Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Moms Who Can't, Don't and Will Never Be

Finishing anything has never been easy for me.


I'm easily distracted.
I fly by the seat of my pants.
I'm a professional procrastinator.
I love naps.
"I'll get to it sometime" is my daily motto.

If it weren't for grace, I'd say I'm a quitter.

But, Sarah. You have five children. Nope. I've been this way since I was a little girl.

I have this distinct childhood memory of my sister and I staring at the mess that was our bedroom after being told we had to clean it up or we'd get no supper. We both flopped on our beds and plotted for an hour (or hours - who was counting? We weren't.) about how we were gonna clean it up.

We wrote out our plan on our small little chalkboards. Erased it. Then wrote a new plan when we realized Plan A would mean we'd have to get up and actually do something.

Then we were so worn out from all the planning that we sat down on the floor amidst the mess and created a lavish Barbie wedding with a roll of toilet paper.

I'm sure hours passed before either of us ever gave a thought to the fact that all the planning, the chalkboard lists, and the really, really good intentions would mean the eminent banishment to our bedroom for the rest of our lives.

Sometimes I think I was just never taught. I didn't have organized parents. I didn't grow up in an organized house. When my mother said, "Clean under your bed", I threw everything in the closet. When she said, "Clean out your closet" - (worst nightmare EVER for a kid who was told last week to clean under the bed), I shoved everything under the bed.

I'm 38 years-old now. But, wow - I am still that eight year-old shoving messes from one place to another. When I clean out my closet - now, as a grown-up, a mother of five children for goodness sake - I put everything in my bedroom. If I need to clean my bedroom, everything goes back in the closet.

Sarah Short.
Mess Shuffler.
Established 1975.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a prisoner of what I can't be, don't know how to be, wasn't taught to be. You may see me as Sarah, that Short Stop girl - she cooks, she blogs, she mothers, no, wait - she mothers FOUR, wait, wait, wait - get this - four BOYS. ANNNNND, she has a baby!

Let me tell you this: My shortcomings are not their fault. Ever.

Let me ALSO tell you this: It's easy to blog successes. It's easy to post photos on Facebook of happy babies bathing in the sink, Tweet out little boys crunching leaves on the sidewalk, and pin a make-believe life to a "Love being a Mom" board.

But, when I'm doubting and overwhelmed by all that I'm not, I see what is unfinished: A mess of stuff I shuffle around in my head - things I want to do, to be, to actually complete.

My latest vacation photos might as well be Plan A on a little chalkboard.
Homework, bills, homework, dishes, laundry, homework, spills.
"I'm sorry I'm so late in responding, friend. This text/email/phone call is so overdue."

And, the mess that sits upstairs in my bedroom AND in my closet is so catastrophic that even if the spirit of transparency hit me like the Ravens hit the 49ers in the Super Bowl last year (HOLLA!), there is no way in tarnation I would let you see a photo of it.

But, can I tell you why my soul is not discouraged? Deep down - in the places that define me?

Because God has enough grace for me for ALL OF THIS. All of my shortcomings. All of my failures. Every single "I'm not, I can't, I wish, I'll never be".

When I feel like a quitter, this is God's message of hope to me and I preach it to myself:

And I am certain that God, who began
the good work within you, will continue
His work until it is finally finished
on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 NLT

I may be an easily distracted, fly by the seat of my pants, napping, professional procrastinator extraordinaire. But, AMEN and AMEN, I've been given a promise by the One who made me and I'm here today to tell you that YOU have this promise, too:

God is not a quitter. He walked up a hill and died for me in the most glorious finish in history. My life is His work. He doesn't give up.

He isn't giving up on me. And, He isn't giving up on you.

I may not be organized.
My bedroom might be messy.
And, my photos and vacation stories trapped in my head until who knows when.

But, I have God's promise - that He began something marvelous in me when He made me His, and until I fly through the ribbon at the end of my life and finish this race, I will cling to HIS grace, knowing that I am His project, His plan, His girl.

And, He ain't finished with me yet.

I've shared this with you before. But, Mamas and friends - we can claim this promise over every "I'm not, I can't, I don't, I will never be" in our lives:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19 NIV

Grace for messy closets.
Grace for unfinished projects.
Grace for naps.
Grace for little girls with chalkboard plans.
Grace for their little boys with sticky fingers and muddy shoes.


While He's doing His great work in me.

And, in you.


  1. Love every bit of this post!!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I'm certain I'm not the only one that can totally relate with you.

    1. Jennifer - Thanks so much, friend. Kindred spirits. :)

  2.! It is as if you just snapped a picture of my life and blogged about it! Even the childhood part! A friend on facebook shared your post, and I'm so glad I checked it out! Thank you for your honesty and for sharing the truth of the Gospel which truly sets us free. I am thankful that His grace is sufficient, and is also perfected in our weakness. So, when I actually do get up and accomplish something I praise Him because it was certainly His Spirit at work in me, and not me myself! I would rather be napping too! :) So, glad I found your blog! I'll be stopping in more often!

  3. Whenever we've had to move and sell our home, we've needed to keep it immaculate. We were often told that our homes showed well, and they did, but during those times I seldom got any creative work done. Creation seems to require a certain amount of chaos and mess in the process- cooking, sewing, writing, growing human beings, remodeling, art- you name it. And creation is happening until you are finished. As you said, you're not finished yet, you're still in process- but oh! what a beautiful process you are. That is part of what makes you and your blog so special and such a treat to come to. Thank you.

    1. Melanie - Yes. To all of this. SO encouraging.

  4. Thank you for your honesty and pointing back to the Gospel. Reading this was like reading a blog of my story.. but I only have one son. Even now, my mom has recently downsized from a mobile home to a shared independent living apartment and as the only child I am completely overwhelmed by this process of sorting through her belonging with her and getting rid of it all.. not to mention selling the home... ugh! It is good to know that there is grace in the midst of the mess.

    1. Sweetann - Such hard things. But, yes - grace on grace.

  5. Thank you. I feel caught in this suburban life of perfection; that children should be taken to activities, appropriate amounts of outside time with helmets and socks (not just furry boots to keep their feet warm when all the socks are mismatched in a pile in the basement), that the house is picture perfect, all meals made on time, and naps taken as close to on schedule in cribs by themselves as possible. And I am the procrastinating, dreaming but never finishing, nap loving mom, avoiding times and schedules whenever possible. Thank you for sharing. I've been wondering my purpose in life not being able to finish and accomplish much beyond feeling like I am always behind and running. Thank you.

    1. Kristina - I have thought so many of the things you wrote here. I feel you on this.

  6. I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that this week. Thank you.

    1. Maria - I'm so glad it encouraged you. I need to remind myself of this every day.

  7. Here's one 55 year old mama with one grown boy and a husband in the grave who sees herself in all of this and WHOA, did you just quote MY life verse (Phil 1:6)?!!! Bless you, and bless the Spirit of the One who just said HELLO! to me through your lovely words this morning.

    1. Hi, Joyce. I love that verse, too. Speaks right to me.

  8. I just found your blog late last night and you remind me so much of my favorite chef Ree Drummond. Love your recipes and love your comments and especially love this post today:)

  9. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one.