Grow in Grace - a Story of Faith

Grow in Grace - a Story of Faith

Today I'm welcoming my dear friend and mentor, Lee McCracken, to share part of her story. Read below to see a glimpse of how her faith has grown throughout her life. Then check out her book, Prayer and a Pink Pedicure. Turn the pages and watch the interplay of joy and suffering — how choosing to live in both makes a life full and courageous.

The happy lady who smiled at everyone. The loving wife and mother who kept a tidy nest. The fun-seeking, loyal friend who always encouraged.

And yet …

The often angry and wounded woman who yelled. The busy, harried mom who barked orders. The bossy friend who thought she always knew best.

I was her. There were good days, and there were very bad days. 

The garden of my life was full of blooms. It was lovely to look at, but beneath the leafy foliage, there were entangling weeds. And the root system was shallow and weak. Under intense rain and wind, the flowers were left bruised and torn. 

Then I met a woman filled with light and wisdom.

A Book Lovers Guide For Understanding Race

A Book Lovers Guide For Understanding Race

I flipped through the stack of mail and ...

a special issue of National Geographic had arrived entitled, “Black and White - These twin sisters make us rethink everything we know about race.”

Racial awareness is everywhere and if you haven’t noticed it yet, grab that special issue today, watch This is Us or read one of the books I’ve listed below.

Fellow book lovers will understand when I say that reading books has opened up an entire world of information I knew nothing about.

As I paired reading with diverse friendships, my understanding about race grew radically.

While I love books, when it comes to understanding race, having relationships with those across barriers makes the knowledge real.

I’m giving you a headstart today with the list of books below, but I encourage you to find a space where you can begin to build relationships with those different than you.

The Story Behind Simply Rooted

The Story Behind Simply Rooted

I was lost in the depths of depression in April 2017.

So much had happened in five months: our adoption had been finalized in South Africa, and Dan and I and our three children traveled across the Atlantic to meet Levi.

We lived there for a month, connecting with this tiny toddler who was the newest, the fourth, Fletcher. It was a glorious pause in our calendar-filled lives. The only thing on the agenda was building a relationship with Levi.

None of us were ready to come home after the ultimate honeymoon phase of adoption.

Once back in the States, Dan returned to work. Since we homeschool, it was me and the four children with reality setting in.

Picture …  a tween with hormones, a highly emotional child who needs constant encouragement to function, a little girl who had lost her place as baby in the family and a wary toddler attempting to understand what had happened to him. And me.

Overwhelm was constant. I began to fold under the pressure I felt — the pressure I now know I put on myself. Remembering the awful side effects I experienced when I took medicine for postpartum depression years before, I denied it at first.

We had prayed for this child for years. Anything other than gratefulness for answered prayers felt wrong. Goodness and light drained away and guilt flooded in.

My comfortable life had been disrupted, and I began to lose my attachment to Levi. Shame creeped in.

Guilt and shame. I felt no one could understand. Instead of dealing with these emotions and asking for help, I held everything in and let it fester. My constant connection with Jesus was broken through my avoidance.

It was a lonely, black existence hiding behind a mask of fine. And I had never in my life felt so worthless.

What happened to allow me to share my story, be vulnerable and start writing?

How to Build a Diverse Community With Love

How to Build a Diverse Community With Love

It was a picture of heaven.

All skin colors — from peach to light tan to the darkest mocha — holding hands and praying.

For six weeks, my majority white church and its sister majority black church had come together to share a journey of racial reconciliation. No one knew how it would go. “Undivided” was a new program we’d launched together, but by the end, we were amazed.

Relationships had grown through vulnerability and acceptance. And we all are confident this new community will continue to grow, as we learn more about, and serve with, one another.

It isn’t an easy thing.

When I started to learn about the reality of black lives in America, I had to fight against some hard feelings. There are many people who only are willing to see racial issues from their own perspective and unwilling to listen and learn.

My son, Levi, needs me to keep learning and fighting to build a diverse community around our family. And to keep bringing awareness to this topic in any place I can.

Here are three things I wish I would have known at the beginning of my journey. 

The Simple Grace of Single-Tasking (and 3 tips for doing it as a mama)

The Simple Grace of Single-Tasking (and 3 tips for doing it as a mama)

I had a terrible mama moment.

With four children, one on one time with each kid is essential.

We schedule dates with our kids and, this past year, I started alone time with my oldest boys; thirty minutes of uninterrupted time with me.

Both of them still love when I read aloud so alone times include books. Aidan and I are immersed in the adventure of Lord of the Rings and Zachary and I are enchanted with the magical realm of the Goblet of Fire. We’ve made some strides since the days when Dr. Suess was on autopilot in my head (although, they're still frequent choices with the younger two).

The tenuous cord of connection with my almost teenager is strengthened because of these times together.

One day I was consumed by my to-do list, my multi-tasking mind took over and I missed alone time with my oldest.

The disappointment in his eyes transformed our strong cord to a dry, brittle thread in my heart. Forgetting alone time to him meant I forgot him.

How could I forget the relationship builder with my boy, who has a smidge of growing left until he’s taller than me and a voice sounding more like my husband each day?

The Ultimate Brain Dump to Gain Clarity on What You Want

The Ultimate Brain Dump to Gain Clarity on What You Want

I used to be restless.

Moving from one idea or one place to the next, I could never figure out what felt right.

My restlessness led me to pursue three different degrees at three different colleges without ever finding my path or getting my degree.

What was I supposed to be doing with my life?

Having a beautiful family gave me purpose, but after the sleepness nights ended, I started wondering again. Is this all I’m here for? Motherhood is wonderful, but what happens when they grow up?

To escape these thoughts, I turned to busyness. I was constantly moving without accomplishing anything important. At the end of the day, crashing exhausted into bed, the thoughts would come back again.

Even busyness couldn’t drown them out completely.

I found Jesus in a movie theater eight years ago and found hope in him, but it didn’t take long before I was restless for him too. God, why am I here? I want my life to matter.

Do you wonder too?

What if You Weren't Afraid to be You?

What if You Weren't Afraid to be You?

What does a child do when faced with a blank sheet of paper?

With no life draining sources of comparison, they grab the first crayon that inspires them and off they go. Lost in imagination they create a masterpiece of scribbles.

When a class of kindergartners is asked if they are artists all hands raise. But by the time fifth grade rolls around only a handful still sees themselves that way.

What happens?

Do you think the inner creativity that is woven into our beings has found other outlets? Creativity is not just artwork, but can be seen in every walk of life. Read this definition and see if you agree.

Creativity: the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.

That means the mama adding her own twist to dinner in the evenings is creative. The woman who can organize her space with her own unique flair is creative. An exhausted mother finding the perfect blend of cuddling, feeding and playing with her baby is creative.

This wider view of creativity is what I want you to see. What do you do in your life that is easy? For someone else it’s incredibly difficult.

That’s why we need to celebrate exactly who we are and figure out how to fit our unique gifts, talents and abilities into the mix of this world.

You are needed and necessary.

How to Overcome Fear and Thrive in Weakness

How to Overcome Fear and Thrive in Weakness

Maria had just told the story of her greatest fear coming true.

It happened to be one of my greatest fears as well.

I won’t give the story away, but I will say this is a common one for all mothers. Tissues passed around the auditorium at the women’s retreat as she told us how she experienced profound peace in the middle of her worst moments.

As the years went by after that retreat, I was continually amazed at her down to earth and humble faith enveloped in a peace I had never experienced.

How could she go through something so completely devastating, something I didn’t think I could ever survive, and walk through life so humbly confident?

Little did I know I would learn three years later how a faith like that is grown.

My whole story is not for today, but I’m telling you it’s such sweet relief to know Maria and follow her example after the fear-based ordeal of our adoption transition last year. To have a friend who understands the devastation of living fearfully and the utter joy and peace of completely surrendering it all to the Lord is a gift.

I’m honored that I know her and now I’m excited that I get to share her with you because she has written a book.

Finding the Courage to Talk About Race

Finding the Courage to Talk About Race

The article wasn’t making any sense.

Could I really be that oblivious to the world around me? Was I really that self-absorbed?

In a moment my world tipped, I couldn’t deny what I saw.

White privilege.

Don’t shut down and turn away yet.

I want you to listen, truly listen, to what I’ve learned.

Maybe you grew up similar to me. My town was about one hour outside of Philadelphia, our two streets were Main and Broad and there was no stoplight until I was in high school.

Every single person I saw was white like me.

I had no questions about race or skin color because there was no opportunity for me to realize I should. We learned to love people, it’s just that all the people happened to be white.

When this topic slapped me across the face it would have been easy to shut down and turn away.

Except. . .

The Art of Listening Well In the Face of Disagreement

The Art of Listening Well In the Face of Disagreement

Hush, pause, and ask. . .

Will you tell me your story?

When the disquiet enters your being and your heart beats faster, when you feel the words coming up to violently disagree, to tell your side of the issue, to give a piece of your mind . . .

Hush, pause, and ask . . .

Will you tell me your story?

Give your entire being to listening to this other person as they speak.

We can’t always understand that person’s situation, but we can empathize with the emotions in a situation we’ve experienced.

Every life is unique and valuable. What can you learn by listening to that point of view?

Instead of putting up blockades when the story you’re hearing makes you uncomfortable, keep your mind open to new ideas and perspectives.

What is it that is making you uncomfortable?