Twinsies Turn 4

I was out wrangling my crew at Mama Mecca the other day (aka Target) when a seasoned mama, with grey in her hair and wrinkles around her eyes, stopped me. She talked to the girls and fawned over Jude, and then she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “You have a beautiful family. Don’t blink, it really goes too quickly.” 

I’ve heard this sentiment a thousand times, and every time it strikes a note in this weary mama’s heart. 

She gently squeezed my arm, and then left me in my un-showered, dry shampooed, no make-up, hot-mess-whirlwind feeling like I had won the lottery to get to just BE in that moment. And I was truly so thankful. 

Truth be told, 30 minutes prior I was yelling at my children to HURRY UP, GET IN THE CAR, WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES, DON’T PICK YOUR BROTHER’S NOSE, AND WHY DO YOU HAVE TO PEE NOW THAT YOU’RE BUCKLED IN???? We Salmons aren’t great at transitions I’m learning. Fuses are short, children are children, and this mama is always on the go… hurry hurry hurry. 

But that sweet seasoned mama, with grandbabies of her own, really blessed me by helping me remember to slow down & enjoy these chaotic days. The days truly pass by so slowly, and yet so quickly. 

The twins turned four a few weeks ago and my mama heart can't take it. I told someone the other day that I’m pretty sure I’m not going to survive motherhood. I’m already weepy about the small milestones like birthdays (it's 4, they're not turning 13 for heaven's sake! And I canNOT even start thinking about 16 #JesusTakeTheWheel #literally). They're running around still all cuddly and I'm all HOW AM I GOING TO SEND THEM TO COLLEGE????!!!!

YALL, I’m gonna have to get a grip or that Ben Salmon is going to have quite the time reminding me that they’re simply arrows in our quiver. They were made to fly and never mine to begin with. 

And boy do those girls know how to fly. 

(Someone hold me.)

Well my independent sassy girls wanted a Dory/Nemo themed bday party so a week prior Ben and I looked at each other and said, “OH SHOOT, it’s the twins' bday next week!!” So we texted our friends (no invites bc BLESS #hotmess) and off we went to the Dollar Store. 

I wanted to blog these photos because so many of them capture the epitome of who the girls are during this season. It was truly such a fun day celebrating their vibrant little lives. So without further adieu, the girls’ 4th bday… (And for those of you who still can't tell them apart, Felicity is in the Blue swim top, Noel is in the Pink). 

IMG_4921.JPG

And just like that... they're 4. And 20% of their time with us is gone... That sweet grandmama was right, it just goes by too quickly.

Much love,

Posted on August 20, 2016 and filed under Family, Twinsies.

Go in Love: Thoughts on Hosea 3

Go In Love

I have a love hate relationship with the book of Hosea. Don’t get me wrong, when Redeeming Love came out during my high school days, I wept and devoured that book in one setting. But as my faith and life experiences have matured, the story strikes a different chord. And one of the things I dislike about Hosea is that I always get the story wrong… and I’m embarrassed to admit it happened again this past weekend at church. 

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” Hosea 3

As I heard pastor Bryan Loritts plead with us to “Go again in LOVE,” I'm ashamed to confess that my heart puffed up as I thought of all the ways I had LOVED big over the years. I went through my spiritual resume and accounts of friends forgiven, good deeds done, and love given and not returned. My heart swelled with pride as I checked off my spiritual list of accomplishments until I reread the passage mid-sermon. 

"The Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." Hosea 3

Wait… If I’m anyone in this story (which I'm not and in general it's a pretty bad practice to look for yourself in the story)... I sure as heck am not Hosea. It’s pretty obvious that the Lord is Hosea… and if He’s Hosea, I'm Gomer. 

You see my “cake of raisins” was believing that I’m more like Hosea than Gomer. My love of self pointed my eyes to the good that I have done rather than the best Good that was done for me. My biggest “other god” this weekend was making much of myself instead of making much of Him. And the thing I hate the most is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until Scripture smacked me in the face and reminded me that THESE stories in Scripture, the story I’m currently living out… NONE OF IT is about me. These stories, our daily stories, all of them point to a greater redemptive story. 

(Side note: Isn't He so good to "go in love" after me AGAIN by opening my eyes to MY sin, rather than letting me relish in my own self-praise?)

Our fuel for going again in love shouldn’t be based in keeping score or even being more like Hosea; rather the reality that we have a better Hosea, the Christ who came down and gave the ultimate sacrifice so all wrongs would one day be righted. THIS changes us so that we can love freely, without condition or self-pride. 

It’s the understanding that God has gone again in love for His people since the beginning of time that softens our hearts to see others like Christ does. And boy does Christ look at others differently than we do. 

When Christ saw the woman at the well, He didn’t care that it wasn’t “proper” for him to approach her. Because of LOVE, all He saw was a sheep in need of the Good Shepherd, a thirsty life in need of a loving well.  He didn’t care what the Pharisees said when He healed the sick on days of rest… because LOVE isn’t restricted to a work week or some self-imposed moral code. And while religious leaders built teams with the morally upright and popular, Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, tax collectors, and prostitutes… because LOVE knows no societal bounds or labels. 

And while God the Father has every right to look on me and say, “She’s not worthy,” Jesus steps in and says, “I have loved her with an everlasting love and I’ve paid her debt with the fiercest LOVE the world has ever known.” And Abba Father smiles and sees a forgiven, redeemed child, just as He planned from the beginning of time. 

That is our story! And THIS is what pushes us to forsake theological loopholes and throw “wisdom” to the wind and choose to LOVE BIG, even at risk of being hurt again. There is no good in any of us apart from Christ, and when we read Hosea and push ourselves to “Go Again in Love,” let us also remember our role in this story. We are the hands and feet of LOVE, but only because we have been fiercely loved and gone after… time and time again.

If you have time, I highly recommend to listening to Pastor Loritts message on Hosea.  So so good. And ALL that I've written here is based off of musings from his sermon. 

Much Love,

Come Together: A Prayer for the Peacemakers

I’m a private griever. 

I know, pretty shocking considering there are very few things I keep private on here… am I right? But nonetheless, it's true. I like to grieve alone, untouched, in silence (usually with a glass of wine and a bubble bath... can I get an amen?). 

I remember the first time I was able to verbally articulate wanting to be left alone during grief. 

At our church in Kentucky, an elderly lady named Inez had taken me under her wings. I would go over to her house and eat Breyer’s vanilla ice cream while she showed me pictures of her beloved family and friends. She would tell me stories and listen to my dreams, and in return I thought she hung the moon. 

Now Inez wasn't your typical calm sweet grandma. Y'all, that old lady was a pistol. I have memories of my dad preaching and Inez agreeing and disagreeing OUTLOUD in the middle of the sermon. There’s nothing like having your sermon interrupted (or corrected) by a woman in her 80’s. It also wouldn't be uncommon for her to stand up for me and my brother whenever my dad would call us out in church for talking or goofing off, “Now Pastor, you leave those kids alone. They’re good kids, you hear me? They’re just being kids.” And that would be the end of that. 

Some kids had superheroes, I had Inez. 

Not to mention, she had a bottle of cough syrup that she would straight chug in the middle of church whenever a coughing fit hit. Well, at least we think it was cough syrup. 

So like I said… HERO status. FOR SURE. 

When Inez passed away and dad announced it to the church, I wept. Honestly, I get teary-eyed even writing about it; I just loved that woman. I can remember my childhood best friend coming up to give me a hug and me stiff-arming her, “Do NOT hug me!!! I don’t like to be touched when I’m upset.” 

And that phrase followed me throughout my life as I eliminated community out of my grieving spaces. 

It’s odd because I am a touchy feely person. I love hugs. I love squeezing a friend’s arm or kissing a family member hello or goodbye. But when grief hits, I can’t handle being touched; it’s like sensory overload and all my people know that when tears start to flow, physical touch is not an option and I usually retreat.

This summer feels like a lot like that. 

I keep waking up hoping for peace only to be devastated by a news cycle… and honestly, I just want to retreat. 

The grief is just too heavy.

The discord surrounding racial tensions, police brutality, police being hunted and killed, ISIS, terrorism, and not to mention the political dialogue surrounding our elections has JUST BEEN A LOT.

There is a part of me that just longs for solitude and wants to yell, “LEAVE ME ALONE, I DON’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED.” That part of me wants to get off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even this blog. There is a part of me that wants to just shut it all down and keep my head low and live my small life while ignoring what's going on outside my home. 

But I’ve learned that my instinct to retreat when wounded rarely turns out well because our stories, even the broken ones (ok... especially the broken ones), were made to be told. And our burdens, well... they were made to be carried together, never alone. 

I love the passage in Exodus 18 when Moses's father in law, Jethro, gives him some advice. You see, Moses was taking on the task of being judge for ALL people, constantly working and solving their problems. Jethro observes all of this and then says, "What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone" (v. 17-18). 

(I feel that way about our society right now. This is too heavy, too dark, too wearisome.) 

So what did Jethro tell Moses to do? 

Look for men who fear God and are trustworthy. People who don't take bribes. Find these people, team up to get the work done, and "you will be able to endure, and... people also will go to their place in peace" (v. 21, 23).

Endurance and Peace.

I think this is a timely call for our communities. We have to come together for the sake of peace. Jen Hatmaker was calling all Peacemakers to the table, and I'm no Jen... but I'm following suit. 

I don't have all the answers and I don't know what's next. But I believe that we can agree that we ALL are reeling from a devastating summer. And there is something beautiful (and God-honoring) about standing together with locked arms in the midst of our grief, even if we aren’t all standing in the same corner

So my post today is a prayer for all of the peacemakers. The liberal peacemakers and the conservatives. The black peacemakers and the white ones. The Latino peacemakers and the Muslim peacemakers. The rich peacemakers and the poor. To the #blacklivesmatter and the #thebluelivesmatter and the #alllivesmatter. My prayer is this...

May we never retreat.
May we come together, united by our humanity rather than divided by our preferences or opinions.
May we be kinder with our words, tones, and posts. 
May we have grace for those who don’t. 
May we lock arms, and together pursue both justice and mercy.
May we be beautifully honest about our stories and be graciously receptive to others'. 
May we feel the freedom to not have all the answers, while still wanting to be a part of a solution.
May we listen before we speak, and when we do speak may the betterment of others drive our words.
May we know that we are all broken people in need of restoration. 
And May we all have eyes full of grace, compassion, and kindness toward our fellow man as we walk these messy steps of healing... locked arms together, never alone

Much love to you and yours. Praying for those of you who are weary today and want to retreat. Praying that we can come together and carry this burden of bringing PEACE to a broken society in JESUS' name together. 

Hugs (even for those y'all not wanting to be touched right now),