Be Free


Two days ago I got a card in the mail from my mom. Inside was a hand-written note that said, “Happy Mother’s Day to one terrific mom!” When I read those words, I scoffed, “Hah! A terrific mom. Yeah right.”

That card arrived only moments after I went on a tirade in the living room because I told my kids to pick up their things, and they didn’t. When my yelling fit subsided and we were all in our respective rooms in tears, I thought to myself, “I can’t do this. This is too hard. I’m not cut out to be a mom.”

Ten minutes later, I pulled myself from my pillow, took a deep breath, dried my eyes, and went to my son’s room. I sat on the floor and drew my children close, embraced and kissed them, and apologized. Then I prayed aloud for forgiveness. The tirade was over. I had made amends. But I still felt myself struggling beneath the weight of guilt, shame, and inadequacy.

That evening, after the kids were in bed, I told my husband what had happened. I told him about my frustration and impatience, and resultant remorse. I told him that I just felt… mad.

“Who are you mad at?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. I thought for a moment. “I guess I’m not mad at the kids. I’m not mad at you. I’m not even mad at myself. I’m just… sick of serving everyone else all the time.”

“Oh, so you’re mad at God.” The words were a sucker punch. Mad at God.

“Yep, I guess I am.” And I was. I was mad that God gave me work that requires me to completely pour out myself in service to others. Mad because I’d rather be doing something that serves me instead of others. Mad that I feel inadequate. Mad that I’m mad. As I sat there on the couch staring at my hands, I felt like I had been stripped bare, face to face with my own ugly, terrible, condemning sin. “So what do I do?” I sobbed. “I’m not supposed to feel like this. I’m such a crappy mom.”

My husband smiled at me. “So what if you are? Jesus came for the sinners, the losers, the failures. Own it! Quit trying to be a perfect. You have an ideal in your mind of what keeping a home and rearing children is supposed to look like, and you sacrifice to it. You sacrifice your time and energy, the needs of your children, and your sanity to that ideal, that idol. And what would happen if you stopped sacrificing to that idol? Nothing. Nothing would happen because it doesn’t matter. How well you keep a house and how good you are at being a mom and how well-behaved your children are doesn’t define you or determine your fate, Jesus does. And guess what? Jesus says you are forgiven. Jesus has covered your sins with his blood so that you can be free from sacrificing to the idols you build for yourself. Free to serve in your vocations. Free to love the people in your life. Free to live.” Then my husband embraced me and said, “You’re the best crappy mom I know.”

Today, I opened that card from my mom and read the Hallmark sentiment: “May your Mother’s Day and every day be blessed with as much love as you always show to others.” Thanks be to God that he loved us, not because we loved others, but in spite of our inability to do so. May God grant me, and all mothers, the humility to repent, comfort in God’s forgiveness, hope in his promises, and the confidence to tear down the idols and be free.

Spring Things

Warm afternoons, sunshine, and the return of green, growing things… Spring!

spring swings

With the onset of spring comes a flurry of activity in and around our home. In addition to spending more time playing outside, we’re stirring the compost pile, planning the gardens, starting seeds, and bringing a bit of the outdoors in.

The most fascinating of our spring projects has been our twig study. Last week we snipped twigs from all the trees and bushes around our yard, brought them inside, color-coded them with strings of embroidery floss, and placed them in jars of water in a sunny window. Every day the buds on the lilac and apricot twigs have opened bit by bit, and today, exactly seven days later, we have abundant green leaves and fragrant white flowers! We’re still waiting on the maple, cottonwood, apple, pear, and unidentified varieties.


We’re also sprouting beans on damp paper towels in plastic bags taped to the window. The kids have enjoyed watching the roots (and mold—yikes!) grow. No leaves yet…


Last fall, Abram asked if we could plant a butterfly garden to attract the Monarchs to our yard, so this year we acquired milkweed seeds, which are planted and under the grow-lights inside. We’ll transplant the milkweed (hopefully!) when the weather warms up, along with broadcast sowing some mixed flowers in two empty plots around our house. The kids are also looking forward to receiving their butterfly garden starter kit from the National Wildlife Federation’s Butterfly Heroes program!


This year we started our herb seeds outdoors in plastic jugs using a method called “winter-sowing.” I find starting seeds indoors tedious, so I was immediately drawn to this low-maintenance solution. Now if I would only remember to water them…

wateringmore watering

Of course, no project is complete without a trip to the library in search of books about seeds and butterflies and outdoors projects and crafts. After perusing our books, both kids—without any prompting—got out their nature notebooks and drew pictures of the critters they hope to spot this summer. Then they flipped back through the pages, recalling our nature walks and projects from the fall. I revel in these moments of genuine enthusiasm, interest, and delight!

nature notebooks

Special thanks to my dear friends Sara, Rosie, and Meghan for sharing their knowledge, experience, and resources!

Movement Resources

“Movement is a required nutrient for health,
just like food and water.” –Ari Whitten

shoveling snow
Program #1: Get up and go.

  • Step 1: Go from sitting to standing, and preferably moving. Move constantly throughout the day. There should not be a whole hour when you are sitting.
  • Step 2: Go for at least one daily walk (15-60 minutes), preferably outside. Walk as much as possible during the day.
  • Step 3: Once step 1 and 2 have become habit, then, and only then, should you consider adding workouts. Most people get this backwards, thinking that doing a workout is sufficient. But sitting all day erases the metabolic benefits of exercise.

Program #2: Characteristics of “Hunter-Gatherer” Fitness

  1. Walk a lot, 4-10 miles per day.
  2. Do occasional short bursts of intense exertion (like sprinting) a few times a week with adequate rest in between.
  3. Lift, carry, drag, push, and pull heavy objects.
  4. Move and exercise outside in the natural world.
  5. Move and exercise on grass and dirt instead of cement and asphalt.
  6. Move and exercise in social contexts with friends and family.
  7. If you have a day of extreme activity, follow it with an easier day. Rest always follows work.
  8. Everyone, except for the very young and very old, needs to move lots every day for the entirety of their lives.


  • Video: Interview with Dr. James A. Levine on “Sitting Disease”

Inexpensive Equipment (under $60)

Have more suggestions for movement resources and equipment? Leave a comment or email me, and I will add them to this list!
See my post Move. for more information on NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis), activity suggestions, and thoughts on exercise.