Lent – Letting Go and Leaning In


A time of letting go.

A time of preparing.

A space to rest and reflect.

So often overlooked by modern culture.

Sometimes overly strict for perhaps the wrong reasons.

In the history of the Church, Lent is the season before Easter. It is marked by 40 days that precede Resurrection Sunday (excluding Sundays), or about 6 weeks. For many in the Catholic Church, lent became a season of giving up sweets and alcohol. Before Lent begins, on Ash Wednesday, there is one last hurrah on Fat Tuesday. (in French… Mardi Gras, which translated literally means Tuesday Fat). That’s also a reason many children typically receive candy on Easter morning, to mark that the fast from sugar is over. Hopefully the kiddos aren’t also getting a bottle of booze in their basket.

Some people know this information well.

Some might say, “Oh, ya. I kinda recall that.”

Following the tradition of giving up things, I know people who have taken a break from Facebook for Lent. Others who do give up sugar or alcohol. Sometimes people give up other foods like coffee or soda. (Yes, coffee is its own food group. Don’t judge. Also, I’m not giving up my coffee this Lent) I’ve known people who give up one meal a day. If you’re giving something up, let me be the first to encourage you!

In the right idea of Lent, it’s not just about giving something up. Because in that model, it’s all about us. In this busy culture and busy lives that we lead, the giving up of something trivial is easy. No candy, meh, I can handle 40 days. Skipping Starbucks for the home brewed coffee, ya, I can handle that. And in our busy, I’m sure something else will fill that space or perceived need we have.

If it’s not about me and what I’m sacrificing, then where is my focus? It’s more about replacing.  It’s about replacing that activity you would normally do or food you would normally eat to spend more time with Jesus. It’s about journeying through those last weeks and days until he was crucified on the cross. It’s about remembering what He has already accomplished on your behalf and growing your soul closer to Him.

Really, the Lenten Season is a both a giving up of something personal to us and a giving in to something so much greater than us. It’s about surrendering our ways to the The Way. It’s about letting Jesus into our personal, daily, breathing in and breathing out spaces of life. It’s about letting Him guide us and transform us, bringing a true inner peace and understanding in a way that only He can.

So what does that really look like to give up something a little more personal?

That can be a challenge.

Rearranging our schedule to make more time with Jesus? Giving up our old ideas and ways of doing things? Letting go of our expectations and control of how it’s always been done? Letting go of that perfect picture in your head of what life should look like for yourself? Offering our time and lives to be in service to others? Saying yes to the hard things He asks of us? AND inviting Jesus into the process? Trusting even deeper in your inner being that He is there for you?

Yep, that can be a journey.

It’s a journey I’m ready for.

A time to cleanse the old ideas. A time to be refreshed by the one who refreshes.

Are you ready too? I encourage you to take some time and consider what you may let go of so that you receive the grace He desires to pour into the empty space.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)


Parenting is STUPID HARD!


Sometimes I feel like I understand why wild animals eat their young.

“Ugh. Parenting is STUPID HARD sometimes!”

That was the beginning of a Facebook post recently. I hit another bump in the road of this parenting journey. I know we’ll get through this, but sometimes it’s such a huge struggle. It’s enough of a struggle to get the everyday demands of our lives taken care of, keep everybody moving forward in a positive direction, and try to do it with a smile on my face. Especially when all I want to do right now is SCREAM and STOMP MY FEET WILDLY!!!!

We’ve been in a similar situation before, so it makes this go ‘round even more frustrating. In addition, some lies and deception were uncovered. Oh, I asked the right questions. At the right time. For months. I was aware there could be a problem. That’s why I asked the questions. I trusted the answers and extended grace.

As we parent and grow our children I believe the boundaries we have in place get wider. When our kids are young, they have narrow boundaries. Right from wrong is taught, boundaries are enforced more frequently, there is a lot more oversight, and children learn how to navigate within the boundaries. When they cross them, there is swift correction.

As children get older, the boundaries begin to widen like the top of a funnel. They are given more trust and more freedom. More of a chance to practice staying in the boundaries before they’re out on their own. As parents, we’re still there to point them back to the center when they get too far off course.

This situation was off course. My instant reaction was anger. “HOW COULD YOU!” I wanted to take away every ounce of freedom and every convenience this child has been given. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS?!” “HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE?” “HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?!” “I ASKED! WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP!” “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I HAVE GIVEN SO THAT YOU COULD DO WHAT?!!”

So!! Angry!!!

Some of those words may have come out.

I had to breathe. And breathe again. And take a little space. And breathe some more. And say more than a few prayers to know how to proceed.

While there are natural and imposed consequences to this situation, I want so much more for my child than consequences. I want them to clearly understand a boundary was crossed, but I don’t want them to simply learn to dance close to the boundary or to hide the evidence when the line is crossed. I don’t want them to get used to going so far off course they feel there is no way back or no help available. I don’t want them to get lost. I want them to know I always love them, always want what’s best for them, and will always fight for them.

So, some course correction is in order.

This isn’t to simply get out of a difficult situation nor is it to just barely get back in the “acceptable” boundaries. No, the goal is restoration. The goal is to make different choices in this life journey so that they may live a full life as the person they have been created to be. And I want to deal with the root issues of lying, deception, and hiding. Those are not descriptors I want for my children.

We had some hard conversations. My child was in so deep the reality of the situation could not be seen clearly. It was hard to point that out and see my child feel broken. But reality and crossed boundaries need to be understood. The potential ramifications in the future needed to be clearly considered as well. There were lots of tears.

There are still hard days ahead. We’ve written a contract with clear expectations and clear consequences. We’ve included daily steps and longer term steps so we see the progress as we move forward. I’m trying to show that little actions, every day, lead us forward on the journey. We can’t expect to leap forward to where we want to be without the hard work now. Nor can we ignore those little choices that are leading the wrong direction and expect them to somehow get better with time. No, personal action, in the right direction, is required.

I’m also working hard to create a safe place of clear communication so that we can rebuild trust. I want my children to come to me in the joys and struggles of life. I don’t want them to ever feel they are too far gone to receive my help and love.

This week I’m also incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of parenting solidarity, concern, hugs, laughter, and encouragement from friends. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people and that is such a huge blessing as I walk this parenting journey solo. I may be solo, but all of you make me realize I’m not alone. My sincerest gratitude and thank you to each of you.

Correcting a wrong course is hard and painful, but it can be done. I trust that my children and I will grow stronger in our relationship because we’re navigating this hard part of the path together, with His help.



One Word for 2017

wood-cube-abc-cube-letters-48898Intentional joy that leads to a deep confidence.


Just one word.

Those were my words over the last several years. They have helped define me and focus me, moving me forward. There were tough times along the way and these words served as reminders and motivators. I wrote about last year’s word here: Just One Word

It’s amazing how much one little word can shape and change a person. Honestly, towards the end of the year I almost forgot what my word was. Then I thought maybe I had completely failed. Forgetting my word. Nope, change that negative self-talk. Stand tall. Be strong. Be confident.

Yep, there it is.

As I look back over my year of confidence, I see how I have grown more confident and sure of myself. Someone even commented on it last September. I only see them a few times a year, but they commented that I just seemed more sure of myself. More confident. More at peace. Yep. I feel it.

There were several situations that helped grow me over the past year. They weren’t all easy. Most were pretty difficult or took a lot of intention. Some were just moments of pure joy, just resting in the experience at hand. Oh. There are those words from previous years, still serving me and carrying me forward.

Realizing how much these words have defined me made me excited to hear from God about this year’s word. He’s the one that selects it. He’s the one who desires It for me. So I’ve talked to Him about it. I’ve waited. I’ve watched. I didn’t really understand it at first, but it’s making more sense. And just as I initially didn’t think I had grown in confidence much, I know this word will be developed over the year. That’s so exciting!

While I loved the joy and still look for it, I feel so much more centered. So while joy feels more exuberant and lively, my word this year feels more settled and strong. Just a deep seated confidence that reflects in my world around me. I want to continue to experience this new space of joy in a different way. I want to continue to experience life fully. I want to experience the absolute beauty of life in the mundane, in the challenges, in the daily living of this one life I have been given. There it is.


I want to see the beauty all around me.

I want to see the beauty in the journey He has brought me on; through the struggles and
the joy, through the complete dependence on the one who has created me. I want to see the beauty in the painful and hard spaces. I know it’s there too. I want to see beauty in the dreams He has given me and the beauty as I work to bring them to reality.

I want to get out and see the beauty of His creations, from the mountains and streams to the oceans and deserts. I want to notice the little flowers that grow out of hard spaces and I want to experience the beautiful laughs and smiles of treasured friends. And I want to help my kids find the beauty around them too.

I also want to see beauty in the waiting, in the stillness, in the pause. Sometimes I know I have to sit still and just take in my surroundings. I want to see the beauty in this space too, no longer feeling the anxiety that used to mark my life. I want to see the beauty in all of it and I don’t want to miss a thing as He creates and moves through me.

2017, I’m setting my intentions, collecting the beautiful moments, and preparing for the next steps in the journey. I don’t want to miss the beauty of this life as I live with intention, joy, and confidence.

Wow. He’s still that good.