The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

Tag Archives: Family

One Way to a Full Soul

Even before I’d met my friend, Katy McCown, face to face, I counted her as a sweet gift from the Lord. She is kind. Honest. Witty. And oh, so beautiful- inside and out. When we were finally able to meet in person and linger long over a cup of coffee, I immediately declared that Katy was my long lost twin. Never mind that she already has a twin sister for real. Or that I happen to have been born a decade before her.  I knew I’d found a kindred spirit in this truthful and radiant mama of six.  Katy understands what it’s like to have someone sit on a melted chocolate bar in her dirty mini-van or what it’s like to feel poured out and worn from the juggle of motherhood and marriage, ministry and monotony. She understands that deep longing in a woman’s soul that cries, “I was made for more!” And she understands what it’s like to live with open hands and an open heart.

Katy’s desire to help women live with overflowing souls, her selfless love for her family, and most of all, her passionate pursuit of Jesus inspires me. And I’m absolutely delighted to share the gift of my “long lost twin” with you here today. May her honest and hope-filled words meet you right where you’re at today and encourage you to run straight into the arms of your Savior. Here’s Katy…

“Women live like a cup tipped over on its side. They give and give and pour out everything they have until there’s nothing left.”

I stared out my front door, listening to the raindrops fall as I absorbed what my friend had just said. All I could think was, Nailed it!

But as we talked more, another image surfaced. The same cup, but this time not empty at all. This time it’s upright and full. So full, the goodness inside breaks the rim and spills over, covering everything it touches.

“That’s what we’re going for,” my friend said. “That’s what God wants.”

On a side note, I imagine my cup in this little exercise full of coffee … But really, all too often I feel like the first cup. Empty – or at least on my last drop.

I want to love more, do more and give more, but eventually I run dry.

Then I read a verse like this one in John and wonder, What am I missing?

“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” John 7:38 (HCSB)

Streams of living water … Moving, rushing out from the depths of my soul … and I don’t know whether to end that sentence with a period or a question mark. Because could that really be a statement of fact? Surely that’s reserved for only a few people, in a much slower season of life.

But that’s not what Jesus says. No, Jesus says these streams of living water flowing deep from within are available to anyone who believes in Him.

If we believe in Jesus, yet still feel like a cup tipped over on the table …

Maybe we just need to unclog the stream.

I’m well acquainted with the struggle to stop and fill up the gas tank in my car. It pains me to pause, but eventually it puts me in a pickle. I’m desperate to fill up and there’s not always a station in sight. So I’m left sweating it out.

I find my soul tank isn’t much different. I always think I can go further only to find myself on the last drop, anxious for a moment to pull over and fill up.

In the hustle and bustle it can be hard to find these soul stops, so I want to share with you three things I’ve found that help me keep my soul tank full.


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Why I Don’t Cry Over Burnt Bread Anymore

(Or the Simple Secret to Surrendering those Mommy Measures!)

I was squashed knee-to-chin between kindergarteners in the school cafeteria when he said it. 

photo credit

Honest words that made me laugh.

Words that may have spawned tears years ago.

I was joining Josh for lunch when the little boy next to me pulled a sandwich out of his bright blue lunch box that garnered my son’s full attention.

“That sandwich is huge!” Josh exclaimed as he poked at the lukewarm carrots on his cafeteria tray and gazed longingly at his classmate’s lunch.

I glanced at the mile-high sandwich—the over-sized slice of cheese dangling off the edges, the wispy green sprigs and sprouts poking out the sides, and the fresh fluffy bread that held it all together. 

And I wondered how much cash it would take to talk that little guy into a trade. 

One soggy school-made sloppy joe for one fluffy fresh sandwich.


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Multitude Mondays: The Cure for an Empty Life


 She refused to go to sleep on Easter night.

She’d announced it just after I’d pulled her fuzzy purple blanket to her chin, said it emphatically, so I’d understand her firm decision. 

“I’m not going to close my eyes!”

Her big sister on the top bunk giggled, and I tried not to do the same.

My four-year-old sat straight up in bed and propped open her baby blues with her index finger and thumb.

Then, peering at me through her fingers, she exhaled a theatric harrumph just to let me know that nothing could change her mind..

“You can just leave my lamp on,” she suggested as she pointed to her bedside light, “Because I am not going to sleep tonight.”

I studied my strong-willed girl and shrugged my shoulders to dilute the drama in the bottom bunk.

“Why don’t you want to sleep?” I asked, careful not to sound alarmed. 

“Because I don’t want Easter to be over,” Maggie replied with a pout.

I nodded in empathy.

It had been a wonderful day.

We’d plucked breakfast from the tree in our front yard. (Before you call us crazy, read why)

And had celebrated our risen Savior with our beloved church family and an hour of gleeful praise.

We’d gobbled apple pie after dinner and had raced happy through the park in search of  eggs tucked quiet in the grass.

We’d launched balloons to tell the Easter story and shared laughter around my sister’s kitchen table.  

It was the kind of day that shouldn’t end.

I hugged my littlest girl and then gently pushed her head toward her purple satin pillow.

I stroked her hair like I’d done when she was a baby, and slowly her taut muscles relaxed. 

Her chest heaved beneath my hand and she exhaled a long sigh of exasperation.

“I’m just afraid our garden will be gone in the morning,” she murmured, her voice drooping with sleepiness despite her loud intentions to stay awake.

“Our garden?” I asked as I pictured the brown yard beyond her window.  “What garden?” 

Jesus’ garden,” she answered. 
“The one with the empty tomb.”

“Oh, our grace garden,” I replied. 

“Yeah. Will it disappear when it isn’t Easter anymore?”

I sat quiet on the edge of my young one’s bed and smiled in the darkness.

Suddenly, I understood my daughter’s qualms. 

The plastic Easter eggs and the pastel baskets had already been returned to the storage room; the jelly-bean baskets delivered to friends.  

To my four-year-old, it must have seemed as if Easter was being packed away, tidied up and shelved for another year.

“Maggie,” I said leaning low so my little one would hear me. “The garden will still be in the pot by the window when you wake up tomorrow.”

“We get to keep the empty tomb?” Maggie asked, her voice shrill with joy.

We have to keep the empty tomb,” I murmured as I kissed my girl’s soft warm cheek.

“Because Jesus might need it again?” Mags asked, her voice barely a whisper.

“No,” I said softly,  “Because we need it……over and over again.”

Her eyelids fluttered as she fought the heaviness of sleep; then she snuggled her head into her purple pillow and surrendered to the night.

I tiptoed out of her room and walked to the study where Jesus’ garden sat. 

I stared at the miniature scene that the kids had created with care one night in our garage, and I marveled at the gift of that vacant grave.

Easter may come and go, but the grace of the empty tomb never changes. 

The empty tomb holds the cure for an empty life…  

On Easter Sunday. 
On Monday morning. 
And on every day after that.

A sliver of light slipped through the window and cast a yellow glow across the kids’ simple potted garden

In the subtle sheen of the moon, I noticed a smattering of fingerprints that dotted the dirt around the tomb, proof that the garden had been scrutinized at daybreak.

And I remembered the way Maggie had raced to the flower pot that morning, much like her namesake had run to the garden on that first Easter dawn long ago.

When Maggie had discovered that the stone was rolled away, she’d clapped her hands with glee.

When she’d noticed that Jesus was gone; that the clothespin doll we’d wrapped in a strip of white cloth and stuffed in the tomb on Good-Friday was no longer there, she’d shouted the  good news for all to hear.

“Hey guys! Hey guys!” she’d hollered at her siblings in the kitchen, her daddy on the couch. 


Look! Look!” 

She’d hopped around the pot with giddy excitement.  

I think He went to find His friends!”

She’d twirled happy at the thought and headed to the kitchen with a skip.

Maybe that’s why my little girl can sleep easy on Easter night.

And so can her mommy.

Because in the morning, we’ll be found again by the miracle of that empty tomb.

And we’ll be greeted by the grace of the One who took our place behind that stone, the One who is and always will be the very Best Friend of all. 

 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13

Counting gifts that won’t be packed away…

1901. Maggie dancing in the kitchen to this song on Easter morning.1902. My husband joining me in the dew-dripped yard to hang breakfast on the tree as the sun rose.
1903. Laughing with my sister ’til I nearly cried.
1904. Lizzy’s mound of mashed potatoes at Easter dinner- a celebration of a Lent sacrifice fulfilled
1905. Josh racing to the tree in his mud boots and pjs

1906. A picnic basket full of Easter eggs to hide (thanks, Mom!)
1907. Worship infused with JOY
1908. The EMPTY TOMB
1909. Dollies lined up on the couch, dressed in Sunday best
1910. Cousins who say YES to Jesus.

Happily linking with Ann for multitude mondays,  laura for playdates with God,  Jen for soli deo gloria The Mom Initiative, and Jen at Rich Faith Rising


Lessons from the crib

Lessons from the crib
It was one of those “mommy moments” that increases a mother’s heart rate on the spot and later causes her to consider the unseen angels that must have stepped in when she could not.  I was rounding the corner of the kitchen with a laundry basket in hand when I glanced into the adjacent room and noticed my toddler squatting precariously over her eight-week old brother who was lying on a blanket on the floor. 
“Hannah?”  I hollered as I heaved the laundry basket onto the kitchen counter, “what are you doing?”  
“I’m sharing my snack with Joshua,” she replied proudly.   
With a sharp, “No!” I dropped the clean clothes on the floor and sprinted to my five-week-old infant’s side just in time to pull a large chunk of granola bar out of his mouth. I did a quick finger sweep in my tiny son’s mouth and marveled at the fact that I had actually remembered something from the baby CPR course I’d taken eight years ago.  
“Don’t ever feed baby Joshua again,” I chided my three-year-old as I hugged my crying newborn to my chest. “You could really hurt him.”   
Hannah’s proud smile immediately turned upside down as giant elephant tears dripped from her wide blue eyes. “But Mommy,” she said with a sad confusion, “All you give Joshua is plain ol’ milk. He’s bored of that. He wants something different.”  Realizing my daughter’s innocent intention, I drew her close and whispered, “I know you were just trying to be nice to your brother, but milk is all he needs. It’s the perfect snack for a baby. So how about next time you share that granola bar with me, okay?”
A teary smile resolved the issue and Hannah turned her attention to her Polly Pocket dolls that were hungry for a granola bar crumb picnic.  After one more quick finger sweep through my infant’s mouth to check for any lingering evidence of the near miss from which I’d just saved him, I relaxed and settled on the couch to offer my fourth-born the milk his sister had been trying to replace.  Later that day as I recounted the frightening incident to a friend, I managed to laugh at my young daughter’s assumption that her brother was getting bored with his simple menu.
“What would make her think that?” I asked my husband later as I retold the story for the third time that day while we got ready for bed.  
“Hmm..” my husband teased as he caressed my hair that alters styles by the month, “Maybe it’s because she lives with a mom who thrives on change!”  I gave him my best “you’re so funny” roll of the eyes and climbed into bed, intent on catching a few hours of sleep before the two A.M. feeding. 
As I sat awake just hours later with my nursing infant, I used the time of peaceful darkness to pray for my children. I giggled as I asked God to protect my youngest from the innocent antics of my three-year-old.  Unexpectedly, in the silence of the post-midnight hour, an unsettling thought passed through my mind. “You aren’t much different than your toddler.” While I have never had the privilege of hearing the Lord’s voice aloud, I have begun to learn that if a thought is placed on my heart that I would not think on my own, it may be a quiet whisper from my Heavenly Father.
“What?” I asked incredulously to my unseen midnight partner.
 “I am all you need,” was the quiet reply that passed through my mind as my newborn suckled contentedly in my arms. 
The next morning, as I again settled in to feed the baby, I noticed the devotion book my   husband had left lying open on the couch. Thumbing through the worn pages, I stopped at the one marked with the day’s date.  The verse printed in bold at the top of the page caught my eye.  “Like newborn babies you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation.  Cry out for this nourishment…” 1 Peter 2:2   I didn’t even need to read the commentary to know that God was trying once again to get my attention.  Conversations from the past twenty-four hours ran through my mind.
            ”But Mommy, Josh is bored with milk!”
“Maybe it’s because she lives with a mom who thrives on change”
“You aren’t much different than your toddler…” 
In my mind’s eye, I saw Hannah stuffing the granola bar into her baby brother’s mouth and then I watched as simple snapshots from my own daily life followed like the old-fashioned slide shows I used to suffer through in junior high science class.
I saw myself pacing the room with a colicky baby and seeking energy for the day ahead in the hot pot of coffee that waited for me on the kitchen counter. I watched as I fielded the not-so-abnormal phone call from my husband telling me he had to work late once again and witnessed my knee-jerk reaction to call a friend who would indulge my pity party over another long night of parenting alone. The “personal slides” continued, and for the first time, I thought about my response to life’s little disappointments and challenges:  A phone call to a friend to fill the long night hours, a good book that could provide a momentary escape, a cup of coffee to keep me moving through the demands of the day. While none of these responses would be deemed inappropriate, I realized that not once in the parade of memories had I watched myself turn to the Lord in the times of daily need. Oh, yes, if the reel had continued to roll, I would have certainly seen pictures of myself curled up on the couch with Bible in hand or head bowed in prayer. I would have spotted myself at the weekly Bible study I attended or worshiping each Sunday in church. God was an important part of my daily diet. He just wasn’t the ONLY diet I offered my hungry soul. Like my young daughter’s dangerous attempt to supplement her baby brother’s diet with a granola bar.  I was quick to stray from the pure milk of God’s Word and fill my immediate needs with granola bar-substitutes.    
 “Do you really believe I’m all you need?” the question seemed to pop out of thin air,

When You Forget Who You Are

When my firstborn was just a toddler, we often began our dinnertime routine with a silly game.

“Whose boy are you?” I’d ask my son as we gathered round the table when Daddy got home. The answer changed from night to night, but Luke’s irrepressible delight did not.Baby blues ablaze, he loved to hold us in suspense as he decided his momentary allegiance.

“I’m Daddy’s boy!” he’d declare, while my husband cheered and I feigned grief.

But on another night, he’d pucker his lips into a drippy kiss and change his answer. “I’m mommy’s boy,” he’d say with a giggle as my rowdy applause drowned out his daddy’s moans.

One evening while we engaged in the customary charade, God interrupted our juvenile game with a question of His own.