Peace on Earth (and in Your Home) – Navigating the Tension through the Holidays

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on November 23, 2016.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

There is nothing that brings my heart more joy than being with family. My husband and I are extremely blessed to have four wonderful children together, and the majority of our immediate family live locally or just a short drive away. While we get to enjoy family time fairly regularly, I always look forward to Thanksgiving, when we travel to visit my extended family. The holidays are that special time for many people to meet up with loved ones they rarely see and reminisce, bond, and make memories together.

Then 2016.

Guys, let’s be real. This year has been tough on everyone. The last few years have brought to light many social and political issues facing our nation, and all that building tension climaxed this year with possibly the most divisive election cycle in American history. While some people like to keep their circles small and unified in beliefs, I count myself lucky to belong to a large, diverse family holding many different opinions and convictions. The one thing that unites us — and probably how you can tell we’re related — is our passion and stubbornness when it comes to what we believe. 

While I’m pretty sure my family’s Thanksgiving celebration will not include any punches being thrown (fingers crossed, y’all!), you might not have the same confidence for your own holiday gathering. If you are one of the many people worried about facing family with whom you disagree politically this holiday season, remember these pointers to make sure your get-togethers go smoothly, and maybe one day you can even look back on this year and laugh. Or you can just survive until January; I mean whatever you gotta do, bruh.

  1. Go with a plan. And the plan is, let’s just not.

To continue reading, view the full post on the Knoxville Moms Blog. Happy holidays, and remember that family is worth not fighting for. 😉

“It Didn’t Even Taste Good” | Wisdom from a 1st Grader

photo belongs to Cale Caldwell, used with permission

photo belongs to Cale Caldwell, used with permission

Yesterday my daughter had a tough day at school. She is in the first grade, and she might be a little known for her excellent behavior. While I’m sure my husband and I have raised a good kid, the truth is it’s just in her nature to be responsible and want to please her teachers. The slightest hint of disapproval from an authority figure causes her to well up in tears. She is a bit sensitive, but it really is that important to her to be “good.”

We are now dangerously close to the end of the school year, and I think every kid is on edge. Warmer weather and longer light hours mean my Princess is being a lot more physically active, so she’s generally tired. She is growing up, and with that often comes stages of testing the limits. I don’t know what the reason was exactly, but yesterday she made a poor choice and got in trouble for it.

When she stepped off the bus, she was already in tears. Sobbing, she trudged up the driveway staring at her feet. Occasionally she looked up at me as she walked, and I could see the fear and regret in her eyes. Bless her tender heart. Concerned, I knelt down to ask what happened. “Oh, Mommy!” she said. “I want to tell you the truth, but I don’t want you to be mad at me!”

Reassuring her that I would not be mad, she immediately confessed her transgression. She told me every detail of her day and what had led her to make certain choices. She had sampled a treat for which she was instructed to wait. “I knew in my heart it was wrong,” she said, “but I don’t know why I did it anyway.”

I hugged her and thanked her for telling me the truth. She melted into my arms, so relieved by grace, and I stroked her hair while she wiped her tears on my shirt. As we embraced, she whispered, “You know what? It didn’t even taste good.”

Oh my Princess! Isn’t that the truth?!

So often we find ourselves ignoring our better judgment or that still, small voice inside. We choose instead to indulge our flesh with that which appears enticing at the moment. We have all been there – standing right in front of that which you desire, face-to-face with the object of your affection, knowing either external or internal forces have placed it off limits for a reason. But there it is, now within your reach, and it becomes increasingly difficult to remember what that reason was again… We daydream. We lust. We rationalize. We justify. We plan. We sin.

How often do we get there, finally attain that forbidden fruit only to find that the taste is bitter and not at all what we hoped or expected?

Dear reader, I will tell you what I told my daughter today, and you may feel free to remind me when I need to hear it (and I will): Sin is never worth the consequences you will pay as a result. It never tastes as good as you thought, or that sweet taste will eventually poison you.

I love me some cookie dough, and more times than I care to admit I have eaten it until I literally felt sick. It doesn’t matter how good something appears or how well you rationalize it, disobedience or disregard for the boundaries God has given you will always result in sickness. If you don’t spit it out after the first taste, eventually you will. And you know what I think every time I eat cookie dough? What was I thinking?! This makes me sick every time; why do I keep doing this to myself when I know better?? 

That little voice in my daughter’s heart that whispered, Don’t do it! was the Holy Spirit leading her and empowering her to make the wise choice. The literal bitterness of her choice served as a tangible reminder that God’s boundaries are always to protect, preserve, or propel us toward His good for our lives. When we quiet our minds and the loud, pushy, urgent cries of the flesh, and when we practice hearing the still, small voice of the Lord in our hearts, then we will be pursuing life-giving wisdom and discernment.

And when we don’t… My friend, let me remind you of this:

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

Ephesians 1:6-8

Your sin is never too far that his forgiveness will run out. Your failure is never too great that his mercy can’t redeem it. You pain is never too deep that his love won’t restore you. You are never out of his reach, and dear one, HE LOVES YOU.

Right here, right now, where you are, what you have done, what you are doing, what you are facing, whatever you think is just too much… He loves you, and you have a place in his family.

I love you, my friend.