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  Oh, how I wish you would think I have it all together. But I don't, and I probably can't even fool you into thinking I do. That doesn't stop me from trying, though. It doesn't stop me from smiling a big smile when I really feel like crying and talking like everything's just dandy. It doesn't stop me from hiding my insecurities and pretending I know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm doing, y'all. I'm a mess and a disaster and an actress who tries to pretend I'm not.  I don't have it all together. You don't have it together either, do you? You feel like a mess and a disaster, too, but you also pretend that you're not. It's a maddening game we play, and it's tearing all of us apart. We put on elaborate masks and fake faces for the world, and we hide who we really are. We deny the weight of the worries we carry, and we refuse to admit our deepest struggles. We want everyone to think we have it all together, and we don't even know what "it" is. Here's what I've come to understand: when we set out to pretend we're OK, we unintentionally hurt those who are not....


  There is no part of my natural self that wants to forgive. When someone has wronged me, hurting my heart and damaging my soul, my innate desire is to get even. I want them to hurt like I have hurt, and I want to feel justified in holding on to the anger. I want to tell myself that their behavior just means they're bad people, and I want to be OK with turning my back on them forever. I don't want to forgive them. I want to reduce the totality of their lives to their very worst acts, and I want to hold myself up in superiority over them. I want to believe I could never do what they've done, and I want to march on through my life holding what they've done against them. That's what I want to do. But I can't. I follow Jesus, and Jesus commands me to forgive. His ways definitely are not mine, and his way is always forgiveness. Unforgiveness in my heart always remains a festering wound in my life, and the infection it leaks always ends up making me sick. It slowly fills me with contempt and resentment, and the bitterness over what happened consumes me. Holding back from...


  Take a deep breath, Mama. It's going to be ok. Whatever you did or said today isn't going to ruin your kids. Whatever you bellowed or burned last night doesn't define you. Having a bad day doesn't mean you're a bad mom. I know you feel like you're messing it all up, and I know how you convince yourself that you just don't have what it takes. But you're not, and you do. Being a mama is a sacred calling, and it's also a great sacrifice. Every day, we mamas give up a lot. We sacrifice sleep, clean kitchen counters, hot meals, and the certainty that we're doing things well. Because if there's one thing I know about mothers, it's that we constantly analyze and evaluate ourselves, and we obsess over our mistakes. And goodness knows, we make plenty of them. This week alone, my failures could fill a page. I've fed my kids fast food for dinner, fussed at them for moving too slowly, yelled at them for running in the house, washed the same load of laundry twice because I forgot about it fermenting in the washing machine, gotten irritated when they forgot to pack their lunches for school, rolled my eyes when they yelled my name...


  My baby girl is getting hair in her armpits. Not just peach fuzz, but honest to goodness hair - hair that's getting darker and longer every day. There's a razor in her very near future, and I can't take it. My baby boy is getting wisps of dark hair on his upper lip, and his legs are starting to look like a teenager's. My babies are changing right in front of my eyes, and my mama heart is beating fast. We can't be here already. We can't be at shaving, puberty, bodily changes and hormones. It can't be time. And I'm just not ready. Somebody should have warned me. Somebody should have said how fast they grow up...