I LOVE to read so when my Pastor asked me to be a part of his book launch team, I knew I couldn’t say no. Anything that meshes my love for books with my love for Jesus is basically the best thing since a bacon-wrapped filet. I excitedly awaited the arrival of the manuscript- not realizing Pastor Noel had flipped the flow and the game was about to be changed.
The truths that awaited me on those pages were laid out like nothing I have ever encountered. I grew up in an Italian Catholic family, never missing church on Sunday or a mid-week religious education refresher. I prayed my rosary in Italian and English because I thought maybe it made me closer to God. In college, I lived in Rome and visited more churches from Milano to Cosenza than should be allowed… ever! I took shortcuts to class through Vatican City, met the Pope and became besties with a sweet group of nuns. After returning stateside, I was re-baptized as an adult and have been attending a Christian Church for the better part of 15 years. I have read the bible cover-to-cover multiple times over (and yes, even the boring parts.) I have completed more bible studies and been in more small groups than I can count. Heck, I even have my favorite scripture tattooed on my foot and the words “Redeemed by Grace” forever inked shoulder blade-to-shoulder blade. I offer this information to illustrate that I have been immersed in some form of religion/spirituality/christianity my entire life. To say I felt like I understood the whole Jesus Thing is a serious understatement.
Enter Wretched Saints.
Y’all, Pastor Noel didn’t just up the ante with his newest book, Wretched Saints. He knocked it out of the park and he changed the game.
I have lived my life under the “truth” i.e. lie that God’s love for me (though I know that it doesn’t depend on what I do) increases and decreases based on how much of a jerk-face I am.
Wake up feeling a little off, grumpy and possibly rude to my husband?
God’s love decreases.
Wake up, clap your hands, do you morning devotionals and give thanks for a glorious day?
God’s love increases.
Fall into the trap of a behavior that I know is wrong but totally enjoy?
God’s love decreases.
Push away temptation and run to Jesus like I run to the dance floor when I hear my favorite song?
God’s love increases.
I lived my life in a constant state of striving because of the lies I believed and if I can be super honest- it was exhausting. I found freedom in Pastor Noel’s words. Words like, “When you are tempted to think God isn’t pleased with you, remember that you are right where he wants you.”
I wonder what lies you are believing in your life?
“When the warning light in your life says slut long enough, you begin to believe it.
The same is true with liar.
And manipulator, failure, weakling, idiot, reject, freak, embarrassment, loser, pervert…
If you stare long enough at the blinking light of a false sensor, you will begin to believe it is true. And when you believe something you act on it.”
How many of us take these lies and believe them- eventually letting them take over who we really are and become our identity. This powerful book was for me, a soothing balm to my soul that set me free in ways I didn’t even know I was stuck.
In Wretched Saints, Pastor Noel takes the notion of grace- a sometimes elusive and confusing thing and he offers it in digestible and easy to understand ways. He uses real-time storytelling that is both unputdownable and relevant, to envelope you in biblically sound truth. Wretched Saints paints a picture of a Father who loves us beyond measure for reasons we could never earn.
Don’t take my word for it though. Read it and see for yourself.
P.S. You can order your copy of Wretched Saints HERE
There are moments that happen as we traverse this life that we look at and can’t make sense of. Moments where things seem in chaos or unfinished. Maybe a relationship where things are left unsaid. Maybe an actual project where pieces are left undone. At some point, if you are human long enough, you come across something that you just can’t seem to figure out.
The truth is, that’s a lie.
Everything is figureoutable.
No it’s not.
Yes it is, and no I am not.
Sometimes, in some cases, we actually end up tangibly figuring out the chaos. We find an answer, a solution, a reason that puts our mind, body, spirit at ease. The figureoutableness makes perfect logical sense and it ends up being absolutely and completely delightful.
Other times, the figureoutable rests in the intangible.
I know, I know, trust me. Just go with me on this.
The figureoutable rests in our ability to look at a thing, situation, relationship through a different framework. The figureoutableness of some things rests in our ability to leave them at the foot of the cross. I am not saying give up. I am not saying leave things unsaid or undone. What I am saying is that for the moment, offer whatever you can’t figure out time and space to breath at the feet of the one who can figure it all out- and if we are being honest, already has.
Release your white-knuckled grip, stop trying to figure it out and leave it at the cross. I read recently “His arms will go anywhere, to redeem anyone, from anything.” If he can figure it out, it means we don’t have to ruin ourselves trying to do it alone.
Sweet readers, with the right perspective, everything is figureoutable. Even that thing that you are thinking of right now in your head as you tell me it isn’t. Take a deep breath, offer space and breathing room, trust the process and trust Jesus. There really is peace in the chaos. Sometimes we just have to have the perspective to see it.
Meet you back here next week, same time, same place!
While this photo might look like an ordinary bag from the Bucks of the Star, I can assure you it’s not. Also, this isn’t an ad for one of my favorite places… though if they want to fully support my little Starbuck-a-roo habit, I will gladly and shamelessly promote them. In the meantime, here’s a Musing for your Monday.
Hang on to your pantalones because it’s about to get all real up in this hizzy. This Musing is brought to you on the heels of one of the greatest #MomFails I have yet to make… Well, if I can be honest, it’s actually second to the time when I had just switched from boob to formula and left the house on an outing with Hubbz and our boy only to realize I had forgotten formula. #TrueStory #ThankYouCVSforCarryingFormula #YouSavedMyAssThatDay #IDigress
On FriYay (not a typo) mornings on the way to daycare drop-off, I buy my sweet little boy Starbucks breakfast. Maybe it’s me feeling guilty that I have to wake him to take him to daycare so early so I can keep the work/life balance in check- regardless of why I do it, it’s something we look forward to and he gets so ridiculously excited. Hang on to that palpable excitement as I fast forward you, post drop-off, I am now 20 minutes away. I begin to collect my things from the front seat of my Jeep, only to see my sweet little boy’s Starbucks breakfast staring back at me…
I will let the thing that we refer to as #MomGuilt sink in for you, the reader. If you aren’t familiar with #MomGuilt, thank sweet Baby Jesus.
I spent the next hour beating myself up for what a terrible Mom I must be. Who forgets their son’s “FriYay Fun Breakfast”!?
Apparently, Folks, I do.
I knew that he was well fed at daycare and he had plenty of food in his lunchbox to feed him breakfast, lunch and dinner twice over (I make no excuses for my over packing his lunchbox… it’s the Italian Mama in me.) but I couldn’t shake this feeling that I totally and completely must have disappointed him. Is this the kind of thing that is going to send him to the therapist couch at 40!? I started praying about it because I couldn’t get the awful feeling that I had failed as a Mama out of my head. This lie kept running through my brain that I was a terrible Mama and other Mama’s definitely never forget the FriYay Fun Breakfast. Mid prayer, a still small voice in my soul whispered, “how about you show yourself a little bit of grace?” I literally gasped out loud and I stopped in my tracks. I spend a lot of time and energy in this life showing others grace. When I don’t want to, when they don’t deserve it, when it doesn’t feel good for me. Why is it so hard to show a little grace to myself? Is it like that for any of y’all?
We are so busy running around taking care of everyone else but we are the hardest and the biggest critics of ourselves. In that moment, in that realization, I took a deep breath and exhaled so very good. The truth of grace offered a little peace. In that moment I was able to flip my palms up to Heaven and thank my sweet Jesus that I had a little boy who is well cared for and well fed while I enjoy working at a career that I love… and I am able to provide things in his life like Friyay Fun Breakfasts… even if I did forget it on the front seat.
I end this Musing with a question for you – where can you show grace in your life? To others, yes, but maybe first and most important, to yourself. We have a Jesus who paid the price of his life so we can have grace. It’s something we don’t deserve and something freely offered to us. Where can you enjoy that gift that is freely given to you and ultimately enjoy your life a little more? Sweet readers, I hope you find some truths in this that speak to your dope soul. I hope it permeates your being and offers you some peace where you need it the most. Take some time this week to throw around grace like confetti. You just might be surprised by the magic that it can create.
Meet you back here next week, same time, same place!
I have decided that when people were congratulating us on our pregnancy they were withholding information to ensure we didn’t question what the hell we just did. I am certain that they were like “Hooray, it’s amazing!” while silently laughing because just as we would begin to think we had a hold of this parenting thing, they knew our sweet angel baby would turn 2. Two year olds are unpredictable, impetuous humans that seem like sweet angels… until they aren’t.
I love and adore our son… and also, Jesus, take the wheel as we careen head first into the Terrible Two’s.
Lord, have mercy on the working mama’s who have to get themselves and their children ready every morning. The Career Maven Mama’s holding it down like the badass bosses that they are. I am not going to lie… sometimes I fantasize about what life would be like if we were fancy and had a nanny. I won’t hide the fact that I have had daydreams about how fabulous my mornings could be if I didn’t have to worry about getting myself and a walking, talking, very independent, very strong-willed two year old out the door and to daycare. Nobody tells you these things when they are congratulating you on your pregnancy. Nobody tells you about the mornings that you show up at work with milk spilled on you and banana hiding somewhere in your hair because #toddlers. Nobody tells you about the crazy mornings when you’re trying to get out the door and your kid is not cooperating and has zero interest in wearing pants, let alone shoes. Nobody tells you about the time that you will get out of the car at daycare and look down only to realize you are rocking your Adidas flip-flops with your dress. Nobody tells you about the strong will of a toddler who likes to try and climb on everything including pantry shelves.
Lord, have mercy on the Mamas.
I thought about how strong my morning routine could be if Hubbz would hire me a nanny during a recent morning as I was putting my very upset, very loud, very screaming toddler in my Jeep. He was screaming because he wanted to go play outside… in the rain, that was also kind of sleet… in air so cold that it made my boogers freeze. As I buckled him in, I
prayed pleaded “Jesus take the wheel because I just can’t even.” To which my toddler screamed “Jesus no take the wheeeeeel!!!!!”
As I drive him to daycare I feel my eyeholes start to leak because, can I be honest with y’all… this Mom gig is hard sometimes. I see him in the rearview mirror, completely content now and sitting buckled in his seat with his sippy and his stuffed donkey, Pietro. I am completely dumbfounded how a child can go from terrible to tender in the matter of minutes. I feel the pang in my chest reminding me that these mornings will pass in the blink of an eye.
Before I know it, he will be running out the door.
To catch the bus.
To catch a ride
To catch a plane.
Chasing the goal.
Chasing the girl.
Chasing the dream.
For now, he’s buckled safely where I can see him.
There are days when being a Mama is so hard.
There are days when being a Mama is the most gratifying thing I have ever done.
That strong pang in my chest aches again.
I have a hunch that I will look back on these hard days and hold them dear in my heart. The moments we thought were so hard, our wee ones were learning to spread their wings, test their limits and develop their strengths. As Mama’s we get to give them the space to do this. The going through is trying sometimes but I know that I will look at my son one day and remember that every Terrible ‘Effing Two moment was him learning about the world and becoming strong and independent.
Until that day, Lord, have mercy on the Mamas.
I am starting this musing out with a super fun thing… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA!!! I didn’t realize this little musing (inspired by her) would end up posting on her birthday, but it did- and that’s just so great to me. If you have the moment, send her a little birthday shout today because she is one pretty incredible lady! #allthefeels
2018 felt like jab, right hook, jab, cross.
And over again.
If you aren’t into boxing or never watched any of the Rocky movies, you may have zero idea what I just said. Basically, 2018 was rough and life beat me up a little. It was a year where I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath let alone catch a break. Maybe you felt like this too? Over and over through the year, the wisest woman I know, my sweet Mama, kept reminding me, “you cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them looking back.” Her wisdom would meet my unease of the moment or situation and it would allow my soul to be still. Somehow that reminder always soothed like a balm on rough, dry skin. I think maybe Mama’s are good like that. Showing up with wisdom when we need it so deeply.
I live in a world where nothing is random. I truly believe the good and the bad happen for a reason- a greater purpose. I don’t think coincidences are a thing, and I don’t believe we meet people by accident. I believe there is a greater power (for me it’s the will of God) guiding my life. Maybe I am wrong about the way I look at it, but that’s the basket I am putting all my eggs in for this lifetime.
The newfound wisdom about connecting the dots has allowed me to keep life’s punches in perspective. Maybe it will allow you to do the same? Try on that thinking and see if that’s something that fits for you and your life.
Looking back over time, maybe we will see that nothing was ever random.
One day soon – or 20 years from now – just maybe we will be able to connect the dots.
Connect the dots on situations we found ourself in.
Connect the dots on things that happened to us.
Connect the dots on people who had parts in our story.
You cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them looking back.
For now, we roll with the punches as they come, because they will come.
And we believe it was never, ever random.
Meet you back here next week, same time, same place!