Category Archives: Culture, News, & Reviews

‘Til We Meet Again

Once upon a time, I was desperate.  I was walking (alone, it felt) through an intensely dark season, the kind that makes you question everything.  And despite my best efforts, I was completely lost.  Terrified, angry, and exhausted.

So I started to write.

If nothing else, I needed to find my voice again.  I needed a way to make sense of the senseless.  A little steam vent to release some of the pressure inside the pot before the whole thing blew up.

I called the blog “Loving My Lot.”  Because I didn’t.  But I wanted to.  I wanted to love the life God had given me.  To treasure the “lot” He had destined for me long before time—even when that “lot” included suffering and struggle.  At the time I thought the darkness would never end. I used to beg God, “Just tell me how long!  I can make it, if you just tell me how long!”  But I realize now, He never wanted me to “make it” by myself.  He didn’t want me to gather up my resources and plow on through.  He wanted to carry me.  And arrogant as I was, the only way to carry me was to break my legs first.

This blog is God carrying me.  It’s the story of my journey in His arms.

Once, during a particularly low point in the journey, my mom promised me that God is generous.  She told me there would come a day when God would pour blessings on me so lavishly I would literally cry, “Enough God!  You have blessed me enough!”  I didn’t believe her.  Until it happened.

It didn’t happen suddenly, like a light switch you flick on.  It was gradual, more like those gymnasium lights that take twenty minutes to warm up.  One day I looked around and realized they were blazing.  Step by step, He had carried me out of the darkness.  And moreover, He had made me strong—not in myself, but in my need for Him, which is really the best kind of strength.  Recently, I caught myself journaling, “I have never been happier in my life,” and I thought of my mother’s promise.  Even now, my eyes well up with tears, because my heart cries, “Enough God!  I am staggering beneath the weight of Your generosity!”  

I tell you this story because I have sensed for some time now that this part of my journey is over.  This blog has served its purpose for me, and it will forever be special to me.  But in this fresh season, I find myself aching to be more present.  To enjoy every second right here.  To pour into my family and friends and church with unhindered freedom.

I’ll still guest post on other sites from time to time, and I won’t delete this blog (she’s far too precious to me!)  Who knows?  One day I may resurrect Loving My Lot, or write another book.  Or maybe not.  In either case, I need you to know something before I sign off.  In this whole journey, my greatest joy has been meeting fellow travelers, like you.  You have taught me that I’m not alone, and that God is bigger than I could ever imagine.  Thank you—for your comments and encouragement, for reading and sharing posts, and buying my book, and believing God could use me.  You are part of His great grace in my life!

With much love and gratitude,

Lilla Rose Flexi Clip Giveaway

When Melody Detwiler contacted me to sponsor a giveaway, her product was so cute it motivated me to emerge from my sleep-deprived, newborn baby blogging hiatus.  That, and the fact that Melody herself has a 5 month old…and a 2yo…and a 3yo…and a 4yo!!  I figured if she could run her own business with 4 kids, I could certainly review her product.  So allow me to introduce…the Flexi Clip!
collage 9
My favorite thing about this handy little clip is it’s quick and easy to use.  When I tried it on, I was surprised to find it’s not only comfortable, but very secure (more so than a “claw”).  The clips come in a myriad of designs and 7 different sizes, which means even your minnie-me with baby fine hair can wear them!
And if you think moms like them, wait until your little girl sees them!  We’ve already had a lot of fun experimenting with hairstyles at home.  For a fun girls-night event, consider contacting Melody via her Facebook page and scheduling a Lilla Rose party.  It includes hairstyling tips, demonstrations, and a giveaway.  You can also visit the Lilla Rose website to check out a host of other hair jewelry and take advantage of the buy 3 get one free offer.

Enough chatter, it’s time to win a free Flexi Clip!  Click on the link below to enter the giveaway, running this week only, Monday, February 9, through Friday, February 13.  When you click below, you will be prompted to choose one of three options for entering: visiting a Facebook page, tweeting a message, OR browsing an online catalogue.  Have fun!

Why the Vaccination Debate is So Nasty (And Why It Ought Not Be)

vaccine-diplomacyOf all the Mommy-War debates, I can think of few that are as emotionally charged as the war over vaccines.  Does that make me want to avoid the topic?  Like a nuclear missile!  But (like a nuclear missile) that also makes it so important.  My goal is not to re-hash the hundreds of arguments for or against vaccines.  Rather, my goal is to answer a simple question: As Christian mothers, how should we approach this sensitive and volatile topic personally, among friends and strangers, and in our social media testimony?

When I set out to answer this question, I started by asking myself why the vaccination debate is so heated.  I think there are three predominant factors.  First, it involves personal heartache.  Many (if not the majority of) mothers who choose not to vaccinate have what they would call a “vaccine-injured child.”  They truly believe vaccinations have had adverse effects on their child.  In some cases, the conditions their children face are extreme, lifelong, and even deadly.  Whether or not vaccines are to blame for these conditions, the point is these moms (who are not stupid, nor short on research) truly believe they are.  My children are vaccinated, and I have not experienced adverse side effects.  However, I can imagine how outraged, confused, and afraid I would feel if I thought my kids were suffering because a doctor told me to do something that I believed hurt them.

But unfortunately, this issue is also emotionally charged because it has communal implications.  Whether or not you believe in “herd immunity,” our society still functions in support of it.  In other words, our government and medical professionals believe immunizations are in the best interest of society at large.  That’s why you’re still asked to present an immunization record at kindergarten Open House.  It’s why doctors talk about mutations of previously eradicated diseases emerging as the anti-vaccination movement grows.  Whether or not you agree, you can understand why vaccinating parents find this scary.  Ironically, it’s the exact same fear non-vaccinating parents feel–the fear that something poses a threat to our children.

The final reason I think the debate is so heated is because it’s a high stakes issue.  I’ve seen articles and videos that claim infants have died from adverse reactions to vaccinations.  On the flip side, I’ve talked to doctors who claim they’ve seen infants and children die from vaccine-preventable diseases.  Any way you look at it, fear, suffering, and the desire to protect our children are the primary emotions driving the war over vaccines.  Our fleshly instinct is to respond to these emotions with all manner of ungodliness.  Both sides are guilty.  For brevity sake, let me summarize some of the sentiments I’ve heard and/or read:

Anti-Vaccines Pro-Vaccines
Pride / Condescension “I love my babies too much to put such-and-such chemicals into them.” “I love my babies too much to put them at risk for preventable diseases.”
Hatred “I hope your kids end up injured by a vaccine so you change your tune!” “I hope your kids catch a disease and die!”
Judgment “Parents who vaccinate are un-researched, blind followers.” “Parents who don’t vaccinate ought to be jailed for child abuse.”
Selfishness “This isn’t about your children.  I’m not thinking about your children at all!  This is about my children.” “I don’t care what your story is, if your kid isn’t vaccinated, keep him away from my kid!”

The problem isn’t that we have an opinion on this issue.  It’s not even that our opinion is bound to differ with someone else’s.  The problem lies in how much we value our opinion.  Biblically, I believe Christian moms are free to stand on either side of the debate.  I don’t believe there is anything inherently sinful about vaccinating or not vaccinating your children, so long as you are submitted to God and motivated by love for Him and your kids.  But, it is sinful to elevate this issue above Christ.

Before you assume you’re not guilty of this, here are some hard questions I’ve had to ask myself:  Does thinking (or reading) about this issue ever evoke feelings of hatred or judgment within me?  Has it ever made me wish suffering on someone else?  Do my words and lifestyle reflect that I’m more passionate about this topic than I am about the gospel?  Does it consume my thoughts and/or control my emotions?  When others think of me, is this issue one of the first things they think of?  

Yes, this is a high stakes issue.  But when it comes to how we interact with it, there is something even greater at stake: our testimony to a watching world.  Vaccinations impact this life, but our testimony for Christ impacts eternity.  How foolish we would be to sacrifice something of eternal value for the sake of an earthly cause!  Am I saying it’s wrong to share your opinion on vaccinations?  Of course not.  But if you value your opinion to the point that it causes you to sin against others (in thought, word, or action), then for you this issue has become an idol.  In essence, you are more devoted to it than you are to the mandates of Christ.

Let me be the first to admit, I’m on the guilty side of this reality.  This issue has stirred arrogance, judgment, and anxiety in my heart and mind.  The only way I’m “de-throning” it in my life, is by fighting fear with the true, biblical antidote.  The fact is, the solution for fear and suffering has never been found in “winning” the external war.  You can’t get rid of the turmoil in your heart by converting the world, one tweet at a time, toward or against vaccinations.  The only true antidote is faith.  If we truly believe that all the days ordained for our children are written in God’s book (Psalm 139:16), that He alone is the author of their lives, wiser than any parent and stronger than any threat, I believe it would change the way we approach this debate.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the mom who hopes other kids suffer because their mother doesn’t agree with me.  I don’t want to be the mom who turns unbelievers off to the gospel because of my testimony over a spiritually gray issue.  Like the Psalmist, I want to be the kind of mom who says, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom (or what) shall I be afraid?”  The kind of mom whose heart, passion, and legacy cries out: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:1, 4).  Only then, will I be able to take a stance on this issue with love, humility, freedom, and peace.

Photo Credit

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What Everyone Should Know about Raising a Child with Special Needs

When Dana Hemminger asked me to review her new book about raising a child with Down Syndrome, I readily agreed.  Knowing Dana’s blog, I knew the book would bless me.  But to be honest, I was motivated for one other reason: sheer curiosity.  BookCoverImage

In 1987, Emily Perl Kingsley coined an analogy to describe the experience of raising a child with disabilities.  In the analogy, pregnancy is like planning a trip to Italy.  Parents eagerly pack and dream and make preparations with Italy in mind, only to deliver their baby and realize the “plane” has landed in Holland.  Naturally they’re shocked, grieved, and confused.  Nothing is as expected.  But eventually, as they learn to adapt, they realize Holland is beautiful in its own way.  Dana borrows this analogy for the title of her book, Reflections from Holland.  

The Shameful Truth
Here’s what we moms who have only been to Italy don’t like to admit: Holland scares us.  We’re curious about it because, on some level, we fear that a journey there might destroy us.  Much of that fear is due to the fact that Holland is entirely unknown territory.  But these past few weeks, that changed for me.  When I sat down with Dana’s book, I thought she was going to teach me about raising a child with Down Syndrome from a biblical perspective.  And she did.  But she did so much more than just that.  Dana invited me onto the plane with her.  She let me climb inside her heart and journey to Holland, beginning from the very moment her pregnancy test was positive.

DSCF9075_editedAs a result, reading Dana’s book felt like reading her diary, and I found myself unable to put it down.  The lessons weren’t grouped in clever phrases or listed in simple steps.  Instead they were woven into her life.  Shimmering on the surface of her tears.  Rising from the ashes of her prayers.  They were everywhere.  In the big moments when Benjamin endured open-heart surgery at two months old, and when his parents (and I!) cried as he finally took his first steps at nearly four years old.  And the lessons were in the small moments, when Dana opened a Christmas card with “perfect” pictures of a friend’s baby, or listened to her 8-month-old daughter say “Mama” before her 4-year-old son had ever said it.

What Everyone Should Know about Raising a Child with Special Needs (or Why You Need to Read This Book!)
Of all the things I learned from this book, 3 things especially stand out:

Ignorance is hurtful.
Before reading Reflections from Holland, I had no idea how many medical challenges Down DSCN2189Syndrome can present, including hearing and vision loss, heart problems, seizures and more.  I knew it caused developmental delays, but I underestimated those as well.  By the time I had journeyed with the Hemmingers in and out of hospitals, through multiple forms of therapy, and heard their desperate prayers for their son, I, too, felt the sting of insensitive comments like: “Just wait until he does learn to crawl; you’ll be wishing he didn’t!”

In one of my favorite chapters, entitled “Help that Hurts,” Dana gives several examples of ignorant comments like this, and graciously explains why they are hurtful.  I was so grateful for this knowledge.  In my opinion, it is invaluable.  As the church, one of our greatest callings is to minister to people in their suffering.  But sometimes we have no idea how to do that, because the form of suffering is so foreign to us.  Educating ourselves is crucial in becoming equipped to love others as Jesus does.

Everyone will face disappointment in parenting.
This book is about so much more than Down Syndrome.  The reality is, we are all going to face disappointment in parenting, whether or not God calls us to Holland.  This book is about experiencing God in the face of that disappointment.  It’s about laying our plans and our dreams on the altar, and delighting ourselves in God’s will for our life, even (or perhaps especially) when it’s not what we had in mind.

Hope in Christ withstands every storm.
In other words, you can do more than survive Holland; you can thrive in it.  When it came to parenting Benjamin, almost nothing went according to Dana’s plan, from the smallest details of the delivery to the greatest challenges presented by Down Syndrome.  For some people, this DSCF8919would justify lifelong resentment and bitterness.  But there was one crucial key to Dana’s ability to thrive in Holland–she made Jesus her treasure.  She chose to treasure Christ more than milestones, or expectations, or appearances.  And in so doing, she found great comfort, overflowing promise, and abundant reasons to rejoice.

This is a book well worth every mom’s time.  Initially, when I sat down to write this review, I was going to say that by the time you close the last page, you will feel like Dana is a close friend.  But perhaps it’s more fitting to say, by the time you close the last page, you will wish you had a friend like her.

For more from Dana Hemminger, visit her blog or buy her book on Amazon.

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A Different Kind of Book about Lust


I used to view lust like an ugly garden snake, lurking behind bushes to snare the unsuspecting.  I was always surprised to learn that so-and-so was battling a pornography addiction, or such-and-such friend read those kind of novels, or sweet Lucy-Sue from our youth group was texting…wait, what kind of pictures?  

Then life happened.  And with it came exposure…to people, and college, and dating, and marriage, and ministry.  Gradually, my ability to be surprised eroded entirely.  And I was glad.  Because when a timid teenage girl sat down to confide in me, I could confidently promise, “You can tell me anything.  I won’t judge.  Trust me, I’ve heard it all.”  I preferred this un-shockable version of myself because she had far more compassion and humility than the naive girl I’d left behind.

The only problem was, the “new me” began to teem with doubt.  Somewhere along my road to awareness, the sneaky little garden snake had morphed into Godzilla, and try as I might, I couldn’t muster much hope for those struggling with sexual sin.

Then one day this summer I found Heath Lambert’s new book Finally Free sitting on our doorstep in an Amazon package.  The book is specifically geared toward breaking free from pornography, and my husband (who’s counseled several men battling porn) planned to read it with a friend as a ministry resource.

“You want to read it, too?”  Clint asked when he caught me perusing the back cover.

I shook my head.  “Nah, how’s a book about porn going to help me?”

But one boring evening when Clint was completely engrossed in some theology blog, I picked it up again.  “Wow,” I said, twenty minutes later.  “This book is incredible.”

“I know,” Clint remarked without looking up from his iPad.

“Do you know what I’m reading?”

“Yup,” he said.

What the Book is About
Like most Christians, I’ve put in my due time with purity books, especially as a teenager.  But what makes Finally Free different is its approach.  So many books about purity enlist outward techniques as tools in the war against lust.  But Lambert’s book enlists one far mightier tool: the gospel of Christ.

I know what you’re thinking: impractical.  Actually, it’s just the opposite.  Chapter one teaches that grace is the foundation in the fight against pornography.  While most people recognize the importance of forgiving grace, Lambert points out that there is also a deep need for transforming grace.  In the remaining chapters, he explains eight essential strategies for fighting pornography, each rooted and saturated in Scripture.  To win the battle against porn, Christians must use sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, their spouse (or singleness), humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus.  Each chapter covers one of these principles, faithfully tied back to the need for forgiving and transforming grace as the power behind the principle.

Why You Ought to Read It (Even if You’re a Girl)
We all know girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.  We smell better than boys, organize our stuff better, and certainly don’t struggle with pornography, right?    Maybe.  But sugar and spice notwithstanding, you and I have been touched by the Fall.  Whether we realize it or not, sin has marred virtually every aspect of our lives, including our understanding of sexuality.  So the first reason you ought to read this book is…

Because everyone battles lust to some degree.
You can apply 95% of this book to your life if you simply substitute the concept of “pornography” with the concept of “lust.”  For instance, pretend you struggle with watching romantic movies that make you discontent in your marriage.  Yearning for somebody else’s love story is a form of lust.  For the sake of brevity let’s just call it “fantasizing.”  Now consider this excerpt from chapter 8, and substitute “porn” for “fantasizing”:

“If you struggle with porn, one of your greatest needs is to grow in the grace of gratitude.  Porn is only consumed by thankless people.  The desire for porn is a desire to escape from what the Lord has given you into a fake universe full of things you do not have and will never have.  Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed.  Porn trades joy in the reality God has graced you with for greed in the counterfeit world he has not.  Defeating porn requires a grateful consideration of God’s good gifts to you.”

Do you see how easily (and powerfully) the principle of gratitude applies to the temptation to fantasize?  In fact, you could take almost any sin stronghold, sexual or otherwise, and bear fruit from the principles in this book.  But another reason you ought to read it is…

Because you know (or will know) someone broken by pornography.
The greatest thing this book did for me was restore my hope.  It made me see that lust may be Godzilla, re-orienting our world in the wake of its destruction, but the gospel of Christ is mightier still.  If you know someone struggling with pornography, especially if it’s a spouse, this book can give you great insight into the battle so that you know how to partner with him.  (There is also an appendix specifically written for families of men struggling with porn.)  It will also equip you to engage in the war against pornography that may one day threaten your own son.  Or the teenagers in your church.  Or your best friend’s husband.

As believers, we are called to engage the culture with a biblical perspective on all aspects of life.  Before reading this book I lacked that perspective on lust, and as a result I approached it with a multitude of wrong attitudes: self-righteousness, pride, fear, doubt, and discouragement.  But with Heath Lambert’s help…or more accurately, Scripture’s help…I now look at this mighty beast with two new attitudes: FAITH and HOPE.

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Returning to the Rhythm

Boy, have I missed you!  As always, the season for rest has flown by, and suddenly it’s back to the grind.  I don’t know what the daily grind looks like for you, but I imagine it may include packing lunches and buying pencils, putting away the sunscreen and inflatables, breaking out a college textbook, or heading to the office by 7am.  There’s a sense of comfort and order to it…but also dread, isn’t there?  Here. we. go.  There’s no escaping the stresses and struggles when vacation is over and we’re returning to the rhythm.

And yet a week ago, when I thought about all the mundane work ahead, the strangest sensation came over me.  I felt grateful.  If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know contentment is not my forte, so the sensation shocked me.  I found myself driving down the road, thanking God for work.  The pleasure and purpose of hard work.  In the past sixteen weeks I’ve been reminded that it is, indeed, a gift.  Why sixteen weeks?  Because that’s how long I’ve been carrying baby #3!

Coming this #3!

Coming this Christmas…baby #3!

It’s been 2½ years since I’ve been pregnant, and let me just say–wow.  I forgot how exhausting it is.  That’s part of the reason I took a summer sabbatical.  For weeks as I laid on the sofa, trying to stay awake and not hurl my breakfast across the living room, I kept thinking about my friends who suffer from chronic illnesses.  I have always admired their outlook on life, but as pregnancy changed my daily agenda from “thrive” to “survive” I began to wonder, how do they do it?  How do they transcend their body’s cry for physical relief?  For weeks, I felt like I didn’t care if I read the Bible or put away the dishes.  I was a toddler intent on one thing only–my immediate, felt needs.  Give me that hotdog before I puke.  If you let me take a nap, I’ll let you eat all the chocolate in the house.  Everytime I thought about the women I know who thrive spiritually and emotionally in the face of constant physical discomfort, I was deeply convicted.  I can’t say that I overcame the way my friends have.  By God’s grace, I just sort of stumbled into trimester #2.  But I can say that as the morning sickness eased and my strength returned, I embraced work with renewed vigor…and thankfulness.

Speaking of work, let me update you on some of mine.  This summer I gave my blog a little facelift and (finally!) set up a Loving My Lot Pinterest page, which you can follow by clicking on the link to the right.  Months ago I was invited to join the Christian bloggers’ Pinterest board “Heart and Home.”  Feel free to check it out if you’re Pinterest savvy!  I’ve also undertaken another writing project I feel strongly called to pursue…in the midst of pregnancy and preschoolers!  All this to say, thank God I’m thanking God for work, because I’ve got mine cut out for me!

And I know you do, too.  As we move forward into fall, may we rejoice in the work God has set before us, “look(ing) to the Lord and his strength; seek(ing) his face always” (Psalm 105:4).

(Photo Credit)

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A Fresh Summer’s Work (and Rest)

It’s that time again.  Last summer, I took a two month blogging sabbatical, and this summer I am sorely tempted to forge on through.  Partly because I love to write, partly because I fear loss of readership (oh, vanity, my constant companion!), but mostly because of you.  Every few days when I scroll through my emails, there will be one or two from readers.  Always, I can’t wait to see what you’ll say.  Sometimes you have an idea or an opportunity to offer, and sometimes you just want to share a little bit of your life.  With me.  Few things in this world make me feel more undeservedly blessed.  Somehow, amazingly, through the wonders of technology and the grace of God, He has allowed me to meet people all over the world.  And what’s more, to encourage them, share my broken story with them, and celebrate Christ’s mercy together.  That is my favorite part of blogging.  I thought it would be the writing, but it’s actually the impacting.  It’s you.  Being a small part of your life.

For this very reason, I’m reluctant to say farewell for the summer.  But if I were honest (which is always my first priority in writing), I would admit that my batteries need recharging.  My soul needs time to meditate on God’s Word for no purpose other than personal growth.  To soak it in without immediately thinking about how to spew it back out.  Not to mention, I welcome the chance to spend a little less time online and a little more time like this. P1060355
Besides quiet reflection and loud play, there’s one other item on my summer agenda.  It’s a project of sorts that’s been sitting on the back burner of my mind for months now.  This summer I want to explore it–maybe embrace it, maybe chuck it.  Either way, if God brings me to mind, I would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Here’s to hoping God grants us both a rejuvenating summer, filled with laughter, purpose, and the peaceful satisfaction of Christ.  See you in August!

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