?
2. How has God blessed you with vulnerability bridges?

Dive Deeper: Why Hope? Grace! By John Piper

Giveaway!
Win a $20 Target gift card! Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win. Winner will be chosen on July 31st!

 

 

 

Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up

FOR BLOGGERS: Welcome to the Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up!

Theme This Month: She Speaks Shares 2017 – If you attended, feel free to share a blog post recalling your SS experience or even your most favorite post – whatever suits you, honors SS, and glorifies God!

  • Insert the button & link up link: Include this image with site link in your participating blog posts so your blog visitors can click their way straight to the party!  IMAGE LINK. SITE LINK. IMAGE & LINK CODE.
  • Leave 2 Comments: Please choose 2 link up posts. Leave an encouraging comment on each.
  • Share on Social Media! Share this link up post and your favorite posts from the link up!
  • Tell your Followers! Share this link up with your email subscribers so they can join the party too!

Humility

Pride Monsters

 blog pride monster picI have a confession: I’ve been arrested by the “pride police” on many occasions.

By this, I mean I’ve been caught red-handed in major acts of mom hubris. I grin widely, giggle with glee, and feel that much better about myself when my kids get recognized at school or in sports. With toddler-like gusto, I post their accomplishments to social media, anxiously awaiting “likes” and comments.

Before I go any further, know that, in my opinion, celebration and pride are two very different things.

Celebration is totally acceptable and something God wants us to enjoy. The key is to give all the glory to Him. We’ve only arrived in Problemville when that gladness gives way to human superiority. When our identity shifts because of that achievement. When we give ourselves the glory instead of God.

Now that we have that established, let’s jump back into my impending arrest…

I revel in the glory of achievement and the approval of others. I’ll take a good pat on the back – in almost any form – any day.

But after the rush inevitably fades, I find myself drained – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Then I ask myself: “What was so great about that?”

That’s God’s way of starving my pride monster. I know it’s what I need, but don’t always want.

What is a pride monster?

He’s that snarly, scaly little critter who puffs out your chest and creeps into your heart to feast on your insecurity. He’s the evil gremlin who clutches your neck so you’ll stick your nose up to gasp for high-brow air. He’s the Enemy’s child and he’s always on the prowl for souls in need of earthly recognition.

I wish I could say that my pride monster, after many forced fasts, looked more akin to a shriveled gremlin instead of a fluffy moguai, but in the interest of full disclosure, he is somewhere in between. Just when I think I’ve deprived him of all nourishment by praying, Facebook fasting, and Bible study, he tilts his pitiful little head and thinly squeaks, “Feed me!”

I try to ignore his cries and tune them out with prayer, but he’s a tenacious little thing, ripping at my unbelief, reminding me how good that initial rush of recognition feels.

Then, I remember His Word…

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

The creature finally goes quiet. I breathe in and lean back into God’s arms. But I know he will be back and I’ll be arrested again. It’s just a matter of time. It’s just part of being human and the reason why we need God. Every minute. Everyday.

Reflect:

  1. What do your “pride monsters” look like? What are yours?
  2. What verses or prayers do you use to starve your “pride monsters?”
  3. How can you invite more humility into your daily life when “pride monsters” invade?

Dive Deeper:   A Platform of Pride. First 5, Day 11, Covenant Plan.

Giveaway!    Leave a comment to be entered to win a $20 Target gift card! The winner will be emailed by the end of July!

 

 

Connection

Soul to Soul

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

“What is she thinking?”

That’s the question I ask myself hundreds of times each day.

She is our twelve-year-old daughter, who happens to have Down syndrome.

She is significantly delayed cognitively and physically, more than even most children with Down syndrome.

She is also a spit-fire strawberry blond who loves to run, laugh, listen to music, and give us a tween “stink eye” when she doesn’t get her way.

She is a gift from God who checks our “pride monsters” at the door.

She reminds us to slow our pace to God’s “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).

She is so many things, just as we all are.

We are each a unique life bundle. Our lives are canvases of characteristics painted by our actions, choices, and thoughts.

And this is where my throat lumps. What are our daughter’s thoughts? Specifically, her deepest thoughts? Selfishly, I want to hear them because that’s how I connect on a soul level with others. I want to touch her soul with my words, but it’s like a wisp in the wind. I can see it – almost grab it sometimes when she peers into my eyes – but then it dances away on gusts beyond my reach…

Our daughter with Down syndrome does speak a few words, but oftentimes they’re out of context. That said, her immediate physical needs motivate her to speak in context…  like “want to eat,” “cookie,” or “please.” Her spoken word bank tops out around 10 to 20.

She has never used words to express how she feels, however. For feelings, she employs physical-behavioral means, which come in the form of a broad smile after that cookie, a hoe-down-worthy stomping after being told “no,” or her go-to for “mad:” a sit-down-and-won’t-budge.

Since she isn’t able to express her feelings with words, I feel distance between us. I’m a verbal processor. Words, language, and conversation are like oxygen to me. Our other two children adeptly express themselves with words – sometimes too well! Why can’t I have that with our twelve-year-old daughter?

This is when I plaintively pray for a device to plug into her brain that reports her thoughts!

Where is technology when I truly need it? I want to know whether she knows God. I want to know whether she loves me. I want to know whether she is happy living in our home.

God then tenderly taps me on the shoulder, interrupting my reverie. He reminds me of His truth about our girl: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

And I melt. Our girl, in all her meekness, is set for a beautiful inheritance.

Perhaps she has already moved to a higher plane and has a direct line to the deepest One of all? Maybe her unique-to-Down-syndrome Brushfield spots – tiny stars in her deep blue irises – were placed there by God to remind me of the mysteries and the majesties of His vast universe? Maybe He is just reminding me that my meager human understanding will always be just that? (Proverbs 3:5)

Maybe I’m the one with the shallow connection to God?

Maybe I’m not meant to connect with her the way I want to now – at least not on this earth? Maybe I’m to wait until we reunite in eternity? If so, I can’t wait to plug into her beautiful soul on that glorious day! I long to collect all her hopes, dreams, and deepest desires…

And this is when gratitude creeps in.

God knows me so well. He knows how to draw me close. With a sheepish side-grin and a wink upward, I clasp my hands together and close my eyes. I begin to pray, thanking Him for the gift that He has given us in our girl. The lessons that she teaches us. That God loves us enough to entrust us with her care. But mostly that our girl keeps me plugged into God, the ultimate source of soul connection and renewal!

Reflect:
1. With whom do you struggle to communicate? (Maybe they don’t have a cognitive or physical disability, but they have personality traits or habits that rub you the wrong way or prevent a healthy relationship.)
2. Write a prayer asking God to help sort out your struggle in His will.

Dive Deeper:
“Why Your Brand of Unique is Perfect” by Amy Carroll

Giveaway!
Leave a comment below to be entered to win a Target gift card!

Rest

Too Busy!

 

Most of the things we need in order to be most fully alive never come from busyness. They grow out of rest. – MARK BUCHANAN

I can’t keep up!

The laundry, dishes, errands, extracurriculars, doctors appointments, homework, lunches, backpacks, school activities… it all comes at me like a freight train on a treadmilling loop.

It has all become so overwhelming that I’ve instituted something I call “rest checking.” Each week, I scroll through my calendar until I find an “opening” for rest. Until I find it, I feel my throat closing up a little with each passing busy, congested, over-productive day. Once I’ve found it, I find release… physically, mentally, spiritually.

But isn’t it sad that we have to search for rest? Shouldn’t it be a given?

Apparently, not in Western culture. We’re expected to Continue reading “Too Busy!”

Introduction

Blog Coming Soon!

Welcome to my shiny NEW blog!

So thrilled you’re here!

I’m a mom of three who loves to encourage women, study the Bible, make meaningful connections, and have deep conversations! I’m a lover of all things fuzzy (especially blankets), long walks on a warm summer afternoon, and great reads. And… I struggle with early morning bus schedules, housekeeping, and managing tween angst… among other things!

Like many of you, I have also survived life-altering experiences that have rocked me to the core. These experiences have forged the cornerstone of an exciting and deepening faith. And that burgeoning faith is the genesis of this blog!

Although I’ve only lived a little over four decades, Continue reading “Blog Coming Soon!”