I feel a bit tongue tied tonight. It’s late afternoon and I have a few quiet hours to knock out some words. But when you’ve been quiet for a week it can be hard to remember how to write. We’ve been five days in a farm house in Pennsylvania with friends who knew us before we ever thought we’d want kids, let alone three. Coming back to my real life is like surfacing. Slowly. Reluctantly.

It had been a long time since I sat and talked more than typed. We talked hours. I hope you got to do that this break as well. I hope you got to sink into the comforting familiarity of friends who feel like family and family you love like friends. We laughed. I got terribly sick. And Micah turned five.

I spent a lot of time listening to God. Not praying or worrying, just listening. Sometimes He is so quiet, soft, a gentle snow fall of tender love. Nestled in between a couch full of piggies, or on the second step of a wooden staircase, or spilling out of the laughter of boys all tromp stomping indoors after beating at wood with their new hammers.

You know He loves you, right? You know He lives there with you in between the lost shoes and mud tracked in on the floor and dinner you forgot to defrost the meat for. Again.

Because sometimes I can forget. Even while I know. Even while I’ve believed my whole life I can forget in the midst of worrying about the next worry. I can forget how He loves. How outrageous it is that He is comfortable with us in our comfy clothes and without our make up. How He is unembarrassed by our embarrassing moments and cherishes our sharing our every day with Him as much as when my seven-year-old grabs me by both cheeks and smushes his soft lips into mine, declaring, “I LOVE YOU, MOM!”

If that is your legacy this year, it is enough.

To be loved by the God who loved you first.

That is more than enough.

So when you think about this year, think that. Know that. You were beloved from beginning to end. No matter what happened or didn’t happen along the way.

And in case you need a reminder? Here are some of my favorites from the blog this year.

We might worry quite a bit about being small.

We might worry that our words unfurl and flutter away from our small corner of the night into the vast cosmos of the Internet. We might tilt our heads and look way, way back at the stars twinkling from so high and think, “I will never burn as bright or share as powerful, or tell a truth that sears the collective mind the way they do.”

And then we look down at our scuffed carpets and feet and hear the voice that mutters, “Why even bother?”

Small, my friend is exactly the right size.

Small is the size of every new beginning….. keep reading

Time without a hundred hands all held out waiting, asking, holding, poking, clinging. Time without someone constantly in your me-space. Time where you get to cut only your own food and don’t have to be strategic about planning bathroom breaks and outings aren’t scheduled around someone else’s nap schedule.

Some days you don’t realize how over-stimulated you are until you’re in a car alone listening to the rhythmic thud of wipers across the wind screen and you can almost cry from the beauty of it….keep reading

The last of my three kids will turn one next month. I didn’t expect I would be this sad or this gut-busting happy at every change in her either. There’s nothing like the baby year and the friends who encourage you through it.

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me through each of my three seasons as a sleep-deprived-deeply-exhausted-and-utterly-ecstatic new mom. I’m delighted to pass it on. Here are 100 ways I can think of to encourage a new mom...keep reading

Every day I wake up knowing by the time I crawl back into bed with my laptop, a book or a favorite movie I will have learned more than I bargained for. I will be tired in every part of me. I will feel stretched out and squishy. I will often be frustrated that no one is staying in bed like they’re supposed to. But I will also know that the Lisa-Jo today has grown up. And the Lisa-Jo tomorrow will grow up further still.

Grown up, dragged up by her kids and the God that made them...keep reading

Time and again I have to reel my fast, wagging, frustrated tongue in and slow down the crazy that’s about to spill out of me. And because we do still need to be on time these are the things I’m trying out in order to get us there with tempers and kind words in tact.

This doesn’t make breakfast any more nutritious than a bowl of cereal or a bagel and cream cheese most mornings. But it does make us all feel filled up in the ways that matter most. Some mornings we still snap and no one brushes their teeth and car doors are slammed. But other mornings – more mornings these days – there is time factored in for slow. Time factored in for connecting before parting...keep reading

There will always be mean girls. One day you’ll be thirty seven and reading the long line of stories that mean girls have left in their wake. But daughter, that doesn’t mean we hide our hearts. That doesn’t mean we find a tower and Rapunzel ourselves away from the world.

No darling, it means that we learn to be braver than the mean girls. We out-love them.  That is the secret weapon. To pour on the unexpected love.  To meet them with open arms and mind, knowing that meanness is what bleeds from scars at their most raw.

Meanness is a symptom, not a condition...keep reading

For the days we are running on empty. For the days we just don’t think we have it in us to read one more story, play one more game of Uno, wash one more round of sheets. For the days when we think everyone else has it altogether. For the days we’re sure anyone else would do this job better.

For those days. You know the ones. Repeat this creed for tired moms after me:

  1. I shall not judge my house, my kid’s summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest’s standards.
  2. I shall not measure what I’ve accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I’ve tickled into my kids
  3. I shall not compare myself to other mothers, but find my identity in the God who trusted me with these kids in the first place.
  4. keep reading…

We’ve kept telling ourselves every June – just one more year and then we’ll be able to move. I really still believed it two years ago. Last year I laughed and then I cried. This year… well, keep reading with me over at my friend Ann’s where I shared the rest of our rental story and what I discovered this year.

Maybe you can relate?

There’s enough work in the Kingdom for everyone.

What she’s doing, what they’re hosting, what your Twitter and Facebook friends are experiencing – that’s their piece of the Kingdom. That’s their plot of land and they’re supposed to be working at it faithfully.

But you? You have your own spot in the Kingdom garden. You have your own soil waiting for seeds and seasons and harvest.

It’s not a competition. It’s a co-op….keep reading

Victims of comparison drive-bys litter the Internet.

There are virtual warehouses of new ways we can find to covet our neighbor’s house, family and life these days.  Nothing is as terrifying as thinking you don’t matter because you can’t do it like her.

But if we were to look down, look away from what we wish we had. If we would glance back at where we are, we might see in order to have rubbernecked so hard and so far we’ve been standing with high heels ground down on top of the hand painted, one-of-a-kind life art crafted for us.

When the baby won’t sleep and the world’s on fire with sleep exhaustion.

Sweetheart, I will come.

When your husband’s out of work. When you’re down to one car and have moved in with his in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you’ve made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you’ve run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.

I will come.keep reading

So I sit in the dark as Sandy rages outside and our family sleeps in one room tonight. I sit in the old white rocker listening to Zoe breathe and the winds howl and I know why we need your words. Even in a storm.

Especially in a storm.

Because if no one wrote it down how would we know about small boats and fishermen who lose control and their nets and their minds with fear even when they sail with Saviors.  How would we know about Saviors who teach us how to sleep on unafraid in this dark, cold house?...keep reading

The thing about women is that we always assume the girl next door, the women across the aisle, the mom in the car pool lane, your husband’s best friend’s wife, your cousin, great aunt or the stranger in the dressing room next to you at the mall has it figured out. Whether “it’s” how to balance motherhood with, well, anything else really. Or how to manage her temper or style her hair or stock her fridge or connect with her husband or make new friends….keep reading

I talk a lot here about how small a mother’s routine can feel. Perhaps, however, I don’t talk enough about how big the impact of that routine can be. Celebrating the small is directly related to recognizing the massive, Kingdom impact. Kids are forever. They are eternity with skin on. And we mold them like so much play-doh until one day they walk out the door and take every small moment of a family’s routine with them.

Go to battle my friends. This is your time. We will hold strong on either side of you. We will pray over those bottles, through the dark watches of the night, when doubt comes and children break, when adults fail them, when they push and push as hard against us as that day we delivered them into the world we. will. not. be broken. We may ache and see cracks tear through our hearts, but we will get up again tomorrow and load the clothes and the words that need to be said. Again and again and again.

Kingdom business. Jesus work. This shaping of souls. This raising tiny humans.

I am so proud of what you do. I am awed by your commitment. You stun with your belief that this is ordinary. Don’t buy that for a second. Mighty.

You are mighty,

because you mother.

…and I will never get tired of telling you.