When It Feels Like You’re Swimming Upstream in Molasses

It was the dreaded question. “How’s your book coming?” I sighed and confessed to my friend, “Some days when I write, I feel like I’m swimming upstream in molasses.” There’s a reason it’s called writer’s block. You feel like you’re moving—or typing—but not getting anywhere.

The next day, a writing partner threw me a pebble that rippled a lifeline into my molasses stream. She texted me a one-hour writing challenge and offered to pray for me. That afternoon, I wrote like Michael Phelps swims, my hands skimmed swiftly across the keyboard and the ideas overflowed. Her pebble made all the difference.swimmer

Years ago, when battling through a particularly dark season of my life, the postal carrier delivered a box with a butterfly on the front. My friend knew about my trial and remembered how I’d seen beautiful butterflies nearly every day—God’s creatures of transformation, a reminder of our new nature in Christ. I opened the butterfly box and discovered a huge stack of index cards inside (like 40 or more). On each one she’d hand-written a scripture dated with when she prayed it for me! That small box of encouragement still ripples truth into my life and I remain forever grateful for this extreme act of encouragement.

Before You Throw, Consider Who

The butterfly box was significant because words matter to me. As a communicator and writer, I adore words and my friend knew that. So, before you pick up your go-to pebble of encouragement, consider who you’re uplifting and how they are wired.

cookiesFor you, agape love might come in the form of a plate full of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. But how does the person you’re encouraging best receive love? Do you know their love language? If not, find out. A words of affirmation person might want a long note, but a quality time person might prefer a quiet walk together. Your acts of service friend might appreciate a homemade meal more than words can say.

Be Specific

My friend is wading through an extremely difficult chapter in her life. I asked her, “What’s the best way others have encouraged you?” It didn’t take her long to answer.

“Those who helped most were specific in their offers to help.”

Instead of:“I’m so sorry for your loss. Let me know what I can do for you.”

They said: “I want to give you a break next week. Could I keep your children so you can take a walk, have lunch with your mom, or get your nails done? I’m free next Tuesday if that works for you?”

love hands photo courtesy of Farid Iqbal Ibrahim

My hope for this blog is not to simply talk about throwing pebbles but to inspire you to act. So here’s my “molasses challenge.” Take a moment to think of one person who’s in a dark season, knee deep in molasses. How can you ripple some light into their darkness? I’ve started a list of ideas, but I’d love to hear from you. Please share below and I’ll draw from all who leave comments and send the winner a gift card!

Keep it simple:

  • Pray for them and then send a text/e-mail to say they’re on your mind
  • Phone them and offer to listen without offering advice
  • Hand write and snail mail a card or note of encouragement. Remember that humor can be just the right anecdote in the midst of pain
  • Hit the kitchen and whip up a home cooked meal or swing by your favorite take-out place. Even a simple entrée offered in love can make the heart smile.

woman thinking with penFor all you crafty people:

  • Purchase or hand paint a coffee mug and insert a Starbucks gift card, or a bundle of tea bags with a cute spoon and tag: “When the storms of life are stirred, we all need a moment to sit and sip.”
  • Pray and ask God to show you a special scripture just for them. Spend an evening creating a scripture doodle. Roll it up and tie it with a bow, or mail it to them.
  • Decorate a tin can, fill with flowers, and attach note: “ONLY GOD CAN: turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, and a victim into a victory.”
  • Tie a note on a bottle of 7-up that promises: “I will be UP-lifting you in prayer for the next 7 days. Have a blessed week!”
  • Leave some Mentos or a tin of Altoids with a note of “encourage-mint”

Now it’s your turn …

Six Simple Ways Moms Can “Preach” the Gospel

Spring is in her glory in the Southeast right now. Last week, I waved to a crowd of happy children catching minnows and lizards in my friend’s side yard creek as I walked inside for  afternoon tea.spring-tree

I love how Spring brings out the inner Thoreau in each of us.

Three moms were deep in conversation and tea drinking when my friend’s four-year-old son abandoned his minnow net and suddenly burst into the kitchen. James looked distressed and headed straight for his mom to inform her of his brother’s less than kind treatment. I was impressed by my friend’s response.

First, here’s what she didn’t do:

  • React emotionally: “What in the world?! Not again!”
  • Scream: “That’s it! No tattling!!” or “Don’t interrupt me. Can’t you see we’re talking right now?!”
  • Coddle: “Oh you poor baby!”

Here’s what she did:

  • Acknowledged the wound: “Oh no! That must have hurt.”
  • Assessed the pain with a gentle touch: “Let’s have a look.”
  • Assessed the problem: “Did your brother mean to do that or could it have been an accident?”
  • Reengaged him with play: “Why don’t you go back outside? Try asking your brother to please be more careful. If he doesn’t listen, come back in and talk to me.”

creekStill rubbing his booboo, James pulled himself together and was able to return to the creek for more lizard encounters. My friend isn’t a perfect mom, but her intentional and kind response tossed pebbles of tenderness and grace into her son’s world at a time when he really needed some TLC.

We live in a world that undervalues these pebbles.

Today’s post goes out to an often overlooked group: moms who are training their kids to be grace givers—children who pay attention to those who are hurting and take time to toss pebbles of their own. When I witness a mom giving careful attention to one who is often overlooked or misunderstood, I’m reminded of Jesus.

While the culture of His day often ignored children and women, Jesus paid them attention. In His eyes, women had so much worth that they were given some of the most significant roles in the Bible. I’ll come back to that in a moment. Screenshot 2016-04-12 18.07.37Check out this clip of a son raised by a feminist mom who asks Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, an outstanding question: Does God favor a gender?

“God is a God of humankind,”Dr. Zacharias responds. Next, he poses another great question. “The greatest truth on which the Gospel hangs is the resurrection. If Christ be not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain. So, if God were a discriminator of gender, why did He reveal Himself to women? All of Easter hangs on the testimony of womankind, with whom He trusted the entire Gospel.”

marymag scriptureIt’s no mistake that a woman—Mary Magdalene—was reported as the very first eyewitness of the resurrected Savior, according to Mark 16:9. In fact, in all gospel accounts of Jesus’ appearance after His resurrection, all of the original eyewitnesses are women.

Jesus first entrusted womankind with the Gospel. And He is still entrusting us with that very same Gospel today. Moms, He trusts you with the Gospel in your own homes, with your children. By showing your children you’re not a perfect mom, but one who loves and cherishes them enough to take time even when you’re tired, you are extending the Calvary-purchased love of Jesus Christ.

To the mom with spit-up stains on your shirt, who’s umpired countless sibling squabbles, burned dinner then busted open a few boxes of mac ‘n cheese only to discover an empty jug of milk in the fridge. . . this one’s for you:

1. Take time to gather.

It’s not the food on the table but what’s shared in the gathering they’ll remember.

2. Take time to hear.

Profound healing takes place in the simple act of listening.

3. Take time to play.

An hour of play discovers more than a year of conversation.


photo credit

4. Take time to pray.

You’re shaping lives on your knees.

5. Take time to repent.

Two of the most powerful pebbles a parent can toss into their children’s lives are “I’m sorry.”

6. Take time to rest.

They need rest too. Your example paves the way to healthy habits. And makes you a happier momma.

Take time. Join the conversation. In what small ways to you “preach” the Gospel without words to your family?