Saying #Yes In My Mess

I’m a mom.

I have a lot of messes.

Currently: there is a science fair project involving 1000 paper clips most of which are scattered under my dining room table and an entire package of broken Girl Scout cookies on my kitchen floor. (One of these is more fun to pick up, by the way).

But there’s always been an internal mess too… struggling with who I am, what I’m supposed to do, wondering if I’m a good enough wife and mom…

After years of wondering if I was enough, I decided to say yes in my mess.

You just never know where your yes might lead.

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In 2010 when I introduced my family to the young African girl who I’d met on a Compassion Blogger Trip in Kenya a couple of months earlier, I didn’t know what God was going to do.

My life was a mess.

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And I’m not just talking about under the beds.

I was a home decor hoarder, I was ruled by mom guilt, my marriage was on the mend and I’d stopped dreaming.

I didn’t know God was going to take the broken pieces of my life– the inadequate and fearful me- my big mess- and ask me to say yes in it.

But He did.

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He didn’t wait for me to have it all together, to clean up my act, to finally arrive before He asked.

He looked at my wreck and asked me to obey anyway.

This is my story.

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And you know what’s crazy? More than two dozen rescued moms and miracle babies later — my life is still a mess.

My kids still misbehave, I still lose my cool. My husband and I still argue over stupid things, I still eat all the Easter candy I “put away for the kids” and there is still junk under my bed.

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I still get it wrong. I still have to apologize and ask forgiveness.

I am still messy me.

But I still keep saying yes.

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Because it not only unleashes other people to join me, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I say yes. We were made for more than just existing in our mess and complaining about it.

You have a purpose. You are destined for more.

You can say yes in your mess, too. Because life is messy. It’s imperfect and if we wait until we have the perfect family (picture) we will wait forever.

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If we wait until we have it all together to say yes to God, we won’t say it.

What is He asking you today? Call that friend, send that email. Visit that neighbor. Start something. Say something. Step out. Take a risk.

Saying yes is the hard part. He does the rest.

Join me in saying yes in your mess today.

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To download the free, full size printable to add a “yes to your mess” click here. Add (hashtag) #yesinmymess and/or #rhinestonejesus and join the YES MOVEMENT on Instagram.

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To the Children of Texas

We’ve had two weather days in our part of Texas this winter.

School was canceled. Roads were sanded. Bread aisles were emptied.

And before you northerners mock us too badly, it’s been the coldest winter for us in 40 years.

Plus, there was real live ice.

On one of these days, I watched my Texas kiddos scrape bits of dirty ice from the mailbox and cram it into a ball and call it a snow since they had never seen real snow before.

Poor Texas children. It was pathetic.

And then it was nearly 80 the next day.

We are on our way home from Spring Break in New Mexico, where my hubby and I lived after we got married. On Sunday, we got to share about Mercy House with the church we youth pastored nearly a dozen years ago.

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We also found real snow in the Santa Fe mountains.

This happened immediately:

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Here are 10 things we learned about snow:

1. It’s all fun and snowballs until your hands get too cold. And then it’s a literal meltdown.

2. Snow reflects the sun and causes really bad sunburns.

3. Moms have guilt when their children have blisters on their noses.

4. We were able to make every Frozen song applicable. Over and over. “Do you want to build a snowman?”

5. Plastic storage lids are perfect sleds. #rednecks

6. Kids aren’t sore after learning to ski.

7. Parents can hardly walk.

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8. Light skiing burns 2400 calories.

9. Related: Everything tastes delicious after skiing.

10. Snowball fights cause real life fights. #siblings

So, dear children of Texas, now you know what a real snow day is.


Dear Moms of Littles, This Might Be The Most Important Thing You Do Right Now

She had a two year old wrapped around her leg, holding on for dear life, while she bounced her crying newborn in her arms as we talked.

“What’s new with Mercy House? Oh and the refugee women in Houston?” I noted the longing in her voice. I started to answer and she whispered wistfully, barely audible over newborn noises, “I’m jealous of your life.”

I almost laughed off the comment–because my day had consisted of a crammed  “to do” list,  computer issues, a rushed meeting, dragging boxes to the car to mail, two dramatic daughters, several carlines and a tension headache.

My life is hardly worth being envious of….

But I knew she wasn’t talking about my day.

She was referring to my season in life.

And in a blink, I was the one standing in the kitchen of an older friend with a strong-willed two year old and a nursing baby, longing for my days to matter.

Dreaming of doing something big for God or at least getting enough sleep so I could dream. Or actually sleep.

I took her baby and patted his back, “Right now, your days are long. But the years are short. What you are doing-the burping, the diapering, the chasing, these days matter. Love is not waisted. Loving your babies is the most important thing you can do right now.”

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I suggested a few things she could do from home to help me out if she wanted to and she seemed excited.

But sometimes the best way to serve is to know our season.

And recognize its value.

This isn’t to say moms of littles can’t serve. But first you need to recognize being a mom of small ones is service. Service is never small.

Because you are the only one who can do it.

We often long to do more because we don’t believe what we do matters.

I love talking to others about saying yes. But we need to say it right where we are.

Maybe changing diapers is how God wants you to change the world right now.

I have more time to serve. My season allows it. But instead of having littles wrapped around me, depending on my body, I have kids who lean on me for a shoulder to cry on. And instead of sneaking out to Target when my babies were all asleep by 7pm like I used to, I’m up until 10pm listening to heartaches and headaches that tweens and teens often carry.

This is my season.

But just like winter blossoms into spring, seasons of motherhood change too. Sometimes they blow in like a storm or break the ground like a pastel miracle, new seasons are always coming.

So, don’t wish this time away. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Recognize it as your yes for now.

Because tomorrow the winds may change and you’ll have an opportunity to step out in a new way.

This just might be the most important thing you can do today.


The Uncomfortable (Wonderful) Truth About Doing What God Tells Us

Last week I did something that made me uncomfortable.

I said yes.

It was to an email from a blog reader who also supports Mercy House telling me about a friend who was very sick. A mother diagnosed with a very serious illness who would be separated from her five beautiful children for weeks, seeking complicated medical intervention in my city, where she and her husband didn’t know a soul. Another mother who had spent her life saying yes to God, loving others.

Would I reach out to her? Would I go and pray for her?  

My first thought was to respond that the hospital was 45 minutes away, that I am really an introvert and terrible in these situations, that I am overwhelmed with my yes to Mercy House and yes to helping refugees and yes to the epic laundry pile. I wanted to excuse myself because I didn’t know when I’d find the time and really, I haven’t stepped foot into a hospital since watching my sister-in-law pass away last year. My first reaction was to come up with all the reasons I couldn’t possibly say yes.

Which is generally a clear indication that I should.

I understand we can’t say yes to everything and everyone. And while I’m careful to guard my time, I really believe there are some questions we don’t have to pray about. There are some situations that grip your heart and you know God is speaking.

And this was one for me.

When I read the email to my husband and kids, they didn’t think twice about going. And I had to be honest with myself.

Because here’s the deal: If my To Do List isn’t governed by love, than I need to lay it down. If I’m too busy to love another person, then I’m too busy.

Because all the doing can make a person sick and leave no time for getting well.

Saying yes and obeying God is uncomfortable. It’s awkward. It requires self-denial. It requires action.

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It’s easy to have faith at home that God will heal a sick mom I’ve never met, but it’s a different story when I’m standing next to her hospital bed with my family with a bag of books and goodies asking Him to do so.

Because, yes, I’m sure it encouraged my new friend, but even more, it encouraged me. We must understand that obedience isn’t just for the person receiving. It’s even more for the person doing.

The uncomfortable truth of doing what God tells us is this: It’s going to cost something-pride, time, money, bravery. But the reward of stepping into the unknown far outreaches and outlasts the price you have to pay.

A typical week at my house is anything but typical.

There’s always someone dropping off donations on the front porch, packing orders in the Mercy House building in our backyard,  homeschool groups serving, mothers organizing in the garage, random people ringing the doorbell to see if I need help.

If you would have described this life scenario to me a few years ago, I would have laughed. And then hid.

I used to be a private person. I rarely had friends over and I was uncomfortable with people I didn’t know. I was safe in my controlled little world where I didn’t have to push my introverted self out of my comfort zone.

But I wouldn’t trade this real life today for anything in the world. Because my yes depends on a lot of others to say yes with me.

And I’ve been changed in the process.

As we drove home from the hospital, Terrell and I marveled at how much we had in common with our new friends from Missouri and we thanked God for introducing us to this beautiful, brave family.

My kids are already asking when we can go again.

The truth is we needed that visit as much as they did.

Stepping out in obedience makes us feel better because To Do lists can make a soul sick and it’s in the loving others we get well.

Do what God tells you to do. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Especially then.

You won’t regret it.

 

P.S. Please pray for my friend Heather.


What I Want My Children to See When the World Comes Together

For the last week, we’ve piled together –too many bodies on too small a sofa– to watch the Winter Olympics.

We’ve become fans of sports we didn’t know existed last week.

We’ve tried curling on the kitchen floor.

We’ve ice-skated in our socks.

We’ve sighed at losses and fist bumped at victories.

We’ve held our breath in nervous anticipation.

The Olympics are so much more than a worldwide sporting event. They are about unity, about the world coming together. They are about endurance and hard work. They are about the defeat of champions and victory of underdogs. They are about finishing what you started.

More than 20 years ago, I sat in my USA leotard in my living room and watched a girl a couple of years older win gold in gymnastics. I never made it to a platform and gold never hung around my neck, but I’ve never stopped dreaming or doing the impossible. I traded a leotard for a laptop and now I watch my son practice archery for hours with Olympic rings in his  dreams.

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[Mom brag moment: this past weekend my son won his division for the state of Texas in Junior Olympic Archery for recurve. Here he is with Olympic Archery team member, Vick Wunderle, who autographed his winning target]

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I want my kids to dream to do the impossible. I want them to feel the spirit of the Olympics rise up within them. I want them to find their purpose and accomplish what they are called to do.

I’m proud to be an American.

But sometimes I’m embarrassed by our actions.

We’ve turned social media into a forum to complain about first world problems and mock others–even at the Olympics. I understand this is mostly fueled by ignorance. Not everyone has been exposed to extreme poverty, but I quickly tired of hearing about the missing doorknobs and unfinished hotel rooms in Sochi, in a country that has spent more money in the history of the Olympics to present perfection on the backs of a broken people. I want my kids to look past the complaints about the color of the drinking water in an oppressed country and remember the millions of people who will still have undrinkable water weeks after the venues are empty.

Russia spent 51 billion dollars on the Olympics.

51 billion.

1500 families were kicked out of there homes (some at gunpoint) to make room for infrastructure.

“As journalists and athletes began to check in, social media site Twitter exploded with “#Sochi” tweets sharing traveler woes such as hotels without lobbies, water outages, guests trapped in malfunctioning elevators, faulty plumbing, missing manhole covers, unfinished sidewalks, and showers without shower curtains. A Twitter account dedicated to sharing these tweets quickly gained 325,000 followers, while the official account of the Winter Olympics has only recently cleared 200,000 followers.”  source

This isn’t the first or last time a country will overspend to showcase an over-the-top show. Fences separated poor slum conditions from athletes in Bejing, too.

I know this is a global issue. I love my country. I am proud to be an American, but I’m more proud to be human.

And when the world comes together, I want to my kids to see what really matters.

It’s not winning. It’s not a medal. It’s not victory. It’s not building something beautiful on top of something broken. It’s laying down the flags and color and language that divides us and it’s having compassion for others, even if they live and believe differently than we do, especially then. It’s lending a competitor a ski when his breaks in the middle of the race; it’s speeding down a mountain for your down syndrome brother who can’t.

This is the Olympic spirit.

More than winning, I want my children to value the beauty of helping those behind us in the race. I want them to be the one to come along the injured runner, the limping skier, and lend a hand.

I want them to finish this race well, not necessarily first, but with dignity and integrity.