Dare to Dream: A Single Moms Retreat Volunteer Story

May 28, 2014

A year ago this coming weekend Kristin, Julie and I had the privilege of helping with a Single Moms retreat in Alexandria Minnesota. This weekend we will once again head up north to set up the diva boutique where women can shop for new and gently used clothing and accessories. Many of you have given donations to the boutique and we want to say a huge THANK YOU for all your support! This is a post I wrote for Bridging the Gap after last year's retreat.

I am not a single mom. I wasn’t raised by a single mom. I never really knew very many single moms. And yet when I heard about the single mom’s retreat... how many women would come, the honesty of the topics the speakers would share about (like abuse, unforgiveness, and boundaries), the things that would be given away, how many single mom’s work and worship in our communities, largely unnoticed… I knew I wanted to get involved.
All the beautiful jewelry and accessories!
I thought that I would go to help and offer support at the wonderful weekend, this tribute, to single moms from all over Minnesota. But what I did not know was how it would change me, my heart. And how I would see, firsthand, how truly courageous, hard-working, and selfless these single moms were and are.

I heard stories of mothers who put their needs second to those of their children. They feed their children before themselves. They dress and buy necessities for their children before themselves. They scrimp and save to get the things their children need. They put aside their own desires to meet the needs of the young ones in their charge. And I was moved. More than moved, I was challenged and humbled.

Judgy mom

May 21, 2014

It was Silly Day at preschool. My 4-year-old, Elise, was wearing pajamas, mismatched silver and ladybug shoes, and big, floral sunglasses that accompanied the numerous wild buns in her bright blonde hair. 

Elise, sans the sunglasses
As we stepped in from the cold sunshine outside into the warmth of the preschool hallway, I peeled off her coat. 

The mom next to me straightened from where she crouched over her son, removing his coat and hat. But as she stood, I realized her son was wearing regular clothes. Not. One. Silly. Thing. 

For a moment I panicked. Did I get the wrong day? Would my child be ridiculed, maimed for life if she was the only one who wore something outlandish? (Parents can be silly, too -- just over different things.)

“All ready for silly day!” I blurted, trying to cover my discomfort. The mom next to me looked at her son, then at my daughter. I could see her mind weighing my comment, the realization dawning that she’d forgotten to dress her son for Silly Day. 

Noticing her look of ire, another mom stepped in. 

“I think it’s all week,” she offered casually, offhand. 

“Well, you can do it Thursday or Friday,” the first mom told her son. But as she followed us into the bathroom to supervise her son’s handwashing, I felt the weight of her stare. How had I gone from the Awkward-Mom-Who-Doesn’t-Want-Others-to-Think-Her-Kid’s-a-Weirdo to Judgy Mom? 

But then I realize that it's not just a preschool thing, it's a fact-of-life thing. It is my human response to uncomfortable situations in life. How many times have I said something foolish to mask the fact that I have no idea what to say? How often have I unintentionally hurt another in order to cover up my own failings? 

As our children trudged into the preschool room to hang up backpacks and find their nametags, I offered the other mom a hesitant smile. A small gesture of apology. A silent plea for grace.

Because the truth is, my feelings of inadequacy should never be a reason to undermine someone else. Instead, those moments should be seen as opportunities for grace -- for them and for me. 

"Say only what helps, each word a gift." Ephesians 4:29b (MSG)

Today we're once again linking up with Holley Gerth.

What I Learned from Writing Bad Poetry {An Invitation}

May 19, 2014

I'll be the first to admit that I write terrible poetry.

Don't believe me? Check out this gem:

Ode to the Bearded Lady at the Gas Station 

When God Writes Your Adopted Children's Story

May 14, 2014

It was a little more than a year ago last week that we held a funeral service for my son’s biological mother at our house. (If you want to read that story, I wrote about it here.) As I was reflecting on the past year — how far my son has come in school, the good choices he’s made, and the dear friends that he has — I was thinking about not only how proud I was of him, but how much his biological mother would have been, as well.

As he came to me before bed — our usual time to spend a few quiet minutes together and pray each day — I asked if he remembered that it had been a year since we’d celebrated his mom's life. Of course he did. And then I asked if he’d like to do something to remember her again. We talked about what he’d like and he decided a cake, balloons, and pictures would be fine. We decided that Saturday would be nice since his brother would be in town visiting us as well.

My One Word for 2014 {Guest post}

May 7, 2014

Today, we are SO pleased to have a guest post from Kristin Waters from See the Shine * Be the Shine, who is writing today about how a one-word resolution for this year is helping her work through some difficult circumstances. We love the wisdom she shares! Kristin writes:

I don’t know about y’all, but I am a control-freak, worrywart extraordinaire! I have a rough time letting go of my stuff – whether it’s possessions, my emotions, my dreams, my child, my marriage, my money, you name it – my grip has been tight! I have always been uptight and prepared for battle, per se, and on the defensive. That’s just been me…

I was told that my whole year can change if I put all my focus into one word. Why make a bunch of resolutions at the cusp of the new year that will really only be of importance for a few weeks? When your focus is on one word, it becomes your beacon, your mantra, your lighthouse, your silent partner in encouragement, and your very being.

When You're Grieving

May 5, 2014

I felt immobilized by grief last week. Maybe it was the relentless rain, the gloomy gray clouds an external gauge for my internal turmoil. My girls were restless and so was I. It could have been self-pity; a series of days where even the thought of my to-do list feels paralyzing. I'm in the midst of a busy month, and I’ve found myself wishing that I was better at saying no. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve heard one-too-many stories of hurt and heartache lately, and I'm wearied by this world.

But really, all of these things merely added up to a vague discontent until a sweet text from my sister Kendra became the tipping point one day. She was passing on a story from a friend, something that reminded us all of the loss of our oldest sister, Katrina. 

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