Ruining My Family, One Non-Organic Meal at a Time

This morning, the crazies emerged again.

Picture: Me sobbing to the point where my husband (sweet man that he is) cut his morning routine short in order to console me. He asks what’s wrong, and through sniffles I answer (as if it’s obvious), “I’m ruining our family!” And in that moment, I really believed it.

This particular set of crazies were spawned on by one of those condescending articles that people post on Facebook in order to “educate” Facebook world, particularly moms. You know what I’m talking about:

“You’re ruining your children by not doing enough interacting play with them!”
“You’re ruining your child by doing too much interactive play with them!”
“You’re ruining your children by letting them watch even 3 seconds of TV!”
“You’re ruining your child by swaddling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by not breastfeeding them!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to daycare!”
“You’re ruining your child by sleep training!”
“You’re ruining your child by attachment parenting!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to public school!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to private school!”
“You’re ruining your child by homeschooling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by letting them see you on an iPhone!”
“You’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic food!”

Mom guilt is such a real and nasty thing. A friend of mine who is about a year and a half into parenting recently admitted that she didn’t understand the whole “mom guilt” thing until she became one. She was surprised by how quickly it snuck up on her.

It’s one thing to be convicted of something you might need to do differently, I mean we could all use some growth and changing in many areas of our lives. But mom guilt is a taunting voice that follows you around, telling you that you are never enough and are never doing enough. It tempts you to believe something wrong about your identity.

Food has always been the one that gets me. I don’t really know why, but my largest area of insecurity in motherhood has always been how I feed my child. From nursing to baby food to solids, I’ve always questioned myself, feeling hard pressed by so many differing opinions.

When Riley was an infant (and once when she was a toddler), there were a couple of months when she dropped weight percentiles and the doctor was concerned about it. I was put on a strict mission to “fatten her up, whatever it takes!” I felt like it was my fault. I must have been accidentally starving my baby! I would get really emotional about it. So I fed my picky eater cheeseburgers and milkshakes, whatever I could do to bring her weight up. And then I would feel guilty for feeding her those foods. So I would try the healthier route, and she wouldn’t eat. So then I would feel like a failure.

I remember being surprised by my own answer when asked what the most surprising difficult thing about motherhood has been. “Feeding her/meal planning.” I would have never expected that.

Thankfully, Riley loves and eats a lot of healthy food now: avocados, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapes, bananas, peas, greenbeens, greek yogurt, chicken, eggs, almond milk, and smoothies. But just when I start to feel encouraged by that, BAM! I’m whacked over the head with the “you’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand that our government allows a lot of things to be done to food in America that is not good for us. I know that there are chemicals and pesticides and that processed food can be harmful. I’ve watched Food Inc. I’ve read 2998203982 articles. I’ve done the research. I realize that a grass-fed, cage free, hormone free, organic, local, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is probably the healthiest way to eat. I even tried it for a little while! The problem is, it costs an arm and a leg (and perhaps even a nose). And we don’t have an arm, leg, and a nose to give right now.

I constantly feel this tension between wanting to feed my family well and wanting to be frugal and honor our budget well.

“You’re not enough.” “You’re not doing enough.” “You’re ruining your child,” the mom guilt taunts.

She’s mean.

Speaking of mean, know what else is mean? Posting these condescending articles on social media. For the love, can we mamas please stop doing this to each other? If there is something you have learned that you care a lot about and are worried for friends or family of yours, will you just send them the link, individually? Will you just have a conversation with them about it?

I am thankful that I do have friends who care about eating organically and healthy who have approached it in such a loving way. I have one friend who has exchanged articles back and forth with me but has never once offended me with the way she talks about it. She even started researching with me on how to eat well on a budget. That is loving. Or another friend who opened up in such a kind manner when I asked her about it and never treated me like I am inferior.

Why do we feel the need to publicly “educate” social media world on something with our finger pointed at everyone else?

On that note, if you see a mom that you care about today, give her a hug and tell her, “good job! Motherhood is tough, and you’re doing your best. Rock it!”

And be comforted that we all get the crazies from time to time ;-).



Come, Weary one

Have you ever felt like you are always trying? Trying and trying and trying so hard, never sure if you’ve done enough?

I had a period of time in my life where I thought it was all about being good enough. Being a really spiritual person. I was involved in so many Christian activities in college, leader of several, and I was trying SO hard to prove that I was enough. To feel like what I was doing was enough, and to feel worthy of God’s love. And I remember having so many emotional breakdowns. I remember feeling like I was barely hanging on by a thread, because it was so exhausting. No matter how much “good” Christian stuff I did, it never seemed to be enough.

Then I graduated college and went into full-time ministry for 4 years. When I look back on those 4 years, I see a weary soul. I see a woman young in her 20s who should have been full of life, entirely burnt out. A woman who was constantly trying to prove that she was worthy.

Thankfully, this is not how it is supposed to be.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says,

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.”

The word “labor” used here carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. Jesus was addressing the fact that the Pharisees’ (The religious leaders at this time) interpretation of the law had become a crushing burden to people. The standards were impossible to keep up with. They preached a message that you had to strive to achieve perfection under the law to obtain salvation.

Many people spend much of their lives trying to prove that they are a “good person.” Even those of us who are Christians and have been a part of the church for many years. We may say that we know we can never be good enough to earn God’s favor; that it is only through the Grace of Jesus through his death and resurrection that we can have good standing with God. Yet we find ourselves time and time again falling into the same trap of trying to prove ourselves “good enough.”

The pressure of this labor we try to carry often manifests itself in strained relationships, depression, stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy.

And how do we usually seek to get rid of the burden? By trying harder.

Maybe we’re trying harder by climbing the career ladder, maybe we’re trying to impress people by looking good, maybe it’s “upgrading” our possessions, gaining recognition and approval for our accomplishments, taking on more roles at church, volunteering more in our community, helping other people, getting a higher degree, etc. Underlying all of these efforts is a desire to win the approval of God and of others.

The problem is, no person can make a grade high enough to merit heaven. So attempting to do so is frustrating and exhausting.

Jesus used the image of the yoke to show people that it is impossible to measure up to God’s standard, and also to teach us that Jesus does measure up.

Let me explain.

There is a story that a pastor named Jim Shaddix tells about some time he spent with a mentor of his who is a sawmill operator. One day when he was visiting this man, he noticed an actual yoke hanging on his wall and he pointed it out. The sawmill operator explained to him how the yoke worked.

First of all, when you look at the design of a yoke, you realize that it is intended for two animals to carry. He explained that one animal could never carry the whole load on its own.

The burden of the law is too much for us to carry on our own. This is why all of our striving is so exhausting to us. We are trying to do it all on our own. And specifically we are trying to live up to God’s perfect standard. But it’s too much. It is impossible to succeed in carrying it.

Second, the two animals on which the yoke was placed were different. One of the animals was always more experienced than the other. So the second animal became somewhat of a learner. The experienced animal was schooled in the commands of the master. So this experienced animal was the one who provided the direction, leadership, help, and training for the unexperienced member of the team.

Jesus is the experienced guide! He is the one who has fulfilled the law. He is the one who knows the commands of the Master. He lived the perfect life that we cannot. He invites us to come under his yoke with him, as he guides the way.

Jesus promises that being yoked together and following His lead will result in a refreshing experience for his tired followers. The rest he offers is a rejuvenation from the weariness of trying to measure up.

Although Jesus is not trying to give people another heavy load to carry and is inviting them to rest in his, he was not suggesting that a relationship with him is absent of work. He would have never chosen the “yoke” as his illustration had that been his intent. The yoke was an instrument of work.

Following Jesus isn’t always easy. In fact, it often is not.

I’ll admit: At times, I have felt frustrated when this passage has been talked about, because it makes it sound like being a Christian is supposed to be so easy and I should feel so light all of the time, and that hasn’t been the case for me. It helps me to realize that this isn’t what Jesus is saying.

Sharing a yoke with Jesus certainly does not mean that our life circumstances are going to get easier. Look at His life. Earlier in the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus was broke and homeless. He was rejected and mocked by family and friends. We certainly have no reason to believe that sharing a yoke with him means that things should turn out better for us!

But the work IS light because we have already been forgiven! Jesus may not always give us what we think we want but He gives us everything we need – including things we thought were impossible (real security, full approval from God, actual complete and utter freedom). He lived the absolute perfect, sinless life that earned full favor from God. And in dying the death that we deserve for our rebellion against God and determination to live for ourselves, He offers to us his perfect life. For those of us who follow Jesus, his perfect life has been credited to us. We have all the approval we long for. We are safe. We are enough. We are free. We don’t have to prove anything, and we don’t have to make up for the things that we did wrong. Jesus rose from the dead to offer us a new life, one where we get the benefits that He earned. Where we are covered in grace. Where we rest in knowing that the end turns out amazing. He has gone before us to prepare a place in eternity for those who love him. And knowing that makes this life light, under his yoke. The work under the yoke of Christ is the work of love and joy.

While Jesus asks much, he provides the strength necessary for people to respond.

Instead of doing things for Jesus with insecurity, we are doing things with Jesus, fully secure.

“This is the gospel call; Whoever will, let him come. All who thus come will receive rest as Christ’s gift, and obtain peace and comfort in their hearts. But in coming to him they must take his yoke, and submit to his authority… He accepts the willing servant, however imperfect the services. Here we may find rest for our souls, and here only… It is a yoke that is lined with love.”
Matthew Henry

May you find your rest in Him today.



I’m the One Who’s Loved You All Your Life

On a cool morning earlier this week, I went on a walk with God.

Have you ever had times in your life where you feel like you’ve lost control?  I don’t mean in a going crazy way (or do I?), I mean have you ever felt like somehow you’ve slipped out of the driver’s seat of your life and instead you are hanging onto a rope tied to the back of the car?

I know we don’t really control our lives, many circumstances are out of our control.  But there is a role that intentionality, routine, health and balance can play in driving our day to day lives.  When we aren’t using these things as a rudder to steer the ship, we end up reacting to the bumps and rocks on the road, without our hands on the wheel to direct us.

That is how I’ve felt lately.  Jordan and I have been so exhausted and burnt out.  We’ll make jokes to each other about how we need to get our act together, but it’s not really a joke.  It feels like each day has just been taking us for a spin, leaving us worn out at the end.  I feel like I’ve been reacting to a series of moments, rather than entering my days prepared and with intention.

I knew I needed to get out and be with God for a little while.  If my relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life (which it is), then I need to fight for alone time with Him.  Just like Jordan and I get babysitters and go on dates to make sure that we are connecting, I need to make space and time to connect with Jesus. So for two hours while Jordan had a morning off from work, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went on a long, emotional, and refreshing walk at a local park.

And God met me there.

As I was walking, I was thinking about my daughter running around earlier that morning with a big smile on her face.  And suddenly this reality hit me: God was there watching me when I was her age.  I started to wonder:  when He watched me take my first steps as a child, did He picture this moment 28 years later, when I would be walking with Him, praying and worshiping?  And if so, what moments in my future does He think about now?  I hope there are many moments of closeness with me that He looks forward to.

Shortly after this thought, as if God were responding to me, the song “You are Not Alone” by Meredith Andrews streamed across my Pandora station.  This line really struck me:

My love I’ve never left your side,
I have seen you through the darkest night,
And I’m the one who’s loved you all your life,
All of your life

I know it sounds like such a simple thought, but it was so profound when I let it sink in.  God has never left my side.  He has been right there with me in every single moment of my life.   From that moment when I took my first toddler steps until this walk with him on a cool October morning, He has been involved in every single moment.  He was there for ever tear,  every nervous flutter in my stomach, every disappointment,  joy, victory, failure, and every aching of my heart.  He has been there when I have made the time to seek Him, but He has also been there in the moments when I’ve neglected to.  In the moments that I’ve read His word, and the moments that I’ve cursed His name.  He was there when I abandoned Him, and He was there when I returned to Him, broken and ashamed.

And He is here now.  In the throes of toddler mommying, in the insomnia and lack of sleep, in the busy rush of life, in the additional childcare job I feel incapable of doing, in the hopes and dreams and fears for the future and the deepest longings of my heart.

He never left my side.  He has loved me all my life.

Even in the times when I feel like I’ve lost my grip on the steering wheel, I can rest assured that He has not.  He is in my every moment.  When I have failed to be intentional, routined, healthy, and balanced, I can trust that He has not.  He has already gone before me, and He is inviting me into the work that He is already doing.  He is being intentional with me even when I’ve lost my own intentionality.

And somehow that truth has carried me through the rest of this week.