Last week was frustrating for me. Sometimes what I read in the news is overwhelming. I may have faith in God, but that doesn't mean I don't ever struggle with the "whys" of life. And last week was one of those times I found myself asking why. During that time, I wrote a blog post, mainly for my own sanity (Kristin, Julie and I often joke that writing is "cheap therapy," allowing us an avenue to get out thoughts and feelings).

After writing the post I asked Julie and Kristin to read it, not because I was planning to publish it, but because I just wanted to be heard, never really intending to share it anywhere else. And then some amazing things happened as the week went on and I began to see hope rise through what looked like an impossible situation. But before I tell you what happened, here's the post I never intended to share:

Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world.

I am a planner. I am not so much of a "go with the flow" person. I like schedules and plans laid out days ahead of time. I like going places I’ve been, being with people I know. I’m not what you would call happy about change.

I realize a lot of this has to do with my own anxiety. I have always been a bit of a scared person. As a child, one of my mom’s good friends told me, “We thought there was something wrong with you because you never talked to anybody!” And although it stung a little as an adult to hear her admission, I knew it was true. I have always been afraid. Of everything. And having control (or perceived control) over life and schedules and calendars decreased my anxiousness. Truth be told, it still does.

And just when I believe I’ve got a handle on my anxiety and think, “Wow, I’ve changed so much! My faith must be growing!” God moves me into a new space. A new place. Where I once again find myself on shaky ground, with a shaky schedule, unsure of what to do next…and anxiety begins to once again seep into my heart and my mind.

This is where I’ve found myself this morning.

Waiting. Wondering what my day will look like, what my schedule will be. Thinking of new places I’ll have to go, new people to meet. God, what am I doing here?

Good morning, friends! Today we're so excited to feature a guest post from Stephanie Hinz, who writes about how her own response to her children after a discouraging parenting situation helped clarify and reveal God's heart for us, his own children. And speaking of motherhood, our new e-book "Grace for the Imperfect Mom: A 31-Day Invitation to Refreshed Mothering, has arrived! See the bottom of the post for more details. Here's Stephanie:
I drove down the road, sobbing salty tears of frustration and discouragement. Once again, I felt like such a failure. Letting out an exhausted sigh as I parked my car at the craft store, I doused my eyes with saline to mask my miserable mama's cry. I felt lousy and weary, but I was no stranger to those feelings.

The majority of our Saturday had been nice. My husband and I had thought it would also be nice to let our four school-age kids have a sleepover in the boys' bedroom, watching a movie. They were so excited but couldn't agree on what to watch. At dinner they voted but it was still a tie. My husband and I came up with a solution and I declared that if anyone was upset about the final choice, they could just go to their own bed. Before the decision was made, our older daughter and younger son were already upset about the sleeping bag arrangement. Once the movie was selected, our 11-year-old flopped down on his bed crying, and our 5-year-old was sent to her room for throwing an all-out fit! Wow! How in the world could a fun plan go awry so very quickly? Why did this seem to happen here so often? How had we gone so wrong in our parenting?

Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world.
Four generations of women in my family.

Mother's day. This day brings a deep appreciation for my mom.  

She is my safe person - the person I can call, sobbing, without a thought as to what she will think of me for breaking down, for freaking out, for momentarily just wanting to run away and go live on the beach of a deserted island. 

She can handle my worst self and loves me anyway. She looks beyond my words in order to listen to my heart, and when she speaks, she speaks truth - even when it is hard to hear.  

The beautiful thing is that my mom, as much as I love her, is not the only woman who mothers me, has mothered me, will mother me. 
Thanks for being with us as we co-host for Make A Difference Monday, a place to get intentional about starting our week focused on the positive and dream up ways we can make a difference in the world. Thanks for joining us!

I watch my daughter take the books off the shelf, one by one. She studies each as she lays it aside, unconcerned by the pile that is accumulating around her feet. She then crawls over the pile and notices the clothes in the closet. One by one, she begins to take each item off the shelf, this time
throwing it on the floor.

At just 18 months, I’ve realized my daughter is constantly learning, searching, and looking at things that are new to her. She's unaware of the mess that she makes everywhere her little feet will toddle her, concerned only to find what is new and different.

She is constantly exploring. And as I lay on the floor exhausted, just watching the wheels in her little brain turn as she goes from one thing to the next, I realize that she's experiencing an age of exploration. I think about the peace in our home and how so many in our country are experiencing something quite different tonight. I think about the unrest I read about, the anger, as well as those reaching out in peace, and the conversations being had about race and class and country. History and present reality.

In many ways, I feel inept to even broach such a topic. A white woman who grew up in a small town in Minnesota, who understands little of what it is to live other places, to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin.