Contemplating my 20s – What I would do differently?

My 20s? What would I do differently?

Everything! and nothing. . .

A younger friend is reading a book (20-Something, 20-Everything) and asked me about my 20s.

So first – the EVERYTHING I would do differently in my 20s

Being single in my 20s felt like a disaster, I was “supposed” to be married and having babies so I could be the energetic, young mother of my dreams.

I chased that ideal at the expense of everything else.

Nothing has ruined my life more than trying to match it to the idealized version in my head.

I wish I spent more time just living than worrying about plans. Focusing on the ‘plan’ put a razor pendulum over every decision. I raced to match a calendar, instead of seeing the beauty of things happening in the right timing.

Nothing has ruined my life more than trying to match the idealized version in my head. Click To Tweet

Waiting on God is never second best. I wish I had learned that sooner.

I regret not spending more time just being obedient to the person I am called to be in Christ.

You will never regret time spent in obedience to God’s will for your life.

Independence is overrated.

Trying to prove my independence lead me making so many terrible decisions: little things like trying to hard boil eggs in the microwave (don’t do that!) to larger questionable choices about dating, finances, and friendships.

I surrounded myself with people who were muddling through life with me and I relied way too heavily on my own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

It’s okay to BE DEPENDENT on older, wiser Godly friends and family. God’s design is for us to learn from those who’ve walked this way first.

Independence is overrated. Find #yourtribe and build a village of love and support. Click To Tweet

The lessons of Titus 2 are twofold, directions for what the elders are to demonstrate and teach, but also for what we are to learn in our youth.

Asking for advice is the second smartest thing you can do. The smartest is TAKING that advice. Always test advice against scripture, in prayer, and through walking in the spirit, but listening to sage advice and building knowledge has never been something I regretted.

Good advice is sometimes hard to hear.

Listen anyway. God’s truths are unwavering, while our emotions are deceitful and changeable.

Make the most of your time and energy!

On the physical side, you will never be this young again. Eat better, wear sunscreen, and adopt healthy habits for the rest of adulthood, but have a piece of cake now and then.

Time moves faster the older I get. The amount of time I wasted just feeling melancholy, listening to Sarah Mclachlan is EPIC.

I really wish I would have traveled more, taken a missions trip, been more adventurous and less concerned about what others thought of me.

My 20s? Looking back twenty years on who I was at 25 and who I wish I had been. What would I do differently? Everything! and nothing. . .

Don’t waste time worrying about what people think of you.

I still worry about it more than I should, but I’m learning my responsibility is how I live, react to life, and doing both in God’s will. How other people perceive me is up to them.

Nothing I do will ever get 100% approval from the people in my life. Nothing. Human perceptions and biases color our opinions on just about everything. Trying to make everyone happy is a waste of time and brings too much heartache.

Nothing I do will ever get 100% approval. Worry less about what PEOPLE think. Click To Tweet

Do what is Godly to the best of your ability. The right people in your life will be by your side or will catch up.

So what about the NOTHING part of my answer?

I have TONS of regrets, but doing something differently would change where I am now, the wisdom I’ve gained, and the people in my life. And I really can’t imagine changing anything in the past that would affect being a mother and step-mother to these children.

I have learned that God didn’t waste my wandering years, even though I did. He has masterfully woven the pieces of my life into a beautiful tapestry I couldn’t imagine changing. He uses even the darkest moments of my life for light.

I’ve often considered that God placed me in this place, as an older mother in a peer group often 10-20 years my junior, and in this moment for a reason.

Esther 4:14b ESV  .  .  . And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Maybe sharing my wisdom, helping others not walk down the path I did is fulfilling God’s plan for my life through my obedience now.

I can’t know for sure, but the more I know Him, the more I understand His character and see how my life, broken pieces and all, are part of my story that can honor Him.

Contemplating my 20s was difficult, but I’m encouraged to see how God has taken a broken heart and made it whole.

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The Best Way to Explain Easter to my Kindergartner

 

What is the best way to explain Easter to my kindergartner? She knows the story, she knows Jesus, but I want to help her understand the depth of His choice to go to the cross for us.

We’ve been devotionally traveling through Jesus’s last week, reading about Palm Sunday, discussing how Jesus’s humble entrance into Jerusalem on the donkey fulfilled ancient prophecy.

Can you imagine any of our politicians choosing that entrance?

We read about the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing the feet of the disciples. Discussing the cultural significance is hard with a five-year-old, so I got out a small tub of hot water and washed her feet. She washed mine.

We ended up tickling more than anything, but learned how humbling it is to wash someone’s feet, what a tender act of love it is, demonstrating how to love like Jesus, willing to serve in the humblest manner.

But when we started talking about the cross, it seemed like she had the words, but missed the message. As I tried to explain Jesus dying, she started rattling off Bible stories from memory.

What is the best way to explain Easter to my kindergartner? She knows the story & Jesus, but I want her to understand the depth of His going to the cross for us

How can I explain Easter to her?

I’m glad she has those stories written on her heart, but we all need to experience Easter every year as a fresh encounter with a sacrifice far beyond what our selfish natures can comprehend.

We all need to encounter Easter as the most tremendous sacrifice the world has ever known. Click To Tweet

So I stopped and decided to explain Easter in a way that would be more relatable for small children. I used a story, like Jesus used to do.

A few days ago, one of your friends was really naughty. Her mother told her to do something that she didn’t want to do. So, she threw a tantrum and was just awful. What should her mom do? She deserves a punishment, doesn’t she?

My sweet girl nodded.

 But punishment is not fun. So would you take her punishment so she doesn’t have to?

She looked at me in shock, her brow furrowing, “No!”

But you love your friend, won’t you help her out?

“That’s not fair! I didn’t do anything!” She whined.

Exactly, neither did Jesus. He never did anything wrong at all, but he took your punishment, my punishment, and the punishment for everyone so we could go to heaven. His sacrifice paid the price for our sinful choices so we can be forgiven.

Romans 5:8 ESV  But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we didn’t deserve it, when we can’t ever earn it, Jesus died to set us free.

Her eyes widened and the smallest understanding crept into them, “oh, Mom, I guess, I should think about others, I’ll take her punishment, but I don’t really want to.”

I’m not really going to punish you, but does that help you understand what a tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for you, for us?

When we didn't deserve it, when we couldn't earn it, Jesus took our punishment to set us free. Click To Tweet

For the first time, she asked me to explain Easter, what it meant for Jesus to hang on the cross. We discussed the whipping, the crown of thorns, and the nails that held our Jesus to the cross.

Our day ended with baking resurrection rolls, a neat remembrance that the tomb was empty, Jesus conquered the grave.

I know I’m a forgetful sinner. I have to encounter Christ’s sacrifice and my redemption anew all the time. I have to be brought to my knees over my selfishness, face to face with my weakness so I can better understand the strength of His sacrifice.

As a mother, I just pray to explain Easter and keep Jesus real for her everyday.

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When People Disappoint

We know people will disappoint us, but we can be so surprised when we are standing in that place.

Oh, that moment is so crushing. Staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence that someone you love fell short today.

Your picture of that person was cracked or shattered in one fell swoop. Maybe the picture of your relationship cracked too, or your perception of yourself through their eyes changed.

Maybe you sensed it was coming, but often, one final straw finally drifts into place and our relationship is on the chopping block.

I’m right there with you. Earlier this week, I wrote about how weary I am, and part of my weary is dealing with some difficult relationships. Long distances, text messages, awful choices, and busy schedules all contribute to how we disappoint each other, and I’m struggling with tough places in a few different relationships.

Here is where I’m resting today.

People always disappoint.

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

Because we’re flawed and human, All. Of. Us. We are going to disappoint each other, in little ways and big ones, at some point.

I have to stop being surprised when people are human.

Stop being surprised people are human. Restore them in gentleness when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

In that moment when the disappointment is raw, put yourself in their shoes. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, what do you think they were thinking?

What do you think they are feeling now facing your disappointment? How can we meet them in Christ where they are?

How we handle the moment of disappointment may speak louder than anything else we do.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What does it look like to restore someone in gentleness and avoid the temptation to sin ourselves?

First, I remember my own failures and God’s grace for me when I don’t deserve it.

I have yet to survive one day without failure. Offer grace first when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Samuel recently. I’m blown away by how these familiar stories speak new wisdom to me today. The stories of Saul and David say so much about how to act when people disappoint us.

Saul was God’s anointed king for Israel, but (1 Samuel 18) in his sin, he fell from God’s grace, becoming paranoid and selfish, plotting to kill David.

David is disappointed, heartbroken, his king, his God’s anointed, wants him dead for no failure of his own.

David twice finds Saul served to him by God’s hand, in the cave (1 Samuel 24/26 ) and in his camp asleep, but instead of letting his hurt and anger rule him, David chooses to show Saul he could have killed him, but did not.

David takes steps to protect himself, but sees Saul’s sins are really against God, not himself. He is dismayed and saddened, without seeking to return hurt for hurt.

TWICE, David spares a man who is murderously plotting against him without cause, leaving Saul’s fate in God’s hands.

Twice? why?

To prove to Saul that he really was blameless (David’s righteousness made Saul’s sins more glaring.), but also as an example of how we are to continue in righteousness continuously, even when offense is piled upon offense.

So I’m still disappointed. I have hurt feelings, there is lost trust, and some of my relationships may not be restored right now.

But my focus has to be on God who never disappoints and staying righteous in His eyes.

I have to remember my emotions are nothing compared to God’s ability to rebuke or restore, forgive and sanctify. I can wait on Him.

Protecting myself is okay, but I should avoid returning sin for sin.

Letting God rule my heart even in the midst of big disappointments isn’t always easy. I get angry; I hurt. Indignant doesn’t look good on me, but in my own sin, I disappoint people all the time. I’m not usually trying to fail when I do.

If I hope for grace, I have to offer it too. Recognizing my worth and value in God’s eyes is immutable gives me pause to connect their failures with human nature, and offer a chance to explain, to understand, to apologize.

In the end, I guard my own walk with Christ and forgive them.

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Growing Pains

Growing pains are a part of growing up, but we have to trust that what is coming is better than what we have.

Yesterday, my sweet little girl had her third very wiggly tooth. It was so wiggly that it moved when she talked and poked between her lips when she kissed me. Beyond wiggly.

But when Daddy grabbed his forceps to help it along, our joyful little girl turned into a puddle of tears.

This is loose tooth number three. She “knows” it only hurts for a second. She feels so much better when it is out, but couldn’t get over her fear of the pain.

Holy smokes. The hysteria. Screaming, crying, refusing to open her mouth to let us even look at it.

We had been letting it come out on its own; however, she was struggling to eat and complaining it hurt to bite down. Upon closer inspection, we could see the larger front tooth growing underneath it was almost all the way in. She couldn’t keep this old tooth any longer.

She was so terrified of the pain that she might feel, she was willing to live in the pain that she knew.

The goal was to remove the tooth, but not at the expense of the relationship. She has to know that she can trust us to help her handle a little bit of pain.

Brainstorm – Anbesol! I squirted the gel around the base of her tooth. As her mouth grew numb we tried again.

She squeezed my fingers and looked in my eyes as daddy popped her tooth out easy peasy. I don’t know if the Anbesol actually made a difference or just made her think it made a difference, but she was finally – peacefully, loose tooth-free.

Growing pains are a part of growing up, but we have to trust that what is coming is better than what we have.

As she made her tooth fairy preparations (an adorable note “i beliEve in tooth fairys” with a procedural diagram for clarity), I couldn’t get over the idea that her reaction: drama, tears, hysterics over this tooth that was causing her pain was so much like how we respond to God with our sinful pasts.

Are we so afraid to trust Him that we cling to the pain we know? #transformation #growingpains Click To Tweet

As we are transformed into new creations, pieces of our old selves start to die. Like her tooth, they start to feel not quite right, then get uncomfortable before they reach the point that they are almost completely ready to be thrown away, just hanging onto our lives by a tendril.

Sometimes in that moment, we cling most fiercely.

But God, I don’t want to let that go . . .

But God, what if . . .

Do I really need to end that friendship?

It’s just . . . it’s not THAT bad.

ETC.

We fuss and cry and refuse, while our sweet Father stands over us, knowing that dead piece of our past is hurting us. He wants to take it away, not to hold us back, but to give us freedom.

He is changing us by degree, but only when we trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV   Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

She couldn’t understand how much trouble that dead tooth was causing. Even as it hurt her with every bite, she held on for dear life. But the second it was out, she was so relieved.

Like when I learn to let go of the things I know aren’t pleasing to God, aren’t refining me to be more like Christ. I pry my knuckles off their grip on me, then realize how much they’d been hurting me, dragging me away from Him.

I’ve learned that my own understanding asks ‘why should I let go?’

His understanding writes on my heart, ‘To stop letting it keep you from ME.’

Don’t let a fear of growing pains stop your transformation.

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Muppet Show Misses Mark

One of my favorite parts of parenthood is watching the wonder and joy on my daughter’s face when I introduce her to precious memories from my childhood, so I was excited when I saw the Muppets were coming to ABC. So much television isn’t appropriate for families anymore, that I was really looking forward to having something we could all enjoy together.

I remember Saturdays were bath night; we all raced to finish in time for The Muppet Show, which we watched as a family. I remember the funny chickens and Gonzo, the Swedish chef, and poor unfortunate Beeker. I remember laughing at the grumpy old guys and Fozzy’s perpetually awful jokes. It is a sweet, baby soap-scented memory.

Muppet Show completely misses mark and market by ruining a childhood favorite.

Which ABC completely destroyed tonight.The Muppet Show that debuted last night was a drastic departure from my memories. And left me feeling disappointed for my daughter and in our media culture.

It felt like watching a car wreck. Yes, Kermit, don’t look!

Within the first minute, a shrimp muppet talked about a bride’s dress being ugly because she was pregnant with 14,000 babies. Seconds later was a joke about an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting because alcoholism is hilarious, right? I lost track of the sexual references. Fozzy monologued about online dating, making thinly veiled homosexual jokes about getting the wrong kinds of offers (being a ‘bear’) and then saying there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for me.

I’m sure the old show had some humor directed at adults, but I don’t remember it. It certainly wasn’t as clearly adult as this new version. I don’t know if ABC meant kids to watch this at all, but I remember when the 8/7 time slot was specifically for family friendly programming. I did see the PG rating, too late, but I would have rated the content TV-14 at best.

Apparently, the previews suggested this new Muppet Show was for an older audience, but we don’t watch commercials. We even pause live TV to avoid them via fast forward, so we completely missed the warnings. Although, in this case the commercials were the least offensive part of this show.

We have so many choices about what we can watch, read, and do that I just can’t see watching this tasteless version of the Muppet Show.

When we put something in our lives regularly, we normalize it. Shows like this one normalize sin and gratuitous sexuality. Christian or not, no one needs childhood characters promoting alcoholism and every variant of sex possible. At one point, two rats were on a date and the segment suggested that they should have sex because he made such a nice dinner date for her. Do I want my child to think that she ever owes a man sex? or that sex on a first date is acceptable? She is way too precious to be treated that cheaply.

Philippians 4:8 ESV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

True. Honorable. Just. Pure. Lovely. Commendable. Excellence. Worthy of praise.

The Muppet Show missed the mark in every way, except maybe that it is a pretty true reflection of the sad state we’ve let our culture and entertainment become.

The only way we influence the media is through what we watch because advertising dollars fund what is popular. More and more I’m choosing to support channels and programs that meet the Philippians 4:8 standard for myself as well as my daughter.

Advertisers won’t support it if we don’t watch. Just ask the ladies of the View.