Playing Judge, Doesn’t Work

Almost exactly two years ago, I got married for the second time.  May 28, 2015 was one of the most amazing days of my life and the word that was touted on that day was the word redemption. The bad was being redeemed. Joy filled the walls of the rustic barn where we said our vows and then we were off to seven of the most fun filled, exciting, relaxing heavenly days in Hawaii. 


However, it didn’t take too long for the word redemption in relation to my new marriage to feel not quite so redemptionish.  By August, I was very close to writing my new marriage off as one of my bigger mistakes in life.  I wanted to reverse everything.  Unmarrry.  I had envisioned that Tony and I would bring healing and grace to each other and to our five kids, but in reality, we brought our hurt with us and bled some more and so did our kids. 

Somehow, by the grace of God, we are still married. Somehow, by the grace of God, I understand a tiny bit more about loving someone. Somehow, by the grace of God, I see my sin so much more, which, strangely, draws me so much closer to Jesus.  You would think it might work opposite. That I would see my sin and my shame would grow, but I feel like the woman who was a well known sinner who began to pour oil on Jesus’s feet, while the Pharisee said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner.”  (Luke 7:39)  A few verses down, Jesus responds to the Pharisee (the rule follower) and says: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”

You see, I grew up in a nearly perfect family, with a nearly perfect childhood, with nearly perfect parents and a perfect little dog, etc. . . . We went to church every Sunday and I actually always LOVED going to church.  I still do.  I never went through a rebellious stage.  I always made good choices, when it came to money, friends, and boys.  I never smoked, got drunk, or went to parties.  That all continued through college at Oklahoma Baptist University.  I taught seventh grade Geography for 11 years and loved it.  I got married to Dave and had Spencer and Leah and things were pretty easy, besides a stint with Leah when she was a baby and a stint with Dave when he was rather distant, but we went to counseling and it turned out I was pretty much OK, but he needed to deal with some stuff.  Then we adopted Macie and Dave died. I had back surgery. I got married again. That new sweet marriage turned out to be very hard, so we went to counseling and again, it turns out that from what she saw, he was the problem and I was pretty much OK.  Any guesses as to what happens when someone who grew up pretty perfect (I’m saying that with sarcasm) lands in an unperfect situation with unperfect people?  

I began to judge. I was the judge.  I probably grew up being a little mini judge.  It has not been that long, since (by the gentle grace of God), did I see that I was judging my husband for his actions.  And that judging others can come awfully easily to me, too.  This two part broadcast by Paul David Tripp was part of me getting to this point.  Click here and here to hear it yourself. This is the best talk on marriage I have ever 

People who make a lot of mistakes and make poor choices are probably not as quick to pick up the gavel and go to town, I would presume. And on top of it all, I have made millions of mistakes and poor choices. 

With the unveiling of this sin, I see where I judge other people for the choices they make with their lives, or their finances or their child rearing or their choice of schools, or what they put on facebook or how they handled a difficult situation, etc. . . .  

In fact, I wish I could go back and tell Dave that I’m sorry that I was judgmental towards him. I always felt like I knew how to parent better, or use our money better, or I knew how to word conversations with his boss better and on and on. He rolled with it so graciously. Sorry Dave.

It has been very freeing to work on giving up my life of judgment.  I have found that it is much easier to not judge those people outside my home. It is still quite a battle to leave the judgement to God, inside my home.  Naturally, it is complicated for raising kids, because I have a responsibility to raise them well, but that is for another post.  

It has been difficult to not judge my husband when I feel he has hurt me or wronged me. Mostly, I have this deep desire to DEFEND MYSELF. In no way, am I saying that anyone should let anyone treat them less than what is right and respectful!!!!!!!!!!!!  That is the challenge. How do you set the bar high, in terms of how you treat each other in every word and in every action, yet you don’t assume the role of judge.  For me, the first step was to ask for forgiveness.  And now I am on my knees, praying that God will show me how to do this. It takes a lot of trust in the Lord, to not want to take on his role of judge, to make sure it gets done.  I take it up over and over again, but then I get to repent and I feel like pouring oil on the feet of Jesus, for taking me, the sinner that I am, back again and again. 

One thing is for sure, redemption has not come in the form that I thought it would when we said, “I do,” two years ago.  But lately, I wonder what God is redeeming. I thought this new marriage was going to redeem the death of Dave, somehow. But now, I wonder, if God is working more towards redeeming my heart.  I’m not sure I would ever have seen this sin in me, if redemption had come in the form of a new, perfect marriage. Right now, I’m just amazed at how gently the Lord has brought to light, so many dark things in me.  I am, also, so grateful that Tony and I are still married (and even doing well . . . even with some pretty major stressors at the start of our summer) and that we are both in a place of learning more about repentance, idols we worship, grace and mercy and love. I have so much to learn . . . just when I thought I knew it all.

Christina’s Take:

This is a difficult one for me to digest. The idea that figuring out how to not be the judge in your home is certainly an amazing pursuit. I see you being refined in Him more each day. I love your family — the family of 7 that you have right now. But I want you to have mercy on yourself and on what kind of mama you are (precious and special) so that, in the act of relinquishing your judgeship you might find a sweet, tender place where the Walls family is the Walls family in its own right — without need for measuring up to or against the family you had with Dave. Do I REALLY know what I’m talking about? No. But your sweet and raw honesty gives birth to the same thing in me. Maybe that’s the place where growth and mercy for one another can thrive. 

Megan’s Take:

One thing is for sure, redemption has not come in the form that I thought it would…” I feel like this line encapsulates so much of life. I can absolutely relate to wanting things to be a certain way, look a certain way, feel a certain way. And when the reality contradicts the dream, it’s so easy to wonder what went wrong. When in fact, God may be trying to turn the whole darn thing on its head so we can see things through a new lens — HIS lens. I am also grateful that you and Tony are still married. And like Christina said, I hope and pray you guys fall into a beautiful, messy, holy rhythm all your own.  “Refiner’s fire” is the phrase that comes to me in this moment. As you dance in the fire, I pray that outsiders will be looking in and saying — it seems that there is one dancing in the fire with them — one who is a “son of the gods.” That is to say, Jesus Himself. His work is profound in you right now. May we not miss it. 


When Kids Teach Mamas: Lessons Learned from Watching My Kid Sit the Bench

When was the last time you cheered someone on — no strings attached? Just because you genuinely wanted another person to achieve her very best? 

When was the last time you applauded for someone, without privately wondering how you measure up in comparison? Without harboring inner resentment or jealousy because your friend was in a position or place of authority you wished was yours.

When was the last time you genuinely wanted the best for someone else without regard to how it compares to your ‘success’ or lack thereof?

And, friends, cheering on your children doesn’t count.

You are not in competition with your kids. May I lovingly suggest you seek some professional counseling on that if you are. (Just watch the movie ‘Tangled’ for some jacked up mother/daughter relationships if you need an example.)

Of course, encouraging your kids with abandon is a great thing to do. Don’t get me wrong! Mamas and Daddys, Nanas and Papas should cheer wildly when little Johnny kicks the winning goal or garners the solo in the spring concert. By all means, bring flowers and go out for ice cream.

But what if your kid doesn’t kick the winning goal? What if she doesn’t make the starting line up? What if he isn’t on the dean’s list or nominated for an end of the year award. What if little Sally sits the bench most of the time. What then? 

Are we tempted to look at our peers (or our peers’ children) and secretly compare and contrast how we or our little Johnny measure up?

These thoughts hit me square in the heart as I watched, rather marveled at my teenage daughter this past semester during her club volleyball season. 

At the risk of sounding completely over-the-moon about this girl (so sue me!) I have to say, I was and continue to be profoundly impacted by her demeanor both on, but mostly off the court. 

Watching her on this part of her adolescent journey has illuminated a profound concept for me. You see, she didn’t start a single game. There were actually plenty of games when she never rotated in for a single play. And yet, she had the absolute time of her life. 

She enjoys the game more than ever. She improved immensely as a player. She adores her teammates. She respects her coaches and never grumbled.

Unlike her mother. The grumbling part, I mean. 

There were plenty of times I sat on the sidelines wondering when she might rotate in. I understand the fact that club sports are no joke. A lot of time and money goes into this business.  And I understand that even though everyone writes the same check, at the end of the day, players need to earn their time on the court — or field or rink or wherever it is they do their thing.

My head respects the process. But my mama’s heart? Now that’s a tougher pill to swallow.

I would be lying if I said I never once questioned why we were spending all this time and money just to watch her cheer from the sidelines. Why we bought plane tickets and invited family to come and ultimately watch other people’s darling children play more than our own. 

At the end of the day, however, I had to ask myself, if the amount of game play time is the end all and be all of this experience?

Do we register and pay to play only if our kids are the best? Do we expect that the price tag alone will guarantee our kids’ play time? And if they aren’t going to play as much as we might wish, do we pull out entirely or try a different club hoping we’ll garner a different experience? 

All these questions are absolutely legit.  And I presume if your kids play sports of any kind you have already processed these things and come to your own conclusions. May I say, I have total respect for wherever you land. 

But as I sat across the court from my daughter and watched her and her “bench buddies” cheer on their teammates with reckless abandon, my heart melted. 

From the other side of the room, I never saw these girls withhold affection or grimace with faces that just wanted to know when they might get their own 15 minutes of fame. No. I only saw joy and encouragement and young ladies who knew that the success of the athletes on the court was theirs as well because they were a TEAM.

I know this feeling only too well.

As a blogger and self-published author, I have seen plenty of my “teammates” (other blogger, writer, author friends) experience loads more worldly success than I have. For sure, my heart has wondered what they “have” that I don’t.

However, at the end of the day, I feel like we’re all on the same team. I will be true to my place in the world, my spot on the team and do my very best to play hard and leave it all on the court. I will share what I can and I will also cheer on my teammates because ultimately if they are contributing beauty and testimony of freedom and victory into the world — isn’t that a major win for all of us?

A rising tide raises all ships and that is a tide (or team) I want to be on. 

How do you cheer others on in your sphere of influence? Are you tempted to hold back out of jealously or fear that their success might impede your own?

Christina’s Take:

I’ve definitely held back. I do hold back. And I think many, many of us do. What is it about? I suppose I am either worried that my endorsement of someone’s message somehow lines me up with that “opinion” in a way about which I’m insecure or I am withholding praise because of in irrational thought that there is a limited amount of praise that I should offer so I need to manage that scarcity. Ridiculous. I am embarrassed by that. And I am newly challenged by your lovely daughter to applaud more freely no matter how I measure up against someone else. So grateful for this message!

Holly’s Take:

I love this story, especially in a world where we hear so much about the negative things we see in teens and preteens right now.  The picture of her cheering is not one where she is trying to convince herself to cheer for her friends . . . she just is . . . it is genuine and passionate cheering. I love it!  When I see people being cheerleaders of others, (my friends, Heather Briggs and Erin Cook comes to mind), I think to myself, “I want to be just like her.”  It is such a beautiful quality.  I hope I don’t hold back and be more “Heathery” with those I know and don’t know no matter what their degree of success.  


Distraction for Satisfaction

Someone call the “spice-up-your-life police” because I’ve got a bad case of


It’s a general malaise of midlife wrestling with the future. It is an unsettledness. It’s a low-grade, nothing’s-quite-good-enough, entertaining enough, just a not-enough-ness.

Clearly, I’m having trouble putting my twitchy finger on it.

It’s a “grass-is-greener” outlook on my current reality. It’s a what’s-out-there-for-me, never-settled restlessness. Moreover, this is a pattern for me. Like a rash that keeps resurfacing no cream can cure. It’s a desire for my life to count in some way but if I’m super transparent, it’s really just a searching for something more than this. And any this…any current scenario isn’t good enough. Any “right now” reality could somehow be better.

Kudos to those of you who have gotten through that first paragraph without getting utterly bored by the spoiled rotten rantings of a truly fortunate woman.

But let me submit to you that at the heart of this restlessness is one of the deepest human questions in life:

Is there a way for me to find true satisfaction? Deep down?

Tim Keller, in his book Every Good Endeavor, says this about satisfaction:

“As long as you think there is a pretty good chance that you will achieve some of your dreams, as long as you think you have a shot at success, you experience your inner emptiness as ‘drive’ and your anxiety as ‘hope.’ And so you can remain almost completely oblivious to how deep your thirst actually is…. And so we can live almost our entire lives without admitting to ourselves the depth of our spiritual thirst.”

Dissatisfaction feels like thirst. For sure.

And I am finding that it helps to look back and conjure the memories of the most deep down satisfaction I’ve ever felt. In those time I don’t remember feeling a thirst at all. I was quenched. And as that mingles through my brain, I feel a fresh heart beat that when I am most satisfied it’s because I am most distracted from myself.

Anne Lamott says in her book Stitches: “Wise ones taught me that being of service, an ally to the lonely and suffering, a big-girl helper to underdogs, was my best shot at happiness.”

I say amen to that.

And the connections and kindness and the LIFE that flow out of service are more energetic and creative and imaginative than I could ever be on my own.

The battle for TRUE, DOWN DEEP SATISFACTION is won when I give my life away.

So as I seek this “distraction in search of satisfaction” –  maybe you, too, can untangle a knot of dissatisfaction. I wish that for you. May you find deep satisfaction and curate it – that soul-level contentment that comes when the focus is outward. High five to you as you journey on.

Megan’s Take: Favorite line: “…when we are most satisfied it’s because we are most distracted from ourselves.” I can be one big, bad wolf of a narcissist. I often wonder if it’s because I’m mostly a stay-at-home and I have ‘plenty’ of time to think about how I spend my days, but as I read the words of a full-time-paid-worker-woman, I realize dissatisfaction it isn’t necessarily the result of unsatisfying or mundane circumstance, it’s a barometer of the heart. The monster of dissatisfaction often tries to creep out from under my bed and give me a big, old what-do-you-think-you-amount-to scare. His reappearance feels oddly connected to the change in seasons — and summer is coming! But honestly, when I strip my life down and recognize the amazing gifts the Lord has given me, and I ask Him how I can share those with others and receive their gifts as well, that monster slinks away. I know that I know that each day is a God-given gift to be treasured. If God is calling you to change your circumstances, if the Holy Spirit convicts and inspires something new. Then go for it! But if the need for change is just the bitter seed of discontent taking root in your heart, pluck that sucker out. There are no guarantees for tomorrow so that monster of dissatisfaction can just go back to hell* where he belongs. (Literally.) *Hope that wasn’t too much dark theology for you!

Holly’s Take:  I think one way to step out of your funk, would be to buy Rosetta Stone, learn a little Spanish and head to the Dominican Republic with Megan and a bunch of high schoolers.  There.  Problem solved!  At least for a bit.  I must admit that I actually long for hum drum in a way. Even years after my major traumas, I still feel like I am constantly still applying triage to my own wounds, the wounds of my kids, the wounds in our marriage, etc. . .  When will it look semi-normal?  Ever???  I, also, must admit that in our mess, I have found this really cool secret little joining where the God of this Universe really does talk to little old, bleeding me. So, I think I may be on the other side of the coin from you, not totally content in my circumstances, but for opposite reasons.  However, I’m quite sure that our answers are the same.   

Spreading Dave’s Ashes – For Reals

I have soooooo much to write about. I feel like my life is so different than it was even two months ago. So, you may be hearing from me a little more often in the coming weeks.  But with as much as I have to write about, this post will be more report-like than outpour-like.  I want to write about yesterday, before yesterday is in the distant past.   

I don’t know how long other people hold onto the ashes of their loved ones, but I held onto them for a long time.  Four years and three months, to be exact.  Over the years, I have dished out a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there, while camping or hiking or on birthdays, but I never really could get to the place where I could really let go of them. 

Yesterday, was a GO BIG OR GO HOME day!  Spencer, Leah, Macie and I finally did it.  We spread Dave’s ashes. The day had finally come where I felt more uncomfortable thinking about keeping Dave’s ashes than I did with letting them go. Perhaps this is happening  about four years too late, but I’ve learned that with grief, your time table is definitely going to be different than anyone else’s, so I make no apologies.  

I always pictured spreading Dave’s ashes to be terrifically sad, emotional and dramatic, with a huge element of finality and no turning back. I never pictured this day to be packed with full hearts and big smiles.   

The four of us spent a few days in Pagosa with Dave’s parents. It’s a wonderful thing to have in- laws that live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Dave LOVED that he grew up in Pagosa. Many of his friends experienced that giddiness of Dave upon treating others to an experience in Pagosa or Wolf Creek Ski area. Can I get an amen?  So, spreading his ashes up in that neck of the woods was really the only option. I remembered him saying a couple times that if he ever died, he wanted his ashes to be spread in this meadow by Turkey Creek, which is in the Pagosa area.  I’m pretty sure he got less specific about where he wanted his ashes spread as time went on (it sounds like we talked about it all the time) but maybe I’m just making that up. Needless to say, that area was going to be way to muddy to get to, so we opted for some other locations that were perfect for Dave.  

Our first stop was Treasure Falls. It is a few minutes from his house. We never went there together, because we were usually at his parents house in the winter to ski, of course. Every time we drove by it, and I mean EVERY time, he would say, “There’s Treasure Falls. We’ll have to stop sometime.” Well, now we’ve stopped. Here are some pictures from Treasure Falls.

Our next stop was at Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek and Dave Aldridge were like bread and butter . . . they just go together.  If we had brought our skis, we probably would have spread all of his ashes there, but since Spencer, Leah and Macie wanted to have hang out time with Grandma and Papa, instead of ski, I wasn’t about to force the ski issue. If you knew Dave, Wolf Creek was one of his “closest thing to heaven,” places.  He once skied an 80 inch storm.  I’m sure he’d want me to let you know of this accomplishment, since he did it, just so he could say he did. I sat in the lodge that day, while I watched him sit on the broken ski lift, growing icicles on his five o clock shadow. Wolf Creek was his powdery playground. So, we found a pile of fresh snow and spread some ashes there and then went inside and had a cup of hot chocolate, just like we always did, when we skied there.  

With a few more ashes than I wanted to bring home, we left and decided to look for one more place that said Dave.  We found the perfect spot along the Rio Grande River.  It had red bushes on one side, that Spencer said stood for love and it had snow and rocks and running water and the most beautiful scene in the world.  The kids kept exclaiming how it was the most perfect place for spreading the rest of Dave’s ashes. In the water were millions of gold specs and that sealed the deal for the kids. It was a special spot and it will always be. They played, they made snow angels, they climbed, they had reasons for why they were spreading ashes where they did and they smiled and they laughed.

Grief continues to be a peculiar and nutty thing.  I still cry about 80% of the time I tell someone that Dave died, but on a day that I would assume would be full of tears, I didn’t squeak out one single tear.  I love the advice I got right in the beginning, to just roll with however I feel in the moment.  I never have to feel how anyone else (or myself) expects me to feel.   Just because there were not tears yesterday, doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful. It was quite the opposite.  It was meaningful, because it full of Dave, full of grace, full of protection, full of contentment, full of memories, full of smiles and siliness, and full of goodness.  

I feel a little lighter today. A little more free. A little more hopeful in the future.  The day reminds me of the backwards economy of God.  Verses in Matthew 5 like,  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  I’m not trying to add to the Bible here, but it felt like my personal little beatitude for the day was, “Blessed are those who let go, for they will be filled.”

Christina’s Take:

I love this post. It’s so real and raw. Life in the midst of grief is never glamorous or tidy. After the funerals and wakes are all adjourned, life in all its awkward limping, begins. That’s what you describe. I love that you knew the PERFECT place for Dave’s ashes, but that isn’t where they ended up getting spread. I love that plan B is okay. I also am thrilled with the conversations you must have had with the kids as you decided on where to spread Dave’s ashes. They had to think through fairly extraordinary concepts, like what color and place would best represent the spirit of their daddy. What a lovely trip you took us on.

I’ve always ALWAYS thought this (and occasionally said it) – Holly, your eyes shine more brightly when there are tears in them. Beauty and pain are important to each other. That’s what I see in this moment. Thank you for sharing this. I love you, friend.

 Megan’s Take: 

Wow. I’m not sure I can say it any better than Christina did! What an emotional l ride. I am struck by the intentionality with which you embarked on this jorurney with your kids, and their heart-felt engagement along the way. There are no easy answers or bows to tie up all the feelings of love and loss, but this moment captures the hearts of all of you involved. Even and most especially, Dave’s. Love that you shared his bad-ass 80 inch skiing accomplishment. May his legacy live on, far into the future. With kids like yours, I have no doubt that it will! 


The Mother of All 4-Letter Words

You guys — I recently discovered a new candidate for the mother of all four-letter words. This one is a doozy. No record label is going to slap the word EXPLICIT on anyone’s album because it’s in the lyric, but I’m telling you, its sneaky, subtle savvy is dangerous.

This word has nothing to do with unmentionable things or behaviors and everything to do with our view of ourselves and ultimately, if I may be so bold, of the God who created us for a purpose. 

This four-letter word is capable of belittling so many people, not the least of which is me.

Someone called me out for using this word about 8 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve noticed how easily it slides to the tip of my tongue. Sometimes the word has even escaped my mouth and I haven’t repented of using it.

However, when I hear it used unapologetically (or really, under the guise of counterfeit apology) by other women, I squirm in my seat. And, I hate to say it, but women are much more prone to abuse this word than men.

Get on with it, girl. What is this insipid word?? 

It’s the four-letter word, “JUST.” 

Let me explain.

Years ago, I sat around a dinner table with other mothers of young children. We had finally slipped out of the house for a much-needed GNO and were grateful to smell of anything other than regurgitated applesauce. The volume of chortles escalated as one mom after another attempted to top each other’s “how-hard-was-it-for-you-to-get-out-of-the-house-tonight” stories. 

As baskets of bread hit the table and drinks flowed, the lovely woman sitting on my left turned and introduced herself. She stated her name and told me she had four kids. To this day, I have no recollection of her name, but I do remember her response to me after I told her mine.

I said, “My name is Megan and I’m married to Scott. We just have two kids.”

In that moment she looked me straight in the eyeballs and said, “Honey, don’t you ever say that again.”

What?? The gall. I thought we were introducing ourselves. She could tell by my raised eyebrows, I was more than a little confused.

“You said you JUST have two kids. Neither one of those beautiful children is JUST anything. Each one is a unique, irreplaceable gift from God and you are the mother he has chosen for them.”

That mic drop put me square in my place.

The reminder of those words came flooding back to me recently as I sat in my usual Tuesday morning bible study. I adore the ladies I get to connect with every week and I was eager to hear each one share what she considered to be her personal calling in this season of life. 

The minute one dear woman scrunched her nose, unsure of how to answer the question, and finally stuttered, “I don’t know what my calling is, I’m just a stay-at-home-mom,” my heart sunk. 

There it was again. That nasty word. Just. Used to undermine our identity. 

As in:

I’m just an elementary school teacher.

I’m just a nurse.

I’m just 5’4”.

I just work part-time.

I just stay home with the kids.

No one says:

I’m just a neuro-surgeon. 

I’m just the executive director of thus and such. 

I’m just the President of the United States. (Tweeted no man, ever.)

If you want to use the word to say, “I’m so tired. I just climbed Mt. Everest!” That’s solid. If you roll in from a long day at work and say, “Hey kids, can you give me a minute to put my stuff down, I just got home from work.” Again, legit.

But if you want to use the word to belittle your identity or convey yourself as “less than.” Can you please do me a favor, and consider wiping the word from your vocabulary for a while? 

Try it.

It just might change your day. 

Christina’s Take

AMEN AMEN AMEN! I think we need to call that out in one another when we see it – that “just” mentality. I feel like NO MATTER which station in life I have been in, I have found myself thinking I could have done so much better. And that kind of thinking has NEVER been what propelled me further! I hope you called your sweet mama friend out on her use of that 4-letter word! Maybe it will make her lift her head just a tiny bit higher. Love this encouragement, M! And you’re JUST right.  

Holly’s Take:

This flies in the face of everything you are saying right now, but I actually kind of wish that I was “just” a stay at home mom, living minute by minute, doing the mundane, complaining of dirty diapers and runny noses.  Maybe it is a contentment issue?  Those who claim they are “just” something, feel like they need more purpose, and those who long to be “just” something, desire a different arrangement of circumstances. Paul, from the Bible, talks about how he is content, whether living in plenty or in want, and he writes this from a jail cell, I believe? I think I need a little more Paul in my outlook.  


Megan here. One last mention: 

PS — Take two minutes to watch this video! It’s an excellent depiction of how changing (rather, erasing) one word from a sentence can shift the atmosphere. And your confidence factor. Thank you, Pantene. #sorrynotsorry



This is Us – and This is Tough!

TV shows be darned…they still have a hold on me even after all these years of Netflix options, Hulu binge-watching, and Apple TV-palooza. Bottom line? Hollywood still has my number.

Case in point: last nights’ episode of This Is Us – the complex, character-driven, 1-hour drama that has taken my Tuesday night by storm in the last semester.

 Jack and Rebecca, leading couple on NBC's new hit show This Is Us. phtoto cred:  here
Jack and Rebecca, leading couple on NBC’s new hit show This Is Us. phtoto cred: here

I promise not to give away any plot points in case you’re a few eps behind but there is a conversation from the show’s dialogue that I am burning to process with you all. Here’s the scenario:

Jack and Rebecca are having a terrible argument (as couples do) wherein Rebecca is pointing out that Jack needs to fix a problem (in this case drinking) and Jack throws in a dig about her not being around much (because she has the nerve to have been working on expanding her singing career) and yada yada yada – bing bang boom – major fight ensues. They’re yelling over each other in a desperate attempt to be heard. All the while, neither one hears the other. This is hard to watch. But the climax of the argument comes when she says these words:

“I have no life,”

“I am a housewife, to three children who do not need me anymore

… I am a ghost.”

This moment shattered me!

There is just something about this super precise, raw, real, PAINFUL moment where I am transported into their living room. The reality that this is a TV show with actors, a set, script supervisors and a key grip (whatever that is) is suspended and I’m right there with Rebecca processing my feelings of being a ghost, too.

(Did they have a focus group for middle-aged moms of teenagers? Because: nailed it!)

 The show flashes back often to the early parts of Jack and Rebecca's marriage...(praising Jesus that the show has been renewed for 2 more seasons).
The show flashes back often to the early parts of Jack and Rebecca’s marriage…(praising Jesus that the show has been renewed for 2 more seasons).

Back to the shattered feeling. Shattered me for 3 reasons:

1 – I have felt this way before

One of our central questions as humans will always have to do with our contribution to the world and meaning in our work. And as our kids grow and develop into independent beings, our purpose gradually wanes. I’m not feeling like my life is simple and boring – I still have plenty on my plate. But I do feel myself gasp a little bit inside at the thought that I won’t always be parenting my children. I want them to leave someday but I’ve certainly gotten used to being needed to keep them clean, fed and reasonably appropriate for the last 17+ years. To imagine that one day my days won’t contain those things is quite astonishing to me.

2 – I want her to take back what she said about being a ghost.

I wish I saw another side to her character on the show – the one with a few friends to linger over a glass of wine with. I think having friendships apart from my husband has made all the difference in our marriage. Because of them, I am less likely – although not entirely – to unload my thoughts of being overlooked, undervalued, and being ghost-like in a conversation that wouldn’t likely start fair or end fair.

Let’s take a break from the serious talk for some literally perfect tweets about the show:

Aaaannnd, back to reality…

3 – This is not Jack’s or her kids’ responsibility (although they may be part of the cause.)

Rebecca! I want you to figure some of this out before it gets to the shout-it-out-in-the-living-room-as-an-ultimatum stage. Do women sometimes feel like ghosts who do lots of things for their families without much appreciation? Yes! Is it also possible for those SAME women to figure out that it’s not about who notices or who thanks you? and let’s be honest – even if you got all of those accolades you’d still have baggage when it comes to significance and purpose…am-I-right?

SO NOW WHAT? What do we do when we find ourselves at a crossroads – just as Rebecca has? Deeper meaning in life and an identity outside of her family are issues that I share with Rebecca. I bet you do, too. And you don’t have the perfect theme song playing behind your philosophical meltdown like Rebecca does, sister.

Promise me that you will identify those “ghost places” in your heart…and dismiss them one by one. YOU are not a ghost. You are right where you need to be. Unique. Beautiful. You. I’m so grateful for YOU.

Holly’s Take:

Sounds like a powerful moment in that show. I’m surprised to hear you say that you can identify with that character, probably because I romanticize the relationship you have with your kids to a degree.  However, I do remember the first time that Jack wanted to hang out with friends after a band concert, rather than carrying on the tradition of getting ice cream with the family. I don’t want that moment to come.  I think I’ll make my kids go to ice cream with me, thus wrecking any shot of having the sort of relationship you have with your kids. Right now, I am still in the phase, where I have to answer countless questions like these from today: “Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?”  “No, what exactly happens in their body, when they do?” “How much chocolate would they have to eat to throw up?”  “What about to die?”  For some reason, they still think I know the answers to all these sorts of very specific questions. I don’t feel like a ghost.  I still am on edge when I go to another room because they will be looking for me, within a couple minutes. But I would actually rather be in this place than any ghost place, to be honest. 

Megan’s Take:

First of all, you had me at “This is Us.” I LOVE this show! In fact, there are probably a dozen blog posts we could craft right now inspired by the characters and family dynamics of that show. People, if you are not watching this series, get out from under that rock, repent immediately and carve space in your week to check it out. Diatribe over. Back to Jack and Rebecca…

I think most women, at some point in the journey of motherhood, can relate (perhaps all too well) with Rebecca’s plight. She has a dream to become a singer. The painful memory of rejection and not “being good enough” for the industry haunts her through the years. She sacrifices everything to be (her version of) an awesome wife and mother and finally (in her mind) receives a long-awaited gift — a relatively major lead-singing gig with her band. She’s elated! And who can blame her? Finally, something “for herself” (her words). Oh man, can I relate. The tension between the giving of myself to motherhood vs. taking care of myself and pursuing “my dreams” spins right round baby through my head — All. The. Time. (Just ask my hubby. Love you, babe.)

Honestly, I never thought about the fact that Rebecca is never hanging out with any friends. Jack has Miguel. (Which leads to so many unanswered questions like, how in the heck do Rebecca and Miguel end up together? But that’s for another time.) I don’t know what I would do or where I would be without my girls!!! Seriously. And counseling?! Three cheers for good counseling. I do hope Rebecca (and Jack for that matter) finds some hope in doing the hard work of coming to terms with the beauty and pain that is marriage and parenthood. Maybe I need to send Rebecca a copy of my book just so she can read the chapter titled, “Motherhood, is Not Your Greatest Calling…” I’m still working through that one. Anyone have her address??

My Identity In Question???

Here is my family . . .  in the picture above. If you would have asked me a couple months ago, “Do you find your identity in your kids?” I would have said, “Of course, not! I know I shouldn’t do that.”  Or I might have said, “I totally know who I am without my kids.”  But then . . .   

A couple months ago, I read this tiny little article by one of my latest faves, Paul David Trip.  It was about finding our identity in our kids. I am not a particularly insecure person, so I didn’t think I struggled with identity.  And like I said, I would not have thought I do find my identity in my kids, until one paragraph in the article.  It begged the question, “Are you embarrassed by your kids in front of your peers?” This one little article made me realize that when I’m around some of my kids, I feel super, but when I’m with other kids in this family, I feel super embarrassed. (If you are one of my kids and reading this when you get older, assume you are one of the kids that make me feel super). 

How I feel about myself in a given moment, is often times directly related to which kids I am with and MOST DEFINITELY how they are behaving and even what they look like.  There are times when well intentioned friends recount a concerning behavior about one of my kids and I want to crawl under a rock!  The thing is, the kind of behavior that embarrasses me, is behavior that clearly speaks to how badly they are hurting.  When I’m in the embarrassing moment, I’m just mad, but when I’m out of it, I really do KNOW that their behavior comes from so much yuck in their little lives.  But, somehow, I feel like their mode of operation is good reason for me to feel shame and embarassment.  If I had my identity in Christ for reals (how do you exactly do that?????), I wouldn’t be so shakable. This article talks about what a huge burden that is for kids to carry . . . the identity of their parents.  UGH!   I think I have also put that burden on to my husband (or husbands), at times, but that would be a whole new post.   

If I had a family that did not have so much brokenness, I’m not sure I would ever see the full extent of my own brokenness.  Is my brokenness there because of my circumstances or is it there because I am human and I just see it more clearly, when everything is messy? It’s pretty tough to keep it looking all put together in a family as messy as this one. That’s why sometimes I just wish I lived in a trailer park, where messy lives are standard.  Is that judgmental?  I probably need to work on that, too.

Anyway, this is what is on my mind a lot lately.  Last New Year’s, the Writing in Pencil gals, did a little parody video on our “words” for the year.  This year, I didn’t think I would post mine on Facebook or anything like that, because the only word that keeps coming to mind is, “STRIP.”

I need to cut away all that the world and my flesh is telling me I am defined by.  I like this process.  It doesn’t feel good to look at that ugliness inside of me, but I do love that God is bringing it to the surface and I know that I am learning so much.  I am eager to see if I am a different person this time next year. Will I really be willing to surrender my fleshly desire to try and make my kids make me look good? If I am with an unshowered, poorly dressed, awkward, or misbehaving child, will I tend to his or her heart first, without a care for my reputation?  (I can’t even imagine how freeing it would be to say yes to that).  Will I really get serious about learning what it means to FOR REALS have my identity in Christ?  I think I know a lot of the answers to what it means to have my identity in Christ, but do I know how to make it my breath and being? Not yet, but I am learning.

One of the reflection questions at the end of Tripp’s article is, “What can you do this week to relieve the burden of your identity from the shoulders of your kids?” I thought that was a pretty difficult question.  What are your thoughts on that question?  

 Megan’s Take: 

Gracious! I feel like my kids will already have to go to therapy because of me. The last thing I want to do is cause undo stress on them because of my identity issues. But, alas.  The very essence of parenthood denotes we have a soul tie with our kids. Whether they are birthed or adopted, there is a bond that is beyond words. I’m not sure it’s possible to entirely disconnect our identity from our kids. They are a part of us. That’s part of the design. But the other half of the design is that they leave and cleave. In marriage, yes. But also as they grow up into adulthood. So how do we travel that path in a healthy way?? It is a DAILY struggle/choice/decision. One that hits me square between the eyes nearly every day. 

I often think parenting is a lot like bowling. Kids are the bowling balls and parents are the bumpers. The ball is going to go where it’s going to go — showered or not.  We’re just trying to make sure it isn’t completely in the gutter!! But if it does go on the gutter, we have to trust there will be grace for that too. 

Christina’s Take: 

This question of yours wrecked me: 

 “Is my brokenness there because of my circumstances or is it there because I am human and I just see it more clearly?”

This thought makes me ache for relief from this burden of our circumstances and also from this pile of “shoulds” that we walk around holding!

I carry all of these things, too. In fact, the other day while I was in the shower the thought hit me that the things I was so stressed about had to do with who I had decided was a Master I needed to serve. You name it; the friends we envy, the family we’d love to emulate, an expectation some has laid upon us…..

It’s heavy and long list and we CAN be free of that.damn.list. We CAN!  

What can I do to relieve the burden of our identity from my kids’ shoulders? Heck if I know!?!? But perhaps the starting point is to offer an expanse of grace and soft kindness and maybe even some much needed levity to someone I come into contact with – today. 



The Complex Journey of Parenting Teens

My mom always used to say, about parenting us girls, that she loved each year more than the previous. She swore parenting just got better and better as we got older.

All I have to say is, we must’ve been some angels! Or time has blurred the reality of how it all went down because, in my experience, these years of mothering teens and pre-teens has been some of the trickiest to date. And that’s saying something because I was a hot mess when the kids were babies. In those days, Scott would barely walk in the door from work and I was already throwing the parenting baton like a flaming hot potato at his face. “Your turn,” I’d declare. “I’m tapping out!”

Although the ticking of the clock can often be scary as we march on towards the end of life, maybe it graciously brings much-needed perspective as well. Time has a way of softening certain memories. Of showing us how we are capable of walking through hard things and reminding us, this too shall pass.

I would love some sweet words of encouragement from you mamas out there who have walked this road a tad longer than I. Or maybe from some of you ladies who remember what nasty beasts you were to your mothers during the teenage years and now you are face-timing BFFs who call each other “girlfriend.”

Either way, I need me some perspective and encouragement.

As of late, I’ve come to realize parenting in any season (like most things in life) is a delicate mix of learning valuable lessons from the past, staying patient in the present, and graciously holding the long view of the future with (VERY) open hands. 

I understand most of the disappointments our kids will face are just par for the course. Rites of passage, if you will. Most of us who’ve lived even one day as a teenager know the deep pain of heartbreak, the sheer madness of feeling like we got “robbed” of some accolade we thought we deserved, the sting of rejection from a best friend or varsity coach, but watching my own kids walk through some of these exact same things just flat hurts. I’m pretty sure mama bears are wired to protect and defend, but many times, that’s not what these years call for. 

Teens need to spread their wings, not Mommy micro-managing every decision.

Teens need a listening ear, not an endless litany of unwanted (often unasked for) advice.

Teens need to be given opportunities to try and fail so they can learn to get up again, not parents who smooth the road ahead every step of the way.

My head knows these are important life lessons. My head knows my kids will bounce back — that struggles create resilience. But knowing the truth in my head and feeling the sting in my heart often seem mutually exclusive. 

As adults, we know hard times are often momentary and fleeting. But with the teen suicide rate being at an all-time high, I have to say having the long view doesn’t always help when I’m afraid the short view might just overwhelm in the present. 

I don’t know about y’all, but my flesh wants to just plain BATON DOWN THE HATCHES. Lock the doors. Shut down YouTube and chuck the whole internet into the ocean. Pick up my whistle and have the kids follow my orders like Mr. VonTrapp, believing if they could just listen and obey no harm will come. 

But alas, I hear that’s probably not the best. Or healthiest. Or even a remotely reasonable option. At least the internet part.

So where does that leave me? 

Quite honestly, it leads me to the end of myself (apparently the plan all along if you read even ten words of Scripture) and desperately into the arms of a loving God (and amazing hubby). Thank you, Jesus, for this man that continuously breathes sanity into my crazy. Bless his ever-loving heart!

I don’t know where you guys are in your journey of parenting. Perhaps you’ve got it all dialed in and the plane is on autopilot, in which case I would LOVE to hear from you. Seriously. But I’m going to hedge my bets and presume many of you are a lot like me. You have some days that come off like a Martha Stewart Living magazine (yeah, right), but more often than not, you’re nostrils are floating just above the water line, in which case we both need a little saving.

If the second option resonates in the slightest — I want to direct you to two interviews* I listened to recently that have ministered to and encouraged my weary, wandering soul, putting so much of this into perspective. (*You do NOT need to be in the throes of parenting to enjoy this podcast. It will bless ladies of any age/stage.)

The delightful, Jamie Ivey, hosts a podcast called “The Happy Hour” (that title had you at ‘hello’ didn’t it??) in which she interviews women from various walks about “the big things in life, the little things and everything in between.” This podcast has become one of my new favorites! Each episode is worth a listen, but two, in particular, caught my attention because they highlighted mamas who have gone through some rough patches with their kids and lived to tell (and even testify!) about them.

Episode 125 featuring Renee Swope and Episode 107 featuring Deidra Riggs are AWESOME! And if you want to throw in some “preach-it-sister” for good measure, don’t miss Episode 123 with Lisa Bevere. Oh. My. Word. 

Let me just leave you with a little taste from Renee Swope who tells the story of her teenage son announcing he was an atheist. 

She said, “I never want to get my identity [as a mom] from how my kids are doing… Our kids are BECOMING. They need to know what matters more to us than anything is that their faith journey is THEIR faith journey. It’s not something they just inherit from us. They need it to be their decision… We do the best we can with what we have. Our kids are God’s kids, not ours.”

During a particularly rough patch with her son, he said to her, “Mom, if you believe everything you say you believe, none of this would scare you.”

Perhaps that’s the mic drop right there.

When my flesh gets scared, my natural inclination is to reach for the reigns. I’m all, “Move over Jesus, I’m taking the wheel!” But this boy’s words speak life and conviction into me today. Sometimes tightening the reigns makes the horse anxious, confused and desperate to run the other way. That’s the last thing I want for my kids. (Or any horses out there…)

My prayer today and always is that their journey would lead them one way or another into the arms of Jesus who really is better than anything else! Even better than me and “my” way. 

How would your life look different if you whole-heartedly lived like you believe God loves your kids more than you do — and His promises are real?

PS — I really do love my kids!! And even enjoy them many days of the year. Just in case you were concerned. Smile. There are things that definitely get better and more fun the older they get. But that’s fodder for a whole other post. 

Holly’s Take:

Oh gosh!  You are speaking my language. How I wish I could just get them to do everything I say and then they would be safe and fine and happy and lovely. And part of what I would say is to actually throw youTube and the entire internet into the ocean!  I can’t even imagine how I will do this parenting thing when my kids are teenagers.  Yikes!  My kids have already been through so much that sometimes I feel like if they can handle what they have already gone through, then they are going to be rock solid with the smaller stuff.  But other times I think, they have been through so much, how much more can they handle . . . they are going to crack!  It’s probably that I’m going to crack long before they do. I can’t wait to listen to those podcasts.  I’m quite positive I need to hear them.   

Christina’s Take:

This post makes me want to get women in our age and stage more deeply connected to one another! I feel this, too! I have one who is thriving, activated, encouraged and seemingly making wise choices and another who fell apart last night due to exhaustion and worry. We need perspective and this is a time of life when these most precious resources (community and perspective) are in their most limited supply! I know too that when we are our mothers’ age, this will all feel like a wispy, faint blip. Time marches on. And our kids are more resilient than we think they are. Often I am problem-solving internally about something my kiddo is no longer even considering. Oy! Thankful for your wisdom and your plea for help. We’ve got this! (Right?!?)


This is real. Right Here. – A Short Story for the New Year

She steps out into the quiet night – a quick stroll will be just the way to end this year.

Layered with warmth, she finds the night air frigid but crisp and clear. She knows it will feel good to stretch her legs, move a little. The wrapping, the baking and the entertaining chaos complete, she promises herself even the shortest of walks will be a tonic capable of adding pep to her sagging spirits.

And she is surprised by this night. Outside in the evening air, it seems to be shining just for her, twinkly in its clarity, its peace – almost like it was waiting to show off. The dazzling stars and the shimmery snow are giving her their full attention.

And in this beautiful night, she walks with efficiency at first, moving quickly to keep warm. As she contemplates the year she changes her pace. Her thoughtfulness at time passing is enveloped in the comfort of this solitary moment. The night welcomes all of her thoughts about small things like recycling and laundry and big things like college and retirement. Every now and then she passes a brightly lit bungalow overflowing with laughter and the clinking of glasses, the playing of games and general revelry. She sighs and shakes her head.

She’s never cared much about New Year’s Eve.

To her, it is just another night – good for a walk and then in the morning back to the routine of life which brings comfort to her. It’s just a date on a calendar, a flip of the month. She sees no point in the good luck sentiments being passed around. She has seen good years and she has seen difficult years –all have floated by without good luck charms having any obvious affect.

She blames the advertising that takes consumers by the hand and leads them towards the big New Year and all the habits that must change, things that must start –

…reminding everyone to be unsatisfied.  

She is startled by a dog once silent now yipping protectively at her through the white picket fence. Her heart races in the night air – having not expected the assault on her quiet evening musings.

She brushes it off choosing instead to exhale at the vastness of the sky against the rows of well-kept homes and smartly mapped streets. She picks up her pace for a few blocks, ticking off the street names, planning her route. This is when she comes upon it – something that catches her attention:

An older gentleman is sitting peacefully at a warmly lit table, reading. What is he reading, she wonders? It must be a Bible. And what does he think of holidays like this? Is he tired of another year coming and then going? He seems to be fully contented – fully consumed by this moment. She comes to her senses realizing with astonishment that as she has unwittingly been perched in front of the old man’s dining room window. The old man seems to be intently speaking with his eyes closed….yes, praying, as a silent tear rolls down his weathered cheek.

Her thoughts are interrupted abruptly by a loud countdown – “3! 2! 1!” – And then “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” And then, as if on cue, the old man looks up from his prayer, his reading and fastens his gaze upon her…and… as if someone has turn on a light in his eyes, smiles.

In this moment in this brand new year, the radiance of his kindness and his notice of her is riveting.

She doesn’t move.

She should.

She realizes the awkwardness of this encounter and that it’s inappropriate for her to be staring into this man’s deeply personal  moment –

…but she cannot move.

He continues in his warmth and  slowly opens his arthritic fingers for a gentle, simple wave. It is a wave of such sweetness and warmth, she can hardly take it – can hardly stand the generosity of this gesture .

She has been given a gift in that still and glorious evening:

A transfer of Glory from an old, past-his-prime gentleman to her feeble, waiting and hungry heart. She is seen and known in this moment.

She smiles and waves back.

She breathes deeply, smiles again at the man as he closes his eyes and continues his prayer – and she slowly walks on.  

None of what she has lived up to this moment seems to matter.

She whispers a short prayer that matches her walking speed and her breathing. She is thankful. Thankful for the gift of this moment, this beautiful night and for…..well…thankful for right now. 

And, as if stamping it into her life for the New Year and certainly with the desire for this to be  emboldened on her heart. She whispers it:

This moment is okay. This is real. Right here. And I am not in charge. And I am so relieved.

It feels in her heart as if she has spoken this new reality into a loud microphone because of the depth at which it falls into her heart. She offers her little whispered prayer like a little Ebenezer into the brisk night.

She has no idea how long she has been gone but it feels like she has been on an epic journey. She makes a U-turn on the tidy little, tree lined street and heads back. Back to her home. Back to life. Back to the routine. But not the same. She is new…like the New Year. 

How are you “new” as you anticipate the coming year? 

Megan’s Take:  How am I new as I anticipate the coming year?  Oh man.  I just hope I AM new in some way.  The last thing I want to be after 365 days is the same old me. I hope and pray that with the coming of each new year I am actually uncovering, bit by bit, the “original” me — the me that God designed to live for HIS purposes here on this earth.  At this age, there seems to be something “magical” about the new year because it brings with it a sense of “what-have-I-got-to-lose?”   Heaven knows I’m not getting any younger! What’s the big deal if I take a risk or two or ten?  I love that the woman in this story knows what she needs and is not afraid to take it.  She had plenty of things she could have busied herself with at home, but she chose to take a walk and soak up the night air.  She stopped to smell the roses, as they say, and pondered the moment in front of that window.  She noticed a man living into a peace and a reality she wanted to claim as her own.  I pray 2015 brings many such moments.  Moments that make me stop and take notice. Moments that take my breath away.  Moments that bring me face to face with another and change me for the better.  Moments that reveal where true peace comes from.

Holly’s Take:  My favorite snippet from the short story is, and I quote, “She says it to God as if stamping it into her life for the New Year – wanting it to be emboldened on her heart. She whispers it: This moment is okay. This is real. Right here. And I am not in charge. And I am so relieved.”  

To even say out loud, “what I want in 2017, is  . . . , ” feels like I am setting myself up for some sort of jinxing.  I know that is fairly seventh grade-ish, but I have a lot more peace, when I can think, “here I am . . . today . . . .I don’t have as much control as I want, but make me new, Jesus.”  Chances are, I’ll forget I ever wrote that, and I’ll just keep trying to stay in charge.  I guess I’ll have to make it my New Year’s Resolution, to hold my resolutions very loosely.  

What’s in a Name?* (Lots, Apparently)

*This post was originally published as part of the Prayers for Girls initiative. To read more or subscribe to the site, click here!


But now, O Israel, The LORD who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”

— Isaiah 43:1 (NLT)

For the longest time I disliked my name. (Ack — Sorry, Mom!) I don’t know why, but I could never fully embrace it. When I was growing up, it seemed like all the popular girls were named Laurie, Lisa, Julie or Jessica. I always gave my dolls those kinds of names. The ones the pretty girls had. Never, Megan. That was boring. That was just…me. And my middle name?? Plain Jane. Forget it. Double whammy.

It wasn’t until well into my adulthood that I began to respect and even like my name.

Although sometimes, when my friends and I go to Starbucks we dare each other to use a different name. We try to stifle a mischievous giggle when the barista pulls out a sharpie and asks for our name. We respond with something like “Trixie” or “Babs.” I mean, honestly! It’s funny how such a little antic can get my heart pumping like I might have to ditch my mom clogs and run from the cops at any moment.

What’s in a name anyway? Why do I care so much?

Our names give context to our place in the world. They function as a base cornerstone of “who” we are. And the legacy of certain last names can either make us (think Kennedy) or break us (think Kardashian) simply by association.

Our names are the first thing we reveal when we introduce ourselves. We must state our names when asked to take an oath or sign a legal document. Do you remember what it felt like to have the announcer say your full name before handing you a high school or college diploma? Awesome! Having our mom shout it across the crowded schoolyard? Not so much.

In his book, Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson says, “The personal name is the most important part of speech in our language…Naming focuses on the essential. The act of naming, an act that occurs early in everyone’s life has enormous significance.”

One of the most profound first rites of parenthood is the act of naming our child. We often go round and round trying to find “just the right name” and refrain from telling anyone before it’s “official” out of fear that a flinch or involuntary grimace might indicate someone else disagrees with our choice.

Our children receive the names we bestow on them (for better or for worse) and we receive the names bestowed on us (for better or for worse).

No matter how you feel about your given name, however, the fact of the matter is, your earthly name is just that. An earthly one. It may be common or confusing, melodic or melodramatic, but no matter what, it is temporary. The name we hold now will not always be the whole story.

Names are important to God.

Right from the beginning of time, we find that God names his beloved creation. He calls the light “day” and the darkness “night.” He called the space “sky” and the water “seas.” He generously bestowed the power of naming the rest of his creation to man, but He reserved the right to grant us, his children, our precious, eternal name, Himself.

This reality blew me sideways when I discovered it in the book of Revelation. Did you know Go will give us a brand new name?? And it will be His?! For reals.

Revelation 3:12 tells us of such a promise,

All who are victorious [through the blood of Christ] will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write my God’s name on them, and they will be citizens in the city of my God — the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And they will have my new name inscribed upon them.

What will our new names be? Will it be God’s name?? I don’t think we have a clue! Perhaps the very fact that it is hidden from us denotes its priceless quality. And the best part is, what Satan does not know, he cannot destroy (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Regarding the whole idea of names, Eugene Peterson reminds us of the most important thing. He writes,

WHAT we are named is not as important as THAT we are named.

Yes, you are a mother (or a father – we have a few that read this blog), one who names, but you are also a child, one who has been named. Before time began, God held the idea of you in his mind. Your name was written on his heart and you are His. Both now and forever.

Let us hold fast to the promise of a new name! No need to compare yourself to the popular kids. You are, and have always been, the apple of his eye! (Zechariah 2:8, Psalm 7:18)

What are some of the names/labels the world has given you? Are they uplifting or demeaning?

What are the names God gives you?

If you’re a Bible kind of person, read on to see who He says you are:

  • 1 John 1:9
  • Romans 8:37
  • John 8:36
  • Ephesians 1:13
  • Ephesians 5:8
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • Romans 8:17

If you took time to look any of these up, you found names like: FORGIVEN, VICTORIOUS, CHILD of GOD, CHILD of LIGHT, PURE, HOLY, FREE, HEIRS…. #themthere’sfightingwords

And believe me, this is only the beginning! Your name is your identity. And your identity is a manifestation of who you are.  

Don’t let the world or any of its minions take that away from you. 

Christina’s Take:

This is just beautiful.  I’m so encouraged by this idea that I have been named by God. It means I have a special role in His Kingdom – that’s something about which I can easily lose perspective. I think it’s because in the world it’s easy to hear news stories and feel like just another data point in another meaningless poll. Faith is an important way to realize we are uniquely called and loved by a savior whose intentions are FOR us.

So grateful for this reminder especially during this busy holiday season. 

Holly’s Take:

I always cringe when I hear anything about names.  First, because I think I misnamed one of my kids. Second, because it’s taken me a year and a half of marriage to settle on my last name.  Third, because once on the first night of a new Bible study, we had to share why we liked or dislike our names. I said I liked Holly, because it was not gruff like, “Spike,” or too flowery, like “Victoria.”  Sure enough, the next girl to go, said quietly, “My name is Victoria.”  I could have DIED!!!!  I do love the name Victoria, by the way. But when I get past those three things, I love names. I love hearing the names of babies, puppies, stuffed animals . . . really anything.  I have to say, though, that the idea of getting a new name is heaven is confusing to me.  I read the verse in Revelation and a few commentaries and they all said something a little different and I think I am even more confused now. To really understand that verse, I feel like I would need a degree in theology. So, before I try to summarize what I think it says and then get it wrong, I’m sticking with, I know all things will be new in heaven. AMEN! 

PS — EXTRA GOLD NUGGET! This is Megan again. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations. You are a person of deep commitment. I couldn’t help but hop back on here at the end and add ONE MORE THING. In my devotions this morning, I ran across a verse in 1 Peter 4 that tells us of our connection to the name that is ABOVE ALL NAMES. The only one that really matters…

“If you are ridiculed for the NAME of Christ, you are BLESSED [do you see that??], because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a ‘Christian,’ he should NOT BE ASHAMED but should glorify God in having THAT NAME.” 

— I Peter 4:14-15

Carrying the name of Jesus doesn’t entitle us to be a jerk. Come on, now. That’s just nonsense. Carrying the name of Jesus may come with present suffering (for the sake of the gospel) but it also reaps the reward of His glory. Both in the now and the not yet. That is a name you can take to the bank!