“Isn’t it better to know what would have meaning to someone, rather than not know?” 

The question was voiced as my family boisterously chatted in the kitchen before Easter dinner. 

My culinary-inclined brother-in-law Kyle was in the midst of making something delicious, assisted by my parents. I had the lazy job – bringing a dessert, which I had Tim pick out at Byerly’s so I didn’t even have to make anything – and sat lounging on a high stool on the periphery of the kitchen, watching Ashlyn try to crawl along behind her big cousins as the children played and worked on bead projects.

Kyle had just asked my Mom for a bowl, and she’d pulled out her largest one. A large, light-colored, heavy-duty bowl, with think pink and blue stripes on it.

“I want that when you die,” Kendra said, half-seriously, as we all laughed. 

“Uh, nice!” someone said. 

“What?!” she defended. “Isn’t it better to know what would have meaning to someone, rather than not know?” 

“It’s just so amazing the way you can open yourselves up to their biological families.”

This statement was said to me by a dear friend as we had dinner together one night and were discussing my adopted daughter’s birth family.

How can you not? I think. I love these people and feel a connection with them. Maybe it’s because of the love for my daughter that spills over in a natural desire for me to connect with her birth family, or maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but including others has always been a part of my DNA.

Sighing a little, I checked my hair one last time in the mirror and reapplied my lipstick. We were headed to a work-related event and, unlike most times when I can get dressed up and out of the house for dinner, I was not looking forward to it.

I remembered the last time we'd attended this event, with these same folks: Although the woman I sat next to had responded enthusiastically to the questions I posed to her, she didn't ask me any questions. Not one. single. question.

She knew I was a mom. She knew I stayed home with my kids. And that, apparently, was all that she needed to know.

It's not that I have a burning desire to talk about myself, but her reaction was mystifying and, if I'm honest, a little hurtful. From her perspective, was I only defined by my marriage, my children? Wasn't it possible for me to have outside interests, an identity outside of my home?

It's the same reason that I find myself stumbling around a bit, trying to explain my life. Well, yes I stay home with my kids, but I also do freelance work, write books and a blog. I like doing volunteer work. I've got a master's degree, too...

I end up feeling like I'm trying to justify choices I've made, the woman I've become.

Sitting at her table, our hands wrapped around steaming cups of coffee, her story (shared here with full permission and approval) tumbled out.

Their son, a truly sweet kid, had been giving her and her husband a serious run for their parenting money - especially during the past 12 months.

His independent streak is a mile wide, and they were having epic parent/child clashes over matters large and small - all ultimately boiling down to topics revolving around independence and freedom.

They'd tried all sorts of parenting strategies, with neither rewards nor punishments ultimately reaching the underlying issue.

She found herself scraped emotionally raw and particularly vulnerable when issues of parenting comparison were raised, even innocently, by others. She began comparing every other child in their best public moments to her child in his secret worst moments and then counted herself a failure as a mother. 

There are days when hope seems to be in short supply.

This creates a problem because I've realized that I need hope in every area of my life. I need hope when I imagine my future, or my children turning out all right, or my marriage making it to fifty-plus years. All these things require hope. Hope in something and someone greater than myself. Hope that things will turn out in spite of my screw-ups and do overs.

Yesterday we met as a missional community, a group of believers who gather together to share in our journey of the pursuit of God and what it means to live out our faith, and toward the end everyone shared a request that needed prayer. For parents and kids and work. And all I keep thinking is how do we get through this life, these concerns or problems, without hope?

Hope is is much more than good thoughts or conjured-up positive feelings. Hope is the anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19) and the buoy for our faith.

This week, let's pursue hope together.

Good morning, friends! We are so excited to feature a guest post today from Jessie Christensen. As a recovering perfectionist, I so appreciate Jessie heartfelt post on how we're not perfect -- and it's ok. It's a message I need to hear, again and again. Here's more from Jessie:

Perfection -- something we all strive for, right?
Or at least, that is what our world tells us.
The perfect hair, the perfect body weight, the perfect car, the perfect job.
The perfect emotional reaction, the perfect speech, the perfect ministry.

What exactly is perfection, anyway?
What defines a perfect body?
What defines the perfect life?

The Webster dictionary defines perfect as having no mistakes or flaws, completely correct or accurate, having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.
In this season of political unrest and transition, I have had a continual companion in my thoughts and
heart: fear. Fear over the changes that will come. Fear that the wrong person will end up in power. Fear for where our country will end up if we continue to be as divided as we are. Fear of the future.

This morning, after all the hoopla of Super Tuesday, I decided that enough is enough. I’m tired of uncertainty. I’m tired of being afraid. I opened my Bible and reminded myself of these things:

1. God is Sovereign.

Psalm 93:1-2 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.