The Biggest Lie Women Believe


biggest lie
A few months ago, I was folding laundry scrolling through my Facebook feed when a post caught my attention. If:Gathering posed a question to women. What’s the biggest lie you have believed? They asked the community to then speak truth over those lies.

What is the biggest lie I have believed?

Easy. I was answering the question before I even finished reading it.

I’m not enough.

I was curious to see what others were posting, so I clicked to see more comments.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 99.9% of the responses were some version of The Not Enough Lie.

I’m not good enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Strong enough. Smart enough.

I’m not enough of a mom. Enough of a wife. Enough of a cook. Enough of a Christian.

I’m just not enough for my husband. My kids. My family. My God.

Y’all. What is happening here?

What is it about THIS particular lie that has such a hold over so many of us? Why is it so easy to believe? Why are we so struggling with this?

Well, let’s consider the source.

The father of lies, the enemy of our souls, is the one who keeps whispering this untruth in our ears. So. Many. Ears. It obviously must be incredibly important to him for a vast majority of women to struggle with this idea that we’re not enough. Because he is working so, so hard to make sure we all believe that we are, in some way or many ways, falling short of the bar.

Why? Why is this point so important to his plan?

Let’s imagine for a minute. What might look different in your life if you had the confidence of knowing (knowing knowing) you were enough?

If I was secure in the idea of being a good enough cook, I would bring more meals to people. If I was confident that my house was clean enough, I would have people over more often. If I knew I was enough of a mom, I would stop second-guessing my parenting and be more consistent. If I was sure I was enough of a wife, I would stop monitoring conversations with my husband, looking for criticisms that aren’t necessarily there. If I thought I was a good enough friend, I would reach out to be a friend to more people.

All of these results would be GOOD things. How much more often I would be showing love and grace and Jesus to the world around me!

So, of course, the enemy would want to shut that down immediately. And with the smallest of whispers in my ear, I begin to slip down the slippery slope of doubt.

Trying to regain my footing, I start looking around. My house sure isn’t as clean as hers. I don’t cook as many organic meals as she does. She is so much more patient with her kids.

Comparison just makes me slip even farther and faster into The Not Enough Lie.

We will never measure up because the bar doesn’t exist. We invented it ourselves.

TIME OUT.

If we were sitting across the table from one another right now, talking over coffee, and I heard you speak these doubts out loud? I would reach over and grab your hands. I would look you straight in the eye. I would remind you who you are.

You are exactly who you were created to be.

You were designed, from the beginning of time, to be the exact wife/mom/sister/friend your people need you to be.

You are more than enough. You are incredibly, vitally important to this crazy world.

Give your thoughts. Share your ideas. Tell your stories. We need them.

Friends. Let’s promise each other to speak truth over The Not Enough Lie.

When you hear it lurking just beyond a friend’s words in a conversation, call it out and send it off. Speak truth for your friend.

When it creeps up behind you and you feel yourself starting to slip down that slope, call it out and send it off. If you need help doing that, ask for it. Connect with a friend. You would be happy to do it for her and she is happy to do it for you.

Let’s pledge to be gentle with each other and with ourselves. Let’s take down that imaginary standard of awesomeness we chase so hard. Let’s go out into our places with the confidence that we are enough. Because we are, y’all.

We are enough.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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The Glorious Table

bloggerbutton_500x765Girls’ Nights Out are way too rare. Am I right or am I right, ladies?

It can be so hard to find the time, especially when you’re in the middle of nursing babies or potty training toddlers or overseeing homework time. It’s ironic to me that the very thing that could so encourage us in this season of life is the very thing that is hardest to fit into our schedules.

I’m talking about community.

When I think of the perfect night out with friends, I immediately imagine sitting around a table. Breaking bread or sipping coffee. Either way, I imagine conversations and laughter, maybe a few tears. Walls come down and relationships are built.

Community.

It’s a safe place where you can share your stories, let down your guard, connect with other people who get you. All too often, though, it’s just so hard to schedule time away from home.

That’s why I am so excited about The Glorious Table.

The Glorious Table is a brand new community blog that is launching TODAY! This beautiful site has been created to provide a cozy place for women of all ages, all walks of life, all seasons, to come together and have a place at the table. To laugh together, cry together, stand together in good times and hard times.

To build community.

And it’s open 24 hours a day, no reservations required.

Whether you’re up in the middle of the night with a new baby or waiting for your teenager to make curfew, studying for finals in your dorm room or waiting in airport lounges, there is a place for everyone.

I hope you’ll join us at the Table here: http://theglorioustable.com!

You can also join the conversation on Facebook (The Glorious Table), Twitter (@Glorious_Table), Pinterest and Instagram.

On Mountains and Faith

mountains blogEver since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to the mountains.

Maybe it’s because of the happy memories of camping trips with the whole family, cousins and all. We’d set up tents and immediately start hunting fireflies. Then we’d move on to building dams in the creek for all the fish we’d catch with our bare hands. (None.) There was the annual fierce competition of putt putt golf followed by a Dreamsicle bar and a Mello Yello. There would be campfire stories and roasted marshmallows. We’d spend entire afternoons swimming at the bottom of freezing waterfalls with whoops and squeals echoing off the hills. Then, pruned and shivering, we’d soak in every last drop of warmth from the sunbaked rocks.

Or maybe it could have something to do with our trips with the youth group that encouraged me to find alone time with God alongside creeks and waterfalls to pray and to listen. That silence you find on a hillside is amplified when you were just in a room with hundreds of middle schoolers singing Higher, Higher at the tops of their lungs. I’d walk out of the stone auditorium and find my favorite spot and just breathe in the silence. The only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds singing and the creek bubbling over the rocks. It always seemed easier to hear God from the top of a mountain.

And now I can see those blue ridges on the horizon from the Walmart parking lot. And from the windows of Chickfila. And when I take the kids to school. It puts a song in my soul. (Mostly Nickel Creek and Wailin’ Jennys.)

We’ve lived here for a month now and I still annoy the kids to no end. Every time we round a curve or top a hill and the mountains are there. Claps, giggles, and squeals just bubble up and out and the kids groan and I tell them to just get used to it.

This last week, it’s been cloudy, misty, and a bit rainy. The kids were more than a little relieved on our last trip to town when we rounded the curve and topped the hill and couldn’t see more than a mile or so down the road. The mountains were swallowed up by the haze. My sweet children took that moment to point out, rather gleefully, that my mountains were gone. “Ha Ha, Mom! No cheering for you today! The mountains are gone!”

And as so many times before, the mountains made me think of God.

Just because the mountains were covered with a blanket of clouds and mist didn’t mean they weren’t there. Sometime soon, the sun will come out and the fog will fall away and the mountains will be there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

There have been times in my life when it felt like God was far away, covered in fog, and I couldn’t see Him or what He was doing. But just because we can’t see doesn’t mean He isn’t there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

I shared this insight with my kids and I felt so proud to be able to grab onto a teachable moment about faith. Surely they would stand at the gate and sing my praises. Or give me a gold star or something.

Feeling so warm and tender in this Hallmark moment, I asked them if they had any questions.

“Yes, Mom. I have a question. What’s for lunch?”

Planting seeds, people. We’re planting seeds. I just know it.

Every Act of Love



Rope HeartI don’t remember how old I was. I don’t remember if it was spring or autumn. I don’t even remember where we were going that day. But I’ll never forget Mrs. Jones.

I was a little girl riding shotgun with my grandmother. We were driving through our small town where everybody knows everybody when Mamaw spotted Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones was probably in her 70s, thin as a rail, still working hard. She was about a block into her long walk home from the grocery store, carrying a big brown bag on each hip. Mamaw explained to me that Mrs. Jones didn’t have a car and this was the exhausting way she had to go about getting groceries. My grandmother immediately pulled over and, in that sweet Southern way that leaves no room for argument, asked Mrs. Jones to let us drive her home.

Several years later, I looked around a large room and felt my eyes well up with tears. We were visiting family for Thanksgiving and, along with my aunt and uncle, my parents had brought us kids to help serve a meal at the soup kitchen. I was holding a baby so her mother could eat a rare hot meal. There were so many hungry people. There were not enough seats. At 11 years old, I remember a hopeless feeling because I thought there wasn’t enough that I could do to really help.

In much the same desperate way that I wanted to buy Mrs. Jones a car, I wanted to buy every person at the soup kitchen a home filled with food and clothes and love. I dreamed of being super wealthy and surprising people by anonymously meeting their biggest material needs. I became discouraged and even dreaded outreach projects because I wanted so badly to fix it. Fix it all. And it was so frustrating when I couldn’t.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I couldn’t fix it all. I couldn’t buy new cars or new houses for all the deserving folks I wanted to surprise. But I could serve a meal, sweep a floor, hold a baby.

There are so many ways to show love to our neighbors.

It doesn’t always require a major gift or a trip to the other side of the world. (Of course, that would be amazing and I’m sure we would all jump at the chance! But I don’t want to wait for those opportunities to spread acts of love.) I feel so blessed to be surrounded by loving and compassionate people who are always giving me great examples of how to spread the love of Jesus by blessing others. Here are just a few ideas that don’t require a passport:

  • Operation Christmas Child ~ This has been a great way to involve the kids and allow them the opportunity to do acts of love. Even from a very young age, we’ve tried to explain to our kids that not all children are able to have Christmas gifts. We’ve taken them with us to collect supplies and goodies to pack a shoebox to send to a child for Christmas. We pray for the child represented by each box that he or she will be blessed and feel loved.
  • Swap ~ We recently held a swap with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. The members of our group showed lots of love by donating so many things. Nice things. Things that they could have posted on Craigslist and made money for their family. I know I can probably speak for the majority when I say it was an incredible blessing. I was able to bring things that we no longer needed and I left with several items that we desperately needed (but would have trouble affording) for our new baby coming this spring.
  • Share Box in the Car ~ My mom kept a box in the van that contained bottles of water, snacks, and toiletries. Whenever we were out running errands and we saw someone who could use any of those things, we’d stop and hand them out. Just today, a Facebook friend suggested adding gloves, coats, and blankets to our cars for sharing with those in need. It’s a great idea for an act of love as the Florida temps drop below freezing.

There’s a song by Jason Gray that I just love. I need to listen to it every morning when I wake up as my daily reminder. With every single act of love (big or small), we are showing the love of Jesus to our neighbors and teaching our children how to do the same. Fostering a compassionate heart in our children can be as simple as just letting your kids see your own acts of love.

“With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.”
~ With Every Act of Love, Jason Gray

Roller Coaster

Step right up, folks, and I’ll tell you the tale of the biggest (emotional) roller coaster I’ve ever experienced. There are extreme highs and sudden drops, with lots of loops and twists thrown in for fun. You must be this high to ride.

It all started about a month ago with two (highly unexpected) itty bitty pink lines. How unexpected? Well, the last of our baby stuff was hauled away over a year ago. Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we were thrilled, of course.

I’m somewhat of an oversharer (not exactly a shock, I know) so keeping a secret this big was going to be super hard for me. So I began to journal little blurbs to have an outlet. Here’s a little bit of what I wrote after a week of expecting:
“So many nerves this time around! We’ve had some time to get used to this new idea. I’m excited. Attached. And that makes me so nervous. I’ve had two healthy pregnancies. Statistically speaking, am I due for my share of heartache? It seems that for every happy ending you hear about, there are nine horror stories. It’s not fair for me to be exempt. Praise God for grace. Just have to walk one day at a time, trusting in Him no matter what.”

Then this was written a few days later:
“Dear Baby, Your life is so precious. We thought we were done but God had a different plan. He meant for you to be. Your tiny heart is starting to beat. It beats for the glory of the Lord. Your very existence is such a gift.”

Four days later, as we were getting ready for a dinner party, I began to miscarry. Once my mind registered what was happening, my heart sank to my toes and I began to sob. I knew there couldn’t be any hope. We were advised to go to the ER to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. This is what I wrote that long, horrible night:
“The ceiling tiles needed cleaning. There was a cobweb dangling over me like a crib mobile. The tech apologized for the warmth of the room but I felt like I was frozen through. A tear slipped silently down my cheek and into my ear as they discussed KFC’s latest chicken creation. The ultrasound wand was heavy on my abdomen as if it carried the weight of my fear. It pressed hard against the still, quiet place where you were. Instead of the relief that comes with the sudden rhythmic whirring, there was only the silence. The sound of our hearts breaking.”

Once the official report came from the radiologist, a big tough doctor brought us into this little room where he told us that I had miscarried. They could see the beginnings of a pregnancy but there was no heartbeat. He looked terrified that I would burst into tears on him. I felt like I was already cried out. For now. I was to follow up with my OB in a couple of days to make sure everything was progressing as it should.

This was from my follow-up:
“Sitting in the OB’s waiting room in the furthest corner I can find. The isolation doesn’t protect me from happy, rounded bellies and cheerful ultrasound photos. I wait. Try not to let the tears fall. Try to sink into the floor and disappear. Please call my name. Let me get this over with. Put it behind me. Move on. Can I? I’m still so queasy. Unfair… Dry mouth. Hands shaking. Trying to chug water from bathroom sink. Hands still shaking. Feeling sick… Waiting in the room for the doctor to talk to me. There’s a large painting of a raccoon staring at me… Still waiting. Raccoon is still watching to see if I’ll cry. The ultrasound is next… Nothing has changed. There’s still no heartbeat but I’m leaving with more questions than answers. The OB isn’t ready to call it a lost cause. I have to wait for the phone call tomorrow to tell me what my HCG numbers are doing. I’m afraid to hope. My chalkboard at home is a huge drawing of the word HOPE. I don’t believe in coincidence.”

That night, I had a long drive from my parents house back to my home. It was a rare solo drive and I had the song, Oceans, on repeat. After I sobbed it out, I cried out to the Lord to breathe life into our baby and to help our teeny tiny one grow. I spent the entire drive in prayer. I kept remembering what I had written the week before. “Your heart beats for the glory of the Lord.” I had to come to a hard place of realization that God would be glorified even if baby’s heart never beat. My heart would be broken, but I would still praise my God. A peace came over me that I cannot explain. This child was God’s idea. His gift to us. As hard as it was to let go, I had to mentally release this baby back to God. This little life was in His hands all along.

The next day, the only words I could get onto paper were these:
“Waiting for The Call. For this child I have prayed. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

A nurse called at the very end of that Friday. My numbers had not doubled as they had hoped. But they had increased. If they had decreased, then we would have known it was a loss and we’d be waiting for the next step. But they had gone up. The nurse warned me not to get my hopes up but to come in for another ultrasound on Tuesday.

From Tuesday:
“It’s time for the ultrasound. What will we see? Lori’s kind voice is extra sweet today. She remembers the limbo we were left with the last time I was here. The bed raises until I can almost touch the ceiling. I grip Jake’s hand tighter and try to control my breathing. The screen turns on. Lori gasps and almost giggles, “We have a heartbeat!!!” We turn to the screen. There is a beautiful, glorious flickering. The tears once again stream down my face and into my ear. She allows me the moment I need to totally lose it. We have a heartbeat. Baby’s heart is beating steady and strong. We are speechless. Basking in the grace and mercy of our mighty God who is writing one heck of a story for this little one. Glory be to our God.”

We’re having a baby.

Refined and Renewed

Many families facing various challenges will hear things like: “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never handle it so well” or “You guys are superheroes.”

While I’m not saying there aren’t days when I feel like someone should hand over a cape, the truth is?  We don’t do it.  We can’t handle it.  We aren’t the superheroes in our stories.

God does.  God can.  God is.

I’m frequently reminded of our utter dependence on God and that no one said life would be easy.  I always think of this post from New Year’s Day 2011 and remember that, three years later, I’m still learning to be grateful for the refining process.

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(The following post was originally published at my previous blog, Stinker Babies.)

Is it possible to sum up 365 days with just one word? Or to wrap up all your hopes, dreams and desires for an entire year into a neat and tiny one-word package? We’ll see. I’m going to try my best!

I’ve already posted about my lack of tears over seeing 2010 finally draw to a close. It was not an easy year to get through.

Jake hit the ground running with nursing school. Between studying, class, working, clinicals, and more studying, he was gone pretty much all the time. Sometimes, I would wake up at 3:30 am just to make sure he had come home. At one point, we found ourselves explaining Caleb’s statement, “My daddy is not at my house anymore.” Ouch.

School alone might have been enough to make this year interesting. But we were really on our toes when it came to figuring out Caleb.

For the last nine months, we suspected, denied, suspected again, advocated, waited, learned, and waited some more. Eventually, just before Christmas, we received a diagnosis of autism for our sweet boy.

Add Mama’s fatigue due to a dying thyroid, Grace entering the Terrible Twos, and learning that Daddy will be in school an entire year longer than we anticipated. I am not going to lie. It was entirely overwhelming at times.

So what word would I use to sum up the craziness that was 2010?

Refine.

According to ehow.com, refining silver is necessary in order to separate the pure silver from the dross. The process includes such pleasantries as nitric acid and being heated to 1200 degrees Celsius. Ouch.



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God never promised that following him would be easy.

We all go through times in our lives when we are pruned and refined. I’m learning to be thankful for those times. It means that God still finds me worth improving. It means that I still have a role to play, small as it may be, in His plan. That’s very humbling.

So after a year like 2010, what word would sum up my hope for 2011?

Renew.



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This is our prayer. We pray with confidence because we choose to believe His promises.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” – Titus 3:4-6

Amen.

 

Turning Pages


image courtesy of nuttapong/freedigitalphotos.net
(image courtesy of nuttapong/freedigitalphotos.net)

Why Turning Pages?

I have always been a big believer that everyone has a story. I truly believe that God is writing a beautiful, messy, adventurous story for each of us. One that’s full of trials and celebrations, mountains and valleys, grace and mercy.

Hebrews 12:2 says we should “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

I love this because my faith? It wasn’t always an easy thing for me. Yes, I had faith that Jesus was my savior and God was sovereign.

But faith is like a muscle. The more it’s exercised and worked, the bigger it grows. Those times in your life when your story is most exciting? Those are usually the times that are growing your faith.

If the last decade or so of my life were a novel, it would be interesting to note the foreshadowing that started with our wedding. Our first dance was to the song, “Come What May,” from Moulin Rouge. (Yes. We’re those artsy fartsy people who weren’t ready to let go of our theatrical streaks.) But honestly, I think God was prepping us for the story he was writing.

In the fall of 2005, we were new at our church and I wanted to get more involved. The ladies Bible study seemed like perfect timing so I jumped into Beth Moore’s Believing God. If you’ve never done it, I strongly recommend it.

Early on in the study, maybe even the very first week, Beth pretty much tells you to put your money where your mouth is. If you truly want your faith to be increased, she dares you to pray for that.

Let it be said: God always answers your prayers. The answer may not come in the form you were expecting (or hoping), but he answers. And he answers perfectly. Every. Single. Time. But we can’t always see it when we’re in the middle of our story.

We just have to keep turning the pages.

For the next decade, God was like a personal trainer totally devoted to working out my faith muscle. And he started just two days after I wrote that simple little prayer in my Believing God booklet.

My job fell through due to a paperwork issue between counties (and took our healthcare coverage with it), we had just closed on our first house, and two little pink lines popped up on a pregnancy test I wasn’t expecting to need for a year or so.

That was the beginning of a thrilling, terrifying, exciting, frustrating rollercoaster ride. God would allow us to get to the very brink of hopelessness and then bless our socks off with a huge reminder that he had us.

He was always there.

With each job loss, each setback, each sleepless night while Jake was in nursing school, each diagnosis that came for me and my children, through four years of deciding if we could pay for electricity or diapers, he was there.

Just when we were convinced that this would be our story forever, God would turn the page.

I remember one time when I was at the very edge of sanity. This time, instead of crying out to the Lord, I mostly screamed. I was in the middle of trying to get dinner ready for when my mom dropped the kids off. Something snapped. I was completely broken. I was sobbing on my kitchen floor.

In all honesty? I was mad. I felt so abandoned and betrayed by God. I had been faithful to him. Where was he in all of this?

After I cried it out and I mean, cried. Every. Tear. Out. Until I was dry. I was lying there on the cold tile and a song came on the radio. It was a Barlow Girl song that says, “I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side. So I’ll hold tight to what I know: You’re here and I’m never alone.”

God used that to teach me a huge truth. Sometimes, faith means choosing to believe. Sometimes, it requires real work. It’s when everything is stripped away. When you are broken down to your core and there is nothing left. Then, what are you going to do? What are you going to say? What are you going to believe?

In that moment, I stood up and I chose to believe that he was there. Even when I didn’t feel the warm fuzzies. Even when I didn’t hear a reply. I held tight to what I knew – I’m never alone.

There wasn’t immediate sunshine and rainbows like in the movies when the hero finally makes the smart move. It was more subtle than that. It would be a scripture brought to mind just when I needed it. A new song on the radio to encourage my heart. A MOPS speaker who seemed to be there just for me.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Now I have the privilege of looking back over the years and seeing how God was weaving our stories together. Stories that built my faith so strong.

Since those kitchen floor days, I’ve realized that every hard time I’ve been through was God choosing to mold and shape me. He considered me worthy of his time and attention. He was (and is) writing my story. Finally James 1:2-3 made real life sense to me. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Our stories are given to us so that we can share them with others. You never know who needs to hear your story. God brings people across our paths every day. People who are going through things that we might never even know about. You could have just the story they need to hear. God is giving you your story so that you can give it to others.

We just need to keep turning the page.