Category Archives: (in)courage
I remember the morning I sat up in my bed and thought, “If something doesn’t change, I’m not going to make it.”
Life had become like water. I couldn’t catch it; it just kept slipping through my fingers. I felt so behind, so robotic, so stuck. Why couldn’t I change? Why couldn’t I get myself together? Why couldn’t I do the things I wanted to do?
I just felt tired and overwhelmed, and many days, defeated.
But that morning in my bed, I decided I wanted to live; I didn’t just want to go through the motions.
And it was that day I purposed to wake up to my own life and choose it. No one was going to do it for me. Whatever it was that clicked in me that morning made me see that I didn’t want to regret my life. I didn’t want to look back one day and see that I missed it.
It’s such a funny thing when you become a mom. You lose yourself to it in the most beautiful way. You give of yourself, you sacrifice, and it’s good and you wouldn’t change it. But then one day you wake up and you think, “Who am I now?” You have to figure out a new normal. You’re you, but you’re different. So this waking up I was doing was more than just getting out of a funk; it was figuring out a new way to live in this mother-self-skin.
“Daily life is very seductive. Weeks go by and we forget who we are.”
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
I committed to making small changes over a period of several months in order to wake up to my life. I experimented with myself, trying all sorts of things having to do with self-discipline, diet, mothering, spiritual depth, figuring out who I was (and accepting myself), and learning to serve out of who God created me to be. I basically boot-camped my own life. And it helped. It woke me up.
I want to share with you the two initial things that changed the course of my life:
Read on at (in)courage today.
My youngest daughter is so much like me.
There’s this fieriness to her, this loudness, this tenderness, this bent toward wanting to scream and then cry when someone wrongs her; she is so dear and so thoughtful and so… worried. She’s worried she won’t be able to control her temper, find peace in conflict, or just breathe long enough to not yell at her brother when he irritates her. She thinks she’ll never change.
“Oh sweet Caroline, you are so much like me,” I tell her as we drive, just the two of us.
“No, mom, not really.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you know how to control your anger and I don’t. I’ll never be able to.”
And there it is, the lie that she’ll never change, the start of a downward thought process that can lead to despair if not corrected in truth.
“Care, how old are you?”
“Well, I’m 37, so I’ve got some years on you, and through those years God has helped me to have self-control, and He will help you too, but give yourself time to grow and learn and surrender and wait as He helps you. You can have self-control. Here, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned…”
Every week it’s the same thing.
We study for the spelling test and my child cries and says, “I’m so stupid! I’d rather not be in this world. Everyone is smarter than me.”
They go down a dark trail of negative self-loathing and harsh talk about themselves. It’s awful, and it’s sad and it’s hard and it makes this mama feel so helpless. I pray and I ask God for all the grace and patience and gentle words and gentle touches to help, but it’s a fight. And I know the enemy will use this disposition that my child has to try and steal and kill and destroy.
I think, why? Why does my child look at themselves so poorly? Why can’t they see what I see? That they are a wonder, smart and funny and passionate and driven and thoughtful and made with purpose?
And then I turn the gaze inward and I think of all the ways I have spoken harshly to myself. I think of my own particular bent: I’m so stupid.
I don’t say it out loud, but I speak it in my head and my heart. I’m dumb. I have nothing to contribute to the world. What’s the point? And now that I’ve seen my child say these things, I wonder, Does God view me the way I view my child? Does it break His heart when I condemn myself? Is it painful for Him to see?
Click here to read the rest over at (in)courage today.
Love, Sarah Mae
We were at Burger King because my kids like Whoppers and it was baseball season and it was just EASY.
I reached over to the nice lady handing me our food and my sweet, precious, delight of a child took hold of the skin UNDER MY ARM. You know the place, where triceps are supposed to be. The dangling place. The place that has names I shall not refer to as to not offend. THAT PLACE. She squeezed it, and then she jiggled it. With her sweet little fingers SHE JIGGLED MY ARM LIKE IT WAS JELLO.
Let’s take a moment.
Okay. So she did that and I said, “Could you please not do that?”
She took her hand away from the place. We moved on.
So here’s the thing: my bits are changing.
I am growing out my gray hair (which, by the way, I reserve the right to change my mind about at any moment). I am realizing that I am going to have to make peace with the thigh dimples because I have no Jillian Michaels abilities in me. At all. I called to cancel my gym membership the other day and the lady was all, “You’ve only been a member three months.” Nice try shaming me lady. I LIFTED 20 POUND WEIGHTS AND MAYBE SPRAINED MY WRIST IN THE PROCESS. I’m on medical leave. Anyway.
The dimples aren’t going anywhere.
My wrist hurts from lifting a dumbbell, (Lord, help me).
I’m not going to starve myself (goodbye metabolism).
And while I’m watching my sugar intake and eating more smoothies and salads, there are times I just want some wings and beer in bed with my husband.
Here’s the point: It’s okay to age.
Read the rest over at (in)courage today!
(There’s a giveaway at the end of this post, so make sure to read to the end!)
I was the boyfriend girl.
Meaning, I was always wrapped up in a guy and never made time for deep friendships with girls. Which is a major bummer because I missed out on the friendships you always hear about, the great high school and college friends who “always will be.”
Sure, I had a couple friends, but we all went separate ways for the most part, and then I got married, and then I had kids, and then…who has time for friendship when you’re exhausted and barely making it. I probably needed friendship the most in my desperate years, but it was those years I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to find or make new friends. First it was the boyfriends, then kids, then just plain exhaustion. So, I decided I was a loner. I wasn’t any good at friendships and maybe I just didn’t really need them. I was fine. Really.
But I wasn’t. I had no idea how important and wonderful and good life-giving friendships were.
Until my mid-30’s. In my mid-30’s I met my dearest friends.
And not only do I now have these beautiful, life-giving friendships, I am learning how to be a good friend. The fact is, I’ve not always been one. I’m not a natural at friendship, which is weird, I know, but true.
Maybe you struggle with finding friends or being a friend, or maybe you think you don’t need friends. Maybe you’re just worn out and can’t even muster the strength to work at friendship. I hear you. But let me offer this: If you don’t make the effort for friendship, here are some things you might miss out on:
You might miss the encouragement your soul needs to keep on. My friends know me so well, they know when to call or text or vox and send Scripture or encouraging words or drop off a coffee or take my kids. My friends fill a place in my soul that I never even knew I needed. I would be missing a great gift if I stayed in my “loner” thinking.
You might miss really fun girl nights out. One of my favorite things to do with my friends is head out once every couple of months to a restaurant and eat lots of bread and salad and drink wine and laugh and cry and have wonderful conversations with my friends. These nights refresh my heart and help me to keep on in the dailyness of life.
You might miss knowing you’re not alone. Knowing that my friends go through similar struggles as I do is comforting; we can comfort each other and share how God has helped and what He’s doing and what works and “here’s some chocolate, it’s been that kind of week.” I also know when I’m feeling in the depths, I can call on my friends and they will rally and lift me up, as I will do for them. My husband is my best friend and my greatest supporter, but my girlfriends are a lifeline that is so sacred and special to me.
You might miss knowing you’re loved even at your worst. Real friends love you anyway…they love you, tell you the truth, walk with your through the dark times, and never condemn you. They listen. They are honest but kind. Their arms are wide open. This is the grace of kindred friendship: that you are loved even at your worst.
You might miss out on growing in faith and loving God more. My dearest friends teach me so much. Their love for God is inspiring, and I come away from them wanting to know and love God more. They sharpen me, teach me, and through their struggles and faithful obedience to God, I am encouraged to keep on.
Now maybe you know this, maybe you are desperate for friendship and want to make friends but aren’t sure how or where or what to do. Here are some thoughts for you:
First of all, friendship is like dating…you don’t give up just because the first (or second or third) doesn’t work out (tweet that). You’re not going to have chemistry with everyone, and that’s okay. Stay open.
Second, ask God. Ask God for good, true friendships. Back to the dating analogy for a moment, in the book Little Women, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one… if he’s the right one.” I feel like this about friendship. You don’t need scores of friends, one good friend is worth gold (think of Anne and Diana). If you get to have two or three dear friends, well that’s just extra grace. Ask God for a kindred friend.
Make the effort. Yes, friendship takes effort to develop, but soon it becomes natural and sweet. My dearest friends are those I can let down with, be myself, and not have to worry about pretense. My friend Amy always says, “No eggshells!” You don’t have to feel like you’re walking on egg shells with good friends, and I love that. But even after the work and you’ve settled into a friendship, you’ve still got to work to love well, because it’s easy to let friendship just be. It’s important to keep caring, to do the work of writing down birthdays and dropping off a coffee now and then, writing a note telling your friends what they mean to you, or saying, “Let me take your kiddos so you can get a break.” Friendship, like marriage, like life, takes work and care. But it’s so worth the effort. So make the effort to invite that woman from church over for coffee. Make the effort to get together with that other mom from your child’s dance class. Make the effort to go to the dinner you were invited to even though you’re born weary. Every time I feel too tired to go see a friend, I’m always refreshed after; I never regret it. Make the effort.
I didn’t always have these beautiful friendships. Maybe you’re in that place right now, praying and hoping for kindred friendship. Don’t give up.
Today, to encourage you, I want to tell you about Craving Connection, a book that is not only a lovely offering about friendship, but has challenges to help you make and become a better friend.
Craving Connection is a book that will take you on a journey and offer you real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to:
- Embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection
- Invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you
- Become the friend you wish you had
The book is by the (in)courage community writers, and they invite you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.
Giveaway and FUN
Now for some fun. First of all, if you want to learn more and/or buy the book, check out cravingconnectionsbook.com.
Second, head to your local bookstore where you might find a Starbucks gift card tucked into the book so you and a friend can have coffee together, thanks to (in)courage.
Lancaster, PA people, I’VE GOT YOU COVERED. Head to your local B & N or Lifeway and you’ll find a little somethin’. 😉
To win 1 of 3 copies I’m giving away, just fill out the form below! Contest open to U.S. residents. I will pick the winner TOMORROW at 9pm EST! GOOD “LUCK”!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER! The winners are…
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastics 4:9-10
Here’s to the gift of friendship!
Love, Sarah Mae
Thank you so much B & H for sponsoring this post. Such a gift to be able to offer this book to those who are hungry for kindred friendship.