Motherhood

Am I Making a Difference?

Am I making a difference?

Isn’t that a question we all ask ourselves from time to time? Does the effort I make really matter? Or is being a couch potato a viable option with equal impact?

I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” a few years back and ugly cried at the end. George Bailey gets a glimpse into what life would be like if he’d never been born. An angel showed him the impact his life made, even in the small and unexpected ways. Sometimes I feel like asking God for a “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment.

Hey God, can you show me what my  _________ (workplace, church, school, ministry, business, family) would be like if I’d never got started?”

Wouldn’t it be nice along the way if God granted us sneak peeks?

In real life, God doesn’t give us glimpses into alternate realities. However, He does give us His word. Galatians 6:9 says “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

I appreciate this verse, because it reflects God’s patterns in nature. We sow seeds and we don’t see anything happen right away. There is progress, but it’s below the surface, where the eyes can’t see. The seed sprouts, it breaks open, it slowly grows…but it takes a while before it peers into the visible plane. We water the seed and position it for optimal sunlight, but there comes a point when we’ve done all we can do with the seed, and the outcome is in God’s hands. Our job is to keep sowing seeds. We will reap a harvest eventually, only if we don’t give up.

I haven’t posted a blog in a while, partly because I am working on a book. It’s a study on the book of Esther, and how God invites us to trade our broken past for a new family legacy. It’s such a fun project, but it feels a little like planting seeds every day, hoping one day they’ll sprout to the surface. I think sometimes parenting feels this way too...are they really getting it? Are they understanding what I’m teaching them? Are the seeds sprouting? The other day I gave my 9-year-old son a compliment about being much wiser than I was at his age. He said, “Well the credit goes to you and Dad for teaching us Christ.” 

Big exhale for these glorious moments. Some days, God gives us little sprouts like this…moments when we get a fresh wind to keep plowing and planting and trusting God for the increase. No, it’s not a George Bailey-alternate-reality-glimpse, but it’s enough to keep us going. It’s enough to remind us we walk by faith, not by sight, and though we plant and water, it’s God who brings the increase (2 Cor. 5:7, 1 Cor. 3:7).

Maybe you have moments like me, wondering if the work you do makes a difference. Whether it’s the hard work of parenting, or marriage, career, or ministry…don’t grow weary. Keep planting. Keep watering. Don’t give up. Watch and see, your harvest will come.

Prayer:

Lord, I thank you for the reminder today not to grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up. I pray you would help us today to stay faithful and grateful for the beautiful work you’ve called us to. I thank you that when we see dirt, you see a harvest in the making. I pray you would help us to lift our eyes up to your higher perspective and help us to have fresh fervency in our labor today. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Fake or Faith?

A couple weeks ago, I ran into a young woman struggling in her marriage. She said, “I just gotta fake it until I make it, right?”

I hear that phrase periodically and it doesn’t sit well with me, I’m a girl who treasures authenticity.  I hugged the young woman and said, “How about FAITH it until you make it? God doesn’t want us to be fake.”

“That’s good! I like that.” She said before we parted ways.

One little word can make a big difference in how we see God through our circumstances and approach him. Fake is different than Faith. Faith is not being fake, there is nothing fake about making the choice to focus on God’s greatness.

I used to have a motto when it came to prayer. I would say, “The only ingredient to a successful prayer is sincerity.” My passion for sincerity was in an effort to avoid being like the scribes who prayed for pretense (Luke 20:46-47). They were being fake, they were praying for show. I also noticed others memorizing prayers (like the Lord’s prayer) and reciting them like the pledge of allegiance. In an effort to pull myself and others towards an authentic relationship with God, I emphasized sincerity. I still believe 100% in sincere prayers, but I’ve also noticed the power of adding one extra ingredient: Faith.

Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I recently made my first Facebook live video on our tendency to “worry-pray.” Instead of praying in faith, we can have the tendency to magnify the problem rather than the problem-solver. I wrote out a faith-declaration about who God is (all based on scripture), as a way of setting my mind on the greatness of God first before I bring him my concerns. When I set my mind on His greatness, my (once) mountain of a problem starts to look more like a speck. It’s not fake, it’s focus.

If our prayers magnify our problem to be bigger than God and His power – our faith is in the wrong thing.

Yesterday, my daughter came to me overwhelmed with homework. As we sat on her bed, I pulled out my faith-declaration and read it to her. Tears fell down her face as she was reminded of our God who is limitless in strength and power when she feels weak. She asked if she could hang a copy up in her bedroom. The privilege of paving the way in motherhood never gets old. I want her to know what real faith is. Fake smiles through gritted-teeth and says, “I can do this.” But faith is different. Faith says, “I can’t do this, but my great God certainly can!”

A Faint Truth is Still a Truth: Overcoming Lies, Fears and Insecurities


It was winter of 2004. The line on the pregnancy test was so faint that I threw it in the garbage, called my husband and told him it was a false alarm. I was a pastor’s assistant at the time, so I went back to the computer to finish up some admin work. I typed and filed and responded to emails and then, a few hours later, a thought hit me. What if a faint line is still a line? 

I dug into the garbage, lifted up the instructions (now wet with coffee) and read, “Any test line visible on the pregnancy test, even a faint one, indicates a positive result.”

I still couldn’t believe it.

I gathered two coworkers, all three of us like detectives getting to the bottom of a case. We were unanimously convinced it had to be wrong. After all, the line was barely visible. We went to the store and bought one displaying the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant.” It seemed there wouldn’t be as much room for error there.

I stared at the word “pregnant” but still, the only thing I felt pregnant with was doubt. I hadn’t been married for a full year yet, didn’t God know I wasn’t ready? Didn’t God know I still had insecurities and fears to sort through first?

****

A month prior, I was helping someone with their baby. I tried to strap the little girl in her car seat, but failed. I couldn’t figure out which clip went where and which button I needed to push to get it to latch. My head sunk into my collapsed shoulders like a turtle and I shot her a look that made my ignorance on car seats more apparent. The mom came over and latched it with ease. A little later that day, I was holding the baby outside. The mom told me that I really should get a blanket and wrap it around her legs. Maybe for other people, those instances wouldn’t be a big deal. For me, they were more reasons why I felt unsure about motherhood. You don’t even know how to latch a car seat! Of course you didn’t think to wrap the baby’s legs in a blanket, your not cut out to be a mom. 

I was on bed rest for most of my pregnancy and Netflix didn’t exist then, unfortunately. My husband brushed up on his cooking skills and friends from church brought me magazines and books to keep me occupied. But mostly, I laid in bed afraid.

****

One night, Brandon and I sat in each others arms while he rubbed my ballooning belly.

“What if I’m a bad mom?” I bursted out.

The words came out of my mouth before I had time to process them. I went on to explain that my mom wasn’t the best example and I didn’t know who to turn to for advice.

Brandon formed his words deliberately as if he wanted me to never forget them.

“Mel, you are not just going to be a good mom, you are going to be an incredible mom. It doesn’t matter what kind of example you had, you have the Lord now. He is the best example of a loving parent. You can learn from Him. Mel, you are an amazing individual and I never question your capabilities as a mother. Never.”

Throughout the remainder of the pregnancy I held onto my husband’s words like an anchor, along with scriptures like Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fears still came, but Brandon’s words gave me a weapon to fight with. “But I have the Lord” was a powerful comeback to satan’s lies.

You don’t know how to be a mom. 

“But I have the Lord.”

Your mom didn’t know what she was doing and you don’t either. 

“But I have the Lord.”

You have so much to learn. You’ll always be behind.

“But I have the Lord.”

The voice of truth sometimes seemed like a whisper compared to the enemy’s shouts, but somehow that generic brand pregnancy test brought a comforting thought: A faint line is still a line and a faint truth is still a truth. 

****

That was the season when I learned how to echo the whispers of God in the midst of the enemy’s shouts. The more I echoed God’s whispers of truth, the more muffled and incoherent my fears became. What is that, devil? I’m going to make a terrible what? I can’t seem to hear you amidst the echo of God’s truth, so pure and so good. 

I’m glad doubt made an appearance in my life twelve years ago. That season led me to answers about my faith, about myself and about my future that became more certain and resolved than ever before.  I’ve learned even tiny doubts that remain in hiding, can cast monumental and intimidating shadows. The best thing is to pull back the curtain. Most of the time, what we find, is that the source of the grizzly bear shadow of doubt is the equivalent of a paper doll glued to a popsicle stick. Doubts and fears are flimsy and unreliable, but they sure know how to puff themselves up and yell like bullies. Even in moments when the truth feels as faint as the line on that pregnancy test, I know now that a faint line is still a line and a faint truth is still a truth.

And guess what? It turns out I kick-butt at the whole mom thing.