on pride and perfection

We all know that pride can be an ugly thing. But what I don’t always remember is that perfectionism can also be an ugly thing.

grace, not perfection

via Emily Ley

I’ve been feeling really good about being organized in 2014. We’ve been sticking to a budget. I’ve been planning meals and we’ve stuck to the meal plan. The laundry has been manageable and things are getting done.

And that feels good!

One of my favorite things is to sit down and map out the week. And this year Todd and  I have been going on weekly breakfast dates to catch up and make sure we’re both up to speed when it comes to the family budget. We make sure we both know which nights we have a meeting at school or church, and which nights we’re eating at home. It gives us a good chance to sit and have uninterrupted conversations, too.

And I’ll admit, that I’ve been pretty proud of myself for getting it done.

Every week Hudson has a letter for the week, and on Fridays he brings in something that starts with that letter for Show and Tell. I picked him up on Friday after school and noticed a lot of things in the other kids’ cubbies that start with the letter P. We had spent all week talking about what he was going to bring that started with the letter P. And Friday morning came and I didn’t put his plane in his bag to take to school.

I felt awful about it. I apologized to him and he said, “it’s okay, Mommy. I found something in the classroom.” Oh that sweet boy.

We had a great weekend at home. We took it easy. We ate a crock pot meal. We watched Disney movies and played board games. On Saturday night, I laid out the boys’ clothes for church the next morning. And on Sunday morning, I took a shower, washed my hair, dried it and got dressed while Todd fed and dressed the boys for church.

We’re feeling pretty good. We’re on top of it. We’ve got it together. Until we walk into church and I immediately notice that the other kids are all wearing their pajamas. It’s Pajamas and Pancakes Sunday for the children’s ministry. And the sweet Carroll boys are in Sunday clothes.

My heart sank. Mostly for Hudson because Hayes really doesn’t know any better. But 4.5 year olds know these things. I wrapped him up and told him I was so sorry that we forgot, but I promised him that I would run home and get some jammies for him and bring them back to church.

I forgot pajama Sunday. I had everything written down for the week. But not show and tell. And not pajama Sunday. I had that feeling when I was driving home that I might cry. I was disappointed in myself for forgetting, and I was actually embarrassed that someone might think of me as the mom who let things fall through the cracks. The mom who didn’t have it together.

After rushing home and getting back to church, I helped Hudson change his clothes in the bathroom. I told him I was so sorry that we forgot. And he said, “Mommy, thank you for going to get my jammies. I’m so excited about pajama day.” I mean. Seriously.

I hugged him and apologized again, and he said, “It’s okay. It was Daddy’s fault. He dressed us.” And I just died laughing. (And couldn’t wait to tell Todd what Hudson said. Because we know it wasn’t Daddy’s fault.)

I may not always have the chance to fix my mistakes. I won’t always be able to run home to get the jammies. But that day I wanted him to know that it was important to me that he felt included.

I won’t always be able to make it right.

But I know two things to be true in this situation. My value and my worth are not found in how “together” my life is or may seem. And I need to check that pride at the door.

And I know that God’s grace covers me. Oh, and my little boy’s grace is pretty sweet, too.

a messy motherhood story for His glory

a messy motherhood story for His glory

The other night I was standing in the kitchen trying to cook dinner while the boys were racing their Hot Wheels all around my feet. The dogs were barking, I was trying to listen to Christmas music (it’s never too early for Christmas music), and the boys were laughing. I was also doing my best not to drop food on them!

This happened to be one of the days that I decided to cook instead of having us eat leftovers. The laundry was done, but it certainly wasn’t folded or put away. Piles of mail and school “art projects” covered the kitchen counter tops.

And I heard my phone buzz.

It was a text from a sweet college friend who is the mom to a 2-year-old and an 11 week old. She asked me for a devotional recommendation, she said she was drowning, and she finally asked, “How do you keep it all together?”

And I just laughed. If only she could see the scene in my house.

I asked her what it was that she felt like wasn’t all together. She described the piles of laundry. The guest room had become a storage room for anything that they couldn’t get around to taking care of. There were piles of paper and there was the strong desire to get out and do one thing every day that was just for her.

And I decided to tell her what I should tell myself every day.

That anyone with an 11-week-old is excused from the piles. That those piles are not a reflection of what is in her heart. Things may look disheveled, but that doesn’t mean everything is falling apart. As long as the babies and mommy are healthy and happy, all the other things can wait.

I was telling her all of this while dinner was sizzling and Hudson drove a Hot Wheel over my foot while making car racing noises. And all I could do was laugh.

I can’t recall a day when I had all my ducks in a row. And I mean all the ducks. The laundry, the dishes, the breakfast, the dinner, the schedule, the baths. Every day I make a decision to let go of something. It is far, far from perfection.

If I only hold a toddler and play board games with my preschooler all day, the day was well spent.

Because I know with full confidence that everything is temporary. When I thought I’d never sleep again, my babies started sleeping. And when I thought we’d never be ready to potty train, he practically potty trained himself. When I thought that I’d never regain any semblance of normalcy and get those ducks in a row, my kids became a little more independent, and time was freed up for me to be me again.

But in the midst of the messes, my heart is full of gratitude and love. Those sweet boys are loud and they can push my patience. Sometimes I look around and think that my messy environment doesn’t look like me at all, with toys hidden in every nook in the house, and miniature masterpieces by my little artists covering the table. But it doesn’t reflect what’s in my heart. It’s just the reality of my beautiful blessings.

But I need the grace and unwavering love of Jesus to get me through each day. And that grace is a constant reminder that those things that I see as a mess aren’t the things He’s worried about. And they’re certainly not the things my boys are worried about.

My motherhood story is for His glory.

colossians 323-24

the quiet game

Todd and I were talking earlier this week after we put the kids to bed about how funny it is that people tell us that Hayes is such a happy kid. They’ll say, “There’s Hayes! He is always smiling.”

I love that people say that about my baby. But we were laughing because we feel like lately, with us, he’s almost always whining. Groaning, whining, constantly asking for something. Milk, juice, a snack, to go outside. It’s constant. He’s two. It comes with the territory.

Thankfully, with Hudson out of that phase, I know what happens on the other side of the “terribles twos” and “even-more-terrible threes.” It gets better.

But for the past few days, every time I’ve picked up the boys from preschool at noon, they whine and cry the whole way home. They can’t even articulate what it is that has them upset. They’re happy to see me, we get to the car, and the whining begins. I’m sure they’re hungry, and they’re tired of being on their very best behavior, so they just let it all out in the car with me.

So, on the way home from school, I said, “Okay, let’s play the quiet game.”  Hudson asked, “What’s the quiet game?”

So I told him that the first person to talk is the loser. He sat there for a minute and smiled and said, “I want to be the loser!”

And that was the end of the quiet game. Because, by then, I was hysterically laughing.

the quiet game

My house is never quiet. But it’s not always full of whining. Earlier this week I was getting ready in the bathroom, and the boys were watching cartoons before school. And I could hear them talking to each other and laughing.

But the truth is, I’m tired. I want some quiet. I was on a quest for 31 days to create white space, and it hasn’t been a switch that I’ve turned off.

But my kids are tired, too. They can’t always be their very best little selves.

Last night, Todd put Hayes to bed and I tucked Hudson into bed. We were laughing and joking, and I read him a couple of books. And we giggled and hugged and I walked out of the room. And there was quiet. And white space.

And I smiled at Todd and told him how much of a little delight Hudson is. And Hayes, too. They’re loud, and they whine, and they push me, and they don’t know the most effective ways to express their frustrations. And, still, every night I get those few hours of white space that I crave.

But in those moments when I’m trapped in the car with my boys who don’t know what they want and don’t know how to feel better in that moment, I just try to remember those sweet bedtime moments. Because bedtime is coming, and it’s such a sweet reminder that we do get to start over every morning.

And listening to them and being there for them is my job. That’s my purpose. They talk to me because they love me and trust me. Hudson and Hayes aren’t going to be winning the quiet game any time soon. And that’s okay. They’re the sweetest little “losers” I ever did see.


a thrill of hope

a thrill of hope

I have a confession to make. I’ve been listening to Christmas music since September.

It’s true.

In case I need to defend myself for this, I should let you know that most of the reason I’ve been listening for so long is because I sing in the choir at our church and we’ve been rehearsing for the Singing Christmas Tree for months.

I’ve snuck a little Celine Dion and Martina McBride in there, too, though. There’s no defense for that. Just the truth that I love it.

I won’t be skipping Thanksgiving this year. But I’ll be listening to Christmas music while I eat my turkey and dressing.

I think What Child is This may be my favorite Christmas song of all time. But I also love O Holy Night. It’s beautiful. There’s a big opportunity to belt it out Celine-style during O Holy Night.

But, today, while riding in the car and listening to O Holy Night (yes, I’m listening at home, in the car, at Starbucks with ear buds in my ears), I really heard these words for the first time.

A thrill of hope. A thrill.

My friend Ellen just finished up a month-long journey of writing about hope. When I think of the word “hope,” the first thing that pops into my head is desperation.

But this is thrilling. It’s exciting. It takes your breath away. Hope is alive.

It’s a thrill of hope on the days that I yell at my kids. It’s a thrill of hope when I’m stuck in traffic and I’m already late. It’s a thrill of hope when I take my baby’s temperature and it’s scary-high at 103.5 and I cradle him in my arms and pray for healing. It’s a thrill of hope when I drive past the homeless shelter and see the long line of people standing outside in the cold waiting for lunch.

So my prayer for this Christmas season (that I’m so eager to bring in) is that I will feel that hope and I will see the thrill in it. I will feel the excitement and remember the Good News. And I will rejoice because there is hope. There is thrilling hope in the good news of Jesus Christ.

*Don’t forget to visit Every Day Cheer for an absolutely adorable Cookie Exchange printable and free download!



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