Swim! Swim! Swim!

What's He Saying in Your Ear?


Eighty bucks, 45 minutes for 5 mornings and she told me by three-year-old would be swimming the width of the pool at the week’s end.  To hear her talk, Miss Rita has been teaching since I was little.  For the first two days of lessons, parents cannot stay to watch (unless they want to hide inside the house, so the kids can’t see them).  By Wednesday morning, kids who have been floating around in life-jackets and swim rings at home, are swimming on their own, with their sweet little faces in the the water, and their eyes wide open.

Yesterday, I took videos of my middle baby jumping off the diving board — before she jumped the teacher assistant would tap her arms and say, “reach for the sunshine” and then tap her shivering legs, saying, “fast kicks.”

In between videos, I watched Miss Rita work with a little buddy who wasn’t getting it quite yet (by the way, she has assistants–those jumpers aren’t just on their own entirely).  She would hold him on her lap and move his arms for him, saying, “reach, reach, reach.”  Her experienced arms teaching his the feel of a correct stroke.  And then, back his little face went into the water as she swam next to him, her lips near his ear, “Reach Joe! Reach!  Fast kicks, buddy! Swim! Swim! Swim.”

Her voice is strong but kind–she isn’t hollering orders she’s proclaiming direction and encouragement.

And I wonder in the morning when I can’t get food on Beckett’s highchair tray fast enough and Audrey is asking when breakfast will be ready, and where her vitamins are, and if I know where her stuffed dog is, and I’m tripping over the hammock Charlotte constructed for her baby out of my kitchen towel if that is Father God grabbing my arms and saying, “Reach, reach, reach.” His strong muscles stretching mine—stretching my patience, so it gets deeper and stronger, stretching my kindness, my understanding.

And, when I miss it.  When I am just not getting it (have you ever noticed that God gives us many opportunities throughout the day to rely on Him and display Him?), He pulls me again close to Him–if I’ll let Him–and with His Word and His Holy Spirit reminds me what the reach feels like.  Revived and reminded I stick my face back into the water of days with little ones as He proclaims, “Swim, Jennifer, swim!”

If I hadn’t sent my middle baby to swim lessons, she wouldn’t have cried when I left the first time (and the second time).  But, she would have missed the product of the practice.  Today, after 45 minutes of jumping and swimming at home, I had to stop Charlotte and wrap her–chattering teeth and thumping heart–in a towel and make her take a break.  She has complete joy in the water now–she isn’t fearful because she has heard the voice near her ear, “Swim, swim, swim!” and she listened.

Momma, God is always stretching us–He’s always trying to move our arms a bit further and get our kicks a little faster and steadier.  I don’t know what He is proclaiming in your ear today, maybe it’s “Trust me, trust me,” or “Keep giving, keep giving,” but I pray today you will stick your sweet face in that water, listen to Him by your ear and do what He says.  He is bringing you to a place of more joy and freedom as He stretches you.




The Most Popular Guy in the House

Let's Hear it for the Dads!

Mark is a well-liked, successful, sought-after business owner.  His Biggby coffee stores have won multiple awards, including winning the system-wide Biggby Coffee Store of the year for 2014.  His ideas and processes are valuable to his peers.  He is loved and admired by his employees.  The hours are long, the stress load is exhausting, but the accolades are frequent and come from many voices.

He is also a well-liked, successful, and sought after (by three people 6 and under) father.

He serenades them with his guitar, swims with them even when he’s freezing, and takes them along to the hardware store (listening to Frozen songs of course) despite it doubling the time spent in the store. The hours….well, smart parents don’t count.  The stress load of being spiritual leader of a family can be back-breaking, and the accolades.

Well, the accolades come mostly from one voice (mine)–and sometimes a couple tiny ones.

As parents, we already know we are storing up eternal rewards far beyond any earthly pat on the back.  We know we are doing the hard work and long hours because we grow what we sow and we are trying to grow little people after God’s heart.

But, ladies, think about how often you are tempted to believe you aren’t a good enough mom.

I feel it when I look in the refrigerator and discover I have no lunch meats.

I feel it when my three year old is upstairs crying in her room for 20 minutes after being tucked in and I didn’t hear it because I was sitting outside.

I feel it when I can’t figure out why my boy is fussy and when I tell my oldest I have to prep dinner rather than play.

I feel it even though I have momma friends who tell me I’m a great mom, a mother who points out things she admires in my parenting, and great blogs that encourage me, and a husband who calls to cheer me on when I send a desperate “pray for me” text.

So, what about these men of ours?  Who tells them they are great dads?  I sure hope it is us.  Culture crushes dads–in jokes, in sitcoms, even in the portrayal of the dad in the great new movie, Inside Out.  Your husband’s boss, likely, isn’t going to tell him; and, as far as I can tell Mark and his friends aren’t nearly as savvy at the text your bestie asking her to pray you don’t toss your kids across the room strategy.  Our men need us.

So, I asked Mark how I can build him up as a dad, and he gave me two strategies to practice this week:

  1. Don’t undermine accolades with rash words in moments of exhaustion, anger, or hurt. You may have found ten different ways to encourage him since he got home from work, but that one, “Seriously, you let her have another popsicle?” will ring in his head much longer.


  1. Correct botched disciplinary attempts in private, after the kids are in bed.  Dad’s tend to get heated up pretty quickly when it comes to discipline, but nothing feel worse than mom defending her child when dad is trying to course-correct as best as he knows how.  (Exception – physical discipline, beyond what you have previously agreed to as acceptable, is cause for intervention)


He asked me to try to understand that our culture applauds a man who is a bread-winner. Dads’ days are torn between winning the bread and being there to eat the bread with their families. He knows imbalance on either side is costly.  He knows the stakes are high. 

So, momma, will you join me and cheer for that man of yours?  That guy who made you a momma and who lets the kids climb all over him when he gets home.  Will you remember that just like you, he wonders all the time if he’s totally botching this parenting thing? I dare you to text him as you finish this post and tell him something you admire about the way he fathers your littles!








He’s Smitten With You

Letting Our Love for Our Children Point us to His Love for Us

“Oh, believe me, there is plenty of room in your heart.” I remember my mom-in-law (also a mother to three) telling me when I was pregnant with our second.  We stood loading dishes into the dishwasher after a family get together, as I told her I could not imagine having this much love for now not only one, but two little people.

And, of course, she was right.  My momma heart was full with just one, but yet when our second was born it was as if rather than doubling, my love multiplied. Each child opens a new cavern in your heart  that you never knew existed, but once it is open and you travel its corridors, it is unfathomable that you lived this long unaware of it.

Each of my children holds my heart in a different way–and we communicate our love to each other in unique ways.  You know this truth, momma.  That little boy of yours has a different piece of your heart than your oldest princess–you don’t love one more, just differently and the love multiplies as they do.

What a glorious picture God is giving us mommas of His love for us.  Except in comparison to His, our love is so limited, broken, conditional, and fragile.  His love doesn’t run out or give up as the number of His children grows.  His love is multiplied; and, I think each of us holds a different piece of His heart.  Each of us communicates our love to Him in different ways, and He knows exactly how we best receive love.

Mommas, we can hardly remember what it was like to not love these little people (though, some of us remember days of going to the bathroom alone or only cleaning up our own toothpaste trail in the sink).  God does not have to try to remember a time when He didn’t love us–His love is without the boundaries of time.  He has loved you since before the foundation of the world and will keep loving you into eternity.

Some days, my kids need extra affirmation of my love for them.  Today, I needed an extra dose of the Father’s love for me.  Look at your littles, feel your heart swell, and know that love is a dim shadow of your Father’s love for you.


Did you need this reminder today as much as I did?  What has God done this week to show you He is smitten with you?