This is the Most Important Thing You Can Do For Yourself This Mother’s Day

I’m no parenting expert, but one time my child did say that I was the best mother she ever had.

So, there’s that.

I love being a mom. At the end of the day–no matter how many mismatched socks are in the laundry pile or how dirty the van is or how many kernels of corn are under the kitchen table, I am glad I said yes to motherhood.

But it’s no surprise that motherhood is hard.

Hard like crying yourself to sleep. Hard like second-guessing every decision. Hard like someone else’s bodily fluids on your person. Difficult mothering days are like a suckerpunch in the gut. And like a mood swing gone wild, the next day is beautiful and tender it takes your breath away and makes you want to do it all over again. And again.

Moms do it all.

We fish the icky things out of the dark scary disposal.

We sniff diapers.

We clean and trim other people’s finger and toenails.

We give up the other half of our bagel so our child can have a second breakfast.

We smell socks to determine if they are clean or not.

We wait for hours and hours and hours in car lines, doctors offices, at dental appointments, practices, rehearsals and recitals.

We clean up messes we don’t make.

We give up our bodies, our beds, our figures, our very lives for other people.

We sacrifice something we really want for something our kids really need.

We say yes.

And then we say yes some more.

We say yes without getting anything in return.

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Because that’s what moms do.

The most important thing you can do for yourself this Mother’s Day: remind mom (even if she’s you) that what you do is important. The unseen, unknown hard work of motherhood is changing your kids’ world.

Even if no one recognizes it. It matters.

Small service may feel small, but size doesn’t matter. What you do matters. It has long-lasting, eternal significance.

And there isn’t anyone else in the world who needs to hear this more: Mom, your small daily acts of service, your mundane–it matters so much more than you think it does.

Because when we embrace our yes–as messy and undervalued as it may seem some days it gives us the passion to keep saying yes every day.

It reminds us why we love being a mom:

We love that our teen daughter wants to borrow our clothes (Keep telling yourself it’s the highest compliment).

We love it when their feet are no longer the same size as ours though. Whew.

We love that our son who will be 13 next week, still grabs our hand when we are walking together.

We love that he mumbles sorry when he drops it quickly-just in case anyone’s looking.

We love that our baby still acts like our baby. But not to be confused with acting babyish. Some things are not meant to be loved.

We love the handmade cards and the small collection of homemade pottery.

We love the noisy car filled with arguing, fighting kids (everywhere we go). Ok. we don’t really love this.

We love the hope that one day our kids will sleep in on Saturdays (This is also when you know that you have ARRIVED).

We love that our children don’t hold grudges and are easy forgivers.

We love that no matter how hard of a day it’s been–no matter how much we yell or mess up, our kids still want us.

On this messy parenting road, we can always find something good to be thankful for. No matter what. Always.

Because deep down, we know one day there won’t be anyone asking to borrow our clothes, reaching for our hand, making us handmade cards, filling our car, our home, our lives with noise, leaving a trail of mess and mayhem in their wake.

We love that even though we don’t love every minute, every phase, every hard mothering day that leaves us weary and wondering if we are doing it right–we love that God chose us to mother our kids.

And that makes even the hard moments, so good.

 

 

[Click to download the above 5×7 Mother’s Day Printable]

edited repost from the archives

Moms: We Have The Best Job In The World

There’s a ring around my tub and tubs of laundry that need tending.

And dust bunnies that run through the house when someone walks quickly across the room.

This month I’ve been to Africa with one daughter and 2nd grade field day with the other;

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To the Refugee Project fundraiser tea and three stores with my teen looking for a banquet dress;

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I’ve had kids in my bed sharing their hearts and a couple of family fights.

I’ve overseen close to 1500 Fair Trade Friday packages and sat through percussion practice.

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Baked a cake or two with my kids and had houseguests for a week.

And yesterday, I helped my youngest decide on a talent for the school talent show and hosted a Fair Trade Girls Night Out.

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Yeah, it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here.

Last night, I stepped over the piles and I ignored the dirty tub and I fell into bed exhausted.

I’ve wiped tears and counters.

I’ve hugged and held.

I’ve been mean.

I’ve laughed and loved.

I’m a mom.10422531_633617950071416_4042879949427280827_n

And I have the best job in the world.

Not only do I get to mother three amazing kids, I have the honor of connecting moms who have with moms who don’t. 

I get to remind and nudge and help mothers who’ve been dealt a good hand, remember those whose hands are empty.

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During this busy month, I sat at a picnic table at the park with some friends. The kids were swinging and sliding within earshot and occasionally we would stop our conversation mid-sentence to count their heads, while our husbands solved all the world problems a few tables down.

We are women living in community together-young and not-so-young moms and women-longing-to-be-moms trying to help each other through life and faith.

Our conversation skipped from recipes to religion and before long we were deep in conversation about Heaven and eternity and our time left here on earth.

One of my friends said, “I grew up wondering why I was born here in Houston, Texas, with so much advantage and opportunity, while other girls were born into oppression and poverty. Why was I dealt this good hand?”

She has discovered her answer by leading The Refugee Project. This is why. God knew we would help each other.

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This Mother’s Day, there will be cards and flowers and maybe some new pajamas. Or a bottle of lotion. We deserve it, right? We give ourselves away to our family everyday.

But I think we also owe ourselves a bit of perspective. Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? How can I give my kids the world?

This is how: By recognizing what we’ve been given. And by giving some of it away.

I told a friend sitting on my couch the other day that hurting women don’t need another Bible Study or another new church. They don’t need more friends or more stuff to feel complete or healed.

Hurting women need to help hurting woman. That’s how we heal our hurts. That’s how we stir up gratitude for the hand we’ve been dealt. Because we can always always find something to be thankful for even in trials, sorrow and disappointment.

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I can’t help but remember the moment when a mom in a slum in Kenya–who wanted the exact same thing for her kids that I want for mine- handed me a lapful of bracelets and I handed her $50. It was a powerful moment of empowerment.

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Who knew bracelets could change a life?

Who knew that helping her would help me?

Who knew that every woman wearing a simple paper bracelet made by Mary from a slum in Kenya would also be changed?

God. That’s who.

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This week is Mother’s Day. It’s also World Fair Trade Day.

Let’s celebrate motherhood: the best job in the world.

But mostly, let’s remember mothers everywhere.

 

[Host a fair trade girls night out.]

[sign up for one of the fair trade friday subscription clubs and provide hope and a job every month for women from around the globe.]

[shop fair trade and change the world]

Refugee Project photos by Taylor Robbins; Chalk art by SerendipityDuo

The Truth About My Family (And Probably Yours, Too)

We argued the whole way to church.

It started with a grumpy kid and quickly escalated into a fight between all my children.

Halfway there, my husband and I were arguing over how to handle the arguing kids.

Ah…parenting.

By the time we parked, no one was speaking to anybody else.

Yes, we are a holy bunch.

I was half-tempted to ask Terrell to turn the car around, you know? Some days family life is just hard.

We walked through the front door and a familiar face said, “Well, look who’s back from Africa! There they are, that world -changing family!”

If only you knew.

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“Are you ready to speak today and inspire women?” The kind person asked about the event I was doing later that day.

I smiled and tried not to cry.

Because sometimes I think if people knew the truth about my family, they would be less than impressed. And they might understand we are just like every other family–messy.  None of us belong on a pedestal.

We yell.

We cry.

We fail.

We try.

We wonder if we are getting this thing right at all.

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And it seems the more we try to live on mission, the messier our family life gets. Or maybe it just becomes more obvious that we need Jesus.

I took my youngest daughter with me to the speaking event. Afterwards, she told me my talk “was really big.”

“Oh, you mean, like it was powerful?” I asked.

“No, I mean it was really long,” she clarified.

“But was it good?” I asked feeling a little vulnerable.

“It was okay, but the sugar cubes at the drink table–those were really good,” she said and skipped off.

God has a way of keeping us humble and he will use our family to do it every time.

If you run into us at church or the store one day and see anything good in our mess, just remember it isn’t us.

It’s God.

Because Sometimes Being the Meanest Mom Might Also Make You Mother of the Year

You’ve probably seen it by now.

The viral video of the Baltimore mother in bright yellow beating the hell out of her rioting teenaged son in the middle of the street.

She’s being called “mother of the year” by some and abusive by others.

And whether you’re cheering her on after watching the video or wanting to call child protective services, I’d bet a dollar her son has called her the “meanest mom in the world” before their very public moment.

Listen. I’ve been called it for much less.

because sometimed being the meanest mom might also make you mother of the year

If you’ve ever told your child no to protect or provide for them, followed through on a consequence with your teenager, or refused to give into their demands, you probably have the battle scars that come with the Meanest Mom title, too. If they are too young to say it, just wait.

I love my kids and my kids love me. But they have tried to manipulate situations, move my resistance, maneuver their way around the truth and mistake my compassion for weakness.

Motherhood is not for wimps.

When my kids think I’m at my meanest, they are really seeing my fierce love for them. They just don’t recognize it for that. 

When I was 16 years old, I misjudged the time and realized I was going to miss my curfew. This was long before cell phones and so I did what any other new driver would do, I sped. Just as the policeman was pulling me over a few blocks from home, my parents showed up.

I’ll never forget their words, “We will take it from here, Officer.”

They didn’t think twice about marching my butt home and if there had been a TV camera, they probably would have waved.

I was never late again.

(I’m about to sign my daughter up for driver’s education and Hey, Mom and Dad–I totally get it.)

motherhood is not for wimps

Life teaches hard lessons. And if we let our kids learn them, they might just learn from them.  Sure, we can protect our kids from consequences, but should we? They might just miss the lesson if we rush to make everything okay. Maybe they will think twice before they make the same mistake again.

I go toe-to-toe regularly with my kids. And it’s not because I like a good fight.

It’s because of love.

These are some of the non-negotiables in our house that earn me the Mean Mom title. They are of course, sandwiched in loved, bathed in grace and taught consistently (most of the time):

1. Lose it or break it and it’s lost or broken. (We might help you with it, but if you expect it, we definitely won’t).

2. Our family goes to church. You will go, too.

3. People who live in our house, do chores.

4. We apologize when we hurt people.

5. Your email, pictures and Internet history will be looked at by your parents. (Remember we agreed to this when you received access?)

6. If you don’t take care of your stuff, you can’t borrow mine.

7. If you want something, save your money.

8. Sometimes you have to fail at something to later succeed at it. (This is why I quit reminding my kids to do their homework, check on that missing paper, turn in that extra credit, etc)

9. Eventually, you will run out of clean clothes if you don’t do your laundry.

10. If I go out of my way to help you and you’re rude, the next time you ask for my help, I will say no.

11. We will always forgive each other, no matter what. Love conquers all of the above.

Does this list make me a mean mom? Probably.

Life has a funny way of teaching the best lessons–if we let it. Sometimes the very best lessons are in the consequences.

I hope one day my kids will look beyond the words and rules, and they will understand the deep, abiding love for them that sometimes makes me seem mean.

I know I did.

And who knows, they may even see a glimpse of Mother of the Year.

Our Favorites in Washington D.C.- Part 2

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of

We were regular tourists in Washington D.C. (We love Groupon Getaways!) We just couldn’t help ourselves.

. All opinions are 100% mine.

We were regular tourists in Washington D.C. We just couldn’t help ourselves.

We walked a mile to stand at the gate of the White House and get a picture. What you can’t see are the hundreds of people around us. We cropped out the crowd.

Our 8 year old has a small obsession with the grand place and this was definitely a highlight for her.

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The rest of us couldn’t get enough of the museums and historic sites of the city. It was a rainy day, so that made it even better. We got in a huge line to take a tour of the Capital. The lady in front of us turned around and told us it was her third time to try and visit the Capital, but they’d sold out of free tickets every time.

We took our chances and we were in the building in 30 minutes. They handed us the fancy headsets and a guy named Pete (who loved his job very much) talked in our ears for the next hour. Every room and history lesson accompanying it was fascinating.

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The view of  Washington Monument from the Capital.

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This was a special moment. Our family loves Lincoln and there was a sacred hush at this Memorial, with some of the beautiful words he spoke etched on the walls in marble. There was also a really old and cool corner bookstore with everything Lincoln. Terrell was drawn to this book and once we got home he ordered a used copy off of Amazon. He can’t put it down.

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I think one of our favorite places was the Library of Congress. It’s connected to the Capital building. It was gorgeous. It also reminded us of one of our favorite movies: National Treasure 2. I dared my son to ask the librarian at the Information Desk to show us where the President’s Book of Secrets was hidden.

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He did not let me down.

The librarian said, “Oh, it’s here, but I can’t tell you.”

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I think my son totally believed her. I might have, too.

Another highlight and sacred moment was visiting the Vietnam Memorial. People were searching for names and leaving flowers. My husband found a soldier with our last name and we took away his name to remember his sacrifice.

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The two museums we spent the most time in were the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. My husband was as excited as the kids. We saw the Wright Brother’s and Amelia Earhart’s planes and learned so much.  I really loved the Museum of American History. I mean, you can see Julia Childs kitchen, the first American flag and a display of Dorothy’s rube red slippers from Wizard of Oz.  I love America.

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Another highlight was walking everywhere (says the family who goes everywhere by car in Texas). The weather improved and we loved looking at the row houses and architecture everywhere we went.

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And while Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum isn’t the Smithsonian, we got free tickets when we bought a

And while Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum isn’t the Smithsonian, we got free tickets when we bought a Groupon earlier in our trip and walked through it. It was really fun!

earlier in our trip and walked through it. It was really fun!

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Washington DC, you were a knockout!

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Let Them (Mothers) Eat Cake :: Flash Sale

I love being a mom.

I love cake.

I love it when the two are somehow connected.

Amen.

Daily Grace Pedestal

I’ve had this little beauty on my countertop for months. Unfortunately, cake doesn’t last long on it!

In honor of Mother’s Day, Dayspring is offering this very popular Daily Grace Pedestal for only $12 and if you use the coupon code: MOTHER35, you can get it for $7.80 today! Free shipping is now automatically applied to a $25 regular priced order.

Y’all. This is a sweet deal.

It turns out you can have your cake (pedestal) and eat it, too!

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Dear Washington D.C.:

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

It might be too soon in our relationship to tell you this, but I just can’t keep it in:

Our family loves you.

When Groupon  gave us the opportunity to choose a getaway destination, there were so many choices. We thought about snow-capped mountains and isolated cabins and exotic destinations.

But you did not disappoint!

(And kudos to Groupon Getaways for a straight-shot flight and adjoining rooms with a king and two double beds at a gorgeous hotel in the shadow of the nation’s Capital!)

Our hotel was in the center of the city with access to all the major tourist spots.

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We loved sleeping under the lights of the capital. And making silly faces, apparently.

v9iUHOLe7wPaofxxZt9HG-bGqc8OHRSXXvf3PVixCJgWe love your food. Within walking distance of our hotel, there were dozens of restaurants and honestly, it was hard to choose.

Who knew the family would take Asian Fusion food so seriously (it was delicious) Who knew my kids will literally try anything?

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Or that Chinatown restaurants known for their duck entrees, really have them hanging in the window. And that sort of changes your mind about what you’re going to order. Get the dumpiness, always the dumplings.

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And don’t get me started on this epic restaurant:

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(Friends of Mercy House own The Portofino, a family-owned authentic Italian restaurant, in Arlington, Virginia and sent us a gift card for our family to dine with them. I highly recommend it! How fun is that?)

We loved walking everywhere.

We loved catching taxis when we couldn’t take another step and meeting drivers from Ethiopia, Iran, Turkey and well, all over the world).

We loved your free museums. I can’t wait to tell you our favorites.

We loved your presidential bobble heads.

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We loved your cherry blossoms. Seriously, everywhere.

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Most of all, we loved your history. With 17 museums a part of the Smithsonian, that all have free entrance, how could I not?

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We loved the way the city shuts down for the presidential motorcade (okay, not really. But still, cool).

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Washington DC, you had us at hello.

We can’t wait to return. (And share more fun details about our trip with you!)

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Our Culture’s Confusing Message About Courage

I was wide awake by 6 AM on Saturday morning.

I made a cup of strong Ethiopian coffee and drank it black, while the rest of the house slept.

Snuggling up on the couch with a cat and a blanket, I opened my Bible and my laptop and I started thinking about the words I planned to share at The Refugee Project fundraiser tea this weekend.

I stared at the blank screen and typed the first word that came to mind:

Courage.

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I wrote down a few thoughts and turned to Google for a familiar quote I couldn’t quite remember.

I was surprised to find Bruce Jenner at the top of my search for the word courage. 

I didn’t watch his interview the night before, but apparently nearly 15 million people did.

But I only feel compassion for a confused man who decides to become a woman. And I believe God loves him either way and will do anything to let him know it.

The two words most associated on social media with the interview were courage and bravery. And that makes me think that maybe our culture has confused courage with compassion?

We ache for miserable and unhappy people and feel compassion towards them when they do something to change their situation, even if we don’t agree with the choice. This is compassion and it’s good.

I may not understand Bruce Jenner’s choices or agree with them, but I don’t have to in order to feel compassion for him.

What is courage? 

Our culture says it’s when someone is brave enough to pursue happiness for themselves at any cost.

But we aren’t promised happiness in this life. Especially if we are following Jesus.

When I think of courage, I don’t think of a confused former Olympian turned-reality-show-star declaring he’s now a woman. No, instead I think of Tee Mo, a precious refugee lady with a tiny voice and a bulging belly, about to deliver her third child.

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Bravery is this woman who lives in a small apartment with more than a dozen other people in heart of Houston and tries to learn and understand her new home. She left the dirt floors of the refugee camp she was born into in Nepal so her children would have opportunity in America.

When I think of courage, I think of her showing up for weekly ESL classes and working her fingers to crochet something she can sell in order buy diapers for her baby.

When I think of courage, I think of her family and friends digging in rubble, searching for life under collapsed buildings in her homeland.

When I think of courage, I think of first responders and soldiers and people who run into danger to help someone they don’t even know.

When I think of courage, I think of the 100 clergy from all denominations linking arms and walking with the protesters against violence in the streets of Baltimore.

Because no matter what our culture says, courage isn’t thinking about ourselves. It’s not choosing a path that makes us happy at any cost. No, bravery is revealed when we lay down our lives to serve someone else.

This is courage.