40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary and 40th birthday this week while the world wept.  Sorrow still clings, but life goes on.

I hate that it does sometimes. It seems like time should stand still, school should be canceled, and jobs abandoned with the loss of such innocence. And women who are too young to turn 40, don’t.

Life continues, but we are never the same. Armed policemen frequent my kids’ schools, my children’s questions have gotten harder and my answers, fewer. With unprecedented tragedy that shakes a nation, we hold our babies closer, we beseech God more and sadness mingles with joy this sacred season.

I’ve learned a lot in my journey and I still have much more to grasp. 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years:

  1. Getting bangs makes you feel 35
  2. And makes you *think* you’ve lost 5 pounds
  3. Parenting gets harder
  4. Marriage gets hotter
  5. I will struggle until I die
  6. The sadness in our world makes me long for His Kingdom on earth
  7. The “baby” weight is just called weight after 40
  8. Going with your twin sister to get a nose ring on a Thursday night at 8pm will make you feel 40 years old
  9. Backing out, even older
  10. I will always be old to my kids
  11. But never too old to believe in things I can’t see
  12. I will always have a frequent shopper card to the emergency room (product of being in THAT family)
  13. It’s okay to pass up a good deal if you don’t need anything
  14. It’s good to break rules every once in awhile
  15. I will never catch up on laundry
  16. I’m okay with never catching up on laundry
  17. Life’s too short not to say I’m sorry
  18. The urge to have another baby will pass (hopefully)
  19. 40 is a good year to get a puppy (hint, hint, honey)
  20. Sweet tea catches up with you
  21. Asking your hubby for an exercise bike for your birthday will put him in a pickle (he got me sassy boots instead)
  22. I just don’t have time for everything (I’m looking at you Twitter)
  23. Age brings freedom: I just don’t care about some things any more
  24. Having a slew of 20 and 30-something moms ask you for parenting advice will humble you every day
  25. Related: I still don’t know what I’m doing
  26. I need God more today than I did yesterday
  27. And also chocolate
  28. Babies grow up too fast
  29. Then one day they are smarter than you and they know it
  30. Never let them in on this knowledge
  31. Write even when no one reads
  32. It’s okay to believe you are beautiful
  33. And It’s okay for your beauty to have nothing to do with the way you look
  34. There’s no shame in being yourself
  35. God is full of good surprises (yesterday I got one for Mercy House that floored me!)
  36. To be absent from the body, is to be present with Jesus
  37. Be happy–dream big, live scared, this is it
  38. Be kind to others.
  39. Be good to yourself.
  40. Evil will never win

WMFW: Because Laughter Wins

My kids make me laugh every day. It truly is the best medicine (and sometimes even gets them out of trouble). I want to tell you about a book for your family that is sure to produce gut-wrenching giggles we all need to hear. I just know this book will be a favorite for our family for a very long time.

I think it’s for little kids, but it will bring out the little kid in everyone. I had tucked it away for a day when I knew we would need laughter.

Y’all. Seriously.

The Tickle Monster Laughter Kit (5 stars and rave reviews on amazon) is about a “loveable monster with big puffy mitts who has just flown in from Planet Tickle. His mission is to bring joy and laughter to Planet Earth. How? By tickling any child who happens to follow along in this book. Parents read aloud and do the tickling while their children squirm and giggle with delight.”

It’s just that good. And I highly recommend laughing until it hurts.

And if you’re a Facebook friend, you know just what I’m talking about (see latest status)

Laughter works for us!

(Amazon affiliate link above)



Where I Find You {Giveaway}

Congrats to random winner Elizabeth!

The last few days have been hard. Family birthdays and my anniversary tinged with deep sadness. I feel helpless, don’t you? I have wondered where to find God in the middle of such suffocating sorrow for our nation.  He seems quiet.

But do not doubt, He was there in that school, no law could keep him out. And He is with us:

In fear.

In joy.

In darkness.

Everywhere we go, everything we do, He is there.

During this Holy season, we are reminded that hope came down from Heaven to a lowly stable.

Grammy-nominated Kari Jobe is a worship leader and a beautiful young lady who loves God. Her new Christmas Edition of Where I Find You is amazing. I love “When Hope Came Down.”

Her song“‘We Are” is a song of commission for us as believers,” says Kari, “to be reminded of what we’ve been called to; and that is to impact people’s lives in everything we do.”

So, do that this Christmas season. People are watching, looking for hope.

Today I’m giving away an autographed copy of Kari’s “Where I Find You” CD, a red cloth-covered edition of the “A Christmas Carol” book, and a copy of the brand new Wow Hits 2013 CD that she is featured on.

I’m mediating on these words and this blessed hope.

Leave a comment if you’d like to win. This giveaway is only 24 hours and will close Wednesday.

What Christmas is Really About

I try to see it thru her eyes: the wonder of Christmas.

I try to shield her from the darkness in our world. The evil that would dare destroy innocent children during Advent.

She only knows what I’ve told her, her viewfinder is so narrow.

Time and space are still abstract in her 6 year old thoughts. She thinks hard and asks if I remember my first Christmas with her Daddy because 18 years ago is like 100 in her mind.

Yes! I say. And then she wonders aloud, “Was that the year Jesus was born?”

I smile and realize I look really good for my age, she is embarrassed at her question, but it gives me a greater glimpse into her understanding.  And I can’t tell her everything because I want to protect her as long as possible.

But we’ve made our lives about this Jesus. And momma? What is Christmas really about?

We tell stories, sing songs, read Scripture, light candles, we limit gifts, talk about His birthday, but what is Christmas really about? Her question pierces thru the annual visit to Santa, the stockings hung with care. It dims the twinkly lights and it begs me to answer.

Her question makes me question my own answers. Because I don’t have them for the horrifying events our world saw unfold in an elementary school last week.

I ask the same question.

What is Christmas really about?

I can’t shake the sadness that comes with the death of innocent children, the empty arms of parents, the evil of our world. The joy of the season has dimmed and my heart cries one phrase.

O Come Emmanuel

I try to describe the stable, the smells, the sacred moment when Heaven kissed earth. I try to shield my children from the darkness that makes no place safe. Our Pastor tells of the 400 years between prophecy and fulfillment.

The quiet.

The long waiting.

The expectancy.

The desperate world.

The longing for a Savior.

The evil men who threatened the unborn Messiah

The need for Him to come.

He was born into poverty, he was unwanted by this world, evidenced in his lowly stinking surroundings. His coming foreshadowed what was to come.

Jesus came 2000 years ago–just when the world needed Him. The earth held her breath in expectancy. Waiting, hoping.

We live in a world that has pushed him away, banned him. But He is still exactly what we need.

Our world cries out for justice, peace, for Him.

O Come Emmanuel.

And that’s what Christmas is about.

It’s a foreshadowing for us today. Because we desperately need Jesus to come again.

I pull her close and I whisper, praying it’s imparted in her soul. I try to protect my children from the darkness that seeks to destroy. I try not to be afraid of it myself. Jesus comes when we need Him most. He arrives when we can’t hang on another moment. He delivers us from the enemy, He rescues us from ourselves.

Christmas is about Him coming.

And it brings with it the great foreshadowing that He will come again.

O Come Emmanuel.

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As our world grieves the Connecticut massacre, we hold fast to Jesus. I join millions of others, lifting up these precious families during this Holy season.

Coming to America

2013 is going to be an amazing year for Mercy House! God has revealed some big plans and we are excited. I’m still trying to figure out how to do all this, but I’m thankful God is my boss and He’s got this.

Maureen and I have so much to discuss and plan and I can’t describe how challenging it is to do so over Skype. She will be coming to America in January for a couple of weeks for meetings and a few speaking engagements to raise money and awareness for Mercy House. If you’re local to one of these venues, I hope you’ll come and meet one of the most amazing women I know!

{Click twice to enlarge} As these dates draw near, I will share more details. **Correction: the church is in Ft Mill, South Carolina (flying into Atlanta) Link above is correct.

My family is over the moon and we can’t wait to introduce her to Texas! I’m already making a list of fun things and restaurants to take her too. She’s excited about Chick Fil A and Tex Mex.

So, this conversation really happened yesterday over Skype:

Me: Is there anything specific you want to do while you’re in Texas?

Maureen: Like cow boots?

Me: {laughing} Maybe we can take you to a rodeo

Maureen: What’s a rodeo?

I hope that’s not like Six Flags NO ROLLER COASTERS.

This is going to be fun.

These precious babes will be in good hands with our staff in Kenya. Please pray for things to go smoothly during her trip to the USA.

She was approved for a one year visa, so this won’t be her first visit. (If you’d be interested in having her speak Fall 2013, email me).

Have a happy weekend before Christmas!

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Some stuff I wrote this week:

Redeeming Home

For the Tangles in Your Story