What About Mom?

I love to ask questions. On the plane, in the store check out line, at Chic Fil A,  I’m a sucker for a cute baby or toddler and I love to talk to their moms about what I think is the most important job in the world: being a mom. In the three and a half years of being at MOPS International (Moms of Preschoolers), I’ve learned a ton. I love to research everything about young families; how they spend their time, what they think of church, what frustrates them. Here’s some of the fascinating stuff I’ve uncovered.

The average mom between the ages of 25-32 spends 17.4 hours a week on social media and has an average of 3.4 social media accounts.

She describes herself as very influential and talks about her favorite products to her friends. Marketing companies love to research her as well and call her the ‘new product sneezer’.

She also cares as much about the product brand, as she does the product itself. (Matilda Jane, anyone?). She loves a good deal and pays attention to advertising.

She is more likely to run up credit card debt than her husband and is also the one who calls the shots when it comes to the family calendar and social engagements. She rates friendships as a vital part of her life, and likes to have several close girlfriends to connect with.

She is a savvy shopper and gives up quickly on products or online stores that aren’t efficient. Her mantra? I only have a limited amount of time, so don’t waste it.

Here’s what we know about the dad.

He’s more involved with his kids than his father was. He values his wife’s opinion when it comes to products and what works best for their family. He trusts his wife with the decisions regarding their social calendar and says ‘he’s happy to come along’. He’s not worried about having lots of friends, but says for the most part he’s comfortable with one good buddy.

As I thought about this stuff, it made me wonder how it might relate to church. Young families aren’t just sitting and thinking about church, but I think they will if you focus correctly: on the young mom.

Here’s a stat I heard, that at first I didn’t believe, but I’ve seen it in action. When a mom learns the names of three women who attend your church, her chances of attending go up by 70%. Wow.

Here’s where I think churches miss it. Moms are social connectors and value friendships. Churches have great things to offer that can help a family grow and thrive, but they often don’t provide the chance for a mom to connect and make a new friend. Give her a chance to meet the other great moms in your church before you expect her to come on the weekend. Start a MOPS group, during the day or at night. Host a mom’s lunch. Sponsor a mom and tot play date in the park. Provide great child care and a chance for her to relax and talk to another adult about what’s on her mind and in her heart. Show her you care. If she sees you really do, she’ll tell her friends.

Do you wonder what young moms think about church? I recently got over 1,100 responses to a survey where moms got really candid and honest. I’ll share in the next post.


Anticipation and dangle ball fringe

Do you like getting invitations? I remember when I was in elementary school I got an invite in the mail to a pajama-birthday party from my best friend Gina. So exciting!  I slept with it under my pillow for a week and immediately got my Barbie sleeping bag (pink of course) from the basement. Being a special occasion, I insisted my mom wash it (in case the dog had slept on it) and of course this required my pink and purple bell bottom pj’s with the dangle-ball fringe. Just call me fancy.

Pajama parties were the highlight of my ten year old life. My mom limited me to families she knew really well, so it was usually just at Gina’s or Debbie’s ( my two bff’s), but oh the thrill! What would I pack in my blue overnight case with the broken handle? How many times would we come to the brink of pee-your-pants hysteria over things no one else would find remotely funny? A big part of the fun was the anticipation of the crazy night ahead.

I feel some of this same anticipation as I dream about our upcoming theme in MOPS this year, A Fierce Flourishing and the Isaiah 55 passage it’s based on. It’s not just a chapter about rest and celebration. It’s an intimate call, a holy woo from the God who knows every detail about you. He didn’t have to mail you an invitation because he already sent it before you were even born. He set a place for you at his party table, a place card with your name on it.

What will you do with this invitation? Will you toss it on your kitchen counter to be lost in the abyss of misfit mail and purse-junk you purge right before you leave the house (am I the only one who does this?). Or will you think about it every day and dream of what God has in store with his wooing words come, come to the waters (vs 1). Will you lean in to his intimate whisper, give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live (vs 3), or will your busy life carry you off to endless tasks and details?

I think God has tremendous work to do in us as moms and leaders through this passage. He’s calling us to put a whoa on the daily that seems to melt one day into another. He’s urging us to give notice to the circumstances of our lives, both joyous and frustrating, the oh-my-gosh exciting ones as well as the mundane. We all have them, every day. Things we are already thankful for, like bubble baths and crisp sheets. The smile on your daughters’ face that reminds you of what childish joy feels like. That leadership moment when you know you inspired someone. They are mixed right in with the big and little bewilderments that send us to the brink of crazy. That tone in your husbands’ voice that set your teeth on edge. The hopelessness you felt when you didn’t get half the things done that you needed to today. The coworker who took advantage of you once again. The dog that dumped on your carpet and the child who saw it but pretended he didn’t. Take notice. Ask God what these things mean and why they are present in your life. They are there on purpose.

Isaiah 55 is a call to the thirsty, the wanderers who seek solace, regardless of the circumstance. Got no money? God’s got your back. Been wasting your time on thoughts or pursuits that haven’t brought you peace? God’s got a better way. He’s making promises that won’t be broken and they have our names on them. Your flourishing, whether as a mom or leader is a big deal. It will trickle down onto the souls of those we lead and love. Spend some moments with God and find the water he has just for you. It’s ok to drink with desperation, letting it seep into dry places. Then let it drip from your soul to everyone around you.

At MOPS this year we’re encouraging moms and leaders to flourish in their rest, to learn from the notcing of the great and the not-so- great and to discover how holy celebration can restore. How will you flourish this year? Let a little bell bottom dangle-ball, pee-your-pants anticipation sneak in as you contemplate how God might meet you. And when he does, I hope you’ll share your story here. I can’t wait to hear it.

Want more info on MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and how it can revolutionize your mom life? Check out


Here’s to you, the world changers

I recently saw this tweet from Andy Stanley, ‘Your greatest accomplishment many not be something you do, but rather someone you raise’.

When I read those words my heart responded with a YES! but then I felt a little hypocritical. How often when I read about someone’s great accomplishment do I even think about the mom who willingly gave up sleep, said goodbye to slim tummy and thighs and learned to embrace poop, spit up and sass? How about the dad, who swallowed hard when he heard they were pregnant, but instantly started scheming the extra hours needed to build up that college fund and then began to dream of who that brilliant child would become.

Nope. I see only the great accomplishment and the sole person in the spotlight.

But the reality is there are probably many. A mom. A grandpop. A dad. A mentor. A pastor. A coach. A grandma.

The investment is big, but many times invisible to the casual observer, and sometimes to the investor themselves. It’s rare we see growth or talent blooming right before our eyes because of something we said (or didn’t say). It takes time and patience and a willingness to believe in the principle of compound interest. Its not always how much you give or invest, but rather the discipline of doing it again and again. And again. Your words. Your prayers. Your time. It matters.

Here’s to the moms and dads (and others) who wonder if they are accomplishing anything at all, you patient potty-trainers and answer-ers of why and why not. You inspire-ers of creativity and instillers of wisdom. You tireless wipers and pick-er-up-ers. You are world-changers and we need you. Keep going.


A Fierce Flourishing

What does it mean to flourish? We’ve been thinking on this at MOPS for a while now. Does it mean to be happy? To have lots of money? To be really successful in the eyes of others? Maybe this isn’t flourishing at all.

Flourish. It’s a fancy word, one you don’t often hear in ordinary conversation, but at MOPS we’re talking about it, we’re deeply praying about it. We are trying to live it.

We think it could come down to three simple concepts that God talks about in Isaiah 55, God’s Invitation to the Thirsty.

What if instead of looking at what we don’t have, we noticed the good things that God has already given us?

What if we stopped running ourselves crazy with too much to do and too little time, and instead embraced holy rest?

What if we allowed ourselves to have real joy, celebrating lavishly the life that God has given us, not holding anything back?

Could this move us to a flourishing so fierce it might even be scary?

Join us in A Fierce Flourishing, our MOPS theme for this next year. We dare you.

Want to find a group near you?


Oh Shut Up

I talk to myself. Sometimes in the car, sometimes to the girl with the crazy morning bed hair looking back at me in the mirror. Some days I mutter right out in public in the grocery store. The other day a man in the checkout line ahead of me leaned over and looked right  at me as if to say, where you talking to me?

Oh boy, did I say that out loud? That’s just crazy me talking to crazy me. Nothing important.

But it is important. It’s a familiar voice that usually centers around the word should. Oh shoot, I should have remembered to send a thank you email to Margaret. How could I have forgotten that? I should have remembered to buy the flavored water Geoff specifically asked for. Why can’t I ever remember anything? And then it crosses over the line to regret. I should have known better than to get caught up in that conversation..

Sometimes that word gets partnered up with a big ‘nt’. I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t be so quick to open my mouth! What is wrong with me?!

Does this voice follow you around too? I’m not in love with this voice. It’s pushy and bossy and such a know-it-all.

As a mom, I’ve espoused the wisdom many times, Let’s not say shut up. It isn’t polite. No, it’s not very polite, but sometimes very useful when it comes to addressing that finger wagging voice inside your head. Let it out, I say. When that irritating voice inside your head reminds you of something you forgot or something you shouldn’t have done, or something you should  have done better, let the shut up! rise on up.

Here’s why. It destroys your joy. And your peace. Both of these are things God specifically encourages us to have through focusing on the good (Phil 4). His good. It’s a call to steadfastness, a call to notice the goodness, not a call to be a crazy mama who mutters to herself in the cereal isle.

Go ahead. The next time that should-voice speaks up, give her a good ole OH SHUT UP! Just don’t shout it in the checkout line.


Shame and the weird hairy bug

I was sitting at a dinner chatting with a group of ladies when one of them turned to me and asked, How do you ever cook when you work the hours that you do? I think it was the way she said ever. Exaggerated. With emphasis. Like I was a woman who only handed out sticks of Juicy Fruit gum for the evening meal.

Ugh. I hate to admit it, but I was embarrassed.

Before you gang up with me against this woman (who is actually a very nice person), I need to be honest and say I’ve done this too. Unintentional shaming, that is. I’ve made a comment about someone else’s life that was different than mine and probably made her feel like a hairy bug pinned to the science exhibit board. Hey everybody look at that, how weird. That’s how I felt when this woman made the comment. I hadn’t realized it until that minute, but all the other women at the table were stay-at-homers. And not just that, but they were gourmet cook stay-at-homers. It hadn’t occurred to me that our situations were any different until that comment hung in the air. Now I felt a silly compulsion to defend the time I spent preparing a meal (but opening a can of soup rarely takes me over 30 seconds).

I think back to gym class in elementary school on ‘height and weight day’ (can we all just take a collective shudder?). I remember frantically praying that the gym teacher would just write my weight quietly on the clipboard, but she usually called it right out loud in front of God and everyone. Somewhere there must have been a template of the acceptable body measurements of the fourth grade girl, but I hadn’t gotten that memo. I remember trying to come up with a good answer when my friend Kim commented, wow, you weighed the most of everyone in our class.

Weird hairy bug.

Comparisons. Even as an adult I get caught up in them. And when I come up different I feel a less-than, I-should-be-better shame. Worse, I’m sure I’ve made comments that made other women feel the same way.

I’m working on working three words into my living and breathing days. The first is confidence. When I come up different (oh, you don’t go to the gym???), I can have confidence that my different is ok. I’m a shoe freak. I’m afraid of heights. I have sweaty feet and mid-winter my boots start to smell really bad. This is me. I like me. Oh, you don’t have sweaty feet? Well, you’re missing out.

Words 2 and 3 are ‘me too’. Instead of pointing out the things that are different than me, I can help another sister feel not so alone, especially when she’s starting to twist in the wind when she gets pinned to the board in a conversation. Are you thinking maybe that doesn’t fit into your budget right now? Me too. Let’s sit this one out together.

So I’m flinging shame to the wind. I don’t have time for it. It weighs me down and doesn’t move the ball of life forward one bit. Come on girls, let’s call an all-girl-everybody’s-in-stop-the-shame-game. Anybody with me?

And by the way, a big hairy bug just crawled across my desk and I’m just going to leave it there.


We’re Coming To Indy!

Seriously, it’s not like anything else you’ve ever been to. You laugh, you cry, you learn, you grow. You make new friends and connect with old. You walk away exhausted but SO glad you came. What is it? It’s the MOPS version of the best weekend of your life, it’s MOMcon!

If you are a MOPS leader, or in a MOPS group, or thinking about starting one, you can’t afford to miss this. Seriously.


I’ve Messed Up. Now What?

I hate that miserable feeling in my gut when I know I’ve messed up. It rises from a hard knot of realization in my stomach, creeping all the way up to my neck where it sits like a hot, itchy scarf making me miserable. Disappointment. Embarrassment. Regret. I don’t want to feel these things. But I do.

I know I’m not perfect. Of course I’ll make mistakes, who doesn’t? I’ll miss some deadlines. I’ll speak too harshly or make a bad decision. I’ll forget an important date or meeting. I’ll hurt someone’s feelings. I’ll drop the ball.

As a leader, the big question is not will I make a mistake, but rather what will I choose to do after I make it?

Depending on how big the mistake is, sometimes just a quick cleanup or apology will do. Then we can forge ahead. But sometimes the mess is bigger and has lasting implications. Did we hurt someone or damage a relationship? Did we cause a painful situation that now others have to deal with?

Even after many years in leadership I feel I’m still growing in this process. As a leader I’ve been given responsibility. This means I have to own up to what I’ve done even when it’s less than wonderful and I’d rather not face it. I can’t let myself get stuck in regret or shame, but I need to focus on the action that moves me forward. Here are some questions I ask myself:

Have I admitted my mistake to those it affected and accepted responsibility?

Have I given a sincere heartfelt apology to those who needed it?

Is there action I can take today to help make the situation better?

Have I given the situation over to God and forgiven myself for not being perfect?

Have I taken stock of what I learned from the mistake and used it to make me better?

Here’s what else I’m learning: simmering in the stew of ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’ keeps me and others stuck in my mistake. I can’t take those words back or undo that decision and ruminating over it doesn’t do anybody any good. And I know from what God says that he doesn’t want me to get stuck here either. He loves me and he loves you too. Even through our mistakes.

But sometimes, even when we apologize or try to make it better, it doesn’t totally fix it. It’s still there. In the air. Awkward.

Sisters, there are times when you have to do your best and then hold God’s hand tight and move on.

So how about you? As a mom or a leader, do your thoughts trail back to a past mistake that still plagues your memory? Are you already wishing for a do-over this year in your leadership or as a mom? Let me encourage you to use the questions above as a start. Think about what you have learned and how you can put it to work. Don’t let a present or past mistake define you, but step into the awesome future God has for you. He’s crazy about you!

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1


Could I Borrow A Cup of Brave Please?

measuring cupI have to confess that sometimes I suffer from Brave Envy. I’m not even sure this is a real thing, but I’m positive I have it. I watch from across the room as another mom tries out a new idea or develops a new habit and I feel that silly twinge in my stomach. Hey, I should be doing something life changing like that.

I experienced this just last week during a coffee chat with a friend, during which she laid out her new fitness strategy. Yes, strategy. It included running five to seven miles each week interspersed with cardio and muscle training on odd and even days. She had a whole customized routine worked out and as I listened to the excitement in her voice, I nodded along, munching on my pastry as I pretended to know what anaerobic capacity was. Then I felt it. That ugly twinge of envy that made me feel so very small. I wish I could be her.

I’ve been down this road before. Someone else’s brave looks bigger and better than mine and I let it stagnate me. It makes me question my own brave ideas and clam up about them so no one will hold me accountable or expect anything different from me. Other times I’ve just flat talked myself out of it. I’m fine the way I am. My life is already full, why do I need to push myself to grow?

But perhaps there’s a better way. When I hear someone else’s brave, I can take a deep breath and encourage them from a genuine place in my heart. I can join them in their excitement and let their courage seep over onto me. I can be their cheerleader and encourage them along the way. Then I can speak up and say, Hey, there’s something I’ve been thinking about too. Would you help me? Then we can be brave together, which is a heck of a lot more fun than being brave by yourself.

At MOPS this year our theme is Be You Bravely and it’s been a fun year of hearing ways that moms and leaders have pushed themselves and tried something new. One mom shared that she volunteered for a leadership position. Another mom said she gulped big and invited her next door neighbor that hasn’t been so friendly to come over for coffee. It’s been a season of challenge that doesn’t come with a prescription, but rather inspiration. There’s no formula or right way to do it. It’s a process, an experiment, perhaps a leap so small that no one else even notices, but it’s a leap just the same. It’s a journey you can travel alone or invite others along for the ride. You decide. The great part is, you and God get to customize it together, and it doesn’t have to measure up to anyone else. It’s you. Being brave.

So what will the you in Be You Bravely look like for you? Is there something you’ve tried this year or are thinking about trying? I’d love to hear your story.

Brave Cover

For some inspiration in overcoming the things you worry about as a mom, check out Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears


Giving Away Your Time, Talent and Treasure Without Going Bankrupt


I walked out of the side door of the middle school so exhausted, I barely felt able to open the car door. An hour and a half of working with one and two year olds was exhausting enough, but packing up the furniture and toys after the last child left, into the moveable crates of the church plant we were a part of was almost too much. As I trudged to my car, I asked the question, do I really enjoy this?

The answer was yes, I loved working with the kids. I knew every children’s ministry volunteer was important. But listing the reasons didn’t make the ache go out of my arms and legs. I began to think ahead to the next day at work and found myself wishing for more time in my weekend. I still had laundry that needed to be done. I had emails to catch up on and a writing assignment I hadn’t finished. Those groceries weren’t going to buy themselves. All of a sudden the ‘why I shouldn’t volunteer’ list began to look a lot longer than the ‘why I should’.

Ever been there?

When you give, whether it’s your time, talent or money, there’s a cost involved. As I drove home, a war waged inside. I don’t want to be a what’s-in-it-for-me girl when it comes to my time and money. I want to spend out, I want to make a difference. I want to be a God-use-me-up girl.

But I also don’t want to be that over-committed person that only half gives to her family and to herself and then faces the nagging guilt that it’s just not enough.

I ask myself the same questions you do. What makes sense in my life? What about balance? What should the reality of it look like for me? We read blog posts about the importance of living a life with margin and balance and being able to say no without guilt. And we know this makes sense. But when is it right to say yes?

I go back often to the story of the widow in Mark 12, who gave her last few coins in the church offering. As a child hearing this story in Sunday School, I remember wondering if this woman was very bright. Society at that time was hard on single women. They couldn’t just run out and get a high paying job and there was no social security check coming in the mail. The bible says this was all she had, but yet she gave it away. What sense did that make? She needed that money. But she didn’t stop to have a ‘balance’ conversation and ask herself, is this the right time? Can I afford this? Should I wait until I have enough and then give?

She just gave. And God called it good.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a point-my-finger-in-your-face, shame-on-you diatribe about doing too much or not doing enough. I struggle with this and I’ve been asking myself some questions.

What’s my season?
Groan. We all know there are seasons of life and we have to move within their confines. We started hearing this with our first job, our first child. We can think of them as confining, but I’m beginning to realize they are really celebrations of opportunity. When your children are little, you can’t always give big sums of money to missions projects, but you can give love where it makes a difference. A mom of littles is often the best one to spend her time connecting, networking and encouraging other moms because she totally understands their needs. A mom of elementary age kids finds her life all-consuming with teacher meetings and field trips, but also has the great opportunity to share great organizational and multi-tasking skills that can save another moms life. Empty-nesters sometimes have more room in the budget (isn’t it amazing how much less you spend on groceries after your teenage son stops eating everything that doesn’t move?) to bless others, along with expertise and a unique perspective from living through the hard stuff.

Seasons have a beginning and an end. Whatever side looks greener may come your way as the season changes and whatever is tiresome about where you are will surely come to a close. Here’s what I’m learning to ask: God, how can I use what I have, right now, to help somebody else? In the moments that I feel I have nothing to give or I can’t afford to give it, I’ve learned those are the moments I need to lean in hard to what God is trying to tell me.

What brings me life?
I tend to be a yes girl. Every good opportunity tugs at me and if someone asks me to join in, I often feel the best answer is yes. But it’s not. There are so many things that need to be done in the world of ministry but they don’t all need to be done by me. It’s important to say yes to the things where I can honestly make a difference and where God has really gifted me. If I don’t guard this carefully, I can get in the way of other people who are better suited for the task. I can also get in the way of who God really designed me to be. He didn’t create me to be good at everything and when I try to be, I’m working outside the flow God called me to. When I step outside of this, I notice that sense of being overwhelmed and that gnawing anxious feeling.
But there are also opportunities that scream urgent need, like setting up and tearing down the children’s ministry rooms in a mobile church location. I don’t know that this requires specific talents as much as it just requires hard work and commitment. Should you say yes, even if it’s not something that brings you particular joy? A question I’ve learned to ask myself is, does doing this bring a sense of fulfillment that speaks life to my heart? For me in this particular instance, the answer is yes. It wears me out and I leave exhausted, but I also know in a small way I made a difference.

Whose voice am I listening to?
This is a hard one. Someone presents a compelling opportunity, either for financial support or for man power and I often feel compelled to be the answer. Wouldn’t God want me to respond if it’s for something good? If I’m responding because I want to make someone happy with me, the answer might be no. My pride can be a very loud misleading voice, and I have to work at separating it from what God is saying. There have been times when I have felt overextended either financially or with my time, and I’ve had to go back and look at why I said yes. Sometimes that journey has led me straight to the source of the problem; my pride. I wanted to be the answer, to be the solution to the compelling need. The reality is I can’t and when I try to be, I end up frustrating myself and others.

Is it possible to spend yourself out, sharing your time, talent and treasure without going bankrupt? I think it is. Slow down enough to really consider your season. Ask God what’s reasonable. Learn what you are good at and what brings you joy. Share it freely and trust that God will cover your time and finances with his protective hand. And most importantly of all, learn to recognize the voice of the one who knows you best.


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