We have just entered into a club we knew we would one day be a part of, but in the midst of parenting like a boss, seemed so far away. That kid that was blowing out diapers and slobbering for a living one day turned into a nearly grown person, and we had no vote. We know it was meant to be. We are grateful we’ve made it to this milestone. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard.
So, here we are now, that season of life we dreaded, if we are honest. We want them to grow. We want them to be independent humans. We also don’t want them to do either, because that means we no longer get to have them full time in our home. This is the rub of parenthood.
I don’t want to make this any harder on us than it already is. So I won’t.
This post is not let’s reminisce about how little they once were and now they grew up. Dear goodness, we’ve read enough posts about that. This post is me putting my arm around you and saying…I know. Me, too. We are kindred, so let’s talk about a few things that may help us both.
- I think it’s good to admit we don’t like the system: us parenting awesome crazy and then one day, “bye…please text me every once in a while and I’ll see you for the holidays.” Listen. I know it’s the very best one. I know it’s the way it needs to happen. But I do not like it. I repeat. DO NOT LIKE. And I just want to say to you that you have permission not to like it, either, instead of pretending for the sake of others that you do.
- Related to the last one but also, a next step kind of a thing. Though this moment is hard and yes, let’s take some time to mourn things…we can’t stay in the house and hold baby pictures and cry all day. Gosh, this has been known at times to be me. And sometimes an hour of this does a lump in the throat and personal sanity some good. But then we must dry it up and get up and get out of the house and keep doing life. Life is still really, really (mostly) good.
- This is a good time to find friends in a similar life situation if we haven’t already. I’ll be honest: right now I gravitate towards you, and I think that’s ok. I adore my toddler-mom friends. I adore my single and newly married ladies. But this is a unique life thing, letting the kid we have raised, go. We need the specific support of others walking through as well as the wisdom of those who have walked before. There will be a day we are able to do coffee with new moms and hear about their grand, fresh adventures in motherhood but this is probably not the day for that, as we are remembering and struggling with what it feels like to let go and hope and pray we’ve taught them enough. We’re in a unique season, and I think it’s ok to gravitate towards the safe and knowing kindreds right now.
I have two more things I want to tell you – one which I find a huge help and mind shift – the other I consider the real lifeline.
So I’m continuing this conversation on Thursday at 9am EST on my Lisa Whittle author page on Facebook to talk about these things. I’ll be live at 9am EST with my coffee and a cyberhug, so LET’S GET TOGETHER for a few more minutes then. And if you are not in this particular life season but know someone who is…by all means, invite them to join me. I promise, I’ll take good care of their heart. (p.s. Even if you aren’t in this life season, you can still join, too! Non-exclusivity alert.)
In the meantime, head over to any of my social media accounts (FB, Twitter, Instagram) and leave me a comment or question related to this subject, and I’ll do my best to include it in our conversation on Thursday.
Happy Monday, my kindreds. I know. Me, too. I love you.
Every now and then I write something that threatens to make me unpopular and marginalized. Turns out Jesus freaks are annoying. Sigh. It’s true.
The last thing I want to be in this post is divisive to the wonderful, flawed body of Christ or self-focused and whiny…so trust me, I’m being careful.
But I read an article today that messed me up – about the Western Church and how we don’t have a clue what true Gospel living really is. And now I can’t write anything else but this post that threatens marginalization that was not on my schedule. Hashtag inconvenience.
Please. Don’t you know how much I don’t want to say hard things? It’s not my goal in life to scare people off and have them run away. But God presses me hard, sometimes, and His pressing bosses me to death. My allegiance is to Him. It is not to my peers. It is not even to my readers. I gave up caring largely about what people thought of me when I wrote I Want God, thank God, and it’s too heavy to take back.
After this article (which, please, believers, all read) I sit with a lump in my throat and tears pushing to come out in all the conviction. All I see lately is let me post a selfie with a random Bible verse caption and buy my latest book and post after post on Twitter, ad nauseam, with our answers to all the things. Every conference that has a get ahead theme to it, with the best people still, but chasing, chasing and I literally want to throw myself across the bed and scream.
Where is God in all this? We are dying to hear everything we don’t need to hear and being in the most popular Christian group. I’m tired of who knows who and all that, when it comes to the ministry world. It tarnishes God’s honest concept for community and makes those who don’t know some particular who wishful they did.
I’ll be gut level honest: by virtue of that I do, I’m enveloped in a weird Christian celebrity world of sorts that I did not sign up for and I can’t be silent and pretend it doesn’t exist. (If you don’t know about this, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you.) And I have worked very hard with Jesus for this kind of strong calling out not to be baggage or envy or anything else, and I can promise before Him now that I truly believe it is not and if it is, I give Him full permission to out me.
(Hold on. This part is hard.)
I’m tired of Christian circles where compliments are gushed publicly without true relationship, conveniently right before our new book comes out. We’ve scratched each others backs so hard we have fingernail marks.
I’m tired of Christian cute: all the zillions of inspirational sayings that we have trained ourselves to now need to hear every 2.2 seconds for the next fix that float around on social media…the way we mostly circle around ourselves as believers instead of reaching out to the lost…our Christian t-shirts and jewelry we can’t get enough of but mostly just wear and don’t live…our complaint after complaint about everything under the sun while missionaries in other parts of the world live under mosquito nets and fear for their very life…being so very proud of ourselves for our short bursts of faithful to the Lord.
Sometimes Christian cute and Christian celebrity makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and quit, especially when I read an article like the one I did earlier today and remember the persecution of believers in other parts of the world that are real, people, really real and I am so very wimpy and soft. And in the next minute I see a picture of what Christian celebrities are taking a picture on Instagram together, more please buy my new book (p.s. Please don’t write to me about why this is necessary because trust me, after 10 years in the business I get it, and there’s a difference between responsible book promotion and pimping ourselves to death), and my own tweets last night while watching The Bachelorette. Let me not be falsely humble. I’m a fan of myself, too. We all are. Humans.
So then I’m convicted in my own self sin, and I just want to quit and cave up, like I do when it all seems so wrong and so much and that article that messed me up won’t stop bugging me and I’m not sure what to do about all that’s wrong with me, with us.
(Good for the article. I needed it to mess me up. For a second I forgot.)
All of this Christian celebrity and Christian cute is about nothing but tactics of the enemy to keep us focused on self, which, in fact, is working. And we can call it favor and call it being exalted by God but let’s not lie to ourselves about all the hustling we do to get there in many cases, too.
And I know this calling out needs a solution or it’s just venting, which is a further waste of our time, and I don’t want to be held responsible for that.
So as I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears pushing, still, I can only offer what I know for sure to work:
- John 3:30: He must become greater; I must become less. (The only way I don’t think of myself so often is when I’m thinking of Him.)
- John 15:5: Without [God] we can do nothing. (Let’s pray to stop being so enamored with ourselves. Really, that’s what it is.)
- II Chronicles 7:14: Get humble, pray, seek God’s face. (Let’s just pray. I mean, for real, instead of all this other stuff because it’s the only thing that will help.)
I’m going to forewarn you: I won’t do this perfectly, so please don’t be expecting that or you will be sorely let down. I won’t promise not to slip, because I may. I don’t ask you to do it perfectly, either. I promise to love you through the muck of sorting it out, as I hope you will, me.
But we’ve got to fight for our purity of heart and stop settling for a glossy version of a Gospel that daily costs real, skin on believers their lives. If we aren’t going to go be physically in the trenches with them, we can at least fight for and with them here in our safe world through prayer.
And most of all, just God, forgive us for our Christian celebrity and Christian cute. It has absolutely nothing to do with You.
I’m so excited…in a grateful, honored, still pinch myself that this is what I get to do with my life kind of way.
(p.s.Sometimes writing books still seems like a dream I fell into rather than dreamed up (well, because it was) – one others may be more qualified for but none more passionate about, I can promise you that.)
I’m releasing 3 new books/projects with Harvest House Publishers in 2017, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Currently, I’m in the midst of writing my forthcoming book: Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and For All. In case you haven’t noticed, the world is in kind of a mess. I have been praying and thinking long and hard (like it keeps me up at night sometimes) about how to live in the mess better, and I believe God has given me the how-to. Put Your Warrior Boots On is an equipping and strength-inducing book. It is a what-do-we-do-right-now book. It is a book to help we, the followers of Jesus, live with a better strategy – not one of reaction and hopelessness and fear, but one of real, true strength. I want us to be steady, ready and sure as we walk in this world gone crazy. (p.s. Yes, we can be.) I want us to stop trying to brave ourselves into it. (Seriously can’t wait to talk to you more about THIS and share what I’ve learned about it because I think the shift in perspective may help you as it has me.) I want us to be consistent in our relationship with God instead of riding the spiritual roller coaster, once and for all. I want us to walk in His authority like He’s told us to do – with effectiveness in the world and tunnel vision on heaven. We are here and the world is not getting better and we can’t keep wishing things were different – we have to change up how we live to be solid and sturdy, no matter what comes our way. We need this, right? Man, how we need it.
I want you to know: it is with the softest of hearts and the deepest of love and the strongest of speech I write it. It is proving to be very much like writing I Want God, in the sense that the urgency is a second skin I’m wearing, the revelations from God are swift and piercing, and I find myself eager to hear what He has to tell me, every time I sit down to type. I cannot wait to share more as the release date approaches, as I believe there has never been a more important time to release a book like this. Release date: April 1, 2017
My second book is a different kind of book for me, and I’m so excited about it, too. It’s called 5 Word Prayers: A 40-day Devotional, to help kick start our prayer life in a way that is both doable and powerful. (We don’t need to talk about how ABSOLUTELY VITAL prayer is, especially right now in this crazy world, right? Like…prayer is everything. For real.) For years people have been asking me if I would write a devotional book, and for years I’ve thought about it but never moved forward. I’ve long believed that with our prayers, it’s not about word count but about heart intent. The documented prayers of Jesus are short. The older I get the more I realize that prayer is not me saying as many words as I can but listening and being with Him in communion, where our hearts unite. For this reason, this devotional book. This book will not only provide daily 5 word prayers, but it will also include a short devotional written about each prayer to help it really seep down deep. I have lots of love and belief in this book, and I hope you will be as excited as I am about it. Release Date: Fall of 2017
And last but absolutely not least…with the release of 5 Word Prayers will be the release of a super fun companion adult coloring book by the same name. I know ya’ll love these things. I know they are flying off the shelves like crazy. And I believe in this case, each coloring page and accompanying prayer will be something not only you can fly your creative flag with, but also meditate on and maybe even frame and hang on your wall as art or give as a gift to someone else. You should know I’m hardcore committed to these coloring pages being beautifully and meaningfully graphic. So I hired the absolute best, most talented freelance artist to draw the sketches. She just so happens to be my baby sister, so she shares my DNA. I still can’t even believe I was able to hire her – she works in an art gallery and draws sketches all day FOR A LIVING, and I begged her to squeeze me in. (Family has its privileges.) So you know…this project is going to be fantastic and is truly a labor of love. Go ahead and plan on it being one of your Christmas gifts for someone in 2017. Release Date: Fall of 2017.
Well, there it is. These are my new projects. I hope you are as eager to get them as I am to get them to you.
So many of you have spread the word about I Want God and as a result, helped change lives. (For real. You should hear the stories.)
So many of you are faithful readers to the messages God has put on my heart to share. I wish you knew how humbling this feels and how much responsibility it brings to my heart, and how seriously I take it.
I think you and I are on the exact same page. I believe we share the same heart.
If you, like me, want to live with a better strategy, want to walk Jesus strong instead of walking tentative, defensive and reactionary, want to be the steady and sure believer of Jesus that He can use in this world in these crazy days to influence the rest of the world…if you, like me, sometimes feel like prayer books make me feel more intimidated about my prayer life, like I don’t measure up, love the idea of 5 powerful prayer words to pray every day for 40 days to better communicate with God…and if sometimes you just like to be a little artsy but are intimidated by Pinterest :)…these books are for you.
Can’t wait to share them.
Thanks for letting me share my new projects…and my life…with you.
In this crazy and getting crazier world, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the world really needs from us, the Christians.
It doesn’t need more of our words, in most cases. We’ve said a bunch.
(Pause here, followers of Jesus. I feel tender towards us. Because I know, we really want to help and we don’t know what else to do sometimes but say something to make things better and right. We say what we want to do and want to believe, even when our flesh fights us to act on it. Saying fills awkward spaces. Saying gives alternative to moments that feel hopeless. If we can just offer something through our words, we think. We think. And p.s. yes, God has used our words in many cases, thankfully. I have to believe this. I’m a writer. Hello.)
The truth is, we have good hearts and intentions, most of us. We really want to meet needs. We really want to reach out and show the love of Jesus. We get sidetracked and selfish sometimes, mind you. (Don’t make these out to be small words. We have been known to massively mess things up.) But deep down in our core, we want to help.
It’s just that words alone are not what the world needs to turn them to Christ. We know this, right? We’ve tried this speech giving.
Instead, what the world needs is steadfastness: preaching the same, loving the same, doing the same, being the same, no matter what. A ministry of sameness. The gift of stability. We are used to big waves and floating around and in 2016, who is not looking for an anchor?
I know. On one hand, the world preaches change. I, myself, preach it, too, as the alternative to destructive patterns and ruts. Hope requires belief that yes, even if …. in our past, today, we can change. (Psst. I believe it.)
But one day, my friend gave me a compliment that caught me off guard and taught me the value of sameness: “Lisa, thank you. I feel like you are always the same person no matter what, and I admire that.”
At first, I didn’t like it. The compliment felt small. It felt stifling, like I was a person of little growth, which everything inside beat against in rebellion. I want to change and get better. I have. Age and Jesus have done great things for me in the maturity department. I didn’t want to be known as always the same person.
But then I realized that this sameness was not about the unwillingness to grow. It was about being a solid, consistent person to count on. And I knew, then: that was it. That is the thing we need to see. That is the thing the world needs now from the Christians.
Preaching the same message, over and over, again.
Loving the same, no matter the race, the issue, the preference.
Doing the same things that build character, even when they feel small and redundant.
Being the same person so people know where to go to find the Anchor.
My fellow Jesus people: this is what the world needs. Not our braggadocios storytelling. Not our angle to arm wrestle non-believers over or hold loud Jesus pep rallies cheering about His goodness and the next minute we’ve thrown down the pom pons because Jesus has disappointed us. But to be known by our sameness: the ones to love and the ones to live holy and the ones to stay faithful to Jesus, no matter what. Our life needs to say: you know where to find me. This is where I am and where I’ll always be — this is where you can find me at any time, on any given day. You can count on my consistency. People will know they can count on Jesus by how consistently we live.
- A consistent person will be sure.
Sure of what we believe. Sure of what we know about God. Sure and unwavering. Most people aren’t sure about anything, so we have to be different.
- A consistent person will be tireless.
Yes, we are human. When we try to lead from our flesh, we will become exhausted. But when we lead in the Spirit, we are replenished, consistently.
- A consistent person will be specific.
We can’t beat around the bush, be passive aggressive with our faith. The world needs clear direction and teaching – for us to be specific with what to do and how to survive unstable times.
- A consistent person will be selfless.
We can’t do this life thing if we are not, because eventually, selfish people can’t maintain a servant (aka, Jesus) lifestyle. It’s not about us. It’s not about our words. It’s not even about our story, for the sake of telling people about our life. It’s not about popularity. It’s not about followers and being accepted. It’s not about getting things off our chest, pontificating our opinions, writing and speaking for a particular response. Just be the messenger. Just be wise. Just be about God.
The world doesn’t need more of our words. It needs more of our consistency.
Maybe it’s time to change our goals.
I think a lot about writing. It’s gotten into my bones and won’t leave me, I suspect, ever since that time I was 16 and wrote my dad about the speeding ticket instead of talking to him about it, face to face. It was then I realized how much better I was saying things on paper.
I think a lot about writers. I think about how we tick, if we are just born with it or if we can ever just be made into good ones. I think about how we are often too hard on ourselves and how sometimes, especially we God writers, get the Messiah complex and feel like the fate of people is up to us. It’s exhausting sometimes, living in the writer head, really. We are a wild, bothered bunch.
Most, I think about the people who read – what they need to hear and what books they are drawn to and what words in the end will really even matter. It didn’t used to be for me this way — to think about the people who read the most. This embarrasses me, but it’s true. (I know, new writer. You want to be heard. Your story is epic. But if you really want to help people, this can’t just be about you.) I just wanted to write what I wanted and tell things I wanted and leave things I didn’t want out. I realized somewhere along the way that writing wasn’t even almost about me. Funny, how growing up kicks you in the teeth and straightens things out a bit.
I have been writing now since 2004, except that’s just the official date because like most writers, I’ve been writing much longer.
I’m asked on different occasion to give the other writers some advice – what is the one thing you would say to them, the people ask, and when I mull it over in my mind, no sound bite ever sounds good enough. How do you relegate all you’ve walked through and learned in your own hard learning into 5 words that change the writer’s life?
I really just want to tell them plain things that don’t make for a glossy quote — the same things I tell myself — to be who they really are and mostly learn to be less selfish. I want to tell them to seek to do a really solid waltz with their words instead of trying to impress with a flashy hip hop dance they can’t pull off. To the God writers I really just want to tell them to pray and ask for the Holy Spirit. I’m pretty sure that’s the necessary all.
The truth is, the good writers are fighting to be good people and have just decided to bring others along. The best insights are the ones we love people enough to share, just like that amazing deal we got on a pair of boyfriend jeans…the skincare that really works…the fiction book we couldn’t put down. Why learn the important things to keep the things to ourselves?
But I know our need for a sage one liner. I know our desire to package and shrink wrap and deliver in the same neat way. I just don’t know how to tell a writer to do that because I believe the words sound better after they’ve been beaten out of you. Ask any writer: the life writes the words for us, really, after it beats us half to death.
So I would just say, today, to that budding writer or the one already writing and wanting to get better (whatever better to them is), this one thing: Just move the needle. Since I’m not the Holy Spirit, and I’m not able to change someone, of myself (I wish)…It’s honestly all I know, as a writer, to do.
- Move someone closer to resolution or forgiveness or hope.
- Move someone to be a better something, if it’s a gardener or a manicurist or a drummer or a preacher.
- Move yourself out of yourself and into a space where the reader’s heart is all you can see.
Move them with your words. Move them with your humility. Move them by telling the truth, sharing what you know, helping them feel seen and understood and hopeful.
Move them to be better. Move them to change something. Move them to love God most (the One who does the actual moving). Move them to a more productive life.
Just move the needle.
Even if you think moving a needle is not big enough or shiny enough or precious enough or Godly enough or important enough. It takes a lot to move the needle in someone else’s life. Moving the needle is an incredible gift, burden and joy.
And if in the end we are able to move the needle, even just a little bit…where it breathes hope inside someone who once felt hopeless…or pushes them off the couch and into a less stale daily…or turns them into the most amazing gardener, manicurist, drummer or preacher…remember that is a gift, not a given, and really isn’t even almost about me or you.
p.s. Hey writers? You are my people. I stinkin’ love you.
I birth these little humans, and I don’t have a clue who they will be.
I imagine beauty and t-ball and laughs and real live dolls like the ones I used to hold and dress up when I was little, except they aren’t plastic and can’t be handled any old way.
But none of them are as expected.
They are better and harder and more and here and what will I do with them now, I think to myself, as I hold them and fall in love.
They can’t tell me and I know it is so: that I will have to try to figure this mothering thing out with buckets of God’s help and something inside I am counting on being there that people call intuition.
I am scared. But I am in love, and that is stronger.
I struggle…through sleepless nights and cries I can’t figure out and mistakes I make before I realize it and that accusatory part of my brain that tells me stuff I do wrong by the second.
And I pray. A lot. Especially during rocking moments in the middle of the night when I smell their heads and can’t keep my eyes open because it’s a time I used to be sleeping. I tell God I’m not sure I’m good at this but thank you for letting me have a shot at it, anyway. (He already knows: a mother is what I’ve always wanted to be.)
And they grow. They get smarter and cuter and more human every day and I marvel at the inches and the steps and the words and that despite how I have no clue what I am doing, they are becoming more of the people they were meant to be.
They start needing me less, and I notice. They brush their own teeth and climb in and out of cars and before I know it, one of them is driving and I have somehow become his passenger.
It’s life, I know, and it’s good for them to grow, but it’s hard, too, because even though people say words like don’t blink, no one tells you exactly how to hold a newborn with a red, pinched face one minute and the next, open your arms and let that newborn go. I don’t know how to do that, even though it is exactly what I am doing on a daily basis.
And so, today, I admit something to my children that I am sure they already know.
I don’t know how to be your mom, my babies, 1, 2 and 3. I don’t know how to tell you wise things I’m not sure I have even learned, put my self aside to help you be better, hold on and let go, all at the same time.
I don’t know how to tell you about God in a way that does Him justice. I don’t know how to explain love in a way that tells of its complication or sounds as good as it can be.
I don’t know how to lose my flaws fast enough for you to not notice what they are or share with you in words how desperately I want you to have a good life and become so much better than me.
I don’t know how to let you love someone else or explain what it feels like when I cook you a meal and you eat and we are both full and for a split second I feel like I’ve done something well.
I don’t know how to tell you how much becoming your mom changed my life and no matter how many moments my mood is bad or days my pace is hurried, I could never hold you enough, smell you enough, have enough days with you in my arms.
And so, even though I have never, not since day one, known how to be your mom, I know this: I will never, ever get over the joy of getting to try.
(Here’s to all the mothers who don’t know how to be moms and the babies in our arms who give us the chance to try. If you relate to this post, breathe, say a thankful prayer, and pass it on to other moms who don’t know, either, but find the joy in trying. Happy Mother’s Day, friends!)