Letting the brokenness fall

I've felt a weight of brokenness over my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a broken family. I felt like a broken kid. As a teenager my brokenness oozed out in all sort of ways that led to many dysfunctional relationships. I didn't know how to not feel broken. And some days, if I'm honest, that's still true. 

Lately something has been stirring in my heart, maybe you could call a righteous discontentment. It's a discontentment towards hiding. Because we're really good at that aren't we? Especially if you run in Christian circles or even if you just go to church on Sundays it's probably no surprise to you that most of us aren't very good at sharing our junk. (In your defense and mine, the Church hasn't always been the most safe place to share hard stuff.) And I'm not talking about everyone everywhere needing to know your deepest darkest secrets. I'm talking about the closest people in your life, the ones who really KNOW you, letting them actually know you. 

Maybe it looks like letting them know you're depressed. 
Or letting them know you've been looking at pornography. 
Or letting them know you've been thinking about divorce. 
Or letting them know you've been feeling lonely. 
Or letting them know you've been drinking too much. 
Or letting them know you've been holding on to anger towards someone. 
Or letting them know you've been overeating and you feel ashamed. 

The list could go on and on. We all carry some weight or brokenness because well, we're broken people living in a broken world. But the good news is it's not ours to carry. Jesus has already carried it to the cross for us.

Lately, I've experience in my own life that when I speak out loud the brokenness I feel bearing down on me, the shame begins to fall. Our sin and our brokenness will only stay hidden unless we bring it in to the light. If you've tried sharing your heart with someone and it didn't well, I'm sorry. Can I encourage you to try again? I'm here and ready to listen. And can I also encourage you to seek help? I'm a huge advocate for professional counseling and there's absolutely no shame in admitting that you need help. Friends, this life is TOO SHORT for us to carry around weight that we're not meant to carry. It's time to lay it down. Let's do it together.

What we eat for breakfast

We've recently found ourself in a new season of officially entering into the reality of being a "large family". We currently have five children, four biological and one via foster care, and I've found myself having to make a mental shift in how I plan meals in our home. Don't get me wrong, we were pretty much already there with four kids but now that we have seven people who need to eat three meals a day I've found myself staying up late watch YouTube videos on "how to shop at cost-co for a large family." Something I never thought I'd do but here we are!

I've been meal planning monthly for a while now but I've recently stepped up my game to also include a breakfast plan. It's probably helpful to mention that we have several food allergies in our house (egg, dairy, and peanut) so what I CAN actually make it somewhat restricted. Also, I'm pretty sure my five year old has a salicylate intolerance (click on the link if you're curious - I hadn't heard of it 9 months ago either) and she also has eczema which limits what she can eat even more. It's taken me many many months to figure out what the heck I can actually feed my family that works for most everyone.

So here's our current breakfast plan..

MONDAY :: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (dairy and egg free)

TUESDAY :: Oatmeal Bake (dairy free, egg free, gluten free)

WEDNESDAY :: Vans Frozen Waffles (gluten free, egg free, dairy free)

THURSDAY :: Yogurt + Granola, topped with fresh fruit (I use goat's milk yogurt for my child with eczema and the kid with a dairy allergy just eats granola with rice milk and some bananas slices on top.) 

FRIDAY :: Steel Cut Oatmeal + maple syrup, fruit, or nut butter (I buy a big bag of the Bob's Red Mill brand at Costco.) 

SATURDAY :: Homemade Vegan Waffles (dairy free, egg free)

SUNDAY :: Dry Cereal or Toast (this day is up for grabs because usually by the end of the week I am DONE!) 

And as a side note: For some reason lately I've really been craving more protein at breakfast so I bought a bag of these chicken apple breakfast sausages at Wal-Mart and have been adding them to our breakfast menu. I don't tend to cook a lot of eggs so these are a good protein substitute. And they're yummy! 

So that's what we eat for breakfast at the Laib house! Hopefully if you're someone out there who's been struggling to figure out what to make for breakfast (especially if you're like me and you have A LOT of kids) this will spark an idea or two for you. Happy Breakfast-ing! 

The Risk of Motherhood

Risk-taking looks different for all of us, doesn't it? For some, jumping out of an airplane would seem like a huge risk while for others it's considered adventurous and exhilarating. For some, meeting a new friend for coffee feels like a risk, while for others it's exciting and comes naturally. Whether we're talking extreme sports, traveling the world, giving a speech, or taking a relational plunge, I believe risk-taking is all relative to the one taking the risk. 

Several years ago I had the privilege of attending a women's conference in Austin, TX. It was a great weekend for so many reasons. It was my first time to Austin (which turns out to be a very cool city), it was MUCH warmer than the frigid Chicagoland climate I'm used to, and I was able to enjoy some alone time out of my normal day-to-day routine. The speakers were top notch and I met many women who shared similar passions and desires for God to move in their hearts as well as in the hearts of the people they do life with in their communities. The seating at the conference was a little different than most conferences I've been to in that rather than "stadium style" seating, we were all sat at long farm tables which sat 40-50 women each. We were facing each other. People we didn't know. And there were questions laid out of the table. I can imagine that for some of the women who attended that conference, just getting there was a risk. The thought of opening up your heart in whatever condition it might be in, to a bunch of women you've never met, can be scary.

There were times through out the weekend where we were to discuss some of the questions laid out at our tables. We grouped into fours or fives and dove head first into some raw, heart-revealing conversation with complete strangers. One of the questions asked that weekend hit me a little more than all the others. The question was this:

"What is one area of your life where you feel like God is asking you to risk?"

As the ladies around me started to answer I knew that my response probably wasn't going to be like theirs. Most said things like, "reaching out to my neighbors who don't know Jesus", or "getting to a place where I can say "God I'll go anywhere you want me to go". Some were afraid that if they loosened the grip of control they had on their own lives, God might tell them to move to a mud hut in Africa. 

For many of us, living a life of risk means our loving father is going to ask us to do the very thing we are terrified to do, and we have no choice but to say yes. And maybe sometimes that's the case. We often learn and grow the most when we are in a situation where we feel the least equipped or qualified. (Because it forces God to be in charge. And He's really good at that.) But risk doesn't always look like that. Sometimes it looks like the mundane, the day-to-day, the things that challenge us to persevere and test our level of faithfulness. A difficult friendship, a messy marriage, a wandering child, a role in which we don't experience meaning or purpose, those too can be times where God can ask us to step into risk. And often the risk is to just keep going. To keep loving. To keep obeying. Even though there may be pain and heartache ahead. 

The "big" risks tend to be easy for me. If God wanted my family to move to some third world country, I'd say "Let's Go!". Those are the kinds of things I dream about. Just ask my husband. It's not hard for me to say "God, I'll go where you send me." (Unless of course it some not-so-desirable place like Nebraska or Idaho in which case God and I would have to sit down for a chat.) 

The risk I struggle with is the RISK OF MOTHERHOOD. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom and I LOVE my kids more than I could've ever imagined I could love someone but I didn't grow up as a little girl dreaming to one day be a mother. I'm not naturally a nurturer and I often feel like the mom role doesn't fit me so well. 

The risks of motherhood for me are many. Being intentional, being present, being consistent, being selfless, embracing my weaknesses, asking for help, being physically run down, showing Jesus to my kids, and giving grace to those around me. 

I think anytime we feel like we might fail at something, that's when it becomes a risk. If the idea of failure isn't in sight, then it's probably not a risk. 

So there I sat at the women's conference with my new friends and I knew that Motherhood was the area in which God was asking me to risk. Because I feel so inadequate and ill-equipped and because so often failure seems to be too close in view. But when it does I remind myself that Grace is bigger and jumping into the risk of motherhood just might be one of the most rewarding risks of all. 

I want to risk. Risk to love my kids well. Risk to show them Jesus. And risk to let Grace be bigger than the fear of failure. Here we go!