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Category Archives: Motherhood

At What Age Did You Stop Sinning?


My two friends and I were sitting at the kitchen counter eating fresh strawberries from a local farmer’s market and telling war stories. You know, stories about all the crazy things our kids had been doing recently. At times like this, we talk about what we do when our children back-talk, what training techniques seem to work well at what ages, what we do when we are sleep deprived, and on and on the stories and lamenting and encouragement go. We support each other and affirm each other and give counsel when needed. We love each other and we cry and we laugh when we talk about life with little ones.

This particular evening, much like our other times together, we found ourselves complaining a bit about the naughty things our children had done. And then my friend said something to the effect of, “If only I could cure my complaining problem! Guess we’re not much different from our children!” We laughed and agreed, and the words went deep.

We are not much different from our little ones…

Read the rest over at (in)courage today!

Love, SM

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I think I’m not so scary, but maybe I am

I yelled at my kids tonight.

Oh I yelled.

They were supposed to be cleaning something, and I was hot while cooking dinner, and I was hungry, and I walked in the living room to see they weren’t cleaning and I just blew it.

I blew it because I blew up.

I looked at their little faces and I yelled and I told them to clean the bathroom up and down until it was shining.

And then one of them told on the other, and that made me mad. And I told them they’d better work harder than the other.

I went back to the kitchen, a sweaty mess, and continued to stir the spaghetti sauce. But my heart clinched because I hate yelling.

Yea, I know, sometimes we moms just yell. We lose it. It happens. And, I’m Italian. We’re loud. But here’s the thing, after I yelled my first thought was that I wasn’t so bad.

My second thought was me wondering if the person who used to yell at me growing up thought it wasn’t so bad.

It was. I was scared and I used to get sick to my stomach. Tense. Anxious. I hated it.

I hated being yelled at, and I vowed early on that I would not be like her; I vowed I wouldn’t be a yeller.

But here I am, yelling at my kids, thinking I’m not so scary when maybe I am. Maybe I am scary. Maybe they tense up and their tummies hurt and maybe they are afraid of me.

I set down my spoon and my kids came into the kitchen. I got down on my knees, pulled them near, and looked in their eyes. “I’m sorry I yelled at you all. I was mad you didn’t listen, and you need to listen, but I shouldn’t yell. I don’t like myself when I yell at you. Will you forgive me?”

They do, because kids forgive and are so gracious. They are grace to us so completely human, susceptible-to-sin mothers.

After they forgave me I asked them if I scared them. Two no’s, one yes (from the the littlest). We talk about it some more, and then we move on. My husband cracks a joke and we all laugh and all is well. We begin again.

In last night’s Core Lies Intensive, Kimberely said that motherhood often triggers our lies, the things we believe that have led us to make vows to protect ourselves and those we love, but that do more damage in the long run. She said that the bad part of the triggering is that is surprises and unnverves us. But the good part is that it brings light to our lies, and light breaks the dark allowing us to see and heal and trust our Father God.

I made a vow not to be like the person who yelled at me, but see vows give the illusion that we can stay in control.

When I break my vow, when I yell at my kids, it unnerves me because I see that I am just so human, so imperfect, so prone to sin. I can’t always control my temper. This isn’t an excuse to not change, it’s a reality that I am so in need of Jesus and His power in me.

Here’s the other thing: the gospel gives us permission to be radically honest and authentic. (Tweet that)

Sometimes I yell at my kids. I don’t like to yell at them. I sin so often. But I am also so loved.

See into my life and my story and you see a real mess who is utterly dependent on a real God.

There is such a rhythm to life and parenting and we will mess up, but we can always, always move forward in humility and grace and forgiveness. And when we are locked up and find ourselves getting overly angry when the situation doesn’t call for it, we can get help; we can ask God to show us why we reacted the way we did.

As Kimberely so beautifully puts it, kids don’t need perfect parents, kids need whole parents, parents who are willing to invite the Holy Spirit into their weak places and ask, “I wonder why this is happening? Will you show me God, why, and what the truth is?” God wants to heal us so we can be whole and free. He wants us to know how much He loves us and wants us to see Him as Savior and Father.

One more thing about my yelling. I, by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, asked my kids to forgive me. I think there is a release in forgiveness, not only for myself, but for my children. They can release me in grace and not have to hold the imprint of my sin on their lives; I don’t have to live in their memory as a scary mom. I think forgiveness can heal wounds faster so there is less scar tissue in the long run.

I realize now that my wounds have taken longer to heal because forgiveness was never asked of me. But now that I’m older and I see more clearly and I’m whole, I can forgive without the asking of it. I’m free.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

You don’t have to keep beating yourself up. There is healing and freedom available to you, and you don’t have to whiteknuckle your way there.

You are loved and you are invited into a place of freedom, you just have to be willing to go there.


Goofy, vulnerable, strong-in-Christ girls clinging to grace!

Love to you, SM

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The Influence of a Mother

The influence of a mother

As I’ve been reading through different articles on the Syrian refugee crisis, one stood out to me as particularly inspiring.

Some of you might be familiar with the Greek yogurt Chobani. Well it turns out that the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, plans on giving most of his wealth away to help the refugees, and this is what he says about it:

“I have always planned to give most of what I had. Growing up, I watched my mother give to those who needed and it came from the most amazing place in her heart…”

“…Today, I dedicate my signing of the Giving Pledge to my mother and I am publicly committing the majority of my personal wealth—along with everything else I can do—to help refugees and help bring an end to this humanitarian crisis.”

Ya’ll, it was the influence of his mother that so profoundly imprinted on him that he is choosing to give away his money to help others.

What a beautiful reminder of the influence of a mother.

For all of you out there mothering, you matter. Your hidden work matters. Your sleepless nights and your constant giving, matter. When you feel weary and just done, know that all of your imperfect, beautiful, faithful offering is impacting and imprinting on your children. And yea, I know you feel like you’re making a million mistakes, but your little ones, they are gracious and God is kind, and the good things are getting in them. Don’t doubt that.

Keep praying, keep going, one step at a time, slow and steady. When you mess up, when you sin, confess it to God and ask your kids to forgive you. Begin again. Don’t give up.

You matter more than you know.

Because maybe one day your kids will grow up and give and serve and love so well they may make an impact that has eternal significance.

They may be the hands of God to someone one day.

Just as you are, right now, to them.

Love, SM

Sarah Mae's Longing for Life Course

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A True Joy of Motherhood: When Your Children Can Clean the WHOLE Kitchen by Themselves!


My girl, being a good sport for me! Always the ham!

Well, the most glorious thing has happened in my house.

My 9 year old can clean the WHOLE ENTIRE kitchen by herself. The pots and pans, the dishes washed and put into the dishwasher, the counters, the floor, and I am ALL KINDS OF HAPPY DANCING. For some of you this is no big deal, your kids have been cleaning since they are they were born. Practically. But not my kids!

Let me back up a minute.

I was on the phone with my sister-in-law interviewing her for Having a Martha House the Mary Way, (she’s rocks at cleaning) and she told me that her kids clean the kitchen every night after dinner. Her kids are 8 and 6. 8 AND 6!

I have clearly been slacking. My kids unload the dishwasher and set the table. Dude.

So I asked her to tell me more, and she said that her 8 year old son does it all, dishes, pots, pans, counters, BADA-BING-BADA-BOOM. And I was all, “REEEALLY?!” Her 6 year old loads the dishwasher, and she has 15 minutes to do it or she has to do the dishes for her brother the next night. THAT’S some motivation.

Now listen, my sister-in-law is lovely and kind and gentle and is a great mom. She is teaching her children to take care of a home, and she’s knocking it out of the park. Which is why I interviewed her. Which is why I’m going to do everything she tells me to do.

Which brings me back to my kitchen and my 9 year old.

I said to my girl, “Honey, it’s time you learn to clean the kitchen. You are old enough, and I need your help because we are a family and we help each other. Okay?”

She looked at me suspiciously. I could see the challenge in her eyes. But I was going to do this; I was going to teach her to clean the kitchen, top to bottom. And boy did she have her work cut out for her! I made her learn on a Monday, after the weekend, after dishes were everywhere.


Sponge fun, thanks to the awesome folks at ePantry and their new pop-up sponges!

I showed her how to wash off the dishes before putting in the dishwasher. As she did that, I decided to make her a pretty little chart with steps to cleaning the kitchen. When I was finished, I, smile on my face, showed her the chart. She looked at it, grabbed a pen, and PROCEEDED TO PUT SAD FACES ALL OVER IT. Oh, ya’ll, I was not having that.

I told her that in addition to cleaning the kitchen, she was now going to have to make the chart all over again, and she had to copy it just as I had made it.

She did it. And when she was done, there were SMILEY FACES all over it. Mom wins.


Back to the kitchen…

I taught her how to do the rest, and she washed and scrubbed and swept, and I as SO proud of her. She had mentioned a few times that making her clean the kitchen would be an excellent punishment. We had a talk about attitude. But here is the best part: when she was finished, I watched her as she walked out of the kitchen, turned around, looked over worked, and SMILED. I could see accomplishment in her eyes. She felt good about her work.

The next time she cleaned the kitchen, she did it without fuss.

This is a glorious new beginning. I mean, truly, I think there are angels singing somewhere on behalf of all moms. HOPE has sprung!

Next I will be teaching my son and youngest to clean the kitchen, because what I know now is that my kids are capable of doing more than I have given them credit for. Also, I just needed to ante up and do the work of teaching them. Because you know what, it’s worth it.

Not only do I know have legitimate help cleaning, but they are learning valuable skills and their characters are being refined. So good.

But mostly, I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL BY MYSELF!!!!!! WOO HOO!!! Okay, my husband helps. Actually, he’s amazing. But now we also have the kiddos helping, and that just rocks.

Here are some encouraging words in getting our kids to clean from my sister-in-law Sarah, AKA, cleaning ninja:

“As much as I can, I allot to each child according to his/her age and ability, a task.  I work with them and teach them the first one or two times on the “how to’s” and then they are required to help out when asked, needed or scheduled.  The old “many hands make light work” couldn’t be truer. When a job has been well done, I verbally or sometimes monetarily praise the child. If the child inquires is the job “well done”, I often ask them if they did their best and if they would be pleased with the outcome if Jesus were to see it.  I don’t want the effort made to be for me, but for the LORD. I believe having a clean home creates a sense of calm in the home, although keeping it clean can feel meaningless, redundant, and constant. However, if we view our work as serving others and by doing so, loving them, it changes our heart attitudes. When we serve those in our home by taking care of it we become more Christlike. Jesus Himself, came to serve us, we can do the same.

I fail so many times. Our God is not a condemning God, but a gracious one, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness! Ultimately, all our efforts in this life are to glorify Him.”

There you have it! Go forth and clean NOT ALONE!

Keep on!


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Letting Our Children See Our Humanity


When I’m frustrated, I make this horrible grunting/groan type sound.

It’s awful, really.

My knowledge of the sound I make was realized when I kept hearing my youngest make the sound. Everytime she would get upset at someone, she made that noise, and she made it loud and long. I told her to please stop making that terrible sound.

Then I got upset about something and I made the sound. “Oh. She gets that from me.”

I was thinking about how I could ask my children to help me by gently saying something like, “Mom, you’re making that sound” every time I did it. But then another thought came in. “You are the parent. You shouldn’t have your children correct you.”

Where did that thought come from? What voice put that in my head? Maybe a parenting expert?

It’s not that I want my children to correct me, it’s that I want them to encourage me to stop doing something I want to stop doing. They’re my people; we help each other. I realize I am their authority for this season of their life, but I also realize, I’m just human.

And we, together, are just walking this life out together, imperfectly, humanly, as we lean into faith.

I am their mother, and I intend to do my best to lead and instruct them, but I also want them to see me as flawed and in need of Jesus everyday, because I am, and I do.

There are so many should’s and should not’s and it kind of exhausts me. And confuses me sometimes. And makes me neurotic. I often say I want to parent from my gut, listening to that inner whisper that so gently guides. I like to think that God puts that whisper in the soul of a mother to help her along, to help me along. And then to also have the Holy Spirit tangled up in me, and God’s Word directing me, I can do this; I can mother. And thank God He gives us wisdom through mothers who have gone before us, and who are willing to teach us. Those women who have heeded God’s call to help the younger mothers, they are gifts.

But all of us, young and old, we are just so human. I want my kids to see my humanity. I want them to see me trying and listening and praying and working out this life, because I want them to know they are not alone in the human experience. I want them to see that life is not cookie-cutter, but it is beautiful. It’s hard and good and delightful and painful, but we get to do it together.

“Caroline” I say, “I’m so sorry I have been making that terrible noise and then yelling at you not to make it. How about this, I’ll help you and you help me. We’ll work on it together. Sound good?”

“Sounds good, mom.”

I show the way, but we walk together. And together, encouraging one another daily, we can do this life, and we can do it well.

One human, holy step at a time.

Keep on, sisters, SM

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