stories of shame, part 6: entering a new group

stories of shame blog button (1)

{Part 6 of a 10-part series entitled, “stories of shame.” Read the rest here.}

It had all the markings of a social-shame triggering situation:

  • New group of people
  • Desire to belong to new group of people
  • Representing not only me but my daughters (and their future social standing, added my inner critic)
  • Feelings of insecurity and self-doubt – do I have what it takes? I’m sure everyone else there is more qualified than I am. 

What, you might ask, was the event in question?


Parents’ orientation at our daughters’ new school.

All of you veteran parents might be laughing a bit at this point. But just remember with me for a moment those feelings and doubts that you held before your child entered a new school. And kindergarten, at that. It’s their official beginning of all that school will be for them – the good, the sweet, and the bad and the ugly too. As I paused outside of the school building last night, I felt myself holding my breath and mentally replaying some of my memories of kindergarten. My beloved teacher, Mrs. Casey, is a highlight. My friend, Jenny, who I wanted to sit next to before I understood the “assigned seating” thing meant the teacher decided where you  sat. The girl with the same name as me (I kid you not – the only other “Heather Davis” I’ve ever known was in my same kindergarten class!). Learning to read with easy-reading books like “See Jane Run.” Meeting friends who to this day are in my life – Shelby and Kathryn – and being bridesmaids in their weddings and vice versa. It’s momentous.

For someone who loves social settings and fears them, too, you may understand why I was feeling a bit nervous last night before we walked into this auditorium. It wasn’t only my own social shame that was triggered, but the reality of my daughters’ shame-and-school narratives beginning in a new way, too, that made anxieties and insecurities rise to the surface.

Until I paused for a brief moment of prayer, admitting my anxiety to God (and then also out loud to my husband). The still, small voice of the Spirit answered back with the word, “authenticity.” I began thinking about my goal of the evening. Social shame told me my best bet was to be impressive all evening, from what I wore to how I spoke and interacted with other parents and the new school. Perhaps because I’ve been steeped in this truth I’m teaching others – that freedom from shame comes from encountering Jesus and acting according to a new narrative – I stepped out of this “must impress” mantra. I asked myself the question, “What if I was authentic tonight? What could it look like to be real instead of impressive?” The focus shifted from “impress” to “be real.” And being authentic reminded me that it’s likely that many other parents felt the same way I did – so how could I show up in a way that made space for them to feel insecure, too?

Instead of pasting on the got-it-all-together mask, I asked questions that showed I certainly didn’t have all the answers and felt a bit nervous about this whole kindergarten thing. We met other parents and were open about feeling a bit overwhelmed – as well as being authentic about who we are, what we do.

For its part, the school did a fabulous job reassuring all of us nervous parents through the headmaster’s words of warm welcome – saying that relationship is primary and acknowledging our collective nervousness. The kindergarten teachers resonated his welcome and answered all of our newbie questions, and we met new friends along the way who seem great, too.

Maybe best of all, social shame was dealt a major blow as I lived according to who I am, not who shame tells me to be, and as I focused on being authentic instead of being impressive. 

Five Minute “Friday”: help

I love this weekly writing exercise/community, and I return after a few months’ absence. Because it’s always there waiting. And it’s *only* five minutes.

Five Minute Friday is my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description draws me back every week, and the community of FMF keeps me writing – “This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”

helpIt’s a word that can save a life. But I find it almost impossible to utter. It feels so, well, helpless. Who needs help in my self-sufficient world? I’m doing just fine, thank you.

Except when I’m not. Like tonight when one of my 5-year-olds defied me in front of her grandparents, and I messed it up. I was angry and frustrated and overwhelmed and out of my league. I was also ashamed for my daughter’s behavior in front of her grandparents and my response in front of them, too. Why couldn’t I just have said, “help, please”?

It’s a lie that as a parent I can do it all and be it all for my kids. But it’s a lie we all deceive ourselves into living by more often than not.

I wonder if this false stigma with the word “help” is what contributed to the tragic death in our church community of a mother and daughter two years ago today. Afterwards, we all expressed the sentiment – “If only she’d asked for help …” We all wished we could have jumped in. But how many of us would have been willing to ask for that help if we had been in her shoes? On my hardest, darkest day of parenting, it took all I had in me to finally, finally text my trusted friend and neighbor with the simplest of requests – “Will you help? I need a hug and I can’t deal with bedtime tonight.” She was over within minutes, and I felt simultaneously grateful and humbled. 

It’s the hardest, best thing in the world to ask for help. Because we know there’s One eager to help us when we ask. And He’s sent people into our lives who are as eager to assist us as we are to give them a hand when needed.

So do you need to ask for help? Don’t delay. Help is on its way.


If you find yourself to be entertaining thoughts or ideas of suicide in particular do not hesitate to ask for help. If you’re not sure where to turn, contact the crisis text line by texting “GO” to 741741 or call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 





scattered chaos – or a story?

A half dozen (or more) children’s books are scattered in piles of two or three around the perimeter of our living room. The one most recently read lays atop our ottoman beside a discarded ballet slipper. Its pink partner sits in front of my husband’s recliner. A pink polka-dotted blanket is on top of the rug, and a paper airline peeks out from underneath the couch. Blue sparkly Cinderella shoes and fuzzy pink slippers grace another corner, and the pink bin of Legos sits opposite. A plastic green cup with a straw sits proudly beside the remote controls. Cushions are all in tact at the end of this day – and that says something.

In my more frustrated moments, I’d say this is scattered chaos. I look around and feel annoyed that I didn’t ask my daughters to pick things up before they went to bed. I’m annoyed with myself for not picking up more before grabbing my laptop to write a long overdue blog post. But then I try to remember how this mess tells a story of a full day well enjoyed by two five-year-old girls. The books are from reading time at the end of the day, me in one chair with one twin and my husband in another chair with her sister. Before this there were dance parties (hence the ballet slippers and Cinderella shoes) and a yoga session (note the blanket on the floor as makeshift mat). One twin adores her slippers and hates cold feet, so she wore them downstairs until the day’s play began. Another girl was thirsty before bedtime and so she brought in her ice water with a straw while being read stories.

In ten years, the mess will look very different.

In twenty years, we’ll miss the days that left behind such a scattered chaos.

I wish – I pray – that I would have the long view as I parent during what feels like a long summer in the midst of a long season of gloriously imaginative play and charming smiles punctuated by sibling conflict and mommy frustration.

My word of 2016 has been “rooted.” I haven’t written about it here before because, well, the book has taken a lot of air time. But it’s because of the book’s publication that I chose this word as a focus and prayer for this year. It can be too easy to get lost “in the clouds” of a book release, becoming a published author, engaging in speaking events I’d only dreamed of before – and forgetting my roots. The lovely, hard, sanctifying thing about motherhood and marriage is that my family roots me and grounds me in reality. There is laundry, and the dishes pile up when neglected, and meals need to be cooked and planned, and these ones I love are always present. Loving me and counting on me for their rootedness.

This task feels too immense. And it is until I remember where I am rooted. Deep in the eternal love of God, secured for me by Jesus Christ, spoken into my heart and soul by the Spirit. To be rooted in him, all I need to do is rest and abide and remember. Reading the Bible and praying and worshiping in our local church community help immensely. roots

The truth is that as I look around my living room this evening, the scattered chaos and the story it tells reminds me where I am rooted. Physically and emotionally – here with my family at a house in Virginia amidst a neighborhood and community of friends. Spiritually – I am rooted in a story that often looks to human eyes like the scattered chaos of this room. But it is telling a bigger story of redemption and hope and joy as the life of God is known through my work and play and parenting and marriage and friendship.


Five Minute Friday: limit

Five Minute Friday is especially perfect if you, like me, find any of the following true of you: (a) Not sure what to write about or where to start today (or this week/month), (b) Struggle against demons of perfectionism when you do write – wanting it to be “perfect” before releasing it to the world, and/or (c) Want to practice the courage of overcoming (a) and/or (b) in a safe and supportive community.

Join me today?

Five Minute Friday is my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description draws me back every week, and the community of FMF keeps me writing – “This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”


I kick against a limit, assuming that it’s meant to keep me from abundance.

The truth is that my limits are pleasant boundary lines, a fence outlining the abundant pasture I’ve been given to explore.

(And there is more than enough to satisfy me here in this verdant pastures – Psalm 23.)


photo source here

Limits are sometimes-painful reminders of my humanity, my sin, and/or my stage of life. I was talking to a friend just this week about how hard it is for her/me/us to live within our God-given limits of this season of mothering young preschool-age children. We vacillate between trying to do it all/be it all to our children and our families – and getting burned out because we don’t realize the limits here. Limits like – I can’t keep answering non-stop questions of curious 5-year-olds all day and then also be smiling and cheerfully pitching in to help with bath and bedtime each night alongside my husband AND then have lots of energy left to engage him and the tasks left on the to-do list I’ve set aside in order to focus and connect with my kids. NOR can I try to be engaged in my community, my work, my hobbies, my artistic pursuits wholeheartedly the way I did before I had kids to care for. (Nor the way I hope to return to this when they are out of the house for a longer school day, or in college, or beyond …).

Limit feels like discipline but creates freedom. Freedom to rest in what I’ve been given. Freedom to believe that the One who gives it to me is good and desires to delight me and fulfill me. Even (or especially) within these limits.


Day 20: when the reality of twins interrupts the best-laid plans

I am sorely aware that it is Saturday evening, October 31, the last day of the #write31days challenge, and I’m on day 20 of my “31 days of parenting twins” series. It’s easy for me to default into what’s familiar when I’ve not met one of my own expectations: shame of perceived failure, berating myself for not being able to write for 31 days about an experience I live out daily. 

And that’s the catch. In my writer’s mind, I could see the 31-days-of-parenting-twins journey mapped out perfectly ahead of me. The predictable twists-and-turns, like talking about the funny things people say about twins, and the ways my girls have had a “twin sense” about each other since they were born, even exploring together the topics of premature labor, bed rest, potty training twins, “the terrible twos TIMES TWO,” scattering helpful tips along the way. Most importantly, I was excited for the opportunity to write about an experience that is quite unique (while familiar to me), and has been characterized both by double joys and multiplied struggles.


image from

Instead, twins happened.
Over the past month, we had to scramble and cobble together childcare for two all-weekend events two weekends in a row. (Thankful for local grandparents who covered one of them!) We missed an entire week of preschool between the two of them having a bad cold accompanied by a croup-like cough and a fever. (Which means mama didn’t have her usual writing time.) And this week, L. came down with strep. We waited anxiously for signs that A. had it, and breathed a sigh of relief that we’re out of the woods. Or so we hope … just tonight before bed, A. seemed out of sorts and I imagined I heard the beginnings of congestion. Oh my. I feel like I’m in my “grin and bear it” mentality. What’s more likely is that her unexpected and long bedtime tantrum was the sugar low after eating way.too.much Halloween candy tonight during and after trick-or-treating.

With twins, I’m learning to expect the unexpected and unpredictable – both in terms of “way, way harder than I’d imagined” and “so much better than I could have pictured or orchestrated.” Like their spontaneous twin-fairy dancing show we were privy to this morning while sipping coffee after breakfast, or their graceful and radiant twin-princess-glory tonight while trick-or-treating through our neighborhood. The best of times and the worst of times is moments apart in parenting, and especially so if parenting twins. 

So, no, I did not complete the 31 days series in October. And truth be told, there are other topics I’m eager to share with you. Like what I learned in October, and reflections on Konmari organizing, and how excited I am that my book Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame is now available for pre-order (Crossway, to be released June 2016).

But this story of twins? It’s my life. I do want to share the rest of the story someday. I hope to finish it in November at various points.

For tonight, I’ll conclude by saying thank you for journeying with me thus far. I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my writing here on my blog. If you’re a fellow twin parent, I hope that something has resonated with you and given you even the smallest sense of being less alone as you’re outnumbered by twin babies/toddlers/preschoolers/etc.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 5: it takes abundant grace {to raise twins}

How ironic/interesting/intriguing that just after Day 4’s post about learning dependence through having twins, we got hit with a new wave of overwhelming life events! And so now “day 5” of #write31days is happening on October 8th. I tend to panic if I’m behind what “should be.” I’m a mixture of type A and type B, enough type A to care about meeting deadlines and being on time, but too much type B to be able to consistently do so (without lots of stressing out for me and towards my family). I’d always known that having kids would prove challenging for the being-on-time part of me.

But having two babies at once? Well, that just blew right through any pretenses of punctuality and organization and having-it-all-together.

The problem is that I’ve been in denial and that I try to still act as if it’s only me who has to make it places on time. I do know after 36 years of self-observation how much time I need to get out the door on time. But five years into parenting twins, I still cannot predict how much time one or both of them will take to get out the door. We’ve had wonderful moments of speedy efficiency that surprised even me at their ability to get dressed-eat-breakfast-put-on-shoes-brush-teeth&hair-get-whatever-special-toys-they-must-have-today-and-grab-backpacks in order to get to preschool on time. The problem is that they trick me. I *know* that they can do all of the above in 15-20 minutes, so I assume that they *will* do all of the above in 15-20 minutes any given day of the week. Ha, ha, ha. Silly me. {For a hilarious YouTube video about this phenomena for all parents, check this out.}

The twin connection often means that one of them is operating under the “normal/fast/efficient” timeframe, but there is 100% more likelihood that her twin sister will not be.

And, no, it is not consistently one or the other. They trade off. So A. might be super-speedy on Monday, but L. has a freak-out because “I cannot find my LOVIE!!!!!!!” So then on Tuesday I make sure that L. has her lovie in plenty of time, but unbeknownst to me, A. is the one who will freak out because her green dress is “too SCRATCHY!!!!!!!”

It’s emotionally exhausting for someone who really, truly wants to be put-together but daily confronts the reality that I am not. The smallest things can tilt my well-ordered but precarious “balance.” And twins? Well – picture a supermarket after an earthquake (and an earthquake with multiple aftershocks). I’m still trying to put the pieces back together if I’m honest.

And I’m learning that there is no other better way to be than honest. Anything else? It’s too exhausting. 

During one of the hardest seasons of twin motherhood so far when the girls were 18-months-old, a friend introduced me to this poet-twin-mama, Sarah Dunning Park, who is beautiful inside and out and whose poetry book became a lifeline for me. Click here to read her poem “Resolution” which perfectly captures for me the gap between who I’d like to be and the reality of who I am – and she points to the grace needed to fill all those empty spaces.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

I ended yesterday’s post with a promise of a “double edition” in order to catch up. But here it is, late Monday night, and I’m barely scribbling out part 2 of yesterday’s post. My default as an entrenched people-pleaser is to seek to make everyone in my life happy, and a really effective way to do this is to meet their needs. You’ve had a new baby and need a meal? I’ll be there. You need me to watch your kids for a few hours? Sure. You’ve got a problem and need to talk it out? Call me anytime. And the thing is – I really mean it. I really do want to be able to meet the needs I see. I know how wonderful it is to receive meal after meal after meal in the stage of new babies. Many friends have given me respite along the way by providing childcare when I desperately needed some time and space away from the demands of mothering. Family and friends who listen when I’m spewing out my heart ease my burdens by bearing it alongside me.

The trouble comes when I forget my limits and I overextend what my energy, life stage, and personality has the capacity to carry. And herein lies one of the hidden blessings of finding out we were going to be having twins: we knew that we would not be able to handle it alone. My husband and I often joke that we are both so stubborn that God knew it would take two newborns at once to bring us to our knees.

village two

photo credit:

This is where we went when overwhelmed with the reality of twins: to our God who bears every burden. And how did he answer? Through providing a village of family and friends who did amazing things to carry us through the difficult twin pregnancy and especially the first 4 months of having twins:

  • brought us meals three times a week
  • cleaned our house weekly
  • arranged a “Care Calendar” to facilitate all the volunteers
  • went grocery shopping for us
  • shopped at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target for me
  • assembled cribs, made curtains for the nursery, hung pictures, sorted through the baby stuff I needed (or not), washed baby clothes
  • partnered with us on home rehab projects: bathroom remodeling, painting, and crown molding to name a few
  • drove 3+ hours to IKEA in DC/Northern VA traffic and brought back a wardrobe for the twins’ room (I’m looking at you, Matt & Emma)
  • brought lunch to me during the 10 weeks I was on bed rest (spoiler alert)
  • listened, prayed, showered us with love and gifts for the babies-to-be
  • showed up to rock and feed the girls while a sleep-deprived mama slept or showered or if it was a *really* productive day, went to the grocery store

The oft-quoted, “God will never give you more than you can handle!” is actually (a) not true and (b) not in the Bible at all.

God gave us much, much more than we could handle by giving us twins, precisely so that we would begin to learn to lean on the help that was surrounding us – that we’d learn to live in the “village” in which God placed us.

A crucial part of being part of a vibrant village-like community is the ability to ask for and receive help, not only the ability to give help. And for this, I am thankful for the gift of God giving us more than we could handle by gifting us with twins.

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

February 3, 2010 / 4 weeks pregnant

I could barely sleep for excitement – knowing I would be taking a pregnancy test in the morning. And I found out that I am pregnant. I am with child. There’s a little BABY growing inside me. I’m in shock I think … disbelief … overjoyed. And yet not really entirely surprised. No, I take that back. I AM entirely surprised. Entirely. Absolutely.

But the excitement was soon replaced by fear when I started spotting unexpectedly. My mind immediately went to the saddest place: miscarriage. At age 30, I’d walked alongside many friends on this journey of heartbreaking loss. I knew it was a very real possibility. So when my OB-GYN asked me to come in sooner than the scheduled appointment to see what was going on, I assumed the worst. My husband, Seth, accompanied me.

February 17, 2010 / 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

We are expecting TWINS – What joy! What a surprise ~ what a miracle to hear two heartbeats yesterday! Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can’t help but connect this to my secret hope and desire that I’d have twins. I’ve always wanted to have twins, and it really does feel like a dream come true! (I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of that when I’m in such intense discomfort and we’re getting no sleep …!)

Now that was an understatement. But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself. I’ll introduce this series by going ahead and answering one of the pressing questions you have if you don’t have twins, and the questions you’ve heard ad nauseam if you do:

So were they natural? (usually followed up with) Do twins run in your family

My favorite answer is from another twin mama who likes to say, “Yes. They’re natural. We had sex.” I chuckled and cheered inside when she told me, but I never quite had the guts to be so bold. In our case though, YES, they were “natural,” as in we were completely, utterly surprised to be expecting twins and had not been through any fertility treatments nor had we been trying for very long to have kids. But did you really want to know all that when you accosted me in the grocery store as I was trying to marathon it through without one or both babies waking? In my more gracious moments, I know you’re simply curious and intrigued. But it’s hard to be gracious when you know at.any.moment you could have a twin tantrum on your hands. (That will be a post later in this series.)

On to your next question – YES, twins run in my family. Both sides. My grandfather was a twin, and Seth’s great-grandmother was a twin. But what I learned through having twins is that twinning is only genetic if the twins are fraternal. Identical “just happens.” And twinning is only genetic through the maternal side of the family. So if I feel like being super-chatty with you in the checkout line, I might explain all that to you. And I may even tell you that my grandfather was an identical twin; and my husband’s twin history doesn’t count; so the *real* answer to your question is “no – twins don’t run in my family.” No other extended family member on either side has had twins in recent history.

I am quite thankful that (a) we found out so early into pregnancy because it takes me forever to process big news and this was the biggest news of my life and (b) Seth was with me at the appointment and that he was sitting down. It was only one of a handful of moments I’ve seen him being entirely surprised. (The first was when I told him that I was in fact interested in dating him. This was a month after I’d instructed him not to ask me out on a third date because I wasn’t interested nor were we emotionally connected. But that will be for another series.)

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

write 31 days: parenting twins

31 days of twin parentingLast year I joined the October writing challenge to write for the 31 days of the month. I chose Kate Motaung’s “Five Minute Writing” version since I love Five Minute Friday. Quite honestly, it was exhausting to try to write every day. I skipped a few. I amended a couple of the given topics. I concluded that it was too much for me and that I’m more of an occasional, write-as-I’m-inspired kind of blogger.

But then I met Lauren in the spring through our church, and IRL [in real life] friendship has also become writing/blogging camaraderie. Last week we were chatting about blogging, and she told me that she was joining in again this year and that she’s asked for a few guest posts to supplement her writing. I began thinking that maybe I could try it after all. It could be a good way to jumpstart myself back into regularly blogging, which I’ve neglected the past few months of finishing up my book manuscript. I also thought it would be more do-able if I started with a topic I’ve written a lot about personally but have not blogged a ton about – being a parent to 5-year-old fraternal twin daughters.

I hope you will join me as I do a sweeping view of the past five years of highs and lows twice amplified. I may even introduce a few of my fellow twin-mom-warriors to you along the way.

The best way to follow along for now would be to sign up as an email subscriber to my blog [see sidebar] or to like my Facebook page, “Hidden Glory.”

Happy Saturday!

Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

Day 2: twin pregnancy, first trimester: nausea, exhaustion, and PB&J

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

Day 5: it takes abundant grace {to raise twins}

Day 6: what to do about fear {when pregnancy with twins}

Day 7: bed rest at 25 weeks

Day 8: the twins arrive in our world

Day 9: a poem of welcome

Day 10: Hi, I’m a waitress to twins.

Day 11: the 6 best books on twins

Days 12 & 13: the best advice for twins, newborn stage

Days 14 & 15: the best advice for twins, toddler stage

Days 16 & 17: my favorite advice for twins, preschool stage

Days 18 & 19: the best advice for twins, elementary school stage and beyond

Day 20: when the reality of twins interrupts the best-laid plans

Day 21:

Day 22:

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27

Day 28

Day 29

Day 30

Day 31

4 Challenges to Parenting in an Individualist Culture

Parenting has never been easy. And as Christians, parenting can be especially difficult in our current, contemporary society. Here are 4 challenges I think most Christian parents face when it comes to raising their kids in a secular culture.

1. Motherhood requires giving up “my life” as defined by our culture.

Part of my journey as a mom these past five years has been fighting against my own entitlement as I lay down every single part of my life for my children. It’s made harder because I’m surrounded by a society that says that individual happiness is everything. We are bombarded with messages from billboards and Oprah’s book list about secrets to happiness and self-fulfillment. I have an appetite for self-fulfillment, and these messages promise to fulfill my craving. How can I get by with minimal sacrifice as a parent? [read the rest of the article over here, where I’m featured on]