No One is Grading You.

 “No one is grading you.”
Those words echoed through my head recently, making me stop and regard them somewhat suspiciously.

I always thrived on grades. From the day I was handed a flag to carry for earning my middle school team’s highest GPA, they came to define me and I suppose I welcomed the definition. I always wanted to prove myself. I looked forward to geometry tests (proofs are fun people). I became physically ill before cross country races because I felt so much pressure. Looking back now, I see the pressure came from no one but myself. 

I’m beginning to see how that pressure has translated into adulthood. The floor I haven’t had time to mop seems a direct reflection of my failures. The days that I feel totally overwhelmed seem a direct assessment and condemnation of my abilities to manage life. “How do I stop being so hard on myself?” I voiced to my husband on just one of those days.

I tend to roll my eyes a little when people tell me to love myself or be kind to myself because I think, in general, an abundance, not a lack, of self-love is our problem. And yet…there’s something there, something of Jesus offering his easy yoke, something of him telling Martha to stop hustling and bustling and just sit with Him.

Jesus was tough on those who were blind to their failures and gentle with those who saw them all too clearly. For the latter, the gospel comes gently, like a mother who picks up a too-tired toddler to shush them to sleep. It means the pressure is off. The test is over or rather, someone else was tested in our place. Now we aim for excellence, not to earn, but in freedom, because we are already accepted and approved.

I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe, but I want to believe it more in 2023. I want, as Peter commended, to stand firm in the true grace of God which tells us we don’t have to earn rest. It tells us God is just as glorified in our rest as He is in our labors. Maybe even more…because the one who can rest is the one who has marinated their souls in the gospel so much they know they’ve got nothing to prove.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you also need to intentionally leave the colossal mess in the kitchen to go bask in the sunshine because who cares? No one is coming to inspect your kitchen. Maybe you need to hear it too.

No one is grading you.

The Imperfect Servanthood of Motherhood

I’ve been thinking about servanthood which may as well be a synonym for motherhood. The tasks of motherhood are tasks of service: making meals, refilling cups, cleaning spills, wiping butts, re-wiping the butts that were inadequately wiped. From morning to night, I am a servant. Too often though, I am a grumbling servant, a proud servant, a servant who doesn’t want to serve anymore.

Philippians 2 describes Jesus in three forms: God, man, and servant. As God, He had the right to demand to be served, yet He came as man so that He could serve us. He had every right to grasp, but instead, he surrendered. He had every right to demand, but instead, He gave. “Have this mind among you…” Paul says.

I’m praying I can become a more humble and joyful servant, but I’m also really thankful I don’t have to earn or prove anything. I’m thankful that the Gospel isn’t merely “Here’s Christ’s example. Go do it,” but “Here’s Christ’s righteousness. He did what you could never do for you.” I can never be the servant Jesus is, but I can pursue growth out of freedom and gratitude. We should want to serve better because Christ has served us…but we can also receive grace when we serve imperfectly because we have been so perfectly served by Him.

Receiving the Appointed Bitter Gifts of God

Writing a book is a funny thing because it becomes like your little shoulder angel, whispering in your ear, reminding you of all the fine words you wrote that you’re supposed to be also putting into action. Maybe God has a little chuckle watching me deal with the many opportunities I have to do so. Like, oh you wrote about sacrificial love? Here’s a 6 am wake up call, some poop handprints on the bathroom wall, and a vomit covered toddler. Enjoy.

It sounds stupid, but I’m often taken off guard when life is hard. I can be personally affronted by inconvenience. Do something hard and unpleasant? Surely, not ME. Maybe we never grow out of this childishness without a perspective shift…because if we believe our lives are fundamentally about us, then our daily difficulties seem out of place. If we think we’re the director and star of our own drama, we will be continuously perplexed when our storylines go awry. 

While we’d like to think that our lives are self-made, scripture tells us that they are appointed to us. “Only let each person lead the life that the LORD has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17). Our lives and every day that makes up their sum, including its difficulties, has been assigned to us.

If we see this, if it dawns on us that perhaps we are not the stars of this show nor the authors of this story, but recipients of a part to play in God’s grand narrative, we might begin to see our daily difficulties differently, even as a gift. I’m not sure I can ever look at poop handprints and think, “What a lovely gift,” but I think at least, we could see such inconveniences as bitter medicine with a sweet purpose. 

Every hard thing is meant to remind me that I am here on this earth to magnify Him and not the other way around. I can fight what He has assigned to me or submit myself to it, receiving the hard things as God-ordained and therefore, good. The toddler tantrum has been assigned to me. The poop handprints have been given. Though I might regularly pray, “Lord please let this cup pass from me”, the dishes and the laundry have apparently been appointed unto me for all my days under the sun. Yet I know from whom they come. I know who holds my lot and draws my boundary lines. The path He’s set out for me may include many things I’d rather leave out, but I know where it leads. To life. To joy. To pleasures evermore.

Big announcement! Upcoming Book

Thank you to those who are following along on this blog. I started this blog as a fresh out of college philosophy graduate. I, and my writing, have changed a lot since then, as I am now a stay-at-home homeschool mom of five. God began to help me hone what I wanted my writing to do: enlighten and encourage. And naturally, it has veered mostly toward the topic that consumes my life: motherhood.

A few years ago (3 1/2 to be exact, but who’s counting?), a handful of people told me I was funny and I should write a book about motherhood. Apparently, that was all it took to convince me that I’m funny and I should write a book about motherhood. But truthfully, it had always been a dream of mine to have a book published though it felt a little like dreaming of making it on broadway or becoming the queen of England.

Nonetheless, I started writing. I set out to create a book that gave moms in the trenches what I believed they needed: real gospel encouragement for the calling of motherhood and help laughing at the parts of motherhood you have to laugh about or go crazy.

I began to send it to publishers which felt like a big shot in the dark in a world where it’s very hard to be traditionally published, but God opened a door and led me to a publisher that was interested in my book.

Lots and LOTS of waiting, uncertainty, pandemic delays, hours and hours of editing, more waiting, and two babies later, it’s finally coming together. The cover is still in process and release date TBD…but stay tuned.

I am SO excited to announce that Majoring in Motherhood, my motherhood crash course, is coming soon. 🤗

Holiness Made Its Home Among The Cursed

At Easter, it is natural to reflect upon the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, I find myself also thinking upon the broader scope of His life and its meaning for us. What does it mean that He was Emmanuel? What does it mean that God not only forgave our sins, but came to dwell among us, the sinners? It means God was not merely after forgiveness, but restoration. Restoration of the world in its entirety. Restoration of the human condition in its entirety.

You don’t have to look far to see that we live in a broken world. There is pain. There is injustice and evil and grief. We can find that even our greatest joys can be tinged with sadness as if we know things are still not what they should be. We can be haunted by the dauntless specter of death, our one shared and final fate though something tells us it shouldn’t end that way. Why? Why is the world fraught with sorrow? Why does life end in death? Because we are fallen. We bear the curse of our sin and every square inch of creation bears it with us (Romans 8).

Yet in the life of Christ, we see mercy dawning. We see God retracing the steps of the Fall. We see the Holy One enter the cursed womb and set into motion our ransom, our rescue. The first place He sent sin’s curse was the first place He sent sin’s cure. And there is nowhere He has commissioned His curse that He has not also commissioned His grace, no scars of His judgment that He has not also touched with the healing of His redemption.

The incarnation means that Holiness made its home among the Cursed. Yahweh, a name too sacred to be spoken by our tainted lips, became Emmanuel, God With Us. How astounding that the holy, eternal God entered into the wasteland of our transgressions. How astonishing to see Him be born of a sinful woman, labor among the thorns and thistles of our cursed ground, touch and heal the sick and perishing, and finally, die the shameful death of a common sinner.

Christ, the God-man, our lamb and conqueror, subjected Himself to our curse that He might defeat our curse. The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). Who could but falter under such an unfathomable burden? Yet, He never did. He carried it to completion and finally, cast it off, hurling our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and with them, our condemnation. Now we find the wrath of God is quenched, spent, satisfied like a fire which finds nothing left to burn. Its cup is emptied. Not a drop remains for He drank it all for thee.

What, then, remains for us to fear? What part of our curse shall hold terror for us still? Shall we fear the womb, be it emptied or filled or aching with the pain of loss? No, for our Lord has been there. Shall we live in dread of sickness? Jesus has taken up our infirmities (Isaiah 53:4). Shall we falter under the burdens of loneliness, grief, persecution? He has been well acquainted with them all (Isaiah 53:3). Shall we tremble as we face our final breaths? No, for Christ has breathed them before us.

He has lived and hurt and died, not merely pardoning us from afar, but entering fully into our human experience and leaving grace for all and in all in His wake. Yes, this ground we tread is cursed still, but now Holiness has been here, sowing the seeds of redemption. For now, they may seem to lie dormant as in winter, or barely shooting up, as in the first, fledgling moments of spring, but someday…someday, they will burst into full bloom. They will chase away the curse forever. All will be made new. It will. It will.

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy….” Isaiiah 35:1,2

“But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter into Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:10

jesus walking

Easter Musings: Pursued by Grace

Our annual celebration of Easter is drawing near and so I have been thinking on what it is all about:  the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  When I think on what it means for me personally and look back on my life thus far, I am struck by the fact that my story is a story of grace from beginning to end.  To quote the Psalmist, the Lord’s goodness and love have followed me and will follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23).

It is one thing to say that we have found God and quite another thing to say that He has found us. Yet when we really consider our Gospel story, we cannot deny that that is really what has happened and that it makes it all the more wonderful and powerful.  I did not pursue God, but He has pursued me.  did not follow after God’s love, but it has followed after me.

The love and grace of God have pursued us from the beginning.  Our frames were not hidden from Him when He made us in the secret place, as we were woven together in our mother’s wombs, His eyes saw our unformed bodies.  Indeed, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:14-15).  

He has followed us along every step of our path.  No, he has determined every step of our path with wisdom and love (Proverbs 16:9).  And when our feet have traveled down sinful ways that His holiness forbid Him go, He followed us instead to our rightful place of judgment, condemnation, and punishment.  We find that before we even came to be, His eyes were on us, His grace aimed at us, and His love compelled Him to follow us, nay replace us, on our cross.

This is Easter.  This is why we celebrate, because His grace has pursued us so persistently and His love enveloped our lives so completely that we are completely His.  “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).  “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).