Every parent can relate to this scenario: I come home from a productive but tiring afternoon in the office. I'm excited to decompress and shove some food in my face...but then I open the door to A MAELSTROM OF CHAOS AND NEED. I am hit in the face by the banshee cries of three separate humans, 27 different questions and the faintest whiff of poop. My very first thought is:
"NO -I CANNOT- I AM DEPLETED."
But I've been working on my thought life lately. Separating myself from my swirling emotions and rapid-fire inner dialogue. I've been trying to remember to 'take every thought captive'. So I grabbed that thought, carried it into the next room and examined it, holding it up to the Light. An inquisition of sorts.
Hello, little thought. Where did you come from? Are you real or not real?
Because – elementary as this may seem – I am still learning that I have choices when it comes to my thoughts. Just like emotions, thoughts are not within my control. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I AM WITHIN THEIR CONTROL. Thoughts come and go but their autonomy doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.
I have found this to be very important. I think the Biblical directive to take our thoughts captive is an accurate visual. I picture these thoughts like little fireflies, buzzing across my headspace. They’re smaller than me. Annoying and quick, but well within my ability to capture. I can clap them into a mason jar and have a good look.
So this thought that consumed me upon entrance to my kitchen – “I CANNOT. I AM DEPLETED.” I remembered that it was just like a bug : separate, small, observable. I clapped it into a jar and took a good look.
Are you true or false?
I compared it to the Truth I’ve memorized, God’s promises I’ve ingested…and I decided this one was false and therefore not welcome.
I thought the biggest step would be learning not to quit. I am an expert quitter - always have been. I have this bad habit of over-achieving or over-committing or overreaching (with plenty of self-criticism shmeared on for motivation) until I burn out and then cry and throw up my hands and make sweeping declarations about quitting and laying down and sleeping for a week. This has been my pattern for a long time, but most especially since I became a mom and lost a lot of my precious, previously-taken-for-granted alone time.
"You can't control your emotions, but you can control your behavior."
Aidah is a girl with Big Feelings. She gets that from me, along with her freckles and aversion to strangers. But Aidah has the added sparkle of her dad’s Big Responses. Drew’s booming voice and animated reactions and heightened performer persona all play out on a grand scale when they mix with my Big Feelings in her tiny little body. We see a lot of meltdowns and tears and wailing and SWEEPING DECLARATIONS from our girl. Which is usually pretty funny and fairly harmless…but it’s still our responsibility to help her navigate that and grow up to be a functioning human.
And it’s really complex to help a three-year-old to see the distinction between her feelings and her behavior. To help her see that we are ONLY disapproving of the behavior. I always feel kind of hypocritical when we have these chats because these are lessons I'm still learning.
You with the tired smile and the callus of expectation on her heart. It's been a while in this season, hasn't it? It's okay to feel raggedy and forlorn. You've been a trooper.
Feel all of those blue feelings. Let them break over you and let them be what they are: evidence of hope. Of a soul turned toward the sun. You want something. You're passionate about it - enough so that you nudged your tender little heart out there on the front lines.
Take a minute and honor the courage that takes. Vulnerability is a choice, even if it's only made silently, amidst your private petitions tossed Heavenward.
Now, Braveheart, let's weed out the truths from the lies.
I’ve been reading Exodus and lately, I’m trudging through God’s detailed instructions to Moses on how to build the tabernacle – the place where He would come and dwell with His people. Usually, I skim through these descriptions
Mhm- a cubit of acacia and an...ephod?... Yes, I’m perfectly familiar with these terms.
But this time around, I’m hung up on the luxurious detail God wants poured into this tent. I mean, the instructions for the tabernacle go beyond the sort of respectful Sunday best that I’m familiar with. Way beyond. This thing is LAVISH. It is decked out. Versailles-level extravagance.
Holy Week is a study in paradox. The somber and the celebratory.
I know many people politely pay their respects to Good Friday, impatient to get to the explosion of praise on Sunday. These people want to celebrate and give thanks for the life and abundance they are experiencing in their season. I get that and I think it’s wonderful – I’ve been there. I am there, in a way.
Last year, I visited a different camp. I spent last Good Friday as a Mourner. (I suppose I always will, in a way.) And to the people in that group who resonate terribly with this ‘holiday’, who recognize all-too-well the specter of death, the hope extinguished, the DARKNESS…I am so sorry you’re in that place. I know (I’ve felt) that He promises to be near to the brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit. But that doesn’t make it much easier, does it?
But there’s a third group. The Saturday people, often overlooked in the church. I think it’s because we make projects out of the Friday people and leaders out of the Sunday people. But what about the people in that bleak and weary middle. Who have heard the repeated promises of redemption and are just…waiting. Who commiserate with the Mourners and can’t help but grin at the Sunday celebrators, but go home to their threadbare resolve.
This is the story of my very best Saturday. But I won’t ever forget the time I spent in that waiting place.
Several of you have asked if there is a story behind Noah's name.
Oh, guys - you know me so well. OF COURSE THERE IS.
I've told you before that grief is exhausting. In the early days, it ate up SO MUCH of my emotional bandwidth, leaving me with this strange feeling of scarcity. I would acknowledge that my threshold was necessarily low, and end up doling out my emotions with pinching thriftiness.
A little for you, a little for that. Whoops, I anticipate a tough weekend coming up, so I can't have this conversation right now.
So when my best friend Danielle asked me if we were trying to have another baby, it took me a while to come up with the words to text back.
I....don't...can't...no know how to words I think about that...
**I feel the need to clarify that the majority of this post was written when we first moved to Nashville and I was not nursing a newborn...
"Let's drink tequila and talk about the universe."
This is how I wish I could make friends in my new city. When I see that girl with sick dreadlocks making amazing watercolors in the corner of the cafe or pass the cool moms at the farmer's market whose kids dress better than I do...I wish I could skip the whole introduction/small talk/feel each other out and get right to the point.
So what do you think about God's interaction with the space time continuum?
I like to think that I am not typically a bandwagoner. I resisted the acid wash revival trend and I don't like pumpkin flavored drinks and I still don't think Seinfeld is funny.
But on the occasion that I do jump on a bandwagon, I make sure to try and drag everyone on with me. (I'm not #basic, you're just dumb). YOU'RE NOT WEARING HIGH WAISTED PANTS!? WHAT, DO YOU HATE YOUR INTESTINES OR DO YOU SIMPLY ENJOY THE SMALL MORTIFYING EXERCISE OF TUCKING YOUR BELLY INTO YOUR WAISTBAND BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN?
That being said, I am ready to announce my #wordfor2018. Yes, thank you for waiting on the edge of your seat.
Noey’s face might say differently, but we are cheering extra loud today for one of our favorite people, @smaywilson , whose Girls Night podcast has reached ONE MILLION DOWNLOADS! In the past few years, as both her employee and friend, I’ve had the honor and delight of watching this podcast go from just an idea in Steph’s brilliant beautiful blonde head to top 5 in her genre 😍 .
I was Steph’s first guest/cohost - the guinea pig, as she was continually reminding herself IT’S OKAY TO BE A BEGINNER. What a trip to see that guest chair be filled over the years by some of my actual heroes and favorites. .
Steph- I am so proud of you, for diving in even when this was scary and for insisting on excellence, warmth and welcome in all that you do. I love being a participant and a witness to your dreams! 😍😍😍 you are the Leslie to my April and I am taking notes as always, boss lady. .
Fun fact: I am have the most recorded episodes of any guest on the podcast. You might say I’m a Girls Night expert - probably from hanging with these two hooligans 24/7. Every night is girls night in this house 🤪 scroll through to see a few of my favorite episodes (there’s a link in my profile too!) and go ahead and binge-listen to all of the seasons to catch me sprinkled elsewhere. .
HOORAY FOR STEPH AND CHEERS TO 15 million more!
Let’s talk about Apocalypse Fashion. ⠀
My friend @lindscretia likes to ask people what outfit they would wear into a battle-for-the-end-of-humanity situation. (I encourage you to ask this question at your own classy dinner parties.) It stems from her raging scorn towards Harry Potter’s Hermoine, who wears a jean jacket into battle against Voldemort. She’s always like A JEAN JACKET!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?⠀
When she asked me about my Final Battle Fashion, I thought about it for a long time. At first I said I would want to go out stark naked because #elementofsurprise and #ultimateYOLO...but then we discussed the potential for burning flesh and/or burning regret in the chance that we all end up surviving the battle. So I amended my answer. I said I would want to head into battle in a utility coverall. I imagined that maybe I would find it in the closet of some abandoned gas station where we took shelter. Maybe it has the name Harold stitched on the pocket. Either way- it’s sturdy, it has pockets for weapons and it fills me with a sense of practical courage. What would Harold do? (#WWHD) ⠀
I would also go barefoot and carry a crossbow. Not sure why, it just felt right. ⠀
Lindsay and I had this discussion years ago and I’ve been on the lookout for such a coverall ever since. I figured it could be sort of an inside joke for myself. That I could wear it on tough days or to the DMV, etc. #WWHD⠀
I finally found this one two years ago on a random corner of the internet. AND WHEN I WEAR IT, GET OUT OF MY WAYYY.⠀
But, weirdly enough, I’ve noticed that utility jumpsuits are kind of having a moment lately. I’ve seen them at all of the major stores, in every color and fabric. What does that mean!? Is the Apocalypse at hand!? ⠀
Let’s all be prepared, just in case. What would you wear into a battle for the end of the world? PLEASE COMMENT YOUR OUTFIT, FOOTWEAR AND WEAPON OF CHOICE.⠀
If you need inspiration, here are Drew and Lindsay’s choices: (in the comments) ⠀
“I’m gonna go outside and enjoy the wonderful wind while I do my Mulan practicing.” .
I love this little weirdo. She’s just so good at wonder and delight. She teaches me so much.
I spend way too much time in my head with all of my precious thoughts and emotions. I forget I have a body, in all of its dancing, stretching, smelling, tasting, fancy glory. I forget about the magic all around me to be enjoyed and exclaimed over. If I didn’t have her, gushing over colors and sparkles and flavors and that WONDERFUL WIND, I would stay inside and “get stuff done”. I would be like Gollum, with my precious to-do list.
The truth is I only love parenting about 70 percent of the time. And I’ve noticed that the times I am not loving it are often because I prioritize Production. Aidah and Noah get in the way of my Work and Efficiency and Busyness. .
But isn’t that kind of their job? Isn’t that the mercy that’s sort of built into this parenthood thing? The stress of it would kill us all if we were able to devote ourselves fully. But these little people “holding us back” are really just holding us close, pulling us into the Heart of what matters. They pull us into the Present/Presence that recharges our batteries and calms our souls. ***
Parenthood is crazy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But when I have engaged intentionally, it has taught me more about being a wholehearted, grateful and present worshipper than all of my time in church ever has. Kids have a special understanding of the divine magic at work in the minutia and it is the most beautiful education to be the big person assigned to them.
***This is not to say that it’s all rainbows and unicorns. No sooner had I posted this than Noah pooped on the floor RIGHT NEAR MY FACE. Nothing magical about that. 🤷♀️
“Mom did you ever know that some people are squishy and some people are bony? You and me and Daddy are bony but Noey is...a lot of squishy. Her body is a circle...like a turtle.”
Happy International Women’s Day to me, myself, @marikoclark . Mostly because I’ve been trapped inside this germ palace for a month now and I’ve lost touch with reality and started talking to myself. Love you, girl! 👩❤️💋👩
(She eats too much cheese and is overly sarcastic but all in all, decent company.) .
Great job keeping everyone alive this month, Mar. Strep throat, flu, croup, ear infections and strep 2.0 didn’t take them out and neither did your sleep deprived rage. And don’t listen to Aidah - you’re not the worst at making forts. You are very mediocre. She’s just being petty. .
I won’t lie to you. You’re not thriving. But you are surviving and that’s pretty good, all things considered. *self high five*
Just kidding - sort of - good one, Mar. I would also like to acknowledge my tiny girl squad, my moms and sisters, the community of women who stepped up to keep us afloat this month and - of course - the receptionist at urgent care who told me my shirt was on inside out and gave me free Cheez-its when I cried a little. Yolanda, you’re the real MVP.
I love being a girl and being a girl mom and I can’t wait to celebrate by shoving wine and pasta into my face tonight with @smaywilson. It’s my and @marikoclark first social outing in weeks. I wonder if we remember how to talk to humans who wipe their own butts? .
Also, in the 8 seconds it took Aidah and I to take this picture, Noey knocked over a potted plant and ate a LOT of soil and made mud paste in her hair 🤷♀️
To women! 🤪🥂👩👧👧 #internationalwomensday
Aidah doesn’t have a coat on, but she DOES have a leotard on. Noah doesn’t have shoes or socks on, but she DOES have a poopy diaper. I let them both stand in the back of the cart and rattle around dangerously because 🤷♀️. .
But here’s my real win for the day:
Aidah has a new phrase that she *thinks* is made up gibberish words...she says they mean “I’m going to water the plants” in a different language...and that phrase is...”I’M GONNA GET THAT BOOTY!” .
So all through Target, as Noah stood at the front of the cart like the noble figurehead on a pirate ship, Aidah shouted things like,
LET’S GO HOME SO I CAN GET THAT BOOOOOOTY!
I LOVE TO GET THAT BOOOOTY!
MOM YOU GOTTA HELP ME GET THAT BOOTY!!!
I heard some kid ask his mom “did you hear what she said” and the mom said “yes...that’s not very nice.” And then I got the embarrassed/overwhelmed/screw it giggles and I couldn’t stop. It may have been a nervous breakdown.
But it doesn’t matter because nothing else matters except DREW BEING FEVER-FREE FOR 24 HOURS AND OFFICIALLY RELEASED FROM QUARANTINE. .
I repeat: DREW IS FREE. I AM NO LONGER A SINGLE PARENT. .
Now...I’M GONNA GO GET THAT BOOTY! 😏😏😏
I talk a lot about community and being a good neighbor and how we can be Emmanuel to each other in the ways we show up for each other. I feel like I should share about when that happens - we need more of that type of news, right? .
We spent most of yesterday in the ER for Drew, who was treated for extreme dehydration and a nasty case of the flu. And while he is doing amazingly well now, it was really scary for a minute there. He had collapsed, his hands and feet were numb and he couldn’t answer my questions. I sent out a quick panic text and was overwhelmed with responses from our people. .
My brother @harrisonstraton showed up and brought his typical calm into our typical chaos. He helped literally carry Drew to the car and later on doubled back to hold down the fort at home.
My neighbor Sam @boringsadmusic was at my door in minutes to play with my girls. All day I was getting offers to help and texts of encouragement and prayer. ❤️❤️❤️
We got back last night and my neighbor @boringsadmusic and sweet sweet @ellenpelletierphoto had cleaned my entire house. I cried. You guys - my house was filthy. We’ve been sick for three weeks. It was maybe the worst it’s ever been. And they set it to right. .
Ellen brought donuts and @kristen_aplin brought soup and @britshelton made us bone broth...it’s been just one kindness after another. .
The kind of love that is so lavish that it’s embarrassing. The kind of love you know you can’t ever pay back. The kind of love that makes you feel surrounded and known and seen. It’s almost too much. But that’s the kind of Love I want in my life - it’s the kind I hope to pay forward and pour back into my community.
We are so thankful. 😭😭😭
Also, I feel like it bears repeating: Drew is doing GREAT. It’s amazing what a couple bags of fluids, a superhuman immune system (nice work on that one, @freddiestraton ) and a cacophony of prayers will do for the body. He’s in quarantine for the week but on the mend. We would love prayers for the girls to stay healthy, as this particular strain is highly contagious and very nasty. I’m tired and words are difficult right now but thank you and I love you and thank you 😭❤️🙌
Is there a word for the specific combination of pride and heartbreak in watching your kid muster their courage to try and make a new friend at the playground, only to be rejected? .
I know it’s just a taste of the many instances where I will have to sit and hold my breath on the sidelines as she offers her tender heart to the world and weathers its response. .
And I feel the weight of my influence in the aftermath. I know my response to her rejection will shape her inner dialogue. I feel the crushing weight of that and I pray over it constantly. .
Sometimes I don’t feel socially prepared to parent someone so observant and intuitive. Sometimes I wish she didn’t notice so much, feel so deeply.
But I know that she gets those things from me. And there’s complexity and beauty in the way God put us together, mama and daughter. .
So I’ll tell her that it’s okay. That not everyone will want to be our friend and that doesn’t make them or us any less awesome. .
And sometimes assuring her in these situations reminds me of what’s true for me too. .
But still. What a gut punch. What a ride, this parenting thing. What a girl, my girl. 😍
I can’t wait until spring comes so I can lock you two out on the porch! Just kidding! Maybe! #cabinfever #getawayfromme
I'm eavesdropping on Drew reading a story about a girl going to a ball and he’s changing the words so that the girls "get fancy" instead of "get pretty". And when she leaves her fancy slipper behind the prince remembers how kind and smart and FAST she was 😂
We do this constantly. Raising our girls feels like this process of incessant re-messaging. .
Girls don't need to GET pretty. They ARE pretty. This goes for all girls. .
AND THEY'RE SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
The dresses, the nail polish, the tutus and tiaras -- all of that stuff that they (despite my efforts to stay neutral!) seem inevitably drawn to...it's wonderful. But I so desperately want them to know that it's extra. It's just...fancy. .
The world is going to make a fortune off of telling our girls that they are inadequate in some way. It is the oldest marketing strategy in the book: create a problem and then sell the solution. Smoother hair, longer lashes, flatter tummies, whiter teeth...it never ends. So as much as I can, I try to hammer home this point: GOD MADE YOU AWESOME - complete and capable and unique and purposed right out of my own womb. Do you know that? Good, then carry on with all of that other fun stuff. Dress-up however you want as long as you know that it's just extra. .
I could go on about the other messages we redirect: the princes we leave out of the stories because the princesses are perfectly capable of solving their own problems. (We have a Disney storybook where Prince Eric helps Ariel communicate with a dolphin. The ultimate mansplain. DUDE, SHE’S A MERMAID.) So we just cut him out. Or maybe they work together- whatever.
It feels like we need to be constantly vigilant. We have a story Bible that talks about how "Mrs. Noah was very busy cleaning up after all of the animals on the ark." Drew took a sharpie to Mrs. and sketched a broom in Noah's hand too. KEEP UP, NOAH. .
I know maybe this seems like paranoia or overkill, but I'd rather fall forward than back. I'd rather raise overly-confident, annoyingly-independent feminists than have them ever wonder where their value lies. So read on, Drew. I’m so glad you’re my partner 😍😍😍