What Mom did while you were sleeping . . .

Mom, you've crept across that toy littered floor to your child's bedside to watch them sleeping. But do they know all mom did while they were sleeping?

If you’re a mom, you’ve crept across a toy littered floor to your child’s bedside to watch your baby sleeping. You’ve smoothed stray locks, wiped warm foreheads, and whispered I love you one more time. Those are savored memories, stowed away treasures.

But our kids have no idea. Most of the time, they sleep right through these moments that only we hold.

The childhood of my daughter, for whom I waited and waited, is beyond precious to me. And like a wonderful novel, I’m constantly balancing between wanting to savor every page and racing to see how it all turns out.

Because someday, she will be an adult and sleeping somewhere else, I wanted to freeze these memories in my heart, for her to know how much I treasure these midnight moments.

Every night while you were sleeping, the last thing I do before bed is kiss you once more.

While you were sleeping . . .

I have kissed your face about 87 million times, conservatively.

I have wished I could hold you one more time without waking you up. And then picked you up anyway.

If kids knew the things moms do while they're sleeping. How many kisses you have slept thru. Click To Tweet

When you were not quite a toddler, I would pick you up and rock you in the glider, trying to memorize the weight of you on my shoulder, the way sleep makes your face even more perfectly angelic.

Sometimes, it didn’t break my heart if you woke up and I got to soothe you back to sleep.

I have cried over how fast your babyhood went and simultaneously celebrated your miraculous growing up.

I’ve held your hands, marveling at your still chubby baby fingers on little girl hands.

I have wished you were still small enough to scoop up and snuggle. And then picked you up anyway again.

While you were sleeping, I’ve heard your murmured voice and listened in on your dreams. Some nights your face has danced with smiles, but others was covered in tears.

I’ve whispered brave words against the monsters and nightmares, Mommy’s right here. You’re safe.

Mom, you've crept across that toy littered floor to your child's bedside to watch them sleeping. But do they know all mom did while they were sleeping?

I've listened to your dreams, picked you up, covered you in brave words against the nightmares. Click To Tweet

I’ve smelled your head: deep breaths of baby, toddler, little girl. Scents of baby powder and lavender were replaced by green apple and watermelon, then cotton candy.

I’ve sung to you. You are a promise . . . you are a possibility and Sunshine, you are my sunshine . . .

You always need more tucking in, because this blanket is thrown one direction, that sheet wrapped around one foot, pillow on the floor.

I’ve taken pictures of the myriad strange ways I’ve found you.

Almost 2, you snaked your hand through the crib slats to reach the hamper, pulling on an additional pair of pajama pants halfway. Then fell asleep, wearing both pairs.

Mom, you've crept across that toy littered floor to your child's bedside to watch them sleeping. But do they know all mom did while they were sleeping?

Once, you scared me to death by not being in your bed; however, I found you in the far corner under it, behind a carefully constructed wall of toy bins.

Perpetually, you sleep like a chalk outline on a detective show. I would need a chiropractor to get out of bed.

Your room magically has been cleaned while you were sleeping.

I’ve reorganized the toys and books that have mysteriously found themselves out and about post-goodnight and wondered about the late-night adventures you were having. Teddy bears wearing costumes sitting with dinosaurs at a picnic or a pile of books next to your nightlight.

I’ve stepped on magic wands, doll high heels (and I thought Legos were bad), and stubbed my toe on a mis-timed step past the glider. Do you know how hard it was not to yell?

Some nights, just needing to share your quiet space, I’ve sat in the glider reading a book, listening to your sweet snores.

But mostly, while you were sleeping . . .

I have prayed over you.

I have prayed for your life, your health, your heart, your salvation. Praying for five minutes more of patience than you have energy, to end everyday with I love you and kisses.

God, make me a better momma. Give me a gentle spirit and a heart to listen to my child. Even when I’m busy, give me joy in each season of motherhood.  

I have thanked God for the blessings of you, how I’ve learned to be a better person through raising you, for the laughter you bring.

Life will break your heart. You will have sickness and tragedy, and someday I’ll leave you, but ultimately, I’ve asked God to work everything that happens in your life for your good, including my failures, praying I’m learning humility and grace fast enough to be the mom I hope you’ll remember.

But mostly, I've prayed for you, ultimately, for God to work all of your life for your good. Click To Tweet

I’ve prayed to watch you grow up, to see you choose faith, a career, to marry, and to hold your babies in my arms.

But there are no guarantees, so I’ll treasure every moment I get and continue to kiss your face and pray while you are sleeping.

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Abiding Love

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Abiding love is safe, enduring, permanent, sacrificial love.

Our worship pastor this morning read from John 15, verses about abiding love, the love of the Father that Christ demonstrated for us through his life of purity and sacrifice.

and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of those verses and ABIDE.

Like curve into an cozy chair by the fire, swathed in a rich blanket –

ABIDE – continue, remain, survive, last, persist, stay

I wanted to hang out in those verses, because I never knew how to love purely, without all the human confusion we put into it, until I knew how deeply I am loved by Him.

I was wiping away tears by the time he finished sharing today. God’s love has a way of touching my heart that makes me want to drop everything and just stay in His presence.

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Christ invited me – you – to abide in His love, the kind of love God has for Christ. I can only look at my daughter and imagine God’s pure love for Christ. I wanted to rest there and be held by His truth.

I wanted to sit down in those verses wrapped in a cozy blanket and rest in His abiding love. Click To Tweet

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

John 15:16a ESV  You did not choose me, but I chose you . . .

Powerful stuff – Being chosen. We tend to think in this Christian walk that we made some big decision to choose God, but we really just surrendered to His already having chosen us.

He chose us before the formation of the world. While I was a dirty mess of a sinner, I was already CHOSEN, set apart for His purpose.

How differently I have lived since understanding this truth. There is a confidence to knowing I am His beloved daughter.

And I really like that.

But when I heard this verse, I wanted to lean over to my husband and whisper “I chose you.”

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

I my still human way, I’m trying to learn how God has loved me and love him with that kind of love, love that gives up me to serve him.

I chose him the day he proposed in the middle of “an arrest”. I chose him the day we said I do. I choose him the days he is grumpy and selfish. I still choose him when his dreams and mine don’t match.

But I wonder if he really understands how much I choose to remain in his arms, seek his presence, ache for him. Does he understand he can rest in my love?

The confidence I have in Christ is the confidence I want to share with those I love. I want my husband to know my love is abiding love.

He can rest there. It is permanent because it’s God’s love for him through me when I remember to get out of the way.

I try to love my friends with abiding love. They know that I am the soft, squishy place to rest from a prickly world. A place that forgives when feelings are tender and communication gets lost.

I pray that you have Christ’s abiding love, a real love on this day we often celebrate the wrong things, that His love abides in you. I pray you abiding love through friends and family too.

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Valentine’s Day Tradition

Free Valentine's Day John 3:16 Printable with love tank filling traditions to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littles.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition started a few years ago. She was just old enough to start understanding that there was a holiday, and it involved presents and chocolate. I mean, what else does a girl need to know? She was all in.

But I wanted to find just the right way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. When I saw John 3:16 written so the word VALENTINE was created, I knew that was the message I wanted for her, because it was the message I know I still need written on my heart.

It helps remind us to celebrate Christ’s coming everyday and focuses on Godly love, not just romantic love.

But I have all these cute ideas and by the time one holiday is put away, the next one is looming. I had always wanted to be the fun pinteresty mom that makes every holiday special, but frankly, those suckers sneak up on me like ninjas.

Free Valentine's Day printable for your children. Fill their love tank with God's love. Click To Tweet

One trick I’ve learned is to keep everything grouped together and labeled. For Valentine’s Day, I keep everything in a clear project folder I can just pull out and put up.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition is that we post a handwritten copy of the John 3:16 Valentine’s Day printable (link at the end of post) on her door. Then everyday we add a heart with a character trait we love about her. This is day 1.

Character hearts for a Valentine's Day tradition that will build self-esteem.

I used colored construction paper and just cut out several different sizes and colors of hearts, but you could buy heart shaped wall decor or doilies from Walmart or Dollar General if you wanted.

We start on the first and go through the 14th, but you can do however many days you want. You could start on the 14th and go through the end of the month as well.

Free Valentine's Day John 3:16 Printable with love tank filling traditions to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littles.

What I really love about this tradition is that my daughter spends the month of February being told she is loved and special because she was fearfully and wonderfully made by her creator and was so deeply loved by Him that he sent his Son to die for her.

Psalm 139:14 ESV  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My daughter has many wonderful traits, but I made a point to choose traits that I really want to encourage in her: her faith, her kindness, her curiosity, her joy.

We read each trait together everyday as we add the new traits to the door, so she gets to be reminded of each one. Then we continue to read them everyday until the end of February.

This tradition will build on the love we show her daily to create a memory of being valued for who she is. We can fill her love tank with pride and self-esteem based on the qualities and gifts God has given her.

Valentine’s Day Printable

And establish a good foundation for what true love looks like for the Valentine’s Days her future holds.

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Divorce him for the Dishes by the Sink?

Divorce him for dishes by the sink? He leaves his dirty dishes sometimes & doesn't pick up his underwear. He thinks dusting is a waste of time. But divorce?

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Divorce? He leaves dishes by the sink occasionally. Sometimes, he doesn’t pick up his dirty underwear and believes dusting is a waste of time. He rolls his eyes when I disinfect the kitchen. He gives it a lick and a polish when I would use bleach and a flamethrower.

And my personal pet peeve – If I give him a ‘to do’ list, my husband will find the one thing he’s been meaning to do that is NOT on my list, and do that.

These things can drive me crazy or hurt my feelings. Sometimes, I feel disrespected and ignored . . .

but divorce him?

Not even kind of.

Can I unpack this viral post written by a man whose wife was apparently driven to divorce by dishes by the sink? In the end he understood how he could have better loved his wife, but I was left wondering if she ever learned how to better love him?

He leaves dishes by the sink sometimes and doesn't pick up his dirty underwear. He thinks dusting is a waste of time. Should I divorce him for that?

I have had many days my heart was broken over something he said or did. I’ve said goodnight in a huff wondering how I could be married to this selfish man for the rest of my life. I’ve cried myself to sleep.

But truth really is often about perspective.

Those same nights, he went to bed defeated, wondering why he married me, feeling disrespected and unloved. He wondered if I could ever think he was good enough just the way he is, if I really loved him or just the man I wanted him to be?

Ladies, I get it.

I see those dishes and underwear on my ‘to do’ list that never gets done. I’m child rearing, blogging, homeschooling, homemaking, friendship building, small group leading, Bible reading, part-time working. I need three of me on our slowest days.

When he adds to my list, it is the mic-dropping-straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

But, I’m the one reading into those choices. Dirty dishes by the sink really say I’m too tired to do one more thing. The dirty underwear shoved into the corner screams it’s 3 a.m. and I haven’t had my coffee.

His Army job is long and hard, but he comes home to me everyday. He kisses me goodnight even when we’ve been snippy. He brushes our daughter’s hair and flies her around the house, even when she is getting too big, even on his bad shoulder.

I can choose to see it his way. If it only takes 4 seconds to move that dish to the sink, can’t I just do it? Even if I hate folding his stupid Army socks, better to be folding them than wearing them 16 hours a day.

Because he just wants my respect and love and to make me happy, even if he sometimes has no idea why things are important to me, even when I don’t really either, but really, really just like it my way.

I’ve learned that if I really don’t have the energy to wash the dishes by the sink, they’ll wait until one of us makes it a priority.

In fact, when I stop trying to keep every spinning plate spinning and some drop, he sees my need and picks up the slack. When instead of nagging, I just said, “I can’t, I’ve got nuthin’ left,” he’ll get out paper plates and frozen pizza.

Again, humility and broken realness win.

When I said, “I know it’s just a cup, but I work so hard to keep the house nice. I would feel so loved if you would just put it away.”

He replied, “I’ll try. But it’s just a cup. I’ll forget.” I said, “Thank you for trying. If you forget, it’s ok.”

Then he didn’t forget often because I made it about being a team against the chaos, not me versus him.

I am really saddened to see Christian women sharing this viral post because it doesn’t take a faith-based view of marriage at all.

I vowed for better or worse in a rose-colored fog, but that was the promise: for worse.

“WORSE” was this vague undefined something like a tragic accident that might happen to other people, but probably not to us. I didn’t picture dirty underwear, empty toilet paper rolls, arguments about dishes and countertops, parenting squabbles – the boring mundane worses that make marriage hard.

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I read the entire post, I know he was exaggerating to demonstrate how he hadn’t really respected her and his callousness pushed her further away. But oh, how I wish I could interject into every woman letting these little molehills become mountains.

Don’t let dishes by the sink destroy your marriage!

My marriage isn’t perfect, but we’ve come a long way since I stopped seeing everything from the world’s perspective. Marriage is part of the refining fire that makes us more like Christ.

Mark 8:34 ESV /  And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Deny myself. Deny the human parts of me that say, “I deserve.” Deny that I deserve anything except to serve God with all that I am everyday. With ALL that I am.

Jesus carried a cross. I can pick up dirty dishes by the sink. Real marriage takes grace. Click To Tweet

God gives me grace and forgiveness when I fall down. When I yell at the kids or gossip or ignore His directions. Over and over.

Forgiven people forgive people. We don’t say divorce.

It isn’t easy, but that means when I’m tired or sick, I try to do one more thing, take one extra second to think before I speak, to honor my husband by respecting what he does and thanking him for everything he gets right and the hearty attempts, and choosing carefully when, how, or IF I approach those things I wish were different.

Learning how to talk with him is a work in progress. We are learning a common vocabulary of patience and grace. And divorce isn’t in it.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness….” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’ll be honest, sometimes the chaos wins these days, but happiness does too. The house is dustier but the laughter is louder. Because I quit seeing dishes by the sink as a failure of his love and just there waiting for one of us to clean them .  .  .  eventually.

Communication is a work in progress. We are learning a common vocabulary of patience and grace. Click To Tweet

There is a difference between ignoring dirty dishes and abuse. If you're being abused, get help.

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Handling Hard in Friendship: Just Show Up

How do you do friendship in the hard places of life and make every moment count? Just show up, an incredible story of faith and friendship and grace.

It starts with a phone call, a knock on the door, a doctor’s test result and out of nowhere, hard just showed up.

Suddenly, life becomes divided into before/after.

This week again has been a series of hard emails and phone calls. Serious, deep needs have surrounded me. And I’ve been reminded that I can just show up even if that is silent prayers and text messages.

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What do you do when the news isn’t yours? How do you just show up when a friend goes through HARD?

Saturday, I started reading Just Show Up; The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. Within three sentences, I was devouring the pages.

Warm words and gentleness invite us to know the authors and the excruciating, miraculous ways God built this community of friends and taught them how to deal with Kara’s hard and strengthen their relationships.

God put this book in my path because I’ve always known how to care for others in my heart, sometimes too much, but I haven’t always known how to just show up and love people when hurt feelings or insecurities or intensely hard circumstances just show up on our doorsteps.

When life is busy, friendships that balance grace and kindness challenge most of us, but these women dance through this long goodbye with a beauty that only God could have created out of gut-wrenching painful circumstances.

How do you handle HARD when it lands on your friend's doorstep? Just Show UP. Click To Tweet

I found tremendous beauty in the way each friend’s gifting served a purpose for Kara and their group. God knit together these friends. This book is such an encouragement to women striving to be better friends in hard situations: cancer, death, miscarriage, divorce.

Kara and Jill both write with eloquence and gentleness. I was living this story with them. Maybe this story was gripping for me because I’ve had some similar hard in my life and close friends that I’ve asked to mother my children if something ever happened to me, but some is just the authors’ writing ability and openness.

Jill and Kara take turns writing in each chapter, but they both write stunningly, like water gliding softly over river stones. I caught myself feeling the weight of their emotions so dramatically I couldn’t catch my breath.

Jill discusses the delicate origami art of folding their feelings in and out of the circle of pain to support Kara and her family, caring for each other’s friendships with Kara as she struggled to be herself. How do you do friendship in the hard places of life and make every moment count? Just show up, an incredible story of faith and friendship and grace. You won't put it down.

They used their gifts and grace to show up for Kara and each other.

They showed up intentionally for Kara and each other through casseroles and funeral plans. Or ordered pizzas for us non-cooking introverts who are not spiritually gifted in the meal providing. Thank heavens for Little Caesars.

One page, I would be almost physically ill hurting and crying with them and the next my heart would soar with how God worked through that moment.

Each chapter ends with asking just two questions to help us be better friends and better receivers if we’re the friend on the hard side of things.

Bible verses and Godly perspectives pepper this book with more than just how to help a friend deal with a terminal illness, but also practical ways to be a help when sometimes we don’t know what to do or say.

Just Show Up reminds us that platitudes can be worse than silence and hugs are currency for hard.

Any friendship could benefit from learning how to be honest, gracefully forgive weaknesses, and find ways to bless each other through the tough parts of life, even when that doesn’t mean cancer.

I want to buy this book for every woman I know. Offering grace to our friends and to ourselves doesn’t always come naturally, and is needed tremendously by all.

This book shows how faith and belief, even when tested to the core, can bring us to the door with banana pudding and open arms when we say yes and just show up. Even if we can only show up via text message or phone calls and prayer.

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