For the longest time, I didn’t think that my story was worth telling. I have played the good girl role for most of my life and to be quite honest with you, it has worked out well for me. There are a few regrets, but most people would find even those laughable. My life has been good. Very good. It has been filled with friendships that go deep, family that I adore, a love that couldn’t be more perfect for me.
And sometimes, I feel guilty about this. Why is my life so good when so many are hurting so deeply?
A few years ago, I learned something about myself that surprised me. Turns out I wasn’t as good as I thought. Oh, sure, I had made all of the “right” decisions. I didn’t go astray or backslide- those dreaded words that I heard repeatedly in my growing up years accompanied by the looks of disapproval and the tongue clicking. I was never a wild child. I graduated with honors from high school and college. I “saved myself” for marriage. I worked hard in the early years of marriage so that we wouldn’t have debt when our babies were born. I served in the church by my husband’s side. I sought to be a good friend.
But I found out that there was an ugliness in me that I hadn’t been brave enough to acknowledge before. It was pride and while I hadn’t truly recognized its impact on my heart, I would not be surprised to hear that others were very aware of its presence in my life.
I took pride in my accomplishments and in my goodness as if it was mine to claim, but what I have come to realize is that my pride was holding me back from truly understanding grace. I didn’t see my desperate need for Jesus, because I was a good girl. Sure, I knew that I had sinned, but it wasn’t THAT bad.
Huh. As if sin is ever anything BUT bad.
Sin separates me from God. A deep, wide gulf of separation that is not set by the degree of my sin, but rather the holiness of God. God is so holy, so perfect that there is nothing I could ever do to bridge that divide. My pride was deceiving me into believing that I could be close to God based on my own goodness.
We are all in desperate need of God’s grace, but until we recognize the depths of our sin, we will not understand this desperate need. We might understand it in theory, but we won’t be able to let go of our striving and fully trust God alone as long as we are clinging to our own goodness. It wasn’t until I was willing to acknowledge the pride in my life that I was able to begin to understand how my sin truly separated me from God.
My goodness will never be enough. But His grace IS enough.
I am thankful that my life has been good, but I now know how easy it is for me to believe that this is the result of something I have done instead of acknowledging that this is how God has chosen to write my story for the display of his glory. And how scary it is to think that so many people can go through their entire lives believing that if they simply do the right things, they will be right with God.
My husband uses the example of trying to jump across the ocean. There will be some who will get further than others because they are better jumpers, but no one would be able to jump across. The gulf is too wide. And yet, our pride tells us that we can cross the divide between us and God. How foolish.
My story matters, because it’s not about me. It has taken me a long time to learn this. I wonder what I will learn in the next chapter…
Today our 3rd child, Gibson Beckett, turns 6! There are many causes for celebration in this, but it seems appropriate on this special day to share 6. Birthdays are a reminder that we always have reasons to celebrate. What are YOU celebrating today?!!
1. Unexpected blessings. Most people know that our fourth child was a complete surprise, but not many know that our third was as well! Gibson was unexpected from the beginning, but he continues to teach us that sometimes the very things we don’t plan can be the biggest blessings in life. He teaches us to always look for the blessings.
2. Giving thanks to Jesus. Gibson begins every prayer by saying, “Thank you God for dying on the cross to save us from our sins.” It is a sweet reminder to me to be grateful to my God and Savior for his faithfulness in saving his children. A heart of thankfulness needs to be cultivated and Gibson has this down!
3. Living fiercely. He is full of passion, our 6 year old! Whether it is his play, his school work, chores or games, Gibson is all in. He doesn’t do anything half-heartedly. Sometimes this means that he struggles with anger or stubbornness, but as he continues to grow and mature and as he seeks to allow Jesus to change his heart, I can see this passionate living being one of his greatest strengths.
4. Curiosity. Gibson has an insatiable desire to learn more. He is endlessly creative and unbelievably smart. If I need one of my children to find something in the pantry, I inevitably ask Gibson, because he is my child who will search until it is found. If he has a goal in mind, he can achieve it. His curiosity has taught him to complete the task at hand, because the satisfaction of a job well done is always worth it. It amazes me that at 6 he has already learned this lesson that at times I am STILL learning!
5. Uniqueness. Since he is 6 years younger than his sister and 4 years younger than his brother, we have observed that Gibson has learned to be comfortable in his own skin. He isn’t dependent on his siblings to help him determine his likes and dislikes. The boy has an opinion! And this is worth celebrating (most of the time). He fully enjoys time with his siblings, but he also enjoys time alone. I love this about him.
6. The gift of life. I told you that Gibson was unplanned, but his very life is reminder to us of the goodness of God! Proverbs 16:9 comes to mind- “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Looking back, I am so incredibly grateful that God chose that our steps would lead us to a hospital in Connecticut where our precious boy was born, while his pastor Daddy witnessed to the atheist anesthesiologist and his Jesus loving mama didn’t have the heart to interrupt the conversation to let the men know that the epidural wasn’t working! Today we celebrate Gibson’s life and we will give him gifts as a part of this celebration, but the truth is that our gifts to him will never equal the gift that his very life is to us!
So on the occasion of your 6th birthday, we celebrate YOU, Gibson Beckett. We love you with all of our hearts!
Mommy, Daddy, Lindsay, Ethan and Ainsley
Bottles and Bras.
Diaper Cream and Makeup.
Learning to walk and learning to shave legs.
Baby dolls and Barbie dolls.
Lift the flap books and chapter books.
Trying to get one to stay IN bed and trying to get the other OUT of bed!
There is a decade between my two girls. My oldest turns 12 this spring and the youngest turns 2. For the past two years, my world has been a strange mix of baby stages and adolescence and there are times when I am struck with what seems like a dichotomy in my life, but what is actually teaching me more than I could have ever imagined.
I am learning how to train my tween and toddler simultaneously and I am often amazed at how one informs the other. Here’s a bit of what I am learning…
1. Be Patient. For some reason, I find it easier to be patient with my little one. I expect that she doesn’t know how to do things and that she requires my constant help and support. I understand that I must pick out her clothes, dress her, get her breakfast, feed her. I get that I need to brush her teeth until she learns to tie her own shoes.
But I struggle to have this same kind of patience with my tween. Perhaps it is the fact that she is about to surpass me in height, the reality that her feet are already bigger than mine or her ability to devour books and learn facts as if there is no tomorrow. I find that I expect her to know things that she doesn’t really know. I expect her to get herself up in the morning, make her bed, pick out clothes that actually match and don’t make her look like a hussy, pour her own cereal and eat her food without talking while she eats.
Expectations are good, but they are not always fair. Just because my tween is growing so quickly in some areas, doesn’t mean that she is growing quickly in all areas. My toddler’s needs are reminding me to still engage in “mothering” my tween. She might act like she can do it all, but the truth is, she can’t. She still needs me, a PATIENT me, one who is not expecting too much, but instead helping her along the way.
2. Be Hopeful. Life is a journey. I know this in theory, but sometimes I get stuck at different points in the journey and I forget that things will change, they will grow, they will learn. My tween reminds me constantly to have hope. When I see how far she has come, how much she has learned, I am reminded not to get stuck on where we are right now and not to allow feelings of hopelessness to creep in. My toddler WILL learn to use the toilet. The day WILL come when we no longer have to use a baby gate. We WILL get to go places without having to deal with car seats. We WILL get to play games without trying to entertain a baby at the same time.
This hope that I can have for my toddler is also what I cling to with my tween. We WILL make it through these tumultuous years. She WILL see me as a friend and a confidante, because I am doing the hard work now of loving her well. She WILL be a strong leader (this is one I repeat every time she voices her “opinions”!). She WILL learn the things she needs to learn.
When my oldest was a baby, I read all of the baby stages sheets and all of the expectations for each new year, but I don’t do that any more. Hope has taught me to expect change, but not to demand it. Change and growth will come in their own time and letting go of my expectations makes this so much easier. Life is a journey!
3. Savor Every Moment. There is a tendency in parenting to be in survival mode, a desperate feeling of just trying to make it through whatever season you are in. But having a tween while raising a toddler is a constant reminder to truly enjoy each phase. With my oldest, I felt like she would never learn to sleep through the night. But with our youngest, I KNEW that it was a season and as a result, I was able to appreciate the interruptions in sleep, knowing that the baby snuggles in the middle of the night would not last forever.
The sweet giggles, the tiny arms wrapped around my neck, the ability to dance without inhibition, the way she makes us laugh hysterically, every “first”~ I’m savoring all of these sweet moments! The achievements, the creativity, the honor rolls, the long conversations, the shared love for books and movies~ I’m savoring all of these precious moments as well! There is difficulty and struggle in the training of my tween and my toddler, but I refuse to allow the difficulties determine or define my relationship with my girls.
4. Set an Example. We didn’t plan to have our oldest and youngest be a decade apart, but God knew. When the doctor told me that I was an advanced maternal age during my pregnancy with the youngest, I knew we were in for some challenges. It was quite possible that I wouldn’t have the same energy that I had with my first (or even my third for that matter!). And so, I knew I would need to be deliberate about making sure I stayed “young”.
And so, we have dance parties and I started running. This spring my oldest two plan to run their first 5k’s and I am thrilled about this. Knowing that my kids are watching me has challenged me to be intentional about leaving a legacy for my little ones. This applies to so much more than the physical. I desire to set an example for my children in all aspects. Having children at all different stages of childhood helps me to remember to seek Christ in all things, to live life with intention and to not be too hard on myself. After all, I am a work in progress as well and when I fail, I have an opportunity to demonstrate my need for Jesus!
Potty training and period training.
Candyland and Cranium.
Wonder Pets and Saved by the Bell.
Disney Princesses and Ever After High dolls.
Play Dough and Pizza dough.
The decade of differences is intense at times, but I am learning to embrace it all and see it as the gift that it is. I watch as my tween plays with my toddler and I am overcome by the beauty of sisterhood and how they are both being blessed by this time.
And so we celebrate the tween and toddler years, acknowledging that life is a little bit crazy right now, but it is also extraordinary. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Who knew?
The first message board I ever joined was one that my husband started for our youth group.
It wasn’t long before I discovered how valuable social media could be although it would be years before I would know to call it that. Interacting with our youth on a daily basis, giving them a safe place to share their hearts, and being able to encourage them through the Word of God was powerful.
In 2007, I was introduced to Facebook. I was skeptical at first, but once again it didn’t take long for me to discover the rewards of this social media platform. I started reconnecting with friends who I hadn’t seen in years. I was able to keep in touch with “our” youth who were now in college and several states away. And as more of my local friends discovered Facebook, I found it to be a great way to communicate.
I started writing in this blog four years ago almost to the day and social media has allowed me to connect with some incredible writers who have inspired me to no end. I attended a blogging conference the year after I started writing and it was there that I met Mandy J. Hoffman, the author of an excellent new book, #ReformingSocialMedia.
As we chatted with a mutual friend in my hotel room at the conference, I discovered several things that Mandy and I had in common. Besides a love for reading, writing and coffee, Mandy was a fellow pastor’s wife and she had experienced some deep hurts, just as I had. Her love for the Word of God was obvious even in our short conversation and as a result, I knew that she was someone who could be trusted.
The more I get to know Jesus and the more years that I use social media, the more I discover how crucial it is to have the Word of God as the foundation for one’s life and for all interactions whether online or off. And I am learning to give the most weight to the opinions of those who are steeped in God’s Word.
When I discovered that Mandy was writing a book about social media and the idea of using it to bring glory to God, I was thrilled. And then I read her words and I grew even more excited. This book is powerful and one that every Christ-follower should read, whether they use social media or not.
In #ReformingSocialMedia, Mandy discusses the different approaches to social media, why followers of Christ should be concerned with its use, how to understand the different social media terms, why the reform of social media is necessary, how the Bible must inform our use, how to bring glory to God through its use, practical tips and how to handle difficult social media situations. Intrigued? I hope you are.
As an extrovert AND a stay-at-home mom, social media has become my playground of sorts. My personal favorites are Facebook for staying connected with friends and family and Pinterest for its constant source of inspiration. But there are times when I will log out of Facebook feeling discouraged, disappointed, frustrated or even angry. I have been “unfriended” purposely at a time when I already felt betrayed by those closest to my family. My words have been misunderstood and I have felt unappreciated and sometimes judged.
In her chapter on Why Social Media Needs Reforming, Mandy says this…
Social media causes us to feel lonelier despite being more connected. Ironic, is it not? The very thing that will supposedly increase and strengthen our social interactions actually brings about the opposite.
But then she says this…
Sin has broken our connections and our communication with God and with each other. Social media claims it will connect you with people and help you communicate with friends, but only Christ can overcome sin to redeem your connection and communication with God (Romans 5) and with others.
We must find our satisfaction in Christ, not in any other outlet. When He is our foundation, we are able to use different social media platforms for His glory. This requires a pursuit of Christ and intention when it comes to our use of social media.
#ReformingSocialMedia is being released TODAY, February 12th and you have the opportunity to receive a free PDF copy! Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page telling me what your favorite social media platform is and why. A winner will be randomly chosen at noon tomorrow, February 13th.
Check out Mandy’s website to get a copy of #ReformingSocialMedia today! I hope you will. You won’t regret it!