Shaking Free from the ‘Shoulds'

I don’t know exactly where they come from, these negative, dictating thoughts. The uniform they all wear is “Should,” and they consider themselves experts on any and every nuanced area of my life. Sometimes our relationship feels like an awkward dance, in which I dread being their partner but cannot drum up the courage to exit the dance floor. I twirl stiffly from one to another, barely touching but getting close enough to see the pursed-lip disapproval on each face. There are some who dominate the room, Should-Be-A-Better-Mother perhaps the most formidable. The marks of our unhealthy dynamic are obvious. My disdain and desire for distance coexist with a compulsion to please. But the anonymity of my own head and heart keep any interventions from appearing necessary. Well-meaning questions, advice gingerly given, and referrals to great counselors are all easily avoided in this invisible, abusive relationship.  I hate that I typically notice the Shoulds most after I bend to them in some …

When You Can’t Say “I’m sorry.”

The argument is over, your heart rate has finally slowed, and you’re left in the deafening quiet with your racing thoughts. There is one sentence that feels too difficult for you to utter aloud- “I’m sorry.”
It is helpful to think of all patterns of thinking, behaving, and relating to others as “fruit” that grows on the tree of our life. It is visible, and it impacts us and others in tangible ways. Our culture offers a plethora of self-help approaches and tools to change our fruit. Only focusing on behavior change, however, is equally as wise as cutting apples off a branch, gluing on pears, and calling it a pear tree. Jesus taught this principle of trees and fruit in Matthew 7:15-20 and Luke 6:43-45. God’s good design for creation is such that we can identify a type of tree by what it grows. Likewise, we can know the condition of a heart based on the “fruit” that is evident in a life.
One of the many unhealthy fruits that can grow in our lives is a disdain for apologizing. All humans…

The Weight of Vapor

This life is a vapor.
It is an odd feeling to be simultaneously enamored with this physical world, with the beautiful gifts around me, and keenly aware of how fleeting it all really is.
Yesterday I felt the warmth of the sunshine on my face, held my sweet, 5-month old baby, and watched my 4-year-old exploring in our backyard. It was one of those life moments when you wish you could freeze time or take a mental picture that will never fade, like all memories inevitably do. Right in the midst of it, I felt the Lord remind me of his goodness and the reality that all of these wonderful gifts are forms and shadows of all the greatness that is to come. When Christ returns to consummate his Kingdom, we will know depths of joy that we’ve so far only touched the surface of. We have gingerly rested our palms on the surface of the living waters, but one day we will plunge completely into their cool depths!
The Spirit empowers us to enjoy and use all of creation in ways that honor him and bring…

The Joy and Sorrow of Gospel-Centered Parenting

48 hours ago I was plagued by the thought, “I am a bad mom.” That complete sentence ran through my mind, intrusive and uninvited, multiple times throughout the evening. I would try and push it out, but the truth was, it was gaining significant ground. Deep down, in those moments, I believed those words to be true.
24 hours ago I overheard a podcast that my husband was playing on his computer. One speaker encouraged listeners to remember that parenting is much longer than a day. She reminded me that when I lift my eyes up and see 5, 10, 15 years down the road, I gain a completely new perspective of my job as a mother. When I’m focused just on this day- when I wasn’t patient or kind during bath time, and the kids seemed to be sustained on sugar and “screen time”- I have a much harsher ruling for myself. Bad Mom. When I remember, however, that I am called to parent them to see Jesus exalted, for all of eternity, today’s bath holds much less sway. Yes, a lifetime is made up of seemingly…