Dear To-Do List, I am breaking up with you.

Dear To Do List

It’s not that it hasn’t been interesting and I know we got a lot done together.

But you are in the way. You are not really my friend.

You tell me what to do every day and when I don’t get it all done, you beat me up at the end of the day telling me that I didn’t do everything I needed to do.

But who are you to tell me what I need to get done today?

I’ve had enough.

It’s probably not even your fault.

It’s mine for believing you and I are the ones who can do the most good with my time.

But God has only given me a certain amount of time and I cannot get any more of it.

So you have to go.

God knitted into me my purpose and you have distracted me and stolen too much.

Until I started asking Him to take my to-do list and show me what HE wants for my days, you were my idol.

Enough.

You are not my god.

I’m not going to worship you anymore.

God is my God and I haven’t been putting Him first most of my life and asking Him what HE wants me to do each day.

See? He says The Holy Spirit is here to guide me and I believe Him.

The days I ask HIM to lead me are the MOST satisfying days in every way (even though usually I didn’t do what you told me to do or even what what I thought I needed to get done.)

The most UNsatisfying days are the ones where I try to do stuff MY WAY and in MY TIMING.

It’s funny. I have found that usually the thing I can’t get out of my mind is the very thing I actually need to be focusing on, but most of the time until now I’ve pushed that stuff out of the way to stay on schedule – for you.

What God has shown me is that I don’t have to try to figure out how the days are going to look.

My friends cannot open doors He’s shut.

And my enemies cannot shut doors He’s opened for me.

I know. You probably don’t think I’m perfect enough for God.

You wonder if He even wants me.

He does.

And the truth is I don’t have to be perfect.

My God is not looking for perfection. He is looking for people willing to give Him their time – giving their lives as a living sacrifice for what HE wants and not just doing what we want or what other people tell us we have to do.

It’s okay if you forget or throw this letter in the trash.

Because if I forget, then tomorrow, I will wake up and break up with you all over again.

Sincerely, Me

 

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Dear Daughters, I’ve noticed.

An Open Letter to My Daughters.

I hear the way you pray over your days, friends, enemies, and choices. I see how you love others and want good things for them. I see when someone hurts your feelings and hear you pray for blessings for them and for God to heal you and use your pain.

I just want you to know that I’ve noticed.

You know where your strength comes from and you keep sharing that it’s from Jesus when anyone asks what is different about you and sometimes even when they don’t ask. You are warriors for Christ and with the Holy Spirit’s Power, you are doing great things every day.

I’ve noticed.

It’s absolutely beautiful to see how you face trials and adversity and you don’t retaliate. You could be angry. You could try to get even. You could wish bad things on people who have hurt you.

But you just don’t.

You can know for certain that I notice.

I see you forgive but not necessarily forget because as God uses experiences He’s brought you through, He reminds you of the passion behind your drive to love others.  You have understanding beyond your years.

God has taught me a lot through allowing me to be your mom. Being a kid in 2015 is tough (probably way tougher than when I was a kid.) You are learning to walk in grace and beauty that can only come from Jesus. I see His peace covering you.

You are world changers.

I’ve prayed over your whole lives, marriage, school, work, friends, enemies, and faith. I don’t have all the answers (and that’s okay.) Together we will always ask the Guy who does. Please come talk to me and Daddy when you make mistakes. (We were kids too and we made plenty of mistakes too.)  It’s okay to cry. God made tears and crying helps people heal.

I just wanted to be sure you hear that I notice you girls developing your own faith in Jesus and it’s beautiful to have a front row seat to this work He’s doing in your lives.

You are surely storing up treasures in Heaven and THAT means everything. These are the treasures that will last forever.

I love you.  Love, Mommy

~

Here is a prayer I wrote when you were little. I think it was around 2a.m. once as you slept while I was unpacking at a new house. I wrote it under your art desk. Whether the desk stays with you or not, the prayer and blessings will follow you no matter what.

Dear God,
Bless my children this night and from now on as they sit at this desk and help me always see their individual talents and encourage them for You. This night as I carefully set up all their art things in our new house keep them safe always.

Let me always remember the goal is Heaven no matter what comes in their lives and use me to help them see You. Through friendships and boyfriends and broken hearts let them look to You.

Let them have peace that You have a plan for each of their lives and not get sidetracked by the world.

Protect their minds and eyes and ears and bodies. Please keep them from harm.

Let me listen to them and remember that this time is for a season and not a lifetime. The dishes can always be done later. Lord, help me just learn to enjoy play time with my children and not organize anything. Just play!

I pray again this night for their husbands and their Christianity that they always look to You and are gentlemen to my girls You gave me. I cannot imagine anyone ever loving them like You and I do. Will they wipe their tears? Will they listen when my babies speak?

Oh, God, take care of my precious children in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

I’ve gotta write about this amazing customer service!

Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.  Ladies, you made my Christmas extra special this year. And thank you, Erin, for telling us about this store. Thank you, Chloe, my daughter, for caring about me and being a noticer. Thank you for pushing me to go to this store (because we both know I wasn’t gonna.) You are one of my best friends (even if the world says parents and kids can’t/shouldn’t be friends. When you think about it… the world says a lotta stuff that doesn’t make much sense and makes life more difficult.)

When I receive good customer service I OFTEN write to the company or to an employer praising the great way an employee exceeded expectations. (And when I get crummy service I only occasionally write and am very careful what I say. Maybe the person was having a bad day. Everyone has bad days.)

My husband recently took me shopping at Torrid. Torrid is a women’s clothing store. They have cute jackets, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, undies, bras, and even a few nighties to choose from. AND they have gift cards so you can give this wonderful gift to someone.

I visited there once before and received the same quality of service as this time.

THAT time I was just buying a bra that would fit me (because mine was squeezing me like a corset and I was barely able to breathe.) Thank you, Erin. You are my hero! (I know the correct word is “heroine” but I like the word “hero” better because it sounds cooler.) Because you took my daughter shopping with you for your birthday, she told me about Torrid and now I can breathe again. You made a difference in my life when you shared this amazing treasure of a place with my daughter.

THIS time I tried on about 50 items of clothing.

And they did not hurry me. Not even a little bit!

I just had to write about it.

From the moment I walked in I was greeted by a smiling face and she asked if I was looking for something specific. I was. For many years I haven’t found cute jeans that would fit me. She found a couple pair of jeans and then asked if she could reserve a fitting room for me. (They even wrote my name on the door.)

Every time I’d get a few more hangers over my arm, someone would ask if she could take them to my dressing room. “Yes, please.”

At one time I noticed a woman waiting with an employee near the 4 dressing rooms. 3 were occupied. My room was just holding my clothes in it (I wasn’t ready to try stuff on yet) but they were not letting anyone use my space. They prepared a place just for me! Of course, I offered the room to the customer and she accepted.

I believe every person working spoke to me and nobody rushed me. Since I’ve had kids, many days I have been rushed. That’s not fun. Somewhere in the middle of mommyhood, we realize we better sit down a while because we just really need to. As a mom and wife, I hurry to help my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my husband, church, school, and then don’t remember that I haven’t taken time for me to be refreshed.

This shopping visit did just that!

After I was there maybe 10 minutes, tears came to my eyes.

What’s THAT about? OHHH! I’m not being rushed, pulled on, pushed, guilted into, needed, volunteered, or anything but pampered.

PAMPERED! WOW! THIS feels GREAT! I could do this every day! (I won’t do this every day. But I will remember the feeling and take moments for me more often.)

(I LOVE being a mommy and wife. These 2 things are all I ever dreamed about being when I was younger. I absolutely love it. It’s okay to need time to re-energize and regroup. Any job requires that for someone to be able to give more again.)

The employees were all kind to each other. There was no “attitude” when they spoke to each other or to customers. There was a genuine respect in the atmosphere that many companies don’t have between employees.

THAT says A LOT by itself!

I wasn’t in a hurry. They let me keep adding clothes to the room.

When I finished looking through all the beautiful choices and was trying the clothes on, every once in a while one of the girls would ask if I needed a different size or how things were going. (They did this with everyone ~ and it was very kind.) Someone would trade out one size or color for another while I was trying on clothes.

It was like they were there to REALLY HELP me shop!

The girls were professional, fun, silly, friendly, real, polite, and would offer their opinions about an outfit.

I LOVED that!

Even if someone doesn’t like a certain style or color on me, I may still buy it because I like it but I really do appreciate their opinions about whether something looks good on me or not. (I’d always rather hear someone who cares about me or cares how I look tell me in the store if it doesn’t look so flattering than for a hundred people to think, “That looks awful on her,” after I buy it.)

It’s not a reflection of my worth or beauty if a certain style or color does or doesn’t look great. Every body is a different shape and it’s pretty cool that we have so many choices to find the most flattering patterns to fit our body shapes.

At Torrid, (I have to admit this) clothes are a little pricey for every season shopping for me, but they’re good quality and the experience, itself, was WORTH EVERY PENNY to me (and to my husband!)

After deciding on final choices (with the help of my family and 4 sweet employees,) they took the time to find if my mailer coupons or if the in-store promotions were better for me.

It was just a special experience from the beginning and it stayed that way until I went home. I listened to the way they talked with other customers. Every person was treated with respect.

Thank you, ladies, for making this Christmas (and bra shopping a few months ago) a fun and special time. Thank you for NOT rushing me. Thank you for actually caring about my day and for offering your opinions when I tried on clothes. YOU made my Christmas more special this year. I know wherever you work, you will shine and companies would be honored to employ you! Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.

[Note: This is not a story about thrift stores but I have to mention how much I LOVE thrift stores. Most of my adult life I have bought my clothes and my family’s clothes (not undies or socks) from thrift stores and garage sales. It’s okay to spend money on clothes sometimes but it’s very fun to be able, when someone compliments my cute shirt, to tell people it was only $2 at a thrift store.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting Torrid again; maybe for my birthday!

Oh, and I did find some cute jeans, too!]

[Note Too: I find it degrading that some people call some women “plus” size. I believe it would be equally degrading if people called some women “negative” size. It sounds unkind either way to me. Like “You’re too much woman.” or “You’re not enough woman.” There’s a lot I wish would change about this world.

Torrid mostly “sizes” clothes in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And it’s a fun experience just to not see PLUS (or minus) on a sign.

We’re women and we’re ALL beautiful. Period.]

[Note Too Also: You know all those clothes we keep in our closets for 10…20…30… years kinda hoping to wear them again?

I cleaned them out.

THIS actually feels GREAT! (I’ll admit I never could bring myself to do this until now. Not really sure why that took so long. And any small step toward being healthier is better than looking a certain size.)

Try it! Say Merry Christmas to who you are NOW at the beautiful size you are NOW.

It’s actually a LOT of fun!! I never thought it would be. But it’s freeing! And once you really look at who you are and how beautiful you are NOW, no matter what size you are, it’s easier and easier as you go through the closet! I’m so excited for you! It may even turn out to be your favorite Christmas gift to yourself.]

 

With childlike faith, I believe He will. (Living Word)

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Sometimes people say, “No. That was God talking to Solomon. It’s not relevant now.”

It IS very much relevant now.

It shows us who God is and how He loves us and hears our prayers.

The Bible does NOT say, “Sorry, kids. Since I did that thing for Solomon, you guys are out of luck in 2014. That is all used up. Too bad for you.” Love, God.

No. It gives us hope ~ even now in December, 2014.

I wrote letters to my children before they were born. When they read the letters now, they KNOW this is STILL how I love them. They don’t say, “Well it’s not relevant NOW because it was written so many years ago.” They KNOW my love for them is still very real and strong.

My letters to my children show them my heart and the truth is my love for them has grown as they have grown.

I believe God’s love for us has grown as we have grown (EVEN THOUGH we all mess up.) He knew each one of us before we were born.

He ALREADY loved us.

He ALREADY knew all the ways we’d love, serve, and worship Him.

And He ALSO already knew ALL the mistakes we’d make.

And EVEN THOUGH He already knew that, He STILL wants us and He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we can live with Him forever in Heaven.

Do not tell me the Bible is not relevant TODAY. It absolutely IS. God’s Word is a LIVING Word. God is alive and He works in our lives every day and every night.

I will keep praying for God to hear us and heal our land. Always.

And I believe He will. With childlike faith, I believe He will.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

Again here:

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

There are people who say these are the end of times. If they are, then they are. Jesus, please come quickly! I’ve read about Heaven. I am SO excited for Heaven. That will be SO wonderful! But God’s not in a hurry. He wants everyone to choose Him.

When it is all said and done, EVERY KNEE will bow before the Lord.

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” Romans 14:11

UNTIL then I will always, ALWAYS pray for God to heal this sick, broken place.

Yes. I know we’ve been told Christians will suffer for Him. I believe this. We do suffer for Him and it’ll get much worse.

And WHILE we suffer, I will STILL pray for Him to turn the hearts of every person in this broken world toward Him.

People are trying to kick God out. Check out these verses. (They sound familiar.)

All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’ ” 2 Chronicles 7:21b-22

Then I read this again.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

So I’m asking you this. Yes, YOU. Please pray, too. More than you think about the mess the world is in, and more than you complain about it, more than you write to political leaders about it, please actually pray about it. God IS listening!

A Different Kind Of Prison (Abortion)

When I was a kid we didn’t talk about abortion or what that really was. People didn’t talk about smoking or drugs or drinking or sex before marriage or lots of other things very much either.

I know I’m a little naïve and I know that many would call me a “late bloomer” because I matured slower than some other people. But I know that if I didn’t understand what abortion meant and the full weight of the sin that it is, then others probably didn’t either.

I praise God that I was never faced with this decision and I think it’s probably a true Hell on Earth.

I’m very sorry if you’re living in this Hell and I want you to know I love you and that you’re not alone even though you have probably felt alone for a while.

This Hell is not just for girls. (Other than Mary, Jesus’ Mother, there are not girls who experienced immaculate conception.) There is always a guy involved. I know there are guys who have helped decide abortion was an “answer” and who carry this guilt and live in this Hell also.

I believe this kind of “solution” left you trapped and not quite as free as it seemed like you’d be.

There are things people may not want to think about (even if you’re the only one who knows your secret sin.) Just as you wouldn’t want someone who sexually used a child to hold your child, there are people who wouldn’t want someone who killed a child to hold theirs. I know this is understandable and I believe it should be honored. That being said, please read to the end. There is healing and hope.

Well-meaning Christians may tell you that you’re going to Hell – BUT the Bible says a sin is a sin. There are not big and small sins.

{He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:7-8}

And as far as I understand, there’s only ONE sin the Bible says is not forgivable; Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

{“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. [The Unpardonable Sin] Matthew 12:31-32}

~~~~~~> To those who would point fingers or throw stones at someone who has had an abortion, (or for whatever sin)

Do you really think that sins we THINK are “smaller” drove the nails into Jesus’ Hands any more gently?

They did not. <~~~~~~

~
Dear mom and dad who have been grieving over your child and this sin that maybe nobody else knows about,

I know you’ve been thinking about it probably every day since “that” day.

Your child has a NEW body now. Your child is in Heaven. I believe this 100%.

Write a letter to your child. Writing can bring healing sometimes even when you cannot deliver the letter.

God’s got work for you to do. Ask Him how to honor your baby here and now in ways that may help others.

DO something to honor your child. This could be a scholarship in his or her name or if you never named your baby, choose a name for the scholarship in his or her honor.

What satan wants you to do is to keep your secret buried forever and he wants to keep you down SO THAT you cannot do good in this life for others. It’s what he does.

The truth is that you’ve been carrying this heavy weight around with you all this time. No wonder you’re grouchy. If I was keeping a secret sin like this I’d probably feel the same way.

God says to cast your burdens on Him because He cares for you. The Bible does NOT say cast your burdens on Him – unless your sins include abortion – for He cares for you.

I was led to write this because I recently watched a movie about abortion and I realize that people need to talk about this secret and know they have a safe place to pour out their hearts and that there is this MOST WONDERFUL and AMAZING GOD Who loves and forgives them when they repent. Repenting is not something everyone else can judge about you. Only God and you know if you’ve truly repented. If you haven’t, here’s a way to start. “Dear God, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I don’t even know what to say…”

{In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26}

God forgives you.  Now, YOU forgive you.
~
I have met some who chose abortion and seem like they are not sorry for it. That’s unfortunate because you have to answer to God for the sin and for the nonchalant attitude about it. I believe deep inside your soul, though, there is a place you’re grieving even if you never tell anyone else. God knows about that place. Talk to Him. Not sure He’s real? Talk to Him about that, too. He’s big enough to hear your worries and He loves you.

~
[NOTE: Do not send me hate mail. I do NOT believe abortion is okay in any circumstance. Abortion is NOT about a mom’s body. It is a child’s body inside the mom’s body that we’re talking about. I am PRO life and also PRO forgiveness.

If someone DOES have encouraging words to share, I know for a fact that there are many people who would heal a little bit from them.]