31 Things I've Learned in 31 years (more or less)

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I turned 31...recently. I'm not sure what's scarier about being in my thirties: the fact that it's really not that bad or the fact that I really don't care how bad it is. I suppose part of me is still loyal to twenty-one-year-old-Sarah, who would have been appalled at the state of my belly-hiding mumus-I-mean-swimsuits. But that baby Sarah hadn't pushed three children out of her vagina like a superhero SO WHAT DOES SHE KNOW?

What Was I Saying? 

Just like I remember the ten most important grocery items that I forgot to add to my cart as soon as I complete my online grocery shopping order, I will remember things I forgot on this list as soon as I hit publish. Also, there are probably a lot of things that I should've learned by now, like how to unclog a toilet (sorry, honey).

You have undoubtedly learned some great lessons, too, in however many years you've been on this planet, so share this post with YOUR top lessons--feel free to match your age, too, or just pick your favorites.

Women Are SMART

I am asking you to share unashamedly for two reasons: 1) more eyeballs on Stand for Mom (blogging ain't cheap, yo, click my affiliate links and buy some nail polish) and 2) women are really smart (see #22) and wouldn't it be cool if a bunch of us were sharing our collective wisdom all in one place? WOULDN'T THAT BE A LOT OF WISDOM? 

This Is the Best Stuff I Know: 

1. A late start is a perfect way to start.  

2. "Because it makes me happy" is a good reason for doing something. 

3. Getting stronger in one place makes me want to get stronger in another place.

4. A walk around the block is better than coffee (JUST KIDDING but it’s close).

5. God moves both more slowly and more quickly than I expect him to.

6. Using a bad word isn’t a sin. Not forgiving somebody is.

7. Umami is a thing and it’s wonderful.

8. Anybody who promises to make you rich in six months IS LYING TO YOUR FACE and however old you are you are TOO OLD FOR THAT.

9. If you don’t have a good mom, you can be a good mom. That’s what freedom means.

10. My marriage belongs to ME. My husband impacts its quality and has a say in whether or not it continues, but ultimately it’s my relationship and my own happiness that I’m nourishing or sabotaging.

11. Unexpressed anger kills me slowly from the inside. I have to choose to express it, feel it wholly, and then release it.

12. My vulnerability gives somebody else permission to be vulnerable.

13. I like my kids a lot more when I get regular breaks from them.

14. I will clear everything for a friend date.

15. It is both humbling and gratifying to meet somebody a world away who has the same dreams and hopes that you do.

16. Feminism is beautiful but I have to pair it with forgiveness or I just walk around angry all the time and then the patriarchy wins.

17. Take your own polish in the perfect shade of pink (or this delicious ultra violet) and the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat (the black bottle) to the nail salon. A polish only is about $7 and sit under the light for 10-15 minutes. Your manicure will last a week and it took you all of twenty minutes and about $7. You’re welcome. Tip your manicurist.

18. Don’t buy something if you can’t afford to replace it.

19. Shame is at the root of a lot of things.

20. My life’s calling is freedom, but the actual point of freedom isn’t to be able to do more stuff (though that happens and it’s awesome), it’s to feel God’s love more.

21. Success is being loved by God and loving him.

22. Women are f*cking incredible. (and here and here)

23. My job isn’t to be my kids’ everything; it’s to point them to the Everything.

24. You never regret taking the photos. You always regret not being in the photos.

25. Lube is clutch.

26. Man does not live by bread alone but she DOES live by bread.

27. If you pray for the same person every time you brush your teeth, in one year you’ll have prayed for that person over 300 times. You can also do this when you get into the car, take a shower, or any other thing you do regularly.

28. If you deliberately start taking your angry feelings when you’re doing the dishes and turn them into prayers thanking God for dishes to feed your children off of, one day you’ll find yourself randomly praising God while you do the dishes.

29. Doing less for my kids allows me to do more with them later.

30. The wonderful thing about privilege is that it’s a platform and you can pull other people up onto it so their voices can be heard, too.  

31.  Queso is cheaper than therapy.

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I So Chill (my feelings map on Valentine's Day)

valentine's day when you're a mom

OMG can Valentine's Day just be over already?

I used to be so chill. I used to pride myself on being so chill. All those other girls, with their crazy eyes and their crazy expectations and all their general cray--not me. I chill. People compliment me on my chill. Ex-boyfriends compared my chill to all their past girlfriends' lack of chill. My husband comes home from hunting weekends and is like, baby, you're so chill and I love you.

But Then...

I realized all my anger issues were because of repressed feelings, and Hallmark--that cat knows what he's doing--and IDK, maybe I just want people to buy me stuff. Or maybe it's that I'm a mom now and there's never a day that's just about me but IS BREAKFAST IN BED TOO MUCH TO ASK? I know nobody is old enough to turn on the stove but POUR ME A BOWL OF CEREAL OR SOMETHING.

These Are the Important Ones

Anyways, I'm still chill. Until I'm not. And then I'm really, really, really not chill. I'm chill till about 8pm on February 14th, or December 5 (my birthday), or February 26 (our anniversary--which I do honestly forget every year) AND THEN I'M REALLY, SUPER NOT CHILL.

This Is All Your Fault

I blame this on Netflix and its incessant parade of chick flicks this time of year. I blame this on that Olympics figure skating couple who is obvs madly in love with each other. I blame this on Jane Austen. I blame this on my kids for taking all money so I can't buy a bunch of stuff online to make me feel better. I do not blame this on my husband (see how chill I am?) because it's not fair to expect someone to know what to do with crazy when it only shows up three times a year from 8:02pm to 10:55pm. And every month when I get my period.

Here's my precise schedule for this week:

my feelings on valentine's day #momhumor #meme #lovehumor #galentinesday

February 12: Oh, I see another holiday is coming for those silly people who allow themselves to be duped by the obvious commercialism of fake holidays.

February 13: People are posting about their special days online, but I know that what really matters is what happens the other 364 days of the year.

February 14, 8am: I feel like maybe I would like a present today. I check our online bank account and feel sad. I decide not to buy myself a present.

10am: I fantasize about my husband stopping by the house with a limo and plane tickets to France. I throw a load of my underwear in the wash just so I have something clean to wear on the plane.

4pm: I realize we're eating Sonic for dinner.

5pm: I'm totally fine and busy celebrating all the women who are getting flowers right now and checking in with all the women who are NOT getting flowers right now. In addition to the combo with a Route 44 drink at Sonic, I order the mozzarella sticks.

6pm: Somebody else gets engaged on Instagram and it's precious. I'm so happy for them.

7pm: Husband calls to say he'll be working late. It's fine. I'm fine.

7:30pm: I remember our first Valentine's Day together and I mentally compare that day to today. Totes the same, even if nobody is wearing anything cute and one of us looks a lot frumpier and there are kids throwing fits about bath time. Still so chill.

7:45pm I take a misery scroll through Instagram, skipping the posts about how happy and rational people communicate expectations clearly prior to big holidays and the posts about how great relationships aren't about candlelit dinners and fancy evenings (obviously they are and these people are LYING, but I'm just mildly pointing this out to myself in a chill way).

8:00pm Change into the sweatpants with the snot stains and stare sadly at myself in the mirror. Start to sniff and suspect nobody is buying me flowers because I eat a lot of extra long chili cheese coneys from Sonic. WHY I EAT SO MANY EXTRA LONG CHILI CHEESE CONEYS FROM SONIC?

8:02pm It's gone. All chill is gone.

8:07pm So is my secret chocolate stash.

10pm: A lot of other things have been eaten now, but the sad place in my heart is still there. Now I'm shopping Instagram. I buy a magnetic face mask, Kylie's lip kit, and a unicorn mug.

11:55pm: I lay in bed, surrounded by the crumbs of my defeat (literally--cake is crumbly). I think about all the single people not having sex tonight and I feel like it's our duty to have sex tonight, but...I ate a lot of things.

6am: I wake up with a chocolate hangover and realize I'm going to have to return everything I bought last night. Wonder if I can cancel the orders before they're sent?

Valentine's Day, here's the door. Show yourself out.

Hey Christian Mom, I'm Sorry I Thought Working Would Hurt Your Kids (an apology)

Hey Christian Mom, I'm sorry I thought working would hurt your kids (an apology)

I was eight months pregnant with my first and waddling down to the front of the church for prayer. My husband was losing his job and all signs pointed to me doing the unthinkable: going back to work. The women I prayed with understood: “you want what’s best for her child, Father,” she prayed, “and what’s best is that this child has a mother at home.”

 

At my son’s eight week birthday, I went back to work.

 

It’s little wonder that year was so hard, why I struggled to pray and sleep and trust and pump and hope. If I believed that babies need their mothers at home and that the God who could fix any circumstance didn’t allow me to stay at home--something was going to break, and it was either going to be my faith or it was going to be my belief.

What Breaks First?

It took another six years for my belief to truly break. During that time I had two more children and, after my year as a full-time working mom, I became a stay at home mom, and then a work at home mom. I’ve had days where I knew they’d be better off at daycare, and I have days where I can’t imagine handing my precious gems off to somebody else again.

 

I used to wonder, when I left them, if they’d forget about me, if their sitter would have a deeper impact on them than I would, if working was really the right thing. Six years into motherhood, now I don’t they don’t forget you. They can’t forget, but I also understand the truth behind what a wise friend told me once: one of her children cried when she left her at daycare and one of her children couldn’t care less, but both hurt the same.

When It Goes Up In Flames...

What I have now? I have humility. That’s what you get when beliefs break and you start over again: you get humility. Despite promises from well-meaning friends that if we really wanted to, we could find a way to live on one income, despite so much self-doubt (have we really heard the Lord correctly? Did we mistake his voice?), what I have is a deep humility.

 

And sorrow. Now, I have sorrow. I look at a church stance I once believed in and I realize how incomplete it was. What children need isn’t a mom at home; what children need is a mother who loves them. What children need isn’t a one-size-fits-all version of “holy” motherhood; what children need is a mother who, like Mary, says, “Thy will be done.” However strange that will seems.

 

Now, we need a clearing of the air. We need to stop doubting each other’s motives. We need to stop suspecting each other of being selfish parents, of not sacrificing enough, of not being wired the right way, of being naive or enlightened. Kindness needs to enter this conversation. We need to stop shaking our heads at unbehaved children, saying, “well, he’s at daycare all day….”

I’ll Go First:

I am sorry I thought that if you didn’t stay home with your kids, you would harm them.

I was wrong.

 

I’m sorry other people have told you that working would hurt your kids. I’m sorry the church, without hearing your heart, told you working would hurt your kids. They were wrong.

 

I am sorry you’ve felt guilty about what the Lord’s led you to do. I’m sorry you felt judged and less-than for doing what you needed to do. I’m sorry for where your brothers and sisters in Christ have stolen your courage, instead of stirring it up. I’m sorry we’ve heaped extra burdens on you that you didn’t need to carry.

 

Even though staying at home is a privilege that most of this world cannot afford, I’m sorry you still hear comments from moms who choose to stay at home because they want to “be there” for their children. I’m sorry when you’ve heard a stay at home mom praised for her sacrifices--but nobody thought to praise you for yours. As if you don’t want to be there for the first steps and the after school talks, and as if your worth as a mother could be measured in simple time.

Praise Them All

I’m sorry you hear stay at home moms praised for “putting their children first” as if you’re not busy making sacrifice after sacrifice in your own career. As if you had a choice to work or not work and you didn’t care for your children like the other moms do.

 

I’m sorry we prioritized a “Christian” policy over your personal, mental wellbeing, as if your children were better off with a shell of a mom than with a healthy, cared for mom.

 

I’m sorry that we made you think that motherhood had to look like one specific thing even when you weren’t designed for that one specific thing. I’m sorry that we put you in a box.

 

If we can begin to recognize our egregious mistake, maybe we can begin to ease your burdens.

 

The truth is, we can’t afford to keep you in a box anymore; we need you to be the beautiful, magnificent story that God called you to be. In fact, even though it’s the church that’s made you feel wrong about how you mother, what it really needs in the biggest way is for you to do what God’s called you to do--nothing more and nothing less.

We Need You

We need your diverse talents and work callings and childhood plans. We need your blend of skin color and eye color and cultural background. Do you know each of us is called to the body of Christ for a purpose? You can’t be sold out for God if your church is telling you there’s only one way to be, and that how to be is more important than doing what God tells you to do. And when you’re doing what he’s called you to do, rivers of flowing water will pour right through you into us.  

 

We need you. I need you.

 

I need my church body to be full of women from every walk of life:

 

women who are working, women who are staying home with kids, and women who are doing both or none of it. We need single women, too, with children and without children. We need widowed women and divorced women, female bosses and mentors and mothers and teachers and preachers--with babies and without.

Where To Now?

And we both need, now more than ever, is a community of Christians who hear God’s voice with you and invest in you and believe you when you talk. What you need is a community that rallies around you and lends you their courage and their shoulders and their strength so you can go be what Christ’s called you to be.

 

I hope we find it.

 


"Sarah has a heart for the mom who just feels like she isn't quite cutting it (hi, thats me me right here!)....She speaks truth into my life exactly when I need it. This post was like a shot in the heart. So full of truth and exactly what I was needing to hear this morning!"
Brenna S.
strong women raise strong kids

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Hey Christian Mom, I'm sorry I thought working would hurt your kids (an apology)

This is Their Love Story (and it has a surprising outcome)

the incredulous love story you didn't know was in the bible

Eight slim chapters of the bible comprise the entirety of this story written by a man named Solomon. It's called the Song of Solomon, since it was written by him, and it reminds me of a Shakespeare play. It’s full of interpersonal, racial, and socioeconomic conflict, and there's poetry, drama, singing, and analogies, metaphors, and legions of other literary devices. 

 

And there’s a love story. At its deepest, truest essence, Song of Solomon is a love story, and I love a good love story. Maybe I know that despite relationships firing up or burning away all around me, true love is a rare thing, and I want it. I connect with it deeply.

 

You too?

 

This particular love story takes place between two characters: a character who represents God, and a character who represents us. This is their love story.

 

The second line in this ancient love story is spoken by the main character who represents you and me. This person says to the God character, “your love is better than wine.”

The Ministry of Wine

Ancient Hebrews drank wine liberally. It was present at every joyful occasion, at every celebration, and I’m no bible scholar or historian but I think it was probably delicious. Those were fantastic grapes, grown in the semi-arid soil of the Middle East with great drainage and sunshine year round.

 

People haven’t changed much in 2000 years--alcohol still makes us delightfully uninhibited, full of joie de vivre and hilariousness and warm, fantastic joy. If we’ve not personally experienced this kind of fun, we’ve all seen somebody who is utterly drunk and living his best life.

 

Wine makes us happy, and what this character in Song of Solomon is saying is, “loving you is the happiest I have ever been. Even wine doesn’t make me this happy.”

 

Do you know anybody who says this and believes it? Do you know anybody whose face lights up when he talks about how loving God makes him drunk with happiness? If you do, you’re lucky--and rare.

 

We talk about loving God all the time, but so often it sounds like a death knell. “Love God” they preach at us--and it sounds like a battering ram, like another whip to drive us to morality. “You should love God,” they say. Or maybe it’s just that all these years I’ve read my bible and I think, “If I really loved God….” And I feel the shame of knowing there are places in my heart that don’t really.

 

Wanting to love God is one thing. But playing my part in an epic love story is another thing.

Does It End Here?

Can I beckon you to another scene in Song of Solomon? Four chapters of this play have traversed this stage, and now we’ve come to the fourth chapter, and the tenth line. This time, the God character is speaking to our character.

 

The God character says, “How much better than wine is your love….”

 

In other words, your love is better than wine. Four chapters later, and the God character is breathing the same words to us that our character spoke to God. The God character uses the same words to you that your character used to God.

 

Here are other ways God might be expressing those feelings:

 

I am happiest loving you and being loved by you.

I choose your love over anything else.

I want your love.

Your love makes me happy.

 

Suddenly, this God character isn’t stern or difficult to please; God’s character doesn’t treat love as some kind of due. God’s character doesn’t thunder down on the us character and say “I don’t want your love, I want your morality.” No! The God character is responsive. Our character’s love moves this person. Our love stirs up God’s heart. Now, it’s a dynamic, living, breathing interchange that takes on a life of its own.

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but God chooses our love--and we all know that love isn’t love unless it’s freely given. If it’s been manipulated into happening or strong armed into happening, it’s not love. And that’s why it’s so valuable and miraculous and amazing and precious and that’s why God wants it! That’s why God wants it.

 

Lest you think we just took some alternate reading from a strange part of a strange story, let’s go to John’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, and look at one of the most famous set of chapters in the bible.

 

Some of the deepest most profound theological concepts come out of chapters 14, 15, and 16 in John. They are packed--you could spend your whole life in these chapters. You know what? I’ve heard them preached on and have studied them my whole life, and in all these rich and glorious chapters, I’ve never even heard this one tiny little verse in the fifteenth chapter, verse nine:

 

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

 

Jesus is God’s son, but he’s also God. When Jesus references his father, he’s referencing God: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

 

Let’s put it this way, because that archaic “so” is awkward and bulky: I love you as much as God loves you.

 

Jesus loves me as much as God loves Jesus.

 

The same amount that God loves God, God loves you.

Too Good To Be True 

Obviously, that’s huge, but honestly? My heart hears that and throws up some barriers.

 

That sentence is so good, that maybe it’s too good.

 

Life experience tells us that if somebody tells you something that’s too good to be true, and you believe him, you get left high and dry. Tell me you haven’t faced a relationship where somebody’s told you something that was too good to be true, and then you believed her, and then you got hung out to dry, because what she told you wasn’t true--it was too good.

 

Tell me you haven’t lost money, a job, social standing, security, your integrity, or your life, because somebody told you something that was too good to be true.

 

But the thing is, it’s true. Jesus’ wild claim shows up again and again and again. Again and again and again he makes a loved place for a prostitute and a cheating woman and a young virgin.

 

Our innards can scream THIS IS DANGEROUS all they want (and it is!) but that doesn’t make it less true! Evil, hurtful people don’t make it less true! Liars don’t make it less true! It’s like uncovering the truth about the life we could really be living after years of deception and manipulation and deep pain.

 

God loves Jesus and in that same incomprehensible amount, he loves us. He wrote a love story about us and God, didn’t he?

 

Directly after Jesus drops that little bombshell of a sentence, he says something else. He says, “abide in my love.”

 

If you’re like me, you’ve grown up in church and you’ve heard this verse a lot. The word “abide” is big-time Christianese. I mean, we don’t use it anymore in real life. When somebody asks us where we live, we don’t say, “I abide in Austin.”

 

It’s sort of archaic, so I love the way The Message translation of this passage (the original was written in Greek) gets to the heart of things:

 

“Make yourselves at home in my love.”

 

Those words taste beautiful when you roll them across your tongue, don't they? Here’s the whole passage:

 

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.” John 15:9-10

 

This love of Jesus, this incomprehensible love that is in the same amount as God’s love for him, is our address, our neighborhood, our zipcode, our ethnicity, our nationality. It’s our home.

 

Jesus isn’t inviting you to come up for a quick roadtrip. He’s not asking you to come stay for an afternoon. The invite isn’t just for the weekend.

 

He says, I don’t want you to buy a summer house here. I don’t want you to make a quick business transaction here. I don’t want you to come for the day and go home at night. I don’t want you to rent here.

 

I want you to live here.

 

Build your forever home here, in his love. Custom build the perfect house--the house of your dreams. Hang the curtains. Paint the walls. Grow the garden in the back. Hang photos on the walls.

 

Make my love your home, he tells us. This is where you live. This is where you stay--permanently. This is not a place to enjoy for the duration of a conference, but after the conference you go back to your real life.

 

I don’t want you to come home periodically, I want you to live at home. My love is your safe place. Make my love your home.

 

The Song of Solomon love story we talked about earlier? If you haven’t read the whole thing, I’ve got a spoiler alert for you: it’s a love story that you and I are invited into. Here's another spoiler alert: this love story doesn't end.