Be Strong and Very Courageous

This past week was tough, friends. I had to do some big, scary things.

When I told my four-year old that I was afraid, he took my cheeks in his little hands and said, “Mom, God is with you.” We had just read the story of Joshua, and he was referring to those liberating words…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Coincidentally, I spent a lot of time on the go this week. I wrote this little poem at the airport as I fought to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I pray it might encourage you as you fight the good fight today.

Be Strong and Very Courageous

I’m off to fight the battle.
I march across the field.
A warrior on a mission
To love, my flesh to yield.

The enemy awaits me.
He taunts me from afar,
Hurling lies like hand grenades.
Soldier, this is war.

My heart, it pounds inside me.
My thoughts, they start to race.
He’s clever, big, and strong to boot.
He’ll laugh right in my face!

“Be strong!” the general shouts aloud.
“Take courage! Have no fear!
This battle is not yours, it’s mine!
I’m with you. I am here.”

“His stature may be daunting,
But over him, I tower.
He may have swords and bows and guns,
But in my name is power.

I’ll arm you with a belt of truth,
This sword will make you ready,
This shield of faith will block the blows,
These shoes will keep you steady.

A righteous breastplate given by
The King who reigns above.
A helmet of salvation
Guards your head with love.”

“Be strong and very courageous!”
I hear him cry once more.
“Wait! You’ll find your strength renewed.
On eagles’ wings you’ll soar.”

“Fix your eyes upon the Son.
Think on all that he has done–
All the dragons he has slayed,
The battles he has won.

Engrave his words upon your heart,
And follow his commands.
Keep them close, you’ll find success.
Hold them in your hands.

His words give life and health and peace.
They counsel and they test.
In the trenches, think on them,
And you will find true rest.”

“Be strong!” He bellows from the front.
“Take courage! Don’t give in.
Have faith, the victory is ours.
Soldier, we will win!”

“The battle that is waging
Is coming to an end.
Until that time, gird up your loins!
Stand firm, and do not bend.

With just one blow, I’ll end the war,
And bring eternal ruin
To the one who dared to challenge me.
The time is coming soon…

When pain and tears will be no more,
When death and war will cease.
A time when truth and love will reign
In the perfect Prince of Peace.

Until that day, keep marching.
Keep marching toward the Light.
Be strong and very courageous.
I am with you in the fight.”


The Best Bronzer Money Can’t Buy {PLUS my guest post at (in)courage!}

Do you ever look in the mirror and pine for the days when you had less lumps, wrinkles, or grey hairs?

Me too, friend. Daily.

Today, I’m over at (in)courage #keepinitreal about the struggles I’ve had with my own changing body and sharing how God is teaching me to be thankful (yes, thankful!) for all that these changes represent. If you’re visiting from (in)courage, welcome!

I’ve been getting daily encouragement from (in)courage for some time now, and I’m so excited to be the one offering some encouragement to my sweet sisters today! Sign up here to receive daily notes from (in)courage, sent right to your inbox!

While We’re on the Topic of Beauty…

Guess what I did this weekend? I went to Ulta for a whole hour without kids! Such a treat.

As I was scouring the shelf for the bronzer I needed, I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered a recent conversation with a dear friend. I had just read Psalm 34:5 which says “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed,” and I told her that when I read that verse, HER face came to mind. She is one of those women that just glows with the love of Jesus!

She graciously accepted the compliment and then laughed. “Ya know, I have been admiring this one woman at church from afar because she has this amazing glow about her,” she said. “I’ve been thinking I have to ask her what bronzer she uses, but now I’m realizing, I think she is just radiant in the LORD!”

Radiance in the Lord, friends. The best bronzer that money can’t buy.

Seeking God’s Face

There’s a story in the Bible where Moses met with God on top of Mount Sinai. When he came down from the mountain top, the Bible says “Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (Exodus 34:29)

Moses’ face was literally glowing because he had just beheld the glory of the Lord. While we might not physically glow from meeting with God, he does promise that those who look to him will be radiant.

God’s word says that “God is light and in him there is not darkness.” (1 John 1:5) When we look to him, he brightens and uplifts our souls. As we gaze upon him–remembering who he is and all that he’s done for us in Christ–his face shines upon us like the sun kissing our cheeks on a warm summer day.

The Glory of God Made Manifest

Jesus Christ is the glory of God made manifest in human form. As Christians, God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Let’s take a moment to behold God’s glory in the face of Jesus, shall we?

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-6)

Jesus is good and kind. He is our gracious and merciful savior. He has redeemed us, transformed us, and made us heirs to an incredible inheritance.

Doesn’t that warm your heart? It makes me want to bow down and say, “Thank you, dear Jesus!” What about you?

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

As we bask in the light of his glory, we grow less concerned with the worries of this world and more infatuated with him.

The weary-eyed woman looks to Christ and finds rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

The woman whose eyes are heavy with shame lifts her eyes to Christ and finds forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

The woman with anxious eyes fixes them on Christ and finds peace. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Looking to Jesus doesn’t magically make our struggles disappear, but it does make us see them rightly in the light of his glory.

As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Be Radiant

Sister, as you go about the good work God has given you to do today, make sure you take the time to look to him. Read his word, meditate on the gospel, and let his face shine upon you.

May you be the woman of whom others say, “I wonder what kind of bronzer she uses.” And may your response simply be, “It’s not bronzer, friend. I’m just looking to the Lord.”




When the Weight of Sin is Just Too Big For You

Our little John has been struggling ever since we made him say goodbye to his beloved “paci.”

We often find him huddled in a ball of shame underneath the dining room table, sucking quietly away on a pacifier he swiped from his baby brother.

Then, not too long ago, he looked up at me with his baby blue eyes, handed me his pacifier, and said, “Hold this? It’s too big for me.”

My first inclination was that he had adorably misspoke and meant “I’m too big for it.”

But upon further reflection, I think he said exactly what he meant to say. The pacifier–and the temptation and shame that came along with it–had become too big for him, and he knew the only way he’d be at peace was if his mommy held it for him.

Pacifiers of the Soul

We all have our own pacifiers–the sins we secretly savor and want to hold on to.

At that moment, it was as if God was tenderly looking down at me, asking, “What pacifiers are you holding onto, Chelsea? It’s time you hand them over.”

For me, it’s entitlement. I feel like I deserve to be acknowledged for my work, to be treated better by others, and to have time to myself whenever I desire it. What about you?

Whatever it is, when sin and shame weigh heavy on us, we have two options: 1) we can choose to stay hidden under the table or 2) we can come out from under the table and hand it over.

In Psalm 38, David wisely chose to hand over his own pacifier to God. Overwhelmed by his sin, he cried out to God, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4)

How did he go about unloading this heavy burden? The rest of Psalm 38 lays out exactly how he turned over his sin to God: by bowing down, confessing his sin, and asking for help.

When the weight of sin is too big for you, bow down before God.

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning. (Psalm 38:6)

People from all different nations bowed down to David, the great king of Israel. In Psalm 18 we read, “You made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.” (Psalm 18:43-44)

David knew what it meant to bow down. It meant that he was humbling himself–submitting himself–to a higher authority. In this case, God.

Notice he didn’t just sort of bow down either. He says he is “utterly bowed down and prostrate.” He humbled himself completely before his king.

When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down completely before God and acknowledge him as your king. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” Peter writes, “so that at the proper time, he might exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:6)

When the weight of sin is too big for you, confess it.

I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:18)

When we lay ourselves down at the feet of Jesus, we can’t help but recognize how undeserving we are of God’s grace and mercy, and confession naturally will follow.

Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we may feel inclined to hide our sin out of shame and fear, but we need not fear the wrath of our great King Jesus. If we are in Christ, we know that he already bore God’s wrath for us on the cross. And because of this great act of love, he “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Yes, all unrighteousness. No sin is too great for God. David was an adulterer and a murderer, and yet God still forgave him. “As far as the east is from the west,” David writes, “so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down and confess it to Jesus, our good and faithful king.

When the weight of sin is too big for you, ask for help.

Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation! (Psalm 38:22)

We can’t just unload our sins on God and move on. Repentance involves two steps: turning away from sin and turning towards Christ.

John Piper defines repentance as “experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience.”

We can’t change our minds in our own strength, though. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and transform our hearts, so we must ask him for help. After all, the Father gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and to remind us of all that Jesus said. (John 14:26)

How does the Holy Spirit go about the work of teaching and reminding us? Mainly through the word of God.

God strengthens us through his word. As we read it, we learn more about who he is and what he’s done for us.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

When I am feeling entitled, God’s word reminds me that the only wage I deserve is death, but that instead, God has graciously given me eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

When I am harsh with my children, the Bible tells me that “a soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1)

When I am sinfully basing my identity on social media likes and comments, the Holy Spirit reminds me of who I am in Christ–chosen by God. (John 15:16)

God is waiting to help you, friend. If your sin is too heavy for you, be like David and ask for help.

Coming Out from Underneath the Table

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

You don’t have to carry the weight of sin in your heart, dear sister. Come out from underneath the table, bow down, confess, and ask our good God for help. Let the Spirit search your heart today and give you the courage to hand over the pacifiers of your soul to the one who saved it for himself.

His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Like a mother with her child, your Heavenly Father is eager to give you rest.







Strength for the Weary Mom

Not too long ago, a friend sent out an S.O.S. on Facebook that went something like this…

“My hubby and I are wondering what the reward is if we make it through this stage of our child’s life alive. #twoishard #weareexhausted.”

The commenters fell into two camps:

  1. The “I’m right there with ya, girlfriend” mamas who affirmed the weariness she described and relayed their best terrible twos stories.
  2. The “I’ve been there, girlfriend” mamas who affirmed the weariness she described and encouraged her to slow down and treasure these fleeting moments.

Not gonna lie…sometimes I wanna punch those “slow down” mamas in the face. Don’t they realize just how HARD this is?

Ironically, today I’m the one over at Desiring God encouraging weary mamas to slow down.


Please resist the urge to punch me in the face.

I’m an official card-carrying member of the weary mom club. I know you’re weary. I feel your pain. “I’m right there with ya, girlfriend.”

And because I’m right there with you, I also know firsthand that we can’t slow down in our own strength because we are weak, feeble people. The only way we can offer our children glimpses of God’s comforting love is through his strength, not our own.

How does God strengthen weary moms?

Today, we’ll look at three means of grace God uses to strengthen us: the gospel, his word, and community. Each one a precious gift for the weary mom.

God will strengthen the weary mom through the gospel.

The gospel is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

God so loved you, weary mom, that he gave his only son to die for you. 

But he didn’t stop there. The Bible says that if you are in Christ, this same power is presently at work within you. (Romans 1:16)

Let that sink in.

While you may feel weak and weary, the very power of God is at work within you.

Jesus is no stranger to weariness. Imagine the utter exhaustion he must have endured during his time on earth–caring for hundreds of thousands of souls, suffering at the hands of sinners, faithfully carrying out his father’s will.

He understands our weariness, and he died so that we might be free from it. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden” Jesus calls to us, “and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

When we consider Christ–when we come to him and really consider all that he is and all that he has done–we can’t help but find rest.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:3

As we remember the power of the gospel, the worries of the day don’t disappear, but they lose their power over us. Yes, my boys may be fighting over the blue light saber for the hundredth time, and yes there may be heaps of laundry and dishes that need my attention, but that all suddenly shrinks down to size when I consider the magnitude of the gospel.

Plus, the gospel allows me to handle those situations and tasks with love and grace.

The gospel says I can love my kids when they’re downright unlovable because Christ loved me first. (1 John 4:19)

The gospel tells me that I need not grow weary in disciplining them because I know that I will reap an eternal reward. (Galatians 6:9)

The gospel says that I can, indeed, sing “Jesus Loves Me” over and over and over again when my son is scared because that same Jesus I sing of loves me and bears with me when I am the one who is afraid. (Psalm 18:6)

The gospel is the power of God at work within you, weary mama. Today, when you feel like you’re at your limit, consider Christ and allow him to give you much-needed rest through the power of the gospel.

God will strengthen the weary mom through his word.

Where do we find gospel truths and promises to strengthen our souls? David answers this question for us in Psalm 119.

“Strengthen me according to you word.”

The Bible is full of encouragement and strength for our weary souls. Its pages are overflowing with sweet reminders of God’s faithfulness and unchanging character. We just need to open it.

But that involves time, you may say. And I just don’t have any.

Trust me, sister, when I say that I often feel the same way. It’s hard to make time for God’s word when you’re keeping little people alive. But you know what’s harder? Trying to keep little people alive without it. We need the strength that God’s word offers us, and we have to fight for it.

Keep a bible open on the kitchen counter. Write one verse on a few index cards and lay them around the house. Read a few verses at the kitchen table with your kids. Dare I say it, read a chapter while you’re on the toilet.

You have to make time, mama. These words are too powerful to pass up.

God will strengthen the weary mom through community.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m weary, I’m tempted to go into isolation. Just the thought of play dates or small group meetings or women’s ministry gatherings overwhelms me.

But do a quick search of the word “strengthen” and you’ll quickly see that throughout the Bible, God often uses community to strengthen weary Christians.

Take Jonathan, for example, who God used to strengthen David when he was afraid for his life. The Bible says that Jonathan strengthened David’s “hand in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) Yes, even the man after God’s own heart needed to be reminded of God’s promises and pointed back to Christ by a friend.

God doesn’t need us to strengthen his people. There’s enough power in his little finger to strengthen all of his children entirely on his own. But how gracious of him to allow us to strengthen and be strengthened by fellow believers!

When you remind another mama that God sees her (Genesis 16:13), God is using you to strengthen her.

When you open your heart up to another mom and she speaks truth in love to you (Ephesians 4:15), God is using her sweet words to strengthen you.

Often times it does take someone else to look at your situation and speak gospel truth into it. By encouraging one another and stirring each other up to love and good works, we are doing the good work of strengthening each other in the Lord. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Take Heart, Weary Mom

If you find yourself at the end of your rope today, weary mom, take heart. Our all-powerful God is eagerly waiting to strengthen you through the gospel, his word, and community.

His power is made perfect in your weakness, so rest in his soul-sustaining grace today. (2 Corinthians 12:9)


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Changing Landscapes

Dan and I were able to get away for a quick overnight this past weekend in celebration of our eight-year anniversary. I had been itching to visit my college campus (Go ‘Cats!) for some time, so we opted for a night in Evanston.

It was an odd juxtaposition–so many familiar sights and sounds mixed with lots of new ones.

Coming into town, we didn’t need our navigation system. The streets haven’t changed. We’ve just grown up from Dan’s old Grand Prix to his Ford F150. When we first arrived, we ate sushi at Koi–where I first lost my sushinity back in college. After dinner, we walked the streets and noticed that Dixie Kitchen and Merle’s BBQ had shut their doors. My church had moved down the road. We stopped for ice cream at a fun new frozen custard place, and I enjoyed peeking into the new restaurants and stores that had popped up downtown.

The campus itself blew me away. Outside my dorm, the road where Dan used to wait in his aforementioned Grand Prix had been replaced by a grassy common area where students were sitting on benches doing scholarly things. The view by the lake was almost unrecognizable. I had heard about the new music building, but no one could have prepared me for the scope of this state-of-the-art new construction. The floor-to-ceiling glass structure looked like something out of a George Lucas film. Not to mention the addition of a visitor center and sailing center (not pretentious at all).

As we drove away, I started to cry.

“How could so much possibly change in eight years?” I thought. “And why am I getting so emotional about it?”

And then it hit me.

Eight years.

The same amount of time that Dan and I have been married.

It was poetic, really–this changing campus landscape. Just like the changing landscape of our life together. Our new home now stands where a condo once was. We’ve moved down the road from Lakeview Church to Crossway Community Church. Dan has graduated from an elementary school district to a high school one. We have watched landmarks torn down due to death and brokenness, but we have also watched God create three beautiful skyscrapers–our three beautiful boys.

“For everything there is a season,” it says in Ecclesiastes. “A time for every matter under Heaven…A time to break down, and a time to build up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:3)

It’s comforting to know that God has ordained the changing landscapes of our lives, isn’t it?

The Master Builder has “made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) My life is no different.

I may not be able to see the full landscape now. In fact, there are days when I feel like everything around me is crumbling to the ground. But God’s word assures me that he is strategically laying each brick and mortar to build something magnificent for his glory. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Today, I am thanking God for the growing pains. As much as it pained my heart to see my Alma Mater change, I think I would have been sadder had she stayed the same for eight years. The same goes for my life together with Dan. May our landscape be ever-changing, ever-growing for his glory.

The Best Heart Medicine

For the past several months, I’ve been dealing with some relatively serious health issues. You can read more about it here if you’d like more details, but in a nutshell, I’ve been suffering from acute allergic reactions since November. The cause is still unknown.

Since we don’t know exactly what’s triggering these episodes, my doctor has put me on a pretty strong cocktail of antihistamines in hopes that they’ll help keep me safe while he tries to come up with a diagnosis and a more permanent solution.

Today, I realized that my heart is mirroring my body. There’s something wrong there. Something I can’t diagnose right now.

After my first major allergic reaction, I saw an allergist who sent me home with no more than an epi-pen in hopes that it was “just a fluke.” Needless to say, I sought out a second opinion because I knew that I needed someone who would help keep me safe while we searched for answers. 

In the same way, I want to keep my heart safe as I sort out whatever is going on in there, and I think a hefty dose of God’s life-preserving Word is just what the Great Physician ordered. 

God’s words of eternal life are like the pills I take each morning and evening to ward off sickness. If I am in God’s word, then I am fully armed and protected to face each new day with the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit.

“If your law had not been my delight,” the psalmist writes, “I would have perished in my affliction.” He continues, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” (Psalm 119:92-93 ESV)

God uses his word to give us life and to sustain it. In times of uncertainty, his word is reliable and true. We can count on him and his word to keep us safe.

Yes, I want a diagnosis, and I’m sure God will be faithful to search me and test my heart. For now, though, I put on my armor and pray, “I have suffered much; give me life, O LORD, according to your word.” (Psalm 119:107 ESV)

Hearts Made For Baseball and the Gospel

Some families spend their summer vacations traveling to national parks. Mine visited national ballparks.

Many of my best childhood memories took place at these parks—singing the seventh inning stretch with Harry Caray at Wrigley Field, cheering for the sausages at Miller Park, watching the Red Sox score twenty-two runs at Fenway, and celebrating Cal Ripken Jr’s birthday while chewing on Double Bubble at Camden Yards.

There’s something about a major league baseball game that makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. The ballpark is a magical place where old and young, rich and poor, fathers and daughters all gather for one common purpose: to enjoy America’s favorite pastime together.

At each baseball game, you form a sort of family with the other 20,000 fans in the stands. When the lights go out and your new family members return to their respective lives, your heart aches just a little. Even grown men have been known to shed a tear or two at the end of the season. But there’s always the promise of next year (just ask our beloved Chicago Cubs).

Why do we love baseball so much?

It could be because our hearts are made for it…or at least something like it.

Something that brings together people of all colors and cultures and puts them on a level playing field…

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28 ESV).

Something that gives us reason to stand up and cheer…

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV).

Something that makes us want to share hot dogs and peanuts and Cracker Jack with the guy sitting next to us in the stands…

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-27 ESV).

And something that gives us great hope…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

The same hearts that soar after the game-winning run are the hearts that were made to praise and glorify God forever.

And because of the good news of Jesus Christ…they can.

When All You Want to Do is Strike

Do you ever feel like you just want to strike?

Maybe you’ve fantasized about walking out the door for a day, leaving the dishes, diapers, and dinner for Daddy?

You’re not alone.

On March 8, the Women’s March movement is encouraging women to walk out on “paid and unpaid labor” as part of their A Day Without a Woman strike.

Today, I’m beyond thrilled (and incredibly humbled!) to be a guest contributor at Desiring God discussing the very first “Day Without a Woman” and six ways the Church can stand with women.

But what about you–the weary, sleep-deprived, overworked mama?

Maybe a strike sounds good to you right about now. How then should you respond when all you want to do is strike?

How NOT to Respond

Before we discuss how we should respond to the temptation to strike, let’s first take a moment to talk about how we should not respond.

Being a wife and mother is hard work.

It’s beautiful work, it’s rewarding work, but have no doubt, it is hard work.

As Christian women, it’s tempting to grin and bear it. To show the world how #blessed we are to clean the permanent marker off the dining room walls, when all we really want to do is scream.

But God doesn’t call us to false humility, friends. And he most definitely does not call us to pretend to have it all together. He’s all about #keepinitreal.

How should we not respond to the temptation to strike?

By not responding.

God doesn’t want us to act like we have it all together, and he also doesn’t want us to suffer in silence. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

The God Who Sees

A strike can be tempting when you feel like your efforts are under-appreciated and largely unseen.

You’re doing important work, and you want to feel important.

But sister, I implore you not to go down that road.

As followers of Christ, our motivation shouldn’t be to earn the recognition of men–whether that’s from our husbands, our children, or anyone else.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

God sees every diaper you change, every meal you make, every runny nose you wipe, and he is pleased.

Consider the Proverbs 31 woman. God sees her late nights, her early mornings, and her hard work. He recognizes all that she does for her family and for him, and he calls for her to be praised in the gates (Proverbs 31:10-31).

God sees what you do as well, mama. And you know what else? He sees you! Your thoughts, your pain, your desires–he sees all of it (Psalm 139:1-3). And he wants to help.

Three God-Honoring Responses

If we shouldn’t keep silent and we shouldn’t strike, then what should our response be?

Here are what I believe to be three God-honoring responses when all you want to do is strike.

1) Pray.

The Bible says that the “eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those who heart is completely His”(2 Chronicles 16:9).

God wants to support you. He wants to strengthen you. All you need to do is make your requests known to him and ask for his help (Philippians 4:6)!

2) Preach the Gospel to yourself.

When you feel like walking out and giving up, take a deep breath and preach the gospel to yourself.

What does that mean exactly?

First, think about all that Christ has done for you.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Then, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of these gospel truths and help you apply them to the situation at hand.

Maybe you’re feeling like you just don’t have any more love to give. Preaching the gospel to yourself might look like this…

“I don’t have to love in my own strength. I am able to love because Jesus first loved me.” (1 John 4:19)

Or maybe you’re feeling weak. Here’s how you might preach the gospel to yourself…

“I don’t have to be strong. God is strong for me. His grace is sufficient for me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Or maybe you’re hurt and angry. Give this a try…

“I can forgive because Christ forgave me. I can find joy because my greatest need has been met. I am at peace with God.” (Ephesians 4:32, Romans 5:1)

It’s hard to walk out on the job when you’re thinking upon the sacrifice Christ made for you.

3) Ask for help.

If you are consistently being treated poorly by your husband or family, it’s time to talk.

God’s word says that you are to be honored and loved (Ephesians 5:25Ephesians 6:2).

You are not a doormat.

Instead of striking to make your point, though, ask your husband or family to sit down and have a conversation. Share with them how you feel, and humbly ask for help.

You might want to take this time to list every grievance, but try to focus in on one or two things your husband and/or kids can work on.

Do you need more help around the house?

Ask your family to do the laundry or to take over dinner one night a week.

Do you feel like you need some time away?

Tell your husband how you feel and figure out a way for you to get a much-needed break.

Do you feel unappreciated?

Share your feelings with your family and tell them how much a simple “thank you” means to you.

Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. If there is sin that needs to be addressed, address it (Matthew 18:15). And if you need help, ask for it. Allow your family to be a means of grace in your life.

An important note: If you are experiencing abuse, please seek help. Talk to your pastor, local law enforcement agency, and/or trusted friend. God does not want you to stay in an abusive situation.

Don’t Walk Away

Let’s face it. There are going to be days you just wanna go on strike.

Resist the urge, mama. 

Two thousand years ago, a young carpenter also wanted to walk away from the bitter cup he had been given. “Nevertheless,” he prayed, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

He laid down his rights–his life!–for you and me, so that we might experience God’s amazing love in salvation.

When you feel like walking off the job, remember that amazing love.  Your savior sees you, he loves you, and he wants to help.

How to Fool the World with Just Three Photos

We started “school” this week at the Stanley household, and I decided to document the occasion with three photos.

Honestly, I didn’t think twice about posting them. I had worked hard to put together activities for our “A is for Apple” week, and I wanted to capture snapshots of my kids learning and enjoying God’s creation.

But then a friend looked at me with weary eyes and a feeble smile and said, “I loved all your apple pictures. You are Super Mom!”

And my heart sank.

I was “that mom” this week.

You know, the “together” mom who makes the floundering mom feel like a failure.

Only in reality, I’m a far cry from together.

If only she could see behind the snapshots, I thought. Then she’d know the truth.

The Truth Behind the Photos

Photo 1

apple 1

I had to hand draw all our worksheets because we have no cyan printer ink. Why not print in black and white, you ask? Because the stupid printer won’t let you print at all if one color is low, that’s why.

My three-year old refuses to be taught how to hold his pencil, and I lose my patience, resulting in three timeouts before we even begin our lesson and me having to ask for forgiveness.

Just as the older child simmers, my two-year old goes BERSERK over do-a-dot Paints. There are six colors to choose from and he always wants whatever color his big brother happens to be using. Obviously.

That night, I go to bed feeling like a terrible mom because I was too busy making an Instagram collage of our activities to be “fully present” with my kids.

Photo 2

We are picking pretend apples because after packing all three kids into the car to go to Bible study, the car wouldn’t start.

While we were picking pretend apples, oatmeal was burning on the stove inside. I forgot to turn the burner off.

My child isn’t wearing any sunscreen. And yes, he still uses a pacifier at two years old. Mother of the Year Award.

I go to bed feeling like a terrible mom because I was too busy trying to get the perfect pretend apple picking picture to be fully present with my kids…and I almost burned the house down.

Photo 3

I spent hours stressing over this bin. Seriously, what the heck is a sensory bin and why does my kid need one in order to have a full educational experience?

It’s been five days since this picture was taken, and I still haven’t swept up the excess oatmeal.

I go to bed feeling like a terrible mom because I was too busy trying to get the right angle for this photo to be fully present with my kids. And because I hate Pinterest and all those stupid moms for making me feel like I’m a terrible mom. And I hate myself for making other moms feel like they’re terrible moms.


These photos are just snapshots, friends. Snapshots taken by a flawed mama just trying to capture a moment in time where she’s not yelling at her kids or pulling her hair out or cleaning the umpteenth mess.

She’s not a super mom. In fact, she is in great need of a hero.

She needs someone who will save her from the trap of comparison, someone who will remind her of her inherent value, someone who will give her strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

She needs Jesus.

Because God isn’t impressed with sensory bins. And he’s not disappointed in her disaster of a house or lack of presence.

He made her just the way she is–a disorganized dreamer–and he deemed her wonderfully made.

What’s more, because she has put her trust in Jesus as her savior, God no longer sees her sin when he looks at her. Instead, he sees his precious daughter, bought and paid for by His Son’s death on the cross and clothed in robes of righteousness.

She can do nothing to lose his love and nothing to earn it.

And if there’s one snapshot she wants you to see, it’s the one of Him holding her firm in His hands.

No filter needed.

To My (Biggest) Bundle of Joy

Sweet Baby Michael,

As we welcome you into this world today, our hearts are filled with joy.

From the moment we laid eyes on that sweet round face of yours, we were in love. And that red hair sure is a cherry on top!

We are savoring each moment with you here in the hospital. I’m pretty sure you’ve been held more than your two big brothers combined…not out of necessity, but because we know just how fleeting these precious newborn moments are, and we want to soak them up with you.

Your life has already been such a gift to us, Michael. God has used it to bring about much healing and growth within us over the past nine months. We are now slower to fear and quicker to give thanks. We trust less in our own skills and capabilities and depend more fully on God’s grace. We dwell less on our day-to-day trials and inconveniences and more on the eternal hope we have in Christ.

You are an incredible reminder of God’s goodness and covenant love towards us, son. And we hope that your name, Michael Jeffrey, will serve as a similar reminder to you of God’s unchanging and unfailing character.

Your first name, Michael, means “Who is like God?”

The answer to that question is quite simple.

In Psalm 86, David writes, “There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.”

Michael, we pray that you will come to embrace this great truth…that you will look to God alone for your own hope and salvation and that you will one day stand in awe of Him and all His works.

Your middle name, Jeffrey, is a tribute to the man God used to lead your daddy to Christ, your Uncle Jeff.

Uncle Jeff is a good brother, a faithful servant, and a godly man, and we pray that these same words would be used to describe you as you grow older.

Michael Jeffrey, you are loved beyond measure. We are honored to be your parents and are so excited to see what God has in store for you.

On this day, the day of your birth, we pray that you might one day be born again to a living hope in Christ Jesus and that you would love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

All my Love,

Your Mama