motherhood

When Anxiety Makes Celebrating a Chore, Six Tips to Survive the Party

Parents were picking up kids, and I was handing out little baggies of goodies to each bouncing boy headed out the door. We had filled their systems with all forms of sugar from liquid-grown-in-fields to powdered-and-whipped. We had celebrated our bright-eyed boy’s turning of eight, complete with a hand-drawn ten-foot Godzilla adorning the wall, a back porch covered in yellow, blue, orange, and green silly string, and a cake that featured gummy army men plotting the takedown of a plastic Godzilla. I felt two feelings battling inside me, dark and light. On one hand, I felt proud we had celebrated well, even with while keeping the newly adopted two-year-old happy and feeling safe with all the buzzing, busy boys in our house. It felt good to feel like celebrating and celebrate well. On the other hand, I felt the presence of my anxiety.

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May and June are full of big days for our family: four birthdays, Mother’s Day, wedding anniversary, and Father’s Day. Last year during this time, we were in the middle of a very uncertain international adoption, and I didn’t feel like celebrating a darn thing. I was treading water emotionally. We even had a bonus special day thrown in last year because our oldest graduated high school. One more party to plan in between crying and mental nail-biting. My grief and anxiety would not be put away; It demanded to be seen and acknowledged. What I’ve realized this year is that even without the stress of our adoption and graduation, my anxiety still makes it hard for me to celebrate. 

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Celebrating is worth fighting for. It is worth it because I love my family. We must celebrate because celebrating brings joy, and joy is our strength. 

 

Here’s how to survive when the calendar demands celebration:

1. Don’t shame yourself at any point in this process.

Thoughts like, what’s wrong with me that I can’t be happy about a birthday party? are not helpful or kind to yourself. If you are wrestling temporary stress in your life or you are dealing with the realities of living with anxiety, you must allow yourself the room to feel what you really feel, and you cannot have shame because you have those feelings.

2. Set up good boundaries in your celebrating.

You don’t have to be hype for a week over the big day. You don’t even have to be partying for more than a few hours. The point is to take a chunk of time and celebrate something for the sake of celebration. Set aside your grief, anxiety, or stress-inducing problem for just a few hours and give this important person, place, or thing in your life its due festivity. When it is over, you will still have your issues you are struggling through there waiting for you.

3. Invite people who have proven themselves as safe people.

Someone who will bring you flowers on a bad day is the perfect person to invite to your good day. Someone who refuses to acknowledge you are struggling during hard times isn’t going to truly celebrate your good days either. They may pretend to celebrate with you, but if they don’t engage in your whole life as a person, good and bad, they aren't genuinely rooting for you or the success of your life. You have permission to only invite who you need and want to invite. It is perfectly ok to only allow people who are genuine and kind into those big celebratory moments of your life.

4. Do not overdo it on your party planning.

Don’t demand perfection from your party. Keep things as chill as possible. The icing might run, the wrapping paper might rip, or you might forget the cups. Something will go wrong. If you have unreasonable expectations for the big day, you are setting yourself up for a meltdown.

5. Schedule time to recover after the party.

Your energy level is going to be depleted. Plan for that. Don’t plan to hop from a time of celebration to something else that would demand your energy. You will probably have feelings about the day or interactions with people at the celebration. Plan a quiet morning the next day to reflect and recover. It may even take two or three days to recover from a party. Don’t beat yourself up if that happens. Remember, no shaming yourself!

6. Give yourself credit.

When the celebration comes to a close, don’t allow your anxiety to rob you of that moment of congratulating yourself for celebrating well. You honored the moment and didn’t allow your anxiety to steal your joy. You celebrated (not perfect) well.

Your life deserves wonder, fun, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and delight, even as you contend with your anxiety. May these tips help you celebrate and bring more joy to your life as you deal that anxiety.

The wonderful thing about joy is that it is deep enough to hold all the light and dark that your soul can hold, and as you allow joy to enter into that space in your soul that was made to hold it, your body, mind, and heart will be strengthened for the good days and bad.

I Know You Believe It, You Send Your Kids to Do It

#servetogrow part 6

Last week I went to serve as a counselor at children’s camp.  I was surrounded other counselors that were just kids: teens, pre-teens, and college-aged.  Today I will get on my bike to deliver lunches to children in the low-income neighborhood that I serve.  I will have a lot of help, but I probably won’t have one adult go with me.

I know you are sending your kids to serve, at missions and outreaches, because I’m serving along side them.  You send them to serve on trips and at camps.  Why do you do this?  I’ll tell you why.  You want them to grow spiritually.

You want them to experience God.  You want their minds and hearts to be changed, so they will make good decisions with their lives.

One month from now, I will be in Ethiopia with my daughter Lucy serving with Storyteller Missions, visiting a few orphanages in the capital city, Addis Ababa.  This is my third trip to Ethiopia serving with this organization.  This year it was important to me that my daughter Lucy came on this trip.  It is one of the main reasons for serving this summer.  It’s so important to me for a lot of reasons.  Lucy is seventeen, andI want Lucy to be exposed to the realities of a third-world country.  I want her to see where her future adopted brother, God willing, will come from, what his life was like before our family and the culture he will be leaving behind.  But my biggest reason I want her to go is to mature spiritually.  I want her to see prayers answered.  I want her to depend on God when she feels uncomfortable or unable to solve the unending problems children face in this country.  I want her to see people on the other side of the world worshiping and serving the same God we love and serve.

It is obvious to me that I believe that serving leads to spiritual growth because I taking my daughter to serve in hopes that she grow spiritually.  It is obvious to me that believe it too, because you are sending your kids to grow spiritually through serving.

Why wouldn’t I want those same things for my own spiritual growth?  I do, and you should too.

Even if you served at camps, missions, and trips in your formative years, you still can learn more about God.

As Christians we often talk about the abundant life we are given, but so many times I feel that it is used out of context.  God doesn’t care about your bank account.  He cares about your heart.

On Earth, there will never be a spiritual arrival point.  There isn’t a place you can get where you will know and experience everything God has to show us or our relationship being complete.  That doesn’t happen until Heaven.  While we are here, as we serve the Lord, there are endless lessons to learn about our magnificent God.

I could go to Ethiopia a million times, and that millionth time, I will learn something new about following Jesus.

Here’s the funny thing.  It isn’t about what I accomplish serving Him.  It isn’t about what I can do for Him.  It isn’t about the amount of cloth diapers I can cart in suitcases half way across the world.  It isn’t about how many children I can feed off the trailer of my bike.  God can accomplish so much more with one miracle than I could ever do with my two hands and two feet.

It isn’t about what I can do at all.

God is concerned about my obedience and your obedience.  Obedience stretches you and leads to spiritual growth.  It draws you closer to God, and He wants you close.

I’ve learned this lesson, not on my couch, not in my church pew.  I learned this lesson packing up cloth diapers and dragging them through 4 airports over 8,000 miles.  I learned this lesson pedaling my bike in 100 degree weather.

I’ve learned so many things by coming to the end of myself but never coming to an end to our God.

I can do my best to put these lessons on paper for you to read, but I think you have to go learn them yourself.

This summer, instead of just sending your kids or your youth groups to serve, get out, be obedient, and learn something.  Grow spiritually.

 

I like to share a song with each blog post, because music is so life-giving to me.  This is a song we sang at children's camp, and I can't get enough of it!  It's so fun!

Fighting for Gratitude, a book review of Raising Grateful Kids

I've been dying to tell you about this book.  I read it back during Thanksgiving, and I wanted to wait until it actually released to tell you and my friends about it.

Well, it released yesterday, and now you can go get yourself a copy.  And boy do we all need a copy!

I've got three kids (and one on the way --- the "non"-old-fashioned-way --- from Ethiopia.)  My three kids are easily pulled into the trappings of entitlement.  It is an uphill battle keeping our focus on Christ instead of stuff.

Kristen has written a book that has a deep layer of solid parenting suggestions topped with a full garnish of ideas that can give your family a widened, global, missional worldview.  If you know me, you'll know this is right up my alley!

Let me share my favorite quote with you.

Our family is at its best—our absolute best—when we are doing something for someone else. When our hands are busy serving others, we aren’t thinking about what we don’t have. Instead, we are thankful for what we do have.
— Kristen Welch, Raising Grateful Kids

All the yeses!

Since I was first introduced to Kristen because of her non-profit Fair Trade Friday, it isn't a surprise that it encourages hands-on serving of others as a family.  What was surprising and refreshing to find was that this book is chalk full of GRACE!  That isn't often the case with parenting books.

This book is as helpful as it is graceful.  The American culture is excessive, but that is really the opposite of what brings true happiness. This book really reminds you that helping your children to think of others is way more important than the quality or quantity of their physical possessions.

The truth is I'm a practical gal.  I love hands-on ideas way more that I love idealized theory.  Each chapter ends with ideas for "going against the flow," and those ideas are categorized by age range.  No matter what age your child, there will be suggestions to help focus your children on gratitude.

My favorite new idea from the book was rice and beans Monday.

We eat rice and beans every Monday so we can remember
how the rest of the world lives and eats. Sometimes the best
way to introduce a different perspective is by doing something
different. And then repeating it often.
Most of the world doesn’t have the luxury of having a
pantry and refrigerator full of food with dozens of options.
Meat is for the wealthy and fruit is a delicacy.
What better way to remind our kids how much we have than
through their bellies?
— Kristen Welch, Raising Grateful Kids

I love that!  We will be implementing rice and bean Monday at the Lane house.

Get your copy of Raising Grateful Kids, and find out what suggestion you can implement in your home that will change your children's perspective and focus your family on grateful!

Bonus:  Read more about this awesome book from the author Kristen Welch, and enter to win a copy of her new book on Kristen's blog We Are That Family here.



Day 23: Mission Stories

31 STORIES OF FAITH ADVENTURES

DAY 23:  MISSION STORIES

When my middle son Andrew was in third grade, I found a home school curriculum that I had never used before and wanted to try.  The year of learning was planned around the theme of “countries and cultures.”  Since it was a curriculum that had a Christian worldview, there were missionary stories and biographies to read as we studied the different continents.  We read Cameron Townsend while learning about missions to Mexico.  We read about Nate Saint and Elisabeth Elliot while studying South America.  We read about David Livingstone, Charles Ludwig, and Betty Greene while studying about Africa.  We read about George Muller and Mary Jones while we studied about Europe.  And we read about Gladys Aylward and William Carey while we studied about Asia.

Andrew loved making the paper model of Nate Saint's plane.  It didn’t take long into our first story, the exciting story of Nate Saint, for Andrew to begin saying he wanted to become a missionary when he grew up.

If you don’t know anything about Nate’s story, this is what happens.  He along with fellow missionaries to Ecuador, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Jim Elliot, are murdered by the tribe the attempt to make contact with.

The families of Nate Saint and Jim Elliot continue living their calling out in Ecuador.  They eventually are able to make contact with the tribe, offer their forgiveness for the deaths of their family members, and share the story of Jesus.  As members of the tribe accepted Christ as their savior, Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint became friends and brothers in Christ with the men who killed his father.

It takes a certain amount of bravery as a mother to present the foreign mission field as a viable choice for your child’s future.

Andrew is now in 7th grade, and being a missionary is something he has not changed his mind about.  I realize that God may or may not eventually call Andrew into the mission field.

But I know that God has a plan for Andrew.  I can see him growing up into a great man of God.

If we let God write the story, he doesn’t always promise that all the chapters will be easy, but He does promise that in the last chapter, He will make sense of all the things that have happened in our life, even though some of them are terribly painful.
— Steve Saint, son of missionary Nate Saint

Am I willing to let God write Andrew’s story, even when there might be chapters of loss or hurt?

What choice do I have?  I could try to write my own story for Andrew, controlling his choices and options well into his twenties.  I can believe the illusion that the story that I could write for my son could be safe and good.

The truth is, the belief that we have any type of control over our life or our children’s life is a deception.  It is a fantasy.

We don’t have control over even our next breath.

...yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
— James 4:14 ESV

Today Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere will make landfall on the western coast of Mexico.  The eye of the hurricane is hitting landfall at the town of Manzanillo, Mexico.

I have never been to Manzanillo, but James and I visited Puerto Vallarta just up the coast, 170 miles north.

One of my favorite things about that trip was taking the public transportation.  Riding with the locals from our hotel to downtown, we saw how the locals lived.  We saw some neighborhoods up in the mountains of the coast line.  Another day, we hiked down the coast, visiting four different beaches, see homes all along the way.

Millions of people live in the area that will be hit by this hurricane.

Right now my heart is breaking for mothers who live on that coast of Mexico.  I prayed all night that God would provide ways for those mothers to evacuate with their children and move inland.

The news is predicting devastation, flooding and mudslides, as the hurricane is making landfall as a category 5, much stronger than both Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Families that are able to evacuate will most likely not have anything to return to afterward.  The coastal towns will be uninhabitable for months.

Who does have control?  Our loving and merciful God does.

“Peace! Be still!”  These three words were uttered by our Lord, Jesus.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’
— Mark 4:35-41 ESV

God could calm Hurricane Patricia with those three words.  Why He chooses not to, we don’t know.  We don’t get to see the last chapter until He is ready to reveil it to us.

How can I not put my trust in in someone who the wind and sea obeys?  Someone who laid down His life for me and for my son, Andrew?

All I know is that I want God to write Andrew’s story, not me.  And in writing Andrew’s story, God may use Andrew to rewrite many other stories.  And those stories are precious to me too.

DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Day 3: Lucy

31 Stories of Faith Adventures

Day 3:  Lucy - My forever faith adventure

It was my first Valentine’s Day as a married woman.  James and I had been married for 8 1/2 months.  I knew something was off.  I hadn’t felt right.  It was a Saturday morning, and I send James to the store for a pregnancy test.  It wasn’t the first time.  Hypochondria runs in my family.  I’m convinced I inherited it, which in itself proves I did.

The test was positive, and I’ll be brutally honest.  I cried.  I was terrified.  Having a child was incredibly scary proposition.  I had just celebrated my 21st birthday the week before.  I was a junior taking my spring semester of business classes at WTAMU.

I hate talking about family planning decisions with people who aren’t my family.  It’s such a delicate, sacred, personal decision how you are going to look at God’s very first command of “Be fruitful and multiply” to the creation He made in His own image.  There are big feelings around pregnancy, from the conception to the cord cutting.  And I honestly don’t understand why God chooses to answer some Godly women with “no” when they long for a child, when I know that He could answer “yes” so easily.

Setting all feelings aside, here is my story.  I decided to take birth control pills after I got married, but they made me extremely overly emotional.  After a few months, I decided to stop taking them.  James and I are not the serious, sentimental types.  We have never had a scheduled married prayer or devotional time.  We would rather spend our time trying to make each other laugh.  But when we made that decision, we sat in our car and prayed.  We told God that we trusted Him to send us children when He wanted to.

A few months later, it was our first married Valentine’s Day.  We went on our date, which included a trip to the movies to see The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler.  (I told you we loved to laugh.)

The whole day I remember just trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I was going to be a mother.  God had given me Lucy.

Becoming a mother has changed me more than any other adventure I can imagine.  Every decision from diapers to cell phones affects me as much as it does my children.

Parenthood is a funny thing.  You have to take control of so many details.  Turns out those babies are pretty helpless and dependent.  Planning ahead, decisions, teaching, learning, feeding, and instilling knowledge about God become your life.  

You become in charge of so much in those early years, that it is very easy to forget that you are not actually in control of anything.  Somewhere around the age of 15, you child reminds you of that fact, and it’s not pretty.

Bringing a child into the world is a huge faith adventure, but an even bigger faith adventure comes when you slowly begin to send your child out into the world.

Lucy will be turning seventeen next week.  I’m in the hairy, messy, weeds of letting go.  It’s not easy.

I feel like we are on a big city road where skyscrapers block your ability to peak around the corners that are clearly coming on this path.  Blind turns around each corner are sharp and jarring.  But the new road is exciting and new with buildings full of possibility.

In this scenario, I want to be driving, but I’m not.  Lucy has control of the wheel.  It is up to her to decide whether or not she allows God to lead the navigation.

I’ve done my main job as a parent.  I’ve shared Jesus with Lucy. 

No one told me how many words would be required of me as a mother of a daughter.  Everything must be talked over at length between us.  When mistakes are made, hours of conversation is ahead of us.  We have talk about God, His plans, and His ways until we were blue in the face.  We declared God’s great works to her.  (Psalm 145:4)

These conversations were important, but they were not what did the job of making Jesus personal to her.

We also did our best to model a sincere faith in front of her as we lived ordinary life.  We talked about Him in our house, outside of our house, in the morning, and at night.  (Deut. 11:19-21)  

But even that is no guarantee that Lucy would choose to live her ordinary life as a disciple of Christ.

Prayer is a deceptively simple.  It is just a conversation with God, but even Jesus’s example prayer is full of deeply loaded words like kingdom, will, and Heaven.  I could study those topics ad nauseum and still come up short of understanding.

Well, we prayed.

There is never assurance that God’s answer to your prayer will be the answer you want, but we are commanded to ask anyway.  (James 4:2-3)

I asked, and God has answered.

I’m seeing the beginnings of Lucy taking ownership of her faith.  She started a Bible study a few weeks ago with her friends.  She took money from her paycheck and bought snacks and workbooks.  She’s starting her first faith adventure, and watching God work in Lucy’s life is so exciting to me.

Lucy prayed to start following Jesus when she was five.  We’ve done ministry as a family our whole lives, but this is the first time Lucy is doing ministry on her own.  I love hearing the little lessons she is learning along the way.

I’m only a fraction of the way through this faith adventure that is eternal.  Lucy is just beginning her young adult life, and the idea of future requires faith most of all.

 

 

 

I love music, so I share a song with each blog post.  It is just fun.  Here's the song I used to sing my baby Lucy.

Praying for change

Prayer.  It’s the word, the idea, I can’t get away from this week.

God has put it on my mind and on my heart.  I pick up a book I’ve owned since March.  It’s been waiting it’s turn in line on my shelf to be read.  It’s a book about a woman’s journey to learn how to pray, and I can’t put it down.

I turn on a sermon podcast in the car.  It’s the next one in line to be listened to.  Someone must have mislabeled it because the sermon tiled “Trinity” was so much about prayer, that it has to be tiled wrong.  And boy was it what I needed to hear.

My last blog post mentioned a desire I had to pray more for the hurting, and God heard me peaking my head up, and He said, “You there, raising your hand saying your willing to pray, here you go.  I’m giving you instructions and I’m daring you to do it.”  (Maybe that’s not really how God talks, but I kind of picture a coach with a whistle putting me into the prayer game.  That’s how it feels anyway.)

These lessons on prayer I’m hearing, in my book, from that sermon, from the Holy Spirit guiding my heart, they are not new.  I dove into the pool of learning to pray once before with such fervency that those lessons are deeply etched into my heart.  As a young woman I learn what prayer was and how to pray.  I wanted my prayers to be effective and to avail the way James 5:16 describes.

The summer of 1998 I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby, and my mom was having surgery.  She was having a hysterectomy.  So I went to Ft. Worth to be a loved one sitting in the hospital room.  I was young and didn’t know what I was suppose to do, but I knew good daughters waited in hospital rooms.  I went to be a good daughter.  So as I was baking a brand new daughter in my belly, my mom had her baby baking equipment removed.

Turns out hospitals, when they aren’t the setting for nightmares or miracles, can be quiet, boring places.  I regretted not bringing a book to read, so I grabbed one of my mother’s, a book about prayer.

It was a game changer.  I soaked in every specific lesson I could about talking to God.

I don’t know why the book on prayer jumped out at me.  I’m guessing it was because I knew I was on my way to becoming a mother.  “Praying” and “mother” are two words that go together out of sheer necessity.  How can you ever plan on mothering a child without the opportunity to beg God for help in such an impossibly big job.

So I sat and read about prayer in a room with three generations of women of our family in three very different places in life.  My mom in a pain medicine induced sleep trying to recover from surgery, me contemplating how to talk to the God who created me and how to be a praying mother, and my baby girl Lucy safely resting in my quiet belly, warm, cozy, and loved.

Driving in my car yesterday, memories of those days in that hospital room from the summer of ’98 came flooding back to me.  I began to ask why was prayer so important to me again.  I didn’t land on a good answer.

Then this morning I realized it.  I’m paper pregnant.  I’ve been paper pregnant waiting for our Ethiopia adoption to turn into a new child to mother now for 1 year, 5 months, and 9 days.

God surely knows that this child, who is not safely baking in my tummy, needs prayer.

I’m trusting the Spirit to guide my prayers for my little boy.  I want them to be specific to his circumstances.  Even though I have no idea where he is and what he needs, our God knows.

I bet you are wondering why I’m not praying every day for this child that will be my child.  If you’re not wondering it, I am.  Time can be daunting.  Fervency and excitement wears off.  Waiting becomes something I try not to think about.

And I need prayer because waiting is hard.

In the line at the grocery store yesterday, we run into friends.  The subject of how long our adoption from Ethiopia is taking comes up.  I tell them we could be 1 and 1/2 years into a possible 4 year wait.  Those numbers get the reaction you are probably having.  I don’t like those numbers.

But God said to do this.  So we are doing it, and right now that means waiting.

I want something to happen.  I don’t like waiting.  So yeah, I need prayer too.  I’m in my safe house with a well fed stomach and a family who loves me.  But I need Him.

The fact that we can talk to this magnificent God who made us and loves us is a gift.  The fact that we can ask for intercession for people who we barely know or even don’t know is humbling.  The fact that we can ask God to help us be more like Him, bear the fruits of His Spirit: LOVE, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that is life changing.

Here is what Patricia Raybon says in her book I Told the Mountain to Move:

Prayer as Richard Foster said, ‘is the deepest and highest work of the human spirit.’ In real prayer, Foster added, we think God’s thoughts. We desire the things that God desire. We love the things that God loves. We will the things that God wills. But there is more, I learned. Isn’t there always? In real prayer, we go places we don’t want to go. We learn lessons we don’t want to learn. We tell secrets we don’t want to tell. We walk bridges we don’t want to cross. We face battles we don’t want to fight. Then we change the world. We stand at the door to heaven and then we rush in. But as we go, we change ourselves. ‘To pray is to change,’ wrote Foster and with those few words he pulled together the deep essence of it all.
— Patricia Raybon
Shauna Niequist mentioned Guster on Twitter this week, and I've been revisiting some songs I love.

Happy Mother’s Day - Some thoughts on motherhood

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been a mother for a decade and a half.  I honestly feel like I’m still trying to figure it out.

I sometimes think I’m doing a awful job.  I’m horrible at getting my boys timely haircuts.  I let them wear worn out clothes all the time, sometimes even to church.  The boy’s underwear drawers (or buckets because they just have a plastic garage shelf instead of a chest of drawers) are embarrassing.  There is a pile of overstretched, overused, faded boys underpants.  Yesterday, I broke down and spent money on little boys underwear just to make their buckets not look so sad.

And Lucy is going to public school.

Yep.  That happened.

The truth is that, if I really think about what I learned from my mother, I think I’m doing pretty good job.

If I boil down what my mom taught me, I could give it to you in a sentence.  She taught me to love everyone and serve Jesus.  She constantly reminded me to look beyond outer appearances and treat others how I wanted to be treated.

Living in West Texas, I continue to hear the same stories from other women my age.  They tell me how their mom would always ask them if they were really going to go somewhere without lipstick.  I’ve heard it from dozens of women.

That is as foreign as landing on the moon to my experience with my mother.  My mom was kind of a hippie.  She grew up in the late 70s in Missouri, and when she came to Texas as a teenager, she didn’t quite fit into small, Texas town life.  I think she felt like an outsider most of the time, and she wanted to make sure her children always loved the outsider.

My mom rarely made comments on my clothing or hair, and certainly never my make-up.

But if I said something ugly about another kid at school, she sure did speak up.  She was quick to remind me to be considerate of that kid, to try and see things from his or her perspective, to understand their home life might be difficult, to be nice to them even if it isn’t returned.

My mom was always concerned about grace and love.  I have tried my best to pass those values to my children.

My mom modeled servanthood better than anyone I know.  She spent her life taking care of her family.  In my teenage years, she was constantly serving, cleaning the church on Saturdays, going on prayer walks, and teaching children’s classes.

I am always in prayer that my children will notice my servanthood and want to emulate it.

But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
— Matthew 20:25-28 ESV

Thank you to my mother who valued love and grace.  I hope I can continue to strive for that goal.

Thank you to all the mothers who, with their lives, taught us to love and serve others.  They have taught us what servanthood looks like, and by doing so, they have shown us how to be great.

As a present to my mom, I'm going to rewrite those sentences above with "mommy" because I know she would like that.  It seems awkward and uncool to me, but I know what she likes.  

Thank you to my mommy who valued love and grace. I hope I can continue to strive for that goal.

Thank you to my mommy who, with her life, taught me to love and serve others. She taught me what servanthood looks like, and by doing so, she has shown me how to be great.
— Love, Jennifer *** I love you mommy!